Spotlight Series

Spotlight: Chicago Artist Writers

This summer, Daily Serving is shining a light on some arts publications that we regularly read and love. Wrapping up our week with Chicago Artist Writers, today we bring you the second part of a review of “2nd Floor Rear,” Chicago’s DIY festival of art in alternative spaces. In Part 2, artist George Olken discusses various projects in the festival and the ways in which performers sought to create places of authentic exchange while grappling with the nature of non-hierarchal political responses to the current moment. This article was originally published on February 21, 2017.

Tamer Hassan (left) and Mairead Delaney performing The Thing That Does Not Need To Come Up For Air. Photograph by George Olken.

Tamer Hassan and Mairead Delaney. The Thing That Does Not Need to Come Up for Air; performance. Photo: George Olken.

The Sunday, February 5th programming for “2nd Floor Rear” ran from dawn until eleven o’clock at night across nine venues in three neighborhoods along the Pink Line. The experience of the “annual DIY festival of art in experimental contexts, apartment galleries, and ephemeral and migrant projects” was inevitably one of FOMO: of arriving early or late, of missing work altogether while you tried to see something else, or getting lost. Following the festival map was like being on a scavenger hunt from small galleries to artists’ apartments to performances outside the 18th Street station and in the parking lot of Mana Contemporary.

Consistent with the festival’s theme of “Ritual,” many artists offered secular, aestheticized versions of spiritual practices. Nancy VanKanegan, whose work is informed by “a lifelong study of yoga,” asked viewers to participate in the construction of her playful Memory Mandala by arranging found objects including bones, flowers, keys, and plastic toys. For Wish Piece, Lauren Sudbrink welcomed visitors to her third-floor apartment to write wishes and worries on squares of red paper, which took flight when burned, reminiscent of Chinese lanterns. Sudbrink, who calls her process “cannibalistic,” collected the falling ashes for a future project. Both works flattened rather than transformed the underlying spiritual practices while retaining some of their beauty.

Continue reading Part 2 here.