I am so tired. Regardless, here are the picks…
1. Big Sky at 65Grand -
Work by Jerome Acks.
65Grand is located at 1369 W. Grand Ave. Reception is Friday (tonight) from 7-10pm.
Work by Joseph Grigely, Eric Fleischauer, Jason Lazarus, and Anonymous.
Noble and Superior Projects is located at 1418 W Superior St, 2R. Reception is Friday (tonight) from 6-10pm.
Work by Justin Cooper, Robert Davis/Michael Langlois, Jason Middlebrook, Karen Reimer, Joel Ross, and Carrie Schneider.
Monique Meloche Gallery is located at 2154 W. Division St. Reception is Saturday from 4-7pm.
Work by Katya Grokhovsky, Mara Baker and Rafael E. Vera.
What It Is is located at 1155 S Lyman Ave in Oak Park. Reception is Saturday from 5-9pm.
Work by, you guessed it, Ethan Breckenridge and Sean Dack.
The Suburban is located at 125 N Harvey Ave in Oak Park. Reception is Sunday from 2-4pm.
Last year it was the amazing 8bit girl costume which I was eagerly awaiting to see what she would do this year and the costume seemed to be closing down her site so in it’s place the Best Halloween Costume idea of 2010 goes to the Amazing Banksy “Flower Thrower”.
George Schnakenberg has taken the iconic 2d graffiti work and turned it in to a living breathing (through a handkerchief) 3d person. You can see via his flickr stream his night out partying and either his proposal or attack of Raggedy Ann.
The costume is quite well done and best of all comfortable and versatile. Hope everyone had a great Halloween this year.
It is tough to say goodbye to my teacher and my friend, Kathryn Hixson. I’m sure that it is tough for a lot of us here, whether we were friends of Kathryn’s, former or current students, or one of the thousands who have been impacted by her work as a critic, curator or editor.
I can’t measure the impact she has had on this corner of the art world, although it is nothing short of profound, but of course it would feel that way because her impact on me was profound.
Without a doubt this week’s episode will be dedicated to her, but it is more correct to say, that for me, Bad at Sports is dedicated to Kathryn. She was the one who planted the seeds for me. She was the one who taught me that there was a lot to be learned from interrogating the world around us. She was the one who taught me that sometime the answers were not in the studio, but in your community. She was also the one that talked me out of becoming an architect.
Years after I had finished my Masters degree, I bought her dinner, in the hopes that she would write me a letter of recommendation. I planning on going back to school to become an architect. She said “No,” and it shocked the heck out of me. She said she would write me as many letters, for as many teaching jobs as I would ever want to apply for, but that she would never write a letter to help me move out of being an artist.
Beyond the countless hours she spent in my studio when I was a high-maintenance grad student, and the hundreds more she spent with me as a friend in the years that followed, I remember the day she told me “No.” She was like that: tough enough to say “no” to a friend and do it with love. It was the same ethic she manifested in decades of pushing emerging Chicago art out into a world that has more reasons not to care, than care. She was strong enough to fight for what she believed in, even if what she believed in was you at a time when you had given up all hope.
Good bye Kathryn. We love you and thank you.
I recently realized after moving to Colorado that I would be in close proximity to artist Mario Zoots and that it’d be great to meet/greet with him to possibly conduct a collaborative video. I asked Mario if we could talk about his recent projects including his digital collage imagery and sound work that he has been compiling for the past two to three years.
We agreed that working together on a video that incorporated his techniques and methods would be the most appropriate undertaking for our discussion. In the video above you’ll see Mario’s intuitive and rich abstraction of color and sound take shape throughout our discussion.
We start our conversation talking about work that he and other Denver based artists have been collaborating on called Modern Witch: a live sound and image based trio that uses traditional house/electro rhythms combined with haunting and glitchy synth lines. The members of the group perform in hooded and masked disguise, arranging themselves into a triangle on the stage that resembles an occult precession.
I misinterpret the groups origin in my question and suggest that this ensemble is responding to, or engaging with the emerging (and often parodied) genre of Witch House. Instead, Mario explains that the group has been performing for several years under this moniker and that their investigation of the occult is far from superficial. He talks about how the label of this genre encompasses a large variety of makers, and inevitably does a disservice to the diversity found within this community.
Later we delve more into Mario’s personal practice as a gifted, and haunting, collage artist. I suggest that the hiding and/or obscuring of facial features in his still imagery act as a deliberate gesture of displacing identity and figurative detachment (something that he acknowledges is present in Modern Witch). A popular motif in these prints is a repeated melted skin texture covering – or in some instances oozing off of – the face. This gesture to me connects the two practices of sound and image by acknowledging and engaging with the cauldron of self – and other – representation (without the obvious, “the music melts your face off”). Mario discusses how the deaths of celebrities plays a large role in his practice, and that he “performs” these minor/brief homages within the day of a star’s death in order to capture the dwindling remains of the spirit soon to be lost.
I continue to ask Mario what the relationship between image and text serves in his practice. Many of his projects involve a semiological investigation between found imagery and “taboo” text. Mario contends that the appropriation of picture with textual overlay creates a third meaning that he hopes will recursively operate as a kind of mediator between himself and image distribution platforms found in popular media. I don’t think that these gestures are intended to be antagonistic interruptions of the status quo, but instead are meant to show a hidden majick found within the rapid overturning (and re-masking) of identity that mass media perpetuates. As Mario aptly puts it, “what I do with the hidden is as important as what I show.”
A few weeks ago I had the great pleasure of interviewing Martha Wilson via email in conjunction with the Visiting Artist Program lecture she is giving at the School of the Art Institute tomorrow night. Wilson is a significant figure in the history of feminist art, but even more important has been her championing of the artist’s book and her historic work as co-founder and director of Franklin Furnace Archive, which launched in 1976 as a performance and exhibition space located in Wilson’s loft. Today, 30+ years later, the core mission of Franklin Furnace seems just as urgent as ever: “to present, preserve, interpret, proselytize and advocate on behalf of avant-garde art, especially forms that may be vulnerable due to institutional neglect, their ephemeral nature, or politically unpopular content.” I asked Ms. Wilson some questions about several different areas of her practice, and am extremely grateful to her for taking the time to answer. You’ll be able to ask Martha Wilson questions of your own tomorrow, Tuesday November 9th, at 6pm at SAIC’s Columbus Auditorium, 280 South Columbus Drive. Directions and info here.
Claudine Ise: Much of your early conceptual/performative work dealt with identity and the exploration of what you’ve described as “personality sculpting.” In the piece titled A Portfolio of Models, for example, you enacted “the models society holds out to me: Goddess, Housewife, Working Girl, Professional, Earth-Mother, Lesbian.” Being an artist was one of very few categories that encompassed all of these identities (or none of them) – a way to avoid getting stuck as either one or the other. I’m curious if now, more than thirty-five years after you did that piece, you think that that range of popular models for women has expanded?
Martha Wilson: Certainly the range of popular models for women has expanded! I guess what annoys me is that there remains a double standard for the assertive behavior necessary to get ahead: In men, it is seen as appropriate and desirable, while in women it is seen as aggressive and bitchy.
CI: You made another piece in 1973 called “Selfportrait,” where the audience was integral to the work. They were asked to write down who they thought you were on pieces of paper and give them to you. Among other things, you were exploring the notion of the self as something malleable, and which also perhaps could only be known as a reflection of other people’s projections. I find the idea of ‘personality sculpting’ to be really suggestive in terms of how people present themselves on the Internet today. I don’t know how personally engaged you are with social media, but it does seem to be the case that nowadays people are constantly in the process of shaping their personas for public consumption – it’s a form of self-portraiture that we all engage in.
MW: After the Culture Wars of the 80s and 90s, I noticed that the concern of artists in the new millennium shifted from sexuality to concern for privacy in the online environment. Now there has been yet another shift, to the polar opposite: Everyone posts private information on blogs, on YouTube, on Facebook, on Twitter. The networked environment started to level the social playing field, and this trend will only continue as the Guggenheim solicits YouTube videos from regular folks and exhibits them in the museum environment. A century later, the desire of the Italian Futurists to make art that appeals to the hoi polloi is being fulfilled by the hoi polloi itself.
CI: The collection of artist’s books that Franklin Furnace has amassed is amazing and historically unique. You were one of the first people to recognize the importance of artists’ books, and the necessity of documenting and historicizing them. I’m curious about what led you to become such a passionate advocate of the book/publication format given your own early work had been so rooted in performance?
MW: The connection between the text and performance for me was through the practice of Conceptual art in the early 1970s. The artists invited to visit the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design–such as Vito Acconci, Carl Andre, Joseph Beuys, Dan Graham, Douglas Huebler, Joseph Kosuth, Peter Kubelka, Sol LeWitt, Dennis Oppenheim, Ian Wilson– blurred the distinctions between thought and action, words and deeds. For example, here are Lawrence Weiner’s thoughts about the existence of a work of art:
1. The artist may construct the work/
2. The piece may be fabricated/
3. The piece need not be built/ Each being equal and consistent with the intent of the artist the decision as to condition rests with the receiver upon the occasion of receivership
Here is one of the pieces in Weiner’s 1968 book, Statements:
One regular rectangular object placed across an international boundary allowed to rest then turned to and turned upon to intrude the portion of one country into the other.
Because the type of this text is set in the form of a brick, word and image intersect in the idea of the artist. Are these not instructions for a performance? In fact, when I founded Franklin Furnace in 1976, I invited artists to read to the public. (The term “artists’ books” did not exist as yet to describe contemporary, and cheap, publishing by artists.) Every single artist chose to manipulate the performative elements (light, sound, relationship to the audience, props, costume, time) as part and parcel of the work. (The misnomer “performance art” had not as yet taken hold either.) The word in vogue at the time was “piece,” which encompassed the thought, the action, the documentation-drawn or photographed or filmed or published or taped-whatever.
CI: You started Franklin Furnace out of your loft, in part to showcase your growing collection of artists’ books and also as a performance venue. Franklin Furnace grew and evolved after that to become an organization dedicated to presenting all kinds of nontraditional art forms (especially performance art and printed matter). Its impact has been immense, and yet the concept of Franklin Furnace as a “space” has undergone some radical changes over the years. Franklin Furnace is now “dematerialized,” although its work has gone on as before. Can you talk a bit about why it made sense for you to move away from Franklin Furnace as a physical venue and towards an internet-based space?
MW: In the wake of the Culture Wars, the Board and I had a series of discussions about how Franklin Furnace could provide artists with the same freedom of expression they enjoyed in the loft in the 70s. We decided that the Internet- perhaps not forever, but for now–was that free zone where artists could experiment freely, so we “went virtual” during Franklin Furnace’s 20th anniversary season. At first I thought that since we were leaving physical space, we would leave the body behind; but instead we discovered that artists exploited the body of the net in addition to their own bodies.
CI: Chicago has a strong history of alternative art exhibition spaces, including artist-run spaces located in apartments or other domestic environments. Given your own decades of experience with this type of space, what advice do you have for others involved in running their own nonprofit venues? I’m particularly interested in the question of sustainability– not just in financial terms, but emotional and spiritual and creative sustainability as well. Sometimes when you’re running things on a shoestring (or no-string) it can be really hard to find the wherewithall to keep on keeping on!
MW: Knowing what I know now, it amazes me that people continue to found organizations and collectives. Don’t they understand that they will NEVER STOP WORKING? Yet what I have also noticed is that the art space movement readily adapts to current conditions. For example, during the 70s, not-for-profit organizations in Soho and TriBeCa served the New York art community, while in the 80s, small, for-profit galleries on the Lower East Side flourished. Nowadays, there are hybrid forms that mix non-profit and for-profit strategies, with collectives of artists teaching classes or making equipment available to members who pay hourly rates. I guess my advice to prospective art space founders is to understand that there will never be a “formula” that will work year after year; change is the only constant!
CI: What are you working on right now in your art practice? What are you working on now in your role as Founding Director of Franklin Furnace?
MW: In March of 2008, I had my first solo exhibition in New York at Mitchell Algus Gallery, “Martha Wilson: Photo/Text Works, 1971-74.” My friend Robin said, “Now that you have had one show, you can ask your dealer for another one.” I replied, “I showed work I did in the 1970s; I don’t have any new work.” But as soon as these words were out of my mouth, I thought, “I could revisit my Deformation piece as a 60-year-old lady.” So indeed, during the last year I have been creating new photo/text works as well as performing as Barbara Bush, mother of the ex-President; she is feeling “all washed up.” In August, 2010 Franklin Furnace was awarded full funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities and matching support from the Booth Ferris Foundation for a two-year project to digitize our second decade of event records and publish them online in the Franklin Furnace Database. This effort will, we hope, embed the value of ephemeral art practice in art and cultural history.
Martha Wilson as Barbara Bush, 2008 performance at ps122.