Tuesday April 20th (tomorrow!) at 6pm Bad at Sports hosts this month’s Cabinet of Curiosities at the MCA, an ongoing “grab bag of ‘un-lectures'” presented by different groups from around Chicago. Bad at Sports has curated an evening on the subject of Magic. Stephanie Brooks will speak on the Magic of Language and Love. Industry of the Ordinary (Mat Wilson and Adam Brooks) will explore the magical through an investigation of God, football, and extra-marital conduct. Elijah Burgher will give a talk on Sigil Magic, a system of spell-casting outlined by early 20th century occultist, Austin Osman Spare, and popularized more recently in occult movements such as Chaos Magick and Thee Temple of Psychic Youth. Ross Moreno will perform magic! And John Neff and Ivan Lozano will explicate the magic of materialist magic – presented immaterially.
Stephanie Brooks is a conceptual artist living in Chicago.Â She has exhibited her work nationally and internationally including exhibits in Berlin, Brooklyn, Chicago, Denmark, London, Los Angeles, New York, Vienna, and Phoenix, AZ.Â She is an adjunct professor in the Sculpture department at The School of the Art Institute. Her work is included in the collections of Whitney Museum of American Art, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Microsoft Corporation, and Philip Morris/Altria. Her recent publication “Love is A Certain Kind of Flower” is published by Green Lantern Press; and upcoming exhibitions include Peter Blum, New York and Portable, Atlanta.
Industry of the Ordinary were formed in 2003. The two artists who make up this collaborative team, Adam Brooks and Mathew Wilson, have long histories as visual and performative artists. They bring complementary sensibilities to their activities.Their projects exist in temporal terms but have also been conceived to function on the web site associated with the collaboration, www.industryoftheordinary.com. They have had solo shows at the MCA and NEIU Gallery and performed at the opening of the Modern Wing of the Art Institute, as well as making work for a wide variety of private, semi-private and public settings. They will have a survey of their practice at the Chicago Cultural Center in 2011.
Elijah Burgher is an artist and writer based in Chicago, IL.Â He has most recently exhibited in a solo show at Shane Campbell Gallery in Oak Park, IL and a two-person exhibition at Peregrine Program in Chicago, IL.Â He will exhibit work in group shows at Johalla Projects in Chicago and Envoy Enterprises in New York this summer.Â He maintains a hybrid studio wall/magick diary blog at http://ghostvomit.blogspot.com/.Â Burgher co-founded and co-edited the now-defunct art publication BAT.Â He has written reviews and essays for ArtUS and several small art publications in Chicago, as well as contributed writing to Art:21’s guest blog.Â He received an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2004, and a BA from Sarah Lawrence college in 2000, where he split his credits amongst Literature, Visual Art, and Cultural Anthropology.
Ross Moreno earned a masterâ€™s degree in sculpture from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2005. It was during this time he developed a passion for hotdogs, and he has been living and working professionally in Chicago ever since. Ross’ is a member of the Chicago Chapter of the Society of American Magicians and recently completed the International House of Pancakes Balloon Twisting Training Program. Ross can be seen performing his unique blend of performance art, stand-up comedy, and magic at different venues all over the city. More information about Ross can be found by visiting his website at www.rossmoreno.com.
John Neff produces works of art, organizes exhibitions and practices critical writing. He lives and works in Chicago.
Ivan Lozano is a (mostly) video artist currently working on an MFA in Film/Video/New Media at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In another life, while living in Austin TX, Ivan was the programming director for the Cinematexas International Short Film Festival, and an arts writer for various publications.
Marginal Waters at GOLDEN in Chicago exhibits 13 of the works in the series by Doug Ischar. The backdrop of Chicago’s own Belmont Rocks, since destroyed, sets the stage for the documentation of gay men in the 1980s.
The first room in the impeccable space presents three large framed photographs. The titles of the images are sterile and indexical, simply numbered. MW 19 (1985), the first piece I confronted, is a portrait of a scattered group of men, sunning on the rocks by the water. Two men are standing close, just of the verge between friendship close and intimately close, and there are men stretched out sunning on towels. Besides the incredibly dense colors, there is something about all of the photographs that is so captivating; the latent sexual desire rubbing up against the innocence of an afternoon in the sun. The subtle hand on the thigh, the peak of underwear beneath impossibly short shorts, the glint of a nipple ring, or connection between two bodies that speaks to the audacity of a normally closeted culture behaving freely in a public arena, almost like Sunday In the Park on poppers.
The dual landscape of bodies and the rocks was elegantly captured in MW 22 (1985), a portrait of two men embracing on the ground. The curve of the shoulder, knee, seem to act as an extension of the terrain. Also in this image is a lone can of Miller High Life, just one of the many cultural artifacts that look planted in the compositions. Other images include a Diane Arbus book, a Vanity Fair, walkmans (walkmen?), and many ten speed bicycles. There is a subtle illicit implication to the images, an innuendo of illegality.
This feeling of “getting away with something”, as opposed to just being or doing is represented extremely well in the one video piece in the show, Forget Him (2009). This single channel video is extremely compelling and layered. Silent footage found by the artist in a Chicago area flea market in 1990, originally shot in the 1960s, is kept in its entirety with only the playback speeds altered. Ishcar adds captions of Walter Benjamin’s One Way Street, as well as a beautiful section from Heirich Schultz’s Symphoniae Sacrae (1629) . This video serves as a present day reflection on the project from the 80s. It begins with footage of a backyard flower garden, has spaces of blank footage with dust and scratches, and then segments of two men at the rocks. The men are changing, one taking off his pants and donning a jock strap, the other removing his fishnet shirt and khakis and dressing in the tightest shorts you have ever seen, struggling to zip them up. The whole time they are looking around, and the gaze of the camera catches passersby in the distance. This seems like a getting ready ritual that would contemporarily be done in the home, to get ready for a club, but takes place in the open space of the Belmont Rocks. The word from the text, “lovesick, sick, sick”, echo on the screen, seeming to allude to the previously believed “illness” of homosexuality, as well as the consciousness of the AIDS epidemic.
The gallery itself, located in a classic Chicago graystone in Boystown, (apparently one of the first officially recognized “gay villages” in the United States) is incredibly appropriate, adding to the sense of history and urgency of preservation felt in the show. There was also a neatness to the images that worked extremely well in the historic yet well-groomed space. Jacob Meehan, director of GOLDEN, says that many of the neighborhood homos who showed up for the opening this past weekend actually thanked him for showing the work, and reminisced over the images. I think that this show is a great way to begin the year, and to make a meaningful connection with the community.
There is going to be a catalog for Marginal Waters, which will include all 26 of the images in the series as well as text by David Getsy, Steve Reinke and an interview with John Neff. The exhibition has been extended and there will be a closing and catalog release reception, the dates of which will be posted on the website.