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 “Feminist” 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.
What’s the problem? The problem is one of language. The phrase “Trauma Studies” has surreptitiously replaced the word “Feminism” 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. Lost—with the loss of the word “Feminism”—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 together—and apart—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. 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 “equal”. To categorize women and men according to gender erases the individuality of both equally. Despite the paradox of losing one’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 Loy’s “Feminist Manifesto” articulates this point bombastically enough: “Leave off looking to men to find out what you are not—seek within yourselves to find out what you are.” 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 … 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:
“Over 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.””
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!
Over the past several years Spudnik Press has become a staple for Chicago printmakers and printmaking education. The space and scope of the project continues to grow; the latest expansion occurred about 6 months ago when an adjacent space in the Hubbard Street Lofts building became available. Spudnik director Angee Leonard jumped on this as an opportunity to have a more dedicated exhibition space and also to broaden the focus of the Printshop. This new space, called the Annex, is a center for writing, bookmaking, and self publishing. It houses a growing small press library, as well as a xerox machine, guillotine cutter, selectric typewriter (which I am a big fan of), hot foil stamper, long arm staplers, as well as a supply of bone folders, awls, linen thread, and other book binding materials. Programming includes writing, book making, paper making, and self publishing classes, as well as one day workshops, such as the zine making community workshop taught by Bad At Sports’ own Caroline Picard this past week. I have also been lucky enough to be involved in teaching classes and workshops at the Annex since it opened last fall.
As more of a “clean” space than the printshop next door, the Annex also provides an expanded exhibition space for Spudnik. Curatorial duties rotate between Spudnik coordinators. The most recent show, Charlie Megna’s Lost Tribes of Renni, which opened last night, was organized by Luke Daly – a Spudnik member who has been a driving force in developing the Annex. Luke co-edits and runs the small press arrow as aarow. I also co-teach a class with him at the Annex, which will be running for the third time in the fall. Charlie Megna is the director of the Peanut Gallery and a founding member of the Peanut Collective. His show will be up through early August.
Over the week leading up Charlie’s opening, Luke and I exchanged emails about his involvement with the Annex and the new show, which is the first in a series that creates small-press publications to accompany exhibited works.
Bailey Romaine: Tell me a little bit about how you came to be involved with Spudnik and about your current role there.
Luke Daly: I’ve been involved with Spudnik in one way or another since pretty early on, when it was still running out of Angee’s apartment in Ukranian village. We started doing a reading series there which we then transplanted to the new space when Spudnik moved over to the Hubbard building. Around that time I took a screenprinting class and started printing there. Then last summer I approached Angee with the idea for what would become The Annex, which she and I developed together and worked on translating into reality. Now my title is Book and Writing Projects Coordinator. In this role I work with Angee on classes and programing, I recruit teachers, teach, design classes, and work to include Chicago’s literary community in what we’re doing and vice versa. Very recently a lot of my efforts have been directed towards programming for Printer’s Ball which we’re hosting at the end of July. I also curate our library of small press and artists books and curate three gallery shows per year, which like Charlie’s show will all coincide with the making and publishing of an artist’s book that somehow extends the work being shown in the gallery.
BR: It seems like things really came together in an amazing way with the Annex – it all happened within a really short time frame. There were classes being offered and a show up within a month if I remember correctly. The small press library is really exciting for me. It seems like what you are developing is pretty unique in Chicago, in terms of what is essentially a study collection in a small non-profit space for making.
Can you talk a little bit about this curatorial project you have undertaken – both in terms of the library and the exhibitions? Did you know before seeing Charlie’s work that you wanted to begin publishing books to accompany the gallery shows?
LD: Yeah, the library was an important part of thinking about what the Annex could be from the beginning. Mainly I was interested in having a physical home for small press, mostly very small-run and handmade literary books, since they are such an important part of the history of alternative or experimental writing in the US, and because they are so tactile and really need to be seen and held to be appreciated. Of course Chicago has places where similar things are available, like the Read/Write Library or Quimby’s, but the focus of the collection that I was interested in putting together at the start was slightly different in that it sought to foreground small, specifically literary publishing from around the US.
Since I’ve been putting together the collection, my interests have developed in an organic way, and I’m finding myself interested in the intersection that seems to be going on between comics, zine and literary cultures. It seems like those categories are learning from one another, and people are doing work that very interestingly exist at the intersection of those different conversations. I’m finding myself more and more drawn to work of this nature. And always work that looks beautiful but that is made simply, since in the end we are a space that’s built around making, and it’s great to be able to have this collection here to show students or to consult for ideas when getting started on a project.
As for the Book Arts Series, which is the series of exhibitions that I curate at the Annex, my idea to pair gallery shows with the publication of artists’ books started to come together while I was researching people who I thought would work well to show here. I knew that I was interested in work that was operating at the intersections of language work and visual work, but often the work that I was encountering that extended this as it’s main goal or focus never totally hit home for me, and I started to feel that placing work at a crossroads of visual and literary could very well be a slightly more involved and creative curatorial task than just seeking and finding artists whose work, as is, fit with my own conceptual goals of the Annex.
When I had the idea of doing a show of Charlie’s work, I think that these ideas clicked, and that his work helped me to articulate to myself what I was interested in doing curatorially. Charlie was really excited about creating physical artifacts, tools, symbols, alphabets, and languages for his Renni tribes, and I was really excited about the idea of creating real material things that have been retrieved from an imaginary, non-physical world.
It reminded me of one of my favorite writers Henri Michaux, who wrote factual travel writings of impossible imaginary places, or Borges, who wrote intensely detailed scholarly accounts of imaginary texts, places, histories, people, feuds, conversations, etc. I knew that a book would further the fact of having Charlie’s work existing in multiple planes, and it was exciting for me to locate his work in a place of literary imagination, and have that translation become the intersection that was being investigated or developed. I’m interested in doing books that extend the work that’s being shown somehow, or that translates it across, so that it exists in a different kind of space (physical space to literary/imaginary space perhaps), or in multiple spaces simultaneously. I like the way that the books can live on and grow and complement and play off of one another in a series after the shows are long past.
This weekend marks the second annual Chicago Alternative Comics Expo, fondly known to comics creators and fans alike as CAKE. For two days out of the year, artists and publishers from all over the US, Canada and beyond congregate in Chicago to share and shop-talk their work. The result: an overwhelming flurry of comics, prints, self-published ephemera, weirdos and spontaneity. Be sure to stop in for a visit!
Chicago Alternative Comics Expo (CAKE)
Saturday and Sunday, June 15 & 16, 2013
11 am – 6pm
Center on Halsted
3656 N Halsted
FREE and open to the public!
Work by Zak Arctander, Jesse Butcher, Andrew Doak, Alan and Michael Fleming, Alex Gartelmann, Ethan Gill, Ivan Lozano, Andrew Mausert-Mooney, Casey McGonagle, John Opera, Auggie Oz, Benji Pearson, Mike Rea, Oil Rodriguez, Jonas Sebura, and Nicolas Wiley.
Heaven Gallery is located at 1550 N. Milwaukee Ave. Reception Friday, 7-10pm.