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Friday, November 06, 2009

Silver Ticket Project: Help Wanted

Saturday November 21st, 7-10pm

With unemployment numbers at 8.8% in New York City and topping 10% nationally, laid off workers are turning to their passions to find more meaningful work. Artist Erik Fabian wants to help, and luckily the Silver Ticket Project is hiring!

Join Erik Fabian, at the Open Space Gallery on Saturday, November 21st, from 7-10pm, for a performance constructed and delivered by fully paid labor. Erik asks the audience to consider the value of artistic labor in the midst of a once-in-a-lifetime economic crisis.

Open Source Gallery
255 17th street
between 5th and 6th Ave (street level) in South Slope, Brooklyn

Friday, August 07, 2009

Low Lives tomorrow...

Please join us for a evening of live online performances...I present at 7:45pm ET.

View my performance at:

Low Lives

Curated by Jorge Rojas

Saturday, August 8, 2009 from 6 to 9 p.m. (EST)

Low Lives is an exhibition of live performance-based works transmitted via the internet and projected in real time at three venues throughout the U.S.- FiveMyles, Brooklyn; Diaspora Vibe Gallery, Miami; and labotanica, Houston in partnership with Project Row Houses (5 – 8 pm in Houston).

Artists include Abby Donovan; Adam Trowbridge; Amanda Alfieri; Bishop Bishop; Carlos Rodal; Carol & Jonas Pereira-Olson; Carolina Vasquez & Bethan Marlow; Caroline Boileau; Danielle Abrams; Denise Prince; Eden Mazer & Rachel Frank; ErikAndTheAnimals; Eseohe Arhebamen / edoheart; Flounder Lee; Franko B; Fred Koenig; Genevieve Erin O'Brien; Igor Josifov; Inge Hoonte & Michelle Tupko; Javier A. Lara, Rose DiSalvo, Chris; Jeanne Jo; Joe Nanashe; Johanna Reich; Kelly Kleinschrodt; Kenya (Robinson); Mark L. Stafford; Profesor Bazuco; Robert Crosse; Rosamond S. King; Rotliebend: Johanna Bruckner & Melissa Steckbauer; Sergio Lamanna; Y. E. Torres (ms.YET) & Sandy Ewen.

FiveMyles: 558 St. Johns Place, Brooklyn

Diaspora Vibe Gallery: 3938 North Miami Ave, Miami

Labotanica at Project Row Houses: 2521 Holman, Houston (5 – 8 pm)

Diaspora Vibe Gallery’s Off the Wall Experimental Series funded in part by Funding Arts Network (FAN)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

4 week performance workshop

Wanted Performers & Artists

Hello all,

I have access to some studio time in August in Manhattan and would like to bring together a group people to workshop new performance ideas. We will create performance together and explore various ways of making solo and group performance using content generated by the participants.

I will run the workshop using devised theater strategies (ala Goat Island or Forced Entertainment), theater games, improv, and performance art approaches (durational/conceptual actions, etc). Participants will come away with new performance ideas, new approaches for collaborating, and some new art buddies.

Participants are asked to contribute $20/each, to commit to all meeting dates (3 hrs/week), to be on time (!!!!), and to do some homework/research between meetings.

Experience preferred but not necessary. Theater, dance, performance art, visual art…whatever.

Should be at least 21 yrs old.

Bravery, openness, commitment, and generosity required.

Send me a short paragraph about yourself and why you want to take part.

Links to your online resume or portfolio are welcome but please no attachments.

info [at] erikandtheanimals [dot] com

Workshop Dates:
Tuesday evenings – August 4th, 11th, 18th, & 25th.

Feel free to forward this on.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Performing @ The Salon Series

Live Arts Collaboration

Together with

The Performance Project @ University Settlement


The Salon Series

March 30th 2009

At 184 Eldridge Street (at Rivington Street) 2nd Floor

Please join Live Arts Collaboration on Monday, March 30th from 7-9 pm for the first part of their innovative Salon Series, now in its third season.

Through an exciting partnership with The Performance Project @ University Settlement, five artists will present excerpts of their work, including two exciting composers, Laura Koplewitz and Tony Maestrone, a wonderful choreographer, Sarae Garcia, a very talented filmmaker, Janusz Jaworski, and an excellent performance artist, Erik Fabian. Following the presentations, there will be a short moderated panel discussion and a wine reception.

The salons are free, informal, and a great opportunity to meet new artists. LAC's audiences are as dynamic as their presenters and you never know next to whom you might sit. It could be an artist whose work you have admired for years or someone who is about to become your biggest fan.

The main goal of The Salon Series is to unwrap the creative process by introducing artists from different disciplines to one another. Each evening, 5 artists selected from across all disciplines share samples of their work, illuminate their process, and seek out collaboration, conversation and connection.

About the Presentations:

Laura Koplewitz (Composer) Laura will present a work-in-progress for violin and orchestra, and also discuss her explorations of interdisciplinary work with environmentalists/scientists, exploring concepts that have been shared on creative conceptualization of 'time and flow' over marked periodicity, as a means of finding a common dialogue among artists and scientists.

Sarae Garcia (Dancer/Choreographer) will present a piece titled "Exile" with music by Sergei Rachmaninof.

Janusz Jaworski (Filmmaker) will present an excerpt of "a measure of silence." This ten film series was shot on Super-8 black and white film and then transferred to digital video for editing. Commissioned by New Dance Alliance in 2008 for presentation in 2009, it premiered over two weeks, with one film being shown each night of the Performance Mix Festival (February/March 2009).

Tony Maestrone (Composer) will present an excerpt of his rock musical, “Death of a Hipster.” In its embryonic stage, this piece is loosely based on Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”, set in an artist’s loft in Brooklyn. Sex, drugs, and rock and roll with a little bit of death (both metaphorical and real) thrown in for good measure.

Erik Fabian (Performance Artist) will be presenting excerpts from “An introduction to midnight gardening.” "Midnight gardening" is the term used to describe the act of protecting valuables by burial. Often practiced at night, in one's backyard, when the cover of darkness obscures the act of burial from curious neighbors.

About Live Arts Collaboration:

The mission of the Live Arts Collaboration (LAC) is to foster collaborative projects among artists in various disciplines by creating and supporting work designed both to develop new audiences and to document the process of collaboration. As a non-profit dedicated to live performances, the LAC will act as a resource and network for artists. By advising artists throughout the creative process and helping artists understand the challenges of collaboration and the artistic language of their media, the primary goal of the LAC is to bring the live arts back into the forefront of American culture.

Through the LAC Salon Series, we hope to create a formal network of talented artists who are clear in their intentions, accessible to audiences, and take ownership of introducing audiences to their work, demonstrating longevity with delivering powerful, compelled and varied art.

About the Presenting Artists:

Laura Koplewitz (Composer) is a chamber and orchestral composer living in NYC / Vermont, whose work is in the American and French traditions, her influences are Ravel, Debussy, Copland, V. Williams, Barber. She has written on commission from Jaime Laredo (Vermont Symphony), a violin concerto for the concertmaster of the Boston Philharmonic, Joanna Kurkowicz, and is in progress of completing a recording project with the Polish National Radio Symphony. Laura has been particularly working in the arena of interdisciplinary collaboration with painters and poets, and has been artist-in-residence at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, scholar-in-residence at the Whiteley Center part of the Friday Harbor Laboratory oceanographic institute of the University of Washington, and most recently Innovator-in-Residence in 2009 with Teal Farm / Living Future, a 'think tank' 1200 acre sustainable living center designed for artists, scholars, and scientists to work together envisioning the future. Laura is an Asst. Prof. on the faculty of Stony Brook University in a Master of Liberal Studies program as well as a working composer.

Sarae Garcia (Dancer/Choregrapher) Born and raised in NYC, Sarae began her training at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center as a scholarship student. She Graduated from Fiorello H. LaGuardia H.S. for the Performing Arts and Music and Art. Received a B.F.A. from New York University; Tisch School of the Arts (Scholarship). Is the recipient of the Helen Tamiris Award and the Arts Recognition Award from the National Endowment for Advancement in the Art's. She has had the privilege of working with choreographers such as Kevin Wynn, Elisa Monte, Eloe Pamare, Abdel R. Salaam, Nathan Trice, and Lisa Rinehart.

Sarae has performed in a variety of Forums such as, the Apollo Theatre- FON, Black Arts Festival- FON, Winter Solstice-Paul Winter, Manhattan Center- Bishop Tutu, and Lincoln Center- Little Orchestra Society. She has also participated on several tours with Forces of Nature Dance Theatre Company fulfilling principles roles.

As the performing Arts Coordinator for the Harlem Children's Zone, Inc., She believes in the power of dance arts and the impact it can have on people on an individual and social scale. Art teaches skills that are applicable to life. Whether it is the skill of strength, coordination, calculation, mental flexibility, imagination, communication, persistence, and discipline, students are taught and encouraged to look at there lives as an artistic expression and to face daily life with the training of a dancer.

Janusz Jaworski (Filmmaker) His paintings, sculptures and photographs have appeared in exhibitions in New York City and Kansas, and are also in private collections scattered around the world. His performance work has been supported through the years by the unsung heroes at Movement Research, The Field, chashama, Dance Theater Workshop, Dixon Place, Joyce SoHo, New Dance Alliance, Williamsburg Arts neXus, and the National Endowment for the Arts. His films have made appearances at more festivals than he's been able to attend. He enjoys collaboration and improvisation. His handmade books hold the thoughts and to-do lists of many creative people. One of his hobbies is writing bios that read like manifestos. He doesn't usually write of himself in the third person. Occasionally, he updates his website: You can comment on his work by emailing “A measure of silence” was made possible, in part, through a grant from the Experimental Television Center with support from the New York State Council on the Arts. A limited edition of 50 DVDs with the complete series is currently available via my website (

Tony Maestrone (Composer) Tony Maestrone received his M.F.A. in acting from Temple University in 1997. He went on to do New York Theater, television, and film. He subsequently quit the business and went on tour with major label recording artist LP, playing over 100 shows a year in every corner of the country. The band’s single, “Wasted”, is the theme song for the Logo Network’s show “South of Nowhere”. Tony stopped touring when the van finally broke down for good. For some reason, he is now writing a rock musical called “Death of a Hipster”.

Erik Fabian (Performance Artist) is an artist working in performance, installation and conceptual art. For several years, in anticipation of the current economic crisis, Erik has been presenting work in marketplace environments that pair performances with simple commodities (like silver bullion) to explore notions of value; how we value art and the experience of performance; and how the perception of value changes during inflationary monetary environments. Erik is a graduate of the Master of Fine Arts program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Panel: Art & Social Media Monday 2/9/09

Hi all,

I am moderating a free, lunch-time panel on Art & Social Media for Social Media Week NYC on Monday.

I would like to invite you to join us if you can, or to help me spread the word if you know someone who might be interested.

Art & Social Media: Beautiful/Critical Comings-Together

Monday (2/9) from 12-2pm

@ the offices of Brand Experience Lab in Soho:
520 Broadway, 5th Floor
New York, NY 10012

More information about the panel is below.




Art & Social Media: Beautiful/Critical Comings-Together

Description: Artists, art administrators and social media pros gather to hash out some of the key opportunities and challenges of mixing art, art institutions, and social media. The panel with present projects that use social media tools and concepts to make and distribute art; to critique and engage the market; and to shift how art is presented to and consumed by the public. We will facilitate a participant driven debate about the possibilities, partnerships, and tensions that exists between art and social media.


Will Cary - Will is the Membership Manager at the Brooklyn Museum. In addition to making sure all Brooklyn Museum Members get the most out of their Membership, he also developed the new 1stfans Membership program in order to grow the Museum's community of supporters. Before joining the Brooklyn Museum in January 2008, Will worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. Will graduated from Williams College with a degree in Art History and Economics.

Jeff Crouse - Jeff is an artist and current fellow at Eyebeam. Jeff creates software and installations that are equal parts humor, absurdity and technology. Jeff's previous work includes YouThreebe, a YouTube triptych creator; Invisible Threads, a virtual jeans factory in Second Life; and James Chimpton, a robotic monkey that interviewed the artists of the 2008 Whitney Biennial. He is currently developing BoozBot, a bar tending robot/puppet; and DeleteCity, a Wordpress plug-in that finds and republishes content that has been taken down from sites such as Flickr and YouTube. His work has been shown at the Sundance Film Festival, the Futuresonic festival in Manchester, UK, the DC FilmFest, and the Come Out and Play Festival in Amsterdam.

Jaki Levy - Jaki is the Founder of Arrow Root Media. He has worked with multiple non-profits, including: The Field, Martha Graham Dance, Dance/USA, Rockaway Waterfront Alliance, Queens Council on the Arts, and Soundstreams. Jaki's initiatives and work with Misnomer Dance Theater helped the company secure over $1.5 million in grants from the Doris Duke Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation to help develop new initiatives for the developing online audiences. He was also the recipient of Cisco's $25,000 Digital Incubator grant.

Erik Fabian (moderator) - Erik provides consulting services for two constituencies: 1) he helps creative, mission-based ventures create a sustainable business foundation for their visions, and 2) he helps brands and marketing companies apply contemporary creative processes to design remarkable experiences for their consumers. Erik is starting a new venture that will bring creative and conscious capitalists together to create new businesses and IP. Erik is also an artist working in performance, installation and conceptual art. His ongoing project, the Silver Ticket Project, explores the value of art during inflationary economic periods. Erik graduated with a Masters of Fine Art degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

My performance times for Bridge Miami

I am performing all over the place at the Bridge Art Fair in Miami this year. Here are some descriptions and the schedule.

"Silver Ticket Project: Sweeten the Deal" - Each day, twice-a-day, artist Erik Fabian will perform ritualistic performance-responses to works by emerging artists in the Orleans Street Gallery at the Catalina hotel. These value-adding performances will critically and playfully respond to selected works at the Orleans Street Gallery to redirect visitor attention that might have otherwise been misallocated due to the recent credit bubble. At 11am, Erik will start each day at the fair with a walking piece that will circle the entire block of the Catalina hotel and arrive in the Orleans Street Gallery (room #223). Later in the afternoon, Erik will perform a second performance in a ritualistic space in the center of the Orleans Street Gallery room (#223) at the Catalina hotel.

"Don't Panic" - To relieve some of the anxiety art patrons may be facing during the current economic crisis, artist Erik Fabian wants to offer a reminder of what credit feels like. Art fair visitors are invited, one-at-a-time, to hold a wad of 1000 one-dollar bills with Erik that have been borrowed from his credit card. Erik is not giving the money away...please don't attempt to steal it, tax it, or deflate its value. Take a moment to pause and consider the relationships that are created when markets and credit freeze.

"Help Wanted" - Flying in the face of soaring unemployment, artist Erik Fabian is hiring. Keep an eye out in the lobbies of the Catalina and Wynwood locations of the Bridge fair where Erik will hire a small group of assistants to help him create and deliver a performance. Together with Erik, you will claim the hotel lobby as a social space for business and old-time deal-making and help consider the value of artistic labor in the midst of a once-in-a-lifetime economic crisis.


I will be at Orleans Street Gallery in rm 223 at the Catalina Hotel @ 11am each day and again at the time of the VIP tours each afternoon:

Thursday for the fair opening from 4-6pm or so.
Friday from 2-4pm
Saturday 1-3pm
Sunday 2-3pm

I plan to present "Don't Panic" at the Wynwood for the press cocktail on Friday from 5-7pm. I might do it again if I see a good time.

"Help Wanted" will be a spontaneous guerrilla hiring-fair in one of the hotel lobbies. Check my twitter posts for updates.

Catalina Hotel
1732 Collins Ave

I will post updates to Twitter at

Thursday, September 04, 2008


The film director Jean Renoir once wrote a letter to Ingrid Bergman, motivated by what I am not quite sure, in which he cautioned the actress against falling for the hype axiomatically attached to the next big thing. “The cult of great ideas is dangerous and may destroy the real basis for great achievements, that is the daily, humble work within the framework of a profession,” Renoir wrote.

“Very few people have this ability to be the great designers and also generate the necessary buzz and excitement,” Ms. Gilhart of Barneys said. “It’s a trap.” So formulated around star-creation right now, she added, that the business may actually be “closing out a lot of opportunities for people who are original and good and who actually have something to say.”

GUY TREBAY,Wanted: Genius Designer, 9/3/08, NY Times

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Precious Metals Market Shifting

I follow the precious metals market as part of my Silver Ticket Project.

There is a shift happening...I see it in that prices of commodities are rising and getting more media coverage. I also see it in the art market as I read reports of wealthy people selling art to cover expenses.

One of my favorite gold bug commentators, Paul Van Eeden, is shifting away from speculation in gold stocks to making bets in rising interest rates. Eeden is basically a value investor...when they exit a market they typically pass momentum investors entering. See some of the following articles and interviews. (This one is pretty amazing as two gold bugs fail to defend their bullish views.)

All of this signals to me a shift towards a more popular engagement in issue of inflation and precious metals.

Friday, June 20, 2008


Gothamist has a feature on the Emergence show out on Governors Island. The article features a photo of my installation: No Rules Governors Island Edition.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Upcoming shows

Hi all,

Got a packed week of performances in NYC and a few ongoing things as well. It is all listed below.

Hope to see you soon.



- On Tuesday, June 10th, Come play foosball for free, for prizes from 7-10pm. I will be announcing the foosball tournament at The Austrian Cultural Forum at the invitation of artist Monika Wührer.

This tournament is part of an art project by Monika Wührer for the "Bread and Soccer" show at The Austrian Cultural Forum. Players who reach the finals will have the opportunity to play against players from the NY Red Bulls.

There will be three tournaments - June 10, July 15, and September 4th, all from 7-10pm.

The Austrian Cultural Forum
11 E 52nd St, just east of 5th Ave.

- On Wednesday, June 11th, I will be presenting a Silver Ticket Project performance for the Jeffrey Boone Gallery at the Affordable Art Fair opening from 6-9pm.

Silver Ticket Sales meetings can be arranged all week in hotels around NYC.

- Friday, June 13th, I will present a short improvisational oratory as a part of the "Raw and The Cooked" series at the Tank.

The Raw and the Cooked is a monthly forum for interdisciplinary improvisation including music, dance, video mixed-media curated by Tatyana Tenenbaum.

The Tank
279 Church St



- No Rules: Governors Island Edition (a porch installation & imagination game)...continues as a part of the Emergence show on Governor's Island until July 26, 2008.

Exhibition Hours: 11:00am – 6:00pm on Saturdays and Sundays Only
Location: Governors Island – Building 14 / Commander’s House

I will be available to play No Rules: Governors Island Edition with people on Sunday, 6/29 & Saturday, 7/26 at 12:30pm.

- Silver Ticket presented as a part of the "5 Years On The Run" show at the Orleans Street Gallery in St. Charles, IL until September 13th.

The Orleans Street Gallery celebrates 5 years of exhibiting contemporary Chicago art with an anniversary exhibition highlighting breakout artists, many of whom, have since exhibited nationally and internationally. Curated by Anni Holm.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Intro to gold site...

There is a lot of information on gold, silver and the precious metals available online. Much of it is coming from a strong Libertarian political and Austrian economics point of view or is trying to sell you some kind of investment product. Unless you want to pay for pure research you have to dig through all of this to get the facts and opinions.

I often feel that the people who are trying to sell something are easier to evaluate because their angle is more transparent.

Here is a good, relatively low politics, gold site that introduces many of the concepts you might find elsewhere on the web.

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Paying taxes with art...

Currently there is a problem with the U.S. tax system. A collector can donate one of their art pieces to a museum and receive a nice tax deduction for the gift, while an artist cannot do the same. The difference is this, the artist (we are talking established artists with a clear market value for their work) that gives an original work to the non-profit art center of their choice would only receive a deduction based on the cost of the materials used in making the work, while the collector can deduct the full market value of the work donated.

Currently artists are not being recognized as a business that adds value to raw materials in the tax code as far a deductions. A bakery that gives away cookies to a homeless shelter can take a full value deduction but not artists. And if your art is a ladybug in a Styrofoam cup then you are out of luck.

In comes Senators Robert Bennett and Patrick Leahy. For years now they have been kicking around Artists' Fair-Market Value Deduction Bills. There is a summary and history on the Americans For The Arts website.

There is also an brief interview with Senator Patrick Leahy on NPR's All Things Considered about this issue.

I am curious to hear how this develops.

So why is this relevant to a consideration of value? What does it matter if the government acknowledges the value of an art work? Can't we trust the marketplace in this matter?

The issue here is not just one of fairness within the legal system but also one of definition of value.

Clearly artist's add value to materials with their time, skill and knowledge, but how do you measure it?

If the production of an artist, who has been verified in the past by the market as a viable business, is unable to get an acknowledgement of fair market value for their work from the government, then either the government or the market is mispricing real goods and distorting reality.

Which is it?

And whoever is in the wrong here, whether market or government, can we trust their capacity to properly value other real goods like food, oil, or consumer goods?

This gap is created by concern that people might interpret the definition of art in a way that allows them to dodge taxes, but that is the problem isn't it - that is difficult to pin down the value of an artwork because much of an artwork's value lies in it openness to interpretation.

Perhaps a better question is: does the government or the market misprice art less?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Irrational Pricing

One of the important arguments in economics/finance is whether markets are rational. In other words in a big, liquid and transparent market such as the U.S. stock market does the current price equal so kind of true value. Of course even the U.S. stock market is not fully transparent which complicates the circumstance.

The fine art market is less liquid and transparent. Prices are set by a smaller number of artist, dealers and collectors who may make pricing decisions based on other issues...such as the dealer that buy the work of their own artist at an auction just to keep the price aloft among an otherwise uninterested group of buyers.

There is an interesting interview with a behavioral economist named Dan Ariely on NPR that looks at how a variety of other elements can influence pricing.



Bees & Bats & counting...

These bats, with their White Nose Syndrome, reminds me of the bees and their Colony Collapse Disorder. What ever happened to the bee story?

NYTimes article: Bats Perish, and No One Knows Why

Sad to see so many little critters die. Is it fear mongering in a time when people are on edge about the economy/climate change/terrorism/etc to make this such a big story?

Seems the scary thing is that it is another unexplained event. We don't have an answer or control. And in specific sense it is another uncontrollable force that may have an impact on the food supply in the near future and raise food costs even higher...following the logic that bats eat bugs which if left unchecked will hamper food production.


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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Guest Review - Chris Roberts: Tino Sehgal's "Kiss" MCA Chicago

Tino Sehgal – Kiss – Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
October 7 – December 30, 2007

The German artist Tino Sehgal intervenes the fourth floor exhibit, Collection Highlights at the MCA, with an aggressive performance art piece titled Kiss, creating an atmosphere of both lust and awkwardness. Taking its cue from conceptual art and twisting it with art historical references, Sehgal choreographs two dancers to assume slow moving kisses that require adequate stamina from the participants and tolerance from the museums visitors. Onlookers are bewildered as to what is taking place, questioning the couple’s morality as to their public displays of affection, and the appropriateness of the quarters. This creates a great tension between the performers and that of the spectators, which mirrors the performer’s actions between them.

Kiss succeeds in its eagerness to engage an unsuspecting audience, whose onlookers stumble on the performance like an accident, and continue to gawk in amazement as they pass by, trying not to look, but compelled to continue. With no formal announcement that the piece is taking place, Kiss sends out no message, yet leaves one questioning its own preconceived notions of what is a proper display of affection.

Review by Chris Roberts

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Saturday, December 01, 2007

Bridge Art Fair Miami

The Orleans St. Gallery will have my Silver Tickets for sale during the Bridge Art Fair in Miami next week.

I will also be performing during the opening reception and professional preview in their room at the Catalina Hotel.

Bridge Art Fair Miami
December 6-9, 2007
The Catalina Hotel and Beach Club
1732 Collins Avenue
Miami, FL., 33139

Come by and say hello.


Thursday, November 08, 2007

Redo of Allan Kaprow’s "18 Happenings in 6 Parts (Re-doing)" @ PERFORMA 07, Deitch Studios, NYC

I caught the 8pm performance of Allan Kaprow’s “18 Happenings in 6 Parts (Re-doing)” at Deitch Studios in Long Island City last night. This redo of Kaprow’s seminal work was directed by André Lepecki and presented as a part of the PERFORMA07 Biennial of New Visual Art Performance.

According to the PERFORMA website:

18 Happenings in 6 Parts was first performed in the Fall of 1959, at the Reuben Gallery in New York City. After a few performances, it was never shown again. Today, it is considered one of the major turning points in the history of performance and visual arts. In 2006, a few weeks before his death, Kaprow authorized a re-doing of the piece based on the dozens of original pages of music and movement scores, notes, drawings, writings, and drafts he had created in the summer and fall of 1959. The re-doing was presented on the occasion of a major exhibition of Kaprow's work at Haus der Kunst, Munich, in the Fall of 2006.

I was excited to go see an attempt to resurrect a bit of performance art history. I have always felt a bit befuddled by the photos of this event and wasn’t too concerned about possible misrepresentation of the original. The program makes pains to clarify that this is not an attempt to display a relic of the past but more to find fresh inspiration from the idea and notes. This redo’s follows the series of redo of seminal performance works as reconceived by Marina Abramovich at the last PERFORMA biennial in 2006.

I get the sense there is a desire in both the performance historians and the remaining living artists of that era to claim their historic stake in the art history books with these redo’s. There also seems to be some audience education going on here. And of course it brings up the issue of liveness and documentation and their relationship for continued discussion.

I am fond of the redo idea. The redo’s shouldn’t be confused with the original nor do I believe a work like I saw last night really stands very profoundly on its own without the knowledge of its historical precedent. I believe there is something special to the liveness of a performance and documentation doesn’t capture it, it just creates something else. Getting to spend sometime with this living history is how performance is perhaps best retained.

Anyway, the walk to Dietch Studios last night allowed us to enjoy a magnificent nighttime view of the Manhattan cityscape. Once we found the space we were handed a page of program notes and instructions which told us where to sit and when. The staff made great pains to make sure cell phones were off and to be clear about the requirement to remain in the performance space for the duration of the performance. I liked that clarity and after entering, hearing the door close behind us and feeling shut in and committed to the event.

I was assigned room one for the first two sections, room two for sections three and four and then put back in room one for the last two sections. There were three rooms total and I decided to go where they asked me. Some folks sat were they liked, I don’t think it changed much.

There were three rooms along a hallway that had been created by wooden frames covered with see-through plastic sheeting. There were old fashion light bulbs lining the top edges of the walls that provided some illumination. It was a mostly a bright space. There were a few additional decorative elements and props used during the show.

The performances were mostly simple movements, choppy text blurbs, sound cacophonies and actions. They played games, showed some slides of some sort, and stood stiffly.

The most sensory impact came from the smells…there was a section when a performer lit and extinguished a number of matches and then sprayed some kind of bathroom cleaning foam on the section of plastic which put a sulfur and cleaner smell in the air. Later fresh squeezed orange juice aromas mixed with the smell of paint as one performer juiced and drank juice and two others painted a canvas.

I surprised how much the style and presence of the performers stood out in the piece. In general the performance was hyper-rational, calculated and stiff, for instance the performers moved around the space with artificially straight walks and only turned sharp 90-degree turns, and so the human qualities of the piece stood out. I wondered how this piece would have changed if instead of stylish young New Yorkers, a cast of country folk from Kentucky or a suburban family from Seattle had played out the actions.

The bell that marked the sections was the loudest and most disturbing thing.

I wondered if anyone who came had seen the original Happenings. I looked for old people in the crowd.

The events unfolded and there was a full 15-minute break twice between sections that created a lot of time for chatting.

I also was aware of being in a room with some of the piece but not the entire piece. I could hear and see bits of what went on elsewhere but the architecture isolated me.

In a section when text was read to me I found myself listening not so much for myself but for the performer’s sake like you might listen to a friend who is trying to get something off there chest. I found that shift interesting, though I don’t know what triggered it.

I find myself listing these fragments of my experience and leaving a bit of detail out, as that was my experience, partial. I left with a sense of ok-ness at the end, feeling satisfied and good but in no way moved. Perhaps the piece was too rational for that. I had some nice social interactions during the breaks with my friends and people I met there, which was defiantly a part of the experience.

I have no idea how you could have captured this performance in a photo.

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UK Reviews of PERFORMA 07

There are a number of reviews of PERFORMA07 on this UK Writing from Live Art site...



Sunday, November 04, 2007

First impression of PERFORMA07 in NYC.

Marie Cool and Fabio Balducci performance at the Clocktower Gallery was my first PERFORMA07 event. I thought I would toss out some first impressions because in my mind I am as curious on the quality and viability of PERFORMA as a sustainable organization as much as the performances it presents.

Here is a description of the PERFORMA biennial in their own words:

Two years ago, PERFORMA established a new biennial for New York City. With its vast array of new performance by visual artists from around the world, it served to contextualize such cutting edge material and at the same time to build an exciting community of artists and audiences, and a strong basis for educational initiatives as well. The biennial underlined the important influence of artists performance in the history of twentieth century art, and its ongoing significance in the early years of the 21st.

What is at stake to my mind his whether contemporary performance can find and hold more of place with the an audience in the United States, whether it can invigorate and inform the performance artists in the U.S. and maybe bring more of an international performance dialogue stateside. There is certainly a much more supportive atmosphere for performance on both the governmental and audience level overseas. And it is certainly difficult for a performance festival to survive in the United State. This biennial, with the star-power, money and whatnot behind it is the best top down chance for an advance I imagine right now.

I think it is important not to just compare PERFORMA’s offering to what is just going on in New York. It is LA, Chicago, and so on were the trickle down influence of a successful PERORMA will have the most important influence. I saw the first PERFORMA in 2005 influence programming at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago which followed the redo’s of the first biennial with a symposium in Chicago on the concept of the redo.


There was this sales pitch that I heard repeated by staff and volunteers: that PERFORMA07 was giving us access into a number of building that we otherwise no be able to enter. I didn’t buy the pitch last night as the as the building seemed unremarkable and made me feel like PERFORMA must be struggling for acceptance based on its core product. The morning’s rooftop performance by Christian Jankowski is in his studio and seems more relevant to that train of thought but I wonder if it is really representative of the whole festival, last nights Marie Cool seemed more like marginalization and the product of a tight budget as it was in a space that PS1 now seems to use for internal programs.

I was unable to attend more than one thing yesterday because events are spaced a good deal apart in the city. This format is feels like a product of economics of putting on this festival more than a conceptual decision. Maybe there would need to be more contextual writing paired with the festival to convince me on this point.

The volunteers and staff were unprepared to house manage the Marie Cool performance but generally friendly and happy to have an audience there.

The PERFORMA07 program/calendar is awfully difficult, vague and confusing. I am finding different prices listed for shows from different sources, unclear show times/lengths, and rather bland descriptions. There website is also difficult to navigate and if you download a PFD of the schedule you find they have reduced it to a one page size which make all the information too small to read if you print it.

The Performance Studies international conference is paralleling PERFORMA this year which it great but I can’t afford it. There are some great free talks on the schedule though. I would hope for a bit more public conversation to digest the content of the festivals.

I am curious if their attempts to create late-night hotspots at different bars will work and actually become interesting locations for discussion. Usually these types get together things seem too be to artificial or subject to vagaries of location and trend to succeed. I suppose it depends if the artists, smart folks and so on actually get interested in participating. I suppose if Rose Lee shows up and holds court and raises some questions it might get interesting. As someone visiting the city and generally an outside on whatever scene exists around PERFORMA I don’t particularly feel I could just show up and get much out of it.

The NYTimes has a blog covering PERFORMA07
. So far I have enjoyed Claudia La Rocco breezy commentary though it is brief. The NYTimes seems to be making an effort to do write-ups on the shows.

I hear mixed things about PERFORMA for others. Lots of people I tell about the shows have no idea the biennial is going on.

So to wrap up the biennial seems like it has decent content and a generally friendly atmosphere but their organizational stuff seems like a mess and I hope they are able to get it together and hang in there.

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Saturday, November 03, 2007

Marie Cool and Fabio Balducci @ PERFORMA 07, Clocktower Gallery, NYC

Marie Cool and Fabio Balducci presented “Untitled (Prayers) – 1996-2007” at the Clocktower Building in Manhattan last night as a part of the PERFORMA07 Biennial of New Visual Art Performance.

This two-hour performance consisted of minimalist gestures using common objects (like tape, a pencil, or a CD in a CD sleeve) presented in progression by Marie Cool in a white walled space. That is to say the performance was a display of lovely physical/mental presence, elegant conceptual gestures, and gentle audience communion.

The audience was encouraged to stay in the center of the room on a grey, carpeted platform while the gestures were performed along the walls. The audience had to shift positions continuously to keep the actions in view.

When Marie Cool took a moment to stand still and reset between gestures it would subtly indicate a space for her next activity and allow the audience time to shift. At first the audience was a packed, hungry mass but as the performance went on and the gestures began to recycle, the crowd thinned, the New York Times photographer left and the audience spent more time quietly sitting and musing rather than just watching.

Marie Cool, a “French choreographer”, brought a quiet, mindful and trained physical presence to the gestures of the performance. Her presence sold many of the gestures and maintained the overall atmosphere of serious matter-of-factness. She was a slight, middle-aged woman that stood shorter than most of the audience.

Fabio Balducci, an “Italian Artist”, stepped in at the end of the piece to declare it finished but his role beyond that was unclear. I assume he help devise the gestures, provided an outside eye and helped decide which of the seventy-action their collaboration has produced would be presented on this evening.

In retrospect, the title is a good one. “Untitled”…perhaps non-rational, unnamed, unpossessed certainly indicated the orientation of a spiritual practice as one of feeling more than knowing as displayed in the work. The bracketed “(Prayers)” could suggest a concession that despite the best intentions we still know the names, or perhaps there is a boundary between the named and the unnamed and that is the space this performance dwells. The clue that this is the product of more than a decade of work “1996-2007” foreshadows a set of values that cherishes the integrity and depth that emerges from persistent effort.

The Clocktower Gallery was one of the original spaces of PS1, or so I was told by a volunteer at the show, and has been closed to the public since 9/11. The floor we were on seemed to house a number of internal PS1 programs including the online radio station. I mention this because the space was more or less indifferent to the performance in my mind. The room we were in was white, neither pristine nor grungy, and big enough to receive the 40 or so people that were there. It was a reasonably neutral space perhaps available on the cheap to the organizers.

I didn’t get a huge iconographic read from the piece. There was defiantly opposing forces at play in most of the gestures. One contrasted of the rubbing of the performer’s feet in some fresh branched and the drawing a straight line in pencil, kind of a nature vs. the mind kind of thing. There was also a moment when she was surrounded in a plastic bubble that was somewhat embryonic. But in the end I didn’t come away with much of this kind of content.

Good performance is novel, inclusive, relevant, and present. The strength of this piece lied with the presence and integrity of the performance. The novelty was located more with the surprises of particular gestures than with any overarching concept or form that I could identify. The gentleness of the piece was inviting and the audience placement was inclusive in a sufficiently satisfying way. Whether this piece especially relevant is a question that I am the most ambivalent about as I write.

There were a number of clever gestures performed using simple objects of neutral and translucent qualities. I felt directed by the actions towards subtle points of contact, barriers and sensations. The repetition of these gestures eventually deadened the novelty and seemed to either drive the audience away or turn the remaining viewers into a calmer, more internal space. It sort of purified the crowd of gawkers and left a bunch of viewers who were willing to do the work of being patient with the artist.

A few of my favorites gestures…

*An almost stage-magic sort of trick was performed several time where she held a length of floss/thread (which was invisible to us in the audience) vertically, lit one end near the floor and lowered the other end at the same rate the fire burned to create the illusion of a flame that just hovered above the ground.

*A length of transparent tape was stretched tautly across the room at a height which made the artist had to reach up for contact. The artist would traverse this part of the room by running her fingers along the sticky side of the tape, the adhesive caused her fingers to stutter as they were dragged across the tape creating a particular sound and making me very aware of the point of contact and the tackiness of the surface.

*A row of folded paper was laid across one side of the floor with half the paper standing up. As she walked by, the papers would gently flutter in the wake of the air she displaced.

*She applied some mild adhesive or bit of moisture to the palms of her hands, enough to allow some rice (or something, I couldn’t see it) to adhere to he palms. She held her arms out to her sides, palms down, and used gentle hand movements free the bits. They fell onto two sheets of paper laid on the floor. It made a sound like rain; she was raining out of her palms.

When I think about the relevance of a piece of performance, I think of how well it speaks to some issue or is installed (whether physically, emotionally, conceptually or spiritually) within some contextual framework. I took this piece within the context of the festival more than the space it was presented within (though the shape of the room was used well, particularly the space the objects were given and how the audience was placed, moved and massaged). This festival, being basically themeless beyond the common medium, becomes more of a showcase of work and this piece a representative offering of a certain mindfulness tract within performance that has lingered since the early days of performance art.

This kind of display of presence is a timeless experience though and still central to the kinds of work produced in many dance and theater communities so I liked seeing it placed in this context of “visual art performance”. The minimalist conceptualism of this piece seemed a like a thread from the Seventies, which I still get excited about but I wonder how relevant it is to most folks now-a-days.

In the context of a “prayer” theme, I could see a need in people to find relief from the tensions of our time but it seem like a cyclical rather than striking issue.

I also should mention while considering the context of the piece that the folks managing the room were a bit of an annoyance at times, they were unclear and inconsistent in communicating the boundaries they were enforcing in the space…originally telling people to stay in the center and then when that obviously wasn’t working retreating to randomly telling people not to go to the certain areas near the objects and walls. Certainly they want to protect the delicate and often nearly invisible objects in the room but it seems like the circumstances put them into a position were they became insensitive to the growing dynamic between the audience and the artist.

The person I attended the show with was a part of a moment when the crowd naturally parted to create an aisle for the artist to walk across the room but this placed several people in a spot that caused them to be awkwardly shooed.

It is also perhaps a mistake to not to tell the staff to dress in a way that supports the presentation of the performance. Loud, clunky boots are not so appropriate on the feet of support staff if they are going to be moving around a space that is supposed to be quiet while they carry out their duties.

Managing a quiet and flowing piece like this isn’t easy, but, by being inconsistent and unprepared, the management were not able to support this particular performance by matching the integrity of preparation. This is important.

The work and effort of mindfulness that is presented gives us, as audience, support staff, institution, press, etc., the chance to meet the performance with are own integrity and effort, which is a rare opportunity. Certainly some people will choose to leave, and that is a relevant choice because it is the freedom to choose to stay or go that give the choice its power. What is disappointing is to fail take advantage of the chance to match the effort and integrity of a performance like this by not striving to be as prepared as possible.

I think the length of the piece is the last thing that I should mention. The choice to recycle a small set of gestures throughout the two hours seems significant, when the program clearly indicates that they have plenty of material to fill the time with novel stuff if they preferred. As I mentioned above, this repetition scraped the novelty off the gestures, thinned the crowd, and took the spectacle out of the piece by the second hour.

My guess is this points to the moment as you experienced it, both entertaining and not, both pleasant and not. This is typical of meditative practices of many sorts that you could compare to the evening’s effort.

Despite the bad reputation of ugly, annoying performance art that goes too long, it is the length of this piece in this case that transformed the experience and made it less a spectacle and more like a reveal of the experience of life. A subtle magic trick and one that is perhaps a point of relevancy that makes this piece endlessly appropriate.


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Thursday, November 01, 2007

Wooster Group “Hamlet” @ the Public Theater, NYC

It has been several years since I last witnessed a Wooster Group performance, “Poor Theater” at the Performance Garage, which was a show that exploded my being with joy. So I approached last night’s “Hamlet” at New York’s Public Theater a bit of wary of expecting too much. And I did enjoy this take on “Hamlet” but without the ecstasy, it is probably good to have “Poor Theater” out of my system.

I should say first that the Wooster Group is not simply presenting the Bard’s script of “Hamlet” but taking its primary source material from a film version of a 1964 Broadway production of “Hamlet”, starring Richard Burton and directed by John Gielgud. According to the program notes the film was shot from a live performance using 17 camera angles, was edited into a film and then shown for two days in 2000 movie theaters in the US in an attempt to bring theater to the masses. An additional technical note in the program offers a clue into the production, and apparent starting point for their development process…the film was digitally reedited to take the lines of verse “which were spoken freely in the 1964 production” and put them back into iambic pentameter.

This edited version of the film is presented upstage throughout the performance and introduces a choppy, slipping rhythm to the Wooster Group’s production that the actors mimic via a number of onstage reference monitors. The video image is also overlaid with many textural filters that imitate VCR artifacts, give it additional coloration to scenes and reference the medium and language of editing…even as literally as to throw up sections of video that read “unrendered”.

The key point to this production and a distinctive quality of the Wooster Group in general is this attempt have the live performance to mirror the video source material with affected human slippage mixed in for good measure. The actors twitch and rewind as they cross the stage and deliver their lines and even the set is mobile, scooting on wheels to match changing perspectives as the video cuts to a different camera angle. The actors are caught in a web of competing and live demands on their activities as they present the text of the play while also staying close to the video version that is pacing them.

Video cameras on stage also capture the actor’s gestures and remix them into the video strata of the presentation, mostly featuring them on two smaller screens near the wings. It is this video stratum where this performance metaphysically descends and to which characters of the play transcend in death.

Now here is my macro read of things: Wooster Group seems concerned with this cultural moment as defined by experience immersed within electronic media. I imagine a Wooster Group conception of the history of storytelling which progresses from an oral tradition – to a script-based tradition – to one that includes process based/physical research – to now a tradition of performance which is based in electronic media and a mixture of what has come before. If my fancy has any truth to it then Wooster Group choice of doing Hamlet is an interesting one.

By presenting these performances that are sourced in a script, a rehearsal process, and a video record like this archival “Hamlet” the first thing that is in constant flux is the authenticity of the play because the truth is not simply one of these sources but the attempt to juggle all of them. The moments that where the most enthralling in “Poor Theater”, which used a similar conceptual approach to media, were when an actor dynamically found a meaningful place among the various truths sourced in the play.

This “Hamlet” is conceptually interesting to me as it is a weighty play that is known for its struggle around themes of death and being while also containing a notoriously complex and challenging lead role.

Hamlet as a character is neatly reimagined here as not just a psychologically conflicted prince who must struggle with revenging his father’s murder but a character portrayed by an actor attempting to juggle the various media of his environment, while delivering his role and so on.

Also there is the layer of “Hamlet” the play, which is burdened by it significance in the theatrical cannon and the many previous productions not unlike we think of the Mona Lisa today not just as a painting but as a mass produced icon. And like Andy Warhol’s and others commentary on the Mona Lisa, “Hamlet” the play is taken on as whole here also immersed in the tension of a variety of representations and interpretations.

Then there is thematics of death and being which have a unique life in this production as the supernatural world of the undead is all within the media. Hamlets father appears to us by via video. When a character dies they reappear in the video, displaced and disembodied. After the final bloody deaths of the climax the whole production ends in dissolution of static. Throughout the play we are also haunted by the specters of the Broadway production which contain and restrain the actions on the stage, not unlike Hamlet must struggle with the his own history, a death defines not just ones own life but the lives of ones loved ones.

This is all fun but clear to me early on in the evening. As I looked for more I didn’t really find it. My friend suggested that usually Wooster Group uses more varied source material so there just isn’t as much to play off of in this show, which I thought was a feasible comment. If you read the NYTimes review I think you’ll find Ben Brantley got a lot more involved with the source play and the visual effects that were applied to the video, which I found fun, relevant to the pacing of the show but ornamental in themselves.

There are also occasional digressions into other film “Hamlets” including the Kenneth Branagh and a version featuring Bill Murray as Polonius. I also might mention here that this was the first time that I have seen an actor evoke a Mel Gibson-ish delivery…Scott Shepherd was very thorough in his research and includes many Hamlets in his delivery.

I felt that the place where I felt the most let down was in the delivery of the language. The exception being Ari Fliakos’ Claudius is powerfully delivered both physically and vocally, Kate Valk’s Gertrude was rich but her Ophelia was vocally strangely thin and detached, Scott Shepard’s Hamlet was physically sharp but vocally seemed to be smothered at times by the media. To this relationship of the media audio on stage: I think the audio was intended to magnify and be mixed with the live actors so there was some sense of emotional power resonating from the past, but it was a mixed bag. There were certainly times when it was like the performance had a whole voice and there were time it was indistinct or some little audio gag was thrown in that seemed irrelevant.

Unfortunately, beyond the three mentioned above, the rest of the cast didn’t speak in a way that really brought the language alive to me and often stood there dead on their feet. I don’t know what Casey Spooner was doing there or why they inserted his disconnected little vocal interludes. If this were mainstream media I would think that some marketing person was trying to appeal to the younger crowd but since this is “…America’s foremost experimental theater company” I won’t push the Jar-Jar Binks comparisons and chalk it up them sticking to some devising process or another.

Odds and ends: I haven’t seen or read “Hamlet” is sometime so I suspect there might be some more intricate textual stuff that I may have missed. I also wasn’t always clear why they glossed over some scenes. I missed the gravedigger scene and felt like the play took a really rough tack on Polonius for some odd reason. The harsh audio used to return from intermission was cocky and fun. The nurse and Polonius’s walker choreography was some of my favorite stage business, as was how Hamlet removes Polonious’ dead body.

So to wrap up, I came away from “Hamlet” with broader interpretive responses having to do with what I suspect is the Wooster Groups relationship to their performance medium and our cultural times more so than say more personal or insights into the characters or personal emotional resonance. Certainly the Wooster Group’s reconsideration of the Shakespearian staple is full of fun physicality and similarly smart in how it uses the play as a whole to comment on performance but it rarely touched me, it didn’t live up to the vocal demands of the play, nor was I able to pick up on additional commentary on the apparent themes of the play within the actual interplay of the characters. It left me with none of the musty Shakespearian aftertaste that comes from a straight production.


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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

At Elsewhere until the end of the month

Friday, April 27, 2007

For Public Consumption Parade Info

For Public Consumption's official opening is THIS SATURDAY at Hyde Park Art Center here in Chicago, from 6pm-8pm. Our opening coincides with 24hr party, Creative Move Too, that HPAC is having from noon to noon, Sat-Sun.

Check-out for details.

If you're interested in participating in the Parade, show up at 5601 S. Hyde Park Blvd. at around 11:00am on Saturday the 28th. All are welcome to march, dance, cavort, bike, roll, etc, with us.



Here is a blurb about Por Public Consumption.

The video exhibition, For Public Consumption, presents performances by five Chicago artists on the façade of the Hyde Park Art Center. Each of these pieces asks of you, the public, to take part – to read along, to listen to what is not there, to be complicit in a performance.

In order of appearance: Richard Fox culls Internet confessions and performs the text within the presentational format of PowerPoint. Deva Eveland mugs for our attention and struggles to communicate from within the silent façade. John Bannon turns his camera on the public to present the performance of Chicagoans gathered for a parade. Shawnee Barton wants us to know her as the sum of her favorite things. Morganville and Daniéle Wilmouth present a group of headphone-clad dancers, performing a silent rendition of "Hula Lou".

These artists engage the need to make the private public; the motives of public figures and the authenticity of public façades; the performative aesthetics of everyday life and crowds; how the things we associate with become props for the performance of identity; how culture is distributed to the masses and performed by individuals.



Sunday, April 15, 2007

For Public Consumption @ Hyde Park Art Center

For Public Consumption is up and running.

Stephanie Pereira and I curated a performance for video exhibition that is currently on view at the Hyde Park Art Center. The exhibition is a collaboration between Links Hall and HPAC. It features new work by John Bannon, Shawnee Barton, Richard Fox, Deva Eveland, and Morganville & Danièle Wilmouth.

Listed below are several FREE public programs for the current video exhibition at Hyde Park Art Center:


For Public Consumption, Artist, Curator and Community Disucssion
Sunday, April 15, 2pm
Hyde Park Art Center, FREE

Discussion with FPC artists, curators, and HPAC public. Traditional panel format will evolve into a public dialogue. Food for thought: What is the public's relationship with HPAC's video display? What are fruitful ways of approaching and consuming artwork? More questions posted on the FPC blog. Public is invited to pose their own questions on the blog.


Making Something Out of Something, April 11 - June 3
Blog hosted by a different For Public Consumption artist or curator each week. Includes your standard blog posts, alongside new multi-media artworks by the artists and webisodes featuring a new artist each day. Find the blog at



For Public Consumption Kick-off Parade
Saturday, April 28, 12pm
Hyde Park Art Center, FREE

The FPC artists and community guests eat up the streets as they parade toward the HPAC 1 year anniversary party, Creative Move Too, calling to the public to join them as they go. The parade will end inside HPAC at the For Public Consumption podium for speeches, effusive thanks and perhaps the regrets of over-indulgence. Contact Parade Organizer John Bannon at JEB *at* if interested in participating in this parade. Visit for parade route and further details.


Performance in Response to For Public Consumption
Thursday, May 10, 7pm
Hyde Park Art Center, FREE

Interdisciplinary literary event with FPC artist Richard Fox and members of the performance group, BoyGirlBoyGirl.


We Ate It Up - A student exhibition in response to work from For Public Consumption
Opening Reception Friday, May 18, 2-4pm
4833, Hyde Park Art Center, FREE

Students from Little Village public school, Telpochcalli Elementary, worked with teaching artist William Estrada and classroom teacher Dana Osterlin to develop creative responses to Shawnee Barton's For Public Consumption Video, "To Celebrate my Favorite Day". The results of their creative efforts will be on exhibition in 4833, Hyde Park Art Center's community space, from May 18-June 3.


Licking our Chops: For Public Consumption Closing Party
Sunday, June 3, 2pm
Hyde Park Art Center, FREE

FPC Artist Shawnee Barton invites you to a meal in the her favorite color; a monochromatic feast featuring everything from carrot salad to mac and cheese and sweet potatoes to cheetos...and while you feast, lay your sticky orange fingers on a free copy of Richard Fox's new poems sourced from FPC audience responses.

Internet opportunities:

Making Something Out of Something, April 15 - June 3
Blog hosted by a different For Public Consumption artist or curator each week. Find the blog at

For Public Consumption Bulletin Board, April 15 - June 3
Intentional and happenstance audiences alike are invited to respond to For Public Consumption through a variety of mediums including email, a response box and bulletin board at Hyde Park Art Center, and blog comments.
Email: fpc.hpac *at* gmail dot com.


Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Kerry James Marshall's insights on self-determination...

The folks over at the Bad At Sports Podcast stumbled onto a fabulous interview with Chicago painter Kerry James Marshall.

KJM is breathtakingly clear on the art market and his orientation towards the market. I recommend it.



Monday, December 25, 2006

2007 New Years Day Chicago Polar Bear Club Plunge

Merry Christmas!

Here is a quick invite to join me and a hundred other folks for a quick dip in cooling waters of Lake Michigan for the 8th Annual Chicago Polar Bear Club New Years Day Swim.

Noon, North Ave Beach. Everyone is welcome.

Here is a link to a Craigslist announcement for more info:

Here to download a word doc version of the same info that seems to update yearly:

Here is some guy's pics from 2006:


Here is a more enduring link to the Chicago Polar Bears


Sunday, November 26, 2006

2007 CAAP Grant is Available

Materials for the 2007 Community Art Assistance program grant is available on the Chicago Dept of Cultural Grants website. They grant up to $1000 for projects, development and training.

Here is a link: CAAP Grant

Monday, September 25, 2006

Jeff Harms' Response to Deva Eveland's "3 attempts to convince the audience of something really important"

Deva Eveland performed for the last three Saturdays down at the mn Gallery in the Bridgeport neighborhood here is Chicago. You missed out if you missed "3 attempts to convince the audience of something really important" but luckily Jeff Harms has writted up a response.


PS. You can hear a talk I did with Deva in the Dialogues section of this site.


[From Jeff Harms, 9/25/06]

I think Agnes Martin said once that an individual either loves humanity, and therefore is a Romantic, or turns their back on humanity and becomes a Classicist. Deva Eveland is the former in my opinion. And what is more, I feel in his work one can often feel that humanity has turned its back on him (or his characters), turning them into archetypal figures of innocence, abandonment, collective anxiety, or the grotesque.

In the case of Eveland’s September performances at Mn Gallery, this was very clear. Green tinsel, shredded paper, streamers, and portions of fake Christmas trees litter the floor of the gallery. Somehow the jumble of party supplies resembles a dense natural underbrush. It is noisy underfoot, and the audience comfortably gravitates to sitting in it, toying with the fake leaves and the grass-like paper.

Deva appears in character as an early ancestor of man, grunting and yelling at the audience. His ears stick out, and he has something in his mouth that makes his jaw protrude. You can see the white of a cumbersome prosthetic in his mouth and it makes him drool. You can see threads of hot-glue behind his ears where he has wedged something in to hold them out. And he has made a “grass” pair of shorts from party streamers and green duct tape. It would be simply an amusing costume if his presence wasn’t so passionately convincing. He has really become an ape man. And it is clear he is very disturbed and desperately wants to communicate something too us. He holds a stack of green silo cups in the air as though he were challenging us, finally throwing them in our direction. The desperation and the attention to detail is what makes it hilarious. He is offering us wine and food, and I remember, “Oh, yeah. This is a gallery opening.”

Deva is an amazing performer who becomes so enmeshed with his characters that he channels a real energy that is palpable and spell-binding. I know few other performers who display as deep a mental and physical commitment to their work. Deva embodies his ideas until they are completely inseperable from him self. Within the richness of the worlds he creates, a lesser artist would simply coast through performances or adopt an ironic distance, but Deva lives the performances every time. And every performance seems to push the boundaries of himself and his understanding of the world. In the true spirit of performance, his work becomes a liminal experience, or a rite of passage in a way. People remember his performances as things they experienced, and after which they were not the same. Certainly I do in regard to the three shows at Mn Gallery.

Each evening, this ape man appears. And each night there is something he wants us to do. The first night we each receive a chicken nugget, not too eat, but to care for. The second night we eat KFC and try to reassemble a broken Hallmark store skeleton with the leftover bones. The third night paper skeletons are magically born in a shower of green glitter and we are each given our own to nurture. Each night the rules are very simple. And as he presents them with such emotion, the tasks get elevated to a state of real urgency. It is though we have become involved in the make-believe world of a child, but then a child who’s intelligence and earnestness begins to tread into some very forboding and disturbing subject-matter:

Night one. The chicken nuggets get blended into some fluid (strawberry soda) in preparation for being “incubated” in our bodies. The concoction of familiar lunch time snacks suddenly smells like death. He pushes himself to a point of visible nausea as he tries to "save" the remaining orphaned nuggets.

Night two. The failure to adhere real bone to the paper skeleton prompts Deva to call the KFC hotline. He thanks them for creating a communal chicken bucket, and offers the idea that hunting and killing animals, and subsequently violence, is the very thing which allowed humans to evolve and which holds our society together. He suggests that KFC might use this in one of their ad campaigns or something.

Night three. We are trying to generate a list of rules to help us raise our skeletons. At one point he asks what the KFC bucket smells like. We say chicken, but he corrects us with the answer: It smells like humans first, chicken second. The implication being that man’s intervention, the process of cooking and the smell of the paper bucket itself are all more apparent than the smell of an actual chicken. At this moment, for me, adding up Deva’s artificial “landscape”, the “idea” of a “pure” early ancestor of man, the use of a magic KFC bucket to raise our children, I begin to percieve an inherent riddle and an inherent sadness in the work. For me it seems to involve a dissconnect between the comfortable life-support system of the developed world and the desire to live a meaningful life, as a healthy human being. It is not the nature of any other species to doubt their living conditions, their origins or their destiny, but this is what Deva seems to be doing. When we cannot predict what the future has in store for our skeleton children on the last evening, Deva decides to use a “magic white rock” hidden in the brush, and telephones a phone sex operator. She talks him through a sexual fantasy involving the two of them as primitive humans mating on the savannah (“…and everyone is watching?” Deva asks. “Yes, everyone is watching.” She assures him.”) And just when Deva suggests that he “mount” her and copulate, he hesitates and suggests that maybe they shouldn’t. He sweats through a premonition that she will get pregnant from the phone sex and they will raise a race of humans that will pollute and otherwise complicate and disrupt the pure relationship they have with their environment. It may seem silly to describe here and in this way, but having played along with the simple fun of the evening, the intimate phone call is extremely jarring and strange. And his subsequent change of heart and his concern for his "unborn children" is oddly heart-wrenching. Hanging up the phone, he then, as simply as he did on the previous two evenings, becomes himself for a moment, says, “thankyou,” and exits.

I am reminded of Phillip Guston who described his figurative paintings as “going back to see if I didn’t miss something.” Deva’s work has a similar effect on me. By looking closely at himself in a kind of first-person anthropological research, it seems he has become aware of a strange personal connection to society’s accepted rituals and beliefs. By wielding it with a careful awkward innocence, he and Guston both make society’s vocabulary double-back on itself. I believe that both Eveland and Guston are in that place where, because of their honesty, their specific personal questions quickly begin to reference something much larger and universal.

Call for public performances from Anni Holm

Here is a email from Anni Holm...e

PS. Her personal website might be down for some reason.


I am looking for performance artists to participate in this years Art Walks Chicago. Please let me know if you are interested by emailing me a short proposal, along with date(s), time(s) and location suggestions. If you know anyone interested in performing as well, please forward my information. The performances have to be suitable for the outdoors, and there is no compensation involved, however, since Art Walks Chicago, this year is one of the featured programs for the Chicago Artists' Month, we are expecting a lot of exposure...

You can see examples of what we did last year here:

Thank you,

PS. Please note that the performance doesn't have to take place in Chicago, if we can have things going on in other cities around the globe it would be even greater!

Jeff Harms' Response to "YEAR"

Jeff Harms is a friend of mine, an actor, musician and artist. He has kindly contributed some performance reviews and I hope others will follow suit.

This article responds to Brian Torrey Scott's new musical, "YEAR", which can be seen at the Prop Theater as a part of this year's Rhinoceros Theater Festival here in Chicago. Jeff has acted in several of Brian's productions and I think this may be the first one he has seen as an audience member in sometime.


PS. You can hear a talk I did with Jeff a ways back in the Dialogues section of this site.


[From Jeff Harms, 9/26/06]

I am a child of the musical. I loved the serious, even awful, musicals of the 70's and 80's: Phantom, Fantastiks, Chess, Les Miz. But now, 20 years later, there are only a handful that I can listen too. Most are now schmaltzy, saccharine, and painfully dated.

So here come's YEAR, the new musical by Brian Torrey Scott and Azita Youseffi. Beautifully acted and staged, this play still haunts me, just like Sweeney Todd did with its passionate dischord when I first saw it. Year is a great theatrical experience. I have been trying to sort out why. It is not, as most musicals are: a spectacle of love affairs and declarations of interpersonal conflict. Instead, Year uses the relationships of its characters to discuss larger more intangible themes of loss and change. And this is the singular achievement of Year, making it a musical unlike any I have seen.

The characters in Year sing directly to the audience in a Brechtian/Kurt Weil style, and I believe that Scott is, similarly, interested in including the audience in this way, inviting them to consider the play to be about them, about our times. Year is a collage of colloquialisms slightly askew, of small mannerisms and social micro-moments that placed onstage, sit in a strange isolation. It is in the midst of this libretto that the songs and the subtle shifts in theatricallity reveal the real themes of Year, creating a poetic effect that at times truly chills you to the bone. From my point of view these were very poetic glances as though through a rearview mirror, not at ideas of loss, but at the unavoidable FACT of loss and at the inability of language and metaphor to truly deal with it.

When the characters in Year turn to the audience to sing it is at once a confessional and an invitation to share the experience. The music reveals the real emotional questions beneath the dialogue. It is oddly poetic.

All my breath from the sky
takes a path and rounds the earth
follow it down to the town
To the home that you have built.
The houses walk in this place on all fours
I feed them years, years of weeks
all full of days, minutes and hours.
And my breath the same as dog's
goes in and out of these lungs to fight with yours.

On the surface it might seem abstract and difficult to follow. But I think Scott truly respects his audience's intelligence and their ability to find meaning for themselves. One could see it again and again and discover new things every time. Near the end of the play Hannah admits, "I never really understood how she and I were sisters." The playwrite's sense of humor is right there with you the entire time, and perhaps that is why the play is so accessible. Listen and you will recognize yourself in Year. In many ways you are already living it. This text and this music is just another way to try to get through to something of meaning in our lives. This is a deep play with its heart on its sleeve. And, done well, there is nothing else I would rather see.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Intimate and Epic, Small Acts for the City @ Lurie Garden

I took part in a group performance over in the Lurie Garden in Millennium Park on Saturday. I won’t comment on that piece as I was in it but I was able to wander around some and want to mention some of the other works that took place during the day as I doubt there will be much media review of the event.

The show Intimate and Epic, Small Acts for the City was part of a larger weekend of events in the park called rather grandly titled The Great Performers of Illinois which seemed to feature mostly music acts in the Gehry bandshell and tourist-info booths. Mark Jeffery and Sara Schnadt should be credited for convincing the Department of Cultural Affairs and the Dept. of Tourism for including contemporary performance into the weekend.

It was a nice line up including The Seldoms, 3 card molly, Cupola Bobber, Stan Shellabarger, Industry of the Ordinary and a few others.

The Seldoms presented a fine processional movement piece that followed one of the central paths in the garden that has a creek/waterway running along one side. The waterway is full of coins (tossed for good luck I imagine) and often on hot days you see folks cooling off their feet in the water.

The dancers, as is typical of the Seldoms, were tastefully costumed and paired with an interesting material element (long, thick, lizard-like tails of braided clear shrink-wrap plastic which I believe was designed by Pate Conaway). The parts I saw had the dancers moving from a small pool, along the path, up a wall, wagging their bodies, leaving their tail behind, proceeding farther, sometimes lifting each other so they seem to walk on the wall, and then finally lowering a skirt of more colorful fabric to trail behind them in place of their tails. The wet tails left thick watermarks on the concrete as they walked. The shedding of the tail and extending of the skirt lent a note of metamorphosis to the piece. Very professional and easy to enjoy.

3 card molly’s piece Blitz was perhaps the most successful piece in the show. As a pair the performers seemed to be on an abstract military mission of exploration accompanied by a fabulous wooden tank and equipment created by Michael Rea. The tank was at least ten feet long with a driving compartment, turrets, missiles and a rear door…it seemed like a large reproduction of a GI Joe toy tank of somekind…and they were able to drive it along one of the walkways. The performance consisted of gibberish vocal communications and a variety of improvised explorations and some movement patterns (such as rocking huge missiles in there arms like babies). The big visual presence of the tank, the abstract political quality of piece, and the playful/interactive qualities made it fit well with the circumstances of this show and the audience of tourists as well as art fans.

Stan did a nice durational walking piece in which he circled the perimeter of the garden for the length of the event (I think he did about 5 hrs total). He was very pedestrian in appearance and had rigged a water filled backpack to send water down to his shoes. Each step seemed to squirt a bit of water out the tip of his shoes and left a watermark on the concrete that would evaporate with a bit of time. Depending on his pace (and the sunlight, though it was most a cloudy day) he might have a two or three laps of watermarks that he was maintaining with his circling. His piece asserted itself quietly but consistently over the day but often felt muted by the big presence of the garden and the other performers in the park. It created an inside/outside boundary, a directional flow and in a way stirred things up.

Mat Wilson of Industry of the Ordinary showed up right at the end of the afternoon with a big rectangular freezer on wheels. The piece, Manual Labor, consisted of leaving hand-shaped ice sculptures (water was placed in work gloves and frozen) around the garden with tags baring the names of workers who helped create the garden.

The piece seems to fit within the larger body of straightforward gestures of labor and production created by Industry of the Ordinary and highlighted rather bluntly an orientation towards labor as the defining activity of the body and a basis of performance for them as well. The somewhat sentimental quality of the melting hands and the lack of further information about who the workers were made the gesture kind of stunted to me.

I suppose it was intended to point to the presence of the effort of labor that saturates the garden in general but by naming names of a group of people who are probably still around Chicago (the garden is just few years old) yet not actually having them there or involved (as far as I could tell) seemed incomplete, disconnected or even a bit exploitive. I don’t have any sense or evidence of the workers being mistreated, unpaid or even somehow shut out of the garden as it stands now.

I wonder if any of the workers come and visit the garden ever with out of town guests or their families. Are they proud of their work? Was the paycheck, and their work in itself sufficient for them or would they like their names honored? Does Industry of the Ordinary have a beef with the general economic-political structure that lead to the creation of this garden? I feel like there is a politics of labor accumulating in Industry of the Ordinary’s work but I don’t know what it is yet and perhaps would need to look further through their past work to figure it out.

I should also mention a kind of moment that happened while I was chatting with Mat…a guy and his son came up to us with and this icebox hoping that Mat had some ice cream for sale. I thought it would have been a rather gruesome twist of this piece if they had stuck some popsicle sticks in these ice-hands and offered them to the tourists. An idea for another show perhaps.

Finally, Cupola Bobber’s piece, Light Curve, was abandoned when the long paper track they were attempting to extend across some of the vegetation in the garden became stuck. Apparently the artist weren’t allowed to venture off of a maintenance path so as to protect the plants. I was barked at by an earnest gardener at one point for laying my backpack in the wrong place so I can attest for the tight situation artists were working with. The garden in apparently still in quite the fragile state and clear and consistent boundaries are probably necessary to keep the general public from damaging the garden. If anything though was missing from the show it was the opportunity to see more direct engagement of the nature of the garden as an aspect of the landscape.

This was a polite show on the part of the artists in general but understandably polite. Having the cultural agents of the city supporting contemporary performance is important and perhaps with time more trust will build and the artists will be able the engage the limitations of the circumstances further.

So as an audience friendly, presentational showcase kind of show, the more visually bombastic and theatrical pieces fared well in the event. The big nature of the garden itself and the rest of the activities in the park were quite a difficult background to distinguish yourself in and a tough place for the quite conceptual work.

It would be appropriate in the future to start to consider how contemporary performance work sits with the rest of the city’s cultural agenda. The drive of the Great Performers of Illinois is obviously to encourage tourism as much as present the cultural gems of the region. Hopefully in the future the programming of the whole park will be a bit more considered so things like the strange decision to book an entire afternoon of loud drum circles in the neighboring (amplified) Ghery bandshell will be understood as a decision to set the soundscape for the performances in the Lurie Garden as well. And also perhaps so strange juxtapositions like having an Abe Lincoln impersonator (another Great Performer of Illinois) walking through the garden at the same time as some contemporary performance piece is unfolding on a neighboring bench won’t be lost.

Listen to talks I did with Stan and Mat in the dialogues section of this site.


Tuesday, September 05, 2006

New Charity to Start Plan for $50,000 Artists’ Grants

These folks are on the right track...


Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Dialogue with CJ Mitchell, Executive Director of Links Hall added...

I have posted a dialogue with CJ Mitchell that has been sitting in the archives for too long now.

CJ is the Executive Director of Links Hall, the founder of the False Walls recording label and the former manager and current fundraiser for Goat Island (till they call it quit I suppose).

Lots of good stuff on Links, funding performance in Chicago and some the current performers in the city.