The end of October marks the close of a four-year era when performance art venue Defibrillator Gallery will vacate its current home at 1136 North Milwaukee in Noble Square after losing the lease on their first floor, storefront location. In the gallery’s press release, they explain that this unexpected loss has necessitated suspending programming and scheduled events from the start of November until February 2015, when it hopes to be settled into a new location.
Their upcoming programming would have included partnership exhibitions with the art residency ACRE for Joshua McGarvey, Dao Nguyen, Tom Friel and Da’Niro Elle Brown, along with exhibitions of work from SAIC’s performance art department, a curatorial project by Kendall Babl, and solo presentations by artists from around the world including Darling Shear (Chicago), Claire Hind (UK), Veronika Merklein (Austria) and Jessica Hirst (Dominican Republic). Defibrillator says that they intend to follow through on their commitments to these projects once a new space has been secured early next year.
Defibrillator’s artistic director Joseph Ravens writes by email, “We are not without blame. Our primary mission is to show a wide range of styles and forms of performance art. The work is sometimes minimalist and poetic and sometimes extreme and over the top. Viewed externally by those unfamiliar with the medium, it can appear as if we are crazy or annoying.” Indeed, the performance art venue and gallery is known as a rare breed of art space that champions work being made between the genres of visual art, theater and dance. Along with packed schedules of programming throughout the year, Defibrillator has been central to the Chicago-based international performance art festival Rapid Pulse for the past three years. “This hiatus will be fruitful,” says Ravens. “We are embracing this interruption as an opportunity to expand and improve.”
Dave Novick, the property owner, says that a mid-century modern furniture store will open on the first floor of 1136 North Milwaukee. When reached for comment, Novick offered a balanced view of the space’s transition from non-profit art space to retail space, “It’s the best of all possible worlds if when a love affair ends with people being friends. The same is true with commercial transactions. It’s nothing about Joe or any comment about the space. I’ve just always wanted a more conventional store operation.”
Ravens asks that interested audiences check out the remaining schedule of events during October (list of events available here) and to keep up with Defibrillator’s goings on through their mailing list and Facebook page. About their search for a new home, he adds, “And if anyone happens to know of a place where we could call home, please let us know. We’re looking for an affordable street level space near the Blue Line (Noble Square to Logan Square) that’s at least 1500-2500 square feet! We prefer a non-residential space with an open-minded landlord. Of course, it has to be as unique and beautiful as our current location (and that’s a tough call!).” (Matt Morris)