Lisa Radon eludes traditional definitions. Occasionally a geologist, previously a critic, and perpetually a poet, she dabbles in all manner of creative work from performance art to small-batch publishing. Driven by research and aided by collaboration, Radon’s projects are buoyed by a multitude of voices that, knowingly or otherwise, are ushered into her game. Much of her work can be conceived as a playgroundâ€”or temporary autonomous zoneâ€”in which she spins circles around the structures of language and ideas, drawing liquid connections between word, image, and concept to insightful and poetic ends.
I first became acquainted with Radon during her 2012 Resource Room Residency at Portland Institute of Contemporary Art, (PICA). She orchestrated a talk that invoked Emerson’s essay Circles, quoting: “The eye is the first circle; the horizon which it forms is the second; and throughout nature this primary picture is repeated without end. It is the highest emblem in the cipher of the world.” (1841) Radon continued to articulate that our understanding of the world can be conceived as an ever-expanding set of concentric circles, always reaching out and beyond, informed by individual experience as well as by collective formations of society and culture. Her recently launched journal, EIGHTS, brings Circles into tangible form. Conceived as an “exhibition space on the page,” the publication assembles the works of artists and writers who explore, challenge, and upend traditional semiotic structures. Reinforcing Emerson’s assertion that, “the universe is fluid and volatile,” this initial volume of EIGHTS includes works by Alison Knowles, Ian Hamilton Finlay, and Shannon Ebner, artists and writers who navigate the space between text and image, transforming the publication into a veritable Hunting the Snark for the concrete poet.
I spoke to Lisa Radon following the release of the first issue of EIGHTS in Portland, Oregon.
David Abel, Listen, 2012
SarahÂ Margolis-Pineo: Thumbing through EIGHTS, I was struck by it resistance to traditional categorizations. I was simultaneously reading and seeingâ€”experiencing visual art and poetryâ€”in a format that intersects exhibition and literary mag. This slipperiness seems conceptually crucial to the project, and I’m curious: how was EIGHTS conceived and formalized?
Lisa Radon: I have for some time been interested in theÂ mÃ¶biusÂ strip of reading and writing, where reading is a kind of writing and writing is a kind of reading. And I imagine EIGHTS as being exhibition space on the page for writings-as-readings at the intersection of thisÂ mÃ¶biusÂ strip with visual art. So there are concrete poems, works of conceptual writing by artists and poets, works of conceptual art, and writings by artists. This is a beautiful field to consider. And I like the conversations these works can have with one another.
SMP:Â How has the knot become a significant allusion?
LR:Â You’re referring to the logo, which is a mathematical knot, the figure-eight knot. I like that it’s a prime knot, for one thing. But more importantly, the idea of the knot, an ordinary, non-mathematical knot, is significant to this project specifically, and more generally to my work, because it is the place where points in a line that would never touch one another, do touch. New frictions.
SMP:Â I’ve heard you reference Dick Higgins’s conception of art as a liminal zoneâ€”or horizonâ€”that is in essence a meeting place for commingling and overlap. How did the legacy of Higgins and otherÂ FluxusÂ artists inform EIGHTS?
LR:Â Oh, interesting, well I know that’s a part of my own thinking, but I don’t think of EIGHTS as being particularlyÂ FluxusÂ influenced, although Higgins certainly made conceptual writings. It’s just an aspect of the whole. That said, Alison Knowles’ House of Dust is in Issue One. It is an early example of an artist collaborating with a computer to make a writing. Essentially it is an automated (FORTRAN-generated) reading as a writing.Â
SMP:Â I’m hoping you can illuminate a bit about the curatorial process. How were the works selected and arranged?
LR:Â Considerations included giving primacy to works that function as both readings and writings. Works that expand the notions of “writing” (see works by David Abel and ShannonÂ Ebner) and reading (Sydney S. Kim’s piece is a thermal reading of the covers of a selection of books of poems) are important. Incorporating works in English by artists for whom it is a second language was interesting as a way of raising questions about translation broadly. Including works by influential artists and poets like Ian Hamilton Finlay, Bernadette Mayer, and Clark Coolidge sets the groundwork for EIGHTS’ conversation.
Shannon Ebner, Subject Lost, 2012
SMP:Â While reading/viewing many of the pieces in EIGHTS, I found myself examining them almost analyticallyâ€”looking for a cypher or codeâ€”all the while being aware of the visual and aural resonance. In a way, each work operates as a stand-alone game with its own internal logic. In my mind, the project became a collection of these magic circles and, I guess my question tends toward the relationship the pieces have to each other: what is the conversation you envision these works to have? Why bind them into a coherent volume versus displaying them in an exhibition format, through online infrastructure, or releasing them in individual volumes?
LR:Â Most of these works have a preexisting relationship with the page. And even in the case of those that don’t, their inclusion lets me think about what language does differently on a page rather than say, on a wall or in the air. Specifically, in a book, there is the magical thing of images on facing pages touching one another. Like a knot. I love the book as a form. And it’s the word’s natural home. Plus, it can move so nicely in the world.
SMP: I agree: the page allows language to play differently than language spoken aloud, but at what point does visual poetry generate meaning versus operating as a page-bound pun?
LR:Â Thatâ€™s funny. I donâ€™t think you would ask this question of an abstract painting. And I think itâ€™s funny that we ask it of a concrete use of language, or any non-ordinary deployment of language. Â Concrete or visual poetry as well as myriad other non-expressive ways of using language (operational, fragmented, repetitive) may make meaning in collaboration with the viewer (every reading is a writing, she says again), but their relationships to meaning are different. The words in one of these pieces are not used as mere tools, the way you and I are using words in this most banal of ways, to simply say what needs saying. Theyâ€™re used in ways that expand and complicate their relationships to one another and to the whole, which results in complicating our relationship to language and its use. I think this is an enormously productive zone both for making meaning and refusing or confounding it.
In 1954 EugenÂ GomringerÂ wrote this on concrete poems:
“The constellation is the simplest possible kind of configuration in poetry which has for its basic unit the word, it encloses a group of words as if it were drawing stars together to form a cluster.
The constellation is an arrangement, and at the same time a play-area of fixed dimensions.
The constellation is ordered by the poet. He determines the play-area, the field or force and suggests its possibilities. The reader, the new reader, grasps the idea of play, and joins in.
In the constellation something is brought into the world. It is a reality in itself and not a poem about something or other. The constellation is an invitation.”
Tim Johnson, Bring / Banged / Singing, (insert), 2012
SMP: Thatâ€™s lovely. It perfectly illustrates the relationship between lived experience and imagination and the potential for experimentation within even the most elemental structures. I want to learn a bit more about what you have in mind for the following editions in the EIGHTS series, but Iâ€™m also really curious about the work youâ€™re doing with Hakim Beyâ€™sÂ Temporary Autonomous Zone, which, like the constellation or white page, are conceived as spaces to prototype new ways of being. Can you speak to this new project in the works?
LR: EIGHTS will be published annually. Contributions for Issue No. Two will include work by Madeline Gins and BuzzÂ Spector.
TheÂ TAZÂ project is a book I am making called PrototypingÂ Eutopias. And boy, even though I’ve been working on it for some time, I can barely talk about it. It is probably a poem, a manual, a history, a call, a horizon, a magic object. I originally conceived of it as a re-writing of theÂ TAZÂ that would excise its war language, an enhancement of it to include considerations of the ethics of care and esoteric practices. ThenÂ VaneigemÂ came in andÂ RetallackÂ and Kropotkin, and on and on. I’m mostly researching opals and invisibility.
SMP: Interesting. Iâ€™ve always found theÂ TAZÂ message contradictory to the media. Not to delve too deeply into this next project, but it seems to me that EIGHTS already exists as a simultaneous counterpoint and affirmation of Beyâ€™s discourse. You can respond, but I was hoping to segue into your interest in words and things. Can you tell me how the web-based â€œsupplementalâ€ components came about?
LR: Sure. The supplements on the website can and will be anything from armature for thinking and process documentation to theory andÂ talismanicÂ object.Â I wanted a strict separation between the work and work about the work, so any theory will be on the website not on the white walls of the book.Â It is also true that in the two years it took to make the first issue, there was a necessity to embed a handful of images and objects as talismans.
SMP:Â Any words or objects that have your interest at the moment?
LR:Â The number eight as verticalÂ lemniscateÂ asÂ mÃ¶biusÂ strip. Rocks. Knots. Lemons, always. Not to drift too far off topic here, but they are powerful objects. And barnacles. Barnacles make a clicking noise at low tide which is super sci-fi. They’re blind as adults.
EIGHTS is published annually and is available by subscription. 8eights8.com
Lisa Radon has exhibited at Hedreen Gallery, LxWxH, White Box, Car Hole, Worksound, and galleryHOMELAND. Her recent residency at Portland Institute for Contemporary Art resulted in a lecture and a publication entitled A Reading (2012, Portland Institute for Contemporary Art). Other recent publications include: An Attempt at Exhausting a Place (2013),Â The Book of KnotsÂ (2013, c_L),Â Sentences on Sentences on Paragraphs on ParagraphsÂ (2011, Publication Studio). Â lisaradon.com
Authorities have released details about the driver of a car that struck and killed a 21-year-old Bridgeport woman and then drove away.
According to an alert issued by Chicago Police Department on Tuesday, the vehicle “a maroon Hyundai Sonata sedan” was driven by a Hispanic male believed to be in his 20s. The car was occupied by two other people.
Police said the car was speeding in the 3200 block of South Morgan Street when it struck Carissa Hinz, an aspiring artist who was helping clean up after Friday night’s kickoff party for Version Fest, the community-focused art and cultural festival she helped organize.
The impact from the crash sent Hinz flying into the rear windshield of a car parked about a 100 feet away, police said. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
Hinz was a well-known artist and barista in the community. Friends at Jackalope Coffee and Tea have said they’ll donate all of their tips at the end of the week to Hinz’s family
Youâ€™re not likely to see a better display of the most important architecture and design of the 20th century anywhere else this summer, so the fact that Michigan Modern: Design that Shaped Americaonly focuses on what came out of post war MI is even more remarkable. Starting with Charles Eames and Eero Saarinenâ€™s highly influential submissions for the Organic Design in Home Furnishings at MoMA in 1940, and ending with a recreation of a living space in Mies Van der Roeâ€™s Lafayette Park in Detroit, there are few stones left unturned, yet the map and timeline in the North Gallery proves thatÂ so much editing still had to be done. Focusing primarily on the design and architecture, as well as the automotive industry from 1940 – 1970, MI Modern has original and reproductions of some of the most iconic furniture of the period, Herman Miller textiles of Alexander Girard and Ruth Adler – Schnee, advertisements for Steelcase, Herman Miller and others, and newly created and existing models of iconic buildings throughout Michigan. Encompassing most of the state including the U.P., with a symposium (June 13-16) touring iconic buildings in Broomfield Hills, Detroit and Ann Arbor, Michigan Modern is in many ways a summer blockbuster show, mimicking on a small scale the expansiveness of Documenta, but with everything homegrown. While considering all the Saarinen, Van der Roe, Kahn and Breuer contributions to the design and architectural legacy of Michigan, one sees how (again) much of Americaâ€™s strength lies in immigration, but even more where unique timing, collaboration, forward thinking, talent and serendipity had a profound and lasting impact on the look and feel of modern America. It is our fortune that so many of these Architectural gems like Lafayette Park, the GM Tech Center, and St. Francis de Sales Church are here in Michigan. It is an exhibition that can keep rewarding the viewer all summer long, able to travel from one building to another at the best time of the year to do so. While they have always been sitting in plain site, MI Modern re emphasizes their importance and in doing so, presents them again to us as new.
“Marshmallow Sofa”, George Nelson, 1956 for Herman Miller. In Production.
Two complementary shows at Cranbrook Art Museum highlight the lasting influence of Cranbrook at this time in MI History. What to Paint and Why: Modern Painters at Cranbrook, 1936 â€“ 1974, curated by Chad Alligood showcases paintings by alumni and faculty of Cranbrook Academy of Art, offering works that are both in line with and counter the prevailing movements of 20th century art. Likewise, A Driving force: Cranbrook and the Car, curated by Shoshana Resnikoff offers a rare look into Cranbrook’s influence in the auto industry, complete with a stunning and unique Rocket cycle car as well as designs by alum Suzanne Vanderbilt.
Michigan Modern: Design that Shaped America is organized by the Michigan State Historic Preservation Office in association with Cranbrook Art Museum and curated by Monica Ponce de Leon and Gregory SaldaÃ±a. On View at Cranbrook Art Museum until October 13, 2013.
Visit Cranbrook Art Museumâ€™s website for more info:
The utter absence of Romanian feminism in the Academy as well as in everyday life has been one of the most surprising takeaways from living in Bucharest for the past year as a Fulbrighter. It seems Patriarchy has won the day through deployment of pressures both brutally institutional and unwaveringly individual. On the street Romanian women associate being called a â€œFeministâ€ with admitting weakness and the need for help. With the immovable metaphysical authority of the Orthodox Church backing it, Romanian Patriarchy quietly and efficiently continues its careful management of acceptable language.
Whatâ€™s the problem? The problem is one of language. The phrase â€œTrauma Studiesâ€ has surreptitiously replaced the word â€œFeminismâ€ in the Romanian Academy. Gained in this exchange is a vague feeling of victimhood with a need for unending and rigorous archival work, memory studies, and polite acceptance of the cultural conditions at hand. Lostâ€”with the loss of the word â€œFeminismâ€â€”are the activist heritages and more importantly the performative capacities of the word to project group unity in the face of individual oppression. Women and men togetherâ€”and apartâ€”must learn to negotiate the complexities of how identity thinking and action both erases the individual and is made necessary by historical social injustice.
American Feminism demands that society treat women as the equals of men under the law. The difficulty with positing such a legalistic position remains that law bleeds in and out of other parts of the social architecture.Â The best trick Patriarchy ever pulled off was to make women believe they are equal to men since this makes women into gender-bound objects through the performative power of the word â€œequalâ€. To categorize women and men according to gender erases the individuality of both equally. Despite the paradox of losing oneâ€™s individuality to group identity in order to become freer, the social justice need for the work done by identity politics remains.
European Feminism demands that women look beyond gender expectations to become more themselves, more individual, and less beholden to the male gaze. Mina Loyâ€™s â€œFeminist Manifestoâ€ articulates this point bombastically enough: â€œLeave off looking to men to find out what you are notâ€”seek within yourselves to find out what you are.â€ But of course any such interiority (whether at the end of a penis or vagina or anything in between) pulses stuck in the traffic jam between individual and society. These construction sites of gender make our society function â€¦ but at what cost and who pays for it? Can an individual take her own freedom or must a group give her that freedom?
The following call for papers nicely summarizes my experience in the Romanian capital:
â€œOver the last couple of years, new forces have gathered
to undermine women’s and feminist organizing in Europe
and Eurasia. The Orthodox Church has launched an
“anti-gender” campaign in Russia and Ukraine–with similar
campaigns in Serbia and by the Roman Catholic Church in
Croatia and Poland–misunderstanding gender and linking
feminism to anti-natalist and anti-nationalist projects.
Repression and violence, such as the harsh sentences for
Pussy Riot and violence at Gay Pride events, raise the
stakes. Implicit in austerity policies–cutting services that
more often help women while keeping low the taxes that
men predominantly pay–is a neomasculinism that once
again pushes gender equality off to until “later.”â€
Everyone knows that going to a museum or a gallery is usually more trouble than it’s worth. What, with all the disapproving glances, heady talk and questionable wine selections. Wouldn’t it be easier just to look at art while you shop? Or during your morning commute to the Loop?
Citizens of Chicago, have no fear. Murals and public commissions are popping up all over (and around) the city. Just this past week the CTA announced the seven artists commissioned to beautify North Side Red Line stations. Lynn Basa (renowned public artist and my former boss) posted this mock-up for her Byzantine glass mosaic that will adorn the Argyle stop on facebook. Basa, who [literally] wrote the book on public art commissions mentioned to me this weekend that she is elated to be creating a public work in her hometown.
Basa mock-up for the Argyle station.
As if the CTA commissions weren’t enough, some of my very favorite Miami artists from Jim Drain to Bhakti Baxter have been descending on the town of Rosemont to complete murals in a new mall scheduled to open sometime this summer. For reasons beyond my comprehension, the ever-relevant New York Times devoted print space to this “ambitious” project. What’s the T? has heard that the mall will also feature an Alvaro Ilizarbe piece that is “his sistine chapel” and worth the trip to the mall-seum. See you there?
Chicago artist, Josh Reames, working on the Drain mural.
Threewall’s ‘Power of Ten’ was a party for way more.
Those artists sure do clean up nice!
Screw Basel and Venice, the Threewalls 10th anniversary benefit this weekend was on point! The Power of Ten at Salvage One had everything – food, drinks, crazy antiques and baubles, steampunk-style old-timey tin-types, circus performers, drink, dancing, a silhouette cutting artist, music, drinks, and even some art.
Even though we still don’t know where they’re moving (do they even know where they’re moving to?!), here are ten fabulously done-up attendee’s in honor of the power of ’10′:
Threewalls Programming Director, Abby Satinsky with artist and curator, Anthony Romero. Abby’s dress is just killer and La Croix continues to trend.
Auction guest curators and Chicago fashion icons, Ben Foch and Chealsea Culp of New Capital with Threewalls Director Shannon Stratton.
Formerly featured on Who Wore it Better, the daper Daniel Tucker and Anthony Stepter.
Artist Jason Lazurus flanked by up-and-comers Raven Munsell and Jesse Malmed. LOVING the seersucker suit!
Face paint was definitely a big winner at the ACRE Block Party last Saturday, June 8th.
Consistently referred to as the worse post office in the world, the Roberto Clemente Branch of the USPS in Logan Square is a wonderfully ‘brick’ building, not in material but in shape. Thats not to say it’s shaped like a brick, but the bricks become different shapes. I say this because brick is on display, not for what it wants to be – sorry Lou Kahn – but for what it tries to simulate. It’s like when Neo sees Agent Smith shrouded in binary code – parts to whole, whole to parts, but without the make-up.
Post office exterior.
Usually used as a traditional building material, mostly flat and controlled through joining patterns, bricks do not become cylindrical columns, filleted edges, curves, almost tapestry like frames for tall beautiful window displays of people waiting two hours for a package, like at the RCPO. Opened in 1937, this building threw me for a loop because I dated it later, but the deco interior and amazing mural insice should have been more of an indication.
The mural in all it’s glory.
The changes in the bricks attitude is mad postmodern, but it was done at the mid-stage of American modernism, lending itself to the deco ideas of streamline. That would explain the curvaceous bod on this beauty, but not her brick dress. Beauty might be only skin deep, but when you use rounded bricks to complete a homogenous cladding of a building that could have been expressed in steel or another more plastic material, you’re trying to say something about normal buildings out there, namely ‘who cares what the brick wants to be.’
Located at 2339 N California Ave, Chicago, IL 60647
SLAC studios take hold on Milwaukee Ave
Artists revitalize storefronts in advance of MAAF
If you live in Logan Square you’ve probably been wondering what happened to that garrish pink bakery on Milwaukee Avenue near the Spaulding Blue Line stop. Unwilling to let it lay dormant, Gwendolyn Zabicki, founder and director of the South Logan Arts Coalition is putting this and other vacant storefronts on Milwaukee Avenue to use. SLAC’s studios will be open to the public with exhibitions featuring a total of 40 artists during the 2013 Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival, June 28-30th.
What’s the T? caught up with Zabicki and some of the SLAC artists for sneak peek of what SLAC has in store for MAAF:
Location to Station: Help my ACRE homies fulfill their vision quest to super rad places like Cahokia. The artists are all super talented, and the “perks” for donating are real sweet.
ACRE Kitchen: ACRE does a lot of intangible things for the over 90 artists who visit the residency in Wisconsin each summer, but one of the most substantial and delicious parts of the program is feeding everyone twice a day. Anyone who’s been to ACRE knows the food is awesome, fresh, sustainable, all that jazz and the staff is tireless. Help ACRE help you! Plus it’s tax deductible. Hurry! There’s only a few days left!