Marlo Koch’s “Vanilla Ice”
Among the usual tidal waves of work churned out by Chicago’s art schools, the endurance performance by Chicago artist Marlo Koch at this year’s Industry of the Ordinary’s Summer Studio Residency was a clear standout. Effortlessly taking up the torch of provocative work by forbears such as Ron Athey and the late, great Barbara DeGenevieve, Koch’s heartbreaking “Vanilla Ice” performance subjected viewers to hours of the artist, naked, laying in a pool of ice water on a concrete floor, while she balanced two blocks of ice, each with lace undergarments frozen into them, atop her near-welting torso. Simultaneously a statement of embodied gender identification, adornment and the struggle to endure the eviscerating power of the subjective gaze, Koch’s work promises to continually challenge difficult boundaries.
Best of Chicago 2015