Radiator Comics

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Neil Brideau’s new publishing and distribution company, Radiator Comics, is officially live and full of wonder. There’s an incredible stable of artists featured, and I’m honored to be in the mix. More on Radiator here.

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The Field Notes Aesthetic: Heidi Norton at the Elmhurst Art Museum

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My article about Heidi Norton’s show went live yesterday on Artslant:

Heidi Norton, Prismatic Nature, McCormick House detail, Elmhurst Art Museum, 2014; Photo by Jim Prinz

Heidi Norton, Prismatic Nature, McCormick House detail, Elmhurst Art Museum, 2014; Photo by Jim Prinz

Mies van der Rohe is such an historic presence. The aftershock of his innovation is still palpable, reflecting as it does the evolution of an “international style after World War II.” It is hard to imagine, therefore, how one might absorb his architecture into daily life—much less install an exhibition under one of his roofs. That is the challenge posed by the Elmhurst Art Museum, an institution that purchased van der Rohe’s prototype for suburban life, the McCormick House, in 1992. Chicago-based artist Heidi Norton rises to that challenge. Like a plant slowly stretching across a perfectly manicured wall, her solo show, Prismatic Nature, transforms the museum with increasing intensity. Norton not only grows into and through McCormick House, but revises van der Rohe’s utopic vision while doing so. In the hybrid space that emerges, she emphasizes institutional and personal collaboration, using organic forms that soften Modernist and New Age tropes, presenting a map of her own aesthetic ideals in the process.

To create the design of the house, van der Rohe transformed one vertical strip of windows from his iconic 860 Lake Shore Drive skyscraper into a modern, horizontal bungalow. Although the single family home was conceived as an alternative to track houses constructed in Levittown—its own utopian vision for post-war suburban life—the McCormick house remains unique; one of only three houses that van der Rohe built in the US, it never caught on. When the museum purchased the home, it was disassembled, and paraded down the streets of Elmhurst to 150 Cottage Ave., where it was reassembled, and modified, becoming the Elmhurst Art Museum of today.  

Perhaps the first instinct an artist would have when addressing such a sleek, modular structure would be to overwhelm each and every cranny with signs of personal affect. This is not Norton’s tact, however. At least not in the beginning. Instead, she emphasizes van der Rohe’s own mission to integrate interior and exterior architectures, applying a series of glass screens on the windows of the Hostetler Gallery, the main exhibition space within the museum. Strangely sentimental, these site-specific tableaux filter light inside and outside of the otherwise empty space with plant life, textual quotation, photographs, stones, rocks, and resin. Van der Rohe floor plans, protruding nails, swaths of dirt, or foxed old notes written by her father about what books to read to best live off the land, are collaged together in a myriad of color, with rippling textures. The sculptures stand like semi-transparent pages of a field diary, inserting a subjective presence that troubles van der Rohe’s seemingly objective windows.

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Coming out this fall: MOTHERNISM by Lise Haller Baggesen

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A lot of very exciting things are surfacing this fall, and Lise Haller Baggesen’s incredible book is one of the finest. “At the intersection of feminism, science fiction, and disco, Mothernism aims to locate the mother-shaped hole in contemporary art discourse.” Just like that. I mention it here, now, in anticipation of the book’s soft launch this August at The Poor Farm, an artist paradise in Wisconsin.

by Lise Haller Baggesen
co-published by The Green Lantern Press and Poor Farm Press
ISBN 978-0-9884185-5-4
152 pages

On Saturday, August 2nd, 2014, The Great Poor Farm Experiment presents a special preview of Mothernism. For this Saturday afternoon, Baggesen will present sections of her forthcoming book, while discussing the project from inception to print. Advance copies of this lush, full-color edition designed by Sonnenzimmer will be available.

The book’s official release will take place in Chicago this October, when Baggesen will present her text alongside its affiliated installation with Ordinary Projects at Mana Contemporary Chicago. While details are forthcoming, questions about the book’s launch can be directed to Meredith Weber, Program Director Ordinary Projects, info@ordinaryprojects.org or Caroline Picard, Green Lantern Press Editor, caroline@lanternprojects.com.


Mothernism lands in Chicago in October 2014 with Lise Haller Baggesen’s epic installation at Ordinary Projects

About the Book:

At the intersection of feminism, science fiction, and disco, Mothernism aims to locate the mother-shaped hole in contemporary art discourse. If the proverbial Mother is perhaps perceived as a persona non grata in the art world, because her nurturing nature is at odds with the hyperbolic ideal of the singular artistic genius, Mothernism amplifies her presence, channeling her energy, complexity, and sublime creative potential in a series of intimate and critical reflections. The resulting collection of letters — dedicated with love from one mother to her dear daughter, sister, mother, and reader — fuse biography, music, art, and history into an auto-theoretical testimony that recalls and redefines the future imperfect.

About the Author:

Lise Haller Baggesen (1969) left her native Denmark for the Netherlands in 1992, to study painting at the Academy of Art and  Industrial Design in Enschede and the Rijksacademy in Amsterdam. In 2008, she relocated with her family to Chicago, where she graduated from the School of the Art Institute in 2013 with an MA in Visual and Critical Studies. Over time, her painting practice evolved into a hybrid production, including teaching, curating,  writing, and multimedia installation work.

She has shown internationally in galleries and museums including  Overgaden in Copenhagen, the Municipial Museum in the Hague, MoMu in Antwerp, Wurttembergischem Kunstverein in Stuttgart, CAEC in Xiamen, The Poor Farm in Manawa, Wisconsin, 6018 North, Chicago and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. Mothernism is her first book.

Responses to the Book:

“Being a mother, that most universal yet personal experience, has always been a creative act, albeit rarely acknowledged as such. In Mothernism, Lise Haller Baggesen calls it for what it is: generative, radical, bodily, intense, staggering, connective, and then some.” — Lori Waxman

“From cleavage to cobras to cherry popping, Mothernism is both a contemplation and call to action vis-à-vis the position and shape of the MOTHER in contemporary art and culture. This smart and often hilarious series of letters and observations address the direct MOTHERing experience as a kind of radical personal economy. For Lise Haller Baggesen, the MOTHER is the agency. Baggesen is from the generation of female art makers whose only option is everything and all at once. Mothernism is spry and accessible, sometimes a battle cry, and sometimes a lullaby. Fourth Wave Feminism has a new manifesto.” —Jennifer Reeder

“Mothernism. Ha! Baggesen could’ve stopped there. But I’m glad she didn’t. She is not one for cheap irony. Her tack sharp wit ultimately gives way to sustained theoretical analysis required  to unpack such a funny but formidable elision. Besides, irony, no matter how pointed, does little if any justice to the all too real ‘mother-shaped hole in contemporary art discourse,’ a Mary Kelly-shaped hole to be specific. And if that lacuna weren’t wide enough, between, say, Tiqqun’s Theory of the Young-Girl and Anne-Marie Slaughter’s Why Women Still Can’t Have It All, mothers contend with a representational force field that amounts to a funhouse mirror, making Baggesen’s reflections a welcome rallying point. But it’s clear from the get go that this ain’t about galvanizing soccer moms in a campaign against texting and driving. Negotiating the eddies and whirlpools of an intergenerational feminism makes a retreat into any kind of movement all but impossible, leaving Baggesen to speak for herself. She is a demographic of one. Above all, Mothernism is rooted in Baggesen’s voice whose tone is by turn tough, tender and by the end of the book, downright touching. A seamless mixture of cultural criticism, theory and biography, the  essays double as a paean to disco and an open letter to her daughter. Engagingly conversational and endearingly confessional, Mothernism finds Baggesen (long my fashion idol) psychically naked one minute, and speaking frankly of sequins the next. Yummy Puffy Mommy Yoni, Yummy Yummy.” — Hamza Walker

Sector.logo.2Founded in 2005, The Green Lantern Press is an artist-run, non-profit press focused on emerging or forgotten texts that bridge contemporary experience with historical form. We celebrate the integration of artistic mediums. In October, 2014 we are partnering with Sector 2337 to open a contemporary artspace and research bookstore in Logan Square, Chicago at 2337 N Milwaukee Avenue. www.press.thegreenlantern.org

pf-logoPoor Farm Press is the publishing imprint for the Poor Farm. www.poorfarmexperiment.org/poor-farm-press/


IOTO_OP-final (1) copyOrdinary Projects leverages the success of Industry of the Ordinary to provide a highly visible and publicly accessible platform for the exhibition of new and emerging artists working in performance, installation and other non-traditional media. This initiative also includes annual community programs and the IOTO Summer School, a twelve seat/three week summer intensive launching in August 2014.  www.ordinaryprojects.org



Mana Contemporary Chicago is a rapidly expanding art center set in an enormous landmark building in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood, serving as a nexus for many of the strongest artists and organizations in the city. Artists of diverse disciplines, including painting, sculpture, photography, dance, film, sound, and performance work alongside each other in a novel campus environment which fosters experimentation, collaboration, and mutual inspiration.

A hub of programming and activity for the vital communities of Chicago artists, Mana Contemporary will also serve as a multi-institutional pedagogical platform, and already serves as home to art schools and organizations dedicated to educating and supporting emerging artists. Chicago’s existing art communities have informed this model, which grows organically with the development of each new floor, customizing and adapting to the needs and opportunities that make up Chicago’s creative landscape. Mana Contemporary strives to grow a vital community of Chicago artists, showcasing their practices, processes, and ideas to the public. www.manacontemporary.com/chicago/

“Music and Words / Words and Body / Body and Music.”

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I got an email in from Tim Kinsella today; he’s organizing this reading/performance at the MCA this Sunday afternoon featuring Melina Ausikaitis, Leroy Bach, Abigail Bleuher, Devin King, Bryan Saner, and Marvin Tate.

In Tim’s words:

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Hey dunno if you know this, but there’s a predetermined magic hour this Sunday.

It is at the mca: noon in the theater.

It is called “Music and Words / Words and Body / Body and Music.”

It stars Melina Ausikaitis, Leroy Bach, Abigail Bleuher, Devin King, Bryan Saner, and Marvin Tate. 

Dunno if you know them but they’re all thoughtful and daring, beautiful and inspiring people with infinite capacities for world-life.

I’ll be “conducting.”

Lastly, to secure that fragile nature common to any predetermined magic hour, we humbly request that you arrive on time and remain for the duration.   


TK Chubs (The Italian ice) tim-enator X

Made, Not Begotten: Robert Mapplethorpe at The Grand Palais

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My essay about Mapplethorpe’s Belly Button photo went up this last Friday on The Seen:

“…Heva, naked Eve. She had no navel. Gaze. Belly without blemish, bulging big, a buckler of taut vellum, no, whiteheaped corn, orient and immortal, standing from everlasting to everlasting. Wombed in sin darkness I was too, made not begotten. By them, the man with my voice and my eyes and a ghostwoman with ashes on her breath. They clasped and sundered, did the coupler’s will.”

— James Joyce, Ulysses, Episode Three, “Proteus.”

Picture a masculine torso, identified primarily by a single ridge running down the center of the photograph; it divides the abdomen between a subtle range of light and dark gray. At its base, the image is punctuated with a delicate field of hair: a threshold pointing just beyond the frame where the pubic area begins. The image would function like an aerial landscape – a desert, maybe – except for a curious belly button blooming in the center, like the bulb of a very fat tulip. Its unusual shape pulls focus, recalling what one tends to forget: a remote point of origin just beyond memory. This torso was once frail, vulnerable, fat, and forming in the dark. This body came from a point of non-being, passing through the hips of its mother into a structured world, whose human society tends to favor binary opposites.

Belly Button, 1986, hangs unobtrusively on a wall of the Grand Palais in Paris amongst over 200 stunning, familiar, and sometimes provocative images taken by Robert Mapplethorpe from 1970 until his death in 1989. The black and white navel might seem the less remarkable example of themes that reappear throughout the rest of the show, where classic studies of ideal male bodies glisten dangerously in high contrast, cropped to emphasize a geometrical, almost anonymous body. Those abstract figures stand juxtaposed by personable celebrity headshots. As in one wall arrangement, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Isabella Rossellini, Grace Jones, and Louis Bourgeois hang among other identifiables, salon style, around a portrait of Warhol, himself framed in a cross, like another point of origin. Additionally, religious crosses appear throughout, as do pentagrams, orchids, and geometric angles. Such themes wrestle under parameters prescribed by the camera —  the dramatic tension of dark and light — attempting to capture a symbolic opposition the artist is at once suspicious of, and beholden to. read more