The Version festival has been using mixed metaphors to spread the gospel of independent art and utopian politics for six years now. This year's theme is The Insurrection Internationale, and the main show, We're Rollin', They're Hatin, combines dice-based fantasy role-playing with the usual brew of anarchist ideals and noise music (or is that musical noise?). According to organizer Ed Marszewski, this will be the most coherent Version to date, inaugurating the peripatetic festival's recently rehabbed headquarters, a former department store at 3219 S. Morgan called the Co-Prosperity Sphere.
"We're Rollin', They're Hatin'," happening at the new space, features lots of screenings, performance, music, visual art, and of course role-playing games. You'll also have the opportunity to view entries in Lumpen magazine's recent fashion show, The Secret of the Ranger: Version Fantasy Fund-raiser (expect goat-horn headdresses and furry barbarian underwear).
Friday, April 20, at 7 PM (doors open at 6 PM) the infamous Providence-based zine/animation/noise collective Paper Rad contributes a screening and a performance as well as a huge storefront window installation. LA public-access animation/video/performance stars Dungeon Majesty present a brand-new episode at 8 PM; afterward E*rock, Copy, and Warhammer 48K deliver sweaty, thumping audiovisual noise.
Saturday, April 21, beginning at 9 PM (doors open at 6) there's music by Mayor Daley, Cave, Milwaukee "teen heartthrob" Juiceboxxx, Panther, and Soft Serve. On Sunday, April 22, at 8 PM there's a free screening of the role-playing gamer documentary Darkon.
Screenings and performances take place in a castle installation built by Cody Hudson and Andrew J. Rice. In its basement, viewers can enter a forest created by Jackie Kilmer and a fantasy village by Drew Zigler and Randall Cristopher Bailey. Todd Bailey and Nate Murphy's dazzling homemade Dungeons & Dragons module debuts (see Noah Berlatsky's Our Town in Section 1), and artists like Seripop and Noah Butkus provide trippy wall work.
The monthlong schedule, which ends on May 20, is also loaded with events in public spaces and at other sites--there's a large photography show at the Zhou B. Art Center, 1029 W. 35th.
Many Version>07 events are free, though some cost $5-$10; you can get a festival pass for $50. A full schedule is available on the Web site, but a couple dates down the road stand out.
On Friday, April 27, at 5 PM four trucks designed by four groups meet at Canal and Kinzie to begin the Urban Gardening and Exterior Decorating arm of Version; they'll drive around the city throughout the weekend. The same day at 6 PM those wishing to participate in a role-playing carnival of art on the river are convening on the streets bordering the Merchandise Mart. Mounted in conjunction with such Artropolis shows as Art Chicago and Bridge, it will make Roman soldier costumes available to participants and is set to include a functioning catapult built by Mike Slattery. The afterparty is at 9 PM at Sonotheque. Later that weekend, from noon to 7 PM Saturday the 28th and noon to 6 PM Sunday the 29th at the Zhou B. Art Center, you can catch the NFO XPO, an information-sharing event for independent galleries, community groups, and radical organizations.
Saturday, May 5, the Free University program continues at the Co-Prosperity Sphere. At noon folks involved with local independent progressive publications like Lumpen, AREA Chicago, Indymedia, and Contra Tiempo will discuss their efforts. And at 2 PM Punk Planet publisher Anne Elizabeth Moore gives a talk with the provocative premise that "2007 will be remembered as the year that independent cultural production ceased to be viable." At 8 PM, during the "Plus 3 Damage" performance program, Zigler and Bailey (aka Complicated Horse Emergency) present the interactive Time Never Stops in their aforementioned basement village. --Bert Stabler