It has been a crazy and historical week. Taxes due on Monday are likely by now all but forgotten with the Boston marathon tragedy and all the subsequent images of police in Watertown, followed by the final capture. At such times I feel grateful to be an artist, among artists, given the ability to reflect slowly on surrounding events while remaining appreciative of the good earnest work of my peers. Because it feels like there is just too much to unpack in a few short days. This week on Bad at Sports seemed to raise and recycle the spector of the 60s (between fashion designer Michael Cepress, sculptor Aris Georidiades, and Edra Soto. Questions about language and the body and where we stand as producers in a contemporary culture.
On Tuesday, LA correspondent Adrienne Harris posted about the roller coaster ride entailed in writing and producing an independent film:
“Independent film is a mysterious beast. It can mean a lot of things, from a group of friends shooting a short film on their I-phones, to Lena Dunham’s inspired Tiny Furniture, shot with her own family/friends in her own home with her own funds (as I understand it) to films loaded with movie-stars, loaded with cash and pre-sale money, BUT no major studio attachment until after it has debuted at a big film festival. To say you are making an “independent film” is simply to say that a major studio did not, in fact, hire you to write the next movie in whatever Young Adult Fiction, or Super Hero franchise. But other than that, the term is vague. Very vague.”
Richard Holland interviewed Aristotle (Aris) Georidiades, who’s show opened this Friday at Carl Hammer Gallery in River North. Georidiades says at one point,:
“Most of the work for this show is made of materials that I have collected that are generally related to buildings built prior to the 1960s. I also continue to use objects that might be considered obsolete or on the verge of being obsolete. I think that by using these materials and objects in my sculpture, notions of our current condition are brought to mind. Of course there are some typical motivations underlying this work. Typical in that I am a “maker” who appreciates materials and I notice the way the world around us is made. Materials and the methods of manipulating the materials can and should carry and covey meaning. Visual artists know this don’t they? I should also add that I continue to believe in the power of objects. As an artist I find it very challenging to try to create compelling objects in a world filled with objects whether we call them art or not. I am not really repurposing old work although at times I do reuse materials from an old piece.”
Thomas Friel wrote about James Franco, who curiously appeared in my dream last night and (no doubt because of Friel’s post) made me sleep-think, “How strange that my Franco is playing himself in my dream”). Friel writes:
“Reality TV and YouTube are now established parts of our entertainment culture, providing instant celebrity status or notoriety. By always trying to make reality, how are we actually interacting with it? We are constantly posting and reposting, recycling videos, content, news; in essence, information we are trying to process as reality. This blends in with all the fictional stuff. How do movies become the stand in for experiences not personally had, influencing our actions and their expected outcome? Do we envision our lives cinematically, possibly as a result of our experiencing through media?”
FROM PORTLAND! Sarah Margolis-Pineo interviews art fashion brainiac, Michael Cepress, who at one point says:
“The boundary gets identified when you start to push against it. So how do you push against boundaries when you’re making clothes? Do you encourage a man to wear a shaped garment that we would never otherwise see on a man? Do you put a transparent cloth that lets us see the body in a way that we’re not accustomed to seeing? A big part of fashion design for me is: what is the body itself; what does the body embody; and how does that turn into something? So part of my practice, almost weekly, is to draw the figure, both male and female. I look at the body and then I figure out what is it about the pose, the person modeling, or what’s on my mind that day, that can turn into a garment concept. This rendering on the end [for a garment featured at Bellevue Art Museum] expresses this most clearly: here he is with an open stance, and you can’t help but see this burst of light or energy from his chest. As a physical thing, this expression is embodied as a vest with dozen lapels.”
Gene Tanta opens with the following question:
“I misread “you” instead of the “I” you have. How does this change the tone of the text? How does this change the idiomatic expression itself: “I break for strangers” or “I will rock you like a hurricane” or “the children are our future”? How does this change the sense of a dialogue between a subject and an object of desire on the skintight highroad of language?”
Which is to say, if you happen to be in Bucharest on May 11th, nihilist poets are gathering to discuss their work, asking the question, “How do your poems ‘take responsibility for their freedom’ as Sartre put it? Camus found relief when the Sisyphean bolder was rolling back down the mountain. Where do you find relief? Is finding relief and closure why you write your poems?” Which is perhaps a fair question for any and all of us, no matter where we are…
Thea Liberty Nichols interviews Edra Soto this week about her porch installation at Terrain in Oak Park, where “Soto uses [Sabina] Ott’s front porch as the root stock to graft her installation, comprised of patterned, bright white screened gates… [A]lthough they mimic the aesthetic appeal of similar gates in [Soto's] native Puerto Rico, they function quite differently in the terroir of Oak Park.” In addition to talking about her work at Franklin, Soto said of her installation:
“Yes, this patterning comes from iron fences that still exist in Puerto Rico. Many are in my parent’s neighborhood (where I grew up). The neighborhood was built in the early 60s and in addition to the aesthetic appeal, the screens provided security and ventilation. It’s easy to find all kinds of information relevant to the problems related to criminality at that time. However, there’s not much information about the pattern designs of the fences… Their beauty allures me but their potential of becoming modern art when taken out of their original context spooks me!”
And don’t forget to check out last week’s SUNDAY COMIC CONVO with Sara Drake —
Last but not least, allow me to add a couple of art reviews around and about town that I particularly enjoyed this week — Claudine Isé wrote about Thomas Demand’s photographs at the Graham Foundation, W. Keith Brown discussed Jeremiah Hulsebos-Spofford’s show at the Hyde Park Art Center and Jason Foumberg highlights Chicago sculpture.
If you’re dreaming of the summertime like I am, you’ll especially enjoy this week’s podcast — an interview with Dr. Jennifer Willet, “explaining the space that is bio art”, recorded at ACRE last year. (ACRE’s “soul-rejuvinating” residency’s application deadline is TOMORROW!)
The week broke open with a great interview between Jesse Malmed and filmmaker Brett Kashmere. Kashmere was born in Canada and reloacted to Pittsburgh where he teaches at Oberlin. On the subject of national identity, Kashmere wrote the following:
“I agree – national identity is an abstract, complex construction, a symbolic category, which serves both good and bad purposes. As someone who works a lot with sports as a subject, it’s disturbing to see how they’re often used, in ways subtle and overt, to stir up nationalist sentiment and prop up dangerous ideologies. I’m thinking of that famous quote from Ronald Reagan: “Sport is the human activity closest to war that isn’t lethal.” He meant that as an endorsement. On the other hand, sports provide a common, everyday, shared experience that has deep (often under-acknowledged) reverberations and significance. I’m most interested in its relationship to place and community, as a kind of folk culture that is potent and tribal, rather than as an instrument of national identity.”
The LAST ENTRY of Shane McAdams Thoughts from Across the Cultural Divide —
“Fidgety, I reached into my pocket and pulled out a small piece of foil-covered hard candy and struggled over whether or not I should eat it. I actually started unwrapping it, almost placing it on my tongue before rewrapping it and carefully putting it back in my pocket…The candy in question was taken from a Felix Gonzalez Torres art piece, ‘Untitled (Portrait of Ross in L.A.)’”
Duncan reminded us to check out the MFA show at SAIC — which is awesome and up until May 17th — on our way to OX-Bow’s fundraiser.
I reposted an interview between Scott Wolniak and Hunted Projects… where Wolniak discusses his studio life as follows:
My studio is in my backyard. Convenience is really important to me because I like being able go to my studio any time, for any length of time, even if just to glance at something. I am in my studio every day, so the work is a constant. I have a hectic daily routine, which has required me to compartmentalize in order to sustain my practice. Nights have always been a haven of undisturbed studio time for me. Ideas come from everywhere. My work typically involves combinations of everyday life and abstract systems, explored through labor-intensive processes with humble materials. I tend to work on several things at once, shifting between conceptual projects that are primarily about planning and process-based pieces that are heavy on labor. My labor-intensive projects are probably the most enjoyable. I like to see things accumulate and transform over time. I can drop into the studio for 15 minutes or 5 hours; either is productive since it is always moving toward the same end point. As with meditation or exercise, small efforts conducted with great regularity do add up. I listen to tons of music while working, as inspiration and background noise. I often smoke marijuana in order to trick myself perceptually. (read more)
Jeffrey Songco interviewed artist Brooke Westfall, who adeptly debunks our nation’s HAWAII mythology:
“That’s exactly how people romanticize Hawaii! Hawaii is always paradise, it’s always lovely, but it’s not to me. I don’t agree because I didn’t grow up in that paradise. It’s not believable to me. But at the same time, it is believable, right? How do we complain about the weather in Hawaii? We don’t. I don’t. But we still have problems – money hardships, death…“
Danny Orendorff’s post begins, “It’s April, and if you’re like me, you’ve probably been busy tying up overdue assignments and following instructions on how to properly label your JPEGS for this or that residency or fellowship application. As such, what follows is an excerpt from a much larger essay and curatorial endeavor I’m working on that considers alternative methods for the establishment of intergenerational connectedness – particularly for activist communities.”
Terri Griffith posted about a street photography book by Vivian Maier, about whom the Chicago History Museum is holding a lecture on April 16 called “The Reinvention of Vivian Maier.” Read more about there here.
Once again, readers, writers, I love you. You’re brilliant.
HUNTED PROJECTS presents Chicago based artist Scott Wolniak.
This week’s podcast came from the Marin Headlands — a beautiful site just on the California Coast — where Brian Andrews and Patricia Maloney joined Jordan Stein and Daren Wilson to talk (among other things) about Wilson’s “stalker paintings.” Wilson has made a recent practice of copying Morandi’s still lifes — even the distortions that result in the pixellated computer reproductions Wilson works from. You’ll also hear Duncan’s robot voice in the intro, which is good reason to tune in.
It reminds me to recommend going to see Guy Ben-Ner’s new film, “Soundtrack,” presently screening at Aspect Ratio in the West Loop — “Soundtrack” pulls the audio of Spielberg’s 2005 blockbuster, “War of the Worlds,” grafting it to the artist’s kitchen.
THIS JUST IN: Music is, indeed, trending. While I did not see the Cave/s in person I was excited by all the hubub around two caves meeting in person. Maybe most of all, this performance sounds amazing: ”Everything we know about Passover we learned at Bobby Conn‘s final residency performance at the Hideout last Tuesday. His full band including Tim Jones fronted brass section was nothing short of a Pesach miracle.” That and more from WHAT’S THE T? (hooray!)
According to Jeriah Hildwine ”the frost giants [have] finally abdicate[d] their annual reign over Chicago” which is good news in an of itself, though he writes primarily about his experience applying to MFAs, getting enrolled or rejecting, choosing this over that. “Like Maximus said in Gladiator,” Hildwine writes, ”‘The choices we make in life echo in eternity.’” And, it turns out, Chicago is a pretty good place to end up.
Anthony Romero continues his on-going series WHAT CAN BE DONE WITH DANCE? and interviews Rebekah Kowal about her book, How to Do Things with Dance: Performing Change in Postwar America, exploring the relationship between social activism and dance choreography.“As of late” Romero writes, ”I have been writing a great deal about strategies and modes of resistance. I have been thinking about the usefulness of dance, of the power of embodied action to simultaneously imagine and enact alternatives to dominant schemas of value that exclude what Judith Butler has referred to as the “ungrievables”. Those whose lives are devalued by social conditions and governmental policies to such an extent that if their life were to extinguish it would go unnoticed.”
Chiming in on Hildwine’s reference to transitioning seasons, Jamilee Polson Lacy writes with news from The City of Fountains, connecting a collection of noir short stories, Kansas City Noir, with some exhibiting artists:
“…transitions—seasonal or otherwise—are unruly. Kansas City artists Nicole Mauser and Caleb Taylor make paintings and collages which illuminate the wild, sometimes dark, often whimsical transitions that happen in the studio. Taylor, who currently has a show up at Sherry Leedy Gallery, presents a series of paintings that, like spring’s arrival, struggle to emerge through the dense fog of the artist’s heavy black brush strokes. But with the collages, Taylor is able to clear out the fog where necessary in order to contrast harsh lines and geometries with soft shadows and dazzling light. Indeed, these compositions read like atmospheric interludes designed for scene transitions in Film Noir flicks like Panique and Kiss Me Deadly.”
Kelly Shindler posted about the ghost of Pruitt-Igoe, a large public housing project in St. Louis that still continues to influence contemporary artists today:
“The ghost of Pruitt-Igoe looms large in St. Louis. The 33-building public housing complex, designed by Minoru Yamasaki (who was also the architect of the World Trade Center) and completed in 1954, has long fascinated architectural historians and enthusiasts alike. Designed in accordance with Le Corbusier’s utopian ‘Towers in the Park‘ vision, its demolition began less than twenty years later in 1972 as the site fell prey to dried-up funding, mismanagement, and subsequent decrepitude and crime. According to architectural theorist Charles Jencks writing in 1977, the notorious demise of Pruitt-Igoe, captured on film and televised widely at the time, marked the day that ‘modern architecture died.’”
“What does it mean when a city of almost three million with a thriving art scene has not a single full-time art critic?” Abraham Ritchie asks Chicago Media Publications, pointing out that most publications rely on freelance writers.
“If the Chicago art community wants more, more national and international attention and recognition, more major artists staying in Chicago, more opportunities across the board from sales to exhibitions, it’s time that we demanded our major newspapers and magazines step up and make a commitment. It’s time we had an art critic in our newspapers.”
“[Churchill] loved his landscapes and still lives and painted over an estimated 500 in his lifetime. What drew a man of such political power to something like painting? He saw it as the end-all, be-all of anxiety, which I think says a lot coming from someone who nicknamed his own clinical depression.”
All this talk of Churchill reminded me about Orson Welles. I remember my own mother seemed to intensely admire both men, and had various anecdotes about both of them. Here is a very strange clip to that end —
“One of the things I wanted to prove is that you don’t have to be a Larry Gogosian or a Jeff Koons and plunk down 10 or 15 grand to make something happen. I think if you’re creative and energetic you can do whatever you want for a penny ninety-eight.” Wise words from painter/guerilla documentarian Loren Munk who’s interview was published this week on Bad at Sports.
Let’s see — otherwise Tilda Swinton has been sleeping Snow-White-Style in a glass box at the MOMA (which Jerry Salz wrote about here) and I saw an amazing B-Movie about a gang of Tai Kwan Do orphans who go tête-à-tête with Bike Ninja’s in Miami.
But more to the point, Nicholas O’Brien Unpacked The Shortest Video Ever Sold :
“In the past couple weeks a myriad of media outlets have been chomping at the bit to comment on the first sale of a piece of art made on the rapidly rising social media platform Vine. The work in question was made by Angela Washko and presented at the Moving Image Fair by Kyle Chayka and Marina Galperina in their Shortest Video Art Ever Sold (SVAES for short) booth produced in collaboration with Postmasters Gallery. The sale of the work has been quickly marked as an easy target for many critical articles for a variety of reasons, however I feel that most takes have missed some of the more salient issues that surround this sale. I sought out Chayka, Galperina, and Washko to discuss not only their intentions with the project but also to examine what exactly this sale might signal in terms of a potential future for new media art production and saleability.”
Shane MacAdams posted another episode from his on-going series, Thoughts from Across the Cultural Divide, “From television to cuisine to high-art, culture seems bent on sanding us down even as we strut about thinking of ourselves as unique splinters in the side of society.” It sounds like the series is wrapping up, so we’ll have to keep our eyes peeled to see what’s next on the McAdams’ Bad at Sports posting roster….(this is where you’re all supposed to grow excited, curious and sleepless with anticipation.)
Two posts from London this week — João Florêncio published a second installment in his on-going Performing Ecology: Narcissist Modernity
“The problem is that whereas the critical enterprise had, following the dawn of Modernity, been rightly concerned with calling into question beliefs such as those advanced by various religious doctrines and replacing them with scientifically validated facts, at the start of the 21st century and there being no beliefs left to disprove, criticality has now started targeting objective facts themselves, often by negating their existence or by turning them into a mere product of their dialectical counterpart, the observing human subject and its usage of language. Today, after the so-called ‘objective reality’ was found to always be the result of power-knowledge formations, human discourse has become the true cause of the world itself.”
& later that same day from Victor Delvecchio, a ruminating post about a renegade performance, Black Metal Chicken, an event organised by an apocalyptic noise band funded by Henrik Heinonen with Oscar Gaynor and Matthew Peers. Via Delvecchio I learned that Islam Green is a color and got a vibey-feel for foggy East London (where the Olympic stadium remains). This comes from his post about a performance artist being strangled, Where there’s voilence, there’s love:
Sophie appears on my back: “I thought the timing was good,” she says. “Just as the audience were eating, helping themselves to food. If I didn’t know it was a performance, I would have been concerned, it relied heavily on our knowledge and trust that this was a performance. I think, they were trying to communicate the uncanny, notions of sadism, the erotic. Perhaps, too, how vulnerable we are to another person’s decision to harm us?”
“With certain currents in the contemporary art world pulling out of the gallery and museum box and into the spaces of everyday life, social relationships have come into focus as the site of many artistic projects. Increasingly, self-organized creative types pick up with simple materials, a group of friends, and an idea to enact change in their various communities by participating in and with them. Between Chicago (Bad at Sports’ hometown) and New York City (my hometown) there are two similar projects – with varying regard to an art world dialog – that center on a waste-not-want-not brand of idealism. Encouraging inventive approaches to everyday repair problems, Community Glue Workshop (Chicago, IL) and Fixers Collective (Brooklyn, NY) have each been building community by tinkering with and fixing things. All kinds of things. I recently had the good fortune of sitting down with Ally Brisbin and Carla Bruni of Community Glue Workshop, and Vincent Lai of Fixers Collective to discuss their respective work.”
And then on Thursday, Atlanta-based Chicago friend Meredith Kooi reported on TRITRANGLE’s “No Media” project:
“NO MEDIA happened March 16, 2013 at TRITRIANGLE, the art space that formerly held Enemy Sound, in Chicago, IL. Developed out of a GLI.TC/H Working Group, the first NO MEDIA happened at GLI.TC/H 2112 on Friday, December 7, 2012 at TRITRIANGLE. Described in the schedule as “Proposed by Jason Soliday on the Working Groups: NO_MEDIA is a performance framework that goes from zero to zero! Participating performers will start with blank slates, build sets from scratch. No preparation allowed. Zeroed out knobs. No strings on your guitar. No presets. Everything done in realtime from beginning to end. Everything that happens exists only in and during the performance :: “Raw Real Time.” After ~ 10 minutes you will delete all assets. It happens … and … then it’s gone …”
“On March 16, 2013, I participated in it, but that’s the only detail of the night I’ll give. For, there is no documentation allowed. After the event, I sat down with [dis]organizers Jason Soliday, Nick Briz, and Jeff Kolar via electronic-mail. I wanted to ask them: Why a NO MEDIA new media performance event? What is considered documentation? What does it all mean??
And then, here I am, writing for the “media” about NO MEDIA.” (more)
TOP 5 WEEKEND PICKS !! (whoop-whoop) posted by the ever magnanimous vet of culture and distinction, Stephanie Burke.
& last but not least, a little something by yours truly about Harmony Korine’s SPRING BREAKERS.
As we close on spring break in earnest, I’m going to leave you with a little something from Miami Connection, that B movie I told you about — I failed to mention that the band of Tai Kwan Do Orphans also moonlights in a super-posi(tive) band called DRAGON SOUND. While playing music for a crowd, they also practice their martial arts. This one goes out to you, dear readers, from the bottom of my heart.