Friday, March 6, 2009

Interview with the Curators of Involving Violence

Involving Violence is group show featuring artists from Chicago and Baltimore. It is on view at School 33 through April 11, 2009. Lasso (Carrie Ruckel and Karin Patzke) was interviewed by Rachel Sitkin

RS: Can you tell me a little bit about the two of you?

L: We are both engaged in the art community in Chicago. We are both from Texas, but met in Chicago.

Carrie Ruckel is an artist, curator, works for local tv and is currently also a grad student. She works at Chicago's public access tv station, CAN TV, as a videographer and editor. She is pursuing her MFA degree in Visual Art at Vermont College of Fine Art, a two year, intensive, low residency program.

Karin works at the Art Institute of Chicago, coordinating a project to photograph the complete collection of works on paper and small objects for the museums website and collections database. She's also working on her MA in art history, criticism and theory at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, focusing on depictions of culture in natural history illustrations.

RS: How and when did Lasso begin?

L: Lasso began after we'd been collaborating for a couple years and we had the opportunity to inhabit a gallery space, The Butcher Shop, in Chicago. It's an artist-run studio and gallery space that's been around in different formations for about 12 years. We took over the summer of 2007 and had three wonderful shows there, after which we were kindly asked to leave by the building owner. He was and still is having zoning and licensing issues with the City of Chicago. We / he did not have a license to run an exhibition space in the building. Unfortunately, after years of being under the radar of the city, it was "found out" or discovered when the building needed some major work done to the roof and had some contractors or city officials come in to inspect it. That, in addition to some press reviews of the gallery led to it's current demise. The Butcher Shop, located in Chicago Meat Market District currently houses artist and musician studio spaces. We don't know for sure, but we think it may never be a gallery again, unfortunately.

RS: How did the idea for “Involving Violence” come about?

L: Shortly after the Virginia Tech shootings we decided we wanted to do something in response. While that event, along with the subsequent censoring of images in the media was our instigator, we quickly realized that the show would have to address larger issues of violence, such as the war in Iraq and gun violence in general. We are constantly bombarded by reports on assaults and gun violence in the media, not to mention the depiction of violence as entertainment, from television to music to movies and video games. We knew that we discussed these issues in detail, but wanted to bring this dialog to our gallery space by inviting artists whose work addressed these social and cultural problems as well. We asked the basic question: How are artists dealing with violent imagery in their studio practice.

RS: When curating this exhibition, did you have specific artists in mind or was the worked selected after a call for submissions?

L: We put out a call for entries and solicited work from a few local Chicago artists who we knew were working with similar subject matter. We had a lot of submissions and had to narrow it down a great deal. Luckily we had a lot of space to work with for the first show in Chicago at the Butcher Shop.

RS: If it was an open call for submissions, did the submission pool change your initial ideas about the show? In what way?

L: For the first show, we specifically wanted to focus on artists incorporating media images into their own work.But as submissions came in, we realized that we would have to cover a variety of issues about violence, from the war to domestic violence to lynching to self-inflicted violence. We really wanted to question the impact of violence on our society at large by looking at art that engaged different types of violence.

RS: This is the second incarnation for “Involving Violence”. When selecting work from the Baltimore based artists, how were you hoping to broaden or change the exhibition from its original version in Chicago?

L: For the second show, we started out just looking for Baltimore/DC area artists who were dealing with the issue of violence in their work. After reviewing the many submissions we received and speaking more with Jason Hughes, the director of School 33, we realized the issue of urban and gun violence would be a main focus, specifically because of the work submitted but also because of the reputation that Baltimore has. We still wanted to include a variety of issues in the discussion, but we knew that urban influence was prevalent and needed to be addressed for both Baltimore and Chicago. We were very interested in creating a dialog between the artwork and the two cities.

It was difficult to bring the show to Baltimore for a variety of reasons, not least of which is the reputation that Baltimore has of being a violent and dangerous urban area. We consciously chose work that helped to engage this stereotype in a more productive manner. We wanted to bring artwork into a gallery space that would help create a thoughtful discussion, and not work that limited conversation to stereotypes.

RS: Do you have any plans to exhibit this show anywhere else in the future?

L: We would very much like to continue to explore the issue of violence and bring the exhibition to other cities, especially, urban areas that are well known for their struggles with violence, like Detroit and New Orleans.

RS: Any other projects coming up for either or the two of you?

L: Lasso submitted a curatorial proposal called Imposing Landscapes, to a local Chicago community art space called Hyde Park Art Center. We are waiting to hear back.

Karin is preparing to present her archival work of the Art Institute of Chicago's collection to several larger organizations (the American Library Association and the Museum Computer Network) to promote digital imaging for cultural heritage institutions in an effort to advocate for the sharing and distribution of isolated materials. She's also a printmaker and will have art work in an upcoming show, curated by Anne Elizabeth Moore, at the Green Lantern Gallery in Chicago.

RS: What was the best exhibit you’ve(both of you) seen in last year or two?

L: While in Baltimore, we saw the "retrospective" of Laura Drogule at MICA, that we really enjoyed. We were very excited to learn more about the Baltimore art scene.

No comments:

Post a Comment