Month: November 2017

Adrienne Ciskey: Invisible Illnesses and the Power of Play

If you suffer with a chronic illness, specifically one that others cannot see, the anxiety of  whether or not others take your pain seriously, on top of the endless physical battle with your own body, is very real. There is a hierarchy of illness in our culture based on assumptions of “seriousness” that is rarely acknowledged or discussed. A social judgment of validity is made about an illness, and if you are a woman suffering from an illness that is not only invisible but also widely unknown then the legitimacy of your pain dissipates quicker than the “no” you hear from the doctor when you ask if there is any known cure for your pain. Living with hypoglycemia and hyperthyroidism, I am no stranger to the slight eye rolls when I vocalize my symptoms and  I often find myself suppressing my needs, emotional and otherwise,  for the sake of avoiding skeptical responses from others. The question I ask myself time and time again is: How can others recognize something like an invisible illness? This question …

Build, Break, Repeat: An Interview with HOGG

To experience a live HOGG set is mesmerizing and terrifying. Over bass lines that pulsate, H and E* growl, howl, crawl, laugh, scream, and slam their bodies onto unsuspecting instruments. And then they stand still—so still, for so long. These movements are methodical and choreographed as they swap instruments that include bass, guitar, a floor tom, electronic samplers and drum machines. When I think of HOGG I think of my best friend. Around the time when we first saw HOGG play, we were also making music together, and we cared deeply about ecstatic, physical performances. It was moving then, and almost a relief, to see another pair of musicians dedicating their whole selves and bodies to that end. HOGG has three studio records to date (“Solar Phallic Lion,” Scrapes, 2016; “Carnal Lust & Carnivorous Eating,” Rotted Tooth Recordings, 2016; “Bury the Dog Deeper,” Nihilist Records, 2015), with a fourth album set to be released this spring. Like the live performances, their lyrics evoke embodiment, horror, sensuality, and psychology. HOGG occasionally collaborates with other artists, such as the dancer Eryka Dellenbach and …

Without, Within the World: The Dojo

Call them DIY, alternative, radical, or safe, Chicago’s independent art spaces create a world without money and borders within a world defined by both. They function as community hubs and communal living spaces, providing free and affordable entertainment, hosting activism workshops and food drives, and building connections among young, emerging, and marginalized artists. “Without, Within the World” is a series of interviews that asks curators and administrators about building utopia while maintaining viable spaces.      The first to be profiled is the Dojo, an underground performance venue and gallery in Pilsen. Though the Dojo has its roots in the DIY music scene, their curation constantly skirts the boundaries between genres and communities. Established in 2015 by Alex Palma, Mykele Deville, and Daniel Kyri (DK), who all lived in Pilsen at the time, the Dojo is now run by Palma and Calie Ramone, who work with a variety of outside curators and “Dojo Homies,” who put together diverse music and art shows two or three times a week. When I meet Palma at his Pilsen apartment (he …

First Nations Film and Video Festival

For over 15 years the First Nations Film and Video Festival has provided Native American film and video makers of all skill levels a platform to show works that break racial stereotypes and promote awareness of contemporary Native American issues and society. This year, the festival presented over 30 films across  the span of ten days at 11 different venues including the Gene Siskel Film Center, the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian, the Beverly Arts Center, and the American Indian Center. The final event was a special screening of three films hand-picked by festival director Ernest M. Whiteman III (Northern Arapaho) at Comfort Station in Logan Square. The first film, Advent, directed by Jonah T. Begay (Navajo Nation), was a short story about two young children, one human and one alien. The film, mostly silent sans a few well placed Foley sounds and a musical score, begins by following the human boy as he cares for an elderly woman with low vision, bringing her breakfast and guiding her on walks through the city and the woods over …

Erica Mei Gamble outside Harold Washington Library

Communal Sound Space

Erica Mei Gamble is a musician, storyteller, and children’s librarian at the Chicago Public Library. These roles converge in her ongoing project Communal Sound Space, an ever-expanding collection of video footage of DIY music and performance in Chicago. Since the launch of its online presence in August 2017, the archive makes public hundreds of videos documenting nearly a decade of performances in DIY spaces and small galleries around the city. The project amounts to a deeply personal history of Chicago music. Erica has filmed each performance herself, setting up shop at a good angle. Watching her record has become part of the fabric of going to a certain type of show: intimate, experimental, and for the most part, ephemeral. Thanks to Erica, that last bit is changing. Anyone curious about what goes on after hours in the darkened spaces of Chicago can now experience—or pause, rewind, and relive—a slice of it from anywhere in the world. I caught up with Erica about her project—creating safe spaces for expression, the impulse to document, maintaining an archive …

Snapshot: Pilsen Days by Akito Tsuda

Snapshot is a Sixty column that takes a quick look at art history as it happens in Chicago. We send artists and organizers six short and sweet questions to tell us about what they are doing right at this moment. We sent questions to Japanese artist Akito Tsuda, whose photo exhibit Pilsen Days showcases images of the neighborhood he took in the early 1990s while he was a student at Columbia College. Pilsen Days is currently on view at La Catrina Cafe. The non-profit Cultura in Pilsen fundraised to  organize a limited edition printing of Tsuda’s photos and to cover the travel costs to bring the artist from his home in Osaka, Japan to Chicago for the first time in over 20 years. Tsuda will be in conversation with Sebastian Hidalgo at La Catrina Cafe on November 5, 2017 from 2 – 5 pm for Pilsen Days Artist Talk and Farewell Reception.   Sixty Inches From Center: What got you interested in photographing Pilsen and what was the experience like? Akito Tsuda: I was attracted to the fact that in Pilsen …

Front-woman: A Look at Fran

I first saw Maria Jacobson from Fran play over the summer at The Hideout. Her voice, which I had previously only heard on Bandcamp, was atmospheric. It was natural. Her lyrics, empathetic and encapsulated with raw emotion and narrative, were something I could cry to. In short, I’ve been trying to pencil as many Fran shows into my calendar ever since. I met Maria in Humboldt Park, where we chatted about where she is going and what she is doing since picking up music a year ago. S. Nicole Lane: You studied theater, right? Maria Jacobson: Yeah, so I went to school for acting—for theater—and was pretty set on being an actor when I moved back home [Chicago], and did it for a year. I did musical theater growing up, so I have a strong singing background, and also studied some music in college—sort of broadly. I was the singer in bands—in high school and college—but never had a personal songwriting practice. I was trying to be an actor for a year, and then two year ago I got an …