July 30, 2008

suddenly: where we live now

More on suddenly:

suddenly was born of urban planner Thomas Sieverts’s astonishing observation that “the shaping of the landscape where we live can no longer be achieved by the traditional resources of town planning, urban design, and architecture. New ways must be explored, which are as yet unclear.”

suddenly comprises a set of exhibitions, an annotated reader, and a series of public events that attempt to find these new ways in contemporary art, literature, and the conversations they spark. It will take place at various locations around the world, beginning this fall in Portland, Oregon, and traveling to Claremont, California in January 2009.

suddenly seeks new descriptions that give the landscape where we live an independent identity in the imagination of its occupants. We propose new language to displace ‘the city’ and ‘the countryside’ as the subject of our hopes and our struggles — the subject of our politics.

Throughout his work, Sieverts poses a radical question: what if there is no separate, centralized “city” and no pristine, natural “countryside,” but just one vast fabric of human (and non-human) habitation? What if where we live is an inextricably mixed-up and in-between landscape? Should we — can we — learn to see pattern and beauty in this dynamic, contradictory landscape rather than fighting hopeless political battles to legislate planning solutions for problems that cannot be solved by architecture or planning?

We no longer live in the distinct, ideal realms of “city” and “countryside.” More laws and discussion to prop up those images will not help us live better or more responsibly. What we lack is not smart planning or brilliant architects, it is the will and imagination to live here now, rather than seeking escape within ideas and representations of a disappeared past. We need better imaginations, and better art and literature, in order to initiate an organized aesthetic response to the mixed-up, in-between landscapes where we live.

This is what suddenly tries to provide: an imaginative tool kit for engaging the place where we live now through something other than, something beyond nostalgia. John Cage is an eloquent spokesman for the cause: “Our intention is to affirm this life, not bring order out of chaos or to suggest improvements in creation, but simply to wake up to the very life we are living, which is excellent once one gets one’s mind and one’s desires out of the way and lets it act of its own accord.”

Conceived by Matthew Stadler and Stephanie Snyder

Thomas Sieverts •• Saskia Sassen •• Fritz Haeg •• Karl Marx •• Shawn Records •• Lisa Robertson •• Michael Damm •• Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery, Reed College •• Storefront for Architecture, NY •• The Zwischenspiel Puppet Opera Company •• Program, Berlin •• Frank Heath •• Hadley+Maxwell •• The Corridor Project, Michael Hebb •• Molly Dilworth •• Castillo/Corrales, Paris •• Michael McManus •• Yi-Fu Tuan •• Raymond Williams •• Alexandra Harmon •• Gallery Homeland •• Aaron Betsky •• Oscar Tuazon •• Coll Thrush •• Fernand Braudel •• Rem Koolhaas •• Pomona College Museum of Art •• James Glisson •• Mostlandian Citizens Junior Ambassador and Katy Asher •• Diana George •• Mike Merrill •• Zoe Crosher •• Sarah Dougher •• David Harvey •• Athens West •• Mark Allen, Machine Projects •• Mile Post 5 •• Anselm Hook •• Rebecca McGrew •• D. Lee Williams •• Beaverton Creek Village Mall •• Gary Wiseman •• David Cunningham Gallery, San Francisco •• Colin Beattie •• Lucien Samaha •• Kenneth Mroczek •• Michael Reinsch, the Conversation Grant •• Danielle Dutton •• Marc Joseph Berg •• Matthew Stadler •• Stephanie Snyder •• and others...


The MOST est Mort. Long Live Mostlandia!

The MOST est Mort. Long live The MOST!
Topophilia Trivialist. 14 May, 2008.

Surprising news today in the Trivialist, as it appears that Mostlandia's beloved arts group, The MOST, has passed. Our most up to date information indicates that The M reached a state of fatigue at the thought of another endless meeting, and The S found herself questioning the purpose of the group's presence in artistic settings and art in general. As such, The MOST has declared itself dead and as such will no longer act as a portal from Mostlandia to surrounding terrains.

All members of The MOST are reporting that although this change is momentous to them, the dissolution was amicable. From her home in Oakland, California, The S explained, "Death and change really is a natural part of life. But, you know, it can take time, sometimes a long time, to learn what it means for someone or something to die. And, on the other hand, some things don't die, even when some form they were in died." The O added, "It was a shock to our systems at first, but we all thought that if someone needed a temporary or permanent sabbatical, they should take it. We've been working hard for five years now. That's a long time to dedicate to an effort like this."

News of this event comes as a surprise to many concerned citizenry, who are asking what will happen next. It would be a joke to think that Mostlandia might cease to exist without the presence of the group, but some others wonder whether the stations, such as Ambassadorships and Consulates, as well as the letters themselves, will be refilled. "I mean, isn't that what happens in all of the other organizations across Mostlandia?" asked Citizen Winter. "When an opening comes up, you have to find a replacement. I'd think that the Bureau of Bureaucracy would want new ambassadors." Others, such as Citizen Baxter Nelson, have suggested a monument, such as a miniature golf course be installed at either The S's residence or the Junior Ambassadors food cart.

As part of this change, The M, O, S and T have publicly declared intentions of shedding their letters like metaphorical snake skins and applying to become bonafied Mostlandian citizens. "It's true," explained M. W. Marlow from his station on the Fact Check Floor. "By virtue of being the first known human embodiments of portals to Mostlandia, The MOST were exempt from the citizen paperwork forms 42 NPRS and 13-A5.1. This means that it is now up to the citizens to carry on the public's awareness of Mostlandia. From here on out, the citizens are Mostlandia's torchbearers." For two new citizens, The O and T, their first act will be not lifting the torch but changing their names. The T expects from now on to be known as Junior Ambassador, while The O plans to go by Lady Asher.

Mostlandian Citizen Stephanie Snyder, who is also the curator of the Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery at Reed College, has invited the MOST to mark the passage of The MOST and engage in public rituals of their devising into the unknown territories of the future as part of the artistic and literary venture suddenly. www.suddenly.org

From his sun filled window at Junior Ambassadors food cart, The T reflected that Mostlandia, by definition, is a place in constant motion, flux, and change, and that above all, it is a group effort. "We would like to invite all Mostlandian Citizens and Citizens of Other Places inspired by Mostlandia to come together in an act of celebration and to witness this passage of hope and intention. We're planning four events to witness our passage from this last place to the next, and we hope that the friends and supporters we've met over the past five years will be able to join us." And join we will.

Long live Mostlandia! Long live The M.O.S.T.!
A wake for The MOST will be held in Portland, OR on Monday, August 11. Contact us at this email address for more information. Flowers and/or balloons will be accepted at 4716 NE Rodney Ave., Portland, OR 97211. Additionally, please join us on September 2, 2008, 7 p.m. at the Cooley Gallery, Reed College, to celebrate the MOST’s passage from one realm to another.


July 28, 2008

The Library Project

While in Chicago, Billy suggested that we visit the public library building. Being the stubborn pragmatist that I am, I wasn't sure what his excitement about this was, seeing as we weren't going to be in town long enough to check out books, but I went along for the ride.

After listening to a blues band play in the basement, and riding the escalators for a while, Billy recalled a talk that Marc Fischer gave last fall at PSU regarding the Temporary Services project wherein the group added 100 artist books to the library collection without alerting the librarians to their plans. TS adhered numbers on spines of the books, manila cardholders on the interior sleeves, and other Chicago Public Library stamps and markings in the appropriate locations. According to Marc, one of the librarians has begun to collect the books and store them in a special location somewhere in the library. We decided to go on a treasure hunt for the collection.

I started our search on the wrong foot by asking a woman on the Literature Floor whether or not she was aware of a collection of artist books being stored in the library. Our interaction was very similar to a Monty Python sketch, in that she immediately asked me whether I was talking about paintings or sculpture. When I told her that I was actually looking for books, artist books, repeatedly asked, "Paintings?" I tried a different tack and said that no, I was looking for books made by artists, and that the books were the art. She said, "You mean paintings. Or sculpture, maybe? ...are you talking about literary arts?" This went on for a while, with her eventually stating that unless I was looking for the literary arts, I should go upstairs to the Fine Arts and Performance floor and ask there.

We were sent on a brief visit to special collections on the 9th floor,

back down to the Fine Arts section and finally were allowed behind the "Staff Only" doors into the Arts Reference room. In a file cabinet in a bottom corner, we found books containing books, books that were actually hats, pants and jackets, books made of salt and plaster, and a variety of other lovely treats. Next time you're in Chicago, check this out!





Powerpoint Extreme: Groups and Spaces

In addition to being really excited about InCubate, I was also pleased to discover that some friends of mine, Josh Ipple and Charlie Roderick of Hideous Beast were the current artists in residence
, and that they were organizing an evening of Powerpoint presentations by an assortment of artist groups and people who run arts spaces in Chicago. It was almost as if they had curated the evening just for me - I spent last year geeking out on animated Powerpoint presentations and arts groups. I'll post some pictures and short descriptions below.

Bonnie Fortune, a graduate student at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, started things off with heavy metal music (complete with high-volume amplifier), tie-dye graphics, flashing lightning bolts and images from books published in the 1960-70's addressing large-scale ideological wars, energy crises, environmental devastation, and destructive global capitalism. These images were culled from an online library,
The Library of Radiant Optimism that she is compiling with her husband (and Temporary Services collaborator) Brett Bloom on a website called letsremake.info.

Bryce Dwyer who runs the residency program at InCubate gave a much more linear and methodical presentation on how to run your own residency program. Just follow The Five Steps, and you'll be set! (By the way, they're looking for residents now here.)

Members of a gallery space called Green Lantern gave a talk on the trials and tribulations of the Kennedy Family over the years. I wasn't sure how this fit in with what they do.

Linsey Caplice ran a presentation about her group, the Honor the Cheifbot Society's suggested replacement for the current controversial University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign mascot, Chief Illiniwak. The proposed replacement, the Chiefbot, would be nine feet tall, made of cardboard, and shoot clouds of glitter from its head. The Society's top three reasons why it's a robot:

Here's a link to the full presentation in case you're interested. It doesn't read in robot voice like the presentation I saw did, but it still rocks. Link.


Other Options

I've been doing a little online research into the Other Options exhibitions put together by InCubate, and have put together a compilation of a few links below.

Tanda Foundation - Tanda Foundation exists as a web 2.0 structure that allows the creative working class to donate money towards the collection of a monthly tanda, that is awarded to applicants based on votes. By donating money users get voting priviledges, however any user is allowed to apply. The money collected, number of votes, who voted, feedback on proposals are public and published dinamically and in web 2.0 format.

Joanna Spitzner Foundation
The Joanna Spitzner Foundation seeks to expand creative knowledge through its support of contemporary art and ongoing research in art, economics, and philanthropy. The Foundation gives small grants to artists that are funded by wages donated from work performed by Joanna. You can read a blog about her daily life on the job as an administrative assistant at Syracuse University here. (note - it reads much like a day in my life as an AA at PSU!)


ReTool explores tactics that people employ to make ends meet in economically depressed cities. We are currently interviewing individuals involved in cottage industries; jitney services; yard sales; DIY culture; urban gardening; and work exchanges. We seek out all types of informal exchange - from tradesmen who swap a plumbing repair for an oil change, to the hawker scalping baseball tickets outside the stadium and the grandmother selling homemade pies at the church bazaar.

Forays is a low profile artist group based in the north of America, whose work focuses on the research and creation of open-source minor architectures and low-tech modifications of everyday infrastructure.

Hideous Beast


InCubate Chicago

Just a couple of weeks ago, I visited an exciting and intelligent project space in Chicago called the Institute for Community Understanding Between Art and The Everyday, aka. InCubate. InCubate is run by a group of art history and arts administration students at the Arts Institute who are interested in exploring ways to "disengage with the traditional strategies governing today's art market." In addition to running the traveling exhibition Other Options, a residency program and an ingenious Sunday Soup granting program, they are also using wiki, mapping and TV documentation as part of their explorations.

Bryce, the InCubate staff on hand, gave me several pieces of reading material created by prior artists in residence including a "Sunday Soup" user guide (compiled by Hideous Beast) explaining how to create my own soup-oriented granting program, and a "Cold Call Friendly Phone Book" (compiled by Michael Bauer) listing the names, phone numbers and short descriptions about 41 artistic people living in Chicago who wouldn't mind a phone call from an artistic stranger in need of entertainment/assistance/information.


July 1, 2008

The Corridor Project: Ross Island

On Sunday, I attended a dinner on Ross Island as part of Michael Hebberoy's Corridor Project. From what I understand, Michael is interested in exploring 12 locations along the I-5 corridor over the next year. At each location a different artist will build a table, and dinner will be served.

Sunday ranged from hot to thunderstorms, rain to mist. We drank moonshine, walked on mudflats and watched an amazing sunset.

Other participants in the dinner have posted some pictures at the following location:


Check it out!