JoJo Baby: The Bandages are Off

Friday, Jan 6 – Feb 25, 2023

1709 W. Chicago Ave.
Chicago, IL 60622

Pickleman and Paris London Hong Kong are pleased to announce an exhibition by renowned Chicago artist JoJo Baby. Known for decades as Chicago’s preeminent nightlife club kid, JoJo Baby’s artistic practice blurs the line between costume and prop, authentic self and invented character. Mixing elements of drag, theatrical costuming, prosthetics, and skeletal mechanics, JoJo Baby is an artist at once individually iconic, and forever in a state of flux and cultural invention.

Thrift store finds become, in JoJo Baby’s hands, elaborate ensembles that mix cultural references with social fantasy. Experienced within a nightclub setting, their presence and work enliven the dance floor tableaux wherein myth and fantasy become a realized presence that spins the night forward into the ungovernable happenstance of decadent intrigue and sexual suggestion.

For their exhibition at Paris London Hong Kong, JoJo Baby presents an immersive environment of hand-made dolls that the artist imbues with stories and dreams—spirits that can suggest and guide. Some of the figures contain full internal skeletons made from scrap wire and wood, each weighted and padded allowing them to bend, pose, and often stand on their own. From hand-held to life size, these works blur the line between doll, sculpture and totem. With human hair and inset glass eyes, the sculptures’ gangly limbs suggest a life of movement both awkwardly graceful and dramatically poetic. They are objects with an internal life that appear two seconds short of coming alive.

Of the artist’s work, co-gallery director Jason Pickleman says:

“When I first saw JoJo Baby’s dolls, I couldn’t help but think of the work of Greer Lankton. Little did I know JoJo had apprenticed with Greer, and learned much of their craft from her. JoJo lovingly refers to Lankton as their mentor, and their artistic friendship will be felt within this new exhibition.”

The title of the exhibition, the bandages are off, hopefully proposes a good omen for JoJo Baby, as they recently announced a new struggle with cancer. The exhibition contains works from years ago, as well as works created between rounds of chemotherapy and convalescence. The show offers a rare opportunity to see JoJo Baby’s work outside the flashing lights and foggy haze of the dance floor.

Image: JoJo Baby: the bandages are off, installation view, at Paris London Hong Kong, Chicago