Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The body as art / Art as the body // Photos galore

Photos of Caitlin Bergh’s Exquisite Corpse performance piece are now up on Flickr. (You can find more photo links in the previous post.)

Photo by Andrew Roddewig, 2011.

Here’s a short video clip of the performance, taken on an outdated point-and-shoot camera, and here are lengthier videos taken on Caitlin’s iPhone. (As you can probably tell by the quality and equipment used, documentation was merely and mostly for posterity’s sake. Indie indeed.) I like how you can hear me say, “Do one more roll,” at 2:33 in the last video. Because that one roll resulted in 2:42. Which was a perfectly unintentional and unintentionally perfect moment. [29 October edit: Caitlin accidentally deleted all of her YouTube videos. Stay tuned, as shell re-upload them soon!]

Those who watched the performance in person are right, however, when they tell me that the videos don’t do the experience justice; you really did have to be there. But, as has been mentioned, there will be more [and bigger! and better!] live collaborations between Caitlin and me in the future.

Not seen in the videos is the ending of the performance: We bowed. My obsession from the soundtrack blared. And the audience responded to Caitlin’s questions, “What is the best way to convey the body in art?” and “What is the best way to convey art on the body?”

Of course, the performance was only one small part of Exquisite Corpse. Photos of the exhibition are now up, arranged roughly in the order in which a guest to the gallery might view each collaboration. Keep checking the page for photos of the opening and closing receptions.

Unrelated to the show, the discussion is still going in the “Art as political weapon, artist as social instigator” post from June! If you’re new to the site or haven’t been checking back on the older discussion posts, join in on the conversation!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Hear, hear. Here.

Photo by Andrew Roddewig, 2011.

This is a look of love and trust. Love between first-time performance artists whose one “rehearsal” consisted of merely talking through what might happen in the actual performance. Trust to not get paint up the nose.

Photo by Andrew Roddewig, 2011.

Thanks to Andrew Roddewig for taking photos of Caitlin Bergh’s Exquisite Corpse performance and posting a slideshow on Sixty Inches From Center. If you have a Facebook account, you can view many more—90 total, including outtakes not seen in the SIFC article—in albums here and here.

Thanks also to Dubi Kaufmann—view his photos on Flickr.

The next post will include videos [and even more photos!] of the performance.

Here, I’ve created a new page for write-ups in the press, including such pieces as Paul Klein’s preview / review of the exhibition and my interview on Gapers Block.

I’ve also created a new page for the virtual gallery here. It’s still under construction, but for now, you can check out Spiritus Saltus (which I profiled in these three posts) and Opposition (shown here). I’ll be spotlighting the artworks in future posts as well.

I have been following Caitlin’s budding comedy career since Day 1 (all of six months ago… but hey, the short amount of time makes her progress all the more impressive), ever since she told me she decided to take a stand-up class taught by Cameron Esposito (whom Caitlin eventually opened for as her first “real” comedy gig). She’s already come a long way yet, in her words, you’ve only seen the “tip of the iceberg(h).” Comedy Cares presents: A Benefit for The Broadway Youth Center is tonight at 8pm.

Monday, September 19, 2011

-math? Aftermath.

“I just peed acrylic paint.” –Performance artist Caitlin, to me.

Saturday night was pure magic. Infinite thanks to: all the artists, all who attended the show, Joe LaNasa for letting me have free reign over the Fulton Street Collective exhibition space, and you. If you took any photos at the closing reception for Exquisite Corpse, please email them to artists.on.the.lam {at} gmail {dot} com.

The highlight of the closing was Caitlin’s performance piece:

Towards the end of the reception, a guest approached me and made my night by raving about the performance, telling me how much it moved him—that he had a moment in which he realized he got it—and showing me, literally, pages he’d written as a response to the piece. (I told him to type up the written reaction and to email it to me, so if you, good sir, are reading this, please do!) That’s all I need, knowing that art had a profound and even transcendent effect on someone. Well, that, and I need to get rid of this paint still encrusted under and around my fingernails.

Here’s a link to Caitlin’s artist statement. I’ll post videos and more photos soon, so keep checking back.

And here’s the performance soundtrack listing:

            I’m Not Done – Fever Ray
            Beat and the Pulse – Austra
            Earth Intruders (XXXChange Remix) – Björk
            When I Grow Up (D. Lissvik Remix) – Fever Ray
            Lose It – Austra

You can listen to the songs here. (I’m now addicted to Austra.) To recreate the experience as closely as possible, I’d suggest cranking up your speakers and blasting the music at full volume. And then rolling around on your floor. With possibly toxic materials. In a bikini.

Catch Caitlin this Wednesday at Cole’s weekly Comedy Open Mic, where she’ll most likely do a standup set about this performance. More importantly, she’ll also be doing a set this Friday at Comedy Cares presents: A Benefit for The Broadway Youth Center. Laugh for a great cause!

It was our first time collaborating on anything like this, and both of us have caught the body-painting-and-rolling-onto-a-canvas bug. We have so many new ideas reeling around in our minds (Caitlin being birthed out of a tree with me as the midwife? strip clubs where ladies peel their skin off?), and we can’t wait to share them with you. This is just the beginning.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Performance Paint plus Polymath post

Artist Caitlin, while purchasing supplies for her performance piece: “Hi, which of these paints will be safest to apply to my whole body?”
Employee: “None of these are safe.”
Caitlin: “OK, I’ll take this one.”

Exquisite Corpse closes tonight 7–10pm, and the performance piece of a lifetime will begin at 8:15pm. Don’t miss it! This is also your last chance to see the show, in its entirety, in person.

(The pieces seen in this blog’s new header are Cassie Hamrick’s I Am Afraid of Horses. I Am Afraid of Being Bitten. (Hip Hip Hippo) and Veronica Stein’s Abjection. Come and cuddle them / do other things to them. The image in the updated press release, also below, is Pug by Minneapolis kinetic sculptor Asia Ward and Chicago fashion designer KC Winter. It moves.)

And more press! I am loving Gapers Block for using the word “polymath” (possibly due to my affinity for the word “polyglot”). Thank you, Michael Workman, for interviewing me!

For this edition of Briefing Room, we check in with artist, artist agent, writer, and independent curator Jenny Lam. A recent transplant to Chicago from a stint at Columbia University in New York, Lam has embraced her engagement of the Chicago scene with wave-making zeal, landing in the press and in conversations for her work at the Zhou B Art Center, 4Art and, most recently, at the Fulton Street Collective. "Exquisite Corpse," the frenetic exhibit she organized for the Collective, drew notable crowds for its open embrace of artistic collaboration.

Read the rest here.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Luckily no heatstroke-induced corpses at an otherwise exquisite opening

Exquisite Corpse opened Friday night, and it was a great success! I and everyone else I spoke with were amazed at the turnout (it was so crowded that it took me a flip through the signed guestbook afterwards to discover that in attendance were some guests I didn’t even know were there), and that’s not even taking into consideration the almost unbearable heat; outdoors, the mercury rose to 94ºF—really, Chicago? in September?—while indoors, the masses found themselves without air conditioning and with an abundance of track lights. Thank you, everyone, for sweating it out in the name of art!

If you or anyone you know took any photographs, please send them to artists.on.the.lam {at} gmail {dot} com. Proper attribution will be given, as always, if your images are used.

Throughout the night, the comments I received the most related to the show’s energy and the artwork’s diversity. Indeed, because I gave the artists no rules other than to collaborate with one another, emphasizing that there were no limitations in size or medium, the resulting creations spanned everything from delicate graphite illustrations to a kinetic sculpture named “Pug”—with bicycle inner tubes as skin and tufts of real human hair woven throughout its body—that jumps, rolls its eyes, and swings its neck, a toy from hell that requires direct interaction with its viewer. One of the many other pieces that asked for interaction was artist Adrienne Glover’s advice booth. Questions (and pleas) posed to her throughout the night included:

Should I pursue my coworker crush?
What should I do about an unrequited crush?
What should I do with my life? I want to travel.
How do I make an honest living with my idea?
I’m about to graduate. I need advice about getting a job.
I want to make muffins! Help.
Should I stay married?
Should I quit my job?
I want to relocate to a different country. How should I do that?
How do I become a musician?
Should I come out to my parents?
Where should I go out for drinks tonight?

Exquisite Corpse is far from over. The closing reception / party is on Saturday, September 17, 7–10pm. Most exhibition closings, compared to openings, are like Disney’s low-budget direct-to-video sequels in which only a couple of the washed-up D-list voice actors return, desperate for work, and the songs—oh God, the songs—induce more secondhand embarrassment than watching a certain demographic try to dougie. The closing for this show, however, will be to the opening what Return of the King was to Fellowship of the Ring. An example of what you can expect: artist [and budding local comedian] Caitlin Bergh will be doing a performance piece that involves body painting, rolling of the body onto a blank canvas, and destruction of said canvas.

Until then, gallery hours are by appointment, and you may contact me at, again, artists.on.the.lam {at} gmail {dot} com. Most of the artwork is for sale, and all are reasonably priced. I will also be creating a page on this blog with images of the works and their respective prices. Virtual viewing, of course, isn’t the same as seeing the works in person. After all, a few of the pieces do ask gallery goers to uncover, touch, hug, interact with, step inside, write in, take something from, and leave something in them. And your visit won’t nearly be as hot as the opening. Pinky swear.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Extra Extra

Two posts within the same day? What is this…

A couple press mentions for Exquisite Corpse, which opens tonight:

Paul Klein’s Art Letter(The write-up includes photos. Spoiler alert!)

One of the things that I genuinely like about Chicago is that it cares more about what you are doing than what you've done - just look at some of our aldermen. Not that I know anything about what Jenny Lam has done, I'm impressed by what she's doing - creating, finding, following her own path in the Chicago art scene. She's been on my radar since spring. A recent college graduate, she's just curated a charming show at Fulton Street Collective titled Exquisite Corpse. Expanding on the traditional notion where multiple artists work on a single piece without knowing what the other has done, she's solicited, culled, and matched 40 artists who don't know each other to collaborate on creating art. In most cases the pieces are fun, competent, multi-faceted and engaging.

I always enjoy being likened to corrupt Chicago politicians.

Thank you so much!


Exquisite Corpse opens tonight! These past few days, strange things were afoot…

But everything came together perfectly.

What’s remarkable about the second image above is that Patricia Biesen, who created the torso, and Lorraine Grandinetti, who did the head and hands, using the artwork of her late brother Frank Grandinetti (come to the show to see the rest of the piece, including Diane Ponder’s bottom section!), did not see each other’s sections until it was time to install. The palette is serendipity at its most—wait for it—exquisite. Beautiful how things really do fall into place.

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