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Secret Histories Museum
October 28 – November 13
, 2005

We used the Geolofts ( formerly known as Iron Studios) as a site for the Select Media Festival 04. The Museum was a 10,000 sq ft exhibition that accompanied the New Chicagoans exhibition.

[ From the Select Website ]:

The Secret Histories Museum discovers and presents historical evidence in order to seek understanding of ourselves and our world in between history and the future. The mission of the museum is to deepen the understanding of past choices; present circumstances and future possibilities; strengthen the bonds of community; and facilitate solutions to common problems.

The grand opening of the Secret Histories Museum features exhibits and educational projects about Streeteervilee, Secret Societies, Chicago Fluxus, Folk ADD, Cointelpro, Archigo and more.

From the [ The Secret Histories Museum website ] :

Friday October 28
Opening of Secret Histories Museum
Iron Studios
3636 S. Iron St. 2nd Floor

6pm Opening of Secret Histories Museum
6-10 pm Lectures, Videos, Fluxus Performances and Demonstrations
8pm Secret History by Jon Løvøen

10pm Members of Mahjongg, Pointy Pointy, Lazer Crystal, The Chandeliers, and Killer Whales

Secret Histories Museum

The grand opening of the Secret Histories Museum features uncovered and recovered histories about Chicago. It includes exhibitions and educational presentations about: Chicago’s Secret Societies and Orders; examinations of Chicago Fluxus happenings and projects; a recently discovered art movement called Folk ADD; examinations of red squads and the US government’s COINTELPRO which targets American dissidents; a utopian architecture collective from the 60’s called Archigo; and more.

Fluxus re-enactments, talks and presentations will be given at the Museum throughout the evening.

Secret History by Jon Løvøen
A live broadcast talk show with Jon Løvøen as part of the opening of The Secret Histories Museum.

Jon Løvøen graduated from National Academy of the Arts in Bergen, Norway in 2002. By using role models from popular culture, Jon Løvøen's artistic work is focusing on the role of the male artist, and his need for recognition and popularity. The male figure has transformed from having a formative cultural role in society, to becoming a consumer in an increasingly ornamental culture. The successful man today is fashioned by TV and glossy magazines. This transformed masculinity has been identified as one of the key issues in Løvøen’s work.

This Performance is partially funded by Office of Contemporary Art, Norway.

Secret Histories Museum Exhibitions included:



[Installation, mixed media]

Archigo started as an urgent message, a broadcast about a "new generation....(which) must arise", and continued with a rapid succession of publications and exhibitions in a span of a few years, all of which were characterized by audacious criticism and provocative synthesis. These works were among the most influential shock vibrations of the 1960's for architects and planners around the world. In a decade that ended with riots expressive of social and political disorder, the group of young Chicago- based architects began and sustained a campaign of environmental revolution.

The Archigo virus spread to various "Archigo-zones" across the world and found seeds in London, Amsterdam and Tokyo. Archigram and other noted archiutectural provocations followed the Archigo.

Recently acquired works, models and objects discovered at the Illinois Institute of Technology show the influence of Archigo's utopian visions on a generation of urban planners and designers who resisted the Chicago School of Architecture and tuned into the radical visions of the New Babylonian movement. The exhibit shows a sampling of Archigo's remixing of the city of big shoulders from their first garage show 1 mile west of the IIT campus in the neighborhood of Bridgeport.

Aligned with the Yippies, and the peace Movement, the group fused radical politics with liberatory architecture. They went beyond function to images of fantasy based on mechanical invention and pop culture. Personal air balloons and imaginary lake front landscapes merge into geographic liberation from war and the state of crisis.

Fluxus on LSD
[installation, mixedmedia, performance]

Was pere Mayor Daley a dupe of Secret Fluxus?
In 1961, Ben Vautier [100% Fluxman] wrote a performance score “POLICE” whose simple instructions;


might be read as the underlying script of the 1968 Chicago Police riots, where the audience of the Yippie be-in were launched towards the national spotlights by Daley’s heavy-handed interpretation…

Or did a local and previously unknown connection belatedly heed the 1963 call for Fluxus Propaganda Actions, including “pickets & demonstrations” and demanding “sabotage and disruption” of city-wide systems such as transportation, communication and culture? Detailed instructions for carrying out such actions was mailed to a variety of contacts in the now-notorious “Fluxus News-Policy Letter No.6” dated April 6th 1963. Unsurprisingly, this melodramatic poetry sparked enormous debate within the group of anarchists, drop-outs, intellectuals and contrarian creators known as Fluxus, and has subsequently been the focus of considerable academic study, resulting in more confusion and dissent around our present understanding of what Fluxus was and what it means.

Fluxus has been described as the “most radical and experimental art movement of the ‘sixties”, although its heritage in subsequent decades has been so pervasive that ideas and actions which were then utterly new, strange and
explosive are now ubiquitous, unsurprising, and orthodox enough to have become the position from which many contemporary artists begin. Fluxus introduced intermedia, interactivity and humour to an artworld then dominated by serious men who created discrete works of painting, sculpture, poetry, or music for a passive and preferably respectful audience. Fluxus anti-art, anti-poetry, and anti-music were promoted by devices such as performative events, impossible concepts, sight gags, found ephemera, and Zen-influenced enigma, among other radically new approaches to creativity, centred on the empowerment of the audience - or rather opening possibilities for any audience to celebrate their imaginations untrammeled by inhibition, tradition, prejudice or convention.

Fluxus helped to introduce more than these elementary notions, however. Artists’ collaborations, mail-art networks, the mass-production and distribution of multiple editions, books and film-loops through a mail-order warehouse – cheap and expendable, concerned with insignificances but exquisitely designed and ranging from the wry to the hilarious – such efforts paralleled the development of the event and the interdisciplinary enquiry.

Fluxus was given its name in Germany, at some point in 1961, although many of the ideas and actions closely associated with Fluxus art had been coalescing since the late 1950s. Similarly, the constituents of the group had been gathering in disparate clusters for some years before the Festum Fluxorum – a tour across Europe where the style and personnel of Fluxus first fused. Loose collaborations such as the Yam Festival cooked up by George Brecht and Robert Watts in New Jersey; casual associations such as Dick Higgins and Al Hansen’s ‘New York Audio-visual Group’; and previously active units like Japan’s ‘Hi Red Center’, or the Scandinavian ‘Gruppe fra ekperimentalmalerskolen’ were to join a common front of artists to promote ideas which were – and continue to be – arguable, shifting, even contradictory.

From the outset, Fluxus was a community of people: the individual works – from the dense political happenings of German Wolf Vostell, to the everyday aesthetics of Alison Knowles, or the hilarious confessions of Ben Vautier –
varied widely, despite some attempts to give them stylistic or political coherence. The artists subsumed their differences, without denying them, in the knowledge that the alternative was an eternally marginal status. It was a deliberately international community, seeking like-minded experimenters from far-flung provinces and unlikely locations: originally imagined as a periodical, Fluxus was intended to anthologise the latest and most innovative activity wherever it might be found. Flyers for the first exhibition of Fluxus objects – held in London, 1962 – advertised the activities of…
Robert Filliou, one-eyed good-for-nothing Huguenot
Gustav Metzger, escaped Jew
Robin Page, Yukon lumberjack
Benjamin Patterson, captured alive Negro
Daniel Spoerri, Rumanian adventurer
Per Olaf Ultveldt, the red-faced strongman from Sweden
Ben Vauthier, God’s broker
Emmett Williams, the Pole with the elephant memory

Fluxus was named by Lithuanian-born designer Yurgis [George] Maciunas, and he continued to try and impose pattern and form to the shifting allegiances and mutating concepts of Fluxus until his death in 1978. When first introduced to the experimental art community, Maciunas was an importer of musical instruments from Europe and one of two partners in a New York art space, ‘AG Gallery’, with fellow Lithuanian ex-patriot, Almius Salcius. [There he first showed Yoko Ono in the months leading up to the formation of Fluxus, before he decamped to the then Federal German Republic, working for the US military.] Maciunas was connected to the Lithuanian community in New York by his mother, with whom he lived, and his schoolboy friend Jonas Mekas, whose efforts to found and grow the New York Cinematheque paralleled his own unceasing work for Fluxus. Another school friend, the composer Vytautis Landsbergis, was to become President of Lithuania after the dissolution of the Soviet empire, leading Fluxus co-founder Nam June Paik to posit the idea of a Fluxus country.

A previously unknown - possibly even secret - connection concerned a fourth school-mate from the old country, Arunas Vasys, whose activities in the Bridgeport Fluxus cell have still to be understood. Was Vasys planning to co-opt Healthy Food and other local Lithuanian entities into Maciunas’ designs for “a common front”? Did Vasys try to ‘detourne’ Mayor Daley Sr. as part of Maciunas’ attempts to make Fluxus “Purge the world of Bourgeois sickness, intellectual, professional and commercialized culture…Promote a revolutionary Flood and Tide…and …Fuse the cadres of cultural, social & political revolutionaries into united front and action”?

As part of this year’s Select Media Festival, Fluxus on LSD presents for the first time a recently discovered collection of objects, texts and images, presumed to have been sent to Vasys by Maciunas in his ongoing efforts to proselytize his ideas about the group he named, organized, designed for, and ultimately tried to control

Secret Orders, Societies and Pasts
[installation, mixed media]

Chicago is a city of Secrets. Everything you see here is true, even that which is plausibly denied. In the city of broad shoulders there are many deep closets. Secret Orders exhibit presents artifacts, photos, diagrams and narratives that illuminate the shadowy underside of Chicago. Be careful what you read, this knowledge can hurt you.

Curated by Kenneth Morrison, Michelle Faust, Nathaniel Ward

America Eats Its Young: The Next Generation
[documentation and video]

COINTELPRO is an acronym for a series of FBI counterintelligence programs designed to neutralize political dissidents. Although covert operations have been employed throughout FBI history, the formal COINTELPRO's of 1956-1971 were broadly targeted against radical political organizations. It was disbanded after the 70's. Today's USA PATRIOT ACT enables federal, state and local governments to wage "low intensity" warfare against anyone form suspected terrorists, political dissidents to anti-war protestors. This exhibit looks at historical and current infiltration activities be federal authorities and local police departments into activist and countercultural groups and organizations. Recent documents of federal and local infiltration into the Anti war movement are displayed for your consideration.

Image from "Black Panther Coloring Book"



folk ADD
[Installation, mixed media, perrfomance]

folk ADD happened twice, once in the 1960s and once in the 1980s. Both eras reflect similar methods and reasoning; only the materials shift, creating pleasing sets of past and present from the future."
- keith watkins, art forum 1989

folk ADD started in the backyards of Chicago and their detritus and work wound up in a ranch in Missouri. The collection of A. Carlson will be unveiled for the first time in the U.S. revealing this peculiar intersection between Dada, Fluxus, Yippie hedonism and industrial art.

The ambition in the present recreation of folk ADD environments is not an act of preservation or a presentation of works created, but a living archive like the way to expose the clippings of artists fingernails on display. More simply: it is the casino air from the mountains of Colorado.

During museum recreation hours viewers should be prepared to relive any and all events from their own lives, the life of Richard M Daley, any and or all of the folk ADD artists and the people they know/knew. In place of you folk ADD artists will establish links to unknown knowns, this physical place will harbor the largest known recreation of folk ADD ever.

Virgin Mary of the JFK Expressway
[Photo essay]

Pareidolia is a type of illusion or misperception involving a vague or obscure stimulus being perceived as something clear and distinct. For example, in the discolorations of a burnt tortilla one sees the face of Jesus Christ. Or one sees the image of Mother Teresa or Ronald Reagan in a cinnamon bun or a man in the moon.

In April 2005 thousands of believers form Chicago and the surrounding areas made their way to see an image of the Virgin Mary under the John F. Kennedy Expressway on Fullerton Ave. As rumors spread, people arrived with flowers, candles, crosses, photographs of loved ones and sick children to witness the water stain on a wall that resembled the Virgin Mary.


Potential Energies

Potential Energies. Sculptures and artifacts concerning Chicago's history in man's quest for pure energy.
Did you know that the City of Chicago and the State of Illinois have a very involved history with nuclear energy? From the first days of atomic experimentation to modern times South Chicago has been at the forefront of the quest for ultimate energy.

This exhibit is a collection of artworks and interactives donated to the Museum by artists and galleries from in or around Chicago.

From that fateful day on Dec.2nd, 1942, when the first nuclear reaction was created at the University of Chicago, to the creation and use of atomic weaponry, to the harnessing of nuclear energy to power the cities we live in, South Chicago has been an important player in the nuclear rodeo.

How does the city regard it's own history concerning this subject. How do we perceive nuclear energy? What energies do we have inherent in us, which may one day compare to the power of the atom. These artworks try to present similar questions towards our understandings and feelings of nuclear energy.


SILVER measure Interviews
This installation features a handful of over 180 video documentaries of contemporary Chicago artists made by the SILVER Measure. Local secret histories, these videos are audio/visual snapshots of artists that live in your neighborhood.

Program includes:

The Law of Cracktopia - Joe Roarty
Poet and performance artist Joe Roarty takes us on a surreal trip through the dark corners of his work. Joe is an active member of the poetry scene in Chicago and regularly performs his incendiary work with his spiritual flamethrower.

The Monarch of the Sea - Lee Groban
Chicago poet and visual artist Lee Groban speaks of his work; the longest most monotonous poem ever written in the English language. Done with a light touch of 40's classroom film aesthetic, this movie provides a field guide to his curious work and also unearths various other record breaking feats of Lee's past.

Portrait of a Mural Artist - Laura Gilmore
Bridgeport artist Laura Gilmore gives us a partial tour of her mural work here in Chicago and also shows us a recent work of hers that is being threatened. The center of this piece is a mural Laura completed this year in Blue Island. Laura provides the music for this piece.

The Pecker of Bridgeport


Mike Pocius grew up in Bridgeport along the banks of the the toxic "bubbly creek". As a child Mike was chastised by friends for taking photos of his surroundings. But as a teen he became known as the neighborhood photographer. In the 60s and 70s he photographed the more notorious neighborhood characters including, Frenchy, and Taco Johnny as well as others who eventually suffered the effects of alcohol abuse and drugs. Alongside these fragments of Bridgeport life are Mike's current collection of street photos.

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