Thursday, December 04, 2008

Creative Chaos: Inside the activist art of Temporary Services | Newcity Art

Creative Chaos: Inside the activist art of Temporary Services | Newcity Art


In public events, posters, exhibitions, demonstrations, objects, discussions and presentations, Temporary Services has been responsible for some of the most engaging and chaotic art actions to come out of Chicago in recent memory. Furthermore, they have tried to demonstrate how collaboration is the most active noun in the English language. They refuse to work in commercial galleries, but will work in just about any other venue and location you can conceive of.

For example, on March 19, 2001, Temporary Services’ “The Library Project” opened at their self-run space. On the walls were posters promoting reading; instead of the usual cheap wine or beer there were Dixie cups and jugs of water, and instead of the usual chitchat, the attendees were engrossed with a large table littered with books. While slightly unusual for an exhibition opening, the real work was just beginning. Temporary Services had arranged for more than 100 books to be donated by artists. Most of the books were conventionally produced hardcover or paperbacks and some not so—a book that opened out into a wearable suit, a photo album, a cast book made of concrete. All titles had been given call numbers, and little by little snuck onto shelves throughout Harold Washington Library. As soon as someone tried to borrow a surreptitiously added volume from the library, any librarian who entered the book into the database after discovering the title had no barcode became an unwitting collaborator. And so the project played out over months, one book at a time. Titles not generally collected by the library (because of interest, funds or format, or if collected, relegated to rare-book holdings) became part of the library collection, avoiding red tape, committee selection and concern for cost, preciousness or value. Eventually, a sharp librarian caught on and began collecting the found volumes and cataloging them as one collection. “The Library Project” was generous if cantankerous, fugitive, inquisitive, slapdash, caring, caustic, absurdly fun, intrinsically interactive, but dispersed in a manner that makes it hard to achieve an overarching view. And that in a nutshell describes Temporary Services.
Creative Chaos: Inside the activist art of Temporary Services | Newcity Art
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