Select, Lumpen, and Public Media Institute produce this annual festival, now in its fourth year, focusing on art, media, technology, and politics, with an emphasis on work generated by underground and activist communities. This year's festival runs from Friday, April 22, through Sunday, May 1, and includes neighborhood walks, workshops on urban gardening and exterior decoration, and numerous public art installations, film/video screenings, music, lectures, and performances. The events are mostly scattered throughout the Wicker Park and Bridgeport neighborhoods. Some participating venues include Heaven Gallery (1550 N. Milwaukee), Buddy and Highschool (1542 N. Milwaukee), Open End Gallery (2000 W. Fulton), Rodan (1530 N. Milwaukee), Skylark (2149 S. Halsted), Spare Room (2416 W. North), Empty Bottle (1035 N. Western), Zhou B. Center (1029 W. 35th St.), McKinley Park (3700 S. Hoyne), and Texas Ballroom (3012 S. Archer). Events are free, unless otherwise noted. A Version pass ($25) allows admission to all screenings and events, except Animal Collective (see Wed 4/27). The festival also includes the NFO Expo (April 30-May 1), a series of talks, workshops, and exhibits intended as a "trade show for experimental artists, info agitators, and organizers of cultural interference" and a "radical alternative" to other art fairs. Below is a schedule of selected festival events. For updates and additional information, visit www.versionfest.org or call 773-837-0145.
Opening Night Party
Highschool, Heaven, and Buddy simultaneously host performances and installations to kick off the fest, including Lonetree's "noise theater"; Ghost Appeaser by Matthew Steinke and Bert Stabler, a "video game demonstration" portraying tormented ghosts and utilizing animatronic puppets and ambient video; "The Cost of Free," an installation by Astra Price of 30 pinatas inspired by George W. Bush; "Fufi Fufi," a collaborative installation that pays homage to the late hip-hop star Ol' Dirty Bastard; Environmental Encroachment, who offer a marching band crossed with live multimedia performances; and music by Orange Drink, David Marine, My Fairy Prince, DJ Pooper, and Logan Bay. a 7 PM-2 AM. $10; includes food and drink.
Industry of the Ordinary
The art collective pairs off as "Old God" and "Young God" in a battle for supremacy, determined by the first to reach 1,000 goals in a table football tournament. North Avenue Beach promontory. a 1 PM.
Urban Gardening and Exterior Decorating
This event offers a variety of installations and presentations that "consider public space in urban environments as a forum for change, and explore, visually, ways of altering and reclaiming our surroundings." Open End Gallery. a 6 PM-1 AM. $5.
Small Bathroom Fire, Chandeliers, and Carpet of Sexy
Open End Gallery. a 10 PM.
Audio installation by Dan St. Clair featuring pop songs rendered using synthesized birdsong. McKinley Park. a 2 PM.
The William Young, Ultimate Machine Warriors, Jitney, and Occasional Detroit
McKinley Park. a 7 PM.
Skylark. a 8 PM.
Late-Night Show & Tell
Public art collaborative Anti Gravity Surprise invites participants to bring in their own creative work that answers the question "What have you made to create change?" They promise to provide "munchies, blank walls, and good conversation." Spare Room. a 9 PM.
Installations at the Multiplex
Film, video, and sound work, including Ovarium, a "post-porn silent interactive video" by Svetlana and Andi Wallwhore, Gun Control by Scott Kildall, an electromechanical installation using a police-issue revolver and a small video camera, and Can We Communicate?, a 16-millimeter piece "in one slow shot" by Clara Alcott. Buddy, Heaven, and Highschool. a 6:30 PM-1 AM, $5.
Sweden's Rafilm Collective assembled this program of short animations and documentaries. 45 min. Heaven Gallery. a 7:30 PM.
Experimental works and "illegal art projects" by Nicholas Monsour, Zachary Hall, Amy Cargill, Ania Greiner, Regis Ferguson Collective, Terry Cuddy, Dillon de Give, Thomas Dumke, Richard Siska, and Ry Russo-Young. 70 min. Buddy. a 8 PM.
End of Suburbia
Gregory Greene directed this 78-minute documentary on suburban sprawl and its political consequences. Highschool. a 8 PM.
In Sub_burban Video Lounge
Thirteen short videos made by students at the Academy of the Arts St. Joost in the Netherlands. 60 min. Heaven Gallery. a 8:30 PM.
Short works, including digital video and "net art." 70 min. Buddy. a 9:30 PM.
R The Take
Made by the couple Avi Lewis (director) and Naomi Klein (writer), this 2004 documentary chronicles how laid-off workers in Argentina took over some 200 closed factories and started them up again as leaderless co-ops, with every worker receiving the same salary. The filmmakers aren't blind to some of the contradictions and anomalies of this movement--they interview one co-op worker who'd recently voted for the neoconservative Carlos Menem, which is a bit like an American union worker supporting Bush--but they're primarily interested in the story's potential as an inspirational object lesson for the rest of the world. (Klein's best-selling account of the antiglobalization movement, No Logo, has a similarly positive and almost festive air in spots.) For me that's justification enough: anticapitalist propaganda that persuades and uplifts is in short supply these days. In English and subtitled Spanish. 87 min. (Jonathan Rosenbaum) Highschool. a 9:30 PM.
A program of short works curated by Heaven Gallery. 50 min. Heaven Gallery. a 10 PM.
A 45-minute documentary (2004) by Carmela Baranowska, an Australian filmmaker embedded with U.S. troops in Afghanistan who broke away to report on conditions in the remote Oruzgan province, one of the country's most dangerous regions. Highschool. a 11 PM.
We Can and We Must, Potter Belmar Labs, Xianggang Delight, Lovely Little Girls, and Rotten Milk vs. Bubblegum Shitface
Buddy. a 10 PM.
Terry Plumming Summit
An improvisational orchestra of 100 musicans. Zhou B. Center. a 2 PM.
An ongoing series of "show and tell for grownups" presented by Lumpen. Buddy. a 8 PM. $5.
Animal Collective/Ariel Pink
Empty Bottle. a 10 PM. $10 advance, $12 at the door.
Short works by the Volatile Works media arts collective of Montreal, ranging "from found footage to animation, from scratch video to experimental horror." Buddy. a 9 PM.
Mattin, Tim Barnes, and DJ Rotten Milk
Rodan. a 10:30 PM.
The Corporate Calavera Project
Matt Jenkins created this "series of tactical performances," implemented in corporate environments in memory of the hundreds of female maquiladora workers killed in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.
Robert Ladislas Derr blends into the downtown business lunch crowd while surreptitiously videotaping; the results of this "peripatetic performance" will be screened later in the festival.
Nicole Cousino's interactive installation uses speakers hidden at busy intersections to transmit "personal songs, words, utterances, or whispers."
Outdoor installation of "shelters and courts" by Total Gym. Various locations (including McKinley Park the afternoon of 4/24).