Chicago Artists’ Coalition’s Bolt Residency Application/Membership Deal Ends April 22nd!

April 19, 2011 · Print This Article

We wanted to pass this along to our readers, as it seems like a great opportunity all the way around: there are just a few days left to take advantage of Chicago Artists’ Coalition’s Bolt Residency Application / Membership deal – artists who apply for the Bolt Residency before April 22nd (that’s this Friday, folks) will receive a $20 discount on CAC Membership (all applicants must be CAC Members). Full information on the Bolt Residency and application process follows below:

The Bolt Residency is a highly competitive and juried artist program housed in the former FLATFILEgalleries, an 8,000 square foot space in the vibrant, art-centric West Loop neighborhood. Bolt Residency is a one-year artist residency program consisting of nine subsidized studios and professional exhibition space with daily, ongoing professional development programming and support from CAC staff.

All artists applying to Bolt must be current CAC members. Artists who apply before April 22 receive a $20 discount on CAC membership. If you have any questions about membership, please contact the CAC office (773.772.2385) or email Alyson Koblas (

Bolt Residency is an investment in YOUR artistic career, providing ongoing dynamic, in-depth collaborations with prominent curators, cultural institutions, visiting artists, gallery directors, dealers and collectors.

Open House

CAC will hold two open houses with tours of the space, every 15-20 minutes. Tours will take place at 217 North Carpenter on  Sunday, April 10 from 2-5pm and Tuesday, April 19 from 5:30-8:30pm.


Bolt Residency seeks to create a supportive environment that promotes and evolves artists’ professional and artistic practices; providing ample space for the development of groundbreaking work.


Critical to our partnership with artists in residence are ongoing dynamic, in-depth collaborations with prominent Chicago curators, cultural institutions, visiting artists, gallery directors, dealers, and collectors. Bolt Residency hosts vital services and programs that provide artists with opportunities to build new audiences and meaningful connections to industry and business leaders throughout the Chicagoland area. Bolt Residency engages the Chicago arts community and its public in critical dialogue about contemporary art. CAC programs foster community and stimulate invention, risk and innovative artistic practice.

CAC will work closely with Bolt Residents to:

  • Develop a customized professional development plan based on your vision and personal goals.
  • Provide one-on-one monthly studio visits and workshops by the following partners (with more to come):

Candida Alvarez: Interim Dean of Graduate Studies/Professor, SAIC
Lynn Basa: Artist and Instructor, SAIC. Author of The Artist’s Guide to Public Art: How to Find and Win Commissions
Elizabeth Chodos: Associate Director, Oxbow, SAIC
Romi Crawford: (Ph.D.) Assistant Professor, SAIC, Former Curator and Director of Education and Public Programs at the Studio Museum in Harlem
Chicago Art Dealers Association
Robyn Farrell: Gallery Manager, Donald Young Gallery
Mark Jeffrey: Adjunct Associate Professor Contemporary Practices & Performance, SAIC. Curator. Artist.
Nancy Jones: Executive Director of Learning and Interpretation, Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA)
Charlotte Marra: Assistant Director, Rhona Hoffma
Monique Meloche: Owner/Director Monique Meloche
Jackie Terrassa: Assistant Director of Public Programs, MCA

  • Coordinate open studios and exhibition openings  with the West Loop’s gallery walks
  • Showcase your studio to interested parties.
  • Market exhibitions and special events to the press and arts community.
  • Provide full and free access to CAC’s Art.Business.Create (A.B.C), a series of intensive educational workshops and consultations designed to build artists’ professional business skills (worth over $500)
  • Offer competitive studio rental rates with the option to share/divide or use space individually.
  • Create evaluation and sustainable exit plan, post-residency

Bolt Residency Studios

  • (5) Front Room Studios: $455 for 260 sq.ft.
  • (1) Private Studio: $525 for 300 sq.ft.
  • (2) Back Room: $390 for 260 sq.ft.
  • (1) Side Studio: $225 for 260 sq. ft.
  • Open floor plan, work-only (non-residential)
  • Move in date: June 15, 2011. Security Deposit: TWO months’ rent

Important Dates

April 29 (12pm): Application and supplementary materials are due via email to

May 18: Announce finalists selected by jury

May 23-May 27: Finalists interview with CAC staff

May 31: Announce Bolt Residents 

June 15: Bolt Residents move in to 217 N Carpenter

Move In Date

Move in date: June 15, 2011. Security Deposit: Two months’ rent.

Selection Process

Submissions are evaluated by a jury of four professional peers from Chicago’s leading cultural institutions: Romi Crawford, Tricia Van Eck, Monique Meloche and Allison Peters Quinn.

Jury selected finalists will be interviewed by CAC staff.

Artists who wish to apply as collaborators or apply to share space must apply individually and send individual fees, application and support materials (collaborators must include a separate page describing your collaborative proposal).

Types of Disciplines: painting, works on paper, photography, new media, installation and film. Sculptors,performers and sound artists are encouraged to apply, but may be limited by materials. Please contact Cortney at

We do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, national origin, color, sex, age, veteran status, or disability.


Applications are available online by clicking here.

Applicants must be Current CAC members. To check on status or to join, please contact Alyson Koblas at (Artists who apply before April 22 receive a $20 discount on CAC membership.)

Applicants need to reside in the Chicagoland area during residency.

Applications must be emailed to AS ATTACHMENTS and include:

  • Completed Application (available online HERE)
  • Resume (as PDF attachment)
  • Work Samples (max 10 images, SUBMITTED ONLY AS JPEG’s, no larger than 72dpi) as attachment. WORK SAMPLES MUST INCLUDE: TITLE, DIMENSIONS, DATE AND MEDIUM.
  • Non-refundable $25 application fee (paid via our secure online terminal)

To keep up to date with Bolt Residency, sign up here to receive CAC’s e-newsletter.

Bad at Sports at MDW Fair, April 23-24, 2011 at The Geolofts

April 11, 2011 · Print This Article

Update: This just in — excerpts from the recordings taken during the MDW Fair will be broadcast on Episode 300 of the podcast!

Bad at Sports is setting up camp at the MDW Fair (pronounced Midway, like the airport) – come check us out over the weekend of April 23 and 24th! Richard, Duncan et al. will set up a casual recording booth area in the style of Storycorp‘s DIY reportage. Bring someone you want to interview – or someone who wants to interview you – and take 7 to 10 minutes to discuss your project your own way, in your own voice. The MDW Fair promises to be the Chicago art event of the season — check out all the details below:

The MDW Fair is a gathering of independent art initiatives, spaces, galleries and artist groups from the Chicago metropolitan area. Held April 23-24, 2011 at The Geolofts, 3636 S. Iron Street, Chicago and organized by Version 11 Festival, Threewalls, Roots and Culture and the Public Media Institute, the MDW Fair aims to highlight the “diversity, strength and vision of the people/places making it happen in the art ecology of our region” and is “a manifestation of the collective spirit behind the region’s most innovative visual cultural organizers, focusing on the breadth of work done here by artists and arts-facilitators alike.” The fair features for-profit, 501(c)3, and commercial and unincorporated galleries, independent curatorial projects and publishers and media groups in over 25,000 square feet of exhibition space that includes a 8,000 square foot sculpture garden with work by local artists.

X Marks Detroit

April 8, 2011 · Print This Article


We received an email from Carlie Dennis, the exhibitions assistant at MOCAD, containing a few corrections to the piece below concerning the number of visual artists represented in the Art X exhibition at MOCAD. The correct numbers have been noted in bold in the piece, and Dennis’ letter to Bad at Sports containing further clarifying details, etc.  follows the post in an effort to ensure the corrections are clear.  In addition, please note the following exhibition sponsorship information provided to us by MOCAD: The Art X Detroit: Kresge Arts Experience is sponsored by The Kresge Foundation, in partnership with the College for Creative Studies, Artserve Michigan, the University Cultural Center Association (UCCA) and the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD).

— Claudine Ise


It was in 1909 that Marienetti first recounts his fated car crash in the pages of Le Figero. He describes an evening where late-night mythologizing veers poetically into an early morning drive. Three “snorting machines” are caressed and brought to life, and he writes, “a great sweep of madness brought us sharply back to ourselves and drove us through the streets, steep and deep, like dried up torrents.” Torrents, indeed. Of course we know how this ends: one shiny, red roadster meets two cyclists, (“like two persuasive but contradictory arguments”), and crashes grill-first into a gutter filled with the muck of industrial runoff. Overcome by his encounter with the speed and power of mechanical ingenuity, Marienetti emerges from the factory sludge a Futurist—belligerently positioned towards a new era, first will and testament in hand.

Coincidentally, it was this same year that Henry Ford’s Model T made its debut at the Detroit Auto Show, and thusly set into motion the chain of events that would result in the creation of Motor City—a figment of Detroit’s identity that persists over a century later. Artists in Detroit are consumed by the context of the post-industrial, post-urban cityscape. Like Marienetti, they are influenced by the concrete motorways and roaring engines that have shaped the physical space, economy, and consciousness of the city for decades.

Henry Ford and his Model T

Art X Detroit, an exhibition featuring 19 17 of the 36 Kresge Fellowship recipients, opened April 6 at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit. Wire Car Cruse, an event and subsequent video work, (titled “a dance for Diego,”) by Chido Johnson, deliberately mines the history and present of car culture in Detroit. The Woodward Dream Cruise, now in its 16th year, is an annual event, where more than 40,000 classic cars and roughly 1.5-million spectators assemble along the 16-mile stretch of Woodward Avenue to observe and tailgate, while restored antiques and custom muscle cars takeover the arterial. I will say, that from someone who is admittedly more of a public transportation enthusiast, this weekend-long spectacle does not disappoint. Beer, barbeque, and tricked-out mechanics?! Um, yes, please.

Johnson uses the performance of Dream Cruise as the foundation for his own event, which combines the ritual of the Detroit car cruise with the practice of creating wire cars, a pastime from Johnson’s childhood in Zambia and Zimbabwe. The performance articulates a hybrid cultural activity, which represents the artist’s own negations with subjectivity living between two cultures. Moreover, Johnson’s event cultivated a community of wire car enthusiasts, and in so doing, opened up this history of Detroiters and their cars to new audiences who may have been previously excluded from this specific cultural phenomenon.

The video documenting Wire Car Cruise is juxtaposed with a sculpture entitled, “me me me,” which is a self-portrait of the artist as a carved African statuette installed on a deconstructed cardboard box on the gallery floor. This work further accentuates the search for a sense of identity between cultural spaces—a literal unpacking of the artist as subject. What interests me most about the video, statuette, and their installation at floor level, is their child-scale. The overall impression of the work is a sense of playfulness that Johnson associates with the practice of making. The video work, “a dance for Diego,” takes as its title a sentiment from Diego Rivera who said that the city of Detroit is of makers and dreamers. Johnson’s work at its essence is about making, and reinvigorating this type of creative industry with a sense of joy and wonder.

Chido Johnson, still from the wire car cruise performance, 2011.

Abigail Anne Newbold’s work, “Home Maker,” addresses the urban frontier as an expanse to be explored via bicycle and wagon. In the tradition of the pioneer settlement, the Airstream mobile trailer, and the popup house, this project is comprised of an intricate toolkit with which even the least adept outdoorsman can create a makeshift home. The foundation of the piece is a custom-made bicycle and covered wagon functioning like a rickshaw trailing behind. The accompanying toolkit is exhibited in an arrangement both in the wagon and on a gallery wall, which operates like a hybrid one-bike garage meets REI store display. The literal use of the tools is ambiguous; however, the rugged, weather-ready materials in hazard yellow and orange renders the objects explicitly for outdoor survival.

Abigail Anne Newbold, "Home Maker," 2011 Newbold Tools. (Photo Credit: Dave Lewinski). Newbold tent and wagon courtesy of the artist.

Perhaps this work is a statement on the changing nature of settlement and domesticity given the shifting housing market, or maybe Newbold is supplying tools, (such as a three-fingered pot holder, a bouquet of tent stakes, and wilted bow and quiver of arrows), to the urban ethnographer. Regardless, “Home Maker” is a response to a city in transition, where the untamed urban prairie is an opportunity to develop and implement re-imagined infrastructures for living for the coming century.

Photographer Corine Vermeulen is the spiritual offspring of Dorthea Lange and Buckminster Fuller. Her series, “Your Town Tomorrow, Detroit 2001-2011,” explores the identity of place through portraiture of the everyday Detroiter. Vermeulen’s imagery, through documentary, ventures beyond the sensation-hungry media snapshot of blighted landscape and broken home. In fact, Detroit as an urban, city-subject is barely recognizable. Her subjects are framed by a landscape that has an immediate, visual association with the southern rural rather than the rustbelt. Families and haphazard communities are depicted in the liminal spaces of Detroit—in front of ailing fences, amidst the tall grasses of overgrown urban lots, and on rebuilt bicycles. It is from this ambiguity of place that Vermeulen achieves the futuristic sensibility referenced in the title of the series.

Corine Vermeulen. "Ika and Malik," 2010.


Corine Vermeulen. "Oscar," 2010.

The artists refers to her portrait series as “memories of the future.” Like the work of Newbold, Vermeulen portrays a city in transition—its citizens picking up the broken detritus left in the wake of post-industrialzation to re-cultivate land, rebuild homes, and re-imagine communities. Her portraits contain the “new topographies of urban life,” and function as an alter-narration of what urban space can be, and indeed, may be, in the uncertain future of Detroit.

Other artists featured in Art X Detroit at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit are Shiva Ahmadi, Hartmut Austen, Lynne Avadenka, Kristin Beaver, Susan Goethel Campbell, Ed Fraga, Tyree Guyton, Rod Klingelhofer, Gordon Newton, Russ Orlando, Senghor Reid, Michael E. Smith, Gilda Snowden, Cedric Tai, and Sioux Trujillo. The exhibition will be on view April 6-24, 2011.

Sarah Margolis-Pineo is a curator and writer. She is currently the Jeanne and Ralph Graham Collections Fellow at the Cranbrook Art Museum.

Corrections from Carlie Dennis, PR Coordinator/Exhibitions Assistant at MOCAD:

There are a few clarifications that I would like to highlight regarding the Art X Detroit exhibition that is currently on view at MOCAD.  First, there are a total of 18 Visual Arts Fellows, 19 if one includes Eminent Artist award recipient Charles McGee.  Neither Charles McGee, nor Tyree Guyton (one of the 18 Visual Arts Fellows) have work in the exhibition on view at MOCAD, as they each have public installations elsewhere in the Midtown neighborhood.  Additionally, it is misleading to say that the exhibition features 19 of the 36 Fellowship recipients, as the other Fellows are in the Literary and Performing arts fields, and are therefore not included in the exhibition but are included in the week’s series of public programs and events.  This statement makes it appear as if the exhibition was curated, when in fact it is an artist-driven showcase and includes all of the Visual Arts Fellows (please click here to read a lengthier description of the context of the exhibition:  Finally, while MOCAD is the venue for this showcase, it is important that proper credit is given to those who produced, organized and funded the exhibition: The Art X Detroit: Kresge Arts Experience is sponsored by The Kresge Foundation, in partnership with the College for Creative Studies, Artserve Michigan, the University Cultural Center Association (UCCA) and the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD).”

See Bruce High Quality Foundation @ Teach 4 Amerika Rally Thursday

April 6, 2011 · Print This Article

“Teach 4 Amerika aims to empower artists to create the education they need and not beholden them to a system that professionalizes them out of their own specificity,” — Bruce High Quality Foundation.

Lots of buzz surrounding the arrival of The Bruce High Quality Foundation in Chicago for two related events this week. The first–a limited capacity, intimate discussion on education and the arts that will be held at Roots and Culture tonight–is already booked solid. Maybe you can still sneak in? Or peek through the windows? The next event can accommodate more bodies: BHQ’s Teach 4 Amerika Rally–billed as “a rally for anarchy in arts education”–starting at 6pm on Thursday, April 7th at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Lecture Center Room A-1, 821 South Morgan Street. These events are presented by Creative Time and hosted by Gallery 400 and Three Walls in Chicago. Below, full details; oh, and can someone snag me a t-shirt please?

Teach 4 Amerika is a five-week, 11-city, coast-to-coast road trip that
crosses state lines and institutional boundaries to inspire and enable
local art students to define the future of their own educational
experience. Traveling the byways of America in a limousine painted as a
school bus, BHQF will bring together concerned educators, artists, arts
administrators, and—most importantly—students to brainstorm on the future
of art schools.

The project calls for a national rethinking of the current art education
system, and will provide an opportunity to discuss issues facing artists
seeking an education, as well as catalyze discussions with students. The
Teach 4 Amerika tour is a rallying effort to begin this conversation on a
national scale and to encourage a new generation of students, artists, and
educators to imagine what is possible for art education in America.

Teach 4 Amerika will combine the spectacle and energy of a political rally
with the substantive dialog of a conversation series, featuring a
multimedia presentation, balloons, t-shirts, and music. In addition, on
April 6 at Roots and Culture, BHQF will also organize an intimate
conversation between students and a group of arts professionals to
transform the ideas and optimism of the rallies into real change (RSVP to
that event is required).

Go Bitches! (to Betsy Odom’s Sis Boom Bah at Hyde Park Art Center)

April 5, 2011 · Print This Article


Recently, I had the great pleasure of talking with Betsy Odom about her latest show Sis Boom Bah currently on view at the Hyde Park Art Center. Betsy, who lives and works in Chicago, received her MFA in Sculpture from Yale in 2007. Her fascinating body of work examines gender and sexuality in the sports world, highlighting the various ways in which these social constructs become public spectacle. Considering the nature of Betsy’s subject matter, we both agreed that there couldn’t be a more aptly named blog to host such a discussion.

Sis Boom Bah is on view until June 19th. For more information on this and other upcoming shows, please visit Betsy’s website.

Elizabeth Corr: One of the things that I find so striking about your work is your deliberate use of materials – leather, sporting equipment, auto paint – materials that traditionally evoke the masculine. You take these materials and incorporate them through feminine decorative traditions such as sewing and weaving, while also utilizing established masculine practices like leather tooling. Suddenly, everyday sporting objects are transformed. It’s like this “Ah-ha” moment, where the absurdity of society’s gender roles is highlighted and you realize just how much these notions permeate our daily lives. Can you talk about your fascination with the politics of gender and why you choose to use sports as a metaphor to investigate these issues?

Betsy Odom: I am extremely conscious of seeking out materials, techniques, and objects that I think contribute to that tacit construction of gender. Sex is infused in tooling leather. We drink from faucets that have grown ever more phallic as time has moved on. Decoration, carving, stitching, tooling – I suspect that many of these activities grew as a way to busy “idle hands.” And some of my own assumptions are way, way off, which I also enjoy. Like, I’m pretty sure that not many people see Emmylou Harris, a straight older country singer, as enough of a queer icon to merit her own sports-team. But my hope is that as soon as you start looking for signifiers, which are abundant in sports, you can conceivably see them everywhere.

In some ways I am trying to act out a fantasy where you can be aware of the absurdity of our cultural influences and still enjoy them, slipping in and out of social constructs like gender, class, race, and sexuality as you please. It’s sort of like the fun of mixing all the different sodas together to see what comes out. (Am I the only one who still gets a kick out of that?)

EC: I want to talk about your piece Double Whistle. To me this piece was so overtly sexual (all I could see was a double sided dildo, but that may say more about me than about your work…). I was fascinated by the fact that you chose to exhibit it within a Plexiglas box – essentially rendering it off limits. What are your intentions with this piece and what does say about female sexuality in the context of sports?

BO: The way I approach intentionality is a bit loosey-goosey. While I hate it when people say, “your interpretation is just as important as mine, my intent is not important, etc.”, at the same time, I do like to start from some pretty obscure or perhaps entirely invented associations. My take on it is this: not everyone reads the piece as a double dildo, or a curmudgeonly old man gym coach, or a tantric musical instrument, or an opulent and rare conjoined artifact. But hopefully, most people do read it primarily as one of the dozen or so things it can reasonably be. Then maybe the other interpretations seep in as well, showing how complicated even a simple gesture can be.

But, where Double Whistle actually came from: I had been mulling over the way my coach’s mouth seemed unnecessarily emphatic on her whistle. I tried a lot of things to express that such as playing with scale, materials etc. It took me a year before the idea of mirroring the whistle finally hit me. I suppose one of the cool things about interviews is that you can get into the stories about a piece’s process or origins, and about the artists themselves. On the other hand, I’ve had many an artist ruin my opinion of their work by revealing where they are coming from.

EC: Walking through the show, I was couldn’t help but think about the work of Judith Butler and her theories about gender and gender performativity. Butler, in a distinctly postmodern approach to gender, calls into question the idea that certain feminine and masculine behaviors are “natural.” She argues instead that the ideals that constitute ‘feminine’ and ‘masculine’ are socially constructed, in essence making one’s gender a complicated ritual of performance. Sis Boom Bah draws our attention to one of the places where gender is regularly performed – the playing field. Talk about the ways in which you and your work have been influenced by postmodern feminist and/or queer theories about gender?

BO: This is probably going to be my longest answer, as I am casually passionate about gender theory. But, before I get into it, I’d be interested in your take on the notion of making art that talks to bigger issues. I personally needed a big dosing of queer and gender theory to even get comfortable with even the idea of making work that is explicitly about sexuality and gender. This is probably a bit of an aside, but I think a lot of artists have to deal with the discomfort that comes along with sometimes wanting to make work that is queer or political.

My discomfort is basically this. I had to face a fear of self-ghettoizing or even pandering in order to participate in a cause I care about, but I also had to cope with the awkward phase of early queer art, and more than that, a fear of continuing in a tradition that tends towards the cheesy. But, at the same time, there is a lot of great stuff actually going on by artists who are able to move in and out of a queer dialog pretty comfortably: Nicole Eisenman’s fan drawing of Shane from The L Word with a fist coming out of her vagina, Collier Schorr’s cover on the latest Aperture, Girls Like Us: Lesbian Quarterly for whatever that’s worth. Do you think I’m just paranoid in still worrying about this stuff?

EC: Paranoid? Absolutely not. Actually, the feelings you mention constitute a real rift within in queer theory relating to feminist standpoint theory and identity politics as useful paradigms for understanding the world. As you point out, while there is this element of freedom and empowerment in being able to speak from a certain perspective (queer or female in this case) there is also the very real threat of alienation and co-option (while certain commonalities may exist, certainly not all queer or female perspectives are universal). And so, as the artist, your worry about viewers taking one perspective (yours) and extrapolating into some kind of universal political statement about said groups (queer and/or female) is very real.

BO: At any rate, I am pretty revved up by Foucault’s idea that our discourse around sexuality tends to be, in truth, the total opposite of what it claims (i.e. the confession of sexual sins propagates more sexual sins for which to confess). I translate this into something of a bait-and-switch in my work: a lot of my pieces try to draw you in with materials, content, color, etc., only to bring you close enough to see something a bit more provocative, then question why you were attracted to the object in the first place. Sort of like your question about interpreting Double Whistle. I very much like the idea of the viewer wondering, “Maybe it’s just me?”

Judith Butler’s work on the performance of gender and her thoughts on sameness and otherness were a driving factor in me getting into this work. I’m especially interested in the way Butler points out gay and lesbian creative use of gender performance. But I wonder if queer play with gender comes from a larger cultural desire (imperative?) to point-out a hegemony, or does it fall into the same heteronormative fallacy of a sense of “naturalness:” i.e. “but I really feel like an androgynous jock,” which I often do, by the way, minus the actual athletic prowess. The need for consciousness of gender as a construct goes both ways I guess. And then there’s the whole other question of how this applies to the very real social issues riding on a perception of queer difference. How do we negotiate all this information?

EC: For me, part of what is so appealing to Butler’s approach to gender is how radically it disrupts normative ideas of heterosexuality. Can you tell me a little bit about how your works challenges these notions, and the ways in which queer culture and sexuality inform your practice and use of language?

BO: Butler is pretty convincing in pointing out that our focus on the biologically gendered body (or that gender is born of the body) encourages us to chain a big ol’ leash on the much wider and more interesting discourse around gender formation. I use sport as place to play with the body, joking with the unnecessary weight we give the body in connoting gender. I enjoy digging into ideas like Butler’s and others that gender is mostly relationary (the concept of female exists in relation to the concept of male, and vice-versa.). I am conflating those relations and projecting them back onto the body – in gear, skin-like materials, etc. What comes out may be a glimpse into what would happen if the performance we have all agreed upon as a society just suddenly ended.

EC: There is a long history of uneasiness with ambiguous gender and sex in sports, and this is partly because the sporting world so heavily relies on neatly packaged ideas of what constitute “female” and “male” especially as they relate to athletic ability. Your drawing, the only drawing in the show actually, references the most recent example of sex testing, which concerned Caster Semenya, a South African runner whose sex was called into question after her gold medal performance at the 2009 World Championships. What did you make of this story and can you talk about your appropriately named piece Un-titled (for Caster)?

BO: I was really blown away by this story because it is one of those instances where I really cannot get my head around what the “right” answer should be in terms of oppression vs. the roles of normativity in culture. Obviously the way this was dealt with is atrocious and inexcusable, which strangely seems to happen a lot when women’s sports are finally noticed. (Imus, anyone? Or the constant focus on the fact that you don’t see dunking in the WNBA?)

But, I don’t know for sure. Is it fair for Caster to run? Can we just think of her mildly intersexed physiology as a genetic advantage similar to height or big lungs? Or should there be events for men, women, and “in-betweens?” I love that this story made the world deal with how complicated gender actually is. Caster is now officially allowed to run in women’s sports and kept her title, by the way, but many speculate that there must be a caveat about testosterone suppression.

But honestly, my main interest in Caster’s story was a glaring omission in the coverage. Namely, no one seemed to publicly care about her sexuality! It is such a rare moment in our culture where gender and sexuality are kept separate. I’ve always thought that separating these is something I would like to see; but in this instance I think it is another form of imposed gender-enforcement. I personally think that, whatever we feel about Caster’s eligibility in sport, we should all agree on one thing, which is that s/he is amazingly sexy. So with the drawing, I simply wanted to celebrate her, well, hotness, the way we do with other athletes. Something like fan art meets the life-sized Michael Jordan poster for the back of your door.

EC: I’m a little embarrassed to admit this, but after seeing Sis Boom Bah I started thinking a lot about the lingerie football league! To me, your work represents one side of the spectrum of gender and sexuality that, excuse the pun, gets played out in sports. And, lingerie football it seems must exist on the exact opposite side of that spectrum. Here we have women sexualized in an overtly heteronormative manner, whose athletic ability and prowess are undermined by uniforms (or lack thereof) and (tit)illating team names like Philadelphia Passion, Dallas Desire and San Diego Seduction. What do you make of this? And, can you talk about how the queering of well-established sexual mores in your work relates to (or makes necessary?) this type of performance of sexuality.

BO: Oh boy is that funny! I’d love to see actual women’s contact football teams doing lingerie football- pitting the Chicago Force against the Dallas Desire. I think it would put an end to the practice forever. Or maybe start a whole ancient Greco-Roman revival of naked athletics. Who knows!


Elizabeth Corr received a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a master’s degree in African Studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her graduate work focused on contemporary African art in post-apartheid South Africa. She lives in Chicago and works at NRDC, an environmental nonprofit.