By Kevin Blake
Abstract painting is coming off the walls. It is evolving. Zoe Nelson talks with Bad at Sports about her engagement and participation in the evolution of abstraction, which appears in her work, to be a deconstruction of traditional painting parameters. Through a physical dismantling of the images’ supports, Nelson blurs the boundaries between painting and sculpture, creating perpetually shifting spatial dynamics.
Kevin Blake: Chicago artist Sophia Leiby recently turned me onto an essay in the Brooklyn Rail, Worlds With Us by Katy Siegel, in which she suggests, “In terms of art, unthinking the opposition between representation and abstraction is particularly vital to understanding art objects and practices afresh.” I’m wondering how you have arrived at abstraction. It seems to me that artists arrive at abstraction out of some sort of necessity that is the resultant of a struggle with conceptual as well as formal frameworks. As I was looking through your archives on your website, I could see a departure from representation, and it occurred to me that this was a relatively common evolution for abstract painters. Abstraction does not seem like something you just set out to do one day. I’m wondering if abstraction, for you, has been a product or a solution to struggling with the idea of representation and abstraction as polar opposites.
Zoe Nelson: When I started grad school at Columbia University in 2007, I was working on a series of portraits of friends with their demons. Imagining what my friends’ (and my own) demons might look like if they were externalized allowed me to begin to think about the entire space of the canvas as a loaded psychological space, with all parts of the canvas (foreground, background, demon, person etc) having the potential to be equally descriptive of the psychological state of the person. It was at this point that a shift occurred and I started to become more interested in the potential of the “background” or psychological space around the person than in the portrait. As a challenge to myself, I decided to try to remove the figure from the work, while continuing to make an interesting painting. I’d say that my first conscious plunge into abstraction occurred with this initial act of negation–the negation of the figure. Absence and negation continue to be strong conceptual and formal frameworks for my work, as you can see in my current body of cut-out paintings. What is cut-out or not depicted in my work is often defined by- and defines- the form and content of the painting.
Going back to your Katy Siegel quote, I would agree on the importance of deconstructing a binary understanding of abstraction and representation in painting. I arrived at abstraction through representation, and in some ways one could say that I am currently working through abstraction to arrive at a type of active, moving representation: a representation of liminal psychological spaces and shifting states of being.
KB: Literally cutting sections out of the painting seems like an almost radical action against representation–in the sense of negating recognizable imagery–and simultaneously, it might be seen as a way of evoking a discussion about the state of being represented. Opening the canvas to view the guts of a painting, so to speak, allows the viewer to look past the painted surface and into the physical space behind it, calling attention to its objecthood. In your recent show at Western Exhibitions, some of the paintings protrude from the wall rather than hanging flush on it, further interrupting the spatial dynamic while creating a dialogue with it. Can you talk about the paintings existing in the third dimension and how do these issues perpetuate this idea about abstraction and representation being more of a consequence of one another rather than visually articulated opposites?
ZN: As I cut into the canvas, I uncover parts of the stretcher bar support, which inevitably opens up a whole chain of questions regarding the relationship between support, canvas and the physical space behind and around the paintings. Each painting deals with this relationship in a different way, I believe, and the double-sided paintings evolved as a natural extension of the work becoming more sculptural. When the frame is exposed, all of the sudden there are edges and different physical planes to consider, and the next logical step was to consider the “back” of the painting as well. Through privileging all sides of the painting, I hope to destabilize the hierarchy of front over back, and hanging the work perpendicular to the wall is a playful invitation for the viewer to walk around the paintings and take part in this process.
The paintings and installation at Western look completely different depending on where you stand in the room, and these shifting states are integral to the form and content of the series. If multiple people are in the room, you might see a hand or head or shoulder through the cuts in a painting, and these people (or body parts) momentarily become a part of the work as well. Blurring the lines between artist, painting, and viewer in this way is conceptually exciting for me, and I think circles back around to how the current work still references back to my initial interests in representing the body and psychological states of being, albeit in a performative way, and while operating within a realm of abstraction.
KB: The first time you cut a painting, was it due to what you perceived to be a mistake? Looking at the evolution of your work, I sense a strong influence of painter Amy Sillman whose work seems to depend on the occurrence of mistakes and even more so on the corrective production emerging from those mistakes. Does your work engage with that dialogue?
ZN: Whenever I move to a new location, or even a new studio, I find that my practice often shifts with the move. After graduate school, I spent a year working on a series of process paintings about the idea of unwinding. It wasn’t until a year later, when I moved to Chicago, that I was able to take the project a step further and actually start to undo the surface of the painting through cutting into the canvas.
Although my initial cuts into the canvas were not exactly a mistake, they did stem from a place of anxiety and fear. When I moved to Chicago in 2010, I didn’t know the city at all, barely knew the art community, and only had a couple of names of friends of friends to contact. Everything around me seemed unstable, unknown and overwhelming that year, and the studio was the one place that I was able to channel all of that anxiety and fear into artistic risk-taking.
I worked with Amy Sillman in grad school, and she continues to be a huge influence for me–both her work and in the smart discourse that she engages in around her practice and painting. I’ve noticed in my own practice that if I have an idea for a painting, and I execute that idea really quickly, the work often doesn’t hold up a few days later. I think this failure ties back to the importance of the mistake: perhaps the reason that these paintings often don’t hold up, is because that struggle–of making, identifying, and working-through the mistake–hasn’t yet occurred. When the work falls short like that, there is often a part of the painting that has seduced me, and it’s only through literally cutting out or removing the seductive part that I am able to rework the painting as a whole, rather than as a showcase for one special element.
I think that the importance of the mistake also ties into the importance of feeling and intuition. Amy Sillman has an awesome zine, the O-G v3, in which she challenges the hierarchy of mind over body when discussing and making paintings. At the end of the zine, Amy advocates for the conceptual possibilities of painting specifically through “the radical merging of mind and body!” While it is often easier to talk about formal or conceptual concerns in painting rather than trying to find a smart way to talk about intuition, I am of the mindset that the two are not mutually exclusive. In my practice, intuition, feeling, mistakes, and elusiveness are just as important to the process of painting as the formal painterly concerns that I am also responding to.
KB: When I listen to other artists talk about their work, I always look for a takeaway-something useful to apply to my own practice or in this case regurgitate as a means of preserving the idea in my frontal lobe. I recently listened to artist Cesare Pietroiusti speak in Boston, and of the many things I retained from his talk, he said something profound that resonates in relation to our conversation. He said, “when there is discomfort, fear, and anxiety-go there.” It seems you have intuitively done just that and this impulse has yielded some positive results. Have you been able to abandon these themes as you have gotten settled into Chicago and more so into the community? Or do they continue to be the driving force of your work?
ZN: Anxiety and discomfort continue to be strong themes in my work, though the driving force (or one driving force–there are definitely many) has become the work itself. I have grown to love living and working in Chicago, and have met fantastic artists and worked with great galleries here, such as Roots & Culture, Lloyd Dobler, and most recently Western Exhibitions. I think that anxiety, fear, and crisis are all incredibly powerful emotions (or psychological states), and they hold an equally powerful potential for risk-taking in an art practice. That said, I also think that it can be hard to issue rigor and restraint in a place of real anxiety or crisis, as everything has such urgency and there is a lack of control. Thankfully, I am more settled now and I find that the work is organically building on itself. Each painting opens up a new set of questions and formal challenges, which lead to new decisions and new paintings. Right now I am in the exciting place where I have a number of ideas for new paintings and specific installations, and am juggling these different trajectories in my practice. I am able to continue to explore themes of anxiety and crisis while mitigating those states with humor, play, and pleasure in the work. Of course waves of anxiety, failure, and fear play a part in this process, and no matter how thoroughly I conceptualize a painting before I start it, the beginning almost always feels like a shot in the dark.
KB: The end result being a complete departure from the pre-conceptualized form makes me think about conflicting loyalties. You have loyalties to your methods which allow all the nuances and intuitive moments to take place within the process of making a painting, and being loyal to yourself in these allowances is an important if not essential part of your practice. However, you also have a loyalty to what you might still do, or what the painting might still become, which always seems to be connected to the pre-conceptualized form. How do you negotiate conflicting loyalties in this sense? Are your sketches or ideas of a final product just a jumping point or do you struggle to maintain those forms throughout the process of making a painting?
ZN: When I start a new painting, I usually try to either identify a psychological state, or a feeling attached to a specific moment, that I want to articulate. I then respond to this initial idea by imposing a set of formal parameters on the work, which also define the subject matter. For example, the painting “Skype Breakdown” started with an idea to make a painting about frustration, blocked communication, and distortion. I made the painting (and most of the work up at Western) this past fall, while I was at a wonderful six-week residency called the Lighthouse Works. The residency was on a small island off of NY with spotty internet connection, and after looking at my partner’s frozen and pixilated face on the computer screen for the umpteenth time, I decided to channel my frustration (and objective interest in the abstracted image on my screen) into a painting. Using the idea of arrested communication and distortion as a starting off point, I began the painting by first making mask-like cuts into the top layer of canvas. Any discernible figure or face is cut-out and totally abstracted, and this act of negation also becomes subject matter. Circling back to you initial question about juggling pre-conceived concepts with method and intuition, I’d say that I try to stay true to the initial motivation and abstract idea behind a painting, while being open to chance, intuition, and the unknown in the process of making a painting.
KB: Speaking of making new paintings, what are you currently working on, and do you have any upcoming exhibitions we should know about?
ZN: I am working on a few different projects at the moment, including a nascent but exciting collaborative project with a composer, and paintings for a couple of installation ideas. Just a few days ago I was asked to take part in an artists lecture series called “Artists Now” at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee next spring, which should be a lot of fun, and I am working on an exhibition proposal for the fall of 2014 at the moment. Having the show at Western has allowed me to take some time to reflect on the work, and see the paintings in a different context. I am particularly excited to hole-up in my studio as the show comes to a close, and make some new work!
Guest Post by Britton Bertran
I didn’t get out to see a lot art in Chicago this year as I was too happily busy being a Dad to the best little boy in the world. Nonetheless, here are some lists of what I did see, what I didn’t, some predictions and some things I’m anticipating. I know we all have a love/hate with these kinds of lists, but this should be pretty easy to digest. Click on those links.
Exhibitions I saw:
- Amalia Pica at the MCA
- Fragment: Sampling the Modern at the Elmhurst Art Museum
- Wendy White at Andrew Rafacz
- Andrew Holmquist at Carrie Secrist Gallery
- David Salle: Ghost Paintings at The Arts Club of Chicago
- Vivian Maier
- EXPO Chicago
- AIC’s Modern Wing’s closed 3rd floor
- The Way of the Shovel at the MCA
- Chicago Sculpture International’s Sculpture on the Boulevards
Exhibitions/Events I didn’t see:
- RH Quaytman at the Renaissance Society
- Medium Cool
- Steve McQueen at the AIC
- Matt Nichols at Corbett vs. Dempsey
- Mike Andrews at The Suburban
Anticipating in 2014:
- The Whitney Biennial
- William J. O’Brien at the MCA
- Christopher Wool at the AIC
- Christopher Williams at the AIC
- A new permanent space for Threewalls
- The Whitney Biennial fails in the eyes of critics
- A major commercial gallery in Chicago will close, another will open
- A storied institution will lose it’s curator
- A galvanizing work of public art will really piss people off
- A better year than 2013
Bio: Britton Bertran ran 40000 from 2005 to 2008. He currently is an Instructor at SAIC in the Arts Administration and Policy department and the Educational Programs Manager at Urban Gateways. An occasional guest-curator, he has organized exhibitions for the Hyde Park Art Center, the Loyola Museum of Art and several galleries. You can find him trying to be less cranky about the art world on twitter @br_tton.
September 24, 2013 · Print This Article
Guest Post by Britton Bertran
I was there in 2005 at the beginning of Bad at Sports (Episode 4!) and I hope I’m not there at the end. It was the year I opened my gallery, 40000. It was a good idea at the time. I was fed up with not seeing what I wanted to see and equally mesmerized by controlling my own destiny in a commercial sort of way. There were plenty of other interesting things happening and I figured – why the hell not.
The years 2005 and 2006 were ok years for Chicago Art. It seemed to be an upswing couple of years when apartment galleries and art interest were peaking. (These things come in waves – I’d put us in a upward motion now after reaching the bottom in 2011.) The MCA was showing interesting work (a Dan Flavin Retrospective, Deb Sokolow and William J. O’Brien had 12 x 12’s), blogs were percolating with critical activity (anyone remember panel-house.com or iconoduel.org?) and this new fandangled thing called a podcast had people sitting with their bulky desktops and REALLY listening.
I took a leap of art faith and quit my job, borrowed some money from my mom and with the help of a couple close friends including a now-deceased bartender from Phyllis’, rocked out a storefront space on Winchester and Augusta. A year and a half later, some guy bought the building and wanted to turn it in to a really small Italian restaurant. I moved the gallery in the summer of 2006 to the bustling 119 N. Peoria building (soon to be home to only one gallery in 2014.)
Like-minded nice folks like Corbett vs. Dempsey, The Green Lantern, 65GRAND, Fraction Workspace, Western Exhibitions, Lisa Boyle Gallery, Duchess and a couple of more spaces, were all blazing fiery paths outside the West Loop in WestTown (does anyone even know where this is now?). We even organized, set up a network, handed out flyer/maps and coordinated openings. It worked for the most part. I think.
There was no social media except for Friendster and then that thing called Myspace. My digital camera had something like 3 megapixels and took incredibly shitty pictures. It took a solid hour to update my clunky website. It was rough out there in a walking up the hill backwards in a snowstorm kind of way. But it was great. Lots of visitors – mostly artists – came, drank and stole beer during openings, I sold art here and there, got a few reviews in national art magazines, was invited to fancy pants museum openings, met not-so-nice individuals who essentially run the art world, shook hands with some artist heroes and even did the occasional art fair in and outside Chicago.
But mostly, having this gallery gave me some pretty solid insight into how artists work, what they think about and what really matters the most to them career-wise. Surprisingly, and thankfully for me, it wasn’t money. 40000 was definitely a failure in that regard and the main reason I closed in 2009. I was also unable, and did not want to, secure a sugar daddy/momma, which I slowly realized was the only way to sustainability. [A little secret – there is less than a handful of galleries in Chicago that don’t have one of these.]
I think it’s pretty telling that almost half of the original West Town Gallery Network is still in effect. Corbett vs. Dempsey just got admitted to the Main Fair of Art Basel Miami Beach (a big damn deal). Western Exhibitions is still cranking out shows with aplomb and has incredible dedication to it’s artists. 65GRAND (all caps no gaps, please) is run by one of the smartest and nicest gallerists in Chicago. Only one of these galleries is still in West Town – though it’s stretching it a bit. All of these spaces work so damn hard it’s difficult for me to even comprehend how they’re possibly doing it. Most of us are still here in Chicago, I think. Whether or not we are running galleries, we are all getting old, raising families, have “real” jobs, etcetera. I hope you won’t forget us.
The artists I worked with are for the most part pretty successful in their careers. One or two I never hear from, a couple of others I never want to hear from. Nonetheless, it gives me great pleasure to know that I have a place in Chicago art history. It’s funny though, I seriously often wonder what would have happened if I had at least a 10 megapixel camera back then.
A little addendum here: I was often asked, “What the hell does 40000 mean?” In fact a couple of months ago a collector emailed me out of the blue and straight up asked. So I told him. I named the gallery after Joe “40,000″ Murphy. “40,000” was a Chicago outsider artist and events usher in the 1950’s who either knew 40,000 famous people, or was renowned for saying “about…. 40,000 empty seats!” when asked how many people where coming to that day’s event. When people asked me, I made them guess. Nobody got it right.
Britton Bertran ran 40000 from 2005 to 2008. He currently is an Instructor at SAIC in the Arts Administration and Policy department and the Educational Programs Manager at Urban Gateways. An occasional guest-curator, he has organized exhibitions for the Hyde Park Art Center, the Loyola Museum of Art and several galleries. You can find him trying to be less cranky about the art world on twitter @br_tton. Stay tuned for a couple more guest posts where Britton will be discussing his tumblr-famous tumblr “Installator” and his take on what’s wrong with the Chicago art world circa 2013 – while thinking out loud about how to fix it.
A graphic, editorial overview of art, artists, and visual art events, found in and around Chicago over the course of the preceding months. All artwork copyright original artists; all photography copyright Paul Germanos.
Above: CourtneyBlades’ partners, Mickey Pomfrey, left, and Blake Cameron Harris, right, in the gallery for the opening reception of “Definitely Living, Likely Cognitive,” on August 9, 2013.
Mickey Pomfrey is one of a relatively small number of people I encounter on a regular basis at gallery openings in Chicago. In spite of that fact, I’d never before brought a camera to the space (CourtneyBlades) which he runs with Blake Cameron Harris. And it was only because I happened to take photographs there on August 9, 2013, that Ria Roberts noticed me, and reminded me to attend Medium Cool: a new art book fair with which she’s involved.
Bea Fremderman, Brian Khek, and Micah Schippa
“Definitely Living, Likely Cognitive”
August 9 – September 1, 2013
1324 W. Grand Ave.
Chicago, IL 60642
Above: Scott Speh of Western Exhibitions.
Above: Ed Panar & Melissa Catanese of Spaces Corners.
(art book fair)
12:00 — 8:00 PM
August 11, 2013
1314 W. Randolph St.
“2 of a kind”
June 29 – July 21, 2013
1542 N. Milwaukee Ave, 3rd Floor
Chicago, Illinois 60622
Yhelena Hall’s da Vinci-like creation is built from fabric stretched over a frame, which method of construction reminds a Chicago resident of Linda Warren’s artist Juan Angel Chavez. But, maybe, within Warren’s stable the better comparison is to Conrad Freiburg–for as helium escapes its imperfect balloon, Hall’s wooden machine has a self-destructive potential.
Joshua Albers and Yhelena Hall
PARALLELS / A Collaboration with ACRE Residency, Part 2
August 2 – 24, 2013
1431 W. Chicago Avenue
Chicago, IL 60642
Like Yhelena Hall at The Mission, Conrad Freiburg chose to present freestanding, three-dimensional objects made largely of wood, in the company of smaller, wall-mounted graphic works, which in this case are still images rather than video. Unlike Hall, around the perimeter of gallery interior Freiburg set a race, which in turn carries bearings or marbles as such activity is initiated by visitors. Four years ago, in June of 2009, Monica Herrera arranged a similar work at 65GRAND, there observed with an additional audio component: falling marbles “played” upon successive wooden elements with each drop in elevation.
“Before the Grave and Constant”
June 7 – August 10, 2013
Linda Warren Projects
327 N. Aberdeen (151)
Chicago, IL 60607
Eliza Fernand, Jodie Mack, Monica Herrera
Curated by Thea Liberty Nichols
June 19 – July 25, 2009
1378 W. Grand Ave. (old location)
Chicago IL 60622-6450
Above, left-to-right: Jessica Harvey, Kera MacKenzie, and Jenny Buffington at the “pARTicipatory” opening on August 9, 2013.
When I hold a camera to my face and look through the viewfinder I’m blind to the room around me, so that it’s especially surprising to be struck at that moment. I write here with authority as I’ve suffered the aforementioned indignity on multiple occasions. On August 9, 2013, for the second time at one of Myers’ openings, someone threw something at me while I was taking a picture. If the games, and food, and liquor, all now frequently available at gallery openings, have served to draw in a certain sort of person then, maybe, they’ve done so only at the cost of another sort of person. After six years of work on this photographic project, my patience has been exhausted.
HATCH Projects Residents: Chaz Evans, Amber Ginsburg, Mothergirl, Jake Myers, Hoyun Son, and Latham Zearfoss
HATCH Curatorial Residents: Meredith Weber and Anna Trier, a/k/a the Happy Collaborationists
August 9 – August 29, 2013
Chicago Artists’ Coalition
217 N. Carpenter St.
Chicago, IL 60607
Sonnenzimmer print and design studio is Nadine Nakanishi and Nick Butcher. On July 14, 2013, Nick and Nadine held a sort-of art benefit / garage sale, during which Michael Bingaman (electronics), Josh Berman (cornet), Anton Hatwich (double bass), and Matt Schneider (guitar) played music. There, I bought a big Taschen contemporary art compendium for three dollars, and got a Design Bureau magazine for free. Everyone was cool! And John Corbett was there–because he’s really good about attending these things. Even my mother was happy.
“On the patio at Sonnenzimmer”
10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
July 14, 2013
3605 N. Damen Ave., Rear
Chicago, IL 60618
Columbia College Chicago: Portfolio Center – Industry Events
Above: Nick Albertson
Above: Ryan Bringas
Above: Meg Noe
Above: Tim M. Johnson
Above: Rikki Levine
The scale of the event was overwhelming. The quality of almost all of the work was very high. I spent most of my time with those presenters who seemed to have a fine arts orientation. Rikki Levine, above, was something of an exception as she seemed (?) most interested in travel and documentary work. But, her book (portfolio) looked too good to ignore. Whether they knew it, not a few graduates produced material recalling John Opera or Jessica Labatte. And I should have been yet more forceful in my exhortation to go out and look at what’s being made here and now.
Columbia College Chicago
Portfolio Center – Industry Events
May 16, 2013
1006 S. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60605
Allan Sekula died on August 10, 2013 after a long struggle with cancer.
“Polonia and Other Fables”
September 20 – December 13, 2009
The Renaissance Society
5811 S. Ellis Avenue
Bergman Gallery, Cobb Hall 418
Chicago, Illinois 60637
Jeffery Austin, Marne Provost, Kimberly Kim, Meg T. Noe, Jonathan Pivovar, John Brookes Turner
Curated by Jonathan Pivovar
Supported by Columbia College Chicago’s Photography Department
July 12 – 14, 2013
Chicago Art Department
1932 South Halsted #100
Chicago, IL 60608
The timing of this exhibition is either fortuitous or tragic depending upon one’s knowledge of the not dissimilar installation on Michigan Avenue, and sense of humor.
“THE CHARACTER AND SHAPE OF ILLUMINATED THINGS”
Organized by MCA Curator Julie Rodrigues Widholm.
July – November, 2013
MCA Chicago Plaza Project
The Museum of Contemporary Art of Chicago
220 E. Chicago Ave. (MVDR Drive)
Chicago IL 60611
The Chicago Loop Alliance deserves credit for the good work it’s done in offering such opportunities to people like Gwendolyn Zabicki.
“Never a lovely so real”
Clarissa Bonet, Dmitry Samarov and Noah Vaughn
Curated by Gwendolyn Zabicki
Pop-Up Art Loop from the Chicago Loop Alliance
Sponsored in part by Columbia College Chicago
July 11, 2013
108 N. State St. (Block Thirty Seven, First Floor)
Chicago, IL 60603
Above, left-to-right: Nick Butcher (half of Sonnenzimmer), Jennifer Salim, E. Aaron Ross, and Aaron Delehanty standing in a projection by Theodore Darst at the Chicago Artists Coalition’s “Natural Fallacy” opening.
Noelle Allen, Theodore Darst, Brent Fogt, Jordan Martins, Nicholas Sagan, and Matthew Schlagbaum
Curated by MK Meador
July 12 – August 1, 2013
Chicago Artists Coalition
217 N. Carpenter St.
Chicago, IL 60607
Hear it on Vine: vine.co/v/hamYhHDJJ0d
Thanks to Abigail, Lauren, and Shannon for playing along. I’m sorry that I didn’t get a better shot of you three together. Good luck and best wishes…
Edie Fake and MSHR a/k/a Brenna Murphy & Birch Cooper
June 28, 2013
119 N. Peoria, #2C
Chicago, IL 60607
“In Between Drinks”
June 28, 2013
2124 N. Damen Ave.
Chicago, IL 60647
It’s too bad that a piece which suggests many questions related to resource allocation within the context of non-European, urban poverty, here found available for view in the lobby of a free, teaching museum, was ignored in an article entitled “Marginalizing Chicagoans’ Access to Culture” at Newcity.
Sponsored by BMO Harris Bank
January 19 – December 8, 2013
The David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art
5550 S. Greenwood Ave.
Chicago, IL 60637
May 14, 2013
1301 N. State
Chicago, IL 60610
It’s the third of Jessica Taylor Caponigro’s installations which I’ve seen, each of the three having been abstracted from both architectural and also literary sources. The comparison between works made over time (a span of several years) is interesting, and maybe best reveals her intent.
Jessica Taylor Caponigro
Curated by Aimee Quinkert
May 11 – June 2, 2013
1821 W. Hubbard St., Suite 209
Fred Sandback: Sculptures
April 26 – June 1, 2013
Rhona Hoffman Gallery
118 N. Peoria St.
Chicago, IL 60607
Fine Arts Open Studios
5:00 – 8:00 PM
April 18, 2013
1006 S. Michigan Ave.
Above: An overhead view of Erik Wenzel’s Artforum installation “Fernweh,” as seen within Brandon Alvendia’s The Storefront gallery, on the show’s opening night.
Wenzel, like Fake, above, and Andre, in the previous article, has made use of the floor for the purpose of presenting modular units in a grid pattern. Here the invitation to the audience to walk upon the artwork is wanted to be especially cheeky: an institution (magazine) and a commercial appropriation of culture resources (gallery ad) are both trodden upon, which action symbolically mimics Wenzel’s own “progress” through the real and metaphysical worlds of art.
April 20 – May 12, 2013
2606 N. California Ave.
Chicago IL 60647
“The Economics of Art 2013″
Dmitry Samarov, Ian Ferguson, Julie Murphy, Steve Seeley, and Jimmy Bunnyluv, along with Anthony Freda, Dave Pressler, David Cooper, El Gato Chimney, Hernan Paganini, Klub7, Raudiel Sanudo and Ruel Pascual.
August 3 – 31, 2013
1016 N. Western Ave.
Chicago, IL 60622
Some big things worth mentioning — maybe…
1. RAPID PULSE, an international performance festival, is taking place this weekend and next week. The Chicago Reader just wrote a great something something, with the evocative sub-header “Wafaa Bilal wants Twitter’s help to inflate a giant head, and other oddities, at Defibrillator Gallery’s second annual Rapid Pulse International Performance Art Festival.” Find out more info about that here, or if you want, download the schedule of events via this link: RP13_poster-brochure.
According to The Reader:
Pure voodoo at its best, performance art traffics in psychic violence, provoking questions that viewers, by virtue of their emotional disturbance, feel compelled to answer. Defibrillator Gallery’s Rapid Pulse, now in its second year, is designed to make the genre more talkative: the festival, which includes window shows, public spectacle, and video screenings, coordinates performances with discussions, spread over ten days and four venues (Defibrillator, 1136 N. Milwaukee; Electrodes, the gallery’s front windows; Hub, 1535 N. Milwaukee; Nightingale, 1084 N. Milwaukee). Come for the bad vibes, stay for the nauseating hypersonic jolt. (Jena Cutie)
2. EAT WHAT ARTISTS EAT:
Our friends at ACRE launched a Kickstarter Campaign for their unique Residency Kitchen Program. There (among other things) you can get a copy of the ACRE cookbook, and support a good program that feeds creative acts/minds all summer long. In their words:
We believe meals equal community and the ACRE kitchen strives to foster a place where residents, visiting artists and local farmers can cross-pollinate.
Funds raised through kickstarter will go towards supporting locally grown and produced agriculture and conscientious businesses, purchasing equipment that will make the kitchen more efficient and sustainable, our yearly cookbook KADABRA, a collection of recipes from each year’s residency, and will give us the support we need to keep creating a diverse selection of considered, artistic, and nutritious menus for our residents.
KADABRA VOL 3, Annual Cook Book
cover designed by Edie Fake & Daniel Luedtke
artwork and recipe contributions by the ACRE Kitchen Staff & Resident Alumni
It was the summer of 2008. It was hot. And humid. Everything was green and/or sweating. People who didn’t sweat stood out. Their reserve both enviable and mysterious—a contrast from everything else. Refuge from the heat was similarly impressive and constantly sought. Most apartment galleries were barely tolerable for their heat. At cooler exhibition sites, visitors inevitably took considerable time examining the works of art on display. That August, Heather Mekkelson had a solo show at an apartment gallery—or what maybe we should call a basement gallery—half a flight downstairs in Logan Square called Old Gold. With its dark 1970s style wood paneling, built-in bar and enough floor space for a pool table, Old Gold looked like an old rumpus room. It was anything but neutral and its unapologetic, undeniable character forced artists to continually incorporate the space into their exhibitions. Mekkelson’s project was no different. Limited Entry was based entirely on the unique environment. And at that particular time, it was significantly cooler than anything outdoors.
In order to access the stairs down to the gallery, one walked through a front gate and around the side of an apartment building. According to rumor, the landlord and upstairs resident did not know Old Gold existed. Being an unpredictable fellow, gallery directors Kathryn Scanlan and Caleb Lyons preferred to keep the professional aspect of their curatorial project discreet. They didn’t advertise much and the only label on the door was composed from Home Depot stickers, appearing more like the absent-minded work of a teenager than anything formally significant. This place was easy to miss. (read more)
4. Longtime Chicago champions Elijah Burger and Deb Sokolow are featured in VITAMIN D2 (video courtesy of Western Exhibitions):