Next Week at The Parlor

December 31, 2009

posted by Caroline Picard

The Laboratory for the Development of Substitute Materials (LDSM)* will be at The Parlor Tuesday January 5th at 7pm!

The LDSM performs an excerpt from Theoretical Isolation: A Post-Atomic Experiment, a collaboratively generated performance inspired by the development of the atomic bomb at Los Alamos, Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and the urban design laboratory Arcosanti.** The members of the LDSM are: Seth Bockley, Jessica Hudson, Chloe Johnston, Ira S. Murfin, Kerensa Peterson, Angela Tillges, and Seth Zurer. Following thier 30 minute reading/audio perfomance, LDSM will take questions from the audience.

As always, the event will be recorded and published on-line for your repeated listening pleasure on iTunes and at

All readings take place at 1511 N. Milwaukee Ave, 2nd Floor

For more information, please visit or contact

The Parlor is a monthly reading series sponsored by Bad At Sports Podcast (

*The Laboratory for the Development of Substitute Materials (LDSM) is a diverse collective of theatre artists with backgrounds in performance, literary, and visual arts, individually working in a range of performance traditions with such Chicago companies as Redmoon Theater, 500 Clown, CollaborAction, and the Neo-Futurists. The members of the LDSM first collaborated on Impossible Cities: A Utopian Experiment in 2007, directed by Seth Bockley and produced by Walkabout Theatre Company at the Peter Jones Gallery in Chicago. The show consisted of performances, music, and an art exhibition curated by Angela Tillges, all on the theme of utopia. The LDSM formally came into existence later that same year with the instigation of Theoretical Isolation: A Post-Atomic Experiment, a collaboratively generated performance which premiered in 2009 at the urban design project Arcosanti in Arizona and was subsequently presented in Chicago at the Neo-Futurarium. The LDSM has received grants from the Center for Interdisciplinary Research in the Arts at Northwestern University and from the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, held residencies at the University of Chicago and Arcosanti, and taught workshops at Arizona State University and in the Arcosanti community. The LDSM continues to make and teach collectively devised, research-based performance, which blends physical, visual, and textual approaches to consider a broad range of inquiries prompted by the spatial, the communal, and the urban.

**The LDSM performs an excerpt from Theoretical Isolation: A Post-Atomic Experiment, a collaboratively generated performance inspired by the development of the atomic bomb at Los Alamos, Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and the urban design laboratory Arcosanti. This original interdisciplinary work sets scientific experimentation, Congressional testimony, and old-fashioned magic tricks against the backdrop of Arcosanti’s unique architectural environment. Inspired by the discovery that The Tempest was among the literary texts discussed by scientists at Los Alamos, the performance investigates historical and fictional characters who retreated from civilization in order to re-imagine it, working in geographic isolation to create books and bombs with the potential to change the world. Theoretical Isolation: A Post-Atomic Experiment focuses on a few of these individuals: J. Robert Oppenheimer, the physicist who oversaw the Manhattan Project; Prospero, Shakespeare’s most famous magician; and Paolo Soleri, the architect who founded Arcosanti as a prototypical alternative approach to urban design.

When the Box Becomes a Hat the Man Becomes a Sea

New Work By Victor Vazquez: A Body to Body

Seraphin Gallery

Humanity has always been tied to land as a source of nourishment, identity and rest. Images of the earth belie collective associations of mortality and property. Upon that earth Victor Vazquez has imposed text, tierra de nadie, tierra de todos, tierra de serres, tierra de cuerpos. In that imposition Vazquez exercises his agency, asserting power over the ground humanity is subject to.  By applying those words he destroys the illusion created by the image. Suddenly it becomes a representation of earth, rather than earth itself. The text stands in the foreground, earth in the back. The fore a linguistic device—one in which Vazquez assigns order with his prescribed and dualistic interpretations (sprit/body // everything/nothing)—the back something “natural,” neutral and inhuman. With the flat surface of the fore-fronted text, the back admits its illusory depth. The text asserts power over the image, defining terms with which that earth is to be considered. In his solo exhibition, A Body to Body, Vazquez is creating a mechanism for others to assert themselves. Over and over again he captures a moment of intervention, taking photographs of metaphorical landscapes that document the influence of his hand. This work is a demonstration, a documented analysis of relationships between bodies.

Themes of power, possession and identity run throughout the exhibition as Vazquez reflects on the relationship between the body and place. Bodies are dislocated, clustered, organized; the human body is metaphorically decapitated with flags (Body to Body 2), concealed in bags, overwritten with text or, in some cases, absent save for an outline. Each piece depicts a political relationship, an abstract portrayal of power in which the body is subject. Focusing specifically on its relationship to national identity, A Body to Body investigates the significance of nationality when it is displaced, just as it investigates the power of a dislocated individual within a foreign, hierarchical structure. Beneath the premise of these investigations, there is a deeper, more general query about the self; for when it is separated from what it once identified with, what is left?

That question appeals to agency and the necessary interaction that bodies have in foreign places. “How do you feel when you go to a different place and meet a different culture?” Vazquez asked. “There is positive and negative. People have to displace themselves from one place to another to find a better situation; they discover a negative situation.” They also discover other aspects of themselves. In Trota Mundo 1, a young man lies on his back with a board raised over his head; the board creates a path for a small toy man, giving it imaginary access to the trunk of a shiny red car. The young man is in service to the toy—a symbol of systems of purchase, production and frivolity. The young man—the only living being in the frame—lies belly-up and vulnerable.

In 2009, California was estimated to have over five million noncitizens in its workforce.  During the pumpkin harvest thousands of migrant workers travel over 2,000 miles to work the farms and factories of Suchilapan, Milwaukee.  The final death count of 9/11’s twin towers is unknown, in part because a number of undocumented workers died in the rubble.  Those instances speak only about America; there are countless migrant populations all over the world. Yet even the vocabulary used to classify those populations, (“noncitizens,” “undocumented workers,” “illegal immigrants”), denies something basic about their humanity: they do not ‘belong’ anywhere, thus they are not citizens. They have no documentation and therefore they are expendable save for their labor. Even more basic, they are ‘illegal’ and thus in direct conflict with organizing principles of the civic body in which they arrive. While undocumented workers represent an extreme case, any migrant family suffers some element of discomfort. People migrate all over the world because of inequality, the basic desire to seek out better opportunities. Like birds, those same people shimmy around and through preventative nets of political structures; magically a huge number succeed. And, when they arrive the societies in which they work, legally or otherwise, are both dependent on and exploitative of their labor. It is no surprise then that immigrants would experience powerlessness. Even in small things—it is difficult to have a sense of humor when one doesn’t speak a language, for instance. Vazquez, however, refuses to accept that. He creates harmonic relationships between himself (as the eye of the camera, the hand pointing, the hand painting,) and the world. The world is the audience; the world is a composition of immaterial bodies, or even a field of dirt. Regardless of the peculiar circumstances, Vazquez is asserting his agency through visual and often serious play.

While A Body to Body speaks to a global community, Vazquez is no stranger to these predicaments. As a Puerto Rican, he speaks from history of political trial. “I take the unique situation of Puerto Rico and transfer it [to other situations.]” Since its discovery by Christopher Columbus, Puerto Rico has been subject to outside powers of governance. Up until 1897 it was subject to Spain. Thereafter it has been subject to the United States. One called Puerto Rico a colony; the other calls it a commonwealth. The people of Puerto Rico presently possess a limited citizenship. In 1898 four bodies are outlined in chalk. Before the first outline, a real body dons a black cloth, arms outstretched. Beside that, the outlines begin. The first outline, like a ghost, lies flat on cement. The next contains a soft sculpture spelling “1898.”  The next two contain body bags with bodies inside; the bodies are reaching out to touch the hand of the chalk outline. Between 1860 and 1898, Puerto Rico managed to modify colonial rule, abolish slavery and hold its first elections. In 1897 it looked as though the island had managed to shed its Spanish ruler, defining its own terms by which to live. After The Treaty of Paris, however, Puerto Rico was given to the United States. Even now, its inhabitants boast a limited US Citizenship; in the meantime their Puerto Rican citizenship is qualified by their relationship to the United States. And like any number of places in the world (particularly those with a history of subjugation), resources within the commonwealth are limited, just as the population’s general access to the world. Thus, Puerto Ricans have a high migration rate; people leave with an idea of greater opportunities abroad.

What happens to the self when it leaves its place of origin? In Flags a Japanese flag lies next to a New Zealand flag, next to a Belgium flag, next to a North Korean flag—the symbols for national identity seem idiosyncratic and feeble on a ground of dirt trodden by boots and car tracks. Except for those flags, there is no horizon line, and they become equal and abstract, just as the affect of national identity becomes peculiar when separated from its homeland. In Vazquez’s words, “Everyone is from everywhere.” Yet a sense of origin seems necessary, perhaps especially when the individuals to whom it refers are those adrift in a foreign environment.

Which is why it is so important that Vazquez demonstrates possibilities for empowerment. While on the one hand he does not shy away from darker portrayals (Flag is a Cadaver), at the same time he offers gentler works, the cotton ball cloud wedged between a crevice in bark (Cotton), or rows of feather sculptures captured on a
ground of dirt (Feather Rock) which, in the next frame have been striped like the cat in Pépé Le Pieu. Vazquez documents an indirect process whereby he creates a relationship with his environment. In doing so, he locates himself in the world, grounding his relevancy both as an artist and an individual. Nevertheless locating himself is a secondary cause of his original purpose and it is that which, above all else, demonstrates a means for self-discovery. As the adage, “You find yourself when you forget yourself,” Vazquez is most present to his environment when he is focused on the relationships around him. In Ball and Mattress he “found a mattress in the street and then completed the image by adding something to establish a relationship between two bodies. [He] creates something that is already there.” In those acts of intervention, Vazquez makes himself at home in the world. He measures his surroundings, putting particular emphasis on intimate relationships between things; it is those relationships which aid the individual, such that he or she can survive (both physically and psychologically) within the impersonal environment of hierarchy—an environment in which one’s humanity is easily reduced, if not denied altogether.

Vazquez shows this through his use of text—the way it is both something that empowers the individual (Earth) and subjugates the figure (Line that Separed). Text without punctuation resonates with the immigrant living away from a cultural of origin. On the one hand, the reader is free to read the text at his or her own pace. On the other, the text is unfettered, without the locating instructions of grammar. With text, Vazquez demonstrates the experience of power. The text divides the bodies and space it covers. It is something exclusive and inclusive, illustrating negative and positive space at once. A Body to Body reflects positive, negative and neutral aspects of the migratory experience. Just as there is hardship in the expatriate’s life, so too there is exhilaration, curiosity and transformation. There is something exuberant about Territorios; bodies sheathed in flags revel across an open field, arms open, pinnacles against the ground, triumphant. They pattern the field, aware of one another while celebrating the warmth of the sun. In other cases, Vazquez depersonalizes the body further. Passers By and Strollers achieve a parallel course with Migration, creating a visual connection between bodies and cubes. Even those cubes migrate, as demonstrated by the intervening arrows that point like text, whether as direction or illustration.

Just as Vazquez has the power to impose text, imply a directional course, create a sense of absence with outlines, he also manifests the photographed cubes in a three-dimensional context, incorporating their physical presence into the gallery setting. Here his like a magician, conjuring an illusion of space as it was portrayed in an photograph and realizing a true depth of field. Complementing its content, the installation Body to Body has also migrated over the course of its development. “I started working on it in Paris,” said Vazquez, “then Buenos Ares, then Lima, then Puerto Rico.” In each location, the piece has changed, just as an individual is affected by his or her surroundings. And while Vazquez uses text as a tool for empowerment, so he conjures bodies in a distilled, white-cube space. In doing so, Vazquez imposes the idea of foreign bodies into a contemporary art framework, intervening and pressing through the structural history of art. It is a rebellion about boundaries. A rebellion that celebrates the self.

A Body to Body is an exhibit about the individual body navigating various political structures. It is about the relatioship that manifests between individuals, just as it is about the necessary and constant change that occurs in those relationships. Vazquez attributes the same being to objects that he does the human figure, leveling the camera’s gaze—like text, itself a tool of subjugation. A Body to Body captures a series of slippery power dynamics, implying the constant material and political change in our lives; that portrait appeals to everyone. A body that is subject in one instant may, in the next, play tyrant. Text, the camera, or any tool of expression for that matter, can be used to empower or suppress. “We have to be more empathetic towards differences,” because life is ephemeral and because we could at any moment be on either side of a coin. While the context is large, A Body to Body celebrates the individual alongside the space around that individual. In that celebration, Vazquez demonstrates a means of deeper self-knowledge and wisdom, one possible only through the study of others.

posted by Caroline Picard

Newcity published its Best Of 2009 issues and a show curated by Anne Elizabeth Moore featuring print artists from Chicago and Providence was listed in the Top 5 Print Shows of 2009. You can see more of the top five list by going here.

posted by Caroline Picard

Former Volunteer and super-rad-baddass Artist Young Joon Kwak had a conversation with an on-line literary journal, Monsters&Dust. In addition to developing a performative drag practive, Young Joon was also a finalist in the forthcoming reality TV show about emerging artists. In any case, M&D and YJK have a good chat–well worth checking out, both Young’s conversation and some of the other pieces. Contributors include Cass McCombs, Elijah Burger, Becca Mann and several others.

Young’s interview begins as follows:

“I first met Lil’ Elote on my birthday in April 2009, as she crossed the threshhold of my shabby, dark apartment on 17th Street in a candy-striped dress and shiny white pumps, bearing giant helium balloons shaped like butterflies. She was as remarkable for the ways she differed from the form of her alter-ego, my friend and colleague Young Joon Kwak, as she was for the ways she reflected his spirit – witty, generous, warm, sassy, and sincerely strange. What other queen would enter their first drag competition in a celestial jumpsuit, lipsyncing through cake-white makeup and platinum locks over the blaring synthetic beats of Björk’s “Declare Independence,” while audience members screamed their allegiance to the sparkling black pennant of Elotelandia?

“This summer, as Young began to delve deeper into drag, interweaving it with his artistic practice, he also happened upon an opportunity to audition for a new, as-yet-unnamed reality TV show in which artists vie for New York gallery stardom, in a scenario much like the designers on Project Runway. Young made it to the semi-finals, and while we in Chicago rooted for him all the way, we’re glad he is still here with us. Below is our conversation about this time.”

—Aay Preston-Myint for Monsters and Dust

You can read the rest of the link by going here.

Memoirs of a Suburban Shaman

December 24, 2009

posted by Caroline Picard

what follows is an intermediary section of a larger project that links josef beuys to hipster-lost-boys shamanism that i’ve been thinking about

(*the craig smith character is very very loosely based on Maitreya Kali, whose album you can see below)

A sliver of Beuys’ spirit remained at large, having escaped the clutch of the shaman’s drum. That sliver has remained, observing without eyes or memory. A hungry ghost.
Truth be told it was that sliver Beuys’ wished to reclaim when he brought the coyote to  the Motel 6 in 1963–twelve years before he would try again in public.

In April of 1963, Beuys brought with him a jar of reindeer piss, purchased on the Mongolian Steepe. The piss was collected from a reindeer, gone mad. Prior to pissing it had eaten a handful of mushrooms that grew wild. According to custom shamans drank the urine in to induce transcendental states. Occasionally, they sold it to foreigners.
Beuys gave the urine to the coyote. He ingested some himself.
He visited the coyote seven days a week for eight hours each day. Upon the shaman’s instruction, Beuys called to the part of himself that had been missing since the war. The part he lost when he crashed the plane–a piece of innocence he thought he could reclaim.
Through a series of incantantions, Bueys trapped the sliver of his spirit inside of the coyote. He found himself looking at himself, long lost.

Against expectation, the coyote retained the spirit. Refusing to bite Beuys and give his spirit a passage back to its source. Instead it became a wherecoyote. It broke free, sprung out the window, (because it was night it was a window–the light indoors reflected the indoors), the coyote escaped into the night and trotted off until it was forgotten, leaving Beuys to weep on a motel bed abandoned a second time.

(His second attempt to reclaim himself, tried again in 1974, under the auspices of art and “I heart America and America hearts me.”)

Years later the coyote bit a man and through the bite passed the spirit; the spirit did not want to die and the coyote was old and would die shortly. In this new body, the spirit lay quite still.

Like that fellow there:

Craig Smith left the city behind he left it he left it differently. He left the city because he tired of squares; he saw squares around him everywhere. He left the city by living in the city. He changed his name, that his mother would not recognize him. He forgot his name, that he could not be tricked.
He went to a man at the University, a man in a tweed coat. The man looked like a square but was not. The man in the tweed coat taught religion. He grew mushrooms in tupperwear boxes. The professor.

The professor sat his visitor on the chair in his office and they made a deal and they shook hands and the professor said he knew of other countries, countries no one had ever seen before, islands of gypsum dust and silence and possibility.
“It’s curious,” said the professor, “that such continents would have gone so long without ever having been discovered.”
“You’ll show me?” asked our friend.
The professor nodded. “You needn’t go far.”

Our friend: he wore dirty jeans. He had long hair. He had silver and turquoise jewelry on the fingers of his hands. He grew up with cowboys and Indians formed from plastic, he practiced their wildness, switching sides depending on the mood and who’s team he might prefer. He rode a yellow bus to school. He liked girls. He lived in fear of Russians and at school they had the children climb under desks during nuclear attack drills. He grew up in Pittsburgh when the city still hummed with steel, the river beds choked with barges carrying astronomically heavy loads; these he often studied growing up, marveling at their capacity to float. Craig moved to California when the city died.

As an adult, he had never before seen an image of earth from outerspace. He also wore cowboy boots and juju beads. He went to war protests wearing a poncho with a variety of buttons pinned to it.

Craig Smith went to the professor’s house. Because it was chilly out, he wore the poncho. They met by the professor’s garage door and the young man entered the professor’s house through the garage door and shook the professor’s hand; the professor wasn’t wearing a tweed coat anymore.

The professor wore moccassins and a corn meal sac for a shirt. He had war paint under his eyes. He did not say anything at all. He would not say anything. Only pressed the small of the young man’s back, bearing him through the darkness of a foreign room—labarynthian because it was unknown.

The young man lay down on a bed of blankets. He lay down as the professor sat down, and the professor crossed his legs. The professor sat in front of an altar—three cardboard boxes disguised by a tablecloth—five tea candles cast light on the alter. A large mirror behind the alter compounded the light by way of refraction. The room was otherwise dark.

The professor picked up a ball of sage. He lit the ball of sage with the candles and he poured the smoke on himself and blew the smoke over the young man’s body and sang an unecognizable song and then the professor picked a conch shell from the alter and blew sage smoke into the conch shell and sang a song again, a different song.

The professor put down the sage. He put it in an ashtray on the altar, then reached into the conch shell and pulled out the mushrooms and he placed the mushrooms in the young man’s mouth, “Chew these with your front teeth,” the professor said. “This is not food. Use your front teeth.”

The young man chewed. The taste was bitter and dry and he wished he had a bit of honey though he did not gag. When he finished chewing the professor put a mask over his eyes such that the young man could not tell whether his eyes were open or shut.
And then young man waited.

It began with a peculiar zinging sensation.
“Ahhh,” said the professor. “Las ninos. The little chimney sweeps.” It would be the last thing the young man remembered hearing for one hundred years: the duration through which the young man lay.

The zinging sensations persisted. Like electricity shot through the young man’s limbs, from the tips of his fingers the feeling travelled down along his spine, zinging, spitting electrons, little gasps of consciousness, sprung loose and shaking up his body, down to the base of his toes. Uncomfortable, disquieting. The young man was afraid.

Too late too soon. He could not change his mind, could not go back to that faraway suburban drive outside the professor’s garage. The young man could only wait for this journey to pass through him and in the waiting he began to forget himself.
Sounds around him spun. He was in a boat on his back, a canoe in the jungle; he heard the crack of a parrot or a frog, he could not tell which; traveling down a river, passive, gazing up at foliage (imagined) when suddenly the vision would break entirely he would find himself self-concsious, bumping into a dream he’d had the night before but forgotten he wonders is it possible that he really had this dream, and yet surely for it has a substance; it occurs to him that there must exist a real space in his brain, physical compartments, rooms as in a house, where certain things are kept, like the dreams that one thinks they’ve forgotten where instead the dreams remain behind a closed door in one’s head. He knocks on the wall between himself and last night’s dream, playful, but this too is lost. He sees his brain like a doll’s house, a set with one side peeled back, his larger consciousness looking in, watching himself rap on the side of one wall at what he’d dreamt on the other side.

He experiences himself thinking in the present, a present self drawn from the sensation of a cumulative past—one in which the ‘I’ is persistent, continuous; similarly his present self exists with an imagined self projected into and through the future.
He is torn up again. He cannot follow a single thought. His body twitches with the uncomfortable spurs of electric goading that ride his body. He feels like he is falling down a tube. His body twitches involuntarily. Something goosing his insides.
Suddenly consumed with the sensations of his body he coughs, phlegm and spittle. He spits. He hears himself and the sound is ugly. He turns. He tosses. He sweats. He gasps. A monster choking inside of himself. It’s hard to breathe. I am dying, he thinks. This must mean that I am dying. The difference between breath and breathe, desert and dessert. He sees himself suddenly in a desert, walking beneath the sun, skin scorched, spluttering and mad with dehydration, pain.

He feels the professor next to him. He feels a hand on his forehead. The hand is cool and dry. He feels his skin draining the coolness. He splutters again. The professor’s hand pulls away and the young man cries out. He feels hands again, pulling down the covers, opening the buttons on his shirt; the young man helpless feels his bare chest exposed suddenly, he falls limp, cold, dead, certainly dead This is what it is at last at last at last.

Hands on his chest suddenly, over his heart he smells something—
“Craig,” the professor says gently. “Craig, I am about to put a balm on your chest. A powder. Chili and garlic and tobacco. I am opening your chest. Let the medecine ride through you.” The professor takes a bit of the powder, he rubs it in his hands, he rubs his hands very quickly together, he sounds not like the professor, but like a shaman, a psychic massoos and the young man’s heart has gone limp, “This is good,” the professor says, “as it should be. The death of the ego everyone must die.” The professor puts his hands on the young man’s heart and—

Craig Smith feels heat, at first soft and then stronger and stronger and more and more fierce, the young man gasps again he moans, yells, certainly alive certainly, the energy of the professor’s hands on his heart, the young man sees/feels his chest open, he feels his whole heart open up, spread wide, in two—almost painful—Craig gasps, wheezes, practically ecstatic—he feels the universe pouring into his chest, he feels himself connected. He would later describe it as something sexual. But it wasn’t quite like that at all.

And thereafter, the young man began to dream,


He rode a ship and on the ship he sat with his father on the rocking ship and his father gave him a small toy horse, a black one, and told the story of Bucephalus, and his father made him happy on the rocking ship where he happened to place cubes of sugar at the round window of a mouth

(visions are truncated–perplexed–repetitive–incomplete–out of order–happening at once)
When the ship struck an iceberg and the ship began to sink and the man felt himself a boy, for upon the death and drowning of his father he felt himself a boy, as one left alone, save for the horse—

—who drug dragged drug him to an island upon which he awoke with a spider on his face, a spider he could not see. He could not remember his name. The sand on the island was white. It was not gypsum it was still sand.

The boy lay on the beach on his back looking at the sky, every so often he tasted the sea for its tide pulled up and over and then off him like a perpetually moving blanket. He was not cold. Everything was very quiet.

He had surely died.
He never expected heaven to be like this: a lonely tropical island.
He stood up, unsteady. He wobbled. Like a colt learning to walk again.
He saw the black horse. It stomped its feet.
It stomped at the snake that tried to eat the sleeping boy.

Save for the horse, the boy was more or less alone on the island. Save for the rocks and the grass. And the boy learned to rub grass together very quickly. He learned to make fire from nothing. He fished using a stick and the pocket knife his father had left him. He explored the island. He found caves and crags. The boy went inside the caves, searching through the dark, using a torch he’d fashioned from hair stolen from the horse—collected from rocks and trees upon which the horse had rubbed himself. The boy took his torch into the darkest cave on the island and he climbed into the cave and he traveled for days through the darkness; there he found a room and under the dim light of his torch he saw ancient paintings. Paintings of horses, crude and elemental in the light.

He understood, somehow, Craig the young man understood these drawings. Completed by other young boys like himself. They were drawn along the pitch of a heros journey—the boy could see himself in the paintnigs left behind. They were never meant to be seen. The boy put his hand on one of the figures in the painting: a horse left in blood beside a handprint the size of his own. The boy closed his eyes with his hands on the horse and he saw into the past.

The boy who left the drawing there came here on a journey. He ate mushrooms grown in a tupperwear box and his teacher left him at the mouth of the cave and the boy traveled into the interior space of the cave and found his way, through a cloak of visions, to this very spot where the boy, apriori, drew the horse, before returning again to his teacher, a man.

Craig could remember, almost, if memory is like a sensory feeling of nearly grasping something palpable—Craig could almost remember hearing something about this on late tv. Was it? That cave paintings were created on shamanic visions, drawn in inaccessible places. Treacherous to achieve, possible only when one pierced reality with the second sight of lucid and psychadelic dreams.

He felt suddenly the intruder, suddenly not the boy at all, but another man in the same cave in the darkness, scaring the boy, stealing somethng from the boy, the boy looked at Craig with contempt the boy looked through Craig Smith and then Craig Smith lost his name and then he felt a sliver of an old man steal into his heart, caught in the cross fire of a prism,  the man formerly known as Craig Smith swallowed Josef Beuys.

and woke up on a beach again.

and woke up on a ship again.

and saw the men grappling the black horse again. He felt nauseous. He vomited. He had an erection. He saw only darkness.

He saw, suddenly, a woman riding a horse off a diving board. She drove the horse through the air and into a very small glass of water. He turned away before they landed, but he heard the splash.

He looked at the sky which was smaller than the widness of the sky and he looked at the sky full of stars and realized that some stars could only be seen with his peripheral vision. He was confounded by the periphery of his vision.

He woke up, his hands wobbly to look at. He woke up and looked into the professor’s wobbly face.

“How are you?” asked the professor.

“I don’t know myself.”

“Here. Eat this fruit. And drink this water. And rest awhile.”

Following months: In order to better understand himself he had a spider tatooed on his face. He changed his name. He called himself Maitreya Kali. He was a new man a new man a new man a new man.

A man with a sliver of Beuys inside him, staring out his eyes.

posted by Caroline Picard

You can hear an excerpt from Terri’s book, “So Much Better,” what was read at Women & Children First!

posted by Caroline Picar

you can see a clip from the reading on youtube!

posted by Caroline Picard

You can see Ashley reading a section of her book, Fascia, below–

posted by Caroline Picard

This came out in last week’s NewCity. It’s a great article talking about the DIY practice here in Chicago, what it’s been up to these last weeks and all of that. In any case, it’s worth checking out, I think–

Go here to read the whole thing….

Dec 01

At Zeroes End: Art in Chicago, 2000–2009

By Jason Foumberg

Jin Lee, "Ice 2," 2008. Courtesy devening projects + editions, ChicagoJin Lee, “Ice 2,” 2008. Courtesy devening projects + editions, Chicago

Art is long, but institutional memory is short. In many ways, Chicago’s art history is written as it occurs, in situ, by the people who produce it. Artists toil in their studios, heads-down. Apartment galleries open and close as briskly as the seasons change. We consume one-night-only events by the half-dozen, like so many bottles of free Grolsch beer. Even as new art blogs proliferate, with more scenes being represented than ever before, the snapshot commentary and weekly content often feels dated by week’s end. And yet, paintings aren’t bubblegum summer jams; they’re codified slabs of culture, philosophy and style. We seek dialogue, inspiration and long-term change. In short, we seek longevity, with lasting importance for our work and our peers’—but who has time to write contemporary history while we’re in the midst of making it?

That said, Chicago loves its art history. Outsiders, Imagists, Modernists and firebrands—memorize their precepts and you’re halfway to an MFA degree (however, please don’t leave Chicago once you earn the other half). Our traditions always feel in danger of becoming tinder for the next great fire, so we hand-cobble our history and share the stories orally like a rite of passage. This is to our strength and our detriment. History is our bind. We don’t trash Paschke or cold-shoulder Mies because we’ve worked so hard to carry their legacies. In many global art centers, successive generations of artists break with the past like rebellious teenagers, but Chicagoans do not. Here, innovation comes from influence and education. Doing otherwise, it would feel as if the whole thing could unravel.

As we approach the end of the century’s first decade, it’s time to take census of our situation. Sure, it’s an arbitrary range of numbered years, but such evocative images transpire when we speak of eras, like the twenties or the sixties, and although it’s undecided how we’ll finally refer to this special decade (the naughts? the zeroes? the twenty-first century’s toilet-training years?), the task of reflection is at hand. Somehow we survived the Y2K catastrophe (perhaps belatedly realized on 9/11), and thankfully computer art didn’t take hold in the ways that it threatened (my avatar didn’t sell a single pixilated painting in his Second Life apartment gallery) so where are we now? Ten years older, who are we? Are we struggling with a new -ism? Does a collective yearning animate our desires?

posted by Caroline Picard

This was published a few weeks ago in the weekend redeye…..Go here to read the whole thing.

Roommates turn Logan Square apartment into art gallery

Mike Hines on 11.06.09 | 7 comments // |
art.jpgArt Institute graduate students Katherine Pill, 26 (right), and Francesca Wilmott, 24, operate the Concertina Gallery out of their own apartment. Brian J. Morowczynski for RedEye

By Ryan Smith
For RedEye

Most curators don’t make a habit of sleeping next to their exhibits, but Katherine Pill and Francesca Wilmott wake up to their art every morning.

When the roommates take a few steps out of their bedrooms and beyond the kitchen of their second-floor apartment, they enter a living and dining room virtually devoid of furniture.

Where a table and chairs might normally sit, a few colorful, spherical objects are carefully arranged on the hardwood floor. And on the wall, where you might normally find framed family photos, there hang a volcano made of denim and a computer-generated image of faceless sheep floating in a dream world.