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February 2003, 93 posts, 3562 lines



In lieu of all the email petitions that have been circulating, the effectiveness of which I really don't understand, I am forwarding this description of a grassroots campaign underway to protest war in Iraq (see below). I like it because it's simple, but potentially quite powerful. I encourage you to join me in doing it...

Regards, Barbara Koenen


Place 1/2 cup uncooked rice in a small plastic bag (a snack-size bag or sandwich bag work fine). Squeeze out excess air and seal the bag. Wrap it in a piece of paper on which you have written:

(Or whatever like sentiment you prefer.)

Place the paper and bag of rice in an envelope (either a letter-sized or padded mailing envelope--both are the same cost to mail) and address them to:

President George Bush White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW Washington, DC 20500

Attach $1.06 in postage. (Three 37-cent stamps equal $1.11.) Drop this in the mail TODAY. It is important to act NOW so that President Bush gets the letters ASAP. In order for this protest to be effective, there must be hundreds of thousands of such rice deliveries to the White House. We can do this if you each forward this message to your friends and family.

There is a positive history of this protest! In the 1950s, Fellowship of Reconciliation began a similar protest, which is credited with influencing President Eisenhower against attacking China. Read on:

Source: "People Power: Applying Nonviolence Theory" by David H. Albert, p. 43, New Society, 19. Thank you for being people of hope, people of faith. Pastor Susan Ortman Goering, Boulder Mennonite


Sorry about that. I just reposted Koenen's post to Topica Rice here at, cause it seems that Topica changes their email headers every month, and it fell through the filters.

Don't use polished rice -- it contains talcum, looks like small white particles.. you know what that will get you.



I think it is tempting to view art as a language system; a way of looking at art that may prove useful as a loose metaphor in order to stress the primarily communicative function of artmaking. Upon close examination however, to call art a sort of "visual language" would be an oversimplification.

It seems to me that art is a realm of cultural production that is theoretical, that has the freedom to create meaning, while at the same time questioning the way in which this meaning is constructed. In doing so, the discourse of art employs many and diverse language systems, and as no language is ever really a passive and neutral carrier of meaning, good art is often concerned with questioning the nature of the very language systems of which it is constructed.

Might I suggest, Mr. Anderson, that your definitions of "language" and "art" might be refined by reading "Mythologies" by Roland Barthes, or "Art After Philosophy an After" by Joseph Kosuth.

As for the question of political activism, neither the fact that activism has been accepted as art in the past (as Anthony suggests), nor that non-artists (such as Greenpeace) have used visual media for political ends, is a good argument that sincere political propaganda should have any place in art now. This is not, of course, to say that art should have nothing to do with political issues. The point is that artistic production of any sort always has a political dimension, as does any form of production.

Often, artwork that has an explicitly political message as its content becomes "tedious" (as Ben puts it) for several reasons beyond its generally tired and trite predictability.

Any art that we might consider to fall under the rubric of "activism" is usually doomed to impotence at best, and at worst, hypocrisy. To be an "activist" implies anything but neutrality. It is to be "pro" or "anti". When present in art, it does an injustice to the real complexity of both the political situation at hand, as well as the discourse of art. If activism can work subtly enough within an art context to be artistically and politically effective, we should of course be mindful of the scope of our audience. At best, it would seem that overtly political art succeeds at "preaching to the choir", and a relatively small choir at that.

When "activist" art seeks to critique a real world political situation, what is generally most problematic is the real political and economic position that the artist occupies and in which she produces the work. To "expose" a political injustice in the larger world usually requires concealment of one's own relationship to the system, which is almost always one of direct or indirect complicity, and never in any case one of true objectivity.

This is not to say that the rhetoric, aesthetic, or tone of political activism cannot be incorporated into a work successfully. It is possible to use the "language" of activism parenthetically within a work in order to explore these very problems that I have enumerated. Locally, the work of Chuck Jones comes to mind as someone who appropriates political rhetoric in order to examine the contradictions inherent to any sort of partisan message.

I personally am sympathetic to a somewhat "leftist" political viewpoint, but I am aware that my position as an artist is one of privelege. The artworld is in many ways an elitist institution. It is a realm of educational, economic and social privilege; membership constitutes a kind of cultural capital. At the end of the day, art is ultimately a luxury: the luxury of self-reflexive, philosophical play for the well-educated, or the luxury of pricey fetish objects for the well-to-do collector. This view may seem sad or cynical to the altruist, but for my money, its still the best game in town. To make art accessible to everyone would be to do it an injustice, to turn it into an episode of "Friends" or a Greenpeace ad.

If the political and economic realities of participation in the dialogue of contemporary art doom us to a position of moral ambiguity, then so be it. If you think you can find some simpler position in the world, free from complicity and contradiction, then you may be deceiving yourself.

Dennis Hodges


Well lucky for Ben I deleted his email. On top of which i am too lazy to wade through the ether of the internet to find his text. I'll just end with: I still believe you are making too much of the: 1. supposed conflict between corporate methods, and recycling "lefty" concerns. 2. desire to think that political activism is PP's goal. The work is quite obviously NOT political activism.

on to new fish:

It is awfully hard for something to be theoretical and create meaning without being a language. A language is defined by a dictionary, in part as: "2. Any differentiated system as used by a section of the human race for communication among themselves...5. A manner of expressing oneself. 6. Any other organized system of communication. 7. any apparently organized system of communication."

Now despite my distaste for viewing art as any form of communication. I think, given these definitions, visual art definitely can look like a visual language. Mind you, a visual languiage does not have to, nor does it, exclude written language. which is visual. I also find that where people insert theory into art troubling. Art is not theoretical. But the object, and their manner of construction do imply a theory of how (art, the world, hot dogs, whatever) items/thought function. Art is theory in practice, but not the theory, and certainly not theoretical (it does exist after all.)

Steve, I say this as a friend. having read Kosuth's Art After Philosophy and After three times, and despite being a guy who gets goosebumps at the sight of conceptual art and french theory....Stay away from the Kosuth book. His attempts to make a case for his way of working as a primary form of communication above and beyond any other methodology is a slow poison at best. (in this manner, it is a lot like kosuth is in person.) It's attractive in the beginning, but falls apart the more you try to move Kosuth's methods of thinking beyond 1967.

...Now perhaps is also the time to mention Kosuth's many politically activist works....

No? well then what is? heartfield? golub? guerilla girls? Holzer? kruger? Hirschhorn? Burden? Haacke?

True or not, this has become the most overused, empty phrase in art criticism and dialogue. It is usually used as a way to sweep aside politics with a capital p being used in art, and to dismiss social discussions of the function of art. It has become the new version of the word "interesting" used to such banality in studio critiques.

Arguments like this are also false arguments. Often used in dismissing statements "all rap is crap" etc.

How many of the monochromes (don't start on me ben foch) you saw last year were good. versus how many were trite. How many of the large format cibachromes you say last year were trite. I would guess no more than 1 to 3 percent of any art form is really great, and everything under that various levels of banality and predictability.

using the above statement would be laughable if we replaced the word "blue" for the phrase "political message." Damning a whole methodology based on some bad practioners is questionable. It also disregards those that have made great statementswith the form.

The recognized pantheon of great experimental american dance, performance, theater, video and film would not exist without politically activist works. If that is not your taste, so be it..but don't write away a whole method of working. (gee, remember not too long ago when all those people complained that painting had been unfairly written off as old tired, tedious and predic table? remember how it was decided, maybe the blanket condemnations were just a touch shortsighted?)

I would really like to see this statment defended by examples. In a way that applies to all the manifestations that fall under the term "activism."

Check out books on the aesthetics of Act Up. they were more formally, theoretically, and linguistically inventive than all the David Salles, Julian Schnabels, and their half-baked followers combined.

Ok. What does this mean? I am not an activist. My art has no politically activist bent. But it is difinitevly "pro" many things, and "anti" a great deal of other things. Every statement is. Every artwork is.

I also always adore this comment. First, as seen in many comments in the artworld, sometimes you need to preach to the choir. because sometimes they are not all that informed. (most my artist friends do not read the paper, or listen to the news, or watch the news...some don't even vote.) Secondly, because the artworld has problems with exclusivity and elitism, we should all give up the real world, retire in our smoking jackets to the large overstuffed leather chairs with snifter of cognac so we can worry ourselves with more 'theoretical" manners?

So this statemnt argues against any form of oppositional argument against a system, because it is impossible to get out of any and all systems. Activism does not aim for objectivity. But passion. None of us are saints, and only some of us are truly devils. Also, hypocricy is a hard thing to level against someone. Is a millionare a hypocrite if they speak out in favor of fiscal help for the poor? Is a minority the only one who can work to improve the situation for minorities? We live in a world where no one is just one thing. We all have items that make us passionate, even if it is only formal aesthetics. The fact that onjectivity cannot be reached does not exclude the need, nor desire, for bringing a fact to a public arena.

maybe it should be pointed out Chuck is a friend of mine, who sees himself as making decidedly partisan work. "npr leftist."

He is not "examining the contradictions." They are political, the message is meant to be taken politically. He decided, it was time for someone to make unabashedly leftwing art. he is not appropriating the forms, he is using the forms. he is not criticising political language. he is criticising the political language of the conservative right. They are meant to be wholly a product of liberal thought critical of the republicans in the government. How many of his buttons/sculptures feature any politicians of the left coupled with a negative message?

I'm sorry, but this is the singular dumbest phrase I have read in a long time. It deserves no rebuttal.


I don't mean to plug, but you guys threw me a softball. Please check out Greg Purcell's interview with Chuck Jones in the new issue of Cakewalk magazine, on sale at Bridge/Apt 1R, Quimby's and at Gallery 312 starting this weekend!


Ladies and Gentlemen:

Please join Bridge magazine and the Digital Genres Initiative this Saturday, February 8 for "Thinking Critically About Video Games," A Round Table on Video Games and Video Game Criticism. Gaming at 6pm, Roundtable at 8pm; 119 North Peoria, #3D, $5 Suggested Donation.

Call 312-421-2227 For more information

What would it mean to think critically about video games? That is to say, what would it mean for us to understand them in a rich, detailed, explicit, and not necessarily academic way? What is 'video game criticism'? What can gamers, academics, game designers, artists, and performers tell us about video games?

Video games are an ever-more popular and pervasive part of our culture today. They are technically complex, driving technical innovation in both the console and PC platforms. They demand virtuostic technical skills similar to those found in professional musicians or athletes. They create fantastic virtual worlds which millions of people inhabit.

Most thinking about video games has been total shit. Mostly it has been written done by Cultural Studies types who don't actually play video games. This is the equivalent of an Art History professor publishing articles on art without ever having stepped inside a museum. Much of what has been published has been concerned about the 'increasing level of violence' in our society - particularly among children. Attempts to understand what video games are have been replaced with a superficial understanding oriented towards the creation of badly-made public policy. Finally and most importantly, thinking about video games has been guided by analogies to written texts - so that people talk about 'textuality' or 'readings'.

Grand Theft Auto III: Vice City and Counter-Strike will both be available for play, projected onto the walls of the event space using space-aged LCD projectors. Come think, talk, drink, and game with us.

Participants include:

Talmadge Wright and Paul Breidenbach are researchers from Loyola University Chicago. They have recently published his first paper from an ongoing project investigating digital play, shooter games and masculinity and recently delivered a paper at the "Challenge of Computer Games" conference in Lodz, Poland discussing observations from Counter-Strike player interviews and player observations.

Alex Golub is a graduate student in the anthropology department of the University of Chicago, where he studies gold mining and indigenous people in Papua New Guinea. He has written two books: Gold Positive: A Brief History of Porgera 1930-1994, which was published in Papua New Guinea, and an unpublished novel entitled Small Ensembles. He is a contributor to Bridge Magazine, and thinks Baldur's Gate II was almost as swell as Half-Life. His blog is at

Seth Killian manages, a web site dedicated to the competitive Street Fighter II community, and which is largest of its kind in the world. Seth is the winner of national Street Fighter champions in the US, is nationally ranked in Germany, and has recently returned from competition at Super Battle Opera in Tokyo. He is also a graduate student at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, where he studies philosophy and, specifically, 'something like bioethics'.

Kind Regards,

Michael Workman Northwestern University, Evanston, IL. USA


First of all, I will admit that I am new to posting on othergroup, and I must say that I am impressed to get such a quick and thorough response to my thoughts and opinions. I appreciate your criticisms Anthony, some of which compel me to reexamine and restate my position more carefully.

First of all, I would like to concede a couple of points:

Anthony quoted an admittedly opinionated portion of my rant, and made the following response:

Alright, I'll bite. So I made the recommended substitution, which yielded:

Okay. I admit it. That is laughable. The logic of my statement is utterly destroyed by the insertion of the word "blue". But I sincerely fail to understand what kind of statement wouldn't fall apart were we to randomly exchange one of its phrases for "blue". I fear that all of my arguments might be vulnerable to this powerful new brand of logic.

Second, in my statements regarding "political activism" and art, I made an example of local artist Chuck Jones as someone whose work seemed to me to be successfully appropriating the aesthetic of "activist" propaganda in order to make a more complex proposition regarding partisan posturing. I apologize if I have misinterpreted his intentions, and admit that I have never spoken with him. Nor have I met, as Anthony suggests that he has, Joseph Kosuth, and while I stand by my recommendation of his writings, I cannot vouch for his character.

Perhaps because I am not as worldly, well-read, or well-connected as Mr. Elms, I am a little disturbed by the idea that one needs to be personally acquainted with an artist in order to be qualified to talk about or interpret his work. If I can formulate a reasonable (not to say brilliant, or even correct) interpretation of some possible meanings conveyed by a piece, and they bear absolutely no relevance to the artist's actual intentions, then perhaps the artist has failed to reconcile some undesired contradictions within the work. I do not suggest that this is the case with Chuck Jones, but it might be the failure at the heart of the People Powered debate.

It is also puzzling that an artist's intentions can be so easily misread if art is in fact a language, as Anthony proposes. Perhaps some artists just do not "speak" their favorite "language" very well.

I did not mean to imply that art is not like language, cannot consist of language, or be about language. I said that to call it a language is an oversimplification. The same sort of oversimplification that we get when we try to consult a common dictionary for the meanings of complex and frequently contested concepts like "art" or "language". If selective quoting of dictionary entries could really resolve the big questions that easily, our jobs as artists would be much simpler (and dreadfully boring). Let's look up "art" in a dictionary...

art n. 1. human creativity 2. skill 3. any specific skill or its application 4. any craft or its principles 5. a making of things that have form or beauty....&c

Are we really satisfied with any of these definitions?

Regardless, in my opinion, art is not language because it does not have the transparency, stability of denotative communication, or one-to-one relationship of signifier to signified that we commonly expect of language. Art might, however, constitute a sort of semiological system, but one of a higher order than a first order system like the English language. When we encounter the word "tree" in a newspaper article, it is for all practical purposes transparent. Most likely, we do not think about the marks that compose "tree", the sound of the word "tree" or the reason that the signifier "tree" has been attached to the idea or image or whatever that it seems to communicate to us. The signifier seems (although somewhat deceptively) to be somehow equivalent with the signified, and to communicate meaning in a direct and impartial way. This "tree" is different from the word "tree" if written in paint on a canvas. In the painting the sign "tree" is borrowed by the semiological system of painting, and what is a sign in the first order system, becomes a signifier in the second order system. Some of the ramifications of this are that "tree" on the canvas can now refer to multiple signifieds. It can still act in its original function, but it can also for example, become a stand-in, within the painting, for written language in general.

All right, enough of that. I don't claim to be an expert or even an accomplished student of linguistic theory, but I hope that you get my point (and I'm sure Anthony will be more than happy to point out any errors). I think that viewing art as something more complex than "merely" a language opens exciting possibilities to the artist or viewer. We can ask better questions than "what does this artwork mean", and instead ask "what does it mean to propose this work as art?". And it is in this sense that I labeled art a "theoretical" endeavor, because every work contains some tentative (although often implicit) attempt to define what art is, and what purposes it can serve.

Dennis Hodges


thanks for coming.

Well they aren't. The point wasn't: "wow, blue sure makes sentences funny!" But rather, a favorite topic of mine. One that I spent this summer yelling with Marc Fischer about, and occassionaly jump on with others as well. That is: Blanket condemnations don't work. And often, speaking about art, people change their preferences into sweeping rules that aren't worth their weight in cow patties. We all do this (I'm particularly good at dismissing large swaths of art.) This particularly happens in reference to the every tricky "realworld."

So I was trying to point out, that a statement like: "Often, artwork that has an explicitly political message as its content becomes "tedious" (as Ben puts it) for several reasons beyond its generally tired and trite predictability." gets accepted in the artworld despite the fallacy, when a statement with an analagous sweeping demand on art: that blue makes art tedious, would never pass the lips of anyone but the foolhardy. Becaue that statement is equally true and false. Political art, and portraiture, and basketweaving are all often tedious. It's not the subject or techniques fault. But the combination of everything that makes the work failing to rise to a level, for which there are no rules and game plans. It all gets further complicated by personal taste. The type of reasoning that excludes political content tends to single out the function of political activity in a way that is perceived as unique to the subject matter. And the claims can usually be disproved by looking at all the politically activist works in the art historical cannon, on collector's, and museums', and gallery walls, and in artist studios. If you don't like it, that's one thing. But it cannot be written away.

There's the old phrase: facts don't lie, accountants do.

Again, you do not have to be aquanted with the artist. but you mentioned Chuck, and I know, from many discussions that he sees the work as political, and in support of the left. "npr leftist" was his phrase. I mentioned it because I know this. And maybe I'm blinded by knowing him, but having seen his work several times, I do think you'd be hardpressed to not recognize the political bent of many of the works. Particularly the PSAs he made.

As to Kosuth, never met him, just a dismissive fax (from him) back and forth, having seen his behavior on panel discussions, talking to many friends and associates who have worked for him, and noticed his whole backdating of his work so he can appear first in the history books. he still has made some good works. And I read the book 3 times right? obviously I didn't do it out of torture. But I wouldn't turn around and recommend the book to others either.

Being well traveled doesn't count for much, but helps. Yes, being well read does help considerably. Well connected only counts if you want to be invited to parties.

I'm sorry, but I never find anything oversimplifing about dictionary definitions. I refuse to believe "art" or "language" are some form of special words who cannot be explained, like all the other pedestrian terms. And I think the definitions I quoted, pointed in some way, to the complexity of a language. That a language is not necessarily universally interpretted in a 1=1 manner. Look at the missed interpretations we have made of each other's comments. Language is not simple.

Two other points:

1. people tend to oppse the complexity of "visual" language, to the simple "written" or spoken" language. Then how come poetry has the ability to be remarkably abstract and complex? How come we can spend hours trying to discover what a novelist meant? A language is not an even playing field to all. Many artists' works (Charles Ray, Richard Serra, Sol Lewitt, Cindy Sherman) would be meaningless if there were not a language to visual form.

2. Roland Barthes, who you mentioned in your first message, is one of a handful of writers generally responsible for the concept of vsual forms being a language. Almost all the tracks lead to his interpretations of signs, advertisements and the like. A misinterpretation or not, he gets namechecked alot. he used terms like signifier, sign, etc. to bring a semiology to visual forms.

While we are at it, my favorite dictionary definition: Painter: A rope attached to the bow of a boat and used to tie it up to a stake or ring on shore or to a towing vessel.

I can honestly say yes. What would you rather it say? maybe, Art: Something that hovers in the background while you look for the Old Style.

I try always to be happy.



Just one last thing on the art and language question...

While I have my own theories (some of which I've shared here) on this topic, I thought that I might try to get an opinion from someone who actually knows what he is talking about with regards to language, i.e. a linguistics professor. So I emailed MIT Professor Noam Chomsky, noted linguistics expert (and "NPR liberal"), telling him about our debate on othergroup and asking, "whether art can properly be considered a language." He responded:

In my opinion, it's the kind of question that cannot have an answer -- like "do airplanes fly" (yes, in some languages, no in others) or "do submarines swim" (not in English, maybe in some languages). It's a question of which metaphors one chooses to adopt.

Noam Chomsky"

I suppose I should have expected that sort of answer. I just thought I should share that answer with the group since he was kind enough to reply.
-- Dennis Hodges


Another opinion on the art/language question, this one from James Elkins...


Hi, I'm in Ireland... I have a minute now.

The strictest senses of "language" mean that it is something systematic, with rules, etc.... and although that isn't strictly true of language, it has been tried as a definition for artistic "languages." The book is Nelson Goodman, "Languages of Art." He tries hard to define some elements of languages, and to show how they apply, with varying results, to different visual systems from thermometers to music. Painting doesn't even qualify.

From there, things get very loose. Another major source is Louis Marin; his books are all about the *feeling* you get sometimes, looking at paintings, that you're really reading. then there are semioticians, who sometimes use parallels to language. A good example is Hubert Damisch's "Origin of Perspective" or his book on "/Cloud/."

Basically, art cannot be "properly" considered a language unless you loosen the concept of language; but it can be considered to be *like* a language, or *like* writing, in various ways. My book "Domain of Images" is all about that. The bottom line is that for psychological reasons it often makes sense to want to say that painting, for example, is a language.

Hope the helps. Feel free to post it.


Jim Professor James Elkins Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism School of the Art Institute of Chicago 112 S. Michigan Avenue, room 605 Chicago IL 60603 USA


actually, he's a lot more liberal than NPR has ever attempted to be.


Critics, whippersnappers and ye of journalistic disposition In a rage or filled with delight Set things right.

A call to art critics of Chicago:

I write to summon your propensity to criticize, ponder and enlighten the masses and to propel the composition of a specific art review. This weekend is the fourth annual Around the Coyote Winter Arts Festival and it is time to get those censorious wheels turning. While Around the Coyote is pivotal to the Wicker Park art scene, crucial to the success of many Chicago emerging artists and instrumental in a variety of art-related community enrichment programs, I am baffled by the shortage of writers, critics and city leaders that are interested in their projects and art festivals and willing to offer the organization feedback and criticism. In general, the community supports Around the Coyote and turn-out is always strong at their festivals. Yet, for such strong crowds, I am shocked at the shortage of retrospective analysis of these events and festivals. This year I hope to alter this trend and inspire dialogue and published reviews about the Winter Arts Festival. I want vocal members of the artistic and journalistic community to shift their gaze and wield their swords and deliver the sort of criticism that is fundamental to the continued growth of Around the Coyote as well as these emerging artists.

The festival runs today through Sunday with a slew of film, dance and poetry events sprinkled throughout the festival. More than 100 artists will be on display in the two locations: Flat Iron Arts Building (1579 N Milwaukee) and the Northwest Tower (1608 N Milwaukee).

Full festival information can be seen at

Exhibition Hours: Friday 2.7.03 6pm-10pm Saturday 2.8.03 11am-10pm Sunday 2.9.03 11am-6pm

With a Curator's Choice and Silent Auction in the ATC Space (Flat Iron Arts Building Ste 352)

Art shows, exhibitions and openings are breeding like varmints this month, but it is time the community expressed their opinions of Around the Coyote.

I am sure many of you are affiliated with specific literary publications, journals and magazines. I would like to see a review in Bridge online and any other Chicago-based publication. As vocal members of the art community, more than anything I hope to read some discussion of this weekend's festival through othergroup.

--ali walsh--


actually, he's a lot more liberal than NPR has ever attempted to be."

Chomsky is more "'This is Hell' Liberal" - the very fine show on WNUR that I can never tune in. And Chuck Jones' nice buttons are also too liberal for NPR for that matter - though it could be fun if the guys on "Car Talk" would occasionally throw in little asides about taking up guns and shooting the president. As for Chuck Jones' buttons about teaching your children about sodomy, I suppose after last night's extraordinary trash on ABC, those can now be called "Michael Jackson Liberal"



I have been busy working on my Micheal Jackson essay, which has since grown from the MJ/ Orlan comparison to a more comprehensive question of intentionality concerning our recently revamped in interest pop star. It takes into consideration the production of Warhol,Barney, and Sherman as well. In the mean time, here is my report from last nights events. Minus Around the Coyote. I thought about going, as I wanted to offer my true opinions on the exhibition, and want to be informed. However, in the heirarchy of priorities... well, you understand.

I have always had a weak spot for Jeff McMahon’s work. His second solo show at Bodybuilder and Sportsman again had a few hits for me. The photographs proposed some problems because the white border does not function as an active agent out of context, same with the drawings. It is a device that only really makes sense in paintings. This criticism aside, when it works in the paintings, it really hits hard. His border baffles the viewer, between the simplicity of merely putting a white border around everything and the complexity of putting a white border around everything. It is this initial conflict that keeps us engaged long enough to not walk away. It both reduces the painting to an insignificant object and allows the artist to paint whatever he wants within this frame, not too much different then the experience a painter may have had pre-frame acknowledgement. He’s developed a conceptual practice that allows for the formal investigation of paint.

Some images remain more critical of this investigation, such as the Richteresque squeegee paintings or other appropriated mark making practices, while others are more indulgent, such as the muscle car paintings, which I do not think we saw any of last night I’m sorry to say. It is this contrast of intentions within his frame that makes his work the most troubling and interesting, problemitizing the painter’s confrontation with his individual practice to investigate its possibilities to retain relevance and meaning.

The other edifying moment in last nights itinerary was Marc Leblanc’s work at Open End Arts new space at 2000 W. Fulton, which, let me add, is unbelievable. It has been a long time since I have seen a body of work that feels exciting and fresh, opening up new channels of thought and perception. His voice remains clear and consistent from one proposition to the next. His work rides that fine line between conceptual rigor and poetic personal interpretation in the spirit of a Felix Gonzales-Torres.

The works include an appropriated presentational voice, whether it is a plexi-glass vitrine, pedestals, or framed objects. In this case, framed objects are on display. Two pieces rang out as the most potent works. The first, a wood frame that houses a baby picture of the artist juxtaposed by a 1981 issue of Artforum, assumingly from the month he was born. This contrast speaks volumes. LeBlanc locates himself historically and forms a dialogue with a period outside of his literal grasp. He reflects on a system he is now involved, but exists without his participation. It was here before him, and will continue after him. An effort to achieve balance in this ever-growing complex system is apparent. The piece strives to find a structure upon which to build, asking fundamental questions concerning the nature of self and other and its relative meanings. It is trying to formulate a template from which to view, understand, and then respond to, the world. This process is then literally displayed through physical remnants of his history.

The second piece is the display of similar artifacts, representing a day trip to the art museum. I suspect that this trip to witness history is metaphorically intentional. We have a photographic document of the artist and his girlfriend, no doubt included to discuss and comment on the common tourism of such an adventure, standing in front of the museum, receipts from lunch for two, and the tags given out as token memorabilia. Again, the artist attempts to locate self, but opposed to the past, he is historicizing his present. Reducing himself, as is the potential fate of the work, to a document or artifact within an institution. This self-reflexive performative maneuver mutates artistic production constructively.

Ben Foch


Hi Ali,

You wrote:

You can start by telling me: why should I care about this event? What's it trying to do? What's different and notable about it? What am I gonna get there that is better than what I'm getting elsewhere? How is it vital and necessary--ie why should I pay attention?

So is there anything to these murmurings? Do you have any idea why people might be disappointed by the actual festival?

I've never attended the festival, and nobody's ever said to me, "oh you gotta see (blank) at Around the Coyote! It's amazing (intense, frightening, incredibly thought-provoking, hilarious, etc.)! I've been thinking about it over and over ever since I saw it." Either nobody I know is going, or the displayed work is bland. And to be perfectly honest, the little I do know about ATC hasn't moved me to get involved; it just doesn't seem all that relevant to the ways in which I deal with art.

You haven't thrown the stone yet, just asked for a stone to be thrown. Why don't you start the discussion instead of "calling" on listmembers to provide it? If you offer your informed analyses and opinions first, then we'll have something to which we can respond.

Dan w.


well Dan...thanks for making us at the Other Group sound like real elitist assholes. Speak for youself not for "the group".

Why should you care? Well, because art is what you make, because you should be responsible, because we all eat from the same cake, because is art, because you want other people to look at your art ...and somehow...treat it with respect.





If that's how you took it, then you're welcome.

Just because it's been made and just because it's there doesn't mean anyone has a responsibility to see it, much less write a considered opinion about it. If that were the case, then we are all responsible for seeing all the work that is out there, whether we know anything about it or not. An impossible task, and probably not an enjoyable one.

I think it's totally fair to ask somebody who's already seen the work to give some well-considered and specific reasons for going to see a show, especially if that person is asking listmembers to discuss that show.

If a person can't give me a few sentences about why this show or this work is worth seeing beyond the usual cliches (you provided a very tidy list of those) and guilt-tripping (we have to support Chicago artists!), then forget it. There are more than enough people around who have no problem telling me a little something about a show they'd recommend and/or want feedback on--a few words about what they thought was notable, what to look for, how something worked or didn't work, etc.

And yes, before you accuse me of being totally unadventurous, I do go see stuff without having prior knowledge or descriptions of it. Just not in response to somebody asking me to see a show with which they are involved, discuss and possibly write about it, and for publication no less. Maybe Ali didn't realize this, but she (he?) asked for a lot.



I'm sorry but this sentence is really funny. Marc

Ben Foch wrote: (that funny sentence among other things that I also couldn't make much sense of)


I have not commented on the show Really Real at Gallery 312 yet because I need to go back and absorb all that there was to see. The opening was very crowded and I didn’t have the time I would have liked to dedicate to all that was going on. With such an extensive list of artists, I am sure at least a handful of you pay attention and/or participate in othergroup. It would be helpful to me if any of you would write in your comments concerning your involvement in the show, how such a show was organized, the curatorial process, etc. It seemed to be a very unique event and I would like to know more about its inception and its components, such as the gift shop. If anyone has anything to say on these matters, it would be greatly appreciated and informative when I go back for my thorough analysis.


Ben Foch


The "Really Real" show is "Really" incoherently organized and unfocused. I thought it felt extremely confused about what it wanted to do and how it wanted to expose a broad range of ideas/objects. The amount of critical distance that went into the structuring of this endeavor appears to have been almost nonexistent. But having said all of that, there are some very exciting moments within the show that make it well worth seeing - and perhaps revisiting if you went to the crowded opening (which I did - not a very good way to experience some of this stuff). There are things in the show which - if explored more thoroughly and thoughtfully - would be interesting shows in and of themselves. There are also things in the show that are vague in their presentation, but became much more interesting after speaking with some of the people that were responsible for those objects'/ideas' inclusion in the show. An essay or series of explanations and some accountability for how this show came together would have made its ideas a lot stronger. The booklet of glib acknowledgments and insider compliments does little to sort out the mess that is on view. The desire to let chaos reign feels - at least in this show - like it was a cop out.

But again, there's some compelling stuff on view. One thing I thought was particularly great was an archive of a couple hundred Ham Radio contact postcards from around the world. This collection represents a really wonderful survey of something one rarely gets to see (unless you are entrenched in Ham Radio culture - which not a lot of people are). The cards themselves feature some stellar graphic design covering the broadest range of approaches -from pseudo and perhaps legit Russian Constructivism to 1970's Hawaiian kitsch.


BenFoch at wrote:


she asked for a lot? she asked for the ususal...she asked for the same things we all ask for....come see it and talk about it?

That's why people put up shows...get it...

No, you don't get are too busy with your water cooler art many rules with you...


enough with the attacking, pedro.

don't you think it contradicts your argument for consideration and engagement?

Lorelei Stewart

Director, Gallery 400, UIC 1240 West Harrison Street (MC 034) Chicago, IL 60607

312 996 6114 T 312 355 3444 F []


OK other group...I'm out...this has become so artsy fartsy...can't take it anymore. Can't take the Dan Wangs of the world. People love to write and express their own "reviews" here but nothing happens in the real world. It feels like window dressing...artists should approach art like go out, play hard, try your best in the field. If you win you are happy, if you don't you take responsibility for messing up. So just fucking do it! Stop being scared Chicago, stop being defeated, stop being LAZY Chicago writers/critics.


please, stop the rumors:

I do like Loreli....we disagree in many things but she is cool, smart and she is doing a good thing.

If there was anyone I hated in Chicago that is Fred Camper, but that is public knowledge and he is also very vocal about our hate for each other. He is an ignorant asshole that shouldn't have the Reader gig.

good luck,

Pedro Velez


Okay Pedro, I'm completely confused. For a while it seemed that you wanted art to be like heavy metal. Heavy metal isn't usually all that smart, but it's passionate, aggressive, sincere, honest, and lacks irony. I could more or less get with that. It seemed right for our post-ironic post 9/11 times. But now you want art to be more like sports? Have you lost your mind?! Sports are all obsessed with competition, corporate sponsorship, advertising, consumerism, and steroid abuse. And you are quoting Nike in your directive to just [fucking] do it? Brother, you have really gone astray.

Stompin' in my Air Force Ones, Marc

P.S. A personal aside: I saw that Stephen Pearcy from Ratt had a solo show somewhere in the suburbs of Chicago recently - I thought of you and hoped that maybe the tour would reach PR so that you would get to see it. Naturally I did not go because - as you well know - Ratt aren't nearly hard enough for me. But I've been listening to that Sodom album I taped from you a lot lately.

Pedro Velez wrote:


Well, I think I would be very suspicious of a show that had designs on defining or dealing with the notion of Real or Reality that was NOT relatively unfocused and all over the place. I have to say that that kind of pell-mell experience is usually a mixed feeling for me, because I usually like concision and focus along with my wild proliferation. But, I found it pretty easy and interesting to look through all the stuff piece by piece or section by section at first; assuming I would have to go back and look again. Those ham radio cards though, ah. If only I saw things everyday that had that kind of stripped down focused design.

But the wall of quartz (?) pieces pegged into the wall was something great, I think. They were the height measurements of celebrities, I think, and the field of them on the black wall sort of pointing up to space and the stars, the form echoing an asteroid belt, I thought was an approach to fame that was poetic and interesting to look through with the binder list. And the fact that anything could make it through to my brain with those superb pop songs by Rodney Graham rolling through my head all week is a miracle. If anyone knows how to get copies of his songs, let me know, I'll shine your shoes for a decade and make you the best pasta sauce you'll ever have.

....but maybe I'll keep the "it's music why does it have to be impossible to get even if it is art, why can't you just make a book and cd to sell at the show for a rational price" argument for another email



I eventually found the binder but it was on the other side of the gallery on a book shelf with a zillion other objects and books. It's a really nice list. I like the list much better than the rocks and I was glad to know that I'm one inch taller than John Lennon (probably a few inches taller than him now). But putting that binder a half mile away from the rest of the piece is "really" bad exhibition design. There's a lot of that in that show - this kind of treasure hunt to figure out just what the fuck you are looking at and how it all fits (or in many cases, doesn't seem to fit) together.



About the "Really Real" show, I'm in agreement with Marc that it would nice if there was a little more transparency er, like, explanation about how it was organized, an essay or statement. The chaos of it is very appealing to me. I've been dreaming of a show like this for a while, a little bit of a train wreck.

It happily employs art products such as the People Powered paint on the book shelves, happily sells art, mostly cheaply, at the gift shop. Which opens the commercial side of art up to a much broader group of people. That's a way I can deal with commercial art. Then I'm left wondering what the commercial arrangement is, how is that money spent at the gift shop cut up. This becomes a part of the curatorial concerns, for me. I might sholda asked the person I was paying for the stuff I bought about that. That transaction that we are all very familiar with, of buying something, then becomes an opportunity to talk about art, another way to enter the work and the dialog around it. (It might seem like I'm grasping at straws here, but straws are sometimes my only means of drinking art, with my jaw wired shut as it to speak.)

As we are aware, curration, more and more seems to become a big part of the "text" of a show, so it becomes a central concern for the viewer. In Really Real there is this chaos, that Marc mentions in the curation, a confusion between collectors (people with collections, not art collectors), artists, curators, preparators. So I can see how in working to put a show like this together that things could get really flippant, a lot of, "hey what the hell, we've done everything else in here, why don't we do that too?" And I'm guessing that's where it falls appart for Marc, or someone. It reminds me of something Gregg Bordowitz says he's interested in (it's in a book I bought at Really Real, the Catalog for his MCA show, Drive) the idea of burdening a form 'til it reaches a point of structural collapse. Not sure if this show achieves that, but I am just reminded of it. If the chaos is a cop out, I read it as a response to the copping out of much local art. But maybe that's an overly generous reading. Copping out is it's own form, a genre of work it seems. As much as I like Marc LeBlanc, his work at Open End, and much of his other work that I've seen, seems to be in that vein. I know I'm in danger of sounding puritanical here, but there rarely seems to be any work in his work. It reminds me of some of Oli Watt's work, putting in it in an Ikea/Target frame isn't enough for me--which is not to mention my personal distaste for these products. Though I will say that some of that very convincing mumbo jumbo that Ben was writing about it is a very nice compliment to the work. Maybe you guys should do a project together.

Some of my favorite moments in Really Real: the time machine portion of the show, with Ben Stone's jumble of crappy alarm clocks (are there any alarm clocks that are not crappy? Okay, sure, they are useful) right there by Cindy Loehr's Grandfather Clock. And I love that they are showing the entire Beaver Trilogy in that screening room (I have to that I'm looking forward to the day when 312 can get a better video projector though), and I literally gasped when we turned off all the lights in that back room to get a better view of the Accidental Camera Obscura and saw the reflection of someone walk through a door outside.

I'm trying to figure out how to say what I think the title is about, "Really Real." A lot of the stuff in the show is just that, stuff, real stuff. It seems to lie on the same plane as the viewer more so than, say, Sarah Conaway's work at Julia Friedman (which I also happen to be very excited about. But maybe only because I get the impression she's not sorry to be invoking dense theory, another way to cop out, or withdraw). The Beaver Trilogy are just movies, Cindy's clock is just a clock. The stuff in the gift shop is stuff I buy all the time, CD's, books, stupid trinkets. There is nothing "hyper-real" in this show, like, um, giant c-prints with blown-out color, the stuff at Monique's (can't 'member who's work). It's very familiar feeling, even though it is full of weird stuff, like a mom and pop store, one of those places that doesn't know if it's a thrift-store or an antique store. Parts of it also reminds me of the Truman Minnesota Historical Society (a small town in Southern Minnesota with a decimated economy, like so many of those towns that were once inhabited by farmers working the family plot), the collection is very apparently a cobble of objects and texts arranged by the last person in town that had two months worth of time and energy to volunteer and try to organize them, but could never quite get it together all the way.

I should have been writing to my congress person about the war. I guess I'll have to do that off of company time.



Well I hope you have a lot of black shoe polish. And I make a damn good pasta sauce myself, so I've got expectations.

Rodney graham has 4 albums out, and one in the works. Two are easily obtained, one is included with a book of his, one can only be found, to my knowledge, in europe. I have seen the albums on occasion at donald young. but your best bet is the online bookstore of the diacenter ( or printed matter ( There is one cd available by itself. the other cd is included in his catalog from the kunsthall Wien (vienna). For my tastes, his ten inch lp (yep, actual vinyl) is the best. It has more acoustic, rather than pop, songs.The third cd I've never seen, but you could probably call or write the lisson gallery in england to get it. But I think it covers most the same material as the cd and the lp. You could ask the gallery. Oh, and the cd with the book has most of the same material as the individual cd, but earlier, less polished, versions. The new cd, I'm not sure when it will be finished.

...oh but there is also the cd of his deconstruction of Wagner's music, but that is a whole other thing...



ok I should know better by now than to make smart-ass queries with long-term manual labor as compensation, but I'll start stockpiling the polish now. thanks very much, mr. elms.



Is that Pedro fellow actually leaving? I thought Diego Bobby said that he was dead or something. I'm sure he was a great guy and all, but all that angry cursing seemed a bit unnecessary to me. I hope he can find a nice hobby to reduce his stress level a bit. I'll admit that the conversation gets a little "artsy" and "academic" here, but isn't this listserve supposed to be about art?

Is this all because of that nice lady that wanted us to visit her craft show? If it makes you so mad Pedro, that no one wants to go to the Coyote thing, I'll go see it, just to make you feel better. I could use some new baskets and knick-knacks for the house.
-- Dennis Hodges


On Mon, 10 Feb 2003, Dennis Hodges wrote:

Pedro will, like taxes, always be with us.

We could institute a 'bad word filter' which would write (bleep) for common words like (bleep), (bleep), and (bleep).


In response to my own frenetic posting, and more to Ben F's ideas about LeBlanc, there are a lot of things I should say. Mostly though I want to call myself on dismissing what Ben wrote about Marc LeBlanc's work as entirely consisting of "mumbo jumbo." It's not, it actually helps me to appreciate what Marc is doing more. Still, there are parts that are mumbo jumbo, as Marc Fischer pointed out. And I don't mean that in an all derisive way. It's speaking in tongues, it's kind of untamed, and it might be apparent that I participate in that most essential activity myself, having that puritanical background. The descriptive bits are helpful, you provide me with some useful terms to pick at his work. The idea that his work is an effort to locate himself in relation to institutions and history is useful to me. Then there is the other aspect of the work at Open-End, the fraudulent, pseudo-scientific aspect. The one piece, the silvery box that one looks at with the cobalt-blue goggles, where the text claims that you will see the aura of the box through these goggles, that's poking fun at minimalist and conceptual art, which makes me think it's like early Tony Tasset work. I'm sure there are better comparisons. But I think that Tony Tasset is a better comparison than Felix Gonzales-Torres, given the light-hearted content of Marc's work.

I think that Open-End's new space, while lovely in the sense that it amazingly huge and tall, seems like a pretty bad place to hang art, at least in it's current configuration, which didn't help Marc or Esther Stocker, the other artist in the show. Since it appears that Open-End is in the process of building that space out it seems appropriate to offer some suggestions as to how to arrange it, but maybe it's not. I like how things work at Suburban and to some extent, Suitable, where the social/party space, due to the existing architecture, is separate from the art space, the art gets it's own space-time continuum. But then if there is some huge project that requires a lot of space it can spill over into the the party space/sports arena. Not that art and parties can't work together, but it's nice to have the option of giving the art a little room to grow outside of music and drunken conversation.

Back to Marc and Esther, I think that their work had potential for a real good looking and rich show, but it would have worked much better in a smaller white cube type of space, or even a basement recroom-turned-gallery, with fake pine paneling. Marc's work is lost in the space, might have looked better to me if it were concentrated in one area. It is museological in the way it presents itself, those lousy frames and clean mattes with didactic texts. I would have liked his pieces closer together so they could work visually with each other, and maybe take on an even more museological guise, making that "appropriated presentational voice" more insistent, desperate, and funnier. It is humorous work. Which relates to something that Fred Camper wrote in relation to John Wanzel's work that was at Dogmatic recently (Reader review in section one a couple of weeks ago). I know that at least Pedro hates Fred, but I think it behooves some poeple to listen to him when he wrote that many young artists' suffer from a kind of conceited smugness. With Marc, I think that that smugness is evident right there in the work, I tried to tell him that on Friday. I don't think that was in so evident in John's work at Dogmatic, Fred probably got that impression from his telephone interview with John. Anybody who talks to John will note some smugness (for me it just makes him more adorable, but I can see how it might be off-putting). I think that Marc has a robust conceptual vocabulary. I'm looking forward to when he brings that to something that takes more than a few hours to put together.

No, everything doesn't have to take a lot of time and work to do to be interesting. I'm not talking about art, I'm talking about Marc's art.

Esther's work, big grid-based op-art paintings that seem use a lot of masking tape in the making, I would like to trip out on those for a while and see what happens. I couldn't do that while I was there, these paintings need gallery benches or Imax theatre seats and not to be at parties. I like the radical scale difference between their two bodies of work, I'm a fan of strange bed-fellow arrangements, with a little work they always turn out not to be so strange.

Brian, if you need help with Anthony's shoes you know where to find me. Leave me outa that whole pasta sauce mess though...suckah.



Can we write a bleep filter that replaces all instances of the word "bleep" with a random curse? Or perhaps one that replaces all gallery names with "The big fat mean jerks who just do stupid stuff at the expense of the artists they exploit".

Thus making this question: How were the artists chosen for the Gallery 312 show? to read as: How were the artists chosen for the "The big fat mean jerks who just do stupid stuff at the expense of the artists they exploit" show?

Or This: I missed Suitable's opening. What is the word on the Web? I heard it was cold and crowded but nothing about the work. To this: I missed "The big fat mean jerks who just do stupid stuff at the expense of the artists they exploit" opening. What is the word on the Web? I heard it was cold and crowded but nothing about the work.*

I am trying to compile a list of alternative spaces in Chicago. I know most of whats happened in the last 5 or six years that "The big fat mean jerks who just do stupid stuff at the expense of the artists they exploit" has been around. I have some patchy memories of the mid and early ninties. I was wondering if anyone might be willing to throw together a short list of what they recall. I want to get back to the seventies and the hey day of not for profits. It might be interesting to trace how these spaces have functioned here in the past. It might be interesting to see how long they tend to last. It might be interesting to look at how they relate directly or indirectly to the culture of Artists. Do they contibute to the dialogue in any way other then providing wall space? Have they helped Chicago's artists. Have they had any far reaching impact on the community. Do they tend to be gathered in one nieghborhood or district, Like west loop, river-north, old town, Wicker park or Pilsen. Or do they start at diverse points and then move as they mature like "The big fat mean jerks who just do stupid stuff at the expense of the artists they exploit" and "The big fat mean jerks who just do stupid stuff at the expense of the artists they exploit" did? Anyway its just a list. If anyone can help feel free to email me at www.diegobobby at or just post it.*

Thanks DB

*I really would like a response to these questions. The spaces exploited in this post were not chosen because of any animosity intended or implied. They were merely handy as my legitimate questions involved them. My apologies to Gallery 312, Suitable, Dogmatic, NFA and Bodybuilder and Sportsman if anyone felt I was being in anyway slanderous.


On Tue, 11 Feb 2003, diego bobby wrote:

Sure, why the (bleep) not. Sorry. Error.

Sure, why the (by the beards of the war mongering republicans) not.

You need to talk to old folks, but not me. Try Jeff Huebner, for one. See also [] Mainly the Uncomfortable Spaces, but if you recognize names of artists, you might ask them.

RSG, NAME - and some still dolvent: ARC, Artemisia. The "Art in Chicago 45-95" catalog of the MCA covered some of these -- but left huge gaps, for there was considerable dispute about what constituted a 'legit' albeit 'alternative' gallery.

HTH /jno


mwolf writes:

And I agree. There is a light heartedness to Marc's work that weakens the comparison. I tried to speak less about those works only because I was less interested in them. I do believe that the two pieces I discuss strike a similar chord of seriousness, that the other pieces do not. There was something very confrontational in the artforum/ baby picture piece that dove right into the heart of the matter, cultural immortality. And the museum visit piece came close to remnants of On Kawara's process of living, such as the postcards and telegrams. Yes, Marc's proposition was more lighthearted in this case as well, however, something about that seemed more honest, and all the more apathetic. In my opinion, this is his lead to follow to further develop his practice. Admittedly, I did want to shape a discussion in this direction merely as a personal exercise in manipulation/interpretation. Conscious editing can be fun! But don't quote me on that!

Ben Foch



I think this is something different than what Jno is talking about with "The "Art in Chicago 45-95" catalog of the MCA ," I have a photo copy of a book in my stacks at home (where I am not right now) that, if my vague recollections are at all accurate, was published by the MCA, perhaps in the 80's, called "Alternative Spaces." I get the feeling that it is out of print. This book leaves off right before the rise of the uncomfortable spaces, and has this really great bar graph showing when various non-profit and artist run spaces started and ended. It shows the existence of a space in the late sixties/early seventies (?) called "Bugs Bunny Space"! It also indicates that The Contemporary Art Workshop is the longest running non-profit gallery in Chicago, started in the late 50's and still puttering along today. If this is the sort of thing you are interested in I can lend it to you.

Also, I would love to look at or buy a regular copy of this book (not photocopied). Does anybody else know anything about this book? Is it still available?

My secret friend who gave me the copy might be reading this. Hi secret friend, thanks.

Later, Mike


This is exactly what I'm looking for. Thank you Mr. Wolf. Now I just have to fill in all of those years I spent hung over. DB


Linda Dorman and Tom T are having another arts thing - in the building which houses Uncle Freddy in 'downtown' Hammond. Two floors of stuff, 50 people, in an abondened office space (most furniture still in place - worth seeing for that). painting, installations, music, performance, $5. But the tolls will cost that much.

If you never had to work in an office -- where "office" means 100 people on one floor spread over private and public spaces according to their status in the company -- this is worth a look just to get the feel for the condition which dominates the lives of most people.

I had to endure those cubicles and small rooms filled with desks, file cabinets, supply cabinets, etc, every now and then, and for stretches up to 6 years. I'd rather camp out in the snow with the cub scouts, then have to that again.

- /jno

OK, try this: 94 to skyway, to IN tollway. Second exit (Calumet), left at the light, right at the light, left at the light (now yr headed So on Holman) - over the bridge.



the book you are looking for is :

- Title: Alternative Spaces- A History in Chicago
- Author: Lynne Warren
- Publisher: MCA, Chicago 1984
- . . . in conjunction with an exhibition under the same title at the MCA, Chicago June 23 - August 19, 1984

You might be able to order a copy from the MCA bookstore. I bought mine from the bookstore back in 1995 before they moved to the new location and expanded their selection. So it is possible they are stocking it now.

Hope this helps

Iain Muirhead


In a message dated 2/11/2003 7:02:52 PM Central Standard Time, diegobobby at writes:


Iam tempted to answer your questions and I like the idea of amending Lynne Warren's "Alternative Spaces" book to include 1984 to present - but i am more interested in the responses from artists that exhibited in those spaces to get a real measurement of their personal value / community impact or lack of ?

Iain Muirhead


For anybody interested in a different approach to the recent other group debates about political art, come see this--

Questioning Bush's War on Iraq


- Stephanie Schaudel (Voices in the Wilderness)
- Sharon Smith (author and organizer)
- Quentin D. Young, M.D. (single-payer advocate)

That's right. I'll be giving a brief account of the sponsoring group, Hyde Park Committee Against War & Racism, and then saying a little something about how I see the War On Terror and the anti-war movement as one who works with issues of visual culture, and how I've tried to bring some of that thinking into the HPCAWR.

Unlike the way the debate usually goes on this list, wherein somebody dismisses "political art" and somebody else then exposes the dismissal as irrationally argued, or something like that, with "art" in general never being challenged as irrelevant....For this panel I will have about a whole 5 minutes to justify or at least call attention to the tools that an art-informed, art-educated, and art-concerned (not even to speak of an art-making) citizen can bring to an activist outfit. The politics will be foregrounded this time around, and the art concerns will just be making an appearance. This should be a good reminder to those who get sick of all the political art and artists they encounter, and feel like there are too many of them: well, in fact the vast majority of activists, just like the vast majority of the population in general, are not artists and know very little about art.

Dan w.

7 pm, Tuesday, Feb 25th University Church at 57th and University Avenue


So I went back to see the "Really Real" show again last weekend. I still found lots of dubious inclusions and vague curatorial thinking, but I also found more to recommend. The accidental camera obscura, which Paul from G312 explained was found when they did a bunch of cleaning while working on the show, is very very nice. And at the urging of my viewing companion who really wanted to see it, I watched the entire Beaver Trilogy video (it should absolutely be seen from the beginning - kindly ask Paul to rewind it). This video trilogy is truly astounding and one of the most rich and rewarding things I've seen in quire some time. And Gabe Fowler should be thanked for putting together the helpful little brochure which reprints an interview with the film-maker. And how often can you say that one of the best works in an exhibit also includes the best uses of a young Sean Penn and even younger Crispin Glover?


Mikey Wolf said " And I love that they are showing the entire Beaver Trilogy in that screening room (I have to that I'm looking forward to the day when 312 can get a better video projector though),"

Yeah, the pixels are so big on that projector that it kinds of seems like you are watching TV on a Lightbrite - though I doubt the tape itself is all that sharp.


From Stephen Crane in response to recent postings to other group:

Re: "Really Real," Gallery 312, Feb. 2003

I understand that some folks who attended the opening of "Really Real" complained that the show is incoherent. This strikes me as a curious-and acutely symptomatic-response in several different registers. To begin with, I'm not sure I understand the longing for coherence (let us call it the desire named "coherence") in the art world of our time. Surely, what one longs for in an exhibit of new art is not coherence so much as a new set of questions. We should be asking "what do these objects and images, arranged in this manner, ask?" "What do they ask of me?" "What do they want from me?" The desire named "coherence" is the desire satisfied by the familiar, the already known. The productive exhibit commits itself instead to a striving to provoke new knowledge.

How does the desire named "coherence" exist in the everyday? The great semiotician, C. S. Peirce, thought of habit as "the only bridge that can span the chance-medley of chaos and the cosmos of order and law." To the degree that the practice and exhibition of art interrupts habit, it can disclose something of that chaos (even as it invokes the cosmological enterprise). The forgotten aesthetician, George Santayana, explained that poetry (by which he meant art) forces us to "plunge for a moment into that torrent of sensation and imagery over which the bridge of prosaic association habitually carries us safe and dry to some conventional act. How slight that bridge commonly is, how much an affair of trestles and wires, we can hardly conceive." All of which is to say (again) that the desire named "coherence" will find its greatest satisfaction in habit, in prose, in convention. All of which is to say, moreover, that insofar as "Really Real" means to give access to "reality" it would be compromised by attaining coherence. Isn't it more likely that "coherence" (and not "incoherence") would come in the form of an accusation?

That said, I would nonetheless want to pursue the question of the "coherence" of "Really Real" but to do so through the simple Latin derivation of the word. That is: how does this exhibit "stick together." The structural coherence of the exhibit was perhaps invisible during the opening, in the midst of the very large crowd; it is nonetheless unmistakable when one wanders through the gallery alone (or almost alone, as I was able to do by arriving at the opening very early). Structural coherence is a far more ambitious kind of coherence to strive for (more ambitious say, than thematic coherence, or topical coherence, or the coherence of media or mode), but it is the kind of coherence that transforms the exhibit as such into an experience (in the strong sense-in John Dewey's sense) and into art (art being that which brings the experience of experience into our proximity). Moreover and most important, structural coherence is precisely what holds the phenomenal "real world" together, what makes reality perceptible as reality. Despite the vicissitudes of the weather, every day is in fact another day (the sun rises even if we can't see it); for all the randomness of the everyday there are still unchanging laws (e.g., physical laws). All told, then, what one unfortunately has to call the aesthetic principles of the installation (the principles by which the installation attains the status of art) are also the principles by which it seems most profoundly to make good on its title. The really real is the almost imperceptible principles of structuration within which we experience randomness.

But where in the show are those principles? Where do we begin to find this structural coherence? One might begin with the exhibit's most dramatic object, its dramatic edifice, the hollow column of hay. (You will have to forgive me for writing without titles-I never took the trouble to look at more than a few.) This hollow column, legible though it is as a kind of temple (one would hasten to say, following a thematic trajectory, that this is the temple through which we honor the god of the stars, those stars distributed across the black night of the far wall, those stars that remain in their place thanks to the potency of the god), is foremost a hollow column. Across the room, at the other end of what one experiences as one line of the exhibition's fundamental axis, hang a pair of boots, which is to say two hollow columns. (Both the boots-which one presumes to have been fictitiously "identified" as "Bill Brown's Boots"--and the column can be read as bisexual symbols, both phallic and vaginal, and one can thus experience entering the hay column as the act of entering one boot in its symbolic dimension. But such symbolic coherence, like any kind of thematic coherence, remains a secondary consideration. Evacuated boots are hollow columns, and they thus stick to the hay column while being distant from it, establishing the other point of the axis line through which nothing in the exhibition intrudes (except the people at a crowded opening.)

The other grand line that forms the fundamental grid of exhibition is not in fact a line: it is a field, constituted by the rock wall, on the one hand, and on the other, the simple yet elaborate sequence of paintings on the facing wall. (Of course the field is constituted by the many lines one could draw between particular rocks and particular brush marks.) The white rocks are stuck on a vertical black ground in clusters generated not formally, but biographically (through the heights of famous people displayed in alphabetical order), and yet achieving the form of a line, despite the unevenness. In this case the paper wall on which a physicist's rendition of the early cosmos is being projected draws the rock wall into legibility as, say, the milky way. But the sequence of brownish paintings on the brown wall pull the stars back into their mere formal coherence as dots that constitute a line, or, better, a bar. Symbolically: what one has to call the earth tones of these paintings brings one's vision of the stars back down to earth. But, formally, we are here confronted with the deviation within repetition exhibited by these carefully painted marks on square grids, just as we are confronted by the sameness in color of any two proximate paintings that nonetheless, in concert with the full line (band) of paintings, adds up to a striking change from pale green to brown. Magnified, the meticulously repeated brush strokes would exhibit the same kind of variety in size and shape as the rocks on the wall; their principle of structuration though, unlike the rock wall, is fully disclosed.

Of course, within the exhibit, there are many structural autocitations: e.g., the architecture of the hay column is repeated in the architecture of the stack of soap in the gift shop, and again in the stack of books in the far corner of the gift shop; the band of rocks reappears as the band of rubber ducks lined up along the top of the shelves in the library. Such repeated forms are obviously meant to work-and to work perhaps subliminally-to remind us how form as such asserts itself in the midst of apparent disparity.

But let me return to the great exhibitionary grid. The axis is comprised of line and field. The field, beyond the line, is full. It is full of objects and images that respond to the generative themes of the show but that importantly intrude upon-or irrupt within--the magnificent clarity of the overarching structure. I can hardy begin to attend to these intrusions, these irruptions, in any satisfactory way, except to say that, like the projected cosmos (the slide show projected on the paper screen), they each in their way threaten to collapse the structural clarity of the exhibition into a thematic reading, and it is this threat-call it now the fragile bridge between the order of structure and the disorder of theme-that energizes "Really Real" at every moment. Will you allow yourself to be assaulted and interpellated by the narrative possibilities of these robots staring at stars? Will you stare at the curiously confined fish and begin to ask whether-in the time line painting, as in the haystack, as in the vials of pituitary gland-this show isn't about the cultural transformations of nature (perhaps the most trenchant sign of danger to the environment)? Once one leaves this central field (the dominant exhibition space), a host of other possibilities assert themselves. The intensely pink envelope of a room rewrites the show as an exhibition of spaces habitable and inhabitable (spaces that now include the projection room, the hay house, the models of cave and house, the library, the universe, the far recesses of the gallery, the residue from the room with yellow wallpaper where Charlotte Perkins Gilman's protagonist endured her confinement, the shallow fish bowl, the set of costumes).

Of course, the children's costumes themselves provoke the inevitable question about the really real. Real costumes, really worn, and worn as an effort to disguise the self, an effort which nonetheless expresses the self in the form of an artistic creation. If there is any thematic coherence worthy of the structural coherence achieved by this exhibition, it is of course summoned by the title of the show and the light in which it casts all the objects and images: real rocks, real hay, real clocks, real fish, real glands-all of which lose (or do they attain) their realness within the grid of exhibition? Some of this could be called found art, and the show certainly insists on the artistic values that inhere within the everyday. Other contributions-the band of paintings that become a time line and express a temporality somewhere between that expressed by the physicist's slides and the stack of clocks, the slow and all but endless time of the universe, and the conflicting paces of daily postmodern life-derive their inspiration (and their form and color) from phenomena (the fading hydrangea flower) that, as a part of nature, might be called the realm beyond art, or beyond art-as-usual, while at once disintegrating and temporalizing the flower as object of traditional, fetishizing still-life. The curatorial achievement should be measured not least by its insistence on refusing irony, a refusal that allows it to make claim to a kind of proto-post-postmodernism. Seriality (the band of the rock wall, the band of the painted time line) has no Warhol-effect; the library (a kind of period room locatable in time [now] but not in space [the Midwest?]), functions seriously as a library; the gift shop sells stuff; the haystack is a legitimate temple, even functioning as a Heideggerian temple that strives to bring the conflict of the earth and the world into the Open. There is here nothing of Bataille's informe in its many contemporary manifestations (most importantly its political manifestations--Zhu Yu's almost unbearable "Pocket-Size Theology" of 1999, the severed arm clutching one end of a rope). There are pituitary glands, but their vialed display is meant to be artistic, if nonetheless challenging. There are no used condoms. Though the show represents some nostalgia (the library, the hay understood as the rearranged remnants of the field through which the peasant woman walked home before Van Gogh painted her shoes), it is by no means nostalgic. One might say, however, that it is utopian. Which to register only one complaint-not about what is in the show, but about what is absent: some German pitcher through which to re-imagine Bloch's experience of re-imagining the utopian in a time out of joint.

With thanks to the curatorial collective and to Gallery 312 for producing such a challenging and moving exhibit, Stephen Crane


regarding the recent discussion of "coherence":

I'm happy this discussion came up, because I think it's _always_ important to be aware of exhibition structures: too often these structures are completely ignored.

Maybe the question of coherence vs. incoherence is less relevant than evaluating different types of structures. Some structures are completely rigid, some are completely fluid. Some structures are simple, some are complex. Most are somewhere in between. I think the most ambitious exhibitions are the most complex and the most fluid. of course, ambitious also means: the most difficult to pull off.





I'm new here, but so what?

Regarding the desire for coherence, I would say it's legitimate. There is nothing wrong with expecting the artworks in front of us to actually have something to say, and to say it coherently. I think it's mostly just a cheap excuse to claim that the function of art is to "challenge and demand of us" that we perform intellectual gymnastics to justify it's existence. If the artist has nothing to say, or more likely, has no idea what it is that he thinks he is feeling compelled to say, perhaps he should shut up until he does. Let him work and show among his peers until he's ready for the real world. This goes for curators, too. (Though, if we have to look to the curator for a show's message or purpose, there is something already dramatically wrong with the artwork, anyway.)

After all, the rest of us out here are busy people. We work hard and don't have a lot of time and energy or cash to expend on shows full of adolescents who's parents didn't teach them the essential rules of living; including that one about being quiet and listening to the flow of the conversation until one has something of value to interject.

The "art world", being only slightly removed from the idiotic world of fashion, has fallen in love with the stupid arrogance of youth. Apparently, in it's endless pursuit of perceived novelty, it is unaware that there is nothing at all novel about stupidity, arrogance, or youth. It's just that the young, being young, are too stupid to know this week's "novelty" has been around the fashion track many times before.

Confusion is just confusion. There is nothing particularly novel or intellectually challenging about it unless we are too young to even recognize confusion when we see it. Here's a tip: whenever you hear someone justifying the existence of an artwork by it's process or "structure" you're probably talking about a work of art that either doesn't know, or won't acknowledge the real reason that it was made. And that's almost always because the artist had no idea him/herself.

I have nothing against youth and foolishness. But I see no need to pay for it with real time and money. As to curators, they are just functionaries, like the guys who carry the stuff up the stairs. They should be invisible.

Dave S.


whoever you are dude, you speak the word!

rock on brother.

At 07:57 AM 2/19/2003 -0600, you wrote:


Scott Speh wrote:

really? HA! you've got to be kidding!

it sounds like us artists need a good spanking to keep us in line!


hey cindy

nice effort. i'm sure everyone saw my original text.

and yes. you all need spankings. or better yet, paddlings.

At 10:32 PM 2/19/2003 -0600, you wrote:


I'm sure I'm swallowing some very purposeful bait, but I'd like to object to DS describing the curator as equally important as the dude screwing eyehooks to painting frames. I think a is a bit more complicated than that. There are many models for the role of curator, one of which is certainly seeming invisibility. And on the other end, there are project shows which are all about who curated them and how or why. Think of Larry Rinder and the Whitney Biennial as it has existed lately. It was his show and he got blamed when it sucked (or so I heard...I never saw it). And now I know he's working on a show of art about America as made by non-Americans. That's all about the curator's perspective. Both models are legitimate, and it comes down to what is appropriate at what time and in what venue.

However, as anyone who has ever heard about the concept of the white cube and its illusions, or more specifically, apparatus theory, there can be no objective curatorial mechanism nor neutral space. A curator's fingerprints can never be completely erased from the look/content of the show. Even shows without a curator, group shows where everyone chooses their own stuff to include, have a curatorial agenda. The content of a show, what is included and what is not, creates a contextual narrative which like all stories has an author. There is always a voice, whether it is a solo or chorus or even when anonymous.

In spite of the fact of complete curatorial invisibility being impossible, I have some serious objections to how certain curatorial thumbprints were overly pressed onto the Really Real show. I have a great deal of insider knowledge about the project and a great number of affiliations with the folks involved. My objections are most likely more inflated than those of the average viewer, and I will refrain from indiscreet ranting.



Hi folks

I thought Dave Stull made a lot of good points, and my gut feeling is to agree with him across the board. That said, I think our chaotic world needs a few chaotic art exhibitions to get us over the doldrums we're all experiencing. [Well, maybe not all of us. There's plenty of good work around.] But I, for one, have no idea to accomodate world affairs with my established working methods, and I want lots of chaos in my art-life to keep the juices flowing.



Hello, I'm Michael Kiresuk and I was involved in the show Really Real and presented a digital photo in the Gift Shop.

I consider Really Real to be a cohesive representation of the state of our institutional structures. The exhibition reveals (in a very condensed manner) the accepted organizational frameworks and aesthetic that we experience at museums worldwide.

It's my personal view that Really Real presented me with the reality of my aspirations to participate in an institutional structure and forced me to question the nature of that desire.

On another level, it was my experience that Really Real raised many questions about how we arrive at meaning in life and art.



I have to agree (with whoever), a curatorial structure has to be there. It is like the need for an editor for a film, the designer for a book, etc, you can probably think of like situations. And I also agree with (whoever) that it disappears, and need not be obvious to the viewer. It is an armature, lost to sight. But it holds up the exhibition.

However (in disagreement with whoever else), it was not a euclidian design which held the Really Real exhibit together.. It looked to me more like the plan for packing luggage: you make everything fit. And it didn't bother me.

It is obvious that the exhibit includes some very disparate objects, but that also didn't bother me. What I experience was a sense of amazing enthusiasm, serendipity, and playfulness. It was an absolute delight to walk through the gallery space -- from the initial cyclone projection (with sound) with all the looks of having been put together in 10 minutes, the house of straw, the rock (?) stars constellated like so many asteroids, to the final collection (in the 'gift shop') of those weird stumpy concrete telephones (for an "as yet untitled project").

I think it was all delightfully funny, playfully intellectual (the medical samples and instruments looked like they were right out of the Museum of Jurassic Technology in LA), and some of it put together on the spot as collusions between artists. It was like a revelation of how artists think all the time -- equivalent to doing a studio visit, and just skipping the work space, and exploring the artist's kitchen and livingroom and bedroom to see how her art integrates into her "real" life.

What held all this together seemed to be an index of 'art as a way of living and thinking'. You are allowed to see the strange obsessions of artists (an artist is allowed to study 'anything'), the collections of significant objects -- all of which seem to have nothing to do with the usual presentational art of the gallery. It was even a shock to find one painting among them (oh, yes, and the 'uncompleted series' by whoever). That some pieces didn't seem to work or do anything 'aesthetic' also didn't bother me. I just enjoyed myself immensely.



Hello All,

A few hundred years ago, when I was in art school, I took an aesthetics class. The professor was very popular, because he did magic tricks throughout his lectures to keep the students from falling asleep from boredom (nothing was more boring than those art classes where people just talked about art, I'm sure you remember). He was a bigshot in the world of eastern art aesthetics, particularly Chinese, but that wasn't what this class was about, and I think even he was bored with Plato, Aristotle, and all those other dead western philosophers, and their respective manifestos on the mechanics and purpose of the art endeavor.

I was fascinated, though.

As I'm sure you are all aware, aesthetics is a branch of philosophy related to how we see and understand the world visually, and essentially becomes a philosophical discussion/debate about why human beings make art. It's been far too long ago for me to remember anymore which old dead philosopher said what about art, but what did stick in my head was their method of debate and the soundness of their reasoning.

One fellow, for example would state that art is the pursuit of the ideal of a form within the form itself (Plato, I think that was). And he would go on in great detail explaining exactly how and why this statement is the absolute irrefutable truth about the function of art for all humankind. Then the next generation's philosopher would come along and state that in fact the first guy was completely wrong, and that art is not the pursuit of the ideal form that underpins all individual forms but the pursuit of beauty through the manipulation of balance, and symmetry, and man's innate desire for cohesiveness. And he would methodically dismantle the previous man's argument, then just as methodically establish his own as the absolute irrefutable truth about the function of art for all humankind. This is how philosophers discuss and debate stuff.

But what impressed me was that each assertion sounded so reasonable and true when proposed, yet each man claimed with certainty that the other guy's assertions were wrong. It was clear to me that they were all right, in some way, and all wrong when they claimed exclusivity. That is that human beings endeavor to make art for lots of different reasons, many of them equally viable even if mutually exclusive, and some people probably do it for multiple reasons. Here are a few that I remember: art is the pursuit of truth, art is for teaching truths already known to the wise, art is the pursuit of beauty, art is the pursuit of immortality, art is communication, art is the expression of emotion (regardless of communication), art is the pursuit of the divine nature (God), art is the expression of the divine nature through us, art is the pursuit of intellectual, emotional and/or spiritual healing, art is the pursuit of honesty and genuiness in life, art is the pursuit of fame, glory, money, and respect, art is the expression of man's profound ignorance... I'm sure there are lots more.

So, assuming that most of the people on this list are artists, or wanna-be's, or has-beens, or whatever, I wonder where you all would find yourselves in such an aesthetic discussion? Any thoughts?

Dave S.


Hi there group,

I want to respond to what Gabe F. posted the other day.

Gabe said: " I thought Dave Stull made a lot of good points, and my gut feeling is to agree with him across the board."

My gut feeling is not to agree with Dave Stull across the board. But won't get into the particularities of that. Still mulling it over, so to speak.

Gabe said: "...I, for one, have no idea to accommodate world affairs with my established working methods, and I want lots of chaos in my art-life to keep the juices flowing."

Chaos is a highly coded term, and easy to fuse with things like randomness, mayhem, confusion, incoherence, or even violence. I don't think we're talking about chaos like "chaos theory." But I suspect that a lot of diluted ideas about chaos theory have trickled all across various cultural terrain's, including art. I also think that chaos theory had, or has some kind of vogue in art circles. How does any of this factor into our work, and are we beholden to that history?

I'm not sure.

Gabe says that chaos keeps the juices of his art-life flowing. I think I know what he means. Chaos is about flow. When I think about chaos and the roles that I see it playing in my work (art-life) the question is not whether it plays a role in my work, but what role it plays. Where I let it crop up, how I can use it strategically, and how it plays in the rules established for my work. Chaos relates to the free-associative spirits in my work, it helps me to relate very disparate ideas and images. It also seems to relate to the unconsciousness of my work; sometimes the most chaotic thing about my work is the twisted images and ideas that appear out of nowhere and that are beyond my control. It is maybe for lack of a better term that I say that stuff is unconscious. It seems like a good term as much as it relates to my modernist history. That is, my notion of unconsciousness comes primarily out of my psychoanalytic ancestry. Of course it seems prudent not share most of this "twisted" work, so don't worry about that. Not for a few years anyway.

But also Gabe mentions some strife about accommodating "world affairs" in his work. Which makes me think he's talking about the chaos of world affairs, global violence, violent economics, and a general volatility at every turn and on view from every vista. My response to that, first of all, is that you don't have deal with it in your art if you don't want to. Sometimes I try to, but when it comes to presenting that work publicly it usually seems like a failure. That's no reason to give up though. Also, just because an artist doesn't want talk about it in h/er work doesn't mean s/he can't, say, speak out against the possible-war-on-Iraq as a separate pursuit from h/er art! (that might seem basic to some people, but I tend to forget that, being so absorbed in this whole art mess).

Mike Wolf


Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not money, I am become as a sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not money, it profiteth me nothing. Money suffereth long, and is kind, money envieth not; money vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil: rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things...And now abideth faith, hope, money, these three: but the greatest of these is money.

I Corinthians xiii (adapted)

from George Orwell, Keep the Aspidistra Flying


Baby's On Fire (Kendall, Russell, Niven, Lardie, Montana)

Learnt me to rock an' I learnt me t'roll Ya gotta use it baby t'keep your soul Go down to town, get some reaction Gotta go down cos I need a distraction

I've been tryin' it on with everyone in sight She's been waitin' so long for me t'come tonight

Baby's on fire and I'm burnin' up Sparks bin flyin' an' she can't get enough Can't get enough but she's got what it takes Baby's on fire and I got the shakes

There ain't no cure and there ain't no time You gotta have it and have it fine Don't say a word about her affections I'm gonna come from another direction

She's been tryin' it on with everyone in sight I've been waitin' so long for her t'come tonight

Baby's on fire and I'm burnin' up Sparks bin flyin' an' I can't get enough Can't get enough but she's got what it takes Baby's on fire and I got the shakes

And from their hit "Once Bitten Twice Shy": "You didn't know that rock-n-roll burned" No, they sure didn't. Poor people. They died for that. These are end times we are living in people. Why was the Orwell quote posted? I have no idea. But all these fucked up events happening lately must surely have something to do with aesthetics
- if only that you shouldn't recreate the aesthetic experience of a huge arena in a small wooden structure. As the apocalypse approaches (including the inevitable re-election of our King Mayor), we all better choose our escapism very carefully - try not to die for washed up art or music. That said, did anyone see Damo Suzuki at the Fireside the other night? I didn't go and am curious. Marc


... Please forgive this outburst...but..

Now I'm reading proclimations of the end times on othergroup? Just because some stupid hair band started a fire? Dude... turn off your television, read some history, or better yet.. go see an art exhibit



whatever Tim.

At 06:50 PM 2/24/03 +0000, you wrote:


Tim, upon further reflection, I'm sorry but I have to have a little outburst too, especially when a self-important artist tell me to turn off my TV. Like art is inherently so much better than any other activity or interest. And the pretentious mocking of other people's interests really gets old. Why do you think the public hates art? This ridiculous hectoring doesn't help. I wish I were at home so I could put on Motley Crue's greatest hits, turn on Jerry Springer and eat cheeseburgers. It'd be a hell of a lot more interesting than the 4 hours I spent looking at art on Saturday. You know, Timmy, we can multi-task. We can look at art, read history (or People magazine), watch Joe Millionaire (or better yet, "Am I Hot?") and rock to the hair metal and still be productive and interesting members of society. Why do we all have to think like you? Turn ON your TV brother.

Love, Scott

At 06:50 PM 2/24/03 +0000, you wrote:


give me a break, scott....

listening to anybody's outburst is annoying. your's as much as anyone else's.

so there, lorelei

Lorelei Stewart

Director, Gallery 400, UIC 1240 West Harrison Street (MC 034) Chicago, IL 60607

312 996 6114 T 312 355 3444 F []


In response to Dave Stull's call for thoughts on aesthetics, I posted an Orwell quote for no reason and because I think the word "I" operates metaphorically as "poetry" and (possibly) as "art", thus answering someone's question about the location of art.



Tim and Scott,

Tim - I was just fucking around about the apocalypse. But when was the last time a group of artists used a presentation of their art to kill 97 people including one of their own? That _is_ a special historical moment. Savor it a little. I hate Great White's music but they gave us a major tragedy. From a long-term historical perspective, that's kind of an interesting accomplishment for a small group of artists (even if it was probably unintentional on their part).

Scott, I can't quite get behind your admonition to turn on TV - last time I did that I saw live rats and roaches crawling on the bare legs of Joan Rivers' daughter. Well, actually, that was pretty good.

Please don't take any of this too seriously people. Misanthropically yours, Marc

Timothy Cross wrote: .. Please forgive this outburst...but...

Now I'm reading proclimations of the end times on othergroup? Just because some stupid hair band started a fire? Dude... turn off your television, read some history, or better yet.. go see an art exhibit


sure enough!

but since pedro is no longer on the othergroup, i thought i'd revive his spirit.

hugs and kisses scott

Quoting Lorelei Stewart :


The outburster has regrouped and would like to say that he does not take things too seriously... Just a bit cynical.

It must be my aversion to all the hype and hoopla paced on an accident. It seems a bit disrespectful to have these people die and for us to be "entertained" by it, or if not entertained, then just butting our collective noses (via the camera lens) into their life. Call me cynical but I'll swear that I'm not alone in thinking that observing others misfortune is not a healthy past-time (take the show cops for instance).

I guess that I'd rather be the fool on the hill then sitting around chatting about who will be the next big boobed millionaire... or whatever...




You can do what ever you want... and Of course you would think it's more interesting to do the things that you mentioned. It's much easier to understand.

Love Tim



I hate to get into this, but there is a difference between a public tragedy and Joe Millionaire. Actually I would almost think it helpful when a real accident occurs to have the public morn. I'm not saying that these things are not sometimes over sensationalized, but it's important to have communal support in times of hardship. I would be willing to bet that many families appreciate the empathy. Thought I would just put my two-cents in.



Meg said: "there is a difference between a public tragedy and Joe Millionaire. Actually I would almost think it helpful when a real accident occurs to have the public morn. I'm not saying that these things are not sometimes over sensationalized, but it's important to have communal support in times of hardship."

I'm down with Meg, in as much as she is arguing for the importance of public mourning. But I'm not down with her in as much as she might be saying that the television medium as we know it is able to facilitate that mourning. I question whether it has any idea how to do that. It's hard enough to figure out how to mourn for yourself. Which isn't to balk at any attempt.

Is it still mourning when it's co-opted by comercial intersts? Television is, after all, designed and used in the service of mobilizing the consumerist desires of the viewer. Which is fine with me. But a lot of shitty things are fine with me.

Part of the great thing about mourning is that it is a kind of withdrawal from the speed of capitalism and consumerism. It's a healing process that takes it's own time, outside of the strict regimentation of capital. So for capital to co-opt it is to totally transform its meaning. Mourning becomes panic purchasing. How dull is that?

I'm glad to hear that Marc invokes his apocalyptic fantasy only jokingly. Indulging in these fantasies is cynical, defeatist, might tend to debase and discourage efforts to improve the lousy conditions of a place. It's that kind of cynicism cements schmuck idols like Daley to their thrones, who I've never heard say anything that wasn't in defense of his latest act of cronyism. There are people who say inspiring and effective things, but for some reason they don't get into politics. Did they used to? I mean, was that stuff that Lincoln or MLK said really as increadible as it seems today, or is that some kind of weird nostalgia.

Also, there's that great Barbara Kruger slogan: "We don't need another hero"

Marc asked: "did anyone see Damo Suzuki at the Fireside the other night?"

I didn't go, but my friend who went said the band who played with him was not so good, Defender.

Mike Woof


You're right.



In response to Mike - with times being as stupid and miserable as they are right now - still having the ability to generate a fantasy about anything is a reason for some degree of optimism. I'm roaming around aloud here - in part just for kicks - but what the hell can ya do? Have fantasies. Perhaps even act on them (within or outside of reasonable legal limits). Be sincere and honest. Create things that you can control in some small way and put out into the world where they can be shared and seen by others. Try to take a certain amount of control over your own ability to produce new things and generate new possibilities and dialogues. Oh yeah, and of course if you are really in the minority, you can vote (heh heh). But actually - hooray for a run off in the first ward Aldermanic race. Holy shit, my vote actually counted tonight.

Anyway, Apocalyptic fantasies can be fun. I'm not religious; I don't believe in heaven and hell. Of course there will be lots of time to keep messing things up. We are not at the end of history. But let's not get completely down on the Apocalyptic. Why do people like Bosch and Goya? Why do I like Doom Metal? Remember that the best of those cynics are also creating vital new music/art as a vehicle for those fantasies - as a way of contending with and maybe even transcending how shitty things are. To quote the rocket scientists in Electric Wizard from their unbelievably cynical song "Funeralopolis": "I don't care, this world means nothing, life has no meaning my feelings are numb... Nuclear warheads ready to strike. This world is so fucked, let's end it tonight!" Not exactly my own sentiments but I won't fault them for expressing themselves with such abject blunt force. Those guys have no power, they're just pothead musicians. I'm no stoner so I don't even relate on that level. But they sure can write a killer riff and I think their contempt is honest and maybe even glorious and, at times, refreshing. And even those nihilistic stoners had the ambition to publish their nihilistic songs in spite of their lousy reality. Their catharsis is strangely encouraging. Is it giving up if you make art about being so hateful that you want to give up and you do a really sincere and excellent job at it? In shitty times like this I find their honest utter contempt to be, almost... a source of optimism and a ray of hope! Digging around in the filth isn't always such a bad thing. You can come sometimes out the other end with something positive and life-affirming. It would be a little harsh if this was the only kind of art though. A little balance is nice too (but that still doesn't mean that I'm gonna start watching Joe Millionaire - although I bet that show is more cynical than a million Electric Wizards). Marc

Mikey Woof said: I'm glad to hear that Marc invokes his apocalyptic fantasy only jokingly. Indulging in these fantasies is cynical, defeatist, might tend to debase and discourage efforts to improve the lousy conditions of a place. It's that kind of cynicism cements schmuck idols like Daley to their thrones, who I've never heard say anything that wasn't in defense of his latest act of cronyism. There are people who say inspiring and effective things, but for some reason they don't get into politics. Did they used to? I mean, was that stuff that Lincoln or MLK said really as increadible as it seems today, or is that some kind of weird nostalgia.

Also, there's that great Barbara Kruger slogan: "We don't need another hero"


(mission Internationale, Paris):

In a stunning reversal of policy, French President Jacques Chirac announced today that the French government will be supporting the War on Terror after all. Five hundred soldiers from the elite Battalion des Specialistes d'Abandonnement (Surrender Specialists) of France's vaunted Armees de la Terre are preparing for movement to Iraq, where they will advise the Iraqi Republican Guards on the protocol of the upcoming surrender to the American Armed Forces.

President Chirac also announced that his goverment will be sending 3,000 advisors from the elite Force du Collaborateurs Francaises to assist the Iraqis in avidly collaborating with the Americans, while pretending to be part of a non-existent resistence movement.



marc writes: "Anyway, Apocalyptic fantasies can be fun...."

When confronted with some difficulty, the easiest and cheapest response I can think of is to whine about it, and do nothing. This is in fact, the response that a lot of people choose. And the result is that even here in America where people have the most of everything, they still appreciate it very little, and whine and cry and wallow in existential dissatisfaction anyway ... because it's the cheapest and easiest thing to do.

Unfortunately, every decision we make has a cost, and when we choose to whine and cry as a response to real or imagined difficulties, there is a price. That price is a loss of empowerment.

Whiners deny their own power, and by doing this in public they tell others to ignore their power as well. Soon one finds that they have become powerless. No one takes them seriously anymore, because they did not take themselves seriously. No one respects their words or deeds because all they did was whine and cry, and people know that it's a cheap and easy response. Any fool could have done it. What's to respect?

Being an adult is hard work. Everyone's life brings them many difficulties and learning how best to respond to those difficulties takes effort. It takes practice. And it takes courage.

Apocalyptic fantasies can be fun. So can whining and crying about the "horrible state of the world". But it's a fun that needs to be enjoyed very sparingly, and if you're smart, in private.

Accepting life on life's terms, and doing the best we can with what is available to us would be a far healthier response to life's difficulties, and will keep us empowered.

Dave S.


I truly hope that my last message was not understood as a call to whine and do nothing. Fuck No, when times feel bleak I always think the thing to do is to empower yourself by working harder than ever to develop and put forward ideas that you think have value and to share those ideas and that work with others. Hell, I'm working harder than I have in my entire life toward those ends. But I still would argue that some good art has come from a little wallowing and misery - and that we need those kinds of expression.


response I the here in appreciate it dissatisfaction to is a others take all they response. difficulties It enjoyed very difficulties,


"But actually - hooray for a run off in the first ward Aldermanic race. Holy shit, my vote actually counted tonight."

YAAAY for Manny in the first ward upset! and wasn't Vilma defeated too? I've never knew aldermanic elections could be so exciting! There's a lesson there- both for the outsider/underdog and for the voter who thinks a vote doesn't count.

hey: anyone have any thoughts on Sarah Conaway's or Amanda Ross-Ho's shows that are up now?


-- contribute to: the love letter collection []


Reply to Jno's post, (which I won't repeat):

So, that's who we hate now, the French? Then the Germans, Belgians. Only 150 or so more countries to go!

Seriously, I think we should all re-read Orwell's 1984.


On Wed, 26 Feb 2003, Marc Fischer wrote:

Hey Mark;

Responding in the manner of the American Protestant Ethic? There is hope in hard work. And, uh, what is that stuff at the end of yr email? A list maxims to live by, or spelling take-outs? Your emailer does that? Or your poetic sensibilities?

/jno (I'll list)

-> response I
-> the
-> here in
-> appreciate it
-> dissatisfaction
-> to
-> is a
-> others
-> take
-> all they
-> response.
-> difficulties
-> It
-> enjoyed very
-> difficulties,


Oh, hating the French is fun. Besides, they like it.


Jno: "Responding in the manner of the American Protestant Ethic?"

Just business as usual really (but can I hope and dream that at least one of my current projects would annoy our would-be-assasin/president?)

No, things haven't gotten so bad that I've started writing poetry. I think maybe my emailer (or your programing?) is doing that. I have no idea. Never seen this before but I looked at Othergroup on and it did a little of it there too. Weird.



On Wed, 26 Feb 2003, Curt wrote:

How is that go? The French hate the Germans, the Germans hate the Dutch, the Dutch hate the Belgians, and I dont like anybody very much.



On Wed, 26 Feb 2003, Steven L. Anderson wrote:

(There are 500 countries to go!) It sounded like a Monty Python skit to me, and I do remember Dien Bien Phu -- and all that followed. But I think the news flash was just funny. Maybe that's what we do in times of adversity.. find humor, rather than hard work. I spent my youth listening to war stories of Nazi occupied Western Europe -- into the seventies the folks who experienced the last years of occupation were telling 'funny' stories, rather than recalling the horror stories.



Not to purposefully harsh your mellow, but...

it brings up issues that I got from Roberto Begnini's "Life is Beautiful" (which I finally saw after all the hype died down): How far can the clown (or the artist) go in face of the death machine?

And, do they tell Polack jokes in Poland?



Jno wrote:

On Wed, 26 Feb 2003, Marc Fischer replied:

I'll check the maillogs....

OK, it is quoted email from Dave Stull's text. His email runs 74 spaces wide (the standard), but you maybe have yours set at some lesser amount (?) so that the last 15 characters of some sentences folded after email-quoting (near as I can tell .. who knows what sort of toaster you get with a CoreCommMail MUA). It is really weird.

Just clean up. Two key clicks? Oh- wait you prolly have one of those one-buttom mice. /jno


Dave said:

Talk is cheap, true that. That's why othergroup is possible, because it's cheap (but not free, thank you Jno, Carrie, and helpers). And to appropriate a slogan from the AIDS Activists: Silence is death.

While my silence might not result in my own death it does suggest a complacency with a lot of life and death activity that people are conducting in my name. I'm trying to bring that activity into my scope of perception. Wheather it's trying to understand how my credit rating affects me or who my government is trying to blow up, it's people toying with my subjectivity without my blessing. I think it's fair to say that most of us here on the other group are coddled deep in the lap of luxury, but talking about issues of survival helps us to articulate what we take for granted. The survival of the people near me is threatened on some fronts, health and medical security and civil liberties in the U.S. are becoming more and more contested now. But it is a far cry from, for example, threats faced by people in Iraq, where survival is threatened on all fronts. Basic infrastructure like water service is tenuous, a simple glance at the sky might bring news of invasion by the most deadly military in the world, and civil liberties (like opportunity to participate in a discussion like this one) might have the most severe of consequences.

Whining is sure an ugly word, it feels a little demeaning. But maybe this a is a good time to use the advice that this stuff shouldn't be taken too seriously.

Rather than trying to dismiss these ideas as whining I like what Marc says about it:

I can certainly agree with this. I've been a fan of the rock band U.S. Maple for a while now and I've always thought that their music is about wallowing and misery. (I hope that doesn't sell U.S. Maple short. ) Also I think that wallowing and misery are part of that mourning that I was trying to talk about before.

Dave said: "Unfortunately, every decision we make has a cost, and when we choose to whine and cry as a response to real or imagined difficulties, there is a price. That price is a loss of empowerment."

I guess what get out of this is that when in dialog you need to be careful about how you talk about things; if what you're saying gets perceived as empty complaints then of course people will dismiss it. I need to remember that. On the other hand my tendency is to try not to perceive what people say as empty, even if I have to spend a little time trying to figure out how it's full, in other words, how it's powerful. Every time I do that successfully, I swear, it results in a better conversation.

Dave said: "Being an adult is hard work. Everyone's life brings them many difficulties and learning how best to respond to those difficulties takes effort. It takes practice. And it takes courage."

Life lessons.

What? We should only talk about our problems in private? Fuck dat noise! Whining really isn't such a terrible blight on the world, it doesn't ever last very long, it either gets dropped or transforms into a useful inquiry. Show a little patience.

Dave Said:

Sorry, what are life's terms, who invents these terms, and what is their agenda?

Marc said: "but what the hell can ya do? Have fantasies. Perhaps even act on them (within or outside of reasonable legal limits). Be sincere and honest. Create things that you can control in some small way and put out into the world where they can be shared and seen by others. "


Marc Said: "But let's not get completely down on the Apocalyptic. Why do people like Bosch and Goya? Why do I like Doom Metal? Remember that the best of those cynics are also creating vital new music/art as a vehicle for those fantasies
- as a way of contending with and maybe even transcending how shitty things are."

It's a question of speed and what one is trying to accomplish, I guess. Taking the example of an effort to build and anti-war movement (something which is being done quite handily by a lot of incredible organizers) cynicism and apocalyptic fantasies don't seem to offer much. But I agree that in a less urgent pursuit, like the art many of us are working on, these things can be used strategically, er, we can indulge in them.

Marc said:

Life lessons.


Cindy said:


Cindy Asked: "anyone have any thoughts on Sarah Conaway's or Amanda Ross-Ho's shows that are up now?"

I've got to get back and see Sarah's show again. I'm basically into it and excited by what I've gotten out of it so far. It is visually cool (maybe cold) and sparse, not a ton of color. According to the release, which frames my look at the show, she's working with ideas of symmetry as found in philosophical texts. It seems to me like a very subjective survey of ideas about symmetry. The drawings, if I understand correctly, are copied out of various philosophical texts. I'm not sure how they compare to their sources. I'm only familiar with one or maybe two of the texts she's talking about. There is one video in the show that doesn't do much alone. Though it might be a diagram from symmetry in two dimensions; it's a somewhat seamless loop of a pair of hands taking of a pair of gloves and the footage plays backward so that the gloves go back on the hands. There is a symmetry in the second dimension, the visual plane of the screen, the hands of the human body facing each other and there is a temporal symmetry in the video, going forward and backward. The video is grouped with two other objects representing fingers, one wax finger and a black and white photo of a hand. It's a group of three representations and in the context of the show begs the question, how does a three part symmetry work? Which is great question for anyone wishing to exscape the dualism that sometimes seems inherent in notions of symmetry. The photos of dead trees, while fairly mundane, are rich to me as they relate to the her invocation of Deleuze and Guattari's A Thousand Plateaus, the introduction of which, is a critique on arboreal systems. It's all really damn abstract, this stuff is the intellectual equivalent of a Rothko picture. It's gorgeous and I don't think it's for everybody.

My question is does the work's reliance on dense philosophical texts turn people off, and so what if it does?

Amanda's show at Dogmatic deserves another look. Her work, of course, is very humorous. I'm still working on it.

xoxo, Mike


Mike said:


argghh!!!!! try again:

Mike said:

I think there is nothing inherently good or bad about using "dense philosophical texts" to make art. I think this should seem obvious, but it doesn't matter whether it's a lump of clay or a book by Heidegger, it's what you do with the material that matters.

call me a romantic, but I liked Amanda's gold shoes hanging on the telephone wire outside.



... burned (toasted) sesame seed oil?



Thomas Blackman Associates is looking for an intern to work part-time at TBA. The intern would assist with various administrative tasks associated with the production of Art Chicago 2003. Basic knowledge of Macintosh computers would be helpful. The internship would start immediately and last until the end of May 2003. Please note that the internship will be unpaid, however, it could be used for school credit, great experience, references, etc. If you are interested, please contact Jenny Knowlton at 312.587.3300 or by email at jennyknowlton at


Thomas Blackman Associates 230 West Huron Street, #3E Chicago, IL 60610 t: 312.587.3300 f: 312.587.3304


Are you going to this ten by ten thing? If yes then I'll save my story (having to do with your thoughts in this thread) for then....



Hey Hubbs,

While you are looking for an Intern, Paul Klein is looking for an installer. He asked me if I had any ideas and then I saw your post. If you should come across any candidates or have any ideas shoot them to me or Paul.




Damn this other group reply to thing. Well, if anyone is interested, contact me or Paul.



Cindy said:

I agree that there is nothing wrong with using these texts to make art. But I'm interested in the issues of literacy and access when it comes to presenitng the work. Since many people have no interst in becoming familiar with these texts, what does that mean for the work? Do people who don't read this stuff still care about this work? I don't think Sarah is trying to facilitate access to these texts with her art. And I don't think she needs to, but I'm trying to figure out what she is doing with them, because I agree that "it's what you do with the material that matters."

Cindy said:

You romantic, I like those shoes too. I couldn't help thinking about when they fall, hoping that nobody is riding her big-wheel down the alley when it happens.



"spam ! spam ! spam ! spam !

On Wed, 26 Feb 2003, Heather Hubbs wrote:

Don't spam the listserv. Send spam to the apropriate catagory for NOTICES (see [] and just mention it here.

For Your Information: There are 4 groups: shows, spaces, sales, and jobs. Just send (for example) an email to jobs at -- with the 'internship at TBA' (or whatever) on the subject line.

HTH (hope this helps) /jno


Direct that mouse and move those fingers to the Othergroup Notices section...

Veedon_pop opens Friday March 14th at JavaCha Caf

Virginia valley boys Dolan Geiman and Josh Miller present...


5 felonious days of screen print production in the corridors of Gallery 13 shown exclusively and for the first time in Chicago

Exhibition runs: March 14-April 4 Opening Night Reception Friday March 14 8pm-2am

at Javacha Caf 3415 N Clark Street 773.325.2421



For more info, contact Ali Walsh a-walsh at