Chicago-based artist Melika Bass is no stranger to having her work displayed at formal venues like the Contemporary Museum of Art in Chicago and the Torino Film Festival in Italy.
Though, for her next exhibit, "Nocturama," she has chosen a small, humble place called the Comfort Station. Once a stopping point for travelers on their way to Chicago, the small building in the heart of Logan Square is a place for artists to pass through and share their artwork with the community. Comfort Station is run by David Keel, Michael Green and organizers at Preservation Logan Square.
Green originally reached out to Bass, knowing she would appreciate the Comfort Station's history in the community and the building's "theatrical quality."
Bass's, a filmmaker and video installation arist's latest piece, "Nocturama," uses three different projections to light up or, as she put it, "activate" the building--almost as if it were possessed, while playing off the unique layout of the space.
The building itself becomes part of the experience, she said, as passersby will have to adjust their angle to catch a certain glance at the projections, which are oblong-shaped and make it seem almost like one is peering into a portal to another world. Bass hopes to bring this same atmosphere to the building.
"Her films often create these personal enclosed worlds and part of her practice involves responding to specific environments," Green said.
When asked if she felt that a locked exhibit would make for a less-interactive installation, Bass responded that the Comfort Station was "super interactive" because people "discover it instead of being forced to look."
She was excited about the location of the Comfort Station, because it is a "high traffic" area for art enthusiasts in the Logan Square neighborhood.
"People interact with the artwork by assuming the role of voyeur," she said. "They peer into the windows of the Comfort Station at night and watch a figure involved in private, enigmatic activities. People also become directly involved in the construction of the video by moving around the outside of the building and looking in through the windows at the various projections."
The exhibit will be opening Saturday, June 2 and will run through July 15 from sundown to sun up, and after that it will run every Friday through Tuesday at the Comfort Station, 2579 North Milwaukee Ave.
View Bass's short film "They Live by Night," featured at 6 p.m. at the Chicago Underground Film Festival June 1.
--Carolyn Hanig is a RedEye special contributor