Best of Chicago (Art) for Newcity in 2012

Today the Newcity “Best Of” Chicago comes out and I made these contributions to the effort:

Top 10: Best of Chicago (Art) for Newcity in 2012
by Daniel Tucker (

Best international showing of Chicago artists
Documenta13 in Kassel, Germany
For 100 days this summer over 300 artists, writers, and thinkers will participated in the 13th edition of the international art exhibition documenta. While Chicago has been represented in past editions (they only happen every 5 years), this summer there were an unprecedented number of local artists and writers presenting their work including: Theaster Gates (with John Preus), Brian Holmes, David Nirenberg and Jane Taylor, Claire Pentecost, Michael Rakowitz, and Lori Waxman. The exhibition is known for commissioning new works and with a two year lead time for most contributions, the Chicagoans represented with some of their most ambitious projects to date. (Newcity Permalink)

Lori Waxman’s 60 WRD/MIN ART CRITIC in Kassel, Germany

Best dinner party with Fascists, Anarchists and Feminists
Feast at the Smart Museum
Growing out of many years of research by curator Stephanie Smith, Feast: Radical Hospitality in Contemporary Art featured a surprising number of historical examples of artists making meals.The exhibition starts out with The Futurist Cookbook, made by Mussolini supporters the Futurists in 1932. We later find contributions by Gordon Matta Clark, and Suzanne Lacy which serve as fascinating and powerful precedents for current trends in socially-engaged art that involve food.  (Newcity Permalink)

Best marching band documentary by the best Chicago artist that is not a Chicago artist
Cauleen Smith at the MCA
For the last two years Cauleen Smith has been everywhere in Chicago. With teaching gigs at UIC and SAIC, visiting artist events at Northwestern and UofC, group exhibits at SHOP, and solo shows at Threewalls and the MCA. In her Afrofuturist-inspired installation at the MCA this summer Smith presented a spatially-disorienting hall of mirrors and a suite of videos shot in Chicago. My favorite of the short videos involves a multi-camera shoot that elegantly captures a flashmob-esque intervention on a rainy day in New Chinatown Square where onlookers slowly find the space filled with members of the suburban South Rich High School marching band in full uniform playing a Sun Ra song.  (Newcity Permalink)

Best art museum that is not an art museum
The Jane Addams Hull House Museum
In recent years this historic house museum has activated and complicated their rich history with a performance by fluxus artist Alison Knowles, the unveiling of a new Louise Bourgeois sculpture Maquette for Helping Hands, an outdoor photo exhibit depicting undocumented youth by Parisian street artist JR, the launch-party for the Chicago Torture Justice Memorials project, initiated an Art Lending Library to share contemporary art in the homes of Chicagoans who would not otherwise purchas art, and a new series of “interventions” into the museum organized by Theaster Gates dealing with the under-investigated subject of whiteness.  (Newcity Permalink)

Best conceptually complicated exhibition to be mounted in what is essentially an office
“PROGRAM / SUFFER / ABSTAIN / DEPROGRAM” Presidents Gallery at Harold Washington College

A group show curated by Bert Stabler inspired by Greek philosopher Epicetus’ writing on suffering, the exhibition elegantly presented a number of perspectives on the forces we consent to and those beyond our control that keep us from being whole. The irony of being on view in what is essentially the lobby to the City College President’s office as intense debates about the direction of the CCCs rage on with Mayor Emanuel was not lost on this viewer and provided a compelling backdrop for this challenging exhibit.  (Newcity Permalink)

Best art interview LP
Bad at Sports
This summer Columbia College Chicago’s A+D Gallery hosted “We Are Talking Here” a residency by the diligent and committed local art criticism podcast Bad at Sports. The idea was to explore what it would be like if B@S had a  space of their own, and how to make their mostly immaterial media-making practice incarnate in a social space. The effort involved a series of events, including a closing party in which selections from past interviews dealing with socially-engaged art were pressed into a limited-edition vinyl LP. A time-lapsed video of their residency can be seen at  (Newcity Permalink)

Best political art performance reenactment
Iraq Veterans Against the War
Shedding their medals of honor at the NATO protests, the Iraq Veterans Against the War  powerfully re-enacted the action by Vietnam vets 40 years earlier in Washington DC. This event was documented in the online tv show Voices of Art:

(Newcity Permalink)

Best shout out to the Black Power poet Amiri Baraka at EXPO Chicago
Anthony Romero and Jillian Soto reading
Amidst the hype around the inaugural year of EXPO CHICAGO some of Chicago’s most vital arts organizations programmed a near-hidden outdoor performance space and bar on the roof of Navy Pier. There Threewalls hosted a release party for their “reader” MAKESHIFT and featured performances by a number of the contributors. Escape Group, the shared performance identity of artists Anthony Romero and Jillian Soto, was the highlight of the evening with a slide-show lecture involving slam-poetry inflections and a complex narrative involving Joseph Cornell pushing a boulder and the Black Power poet LeRoi Jones AKA Amiri Baraka. The bare market-oriented fair was what it was and its not for me, but the quiet inflection of these powerful ideas tucked away in the far reaches of the fair reminded me temporarily that it could be something more.  (Newcity Permalink)

Best art reading
“MORE” curated by Laurie Palmer at Threewalls.
Last May Laurie Palmer curated a magnificent night of readings by artists and writers who were “invited to think about more-ness, in the present context of austerity and debt.”  The participants: Matthew Goulish, Chiara Galimberti, Matthias Regan, Anastasia Douka, Sam Davis, Jill Riddell, and Abigail Satinsky performed under the cover of Palmer’s massive installation “Still, yet, else, further, again” on view in the gallery. The readings allowed for a deeper reading of the art, demonstrating at its best how poetics of visual art and literature might serve and support each other.  (Newcity Permalink)

Best critical art project in Chicago this year
Chicago Torture Justice Memorials project
Bringing together a unique team of prison activists like Tamms Year Ten and veterans of the movement against police brutality, with Lawyers from the People’s Law Office who defended torture-victims and a collection of some of Chicago’s best artists –  the CTJM is a sprawling illustration of the networked curating that has characterized so many great Chicago projects over the last decade. Announced to the public last March, the project seems to memorialize the 100 African American men were tortured by white Chicago police officers under former Commander Jon Burge. More about instigating a conversation than materializing statues, all proposals submitted will be featured in roving city-wide exhibitions or a dedicated website and are currently on view at the Sullivan Galleries through the end of the year.  (Newcity Permalink)

Published by Tucker

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