September 30, 2013 · Print This Article
“I willingly was a participant in the lifestyle of the motorcycle club, and it is a lot like any other social scene, with it’s own codes and mores, only perhaps faster and at times more violent. But at the same time, it is upfront, so in that sense you know what you are dealing with and it is clear what is expected from you… I have never been uncomfortable around the club and have never felt threatened in any way, if they like you, and most importantly, if the leader of the club likes you, they will treat you with absolute respect.” -Laura Stewart
The two main protagonists of Laura Stewart’s latest film are the titular “Shooter,” motorcycle gang leader of Green Bay, Wisconsin’s Black Pistons, and Whitley, a young woman who is both his partner in crime and charity project.
Shooter is an actual individual whom Stewart credits with sparking her interest in perusing the project in the first place; “I didn’t even know what this film was going to be about when I started it, I had always liked Shooter and found him intriguing… he was the only subject that interested me enough to blow through all this film.” From seven hours of footage, the final cut comes in at fifty-three minutes.
Shot without a script, the film uses voice-over narration to reveal the thoughts, fears and desires of Shooter and Whitley, and we experience the filmic world Stewart creates through the lense of their impressions and experiences. Although Stewart confesses that a typical days shoot would involve “having a general idea what I’d want to film,” she cultivated a collaborative relationship with her actors and actresses wherein they would agree or decline to proceed given the premise she would establish. The goal was always to produce scenes that most realistically reflected their lives, so although the relationships and events of the film are all constructed, the characters had, “the freedom to expose the parts of their lives that they want(ed to).”
For Whitley, this entailed sound bites about coming from a broken home, learning how to cook crack by age eight, and getting thrown out of the house by fifteen. Shooter took a longer view about his romantic relationships over the years, and the protection and security he could provide Whitley for the price of obedience.
By giving them the “freedom to be who they want(ed) to be,” Stewart felt she was able to better coax an authentic portrayal of their “lifestyle or soul” from them. Amidst the dancing, drugs, partying and prostitution that eventually entrap Whitley, and cloud her ultimate quest for comfort and security in the hands of Shooter, we find both characters blindly searching for home in a motel and bar, and referring to a biker gang family.
Without knowing the film is fiction, it is virtually impossible to perceive it as anything but documentary. This complex fusion of fiction and reality is what interests Stewarts, who feels that, “…all our lives are continually being made up every day in our heads anyway. There is no concrete documentary in my opinion.”
The non-diegetic mood music is eclectic and often jarring— it ranges from a song by the Dirty Three, to The Rolling Stones, to Franz Schubert. One scene in particular, shot on location at the Bourbon Street bar, pairs “Nacht und Träume” with lingering close-ups on Whitley’s tightly bound bust and Shooter’s grizzled, filthy looking paw stroking her upper thigh. The camera cannibalizes the image of Whitley, lingering on her chest and leg, chiefly without inclusion of her head or face in the frame, placing the viewer in the position of objectifying misogynist right alongside Shooter.
There were a handful of reasons why Stewart opted for filming in 16mm (with some Super 8)— some were practical, others were creative license. After recent run-ins with the law that Shooter and members of motorcycle club had just prior to filming, the analogue technology of 16mm, “let them know this was not some sort of surveillance, so (they) would be comfortable with a camera around.” In addition, the film pays homage to seventies cult biker films which were also often shot quickly, using 16mm.
Stewart embraced the uncertainty that filming in 16mm comes with, stating, “That was part of what I liked best about (it), never having any idea how it would turn out until it came back from the lab in Seattle.” She notes that, “the bikes and the chrome, and the Sky Lit motel with it’s 50′s sign where the M goes out after a lot of rain, this was something I felt needed to be on 16mm.” While the quality of shooting with film goes a long way towards setting the stylized tone of the film, the rigid, traditional and conservative gender roles that both Shooter and Whitley personify also reinforce this feeling. The trance-like spell their gritty, sparse, and often desperate monologues invoke, incanted under the pulsing neon light of the Vegas-style motel sign transport the viewer to a bygone era, so much so that moments when a man in a recumbent bike pedals past the Bourbon Street bar, or a different man gets into his car in the parking lot of the Sky Lit while talking on his cell phone are unexpectedly shocking, standing out as wrinkles in the time warp.
Stewart reports that the bikers like the film, and that, interestingly, “the guys all say it is more about relationships.” Through an interesting blend of narrative and documentary, and improvisation and confessional, Stewart employs classic Hollywood filmic troupes alongside contemporary motorcycle club culture and aesthetics to create a film that navigates its own interesting path somewhere between the realms of hyper-reality and fan fiction.
All images courtesy of Laura Stewart.
Interview with Laura Stewart conducted by the author via email in September 2013.
The author would like to thank Laura Stewart.
To contact Stewart, please write to: email@example.com
The podcast! This week: Duncan and Richard talk to Spencer Finch about his current exhibition “Study for Disappearance.”
What is the color of the threshold – of that liminal space before day plunges into night? Spencer Finch attempts to answer this question through his most recent body of work created specifically for Study for Disappearance, his fourth solo exhibition at Rhona Hoffman Gallery.
An essay by John Preus about making a table:
Quilting, a designation generally reserved for things made of fabric, is the result of surplus parts. It is not quite an assemblage or collage, although that history certainly relates to what is interesting to me about the table. An assemblage has to incorporate disparate parts, disruptions, things that were not meant to be together, a forced marriage, so to speak. Being that all of the table parts are wood, it isn’t suitable to describe it as an assemblage or a collage. And it is not marquetry, which is an image or pattern-making technique using veneers of different colors to develop a picture. Quilting takes parts of other things to make a new thing. I would venture to guess that it comes out of a utilitarian folk tradition in which materials were limited and people had to make do with what was around. That may have been true long ago, but I am sure that quilting happens now more among folks with time to kill, than among low income folks trying to save material, textiles being as inexpensive as they are.
I put together a list of articles written about the Expo art fair spree here.
Britton Bertrand thinks back on 2005:
The years 2005 and 2006 were ok years for Chicago Art. It seemed to be an upswing couple of years when apartment galleries and art interest were peaking. (These things come in waves – I’d put us in a upward motion now after reaching the bottom in 2011.) The MCA was showing interesting work (a Dan Flavin Retrospective, Deb Sokolow and William J. O’Brien had 12 x 12’s), blogs were percolating with critical activity (anyone remember panel-house.com or iconoduel.org?) and this new fandangled thing called a podcast had people sitting with their bulky desktops and REALLY listening.
Amanda Browder says GOOD MORNING New York:
“Good Morning!” is a fabric installation that will be draped on the facade of the building located at 72 East 4th Street, NYC. All the fabric is donated by people from the neighborhood, as well the generous support from Materials for the Arts.
read an interview with Browder about the piece here.
More on the subject of John Preus — Thea Liberty Nichols posted an incredible essay about Preus’, who’s work she recently curated at the Experimental Sound Studio:
John Preus is an artist, musician, carpenter, woodworker, and magpie. In the long-standing tradition of Chicago artists scavenging for “trash treasure,” he lets serendipity and the thrill of the hunt guide him in sourcing discarded materials. Each new piece is a design challenge, contingent on entropy and surplus, to revive what others have cast-off or given up on. His materials offer up an infinite number of solutions which he is constantly attempting to “extract and exploit.”
Juliana Driever posted an artist profile about Ernesto Pujol:
Pujol is a site-specific public performance artist and social choreographer. He has a long record of intellectual and interdisciplinary art practices which have dealt with concepts of collective and individual and collective identity, the sacred, social and political issues, and public/private space. Since the late 90′s, Pujol has also been working on public group performances, where the focus has rested with action, movement, the journey – and the central concept of the “artist-as-citizen.” Additionally, he is the founder of The Field School Project, where young and emerging artists are individually mentored in site-specific practices.
Atlanta-based Meredith Kooi writes about a photo show curated around feminism, performativity, and photography organized by the Hagedorn Foundation Gallery:
The works in the show by the artists Jill Frank, Mónika Sziládi, and duo Double Zero (Hannah Ireland and Annie Vought) examine how to make a photograph of someone, a person, a woman (perhaps) and what that means. One of the organizing principles of the show – performativity, a buzz word indeed especially since the 1990s with Judith Butler’s work on gender – finds itself in relation to photographs that draw attention to the process of their making. Alongside considerations of gender and femininity as performative gestures, the works in the show investigate the apparatus of photography and imagistic representation itself – Jill Frank’s work in particular. Adding to this work by Frank is the Untitled (Projection) series by Steffani Jemison presented in her solo exhibition, When I Turn My Head, in the upstairs gallery at Hagedorn.
Monica Westin posted an interview between Yolanda Cesta Cursach and Tolcachir about Tolcachir’s upcoming performance at the MCA:
Tercer Cuerpo is partly about labor and identity, particularly the disappearance of sustainable, meaningful jobs for people. What happens to these characters, and us, when we must find meaning in our lives apart from a career or calling? The always-already obsolescence of the form of theater makes the piece of interest to representing labor in contemporary performance and medium specificity in dealing with contemporary collapses of space and time. But the company Timbre 4 is also a landmark for contemporary Argentinan art practices; their home base in the working-class Boedo neighborhood of Buenos Aires has become a hotbed and model for independent, experimental theater and performance.
Saturday closed out, as per always, with some Endless Opportunities —
1 Professor/Associate Professor in Art and the Public Sphere, Oslo National Academy of the Arts Closing date: Review of applications will begin October 15, 2013
2. A Blade of Grass announces ABOG Fellowship for Socially Engaged Art Deadline: Monday, December 2, 2013
A Blade of Grass, a new funding organization that nurtures socially engaged art, is pleased to announce the launch of the ABOG Fellowship for Socially Engaged Art. Seven Fellows will be selected to receive an unrestricted stipend of 20,000 USD to realize an innovative community-based project. The program will also offer tailored professional support to socially engaged artists including documentation and assessment of each project, and workshops that teach skills that are particularly relevant to artists working directly with communities to enact social change…Letters of inquiry will be due Monday, December 2, 2013. Finalists will be invited to submit full applications in January 2014 and selections will be made and announced in April 2014. A Blade of Grass will hold two informational Fellowship Workshops prior to each annual application deadline. This year, they will be held on September 17 and November 6. To view the complete application and selection guidelines visit the A Blade of Grass website: www.abladeofgrass.org/
3. Heads up on the rapidly approaching deadline for entries to Curate NYC:
This citywide cultural initiative provides New York City artists a rare and powerful opportunity to expose their work to top curators around the world. See our current entries here: http://www.curatenyc.org/2013/. There are numerous opportunities for exhibition, and no cost to participating. Curate NYC is a civic venture produced by arts philanthropist Danny Simmons and marketing strategist Brian Tate, in partnership with the NYC Economic Development Corporation, to heighten visibility for local artists and to promote the City’s positive image.
4. Kress Foundation Grants DIGITAL RESOURCES GRANTS PROGRAM Deadline: 01 October 2013
Supports efforts to integrate new technologies into the practice of art history and the creation of important online resources in art history, including both textual and visual resources… The Digital Resources program is intended to create incentives for historians of art and architecture, as well as archivists and librarians who support their work, to convert important existing information resources to digital form. These resources will reach a vastly larger audience of specialists, teachers, and students online than they could ever reach previously, while also fostering new forms of research and collaboration and new approaches to teaching and learning. Support will also be offered for the digitization of important visual resources (especially art history photographic archives) in the area of pre-modern European art history; of primary textual sources (especially the literary and documentary sources of European art history); for promising initiatives in online publishing; and for innovative experiments in the field of digital art history. Please note that this grant program does not typically support the digitization of museum object collections. More on that here.
5.GET CA$H FOR QUEER ART! The Critical Fierceness Grant & Mark Aguhar Memorial Fund
Since its founding in 2005, Chances Dances has sought to create a safe space for all gender expressions by bringing together the varied LGBTIQ communities of Chicago. The creation of the Critical Fierceness grant expands upon this goal by offering a unique opportunity for queer artistic expression. Individuals or groups who wish to utilize the Critical Fierceness Grant for artistic purposes and who identify themselves or their work as queer are encouraged to apply. The Critical Fierceness Grant supports queer artists with financial assistance of up to $500.
In 2012,Chances Dances expanded the Critical Fierceness Grant to include the Mark Aguhar Memorial Grant, which seeks to fund projects by queer woman-identified and trans-feminine artists of color. The Mark Aguhar Memorial Grant supports feminine-spectrum queer artists of color with financial assistance of up to $1000. Chances Dances is proud to provide both these opportunities for personal exploration, community development and radical change through art. Read more.
6. ARTIST-IN-RESIDENCE PROGRAM FOR PRINTMAKERS | Kala Art Institute, CA Residencies starting in November, December, January, February, or March Deadline: 15 October 2013
Artists working in various printmaking techniques, photo-processes, book arts and digital media including video production can apply to become an Artist-in-Residence at Kala Art Institute… Resident artists receive 24-hour access to the printmaking workshop and/or electronic media center, individual storage space, possible exposure on Kala’s website and in other exhibitions at Kala or outside exhibition spaces, and participation in a vital, international artistic community. Artists also receive a 20% discount on classes and private tutoring offered by Kala. You will find out if you have been accepted approximately two weeks after the application deadline. Kala’s Studio Managers sometimes require the artist to complete certain classes or technical tutorials before beginning the residency. If this is the case, the artist is given a list of the classes/tutorials required. At this point the artist may accept or reject the offer of a residency. More info here: http://www.kala.org/air/air.html
September 27, 2013 · Print This Article
Tercer Cuerpo,the claustrophobic experimental play by Argentinian company Timbre 4 opening at the MCA next weekend, takes place, according to director Claudio Tolcachir, in “an office that doesn’t have any more reason for being, its services have no meaning.” While remaining in the office set, characters as obsolete as the space in which they labor appear to act in other settings, other places. Tercer Cuerpo is partly about labor and identity, particularly the disappearance of sustainable, meaningful jobs for people. What happens to these characters, and us, when we must find meaning in our lives apart from a career or calling? The always-already obsolescence of the form of theater makes the piece of interest to representing labor in contemporary performance and medium specificity in dealing with contemporary collapses of space and time. But the company Timbre 4 is also a landmark for contemporary Argentinan art practices; their home base in the working-class Boedo neighborhood of Buenos Aires has become a hotbed and model for independent, experimental theater and performance.
Tercer Cuerpo, courtesy of the MCA
This Spring MCA’s Yolanda Cesta Cursach talked with Tolcachir about the approaching Chicago debut of Timbre 4. Her interview, translated by Cursach, appears below.
YC: In Tercer Cuerpo, it seems the playing area is some undeniable womb for five very different biographies.
CT: Tercer Cuerpo is a fragmented telling of 5 simple stories crisscrossing the solitude of these individuals immensely incapable of dealing with what life deals them.
The decadence of the playing area reflects the characters’ personal disorientation. They want something from their lives. Simple things. Things that in general can be had. But they don’t, and this situation causes them enormous shame.
What I like in live theater is getting absorbed and at the same time taken by the story to an uncomfortable place. But this still depends on an intimate place, for my discomfort being the spectator can identify with the great and the small. With what is being known in my heart. In that divide between laughing at the same time that we could cry is where we identify with others.
YC: Timbre 4 has toured widely outside Latin America. What’s the audience’s response to your plays?
CT: It’s fascinating, sometimes foreigners are even more demonstrative that Argentine people. I don’t know if that’s because they find the plays odd. When you write a play, you think of the audience of your country. Furthermore, these plays are shown with subtitles, so I don’t know whether the translations are alright or not, I just trust the translators. I remember once, in Dublin, a man asked me, “Did you get inspiration from an Irish family?” In France, for instance, people asked, “Do all Argentine mothers sleep with their sons?” European people are amazed by the fact that we Argentine artists create plays with a very low budget. They can’t believe some actors rehearse for free and, even so, the plays are still amazing.
YC: You seem to be interested in alternative family ties.
CT: I believe that everything revolves around the family—building a family is building a society too. Hamlet can be a political play or a family drama. I’d rather make the spectator feel involved with the story between the characters than anything else.
YC: Timbre 4 is an ensemble. What is your connection after 12 years since forming ?
CT: Our theater is about investigation, and we have modest beginnings keeping us aware of our city’s social situation and the multitude of other storefront theaters’ beginnings. From staying together all these years we manage to overcome the limitations of our neighborhood and of experimental theater, so that we can get the regenerating public which we so want to reach.
YC: What’s the difference in Argentina between mainstream plays and storefront plays?
CT: I’ve performed a lot in mainstream theatre, as an actor. The production scheme is different. When you are directing a mainstream play, you ask for a couch and the next day you have it in the set. In off-theatre plays, you have to get in your car, start your engine, go to a market and buy the couch yourself. But then, the feeling between the actors is the same. I’ve never directed a play I didn’t like. I couldn’t direct a play if there was a bad working environment.
YC: Why make theater at all? What is so irrepressible about treating your writing this way?
CT: In my case it’s completely selfish. Theater makes me happy, I feel alive, excited from it, and to be honest I’m not good for anything else. Investigation, risk, collaboration, unraveling and breaking routine each time never ceases to seduce me.
Work by Christine Tarkowski, Jason Reblando, LaMont Hamilton, Kirsten Leenaars, Lise Haller Baggesen Ross, Vincent Tiley, Erol Scott Harris II, Macon Reed, Chicago Studio, and more.
6018North’s event with be located at 1050 W. Wilson. Reception Friday, 6-10pm.
Work by George Blaha.
Firecat Projects is located at 2124 N. Damen Ave. Reception Friday, 7-9pm.
Curated by Phillip Schalekamp.
Squid3 Gallery is located at 1907 N. Mendell, #4-H. Reception Saturday, 6-10pm.
Work by Allison Grant, Nathan Miller, Jessica Pierotti, Victor Salgado, Chuck Przybyl, Daniel Hojnacki, nicole white, and Edyta Stepien.
Chicago Art Department is located at 1932 S. Halsted St. Reception Friday, 6-10pm.
Work by Karen Reimer
Chicago Public Library, Humboldt Park Branch is located at 1605 N. Troy St. Reception Saturday, 3-4pm.