It is difficult then to delve into the past and exhume whole passages of injustice, especially when those passages operate inside of a system one believes to be good. In doing so, one must discuss the significance of trauma, peel back old wounds and attempt in some way to make peace. Or perhaps it isn’t about making peace at all. Perhaps it is instead about admitting and honoring discomfort, frustration and unhappiness, for while it is horrific to admit that there are cracks in the systems we employ, it is worse to gloss over or deny them. The Chicago Torture Justice Memorials Project (CTJM) addresses these issues directly, engaging a local history of police brutality to create a platform for public monuments and discourse.
Rather than cover up those horrific moments, CTJM seeks to uncover and air out the darker edges of our past and present, pulling them into focus with the help of survivors, artists, activists, community organizers and lawyers. Together, they invited proposals “for speculative ways to memorialize the torture cases,” in an attempt “to honor the individuals, families, and communities affected by torture, as well as address the obstruction of justice that has occurred in the aftermath.” That call was issued in 2011 and asked for anything from “from architecture to haiku, website to mural, community organization to performance, bronze plaque to large-scale memorial.”
“Opening the Black Box: The Charge is Torture” is features 70 of those proposed monuments at SAIC’s Sullivan Galleries. The exhibit is named after a particular torture device (the “black box”) that was used by Officer John Burge to coerce confessions from 1972-1991. Burge is responsible for as many as 200 incidents of torture, many of which involved electrical charges that shocked prisoners. Although legal routes had granted some success, many of the case advocates (lawyers, victims and activists alike) felt that the law was unable to offer adequate retribution. They turned to art. “Opening the Black Box: The Charge is Torture” is one aspect of that process. It is open until December 21st.
Complementing the theme of that exhibit, the Sullivan Galleries are hosting two additional shows: Laurie Jo Reynold’s Tamms Year Ten Campaign Office,where Reynold’s has effectively installed a working office from which to advocate for the closing of Tamms: a “supermax” prison on the southern tip of Illinois. It opened in 2008, intended as a site for “super shock” treatment that would not extend beyond a year. Now, something like 1/3 of Tamm’s prisoners have been there, non-stop for a decade.”[Inmates] live in long-term isolation—no phone calls, no communal activity, no contact visits. They are fed through a slot in the door. Prisoners at Tamms only leave their cell to shower or exercise which they are allowed to do, depending on their behavioral level, from zero to 7 times per week. Exercise is solitary, in a concrete pen.” Reynolds and her collaborators (including former inmates and inmate family members) also work to connect inmates to the outside world in some way — including, for instance, taking photographs of certain objects at the prisoners’ request. Requests include “the Masonic temple in DC”, “what’s left where the Robert Taylor Homes used to be”, ”a heartsick clown with a feather pen”, “my mom in front of a mansion with money and a Hummer”, “Michelle Obama planting vegetables in White House garden”, “any Muslim Mosque or Moorish Science Temple in Chicago or Mecca or Africa”, and “fallen autumn leaves (which we do not have access to in the “concrete box” which is deemed a yard here)”. During their residency at the Sullivan Galleries, Tamms Year Ten continues their regime of activism while planning additional public programs.
Tirtza Even’s Preview: An Assembly from Natural Life (work-in-progress), which describes itself as “a feature-length documentary produced by SAIC faculty Tirtza Even alongside the legal efforts of the Law Offices of Deborah LaBelle. The work challenges the inequities in the juvenile justice system by telling the stories of several individuals sentenced to die in prison since youth. The project’s goal is to depict the experiences of these youths who receive the most severe sentences available for convicted adults—a sentence of ‘natural life’ or life without parole—against the contexts of social bias, neglect, apprehension, and alienation.”
It’s a tremendous line up with much to think about and discover and there are a few additional events on the horizon well worth checking out.
Saturday November 17 Claire Pentecost will facilitate a conversation around Photo Requests from Solitary. Men housed at Tamms supermax prison were able to request a photograph of anything in the world, real or imagined, and members of the public realized the pictures. Men formerly housed in Tamms, the family members of current inmates, and other special guests will be on hand to view the photos and respond to the project.
Thursday November 29 Kevin Coval, Darby Tillis, Achy Obejas, Gary Younge, Quraysh Ali Lansana, Krista Franklin and others present I AM A MEMORY: Chicago Writers Against Torture. This evening of readings and performances is dedicated to the survivors, their families, and their communities who endured unspeakable acts of torture at the hands of the Chicago Police.
Saturday December 15 brings the final program. A Film Festival Against Torture presents a daylong screening of three powerful films about torture, featuring discussions with the filmmakers: Peter Kuttner, Cyndi Moran, and Eric Scholl; Jackie Rivet-River and John Lyons; Ines Somer and Kathy Berger.
November 13, 2012 · Print This Article
I left New York City for Wisconsin just as hurricane Sandy was barreling up the East Coast, and I returned in the middle of the nor’easter that came to salt the wounds that hadn’t yet healed.
That means I was in Wisconsin to observe the aftermath of both the election and the hurricane. It was the first election I spent outside of New York in over a decade, and, despite being in a place that rallied behind a lesbian senator and prides itself on its artisanal cheeses and beers, the sense that I wasn’t in Brooklyn was palpable.
Romney/Ryan signs dotted most of the manicured lawns of the bedroom communities in Ozaukee County, one of the most republican enclaves in the state, indeed the country. Cedarburg, where I stay with my in-laws sits smack in the center of the county, and happens to be the place where John McCain and Sarah Palin chose to launch their 2008 presidential campaign, which didn’t even think about coming close enough to Brooklyn to see its forearm tattoos.
When ensconced inside Cedarburg’s city limits one begins to understand why its citizens gripe about the federal government. Look around and you’ll see a community that seems from every vantage to have figured things out. Not in some kind of sinister, Ayn Randian, elitist disengagement either, but in a real, communitarian, bucket brigade, do unto others way. A way that leads many of those who don’t leave the place to wonder why a bunch of bureaucrats 1000 miles away should be shaking them down for money to pay for social and cultural programs that they manage just fine on a community level.
In Cedarburg, if you needed food, you could walk up to any restaurant and they’d give you a meal. That’s welfare. If you were sick, the doctor would see you. That’s medical care. If you were pregnant and 16, the community would politely shame you and gossip about you for the rest of your life, but would also see to it that your child was cared for. That’s social services. That’s also the police.
My dad-in-law – who happens to be named Sandy – is one of a majority in his community who if allowed would shrink the entire federal government into a 24-hour help desk whose phone number was buried so deep on the website that you’d have no choice but to use the on-line chat to reach them. But as he watched New Jersey and New York plunge into darkness and not immediately light back up, I watched his conviction waver. And as he watched his beloved Chris Christie lay olive branches in front of Barack Obama, I thought I saw a little pan-American Esprit de corps bubble up from inside and pierce his usually impenetrable exterior.
Seeing Christie and Obama together, he muttered, “This must be a dire situation because it’s not easy for someone that big to kiss an ass.”
We stayed up late talking about Jacksonian versus Hamiltonian democracy as the disaster unfolded over cable news. We didn’t agree on everything, but it was wholly amicable. I gave him a copy of Naomi Klein’s book “The Shock Doctrine” which he didn’t immediately throw into the fire or back at me, a gesture as tender as a hug if you knew the man.
He liked it when I riffed about how the media’s job is to locate scapegoats where they can and to create them when they can’t. I did a shtick about natural disasters in Chris Rock’s voice and then played him Rock’s bit about why people blame music and video games when kids go on shooting rampages at public schools.
“What ever happened to CRAZY!!??”
“What ever happened to BIG, POWERFUL, IMPLACABLE, UNAVOIDABLE, NATURAL FUCKING DISASTER!!!?”
He roared like a kid telling dirty jokes on the playground. He said all journalists were like hyenas but with less loyalty, and then told me an old one about a blind stewardess and a couple of donkeys for good measure.
Sometimes it takes a catastrophe to galvanize people.
The day after the election, I caught Sandy out in the front yard taking down the Romney/Ryan and Tommy Thompson signs. He like the rest of the town was emotionally hungover from the political orgy of the past few nights. In fact, earlier in the day I actually saw a guy crying at the gas station about the election. It could have been for other reasons, but I assumed he was pissed about either Romney or Paul or Tommy. After gathering and tossing the campaign signs in the trash we went inside where the 24 hour news droned on. It was Fox News and the subject was the fiscal cliff and the end of the Bush tax cuts.
Sandy yelled over one the pundits, “BE AFRAID, BE VERY AFRAID!!”
“Of the host’s hair?” I added sarcastically.
“Of the SOCIALISTS!!”
“You mean of our democratically elected federal government whose taxes are roughly a quarter of its gross domestic product?”
“A quarter given is a quarter wasted and redistributed!! Protect my shores, deliver my mail, and get the hell out of my life!! And don’t let the door hit you on the way out!!”
Hurricane Sandy was back and no bucket brigade could stop it.
Includes 75+ exhibitors, publishers and performers.
Mana Contemporary Art Center is located at 2233 S. Throop. Reception Friday, 7pm–12am.
Work by Jason Smith, Jeriah Hildwine, Jesse Avina, Annie Heckman, Jake Myers, Sam Sieger, Ben Dimock, Olivia Strautmanis, Aaron Straus, Laura Boban, Stephanie Burke and Jesse Loosebrock.
Co-Prosperity Sphere is located at 3219 S Morgan St. Reception Friday, 6pm-2am. (Please note: the author has a piece in this show)
Work by Sabelo Mlangeni.
Iceberg Projects is located at 7714 N Sheridan Rd. Reception Saturday, 6-9pm.
Work by Mike Nudelman.
Thomas Robertello Gallery is located at 27 N. Morgan St. Reception Friday, 6-8pm.
Work by Erika Harrsch.
Kasia Kay Gallery is located at 215 N. Aberdeen St. Reception Friday, 6-8pm.
Of the many branches of contemporary art’s gnarled and twisted family tree, arms and armor appears to be a particularly precarious limb, a long-dead branch likely to be pruned off by any serious storm. More than any other field of art history, arms and armor have come to be associated with the dimly-lit studies of the super rich, typified by Bruce Wayne’s manor in Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman. “Check this out. He must have been the king of the Wicker People.”
There are those of us, though, who notice things in that scene, that most viewers miss: For example, the completely anachronistic juxtaposition, on the armors flanking the door, of close helms and breastplates from the sixteenth century, with eleventh century kite shields decorated with swirling-armed crosses. Five hundred years of history separate the former from the latter, no less than separates the latter from the present day. A close helm would have been as out of place at the battle of Hastings as an Abrams tank at the court of Henry VIII.
Most people watching Batman, even artists and art viewers, wouldn’t know the difference, and couldn’t care less, and in fact would probably imagine the previous paragraph being read aloud in the voice of Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons. The appreciation of arms and armor is easily treated as an oddball, nerdy fringe of art history, and tainted by association with violence: undergraduate art history survey courses rarely cover the difference between a bascinet and a burgonet. Contrast this with the expectation that anyone with a degree in art, in any medium, should easily recognize the painting The Joker later defaces as Rembrandt’s late self-portrait, and the one he spares as one of Bacon’s popes.
Arms and armor may not be appreciated by as wide of an audience as is painting, but they have their fans, and I’m one of them. As a kid, I remember going to visit my family in Philadelphia, and we must have gone to the art museum; I remember a seeing, just in passing, some maces in a display case and becoming totally enamored. My dad bought me a book on arms and armor on that same trip, and I’ve still got it, much abused and well loved. In my teens my mom bought me a book on the arms and armor of the medieval knight, and I’ve still got that one too. The summer before I went away to college, I went to Europe with my girlfriend at the time, and each time we visited a new city I sought out its arms and armor museum: Vienna and Dresden were both quite memorable, though that latter city sadly lost much of its collection in the firebombing it experienced in World War II.
In August of 2007, I was attending a residency at the Vermont Studio Center, before moving to Chicago to join my wife Stephanie Burke, who had just started school at SAIC. She called me to tell me about the wonderful collection of arms and armor she’d seen at the Art Institute. I arrived a month later, headed down to the Art Institute, and found the long, dimly-lit hall…completely empty, save for a single display case with a few swords lingering.
The hall was the Art Institute’s Gunsaulus Hall, which housed the Art Institute’s fantastic collection of arms and armor until late 2007. Three years later, a small selection of the collection was put on display in the Art Institute’s Galleries 235 and 236, where it remains on view today. The exhibition space is small and so the percentage of the collection that can be shown is necessarily quite limited (although its ceilings are high enough to display an armor for man and horse with the rider mounted, something never before possible at the Art Institute). In that display, a sign indicates that this small display is temporary, pending the completion of a new, much larger exhibition space for the collection, at an undetermined future date.
The Art Institute’s collection of arms and armor comes from the estate of George F. Harding, Jr. (1868-1939), a Chicago businessman and politician who amassed an incredible collection of arms and armor as well as other art and artifacts from around the world. In 1927, Harding expanded his Hyde Park home, adding upper stories emulating a castle. He used this “castle” as a museum to display his collection of arms and armor.
The castle was torn down in 1964 as part of an urban renewal project, and the collection was moved to a building, closed to the public, at Randolph and Michigan. The museum’s chairman, Herman Silverstein, along with his wife Bea, was the subject of a lawsuit by the Illinois attorney general’s office in 1976, accusing the Silversteins of “violating IRS regulations concerning charitable trust laws by mismanaging the museum assets and failing to allow public viewing of the relics.” The Silversteins agreed in count in 1989 to resign, and to turn over to the Art Institute the last $4.1 million of the Harding Museum’s cash assets, to be used to conserve and display the collection. The Harding collection itself had been turned over to the Art Institute in 1982, under pressure from the State.
The bulk of the Art Institute’s collection remains in storage, out of view, but even the small selection on display is well worth seeing. There’s also a book, Arms and Armor at The Art Institute of Chicago, by Walter J. Karcheski Jr., out of print but available online very inexpensively. For my dear fellow viewers who appreciate this odd branch of our culture’s visual history, we will have to content ourselves with these, until the Art Institute makes room for a larger exhibition space for this world-class collection.
Recently compiled emails show that we have a little somethin-somethin for everyone. Michiganians have the upper hand on this one though. (…haha?) If you live in Detroit you should get in on this Kresge Artist Fellowship application and if you’re a bored PhD, Cranbrook prefers you. Columbia College has that baller book arts residency this winter. Humble has it’s new Fall/Winter grant application up. And, holy shit, SAIC IS HIRING.
2013 Kresge Artist Fellowships — $25,000 for emerging and established metropolitan Detroit artists
We believe your art invigorates our city. We believe that within our creative community lies a path to our imagined future. Your energy, your talent, your ideas inspire. We believe this so strongly that we’re willing to invest. In you. In a creative Detroit.
Literary Arts: Arts criticism in all categories (including literary, performing and visual), creative non-fiction, fiction, poetry, spoken word, and interdisciplinary work (including experimental work, graphic novels, zines and other hybrid forms).
Visual Arts: Art and technology, book arts, ceramics, collage, drawing, fiber, glass, installation, metalwork, painting, photography, performance art, printmaking, sculpture, video art, and interdisciplinary work (including experimental work and other hybrid forms).
Application Deadline: February 1, 2013
Cranbrook Academy of Art — Call for Critical Studies Fellowship
Cranbrook Academy of Art, a preeminent graduate school of art, design and architecture seeks applicants working in the fields of Critical Theory and/or Contemporary Art, Craft and Design Theory for a one-semester residential teaching fellowship for Fall 2013. Please note: we are not seeking candidates who are primarily studio artists or who propose a studio-based series. (womp, womp)
Travel stipend toward R/T travel to campus and/or professional activities
Housing (private apartment on campus)
Fellows must reside on campus and be free from professional duties during fellowship (September 9- December 20, 2013)
Application must be postmarked by December 1, 2011.
To apply, send 3 copies of a packet that includes:
• Completed Application Form
• Letter of interest
• Academic CV (including bibliography of published work)
• Proposal of Series for the Fall 2012 semester (to include 2 lectures and 2 discussion topics)
• Names and contact information for three references (must include telephone number)
Mail application to:
Sarah Turner / Critical Studies Fellowship
Cranbrook Academy of Art
PO Box 801
39221 Woodward Avenue
Bloomfield Hills, MI 48303-0801
Founded in 1932, Cranbrook Academy of Art is located on a National Historic Landmark campus in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. The country’s only independent graduate-only program in visual art, architecture and design, Cranbrook offers an intense and intimate learning experience for 150 graduate students in a community of studio-based programs where Artists-in-Residence mentor students to creatively influence contemporary culture.
For more information, contact Sarah Turner at the address above or: email@example.com
Anchor Graphics/Center for Book and Paper Arts Joint Residency
TIMELINE: • Completed entries must be emailed by December 1, 2012. • Notice of acceptance will be emailed by December 5, 2012. • The residency dates are January 7 – 25, 2013.
Anchor Graphics and the Center for Book and Paper Arts are offering a three-week residency this winter interim, from January 7–25, 2013. The residency is intended to provide time and facilities for a artist to work alone on a specific project.
The Centers are combining resources this year to offer an emerging or mid-career experienced book artist and/or printmaker a combination of resources to complete their artistic vision, including access to studio space and Anchor Graphics and the Center for Book and Paper Art’s top quality print, letterpress, bookbinding, and digital studios. There is also a housing and honorarium component to the residency.
Humble Foundation NY – New Photography Grant
2012 Fall/Winter Grant Guidelines
Humble Arts Foundation established the New Photography Grant in 2007 to help support photo-based art projects in the U.S. and abroad.
How the Grant Works
Given twice annually (fall and spring), the grant is a $1,000 cash award that recognizes the strongest new proposal in contemporary art photography as submitted to Humble Arts Foundation.
Deadline: Friday, November 30, 2012, 11:59 PM, PST
We accept applications from photographers who are at least 18 years old, regardless of geographic location.
We will fund projects that are new or ongoing. Applicants should submit no more than one proposal requesting support for one project.
Humble Arts Foundation’s senior curatorial staff will review projects for visual strength and clarity of proposal.
Submit exactly ten images. Each image must be a jpg, 72dpi and 600 pixels wide only, that means the width of the top of the image, not the side (length).
Artist members: Free
Deadline: January 7, 2013
Full-time Faculty Position, Art Historian, North American Art, 1865–1945
Deadline: December 1, 2012
Good luck to everyone, always!