They participated in Pecha Kacha, presenting their work in a fast-paced 6 minute/20 slides presentation at Martyrs Pub as part of Chicago Artists Month.
See 2008 Featured Artist: Barbara Ciurej and Lindsay Lochman
Chicago Artists Month, the thirteenth annual celebration of Chicago’s vibrant visual art community was organized by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and was made possible through the Presenting Sponsorship of 3Arts and the Lead Sponsorship of the Sara Lee Foundation.
We have always constructed photographic narratives to reconcile our personal experiences, which we sometimes find at odds with society’s mythology. We imagine and tell another story ("backstories" is what we called them, but they are fictions as well). We try to tell a better story: of the life we want to aspire to, stories that ring true for us and in turn for others. We are optimists and attempt to present a noble way to look at our circumstances. In this way we work to resolve the mixed messages we get from the prevailing culture.
In our most recent body of work: All Things Are Always Changing (excerpts from this will be shown in October at Bette Cerf Hill Gallery for Chicago Artists Month), we confront the fact that middle age is invisible in our culture. At best, it is viewed as a battle to maintain youth. Growing old is considered a defect. As we change in midlife, we lose our "place" in the world and we must find or invent another one. Through our artwork we look for an option that isn't characterized by all that is sexualized and youthful. We know we can do better than “looking good for her age” because we have seen the power inherent in ourselves.
Wisdom, gained by years is venerated, but what does it look like? We address this mind/body disconnect by reworking influences from art history, photographic history, fairy tales, myths and popular culture to create a parallel history. As Iris Murdoch said, "...one surrenders power in one form, and grasps it in another." Our photographs create a new timeline--one where the power in the process is revealed.
We take this approach in all our work -- from depicting domesticity to traveling through the landscape. We are looking for the nobility in our daily lives. We invite you to our website to view our other “backstories.”
For us, collaborating is a conversation. Whether taking the form of argument, agreement, or cry of outrage, our projects always start with a lot of talking. These discussions began when we were students at the Institute of Design in 1978 and this process has informed our photographic narratives ever since.
Initially, we joined ranks to make images that challenged the world around us. Most recently, we have tapped into the spirit of collaborative community during our Ragdale Foundation residencies in Lake Forest, here we received support, shared inspiration and even offers to pose from the other residents. By appearing in many of our own photographs, we took advantage of the artist/model collaboration -- working together to realize a shared vision.
Early in our careers we joined Artemisia Gallery, a women's cooperative, where we came to appreciate the broadest parameters of communal artmaking. We came together with a shared aesthetic and an interest in photography's storytelling potential, but collaboration required that we learn to listen to each other, to take criticism, and sometimes, to let go of an individual vision. Our “work flow” is a negotiated team effort, always moving toward and subservient to “the truth” in the images which tell our stories.
Culture is really a communal storytelling process. It is fluid and mutable. Who is telling the stories? Why? Is a story true for any time and in any place in the world? Through the years we have expanded our view of collaboration as a conversation. We study history, art history and mythology, taking great pains to weave our own emotions and thoughts into a familiar vision shared with our audience. Not only do we converse with each other, we converse with the past and invite a dialogue with the future.
Barbara Ciurej and Lindsay Lochman both attended the Institute of Design at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, where Ciurej received a BS in Visual Design, and Lochman received an MS in Visual Design in 1978. Both had early affiliations with Artemisia Gallery in Chicago from 1979-84, where their work was included in many exhibitions. They have consistently shown their collaborative work at galleries and venues such as the the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum of Contemporary Photography, the Chicago Cultural Center and the Art Institute of Chicago,amonst others. Ciurej lives and works in Chicago and Lochman lives and works in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. They recently published a monograph of their work "All Things Are Always Changing" available at lulu.com.