Tuesday, October 28, 2014

FAQ: Paul Germanos @ Antena

(On October 6, 2014, the following "FAQ" was sent by e-mail to forty Chicago artists, critics and administrators who had previously agreed to participate in a relational artwork from 6:00-10:00 PM on October 24, 2014, in conjunction with a photographic exhibition in which said participants were depicted.)

Paul Germanos @ Antena
October 24 - November 22, 2014
1755 S. Laflin St.
Chicago, IL


(1) Where is the opening?

It's at Antena, 1755 S. Laflin Street, Chicago, IL.

(2) Where?

It's one full block east of Ashland Avenue, on the first block north of 18th Street.

(3) When is the opening?

6:00-10:00 PM, October 24, 2014

(4) What does Antena look like?

It's a red brick building, with green-painted wood doors and trim, on the east side of Laflin Street. The gallery is located on the first floor of the building.

(5) Who runs Antena?

Miguel Cortez, who worked as a member of Polvo from 1996-2007, has independently operated Antena from 2008 to the present.

(6) When are you going to take possession of Antena and begin your prep work for the exhibition?

October 17, 2014.

(7) What are you going to display?

A selection of printed photographs--and the people photographed.

(8) How are you going to hang/display your photographs?

Like Wolfgang Tillmans at the MCA in 2006, whether anyone makes the historical connection:



(9) Will your prints be as large as Tillmans' prints?

No. I'll be printing from 20" x 30" down to 5" x 7" in the current scheme.

(10) Will print size reflect your love of the person depicted?

No. Print size is chiefly related of the quality of the original file. Cost too is a determining factor.

(11) How large is the area where you'll hang your photographs?

I'm going to concentrate on a "horseshoe" or "c-shaped" area which is defined by three walls: 12' x 17' x 12' in length, respectively.

(12) What are you going to do to those three walls?

They'll be painted "Gaylen Gerber" gray in color and provide the ground for the photography. Gerber was an artist in residence at my suburban Chicago high school 1981-1982.


(13) Wait, "three walls," I get it!

When that space, threewalls, was founded, the "fourth wall" was to be the people, or so I was told.

(14) Why are you inviting people to sit in the gallery?

I've photographed artists and artwork. But, the real subject of my investigation has been the art world itself. And relational art might be the appropriate modality for the representation of a social phenomenon.

(15) Who's going to participate?

Petra Bachmaier, Dana Bassett, Joseph Belknap, Sarah Belknap, Erik Brown, Stephanie Burke, Tom Burtonwood, Nick Butcher, Chelsea Culp, Ben Foch, Sean Gallero, Jeriah Hildwine, Leo Kaplan, Matt Lane, Jason Lazarus, Liz McCarthy, Jake Myers, Nadine Nakanishi, Meg Noe, Heidi Norton, Mike Nourse, Catie Olsen, Ciara Ruffino, Dmitry Samarov, Marta Sasinowska, Edra Soto, Dan Sullivan, Erik Wenzel, Gwendolyn Zabicki, and more, are scheduled to participate.

(16) Who's "and more" in the list above?

Caroline Picard, for example, should visit for an as yet undetermined amount of time. But, she and her partner Devin King are working hard to open a new space of their own. For many people it's a very busy time.


(17) Not everyone is sitting in the exhibition for the entire four hours of the opening reception?

That's right. In a perfect world everyone would sit for the whole show. But, I appreciate whatever amount time people are able to give, whether it's four minutes or four hours.

(18) I think that Dawoud Bey's photographs are better than your photographs. Why don't you take better pictures?

My show at Antena is not intended to be a "tour de force" of portrait photography. The better comparison might be to Andy Warhol's Polaroids.

(19) Why would you invoke Andy Warhol's Polaroids?

Immediacy and social connectivity: I was, however bold the claim now seems to be, the first person in Chicago to use digital photography and the internet to rapidly archive, and distribute, an overview of the city's visual art scene.

(20) So you're a proponent of Instagram and Twitter?

I'm a bit uncertain about the current state of affairs. On the one hand, it's wonderfully democratic that some sort of recognition in the arts is now able to be awarded through the aggregate of the activity of many individuals. On the other hand, how often is such casual reproduction of artwork faithful to the intent of the artist?

(21) Why have you waited so long to send an update to the participants in your exhibition? Your opening is less than three weeks away!

People who I invited to participate, months ago, are only now responding via e-mail.  Or, they (invitees) are simply grabbing me when I'm out in public and offering verbal confirmation of their participation.

(22) So what?

My two primary responsibilities to participants are: (a) the printing and hanging of something related to their person/practice, and (b) providing seating for them in the gallery during the opening of the exhibition. Till I know all the individual names and total number of participants I can't create the show.

(23) Why didn't you just print everything and invite everyone?

I didn't/don't have the space and/or funding to do that. When planning, I estimated that I needed at least 20--but fewer than 50--people in the "three wall" space of the opening, at any given time.

(24) Do you have too few people? Do you have too many people?

It's perfect, actually. Enough people have agreed to participate. And there's room for more, in the event of last minute confirmations or additional invitations. I want people to feel welcome to participate, at any time. But, there are consequences...

(25) Consequences? I knew that you would change something at the last minute!

No. I want to clarify something which was written in the invitation to participate: "...if you'd like to distribute something, promote an upcoming event, share a portfolio, or hang a piece, the opportunity would be available for you to do just that." CAVEAT: with the understanding that the three walls, the gray painted area described above, will be reserved for my photography and the people photographed.

(26) Why?

I need to be certain to offer a clean, cohesive presentation of visual material which relates to the concept of the exhibition. If participants bring artwork in the manner of their response to the invitation, i.e., a lot at the last minute, I'll have a "hot mess" at the opening. And that won't be good for anyone.

(27) You're a tyrant. What can I do?

Everything that's frowned upon at most openings: pass out your business cards, invite people to your upcoming show, wear your artwork, share your portfolio, sell your book, point to your painting at the other end of the gallery...

(28) Give me another example!

OK. Hypothetically: I print and hang photographs taken at an ACRE event; Ciara Ruffino and Dana Bassett sit near those photos; when someone's curiosity is piqued and they're interested in learning more, Ciara and Dana distribute ACRE material. While the photographic exhibition itself is meant to be enjoyed, one of the goals of the show is to initiate a conversation regarding the practical limitations of any record.

(29) That's not enough. I am the center of the Universe. And unless I have a large artwork in the middle of the room, I'm leaving!


(30) Is there a chance that I'll improve the situation by arguing with you and/or the gallery owner on Twitter or Facebook?

No. Please don't do that. Public dissension hurts everyone involved in the show. And I have no Facebook account.

(31) This update was very much longer than it needed to be.

It was, in your opinion. Others will fault me for failing to provide enough information. I'm dealing with a wide range of personalities. I can't make everyone happy; that's been made clear to me.

(32) I expected so much more from you...

This is the first and not last exhibition, hopefully.

(33) I have very important questions which you've failed to address.

Unbelievable. Nevertheless, you can write to me: paulgermanos@msn.com

That's it!

I look forward to seeing you at the opening reception (relational artwork) from 6:00-10:00 PM, October 24, 2014.

I know that you're busy:

Gwendolyn Zabicki, Hyde Park Art Center, (reception) 6:00PM-8:00PM on October 9, 2014: http://gwendolynzabicki.com/news.html

Dan Sullivan (Edra Soto and Catie Olsen), Dock 6 Design & Art Series #8, (reception) 6:00PM-12:00AM on October 10, 2014: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dock-6-Collective/183953238304824

Sarah and Joseph Belknap, MCA Chicago, October 11 - February 24, 2015: http://www2.mcachicago.org/event/mca-talk-sarah-belknap-and-joseph-belknap/

Luftwerk (Petra Bachmaier and Sean Gallero), Farnsworth House, (reception) 4:00PM-10:00PM on October 17, 2014: http://farnsworthhouse.org/insite-luftwerk

Dmitry Samarov, “Where To? A Hack Memoir,” national book tour through October 22, 2014: http://www.dmitrysamarov.com/events.html

The Hills Esthetic Center (Leo Kaplan), Sara Condo's "Cowgirl in the Sand" runs till October 26, 2014: http://thehillsestheticcenter.com/

Good luck and best wishes,


Paul Germanos
478 S. York
Elmhurst, IL 60126

(End e-mail text.)

Press images from Antena, shot on October 24, 2014:

Daviel Shy @ Antena

Ciara Ruffino & Liz McCarthy @ Antena

Paul Germanos @ Antena