Thursday, April 11, 2019

Listening to the materials as a riddle

She brings flat affect and flat materiality into the storefront.
She brings in spools of yarn that are made of silvery, plastic industrial waste leftovers for knotting and knitting.
She brings in splatter-painted, mat-finished canvas for carving out ancient bird-like creatures to hang in the window as a shadowy effect.
She brings in bags of discarded clothing for collective wearing and sharing, recirculating the not-yet-dead fibers.
She brings in stuff.  

The ineffability of the materials placed in her hands, as she knots, threads and tears, creates openings for her to be made by and made with her materials (Bennett, 2010; Ingold, 2013). Listening to the materials as a riddle, she plunks herself down in a chair with a cup of tea, figuring, “threading, felting, tangling, tracking, and sorting,” making fabulations, making worlds, and making stories (Haraway, 2016, p. 31).

She is in a mode of making that anthropologist, Tim Ingold (2013) calls an alchemical process where the “experienced practitioner with knowledge of the properties of her materials,” senses what is possible, and uses knowledge made “out of a lifetime of intimate gestural and sensory engagement in a particular craft” (p. 29). Potential in this case, leaves a palatable and physical trace, trailing along the floor as a silky blue spool of yarn waiting to be taken up.

She belongs to a we-that-makes together. The ‘We’ is made up of a collection of public school art teachers who inhabit a storefront in a northwest neighborhood in Chicago. Here, a city block of storefronts was acquired as part of eminent domain two and half years ago by a local university.  Now, frozen buildings stand in a city block, glossed over with a vellum coating in each storefront window, arresting time and development. Nothing is happening and yet, something is being made and lived inside 3412 W. Bryn Mawr Ave. Teachers in our collective find they are being asked to “do more and cost less.” The sense of fatigue and demoralization is felt most palatably as teachers come into this space yearning for a social latch and place of release. Doing nothing at the storefront is a radical gesture.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Exhausting the whole of the possible

The philosopher Gilles Delueze (1998) in his essay "The exhausted" says:

"Being exhausted is much more than being tired," It's not just tiredness. I'm not just tired in spite of the climb." The tired person no longer has any (subjective) possibility at his disposal; he therefore cannot realize the slightest (objective) possibility. But the latter remains, because one can never realize the whole of the possible; in fact, one even creates the possible to the extent that one realizes it. The tired person has merely exhausted the realization, whereas the exhausted person exhausts the whole of the possible." (p. 152).

Exhausting the whole of possible means that we come here exhausted and exhaust possibilities in the space of the exhausted (a storefront left vacant for two years).

Deleuze further states that there are 4 ways of exhausting the exhaustable:

1) forming an exhaustive series of things
2) drying up the flow of voices
3) extenuating the possibilities of space
4) dissipating the power of the image

With this criteria in mind, viewing Devin's writing to "Dear Lost Man" exhausts the whole of the possible through layered entries and additional hand written scrolls of her entries to her husband on the inside of the space. She keeps a journal of her entries and writes them down at all hours of the day.

Each day she comes to the storefront she heads up to the front window and writes her entries to her lost husband.

Inspired by the French conceptual artist/provocateur, Sophie Calle who invited 107 outside interpretations of a "breakup" e-mail she received from her lover the day he ended their affair, Devin brings her private ruminations into the public realm.

Unable to speak directly to her estranged husband Devin writes: "Dear Lost Man . . ."


Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Inside meets outside, outside comes in

We have been offering various invitations for the public to engage with us or delight in spontaneous play. 

Taking a clay sculpture

Touching the googly eyes on the post-its

The porousness of the outside world is always 
there whether its through activities in the back alley, or bodies pressed against the window, or visits from 
University folks to the space.

Mike from the university inspects our leak

Monday, June 4, 2018

Composing, de-composing, re-composing a life

On May 12th Megan Pahmier, an artist and teacher from Brooklyn, NY visited us at the storefront. She invited us to think about the space through the following prompts:

• Activate existing phenomena (wind, gravity, light . . .)
• Connect 2 things to one another
• Create a line (a path, a fence, a column . . .)
• Mark a site (a landmark, a memorial, a space for  . . . )
• Change the viewer/participant's perspective
• Play with scale (the size of the things in relation to one another)
• Make something visible that was previously invisible

We spent the day making at the storefront.

Watching a video of Merle Ukele 
talking about her "Maintenance art"

Liz drawing

Bridget talking with Gloria

Agnes Martin drawing

Mountains from the outside