Wednesday Clips

May 20, 2009 · Print This Article

Shannon Keller, Knitter. Keller's work is on view at Show Cave in L.A. (via World's Best Ever).A few stories, blog posts, and interesting discussions in Chicago and beyond that are on my mind this week.

**Image credit: Shannon Keller, Knitter. Keller’s work is currently on view at Show Cave in L.A. (via The World’s Best Ever).

*CAA Study finds over-reliance on part-time faculty in American higher education.

*New York Times looks at how artists are adjusting to economic hardship.

*Edward Winkleman asks his readers why the view that art is ‘unmasculine’ still persists?

*Chicago artist and illustrator Lauren Nassef’s “A Drawing a Day” still going strong.

*Joanne Mattera bites back after receiving a cease and desist letter warning her not to write about vanity galleries (a.k.a. ‘pay to show’ schemes).

*The architecture of ‘evil lairs’ at BLDGBLOG (via C-Monster). Makes me long for the days I still had time to play videogames.

*Chicagoist’s report on the Society for News Design’s conference and discussions about what’s happening in the Chicago journalism scene. Very interesting write-up here, including follow-up comments.

*”The practice of art gets the criticism it deserves”–Great piece on how the internet is changing critics and art criticism by John Haber.

*Another good read on the above topic: “Arts Writing and ‘The New Thing'” at Peripheral Vision. (Meg has also twittered numerous of-the-moment links on the topic of arts journalism this past week, make sure to check those out too).

That’s all for now. I’m off to see Several Silences at The Renaissance Society.

The Future Is Now*

May 19, 2009 · Print This Article

The Future Is Now*

*And by now we mean in the 22nd century, which is just one number away really. The future is important to artsits since many of us are closet geeks and we like to know what tech we will be unable to afford in 2018.

The Apple future is oddly like the 1984 commercial you know: single minded, simple and dictatorial just with shinny white walls and a rainbow circle that hypnotizes you.

Sita Sings the Blues

May 19, 2009 · Print This Article

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This morning I found an email from Richard Holland that simply stated “utterly awesome” with a link. I clicked on the link and found myself at the home page for the film Sita Sings the Blues. I had seen the movie poster while I was at the Gene Siskle Film Center and had thought about seeing it based on the animation. But as usual I was too lazy and forgot about it. On the front page you are greeted with a letter to the audience: “I hereby give Sita Sings the Blues to you. Like all culture, it belongs to you already, but I am making it explicit with a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License. Please distribute, copy, share, archive, and show Sita Sings the Blues. From the shared culture it came, and back into the shared culture it goes.” The film came about when Nina Paley was dumped by her husband after he had moved to India via e-mail. The film is a recreation of the Indian story The Ramayana.

Wired has a great interview with Nina Paley:

Wired: What is your movie about?

Nina Paley: Sita Sings the Blues is a musical, animated personal interpretation of the Indian epic the Ramayana. The aspect of the story that I focus on is the relationship between Sita and Rama, who are gods incarnated as human beings, and even they can’t make their marriage work [laughs].

Wired: And that ties in with the film’s second narrative.

Paley: Right, and then there’s my story. I’m just an ordinary human, who also can’t make her marriage work. And the way that it fails is uncannily similar to the way Rama and Sita’s [relationship fails]. Inexplicable yet so familiar. And the question that I asked and the question people still ask is, “Why”? Why did Rama reject Sita? Why did my husband reject me? We don’t know why, and we didn’t know 3,000 years ago. I like that there’s really no way to answer the question, that you have to accept that this is something that happens to a lot of humans.

Wired: And this whole movie was rendered on a laptop?

Paley: I started on a G4 titanium laptop in 2002. I moved to a dual 1.8-GHz tower in 2005, moved again to a 2-by-3-GHz Intel tower December 2007, with which I did the final 1920 x 1080 rendering.

view the entire interview here.

I just downloaded it and am looking forward to watching it after the Blackhawks play the Red Wings tonight. Yeah, I like sports.

Tuesday’s Video Pick: 80s Art Institute Commercial

May 19, 2009 · Print This Article

I found this really cheesy commercial from the Art Institute while I was searching for a video of Sol Lewitt on Youtube. It was made in 1988 to commemorate the Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Building. I sort of wish that this music would play in the lobby as you bought your tickets.

Watch the full commercial here.

Artists Run Chicago: In Some Ways, Better than ‘Jesus.’

May 18, 2009 · Print This Article

Artists Run Chicago, installation shot with Old Gold's Post, 2009 on right

Artists Run Chicago, installation shot with Old Gold's Post, 2009 on right

From Holland Cotter’s New York Times review of the New Museum’s The Generational: Younger Than Jesus:

“But my point is that beyond quibbles about choices of individual works, [Younger than Jesus] raises the question of whether any mainstream museum show designed to be a running update exclusively on the work of young artists can rise above being a preapproved market survey. Removed from a larger generational context, can such a survey ever become a story, part of a larger history? (The same question applies to museum exhibitions that leave young artists out of the picture.) I’m asking. It’s a complicated subject. I don’t know the answer.”

I have one possible answer to Cotter’s question: look to exhibitions like Artists Run Chicago, which opened a little over a week ago at Hyde Park Art Center. Artists Run Chicago situates its 100+ works of art within a larger history, one that is as messy and complicated and compelling as any of the many terrific individual works that are on display.

Although the Hyde Park Art Center is definitely not a “mainstream museum,” nor is Artists Run Chicago a generational exhibition, the show does survey a generation of sorts: ten years in the life of Chicago’s alternative art scene as manifested in the countless exhibitions that have taken place in apartments, houses, and cheap storefronts and loft spaces across the city.

The minimum criteria for selection in “Younger than Jesus” was that an artist be under the age of 33. Britton Bertran and Allison Peters Quinn, the curators of Artists Run Chicago, looked not at the age or even the production history of individual artists but focused instead on the (recent) history of a particular kind of exhibition-making that Chicago artists arguably do better than anyone, anywhere, else.

Following a few self-imposed guidelines–in order to be invited to participate in the exhibition, for example, a space had to have been run by artists, to exist in the Chicagoland area, and it needed an exhibition track record of at least eight months between 1999 and 2009–Bertran and Quinn put together an exhibition that reflects the conditions of production within Chicago’s alternative art scene. That scene is itself an ad-hoc, energetic, ever-shifting space of possibility and, let’s face it, struggle. It isn’t easy to run a space, even (and maybe especially) if it’s out of your own home and totally on your dime.

After viewing Artists Run Chicago, it’s hard not to start questioning some of the founding principles upon which sprawling group shows of emerging artists like Younger than Jesus are founded, starting with their tendency to frame artistic practice exclusively in terms of individualistic endeavor.

In this and other ways, Artists Run Chicago undermines simplistic notions of what constitutes a ‘generation.’ Is being part of a generation defined only by the year of your birth, or could it be alternatively circumscribed by who you hung out with and when, who your influences were? How long does a generation last? A decade? Or is as little as eight months enough–whatever time span is required for a group of people to make something that in turn spawns other things: namely, art. Sometimes the lifespan of a space is necessarily short, other times it lives long enough to become something of an elder statesman. Often, a space dies but germinates elsewhere in slightly different form.

Right now, Artists Run Chicago is blissfully short on documentation, which allows for treasure hunt-like wandering about the exhibition and sense of fresh discovery among viewers. For many people, a trip through the show is likely to provoke fond memories and personal anecdotes; for me, it was all new, and yet not once did I feel like an outsider, like someone peering through a window onto a scene that was purposefully cryptic or hipper-than-thou.

A show like this does need some explication, of course; I’m told an exhibition catalogue produced by Threewalls and Green Lantern Press is due in September will be published by Proximity magazine as a broadsheet with a map and timeline. It will include an essay by Dan Gunn along with interviews of the show’s participants. I’m looking forward to connecting what I’ve already seen ‘on the ground’ to everyone else’s stories, and to that larger history.

Ben Wolf (at Normal Projects), Commandering, 2009, found wood and mixed media

Ben Wolf (at Normal Projects), Commandering, 2009, found wood and mixed media

Nathan Mason's Margin Gallery, works from "Butter" exhibition, Jan/Feb. 1999

Nathan Mason's Margin Gallery, works from "Butter" exhibition, Jan/Feb. 1999

Foreground: Mindy Rose Schwartz at Joymore, Ghost, 2002, resin; background: Nick Black at Joymore, Untitled, 2000 (melted toys)

Foreground: Mindy Rose Schwartz at Joymore, Ghost, 2002, resin; background: Nick Black at Joymore, Untitled, 2000 (melted toys)

Swimming Pool Project Space, "If I record this now, I won't forget you in the future".

Swimming Pool Project Space, "If I record this now, I won't forget you in the future".

Sebastian Alvarez at Antena, What if the Earth, 2009, single-channel video

Sebastian Alvarez at Antena, What if the Earth, 2009, single-channel video

Artists Run Chicago at Hyde Park Art Center

Artists Run Chicago at Hyde Park Art Center

VONZWECK, "Curtain which separated VONZWECK from the rest of my apartment, designed by me, fabricated by Brian Taylor

VONZWECK, "Curtain which separated VONZWECK from the rest of my apartment, designed by me, fabricated by Brian Taylor"

Julius Caesar, Audio Tour, 5 disc players and encumbrances.

Julius Caesar, Audio Tour for Artists Run Chicago, 5 disc players and encumbrances.

Old Gold, Post, 2009 (detail), wood, stain, pencil and permanent marker

Old Gold, Post, 2009 (detail), wood, stain, pencil and permanent marker