Where did we ever get the strange idea that nature—as opposed to culture—is ahistorical and timeless? We are far too impressed by our own cleverness and self-consciousness… We need to stop telling ourselves the same old anthropocentric bedtime stories.
—Steve Shaviro, Doom Patrols 
Tell it to the Birds is an interactive project by Chicago-based artist and activist Jenny Kendler in collaboration with her software developer husband, Brian Kirkbride. Created as Artist-in-Residen... [more]
On Saturday I go to the granite steps of the MCA with several hundred others for Chicago Artists Group Portrait, 2015. The weather’s kinda perfect: sunny, with big cadillacs of clouds rolling by every couple minutes to keep us cool. Down front Jason Lazarus, dressed all in white and holding a megaphone, paces, checks the time.
Jason’s an artist/educator/proselytizer of collective action, a well-known/liked artist about town. We’re all here to become history, to legitimize our self-definitions, to e... [more]
In experiencing elsetime, Ellen Rothenberg’s solo exhibition at Sector 2337, there’s a moment when you realize that you’re not going to get any answers. Nothing conclusive, that is. Rothenberg’s approach to making—performative, research-based explorations of personal/political history—has no time for neat folding-up. The plethora of media on display—ranging in scale from large lean-tos to shifting photocopies of books—all of these give the impression of... [more]
Gabriel Sierra creates structures of relation, platforms where humans, architecture, and paper media collaborate on the creation of artworks. His current exhibition at the Renaissance Society—the first solo exhibition in the United States for the Bogotá-based artist—is a scatter piece of sculptures, rules, and relationships in which 14 constructions, mostly in modernistically white plywood, lie on the gallery floor. They look at first like a kind of stern minimalism in the Ren&rsqu... [more]
Stratospheres of experience have been described in art since the early narratives of heaven and earth. Since Biblical cosmology, our understanding of time and place has been oriented according to predetermined concepts of measure—even time is an invented unit. But how do we measure the intangible? In a system where contemporary art is increasingly judged by scale, how do we quantify the poetics of experience?
Robert Morris, Portal, 1964. Collection of the MCA Chicago, gift of Mrs. Robert... [more]
I take a night train to Milwaukee with an overloaded shoulder bag, a bottle and a half of red wine in me, and full of hope. On the way north I reread articles on the great artist migration from big cities to bankrupt ones, to the exurbs—be born rich or move to Detroit/Cleveland/Jersey City/Belleville. Or Milwaukee, where I’d be staying at The Pfister Hotel for a pop-up arts symposium on empowering the local arts scene, the whole affair orchestrated by Niki Johnson, the hotel’s artist... [more]
It was once common to assume that artists avoid participating in the corporate world—presuming that the art world is separated from the rest, with utopian and improbable ideals. However, the dividing line between an artist and a businessperson has never been that clear, and it's only becoming more complicated. Creativity used to be seen as something unique to artists and designers, but recently—with the “new economy” and a restructured labor market—creativity is considered n... [more]
Approaching Archibald J. Motley Jr.’s traveling retrospective, currently on view at the Chicago Cultural Center, one can hear strains of jazz carrying down the Grand Staircase. The music pipes through a ceiling speaker in the brightly lit hall that’s meant to prepare and inform the viewer with a timeline of the painter’s life on one wall, a collection of his quotes on the other. And then one steps through, into the exhibition room itself—and all those nice little atmospheric... [more]
As an SAIC alum, my newsfeed has been abuzz the past week with artists and writers decrying the honorary doctorate Kanye West told France’s Clique TV that he would be receiving this coming May. Last night, it was made official with a statement released by SAIC. Other honorees include legendary Chicago gallerist, Rhona Hoffman, artist/donor Janet Neiman, and German painter Albert Oehlen who will be the commencement speaker. Walter E. Massey, President of the School of the Art Institute of Chic... [more]
Internationally acclaimed artist Doris Salcedo opened her first US museum retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (MCA) last week to great anticipation: Latin Americanists had been anxiously awaiting the opening of the Bogotá-born artist’s survey, and it seemed all of Chicago was enthusiastic as well. Co-curated by MCA Director Madeleine Grynsztejn, Curator Julie Rodrigues Widholm, and with assistance from Steven L. Bridges, the exhibition presents Salcedo’s lar... [more]
Danny Volk talks to artists in their studios about life and art—while they do his make-up. This concept was a new one for us, and, unsurprisingly, it produces some unique moments: see artists like Theaster Gates, Pope.L, and Jessica Stockholder working in their studios as you've never seen them before.
Revisit Season 1 as we anticipate the all-new Made-Up Season 2, to be released this Spring on ArtSlant.
This week: artist Zachary Harvey and host Danny Volk dress up as cowboys.
The ways by which men arrive at knowledge of the celestial things are hardly less wonderful than the nature of these things themselves.
Walking down Franklin Boulevard in Chicago’s Garfield Park, an otherwise nondescript bungalow stands out because of the strange, multicolored rock jutting out of its front yard; this object—like a meteor from a sci-fi B movie—hovers over 10 feet above the ground, mounted on a long metal pole. It marks the beginning of... [more]
I had a dream a couple years ago in which a new, previously unknown continent was discovered on Earth. The knowledge entered my consciousness first like the ambient news of a radio dispatch. It was an impersonal knowledge, born through the slippery medium of dream space, the source of the transmission overlooked as my dream self wondered instead about the profound consequence such a discovery might have on the rest of humankind. The next thing I remember is that I stood on the ground of the new coun... [more]
“Falling, rushing, ruining! buried in the ruins, on Urthona's dens”
– William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, 1790-1793.
Icarus’ father Daedalus made him wings and warned him not to fly too close to the sun. But Icarus, ecstatic with the ability to fly, forgot his father’s caution—the feathers came loose and Icarus descended to his death in the sea. This Greek myth can be literally interpreted as the human desire to overcome his or her limits. In psycholog... [more]
I’m not sure exactly what Jon Savage meant when he referred to “Bowie victims” in his book about the birth of punk rock, England’s Dreaming, but ever since I read that phrase it stuck with me. In a way I identified with it—being a big David Bowie adherent—and didn’t necessarily consider it as a derogatory term. I figure he meant teens obsessed with Bowie, the young androgynes with their flared high waters and platform boots, teased mullets and green eye m... [more]
Art Fair Musical: Setting the Stage for IN/SITU at EXPO CHICAGO
As exhibitors and artists ready their productions for EXPO CHICAGO, Caroline Picard introduces this year's IN/SITU works.
As Chicago approaches the four day run of its annual art fair, the art world becomes increasingly animated with preparations. This is the moment backstage of an as-yet empty auditorium; red carpets are cleaned one last time as painters touch up their back drops and technicians in... [more]