September 2002, 10 posts, 529 lines
I'm in an insomniac information sharing mood so a couple upcoming cultural events of note and a few recommendations:
High on Fire Thursday, September 19?, Beat Kitchen
How many times do I have to tell people to see High on Fire? Last time they played the Double Door; now they are playing a smaller and more intimate venue. I can only assume that this is because the sheer volume of their last show rendered so many fans deaf that there is no need to play to large crowds anymore. Come experience the bludgeoning transcendent force. Prepare to be overwhelmed, inspired, demolished, and then built back up again so that you can get killed all over the next time they come to Chicago. Two visits in about 3 months? Clearly the High on Fire machine is unstoppable.
Kreator and Destruction Saturday, September 21, Riley's Rock House, Aurora
Many people feared that there would be another horrible terrorist attack on September 11. Well, the attacks have been postponed until September 21st when these German terrorists invade the U.S. for the first time in many years. I was never a huge fan of Destruction but I also never heard their earlier records so I'm probably missing something. I have to admit that I haven't followed Kreator for quite a while, but their first few records are easily among the greatest death metal albums ever recorded. Their second album "Pleasure to Kill" is about as ferocious as music gets - the band constantly ups the intensity, playing faster and more aggressively every time you think they can't top themselves. Aurora is kind of a hike from Chicago but I think this might be worth the effort. And dig the interesting symmetry of this tour: Kreator and Destruction. Destruction play first, so this is a little different from the old Picasso biography "Picasso: Creator, Destroyer".
Okay, now that I got that out of the way... I haven't had time to see much art lately (and I haven't liked much of what I have seen) but I have picked up a few good books. I recommend the following:
Hans-Peter Feldmann "272 Pages"
The retrospective catalog for this extraordinary idiosyncratic German artist who is not nearly well-known enough in the US (hence this great-looking exhibition won't be traveling here). This is the first thorough survey of the artist's work in English and it is really worth seeking out. Very expensive book (I paid $66 plus New York sales tax) but worth every penny. An amazing compendium of wonderful printed projects, personal fixations, samplings of the artist's zillions of artist books, and much much more. Try looking for this at some local college library - maybe SAIC or Columbia have picked it up?
Gary Indiana "Saló - or The 120 Days of Sodom" BFI Modern Classics
Anthony Elms mentioned this book - that focuses entirely on the nearly unwatchable Pasolini film - on Other Group a while ago and he lent me his copy. Haven't finished it yet but what I've read so far is both wonderful, fun and smart analysis, and classic Gary Indiana writing. This is probably hard to find too. Interesting reading even if you haven't seen the film and (understandably) don't want to. It touches on many issues that have broader implications beyond this one film.
I didn't see this show either but this heavy duty book is a treasure trove in and of itself. While maybe not as indispensable as Lucy Lippard's "6 Years: The Dematerialization of the Art Object", this book is a wealth of information about tons of international work that one rarely hears about in the US. Buy this book and then see the new art that lots of students are making now which was already made in Japan or Prague or somewhere else about 40 years ago by an artist whose work is practically forgotten. Those who don't learn the history of other peoples' ideas are doomed to ignorantly repeat them in their MFA thesis shows. Seriously this is a damn good book. They have it in Harold Washington Library too.
Le Dernier Cri "Hospital Brut" series.
Le Dernier Cri is an underground publishing/silkscreening outfit in France. Their books are extremely hard to find in the US and when you do find them, they tend to be the less fancy (less expensive) publications, rather than the massive "Hospital Brut" 'magazines'. Le Dernier Cri make some of the most visually exciting, over the top, brazenly hellacious home-made publications I've ever seen. Not exactly underground comics (much of the work isn't really in narrative form existing over multiple frames), but not really a part of the above ground art world either but somewhere in more or less their own world (a world sort of also occupied by other underground French artists like Bruno Richard, Anne Van der Linden, the late Pascal Doury - and tons of others who are mostly featured in Le Dernier Cri publications). These books are assembled with enormous care and effort. I found a used copy of Hospital Brut #4 from 1999 which is well over 300 pages and features lots of odd-sized mini-publications inserted inside the massive rest of the magazine. Really demented, obsessive and wonderful. It also features a new series of photomontages by an artist whose name I'm not sure of (hard to find the credits), that rank as the most impressive work in this area that I can think of since John Heartfield. They are also, however, about the most nauseatingly disgusting photo-montages I've ever seen. The same artist once did a series of photo-montages right after Lady Di's fatal car crash that are about the most tasteless, gruesome and unpleasant things I've seen since Gary Indiana referred to Mother Teresa as "The Death Hag of Calcutta" in Artforum shortly after she died. You can find Le Dernier Cri books for sale here: [http://www.mpawson.demon.co.uk/dernier.html]
For whatever any of this is worth, investigate away. Viscerally yours,
I'm a fan of blue grass, did anyone see the festival in Indiana this year. I also like movies perhaps you saw the MC5 documentary that I unfortunatly missed, and would care to fill me in on that. here are some books I've been reading.
-The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. R. Hienlien
-Slouching towards Bethlehem. J. Didion
-The War of 1812.J.K. Mahon
-The First American. H.W.Brands
-Red Mars. Kim Stanley Robinson
-Did anyone see this years Around the Cayote. I heard a
-lot of people went and really liked it.
I also heard someone is looking forward to the Pilsen art walk, but I couldn't get a name. I also hear that a lot of people play chess. I like chess. I hear we can play it on line. although I'm really bad.
Did anyone see Jazz Fest this year? I used to go, but I just don't have the time anymore.
And what about being on perpetual orange alert.
I did not see the MC5 documentary but if anyone on this list did I'd like to hear about it too. I heard it was terrific but got no details. Marc
I saw the documentary MC5: A True Testimonial! I went early to the late screening, thinking I'd better get there before it sold out. I was there at 9:30 for the 10:30 show, by which time they had already posted signs on the front entrance doors to the Century that read *All shows for MC5: A True Testimonial! sold out--DON'T EVEN ASK!!!*
This is gonna sound corny, and there are probably a million people who now make this same claim, but learning about the MC5 was really important to my development as a young adult. I first learned of them when I was in high school, in the suburbs of Detroit in the early Eighties. At that time the MC5 were really forgotten--they just weren't on the map of rock history. At the most, they were sort of viewed as a curiosity of local countercultural times. Punk itself was still a genuinely underground thing, so you can imagine how marginal the MC5 had become. But there were some active and meaningful remnants of that scene still around. For me at that time the most important products of a living counterculture were the Fifth Estate newspaper and the radio talk show Nightcall on Detroit's WRIF, hosted by Peter Werbe. Later on I found out that Peter Werbe was one of the editorial forces behind the Fifth Estate, and other connections besides, but in these earlier years it was a process of discovery for me: identifying voices here and there that weren't going along with the program. Remember, the term
So I knew the names MC5 and John Sinclair from the Fifth Estate, but for a time still hadn't encountered their work. You might say I still hadn't reached the primary texts. Then one day I picked up a copy of the then just-released Guitar Army: Street Writings, Prison Writings: the collected writings of John Sinclair. That's what really introduced me to the MC5--to their intensity, their political commitment, their exploratory artistry. And then I picked up the Kick Out The Jams lp and became a fan. On the formal level, I was blown away by those guitar onslaughts--I hadn't heard anything that hard before. Not even close. On the political level, I couldn't believe that a bunch of white guys would be so committed to black liberation.
This was quite a dual and simultaneous revelation for me, and goes right to the heart of why I cannot separate art and politics today. So you see, I *had* to get into this movie. I walked around the block, thinking about what to do. I figured it might be worth it to head up to the upper level ticket desk and scope out the situation. There was a line of people with tickets already forming, and a lot of confusion about will-call tix, and still others asking about availability despite the sold-out signs. And there was also a 10:30 screening of the Good Girl. Yes, a way in!
So with Good Girl ticket in hand, my conservative-looking short hair, and button-down oxford shirt, I was ready to cheat my way in. I looked almost as different from the gathering young punks, pierced artists, and assorted bohemians right then as the MC5 looked to me when I was in high school. It worked just fine--watched the Good Girl for a while, went to the bathroom, and then into the MC5 theater. Only problem was that the festival organizers were trying to fix a video glitch, so the show started late. They didn't let people in until after 11. Which meant that I had to watch about a half hour of the Good Girl. It was terrible. And it really gives pot smokers a bad image.
Well, the video kink lasted almost the whole length of the screening, but it wasn't all that disruptive, and the sound was good. The filmmakers were apologizing for it, talking about how frustrating it was to present their work under non-ideal circumstances, blah, blah, until the sro crowd (I don't think I was the only one who sneaked his way in) drownded them out, calling for them to start the show. (There were people in the audience who'd been waiting in line for well over an hour.) The narrative was pretty straightforwardly chronological, beginning with Wayne Kramer describing the founding of the band, and ending with the break up of the band, followed by the usual band member epilogues. In between, there were many great moments of live footage, from the band's early appearances on local tv to some of their last performances. There was, I think, only one presentation of an entire song, and that was from an outdoor show in Ann Arbor (??? I might be wrong about that) in one of the later years ('71? Again, I'm not sure which year exactly). For me it was a highlight of the movie because for at least a few unbroken minutes you really had a full picture of the band's power. Especially singer Rob Tyner--you could see that he reached the upper levels of emotional commitment, like the greatest of blues or gospel singers, but in the formal context of heavy guitar washes, hard beat drumming, and walls of distortion. It was great, and totally worth seeing. The still and moving period imagery was interspersed throughout with cuts of interviews, mostly with the living band members, but also with rarely seen bits from a German media interview during which Fred Sonic Smith does most of the talking--which is great, because not only is he dead, but he was by reputation the most reticent member of the band to begin with. Along with the interviews with his and Rob Tyner's first spouses Becky Tyner and Sigrid (Smith) Dobat, this interview footage helps to give Sonic Smith a live role in the movie that must have been very difficult to manage. Similarly, there is footage of a later Rob Tyner interview, from some time in the 1980s, which is also fun, and demonstrates his great sense of humor.
Apart from the two spouses, there were only two or maybe three non-band member figures given voice in the movie. Of course, the most prominent of these is the band's former adviser and manager John Sinclair. If there ever were a countercultural prima donna, it would have to be John Sinclair, and these bits of interview show that right away. But at the same time, it's fascinating to hear his take on things because he saw in the MC5 a potential that the band members themselves didn't immediately recognize. Sinclair's intellectual (for lack of a better term) contribution was essential to the band's most interesting period--two or three years during which their political and artistic radicalism converged. They started as a rock n roll band, but by 1967 and 1968 they were into Coltrane, Sun Ra, Archie Shepp--the seriously cutting edge stuff of that time. Sinclair's interest in social experimentation carried over into and became represented by the band's musical directions. There is an amazing clip from this period of them free-jamming on stage with electric guitars and saxes, creating some high-energy abstract noise. The narrative is valuable in that it confirms the fact that this was a working band from Detroit. Wayne Kramer says at first they played music so wouldn't have to work on the line. Long before they assumed the identity of rock n roll revolutionaries they played small clubs and lots of local "battle of the bands" competitions. And after the countercultural heydey they still were trying to figure out how to keep the project viable.
So far from being a flash-in-the-pan, overnite sensation, the MC5 really were a group of committed artists with a strong sense of place. At one point, they talk about how they treated their first gig with Cream as just another battle of the bands, and how they were gonna show these English creampuffs how it's done in Detroit. And then Rob Tyner, in his interview, says "Cream coming to play with us in Detroit. . . Well, they should have felt glad that we didn't just shoot 'em." People don't say shit like that anymore!
My main disappointment is the lack of wider contextualization. I know they interviewed Peter Werbe for the movie, but ended up cutting it out. I would have really liked to hear what people not quite as close to the action as Sinclair have to say about what this band meant to them. Peter Werbe for sure, because he's super articulate, and maybe Gary Grimshaw or some other artists from the period. How about Iggy? Or maybe some of the next generation who count the MC5 as a big influence? There really wasn't much or any of that in this movie. Too bad, but that doesn't mean it's not worth the viewing. It really is. (Then again, now you know I'm probably more into the MC5 than the average person.)
Sorry so long, but you asked!
P.s. I'm gonna make up my cheating on the filmmakers by buying some of their fine merchandise. Check it out at [http://www.futurenowfilms.com/index1.htm] I will surely let them know why. The money spent on the Good Girl, unfortunately, I cannot recover.
Thank you Brother Dan Wang for that True Testimonial!!
What an excellent story of triumphing over what sounds like an utterly chaotic situation in order to see a still kind of unfinished and messed up screening of this film which damn well better get wider distribution. Glad I missed the awful-sounding experience of trying to see the film. Sorry I missed the film itself.
I can't add too much to that except that I remember reading somewhere ("Please Kill Me"?) that the MC5, for all of their revolutionary politics, basically behaved much more like a bunch of frat boys. I think Wayne Kramer was the one who said that. I also vaguely remember seeing George Clinton give MC5 a lot of credit on that PBS rock documentary series for giving Funkadelic the idea of playing ridiculously loud through massive speaker power. The roll of the MC5 in influencing Parliament/Funkadelic (who were ultimately the more revolutionary artists I think) was surprising and interesting. By the way, now that Other Group might momentarily turn into a discussion group on the MC5, did anyone see Michael Davis' new band at the Empty Bottle a few months ago? I missed that too. Wayne Kramer's attempts at free jazz in a band with Mars Williams, Fred Lonberg-Holm, and others at the Empty Bottle was a complete train wreck as far as Kramer was concerned. His playing was bullshit 'cool' fake jazz and completely awful despite the rest of the band giving him a million ten mile wide openings to explode with the distorted greatness any normal person would have not only expected, but thought they could count on without the slightest tinge of doubt.
Dear Other Group,
I'm sort of up in the air about whether I or anybody likes to see the other group used simply as a promotional tool. Rest assured it means a lot more than that for me. That said, I'm inviting all of you to my place on Wednesday September 25th for an appartment show:
SATURN RETURN: Gotta Start Somewhere ART EXHIBITION--ONE NIGHT ONLY An appartment show with a feast Wednesday, September 25th, 4pm to 10pm Feast served at 7pm 1427 North Artesian Ave Apt. 3B (one block west of Western Ave, one and a half blocks south of North Ave.)
SATURN RETURN: Gotta Start Somewhere
Saturn orbits the sun once about every twenty nine and a half years. Hopefully around that time you gather as much art a you can and squeeze it into your one bedroom appartment in Humboldt Park. Featuring video, painting, photography, installation, work on paper, etc...by atrists living in Chicago, New York, Rhode Island, Canada, and Minnesota: Carrie Ruckel, Shannon Mustipher, Diego Bobby, Theresa Currie, Marc LeBlanc, Phung Tran, Dan Gleason, Jessica Peterson, Bert Stabler, Naomi Currie, Noah Singer, Future Concepts in Weather, Selina Trepp, Michael Andrews, Jessie Rochon, Siebren Versteeg, Ximena Musch, Melissa Schubeck, Irene Backus, Meg Duguid, John Wanzel, Brian Taylor, Jean Wolf, Tim Fleming, and John Henley
For more info contact Michael Wolf ph: 773-227-2138 email:mwolf at artic.edu www.stopgostop.com/nca
Thanks other group.
Check this out. THis will be a sort of mini biennial in Puerto Rico. It is going to be amazing and Temporary Services and some of the Select people will participate.
Hi you all,
Hope all is well with you. Here's a brief statement about the reviews site that I've started with 2 other women. We are looking at this as a community venture and would like as many people as possible to submit reviews. I encourage you if you have the time to write something for the site. We expect to be up in the next 2 weeks and add new reviews as we receive them. We'd be happy to have you included. And if you can, please send it on to others you think would be interested.
The Organization is an online compendium of quick, thoughtful criticism of art exhibitions in Chicago. Concerned and informed criticism is vital to the future of Chicago art-making. The Organization intends to support dialogue about art in Chicago by covering as many shows as possible and posting reviews while shows are up and on view.
We invite any and all to take up the challenge of well-argued, engaging, critical writing. The Organization encourages and accepts unsolicited submissions. Editorial team Kara Braciale, Sarah Conaway, and Lorelei Stewart will review, select and provide editorial advice to all submissions. We adopt no specific editorial view beyond an interest in well-crafted and substantiated writing. All exhibitions currently on view in Chicago are eligible for review. Views expressed on The Organization's site are solely the responsibility of the individual writers. Therefore, all pieces are attributed.
Because we expect numerous reviews the site will incorporate fractious debate, diverse styles, opinions and approaches. We encourage the intelligence and productivity of this discord.
We are The Organization. Premiering this October. Contact us or Submit a review to: edit- at thechicago.org
Lorelei Stewart Director, Gallery 400, UIC
Didn't actually mean to send this to you all but I thought you might me interested too.
I read other group (when I've got a strong stomach - he he).