OUT OF SITE, CHICAGO 2012
“Out of Site, Chicago 2012” was the brainchild of myself and Whitney Tassie on the WPB Arts Committee. “Out of Site” is a series of twelve unexpected encounters of performance in public spaces in the Wicker Park and Bucktown neighborhoods in Chicago throughout the summer to fall months. The performances happen in different locations selected by the artists every Friday from 5pm to 7pm. The concept was to create surprises as people come home from work or come to socialize in the neighborhood at the start of the weekend.
We offer each artist a stipend that varies in scale starting at $300 for solo performances going up to $2000 for large-scale performances. The idea was to develop an economy to support professional performance artists in their practice and develop the discipline of public performance art as a genre.
Meg Duguid, Joseph Ravens, Tricia Van Eck, and I curated “Out of Site, Chicago 2012” and the concept was to curate a diverse range of contemporary public performance from performance artists, dance troupes and theater companies to musicians. For example, Mothergirl presented a piece in which they were covered from head to toe in flowers and positioned in two boxes in the neighborhood. These boxes were covered in flower wallpaper and in large letters said “Look Inside.” The public was invited to peek through the hole and engage in a conversation about looking and seeing. The flower girl then took a polaroid picture and handed the picture to the member of the public. Underneath their portrait was written “It’s You.” The act of looking and seeing is at the heart of artistic discourse and for Mothergirl to create a public performance that interacted directly with the public addressing the concept of looking and seeing was highly provocative.
The magic of coming across something unique can create a different perspective about living. One member of the public was transfixed for up to an hour watching a performance and said, “You have made me stop and wonder about my life.” Another said, “I have traveled all over the country and this takes the biscuit!” Creating unexpected encounters can evoke moments of wonder in people’s lives and has the capacity to transform unsafe public space into a safe place where people can come together and feel part of a broader community.