“It’s old-fashioned and brutal, but that’s its charm I suppose.”
Performance artist and film-maker Adam Rose deals with the existential quandaries of the modern Midwest in his current show “Mistake on the Lake” – now touring Illinois, Michigan and Ohio.
Contrary to the coastal paths of other performance artists, Adam prefers to remain in what he sees as the last great bastion of Midwestern industry and agriculture – Chicago, of which he once said, “It’s old-fashioned and brutal, but that’s its charm I suppose.” His work is more than just an interpretation of the crumbling Midwest, it is his most powerful form of protest. He uses his body to bring attention both to how the landscape has been abused by industry as well as how nature is coming to reclaim it. By pitting his powerful-yet-sullen, dangerous-yet-seductive alter ego Elena against Chicago’s decaying environs Adam asks the viewer to reconsider these unsightly landscapes. By touring his performance art pieces across the Midwest, Adam remains connected to his roots and the place he is critically interpreting.
When I visited Adam in Chicago he balked somewhat at the thought of taking our photoshoot to the streets of Chicago, to the brick-building-lined streets of South Side and Pilsen. Gary, IN, in all its faded glory, was his alternative, and Gary was where Elena truly came to life, as you can see in the images (below).
I met Adam the next evening at a twenty-four hour diner on Chicago’s north side. We mused on the images we had taken, particularly on the juxtaposition of motifs in Elena’s outfit – Midwestern sports mascots mired in racism and revolutionary/communist symbolism paired with the glamour of a painted lady in furs.
“Would you say that Elena embodies a new form of protest for the Midwest?” I asked him. His eyes widened and he paused a moment before replying, with a laugh, “I’m not sure… but I like that interpretation.”
Adam Rose is the founder of Antibody Corporation, a
dance and performance non-profit in Chicago, IL. For more information, visit the official website: www.antibodycorp.org
Special thanks to my ghostwriter and assistant photographer Reaux Flagg, without which this blog entry would not have been possible.