This week: Brian and Patricia meet with artist Tony Labat who tries to teach PM how to roll her R’s.
Tony Labat was born in Cuba and came to the United States at the age of 15 in 1966. He has exhibited internationally over the last 30 years. Labat has received numerous awards and grants and his work is in many private and public collections. Labat has developed a body of work in Performance, Video, Sculpture and Installation. His work has dealt with and continues his investigations with the body, popular culture, identity, urban relations, politics, and the media.
This week has musical nods to the untimely passings of Kriss Kross’s Chris Kelly and Slayer’s Jeff Hanneman.
This week: After a dodgy intro we talk to Catherine Sullivan.
Catherine Sullivan was born in Los Angeles, California, in 1968. She earned a BFA from the California Institute of Arts, Valencia (1992), and an MFA from the Art Center College of Design, Pasadena (1997). Sullivanâ€™s anxiety-inducing films and live performances reveal the degree to which everyday gestures and emotional states are scripted and performed, probing the border between innate and learned behavior.
Under Sullivanâ€™s direction, actors perform seemingly erratic, seizure-like jumps between gestures and emotional statesâ€”all of which follow a rehearsed, numerically derived script. Unsettling and disorienting, Sullivanâ€™s work oscillates between the uncanny and camp, eliciting a profound critique of â€œacceptableâ€ behavior in todayâ€™s media-saturated society.
A maelstrom of references and influences from vaudeville to film noir to modern dance, Sullivanâ€™s appropriation of classic filming styles, period costumes, and contemporary spaces (such as corporate offices) draws the viewerâ€™s attention away from traditional narratives and towards an examination of performance itself. Sullivan received a CalArts Alpert Award in the Arts (2004) and a Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst (DAAD) Fellowship (2004â€“05). She has had major exhibitions at Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2007); Tate Modern, London (2005); Vienna Secession, Austria (2005); Kunsthalle Zurich (2005); Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford (2003); UCLA Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2002); and the Renaissance Society, University of Chicago (2002).
She has participated in the Prague Biennial (2005), the Whitney Biennial (2004), and the Biennale dâ€™Art Contemporain de Lyon (2003). Sullivan lives and works in Chicago.
This week: San Francisco checks in with a great interview with the legendary Andrea Fraser!Â Andrea Fraser is a New York-based performance artist, mainly known for her work in the area of institutional critique. She is currently a member of the Art Department faculty at the University of California, Los Angeles.
This week: Live from NADA, okay not live now, but live at the time, why do you care, oh, wait, you don’t sorry. Amanda and Richard on the radio broadcasting from 89.0 “The Shack” atÂ NADA 2011. We interview the seriously fascinating Narcissister!
Narcissister is a Brooklyn-based artist and performer. Her formative dance training took place at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center. Among her professional highlights was being selected to perform with the Alvin Ailey Company in Memoria, one of Ailey’s seminal pieces, touring Europe as a dancer in a German rock-opera and performing in industrial work for Mercedes Benz.
In addition to her performance work, Narcissister works in many other creative media including contemporary quilting, collage, sculpture, printmaking and photography. She has participated in studio residencies including The Whitney Museum Independent Study Program and the Art in General Eastern European Residency Program. In addition, her work has been included in group shows and media publications. Narcissister has also worked extensively as a commercial artist, designing window displays and working as a stylist and art director.
The Narcissister performance project integrates her prior experience as a professional dancer with her current visual and commercial art practices. Narcissister has been receiving much recognition as an outstanding artist and performer through the written word, invitations, and awards. Her art film “The Self-Gratifier” won an award for “Best Use of a Sex Toy” at The 2008 Good Vibrations Erotic Film Festival. In April 2009 she was awarded a Backstage Magazine “Bistro Award” for Outstanding Vaudeville/Burlesque Performance, a category created especially to honor Narcissister’s performance work.
In addition being a featured performer at The Box NYC, Narcissister has presented live work at Deitch Projects, Joe’s Pub, Dixon Place, and Anna Kustera Gallery, and has starred in and curated performance shows at Santos Party House and The Zipper Factory. Her art videos have been included in gallery shows and film festivals worldwide. In Spring 2009, Narcissister co-starred in “All Made Up: Fauxnique/Monique Jenkinson and Narcissister,” a performance art show at The New Museum in New York. In Spring 2010, she workshopped “This Masquerade,” an evening-length piece at The Kitchen. She remounted “This Masquerade” at Abrons Art Center in Winter 2011. Narcissister was a re-performer of Marina Abramovic’s Luminosity piece as part of the groundbreaking retrospective “The Artist is Present” at MoMA.
Narcissister is also developing an international following. In Spring 2009 she was invited to present an evening length solo show as part of the Music Biennale in Zagreb, Croatia. She has presented work at Chicks on Speed’s Girl Monster Festival in Hamburg, Germany, at the Edgy Women Festival in Montreal, and at “The Festival of Women” in Ljubljana, Slovania. She also presented work at Warehouse 09, Copenhagen’s first live art festival, and at “Bordel Des Arts,” a performance series at Lucas Carrieri gallery in Berlin.
We are just around the corner from a ten day international performance art festival, Rapid Pulse. Over the course of those ten days, 29 national and international artists will present a Â variety of works both inside and outside gallery settings. Additionally one can expect panels, discussions and group walks between events. Like much of Chicago’s cultural energy, the festival emerged from a DIY ethos. It’s professional ambition is nevertheless evident Â from the wide-spanning range of engagement; the confluence of those two aesthetics promise to create a profound mix of community enthusiasm and high caliber art â€” my favorite mix. In the following interview, Defibrillator Gallery Director Joseph Ravens talks about how it came together, some of the highlights one might anticipate from the festival and how it engages public space.
Caroline Picard: So tell me a little bit about how Rapid Pulse came about? It seems like an incredibly ambitious project â€” ten days worth of performance art, not to mention a number of out-of-town (and international) artists. Was that a network that already existed for you?Â
Joseph Ravens: When I first started the gallery, I knew that an international festival was something I wanted to do. When putting together the festival, I fully intended to call upon the personal contacts that I made touring international festivals over the past decade. I made many friends over the years and simply thought I would draw upon those resources. At first, it was going to be very small. But we put out an international call for artists and received about 150 applications and most of them were very strong. So it just grew, unexpectedly. Sometimes I regret it and other times I’m delighted. I’m mostly delighted. I then reached out to Julie Laffin and Steven Bridges to help co-curate. This choice was not only to help make the overwhelming task of sorting through the applications more manageable, but also, to diversify the type of work that we would present. I would never be able to do this without them. I wanted Rapid Pulse to embody my vision, but not necessarily be an extension of my preferred tastes and styles. The fourth curator, Giana Gambino, was also instrumental in the beginning of the festival. She approached me late last year and said that if I wanted to follow through with the festival, she would help me. I’ve leaned on her a lot. We are certainly short on resources but, luckily, ambition is in high supply.
CP: What has it been like communicating with various artists about their upcoming projects? Are there particular events that you’re excited by at the moment?
JR: Managing the data and correspondence has been one of the most difficult tasks confronting me. As you can imagine, performance artists have unique requests. One artist, Brazilian, Cristiane Bouger, wants to smash 300 full bottles of Brazilian beer. I’m still a little stumped about it. In general, though, it has been a pleasure for me to get to know artists whose work I respect and I look forward to meeting them face to face. German artist, Regina Frank, applied and I am so flattered and honored because I am familiar with her work and strong reputation. I’m really excited about Italian/Austrian artist Helmut Heiss’ project. He’s flying a banner behind an airplane as his performance. It says “sharp” by the start time on his night because it’s all arranged with the flight company for a specific place and time. Added as an afterthought, I’m also quite excited by our video series. We received such great submissions and some of the artists we invited to perform live weren’t able to come. So we initiated this series to show their work and works by other artists who we admire. This was also an effort to diversify the regions and styles of performance represented in the festival. It is an interesting thing to correspond with artists about their projects. I have shaped certain ideas about their personalities based purely on email exchanges. I’m really excited to meet the artists and discover how their live personalities correspond or conflict with their digital personas.
CP: You mentioned that there were going to be some performances in more traditional gallery settings, but also that some performances would take place on the street, playing with our expectations of the everyday. Can you talk a little bit about some of those? What does it mean to engage a banal and public street that way? Of course it probably depends on the particular performance, but I’m curious about what it means to you, as a director of sorts, in thinking about reserving different “sites.”
JR: Public performance is a particular interest to me as an artist and a curator. Last year Defibrillator curated a series called, Out of Site where we presented 12 unexpected encounters in Wicker Park in association with the local SSA. I’m interested in arresting peoples’ daily lives; giving them pause to reevaluate their surroundings and the boundaries of art. Performance art, especially, can be elitist to a certain degree. Unless you are seeking it out or familiar with the form, you may never encounter this medium. So taking it to the streets is a way to further the reach of this often inaccessible and misunderstood discipline. I actually presented a work in Out of Site for which I ran with a giant fish for two hours around Wicker Park. One viewer posted a ‘missed connection’ in the Reader thanking me for the surprise encounter she experienced when coming out of the Division Blue Line stop. This delighted me. I’m on a mission to broaden the awareness and understanding of performance art among the general public. For Rapid Pulse, several artists are performing in the street. Chicago duo, Industry of the Ordinary, will be branding passers-by with ink stamps. Brazilian artist, Tales Frey will be staging a half hour gender bending wedding kiss. For a project called Apparition, Texas artist, Julia Wallace, will be dressed as the Virgin Mary while breast feeding a baby Jesus. There are several others, including local artists, Lucky Pierre (walking Chicago from south to north) and Lisa Vinebaum who will picket outside local sites in an effort toÂ connect the current crisis in timed labor to the historical struggle for workersâ€™ rights. Designed to be more enticing than confrontational, these works will broaden ideas about what art is and could be.
CP:Â What has it been like finding places for artists to stay? And do you feel like that reflects something about Chicago in particular? Or performance? That there is a willingness to share a home, in some way….
JR: I love this question. Our original idea was to place artists in hotels but, of course, finances are a problem. People stepped up right away to help out and I’m really proud of them (and Chicago) for this. We’ve scheduled a panel on the “Chicago Aesthetic” within the festival, but one thing that stands out to me in regard to this city is our DIY attitude and our gracious hospitality. By placing artists in peoples’ homes, it embodies these ideas. So where I was at first disappointed at not being able to provide hotel accommodation, I’m now thrilled that the housing now reflects Chicago’s style. We’ve organized two “Directors of Hospitality” to ensure that the guest artists have a pleasant and comfortable stay in Chicago. It’s really important PR, actually. People leave a city and talk about their experiences and I want to make sure that all the artists go away happy and paint a wonderful picture of Chicago to their friends and colleagues around the world. I love Chicago and am proud and happy to share our city. I firmly believe we should have larger visibility on an international scale.
Unlike other mediums where one might send a piece away to be exhibited, performance artists need to be present to show their work. I’ve toured extensively and some of the best experiences I’ve had have been ones where I stayed with local people. It’s a way to get insight into the everyday lives of those in that city. It’s also a great way to make long lasting friends and connections. When organizing Rapid Pulse, I was embracing things that worked when I was in other festivals, and correcting things that didn’t work as well. Many of the opportunities and invitations that I’ve received have been the result of connections I’ve made from prior festivals. I would love for Chicago artists to have more visibility within international platforms. One way to accomplish this is for them to make connections during Rapid Pulse. In addition to home stays, we have planned group meals each day so the local and international artists and volunteers can get to know one another and seeds might be planted for future exchange. We hosted Estonian artists, Non-Grata a couple months ago, and one of our volunteers, Amber Lee, formed a relationship and is now touring with them in Europe. This makes me happy and proud. I hope similar situations arise as a result of Rapid Pulse.