Pawing the Ground in Place
Logan Exhibitions Gallery, Reva and David Logan Center, The University of Chicago, Chicago IL
Jan.20th - Mar.5th, 2023
Performances to annotate and activate the space of the Logan Exhibition Gallery

Utopian ramble text by -the interesting times gang!-

Jan.20th, 2023
Ali Feser + Ray Ray Mitrano

‘How to Burn off the Clouds’
An experimental, ethnographic, late industrial, soft sci-fi performance piece in which a nuclear priestess, a cloud dweller, an anthropologist, and a Kodak retiree dialogue ekphrastic about how best to let loose a fantasy, how to find grounding when the ground’s been turned toxic, the pleasures of intoxication, and the impossibility of answering the question of whether all this was worth it. Maybe it was worth it and not worth it, all at once? How, after all, can you weigh the family photograph against the fate of a river for perpetuity?

Ali Feser is a cultural anthropologist and interdisciplinary artist from upstate New York. Her work figures the chemical processes of photography—manufacturing, image formation, developing, and decay—as a metonymic language to theorize industrial capitalism and its capacity to transform our senses, our subjectivity, and the material constitution of the earth itself. Across text, installation, image, and performance, she proposes that film is the molecular “cell-form” of industrial capital, endlessly reiterated through new modes of extraction and forms of desire. Feser is currently a Harper Schmidt Fellow and Collegiate Assistant Professor at the University of Chicago. She is currently finishing her book manuscript, Reproducing Photochemical Life in the Imaging Capital of the World.

Immersed in social practice art, Ray Ray Mitrano crafts unexpected encounters and people-based situations with playful approaches. He explores the merging of civics and art through several organizations, institutions, and collaborations in Rochester, NY and abroad. He strives to cultivate engagement on a local level by bringing creativity into community-based initiatives and activism.

Feb.10th, 2023
Whitney Johnson/Matchess
Whitney Johnson is a musician, composer and writer living in Chicago. She performs with the viola, as well as combo organ, electronics and voice. As Matchess, she interprets the unknown with sound. Her techniques reproduce meaning through a range of historical material processes, including reel-to-reel tape looping, cassette tape sampling and field recording. In the Matchess Trilogy (2013-2018), Johnson used the limited palette of a 1960s Ace Tone combo organ, an analog Rhythm Ace drum machine, viola and voice to craft a sound collage of transient songs on a bed of ambient noise. She has recently collaborated in improvised and composed settings with Circuit des Yeux, TALsounds, Brett Naucke, Gel Set, Lia Kohl, Macie Stewart, Matt Jencik, Couteau Sang, Lea Bertucci and Sarah Davachi. In tandem with her music practice, she received her doctorate in the sociology of sound from the University of Chicago in 2018, writing a dissertation on the cultural value of embodied sensory perception, particularly in the discipline of sound art.

Feb.24th, 2023
C. Tai Tai
C. Tai Tai is an immigrant artist based in Chicago, with roots in other parts of the US (New York, California), Taiwan, and Latin America. Historically, she performed under the name, Tina Wang. Negotiating a freedom in self expression with the fragility of conformity/belonging are key themes in her work. By inconveniencing the body with burdensome organic and inorganic objects, she challenges assumptions about where these objects belong, who belongs with them, and their relationship to living bodies.
Copyright Heather Kai Smith, 2022