Monday, September 29, 2014

CR Event Series Report: Kids in the Studio

On September 13th, Cultural ReProducers teamed up with the DePaul Art Museum to present Kids in the Studio: Art, Labor, and Everyday Life, led by Copenhagen-based artists Bonnie Fortune and Brett Bloom.

The event took place in conjunction with Fires Will Burn and Ink, Paper, Politics, two exhibitions of political printmedia that provided the perfect context for a conversation about the work that both artists and parents do. Brett and Bonnie kicked things off by sharing their own approach to combining politics, creative practice and family, and discussed other projects that run counter to an art world that increasingly cuts artists off from their everyday lives. Manifestos and models presented included Palle Nielsen’s kid-centered installation “The Model: A Model for a Qualitative Society” at Stockholm’s Moderna Museet, Andrea Francke’s “Invisible Spaces of Parenthood” working daycare center as art installation, and Nils Norman’s adventure playground research and sculptural projects. After several people started taking cell phone pictures of the screen, Brett and Bonnie generously offered to share their slideshow and resources with everyone (if you’d like a copy, let us know). They opened the event into a lively group discussion that nobody wanted to leave, which spilled over into the all-ages reception afterwards.

In a sunny lecture room upstairs, kids were invited to express their own agendas with colored paper, rubber stamps, and markers. By the time the adults headed up for the all-ages reception, the room was festooned with exquisite corpse drawings, a plastic cup tower, and an amazing paper rocket designed with the help of our brilliant childcare workers Ash, Macon and Craig.

We seemed to hit just the right mix of timing and people for this one, and the scene a looked a lot like the early proposal drawings we used to apply for funding for this event series: exuberant kids mobbed the refreshment and activity tables while adults connected over ideas raised in the lecture and scribbled down each other’s contact information for future conversations. Bonus: everyone went home with an experimental risograph zine designed by 3-year old Ada, created while Brett was working on Temporary Services' latest project.

On Saturday, December 6th we look forward to expanding this dialogue through the final installment in our series:  Making It What We Need,  a workshop and conversation generating concrete ideas about how institutions can support the work of cultural producers who are working it out as parents. Among other things, this event will help shape the future of what Cultural ReProducers is and does. We’d love to include your voice. This event will be presented by Cultural ReProducers organizers Christa Donner and Selina Trepp  in conjunction with the exhibition Division of Labor: Chicago Artist Parents, on view at the Glass Curtain Gallery from November 20th, 2014 - February 14th, 2015. Mark your calendars, and stay tuned for more information!

The Cultural ReProducers Event Series is a roaming series of lectures, performances, and other events designed to allow parents with small children participate more actively in the art community. These curated weekend morning events include free on-site childcare and intergenerational receptions.

Our goal is twofold: to give parents and their kids the chance to participate as critical members of the arts community, and to inspire cultural institutions to better serve artists and audiences, providing positive models for future programming. This project is made possible through support from the Propeller Fund.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

60 WRD/MIN ART CRITIC  // Julie Bernattz and Sofia Frank de Morais Barreira

photo © Nils_Klinger
The following was announced on the windows of a small blue house at dOCUMENTA (13), the summer 2012 installment of the international art exhibition that takes place every five years in Kassel, Germany: The “60 wrd/min art critic” is available. Reviews are free of charge, and are written here on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays between the hours of 1 and 6 p.m. Lori Waxman will spend 25 minutes looking at submitted work and writing a 200-word review. Thoughtful responses are guaranteed. Completed reviews will be published in the Hessische/NiedersächsischeAllgemeine (HNA) weekly, and will remain on view here throughout dOCUMENTA (13).

Lori Waxman is an art critic and historian who lives in Chicago. For d13 she decamped to Kassel for three-and-a-half months, together with her husband Michael Rakowitz, an artist also included in the exhibition, and their daughter Renée, who at the time was two-and-a-half years old. Lori wrote a total of 241 reviews during the course of the project. A few of them were for artists whose work revealed their existence as parents; some were even for children.

A book of the entire project was published by Onestar Press, with an afterword by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, the artistic director of dOCUMENTA (13). It can be purchased in print or downloaded as a free PDFOver the next few weeks Cultural ReProducers will share a series of reviews excerpted from the project, which recognizes children and parents as relevant participants in cultural dialogue.

Julie Bernattz
60 WRD/MIN ART CRITIC  //  KASSEL  //  029

Julie Bernattz
Give a child a gift and watch what happens. Most prefer the packaging to the toy wrapped inside. It isn’t that dolls and blocks aren’t fun, but that boxes and wrapping are there to be torn, open and closed, balled up and thrown. No one is going to tell you not to destroy a piece of die-cut cardboard. Julie Bernattz, an artist who trained as a printmaker, works with the materials she has at hand. As the mother of a young girl, she has an endless supply of My Little Pony and Lalaloopsy containers that have been ripped open by eager hands. Arranged against a hot pink ground, some of these scraps reveal totally unexpected interest. Simple cardboard shapes prove most compelling. The printed sides are faerie lands empty of their inhabitants, like when Cory Arcangel removed Mario from the Super Mario Bros. video game. The backsides are raw abstractions, recalling Robert Rauschenberg’s cardboard reliefs. It’s trash but it also isn’t. In a land increasingly filled with garbage that we can just barely manage to recycle, Bernattz’s approach may become a necessary one, practically and ethically, as well as aesthetically. If you can’t toss it, look at it again, rethink it, and see if you can’t find something worthwhile there.

—Lori Waxman 6/16/12 2:37 PM

60 WRD/MIN ART CRITIC  //  KASSEL  //  040
Sofia Frank de Morais Barreira

Sofia Frank de Morais Barreira

The art of children has long been prized among the avant-garde for its supposedly radical freedom and beautiful naiveté, because children are believed to be unfettered by the tradition of representational accuracy, by the fact that an apple must be round and red, that a face must have two eyes, two ears, one mouth and one nose, and all in the right space. This is hogwash. Consider the artwork of Sofia Frank de Morais Barreira, the four-year-old daughter of a conceptual performance artist. In one vibrant crayon sketch, palm trees sway in the breeze, an orange hut in their shade, a lush hilly landscape in the background. In another, a bright yellow fish swims in the wet blue sea. An odd composition of horizontal black lines and a little red house turns out to be a reproduction of a taxi receipt. A stunning pencil sketch gathers together a mass of dark scribbles that change direction and intensity to form a bird and cloud. One of Sofia’s most abstract pictures, of wavy red and blue stripes, is the result of a firm task given to her mother, to fill in the lines with precise coloring. None of these pieces are the product of wild imagination unbound by the reality of the world. They are the result of a young person continuously figuring out the world as she encounters it, tries it on and tests it out. With, admittedly, great color sense, sweet composition and a very willing maternal collaborator.

—Lori Waxman 6/18/12 5:40 PM

Also in this series: 
60 WRD/MIN ART CRITIC // Yi-Ping Hou, Sylvia Krüger, and Charlotte Lohr
60 WRD/MIN ART CRITIC // Walter Peter and Anna Yema Ditzel