2nd Floor Rear 2017: Ritual

February 3-5, 2017


When persons, groups, sets of ideas, etc., move from one level or style of organization or regulation of the interdependence of their parts or elements to another level, there has to be an [interval] when the past is momentarily negated, suspended, or abrogated, and the future has not yet begun. There is an instant of pure potentiality when everything trembles in the balance.  

-Victor Turner, “Liminal to Liminoid in Play, Flow, and Ritual”

A ritual is a sequence of activities involving gestures, words, and objects. Rituals are symbol-laden; they accumulate, generate, or refine meaning as they saturate the people, places, and things they touch with affect and desire. They can also instigate symbolic action—rituals are performative in that they symbolically enact cultural values, but can also act upon the actors involved. Rituals ignite the intelligence of the senses, maneuvering participants through all the valences of discursive meaning, perception, sensation, affect, and action. Rituals are experience as medium, meaning as medium, even the experience of making meaning as medium. Rituals are as playful as they are purposeful. Rituals are a space set apart. A moment-out-of-time. Rituals can create cohesion and structure, or hold space for ambiguity and transformation.

Rituals also bring people together, and have the power to consolidate or interrogate group identity. Like rituals, contemporary art can always be said to establish relationships between people, ideas, identities, communities, and the broader body politic in which art takes part. But perhaps in Chicago more than elsewhere—where art-making driven by civic engagement, identity, and solidarity defines the city’s oeuvre even as its practitioners struggle for resources and recognition—artists exceed the call of market aesthetics by generating alternative arts economies and creating systems of mutual support. In 1974, anthropologist Victor Turner (quoted above) wrote extensively about how rituals facilitated communal bonding and group identity by carving out sacred space for transformation and the inversion of cultural norms. In pre-industrial societies, such rituals reinforced the social order, but, “In modern processes movements, the seeds of cultural transformation, discontent with the way things culturally are, and social criticism…have become situationally central, no longer a matter of the interface between ‘fixed structures’ but a matter of the holistically developmental…Revolutions, whether violent or non-violent, may be the totalizing liminal phases for which the [transitional states in pre-industrial rites-of-passage rituals] were merely foreshadowings or premonitions.”

In other words, rituals have real power. They are settings for setting intentions. For relating. For establishing Will and carrying it forth. 2nd Floor Rear 2017 programming shines a light on the occult, hidden nature of alternative arts practices and the communities of care that spring up around them, while asking participating artists and audiences: Can a self-care ritual be, as Audre Lorde has suggested, “an act of political warfare”? Can the act of simply being together make us stronger together? Can dialogic rituals create economies of information through which we invest in each other’s health and safety? Are protests our modern-day “rituals of affliction”**? In this dystopian climate, can radical imagination and defiant joy help us conceive and perform the future? Are there any healers in the house tonight?

**Traditionally, rituals intended to exorcise malicious spirits


The 2017 edition of 2nd Floor Rear kicked off with a dinner party on the evening of Friday, February 3, continued on Saturday, February 4, with events throughout Avondale, Logan Square, Humboldt Park, and Wicker Park, and wrapped up on Sunday, February 5, with events spanning Pilsen and Little Village.

Over 125 Chicago artists, curators, organizers, and venues participated in 35 events.

Learn more about 2nd Floor Rear 2017: Ritual.


2017 featured curators, collaboratives, ongoing series and artists producing solo projects:

Juneer Kibria + Betsy Zacsek, Chiara Galimberti, Hanna M. Owens + Kelly Thomas, Mariel Harari, Emily Sasmor curated by Danny Floyd, Christopher Allman, Joshua M. McCormick, Katie Vota + Ariel Gentalen, Paul Carlo Esposito, Fontaine Capel, JCSpace Radio (Christine Shallenberg + Jenn Cooper), The Trickster Quartet (Sara Zalek, Elaine Lemieux, Hanna Brock + Here), Pinky Swear, COLLABO (Frances Dorenbaum + Claire Frost), Ann Kreitman + Shaina Schrooten, Anna Liza De Leon Evangelista + Lorén Navidad Ibach, Jeremiah Jones + Rosa Gaia, Ira S. Murfin with Heather McShane + Nathanael Lee Jones, Annie Kielman + Josh Patterson, Open Heart Surgery Theatre with Coleen MacPherson, Rachel Ellison + Arif Mirbaghi, Marlo Koch + Emerson Sigman, Chris Reeves, Mairead Delaney, Nancy VanKanegan, Ericka Richardson, Adrienne Deeble, Participatory Music Coalition, Danielle Wordelman,  Jacquelyn Carmen Guerrero, Anja Morell + Sarita Hernández, Lauren Sudbrink, Charles E. Roberts III, aCinema (Janelle VanderKelen + Takahiro Suzuki), and And Then There Was Blak (Phillip Lambert + Jordan Gillespie + Gerardo Romero)


2017 exhibiting and participating artists:

 Shawne Michaelin Holloway, Jennifer Chan, Cat Bleumke, Analu Maria Rodriguez, Maya Ben David, Iryne Roh, Emme Williams, Jordy Marilyn, Suzy Vogenthol, Charles Joseph Smith, Ambrosia Bartosekulva, Betty Wigell, Ian Bertorelli, Blair Bogin, Zachary Hutchinson, Jenna Caravello, Liz McCarthy, Jaclyn Mednicov, George Olken, Erika Raberg, Willy Smart, Andrew Moljgun, Tom Moffet, and Raha Javanfar, Alejandro Acierto, Jesse Malmed, Jimmy Schaus, Tamer Hassan, Cora Lively, Rachel Sanfilippo, Lorca Jolene, Lunartecos, Allie Shyer, Molly Berkson, Magritte Nankin, Carolina Proveda, Olive Stefanski, Yani Aviles, Emily Schulert, Vicko Alvarez Vega, Alicia Obermeyer, Ruby Thorkelson, Iryne Roh, Tiffany Johnson, Jose Luis Benavides, A.J. McClenon, Kim Kielhofner, Alison SM Kobayashi, Jason Robinson, Josh Yates, Eeva Siivonen, Colleen Plumb, Roger Rogelio Fierro, Zakkiyyah Najeebah, Jared Brown, Angel D’Cuba, and Atlantis Island.


2nd Floor Rear 2017: RITUAL is curated by Director Katie Waddell in collaboration with 2017 Associate Curator Jonathan Sommer and Curatorial Consultant Mia Lopez.