With guest, Louder Than a Bomb poet Nate Marshall

Saturday, March 14, 2015

This Is Modern Art

Thanks to Kevin Coval and Idris Goodwin, two of my favorite poets/writers/performers for writing a play that really means something. We went to Steppenwolf last night to see This is Modern Art and stayed in the theater for the lively after-performance discussion with Kevin.

If art is meant to provoke, to challenge, to make the strange familiar and the familiar strange, TIMA succeeds. It's a great Chicago story, with a fine crew of young actors. It tells the the tale of a group of young graffiti and street artists (yes, there are now some old ones) who "bomb" the Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago (based on a true story).

Kevin Coval dialogues with audience.
I went partially as an act of solidarity with our young street artists and muralists who have made our dingy city a more beautiful, colorful and more interesting place (except for the asshole who spray-painted my garage door) and who have been damned and often persecuted and prosecuted by the self-appointed and usually moneyed defenders of the dominant culture (Rahm Emanuel's ubiquitous digital billboards). Yes, unapproved graffiti is now a class 4 felony carrying big fines and long prison sentences.

How's that working?

I felt solidarity also after reading S-T film critic's Hedy Weiss' scathing, horrible, ignorant review. She calls the play "damaging" and charges Coval (founder of Louder Than a Bomb) and Goodwin with promoting "vandalism" and engaging in "sanctimonious talk about minority teens invariably being shut out of opportunities and earmarked for prison." She brings to my mind images of the vicious critic Tabitha as portrayed in the film Bird Man. 

But critics be damned. The play, which unfortunately closes tonight, packed Steppenwolf every night with a mostly young and enthusiastic crowd. I'm almost certain that none of them were the ones who messed up my garage.

If you can somehow find a ticket for tonight's show, grab it.

1 comment:

  1. Professor Klonsky!
    First off, I am so disappointed for not running into you at Saturday night's showing of This is Modern Art. I was there to support a friend who the play was based off of. Secondly, I wanted express that during the Q&A session a man asked if graffiti being taught in schools and if so, how is the reaction by the public on it? I wanted to remind him that rap was once viewed in the same lime light. But Koval had turned rap into a poetry slam for students, an outlet for them to express their life, hardships and opinions. A safe and now respectable place where rap/ poetry slam is being positively utilized by students in a school. Graffiti is also an art form that is expression. It has not boundaries, and as the original modern art had a difficult time being seen as art and was gawked back then, graffiti will travel that same course as they make their slow way into public acceptance. Thank you for your wisdom four years ago.


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