50 Posts About Cyborgs

September 27, 2010 · Print This Article

I’m an inveterate seeker-outer of new and interesting websites to add to my ever-growing RSS feed, which I in turn viciously cull with as much frequency as possible (I hate virtual clutter more than I do the real stuff). 50 Posts About Cyborgs is one of my new mainstays, and I dare say it’s required reading for anyone who is interested in Cyborg theory and other instances of human-machine dalliance. It’s a Tumblr site that was started as a way to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the coining of the term “cyborg.” Over a month, the site will update 50 times with links to material “celebrating 50 years of one of the 20th Century’s more enduring concepts,” the cyborg.

Here’s the scary part: I don’t have to worry about the site adding to my virtual clutter, because it’ll go dark once those 50 posts have been posted.

The project began on September 1st, so by my calculations there’s less than a week left to peruse the site before it vanishes into the ether. Thus far, 50 Posts About Cyborgs have posted essays on the origin and meaning of the term ‘cyborg;’ a review of the classic work of cyborg fiction, Genesis of the Daleks; a link to a Wired article about how disabled people are on the cutting edge of assistive technology; and links to more than one article arguing that the Bible is actually filled with cyborgs.

I’m not linking to any of the essays mentioned above on purpose, because I want you to click around 50 Posts About Cyborgs yourself. It’s such a great project — a fantastic use of the Tumblr interface — and overall an incredibly fascinating place to hang out for awhile. So click on over, please!

Nomadic Studio’s “Form and Content of Writing” Panel at DePaul University Tomorrow Night!

September 22, 2010 · Print This Article

Hello again – I’m back with another quick plug for y’all. Tomorrow night, Chicago arts writer/administrator/curator Thea Liberty Nichols has organized a panel on the “form and content” of arts writing as part of Nomadic Studio, which is presented at DePaul University Museum and organized by the Stockyard Institute for the yearlong collaborative Studio Chicago project….jesus I can’t keep up with it all. Anyway…here is the pertinent who, what, whys and whens of this particular panel, which I think should be really interesting and if it isn’t I will be partly to blame because I will be on it, along with Patrice Connolly, Abraham Ritchie, Bert Stabler and the aforementioned Ms. Nichols, who IMHO has the one of the best names in the world.

Come see us discuss, and participate in the discussion! Also, please check out the whole slate of programs that are part of Nomadic Studio at the Stockyard Institute! And you can read more about the Nomadic Studio project on ArtSlant, right here.

6-8pm –Thursday, September 23rd

DePaul University Art Museum; 2350 N. Kenmore Ave., Chicago IL 60614 | 773-325-7506 | Directions |

Form and Content of Writing w/ Thea Liberty Nichols, Patrice Connolly, Claudine Ise, Abraham Ritchie and Bert Stabler

Panelists will engage in a casual discussion that examines the form (newsprint, published monographs, online journals or blogs) and content (criticism, interviews, exhibition re­views, press releases or scholarly essays) of their writing. Their individual practices, including the texts that inform and inspire them, will be examined alongside the colleagues and organizations with which they collaborate. In conjunction with Studio Chicago, the ways in which their studio environment, and indeed the city itself, contextualizes their practice will also be explored.

Abraham Ritchie is a writer as well as the Editor for ArtSlant: Chicago, the creator and administrator of The Chicago Art Blog on the Chica­goNow network and WordPress, and also writes for NewCity. He has previ­ously written about art for Madison Newspapers, Inc.

Thea Liberty Nichols is an arts administrator, independent curator, and writer who lives and works in Chicago. Along with managing Intuits Study Center, she also acts as Co-Director of 65GRAND

Patrice Connelly is the Curatorial Associate for BMO Financial Group’s Corporate Art Collection where she crafts catalog texts describing and contextualizing the art works in their holdings. She has been contributing freelance art exhibi­tion reviews to Newcity since 2008.

Bert Stabler is a teacher, writer, curator, and artist living in Chicago. He feeds on the living.

Claudine Isé has worked in the field of contemporary art as a curator and writer. Isé was Associate Cu­rator of Exhibitions at the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio. Assistant Curator at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles and an art critic for the Los Angeles Times. She currently writes for artforum.com, art:21 blog, ARTnews, New City, and badatsports.com.

Richard and Duncan at “Public Culture” Lecture at ThreeWalls Tuesday Night!

September 20, 2010 · Print This Article

Hey all, just a quick public service announcement….Richard and Duncan will be part of tomorrow night’s Public Culture lecture at ThreeWalls. They’ll be interviewed by “live talk show host” (whew, as the alternative would be kinda gross) Mark Bazer along with a Tony Tassett and Kelly Kaczynski. The event starts at 7pm. Full details below! Be there!

The Public Culture Lecture Series, co-organized by Randall Szott and InCUBATE, seeks to highlight examinations and enactments of public culture. Rather than following a preformed idea of what public culture actually is, the series treats it as an open question and invites attendees to explore the question with us. A variety of people and practices are drawn on to present the ways that the notion of “the public” emerges in their work and/or informs it. Past iterations of the series have included: a lecture on lyceums in nineteenth century America, a guided eating tour of the Maxwell Street Market, a group workshop on storytelling as an everyday art, and an artist-led tour of the Loop’s Pedway system.

For this iteration of the Public Culture Lecture Series live talk-show host Mark Bazer will interview four Chicago artists at threewalls. Two of them will have had recent public exhibitions of their work in Chicago. Tony Tassett’s installations EYE and CARDINAL went up on State Street this summer and Kelly Kaczynski’s solo exhibition The Stagehand’s Unseen will be on view at threewalls. The mic will also be turned on Richard Holland and Duncan MacKenzie, producers and founding members of the art podcast Bad at Spots.

InCUBATE: http://www.incubate-chicago.org/
Randall Szott: http://www.thedepartmentofaesthetics.org/
threewalls: http://www.three-walls.org/
Mark Bazer: http://www.markbazer.com/
Bad at Sports: http://www.badatsports.com/
Kelly Kaczynski: http://www.kellykaczynski.com/
Tony Tasset: http://www.kavigupta.com/artist/tonytasset

“By Your Powers Combined” at Marwen Gallery

September 20, 2010 · Print This Article

There are so many shows opening this month I can barely keep up (watch for my roundup of Chicago’s Fall openings on our next “Center Field” post over at art:21 blog next week) – for this reason, I wanted to draw this little exhibition to your attention, ’cause it’s the modest type that could get lost in the crowded field of Big Fall Shows. And it shouldn’t. The show can be found in the upstairs gallery space at Marwen, an art center in the River North area of Chicago whose mission is to educate and inspire under-served young people through the visual arts. I’d never had the opportunity to visit before, but when I did I was immediately hit with that groovy, good-feeling vibe that you get from a place that’s buzzing with human creativity.  If you haven’t dropped in before, you should! At any rate, I was there to see “By Your Powers Combined,” an exhibition curated by Austin-based artist, writer, curator, and educator Salvador Castillo (a Marwen alum). It’s a  group show of six artists, most hailing from Austin, Texas, brought together under a theme that loosely revolves around the elemental forces of earth, fire, wind, water and (kind of extraneous but still a nice touch) “heart.”

Castillo’s catalogue essay cheerfully acknowledges that his original idea for “a landscape show” turned into something deeper, more personal, and more complex.

“Each artist was chosen for their representation of the five elements that when combined, created the titular character of the early ’90s cartoon, Captain Planet and the Planeteers … every artist counterbalances the real or physical landscape with one that is imagined or perceived.”

Jared Steffensen, Hilltop Trail, 2010

Salt Lake City, UT artist Jared Steffensen makes shoes that wear the earth they usually walk on. They are whimsical and melancholy and in a peculiar way that I can’t quite describe, felt like the most solidly “real” objects in this show. I’d like to see images of these shoes worn on an actual person’s feet. In contrast are Austin-based artist William Hundley’s dreamlike “Clouds”, 2010, a mixed media installation in which discarded street trash appears suspended in the center of the gallery hallway. Castillo’s essay describes Hundley’s related series of photographs, which incorporate sculptures like this one and can be found on the artist’s Flickr page, as “a dazzling magic trick. Colorful sheets of fabric ominously float against a complimentary background. The skeptical jump to conclusions and accuse Photoshop as the true artist.”

William Hundley, Clouds, 2010.

One of my favorite pieces in the show was Roberto Bellini‘s (no, not that Roberto Bellini) one channel-video piece titled  Teoria de Paisagem.

Roberto Bellini, Teoria da Paisagem (Landscape Theory), 2005.

The video consists of an exchange between the artist and a security guard (both of whom remain off-screen throughout the piece).  Bellini wants to film a flock of birds in the sky at sunset – a fairly traditional landscape shot that he finds personally moving, and wants to capture. The security guard–a guy who’s basically just trying to do his job–attempts to dissuade Bellini from filming near the area he’s been hired to police. The tense conversational dance that ensues as each man tries to “claim” the landscape as they see it is priceless.

Eric Zimmerman, Rotating City, Left,(for Heather & Andrew) 2006. [not in exhibition].

Austin-based Eric Zimmerman‘s lovely ink, marker, and graphite drawings from 2006 evoke depict landscape as dream, ghostly possession, and fantasy all at once. (You can see some of Zimmerman’s recent works here). Margaret Meehan‘s gouache and pencil drawings on card recall antique cartes postales and Victorian-era calling cards, yet the freakish alterations made to the faces of the plump infants pictured in these images undercut the sentimentality of their original purposes.

Margaret Meehan. Charlotte, 2008.

Finally, representing “Fire,” Erick Michaud, another Austin-based artist, burns intricately drawn narratives into wooden sculptures that are a cross between spirit stick, scythe, and cant hook (their most direct correlation).

Erick Michaud. Apocalypse, 2009.

Michaud grew up in a small paper mill town near the US-Canadian border, where knowing how to use a cant hook came in handy. As the paper economy went south, so did the town’s economic livelihood. As Castillo’s essay notes, “the tool of the industry, transformed into the Reaper’s scythe, is now an artifact recounting the tale in metaphorical imagery.”

Erick Michaud, Apocalypse, 2009. Detail.

“By Your Powers Combined” is on view at Marwen’s Untitled Gallery through October 15, 2010. Do make some time to check it out!

‘Too Slutty?’ An Addendum on Facebook Portraiture

September 15, 2010 · Print This Article

I received a bit of feedback on last Monday’s post on Facebook portraiture that I thought I’d share here today. First was a stray observation made during an email exchange that Facebook has provided a great source for stock drunk girl imagery, if your work happens to be requiring that sort of thing at the moment. All I can say to that is, SO TRUE. And second, Enda O’Donoghue, an Irish artist who lives and works in Berlin, wrote me to tell me about the work that he’s been doing, which also draws from Facebook. O’Donoghue told me,

“I am an artist myself who has been using photos found on Facebook, Twitter pics, Flickr and various blogs as the starting point for my paintings. I make contact with each of the photographers behind the photos that I select to work with to ask for permission to use their photos. I have been compulsively collecting and cataloguing photographs found online for about 10 years I think. The photos that I have been working with most recently are most often the throw-away shots  which otherwise gather digital dust buried away on hard-drives, camera chips, mobile phones or uploaded and then lost or forgotten someplace on the Web.

Enda O'Donoghue, Too Slutty? (2010) Oil on Canvas, 140 x 170 cm.

“My process of painting is slow and methodical, firstly dissecting the image into sections on paper and then working over periods of weeks or months to reconstruct the image section by section as a painting, almost like a jigsaw puzzle that often doesn’t line up properly. For me it is interesting to take these very throw-away images and make the maybe pointless effort to trace the owner, contact them and seek permission then to spend the time and effort to paint these images often on quite on a large scale. Once completed I send images of the final painting back to the original photographers often to interesting results, such as here.”

Enda O'Donoghue. "I've found it.." (2010) Oil on Canvas, 130 x 100 cm.

What differentiates O’Donoghue’s paintings from the work I discussed on Monday, of course, is the fact that they don’t include the subject’s face.

Enda O'Donoghue. "In the Elevator" (2009) Oil on Canvas, 90 x 120 cm.

Here’s a link to an essay on O’Donoghue’s work written by Suzanne Trouve Feff. I thought it was fitting that Feff began her piece with the line: “Be careful the next time you post your pictures on Facebook, you could become a work of art.”