Monday Morning Quarterback, July 16th & 17th, 2010

by Stephanie Burke & Jeriah Hildwine


Friday night was Meg Onli's going away party, and our final stop at the
end of the night. On our way to that final destination, we hit two
shows: Proof at Catherine Edelman, and The Art of Touring at Johalla
Projects. The night ended with a 4am bus ride from Pilsen to Ravenswood,
me drunkenly attempting to focus on The Jungle the whole way. Saturday
night we had another two shows on the docket, but unfortunately only
made it to one. Swimming Pool was a rocking good time, but we were to
tired and biked out to make down to and back from the Humboldt Moving
Picture Show. I hope it had a good turn out and lots of good work, it
was a great event last year. But now, back to the topic at hand, our

In Between Contact Print (2010) Amy Stein

S: Proof at Catherine

Edelman Gallery was our first stop. Though not necissarly a revoultionary idea for a show, this exhibition was exciting for the window it gave you into the artist process. It is something that is so rarely seen, especially in photography, those shots before and after that weren't quite right. For myself, as a photographer, the most interesting thing to see was where in the sequence "the image" was. Rarely (if I remember correctly) was it at the beginning, sometimes it was the very last shot featured (though whether this was the end of the roll is left unsaid, even though you could probably figure it out by looking at the film type and frame numbers), but more often than not it was somewhere in the middle, bracketed on either side by "almost there" images. In hindsight, each proof sheet reads as a bell curve of the artists's thoughts and eye. For other images, proof sheets allowed us into the world of the artists creation. These functioned as a behind-the-scenes look at each photographer's "special effects." The Valley Contact Sheet (2006) Kelli Connell and Contact Sheet for Tethered Sky (2005) Robert
& Shana ParkeHarrison were the two most striking examples of this, but many existed. All and all a very interesting show, one that would hold the interest of any viewer, photographer or no, for it's peek inside the artist's process.

J:  This show was definitely more up Stephanie's alley than mine, just because of the medium, but I was quite interested in it as well.  One of my favorite parts of the movie War Photographer, about James Nachtwey, was watching him look at his proof sheets, pick which image to print, and then having his assistant dodge and burn the print, going through giant sheets of photo paper like it was nothing.  Must be nice to have those resources!  But, anyway, I always like things that are like a window into the process, and this show was a great example of this.

When I think back on this show, three images really stuck with me.  I remember especially the collaged image of the two ladies (Kelli Connell, "The Valley," 2006), the big-ass monkey (Jill Greenberg, "Anxious," 2005), and John Malkovich (Howard Schatz, "You are...four years old; first time at the circus," 2007).

Connell's "The Valley" looks at first like it could be
the warm-up shot from a roll of softcore lesbian porn, or possibly an
illustration from a Yoga manual, but in fact is probably more about the
shape of the negative space between the two figures.

Greenberg is probably best known for her slightly controversial images of children crying (controversial because she made them cry, by taking away a lollipop they'd just been given) and well as a minor scandal of two years ago or so, in which she photographed John McCain in an intentionally unflattering light.  Her images, or at least some of them, have a "shiny" look to them, hyper-sharp and hyper-saturated, which result from her technique (discussed in an interview with Digital Photo Pro) of digitally manipulating the photograph as well as careful use of lighting and makeup.  "Anxious" is part of a series of monkey portraits she's been doing since 2001, and which haven't drawn as much fire as her children or politicians.

Schatz's photograph of actor John Malkovich is an funny window into the actor's range.  Part of a series of works in which Schatz asks actors to take on wildly disparate roles, the image itself is a testament to both Malkovich's and Schatz's skills at their respective crafts.  Even more interesting is the contact sheet, showing Malkovich's various interpretations of his instructions, to be a four year old at the circus for the first time.

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Ferguson "Trukstop Tapes aka I Forgot the iPod Adapter Again"

S: After leaving Edelman, we hopped two trains up to Wicker
Park, grapped some pizza, then headed over to
The Art of Touring
at Johalla
. I've never been in a band, and I've never gone on tour,
but there were, and still are, a lot of bands in and from my home town
(Nevada City, which, no, its not in Nevada), and I remember seeing them
off, talking to them when they got back, and seeing pictures and the
state of the van (if it made it back at all) when they returned. I
remember all of this fondly, and so was very excited to see this show,
thankfully I was not let down. The work, all made by people in bands or
associated with bands (sound engineers, etc.), and had all the giddy
energy of young kids going out, tear-assing around,  getting involved in
all kinds of rediculous nonsense on and off stage (playing Fight, Fuck
or Kill in one of the videos being a perfect example), and generally
having an exploratory and awesome time. Not surprisingly (to me at
least) Polaroids featured prominently when it came to photography.
Polaroids are still my medium of choice for road trips. The show had
more to offer than just tour photos, however. One of ma favorite pieces
in the show, Mark Ferguson's "Trukstop Tapes aka I Forgot the iPod
Adapter Again," was hilarious. Anyone who's gone on a road trip and is
desperate for music knows these, the piles of awful you have to sort
through to find something listenable, or the tape you just have to
settle on. The sketch books and other road made and road inspired work
rounded out the show. Oh, and thanks for the Pabst schwag, I am gonna
give away some of those buttons as Christmas presents. That was then end
of our arting for Friday; we proceeded to Pilsen to give Onli a right
sendoff, culminating in the a fore mentioned bus ride.

J:  The piece that really stood out to me here was one of several works by John Hernodon of Tortoise, titled, "there are so many worms living inside the earth that it would be impossible to list them all here."  There were two works with this title, one numbered 001 and one 016; they were both cool.  Unfortunately, it doesn't look like we got a photo of it, so you'll all just have to take my word for it.

Site 1," 2007, Matt Irie and Dominick Talvacchio, water on graph paper,

S: Saturday morning I was up at 9am, bleary
eyed and frantic to make it to a Bad at Sports meet up at the Sullivan
Galleries (I ended up a hour early, or rather I thought I was an hour
late but ended up there right on time). By the time gallery crawling
hour rolled around, Jeriah and I were beat, and decided to for go the Humboldt Moving
Picture Show
, and just bike over to Swimming Pool Project
(not more that a 10 min bike ride from our house). So again,
sorry to the HMPS kids, I'll see you next year. Swimming Pool was
having a two-fer night, opening Quarterly Site #3: Stay in Your Lane!
and celebrating Swimming Pool's 2 Year Anniversary. Quarterly Site #3:
Stay in Your Lane!, part of an ongoing experiment in curation from the
Twelve Galleries Project. This round involved Anthony Elms, Katherine
Pill, and Philip von Zweck, with much co-curating, separate curating,
cross curating, and sub-curating. It was extremely crowded and hot as
all get-out, so I was a little hard for me to focus on the show. The
splitting of the gallery into three "lanes" was an interesting idea,
fracturing the space into subspaces (the naming of deep and shallow ends
was particularly funny). My favorite work in the show had to be the
"Evental Site" pieces  by Matt Irie and Dominick Talvacchio. They were
extremely simple, and elegant for their simpleness both visually and
conceptually. Out back there was beer, performances with people from
outer space and awesome copper clad go-go dancers, lots and lots of
friends, and some tasty snacks. Jeriah and I hung out for a while,
sitting in the pool, then finally got tired and hopped on our bikes
home. Overall, a successful weekend in arting. 

J:  Yeah, I've got to admit, my experience at Swimming Pool this time was more about the party than the art.  I didn't know it was their second anniversary (congrats, guys!) but it was a ton of fun.  The performances were cool; I wish I'd seen the junior mime perform!  I liked the gold pants dancers.

As far as the work, well, I'm going to continue my theme of writing about what I remember.  There was a bright wall painting made of neon stickers or paint, a corner-installed wooden box sculpture, some weird medical-looking apparatus on the wall, the graph paper pieces Steph mentioned, and a pair of window unit air conditioners installed facing each other in two movable walls, creating a space of cool air between them.

Oh!  Son of a bitch!  I'm looking at the information sheet, and those medical-looking devices were "Vanishing Point (Hiding Space for Two)" by Madeleine Bailey!  I didn't recognize them as her work.  Was I supposed to put them on?  I wish I'd known.  As sculptural objects they were pretty inert, although not without a sort of post-surgical creepiness, but I imagine that like a lot of her work their real virtue comes out when they're used interactively.

I'm going to assume that wooden box sculpture thing was Jason Bryant's "Keep It Together", a 2009 sculpture made of found cedar and pine.  It was minimal, wooden, simple, and solid, like a Donald Judd plywood sculpture.  I liked it about as much as I can like minimalist sculpture, which is to say that it's aesthetically pleasing but feels like it's of another era.  If there was something else going on with this piece, I missed it, but as is I like its simplicity.

The brightly colored wall piece was Samantha Bittman's "Interaction of Color and Shape 5" from 2010.  Apparently it was made of cut paper and glue; I'm assuming neon-colored copy paper glued to the wall.  The bright colors gave it a sort of contemporary (or, one could argue, hipster) spin, but it basically read like a formalist wall painting, like a Sol LeWitt without the painting-by-instruction spin.  I liked it, with the same caveat as above:  despite the bright colors, its tightly bound to its Twentieth Century history.  This isn't a bad thing, just a fact that needs to be acknowledged.

The air conditioners were Erik Peterson's "Invisible Objects," 2010.  On a hot night, and it was hotter inside, the small area of cool space functioned as a little relief, but mostly a mockery of our discomfort.  The title is interesting:  is it the air conditioners which are invisible, because we don't usually notice them?  Or is it the cool air between them, literally invisible?

I'm not asserting that these were the best works in the show, only that they were the most memorable, to me, in that they are the ones I remembered without referring to the image list.  Cool stuff, fun stuff.  I liked the idea for the show, with curators and meta-curators, and dividing Swimming Pool into lanes, with a deep end and a shallow end, was funny.

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