Base URL: []

December 2003 42 posts, 485 lines


As part of an art project, I created a list in chronological order of artists that in one way or another have been influential to me. I think it begins with Manet and Malevich and ends with Jason Salavon and Charles LaBelle. At the time I was not exactly sure of the logic being applied, and must admit I was responding surprisingly intuitively to my environment to conjure this list.

Being close to many artists and/ or their practice in Chicago, I obviously left out many people. Peoples work I might even like. However, It takes a certain decisiveness, in practice and in exhibition, a rigor in their investigation and relevance to a larger discourse or narrative for me to feel they have been influential.

I have a particular flaw that I suspect is common among many of us loosely defined as an art public, especially in Chicago, where I constantly go out to see art, and again and again feel let down and ask myself why I regimentally continue to make the effort only to be consistently disappointed; the misanthropic critic. So on Tuesday, the day when the MCA is open the latest and I can spend lots of time with the work and lots of time in the bookstore reading books I can t afford to purchase, I was a little stunned. It is not until now that I know why.

I walked into the 12x12 room to be confronted with a simple installation by Siebren Versteeg, a dark room with a video projection and a wall sculpture of a large H on the west wall, and two seats on the east for viewing. I sat down. As is my tradition, I did not read the wall text or accompanying reader before viewing, in an attempt to see the work as clearly and as objectively as possible. (I still believe this to be important) I was instantly consumed. I quickly realized that what I was watching was the artist in a waiting room watching CNN, and that I was watching it with him, being broadcast in real time. Of course, I was not really watching it with him, as the never ending cigarette tells us, but there we were. Beyond this trick, was the more subtle manipulation of the soundtrack layover. Appropriated from movies is the dramatic soundtrack constructed to put the audience in a moment of suspense, in anticipation of a climax that never arises. My eyes move back and forth between the projection and the H. The projection mimics this action by tennis balling from artist to CNN, to the interjection of the time and date and back again to regular programming.

In the purest situationist sense, I experienced a moment of detournement; where the mechanisms and devices of an apparatus generated to manipulate and control an audience for its ends had been re-couped for ours. The soundtrack leads us to anticipate the event, but towards an event that never delivers. This let down however, becomes the event and the artists intent. I wondered briefly if this proposition was heavy handed, pointing out something we all obviously already understand. But I think the piece is more complex than this general acknowledgement, in that it navigates the experience making us both critical of our circumstance and complicit conspirators in a way that never actually delivers a concrete position. Juxtaposing this real time event with the static logo of the History channel compounds this effect. The object IS real time, we are there in the room inhabiting its space, while the real time of CNN is siphoned and appropriated within that same space, allowing us to question and reflect on space, context, experience and real time itself. All of this unfolds in one moment; a viewer confronted with the art object, however dislocated and disperse it may now be.



Hey Ben, let's see the whole list!


And in the form of...

Bare names dont mean much to me. /j


Jno wrote: "LOL. Organizing exhibits can be a drag. Artists are as responsive and reliable as a herd of cats. (Hey, Marc: LOL) /jno"

Hey, I hear ya. Well I think I hear ya, and all of the other Lawyers on Line Marc

LOL Laugh Out Loud

LOL Laughing Out Loud

LOL Lack of Love (game)

LOL Ladies of Lallybroch

LOL Land O' Lakes

LOL Language of Literature

LOL Language of Love

LOL Last or Least

LOL Laughing On Line

LOL Lautes Online Lachen (German: Loud Online Laughter)

LOL Lawyers on Line


Edouard Manet Kasimir Malevich Henri Mattisse Piet Mondrian Marcel Duchamp Marcel Broodthaers Yves Klein Josef Albers Balthus Ad Reinhardt Sol LeWitt On Kawara John Cage Frank Stella Donald Judd Carl Andre Richard Serra Dan Flavin Daniel Buren Christo Claus Oldenburg Andy Warhol Joseph Kosuth Joseph Beuys Hans Haacke John Baldessari Malcolm Morley Milton Avery Fairfield Porter Gerhard Richter Bridget Riley Robert Ryman Giorgio Morandi Alex Katz Chuck Close Ed Ruscha Gordon Matta-Clark Bruce Naumen Vito Acconci Larry Poons Gilbert and George Sherrie Levine Heim Steinbach Robert Gober Jeff Koons Jeff Wall Allan McCullum Jenny Holzer Richard Prince Felix Gonzales-Torres Cindy Sherman Barbara Krueger Thomas Struth Luc Tuymans Orlan Olafur Eliasson Jonathon Lasker Miike Kelly Matthew Barney Laurent Pariente Tony Oursler Tony Tasset David Reed Damien Hierst Jeffery Valence Tom Friedman Alighiero Boetti Vanessa Beecroft Peter Halley Yinka Shonibare Marlene Dumas Andreas Gursky Thomas Demand Gaylen Gerber Darren Almond Wim Delvoye Luis Gispert Martin Kersels John Leanos Jason Salavon Charles LaBelle


Tin foil wrapped baked potatoes at Gallery 400. Got quickly sucked into reading all the didactic (and spoofish) wall texts. I dont think I looked at the potatoes ... er, asteroids. Wonder where she stores them.


The world can't be all bad -

The feds have basically approved medical marijuana and Ryan's indited. It's a start. Even Dean is up, despite the Saddam ear-cleaning marathon on Fox. I get confused when good things happen. I suspect a trick.

(Check out your computer-date compatibility w/ the contenders at [])

And almost on topic - reminders of party/performances this week:

Redmoon winter cowboy show Th - Sun for a few weeks [] or something like that. Google 'em. They are getting way too organized, but still do a good show. Thursday is the cheap night - $5, $15 the other days.

Jesuspalooza in Pilsen

"SHAMANIC NATIVITY TRANCE: JESUSPALOOZA The International House of Theater presents a multimedia production that "flirts with raunchy performance art and postmodern politics all while keeping true to the core story of the conception and birth of Jesus," according to a press release. Teatro Luna, 556 W. 18th, 312-421-8665. December 18-20: Thursday, 8 PM; Friday-Saturday, 8 and 10 PM. $10; $8 for those bringing alcoholic beverages to share."

Christmas Uprising - "Gnome Show"

Environmental Encroachment and The Amoreys (described to me as political Rock & Roll) HogHead McDunna's 1505 W. Fullerton Friday, December 19 9:30 - 1:30 $6 [] [] []

Sunday is one of the last Lamprey/Jackal meetings. 3pm or be square. I don't know what the word is.

and then there is the Plushie new year's eve party []

see ya



I'm mostly done with my pieces for the show, and now that it's pushed back to April, I have some time I wasn't prepared to have. So I'm starting to think about the next set of work I want to create. It is the most anxiety-provoking goddamn thing. I do believe that equation of 2% inspiration and 98% of the work is just executing, actually building the things I came up with.

Anyway, tonight I'm at a moment where I'm starting to need to do the 2% inspiration part. My next series of work is on the theme of the "bad machine", all my work is a mess, so much so that I have incorporated it into my style. And I want to make these terrible machines that either work badly, do nothing, or are made of like, stoneware, cloth, fabric and wax, maybe stick some poems in it. That's about as far as I'd gotten with it. But I need to get specific and start thinking about designs, and what to actually start. So I have my book on wooden models, another book called 507 mechanical movements, and my book that if you cut out all the pieces just right, you can turn the book into a clock.

And I'm hugging my knees and it's hard to breathe and ideas are flipping through my head but some of the visions are problematic, and who the audience would be isn't clear, and making gears you move with your finger isn't a good piece of art in my vision. It's not right, it doesn't work.

Then, out of the dark, I see gears that have good color composition regardless of how they are rotating, I see a static metal and clay sculpture that isn't operational, but it's a beautiful weird broken machine compressed like it was in a car compactor; and I see a hundred pendulums close together, swinging on a wall, each with a wind up key and they would be all out of sync, and it could look like the ocean, all those discs swinging.

And I'm alright. It was a painful hour - it feels like sitting in the forest until you have a vision. And then you can go home. And the pendulum is a huge metaphor of feeling like I'm struggling with some degree of bi-polar swings, to the degree that when I feel good, I wait for the other shoe to drop and be depressed because the pendulum always swings in two directions.

If I have any point in this post, it's that the artistic process rubs against the subconscious. There was a book I read called Witness to the Fire, that talks about how artists, when they feel creative urges, will all of a sudden run out the door and get drunk and get nothing done. And it's because working close to the unconscious is uncomfortable, it's tied in with the ego, etc. I used to avoid this process by getting high, and now that's over. But then I could call Sparks and he would spend the night, but now he's dead. I have no vices left, I'm even dieting.

Well, at least I get a lot of art made. All I know is that it's some pretty trippy stuff. And I don't know what to make of all this anxiety and feeling like I can't make art without diving off the deep end. So many times over the last few months I wanted to call out in the night like this, because this isn't the first time I've had this, I have this to some degree every single time I sit down to do work, and I just felt like sharing that reality with some people in the art community.

Ok, here is the thought I wrote down during my vision quest: If you make art that has no other effect than helping you see your own life more clearly, then you have succeeded as an artist.

Always, Kathryn


"Ok, here is the thought I wrote down during my vision quest: If you make art that has no other effect than helping you see your own life more clearly, then you have succeeded as an artist. "

at risk of sounding mean, but meant more in the spirit of barbed joviality, I offer two of chuck jones's rules of art making:

#2 The thing that gave you the idea for the piece is most probably the thing you need to leave out.

#11 While making art may be therapeutic, art is not therapy, it's a form of communication. If you need therapy, get therapy.


"#11 is not therapy, it's a form of communication...."

Oh sweet jesus - are you trying to reopen that epic othergroup discussion over whether or not art is a language? Please don't do that Anthony!


you measure your own success based on what you feel is important. however, I would say that in my experience, about 95% of all artwork that I've seen that was solely a form of art therapy for the artist was completely uninteresting to me as a viewer. but maybe i'm not the right audience for that.



barbed joviality: "#11 While making art may be therapeutic, art is not therapy, it's a form of communication. If you need therapy, get therapy."

Butler: "I would say that in my experience, about 95% of all artwork that I've seen that was solely a form of art therapy for the artist was completely uninteresting to me as a viewer."

wolf: yeah, it only recently occured to me that personal pathos does not make for a good show. I like to remind myself that I am not the first person to feel angst, anxiety, or to have a personal break through, and that I am actually pretty much the last person do any of this stuff, or the latest, that is.

If the only effect of art is to help the artist see h/er own life more clearly, well, the artist has done something very nice for h/erself and it will probably help h/er to become more articulate and confident in h/er work. But I think that art needs to be more ambitious than having a good conversation with yourself.

(as)best(os), mike woof


Hi All,

Just in case it's needed, the one clarification I will say is that I don't consider my anxiety to be subject matter for my work, it is a side effect I have of making other types of work.

I have a strong sense of "production quality" work I create, and things that serve as warm-up exercises. And to use my post as an example, that would never be anything I would consider "publishable" in the largest sense of the word. It's more just sharing feelings with peers, and it's appropriateness as fodder for the othergroup is questionable.

But to go back to the statement about "succeeding as an artist", I've grown to feel that way as I focus more on commercial success. Today, after reading some posts, I asked myself, what does it mean to be "successful as an artist" if you take money out of the equation. My first (external) objective as an artist is to have the art be self-supporting and I can quit my day job. I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels that way. So fine, external success is for me, a well received show with a large attendance. The next step would be representation by a gallery in the gallery district, and then hopefully do a show in New York.

Now I'm a hard-working girl, and I approach these external art objective just like I would any other business plan. I really sat down and studied Damien Hirst as a model of a young, commercially successful artist. I've grown to think, with a lot of talent, you can have a solid, long-term local following, but to be any "bigger" than that, you have to be a self-promotion and marketing machine, or have a marketing force behind you. And I include the support of critics, or representation to be a marketing force. To be a self-supporting artist, your art has to be a marketable commodity, or you have to do the gov't grant route. For every big contemporary artist, at some point, there was a marketing machine that lifted them. Publicity is PR, and PR is a marketing tool.

So that's one type of success, the other type of success is satisfaction in your own work. I would categorize a man who writes terrible poems for his wife, but his wife thinks they are the most beautiful poems in the world, as an artistic success. So maybe it's personal expression, plus one fan, makes you successful as an artist, on the deeper, internal, art-connecting-human beings-plane.

If I draw a line in the sand, between two models of artistic success, I draw it there. Personally.

On Art Therapy:

I know the woman who wrote "Stone Garden" and heard a reading from her book in progress, and it was really great. It's therapy-style art, but it's entertaining because she is a really swell writer. Woody Allen, in some of his work, is therapy-style art plus talent. Kafka. But what they all do, and I try to do, is ... art as a verb.. they "art it", they take their life, they twist it, the lie and exaggerate, and the take the killer details and it's magically a work of art. It's the key talent, that magic, is what we ask artists to have. I think we put too much bad art under the umbrella of "therapy sans art". I was thinking today of the horrible argument with Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman in "Eyes Wide Shut", it is goddamn endless. It is the most authentic replication of those horrible, irrelevant, this-is-going-nowhere arguments that couples have. And I don't lay down my cash to watch a couple argue. What Kubrick didn't do (to use the cruddy little phrase I'm coining), he didn't "art it", he transcribed it. So I don't think the problem isn't always that the subject matter is too personal, I think everything in an artists' life is fair game. But I think it's the lack of artistic conversion that's the problem.

Take care all, Have a good holiday, if that's your poison, Kathryn


sidestepping therapy and success and most of the other interesting stuff to get to a pet peeve.

Machines are cool, but when it comes to machines that don't work (especially with the possibility of poetry), beware of Alyce Aycock. And all that rust-belt macho sculpture of welded parts. And the welded parts painted bright colors to be more aesthetic. And especially Alyce Aycock.

Relatively recently and locally, jno and Nick Black have made things that, intentionally or not, worked or not in interesting ways.

Then there's tinkering for the sake of tinkering that is pretty cool, but not generally recognized as art. Fighting robots and that MIT challenge and whatnot. Today I stumbled on some sites about Furby hacking.

Probably not what you are thinking about, though.



I went to Milwaukee yesterday to see the "Quilts of Gee's Bend" show at the Milwaukee Museum of Art. If anyone here is able to see it before it closes on January 4th, I really can't recommend an exhibit much more highly. All of the rave reviews you probably read are true. It is one of the most profound and stunning shows I've seen in some time. The geometric paintings of artists like Peter Haley, Jonathan Lasker and Sean Scully (which share a lot of similar design motifs to some of these quilts) have never seemed so completely shallow and empty when compared against the extraordinary imagination and ingenious compositions of these Alabama Ass-kickers. The show is just terrific and so deeply satisfying on many levels. I could have lived in front of some of those quilts for years without getting tired of looking at them. The sensitivity that went into the making of some of those pieces is just mind-blowing.

Also - there is a really great Robert Irwin disk piece up at Milwaukee right now that is worth checking out.

The Laura Owens show however - also up the Milwaukee Museum of Art - gets my vote as by far the worst museum exhibit I saw in 2003. One of Owens' paintings of blue vertical bands resembling a series of buildings shown in one point perspective even shares a strong similarity to a quilt at the beginning of the Gee's Bend show. A pretty unfortunately coincidence for Owens.