This week: BAS on the west coast! We talk to Adriana Salazar and John Spiak, director and chief curator of the Grand Central Art Center, which has an exhibition of Adriana’s work up currently. Also, we talk to Sabina Ott about The Terrain Exhibitions Biennial which is this coming weekend!
Plan your life around seeing us at EXPO!!! You know you want to.
ADRIANA SALAZAR: NOTHING ELSE LEFT
2013 California-Pacific Triennial Partnership with Orange County Museum of Art
July 6 through September 22, 2013
Is there an end to our existence? Can we be separated from our bodies and be transformed into something else? Adriana Salazar’s work has continued to revolve around these questions in different ways. This is why the realm of mortuary customs appeals to her: it presents numerous ways to approach the ultimate unknown.
Her past series of works have attempted to bring inanimate objects to life; crystalize human actions into mechanical devices; worked to blur the line that separates the natural and the artificial. Death has been an ever-present part of her work, understood in a broader sense, in her own words, “I want to address death as a dare to the certainties of knowledge, and as a challenge to deeply rooted traditions. Thus, my work has taken its course transforming mechanical actions, obsolete objects, fading plants and passing life into installations and objects that could become questioning situations themselves.”
For this current series, created during a two-month residency at Grand Central Art Center, the artist desired to go deeper into that moment of transition between life and death, finding out as much as she could about what happens with our bodies, with our consciousness and with everything we build around the death of others. In her words, “I found, amongst other things, that there is an aesthetics of transition, that there are rituals trying to maintain life after death, and laws which govern our bodies, even when we are not fully present. I also found out that there are transitional techniques and an intricate industry around them.”
Some of these techniques of transition have the purpose of dematerializing the body – its physical presence, associated to life and its impermanence – replacing it with a different kind of immaterial presence. In the crematory, a compartment ignites at a very high temperature until the body is almost entirely dissolved. In order to secure the transparency of this transition, all particles of bone are carefully separated from any other solid object that might exist in our remains. These foreign bodies – implants, replacements, metal bodily parts, and every sign of our artificial self – must be removed. All that is left are bones, which are then reduced to the size of grains of sand. These remains are kept in homes, spread at symbolic locations, interned at traditional burials site, or used in other creative manners. The artificial parts, on the other hand, are usually recycled for their metals or tossed away.
Salazar has decided to rescue as many cremated artificial body parts possible. These parts remain as solid as they were inside their bodies and are nevertheless considered residue. She found their value in this very ambiguity. They embody the question of the status of our own existence on a physical level: their materiality creates confusion between those objects as parts of a physical body and our own body, thus opening the gap between our certainties and uncertainties, beyond the matter of human death itself.
The simple presence of these objects puts the status of life into question, allowing us to see, on one hand, the death of usage and value as something applicable to our own bodies. They allow us to see, on the other hand, the possibility of our existence as purely impermanent, earthly and physical. They allow us to see our possible becoming.
Terrain Exhibitions Biennial September 15 – October 19, 2013 Opening Block Party: September 15, 1 -10 PM
Utilizing multiple homes on the 700 Highland Avenue block, nine artists have created site-specific interventions for this month long event.
Megan Taylor Noe
Opening Block Party:Â
Terrain artist Claire Ashley will produce an event featuring her inflatable sculptures. Ellen Butler, neighbor, will exhibit her paintings and Elizabeth Rexfordâ€™s The Harmonia Quartet will play on the Longfellow Elementary school steps. A reading from Ames Hawkins’Â Paper VioletsÂ will be performed in addition to Paul Hertz conducting the interactive â€œIgnotus the Mageâ€ at intervals throughout the afternoon. There will be a plethora of activities and constructive projects for the whole family, such as bookbinding, fluxkit exchanges, Exquisite Corpse drawing games, and a chance for all to participate in creating a surrealist poem imagined by Stephanie Barber. The Taco Bernardo Food Truck will be in Oak Park serving dinner from 5:30 â€“ 8:00PM, an assortment of treats will be provided by neighbors and all are welcome to add to the potluck! The dayâ€™s activities will be accompanied by the DJ styles of Rae Chardonnay then followed by neighbor Ryan Todd’s band Officer Friendly. Terrain artist and Director of Aspect Ratio Gallery, Jefferson Godard, will wrap up the event with a curated video program that will be shown from dusk until 10PM.
Rogers Park was the place to be Saturday night with killer back to back openings taking place within blocks of one another. The weather couldn’t have been better and both shows had robust turn outs. Unioned Labors at the aptly named Bike Room featured not one but three different collaborative projects from duos. Small and whimsical, this show packed a big punch. Alberto Aguilar & Alex Bradley Cohen filled the space’s hallway with a mural pieced together with delightfully bold and colorful paintings on cardboard and complimented by a playful soundtrack. Inside the gallery itself a video of Aguliar’s & Cohen workin’ it out in the Bike Room’s backyard that shared a similar soundtrack. Amanda Ross-Ho and her father, Ruyell, used one of his playful abstractions that reads “Less is Not More” to adorn one of Ross-Ho’s signature oversized t-shirts. The most somber offering, Frank Piyatec & Judith Geitchman‘s rhythmic black and white text and abstractions were arranged into a giant checkerboard.
Caribbean American Bakery located at 1539 W Howard Street.
The Weatherman Report
For Chicago IL
Max Ernst, Humboldt Current, 1951-52. Oil on canvas, 36 x 61 cm. Photo: Foundation Beyeler.
The scene at Iceberg Projects Saturday.
Better Luck Next Time leads to Hilarity, Danger
Game show pilot debuts in Steuben, WI
Fed up with the lack of cable television at the Steuben Lodge, ACRE residents and staff took matters into their own hands last weekend recording live the first ever episode of “Better Luck Next Time,” a newlyweds-style game show for artistic duos. Hosted by Carlos Danger and Vanna Ruffino, collaborators were pitted against each other to see who’s vibin’ the hardest.
Hosts Carlos Danger and Vanna Ruffino.
Carlos Danger valiantly and hilariously lead the unwilling contestants to reveal some of their deepest gripes with one another. Points were awarded on a somewhat unconventional basis after the audience mutinied against the show and its producers, demanding sympathetic half-points for weary contestants. Danger and Ruffino were ultimately able to win over the unruly mob and the pilot was a huge live success.
Live from the Chalet Studio.
Lucky to see this early preview, WWT? has heard that there are plans to put the show into syndication in Chicago.
Over the past ten plus years, Laura Shaeffer has been the entrepreneur and custodian behind a number of projects housed within a handful of unconventionalâ€” and often under utilizedâ€” spaces on the Southside of Chicago, including Home Gallery, The Op Shop and Southside Hub of Production (SHoP). Her approach is a combination of activism and common sense; community building and home-making. She honors domestic spaces as sites of radical, informal pedagogy, and this manifests itself in an important through line that runs across her projects; they act as platforms for kids to express their creativity and imagination, and indulge their curiosity. Alongside immersing them in art and cultural production, an important byproduct of this is kids’ engagement with other kids, families, neighbors and neighborhoods.
By remaining open, nurturing organic expansion and leveraging intuition, Shaeffer stewards growth rather then shoehorning artists into rigid themes or mapping them onto discrete timelines. She recounts the combination of circumstance and serendipity that led to the recent closing of SHoP and subsequent re-opening of Home Gallery for us, and outlines her influences, collaborators and thoughts on sustainability and longevity below.
When John Preus, Mike Phillips, founder of South Side Projection, and I first started thinking about SHoP as a community cultural hub, we talked a lot about a need we all saw for a more un-programmed life, where idle time can be productive and where relationships have time and space to develop, between people, artists and generations. I love the idea of stewarding growth, looking after, caring for and managing an exhibit as a way of curating through encouraging artists to be more present and participate in the exhibit after the opening in ways that could make their work more accessible to others and in return inspire further thought and exploration on what it means to be an artist in our current culture, especially a more publicly or socially engaged artist. I tend to work intuitively and gravitate toward others who do as well. Working on shows with John and Alberto Aguilar was incredibly inspiring, they are both extremely challenging and creative thinkers. I found that a very good sense of humor and irony is most important in this kind of work and we were able to make each other laugh at the most crucial times.
One common interest John and I shared with others who helped found this project, as parents and artists, was to create spaces for exhibitions, learning and socializing where children and older folks alike would come and be in an environment that was heterogeneous and allowed for spontaneous interactions.Â We talked a lot about the Piazza, the Town Square, the Adventure Playground movement, public places where everyone gathered, young and old to have a drink, converse, play freely, or make things… and to linger into the evenings. We also wanted a cultural space where we could bring our kids and they’d have their own environment in which to create together so we set up what we called the Autonomous Making Space (silly name we know) for them to explore their own ideas, and make up their own activities, structures, and games. SHoP drew much of its inspiration from the Junk/Adventure Playground movement begun in the 30’s in Europe by C. Th. SÃ¸rensen, a Danish landscape architect. These playgrounds become centers, accessible to the entire community, a place to gather and play freely and to develop intellectually, physically, and emotionally. Like the Adventure Playground, we wanted our Hub space to encourage children and adults to interact with and learn from each other. Ultimately, we wanted to create a space for people to feel ownership and take responsibility for the space itself because it exists as a result of their own efforts and brings the larger community together.
In terms of spaces that have provided a source of inspiration, there are so many. Several are in Finland; Hirvitalo, aÂ Contemporary Art Center, founded in 2006 as a cultural space inÂ Pispala, Finland, a deeply kindred spirit;Â Pixelache, a transdisciplinary platform for experimental art, design, research and activism co-created by artist Andrew Paterson whom I had the good fortune to meet in 2007 at the Pedagogical Factory by Jim Duignan, founder of Stockyard Institute, who is a very significant inspiration for SHoP. Places like Experimental Station, Co-Prosperity Sphere, Mess Hall, Comfort Station and North Branch have provided guidance and inspiration as well. There are too many individual artists, projects and people to mention, who have been collaborators and co-producers over the years. Collaborations like Material Exchange, Kultivator and WochenKlausur have also been very influential.
After the Fenn house was supposedly sold (it is now back on the market!), we were charged with the daunting task of reducing the accumulated contents of a 16 room mansion to fill a 20 foot sea container,Â to be driven away and parked on the Resource Center’s land (thanks to the generous help and support of both Ken Dunn and Ken Schug and some wonderful volunteers). We had all grieved the loss of that beautiful space before we moved, but the lightness of being I personally experienced shortly thereafter made it clear that it is not the space itself, but the people who make the space meaningful through their care, their energy and their creativity.Â That location, while at once magical and wonderful, and which provided so much space for learning for us all,Â was also much more demanding than any Op Shop or Home Gallery exhibit and we really needed time to reflect, regroup and re-organize ourselves if we were to become aÂ sustainableÂ center for the community.
I suppose the decision to open up Home Gallery again was a combination of circumstance and intention. We invited some of the artists that played a large role in SHoP as well a few new ones to our private home to intervene with our “private lives” in ways that would alter or disrupt our routines and as well, help us ease the transition back home and frankly, tend to the spaces that had been neglected while running a 16 room grass roots community arts center for almost 2 years. Our tiny home became the focus for the continuation of concepts and ideas we had been working with on a larger scale at Fenn House, allowing us to explore the more domestic and private side of these ideas.
The question of how we will continue to nurture and grow our projects outside of the traditional constraints of traditional organizational structures and frameworks is a very good one. We are discussing and further questioning this all the time. What might we gain by adopting a more organized structure and what might we stand to lose? As an art project, The Op Shop had a sense of freedom and extreme fluidity, SHoP for the 15 months of it’s existence at Fenn continued to enjoy that fluid, flexible and organic quality… but how long can that be sustained? Eventually a project has to grapple with these questions, I admire projects like Mess Hall who knew from the get go that they would not opt to become a non -profit and had a very clear vision for their mission in this sense. I feel we are still questioning the whole issue of becoming a non-profit and what that implies and how it impacts the project itself. In some ways we will not know before hand but one suspects that there might be a loss of this sense of intuitive process, fluid practice and to be honest, we may get away with much less. On the other hand, money is an issue and funding is needed if we are to continue in any long term way. I am and we are obviously conflicted about this issue!
Maybe artists and others who are attracted to unconventional spaces to view and think about art, like the mansion, the small townhome, the porch, the back yard gallery, the storefront, the park, and various unexpected public spaces, are more likely to want to examine their role in social change, themes of modern urban life in spaces that are themselves a challenge. There are artists who have certainly been repelled. I like the story of one artist who had proposed a project for an exhibit at SHoP, was invited to participate, and showed up on a typical day for us, where kids were hammering pieces of wood together on the front steps, students were running a yard sale in the front yard, some seniors were playing bridge inside, the house was buzzing with activity preparing for the installation of the next show. I saw a looming figure outside the house and then I saw him disappear, I asked a friend if they knew why this artist left the scene without coming in to meet us (I knew him from his resume and photos) She said that he â€˜didn’t want to show his work in a house run by unprofessional hippies.’ This artist never responded to us again.Â I could see his point, but I love general (orchestrated) chaos, so I guess that’s my fate.
As told to Thea Liberty Nichols via email, June 2013.
Curated by Oliverio Rodriguez, with work by Jordan Avery, Beatriz Aquino, Shandi Hass, Kiam-Marcelo Junio, Nicole Ricket, Jackie Rivas, Hannah Rodriguez, Ali Scott, Jannah Tate, Dana West, Sky White, and Nikki Woloshy.
Sullivan Galleries is located at 33 S. State St. 7th Fl. Reception Friday, 4:30-7pm.