All posts tagged: art

Double Feature: Intimate Justice: Manal Kara & “Immanentizing the Eschaton” Exhibition Review

“Intimate Justice” looks at the intersection of art and sex and how these actions intertwine to serve as a form of resistance, activism, and dialogue in the Chicago community. For this installment, we talked to Manal Kara about living in the woods, the thousands of sexes in fungi, and BDSM subculture.  SNL: Where are you from originally? What brought you to Chicago? MK: I was born in Pennsylvania but grew up in England and Kansas. My parents are from Morocco and the rest of my family all still live there and I have dual citizenship. I moved to Chicago on a whim 12 years ago. SNL: Can you talk about living in Gary, Indiana? How has your art practice changed since moving there? MK: I live in a big forest on the dunes. My relationship with non-human organisms has deepened considerably, which has had a huge influence on my artwork and my intellectual interests more generally.  SNL: You work in a variety of medium. Can you talk about your craft based work, like your ceramics? MK: …

This is an image of moderators and panelists talking.

Beyond Alternatives, Toward Refusal

Beyond Alternatives, a two-day symposium organized by Cory Imig and Dulcee Boehm, fostered a dedicated site to share and reflect upon their experiences as artist-organizers working outside of metropolitan centers. The dozens of artists, writers, educators, and curators living in, thinking about, and actively building communities and social networks who came together reflected the need for this event. The symposium converged and slipped around three main themes: sustainability and transparency when directing an artist-led project, social practice and community engagement, and institutional critique. Paddy Johnson, the founding editor of Art F City, a digital platform for critical conversations surrounding contemporary art, a writer and independent art blogger, opened the symposium with a keynote address appropriately titled “Artist-Led Projects.” Johnson opened with a summary of her and collaborator Michael Anthony Farley’s iterative project “We’re SO not getting the security deposit back,” a guide to now defunct artist-run spaces documented in NYC, Washington D.C., and Baltimore. Each guide features commissioned essays, which emphasized the unique history and conditions of each city. Inherent to this project is a …

This is a photograph of three copies of the book “Brea,” against a light background. Two lie flat in the left side of the frame, front cover and spine visible, and the third is upright, with only the front cover showing. The front cover image is an ink illustration of a young boy in close-up, straight-on, showing his face, chest, and parts of his arms. He wears a long-sleeved shirt and his hands are flipped upside-down over his eyes to form goggles, of sorts, with each thumb and forefinger. Courtesy of the artist.

Beyond the Page: Carlos Matallana

“Beyond the Page” digs into the process and practice of writers and artists who work at the intersection of literary arts and other fields. In March, I was honored to interview artist and educator Carlos Matallana about the development of his ongoing Manual of Violence project, the process of creating its fictional comic installment “Brea,” and how games, childhood, dreams, and more shape his work. Follow @tropipunk on Instagram and check out his presentation about “Brea” at the Hyde Park Art Center on Saturday, May 26, 2-4pm. This interview has been edited for length and clarity, and includes some spoilers about the book “Brea.” Marya Spont-Lemus: I guess I’d love to start by just hearing how long you’ve been making work in Chicago and what brought you here. Carlos Matallana: Well, I ended up in Chicago because I have old friends here in the city. But initially I moved from Bogotá to New York. I spent a couple of months, not even four months, in New York. I spent all my savings, and I tried …

Review: Bebe Miller Company at The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago

In a Rhythm begins with storytelling, a storytelling which gradually darkens into theater: Bebe Miller steps out onto the stage with her dancers, and begins a short narrative about hearing an audiobook of a David Foster Wallace story. As she continues talking, the lights dim and the bodies around her begin to move – a pleasing, calm split to the viewer’s attention. After all, the David Foster Wallace story, as Miller informs us, “is not a part of this dance.” Soon a single piano note chimes in, and the narrative is subsumed by the familiar structures of concert dance. But they are not so familiar here. Miller is explicitly interested in the choreographic potentials of syntax: in her words, “how we collide with meaning through the juxtaposed dynamics of action and context, in time and space.” Her work, however, doesn’t merely follow through with this curiosity – it explodes it with a rare breed of infectious joy and sharpness. In this world, the casual release-based grace of postmodern movement is immediately followed by jagged, awkward weight sharing; …

Claire Cunningham and Jess Curtis, The Way You Look (at me) Tonight. Photo: Robbie Sweeny.

“Radical Hospitality”:
Relaxed Performances on the MCA Stage

Chair or floor cushion? I decided to make myself comfortable in a chair on the corner of the stage—in the midst of the action, but removed enough to observe much of what was happening at the edges of the space. This performance of Claire Cunningham & Jess Curtis’ The Way You Look (at me) Tonight was certainly relaxed. Escorted to stage level, the audience was invited to sit directly on the stage in clusters of chairs and cushions, and prompted to make themselves at home, even remove their heavy winter boots if they were so inclined. After explaining what to expect, Cunningham and Curtis—acclaimed international theatre and dance artists—set into motion a “collage of dance, song, and text.” For roughly 100 minutes, the audience was treated to a show pendulating between humorous yet poignant moments and more classical performance segments of dance and song. (You can see a clip here). Though classical might be the wrong word, as Cunningham and Curtis’ work itself questions what we consider classic or traditional, playing with romantic ideals, gender …

In Conversation with Terttu Uibopuu

“This is what making work should be like. You should be nervous and you should be a little bit scared. And you should feel kind of apprehensive and you should feel like you’re doing something kind of wrong. That’s the state I want to be in when I make my work. I don’t want to be comfortable. I don’t want to know what the hell I’m doing. I want to feel like I’m trying something new and scary and weird. Something not so polite and not comfortable for anybody.” – Terttu Uibopuu Estonian-American photographer Terttu Uibopuu moved to the United States in 2002. Born in 1984, in Soviet-occupied Estonia, Uibopuu lived much of her formative years during the fall of the Soviet Union. After receiving a photography award from the cigarette company Phillip Morris in 2001, she booked a one-way ticket to the United States. At the age of 17, Uibopuu found herself in a small city in northern Illinois where she began documenting her experiences and forging herself a career in photography. In this …

Preserving Celluloid Film: A Look at Archiving in Chicago

In 2011, visual artist Tacita Dean opened her exhibition “FILM” at the Tate Modern where she responded to the destruction of celluloid film. She exhibited a silent, 11 minute, 35mm looped film in the London museum. The exhibition set out to provide a physical display for viewers to see the difference between digital and celluloid. The history of the moving image, important to Dean, exhibited the richness in color and the power of the projection. The New York Times writes, “Like the vinyl long-playing record, the Polaroid camera and the manual typewriter, celluloid has attracted a generation of artists who have come of age in a digital world and have developed a nostalgic soft spot for analog.” I spoke to Dan Erdman, an archivist at the Media Burn, and Director Nancy Watrous from Chicago Film Archives, about the importance of preserving celluloid and the impact of film on history. No one ever claimed that film restoration was sexy. It’s granular. It’s a bit mundane. It’s lots of organizing and dusting off grimy surfaces. It’s protective gloves and …

Image Description: Image of a very dark room, three faint windows can be made out. White text on top of the image says "Black Out Dinners" with a small fork and knife graphic. Photo courtesy of 6018North.]

6018North’s Black Out Dinners with The Chicago Lighthouse

Black Out Dinners are not the dining-in-the-dark, date-night novelty you may have seen offered on Groupon. 6018North, an Edgewater nonprofit for experimental arts and culture, takes the experience far beyond a trendy meal. In partnership with The Chicago Lighthouse, Black Out Dinners are presented by fully or partially visually impaired servers who guide guests in the pitch-black setting. The first two courses of the delicious vegetarian meal (Giuseppe Catanzariti of Midnight Kitchen Projects was the chef, with Sonia Yoon, when I attended) are enjoyed at communal tables in the dark, with only minor bumps and air-grasps. Dessert is served back in the light, and includes a discussion with the servers and meeting your fellow table-mates.   As dinner guests, we were placing ourselves in the unknown, trusting someone for whom the dark is not unknown at all. This trust, the ability to lean on one another’s strengths, makes Black Out Dinners about far more than food. I had the chance to speak with Tricia Van Eck, Artistic Director at 6018North, as well as Elbert Ford, Job Placement Counselor …

Intimate Justice: Liz McCarthy

“Intimate Justice” looks at the intersection of art and sex and how these actions intertwine to serve as a form of resistance, activism, and dialogue in the Chicago community. For this installment, we talked to Liz McCarthy about shifting from photography to sculpture, the performance of making objects, and pleasure as resistance.  S. Nicole Lane: When did you start creating art in general? What’s your educational background, how did you end up in Chicago? Liz McCarthy: Sure. I went to the University of North Carolina at Asheville. And when I was there I was doing photography with mixed media. I was super into photography and the dialogue of gaze and kind of taking/capturing the moment and these documents of experience. I also dabbled in clay a little bit, because there was such a big clay community. Then I moved to Chicago in 2009 and started Roxaboxen Exhibitions, which was an art space in Pilsen. I ran that for three years. I’ve also worked with Acre for a long time—Acre is a residency. I’d say my work has shifted a lot—was …

Art at Work: Georgia Schwender at Fermilab Art Gallery

In this series, we explore the idea of art institutions with a primary audience deliberately or functionally outside the field of art. These venues primarily focus on completely unrelated disciplines, but are also invested in art collecting, exhibition, or production. For this installment, we look about an hour west of Chicago to the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, known as Fermilab: one of the most advanced particle accelerators in the world. There, government scientists research the frontiers of particle physics, from quarks to dark matter. Wilson Hall, the lab’s central building, is named for founder Robert Rathbun Wilson, a Manhattan Project physicist and the artist of several massive public sculptures that pepper the campus. It also houses the Fermilab Art Gallery, which Wilson established to explore his dual interests in science and aesthetics. Search “art at Fermilab” online today and, in addition to the gallery and artist-in-residence program, you might learn about “art,” the laboratory’s software workflow protocol. “art is an event-processing framework for particle physics experiments,” the website explains. Though the name is a coincidence, …

Interpreting Faye Driscoll’s “Play”: The Art of Audio Description and ASL Interpretation

None of the typical rules of a play apply here. Then again, when you come to a performance at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, you aren’t really expecting typical, are you? Play is the second performance in a series called Thank You For Coming, created by Bessie Award–winning director and choreographer, Faye Driscoll. This performance “uses the ritual of storytelling to explore our reliance on stories to relate to one another and form identities as individuals and citizens.” What begins as a communal audience-participation on stage quickly delves into a parody of an absurd theater act. Employing multiple meanings of the term “play,” the cast performs a drama but an allowance for improvisation leaves room for the actors to engage in the more fanciful version of “play” as well. Play is also atypical in its breaking of the fourth wall. Not only does a sound engineer remain on stage, occasionally being called into the action, but Driscoll herself joins the cast. At times she is grabbing props or directing the actors, as if it were a rehearsal …

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 …

Intimate Justice: Lauren Steinberg

“Intimate Justice” looks at the intersection of art and sex and how these actions intertwine to serve as a form of resistance, activism, and dialogue in the Chicago community. For this installment, we talked to Lauren Steinberg in the grass of Lincoln Park about a queer future, pop culture, and rolling around online.  S. Nicole Lane: We can begin with your background. You’re from New York City.  Lauren Steinberg: Yeah. I grew up in New York City. Manhattan. My dad, he’s 75, he’s an older dad. He grew up there too, and he never left. He refuses to leave. He kind of tried to instill that in me. It worked for a while, I ended up going to undergrad at Pratt in Brooklyn. I think I wanted to punish myself a little bit for being an artist. Not that I didn’t love Pratt, Pratt was amazing, but it was definitely the most rigid school that I got into at the time. I was like, “If I’m really going to do this and suffer, because everyone tells …

Designing for a Fertile Future

As a designer who is concerned about the future of the planet, Jessica Gorse thinks sustainability is not a sufficient goal. If humans are to stem ongoing environmental and political crises, according to Gorse, they need to get more imaginative and take up regenerative projects that grow better future worlds. To that end, Gorse—who went back to school at age 28 for a degree in Designed Objects at SAIC—investigates the possible lifespans of materials we use every day. This takes form in her work with Fertile Design, a project she started with fellow SAIC students Erin Delaney and Soniya Khasgiwale. Together, they experiment with making plastics out of food waste that are then embedded with seeds and nutrient-rich natural dyes such that through biodegrading they replenish the soil and germinate. What is so great about Gorses’s work is that it is both idealistic and completely practical. She calls this practice “futurist world-building.” When I met Gorse in her studio at SAIC, we began by watching two of her experimental video projects before digging into Fertile Design. “Fusion Vision” is a lo-fi cartoon music video featuring a guitar-plucking …

The Neo-Futurists and Accessibility: A Conversation with Kurt Chiang and Lily Mooney

Kurt Chiang, artistic director of The Neo-Futurists, calls their space in Andersonville “a labyrinth,” and when you go see their signature show, Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind, entering the building can feel like entering another world. Your experience begins in a long line of people outside the building. There, you are given a token to reserve your seat. You enter the building and trek up two flights of stairs. To the left are the bathrooms. To the right is “The Hall of Presidents,” a long hallway lined with portraits of every US president to date, rendered in a variety of artistic styles. Go down this hallway, and you are in a kitchen. There is a candy counter manned by a volunteer, and behind the volunteer is a sink, some cabinets, a stove. It’s a kitchen. Past the candy counter, past the antique photo booth, past a typewriter station, through two double doors, and down a step into “The State Park,” a gymnasium-like space with a player piano at one end, and a …

Movement Matters: Mary Wu

Movement Matters is a column that investigates work at the intersection of dance, performance, politics, policy and issues related to the body as the locus of these and related socio-cultural dialogues on race, gender, ability and more. For this installment, we sit down with dancer, collaboration and performance artist Mary Wu to discuss her at times alarming audience interactions, the ethics of art-making and new aesthetics of the body arising out of the disability arts movement. Michael Workman: Thanks for taking some time to sit down with me discuss your work. Mary Wu: I haven’t made my own work in a long time, I have to say. I want to make work that I feel like I need to make. It was years ago that I made a solo work now, I showed it at Research Project, this very small work-in-progress showing curated by friends. It was very much making art for art’s sake based on years of solo practice for myself. I wanted to have something to show and then I did it and …

Softness as Subversion

The Franklin’s My Feet Have Lost Memory of Softness utilizes space and place to explore the concept of softness, questioning and expanding the audience’s pre-existing relationships with change, time, and the hierarchies of an art gallery. Curated by Ionit Behar, the crux of the installation is the representation of softness as a characteristic of mutability and change. Within the realm of an art installation, change can be indicative of transition and fluctuation in a viewer’s experience and subsequent understanding of a work. This conception of softness is compounded by the nature of the Franklin as a site, a quality described by the show’s written materials as an “unconventional and unofficial presence.” Such presence is derived from the fact that the Franklin is an artist-run site within Edra Soto and Dan Sullivan’s East Garfield Park home and yard. These blurred boundaries between the communal and the domestic are in and of themselves a softness, one that speaks towards an artist community formed from transition. When entering the Franklin’s outdoor space one is immediately confronted by Jean …

Race Abstracted: Thelma Golden and New Global Black Aesthetics

On a warm Thursday evening, Thelma Golden sauntered across the carpeted stage of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Rubloff Auditorium with an elegant stride. Golden, Director and Chief Curator of the Studio Museum of Harlem, moderated the panel “New Paradigms 2016: An Evening of Art and Conversation.” It showcased seminal artists of color in today’s art world from diverse parts of the globe. Glenn Ligon, Lynette Yiadom Boakye, and Cauleen Smith collaboratively examined how their work reveals the intricacies of the individual and collective histories of the global Black diaspora. Golden asked concise and complex questions that lead the artists to unpack the phenomena of a global Black presence in art making, moving beyond colonial labels such as “African American.” Despite their different aesthetic approaches, all three artists shared the similarity of vouching for the silenced voices in the canon of art history. Their cultural perspectives in art making seamlessly united as they talked about navigating the identity politics of the modern world through their artistic process. This mutual goal shared between the artists revealed …

We Just Wanna Make Crazy Weird Stuff!

  Carlos Matallana is a Bogotá-born and Chicago-based visual artist, a teacher, and a New Tech Curriculum developer. He has taught graphic design, web design, and comics in different after-school programs around Chicago since 2005. Currently he is working in his comic book Manual of Violence, which will be released by Mid 2015 http://manualofviolence.org/

Giving with Style: A Prom Night Interview with Esther Grisham Grimm

When someone introduces you to Esther Grisham Grimm there’s a good chance that the words thoughtful, sincere, gracious and good energy are woven in some form into that introduction. Not only is she the Executive Director of 3Arts, a foundation that gives substantial, unrestricted grants to women artists, artists of color, and artists with disabilities, but she is also a chic dresser with a playful signature style. Staying true to her giving nature, she has accepted our invitation to be one of our Chaperones for Prom Night. This means if you’re hoping to make it onto the Prom Court, then it would be in your best interest to listen closely as she describes her style, shares her sources of inspiration and describes what she will be looking for when putting in her selections for Prom Court. Sixty Inches From Center: How would you describe your personal style? Esther Grisham Grimm: That elusive middle ground between a Pedro Almodovar movie and Charlie Chaplin. I think I have a Baroque heart laced with Danny Kaye and Jimi Hendrix. SIFC: When did you first …

Clarissa Bonet: The Visual Artist behind the Camera

At 26 and not even a full year after graduating from Columbia College Chicago’s photography graduate program, Clarissa Bonet’s photographic series City Space has been praised. An award winning photographer, her work has been exhibited in Chicago, Florida, Paris, China, Israel, and published by the award winning photography magazine PDN (Photo District News), the Swiss Magazine Das Magazin, Booooooom, and Feature Shoot…to name a few. Clarissa possesses the ability to create work that is captivating and full of emotion. I had the pleasure of learning more about the visual artist behind the camera.     Sophia Nahli: When did you know you wanted to be a photographer? Clarissa Bonet: I started photography when I was in middle school. We had a little dark room in my school, so I started experimenting there, but I really got into photography when I was in high school. I knew my sophomore year of high school that photography was going to be my medium to work in. SN: Why is photography important to you? CB: That’s kind of a …

Shooting the Periphery: An all-nighter with Zane Davis

“Following the north branch from the edge of Skokie to the heart of downtown you see the complete transformation from a creek in a forest, to a drain for the city.” —Zane Davis on the Chicago River A dark and sober night makes me pay attention. Shadows hide the distracting details of daily life; the bits of light that are present guide my eyes. I meditate on the details as something seemingly ordinary transforms to something noteworthy. From industrial parks to deer sprinkled mid-western forests, the bridges dispersed along the Chicago River highlight the heterogeneous landscape of the great city. Zane Davis’s series Towards Wolf Point, gives the viewer a chance to see this. He shoots at night and invited me to go along for one of his “all-nighter” photo adventures. The plan for the evening was to jump into the rented convertible, Rosa, and shoot the Chicago River from the bridges on the city’s periphery. Around 10:00 P.M. we started at West 35th  Street and Ashland, the southernmost bridge crossing the Chicago River. Each …