Chicago Art in Pictures: February 2013

March 18, 2013 · Print This Article

A graphic, editorial overview of art, artists, and visual art events, found in and around Chicago over the course of the preceding month. All artwork copyright original artists; all photography copyright Paul Germanos.

Mothergirl @ Happy Collaborationists / ACRE Residency

Mothergirl @ Happy Collaborationists

Above: Mothergirl, a performance art duo featuring Sophia Hamilton, foreground, and Katy Albert, background, working within wooden boxes.

Anna Trier and Meredith Weber @ Happy Collaborationists

Above: The Happy Collaborationists, Meredith Weber, left, and Anna Trier, right, hosting Mothergirl’s “Two Women Do Three Things,” on February 9, 2013.

Mothergirl
“Two Women Do Three Things”
February 9, 2013
Happy Collaborationists, in partnership with ACRE Residency
1254 N. Noble
Chicago, IL 60642
http://happycollaborationists.com/

Martin Creed @ MCA Chicago

Martin Creed Work No. 1092, Work No. 1357 (MOTHERS) @ MCA Chicago

Above: A 10 second exposure, hand-held, indicating the kinetic potential of Martin Creed’s popular piece “MOTHERS.”

Martin Creed Work No. 1092, Work No. 1357 (MOTHERS) @ MCA Chicago

Above: Visible in the museum lobby, background, are the geometric architectural paintings Work No. 798 (2007) and Work No. 1349 (2012).

Martin Creed
Work No. 1092, Work No. 1357 (MOTHERS)
Museum of Contemporary Art
MVDR Plaza – till May
220 E. Chicago Ave.
Chicago, IL 60611
http://www.mcachicago.org/

Chris Smith @ The Franklin

Visitation Rites @ The Franklin

Above: Chris Smith’s “Visitation Rites” art burn in progress on Februrary 9, 2013.

Christopher Smith @ The Franklin

Above: Chelsea Culp and Ben Foch view Chris Smith’s “The Visitor’s Hours” within The Franklin, opening night.

IMG_8249A

Above: A gallery patron embraced by a neighborhood resident during the opening reception.

Christopher Smith
“The Visitor’s Hours” and “Visitation Rites”
February 9 – 24, 2013
The Franklin
3522 W. Franklin Blvd
Chicago, IL
http://thefranklinoutdoor.tumblr.com/

Drawer’s Drawing @ PEREGRINEPROGRAM

Leslie Baum in Drawer’s Drawing @ PEREGRINEPROGRAM

Leslie Baum in Drawer’s Drawing @ PEREGRINEPROGRAM

Above: Leslie Baum’s “In the Forest,” 2012, full work and detail.

“Drawer’s Drawing”
February 3 – March 3, 2013
Julius Caesar and Peregrine Program
3311 W. Carroll Ave.
Chicago, IL 60624
Curated by Carrie Gundersdorf and Eric Lebofsky
Artwork by Leslie Baum, Avantika Bawa, Elijah Burgher, Lilli Carré, Chris Edwards, Anthony Elms, Richard Rezac, and Paul Schuette
http://lesliebaum.net/

Peculiar Poetics @ Design Cloud

Kayl Parker in Peculiar Poetics @ Design Cloud

Above: Kayl Parker’s 60″ x 75″ photographic print on vinyl

Alysia Alex in Peculiar Poetics @ Design Cloud

Above: “Peculiar Poetics” curator Alysia Alex, opening night.

Kayl Parker
“Peculiar Poetics”
February 1 – 23, 2013
Design Cloud
118 N. Peoria, Suite 2N
Chicago, IL 60607
Curated by Alysia Alex
Artwork by Kayl Parker, Brea Souders, Stephanie Gonot, Bridget Collins, Mate Moro, Aron Filkey, Marthe Elise Stramrud, Sasha Kurmaz, and Sol Hashemi
http://kaylparker.com/

Plant Life @ Western Exhibitions

Plant Life @ Western Exhibitions

Above: Front to back, artwork by Heidi Norton, Scott Wolniak, and Tyson Reeder.

Geoffrey Todd Smith in Plant Life @ Western Exhibitions

Above: “Plant Life” curator Geoffrey Todd Smith, opening night.

“Plant Life”
February 1 – March 9, 2013
Western Exhibitions
845 W. Washington Blvd.
Chicago, IL 60607
Curated by Geoffrey Todd Smith
Artwork by Chinatsu Ikeda, Eric Wert, Heidi Norton, Jonathan Gardener, Mindy Rose Schwartz, Scott Wolniak, and Tyson Reeder
http://www.westernexhibitions.com/

Shit is Real @ devening projects + editions

Cody Hudson @ devening projects + editions

Above: “You Can’t Win Them All” by Cody Hudson.

Aron Gent @ devening projects + editions

Above: Artwork by Aron Gent, as photographed during the opening reception at devening projects + editions, on February 3, 2013.

Aron Gent @ Document

Above: Aron Gent at his own gallery, Document, photographed on February 1, 2013.

“Shit is Real”
February 3 – March 9, 2013
devening projects + editions
3039 W. Carroll,
Chicago, IL 60612
Artwork by Aron Gent, Carrie Gundersdorf, Cody Hudson, Sofia Leiby, Josh Reames and Cody Tumblin
http://deveningprojects.com/

Judith Geichman @ Carrie Secrist

Judith Geichman @ Carrie Secrist

Above: Gallery patrons view Judith Geichman’s installation during the opening reception.

Erik Wenzel

Above: Chicago writer and artist Erik Wenzel, bon vivant in the shadow of existential doubt, at Judith Geichman’s opening reception on February 9, 2013.

Judith Geichman
“New Paintings and Works on Paper”
February 9 – March 30, 2013
Carrie Secrist Gallery
835 W. Washington Blvd.
Chicago, IL 60607
http://www.secristgallery.com/

Color Bind @ MCA

Color Bind: The MCA Collection in Black and White

Above: Rudolf Stingel’s oil painting “Untitled (after Sam),” 2006.

Color Bind: The MCA Collection in Black and White

Above: Joel Shapiro, Untitled, 1971, foreground; Glenn Lingon “White #11,” 1994, and Imi Knoebel, “Untitled (Black Painting),” 1990, background.

“Color Bind: The MCA Collection in Black and White,”
Organized by MCA Curator Naomi Beckwith
November 10, 2012 – April 28, 2013
The Museum of Contemporary Art of Chicago
220 E. Chicago Avenue (MVDR Drive)
Chicago, IL 60611
http://www.mcachicago.org/

Mary Patten @ threewalls

Mary Patten's "Schizo-Culture" performance live in "PANEL" @ threewalls

Above: Mary Patten’s “Schizo-Culture” performance live, February 9, 2013

Dr. Darrell Moore as Michel Foucault live in Mary Patten's "PANEL" @ threewalls

Above: Dr. Darrell Moore as Michel Foucault in “Schizo-Culture” at threewalls.

Mary Patten: “PANEL”
January 11 – February 23, 2013
threewalls
119 N. Peoria #2c
Chicago, IL 60607
http://www.three-walls.org/

Sarah Hicks @ Thomas Robertello

Sarah Hicks @ Thomas Robertello

Above: Ceramic artist Sarah Hicks greeting a guest at her opening reception on Friday, February 22, 2013.

Sarah Hicks @ Thomas Robertello

Sarah Hicks
“Pop Garden!”
February 22 – April 6, 2013
Thomas Robertello Gallery
27 N. Morgan St.
Chicago, IL 60607
http://www.thomasrobertello.com/

Goshka Macuga @ MCA Chicago

Goshka Macuga @ MCA Chicago

Above: Goshka Macuga’s “The Nature of the Beast” booked for a meeting, social dimension evident, on February 12, 2013.

Goshka Macuga @ MCA Chicago

Above: “Of what is, that it is; of what is not, that it is not,” (panel 1).

“Goshka Macuga: Exhibit, A”
December 15, 2012 – April 7, 2013
Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
220 E. Chicago Ave.
Chicago, IL 60611
http://www.mcachicago.org/

Luc Dratwa @ Kasia Kay

Luc Dratwa @ Kasia Kay

Luc Dratwa @ Kasia Kay

Above: Exterior window, looking in gallery from sidewalk, at night.

Luc Dratwa
“NY Tales”
February 22 – March 30
Kasia Kay Projects
215 N. Aberdeen St.
Chicago, IL 60607
http://www.kasiakaygallery.com/

Tom Costa and Christina McClelland @ Roxaboxen / ACRE Projects

Tom Costa and Christina McClelland @ Roxaboxen

Above: Christina McClelland, foreground, and Tom Costa, background.

Christina McClelland @ Roxaboxen Exhibitions

Above: Christina McClelland at the opening reception on February, 10, 2013.

Tom Costa & Christina McClelland
“After the After Party”
February 10, 2013
Roxaboxen Exhibitions in partnership with ACRE Projects
2130 W. 21st St.
Chicago, IL
http://christinamcclelland.com/

Gabriel Vormstein @ moniquemeloche

Gabriel Vormstein @ moniquemeloche

Gabriel Vormstein
“Tempus fungit – amor mannet”
February 1 – March 30, 2013
moniquemeloche gallery
2154 W Division St.
Chicago, IL 60622
http://moniquemeloche.com/

Johanna Billing @ Kavi Gupta

Johanna Billing @ Kavi Gupta

Johanna Billing
“I’m gonna live anyhow until I die”
February 9 – March 30, 2013
Kavi Gupta Gallery
835 W. Washington Blvd.
Chicago IL 60607
http://www.kavigupta.com/

Robert Burnier @ Andrew Rafacz

Robert Burnier @ Andrew Rafacz

Above: Robert Burnier at his opening reception on February 9, 2013.

Robert Burnier
“The Horseless Carriage”
February 9 – March 30, 2013
Andrew Rafacz Gallery
835 W. Washington Blvd.
Chicago IL 60607
http://www.andrewrafacz.com/

Matt Nichols & Kristina Paabus @ ACRE Projects

Matt Nichols & Kristina Paabus @ ACRE Projects

Matt Nichols & Kristina Paabus
“The Jerks”
February 10 – 25, 2013
ACRE Projects
1913 W. 17th St.
Chicago, IL 60608
http://www.acreresidency.org/

Xavier Cha @ Aspect Ratio

Xavier Cha @ Aspect Ratio

Xavier Cha
“Hourglass”
February 9 – March 8, 2013
Aspect Ratio
119 N. Peoria St., Unit 3D
Chicago IL 60607
http://www.aspectratioprojects.com/


Paul Germanos: Born November 30, 1967, Cook County, Illinois. Immigrant grandparents, NYC. High school cross country numerals and track letter. Certified by the State of Illinois as a peace officer. Licensed by the City of Chicago as a taxi driver. Attended the School of the Art Institute 1987-1989. Studied the history of political philosophy with the students of Leo Strauss from 2000-2005. Phi Theta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi. Motorcyclist.




Top 5 Weekend Picks! (3/8-3/10)

March 7, 2013 · Print This Article

1. Slit Me a River at Julius Caeser

Work by Christine Negu.

Julius Caeser is located at 3311 W. Carroll Ave. Reception Sunday, 1-4pm.

2. What You Get and What You See at The Mission

Work by Adam Gondek.

The Mission is located at 1431 W. Chicago Ave. Reception Friday, 6-9pm.

3. Thinking of You, Doppelganger at The Octagon Gallery

Work by Morgan Sims and Jeffrey Prokash.

The Octagon Gallery is located at 120 N Green St. Unit 3b. Reception Friday, 7-10pm.

4. SOLOS at Threewalls

Work by Jessica Hyatt and Andrew Norman Wilson.

Threewalls is located at 119 N. Peoria St., #2C. Reception Friday, 6-9pm.

5. +medicine cabinet and Sofa King

Work by Heather Mekkelson (+mc) and Brandon Alvendia (SK).

+medicine cabinet and Sofa King are located at 3216 S. Morgan St. Apt 4R. Reception Saturday, 7-10pm.




Artist Tax Workshop spellz HOT DAWG

March 5, 2013 · Print This Article

Taxed

I got the following reminder in my inbox and wanted to pass it along, in case any of you (like me) are on the look out for hot tax tips:

A reminder that tomorrow – Wednesday, March 6 at 7PM at threewalls – is the artist tax workshop.  The workshop is free and open to the public, so please invite anyone you think may benefit!

Also, they bumped the Propeller newsletter up in the month, so if you have any announcements to include, send them along STAT.

 




EDITION #3

February 18, 2013 · Print This Article

Watch out QT

Following a preview launch at the closing of 24hours/25days at New Capital, Forever and Always, the joint curatorial venture of Billy Joyce and Brook Sinkinson Withrow debuted at their Pilsen location last Friday night with a screening of Dreamgirl by Sarah Condo work and a musical performance by Younger.

Forever and Always curators Joyce and Withrow by Matthew Joynt

While the Forever and Always main focus is on programming (they have a lecture by Willy Smart scheduled for March 5th), the space features an ongoing “exhibition” of artwork as well. Whether or not this is a clever ploy to decorate the curators’ apartment remains unclear.

“Its not like someone is trying to hide that it’s an apartment. The art is just where it is. It’s like a return to not giving a shit.” – unnamed source (Michael Kloss)

Blog Roll

Can’t get enough irreverent internet in your tumblr digest? Is The Jogging becoming too relevant for your taste? Enter #NYCartlife. Just a couple SAIC to NYC transplants and their NY Advanced Painting analogs posting selfies and bad art history jokes. #thankmelaterorneveritscool

At last weeks opening for #WITH at ACRE Projects, exhibiting artist, Kristina Paabus, introduced What’s the T? to “#SOYEAHDUH” and we are forever grateful. After doing a little research WTT? learned the blog was created by Wicker Park’s Lisa Frame. Frame is also the creator of “Mugshot-Monday,” which is unfortunately just a bunch of people and their coffee cups.

Temporary Alliegance flag by h.melt (via Gallery400 twitter)

State of IL belatedly endorses love

Following hundreds of Valentines Day’s without half of an endorsement from the Illinois State Legislature, queers and homosexuals alike can finally rejoice as “The Democratic-led Senate delivered a Valentine’s Day victory to gay and lesbian couples [today], passing legislation for the first time that would allow same-sex marriage in Illinois.” Dubbed the “Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act,” What’s the T? wonders why the title couldn’t be something catchier like “The Freedom to Love Whomever You Damn Well Please Which Should Have Been Passed 50 Years Ago Act” or “The Let’s Make Marriage Fabulous Again Since Straight People Obviously Don’t Care About It Anymore Act.”

The legislation furthermore provides this blogger with the perfect context in which to repost the recent Temporary Alliegance flag by h.melt. The installation of the flag pole outside of UIC was concieved by Philip von Zweck and functions as an opportunity for others to exercise freedom of expression.

It’s a National Holiday!

In honor of President’s Day, a work by Erin Washington.

Photo by Charlotte Woolf

The Weatherman Report

Claude Monet, Snow Effect, Giverny, 1893

Velez not trying to “slam anyone in particular”

After slamming several prominent galleries, curators and artists in his article “Friends Curating Friends” for New City, local art critic and curmudgeon, Pedro Velez, took to Facebook last week to gloat over his own accomplishments of curating exhibitions and making artists cry while simultaneously chastising more victims.

LVL3 was unharmed.

Velez’s heart failed to grow three sizes that day.

Terry Myers offeres one of the most not-crazy responses to Velez’s article on the illustrious and longwinded Foumberg thread:

What could Nadar have been thinking when he offered his photography studio for his friends to have their first show in Paris? And what about the activities of all of those friends at the Cabaret Voltaire? Not to mention that pointless “Freeze” show in London. Shocking, but thankfully none of these artists had to call themselves curators.

Trending:

All images taken during the opening of the The Couples show at Heaven Gallery last Friday night, unless obviously from @richforever.

Thorne Brandt & Lindsey Regatta

Hornswaggler Arts

LVL3 turns 3.

Gallery finally lives up to its name

LVL3 is turning three(3) years old and to celebrate, curators and co-directors, Vincent Uribe and Allison Kilberg, are showing five artists who have been with them from the beginning: Michael Hunter, Paul Kenneth, Easton Miller, Liz Nielsen, and Kate Steciw.

I heard there’ll be Hunx.

Lucas Blair & Montgomery Perry Smith

Aron Gent & Betsy O’Brien




The Garden of Productive Memory: A Conversation with Mary Patten & Mathew Jinks

January 19, 2013 · Print This Article

Lotringer's notes, semiotexte archives.

“Panel,” Lotringer’s notes from the Semiotexte archives, digital prints.

As I mentioned yesterday, there is a great performance festival taking place called IN>TIME. Organized by artist Mark Jeffrey, IN>TIME features both international and local artists exhibiting in 14 diverse venues across the city between the months of January and March. Bad at Sports will be posting a mini-series of interviews and essays about this festival, including an upcoming interview with Mark Jeffrey himself. This particular post is dedicated to two concurrent exhibits at threewalls that are also part of Jeffrey’s festival. On January 11th, Mary Patten’s performance/sound/video installation, Panel opened in the main space. Mathew Jinks’ began screening his new 73 minute, single-channel HD video, The Unreliable Narrator, in the project space. While these artists are distinct from one another, exhibiting independent projects, I was interested in facilitating a conversation between them, particularly as both negotiate film, performance, history and collaboration. These exhibits will be on view until February 23rd, with an artist talk from Jinks on January 31st at 7pm, as well as a performance, SCHIZO CULTURE: A Collaborative Reading, and publication release of the catalogue associated with PANEL. On February 9th, there will be another performance, SCHIZO PANEL, at 7 PM.

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“The Unreliable Narrator,” Single channel video still, Mathew Jinks, 2012.

Caroline Picard: You both call on speculative fiction in your respective projects. What does it mean for each of you to employ the fantastic? 

Mathew Jinks: The idea of alternate histories is very resonant for me, not necessarily in the reconstruction of various alternative spaces, but aiding in imagining that sense of an ‘other’ space that can be inhabited by a narrative. Fictive narratives do not interest me. They seem too comfortable as a source of abstract invention in some way, which I see as an escape from reality and a dead end street; a more complex and evocative device for me is to sow seeds of doubt, to introduce situations and characters with a set of dynamics which have been loaded from the start and see how they play out. The origination in my practice was at the point of departure from personal histories and the evolution of expansive political histories.

Mary Patten: Mathew’s articulation of alternate histories, his desire to “sow seeds of doubt,” the leaking or trespassing of “personal” histories into the territory of “the political” are all-compelling to me… and describe sensibilities or impulses that have shaped my own work for many years. It’s very difficult, maybe even pointless, to draw an easy divide between “fact” and “fiction,” despite persistent claims of “objective journalism” or “scientific truth.” This is well-trodden territory: what “we” (in the most capacious sense) collectively and cumulatively “know” is subject to constant revision and reconstruction. We understand that “facticity” doesn’t equal truth, and that what passes as fiction is not a series of falsehoods. One of the oldest cultural practices, the oral tradition — often taking the form of what we call fables or myths — has been a crucial element in constructing “history.” And yet “telling stories” is still a euphemism for telling lies.

“Speculative” introduces the possibility of wonder, a wandering imagination, the work of invention to heal or bridge inescapable gaps in any historical record. It is a kind of affective, archaeological process to make empirically un-provable connections between obscure, unknown or little-known histories. “Speculative” need not connote the fantastical, however — at least not in the “spectacular” sense. These words are funny… so interconnected, but full of paradoxes.

In the case of Panel, I was drawn to an obscure transcript, photocopied many-times over, given to me by the only participant still living, my friend Judith Clark, herself a survivor of a barely-remembered radical history, serving a 75-to-life sentence in Bedford Hills prison in New York State. (Judy’s story deserves its own independent telling; I would ask readers to please check out judithclark.org.)

"Panel," 4 channel video still: Judy red black daydream, Mary Patten, 2013.

“Panel,” detail: Judy’s drift, digital compositing from silkscreen print, Mary Patten, 2013.

Judy’s memory of the “panel on prisons and asylums” at Schizo Culture is that the three men – Foucault, Harp, and Laing – did most of the talking. That’s contradicted by the transcript, which is itself very odd, characterized by breaks and ellipses. We know from Sylvère Lotringer’s accounts that the entire Schizo Culture conference was rife with outbursts and interruptions, including this panel discussion, although that’s not evident in the transcription.

In attempting to re-stage a little-known but somewhat exotic event, I wanted to resist any impulse to reconstruct or “narrativize” the episode in any kind of “realistic” way. I didn’t want a performance designed to dissolve the distance between the “original” event and its contents, both very marked by that moment of the mid 1970s, and yet eerily (and depressingly) prescient of our current traumas of the “societies of control”: diagnosis, punishment, imprisonment, and torture. I didn’t want to blend or unify these four amazing characters and social actors, two of whom (Foucault and Laing) possess an iconicity shimmering with all kinds of aura, with the people reading and inhabiting their words now. I am compelled by both the “connects” and “disconnects.”

"The Panel," Four-channel video still, Mary Patten, 2013.

“Panel,” combined stills from four-channel video installation, Mary Patten, 2013.

CP: You share an interest in collaboration, but also work independently. How do you negotiate the role of an author who is also dedicated to fostering relationships in your work? 

MJ: I have always felt uncomfortable in a lonely practice, with the idea of the studio Artist who appears after years of hermetic work with a portfolio under the arm. I began working for other artists in Chicago because I had always been a part of a DIY scene which to me was about skill sharing and enabling others to achieve their goals whilst you achieved yours, doing this I witnessed the evolution of a work through multiple creative minds first hand and this stayed with me. I introduce performers and artists into my works to have them re-interpret my ideas, for them to take the work in directions unknown to myself or to the work. It is quite stressful in many ways to work with others, although I am not precious about my projects I do have creative demands and I like to try to keep the overall affect of the work under my thumb. In return I try hard to become a tool for them to use, whether I am recording sound as I did for Mary’s Piece, working as a Cameraman for Kirsten Leenars, or doing sound for Melika Bass. I simply try to gel with the process at hand.

The most important elements of my practice that I feel need to be under my control I will do myself, The Unreliable Narrator was shot, edited and mixed by myself, with voiceover recordings, studio shoots, post image production all done in my studio. I decided to use a colorist to step up my game a little and he really did a great job, I wanted some animation work for the chapter titles and again I used a great animator Han Han Li — the big key for this work was to employ a Producer, Parveer Singh Sohal. Without Parveer’s connections in India the work would not exist, so that was an integral decision. I needed access. But Parveer is not a Producer, he is a Graphic Designer and so there were many discussions about what I needed and what he was bringing to the project.

"Unreliable Narrator," Single channel video still, Mathew Jinks, 2012.

“Unreliable Narrator,” Single channel video still, Mathew Jinks, 2012.

MP: Mathew’s discomfort with the notion of a lonely, hermetic studio practice and artistic identity is of course very much in sync with my own ideas, feelings, and history… although not without risks — losing oneself in the collective, for example. A good friend who shares a similar collaborative history once commented that it’s possible that no one will know or remember that her labor and creativity helped form some of these projects, since individual authorship is so often dissolved… I’m obviously not talking here about the art world’s current embrace of “relational practices” and the career building that goes along with that. But as I’ve said elsewhere, I continue to be drawn to collaborative ways of working, such as the Chicago Torture Justice Memorials Project, because it’s urgently needed, and impossible to realize by a single or even a handful of authors. Most importantly, collaborations embody the kind of collective labor and passion necessary to any project that’s trying to make change.

As you, Caroline, and Mathew make very clear, the project of film and videomaking, like so many art forms, is necessarily collaborative… Chris Marker makes this point beautifully during the ending credits of “Grin without a cat” which he dedicates to the anonymous and unnamed artists and technicians without whose clips, shots, sequences, and documents that epic film would have never been realized, seen, or distributed. To that point, I would like to acknowledge the thoughtful labor, participation, and support of performers Darrell Moore, Mikal Shapiro, Matthias Regan, and Mark Jeffery; Directors of Photography Yoni Goldstein and Meredith Zielke; Mathew for such great sound engineering; Alex Brown for assisting with camera; Ilan Gutin for helping with the large prints; and the lovely, hardworking, and brilliant Joey Carr who has worked as producer, compositor, and hardware/software engineer.

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“The Unreliable Narrator,” Single channel video still, Mathew Jinks, 2012.

CP: You call on various histories, whether philosophical or psychological traditions, fortune telling traditions,  — is it possible to collaborate with disciplines? Or do you think about the way you engage those traditions differently?

MJ: This is a wonderful question; tradition by nature is a stubborn legacy and confronting it head on is an antagonistic strategy. If you lay the threads down together: personal history and its discipline of remembrance, familial oral history, musical traditions as in Jazz, Cheiromancy, Homeopathy, Metallurgy, then these lines will touch and intersect like magnets picking up each other. It is a naïve want to reshape these lines to any sort of permanence. I think of Francis Alys work, The Collector — with the magnet on wheels that he pulls behind him collecting metal from the street as he goes — the street will fill up once again with shards and paperclips. Francis creates a moment of being present, and it’s this re-presenting and laying down with traditions in new almost aleatoric ways.

MP: I consider myself a visitor, a curious student, an interloper or trespasser in many disciplines, an auto-didact, or rather someone who has learned from many teachers and texts, “negative” as well as exemplary…

"Panel," Production still, Mary Patten, 2013.

“Panel,” Production still, Mary Patten, 2013.

CP: How do you all think of beginnings and endings? Are those narrative touchstones useful to you? 

MJ: No, I instinctively move away from creating narrative structure, arcs and so forth. I find the idea of conclusion quite arrogant in non-fiction. The episodic device is interesting because it introduces the idea of the ‘false start’, or the hidden track at the end of an album, or the prologue as in Bergman’s Persona, or ‘rewind’ in Jamaican dance hall, the stutter. This is why gallery installations are so useful: people enter and leave as they wish; this is a very considered position for my work, the ideal position.

MP: There are no real beginnings. We’re always starting in the middle, picking up someone else’s traces and tracks… For me, in the realm of ideas, relationships, as well as many projects over the years, there are so many interruptions and breaks… things are “left for now” and unfinished or deferred. I find it much more habitual to abandon something, rather than “end” it. Like Mathew, I am drawn to the episodic, to “false starts” and “stutters”… but when Mathew talks about resisting narrative arcs, I think he is perhaps referring to “mainstream” or what we used to call “Hollywood narrative cinema”… for me, there are so many wonderful, rich and complicated examples of “narrative fiction” that escape these constraints – the films of Robert Bresson and Chantal Akerman, for example, but also so many more – in cinema and literature, in expanded forms of the essay, in experimental non-fiction and media forms…

CP: How do you conceive of utopia? Is such a thing possible? Is it a condition of being? Or a place? 

MJ: More than a construct, a Modernist ideal, pathological, LSD induced? I never conceive of utopia. Utopia and dystopia to me are devices, but they are not very interesting devices. They suggest spaces of utter happiness or utter sadness and isn’t that a psychological state? Bi-Polar? There is no tension in these extreme spaces and it is too easy to create heroics from such static dynamics. This is exactly what popular culture thrives on. The fine-line-in-betweens, and the slippage that occurs within those minimal gradations is what art production responds to. The  entertainment industry responds to those other extremes. Even in a spiritual sense — in Buddhism, for instance, elements are in a balance, whereas in cults, the utopian ideals are offset by the leader sexually prowling its herd for ultimate control. Conceiving of utopia maybe undermines an art making practice? Desire is a more interesting space to work from for me. It has the same goal as utopia — the perfect space — but it is much more psychologically complex. Desire is fixated on process, and the moment. There is presence in desire without conclusion.

"The Unreliable Narrator," Video still, Mathew Jinks, 2012.

“The Unreliable Narrator,” Single channel video still, Mathew Jinks, 2012.

MP: Unlike Mathew, I don’t think that utopian impulses can be reduced to mere devices, or that they are necessarily tied to dangerous heroic narratives… maybe this is just a difference of language, because I find that his conception of desire as a transformative force is very akin to what I would call utopian longings.

Until fairly recently, it’s been fashionable to dismiss “utopia” because of its attachment to so many terrible and failed agendas that promised brave new worlds and then delivered totalitarianisms. We know now that we should dislike and mistrust master narratives, totalities of certainty, and teleological schemes. However, I am drawn to utopian impulses not just because I was formed through my engagement with them – to the point of political lunacy, perhaps – but also perversely because they have been a despised or at best suspect category for so long.

Contemporary social movements and revolts against globalized capital, the fleeting “occupys,” the movements of the squares, the queer utopias of so many interesting artists today, all embody what people call “prefigurative politics”: “Be the change you want to make.” The emphasis is on the here and now, against telos, embracing not only possibility, but doubt. Recognizing that we, and all matter, is/are in a constant state of becoming, that small and invisible shifts and changes are always (potentially) occurring, whether or not they are seen or recognized… this is what intrigues and provokes me. Brian Massumi is an extremely useful thinker and writer here.

Paradoxically, there’s a lot of interest in reclaiming utopian thinking now because of how hopeless and scary the world has become, how reduced and flattened to information, to bits and bytes everything seems… and all the ways that capitalism forecloses the imagination and desire, except as an instrument of and for the commodity, no pleasure outside of consumption… or the deadliness of an actuarial life, with its endless assessment debits and credits…

FOUCAULT mirror-self, image courtesy of Mary Patten.

“Panel,” detail: Foucault’s mirror-self, serigraph monoprint, Mary Patten, 2013.

CP: What does it mean to come from somewhere? What role does memory play in that reality?

MJ: The transition is interesting, to come from somewhere to go to somewhere else, and the translation from one meaning to another. There is a great deal of nostalgia and longing for previous inhabited spaces, especially if you have been formed by them in some way; that complicates memory. A new space can act as a lens from which to view the previous space and this is truly a unique position. You no longer belong to that place but the memories are attached to you, somehow the filtration from one’s current position gives a sober screen. I think it is essential but painful, and again that tension of knowing you need separation while at the same time being in touch with a sense of longing is the drive for this ‘other’ space to be imagined in my work.

MP: Again, we return to the problem of origins…Years ago, I made a piece provoked by Courbet’s “The Origin of the World.” I was very influenced by Linda Nochlin’s pivotal essay on that infamous painting, and the difficulty, if not impossibility, of locating an originary point — whether in relationship to that picture, which existed in several versions, disappeared, and re-surfaced over a long stretch of time… as well as the funny ridiculousness of imagining the universal vulva-cunt as the origin of us all, the Great Mother… how much better to use the term “beaver”? or just ordinary women’s names: a succession of beavers…

A more recent project was instigated by the notes, translated from Arabic into English, allegedly written by Mohammed Atta in preparation for the hijackings and attacks of September 11, 2001. When I read these, all sorts of problems immediately presented themselves. Was this an actual document? Were the notes, in fact, “found”? or were they a fiction, invented to “prove” a rationale as incomprehensible as the acts that followed? Was this a reliable translation?

The idea that translation is often slippery and inexact, and sometimes impossible, is widely acknowledged. Yet we like to pretend that complete transparency is within our reach, that vast differences of culture, language, and history can be breached, if only the right tools, technologies, and “mindsets” are available. And translation, like everything else, has undergone a renewed politicization in this ever-encapsulated world.

In a lot of my work, I explore spaces and distances between a “here” and a “there,” a presumed “center” and its “periphery,” to work off the grid to the point of falling off a map completely. I work with images drawn from public, although possibly ephemeral archives – things like newspapers, outtakes, margins of the margins  – to fictionalize them, at the same time as undermining the authority of “authentic” or alleged autobiography. Like Mathew, I’m preoccupied with the instability of memory, very enamored of the idea, the necessity of the unreliable narrator… or the mute, opaque, or invisible one.