Meg Duguid is an artist, performer and curator whose work has been presented at Defibrillator (including Bubbles Plus Bubbles Divided by Traffic), and collaborations with Out of Site.
Duguid received her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and her MFA from Bard College. She has performed and exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, the Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago, Macy’s on State Street in Chicago, the DUMBO Arts Festival in Brooklyn, and 667 Shotwell in San Francisco. She has screened work at Synthetic Zero in New York, Spiderbug in Chicago, and at the Last Supper Festival in Brooklyn. From 2009 to 2011 she ran Clutch Gallery, a 25 square-inch white cube located in the heart of her purse; since then she has lent my purse to others to curate and carry. She lives and works in Chicago, IL with her husband and three cats.
Recently Borderbend intern Ellyn Leahy interviewed Meg Duguid about her background, curating Clutch Gallery, and other projects.
Leahy: What artists most inspire you?
Duguid: Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Marcel Duchamp, Aleksandra Mir, Pina Bausch.
Leahy: You've been living here in Chicago for a few years now. What is your favorite thing about living and working in Chicago?
Duguid: My favorite thing about living in Chicago is the fact that my husband lives here and all of my stuff is here. My favorite thing about working in Chicago is the community's ability to entertain anything as art. It makes the discussion about what art is and how it functions really great.
Leahy: "Recipe Roulette," which you and Catie Olson performed during the 2010 Chicago Calling Arts Festival, was wonderful. What role does humor play in your art?
Duguid: Recipe Roulette was a collaborative piece that Catie Olson and I created where I made chocolate bon bons while Catie hula-hooped. Every time the hoop would drop, I would drop a bon bon on the floor in solidarity with Catie's motions and also locking her movement into a certain part of the floor as the bon bons built up. This was a sister work of Jump Jump Pie Pie, that we performed in Brooklyn where we each made an edible mud pie while the other kept pace by jumping rope in high heels.
above: photos of Meg Duguid and Catie Olson performing Recipe Roulette
Catie and I investigate the create work using an iterative structure; we let our play-on-word conversations lead our projects. Our collaborative rapport is as important as the final events themselves. During our process the iterative word piles that we create allow our personal and political lives to float to the top as well as let us frame them through our own diverse experiences with different media and mediums. At first glance our work seems fun, but there is more to it than that; on closer inspection you will find that not only are we two women creating humorous work but we tend to reference word play, the body, and food as well.
Leahy: How did you first get involved with curating, and how does it affect your other work?
Duguid: I have personally curated and organized a few projects over the years. Usually I put things together because there were a number of folks I wanted to work with or put a show together with.
Beach by Kim Guare, presented by Clutch Gallery
photo credit: Emma Robins
In 2009, I moved back to Chicago and conceived Clutch, which is the longest-running curatorial project I have done. Clutch Gallery is a 25-square-inch space located in the heart of my purse. This curatorial project was dedicated to exhibiting contemporary art of all media. Clutch opened in December 2009 and was initially intended to maintain regular programming through December 2010, but I continued to carry and program it until the end of 2011 in the belief that it would die a fitting and natural death by wearing out from daily use.
During my time with Clutch, I showed 23 artists in 22 shows. I was responsible for each job in my gallery—I was preparator, gallery assistant, director, and marketing director, but most importantly I was a performer.
With Clutch, my intent was to play on the grand history of artist-run spaces in this city while extending my own practice as a performance artist. Clutch allowed me to create a scenario in which my daily interactions with people could become a performance at any time.
Clutch had an element of constant duration. The performance was larger than just opening up the piece to someone at any moment or explaining the nature of the work. Essentially as a performer, the duration of the piece was both constant and not at all. The potential energy of just holding the space, maintaining the space, and sitting near the space allowed its performative potentiality to radiate into all things Clutch, and the moment someone approached Clutch's conceptual sphere, the person became a part of it whether the purse was in a state of rest or motion. During my time with Clutch I performed alone, with shopkeepers, baristas, TSA agents, thieves, the Secret Service, artists, family, and many others.
Last fall I decided to stop carrying Clutch. So I put it up for others to carry. Emma Robbins is currently carrying and curating Clutch Gallery.
above: photos from Meg Duguid's
Sounds like Mustache
Leahy: Why do you often choose to use multiple media in your work -- for example, combining performance art, photography, and drawing in the Episode Series?
Duguid: I believe that documentation is paramount to my art making, and I’m invested in the ways that documentation and art can be integrated in a single practice. At one point I felt comfortable talking about my work as performance art. But now I have found that the term performance art no longer encompasses what it is I do. I am actively seeking to articulate the relationships I am making between the performative and photography, video, sculpture, and drawing.
Drawing has proved to be a really effective tool for me in a few ways. First, for creating objects that stand in for the real deal. A mustache can suddenly just be a drawing of one held up in front of one’s face, and that’s enough for the viewer to say “Hey, look. A mustache."
Second, drawing is a really nice tool to use in conjunction with photographs of an action. In 2003, I started a series of street performances based in early filmic comedy. These performances derived from the simple question of what happens when you take a comedic moment out of its media context and re-present it in real life. While performing these acts in public, I have found that video cameras become too intrusive and upset the performance, usually contextualizing it as reality television, rather than being a calculated moment. As a result I switched my format to still photography, which allowed my documenters to remain as unobtrusive as tourists or other passersby.
When I got the photos back, I began to ask myself, how do I make this more than just documentation? It’s this question that led me to start erasing the performers out of the images and drawing them back in. The result is a photograph of an actual place and time with a comic book performer doing the action. It plays with the idea of what is real and what isn’t, as well as starts to refer to the idea of comic in all its meanings.
In the autumn of 2007, I staged a 15-person slapstick performance in Battery Park in New York City. The performance consisted of an all-female cast, five photographers, and the backdrop of the Statue of Liberty. I am currently in the process of creating a comic book from it. There are about 200 images in the book, so this piece has taken up various portions of the last five years, and I am finally going to be ready to unveil it by the end of this year.
Leahy: Last October you had a performance art piece called "Bubbles Plus Bubbles Divided by Traffic," which happened at Defibrillator during Chicago Calling. Would you mind giving us a glimpse into the creative process behind that piece?
Duguid: This work was twofold for me. I have been thinking about the performative quality of action painting lately, and I am really interested in how a piece of documentation from a previous work can carry over to the next work. The work in Defibrillator was called Bubbles Plus Bubbles Divided by Traffic, and it took place in the two windows at Defibrillator. This performance consisted of two men wearing Speedos, one in each window, making action paintings by blowing colored bubbles onto paper to a sound piece of traffic over bubble wrap.
Bubbles Plus Bubbles Divided by Traffic utilized a sound piece that was created as a part of Sounds Like Mustache that was performed at the Polish Triangle in August of 2011 as a part of the Out of Site Performance Series. In that performance I poured soap into the fountain in the triangle while bubble machines spewed bubbles into the triangle while a three-person mustache, a mustache that is so big two people must carry it so a third can wear it, walked on bubble wrap that was laid down throughout the triangle. The documentation of this work was the sound work Bubble Wrap Over Traffic.
Leahy: What are you working on now?
I have some work, including some of the newer parts of the episode series, going to the ZonaMaco Art Fair in Mexico City. Catie Olson and I are collaborating on a 10-course performance that is going to be performed at Defibrillator in September of 2012. And I am at the tail end of negotiating the rights to produce a screenplay that I have fallen in love with. I don't want to say what it is until the ink is dry on the contract, because you just don't know until the signature hits the dotted line, but if it all works out well, this will be the largest project I have ever taken on.