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Artists, critics, curators converge in fall lecture series

Melissa Mitchell, News Bureau arts writer


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Eight innovative artists, critics and curators whose work defies categorization will visit the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign this fall as participants in a lecture series titled “REAL LIFE: Expanding Economies of Cultural Production.”

Artist Christine Tarkowski opens the series at 4:30 p.m. Sept. 18 in 62 Krannert Art Museum, 500 E. Peabody Drive, Champaign. Subsequent speakers include Ed Marszewski, organizer of “Lumpen” magazine and Version Fest; Laurie Palmer, an artist, writer and member of the artists’ collective Haha; conceptual artist Dan Peterman; members of Temporary Services, a Chicago-based artists’ collective; Sam Gould of Red 76 Arts Group; Davy Rothbart, editor of “Found” magazine; and critic and curator Mary Jane Jacobs. Dates, times and locations of all talks are available on the Web.

The lecture series was organized by Illinois art and design professors Conrad Bakker and Kevin Hamilton, and is sponsored by the Loredo Taft Lecture Fund, the Francis P. Rohlen Visiting Artist Fund, and the School of Art and Design Visiting Artists, Designers and Scholars Committee.

Bakker said the series was designed to engage “artists and critics and cultural producers who locate their practice outside the normative structures of the art world.” Their work, he said, is less about the production of art objects or images, and more about the context and space in which the public experiences the artists’ work – whether that space is a commercial location, public place, Web site or publication. Bakker said series participants are not members of a specific artistic movement; instead, their work is linked by “the fact that they are negotiating social, political and economic spaces.”

Bakker said he is excited by the prospect of exposing art students to individuals who are at the contemporary edge of art and cultural production.

“We have students here who are already engaged in these kinds of projects … who are making art that’s part of a world that is real and vibrant.” Bakker added that speakers in the series cover a wide range of contexts and subjects – from found love letters to the use of technology in urban communities, from faux architectural facades to political activism – and will likely appeal to a broad audience.