Saturday, May 31, 2008


so i woke up in a lousy mood and met up with some friends to hang out in the park...a block of rummage sales distracted us and i found a whole stack of old war photos...i'll post more but wanted to share these two tonight.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

general instructions for giving first aid; hot weather, it could be a killer

dining room

don't even ask me why this picture looks like this, but i love it!!!

lawrence's towel on the porch

their land

more farm outtakes

lawrence (my uncle) counting his cattle

other farm outtakes

grandma's 90th surprise bday

i love this pic and after at first wrestling with some disappointment, i love that she's blurry...i could really see this picture big and fuzzy

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


so i quickly and casually signed up for, an i-am-reading-this-right-now website. a few clicks later and the website had overtaken my address book and sent a seemingly personal message to everyone that i invited them to goodreads! genius for them, a bit embarrassing for me. so, i am sorry, and i give you this (pretend your name is sara as you listen to this song):

lost pet #3

don't worry, i am reposting this on the ukranian village pole i took it down from tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


here is a new piece i did via proxy, it is titled
"Untitled (Palestinian wall, east Jerusalem)" 2008
Self portrait as an artist series

i discovered an online service that, for a fee, will spraypaint your message on the palestinian wall (palestine side) is a peace-activism organization based in the netherlands...they send you three pix...the one above is the one i liked, the one below is an 'action' shot, nice to see it actually being placed on the wall

and here is a detail shot of the piece

after much thinking about what to do, i had many bad ideas in my brainstorming phase, i came up with this text. many other ideas seemed didactic, too clumsily political, too simple. this text, although also simple, it is about the notion of empathy, about emotional participation in a complex issue, and this strategy seemed appropriately modest, personal, and sincere. how do we participate in this debate? environmentalism is nice because, if everyone acts local, the global effect can become a critical's also quantitative, measurable, improvements can be tracked. when there's centuries of history that can be presented within group A's agenda, or group B's agenda, and undending cyclical violence, how does one, from chicago, wrap their head around a wall that represents so much more that an already impending political and social barrier??? how does one act local?

one answer to that question was ironically addressed in an audio documentary i listened to at the spertus institute in chicago at the third coast audio festival a couple days ago. they played 'the lemon tree', the story of a jewish woman and a palestinian man who at different times lived in the same house and came to know each other years after the palestinian and his family were kicked out of their house. the story is more complicated, but in the end, many years later, the woman ends up giving the house up in his honor (it is illegal for her to give it to him) and the house becomes a daycare for refugee arab children living in israel. she said there are 3 A's: acceptance, apology, amends. importantly, the lesson here is that these are her rules, so she endeavored a single act to affect a small amount of people and make peace with her relationship to this man. this was her inroad to the large, complex issue of israeli-palestinian issues.

a book just came out where the whole story is fleshed out into book form, "The Lemon Tree: An Arab, a Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East" by Sandy Tolan.

it's on amazon!

oh no, now i am trapped in this bigger font! till next post...

Monday, May 19, 2008


went to the ny photo fest this weekend...ehhhhh. imagine larry david-esque ehhhh here. highlights of the fest were: participating in the mocp pavillion, harrell fletcher's piece in the ubiquitous image section asking for people's wallet photos that were scanned and printed and exhibited as the festival went on, seeing stephen gill speak, seeing pretty girls and brad troemel everywhere, seeing one of my former students, andrew mccomb, with an image in the tim barber exhibition, seeing christian patterson, meeting shane lavalette and michael __ ___ (what's his name, i want to look at his site)...

but, too much rain, too many recycled photo ideas, too much! maybe art fairs and festivals always swallow the unique voices of the participants too much and it bums me out. the tim barber installation walked-the-line...the incarnation at the fest wasn't as good (but it was ambitious) because all the images were printed and framed 8x10"ish. with this strategy even tim's voice was obfuscated a bit by the format...i would have liked to see prints pinned to the wall in different sizes placed by tim as he usually does.

the ubiquitous image show was my favorite place at the photo fest...

i went to the whitney biennial and was inspired by amanda ross ho (originally from chicago, a piece of hers is above) and walead beshty.


Company to reprint yearbooks after head switching

Sun May 18, 2:57 AM ET

McKINNEY, Texas - School officials say they are appalled by altered photos — including heads on different bodies — in hundreds of McKinney High School yearbooks delivered this week.

Besides the head and body switching, some necks were stretched, one girl's arm was missing, and another girl's head was placed on what appeared to be a nude body, with the chest blurred.

A spokeswoman for Minnesota-based Lifetouch National School Studios Inc. said the alterations were "an unfortunate lapse in judgment" by an employee but didn't believe it was malicious.

The high school had required Lifetouch to make heads the same size and eyes at the same level in all student photos, company spokeswoman Sara Thurin Rollin said Saturday. The request was "unusual and definitely very particular, but that's not to suggest what happened here is acceptable," she said.

Rollin declined to say if the company fired or reprimanded the employee who altered the images. She said Lifetouch is taking full responsibility for the altered pictures, about 30 in all, and will pay to have the publication reprinted before the seniors graduate.

Lori Oglesbee, the school's yearbook adviser at McKinney High School, said the yearbook staff would spend the weekend rebuilding the yearbook.

McKinney is about 20 miles north of Dallas.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

i am selling a print through the remarkable humble arts foundation, which can be found at:

here is a screen grab:

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


this is a belated posting...above is the small installation i did on the last day of my solo show at bucket rider. it is untitled, and features photo / document ephemera that is personal or found vernacular...little details include a very small shelf holding up the polaroid in the bottom middle. this is a polaroid from the spencer elden (nevermind record kid) shoot. on the left is a typed sheet that is titled 1 for $4, 2 for $7 with a list of tracks....this is a hustle of one of my old students at wendell phillips academy. the letter with the envelope staped is a letter to santa i got from the post office last nov...the girl provided no return address, just savannah in stickney, IL. on the back side she asks for a box of wishes. the middle image is a snapshot of a torn up flag hanging over a skateboard on the wall i made recently at a party in pilsen. and on and on. i liked making this and felt it really belonged in the 'self-portrait' section of my show. hope to do more of these in the future...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

thanks for passing this to me andrew m.!

show at the city gallery

today i went and visited the chicago water tower off michigan ave...i am in an exhibition that opens on thursday there called 'on art: photographs by jason lazarus and brian ulrich'...columbia college curated both of our series resulting from our respective wright commissions. i'll be in nyc for the ny photo festival and will miss the opening.

the best part of today besides peeping the show installed by aron gent (thanks!) was trudging up to the top of the water tower with him. so pleasing to be somewhere so public that you usually don't have access to a private vantage point!

the window below i was really fascinated by, the long narrow ledge that leads to the window is over 5 feet long and angled slightly...very sexy!!!

the view at the top of the chicago water tower off michigan ave:

the show will be up until early august if you're in the area

“Negro Church, South Carolina, 1936”, 2006

Durst Lambda Light Jet Print
from his site:

(these are a) Re-creation of documentary photographs from the 1930’s. While aiming to isolate the sculptural aspects of original photographs taken by Walker Evans, I build miniature models of the churches and dress the sets in order to trick the viewer into believing the imagery is the original photograph, while actually being a studio creation standing a mere 6 inches tall.

Monday, May 12, 2008

thank you ciara

'Mikey, my mom's second husband, introduced me to Nirvana's Nevermind record...he was around until I was 13.'

anyone else out there remember who introduced you to the band Nirvana? do you have a snapshot of them from that era???

Saturday, May 10, 2008

text from White Cube dot com...

Kris Martin

Whether by marking its passing or transcending the present Kris Martin’s practice questions the notion of time and our desire to comprehend it. His diverse use of the readymade from the antique relic to the highly engineered or more ephemeral and immaterial interventions provoke a space for uncertainty, enquiry and existential reasoning.

His objects and interventions provoke a state of mind – an occasion to consider a situation or predicament – as much as they create a visual experience. During the Berlin Biennale Martin installed Mandi III (2003), a monochromatic departures board at the back of St. Johannes-Evangelist Church. The work provided no information, instead continuously rotating through blank screens that provoked the viewer to consider the uncharted nature of mans journey through life.

At the Frieze Art Fair in 2007 Martin orchestrated an intervention amid the hubbub of the opening reception. Without prior warning, a woman’s voice came over the loudspeakers and asked fairgoers to observe ‘one minute of silence for no reason. For nobody. For nothing. Just one minute for yourself.’ The work removed the viewers from the everyday activity of looking at and dealing in art, and allowed them to enter a new, seemingly free mental space of pure contemplation. The work itself is a kind of absence that demanded a heightened level of vigilance to the present moment and one’s immediate surroundings. Other works take the form of a kind of riddle.

100 years (2004), a golden metal orb, is, according to the artist, set to explode after a century. The work sets off a number of questions about the value of objects invested with ideas by an artist, the sincerity of those ideas, and the transience of the artistic gesture. Vase, a large scale blue and white porcelain vase is smashed by Martin each time its location changes. He then systematically reassembles it piece by piece. Having recently been shown for its third time at PS1, the vase endures signs of irreparable damage that again question our notions of value, perfection and artistic preservation.

In a series of works on paper the role of authorship is challenged by Martin. Here he hand-writes the 1,494 pages of Dostoyevsky’s novel The Idiot, replacing the main protagonist’s name, Myshkin with his own. Conversely, in an additional series, Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis is distilled on to a single sheet of paper to the point obliteration. This process of dematerialization is the theme of Endpoints whereby the artist collages the final punctuation point or mark from various literary classics including Johanna Spyri’s Heidi, Steinbeck’s ‘Of Mice and Men’, ‘Diary of Anne Frank’ and Edgar Allan Poe’s short stories.

Kris Martin was born in 1972 and is based in Ghent, Belgium. Solo shows include Marc Foxx, Los Angeles (2008), P.S.1, MoMA, New York (2007), Sies + Höke Galerie, Düsseldorf (2007) and Johann König, Berlin (2006). Group shows include ‘Traces du sacré’, Centre Pompidou, Paris (2008), ‘Passengers’, Wattis Institute for Contemporary Art, San Francisco (2007), ‘Learn to Read’, Tate Modern, London (2007) and ‘Of Mice and Men: 4th Berlin Biennial for Contemporary Art’ (2006).

Sunday, May 04, 2008

fearing photography...

Street photographers fear for their art amid climate of suspicion

With public concern rising over paedophilia and terrorism, street photographers face new difficulties

Matt Stuart photographs the unscripted drama of the London streets. Entirely spontaneous, his pictures are made possible by a combination of instinct, cunning and happy coincidence, revealing the beauty and significance of the everyday - what the rest of us see but don't notice, moments that vanish faster than the blink of an eye.

For his efforts, Stuart has picked up a little collection of pink stop-and-search slips, souvenirs of practising a century-old art form in a city increasingly paranoid and authoritarian. After 11 years, Stuart is something of an old hand. Using the street photographer's traditional tool of choice - the discreet and near silent Leica camera - he knows how to make himself invisible, make an image and move on. He rarely runs into trouble; when he does, he knows his rights.

Others aren't so adept. In the past year, the photography blogs have buzzed with tales of harassment, even violence. There's the war photographer who dodged bullets abroad only to be beaten up in his own South London backyard by a paranoid parent who (wrongly) thought his child was being photographed. There's the amateur photographer punched prostrate in the London Tube after refusing to give up his film to a stranger; the case of the man in Hull, swooped on by police after taking photographs in a shopping centre. “Any person who appears to be taking photos in a covert manner should expect to be stopped and spoken to by police ...” ran the Humberside force's statement.

Now, a new poster campaign by the Metropolitan Police is inviting Londoners to call a hotline if they don't like the look of a photographer. “Thousands of people take photos every day,” runs the text. “What if one of them seems odd?” The poster states that terrorists use cameras for surveillance. Life with a camera might be about to turn tougher.

“People need to understand the context,” Stuart says. “We've been mistaken for paparazzi and attacked since Princess Diana died. As far as the public's concerned, if you're a man with a camera you're probably a paedophile. And now, if we look ‘odd', we're also more than likely terrorists.”

To some, the very idea of covertly photographing strangers might seem “odd”, even distasteful. And yet a proportion of those same people will own a print of Robert Doisneau's Kiss by the Hôtel de Ville, or have sent greetings cards showing 1930s Paris, as recorded by Brassai. Street photography has given us a lot. More, perhaps, than we know.

Jeff Mermelstein is one of the art's great practitioners. He's been photographing New York since the 1970s and his book Sidewalk is a masterpiece. Speaking on a mobile phone from the street, he's concerned by London's poster campaign: “I think that's awful. Street photography is an important part of the documentation of our time. If that's discouraged, in the long term that will be a substantial loss. Some of the most significant images in any art medium in the last 150 years have been made in the street by people like Cartier-Bresson and Diane Arbus and Robert Frank.”

Street photography doesn't just document what our environment used to look like; it shows us how it really looks now, freezing the moment to reveal the weirdness and magic of the split second ... Stuart's photograph of a young dancer, in mid-air, upside-down, in Trafalgar Square ... Mermelstein's of a woman out walking her pet iguana. These images reveal the surreal in the real, force us to appreciate that our city spaces are collages of constantly shifting, surprising juxtaposition.

I ask Mermelstein whether he's ever hesitated before recording a complete stranger. He says he has ... “but I believe firmly that if something's in the public domain then one has the right to render them photographically. That if you're out on the street, you're in public.

“I try to avoid engagement,” he says. “It's very hard to explain to a layman in the midst of their anger that I'm a fine-art street photographer working in a grand tradition.”

Stuart dislikes the double standard that fights for the freedom to shoot documentary photographs of life in Iraq and Afghanistan but gets squeamish about invading privacy when recording our own cities. Instead, “the Sunday newspapers show aspirational images of what we'd like to be, not what we are.” But aren't there times when he'd rather not be photographed? “Living in London I'm filmed 300 times a day by CCTV, so I've got over that quickly.”

Sophie Howarth is a curator specialising in street photography. She says she's noticed - despite the difficulties - a boom for the art, enabled by technology, and with London at the centre. “In France, traditionally one of the great centres of street photography, the law now says you own the rights to your own image, so street photography's become a dead art. (WOW!) In London there's a growing community of photographers, using digi- tal technology, not just cameras, but blogs, too, to document the city and give each other instant feedback.”

And it's on these blogs that the Met's poster campaign has been getting reaction. There's a sense of anger and disappointment - suspicion, too - that the poster might be a stepping stone toward banning public photography. There's also humour, as photographers use their Photoshop skills to mock the poster. “Millions of people take photos every day,” says one. “Some of them are brown. Please do not shoot them.”

And, in a way, that's the point. Never stated, but clear nonetheless, is that Asian photographers and tourists are most likely to be affected day-to-day by this poster. For everybody else, it's about the cumulative damage done by suspicion.

Mermelstein was on the streets of New York on September 11, 2001. His images are among the most moving taken that day, arguably contributing significantly to our understanding of the grief and pain. But he's not impressed by the Met's campaign.

“I'm not going to belittle the issue of terrorism, but this is paranoia. And unfortunately, since Lady Di and now this link with terrorists, photography's seen by many people as something that's a little ... cheap.”

Stuart adds: “It seems to make the case that photographers are sneaky or sinister. It's irresponsible of the authorities to make life any harder for photographers. I think it was Elliott Erwitt who said, ‘I have never hurt anybody with a camera.' I go out there with a completely clean conscience; I don't have any worries about what I do. We all just want to be safe.”

Street photography on the net

A showcase of contemporary street photographers, including work by Matt Stuart, plus a “masters” section, featuring the brilliant and influential Joel Meyerowitz.

An international street photography collective, with a newsletter, and links to interviews by and films of masters of the art.

A German-based collective, including galleries, news and book reviews.

Work by Jeff Mermelstein, chronicler of New York.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

sub rosa

Sub rosa comes from the Latin, literally "under the rose," from the ancient association of the rose with confidentiality, the origin of which traces to a famous story in which Cupid gave Harpocrates, the god of silence, a rose to bribe him not to betray the confidence of Venus. Hence the ceilings of Roman banquet-rooms were decorated with roses to remind guests that what was spoken sub vino (under the influence of wine) was also sub rosa.

Friday, May 02, 2008

blue chandy

Gregory Schneider interviewed...

There is nothing perverse about a dying person in an art gallery

Vilified for wanting to put death on display, the artist reveals the concept behind the controversy

Gregor Schneider
Saturday April 26, 2008
The Guardian

For years, I have a dreamed of a room in which people can die in peace. It's a simple room: flooded with light, with a wooden floor. It is a copy of a room I once saw at the Museum Haus Lange-Haus Esters in Krefeld, Germany; a marvellous piece of classically modern architecture that concentrates on the basics. I have recreated this room - as an artist, that is what I do - and at the moment, it is standing right here in my studio. Any minute it could be dismantled, put on a plane and reinstalled anywhere in the world, for someone nearing the end of their days and who wants to die in a humane and harmonious environment.

I'm not a naive person, but I don't think there is anything wrong or perverse about this dream. I think it's quite innocent. So it has been rather a shock to me that for the last week I have been receiving death threats by phone and email.

It started at the beginning of the week, when I mentioned my project about death and dying in an interview with a reporter from the Art Newspaper. I didn't think much of it, as I have talked to curators about this at length since 1996, and there have been several mentions in exhibition catalogues.

The reporter was very interested and wrote an article about it. Two sentences from this article have been quoted repeatedly: "I want to display a person dying naturally in the piece or somebody who has just died. My aim is to show the beauty of death."

I did say those things, and I still mean them. Of course I expected reactions. But I didn't expect that quite so many publications would quote me without putting the statements into context. Within a few days, thousands of articles appeared across the world relying only on these two soundbites. In a way, I am not surprised that they have triggered some absolutely horrific images in the heads of journalists and readers. And yet I am still astonished by the nature of the comments I received, and disturbed by their vulgarity and violence. I received threats in multiple languages, some of them absurd, some of them seriously threatening.

Someone emailed to suggest I should be "slaughtered" and given "the Jesus treatment". Someone else emailed: "Why don't you kill your mother and show her to us while he's [sic] dying?" Another told me my artworks were "degenerate". The reaction in Britain has been more balanced - I guess people find it easier to talk and even laugh about death there. After Damien Hirst and the Young British Artists, perhaps they are more used to artists pushing a few boundaries as well.

The irony is that I have never been the type of artist who courts controversy for controversy's sake. I was trained as a painter; my first exhibition of paintings was in 1985. Even back then I was fascinated by the portrayal of inner spaces in art: rooms you cannot enter, places that cannot communicate with the outside world. Gradually I realised that sculpture, and eventually architecture, enabled me to investigate this fascination in a more direct way. Nowadays I mainly build and recreate rooms.

Of course I am not the first artist who is interested in death as a subject. I doubt that those who call me "degenerate" would say the same about Michelangelo's statue of David - and yet we know that Michelangelo used to cut up dead people to study their anatomy. Is that not much more shocking than what I am proposing to do?

I find the public portrayal of death on TV and on the internet violent and cruel; it lacks grace and respect for the human spirit. But I don't think there is anything cruel in the reality of death in itself: there has to be more humane way of presenting it.

I think our culture needs to reinvestigate the way we deal with death. It has not just become a taboo, it is something that we actively try to push out of our daily lives. People used to die within the family. These days, many die in hospitals, locked away from the public.

From what I have seen with my own eyes, the conditions of dying in German hospitals are scandalously brutal and bleak. And it's not much better in Britain. When I put on my installation about private spaces in two flats in east London in 2004, I used to have to walk past the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel every morning. One day, I saw a woman who had escaped the hospital and was screaming as doctors were treating her on the road. Was it a humane place to die? I don't think so.

My very first job as a teenager was with an undertaker, here in Reydt in the industrial west of Germany. I used to carry coffins from the church to the hole in ground. It was a well-paid job, mainly because no one wanted to do it. The other people I worked with were an alcoholic and a disabled man. It tells you something about the fear we have of death that we get the people at the bottom of the social ladder to handle our dead. Shouldn't this last journey be the most intimate and personal journey in a person's life?

More recently, I had first-hand experience with death when my father died. I wanted to give him a personal farewell, something that spoke of our relationship, so I wanted to design a personalised gravestone made of lead. It turned out to be nearly impossible: there are so many rules. In my view, the dying should be able to define the rituals and sites of their funeral themselves.

I grew up in a Catholic environment - I was even an acolyte in my local church for more than five years. My feeling is that the church used to provide us with rituals and ceremonies appropriate for death, but in a secular age, don't we need to create our own?

For my project, I am not proposing that I would bring about someone's death, or stage it. Nor am I suggesting that I would encourage someone who wants to take their own life. All I want to do is offer a room, a space in which they spend their last hours as they wish. Whether it is a public event or a private event, that is entirely up to them and their relatives.

I have also considered building a room for giving birth in. But I'm not sure there is much of a need for it; I have seen the sort of rooms people give birth in these days, and they are fine. Husbands are encouraged to take part in the process - everyone works together to make it a positive experience. I would like it if we can make a death a similarly positive experience.

Not all responses to my project have been negative. The Jesuit priest Friedhelm Mennekes has supported my project. He feels that there is a need to engage in a serious way with death, to show it as it really is. And there have been emails from people who have expressed interest in taking part. I don't know if I will get back to these people yet, but the project will go ahead. There is one person in particular I could imagine working with. Of course, no one can tell when it will happen - that's the deal with death.

To those who call me a coward for not putting myself up for the project, I would just like to say: when my time is up, I myself would like to die in one of my rooms in the private part of a museum. I live for my art, so I would like to die surrounded by art too. My aim would be to find a way of death that is beautiful and fulfilled: I couldn't image a better place than a gallery to do so.

· Gregor Schneider was talking to Philip Oltermann. His exhibition, Doublings, is at the Museum Franz Gertsch in Burgdorf, Switzerland, until 15 June

Thursday, May 01, 2008

coming up...

stephen eichhorn and jessica paulson quietly curate good shows around Chicagoland...

new nirvana entry

text to come soon, i need to meet up with craig sometime soon and get the story, but i got his photograph last night and i love it! it will blow up beautifully. believe it or not, craig is on the left and his friend is in the middle --the guy who introduced him to the band nirvana...

before i forget, two standouts i saw at chicago's Next art fair: joe deutch and drew leshko, more on them soon...