Author: Noah Fields

Image: Installation shot of Iceberg Projects exhibition “David Wojnarowicz: Flesh of My Flesh,” June 23 – August 5, 2018. In the middle of the room, a sculpture sits on a white pedestal, encased in glass. A world map with words overlaying the image is hanging on the wall to the left, and a video screen is displaying a video on the partial brick wall directly in front of the viewer. Image courtesy of Iceberg Projects.

Tip of the Iceberg: A Conversation with Iceberg Projects

Iceberg Projects is a non- commercial art gallery in a converted coach house at the northernmost tip of Chicago. Over the past ten years, Iceberg Projects has hosted a number of historically important shows, especially of queer and other underrepresented artists, including group shows like the Art+Positive archive, Feel Me?, and Broken Flag to solo shows of David Wojnarowicz, Rotimi Fani-Kayode, Kevin Killian, Barbara DeGenevieve, and Steffani Jemison.  Inseparable from the history of Iceberg is the man behind it, whose backyard anchors Iceberg Projects. Dr. Dan Berger is an HIV specialist who helped develop the drug cocktail widely used for treatment. Recently, he released a video offering expert medical insight into how COVID 19 as it particularly affects HIV and queer communities. But his commitment to queer community extends beyond his medical practice and into his art collection, which focuses on queer and black artists.  I visited Dr. Berger in his Rogers Park home to talk about the history of the space. We also talked at length about institutional risk-taking and archiving queer legacies.  + …

Image: Illustration of a person with colors of green, purple, and magenta surrounding them. There are various patterns in the background.

3 Unemergency Poems

Not that we’re not in an emergency, but rather, the need to break out of the fast cycle of news that feels designed to agitate and then numb me into a state of helplessness. “Crisis time” invokes a logic of panic in the here and now. How will the headlines help me take care of my roommate who is, at the time of writing, using a borrowed inhaler, recovering from what the doctor diagnosed over the phone as COVID-19 and/or pneumonia? You can’t make soup with statistics and bylines.  What about the care work, dream work, and reflective thinking that sustains, moves, and propels our bodies inch by inch into the future? I find myself turning to endurance art, affect theory, performance studies, poetry, and maintenance work for a primer in how to slow down in order to keep on keeping on. These are “untimely,” perhaps, but what better time than the disrupted reality of quarantine to seep in the sustaining power of the “untimely”? In a moment of uncertainty, the durability of theory compels …

Image: Installation view of Gordon Hall’s Chicago exhibit USELESSNESS, courtesy Document Gallery.

Slanting Towards Uselessness

“All art is quite useless.”—Oscar Wilde You can’t really step on a slanted step. The Slant Step’s so-called “step” inclines at a 45 degree angle, too steep for a foothold. It is an object that teases utility, like Meret Oppenheim’s fur-lined tea-cup, or Marcel Duchamp’s inverted urinal. What is it for? Nobody could figure that out, and that’s the point. It is an inside joke: a found object whose elusive purpose made for a compelling and enduring art mystery. It is an invitation, a riddle, a call for response.  As legend goes, William T. Wiley found the Slant Step in a San Francisco thrift shop for fifty cents in the Sixties and bought it as a gift for his student—the artist Bruce Nauman, who went on to cast molds in homage. With time it became an object of fixation for a funk art movement of Bay Area artists and poets, culminating in a group show, The Slant Step Show, at Berkeley Gallery in 1966. When Richard Serra stole the Slant Step from that show and …

Image: Image: The cover for T. Fleischmann's book Time is the thing a body moves through, designed by Stevie Hanley.

“Time Is The Thing A Body Moves Through”: A Review

The book begins in transit. Literally moving from the get-go, a bus trip. “I leave Buffalo when the moon is still out, and on the long bus ride south I find myself unable to read.” By coincidence, I crack open my book on a bus ride, too, albeit a shorter commute, and I, unlike T. “Clutch” Fleischmann, am able to read on transit.  This is to say: the book begins in transit because the body is in transit; in conversation with itself and itinerant others.  The title holds all of these moving parts: Time Is The Thing A Body Moves Through. This is one of those gorgeous book titles that gets me all worked up knowing I didn’t come up with the line myself. So beautiful it sounds immediately true and resonant, even if I can’t put my finger on exactly what it means. It resonates with a moment in Clutch’s last book, Syzygy, Beauty, which proposed, “Choreography is one way to articulate time, your body moving forward.” But the new phrasing is less linear, …

What’s Your Logo, Virgil Abloh?

Virgil Abloh, street-forward renegade of high fashion and luxury art, speaks the trickster tongue of logos. Logos are his language, the figures of speech invoked in the title of his survey at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. If we are to understand logos as figures of speech, then we must trace their messaging on our bodies. We are subjected to logos more or less 24/7, but are we the subject of logos? Do logos express our subjectivity? Is there space for authenticity within logo culture? Abloh remixes and samples revered logos from Nike Air to Vuitton, unmaking in order to expose their conceptual significations and limitations, especially in relation to race.  “I want to read an existential essay on logo and art,” Abloh declared at the press preview Q & A.  +++ Logos ( λόγος) has a long history in philosophy and theory of rhetoric. In a discussion of speech versus writing, Plato contrasted logos, or what is said, with lexis (λέξις), or how it is being said, creating a binary of content and …

Swarm To This Chicago Art Residency’s First Public Showcase

Swarm Artist Residency is not just a creative community—it is an apiary. Like a bee farm, Swarm pollinates individual artist practices and cultivates a one-of-a-kind community. Swarm started in 2015 with the intention of creating a safe, inclusive communal space to nurture underrepresented artists’ practices. Each July, Chicago artists and healing practitioners get out of the city to gather on a farm out of state for a low-cost or fully-sponsored residency. Artists nourish in each other’s co-presence in community workshops, shared meals, and healing circles. Away from the city’s noise, new ideas buzz.   Four years into the experiment, Swarm is putting on its first public exhibition in the city. Its showcase of current and former artists in residence is timed for the summer solstice: Friday, June 21, 7:30-10:30pm, at Logan Square’s FDC Studios. In addition to giving the public a chance to engage with Swarm’s art and communal energy away from the retreat space, the exhibition fundraiser will also help cover 2019 residency costs for accepted artists. I talked to two of Swarm’s Queen …

Image: Installation shot of Gregg Bordowitz: I Wanna Be Well, 2019. © Gregg Bordowitz. Image courtesy of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Analog Love: Synching Up In the Time of Queerness

“Queer life and love in the 1980s was cruelly characterized by the knowledge that time was running out.” —Joshua Chambers Letson, After the Party: A Manifesto for Queer of Color Life What if queerness is not out of time? What if it is in fact deeply entangled in time, intimate with its intricate loops, its swells, its passing lulls? Consider the clock to be a geography of relation. To declare queer not out of time but in fact enmeshed with time is to dance towards becoming synchronous against the odds. Attuning across long distances, linking despite (or perhaps because of) grief. To fall in time is to fall into a love unrequited: time cannot love you back, cannot nurse your wounds, cannot even promise you company. Time is out to kill, racing against us. Even yet—we rush to its side, seeking its alliance at a lover’s deathbed or amidst the off-hours communion of the dance floor. + Lately I’ve been dancing with archives. Everything touches up with everything: I am experiencing what seems a surreal …