Centerfield on art:21 blog: “Sustaining Practices”

December 29, 2010 · Print This Article

Our latest “Centerfield” column is up on art:21 blog! Actually, it went live yesterday, while I was flying home from Los Angeles so…apologies for the late linkage here. This week, I tried something slightly different: a roundtable Q&A session that addresses the question of how different people sustain a cultural practice over time. It’s a question I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, and it seemed particularly appropriate to ask as the end of 2010 draws to a close and we look forward to a new year, new projects, new relationships–all of which need fresh infusions of energy, creativity and enthusiasm. The discussion was really meaningful to me, and I’m very grateful to Britton Bertran, Duncan MacKenzie, Caroline Picard and Philip von Zweck for sharing their experiences with us. I hope you find something meaningful in the conversation, too! Happy New Year everyone.

The following is the entire text of the discussion which appeared in yesterday’s “Centerfield” column for art:21 blog.  The “Centerfield” post had been edited somewhat for brevity.


Lately I have been thinking a lot about sustainability and sustenance. Not the environmental kind of sustainability–the personal and emotional kind.  Chicago’s art community is rich in relationships, but like so many other ‘art worlds’ out there, it can be a bit less bountiful when it comes to monetary compensation, feedback, and consistent forms of validation. So I asked four longtime Chicago-based cultural practitioners–independent curator and arts educator Britton Bertran, artist Duncan MacKenzie (co-founder of Bad at Sports),  Caroline Picard, an artist who runs the small but highly-regarded Green Lantern Gallery and Press, and Philip von Zweck, an artist whose work often involves project-based collaborations–a few questions about how they have sustained their own practices over time, and especially after a project has run its course. How do they stay sharp and engaged and committed over the long haul? How do they keep on keepin’ on when the going gets tough?  Read on to find out what this group had to say.

Claudine Ise:  Describe the work that you do. What forms has the work taken? When its form has changed, what were some of the reasons for the change?

Britton Bertran: My work is cyclical. I started my “career” here in Chicago working for a well-known and very progressive not-for-profit art education organization.  It was hard and fulfilling programmatic work placing ‘teaching artists’ in mostly underserved Chicago public schools.  It was also mentally exhausting, especially the part when we all sat around and planned the future of arts integration.  Around 2005 I decided to open my own commercial art gallery (called 40000). There were many reasons why I did this but one of the main points was jettisoning the funk of non-profit work off of me and diving in to the wild world of working with artists for profit (theirs and mine).  Three years later, and a month before the great economic collapse of 2008, I closed the gallery. There are a myriad of reasons why I closed the gallery.  To this day, I am simultaneously extremely relieved for shutting down but will also ultimately regret doing so.  After that I worked for a local philanthropic foundation doing a preliminary report investigating the feasibility of opening a contemporary art space in Chicago. Meanwhile, the aforementioned economic collapse waylaid the philanthropic element of the foundation and hence the feasibility of operating such a space.  Currently I am working for another Chicago-based art education not-for-profit with a more encompassing, less intense mission that is equally as challenging but not laden with the philosophical conundrum of solving the world’s problems.  It’s very satisfying and comes with a real live paycheck.

Interspersed with the jobs I have had in for the last 4 years or so, I have also had a secondary career as an independent curator and instructor in the Arts Administration department at The School of the Art Institute.  Curatorially, I put together two exhibitions a year – one at a more Institutional level and one at an artist-run or alternative gallery space.  As an instructor, my classes revolve around the art business, institutional contexts and the history of both.

Economics and the highs and lows of professional frustration seem to be running themes in my personal work history.  The one constant is education.  Its also important to point out I am not an artist.  I don’t make work as “product”, but one of the ongoing mantras of art education (specifically in secondary school, but really at all levels) is the sweet dance between product and process.  What is each of these things in the first place?  Can you have one without the other?  Where does the satisfaction of learning make itself known?  Retention of information or basking in the glow of acknowledgment: which should take precedence or how should they be intermingled for maximum effect? These are the questions I have been working with throughout my “career” and I believe it will be a long pursuit.

Duncan MacKenzie: The work that I do has taken, and takes, many forms. The way that I work now is collaboratively, sometimes that means working on the  “Bad at Sports” project and at other times that work is with an artist named Christian Kuras on an object and image-based practice. As a young artist, I was trained in several really active communal print shops, a series of film sets and a small graphic design firm. Those experiences left me with a real strong drive towards communal working and a need to share broadly both the authorship and the result. This is a very different way then the traditional “heroic artist” locked in their studio wrestling with a canvas. I don’t love spending my time all alone working through a series of problems and puzzles which I’ve situated for myself. I like and need the energy colleagues bring to projects.

Before these current collaborations, I had thought of myself and worked as a… I don’t know, for lack of a better term, postmodern pop artist, and developed a “style” which was reflective of pop culture, post-structuralism and of other “conceptual looking” art practices.  That started to change when I confronted the reality of being a “print specialist.” The worry that was taking root had to do with how constraining a traditional printmaking practice can become and how that can limit its producers and their participation in a broader art world. Printmaking is so seductive in its process and its materials that artists attracted to it tend to become very invested in virtuoso printing and work in the closed community of international printmakers. I started to bump up against this boundary and began looking for other strategies with which to access the ways that I was thinking. Initially, I begin by looking at video and animation work and situating a practice of appropriation and collage there. Then that reach was extended out towards electronics, model building, and photography. Through those processes I began to engage sculpture and found that most of the ideas that I wanted to follow-up on needed a discourse that was more, or maybe less, lonely. Then, at roughly the same time, I started to collaborate with Christian on making sculptures, and Richard Holland and I started talking about doing a podcast about art.

Caroline Picard: For the last six years I have been running a non-profit gallery and press called The Green Lantern. During that time I have continued to work independently as an artist and a writer. I think these projects inform one another–in many ways I’ve thought about the Gallery and the Press as being significant influences on my own work; particularly when the space was in my apartment, I came to think of it as a kind studio-research. During the first five years, that’s where everything took place– in my apartment–I’m very interested in creating intersections for different artistic mediums, so it was a great place to experiment curatorially. I was also very interested in thinking about the intersection of public and private space and how that context might affect a viewer’s experience of contemporary artwork, whether it was poetry, or a painting exhibit, a music show or a performance.

After five years the city shut down the project because (and as a result of zoning) I did not have, nor could I acquire a business license. Last September I opened a second storefront space which will close in January of this year. As part of this second plan, I was trying to put together a business model which would sustain the non-profit gallery via a for-profit cafe/bar/bookstore/performance space. I couldn’t find that space, and after a continued accrued cost had to close up shop. The Press will continue and I’ll continue as its primary editor. We also have a very cool on-line indie-lit bookstore, (in my on-going championship of pipe dreams, I have a vague hope that said bookstore will serve as my primary income).

Philip von Zweck: From the early 90’s (as a student) until relatively recently most of my projects involved either producing a form for others to fill and/or making projects for a non art audience.  For 15 years I produced a weekly radio program of live performance and sound art recordings that were submitted for broadcast; I have an ongoing project called Temporary Allegiance which is a 25 ft flag pole that anyone can sign up to fly anything they want on for a week at a time; I ran a gallery in my living room for 3 years in which I presented solo shows by people I trusted with keys to my apartment; I’ve made books which are compilations of pages submitted by friends; for my show museum show a few years ago I made a chain letter and mailed it to the museum’s mailing list; I co-founded the radio art collective Blind Spot which produced 1-hour works live to air- the list goes on, but there was a set of politics I was really guided by, and adhering to them eventually caused me to feel distanced from my own practice. I got to a point where I just wasn’t as interested in doing those sorts of projects, or feeling like I had to do those sorts of projects anymore.  So recently, a few years ago, I begun showing paintings- I’ve always painted and drawn but didn’t show them because it didn’t fit in with the other projects and those took precedence.  I wouldn’t that I have abandoned the previous set of politics and I still really like a lot of those projects; it’s just that I’ve come to a different way of thinking about them and my role as an artist.

Philip von Zweck

CI: Can you describe one, or some, of the happiest and/or most satisfying period/s of production you’ve experienced thus far, and what made it so? In turn, can you talk about some of the “low points.” What brought you down? How did you pick yourself back up again afterwards and find the where-with-all to start fresh?

Britton Bertran: The opening night of the first exhibition I put together for 40000 was the happiest most satisfying 5 hours of my professional career.  A completely fulfilling experience that squashed a good six months of the most terrifying anxiety I’ve ever known.  Quitting my job to start my own business without any financial security or previous gallery operating know how was also one of the stupidest things I have ever done.  Looking back now – part of that happiness was pure obliviousness, but seeing 300 people come and pretty much stay that night had a profound affect on me.  The literal act of taking a space and preparing it for art looking is one thing, but preparing it for art socializing and art commerce is another.  I learned a lot that night (process?), through the literal and figurative haze, that I still employ today (product?).

My low point was realizing how screwed I was by the overall economic situation that happened not too long ago.  Either I was too arrogant to think I would never have work, or I thought I was just plain invincible, but that was the most incredibly depressing and scary 6 months of my life.  Part of my problem was the fact that I had convinced myself that I had paid my dues and that a job, in the art world please, should just come waltzing my way, take my hand and whisk me off to that thing called adulthood.  It was around this time (as I was selling my lovingly collected vinyl records in order to eat), that I realized I had built a solid network of individuals that could help me.  Pride swallowed I groveled, professionally, and just asked. Within two months I was working.

View of opening reception for "Artist Run Chicago" at the Hyde Park Art Center, curated by Britton Bertran and Allison Peters Quinn

Duncan MacKenzie: All of the most recent satisfying moments were times in which I felt very connected to our projects and felt like others were as connected to the result. One of the most amazing experiences, recently, was doing  “Don’t Piss on Me and Tell Me its Raining” at Apexart in NYC. What made it such a delight was to know and have tangible proof of what our project is meant to the hundreds of people who been involved in its production. It was amazing to feel so intimately connected to so many other artists.

The low points for me are almost always the same. They are the moments that I feel like the art world is either just like a clique-y, bitchy, catty high school popularity contest or like a fashion Mall and all the things we make are just as disposable as this week’s “Entertainment Weekly.” They are always the moments that make me feel like we are not a community but a bunch of humans who represent opportunities to each other and should just be used as opportunities. It seems so obvious that we should be advocates for each other and support an overall growth but the evidences suggests that despite working in “culture” we are hyper competitive creatures. So I guess they are moments when I feel disconnected and disregarded. Thankfully it is as easy to get out of picking up the phone and reaching out.  All it takes is a little reminder that we all feel alone, awkward, and like no one cares but everyone of us does this because we know how meaningful it has been to us and that we still share in it.

Caroline Picard: High points: I think my consistent favorite moment will always be the point an audience (of whatever sort) has settled into attendance–when the program has begun and the work is done–whether that’s the work of an administrator, or a producer. For me, those moments resolve the otherwise insatiable existential question (in my mind) of what art is for because art is precisely for that moment; at least that’s how it strikes me in that moment. That moment also demands a certain giving up–there is nothing left to do but allow the occasion to happen, and to try and be present for its happening. My other favorite moment is the deep concentration that happens when I am working on my own, whether writing a piece, or painting, or editing–this is my other favorite thing. That deep concentration–I don’t really know what else to call it, but it’s like everything else in the world gets quiet while I’m totally focused on exploring and developing a particular idea. That moment gives me a huge re-charge (you ask about this later). It’s maybe a little like meditation? I don’t know.

Low points include: Discovering typos in my writing, for instance–particularly if those typos point to some never-before-recognized ignorance–what are they called, lacuna? I think this space closing a second time is another one of those moments, despite my realizing that there was no specific failure involved–I am proud of what the last six months have brought, thrilled that I got to work with such great people and participate once more with the Chicago art community. Yet, I am conscious not fulfilling the larger, albeit abstract, vision I had undertaken. Why this, or realizing typos would inspire embarrassment, I don’t know–it must be some hangover of a waspy background, or a childhood fear of Scandinavian silence (my grandmother had a strategy called “deep freeze” that was remarkable). And then as far as how to get through that stuff–I don’t think there’s any trick beyond being patient and humble and adopting a sense of humor (I like to think of my consciousness like my grandmother–if it/she shames me I make a slew of jokes which, more often than not, work because they fail).

Audience attending a screening of "Now It's Dark" at Green Lantern

Philip von Zweck: The times when I am the most productive – and therefore happiest – artistically are generally times when everything else is going right; the times when I’m neither broke or pulled in a thousand directions (from taking on too many jobs or commitments), when I’m in good health, relationship, community, etc. When those things start going wrong it is really hard for me to make work, it becomes a feedback cycle- things not going well leads to being bummed out, which leads to not making work, which leads to being bummed out, which leads to…

Perhaps the lowest point came from doing a project in which I was treated poorly by the presenting organization. What should have been a great experience seriously made me never want to make work again. How did I pick myself up? I didn’t have a choice, I had already committed to do another project, and that one went swimmingly, actually way better than expected and that was enough- not that the previous experience has left my mind, but I’ve mostly moved on.

CI: All of you are engaged in practices that involve lots of other people (though I know that several of you maintain studio practices, too). I often think through my own personal quest for ‘sustenance’ in terms of introversion versus extroversion: sometimes, we recharge our energy by spending time with friends and collaborators, other times by being alone. So, how do you recharge — and how does it help you sustain those practices you most want to engage in?

Britton Bertran: The relationship between institutional and individual memories, as a conundrum, is fascinating to me – and worrisome.  In order to combat that, I have made a real effort to reflect on my personal and professional experiences (process) in order to better inform my future (product), especially when it comes to being a part of the immediate art world around me.  I also believe it has to be more than just taking pictures. The essential part that I concern myself with is finding ways to reflect, edit, and share those experiences.  As official memories, of the institutional kind, seem to be becoming more and more overwhelmed by the collective desire for the next memory, harnessing something that I would call “The Slow Memory Movement” might become more essential.  This Slow Memory Movement (akin to the Slow Food Movement) would emphasis the personal importance, or pleasure, of remembering and the sustainability of its impact on oneself.  (I also have been reading as much post-apocalyptic science fiction as I can get my hands on which, beyond the pure entertainment factor, does wonders for the reflective process).

Britton Bertran, Touching the Art at the Volo Auto Museum, Volo, IL. Photo: Bridgette Buckley.

Duncan MacKenzie: Recharge? I read crime novels in which wizards solve crimes, and comic books. It is the source of a small amount of shame, but a couple of years ago I felt like everything in my life was connected to art production and I needed to find something that I was not going to try and plug back into an art world.  Now it seems likes wizards are the order of the day and I am looking for novels about dinosaurs solving crimes.

Caroline Picard: Top 5 Ways to Recharge would include:

1) Deep and quiet thinking about a particular subject which is engaged through writing/visual work. The act of making something discrete–something very often totally “useless”–then makes me very happy.

2) Being with friends (of course), art-friends and non-art friends both.

3) Making Jokes, which I think I too easily forget. Making Jokes should probably be no. 1.

4)  I have to admit, though I will immediately disown this, I also recharge watching some sort of television-thing, preferably an episodic serial drama.

5) Making non-art things like food. Or dreams.

Philip von Zweck: I don’t ever consciously think “I need to recharge” but I spend a lot of time alone and- not that I ever set out to not work on art, but really- it is very hard for me to not work on stuff. Sometimes this can be recharging, working in the studio can be a good antidote to a day at the job. But I guess for me it would be spending time with friends. A lot of ideas and projects come out of just hanging out, I think this is why I’ve done so many collaborative and social projects, they are both rewarding and rejuvenating.

CI: Thank you all so much for sharing your experiences and ideas with me and with our readers at art:21 blog.

Episode 255: Genesis Breyer P-Orridge

July 18, 2010 · Print This Article

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Genesis Breyer P-Orridge

This week: Philip von Zweck (Bad mofo, artist, and storied, long running host of Something Else on WLUW) and Simon Anderson (Associate Professor Department of Art History, Theory + Criticismm SAIC) interview a living legend, Genesis Breyer P-Orridge. Breyer P-Orridge was in town for an exhibition S/he is having at Western Exhibitions.

Genesis P-Orridge and performance artist Lady Jaye Breyer began a collaborative effort begun in 1993  that focused on a single, central concern: deconstructing the fiction of self.  Frustrated by what they felt to be culturally enforced limits on identity but emboldened by the radical power of love, P-Orridge and Lady Jaye applied collage and cut-up techniques to their own bodies in an effort to merge their respective selves.  Through plastic surgery, hormone therapy, cross-dressing and altered behavior, they fashioned a single, pandrogynous being, Breyer P-Orridge. The work is an experiment in identity, a test of how fully two people can integrate their lives, and, ultimately, a symbolic gesture of evolution and the alchemical union of the male and female halves of the human.  Although Lady Jaye passed away in 2007, Genesis has continued Breyer P-Orridge, putting into question not only the limits between self and other but also life and death.

Genesis Breyer P-Orridge was born in Manchester, England in 1950. S/he was a member of the Kinetic action group Exploding Galaxy/Transmedia Exploration from 1969-1970. S/he conceived of and founded the seminal British performance art group Coum Transmissions in 1969 and was the co-founder of Throbbing Gristle, Psychic TV, and the spoken word/ambient music performance group Thee Majesty. Throughout Genesis’ long career, s/he has worked and collaborated with William S. Burroughs, Brion Gysin, Derek Jarman and Dr. Timothy Leary, among others. H/er art has been exhibited internationally, including recent exhibitions at Deitch Projects, Mass MOCA, Centre Pompidou, Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, Barbican Museum, the Swiss Institute and White Columns, amongst others. Upcoming exhibitions will include a solo exhibition at Rupert Goldsworthy in Berlin, a keynote address at the Erotic Screens Conference, Centre for Public Culture and Ideas at Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia and a lecture at the Museum of Modern Art, New York in March. H/er archive was recently acquired for the permanent collection of the Tate Britain Museum.

Top 5 Weekend Picks (7/16-7/18)

July 15, 2010 · Print This Article

It’s framing up to be an interesting weekend, here’s my top 5 recommendations, chronological order:

1. Proof at Catherine Edelman Gallery

The Home Funeral Contact (1990) Shelby Lee Adams

I’m actually really excited about this show. Being a photographer myself, who was worked in film for many years and still does so, I am intimately familiar with the selection process that happens whe you look over a contact sheet. They are amazing story tellers that few ever have the chance to see. This is a unique opportunity not to be missed.

Proof opens Friday, from 5-8pm. Catherine Edelman Gallery is located at 300 W. Superior St.

2. The Art of Touring at Johalla Projects


Selected images from the book “THE ART OF TOURING,” images from the road. Ever wondered what a van looks like after 6 unwashed boys have spent 8 weeks crisscrossing the country in it? Do you already know and what to revisit it? This is your show. Work from tons of musicians and music biz people.

The Art of Touring opens Friday, from 7-11pm. Johalla Projects is located 1561 N. Milwaukee Ave.

3. Quarterly Site #3: Stay in Your Lane! at Swimming Pool Project Space

They say it better than I could myself, and I quote, “Quarterly Site #3: Stay In Your Lane! is hosted by Swimming Pool Project Space. Using the theme of direction, three curators conceptualize their various interpretations of the word by dissecting the gallery into physical lanes.” Curated by Anthony Elms, Katherine Pill, and Philip von Zweck.

Quarterly Site #3: Stay in Your Lane! opens Saturday, from 6-10pm. Swimming Pool Project Space is located at 2858 W. Montrose Ave.

4. The Humboldt Moving Picture Show at the Richmond Manor

Humboldt Moving Picture Show

The second round of the Humboldt Moving Picture Show. I went to this last year and it was FANTASTIC. This year they’ve gone international with artists from the US, Egypt, Kosovo, Palestine, Germany, and Mexico. It’s $5 donation, but totally worth it.

The Humboldt Moving Picture Show begins at sundown on Saturday. The show will happen in the Sideyard at Richmond Manor, located at 1625 N Richmond St.

5. James Elkins Lecturing at The Art Institute of Chicago

James Elkins

James Elkins lectures on “Beyond the Aesthetic and the Anti-Aesthetic” at the Art Institute of Chicago as part of the annual Stone Summer Theory Institute.

James Elkins will be lecturing at 1pm in the Morton Auditorium at AIC. The Art Institute of Chicago is located at 111 S. Michigan Ave.

Interview with Heidi Norton

April 12, 2010 · Print This Article

I first encountered the work of Chicago-based photographer Heidi Norton only recently, when one of her photographs was included in landscape/portrait/still life, a group show curated by Philip von Zweck at Hungry Man Gallery. For me, von Zweck’s show provided the curatorial equivalent of a restaurant tasting menu: it offered small but pungent bites of different artworks, laid out according to a fairly broad curatorial premise.  I came away with a short list of artists about whom I was curious and eager to learn more. At the top of that list was Norton, a photographer and an instructor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she teaches color photography and multi-level studio. Norton earned her MFA from SAIC in 2002, and has participated in numerous group shows in Chicago, New York, London, and Spain.  She will be exhibiting her work at  Next / Art Chicago (April 30 – May 3, 2010) with Swimming Pool Project Space. Heidi was kind enough to engage in an in-depth Q&A with me about her current photographic practice and the state of the photographic arts in general. I’m very grateful to her for the time she took to answer my questions.

Installation view of Heidi Norton's "Deconstructed (Rebirth)", 2009 (left)Â at Hungry Man Gallery. Right: Andreas Fischer's painting Original Location.

CI: You seem to move easily in and out of three traditional photographic genres–portrait, landscape, and still life–without residing solely in any one. The photograph “Deconstruction/Rebirth” in “landscape/portrait/still life” seems to fit into at least two of the categories that that show was exploring. Can you talk a bit about the ideas behind “Deconstruction/Rebirth,” and how that image fits into the tradition of landscape and still life while subverting them as well?

HN: The relationship between photography and painting will always be a subject worth exploiting. For years the two have worked reflexively, borrowing from one another when it suited them, dissing one another when they felt inferior. Photography lagged behind for many years until its introduction to the art world via the museum institution. However,  Modernism also brought with it a tremendous number of failures within the medium of photography itself, i.e. technical prowess dominated by men exclusively. Works by Edward Weston, Ansel Adams, and Minor White, for example, use landscape, figure and still life in a highly vapid yet monopolizing way. Their works lacked any conceptual content, relying instead on technique and shallow representations of beauty.  In these works, nature, light, and the female form are reduced to popular notions of  the sublime and the meditative. This becomes problematic in that beauty is classified as idyllic, cliched and subsequently artificial. In all of my works I am interested in reexamining these traditional ideas, but also in deconstructing them by using more contemporary and conceptual methods.

Heidi Norton, "Deconstructed (Rebirth)," 2009

Heidi Norton, Whitescape, 2009

Heidi Norton, Blackscape, 2009

With the painted plant works I am interested in simultaneously preserving and deconstructing the idyllic beauty represented by the the plants, through the application of paint. The paint initially concerned me because I thought it would kill the plants. However, the plants soon begin to grow out of the center, shedding the acrylic paint and moving back into the their natural forms. This is where the subversion begins. The paint is the medium added to the still life, interrupting its identity as the “perfect” formal still life. The green paint is strewn onto the image in a chaotic and “messy” manner, the forms are no longer perfect, and the plants sit somewhere between life and death.

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Bad at Sports’ Fall Art Picks

September 11, 2009 · Print This Article

Times are tough, but there’s a lot to look forward to with the coming Fall art season in Chicago. Here’s what Meg and I are most looking forward to seeing over the next three months — and be sure to check out Stephanie’s guide to Friday and Saturday openings below!

Philip Von Zweck

Philip Von Zweck at ThreeWalls

9/11 Philip Von Zweck at ThreeWalls (M, C) The title of this show is “The Fortieth Anniversary of the First Anniversary of May ’68 (in September).” Von Zweck is a significant and much-beloved figure in the Chicago art scene who ran a highly respected apartment gallery for a number of years. This exhibition marks his return to a more traditional solo artist exhibition framework.


Luis Gispert at Rhona Hoffman Gallery

9/11 Luis Gispert at Rhona Hoffman (C) New large-scale photographic portraits and videos by the Miami-born, Brooklyn-based Gispert that focus on immigrant sectors of the American workforce and the search for expressive outlets outside the realm of labor. A three-channel film focuses on Gispert’s friend Rene, a Cuban immigrant who works in a Miami restaurant supply store.

9/11 Jessica Labatte at Scott Projects (M). Labatte’s exhibition Bright Branches documents found objects collected from Chicago alleys and junk stores.

9/11 Craig Doty: Women at Roots and Culture (M,C). The women in Doty’s new photographic series have been described as appearing “physically exhausted as well as ethically or morally debased,” i.e. a wet and shivering woman looking out past viewers with few narrative clues as to why, etc. Given Choire Sicha’s description of Doty as “a sick little pervert” whose previous body of work was “very John Hughes meets John Waters meets John Lydon,” well, let’s just say we can’t wait to see his approach to the subject for ourselves.

Doug Ischar at Golden Gallery

Doug Ischar at Golden Gallery

9/12 Doug Ischar at Golden (M,C). A body of work from 1985, never before seen in its entirety, is the enticement here. Ischar’s show is titled Marginal Waters and features images taken in Chicago’s now-defunct Belmont Rocks.

9/19 Jonas Wood at Shane Campbell Gallery (C). He’s from L.A. and showed at Black Dragon Society, plus he’s collaborated with painter Mark Grotjahn…for now, that’s all I need to know to want to see Wood’s show.

9/19 Jason Lazarus, Wolfgang Plöger, Zoe Strauss at The Art Institute (M). A show of recent photographic acquisitions of these artists’ works by the Art Institute.

9/20 Allen Sekula, Polonia and Other Fables at The Renaissance Society (C). New photographs by anti-globalization hero Sekula that focus on Chicago’s rich labor history, its Polish working-class population along with The University of Chicago’s famous lineage of economic theorists. Heady yet vital stuff from this woefully under-recognized L.A.-based artist.

9/25 – 9/27 Mikhail Baryshnikov at Harris Theater (M). It’s Baryshnikov dude. ‘Nuff said.

Greely Myatt in Heartland at Smart Museum of Art

Greely Myatt in Heartland at Smart Museum of Art

9/30 Heartland at the Smart Museum (C). Coorganized by the Smart Museum of Art and the Van Abbemuseum, a survey of artists from the Midwest aka the American Heartland. Hopefully it’ll subvert the syrupy connotations of it’s title, or at least be the kind of show that people argue, bitch and moan about rather than simply ignore.

10/2 – 10/4  Western Exhibitions and Golden Age at the NY Art Book Fair (M). The only event to make it to our list that is not in Chicago. If your in New York at the beginning of October check out two Chicagoans holding it down at the Fair.

October, opening date TBA, Carroll Dunham at He Said/She Said (C). Carroll Dunham shows in a suburban apartment gallery: the Oak Park home of Pamela Fraser and Randall Szott. Can’t wait for this.

10/8-21 Chicago International Film Festival (M) In it’s 45th year the film festival the two week festival is the hub for all film fanatics.  This festival might be the only time to catch certain films so be sure to check out their schedule in advance.


Jeremy Deller at The Museum of Contemporary Art

10/10 Jeremy Deller: It Is What It Is: Conversations About Iraq, at the MCA (M) Commissioned by The Three M Project Jeremy Deller will invite numerous participants to discuss their knowledge of the Iraq War. Some guest will include verterans, and scholars.
James Welling at Donald Young (C)

10/10 Playing with Pictures: The Art of Victorian Photocollage at The Art Institute (C). I’m a sucker for Victoriana, and this exhibition –the first “to comprehensively examine the little-known phenomenon of Victorian photocollage, presenting work that has rarely—and in many cases never—before been displayed or reproduced” — is probably the one show I’m most looking forward to seeing this fall. A medium mostly practiced by aristocratic women, Victorian photocollage combined human, animal, and botanical forms in all sorts of wacky and whimsical ways, and I’m looking forward to reading the accompanying full-color catalogue to learn more about the ways that female artists of this era approached the form some sixty odd years before Picasso and Braque started playing around with it.

10/13 Alex Halsted and David Moré at Gallery 400 (C). Chicago-based Moré “collaborates” with an elephant nose fish, who emits an electrical pulse as a navigation tool which the artist then amplifies. I love the gallery’s blurb on this show: “This performance duo mixes issues of displacement, communications, commercial sound and inter-species contact in a singularly engaging bio-tech format.” Yep, pretty much says it all.

10/16 In Search of the Mundane at ThreeWalls (M) Organized by Randall Szott and InCUBATE  According to ThreeWalls this series will , “include boozy brunches, a lecture on the art of storytelling, various leisure excursions, and a tour of personal collections.”


Liam Gillick at the MCA

10/17  Liam Gillick Curates the MCA Collection (M, C). We love the way that the MCA is experimenting with the curation of its permanent collection. The MCA has invited Liam Gillick to select works for its next hanging.

11/TBA James Welling at Donald Young (C).  New work by L.A. photographer Welling, whose ongoing interest in the experimental and abstract possibilities of photography set his work apart from contemporaries like Sherrie Levine and Cindy Sherman as well as today’s younger generation focusing heavily on portraiture. Welling’s last show at Donald Young featured photograms of flowers and “torsos” (the latter actually made out of screens sculpted to resemble human curves) made without the use of a camera; the results were gorgeous, and I’m looking forward to seeing what he delves into next.

12/4 Carrie Schneider at MCA 12×12 (M, C)  Often using herself as her main character, Schneider  melds several genres of art-making including body art, performance, self-portraiture photography and film in images that are haunting, creepy, and hallucinatory in their resonance. If someone ever gave Schneider a huge project budget she could give Matthew Barney a run for his money, but for now we’ll look forward to seeing the new short film Schneider plans to premiere in her first solo museum outing at the MCA. According to the MCA’s website, the film, made in Helsinki, Finland while the artist was there on residency, continues the artists’ ongoing exploration of doubled selves and the uncanny.