Your guide to partying for a good cause this Spring.
Nothing says Spring like “Gala,” WTT? couldn’t be more excited to see the ice finally THAW. Speaking of, have you bought tickets for the Links Halls annual spring fling? It’s on April 4th, and really more like a three-storey drunk performance art odyssey than a party. Last year I got an sickening sparkly free mani from Aiden Simon at the Girl Don’t be Dumb salon, went inside of a space photo booth, saw Hope Esser ice skate on soap and watched more burlesque than I’d like to admit. For performance art, it’s not too weird, it’s really fun and it’s not that expensive for how open the bar is, what more could you ask from a Thursday night? And the inclusion of DJ CQQCHIFruit and La Spacer this year? Too much.
Enough gushing. Clearly, this benefit season is going to be huge, but don’t worry, WTT?s got you. Here are some notes on the best auctions and charity bashes around, in my not-so humble opinion. Can not wait to see what everyone looks like without a coat on!
Spotted: Todd King getting his feet did at THAW in 2013. Andrew Mausert-Mooney does his best Jesus in the front.
LVL3’s annual benefit auction is known to bring great names at reasonable prices with all works starting at $30. Past years auctions have featured Jon Rafman and Israel Lund amongst others. This years is no exception. We also love the LVL3 auction because the raffle prizes are copious and always awesome and it doesn’t hurt that each year the event benefits local non-profit, Arts of Life. Learn more about the auction and the organization here on the LVL3 website. Full disclosure: I take no prisoners on the auction floor. The event takes place on March 29th from 6 to 10PM at 1542 N. Milwaukee Ave. Last bid is accepted at 9:30PM so be on time!
Summer Forum : Hosted by TUSK
Sandwiched comfortably in-between the LVL3 and R&C auction is the Summer Forum fundraiser and art auction at everyones favorite bite-sized boutique, TUSK. There are quite a few repeats from both LVL3 and the R&C auction, though it doesn’t look like anyone got the hat trick. E-Dogz will be on hand, serving some serious benefit crossover and unlimited food with the purchase of a ticket ($25 presale or $35 ATD). Advance online bidding begins March 31, and the IRL event starts at 7pm on Saturday, April 5th at TUSK, 3205 W. Armitage Ave.
Roots & Culture 8th Annual Spring Gala
You don’t have to be Hamza Walker to know that Roots & Culture’s Eric May throws some of the best events in Chicago. Did someone say sangria and tapas? The lineup for the auction is pretty impressive too. Britton Bertran wasn’t kidding when he called the night’s auction list an Who’s Who. The List features some of my favorite Chicago art luminaries and at least one Whitney Biennial-er.
oh shit! – @RootsandCulture announced their auction fundraiser for May 3 (always a Chicago's Artist Who's Who aka The List)
Iâ€™d tell you who I’m excited about seeing at the auction, but I want the art all for myself! Find out yourself, the auction takes place May 3, from 7-11PM at 1034 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Spring benefit season is bookended by major heavy hitters with Threewalls rounding out the season. Another reliably good time, this year’s gala is being held in the spacious digs down south at Mana Contemporary. The full lineup hasnâ€™t been revealed but, I’m jazzed on the news that DJ Earl (who you might have read about in the last edition of the T) will be there. The details might still be a little fuzzy but you can already buy tickets on their site. Looking forward to finding out what a Gunnatowski â€œwearableâ€ looks like.
FLASHBACK! Trending artist Jesse Malmed (right) with Trunk Show co-director, Raven Munsell (left) and artist Jason Lazarus (center) at Salvage One last year for Threewalls Spring Gala.
The Weatherman Report
For Chicago IL
Charles Ephraim Burchfield, Early Spring, 1917, Watercolor and graphite on paper, 21 Ã— 28 1/4 inches. James Goodman Gallery.
Bad at Sports finally trending.
What’s the TRENDING?
The Equinox is Totes Normcore
Pillows: After being relegated to cameos in the backgrounds of painting and photographic portraits for centuries, pillows are finally stepping out on their own. Last week during the Whitney Biennial/ New Yawk City hullabaloo the internet was plastered with images of the biennial and various fairs, but nothing stood out more than the freaky pillows of Bjarne Melgaard at the #WhiBi. With the help of NY based artist and collaborator Amanda Browder, Bad at Spots finally reached the cutting edge with their Volta bed-in installation and recording booth. As if the original Richard and Duncan aren’t creepy enough on their own, Browder created life-size pillow versions for the Volta booth. Good work, team!
Detail of Norwegian American artist Bjarne Melgaard’s cracked out living room installation. Image by Hyperallergic.
Browder with pillows only a mother could love.
Jesse Malmed: Usually it’s difficult for individual artists to be in enough places at once to qualify as a trend, by that’s no problem for trending artist, Malmed. The co-director of Trunk Show and UIC grad student must not sleep. This past weekend Malmed did double duty at the MCA, as one of The Nightingale programmers on Friday night and then again on Saturday for his own presentation of selections from The Body Electronic: What Television Taught Me about Art, a live televisual lecture performance. Trunk Show also hosted an opening/ 5-act play by artist Brandon Alvendia outside the Multiples fair on Sunday and whatever HALLWALLS2 is had an opening on Monday afternoon. And that’s just over four consecutive days. If you’re interested in getting in on the Malmed Madness, and you clearly should be, the artists’ MFA show at UIC is opening on April 18th. If you feel like waking with the sun tomorrow, he’s also hosting a dawn equinox performance, more info here.
In the early pages of PUSSY RIOT!: A Punk Prayer for Freedom is a letter written from prison, by Masha, one of Pussy Riotâ€™s founding members. In this letter, she describes the women in the prison with her, hungry, cold, one woman who miscarried because a police officer raped her while she was in custody. Masha writes, â€œSheâ€™s one of Pussy Riot too.â€ What strikes me about this is not the violence, because this kind of violence happens to women in the United States as well, but that Masha feels a kinship with her and calls this woman one of her own, Pussy Riot. I think in this letter, she is saying that all women are Pussy Riot.
Pussy Riot is a five-woman feminist performance punk band from Russia, who on February 21, 2012, stole into a section of Moscowâ€™s Cathedral of Christ the Savior reserved for priests, where they performed their work â€œVirgin Mary, Put Putin Away.â€ The account in Pussy Riot!: A Punk Prayer for Freedom, has the performance lasting forty seconds. For this, they were chased off, later arrested, brought to trial, and three of the members subsequently were convicted of â€œfelony hooliganism motivated by religious hatred.â€ For this forty-second performance, they received a two-year prison sentence. This event should frighten artists everywhere.
From the closing statement by defense attorney Violetta Volkova: â€œThese women are recognized as political prisoners by international organizations such as Amnesty International, Memorial, and others. These women are not here now because they danced in church in the wrong clothes, in the wrong place, and prayed incorrectly, and made the sign of the cross the wrong way. They are here for their political beliefs. The words of the song, the words of the prayer that they performedâ€”it is a political song, a political prayer addressed to the Blessed Virgin.â€
PUSSY RIOT!: A Punk Prayer for Freedom collects letters from prison, court transcripts, and lyrics. With all the media attention that Pussy Riot received, this book is the first time I have heard the story from the members of Pussy Riot themselves. This event was much more political, focused, and transgressive, than even the alternative media made it seem. The slim book ends with artistsâ€™ â€œTributes to Pussy Riot.â€ There is a poem from Karen Finaly and another from Eileen Myles, a response from Le Tigreâ€™s JD Samson, and a surprisingly compelling essay by Bianca Jagger. But my favorite is a letter by Yoko Ono:
Dear Yetaterina Samutsevich [Katya],
Â Â Thank you. You are right. You have won!
Â Â You have won for all of us, the women of the world.
Â Â The power of your every word is now growing in us.
Â Â From here on, please take good care of yourself, as much as
you are allowed to.
Â Â Each one of us is very much needed now.
Â Â Letâ€™s cleanse ourselves for the next battle, and heal the
world with the power of truth.
Â Â War Is Over! (If You Want It.)
Â Â In sisterhood,
Pussy Riot is just what we need right now. This little book from The Feminist Press is a compelling time capsule told exclusively from the perspective of the women themselves, and their artist supporters. Iâ€™m sure the future will provide us with an academic anthology retrospectively detailing the cultural, political, and activist implications of Pussy Riot. Thankfully, this is not that book.
In 1969, John and I were so naÃ¯ve to think that doing the Bed-In would help change the world.
Well, it might have. But at the time, we didnâ€™t know.
It was good that we filmed it, though.
The film is powerful now.
What we said then could have been said now.
In fact, there are things that we said then in the film, which may give some encouragement and inspiration to the activists of today. Good luck to us all.
Letâ€™s remember WAR IS OVER if we want it.
Itâ€™s up to us, and nobody else.
John would have wanted to say that.
Yoko Ono Lennon
Of course nostalgia isn’t a progressive place. When looking back to the past, it’s possible to know the outcome of every action. Progressive actions happen when consequences are yet to be determined. They are insecure, idealistic and defiant. Their success is compounded by, and most likely contingent on, other idealists.
I often take the 60s for granted as a kind of failed parent to our present — I remember for instance, my disdain when America declared The War on Terror. There were protests on Market Street in San Francisco where I lived; since I worked at a gallery downtown, a number of the dissidents came through our doors. Most of them old timers, they seemed enthused and exhilarated, wearing old ponchos with old buttons — costumes from a former life. It brought back the old days, they said, enjoying a renewal of purpose to which I was highly critical. The protests that year felt more like block parties, sequestered as they were to specific streets with police lining the borders between outcry and everyday life; there was no real disruption.
Neither was an alternative supplied: while half of the country (at least) cried out for war, the other dug its heels in, adamantly opposed. The protest parties celebrated opposition without solutions. I wanted someone to come up with another way, a non-violent action — that would mark a good leader, I thought. Even in my financially challenged state, I still had a roof and a car and two jobs. I had a sister who fed me when I couldn’t buy groceries. I had access to a world our supposed enemies did not. My parents’ hippy friends gave me a bumper sticker that said, “Bomb them with butter.” At least that seemed like oneÂ new idea. I know I had none.
When soldiers brought the statue of Saddam Hussein down with a crane, we’d been in Iraq for 20 days. There was a sudden euphoria of success and achievement. It became its own short-lived propaganda. “A few minutes after the toppling, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld told reporters,’The scenes of free Iraqis celebrating in the streets, riding American tanks, tearing down the statues of Saddam Hussein in the center of Baghdad are breathtaking. Watching them, one cannot help but think of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Iron Curtain’ (The New Yorker). Â We watched it on the news. I remember feeling both impotent and relieved.
“War became the evil pimp and illegitimate master, while society became a terrorized subaltern. War was not just about political domination through physical violence leading to death, but about the exploitation of bodies and minds for financial gain, sexual power, and the censure of our unique capacity Â as human beings to engage in abstract thought. As a performer, I understand you to be saying that what makes war terrible is not just that it can kill us, but that it forces us to perform against ourselves — against our will, against our interests, against our values” (Â A Field Guide for Female Interrogators,Â Coco Fusco,Â Seven Stories Press, 2008).Â Years later, I pulled into a Pier One parking lot to listen to Cheney’s trial being broadcast on the radio. There had been headlines all week about what a creep he was. The rapid cries of infamy as we the people denounced his behavior. He admitted his sanction of torture. All the photos came out with dark men, naked, faces in black hoods, sometimes in piles. The bright burn of a camera flash in a corner as soldiers–men and women both–smiled. We know those pictures. They come from a time when popular ideas about Muslim taboos were bandied around public space like beach balls; every room I was in discussed the terror of war, the stress of soldiers. “How could this thing have happened?”Â The day was bright and sunny outside. The highway banal and complacent. But Â I’d thought everyone knew, like it was in the collective unconscious–I’d known and I didn’t even read that much back then. Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib were dark places, beyond citizenship, as though human rights were contingent on state. Of course that torture still exists now — because we are not innocent — and Cheney’s presently on a book tour as an advocate of his practice.Â “If we give up Â all efforts to identify and set limits to uses of force and violence, unwarranted, and unmerited,” Fusco writes, “we essentially relinquish any agency with regard to politics, and aquiesce to authoritarian control of our lives or those of others” (p. 25).
Yes. It’s good Bin Laden is no longer a threat, but I don’t think anyone — especially a leader — should ever be proud of murder. It’s a terrible thing to have to take someone’s life, regardless of the circumstances. Circumstances that lead to such a necessity are all the more heartbreaking, stemming from a desperate responsibility. And here again, I think leaders give us examples of behavior, demonstrating through their address the weight of such a choice,Â thereby acknowledging the unequivocal meaning of life. Ten years later we are still at war, still shadow boxing. September 11th is still impossible to comprehend. Its tragedies will always remain irrevocable regardless of all subsequent acts, many of which have perpetuated violence: the shadows cast by our way of life. Embedded in my disappointment in the 60s is a tremendous disappointment in the present. The notion of peace seems all the more impossible, just as the emotive potency of war becomes more remote. There is so much to think about and learn from in those old performative gestures of peace–the way in which the media, still naive itself, could not get enough of those crazy kids.
..my favorite images of the aforementioned film take place at breakfast.
This week, Jana Leo’s Rape New York, subtitled An Open Archive, went on view at Invisible Exports in New York City. The exhibition consists of boxes of photographs, documents, transcripts and other material relating to the artists’ rape seven years ago.
The gallery’s press release describes the project as follows:
The documents assembled here, seven years in the making, accompany the release of (Leo’s) book RAPE NEW YORK. The archive consists of photographs from her emergency visit to the hospital, police reports, crime scene photographs, notes from her therapist, as well as records from the civil suit and other assorted items and documents related to the rape and the legal case that followed, none of which can be reproduced, or even reviewed without the victimsâ€™ consent. The documents are kept in organized boxes to be retrieved by the archivist, not displayed on the gallery walls. The archive is not presented to the visitor; instead, each guest must fully identify oneself (photo ID is required), and request materials from the archivist. This way, the visitor takes responsibility for whatâ€™s requested, making private again what was made public by Leoâ€”the latest revolution in a cycle of public and private that began with the rape itself.
The outlines of Leo’s project recalls that of a number of 1970’s era feminist works dealing with traumatic exposure–Yoko Ono’s Cut Piece (link is to a video of the performance) and 1968 film Rape come foremost to mind–but the heart of Leo’s piece seems to lie within the viewer’s decision to take responsibility, in a public way, for looking at material that is private in the deepest sense of the word. Does the artist’s complicity in the exposure negate its voyeuristic qualities? Does the decision to study Leo’s rape archives signal compassion, curiosity, or cruelty on the part of individual viewers? Perhaps, a bit of all three.
Yoko Ono, Cut Piece, performance
Yoko Ono, Rape (still from film)
Lately I’ve been mulling over a bunch of questions that essentially revolve around blogging and personal responsibility. Yesterday I came across mention of Leo’s show in a brief blurb on one of the art news blogs. I initially decided not to reblog the item, because there was only minimal information about the show itself. It felt sensationalistic, somehow, to just shoot the item out there once again without providing any further context. As coincidence would have it, this morning I randomly came across Caitlin Roper’s lengthy and fascinating interview with Jana Leo on Bomb’s blog, which contains a few reproductions of images and documents from the archive. Roper’s piece, I think, provides enough background context to give Leo’s project meaning even to those who can’t see the show in person.
To be honest, I feel somewhat relieved that I don’t live in New York and therefore don’t have to decide whether or not I want to visit Leo’s show and read her archives. I have an easy out, this time. But I did have to make the decision about whether and how I should write about it, particularly in the zippily superficial context of a blog post. So in that sense, I am still a participant in Leo’s project, still accountable for my decision to engage it from a distance in the manner that I have.
Here’s a last, chilling postscript. Eva Rhodes (nee Eva Majlata), the unnamed woman who was the subject of Ono’s aforementioned film Rape, was bludgeoned to death in 2007 by one of her employees, set on fire,Â and buried not far from an animal sanctuary she had established in Hungary. Sukhdev Sandhu writes movingly about Rhodes’ death, and Ono’s film, here.