Monday, April 5, 2010

The Space Informs the Art

Guest Bloggers:
Beth Wiedner and Faiz Razi,
producer and composer of Stockyard Institute
Who: Beth Wiedner, producer and Faiz Razi, composer of Stockyard Institute. We're both educators who make art. Stockyard Institute is an art education non-profit collective founded by Jim Duignan in 1995. We joined on a few years ago. Stockyard Institute is an artist project, an experimental effort in pedagogy and a contemporary arts-based teaching organization. We are both involved in all aspects of any given project, from concept development, organization, installation, fund raising, and finding resources, to design, writing, editing, presentations and web work. 

What: Our studio practice. Stockyard Institute has been nomadic since its inception. We don't have a permanent space of our own, which informs how we work. 

When: Every day. 

Where: We work in a dozen different spaces. This is what makes it so enjoyable. The space literally changes the context. It doesn't matter where were going, it's that we're doing work there. Every area becomes a work space, from kitchen, to dining, to living to porch, from basement to garage to public space.  

Often, we go to public spaces for inspiration. You need to make field trips. Ours include the science store, the bookstore, record stores, thrift stores, coffee houses, public parks, museums, DePaul, and outside. Sometimes if we're stuck on an idea, a change of space will allow for a clearer head. 

Why: Well, nobody cares about your stupid art project. Maybe some small niche of people will care, but they probably will never care as much as you. We try not to let that get in the way. Art is not an end result, but a reaction to living life every day. Mostly though, it's because we love it and we like collaborating with talented and inspiring folks.  

How: In one word-collaboratively. How we work depends on project and location. 

Fittingly, one of the first projects we worked on together was also nomadic and collaborative in nature. Musical Chairs are sound/music art installations that function as random band generators, heard by two listeners at a time. The physical makeup of each set are dual correctional bus seats, painted front and back by a host of different spray paint artists. Both seats are equipped with an enclosed iPod that runs through a mixer. The iPods randomly play one-minute instrumental pieces of music simultaneously, creating one song that can be heard through the two sets of headphones. A different combination or “band” is generated at random, every minute. Musical Chairs is a community-recording project, created by an international group of musicians. Every time a one-minute piece of music is added, the number of possible combinations grow exponentially. There are currently, 2,560 permutations. 

This project was particularly rewarding, as we were able to work with musicians with home studios in half a dozen countries, spray artists from our city, and our favorite electrician for all of the tech work. Everyone has their own thing going on, and it's difficult to get everyone in one place at one time. Instead, each artist was able to contribute while still working in their own space. 

As part of Studio Chicago, we are celebrating the nomadic artist's work space. We are co-curating the DePaul University Art Museum for an exhibition titled Nomadic Studio. The museum will be converted into a constantly evolving, multi-functional gallery space of our design. 

Portions of the gallery will be turned into different types of spaces where people make art, including a production office, a home recording studio, a convertible stage, a library and resource center, a living room, and activity room. Nomadic Studio will change monthly and will include fine art, performances, panel discussions, workshops, and other events. This exhibit is a reflection upon and a natural extension of how the space is the art.

Nomadic Studio runs from July 8th-Nov 20th, 2010 at DePaul University Art Museum. 

Beth Wiedner has a background in teaching and design, and currently works part-time as a web developer/designer as well as part-time curator, and producer at the Stockyard Institute. Faiz Razi is a  composer and teacher, also. Both work closely and collaboratively with Stockyard Institute.

Image credits and captions from top to bottom:
Photo of Beth and Faiz by Evangeline Lane
Photo of Zeb's Chairs at Columbia College Library by Faiz Razi
Photo of listeners on Zeb's Chairs at Version 09 by Faiz Razi
Photo of Ian Bennet painting chairs by Beth Wiedner

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