How Did You Sleep?, performance by James T. green and C’ne Rohlsen for By the Horns. Photo by Meredith Weber.
As a part of EXPO Chicago’s opening night event, Vernissage, Ordinary Projects presented a selection of performative works entitled By the Horns. Ordinary Projects is a new initiative from Industry of the Ordinary [Adam Brooks and Mathew Wilson], led by Program Director Meredith Weber. Sid Branca had an opportunity to chat with Meredith about the importance of performance art in a fair context, her involvement with Industry of the Ordinary and the development of Ordinary Projects.
Meredith Weber: Ordinary Projects is an initiative that’s based upon on the success of the platform project Industry of the Ordinary started within their 2012 exhibition at the Cultural Center, a large mid-career survey called Sic Transit Gloria Mundi. In addition to showing their entire body of work, they also created a platform where other artists were invited to show. At the time I was working on a curatorial project called Happy Collaborationists, which was an apartment gallery in Noble Square focused on performance, installation, and new media. I did that for four years with a collaborator [Anna Trier], and they invited us to show on the platform.
We curated a performance art series on the platform, and the artists got to use all sorts of spaces, which was part of this amazing opportunity that Industry of the Ordinary was given, and offered to other artists in turn. I think a lot of people don’t know about the generosity of their practice. They may seem unapproachable, but this generosity of their practice is why I’ve been involved with them, and why I continue to stay involved. Basically all of the money that was invested in their show by the city was doled back out to other artists.
Sid Branca:So how did Ordinary Projects begin?
MW:When Mana [Contemporary] opened, Matt and Adam were like ‘ok, here’s this really amazing opportunity to have access to a studio, but we don’t really use a studio,’ because they meet here [the Skylark in Pilsen]. They were like, ‘this is a community that we want to be a part of, but why would we invest in a space like that to store things?’ So they decided to do the Platform project in their studio.
What we’ve been doing for Ordinary Projects is alternating between their work and the work of other artists that are emerging, and I’m managing those exhibitions. Right now it’s a pretty large project, and they consider all of it to be a social sculpture. It’s three prongs: the exhibitions; the student summer school; and then what we’re calling community projects, which we haven’t launched yet.
SB:And how did By the Horns come to be?
MW: The past two years at EXPO, Industry of the Ordinary has performed at Vernissage. This year we all thought this is a great opportunity to show Ordinary Projects. We’re only performing on the opening night but what I’m really hoping is to prove something, to prove that this should be an ingrained part of the exhibition. When you go to other fairs, performance art is there. I really want performance to become an integral part of EXPO.
Everything I’ve ever done in Chicago has been based upon trust. All the relationships I’ve built, all the opportunities I’ve gotten have been based upon that. And Tony [Karman] trusts Matt and Adam to present something, and they, in turn, trust me to present something.
SB: So would you say a commitment to endowing emerging artists with that kind of trust is an important part of how you work?
MW: I’m still operating very much the same way that I did when I was running an apartment gallery. I’m not operating on a budget. So my commerce is my relationships. What I tell artists when I work with them is ‘this is what I can offer you, and what will this mean for your career?’ Because what I’m really hoping is that any opportunity that I give to someone is a launching pad for the next opportunity. You can’t ignore the fact that this is not only an opportunity to exhibit your work to the public, this is an opportunity to exhibit your work to all of the exhibitors.
Years ago as Happy Collaborationists we did a performance series at Midway Fair. The first year we did a booth, and the second year we said ‘no way, we can’t do that again.’ So we curated out of the bathroom, and the idea was that every three hours the work in the bathroom changed, because every three hours somebody was going to need use the bathroom that was working. And so it wasn’t really about showing the work to the people that were at the fair for one day, it was about reaching people that were there all weekend. How do we get those people to talk about what’s happening? It was a really, really fun project.
So that was something I was thinking about as fair as EXPO was concerned. I have a history as an athlete, and so when I think about art I kind of think about sports. I talk about strategy quite a bit. So thinking of the room— there used to be this play in high school that we would run that was called the gauntlet, where you would set someone up for the three-point shot. And I was thinking, how do we get people to run through the room so that everyone is supporting each other?
Certainly there are sometimes pieces that stick out to me that I really want to work with, but I select the artist, versus the artwork. And then I like to build with that person how they see the work fitting, and how I can support the work so that it’s realized to its fullest capabilities.
Some artists are bad at sports, some artists are good sports. Feminists are artists. Some mothers are feminists, some artists are feminists and mothers. As mammals, we’re all born from mothers. Mothers and mothering make the world go round and keep the wheels of life spinning. And life is messy—it’s full of bodies that ooze and wheeze, splatter and spurt. Solid, liquid, and gaseous, bodily matter creates a viscous sphere of reality for mothers and motherers from pregnancy and childbirth through infancy, childhood, and on to the grave.
Cameron Harvey, Triptych (2014), left; Outward Round (2014) Photos by Lise McKean unless otherwise credited.
Curiosity about properties and behaviors of matter and the manipulation of it, whether playful or null-hypothesized, are hallmarks of artistic and scientific creativity. How about cutting it in half, smashing it, or welding it together, turning it upside down, making it bigger or smaller, louder or quieter, hotter or colder, lighter or darker? The decision-making rolls on from one work to the next.
Of course artists don’t have to be mothers to be interested in exploring embodiment and connections to others. The impetus can come from loving a partner or a pet, teaching yoga, being ill or caring for someone who is. That is to say, any artist can make the decision to foreground the exploration of bodies and connections between them. Large cadres in the realms of institutional art—museums, art schools, commercial galleries—evince a phobia about these interests. An artist coming out as a mother or motherer makes some folks positively squeamish. Especially those who perpetuate machismo conventions that transmute art work into commodities.
Surface and Beyond (2014), installation shot. Photo by Claire Ashley.
Like any other strong lineup of shows, this lineup features work variously engaged with abstraction and figuration, forms and materials, scale and dimensionality. The works in these shows embody their makers’ irrepressible determination to create art that enlivens the space it inhabits. In this regard, the recent installation of Judy Ledgerwood at the Graham Foundation, Indira Johnson’s mushrooming Buddha heads, and Sabina Ott’s current exhibition at the Chicago Cultural Center also come to mind.
Cameron Harvey, Body Electric (2014)
Let’s start with Claire Ashley and Cameron Harvey’s show, The Surface and Below, curated by artist and mother-to-be Angela Bryant. The works in the gallery’s almost demure manorial space twist and shout with blazing color and pneumatic girth. Harvey affixes spray foam, string, and spandex onto her painted canvases. These materials are more than another form of mark making. They transform the canvas into a sculptural object. Sometimes the foam takes leave of the motherboard altogether and takes on a life of its own. With or without a canvas, the works at once suggest gestural abstraction and forms as familiar as a vacuum cleaner hose, sea slug, entrails, or excrement. With her distinctive melding of ideas and materials, Harvey’s debate with figuration and abstraction becomes altogether visceral.
Claire Ashley, Game of Cat and Mouse (2014)
The work of either Harvey or Ashley would more than suffice for a solo exhibition. Yet seeing them together adds the context of contrast, and creates a dialogue between the two bodies of work. Ashley’s air-filled creations are made of ripstop nylon and PVC (polyvinyl chloride)-coated canvas tarpaulin. She spray paints them in funfair colors. What’s more, some are attached to a wearable backpack that holds the air supply. This means they can be literally embodied.
Cameron Harvey, Bound #3 (2014)
Whatever way they’re deployed, Ashley’s works play nicely with Harvey’s spray foam and summertime palette. Harvey’s string-wrapped foam forms and Ashley’s inflated ones—along with her small soft creaturely figures crammed through holes in plywood—all proclaim a showdown between exuberance and constraint.
Claire Ashley, Big Whoop (2014)
Ashley’s bloated forms are way larger than life and billow like the canvas of a pirate ship at full sail. Two of them bulge out of their alcoves. The larger one is an assemblage that resembles a pillow with armrests known to New Englanders as a husband. Ashley’s digital prints hang nearby with festive blurs of color. They’re the result of another approach to scale and space: she makes tiny objects out of colored clay, photographs them, and blows up the photos. Their flatness punctuates the puffiness of the objects that engorge the gallery.
Edra Soto, Say Everything (2014)
Moving from the leafy enclave of River Forest to the urban streetscape of Division and Milwaukee brings us to Edra Soto’s show, Say Everything. Walking into her installation on a miserable cold night felt like coming to a tropical beach at sunset. Spotlighted in a room purring with coral-pink light, greenish silkscreen banners hang from the ceiling. Geometric motifs from the flags of the US, Puerto Rico, and Chicago repeat themselves across the fabric, at once rhythmic and heraldic. With fans positioned around the room, the banners undulate creating the sense of rustling palms and rolling waves.
Edra Soto, Say Everything (2014)
Soto extends her beach references by taking PVC stalwarts—molded plastic chairs—and covering them with jungleprint towel-tapestries that are sold further west on Division. Yet Soto’s work isn’t for just for lotus-eaters. Her rays of tape on the windows draw attention to them and the world beyond the gallery.
Queen Bee: C.M Burroughs reading; Krista Franklin, Beez in the Trap (2014), hanging sculpture.
Next on the lineup is Queen Bee at Terrain. Curator Allison Glenn brings together work by visual, literary, and performance artists. Her essay sets out ideas coursing through the show—identity formation, rhizomatic forms of interconnection, and non-hierarchical collectivity. In relating these ideas to feminism, she takes pointers from Nikki Minaj’s 2012 single, “Beez in the Trap,” and artists associated with the Feminist Art Program at California College for the Arts during the 1970s.
Lise Haller Baggesen, reading; Victoria Martinez, Bandera M (2014), hanging in front of porch.
The visual art engages with Queen Bee’s formal and conceptual concerns: Victoria Martinez’s found objects transformed into flags; Krista Franklin’s wearable sculptures of handmade paper, gold leaf, synthetic hair and acrylic fingernails; and Erin Minckley Chlaghmo’s elaborations of organic forms into kinetic patterns. On September 14, the art works doubled as sets for Terrain’s front porch stage that featured compelling, i.e., kickass performances by C.M Burroughs, Lise Haller Baggesen, Reshayla Marie Brown, and Krista Franklin. The day’s closing performance, a reading by Baggesen from her recent book, Mothernism, left listeners with no doubts about the glass ceiling and other things broken by Margaret Thatcher and her cronies. And if you missed these performers, take heart. They’re Chicago artists with more shows to come.
Whether it’s called mothernism, tidal wave feminism, or any other name, the need for it is born again with each generation. When contending with motherfuckers, sibyls of corporate success say lean in. These Chicago artists take a different stand: they use mother wit to make art and space for it—and then invite us in to play.
The Surface and Below: Claire Ashley and Cameron Harvey at O’Connor Art Gallery, Dominican University, until October 31, 2014
Say Everything: Edra Soto at Lloyd Dobbler Gallery, until September 30
Queen Bee: Lise Haller Baggesen, Rayshayla Marie Brown, C.M. Burroughs, Erin Minckley Chlaghmo, Krista Franklin, Victoria Martinez at Terrain and Terrain South, until September 30
Lise McKean is an anthropologist and writer based in Chicago.
And half the fun. EXPO coverage with a beyond Sunday shelf-life.
The L@@K We’re mostly here for the outfits anyway right!? Loved Isa Giallorenzo’s take on outfits and art in her Chicago Looks for NewCity post from EXPO Chicago.
Palpitating on ArtFCity Robin Dluzen’s worthwhile rundown on what’s selling and what’s not (sorry Picasso!) in her review of EXPO for AFC. Dluzen’s day job gives her great insider perspective that made her review feel like the most specific and accurate we read during the fair. She’s also a great press lunch date ;).
Gracious Goodbye In his final dispatch from EXPO, Matt Morris takes a decidedly sappier tone, thanking the arts community for the true Dialogue he engaged in at the fair and it’s subsidiary events. We love Morris’ stamina, wanting “talk just a little bit more” before the end of the weekend. In fact, we loved all of NewCity’s dispatches, definitely worth checking out Morris on EDITION and Erin Toale on “sticking to the perimeter.”
Ms Chicago Looks looking fabulous as always at the Vernissage for EXPO Chicago.
A Collection of Collectors If you’re not tired of hearing Duncan’s voices after this Saturday’s Dialogues than you should definitely peep the extended on-air version of his Collectors Interview transcribed and published in the Pier Review.
“Did someone say Pier Review?” You asked for it and we hosted it! Here are all four editions of the Pier Review available for download in easy to read PDF’s. If you would still like to nab a physical copy of this gorgeous and stimulating edition designed by Clay Hickson with Tan & Loose Press drop us an email (link’s in the footer).
T around Town
September to Remember in Chicago
The end of summer means the beginning of art exhibitions in Chicago. With the Equinox this Tuesday, summer is officially coming to a close and the Chicago community is returning to the city to roost (or at least those of us who haven’t left permanently after last winter). Like most September’s in the city, this one has been packed with openings and performances to inaugurate the fall season.
Openings across the city (as well as in Oak & Rogers Park’s) now share the month with EXPO Chicago. With it’s inaugural shine transforming into a timeworn tradition, thousands made the arduous trek across Navy Pier (in gorgeous weather no less) to take it all in. WTT? has been hard at work on the Pier Review, an in-the-flesh newspaper for fairgoers enjoyment in partnership with EXPO, ArtSlant and the home-team, Bad at Sports. This week we’re throwing up some highlights from the past month as well as a few fair favorites. Based on what we’ve seen so far, it’s gonna be a great season Chicago, we can feel it!
If you missed Danny Giles’ performance at Roots & Culture on September 12th we’re sorry, but you can still see go/figure, featuring work by Daniel Giles & Eliza Myrie and a fantastic essay by Meg Onli.
Eliza Myrie’s graphite diamond in go/figure. Based on her research on the Lesotho Brown Diamond and the woman who discovered it, Ernestine Ramoboa, Myrie used this block of graphite to create the drawings in the instillation, leaving a “diamond” of her own.
R&C’s Eric May with Michael Rakowitz at the opening for go/figure.
Edra Soto surrounded by friends and admirers at the opening for Say Everything at Lloyd Dobler in Wicker Park.
Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle and Rebecca Beachy inside of Say Everything at Lloyd Dobler on September 12th.
Was it this photograph entitled Mom & Dad (2014) by Leonard Suryajaya in the SAIC Expo booth curated by José Lerma or Leo Kaplan of The Hills Esthetic Center in this Instagram photo by Thorne Brandt? And what do those things do to your face anyway?
The Weatherman Report
The view from the Mystic Blue on the opening night of EXPO Chicago.
T of the Town Continued…
It wouldn’t be fall without a little bit of LUST, which is just what Ashley Scott brought to the exuberant performance and trunk show for her newest collection, “Drapes of Lust” at MANE Salon on the 12th. Here Scott poses with one of her models, Sarah Weis (left).
Derek Bagley with his partner, Hayley Barber, taking in the aftermath of the LUST performance at MANE Salon.
We were pleased to see Katie Hargrave, Nick Lally and Daniel Luedtke at their thoughtful exhibition, EDIT ROAD MOVIE, a musing on the classic tropes of road trips based the artists’ explorations of intentional communities on the road to the ACRE Residency in 2013.
Custom car visor by Katie Hargrave. EDIT ROAD MOVIE is on view until September 29th at ACRE Projects in Pilsen.
Well deserved NewCity Top 50 artist, Brandon Alvendia with Angel Essig at the Vernissage last Thursday night.
Drew Ziegler and Ryan Sullivan pulling off a little “fashion imitating art” at the Vernissage.
Dance party on the Mystic Blue docked at Navy Pier on Thursday night. Shout out to Vincent’s elbows!!
We enjoyed chatting and sharing a (clandestine) beer with Ludwig Kittinger of the Vienna collective dienstag abend at their booth sponsored by ArtReview.
EVEN MORE T around Town!
Great paintings, clever booth. Possibly our favorite showing of the entire weekend, Morgan Manduley’s flower shoppe at Yautupec Gallery in EDITION at the CAC was on point. All of the floral arrangements are painted canvas.
Brett Schultz of Yautupec and Manduley wrapping up one of the painted flowers at their booth.
Another highlight of the weekend was slipping into the Hancock building to see RETREAT, organized by Theaster Gates in collaboration with his Black Artist Retreat (BAR). The show was really beautiful (especially the first room outside of Valerie Carberry’s main space). The work above is an artifact of a performance by Wilmer Wilson IV from 2012.
Crumbled artifacts abound at RETREAT. A detail of Tony Lewis’ Untitled (Hancock via Orchard via Oak Park via Bindery via Autumn Space), (2012-present) pairs nicely with the Wilson work.
Things we can’t get over: 1. Work by Alejandro Figueredo Diaz-Perera and Cara Megan Lewis in their exhibition A Home Coming which opened last Friday night and is on view at Antena until October 11th by appointment. Above is a sculpture/ video work by Lewis.
A beautifully installed and enticingly seedy piece by Alejandro Figueredo Diaz-Perera in A Home Coming that you will just have to see for yourself.
Header image features a detail of Ishtar Gate by Michael Rakowitz on view in the IN/SITU program at EXPO Chicago this past weekend. Rakowitz’s gates were fittingly (?) installed at the entrance to the VIP section of the art fair. The entire series is really amazing, read about it on Michael’s website.
I met Arturo Ortiz Struck at his studio in Polanco, around the corner from the Libyan Embassy. I was surprised—I don’t know why, it’s been more than two years since the Arab Spring bled out into autocracy, terror, and disarray, metastasizing into brutal land grabs and ISIS/ISIL—to see that the Embassy uses the current colors of the Libyan flag: black, red, and green. I wondered what happens in the embassy of a failed state and asked the guard what street I was on. Thankfully, I was close to Arturo’s studio. Arturo Ortiz Struck is an artist, architect, urbanist, and theorist, who I encountered at a screening of a Jan-Peter Hammer film at Labor a few weeks previously. When I arrived, there were books on design all over his desk. I asked him about the history of design in Mexico.
AOS: It’s a strange history. We used to have very powerful policies that were oriented to create not just furniture and industrial design, but also a graphic identity for Mexico. I really love this book. It’s about the Olympics in Mexico in 1968. This was state-funded design. There wasn’t any kind of market. When the state invested in design, we had incredible design; when they stopped investing, we stopped having design.
JW: Why was the state investing in design? Only for the Olympics?
AOS: Yes, only for the Olympics. There was funding in the 70s to design the postal service as well. In the 80s, we didn’t have anything. This table and these chairs are from the 40s. They are really beautiful. After the 40s and 50s, we had the Olympics, with this strong national investment in design; after that there was a desert. It’s interesting. But let’s talk about architecture.
JW: My interest in this is in the power of architecture, or the ambient environment in general, to affect the way that people act, the way that they behave.
AOS: From my point of view, there are a lot of processes in which you can create an identity with particular issues that will legitimate some actions. Most of the time, there is propaganda, in the long sense of the term: how can I make that group of people think as I want them to think? This propaganda no longer issues from the state. Who is exercising this power? I always think of Steve Jobs. Steve Jobs is this really cool guy, who is completely apolitical—he doesn’t appear to have any political agency. He is the model of the entrepreneur everybody wants to be: the entrepreneur who is really cool and easygoing, who used to be a kind of hacker working in a garage, who reshaped the idea of computers, and so on. He will not talk about politics or the economy or anything, but he does talk about “thinking different,” through an advertisement. Think different, count on yourself. This is the idea of Milton Friedman, the idea of bringing people to believe that they are able to be individuals and as such are able to live without any kind of society. In a way it’s this kind of Nietszchean figure who exists completely outside of his subjectivity. This guy is a cool guy, completely apolitical, who doesn’t care about any problem that is not his problem. It’s a solipsist kind of behavior in which you are inside yourself, inside yourself, inside yourself, and the way you have to relate with others is completely determined by some ideological rules, some fantasies. So: you should be cool. In those terms, the new apparatus of control is not Steve Jobs. Instead, it’s the idea of being Steve Jobs. It’s much more diffused. That’s what is controlling space and controlling behavior today.
JW: It’s internal rather than external.
AOS: It works. The people behave. In that sense, I think about Foucault. Everything is really controlled in a kind-of-mysterious way, but it’s not so mysterious. These power systems are operating through the things you buy, the ways you represent yourself, the behaviors that are accepted as cool or rejected as not cool. The body is the object of all of these systems. It’s not difficult to understand and it’s not difficult to see. I work with that. I want to show it.
JW: Lyotard talks about the difference between legitimating via a narrative, which has an arc—a beginning and an end, which may not be definite—but it’s a story, it’s like “I was born poor and I will die rich, and I’m going to evaluate every situation I encounter based on this narrative that I have”—or on the other hand there’s a legitimation via paralogy, wherein you evaluate your situation based on how available all the options in a given situation are. So a narrativist, if such a thing were to exist, would encounter a roadblock in a very different way than a paralogist. The narrativist would go over the bump, you know, always onward or whatever, and the paralogist would look around. It feels like that’s what you’re doing in your work—that you’re trying to make visible all the available options, without necessarily presenting a better way.
AOS: I started to study housing, many years ago, these new kinds of housing projects from the state, I don’t know if you’ve seen them…
JW: I have, yeah, I went out to Nicolas Romero a couple of weeks ago and saw them. They’re ridiculous…
AOS: What I was thinking about these projects is that what they are producing is credits. For the financial system and the state to survive, there needs to be a stable economy. In order for the economy to remain stable, there needs to be a lot of people with debts and credits, and they have to pay their credit, or not. There just needs to be a huge amount of people who are going to circulate capital. They need to want to buy things they can’t afford so that there can be more credit and more debt. It is by this logic that housing is produced. Housing is produced from the need to continue the financial system. It is an abstraction. When I started to talk about this, it was 2005. Everybody told me I was completely crazy and that I didn’t understand anything about urbanism or the new middle class. I decided to create a test model. What is happening and how can we look at it?
[Arturo walks to his computer and begins to play a video.]
AOS: That’s what we are doing. We are doing great at this abstraction. I don’t care if they’re sustainable or whatever, it’s exactly the same. The abstraction becomes really aggressive and really violent to societies that are unable to see what is happening to them. It’s like the movie Modern Times, when Charlie Chaplin is winding the clock: everyday life is people winding the system. They think it’s because they are going to own a house or a car or a lifestyle, but at the end of the day what the system is selling is money, and people cannot see that. It is an abstract commodity. So we start to see a lot of things about fetishism and lifestyles and how other things start to work around it. And this is really violent.
JW: Is there something that you would consider non-violent architecture?
AOS: I don’t know. For ten years I worked as an architect in the far east of Mexico City, in Chimalhuacan and Chicolopan. I have been developing different housing projects there, doing different workshops. Where I am in terms of urbanism is completely linked to everything else. What I am saying is that informal settlements are much less of a problem than we used to think. They are a problem, of course, because of issues of power and the production of poverty; but it is sometimes better to do business for yourself, away from the financial system. In any case, it is almost impossible to change these conditions. Sixty percent of urban grown in Mexico City is informal growth —it’s huge! You cannot wave your hands and change it. Instead, we’ve been developing workshops with people in Chimalhuacan, Chicolopan, Texcoco, for the last three years.
JW: You worked with the people that already live there?
AOS: No, we worked with new settlers. We went with them, we asked them what they wanted, and they told us what they wanted, in a very strange way…
JW: What did they want?
AOS: We made a kind of study. Instead of telling them how their houses should be, we told them, look, you should look at the sun. You should look at the sun and the air. You should understand how the sun moves so you can have better lighting; you should study the air so you can have natural ventilation. That was the first workshop. We found that all these people already know a lot of things about the sun, the wind, everything. They aren’t able to link this knowledge with construction, but they have it. They know it really well. They learn it from the basic curriculum in Mexico. Everybody learns it. All the books in Mexico for basic education are the same for everybody. The government publishes them. They teach about the sun and the air, but they do not teach the link between these things and construction. Our current project, which we are submitting to the Ministry of Education, is to add some diagrams to these chapters about how to link this knowledge with construction, with the setup of your classroom or your house. We have not been very successful.
JW: That’s great, to insert this kind of radical architecture into basic education…
AOS: It’s not radical architecture! It’s about making the house you want to make, but keeping in mind where the sun is. That is not radical. If you go to Ciudad Nezahualcóyotl, you will see that most of the terrain is completely built over. There are no trees. The houses are really obscured and without good ventilation, so they are always going to feel bad. How can you feel better? We have this house that costs $30,000MXN and can be built in one month. It became very popular in architecture circles. We built one at the United Nations in New York, we took one to the Venice Architecture Biennale, and it was part of an exhibition at the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum in St Louis, MO. I will show it to you. In a way, we are trying to understand architecture that can be created without the financial system.
[We walk back to Arturo’s computer to watch the video.]
AOS: This piece translates from a very practical kind of thing to a much more symbolic thing.
JW: Something that’s actually practical seems suddenly so unreal.
AOS: With the natural disasters last year in Mexico, because of the rains in Guerrero, I sent this model to the guy in charge of the disaster relief, because it’s really fast, it’s really easy, and it’s an external foundation system so it’s hard to wash away. It’s simple physics. We’ve just brought this technology from the river to the house. It’s amazing.
JW: Do you think this kind of architecture will have a positive effect on the way people act inside of it?
AOS: I don’t know. It’s up to the people living in it to act. It’s up to people living in architecture to reshape it. It’s an issue of control and propaganda. When you walk into these incredibly cool places, with Barcelona chairs and Tom Dixon lamps and whatever, everything starts to become a kind of set. When I walk into Crate & Barrel, I feel the set. They are telling me, you should live like this. This is the lifestyle you deserve. If you have that furniture you probably have this kind of computer, you probably have these kinds of clothes, you probably have these kinds of behaviors. It is a little bit like the Truman Show. Everything’s set—you don’t have to think beyond just being in the set. It is completely impossible that this set aids your subjective growth in any way. All of this has to do with the body, with limiting or obscuring what you can do with your body. In a way, I agree with Lyotard, when he writes in the Postmodern Condition that we are losing against the system. And that was in 1979! That’s why I love working with the idea of the body. It’s through your body that you can be out of the set. It’s not so radical: we are losing against the system and the only way to have political agency is through your body.
Arturo Ortiz Struck is head of the architectonic and urban research workshop Taller Territorial de México and a member of the National System for Art Creators, FONCA.
Work from Chicago Artists Coalition, Gallery 19, Steven Harvey, Museum of Contemporary Photography, Ochi Shop, David Peterson Gallery, The Pitch Project, Andrew Rafacz Gallery, Segura Arts Studio, THE MISSION, Vertical Gallery and Yaupetec.
Chicago Artists Coalition is located at 217 N. Carpenter St. Open Friday 12-7pm, Saturday 11am-5pm and Sunday 12-5pm.