Duncan Mackenzie at the 2010 CAA Conference

October 24, 2010 · Archives, Interviews

Duncan Mackenzie, wears many hats. Along with being a professor of fine art at Columbia College Chicago, he is a practicing artist and also collaborates on a weekly podcast and…

Duncan Mackenzie, wears many hats. Along with being a professor of fine art at Columbia College Chicago, he is a practicing artist and also collaborates on a weekly podcast and blog called Bad At Sports (how great is that title for an art blog/podcast?!). This collaborative project offers informative, revealing and incredibly entertaining reviews and interviews with everyone in the arts–from curators to individual artists to art publishers to arts advocates, and everyone in between. Once I discovered this blog, it quickly become a regular on my iPod. In addition to this, somwhere between all these things, Mackenzie works on various other collaborative projects. This brief interview gives you a snapshot of his world which includes national developing projects and words of wisdom, with a touch of that Duncan Mackenzie humor. Take five minutes for these ten questions–you’ll be happy you did!

Bad At Sports!

1. Briefly tell me about yourself. What is your current role in the arts and how did you get there?

Artist, Journalist, Educator, “Conversation-ist,” and person of questionable virtue and foolish commitment.

2. Is this your first College Arts Association Conference? If not, how many have you been to and how has it evolved over the years?

I have been to a few, not enough that I have a sense of an evolution or trajectory. I expect to have a good time, learn a few things, and see some old friends. I’m also planning to buy a few books.

3. What process did you go through to become a panelist and/or participant in the conference?

We proposed to speak as part of a project that Sabina Ott was working on and she wanted us to do it and placed us where she felt we would be most useful.

4. What is the title and summary of the panel you are participating in? What is the topic you will be presenting? Who are some of the other panelists?

Opt Out of Obscurity is about a DIY ethic. Those people and projects that don’t wait to have other people do things for them. They choose to just “do it [themseves].” We were honored to be included. We are pretty much going to talk about Bad at Sports and the projects history.

Here are the others.

Curator’s Perspective
Michelle Grabner, School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Suburban

Critic’s Perspective
Corey Postiglione, Columbia College Chicago and Artforum

Gallerist’s Perspective
Gosia Koscielak, Koscielak Gallery

Producer’s Perspective
Duncan MacKenzie, Bad at Sports: Contemporary Art Talk; Richard
Holland, Bad at Sports: Contemporary Art Talk

5. What is the significance of your panel topic? How does it apply to college art students and the greater art community?

It is important not to wait an rely on others to develop your projects. You should believe in the things you do more then anyone else. After all, if you don’t believe in the things you do why would anyone else?

I think we all need to be reminded that this is not an easy road, and if we are not willing to work for our dreams, then who should?

6. How would you describe the work that you create?

It’s magical?

It depends. I work on a lot of different things with different people. Bad at Sports is a collective of about 20 artists, critics and curators and works from many differently locations to produce an art radio show and a blog. Together we have been at it for close to five years and produced 300 hours of art radio and thousands of posts. I also collaborate with an English artist named Christian Kuras and we make sculpture (mostly) and some other art objects.

All the things I’m involved with share a sense if inquiry, a need to place ideas, objects, systems in a slightly more legible order, to figure stuff out and make sense of it.

7. What are some projects you are currently working on?

Well we can be found at badatsports.com all day everyday.

And Bad at Sports is doing projects at or with…

-Temporary Services at Gallery 400 on Feb 26 and 27
-Apex Art(NYC) opening April 6th through May 22nd
-Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago: Cabinet of Curiosity Lecture Series: April 20th
-Next Art Fair Chicago April 30th-May 3rd
-Open Engagement (Portland) May 14th-17th
-Studio Show/Residency at theSullivan Galleries (Chicago) from June to September

Christian and I are doing an exhibition with the Co-Prosperity Sphere that opens on Feb 26th.

8. What are some of the goals you have for yourself and your art career in 2010?

Just to “keep on keeping on.”

9. Where would you like to see the arts go in 2010?

To exactly where they will be most interesting, and if I could tell you it wouldn’t be very interesting.

10. Lastly, what advice would you give college students who are thinking about a career in the arts similar to yours?

Try and be kind to everyone and don’t get too far ahead of yourself.

Learn more about Duncan Mackenzie and all that he’s up to at the following locations on the World Wide Web:


This interview is also published on the Columbia College Chicago CAA Conference Blog.