Co-curated with Jackie Terrassa, Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago. Artists: Lisa Conrad, Tom Torluemke, Eduardo Martinez, David Meyer, Arthur Myer, Shuko Wada, Lili Martinez, Chris Heenan, Dan Wallace and Jack the Dog (Jeff Kowalkowski/Carrie Biolo).
Co-organized with Mark Genrich and Shuko Wada, ARC Gallery Raw Space, Chicago. A collaborative exhibition, a snowball scheme, encompassing 39 layered installations by as many artists created in three phases, in a gallery measuring 6380 cubic feet. A reception was associated with each phase.
Phase 1: Mark Genrich - kinetic disks; Adelheid Mers - par lights; Shuko Wada - white walls.
Phase 2: Simon Anderson - presence; Adam Brooks - white letters; Jno Cook - spider web and silent sound installation; Anthony Elms - Christmas decorations; PatrickMcGee - kinetic string drawing; Arthur Myer - found rounds; Laurie Palmer - fans; Mary Patten - gift cups,3-d glasses, artists rules reprint; Lynn Pidel - plexi postgard project.
Phase 3: Leah Abrahams - traffic light; Anonymous - tabloid on bench; Richard Ashcroft - sound installation; Deborah Boardman with Robert Metrick - apples and performance; Michael Bulka - unknown; Max King Cap - champagne case; Patrick Collier - poem on website; Matthew Hanner - photo with second generation member who invited him; Barbara Koenen - guerilla installation-glitter dots on walls and windows; Darlene Kryza - photos on black cardboard circles; Roger Machin - magnets on column; Darrin Martin - tent (also has a video in the Media Room); Kathleen McCarthy with Mitch Brandt - LED text display; Donald McGhie - Absence; Adam Mikos - 2 contamination suits (opening reception) and plastic entrance covers; Jocelyn Nevel - dental floss; Elisabeth Penker - installation with photos, text and sound; Claire Pentecost - remote control and car; Michael Piazza - extension cord; Robert Peters - orange text on wall and column; Alison Ruttan - confetti on windows; Brian Rumbolo - 2 prints on wall; Alison Safford - upside downer (metal head gear with lens); Joel Score - white lettering on wall, magnetic message board, footprints on paper on the ground (with Jake Jacobs), retirement sign and paperclip chains; Jackie Terrassa - crochet knick-knack; Shirley Tse - plexi and styrofoam column and corn pads mound; Shuko Wada - paper on the ground and permission on wall; Amy Yoes - green friendly sculptures.
Also listed with Light Installations
Co-organized with Elisabeth Condon, Columbia College, Chicago; Artists: open call and free participation. All were invited to bring art works or make works on site, and install them as they wished.
A collaboration between Condon and Mers, students and faculty of Columbia College, and members of the larger art community, this exhibition focused on drawing as an event rather than a product. The collaboration unfolded over the duration of the exhibition, as a show in process.
Set to begin just days after 9/11, the exhibition became a place of assessment and even healing. Previous collaborators, Arthur Myer and Shuko Wada, who were in Japan at he time, reached out and created a mirror event at the Kitakyushu Art Center.
Co-organized with Elisabeth Condon, 450 Broadway Gallery, New York. For thirteen days, from September 17-29, 2001, an experimental artistic collaboration took place at 450 Broadway Gallery, New York. Thirteen visual artists were invited to successively add artwork to an exhibition as to an emerging entity. The artists agreed to act in response to what they would find at the gallery on the dates they were individually scheduled to have control of the space. The work passed through the hands of all participants (and artists they invited) before it reached its final stage. The public was invited to attend during gallery hours as well as at two evening receptions.
What initially promised to be a playful event arose from the sincere desire to face the ongoing shift from the historically individualistic role of the artist to more recent and relational endeavors, a scattered debate evolved out of diverse premises that results in conflicting views held by various artists, curators, administrators, critics and audiences.
The participating artists are: David Brody (9/20)
Jennifer Coates (9/17) Annette Cords (9/21)
Lauretta Hogin (9/25) Norma Markley (9/19)
Mery Lynn McCorkle (9/22) Paul Moran (9/28)
Eung Ho Park (9/29) Carolanna Parlato (9/23)
Alice Pennisi (9/27) Ray Rapp (9/24)
Sheila Ross (9/18) Amy Yoes (9/26)
These artists are free to invite others, who included John Corbin, Debra Jenks, Madeline Hatz, Wendy Hirschberg and Linda Nagaoka, Marilla Palmer, Marieken Cochius, Jeanne Tremel, Mary Magsamen and Suzan Batu, Woo Song Bong, Susan Breitsch, Rick Briggs, Frances Chapman, Philip Cheung, Byung Wang Cho, Peter Coe, Elise Engler, Lee Etheledge IV, Jane Fine, Julie Evans, Matt Freedman, Peter Gallo, Betsey Garand, Brenda Garand, Daniel Georges, Nancy Goldenberg, Yun Fei Ji,Il Lee, Ian Laughlin, Soo Im Lee, Robin Michals, Katherine Powers, Lance Richbourg, Carol Saft, Han Sam Son, Rumiko Tsuda, Tammy Wofsey, Rachel Youens, Charles Yuen and Alexandra Zevin
Quotes from Participating Artists:
What really appeals to me in this project is being asked to think and work outside of the usual parameters I set for myself. Working by myself in the studio on work that is the direct result of my thinking and doing, I am looking forward to having no idea what to expect and seeing myself react to that. I expect to bring similar aesthetic and conceptual questions to this project as I do to my work in the studio but, because the context is so different, I am interested to see whether these questions will lead to some very different results. I am also interested in taking part in an artwork that is the result of the successive and aggregated efforts of many. I like the idea that the total work will have passed through the hands of numerous artists before it reaches its final stage. At this point I don't have a specific idea of what I will do. There are some ideas and images that pass through my mind as I think of the project, but more than anything else I feel a sense of positive curiosity.
Lord of the Flies by William Golding, filmed by Peter Brooks in 1961, came to mind when I thought about the concept of collaboration. It is an extreme example. For here is the exploration of the inherent defects of society and man. The emergence of his concealed, basic wildness is the theme. I feel the act of collaboration can have both positive and negative aspects and this is what I am interested in. Collaboration can be a test situation in a joint adventure, its aim to be turned on and go all out in a free and relentless expression with others while still exploring one's sense of individuality.
I have chosen 4 artists to collaborate with, within the larger collaboration project--John Corbin, Madeline Hatz, Wendy Hirschberg and Debra Jenks. I chose them because of their sense of individuality and to test my ability to work with others. I have introduced the theme of games, influenced by the games seen at the Italian street fair, but will not persuade anyone to join in.
When I have collaborated in the past, I have found myself taking on new challenges and going down a road I would not have necessarily chosen for myself. Immediately, I resist being directed. In my art life, I experience a strong desire to do exactly what I want to do, without the constraints of others’ needs and desires. So, collaboration requires breaking a pattern set from childhood, when all this got started for me. I assume for many artists collaboration represents something like this--an invasion of privacy for some or interference on some level. And that tension interests me. Norma's idea about games at the Italian street fair also sounds intriguing - so we will all play (and resist) on September 19th.
My enthusiasm for the Fusion Project is fueled by an interest in the unique affinities and parallels inevitably discovered in a collaborative effort.
I am intrigued by this proposal where the ultimate configuration of individual parts may not be fixed by one artist, but left open and determined by accumulation. In this format, it seems possible that the artist, like audiences generally, becomes simultaneously spectator and participant.
The limited-time nature of this interaction will also call for a spontaneous working method. And this condition, less self-conscious and controlled than one's own studio, is part of the Fusion Project's appeal.
As an artist who works primarily alone in a studio practice consisting mainly of sculpture, installation and works on paper, the idea of collaborating with other artists is an appealing challenge for several reasons. In my mind, two main tenets of this challenge are the notion of collaboration and the ephemerality. Foremost, it is an opportunity to enter into an exchange and dialogue with other artists, to respond to their efforts and have them respond to your work. This very direct and immediate response to each other's work is both collaborative and an intervention. I mean "intervention" in a proactive way, rather than having a negative connotation.
At the very least, it is interesting to see how others respond to or have a dialogue with your work in a very primal, direct way. Artists spend a lot of time looking and talking about other artist's work, but this project allows for the participants/collaborators to have a different kind of visceral, non verbal response to the work. Also, I have exhibited with some of the participants before, so it is yet another and different way to engage with their work.
The very nature of this collaboration is ephemeral. Each artist will have a day to work and transform the space over the course of two weeks. Each day the piece will be transformed and changed, with chance and randomness coming into play. The work of the other artists dictates in part what your response might be. Another artist's effort might provide you with an opportunity to respond in a way that might not usually be considered or available to you. At the end of the exhibition, the work will be dismantled or destroyed, impossible to recreate even a semblance to the initial effort ever again. I think that it allows both great freedom to each participant yet also a heightened sense of responsibility to the efforts of the other participants.
Collaboration seems to have connotations of agreement, partnership and harmony. So, a question that might arise is how do you respond and engage with another participant's work and maintain this harmony or this agreement? What is the line between collaboration and intervention? I also explore ephemerality in my own work, mostly in the materials that I use, including masking tape, cardboard boxes, Styrofoam, "dollar store" items such as glitter, confetti, party favour toys etc. I use these materials in ways that are defined by and also defy their ephemerality. This collaboration allows me a chance to reexamine issues of ephemerality and permanence and in my work.
i am nomadic, belonging nowhere and everywhere at the same time. This is often reflected in my texts. Below are a few samples. The nomad is an itinerant individual, staking only temporary territory or sharing territory. I see collaboration in this light. The word literally means working together. For this we might need to define an aim?
A caution tape border encircles a migrating studio: Here I am, we are, working away, making a mess of mortar crumbs. Working: painting and bricklaying as if temporarily at home here. Are we all nomadic neighbors, spreading out our rhisomatic mushroom roots?
May 9, 2001
Site 1: Present in Brokken Land
When I arrived in Leeuwarden in September, the City Hall Courtyard was a newly constructed place of minimalist design: yellow facade with red tiles, a square with grey gravel, and within this a second tilted square with white gravel. Here I staked out a territory, which was perpendicular to this place both literally and conceptually. Following the tilted line between white and grey, I erected ruined brick walls. The facade of the ruins has the same red tiles as the facade of the Stadskantoor (City Hall), but a filling a luminous blue mortar crumbs are oozing out of the double brick layers. The work was done in the first two weeks of September. I got a couple of containers full of used bricks, and a group of convicts as workers. The courtyard became my studio, an intense place. We worked, sweated, yelled, laughed. I ran from corner to corner of this huge stage, instructing and working. The scene was at all times watched from one or other of the hundreds of office windows: Young men in work clothes, Moroccan/Suriname/Friesan, many using tools and “working” for the first time in their lives. We were laying bricks, erecting walls which could not possibly amount to a house, a structure. A Situation had taken over the place. Now the convicts and I have left, but a passer by venturing into the courtyard will find a space: a place turned around.
Site 2: Lament in Brokken Land
“Be in the world like a stranger, a passer by.” (Hadith 13th century) “The man who finds his homeland sweet is still a tender beginner: he to whom every soil is as his native one is already strong: but he is perfect to whom the entire world is exile.” (Hugh of St Victor, 13th century)
These two quotes, the first by a Muslim, the second a Christian were translated into Friesan: “Wes yn’e de wrald als in frjemdling, in foarbygonger.” (Hadith 12e eeuw) “De man dy’t syn thuslan leavet, is noch in foech begjinneling, hy foar wa’t eltse oarde is as wie it syn bertegrun, is al sterk; mar folmakke is hy dy’t him oeral yn’e balling wit.”(Hugh de St Victoire 12e eeuw)
I inscribed these words inside the Grote Kerk (The Great Church), directly on the wall, outlining the arch of an alcove. At the bottom of the alcove, on the stone floor, I placed a row of yellow brick rubble with blue mortar crumbs. A shallow space was thus defined, a sort of flat open chamber, with its own echo. This room was to shelter my painting, a pieta. It is a large oil on linen work, based on “The Lamentation”, by the Italian baroque painter Ludovico Carracci. The painting is a sort of translation or interpretation, like playing from ancient notes, or translating an ancient text fragment. It is based on a picture, which in turn maybe served as a projection screen for Ludovico in the early 1500. Great themes in art history and religion become places to visit.
Outside, there are some small niches in the brick facade of the church. If you peek up into them, you see a “leak” from both Stadskantoor (City Hall) and Grote Kerk ( Great Church): some luminous blue mortar crumbs. I am present in Brokken Land. Brokken* in Dutch means a piece. A piece is something whole, but it is also something broken off, something belonging, yet no longer belonging. A passerby? Belonging? Belangen? Gemeente....belangen?
October 4, 2000
The Dutch “belangen” has the same root as the English “belong.” They both stem from the German “Die belange.” Brokken in Dutch is also a certain kind of big square cookie, the kind used for building the witch’s cookie house in the Story of Hansel and Gretel.
The great thing about collaboration, and about the Fusion project in particular, is the sense of suspense and excitement about what the other artists may do, and the challenge of reacting to what they produce. This way of working takes me out of my normal art making processes, and engenders a specific, wonderful flavor of freedom. The issue of authorship is refreshingly diminished. It's like going on a trip with new friends to an unknown destination, and knowing that, whatever happens, it will be a unique experience.
Gallery 312, Chicago; 12 artists were invited to create mini-retrospectives on their entire range of work, including administrative, educational and other endeavors.
Artists: Edith Altman, Susan Bee, Frank DeBose, Elisabeth Condon, Ursula Damm, Michiko Itatani, Juanita Meneses, Claire Pentecost, Michael Ryan, Mira Schor, Buzz Spector, Amy Yoes
Edith Altman is a Chicago based artist and educator whose work has been exhibited nationally and internationally. During her long and distinguished career, she has researched and addressed aesthetic, historical, political, pedagogical and spiritual subjects using painting, photography, sculpture and installation. She currently has a retrospective at Lindenau Museum, Altenburg, Germany.
Susan Bee is an artist, editor, and designer who lives and works in New York City. She is co-editor of M/E/A/N/I/N/G: An Anthology of Artist's Writings, Theory, and Criticism, and has collaborated with Johanna Drucker, Charles Bernstein and other artists. She has exhibited widely and has received numerous grants and fellowships.
Frank DeBose is an independent designer and Associate Professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). He pursues an ongoing research project with the goal to present text and image compositions that illuminate historical events and points of view informing contemporary political/ economic situations of Americans of African descent.
Elisabeth Condon's paintings and collaborative projects explore childhood's influence on adult experience. Her subject matter of dolls has expanded into landscapes that combine cultural detritus such as toys and tires with gestural movement and a strong sense of light. Condon, Assistant Professor in Painting at Univ. of South Florida in Tampa, holds her MFA from SAIC. She lives and works in Tampa, FL and Brooklyn, NY.
Ursula Damm is a new media artist whose work traces and instigates the development of patterns in human language and motion. She has exhibited internationally and teaches at the Media Academy Cologne, Germany.
Michiko Itatani's conceptual paintings have been exhibited nationally and internationally. She is a professor at the SAIC, and currently has a mid-career retrospective exhibition at the Daum Museum of Contemporary Art, in Sedalia, Missouri.
Juanita Meneses completed a post baccalaureate at the SAIC and will be a graduate student at CalArts, CA, after spending a year in Madrid, Spain. In her work, she maps her experiences as a migrant between the cultures of South America, North America and Europe.
Claire Pentecost, an Assistant Professor at the SAIC, has exhibited her photographs and sculptural installations in the U.S., Europe and South America. Her most recent work investigates the corporate control of our food system. She has published fiction and art criticism and produced interviews and reviews for radio.
Michael Ryan is an artist and Adjunct Assistant Professor at the SAIC, who also oversees the Cooperative Gallery Program. He creates large-scale drawings and installations that map aspects of his life.
Mira Schor is a painter and writer. She is the author of Wet: On Painting, Feminism, and Art Culture, and the co-editor of M/E/A/N/I/N/G: An Anthology of Artists' Writings, Theory, and Criticism. A recipient of a 1992 Guggenheim Fellowship in painting and also of the 1999 College Art Association's Frank Jewett Mather Award in Art Criticism, she teaches at the Parsons School of Design in New York City.
Buzz Spector, co-founder of the Chicago based magazine WhiteWalls, is an artist and critical writer whose artwork has been shown nationally in museums and galleries. His work makes frequent use of the book, both as subject and object, and is concerned with relationships between public history, individual memory, and perception. He is professor and chair of the Department of Art at Cornell University.
Amy Yoes is a New York based painter and SAIC alumna, who explores decorative forms found in high and in low art, and also uses photography, installation, and sculpture. Her work is represented by Stefan Stux Gallery, New York. She has recently received a Pollock-Krasner grant.
Exhibition Statement for “Retrospectives”
Again here, as in other exhibitions that I have organized or co-organized before, I am interested in the idea of a field. A field can be experienced from within, but to survey a field, one has to step back to take a birds-eye view. That view allows us to consider the elements that constitute it in their relation to each other. Previous shows looked at the field extending between viewer and art object, at the field reaching from formal to relational artwork, and at fields that are created by artists who collaborate.
This show is called “Retrospectives,” and in its framework 12 artists were invited to produce surveys over their life’s work up to now, in any way they saw fit. Each artist worked with different parameters, plotting routes through archives and memories. I am hoping that for each participating artist a map can emerge that will allow viewers to navigate the artists’ extended landscape of research and of exploration.
Visual and literal disciplines, images and words encompass the field of representation and the artists in this show work across its full range. What they have in common is that they work in more than one medium or in more than one manner. They may combine work in the fine arts, in design, and in the humanities, work collaboratively, as curators or individually; they use traditional, performative and electronic media, or they integrate educational and artistic ventures. They are painters, writers and sculptors. They are teachers, editors, designers, lecturers, filmmakers, photographers, and they are all of that in various combinations. A few also have an affinity for mapping, and most travel quite a bit.
Among other things, I was curious to learn if these artists perceive their activities as homogeneous or as separate, if they see intrinsic relations, feel a need to create connections or if they, on the contrary, strive to preserve or to insert separations, for example between painting and writing, between individual and collaborative work, or between work in the classroom, in the studio and in social and political contexts.
Artists who work like that are hard to pin down – they resist traditional models of categorization, and it can be difficult to find out just what they are up to when one encounters just one facet of their occupations. I wanted to find out how they have developed positions, and if working in an array of modes helps them to make sense. I am interested to learn about the artists’ point of view, to share in the process as seen by the person who generates it.
Each time we present it, we edit our biography to support the current circumstance, anticipating what is still to come. These retrospectives are far from final. They should be seen as serving future work. I hope that the artists in this show can use this opportunity to address questions they may have of themselves. These questions may overlap with mine, but I do not take that for granted.
With this exhibition I would like to put forward a contribution to the ongoing discussion about the role of the artist. Under the umbrella of the term artist we may not have one distinct line of work, but a field of professions that embraces various combinations of media, of visual and of literal emphases, of thinking, of writing, and of doing. We may not have one linear record that leads from highlight to highlight, but several peripheral histories that are as of yet seldom acknowledged in partnership with each other. What can emerge if they are presented jointly is a fresh ground, a dialogue among a multitude of meanings. Within this dialogue, the broad realm of representation is activated and composed.
In a field, the elements that constitute it are considered in their relation to each other. By shifting attention from the highlights to an entire body of work, underlying conventional and ground-breaking frameworks of meaning can reveal themselves. It seems most important to me that we become aware of the foundations of our values, be they traditional, personal or reasoned, as artists and in any other context. A retrospective is one tool that can serve this purpose.
I trust that the devices the artists in this show have put forth will permit us to see figures that have so far been hidden from view, and that they will inspire many fruitful connections and associations.
Co-organized with Annie Morse. 3Arts, Chicago. With “Early Adopters”, we sought to raise the question of who takes on which responsibility in the field of culture.
Artists: Michael Ryan, Deb Sokolow, Industry of the Ordinary (Adam Brooks and Mathew Wilson), Georgia Kotretsos, Maria Paschalidou, Almuth Baumfalk, Mariya Strauss, Bhagya Ajaikumar, Marie Walz, Debra Sawyer, Tamara Albaitis, Melea Alexander, Jozef Amado, Danyel Ferrari, Michelle Tupko, Marie Liane Moersch, Zerrin Boynudelik and Aysegül Baykan, Lynne Heller, Laurie Hogin.
This exhibition was curated by participants in my graduate seminar, "Diagrams in Art and Activism", shown at Gallery 2, SAIC. The exhibition was part of Chicago’s Festival of Maps, a citywide event involving over 30 cultural and scientific institutions, focusing on the themes of Exploration, Discovery and Mapping. Forks, Tables and Napkins explored the processes of diagramming and mapping as forms of communication, as tools of multi-modal reasoning, and as artistic strategy.
Artists: AndrewandAndrea, Mark Beasley, Peter Cardone, V. Corzo-Duchardt, John DeVylder, AnnieLaurie Erickson, Margo Graxeda, Andres L. Hernandez, with collaborators, Brendan Hudson, John Jines, Heejin Kim, Masaco Kuroda, Kyung Min Lee, Paul and Kate Lindholm, Valerie Magarian, Charlotte Marra, Noelle Mason, Matt Nelson, Mary Beth Noble, with collaborators D. Chase Angier, Marketa Fantova, Hague Williams, Naufus Ramirez-Figueroa, Yogi Proctor, Anne Romens, Bret Schneider, Amy Stibich, Amanda Thomson, Jan Tichy. A documentation set is part of the collection of the Joan Flasch Library at SAIC.
Curatorial Event organized by the course "Complementary Practices - MA/MFA Collaborations", co-taught by Adelheid Mers and Dan Devening, at St. Paul’s Cultural Center in Wicker Park.
A documentation set is part of the collection of the Joan Flasch Library at SAIC.
Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago; April 22 to July 29, 2012. Hairy Blob was an exhibition that focused on how artists visualize time, presenting video, sculpture, drawing, installation, dance and audio performance work in the first floor galleries and on the video façade. Additional artworks and contributions by writers were featured in the 'asteroid belt' online component, reconfigured weekly throughout the exhibition. The curatorial concept emerged during a residency at the Banff Centre, from a series of drawings about time, related to speculations about how such concepts impact the use of resources.
Contributors include Becky Alprin, Nadav Assor, Deborah Boardman, Lauren Carter, Sarah FitzSimons, Ashley Hunt and Taisha Paggett, Judith Leemann, Kirsten Leenaars, Faheem Majeed, Emily Newman, Tristan Sterk (exhibition design), Jessica Westbrook and Adam Trowbridge (asteroid belt). Curator: Adelheid Mers. Curatorial Assistant: Leah Oren.
Graduate students in my "Curatorial Practices" seminar contributed an audience feedback project, and organized a series of associated events and performances, solicited through an open call.
This exhibition was part of my graduate seminar, "Arts Economies". Invited by the Evanston Arts Center to study the arts ecology of Evanston, our goal was to better understand the role the Art Center plays in its environment.
Over six weeks, the students sigted the Art Center's archives and conducted interviews with Evanston-based artists, arts administratoes and educators. The interviews were facilitated through mapping and diagramming activitiies, which were further developed, and presented publicly, through an exhibition and round table events.
This project was part of a series of art ecological explorations. See more here.
This exhibition was curated from submissions to an open call, by participants in the graduate seminar, "Media Futures", co-taught by Adelheid Mers and Shawn Decker.
From social media to drone warfare, networked digital technologies permeate our lives. If media do indeed “determine our situation,” as theorist Friedrich Kittler so boldly claims, MEDIA FUTURES asks: what are our media, now? Sandboxing approaches at SAIC, students of a graduate seminar cotaught by Adelheid Mers and Shawn Decker took a cue from devised theater, in which a script is created by means of a collaborative and improvisatory process, with the resources at hand. MEDIA FUTURES is the result of an openended and adhoc mode of “devised curation,” a way of thinking, asking, and researching that enabled students to explore multiple roles in the process. Participants are part of an emerging generation of “artistic digital natives”— artists who were born before the advent of the internet but whose creative practices developed parallel to the internet and digital revolutions.
Developing, versioning, sharing and updating are modes of being in this continuum. As discrete authorship and objecthood dissolve, so do legal, ethical, spatial and even temporal boundaries. With this show, we seek to provoke a critical dialog with our peers and other publics about the possibilities and contradictions of cultural (co) production today.
Kevin B. Lee
Huong Ngo and Or Zubalsky
Patrick John Segura
Kristina Caren Wilson
Sarp Kerem Yavuz
Ellen Katherine Brinich
Yunru Eva Huang
Yekaterina Sergeevna Balueva
Matthew Douglas Mehlan