“Weird Dude Energy” at Heaven Gallery, curated by Gurl Don’t Be Dumb

July 16, 2013 · Print This Article

by Chicago Artist Writers

Featuring a Guest Post by James Pepper Kelly

The following article was originally written for and published by Chicago Artist Writers // Editor: Jason Lazarus

 

Weird Dude Energy curators Gurl Don’t Be Dumb: Eileen Mueller and Jamie Steele
 
 
Andrew Mausert-Mooney & Nicholas Wylie, performance view
 

Acrostic, original formatting via PDF here. Sources liberally appropriated from the Internet. 

 

Walter Benjamin |   At the center of this exhibition is man. Present-day man; a reduced man, therefore, chilled in a chilly environment. Since, however, this is the only one we have, it is in our interest to know him. He is subjected to tests, examinations. What emerges is this: Weird Dude Energy (WDE), a layering of men, a group perspective on masculinity.

Wilde, Oscar |         But is WDE, as a meme/concept, actually on display in this show, or only in the title and statement? Is GDBD curating a show of WDE, or instead the passion of one’s friends? There’s crossover, and it may all be equal—those passions are the fascinating things IRL anyway. For me, the highlight was Andrew Mausert-Mooney & Nicholas Wylie’s performance of foot washing, massage, and chanting of “Poor Unfortunate Souls” from The Little Mermaid. It had the dignity of a ceremony, as well as its unreality, and combined the insincere character of a romantic movie with the wit and beauty that make such movies delightful to us. Is insincerity really such a terrible thing?

Weiner, Anthony |   It’s passion that’s a terrible thing, and let’s just forget about online WDE. Let’s recalculate, let’s talk this show. Now Andrew Doak’s photo: I don’t know where that photograph came from. I don’t know for sure what’s in it.  I don’t know for sure if it was manipulated. And I’m going to get to the firm bottom of that.

Eagleton, Terry |       Don’t know Doak? It’s a self-portrait as John Belushi’s character in Animal House, from the artist’s ongoing portraiture project. There are several orphaned pieces in WDE, but I’ll admit that this one does suffer the most for it. Oli Rodriguez’s photographic portrait integrates well with the other work, even though it is de-linked from the S&M series it’s part of. The problem is, what we consume now is not objects or events, but our experience of them. We buy an experience like we can pick up a GBDB beer coozie ($2.00 at the opening).

Immanuel, Kant |      Sure, there’s no doubt that all knowledge begins with experience. That’s why I bought three. But reading about the Weird Dude Energy Tumblr that was the inspiration for the show, I learned two things on the Hyperallergic comment thread: first, apparently no one reads my books anymore; and second, “Young people’s ideas about whatever is cool can have a conversation with contemporary art.” If you can’t deal with merch and memes, fine, how about Mike Rea’s virtuosic wood installation: jail cell/microphone/and, inevitably, glory hole? Out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made.

Rahm, Emanuel |      Fucking retarded. Take your fucking tampon out and tell me what you have to say. Best was Ivan Lozano’s installation of glowing blue hands on poles. It reminds me of when I sliced off my finger working at Arby’s, went swimming in Lake Michigan, and got gangrene. That’s when I decided to become king of Chicago. Lozano fucked up his hand and made some casts based on not being able to move. Same idea, different goal. You should never let a serious crisis go to waste.

Derrida, Jacques |     Can we not talk about biography, please? Stick to the work! Look at how the hands’ blue glow syncs with Zak Arctander’s red tinted photo of the young man in a Vans cap, shown from his chest up. Whatever precautions you take so the photograph will look like this or that, there comes a moment when that photograph surprises you. It’s the other’s gaze that wins out and decides—which Arctander must be thinking about because look, he made sure the man’s eyes are covered by his cap! Rrose, with your own compromised intuitions, what did you like?

 

Duchamp, Marcel |    I just like—breathing. It’s so necessary that I don’t question it.

Umberto, Eco |         You are odd. Weird, I mean; but then, it’s only petty men who seem normal. Didn’t you like Alex Gartelmann’s limp aluminum baseball bat, bent over a wooden peg? A mash-up of your own readymades and an ‘80s sculptural phallus, a strong piece with good position.

Duchamp, Marcel |   I don’t believe in art, I believe in artists and the most interesting thing about artists is how they live. All this twaddle are pieces of a chess game called language.

Eco, Umberto |          Perhaps…. Maybe I’m—maybe all this is not as wise as it likes to think it is. And if Jacques’s right about epistemic plurality, is this some eternal zugzwang, as you chess people say? It’s true that the most interesting letters I receive are from people in the Midwest, people like the lone figure in John Opera’s lovely, desolate Wisconsin landscape. So let’s turn to their official sources instead!

 

Newcity Art (B. Stabler)| A variety of manly tensions are borne out by the juxtapositions in the group show “Weird Dude Energy.” In the end, there’s just nothing that says “competence” like a great curatorial concept enjoyably, even suavely, executed.

Rrose, Sélavy |           Fine, fine. You do have to have an official existence. Intermezzo. One more, back to the living, then the end.

Jason Foumberg |      Weird Dude Energy, a concept and an exhibition, probes the unkempt desires of men.  You know how guys act when they’re all together, without women around?  This show amplifies that vibe with work from 17 male artists.

You + Yr Friends |      _________________________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________________________.

END

Sources:  Walter Benjamin: “The Author as Producer”, Reflections. Wilde, Oscar: The Picture of Dorian Gray. Weiner, Anthony: “GPS Speech” to Springfield Community Church, et al.; Interview with Emily Miller, Washington Times. Eagleton, Terry: How to Read a Poem. Immanuel Kant: “Idea for a Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Purpose”. Rahm Emanuel: Comment on a liberal group’s concerns about Obamacare, Wall Street Journal; Response to a male staffer, New York magazine; Interview, Wall Street Journal. Derrida, Jacques: There is No “One” Narcissism, Interview with Didier Cahen. Duchamp, Marcel: Line for the character “Marcel Duchamp”, The Mysteries and What’s So Funny, David Gordon (referencing Interview with Jean Antoine, The Art Newspaper); Interview with Jean Antoine, The Art Newspaper. Umberto Eco: The Name of the Rose; Duchamp, Marcel: The Writings of Marcel Duchamp; Letter to Jehan Mayoux. Eco, Umberto: Interview with Nigel Farndale, The Daily Telegraph; Interview with Adam Langer, Book magazine. Newcity Art (Bert Stabler): “Review: Weird Dude Energy/Heaven Gallery”. Rrose Sélavy: Interview with Jean Antoine, The Art Newspaper; Jason Foumberg (Chicago Mag.com): “Weird Dude Energy Promises a Freaky Prelude to Father’s Day”. You+ Yr Friends: _________________________________.

 

Gartelmann, Arctander

Left: Alex Gartelmann, Over and Over and Over, 2011, installation view. Right: Zak Arctander, Firehouse, 2013

Ivan LOZANO, MILAGROS I, MILAGROS II, and MILAGROS III, 2012

Ivan LOZANO, MILAGROS I, MILAGROS II, and MILAGROS III,
2012, installation view

James Pepper Kelly likes words, images, and the plants in his apartment. He serves as Managing Director of Filter Photo and is studying to be a pataphysicist. For a little while, back in the early ‘00s, he was really good at Ms. Pac-man. 

Chicago Artist Writers is a platform that asks young studio artists and art workers to write traditional and experimental criticism that serves under-represented arts programming in Chicago. CAW was founded by Jason Lazarus and Sofia Leiby in 2012. This is our first guest post on Bad at Sports. www.chicagoartistwriters.com




EDITION #10

May 28, 2013 · Print This Article

Reading is Fundamental

BREAKING: In a surprising turn of events, books exist in the physical realm. In the interest of your papered pleasure, here is a rundown of some noteworthy and [pretty] new Chicago imprints.

  • RE: things in the lap, by Edmund Chia. This sincere and experimental volume by Peregrine Program proprietor Edmund Chia covers his experience of the last three years of exhibitions through prose, poetry and images from Peregrine artists. Chia’s poetic interpretations are like remembering through someone else’s brain. Sweet cover art by David Salkin. Available here.
  • Psychosexual catalog, ANDREW RAFACZ GALLERY, curated by Scott J. Hunter. Rafacz told the T that this catalog is the first in a series, with forthcoming edition for Wendy White’s solo exhibition in September. The catalogs are part of larger initiative to expand and deepen the galleries programming with longer running exhibitions and events like the catalog release and conversation on May 25th.

    A “real extension of the show” Rafacz said the book is meant to be a “sexy object,” sporting a lux cover, BUTT magazine-esque pink pages and elaborate typography. Designed by Ryan Swanson, Jason Foumberg‘s diagrammatic essay might be Psychosexual’s sexiest piece. Also includes an essay by Hunter and a great read about a Caravaggio work by Elijah Burger. More information on the Psychosexual catalog here.

  • A sneak peak of Foumberg’s essay.
  • Space, Interiors and Exteriors, 1972, Sun Ra + Ayé Aton. A new book with never-before-seen photos by Sun Ra, released by Corbett vs. Dempsey? owning this book will score you about a million cool points. Featuring photographs by Mr. Ra, murals by Aton, an introduction by Glenn Ligon and an essay by John Corbett. It’s pretty much an investment. Availble here.
  • Photo by Clay Hickson.
  • Sunday Thoughts, by Clay Hickson. I love seeing Hickson’s “Sunday Thoughts” on my tumblr stream, so I couldn’t be more excited to have the entire collection in the flesh. Sunday Thoughts was recently featured alongside other local, national and maybe even international artists at Johalla Project‘s Artist Book Collection, curated by Nina Hartmann.

Hartmann with the Artist Book Collection at Johalla Projects.

The Weatherman Report

Roger de La Fresnaye , Landscape with a Village, The Hills Beyond Meulan, 1911 Oil on canvas (72.4 × 59.4 cm) Image provided by Indianapolis Museum of Art

#linkedin

  • New Capital featured on Art Slant. Finally! Someone is paying attention to awesome work in Chicago.
  • An image of Seth Sher and Meg Noe at New Capital from the article by author and photographer, Paul Germanos.
  • Like “Cribs” for artists on the internet. The School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s (and my former classmate), Kate Korroch‘s apartment featured on popular blog, Apartment Therapy.
  • Korroch and her husband, Chad Jewsbury, at their Ravenswood apartment.
  • Oh come on, I know you get your art news from Facebook, too. Click images for stories.
  • Anthony said it best.
  • Gallerista‘s Joshua Herrington asks, ‘girl, what is the T?’
  • Theaster Gates trending even more than normal. Recently my gmail inbox just cannot get enough of Theaster Gates. It keeps going on and on about how Gates has been named the keynote speaker of the One State Together in the Arts conference, and how he inaugrated his new exhibition 13th Ballad at the MCA, or about this well timed interview between him and Elysabeth Alfano. Will my inbox never rest?

Who Wore it Better?

Time Magazine cover and Kate Ruggeri sculpture from 2010. (Stole this from Kate‘s tumblr).


Inspirational art work for the band Black/Black, who performed this weekend at SWAN SONG for LODOS. Art work by Steven Vainberg




Chicago Art in Pictures: New Capital

May 20, 2013 · Print This Article

This week, independent of one another, Chicago-based writers Caroline Picard and Jason Foumberg both raised questions related to sustainability in the art world. Within the context of Bad at Sports, Picard wondered about communal failure, ethics, and Utopia, particularly as those political concepts concerned the field of social practice. And at the alternative weekly publication Newcity, Foumberg offered a comparative overview of local, economic models in gallery practice.

Six months earlier, the proprietors of Chicago’s New Capital Projects, Ben Foch and Chelsea Culp, began a twenty-five day round-the-clock closing event for their gallery. Foch and Culp had, from the outset, planned a limited, two-year run of public exhibitions at their venue. And having reached the end of their finite schedule they threw open the doors to everyone interested in one last collaborative endeavor entitled “24HRS/25DAYS.” Whither came the funding for such a spectacle? In 2011, the Propeller Fund announced that Foch and Culp were recipients of a 6000 USD award.

Rather than being a survey of contemporary programming, this installment of Chicago Art in Pictures is a historical offering. If New Capital Projects’ success (and it was a success) seemed contingent upon its engagement with artists, its monetary subsidization, and its relatively brief public existence, then maybe too it was the case that only an informal, ethical consensus allowed for a momentary sort of Utopia within the city’s crumbling West Side.

While planning what might be possible for the future, it’s helpful to remember what has worked in the past. And so, some of the activity surrounding New Capital Projects in the year 2012 is suggested by the imagery below. A full schedule for “24HRS/25DAYS” is still available at New Capital Projects’ website. All artwork copyright original artists; photography copyright Paul Germanos.

Ben Foch and Chelsea Culp with Moustache Phil @ New Capital

Above: Ben Foch, left, and Chelsea Culp, center, with ACRE‘s (Moustache Phil) Philip Kaufmann, right, at New Capital Projects on a hot summer night, June 30, 2012.

NON GRATA "Force Majeure" Chicago

Above: Estonian performance collective NON GRATA‘s “Force Majeure” in Chicago, at New Capital Projects, March 4, 2012.

Meg Noe @ New Capital

Above: Meg Noe in “I, Who Have Known the Horror of Mirrors” on December 6, 2012, in “24HRS/25DAYS.”

Elena Katsulis & Erin Peisert @ New Capital

Above: Elena Katsulis and Erin Peisert in “The Longer I had to Stand There” on December 6, 2012, in “24HRS/25DAYS.”

Jeff Harms @ New Capital

Above: A four second exposure of Jeff Harms‘ laminated wood sculpture on December 2, 2012, in “24HRS/25DAYS.”

NON GRATA "Force Majeure" Chicago

Above: Estonian performance collective NON GRATA’s “Force Majeure” in Chicago, at New Capital Projects, March 4, 2012.

KLOSS/STOLTMANN @ New Capital

Above: KLOSS/STOLTMANN at New Capital Projects, June 30 – August 5, 2012.

Melina Ausikaitis & Nandini Khaund @ New Capital

Above: Nandini Khaund, foreground, and Melina Ausikaitis, background, on November 16, 2012, performing in “24HRS/25DAYS.”

Matthew Lane @ New Capital

Above: Matthew Lane in “Lane/Sirianni” at New Capital Projects, March 16 – April 7, 2012.

Michael Sirianni @ New Capital

Above: Michael Sirianni in “Lane/Sirianni” at New Capital Projects, March 16 – April 7, 2012.

Matthew Lane @ New Capital

Above: Matthew Lane, left, speaking to Stephanie Burke, center, at New Capital Projects, March 16, 2012.

New Capital Projects

Above: New Capital Projects’ courtyard on a summer night, June 30, 2012.

Joseph Rynkiewicz @ New Capital

Above: Joseph Rynkiewicz‘ installation “Bonfire,” on November 24, 2012, in “24HRS/25DAYS.”

Joseph Rynkiewicz @ New Capital

Above: Kavi Gupta’s Joseph Rynkiewicz (at far right) with bonfire in progress on November 24, 2012, in “24HRS/25DAYS.”

Leo Kaplan @ New Capital

Above: The Hills Esthetic Center‘s Leo Kaplan on December 2, 2012, presenting “Sunday, Sunday, Sunday,” in “24HRS/25DAYS.”

Seth Sher @ New Capital

Above: Northwestern’s Sofia Leiby lectures Seth Sher at New Capital Projects, June 30, 2012.

"A bowl of soup, a coffin, a door" @ New Capital

Above: “A bowl of soup, a coffin, a door” installation by MCA’s Karsten Lund, SAIC’s Dana DeGiulio, Corbett vs. Dempsey’s Julia V. Hendrickson, and Sofia Leiby, on November 25, 2012, in “24HRS/25DAYS.”

AUSIKAITIS/KLOSS @ NEW CAPITAL

Above: The Hills Esthetic Center’s Michael Kloss, left, and ACRE’s Emily Green, right, in AUSIKAITIS/KLOSS at New Capital Projects, September 1, 2012.

AUSIKAITIS/KLOSS @ NEW CAPITAL

Above: Seth Sher, a/k/a Psychic Steel, left, and Meg Noe, right, at New Capital Projects, September 1, 2012.

Conor Creagan @ New Capital

Above: Conor Creagan in “Wonderful Tonight” on December 2, 2012, in “24HRS/25DAYS.”

Liz McCarthy with Moustache Phil @ New Capital

Above: Roxaboxen’s (formerly) Liz McCarthy with Moustache Phil at New Capital Projects, June 30, 2012.

Lynn Basa & Sarah Weber @ New Capital

Above: Lynn Basa, left, shows “Burnt Journals” work to Sarah Weber, right, on November 24, 2012, in “24HRS/25DAYS.”


New Capital Projects
3114 W. Carroll St.
Chicago, IL 60612
http://newcapitalprojects.com/




Barbara Kasten Talks With Heidi Norton

October 21, 2011 · Print This Article

GUEST POST BY HEIDI NORTON

As a photography student of the mid/late 90’s, Barbara Kasten was of great significance to me. I lost track of her during the first decade of the millennium, as the contemporaries of the Becher’s school (Gursky, Ruff, Struth) dominated the art market with their dry, representational Deadpan Photography. Now, as an educator 11 years later, I relish in Kasten’s renaissance. Abstraction is transcendental to me, but above all, I see Kasten as a pioneer of contemporary relevance.

Most people know her as photographer, but Barbara Kasten is an artist. Photography is a material to her, the camera’s use- very calculated and intentional. She treats it with equal significance to the rest of her materials–mesh, plexi, screen, mirror, glass, and light. Her influences are vast and span many decades: Irwin’s light and space movement of the late 60’s; Judd’s studies and use of modern industrial material; Post-Minimalism, and its tendencies toward performance; Process art; Site-Specific art; and Abstraction of the 40’s (Moholy Nagy), 90’s, and present. She is presently celebrating her first solo show in Chicago at Tony Wight gallery, Ineluctable, which runs through October 22nd.

Barbara Kasten, Ineluctable at Tony Wight Gallery

Barbara and I sit down and talk art–mostly me picking her mind. But flattered I am, as she is inquisitive about my work as well. See below!

H: Material became important to you very early on in your career. You were trained as a sculpture and a fibers artist. As a fibers instructor, you used fiberglass screen as a teaching tool to model 3d forms. Talk about your transition from fiberglass as a 3-D sculpting tool to its appearance in your first Cyanotype, Untitled 13, 1974. When and how was the camera introduced?

My first photographic works were photograms. When I discovered the industrial screen as a way to create 3D weaving maquettes, I also tried creating a 2D illusionistic rendition in the form of a photogram. That was in 1974, and I still use the same material today in the Studio Constructs.  In the process of arranging the photograms. I liked the way that shadows were captured in negative shapes.  I was also making life size arrangements using packing boxes and other geometric forms I built for that purpose.  At that time, Polaroid was a new color photographic medium; so when I was offered some 8×10 Polaroid film, I learned how to use my first camera, an 8×10 view camera.

Barbara Kasten, Untitled 6, 1976, Cyanotype photogram

H: Speaking of the camera, let’s talk about the relationship between the image created, the materials (light, plexi, screen), and the exhibited object (the print or projection). When we spoke, you talked about the “several stages of development before the image is where it should be”. Please explain this. Can you talk about the integral relationship between the construction/sculpture and how it is mediated through the camera? A minimalist like Robert Morris might have said that there is a “dematerialization of the object via the process of it being photographed.” Do you see the camera and photographic print as more, less, or equal in relevance to the process and materials?

Barbara Kasten, Studio Construct 125, 2011, Archival pigment print

B: Process has been the core of all of my work- whether it was the sculptural fiber pieces I did in Poland while on a Fulbright, the photograms in the early 70′s or the most recent Studio Constructs and video work.  The shadow- and the light that causes it- has been my conceptual grounding.  I am not interested in the object itself but how it serves as the means of recording light and shadow.  The photograph becomes the object when the light is merged with form and shadow on a 2d surface. It’s really the light that completes the action, whether it is in direct contact with light sensitive material or passing thru the lens of a camera.  The Studio Constructs go through many configurations before I arrive at the final image….The ‘sculpture’ stays set up in the studio giving me time to live with it and the images I make of it.  I can expose many pieces of film before I’m happy with it.  Why not digital…many reasons but the main one is that I like a slower process so I can think about the work as I make it.

B: How about you, Heidi? You currently have a show up at Northeastern University, Not to Touch the Earth (Reception this Friday, Oct. 21st,  from 6-9). In some of your work, the photograph seems to be a document of your process and in other work, the plants or objects are integral to the piece by their physical inclusion.  Talk about these different approaches and how you decide when to create a sculptural piece versus a ‘recording of the piece’ -if you see it that way.  If not, how do you think about the role of the plants?  Does the photograph play a different role in each of these approaches?  Tell me about the importance of the object in your work.

Heidi Norton, Installation view

H: All of this work began from the image Whitescape, 2010, where I painted all the objects, including the plants, white by hand. Several weeks later, I was at my studio and noticed that the Dieffenbachia plant I used had begun to grow out of the paint. The painted leaves died and fell off and new life began to sprout from the center. I was intrigued by this–a very pleasant surprise– as painting the plants had left me feeling guilty.  The material of the paint was killing, yet at the same time preserving and stimulating growth. I included that same Dieffenbachia plant in the piece Deconstructed Rebirth- my third still life construction made for the camera. In that piece you see the new sprout and the decayed white leaves hanging from the plant. Almost a year later in My Dieffenbachia Plant with Tarp (Protection), the same plant reappears as a whole new plant. Only through the use of the camera as a recording mechanism is one able to see the inclusion of this narrative. With the camera’s ability to freeze time we can see the plants in varying states through life to disparity to death. Evolution of a Plant is a more literal example of this idea.  I think of the “New Age Still Life” series as sculptural construction. Like yours, these have several stages of development before they become images or objects on the wall. Higherself and Mango are shot in a studio with a plexi-glass shelving unit that was created to compress the space further within the 2D plane.  In the sculptural objects- glass and wax pieces- the plants are pressed to glass or embedded in wax. These materials are also meant to preserve, freeze, and maybe illicit death. The pieces are meant to activate one another; whereas the photographs are fixed- frozen in one state, in the way that Barthes talk about the “Death of an Image”. He sees death implicit in each photograph. He is struck by how the photograph moves you back through time, how you always have the past with you- the photograph as a kind of resurrection. The sculptures will transition in front of your eyes over a span of time based on the nature of the plant. Plants in various states between life and death, wax melting, the color of the plants from green to brown- they are in constant flux.

Heidi Norton, Explore Every Aspect of the Finite, 2011

H: In the Alex Klein essay that accompanied the group show at Shane Campbell in 2010, “Terminus Ante Quem” she compares your process to that of process and earthworks artist, Robert Smithson. She writes, “he famously challenged what he saw as the misperception that art objects function as a kind of culmination or terminus as quem of artistic achievement.” Basically stating that the object supersedes the process, or the process is a building up to the object. People see your works, the final product, a very polished and refined photograph or projection, different than the “documentation” of the 70s. How has being grouped into a movement of photographers whose work is notable for its formal beauty and technical execution changed how the work is interpreted?

B: I happen to like beautiful objects, but beauty alone isn’t enough.  Some investigations of beauty can bring out the underpinnings of a structure or idea or process that doesn’t possess that same kind of beauty as the surface. However, I think that my process is important to the understanding of the work which ultimately becomes an object…. a beautiful object. The traditional photographic process is different than mine.  I carry on a continual dialogue with the subject, changing each step along the way, much like a painter might do. The process is intense and intimate and can include aspects of performance, documentation and sculpture.

H: You mentioned you are reading Donald Judd’s essay on the “specificity of objects” and the discussion of the “under developed rectangle”. Please explain it’s relevance to your work. We talked about using light on reflective surface to break or reconstruct space within your work and that reduction is the abstraction. Talk more about this.

B: I was in a show at Ballroom Marfa this year and visiting the Chinati Foundation re-sparked my interest in Judd.  Just to witness his immersion into the simple architecture of a small western town and how it became an extension of his vision and art. The barracks, containing row after row of polished, reflective boxes illuminated by the Texas sun, was an incredible experience of landscape and geometry merging through the medium of the sun.  Judd is straightforward and yet incredibly complex.  Its a position that I hope to develop more in my work and thinking.

H: Architecture within the constructed space and the architecture of the gallery seem integral to the work and installation. Please discuss the distinction between phenomenological space and imagined space, and how unambiguous, or understandable for that matter, the difference is between the two experiences.

B: An example of how I like to incorporate architecture is in the installation of ‘Ineluctable’.  The three 11×14 silver gelatin prints are positioned so as to include the corner when the viewer looks towards the work.  Upon close observation, one becomes aware that there is a corner in each of the pieces that reinforces and establishes the importance of the architectural element in situ.  The video ‘Corner’ also plays with the identity of generic structural architecture and light projection that alters its dimensionality.

Barbara Kasten, Installation view, photograms on right

B: What about the space and environments you create in the gallery’s space? Do you think of your work as environmental installations?  For instance the inclusion of architectural pedestals as in the piece, Michael 2011, shown in Jason Foumberg’s September 2011 Frieze review, or the collaborative piece with Karsten Lund, presenting shelves of books that were focused on plant life in “Not to See the Sun” exhibit at Ebersmoore last April?

H: I am interested in creating an atmosphere or environment in all of my spaces- the gallery, the studio, my apartment. When making work, I like to assume the personality of an avid plant collector, a botanist- my studio is a hybrid of herbarium and art studio.  I speak mantras to my plants. There is dirt, roots, wax, film and photographs everywhere. I am a creator and nurturer of things and sometimes these things have difficulty co-existing in the same space—precious archival pigment prints shot with 4×5 transparency film made on expensive baryta inkjet paper do not mingle well with dirt, wax and resin. But I like this mix- taking something precious like a photographic print or plant and submerging it into hot wax–pushing the integrity of the material outside of it’s natural limits.  Michael, the piece you mentioned, is maybe a good example of when these two polarities collide—to me, it’s both photographic and sculptural. When I created the display stands for the piece, I intended for them to not look like pedestals that reference high art. I wanted them to assume some anonymous person’s makeshift constructions. “After the Fires of a Little Sun”, the installation of books and mirror, are to reference a mantle and book collection.  Not necessarily my own collection (though all the books are/have been used for personal research and relate in some abstract way to my work), but maybe someone whose interests vary from botany, to color theory, to a 1970s back-to-the-land manual. The project grafts new imagery and typewritten text directly onto the pages of existing books. The artist and writer’s responses become merged with the research materials, producing an unconventional artist’s monograph/zine, fueled by the symbiotic combination of three elements: the original texts, the writer’s typewritten thoughts, and the artist’s wide-ranging visuals. The effect of leafing through this material (now collected in one volume) is a bit like stumbling upon some anonymous person’s avid research materials — perhaps a mad botanist with a flair for detours into the histories of art and counter-culture.

Heidi Norton, Installation at Northeastern Illinois University. Through October 28th

Ineluctable is on view until October 22nd at Tony Wight Gallery. 

Not to Touch the Earth is on view until October 28th at Northeastern Illinois. Opening Reception, October 2nd, 6-9pm.

Heidi Norton received her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2002. She lives and works in Chicago. Norton has presented solo exhibitions in Chicago and San Francisco. Group exhibitions include How Do I Look at Monique Meloche Gallery, The World as Text at the Center for Book and Paper Arts, Snapshot at Contemporary Art Museum in Baltimore, and the Knitting Factory in New York. Norton was published in My Green City (Gestalten) in 2011 and her spring show at Not to See the Sun, EbersMoore was reviewed in Frieze, September 2011. She currently is collaborating with writer Claudine Ise in a seasonal column for Bad At Sports called Mantras for Plants. Norton is represented by EBERSMOORE gallery in Chicago. She is faculty in the photography department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.




Hot (okay maybe only lukewarm at the moment) Topic Alert: the Crisis in Art Criticism

March 26, 2010 · Print This Article

Jenny Holzer, Television Texts, 1990. © Video Data Bank Chicago.

This week New City published an essay by its arts editor Jason Foumberg on the state of art criticism amidst the rise of blogging, online websites, and other forms of interactive media titled The State of the (Visual) Art. I didn’t read this as a piece on the status of art criticism in Chicago per se, as I think some may have, but rather as about the difficulties of defining (much less practicing) this thing called ‘criticism’ at all in online, social-media driven contexts. Foumberg’s essay is part of a larger series of articles at New City that are exploring the state of criticism in the age of Yelp!,  Amazon book reviews, and other online social feedback devices. The other pieces can be found here, here, and here (this last one is about Yolp!, a Jersey Shore parody of Yelp that’s really funny). The comments that ensue are interesting, but there aren’t a lot of them and there’s not too much back-and-forth…yet. But today Christopher sent me a link to Michael S. Thomas’ blog Stagnant Vowels, in which he’s posted a response, of a sort, to the New City article, which immediately bumped Mr. Foumberg’s piece up to “hot topic” status in my mind. (Thomas’ response might itself almost qualify as a good old-fashioned Rant, and as I’ve said before, I am to rants as a moth is to a flame….Jason, in contrast, doesn’t rant: he muses.).

In his post, Mr. Thomas, who was the director of the well-respected and now defunct Dogmatic Gallery in Chicago, calls us out over here at Bad at Sports for basically being slutty opinion mongers on a par with t.v. talk show pundits. He writes:

“The flux or crisis isn’t with experts or authority per say, its in the distribution of opinion as though it were reasoned discourse. It’s in the ongoing creation of model’s for the dissemination of hyperbole without rational checks or balances. Whether it’s Glenn Beck, or Jon Stewart, or Bad at Sports these models can do much to obfuscate legitimate dialogue if not entirely cripple its formation.”

I have to assume he’s talking about our blog in particular, as the podcast’s one-on-one interview format is pretty much the antithesis of opinion journalism. But I want to know — where is all this ‘legitimate dialogue’ (emphasis on the word ‘legitimate’) that we in particular are guilty of obfuscating? Tell me where it’s happening, and I’ll gladly get the hell out of its way!

In all seriousness, though, I don’t at all disagree with Thomas on his larger point. In fact I think most of his post hits it right on the mark, particularly in his assessment that lack of editorial oversight might be precisely what makes online art criticism so problematic (I’m paraphrasing his argument, but that’s what I took away from it). Thomas finds fault with the recently launched Chicago Art Magazine for precisely these reasons, and although I shall remain neutral on the matter of his specific target, I tend to agree with many of the larger arguments he’s making. Such as this one:

“But I would argue that without editorial oversight or a progressive long term vision for growth, an endeavor such as this one is hopelessly mired. After all criticism and opinion are not the same. Amateur criticism is little more than the ALL-CAPS and bold fonts version of a comment roll, and paying said amateur is in no way a transformation of this reality. So what makes a misinformed critic not, a knowledgeable and, or an opinionated amateur? Time, energy, condensed thoughts, research, an apishly large library surrounded by lovely black and white photographs of water fowl, and other bric-a-brac? No its constancy and persistence in the pursuit of understanding and conveying the qualities that define the arcane and metaphorical reality of objects and their surroundings.”

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