Selections from the Marginal Waters series, 1985
From Time Out Chicago:
“It was a real delight to be in an environment where people were so uninhibited,” Ischar says. “I never saw any penetration there, but you saw everything and you saw a lot of it. There was such a wide range of types and ethnicities and classes, and there was never any friction. It was really a wonderfully tranquil place. The Rocks were probably the most central and visible gay beach in North America. This was right smack on Lake Shore Drive; you couldn’t miss this place.”
The phrase marginal waters, a naval term referring to waters off the coast of a country that remain outside its jurisdiction, here serves as a metaphor for a marginalized subculture. Ischar’s sun-drenched images strikingly depict a community at rest during a period of unrest. In the face of a devastating epidemic and a conservative regime, the mere act of sunbathing becomes one of defiance. “Understand that from the get-go I was photographing gay men almost out of a sense of desperation because of AIDS,” Ischar says. “I was fearful AIDS would obliterate queer culture. I had this fervid conservationist mission.”
A Kid Again
Public Installation, Chicago Suburbs, IL,
A Kid Again started as a means to contest how public space is deemed heterosexual space by default; by adding my queer narrative to the public sphere, I wanted take up those physical spaces where I felt my identity was either a burden or simply erased. Using the past, I developed a sort of queer map of moments in the suburbs where I grew up.
When I distilled the 11 moments to their circumstances, I realized how misinformed and harmful my perceptions of acceptance, free will, and reality were as a child and adolescent. I had internalized homophobia to the point where I viewed my existence as an “other-sexual” as an inconvenience to “normal” people. This project attempts to start, in public, those dialogues that I never could.
So I printed the moments on signs, put them in the locations where they occurred, and expressed those things that I felt I was never supposed to.
After 5 hours (from 5 AM to 10 AM), there were 3 signs left standing. Many were taken within 2 hours of their installation.
Chicago, July 3rd, 2012
(acrylic, mixed media)
by Kiam Marcelo Junio
Installation shot by Heidi Norton
Artist statement and more images here
The “I AM” project is a movable street art installation made of mirrored acrylic sheets, and installed with post-its and a pen. When in public, passersby can stop and see their reflection, and write on a post-it to leave behind.
So far, I have installed it in 5 different locations around Chicago, and have gotten different responses that run the gamut from serious (I AM: “proud to have come this far with no clue”), funny (I AM: “too sober for this”) and romantic (I AM: “so in love with him” “and I with her!”). Some posts even elicited responses from others: (I AM: “awesome” “more awesome than that guy”), or reflect the current economic state (I AM: “unemployed” “me too”).
I find interactive art to be the most engaging, and for so long, it had been my intent to create pieces that elicit responses from others. While living in Spain, I had a large plank of wood in my living room, my “Inspiration Wall” on which my friends and visitors (often Couchsurfers from over 15 countries), could write, draw, glue, and express what inspires them. The “I AM” project stems from this same idea, of sharing an internal reflection with the external world.
During the critique for my work, a lot of topics were brought up that I plan to consider when taking the project further.
* Color selection - whether or not each location should be color-coded with regards to post-its, perhaps limiting one location with one color.
* Placement/location - consider what is more important: seeing people’s interaction with the work, or what they write. Too often, people will write only passing statements, nothing that reveals their true state. No one wants to confess or spill their emotional content in public.
* Collecting/archiving - I have various stills from each location, but my classmates all seemed to agree that video documentation would be much more effective. In this case, where should I be in relation to the work? How will I get a video of people interacting, writing on the post-its if I’m trying to be inconspicuous? My previous approach was to sit in a restaurant or cafe across the street. Is this still the best approach?
* Installation - my idea is to keep the actual piece as a street installation. Having it in a gallery setting seems to take it out of context, and gives it a formalized structure that I don’t intend. On a gallery wall, the “I AM” project looks cold and unwelcoming. The reflections would be that of a gallery space, rather than the street, people, and the moving, bustling life of the city. In the future, only the documentation would exist in a gallery setting. The actual “I AM” project would only exist outside.
I plan to continue the project. If you live in the Chicago area, keep your eyes open!