Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Screenprinting with dirt!

I used a mosquito-screen from a window, some dirt, a piece of wood for squeegee, and the stencil was made from matt-board.

The stencil and the design is inspired by the crop-circle phenomenon in Europe and around the world. The crop-circles can be very complex and beautiful with geometric shapes. This phenomenon was brought to the bigscreen with Signs, with Mel Gibson. You can go to and look at some photos & info.

Keep your Art to Yourself?

In our discussions about alternate audiences for art, one thing we've considered is the idea that "social space" can be an intimate, specific gesture or a broader one aimed at a more generalized audience. As Justine, Tim, and several others have figured out as their projects develop, creating work for "the public" can be tricky: just because an audience has visual access to the work doesn't mean that they will feel any less alienated or irritated by it than work in a gallery space. They may, in fact, find it more so.

Along these lines, I came across several recent news articles of interest: Turning Cities into Art Galleries points out the changing role and pertinent questions facing big-budget public art as it shifts from basic monuments and 'beautification' (a problematic term when dealing with any audience) toward more difficult and sometimes uncomfortable disruptions of the everyday. Though now a widely respected public monument, Maya Lin's famous Vietnam Veteran's Memorial was the focus of intense controversy among Vietnam vets in particular when it was first installed. Richard Serra's Federal Plaza Tilted Arc was not so fortunate. The $175,000 installation was eventually torn down due to intense public outcry. Eegh. (more on that story for those who are interested)

For those of you interested in street art, One Person's Vandalism is Another's Art defines some differences between traditional graffiti and more recent trends in street art, as well as some of the ways that the language of street art is being coopted by advertisers and even political campaigns... and more interestingly, the backlash against street art (and against street art-esque advertising) by other artists, leading back again to similar questions of audience. Should artists keep their art "to themselves," within sanctioned venues? Are there other, perhaps more interesting ways to engage the boundaries of place/space/audience? There are certainly worthwhile arguments both for and against this stance, and I'd be interested to hear your opinions.

Finally, I just learned that New York has recently adopted some of Chicago's stringent anti-graffiti laws, leading to crackdowns on such ephemeral incursions as sidewalk chalking (including this infamous case) as well as a ban on carrying spray paint and wedge-tip markers by people under 21.

Comments? Other links? Images? I'm curious to hear any of your thoughts on the topic, as well as some interesting examples of artists working with less generally "public" (i.e. more specific) approaches to audience, if you can find some.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Projet Mobilivre / Bookmobile Project is (was) a traveling exhibition featuring zines, artist books and a variety of independent publications. Working out of a vintage Airstream trailer, re-designed by the NY-based Freecell collective, this exhibition operated from 2001-2006. Combining independent media, grassroots political activism and community outreach, the exhibition travelled to sites throughout the US and Canada in an effort to move beyond the boundaries of tradional art circles and offer an alternative to the mainstream media. During the tours, volunteers collaborated with libraries, community centers and other host sites to present workshops, lectures and screenings to visitors from every conceivable background. Sadly, the Bookmobile held its final tour during the summer of 2006. Their website has since been dismantled, but the actual trailer seems to be on sale at this gallery. For further information, Ginger Brooks Takahashi (a volunteer) adds an interesting perspective in this article. Let's hope they bring this one back.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Community Connection

Anna Callahan is a community-based artist who focuses on creating art in public spaces.  Her work evolves from informal interviews she has with strangers that she encounters in a community—such as a university, library, and city transit system.  The conversations are centered around a particular topic respective to those public spaces.  She records all conversations and creates visual and aural installations, which includes printed materials and listening stations to invite people to listen to someone whom they would otherwise never meet.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Here are some pictures from the class trip to Sonnenzimmer. Nadine and Nick were very interesting to speak with. Nick was especially entertaining, leaving me to ponder what it would be like to work with them (or watch them work). I really appreciated the honesty and enthusiasm with which they answered our questions and absolutely loved hanging out in their studio space with all that hardcore printing equiptment.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Felix Gonzalez Torres

The big pile of candy laying on the floor of the Art Institute of Chicago, free for the taking was memorable in my childhood mind. I did not understand why it was art though. I was a bit disturbed to learn the meaning later- that this was Felix Gonzalez Torres' edible representation of his deceased lover, Ross. 175 pounds of candy to start off with- to represent Ross' weight, and then slowly whittled away by people like me, to demonstrate the wasting that occurs to a body affected by AIDS. In a twisted way, I was cannibalizing Ross and contributing to his death.

In 1996 the Cuban-born American artist would succumb to the same disease, six years after Ross had. Though he wasn't active on the art scene for long, his quiet introspective pieces have formed a lasting impression on his audience. His work can be seen as a meditation on his own mortality, relying on audience interaction, and dealing with the unsettling themes of loss, absence, and void.

Learn More about Torres

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Harrell Fletcher

Born in Santa Maria, California 1967
Lives and works in Portland, Oregon
Studied at San Francisco Art Institute (B.F.A., 1990) and California College of Arts and Crafts, (M.F.A., 1994)
For over ten years Fletcher has worked collaboratively and individually on interdisciplinary, site-specific projects exploring the dynamics of
social spaces and communities. Along with this work he has developed a series of more personal and idiosyncratic pieces that take various forms - drawings, prints, writings, events, videos, and sculptural pieces.
 Fletcher embraces socialist ideas about the way we could live. He chooses to focus on subject matters that contains a participatory element or activist mentality. Relational aesthetics is a term used to describe works that are collective activities or art about social relationships. And engagement is at the core of relational aesthetics, and as Fletcher has said, it is "a requirement" for pieces to be successful.

The learning to love you more website requests the submission of life stories to learn about strangers and neighbors. The title of Learning to Love You More is meant that the love between the participants exists prior the assignments being posted.  So its the "love" that drives the assignments in which creative actions take place, and communities organize together.

Assignment #9
Draw a constellation from someone's freckles.
Connect a series of freckles, moles and/or birthmarks on someone's body using a ball point pen. The shape that is formed can be abstract or representational. Draw this on someone else, not yourself.
Every submission must include the following: NAME (as you'd like it to appear on the website) and LOCATION (where you are from). Submissions missing these details will not be posted.

D O C U M E N T A T I O N >
Take a close up picture of the freckle constellation you have drawn. Make sure the picture is in focus. Use the name of the person that you did the drawing on as the title for your piece, for example "Mandy's Arm Constellation." When you accept the assignment, please be sure to include your name and where you live.
Send us your work using either our UPLOAD PAGE or via emailEMAIL .

Sakevi Yokoyama

Sakevi Yokoyama (19??-Present) has published little information about himself. He was most well known for a band represented by the acronym G.I.S.M. in the early 80's that functioned as a bristling social scraping of the fluffy 1980's sense of growth and whitewashing that covered up so much turbulent history. Borrowing imagery from Japan's period of alliance with Nazi Germany through the Japanese diaspora, bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and international sectarian violence of the 70's, Sakevi began winding a graphic identity of unrest and sickness. His live performances were done clad in military attire, balaclavas and brandished fists. He inspired violence at his shows and grew uneasy when the crowd was passive, so the band began to lash out further. Throwing mic stands, fighting the audience and eventually graduating to lashing a lit acetylene torch into the front rows of the theatre were his means of pulling any semblance of comfort out from the young demographic which attended his show. Other bands were inspired by his violence, such as Hanatarashi, fronted by Yamantanka Eye. Eye roadied for a fairly wild dystopian avante-guarde band called Einst├╝rzende Neubauten. He borrowed elements of the avante-guarde performance with Sakevi's anti-glam-punk aesthetic and message of upheaval, literally driving a bulldozer through the stage and venue as the rest of the band and audience watched in terror.

Sakevi's art was not only performative, he was a fantastic printer and generated the image of G.I.S.M., shielding it from punk bootleggers by swearing physical harm to anyone copying his prints (which was backed up). Posters and flyers did not advertise necessarily the band, but the prevailing dictated anarchronistic and ahistorical fable of success Japan was exhibiting. Directing videos featuring his printed works interlaced with Vietnam War footage. A series of zines interviewing coroners, avante-guarde artists, terrorists, and Japanese hardcore bands.

He continued printing this after his label and the band G.I.S.M. stopped generating music. He created one solo work under the acronym "S.K.V." and then began his printing career under the title of "stlTH."

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Philip Matesic uses public space and social engagement in his work. He received his MFA in Studio Arts- Sculpture from UIC in 2008. Many of you probably know him, but if you haven't taken the time to do so it is definitely worth it to check out his website (just click his name it will take you there). It's interesting to see how he works with social space, and maybe looking at his work will spark some ideas for our class. If not, it's still worth it to take a look.

Monday, April 6, 2009

You Go Girl!

The Women of Pink Bloque

Pink Bloque is a collaboration of women from Chicago who use public space and performance to engage their audience. They encourage people to dance along with them in an effort to illuminate their causes that range from anti-war protests to rape awareness. These women use the print medium, such as flyers and banners, to aid their visual performances. The flyers have informatioin reguarding the issues they are protesting and provide a residual multiple for people to remember them by. They use multiples in this way and in the manner of their performances, as the group is made up of about 20 or more women at any given time. By using sounds, images and language of contemporary popular culture, Pink Bloque attempts to redefine and femminize protest in the 21st century.