Free For All: Contemporary Tamales

Miranda: Free For All Poster

Miranda: Free For All Poster

Many Wednesday evenings something cool happens at ICA. This Wednesday, September 29, we’re holding a Free For All, the name an homage to the fact that we no longer charge admission (thanks, Glenn!) and to convey the sense that you never know what might happen. Contemporary art is always wild and crazy, right?

Well, sometimes. You’ll be able to answer that question for yourself after the Free For All, because at 6:30 ICA curator Ingrid Schaffner is going to kick the evening off with her yearly lecture “What Is Contemporary?”—a kind of roller coaster ride (with pictures) through what’s happening in the art world right now. Ingrid’s interests are broad, and she’s a witty, thoughtful, energetic speaker. I don’t know exactly what she’s planning this year, but last year she organized her survey by these themes: identity, terrain, reference, history, ornament, alchemy, evocation, flesh, storage, resistance, technology. If you don’t know much about contemporary art and you want a smart, informed survey, don’t miss this Wednesday’s talk. Even if you do know a lot, it’s still good to find out what Ingrid knows, because her brain is more interesting than most people’s.

Lots of people are doing a lot of work to get ready for Wednesday. Jenna has been making sure the computer set ups are working, and that the sound guys from Red Planet Sound know what we need, and generally coordinating everything. Molly has been making sure we have tamales from Don Memo’s, and Grace chose the band, Reading Rainbow, that will play on the Terrace after the talk. She’s also been distributing posters around the city. The waiters at Honey’s really liked them.

Kate has been helping Ingrid get images, and someone called the cupcake truck, which will be parked on the street, while out on the Terrace Penn printmaking professor Matt Neff and his students will be screen printing T-shirts with ICA logos designed by Print Liberation (bring your own T-shirt—or else buy one from the American Apparel table on-site). Print Liberation will also have other work on hand to sell, though I can’t say whether they’ll have the notorious Sarah Palin T-shirt that made them an internet sensation a couple of years back.

The band, Reading Rainbow, is two people—Sarah (a recent art school grad) and Rob—on drums, guitar, and vocals. Grace, who books shows all over the city in art galleries and warehouses, chose them because our second-floor exhibition, Mineral Spirits: Anne Chu and Matthew Monahan, made her think of their music, which she describes as mystical, ethereal, and with bears in it.

What I like about the Free For All is its eclecticism: the mixture of seriousness and fun, art and play, inside and outside, talking and doing. It’s a blend we’re good at here at ICA. Come Wednesday at 6:30 and see how you think we do this time.

You can also tell me which of Ingrid’s themes the Free For All should go in. I’m guessing alchemy.