The School Of The Art Institute Chicago

Visiting Artists Program - 1991

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Public Events

September/October 1991

Visiting Artists

 

The Visiting Artists Program of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) sponsors presentations by artists, critics and historians working in all media. Events usually include a lecture or slide presentation of the artist’s work followed by discussion.

 

Monday, September 9, 6pm

Frank Moore, performance artist, and Linda Mac, a member of Moore’s performance group “Chero Company,” will discuss their performance work. Moore, who is afflicted with cerebral palsy, describes himself as an exhibitionist/shaman. “People project onto me certain mystical powers,” he has written. “They are reacting to some symbol of the deformed medicine mam.” In the early 70s, Moore began doing private, erotic performances that have developed into long ritualistic pieces. The Chero Company, a group developed from a series of workshops led by Moore, has been presenting “intimate rituals” for clubs, galleries, and colleges for over ten years. In 1985, Moore received a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) fellowship. Last year he performed at the Cleveland Performance Art Festival, Chicago’s Club Lower Links, and Pitt International Gallery in Vancouver.

 

School Auditorium

$3 general public

 

 

EXHIBITIONS & EVENTS

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago

September 1991

 

Visiting Artists Program

Frank Moore * Richard Myers

Tony Oursler * John Berdsley

Cora Cohen * David Driskell

 

Monday, September 9, 6pm

Visiting Artists Program Lecture

 

FRANK MOORE

Frank Moore writes, “painting a picture, doing a dance, writing a poem, any act of art can be a magical ritual, the doing of which has nonlinear effects. Seen in this way, most acts of creation are private rituals done in personal caves. What we usually think of as works of art are aftermaths of art.” Moore who is afflicted with cerebral palsy, began doing private, erotic performances in the early 70s. Since then, his performance group, the Chero Company has been presenting “intimate rituals” for clubs, galleries, and colleges. Moore and Linda Mac, a member of the Chero Company, will discuss their performance work and the ritual process of art making. On Tuesday, September 10, Moore will be meeting with students in the performance department.

SCHOOL AUDITORIUM

 

 

Press

Our poster for the lecture

NEW CITY, Vol. 6, No. 170

the Chicago Weekly

September 5-September 11, 1991

 

DETOURS

CONTROVERSY INTENDED

 

Over the past few years, the School of the Art Institute has found itself (unintentionally) exhibiting work that has created national controversy. This month, it will bring controversial art to its spaces intentionally. A juried art exhibit entitled “Revelations: Artist Look At Religions” including works by Andres “Piss Christ” Serrano, opens in the School of the Art Institute of Chicago Gallery 2 on September 6 and will be on display through October 4. Admission is free.

 

Performance artist Frank Moore, one of last year’s “NEA outlaws” will discuss “Art of a Shaman – Art of a Misfit,” with oral interpretation by his partner Linda Mac. Moore, a paraplegic since birth, believes that art is not a career, but a calling to effect continual change in both artists and their surrounding environment. Moore and Mac encourage participation in the form of intimate physical and emotional rituals by inviting audience members to assume a pathfinder role.

 

School of the Art Institute auditorium, Columbus Drive and Jackson Boulevard. Monday, September 9, 6pm. $3. Free for senior citizens and students.

 

– Rhonda Shumway

 

 

READER CHICAGO’S FREE WEEKLY

Friday, September 6, 1991 Volume 20, No. 48

Edited by Bill Wyman

Calendar, September

 

Here’s what School of the Art Institute staffers write about performance artist and cerebral palsy sufferer Frank Moore: “By taking advantage of his physical vulnerability, Moore and his longtime companion Linda Mac lead audiences into intimate rituals designed to promote physical and emotional participation among participants.” You’d hardly guess that the intimate rituals include getting naked and writing around. Moore and Mac will lecture on their work as part of a visiting artist program at 6 tonight in the school’s auditorium, Columbus and Jackson. It’s $3, free to senior and students.

 

Reviews

F NEWSMAGAZINE, October, 1991

 

First of Visiting Artists:
Frank Moore Makes an Impression

by Paco Rodriguez

 

Frank Moore has cerebral palsy. He says he has been lucky to have the good fortune of being born spastic. Because of what people usually describe as a disability, he attracts attention, and can get away with just about anything. People may stare, gape, or freeze-up when they first set eyes on him. Or, they may say or do anything for him. “The body is the greatest asset of the performer,” he says.

 

Frank would probably laugh if you were to say that he is confined to his wheelchair. He does not feel confined or disable. In fact, Frank is so capable that his work involves orchestrating with people, one on one or in groups, to strip down naked, be blindfolded, and reveal their deepest inhibitions and fascinations. Through movement, speech, and friendly contact, participants in his performances create and inhabit a sort of ritualistic playground that gives new meaning to the idea of communion.

 

Frank Moore’s lecture at the School of the Art Institute on September 9th was the first presentation in the Visiting Artist’s Program for the Fall semester. The evening opened with slides of Frank’s performances with his collaborative group, the Chero Company. It was accompanied by a soundtrack. The sights and sounds were of joy, celebration, violence, suffering and most characteristically, humor. A more mainstream look at Frank was then presented through a videotape by a Berkeley student news organization. And then Frank (on stage from the moment the auditorium was opened up) was joined by Linda Mac, his wife and collaborator for sixteen years, and Michael, the graphic artist who designs Frank’s pamphlets and posters and who is also a member of the Chero Company.

 

In addition to his facial, physical and vocal expressions, Frank is aided by a contraption he invented when he was seventeen. With a pointer strapped to his forehead, he points to a board on his wheelchair in front of him, on which letters, numbers and words are painted. As Frank taps out his thoughts, Linda reads them to others. “I don’t know how long this will go, maybe all night,” he says.

Linda and Michael take turns reading aloud Frank’s prepared lecture. It is a major work which relates Frank’s history, knowledge, and ambitions. Questions were answered throughout the reading. All in all, the evening lasted almost three and a half hours. Throughout that time, the audience had the opportunity to experience Frank’s sense of humor and challenging sense of the world. The following day Frank met with students to discuss their work and held a workshop in the performance space for Lin Hixon’s performance class and Freedom Lialios’ 4D class.

 

Frank describes his art as “an underground battle against fragmentation.” Fragmentation that produces categories for thinking and action which, ultimately leads to isolation. Until the age of twenty-eight, Frank lived often in a state of isolation. His parents were told that he had no future and was better off left to an institution’s care. But they did not agree, and Frank spent his years developing his fantasies, education himself and often living within this isolation.

 

At age twenty-eight things changed.  “Basically, I was desperate. I saw my thinking I was ugly and was not getting what I wanted. Why not try thinking I was beautiful? At first I did not really believe it, but I faked it one hundred percent. Eight percent did not work. Then I forgot I was faking!” Within two weeks, people started to react to this change in him. Something he called his ‘new reality.’

Frank Moore at National Poetry Week, San Francisco, 1988
Photo by Linda Mac

And indeed, this new reality is what Frank has built his work on. In his isolation, Frank identified the alienation that persists in our time. Seeing the need for bridging the gap between people, Frank created a new reality for his work. He found that when people take off their clothes they become more relaxed and reveal their personality. This becomes an opportunity to be vulnerable and to affirm the necessity of it. What eventually developed is a sort of adult playground where nudity not connected with sex ceases to be a source of conflict.

 

It becomes a space a “magical context” where people can communicate through childlike curiosity and fascination that has been obliterated by categories of social behavior. Frank named and invented the concept of eroplay to describe this way of relating to one another. It is intense physical play which emphasizes enjoyment for its own sake. “Eroplay leads to all sorts of arousal-physical mental and spiritual.” It decreases alienation and most important, makes people harder to control with fear. Because power is established by way of fear, when people confront their fears, they are less a prisoner of them and the fragmentation, the arbitrary structures of what is permissible. Additionally, in the age of AIDS, eroplay is a healthy channel for the physical, and not meant to be a second-rate substitute for sex.

 

Frank is changing the way people think and live as a result of his work. “We don’t know how it happens,” Frank says. “It’s like physics, we are now just beginning to discover the dynamics of it.” When he talks to physicists about what he does, he says they recognize it as a series of actions and reactions that directly relate to physical laws. Frank taps out “The chaos theory and quantum physics.” “Two categories that the work fits into.” Linda adds. Frank continues, “Like I got this gig (his visit to SAIC) partly because I did a performance eight years ago, that at the time seemed like it was not that great, not to me, but to the people who brought us there.” It was Karen Briede who saw the performance at a gallery space in L.A. for High Performance Magazine, and because of its impact, organized a performance here last year at Lower Links. This, in turn, prompted the SAIC Visiting Artists Program to invite Frank here.

 

Frank Moore’s Workshop:
An Exercise in Eroplay

by Paco Rodriguez

 

Frank Moore gave students the opportunity to experience Frank’s “new reality” and his efforts to renew communication between people through the physical in a workshop at the School of the Art Institute on September 10th. Lin Hixon’s performance class and Freedom Lialios’ 4D class gathered in the performance space for what was to be, according to Frank, an unexpected journey “through death, and rebirth, and evolution. But it is a journey only for crazy people, who think they are heroes. Who think that risk is fun. Normal, sane people know different. But who says artists are sane? … For the heroes – you should know that the journey involves dying and nudity, both physical and emotional nudity. And the most scary of all is it involves playing.” Frank then gave some instructions for those who felt themselves to be ‘heroes’ and instructed the ‘sane’ people to move to the sides of the room.

 

Five out of the group of roughly sixty people lay down in the middle of the room and were blindfolded by Linda. Michael joined Linda to lightly massage and relax them and then removed their clothing. They were guided into the fetal position. Frank told them to roll slowly to the middle of the room until they could feel flesh all around them. Then he told them to become and to relate to each other as a variety of things: from single-celled organisms to snakes and birds. Throughout the nearly two-hour session, both the participants and the non-participants experienced first-hand, something unique – eroplay.

 

So what was it like for the heroes? Kent Albin explained, “At first I felt like I was in junior-high school gym class on the first day. You know, undressing in the locker room.” He was not that worried about the nudity, the heroes were already one step ahead of that. Being in a group, for him, was nice. “It would have been more difficult to be fully clothed and alone.”

 

And for those who did not choose to participate? A student in the performance class said that she had been familiar with Frank’s work before, and had seen it on videotape. She was “prepared to do anything except get naked.” A student from the 4D class said that Frank’s work was described to him only briefly before. “I didn’t know what was going to go on. But had I known, I totally would have done it. I thought it was cool.”

 

Frank Moore’s Chero Company

Photo by Eric Kroll

Typically, the event would have lasted from four to eight hours, Linda explained at the end. And comments from the participants indicated that it would have been nice if it had lasted longer.

When asked if he has any advice for art students, Frank responds, “Well, why are you here?” We are here for what the community (SAIC) offers and the opportunity to meet people like him. “That’s the main reason,” he said. “Because you cannot train artists. You can open them up or close them down, but you cannot train them.” His best advice is not to take advice; which is probably the reason his work has entered into the realms it has. The opportunity that his work has created is definitely outside our typical way of relating to one another. But then again, that’s not Frank’s problem, it’s ours.

Frank's Letter to the Students

Frank Moore

 

September 12, 1991

 

TO THE PERFORMANCE STUDENTS

OF THE SCHOOL OF THE ART INSTITUTE

OF CHICAGO

 

Dear Students,

 

What we did together in class meant a lot personally to Linda, Michael and I. Your openness and playfulness is inspiring. Do not lose it or let it be taken away from you by any limiting process of sophistication. What we did also meant, and did, a lot in the bigger magical, political, and artistic contexts. It is not that what we did was outside of the traditional frame of art and theatre training. It was not. But within the current repressive/suppressive environment in our society, the mere fact that we could do what we did in the open classroom situation, instead of within the underground, lifts and pushes away the censoring forces. Credit has to go to the teachers and the Visiting Artists Program for giving the liberating space for this to happen.

 

Of course, this isn’t why I am writing this letter. After class, I learned that Freedom was going to participate in the exercise as a hero until a few students expressed that they would feel uncomfortable relating to their teacher nude. I could not figure out why she was not a hero because I knew she wanted to be. If I had known what was going on, I would probably have stopped the exercise to deal with the issues this raised. I would do this not for Freedom’s sake (which I would if it was an actual performance), but because it raises a number of issues which are important for you to face at the beginning of your artistic life … which is why doing such exercises at the beginning of an art training is important.

 

Before I start rambling nonlinearly, I should make it clear I am not blaming the students who placed Freedom within an isolated role. They were just carrying in the moral social frame which they were taught. But this frame will limit their art if they do not discard it. Art school is the time to venture outside this frame, to explore.

 

Now, I will start my rambling. First of all, being comfortable and making people comfortable by preserving and respecting accepted taboos and limits are not the goals of art. If it was, I would not have been brought there, and we would not have done the exercise. Art takes people outside of the social frame and shows them they can survive outside of the frame, shows them they are not fragile. This not being fragile is the real comfort which you felt after the exercise, which is an uncomfortable process on some levels. Notice that people said they felt safe, not comfortable, during the exercise. The issue of safeness occurs only when the ritual process is uncomfortable.

 

The job of the artist is to go into the uncomfortable zone by risking. In performance, maybe more than most other art, this risk is personal and physical. Art training is an expedition into this zone. This aspect of art training has been devalued in the general western educational system as compared to systems of apprenticeship or of shamanism. I used the hero/watcher option when the people did not come into the performance/ritual reality with a commitment to go into the risking vulnerable zone. This is not to say the watchers did not risk or were not vulnerable. The hero/watcher option just gives each person a time-based choice within the ritual. I use these time-based choice options in public performance and in first day art classes. I do not use time-based choice options with my apprentices or within my workshops because the person in those situations has already knowingly chosen, committed to, going into the taboo areas.

 

Telling Freedom not to participate is the same thing as if I gave the watchers a hard time for not being heroes. If I did that, I would be limiting, denying their personal freedom. This is unethical, and also would give the Helms’ force room to grow from the inside. It is important to realize that within the reality of ritual, Freedom is a fellow person and as a fellow artist becomes much more important than her role as your teacher. She was doing the ritual as an exploration for herself.

 

It is important to learn to leave all social roles and all false politics outside the ritualistic reality. See yourself, your fellow students (which included teachers and artist like me) as a community who go on expeditions and do experiments together into art.

 

I would like to hear what you think.

 

Yours in Freedom,

Frank

 

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