Good things can emerge from a penis scandal



Fernando Ribeiro, Effort
  • Fernando Ribeiro's Effort
Joseph Ravens received a lot of attention in summer 2010 when his full-frontal performance piece got him kicked out of Pop-Up Art Loop, Chicago Loop Alliance’s project to bring activity to empty storefronts in the Loop. While Ravens describes the event as demoralizing, it also caused him to find his own performance space.

And so he did. Defibrillator is dedicated to performance work. “At first I thought it’d be my studio,” says Ravens. “But almost immediately, I was overwhelmed by people wanting to present work. Defibrillator quickly became a venue with programming. It filled a niche that I didn’t even recognize was missing until the penis scandal.”

In addition to doing public education around various forms of performance art, Raven is also committed to fostering young and emerging artists. And the time is ripe: performance art is have a resurgence, with artists like Marina Abramović at the forefront. “A lot of museums and galleries are showing performances when five years ago they weren’t," Ravens says. "And I think Chicago has the needed ingredients to become an important player in the international performance scene.”

This weekend Defibrillator presents Brazilian performance artist Fernando Ribeiro in Effort. During the performance Ribeiro, whose face is obscured by a welding mask, strings jingle bells around his body while a camera captures audience reactions. The film is projected on the wall behind Ribeiro, creating a way for the audience to view both the artist and themselves. There are two other pieces: the first, another performance piece by Chicago-based performance artists Todd Frugia and Marrakesh, and the second a window installation by Monica Panzarino.

"When I realized there were no places to perform my work in Chicago, I decided rather than run away, I'd stay and make a difference," Ravens says. "Chicago is an interesting place for experimental theater. And a good place for innovation."

Thu-Fri 4/4-4/5, 8 PM, Defibrillator, 1136 N. Milwaukee, $10 suggested donation

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