Out of Site brings performance art to Wicker Park
Collaboraction, Industry of the Ordinary, Meg Duguid and other notable artists prepare to surprise passersby
Don’t be surprised if you see a giant mustache pacing across the Polish Triangle from 5–7pm on August 12. The mustache is “so big it takes three people to operate it,” says its creator, performance artist Meg Duguid. She adds that the facial hair will be walking over Bubble Wrap, which she’ll unfurl over the Triangle: the concrete island at the intersection of Ashland, Division and Milwaukee Avenues.
Duguid’s piece probably won’t be the strangest project in Out of Site, which brings performance art to Wicker Park and Bucktown this summer and fall. Curated by Wicker Park’s DEFIBRILLATOR Gallery, the series begins Friday 29 with local theater group Collaboraction’s Dome of Doom. A collaboration with author James Kennedy and self-described “magic circus band” Environmental Encroachment, Dome of Doom includes a procession from the Western to the Damen Blue Line station to the Polish Triangle, where a dance-off, open to the public, will take place inside a geodesic dome.
Out of Site continues every Friday evening through October 14. While the performers include Montreal-based artist Martine Viale, most are local favorites such as Industry of the Ordinary, the New Colony, Ginger Krebs and Andrew Braddock, 3 Card Molly and Duguid, who will incorporate pedestrians’ confused reactions and cell-phone snapshots into her work. “I’m hoping that the passersby are going to become my colloquial documenters,” she tells me. “From the hours of 5 to 7, that triangle is my performative space and anyone walking through it is a part of the performance.”
DEFIBRILLATOR’s Carron Little, who organized Out of Site with gallery director Joseph Ravens, says her visits to London’s Trafalgar Square—a public space where temporary outdoor artworks are displayed on the empty “Fourth Plinth”—helped her realize the Polish Triangle could be a site for art. The Scottish-born Wicker Park resident finds that “the Triangle is sometimes desolate,” so she wondered, “How do we make it the soul of the community?”
Little didn’t want to repeat the mistakes of “Make Believe,” WPB’s 2010 attempt to invigorate Wicker Park and Bucktown through art. (WPB is a nonprofit that allocates tax revenue from Special Service Area no. 33; its parent organization is the Wicker Park/Bucktown Chamber of Commerce.) “Make Believe” invited artists to create installations addressing “the future of commerce” in vacant neighborhood storefronts. After Little wrote a harsh review of the cheesy exhibition and contest, WPB, to its credit, invited her to serve on its Arts Committee, and it’s providing most of the funding for Out of Site. (Walkabout Theater, where Little is artistic director, is another supporter and participant.)
Little developed the idea for the series with fellow WPB Arts Committee member Whitney Tassie, director of local gallery moniquemeloche. Tassie, a “Make Believe” juror, was disappointed by that initiative’s business-oriented parameters. But she’s confident that Out of Site is genuinely art-focused, and pleased that it acknowledges Wicker Park’s past as a haven for “spontaneous street performers and quirky things that made the neighborhood special,” which she’s learned about from older committee members. “There’s been gentrification and artists have had to move,” Tassie says, “but [WPB] wants to keep that gritty street-art presence alive.”
Out of Site begins Friday 29.