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LETTER FROM THE EDITORS–ISSUE TWO: EPHEMERAL

Ephemeral Feature Image Archive Site

Dear Readers,

Longtime readers of Sixty Inches From Center know that archiving has always been a central pillar of our organization. Through our partnership with the Chicago Arts Archive, and our neighborhood Get Archived events, we’ve always made collecting and preserving the works of contemporary artists one of our main goals–or even the main goal. But there’s something about the act of preserving itself that seems, if not futile, then extraneous. After all, if one isn’t there to experience the moment, a piece of paper recording an event can’t exactly take that moment’s place.

That’s why, for our second issue, we decided to explore the nature of the temporary. In our articles for EPHEMERAL, we set out to explore the ways even fleeting moments can echo through the decades, and discover new ways to capture those moments even after they’ve passed. We wanted to explore the thought process of artists who work in inherently fugitive mediums, whether they are performers, graffiti artists, or simply creators who have accepted that their art has only a limited amount of time in the world–and are even willing to be the ones to destroy it.

Ephemera isn’t just fleeting moments, either. It can also include physical materials that wouldn’t last under normal circumstances. Flyers that advertise a show, paper invitations to parties, or scripts to plays with a limited run: these are all impermanent materials. Or more accurately, these are proof of the transitory nature of art. These and similar documents are also the primary materials that we collect in our archiving events. Nothing lasts forever, but we can prove that it was here, once, briefly.

In this issue you’ll find exactly these materials. Check out JeNae’ Taylor’s video demonstration of how to make a broadside, and learn the political and social significance of that action. Read Rashayla Marie Brown’s account of the Chicago Home Theater Festival to discover how even a short show, never to be repeated, can challenge segregation through community art gatherings. Or visit the last night of a longstanding Chicago tradition in Sierra Nicole Rhoden’s “Brain Frame Forever.” We also get acquainted with performers of decades past in Marian Hayes’s firsthand account of being a poet in an age of legends, and in Georgina Valverde’s and Kate Thomas’s experience reliving the soapbox speeches of the early 20th century. Finally, we visit some contemporary artists whose practice relies on transience. Victoria Martinez invites us to consider her street installations in Chicago and Mexico City, Chase Martin explores the eternally renewed lightwork of Troy Briggs, and Diana Gabriel talks to her collaborator Rita Grendze about their upcoming work at Water Street Studios, which will only be viewable for a short time.

Maybe no document can take the place of a moment. But if it can inspire others to create moments of their own, then the preservation of the temporary has done its work.

With that in mind, we hope you enjoy EPHEMERAL.

 

Reuben Westmaas and Toby zur Loye, Editors, Sixty Inches From Center

 

 

Image: Detail of cover design by Theodore Darst.

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