• Details
  • Images
  • More

Mary Patten: Panel

Home  /  Events  /  Current Page

Mary Patten: Panel
JANUARY 11 – FEBRUARY 23, 2013
119 N. Peoria #2c



Debuting at threewalls, Mary Patten’s “PANEL” is a performance-based, multi-channel video/sound installation based on a little-known event at the historic Schizo Culture conference organized by Sylvère Lotringer at Columbia University in 1975: a panel on doctors, torture, and coercive uses of therapy in prisons and mental institutions. The panel on “prisons and asylums” featured philosopher Michel Foucault, radical psychiatrist R.D. Laing, the Insane Liberation Front’s Howie Harp, and revolutionary prisoners’ advocate Judith Clark. The transcript of their discussion, clearly an artifact of the 1970s, is eerily relevant to the torture “debates” of the present moment. “Panel” reworks a piece of historic and cultural ephemera, conjuring an illusion of the experience, while underscoring both its disappearance in history and its undead insistence to be heard in our present moment. The event features a live enactment by panelists Darrell Moore , Mikal Marie Shapiro, Matthias Regan, and Mark Jeffrey.

In all her work, Mary Patten seeks to address collisions as well as alignments between the worlds of “politics” and art-making. The frailties of memory, speculative fiction, and the archive of the everyday are all evident in her “singular” work – where she claims authorship, fully aware that there are no wholly original ideas. She continues to be drawn to collective and collaborative forms of art and cultural production in which to re-claim language, feeling, and political passions from fundamentalist thinking, and to reclaim a utopia of the everyday, a way of being together in the world that allows for anger, joy, and reparative visions.

PANEL is experimental in form, yet legible as political inquiry. The fragmented nature of the manuscript reinforces a sense that the panelists were not engaging one other. Patten imagines them as ghosts in separate spheres, arranged in a line and facing an audience that has largely disappeared. PANEL extends the metaphors suggested by “Schizo-Culture” by creating four hallucinatory clouds that intermittently interfere with our reception of each speaker: a swirl of moving collage, a kind of “dreaming out loud” by each of them–the philosopher, the radical psychiatrist, the revolutionary prisoners’ advocate, the Insane Liberation Front activist. These “clouds” intermittently interrupt and blur the panelists’ contentious, pensive, persuasive, or rambling speech acts. The installation invokes the air between a dense piece of ephemera that has slipped through historical cracks and its collective address to what was once a massive social movement.



Mary Patten is a visual artist, video-maker, writer, educator, occasional curator, and political activist. For over 25 years, she has exhibited installations, videos, drawings, prints, and public collaborative projects locally, nationally, and internationally at venues ranging from the Chicago Cultural Center, Gallery 400, Northern Illinois University Art Museum, the Hyde Park Art Center, DOVA Temporary, Randolph St. Gallery, Creative Time (with Feel Tank Chicago), Art in General, The Cooper Union, the New Museum in NYC, Shedhalle/Zürich, the Rotterdam International Film Festival, London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival and the Hong Kong Lesbian and Gay Film Festival. Her book Revolution as an eternal dream: the Exemplary Failure of the Madame Binh Graphics Collective was published by Half Letter Press in 2011. She has also published in Radical Teacher, AREA Chicago, Prompt, The Passionate Camera (ed. Deborah Bright) and WhiteWalls. Online artist’s projects include “TERROR-ist?” and “Experiments in Living.” Patten has directed and participated in many large-scale collaborative art projects for over thirty years, including the Chicago Torture Justice Memorials project , Pathogeographies , Project Enduring Look, billboards with ACT UP/Chicago, Artists’ Call against Intervention in Central America, Action against Racism in the Arts, and Cityarts Workshop. Some of her videos are distributed by the Video Data Bank. She has won fellowships from Artadia, the Illinois Arts Council, the NEA, and many others. She teaches in the Film/Video/New Media/Animation Department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

This project is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency, and a Faculty Enrichment Grant from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.