Visual Arts | Washington Park

Art-thropology

Ethnographic Terminalia at the Washington Park Arts Incubator

To hear the artists of Ethnographic Terminalia tell it, the discipline of anthropology is in a state of crisis. In the 1980s, “people started to talk about what you lose when you write about culture,” says Charlotte Bik Bandlien, which prompted a critique of the staid confines of academia. Ethnographic Terminalia offers an alternative way to study culture: through art. It purports to be art not just inspired by human beings and human culture, but art that can be seen as equal in rigor to traditional forms of anthropological analysis—hence the title of Ethnographic Terminalia’s exhibit at the Washington Park Arts Incubator, “Exhibition as Residency.” The question that this exhibit raises has radical implications: Why does academia, with its stuffy conferences and formal papers, hold dominance over research and intellectual thought? Continue reading

Visual Arts | Washington Park

Were You There?

Trayvon Martin at the UofC's Arts Incubator

Lauren Gurley

Lauren Gurley

“I’m a black boy with a bag of candy. You roamin’ with a gun.” These are the words that anyone sitting on the Garfield Green Line station platform on Saturday night heard emanating from the Arts Incubator across the street. These words are also the lyrics from a song called “groun(d),” a tribute to Trayvon Martin composed by Avery R. Young, who led upwards of a hundred people in a performance that included singing, swaying, wailing, laughing, stomping, and clapping. There on the border of Hyde Park—one of the whitest and safest neighborhoods on the South Side—and Washington Park—one of the blackest and most violent— it was hard not to be reminded of the conditions of Trayvon Martin’s death. Continue reading

Blurbs | Washington Park

Great Minds Click Alike

Illustration by Isabel Ochoa Gold

Illustration by Isabel Ochoa Gold

As the overhead lights slowly fade away, the first photograph is placed on the glowing display case, a structure that serves as an easel, both lighting and framing the piece.  A hush descends on the Washington Park Fieldhouse, subduing the cries, hugs, and sounds of kisses on cheeks that filled the space moments ago. Continue reading

Features | Music | Washington Park

Who Knows Sun Ra?

Charting the legacy of the space-jazz pioneer

Courtesy of University of Chicago Photographic Archive, Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library.

Courtesy of University of Chicago Photographic Archive, Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library.

“This is not an open forum, is it? It ain’t, right?” 

The man seated behind me last Saturday at “Reality Has Touched Against Myth”—an esoterically-entitled panel discussion on the life and work of Sun Ra, one of the patron saints of avant-garde—has been grumbling this question over and over for the past ten minutes, to no avail.

An image of Sun Ra dressed in his best space suit, staring blankly beneath a marquee bearing his name, is being projected onto the Logan Center screen, looming over the talking heads seated on stage. Continue reading

Visual Arts | Washington Park

Walking the Line

The Distance Between exhibited at The Incubator

Stephen Urchick

Stephen Urchick

The crowd at the Washington Park Arts Incubator stood quietly and attentively. They were even a little drunkenly reverent from the host’s generous booze offerings that afternoon. They had slogged through a cool September evening’s rain and gale for the flagship gallery event in “The Distance Between,” a joint exhibition simultaneously installed on and beyond the Midway. It aimed to celebrate Washington Park, the titular distance the dual venues straddle: Logan to the east and the Incubator to the west. Tomeka Reid—jazz cellist, and one of five featured artists—played at the center of the crowd’s loose constellation. Her increasingly busy, brooding melodies merged gradually with recorded audio captured from the 55th and 63rd Street L stations. Reid’s bowing grew violent, anticipating an oncoming train’s wind-whipping horsepower. The cello’s tense buzzing produced a chest-constricting overpressure that approximated the engine’s rumble. It seemed something truly had jumped the tracks at Garfield. The composition dove, churned, and plunged until the speakers shivered with the train’s arrival, nearly drowning out Reid’s climax. Her cello railed indignantly, demanding to be heard. Spectral brakes squealed on. A mellower, more skeptical line rapidly dampened the piece’s velocity. Distant passengers disembarked as we exited from our respective reveries and noticed that Reid had altogether stopped playing. Her bow was at rest. Continue reading