Post-project Summary


Since its inception and winning of last year's Crusade for Art Engagement Grant, LDOC has received a variety of recognition in various forms, as well as flourished as a platform for artists and writers to publish work for an audience outside of their typical circles. We have printed and distributed twelve months of issues featuring twenty four different individuals who have also received opportunities as a result of LDOC, including representation contacts, additional features of their work, and collaboration opportunities. In addition to our print version of LDOC, we published each issue on the free digital publishing platform Issuu, which also received hundreds of views.

Our main goal when starting LDOC was to get photography and writing into the hands of Chicagoans who might not typically encounter either on their daily commute. This we feel we have overwhelmingly accomplished. With the help of our LDOC newspaper boxes, and the volunteership of our photographers and writers through person-to-person distribution, LDOC has made its way into new homes and unexpecting hands.

It has been a rewarding experience seeing the excited faces of commuters who have become regular readers of LDOC and hearing stories of success from our contributors. We look forward to the continued collaboration with artists and the evolution of LDOC as a publication and organization, and we are grateful to Crusade for Art for their financial support and confidence in the project.

-Danielle & Joseph Wilcox

 

Q & A with August Photographer, Lauren Zallo


Talk a little bit about the work, How to Hear Your Heartbeat, featured in your issue of LDOC

How to Hear Your Heartbeat is an ongoing photographic exercise in staying balanced. I find that I am often searching for evidence that nature still exists even when it is not present. In turn, this exploration helps me feel present in my everyday.

I find the act of collecting these images to be therapeutic and reassuring while living in and traveling through large cities. I am constantly reminding myself of my connection to nature and its importance.

This series was recently published as a photobook by Brown Owl Press (brownowlpress.com), and I will continue collecting these types of images whenever I am in a big city.

How do you go about choosing a subject to photograph?

I normally just go out and take pictures of whatever catches my eye with the idea that maybe I can use it for something later, or maybe it’ll fit into a series somewhere down the line. I have a pretty big archive that I pull images from for zines, that when put into context with other images, they create a sequence.

Who are some writers, artists, or books that you recommend?

Who are some of your favorite artists that are inspiring to you right now?

Lately I’ve been really inspired by light installations and sculpture, so artist like Robert Irwin, James Turrell and Andy Goldsworthy have been heavily influencing my process. Photographically, I’m always inspired by Robert Adams, John Gossage, and Raymond Meeks.

What’s next for you, projects you are working on or exhibitions coming up?

I have some ongoing projects and collaborations that I’ve been working on and thinking about. I am one third of an art collective with two friends called JKL Collective, and we have a project in the works and an exhibition / performance later this summer. I’ll also keep making zines here and there just to keep my hands busy


The first installment for August is now available at our dispenser locations (Belmont, 35th, 69th, & Hubbard Street Lofts). For more information about Lauren and her work: laurenzallo.com

 

Q & A with July Writer, Hannah McHugh


Talk a little bit about your work, "SPORTS SPORTS" in this month's LDOC.

SPORTS SPORTS, in its entirety, is everything I've written within the last few years. So this month's feature is about 2% of that. The whole thing actually started around the fall of 2014 with the intentions of being a 'poem,' or something. Then it sort of transformed into a 'collection' of 'poems.' Eventually, it just became a perpetually open / active, 100+ page Word Doc on my computer that I would continually feed (and still do.) It's a beast. I like to think that level of unwieldy neuroticism is still apparent, even in the small chunk featured in this month's LDOC.

Other than that, I'm not sure how to address the content, or if I should. It's almost self explanatory. It's just funny and sad #feels. It's been called "aggressively candid" and I can live with that. It's also been called "suspicious" and "clearly feminine" which I can't so easily live with. I think ultimately it's just about Sports, u kno?

How does living in Chicago affect your writing?

Idk where to start.

I'm originally from southeastern VA—Hampton Roads area—but I have family sprawled out all across the East Coast. I had never been this far west until moving here. Chicago is literally the place where I gained my independence. Probably due to that I felt urged to 'settle' here. I felt compelled to say, essentially, at 18-years-old, "This is it. I picked Chicago, so now I am here, and that is where I'll be forever." Which is / was silly, but it's been hard to realize that maybe there isn't much Chicago can do for me personally, and maybe there isn't much I feel that I can do for Chicago.

Don't get me wrong—I'm so grateful to have moved here, for the opportunity to study here, and of course for the incredible people I've met here… but I don't know if Chicago is my 'forever home' or whatever. I have one year left in school, and I'm not sure what my next move will be. I'm not sure if I will stay here post-grad anymore, and I still miss the East Coast a lot, and that's okay. And I think even before I was able to articulate that, it was all deeply apparent in the things I was making /+ writing. My work felt and looked and sounded so transient  /+ uncomfortable. It's probably a coming-of-age thing, but Chicago especially is a hell of a place to experience that.

Who are some writers, artists, or books that you recommend?

Anything by Maggie Nelson—Bluets and The Argonauts especially. CAConrad is also someone I've been revisiting—mostly his Ecodeviance / (Soma)tics for the Future Wilderness. Idk. I've been thinking a lot about Vibrant Matter by Jane Bennett as well... Yolo.

Where is your favorite place to go in the city?

I guess this isn't really a 'place' per say, but the El / the subway. I don't go out much anymore, but I remember when I first got to Chicago, I used to just ride the train for the sake of it. I would go out to O'hare—or up to Howard—walk around for a bit, and come back. I did a lot of writing that way. The transportation system here says a lot about Chicago as a city, and its history. It reminds me of its massiveness but also its corruption /+ segregation. It helped me learn a lot. I know even saying that is a luxury. 


The second installment for July is will be available until Sunday at our dispenser locations (Belmont, 35th, 69th, & Hubbard Street Lofts). For more information about Hannah and her work: hannahmchugh.com

 

Q & A with July Photographer, Megan Magill


Talk a little bit about the work, The Habit of Winning, featured in your issue of LDOC

In The Habit of Winning, I explore our cultures overwhelming preoccupation with winning as a goal in and of itself and the effects this has on our lives and relationships to one another. I explore these issues through appropriated imagery from the past because I want to see how we got here. I struggle with these issues and try to unearth them because they are significant issues in my own life. I strive on an almost daily basis to find a balance between my desire to win and my desire to connect to something that goes beyond winning in scope and in meaning. I question why we want to ‘win’ at life when in the end life has very little to do with winning. 

Do you have a favorite place to source images from (online, history archives, libraries?)

I have been sourcing a lot from college yearbooks…Northwestern in the 50’s has provided A LOT of great material. I also source snapshots and images from old magazines (LIFE etc..)

Who are some of your favorite artists that are inspiring to you right now?

I recently saw the work of Guanyu Xu on Lenscratch and saw that you also featured him…From One Land to Another is a fantastic series…loved the humor and directness in it. I am also looking hard at Sigmar Polke, TR Ericsson, Rauschenberg…I am constantly looking at Artsy so this list could get long.

What’s next for you, projects you are working on or exhibitions coming up?

I am preparing for my thesis show in November at Pascal Hall in Rockport, Maine. I will be showing work from my project My Business is Circumference. I started screenprinting some of the work earlier this year and am hoping to get set up in my studio in Maine next month so that I can continue experimenting. 


The first installment for July is now available at our dispenser locations (Belmont, 35th, 69th, & Hubbard Street Lofts). For more information about Megan and her work: megan-magill.com/

 

Q & A with June Photogarpher, Guanyu Xu


Talk a little bit about the work, One Land To Another, featured in your issue of LDOC

One Land To Another is my on-going photography project, which uses personal narratives to unfold my complex experiences of being a Chinese gay man living in the US.

I was born and raised in a conservative family in Beijing. The prevailing cultural norms necessitated that my sexuality remain hidden. It was not until my arrival to the the United States in the spring of 2014 that I finally had the courage to reveal this secret. The suppression of my identity and the frequent viewing of American films planted an ‘American dream’ in my head during my teenage years. However, I have now come to realize that this perception is not entirely accurate. Due to the history of anti-Chinese sentiments, problematic stereotypes of Asians and the dominance of white, macho gay men, I have become an “undesirable alien” in this “land of freedom”.  

I weave landscapes of the US, self-portraits of my staged “death”, and my performative portraits with other gay men to interrogate my personal struggle of being both homosexual and homophobic, the stereotyping and discrimination towards Asians in the gay community, the underrepresentation of Asian gay men both as a photographic subject and in mainstream media, and the misrepresentation of America as a utopian land.

Thus, I offer my queerness, displacement, anxiety and longing for a utopia to destabilize the traditional norms in terms of race, sexuality, and ideology.

Who are some of your favorite artists that are inspiring to you right now?

Robert Clarke-Davis, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Matt Morris, Heidi Norton, Claire Pentecost, Dawit L. Petros, Oli Rodriguez, Jan Tichy, and Oliver Sann.

Has living in Chicago changed the way that you make work?

Yes, definitely. I didn’t start my artistic practice until I came to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Because of these two and half years of training in the school with amazing faculties and students, I become who I am now. 

What’s next for you, projects you are working on or exhibitions coming up?

I am still working on this project and I have another two on-going projects. One is a three stages project called Movement: Trace, Loop, and Continuum. It focuses on the issue of migration and the problem of xenophobia by presenting three different stories of migration. The other is a sculpture and installation project, Constructing Utopias. It deals with the ideology behind landscapes represented in mainstream American cinema.

I have three group shows coming up in July, Photograph Is Magic in the Aperture Foundation, Griffin Museum of Photography’s 22nd Juried Show, and the Houston Center for Photography’s 34th Annual Juried Membership Exhibition.


The second installment for June is now available at our dispenser locations (Belmont, 35th, 69th, & Hubbard Street Lofts). For more information about Guanyu and his work: xuguanyu.com

 

Q & A with June Writer, Kirsten Aguilar


Talk a little bit about your work, "Photographs", in this month's LDOC.

"Photographs" grew out of a patchwork of vivid images that stayed with me after I came back from four months in Cameroon. It is loosely based on my own experience there - the family I lived with employed a guard who was one of the first people I felt comfortable with in Yaoundé. About a month into my stay, he ran away with a large amount of stolen valuables from my host family. His sudden exit from my life left me thinking about loyalty, especially the small ways in which loyalty manifests. The story is about a quiet friendship - one that grows subtly but fully and in writing it, I was able to dwell in those distilled moments of friendship. 

How does living in Chicago affect your writing?

Living in Chicago gives my writing seasons. There is a tangible difference between what I produce in the winter when it's painfully cold and writing is like trying to coax an unwilling thing from its corner and what I produce in the summer when my writing is eager but naive and often flighty. This is good for the editing process I think, because it gives me eyes that see differently in a relatively short amount of time. 

Who are some writers, artists, or books that you recommend?

One of my favorite books is Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut. I read it for the first time last year and that passage about watching a war backwards has stuck in my brain ever since. I recommend Chimamanda Adichie's short story collection "The Thing Around Your Neck" and George Saunders' "The Tenth of December". Also, "Five Little Fiends" by Sarah Dyer - it's a children's book about these five strange creatures who each want to hoard a piece of the universe for themselves.   

Where is your favorite place to go in the city?

My favorite place to go in the city is the lakefront. Very cliche, I know, but I love the expanse of water and how it makes me feel unhurried and like my life is stretching out ahead of me. 

 


June's first installment is available at our dispenser locations (Belmont, 35th, 69th, Hubbard Street Lofts). For more information about Kirsten and her writing: kirstenaguilar.com/

 

Q & A with May Photographer, Philip Dembinski


Talk a little bit about the work, Meditations on Time, featured in your issue of LDOC

Meditations on Time is a new collection of work that will continue to progress.  Natalie Unger and I had talked about picking a loose theme to both make new work around and present a joint submission to LDOC.  We decided on the notion of time, and each made new work without sharing.  When we had accumulated enough work for a small series, we then helped each other edit down to an appropriate selection.  I thought about different ways we think about time and how certain visual elements can convey a quiet moment or a never ending void.  A missing lamp in a circle of lights made me think about how we read analogue clocks.  A picture of a penitentiary providing a play on the saying 'doing time'. Though all pictures represent a static moment, these photographs aim to represent how time feels. 

Who are some of your favorite artists that are inspiring to you right now?

I recently acquired this awesome print from local Chicago illustrator Gage Lindsten that I'm in love with.  His work features trippy, simple and saturated fantasy drawings that I can't stop looking at.  Check his page at http://lemonstarlight.tictail.com/.  A long time inspiration to me thinking about the world is the literature of Haruki Murakami.  His way of describing a scene or situation always brings forward very vivid visual imaginations.  

You make a lot with people, do you have a specific strategy when making a portrait?

I often like to include people in my photographs as a way to tell the story within the scene.  Maybe less conventional portraits, I like to observe what is happening and present it as such.  Lately I have been making more tightly cropped intentional portraits.  My directing is usually very minimal, and I find that just having a conversation about something simple can provide a good opportunity for a photograph.  

What’s next for you, projects you are working on or exhibitions coming up?

I'm preparing to teach a course on time lapse photography this summer at the Marwen foundation, which is an after - school arts education center here in Chicago.  I used to have an old super 8 camera where I'd go out and manually record a scene frame by frame for an hour or so.  This class will involve digital cameras and timers, and the excitement of planning a location, subject, and type of movement to record will hopefully be shared by my high school students.  Right after that session is finished, I'll be documenting my adventure bicycling across the state of Iowa as part of the annual RAGBRAI group ride.


May's second installment is available all this week at our dispenser locations (Howard, Belmont, 35th, 69th). For more information about Philip and his photography: philipdembinski.com

 

Q & A with May Writer, Natalie Unger


Talk a little bit about your work, Childhood, in this month's LDOC.

The four pieces featured in this month's LDOC are part of a larger collection of poems I am working on called Childhood. In this collection there are three perceivably drastic differences among the pieces: Some are reminiscent of vivid childhood memories, some are bleak explorations of adult and industrial life, and others touch on the anxiety I believe we all experience when confronting the passage of time. However, what I hope shines through in each poem is the notion that reconnecting to our childhood and the pieces of our childlike nature that were left behind -- and further eradicated by the pressures and rigidity of our productivity-obsessed society -- we can achieve peace, authenticity and free will. For me, poetry is a medium of exploration into my own childhood and my truest spirit, as well as a channel for me to express and understand my frustration with our culture. 

How does living in Chicago affect your writing?

Living in Chicago has in many ways made me into a writer. I remember walking through the Pedway downtown one evening on my way home from my corporate job. It was a freezing cold day and the tunnel was crowded with rushed commuters and homeless people. I looked at my reflection in the window of an oddly located retail shop and saw in myself a deep sadness, a feeling of loss and an overwhelming heaviness that was exacerbated by my environment, my work and the repetition of each day. That moment was a transformation for me, because from that point on I began an exploration into my own values and definition of meaning. My perception of office life and what feel like hollow careers, the aesthetic of the city and the dynamic, beautiful people who have made life tolerable have all deeply influenced me and given me the tools to transcribe my vision of the world onto paper. More importantly, living here has taught me to feel a tremendous amount of empathy, which is a key source of inspiration for all of my work. 

Who are some writers, artists, or books that you recommend?

I think everyone needs to read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. It is a timeless book about the search for one's self that can be re-read many times throughout anyone's life. A book of poems I love is The Waste Land by T.S. Elliot. I also love Pablo Neruda, Sylvia Plath, Marie Howe, and Sommer Browning. Finally, Richard Brautigan has been a huge inspiration to me. His poetry that touches on American culture was so far ahead of its time and I think his writing is beautiful.

Where is your favorite place to go in the city?

My favorite place to go in the city is Quimby's. Being there reminds me that I am part of such a wonderful, inspired community of artists in Chicago. It also regularly causes me to cry or have an existential crisis in public. Besides, my favorite way to spend my money is on eating, drinking, traveling and supporting other people's work. 


May's second installment comes out this Monday, May 16. For more information about Natalie and her writing: five-minute-poems.tumblr.com

 

Q & A with March Photographer, Rachel Jump


1. Tell us a little about the work featured in your issue of LDOC

This body of work, titled, Origins, addresses ideas surrounding domesticity and belonging. My family and I spent our entire lives in perpetual motion- my father’s job in advertising lead us to have a rather migratory lifestyle. I never truly felt grounded anywhere, and I always felt like my mind and heart were separated from my body and home. A house is meant to symbolize this space of rest, and my photographs suggest a desperate search to find this sanctuary. However, this project made me question if settling in a single space is truly emblematic of happiness. Through my research, I discovered this terminology, “divine discontent,” which describes an individual who is on an endless and futile quest for satisfaction. I think the constant sense of dislocation I feel has transformed my identity: I’m constantly yearning for things outside of myself and my immediate proximity.

I was attending this Mark Sealy lecture at the Museum of Contemporary Photography (MoCP), and posed a question still I can’t excise from my core:

“Why can I not be unhinged by the identity I already have?”

2. Who are some of your favorite artists working in Chicago right now?

I attended a conference for the Society for Photography Education (SPE), and had the privilege to see Leonard Suryajaya speak about his work. It was one of the most transformative lectures I've ever witnessed. He addresses the complicated stigmas surrounding sexual and racial identity in American and Indonesian cultures with humor, beauty, and unwavering sincerity. He spoke about “longing for a place to celebrate the complexity of my selfhood” and “for a place where the specificity of my selfhood is celebrated among everyone else.” His photography has such a different sensibility from my own, but he yearns for one unobtainable desire: to belong. That is something I, too, hope for every moment of my day.

3. What is one of your more memorable experiences making a photograph?

Over the last few months, my mother endured countless invasive and painful procedures after a doctor discovered multiple cysts during a mammogram. One morning, my mother complained of a deep ache emanating from her breasts. She was visiting a physician later that day, and wanted me to help her indicate the origin of her pain. Tenderly holding a black pen in one hand, and holding her shirt with the other, she laid a delicate trail of marks across her chest. The dark spots constellated across her skin, unveiling the cosmos within her cysts.
 
She showed me her pain, and I saw the stars.
 
Later that evening, I delicately felt my own chest, wondering if her universe was hiding itself within my dormant flesh.

This is the photograph I dream about the most, but I have not yet made.

4. What’s next for you, projects you are working on or exhibitions coming up?

I recently started working with Filter Photo, a non-profit gallery and festival organization that promote photographic artists. I was given the opportunity to be the Social Media Coordinator, which allows me to immerse myself within the practices of countless photographers in the Chicago area. I am truly looking forward to this all-encompassing creative network, and spreading the mission of this organization. I'm continuing my work with Aint-Bad Magazine, and we hope to initiate a stronger presence in Chicago and the Midwest with our upcoming issue. 

Otherwise, I plan on making new work. I feel like I’ve been on a creative hiatus, and I am yearning to return to the world of making. My partner and I have briefly spoken about creating some collaborative work- an idea which I am totally enamored by. 


For more information about Rachel and her work: www.racheljump.net

 

Q & A with March Writer, Jennifer B. Larson


1) Talk a little bit about your work in this month's LDOC.

The work featured in this month’s issue of LDOC is from a short chapbook I wrote called “Rituals,” about human existence relating to the patterns in the cosmos, how we transcend our own physical forms, and how everyday occurrences represent symbols and messages from another place.

I hand-make individual copies of it for people who order it directly from me. The chapbook is seven poems (only one that is not in this month’s) and is meant to be the first in a three-part series. This first part is about the macro, it’s big and vague, while the other two explore more of the micro.

I began writing many of these poems many years ago, around 2007 or 2008. They’ve taken many shapes-- physically on the paper, with line breaks and use of space, as well as the actual content. I’m still working on the other two parts.

I’m looking for a publisher for the series, but in true writer form, I’m not too good at that aspect of the writing process. I’ve really been focusing on my work and hope to figure out all that business stuff at some point along the way.

2) How does living in Chicago affect your writing?

One of the main reasons I moved to Chicago is because a lot of my favorite artists--writers and musicians-- are from here. Two of my favorite authors when I was 18, Stuart Dybek and Sandra Cisneros, grew up here and wrote about their childhoods. I was on a kick of writing about my own childhood and I wanted to get in on that. Another big inspiration was a high school teacher of mine who gave me a copy of “Spring Comes to Chicago” by Campbell McGrath. It’s a wonderful book and it sort of sealed the deal for me.  

Chicago has a rhythm to it. It’s a musical city, and I felt that immediately. Stuart Dybek writes to jazz music and Sandra Cisneros is a bilingual writer whose prose is vibrant and romantic. The city radiates rhythm and melody everywhere you go. I have another book (long poem)  I wrote about this. I’m still working on it, too.  

3) Who are some writers, artists, or books that you recommend?

I run a web zine www.disappearingmedia.com (which will eventually become a physical magazine) where I feature artists-- writers, cartoonists, musicians, curators and more, whose work inspires me. If you want to know what my brain has been focused on mostly in the last few years or what I recommend, this is a really good start. For the last four or five years, I’ve tended to be most inspired by artists and people I know in real life more so than artists and people from other time periods or places. I definitely go through phases, but this is where I am currently. The book I would say that has inspired me the most is by a good friend of mine, Erica Walker Adams. Her book “The Mutation of Fortune” was published by Green Lantern Press, a Chicago publisher.  

4) Where is your favorite place to go in the city?

I love walking around, but when I need to settle down or relax, the beach in Roger’s Park or the lake in Humboldt Park.

Jennifer B. Larson ​is a musician, writer, visual artist, and sound engineer who teaches special education in Chicago Public Schools. She holds a BA in creative writing from Loyola University. She also runs a webzine called Disappearing Media where you can find copies of her chapbook Rituals, as well as work from many other talented artists.

www.disappearingmedia.com

 

Q & A with February Artist, John Steck Jr.


The second installment of this month's LDOC is out today! Check it out via issuu, pick up a copy at one of our newspaper dispensers this week, or come find us at the Lake St. Red Line stop today from 5-7PM.

Steck has produced a series of Disappearing Photographs made from found negatives in Chicago resale shops, specifically to coincide with his LDOC issue. Please head over to here page to purchase prints.

Also, a selection of Steck’s Disappearing Photographs will be on display at the MoCP at 40 exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Photography (600 S Michigan Ave) until April 20, 2016.

Here is his Q&A:

Tell us about the work featured in your issue of LDOC

This series of work was basically a failed attempt to erase memory.

It is fascinating to me how the meaning of an image can change over time. This was something I had noticed when looking through my own archive of images. Images that had once contained such a meaningful or positive memory for me had turned into something quite less. A lot of these images related to moments of loss, nostalgia, fondness and love.

Being that the memories in these images are changing as I am as a human being, I thought it would be interesting to also witness the physical photograph change alongside me. It was my hopes in the beginning to see if these images would leave my memories permanently. But having worked with this imagery and slowly watching them disappear, I have found that the images themselves still remain imbedded inside me, yet the meanings behind these photographs have become lost, and at times, desensitized.

As an artist who works with handmade books and zines, how do you feel a photo book is different than seeing work on gallery walls?

Funny enough, this series of disappearing photographs started out as a book project. This was the first time I ever attempted to make a book out of work I had not even created yet, being that most of the books and zines I make are usually to wrap up a project or to witness it in a new context. Taking this backwards attempt was quite challenging, but it still withheld to the same principles I like to follow in that the book should always be an extension of the project. There are too many photo books that exist for the sake of being just a photo book, and I’ve always had this goal to break out of that mode of though. A photo book should be a new look at a project, but while withholding the key elements of the original work.

A photo book will always be different that what we see on a gallery wall because of how intimate the experience is to flip though a book. Unfortunately, I think that is one thing that a gallery exhibition cannot always offer. Working in photo books for the past seven years has definitely helped me to think more sculpturally about my photographs, and how to better enhance how a viewer might experience my work.

Who are some of your favorite artists working in Chicago right now?

Julie Weber and Doug Fogelson are two of my favorite Chicago artists working within the medium of photography, who handle their materials to create compelling work.

What’s next for you, projects you are working on or exhibitions coming up?

I currently have a selection of disappearing photographs on display at the Museum of Contemporary Photography, as part of their MoCP at 40 exhibition. In August, I will be the Artist in Resident at Latitude in Chicago, where I will be completing a book project for my series Pictures of You. This series, featured in the second installment of LDOC, are disappearing photographs of me and my mother together. I will also be exhibiting in June as part of a three-person exhibition with Hatch Projects, where I am a current resident. The work I will be exhibiting is still in progress, but will focus on photographic images being created throughout the exhibition, as opposed to disappearing like my current work.

John Steck Jr. is a visual artist from Chicago who received his BFA at the Massachusetts College of Art & Design and his MFA at the San Francisco Art Institute. He has exhibited across fifteen states as well as in Iceland, Hungary and Tokyo. Steck has completed artist residencies in both Ireland and Iceland and was also a finalist for the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 Fulbright Fellowship. His book Fragments, Volume One was selected as Best Books of 2010 on photoeye.com. Recent publications include Romka Magazine, Aint Bad Magazine, The Ephemeral, The Hand Magazine and Incandescent. He is a current Artist in Resident at HATCH Projects in Chicago and a current Adjunct Faculty at Waubonsee Community College.

www.johnsteckjr.com

 

Q & A with February’s writer and artist, Pablo Vindel


We’re happy to let you know that all of our past issues are now available online for free via issuu, which can also be accessed via our archive. After you read Pablo Vindel’s FLAM(E), take a look at his q & a below. We’re happy to have him as our featured writer for February.

1) Talk a little bit about FLAM(E).

FLAM(E) draws inspiration from many places and times—somewhat imagined or dreamed of—they all have a common element: the idea of ever traveling. The summer I wrote the 5 episodes was the same I traveled to New York for the first time with new eyes. It also was the summer I visited the South of India. Bodies pervaded these places, needless to say in unrelated ways. New York became scenery where there was neither boundary, nor transit between life and death: muted, both seemed insignificant. India, on the other hand, was cluttered with bodies seeking for all sorts of life. Death didn’t seem to be much feared. This is the flam.

Most probably, everything comes from and becomes the same space and time, one of fear and uprising. I had to write a paper after a study trip with my school and I felt very torn about it; academia, alien theories, and disconnected, overpowering knowledge. In less than a week I wrote five flares about how angry this made me and how deliriously I wanted to sink in the waters, or burn myself, or smash some grapefruits against the floor. I had a wild flame inside me that I desperately needed to put out there.

2) How does living in Chicago affect your writing?

Chicago has broadly changed my perspective on life so far. I moved here one year and a few months ago, straight from an extensively devastated country, Spain. My life in Chicago is that of a graduate student and a part-time teaching assistant, so I haven’t really spent much time writing as creative outlet. Nevertheless, I have always written my thoughts down through the use of notes, emailing my psychoanalyst back and forth, and getting ready for stressful situations such as interviews or first encounters with someone or something. Writing always represented anticipation. However, since I landed here, writing has transformed in this handy tool for isolation. Sometimes, it might be the sense of a nearness of violence what pulls the trigger. Often, I believe, it is a hard headed refusal to accept the flaccid version of the world that is usually handed to us.

3) Who are some writers or books that you highly recommend?

I would highly recommend The Forbidden Pleasures: New Selected Poems (1924-1949) by Luis Cernuda. I recently acquired a copy of this wonderful work of translation by Stephen Kessler, for which it must also be said it is a wickedly delicate and gut-wrecking cultural document.

4) Where is your favorite place to go in the city?

I enjoyed Garfield Park Conservatory very much when I recently went with this unfurling man I am dating. It probably was being with him what made it more interesting anyways. When I am on my own I like walking by the lake, especially in the winter. The humid cold that gets embedded in marrow assaults me with the sensation of being foreign somewhere else.

I wanted to say a special, from-the-bottom-of-my-heart thank you to gifted Janet Desaulniers, for her open generosity, rewarding friendship and brightest editing.


Pablo Vindel is a Spanish visual artist and experimental writer, who explores issues of somatic and emotional permeability, remembrance, and loss. He holds a BFA from The Polytechnic University of Valencia and has lived and studied internationally at The San Francisco Art Institute and the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris. He is currently pursuing his MFA in Fiber and Material Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Fond of traveling, he has completed artists’ residencies in India, Turkey, Spain and the States.

 

 

Q & A with LDOC's January writer, Alex Jaros


Part I of the short story “Southwest Chief,” which comes from writer Alex Jaros, is out today. Grab an issue from one of our LDOC boxes or from a volunteer at the downtown Red Line Lake stop today, and take a minute to read more about this month’s featured writer.

What's a great book you've recently finished or started?
The holiday season always bring new books. This year I received The Fly Trap by Fredrik Sjöberg, an odd book that’s half a history of entomology and half musings on a life studying hoverflies. The book came from a friend by way of a recommendation from Ed Devereux, owner of Unabridged Bookstore. I’m about halfway through, and while I wouldn’t yet say ‘great’, I would say I’ve enjoyed the amusing insights Sjoberg provides about capturing these tiny insects, living on an island, and the benefits of self-imposed limitations—an odd concept in a world obsessed with consumption, he writes, “…and the days are so packed with impressions and clamorous information that I am forced to limit myself so as not to lose sight of something I am forever seeking.” Sound advice.

Where is your favorite place to go to in the city?
Wind, rain, snow, or sun, I always loved being on the streets of Chicago, riding my bicycle. The city, a pavement-rich flatland, is perfect for two wheels, a chain and a couple cogs. It can be hectic, but there’s a zen state to be found out there among the pedestrians, cars, buses and curbs. It’s meditative. I felt the most at home in Chicago between two destinations.

What is one book or story every Chicagoan should read?
It’s hard not to go with Stuart Dybek’s “Hot Ice,” from The Coast of Chicago.The story feels like the quintessential Chicago experience—the way it might feel to grow up, as the boys of “Hot Ice” do, surrounded by the myths of a city in constant motion. But then again, Chicago can be a little self-obsessed, so maybe this would just perpetuate Chicago’s own interest in itself. (Not that it doesn’t deserve to be written about.) I might then pick something totally un-Chicago for all Chicagoans to read—just so they can remember there are other places, other experiences hugely different from the City by the Lake. Italo Calvino’s “The Baron in the Trees” comes to mind—among many other things, it reminds us that trees are worth having.

What made you want to be a part of LDOC?
LDOC is a publication I really believe in. It provides free art for Chicagoans—which in itself isn’t new—but LDOC manages to do this in a way that’s thoughtful, discerning, and supportive of contributors. The publication puts art into print and in the hands of commuters, who rely more and more on screens to get from place to place. The issues are serialized as well, which builds on a literary tradition mostly abandoned—one that asks a reader to wait, and to dedicate themselves to a story.


Alex Jaros received his MFA from Columbia College Chicago where he was a recipient of the Follett Fellowship. He earned his BA in English from the University of Missouri in 2011. His work can be found in Goreyesque, Epic, and among varied zines littered across the Midwest.

 

 

Introducing the LDOC Box

A new year means new changes here at LDOC, and we are excited to let you know about a few big changes.

In order to maintain the publication’s DIY principles while broadening our Chicago audience, we’ve refurbished and dispersed newspaper boxes at the following Red Line stops: Howard, Belmont, 35th, and 69th. In the boxes you’ll find the most recent (and free!) issue of LDOC, as well as the previous month’s issue. Many thanks to Marjorie in Ann Arbor for the newspaper boxes (and crabapple jelly!) and the Chicago Public Library’s Maker Lab for all its vinyl cutting technology.

In addition, we’ll soon be adding past issues to our website via a free digital publishing platform called Issuu. Check back soon for those, as you’ll be able to access every photo and story ever printed in LDOC.

Happy new year, Chicago!

 

Q & A with Rita Koehler


This month's issue of LDOC features photographer Rita Koehler. Koehler completed her MFA at Lesley University College of Art and Design (formerly the Art Institute of Boston). Her work is multi-disciplinary addressing the world of mass media and political hegemony through the psychological and theological worlds of inquiry. Koehler situates herself as artist in the debate of what constitutes an intelligible life-one that is speakable, has meaning, and is valued-by focusing on an ethics of non-violent representation. You can see more of her work at www.ritakoehler.com

Tell us a little bit about the photographs featured in your issue of LDOC.
The photographs featured in this month’s issues of LDOC are from the body of work, titled Xenia. Xenia is made in response to my experience of growing up Catholic with Women Religious as my teachers, surrogate mothers, and mentors. The photographs represent the aging sisters and the changing nature of ministry in the contemporary world. The portraits, interior stills, and the image of the egg (one panel of a triptych) reference the charisms of several religious congregations. There’s a particular hospitality, freedom, and respect for the stranger’s autonomy. The cracked open egg in the foreground, a Christian symbol of the resurrection and new life, accentuates this experience. The generosity and sobriety of these women and their ministry welcomes the stranger to the table, and offers a sense of mutuality and reciprocity of humility.

What do you think makes Chicago different than other cities?
From my perspective, Chicago offers a great deal of public art and public engagement of art. LDOC is a perfect example of this. Home to numerous leading contemporary art galleries and the international Expo Chicago (the International Exposition of Contemporary & Modern Art), Chicago is poised to reach any number of audiences and populations by countless methods and mediums. The public engagement of art seems to be of great significance to the cultural identity of this city and has throughout its history.

Who are some of your favorite artists working in Chicago right now?
Interestingly, two of the artists whose work interests me are from Mexico, and both are interested in the interplay of folk forms and faith. The first, Ivan Lozano, looks toward religious art, iconography, and rituals to inform his method and to understand a spiritual void in contemporary culture through modern technology. The second, Dulce Diaz, is both a visual artist and founder of the mobile gallery, S.H.E Gallery. She also is influenced by culture and faith and follows the organic forms of street making art such as graffiti art for its history and cultural expression within its community.

What’s next for you, projects you are working on or exhibitions coming up?
I’ll be exhibiting work in the exhibition mu·li·eb·ri·ty memoriesopening March 6, 2016 at Hyde Park Art Center. Also, I am working towards a solo show at The Art House featuring new work from the documentary, Xenia.

 

Q & A with Amy Giacalone


LDOC is lucky to feature Amy Giacalone in our December issues. I asked her a few questions about writing and Chicago in preparation for the release of her story, "Submission," which comes out today.

What's a great book you've recently finished or started?
I'm working my way through Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan Series. After I finished My Brilliant Friend, I was so tense about the ending that I waited the next morning outside the bookstore so I could be there when they opened to buy the next one. I'm halfway through the third right now; they continue to be great.

What projects are you currently working on?
I'm just finishing up a novel called I Open My Eyes And I Start. I'm working on a third draft. Finishing a big project is so weird-- I feel like I'm at square one again. At square one, I'm looking at my other material so see if I can build it into a collection, or build a new novel out of it. It's fun to have that kind of mental freedom again.

You've lived in Chicago a long time. Does it reflect in your work?
Absolutely! I think that one of the most interesting things about Chicago is that the people and the atmosphere and the weather are all very to-the-point. You get where you're going. There's nowhere to pull over. I think that shows in my writing-- I tend to write very directly. I don't like scenes that don't get anything done. I try to get two or three things done at a time if I can. This can be a real problem sometimes, because I need to remember that stories meander, people meander, and there isn't always a bottom line. On the plus side, I end up with really active stories where things happen, which I enjoy as both a reader and a writer, and it's very natural to me.

Where is your favorite place to go to in the city?
On an El platform, at night, if you stand over the part of the platform that crosses the street below, you can see down the street for blocks and it's all lit up with cars and stores and street lights. It's really beautiful.

Amy Giacalone is a fiction writer and playwright living in Chicago. She is an MFA candidate at Columbia College. Her play “Better” was staged by Bartleby Productions in 2012. You can read her work in Hair Trigger 36, 37, Bird’s Thumb, Goreyesque and Ghostly: An Anthology of Ghost Stories compiled by Audrey Niffenegger.

 

Q & A with Sahar Mustafah


A child of Palestinian immigrants in Chicago, Sahar Mustafah is very honored to be a contributor to LDOC which helps in her mission to bring stories of “others,” Arab and Muslim Americans, to her hometown audience. Her short story “Code of the West” is a finalist for the 2015 American Fiction Prize and will be published by New Rivers Press. Her work has also appeared in Story, Great Lakes Review, Word Riot, and Chicago Literati. She teaches at Homewood-Flossmoor High School in south suburban Illinois and she’s co-founder and fiction editor of Bird’s Thumb. You can visit her at www.saharmustafah.com.

LDOC is grateful to feature Sahar’s writing in our November issues. Below are a few questions I asked the writer to get a better sense of her craft and her role in Chicago’s literary community.

How has living in Chicago affected your work and process?
It's been instrumental in finding audience and a supportive community of fellow writers. I write largely about the suburbs of Chicago, yet the city itself tends to be the backdrop for characters' escape or fulfillment.

What is one book or story every Chicagoan should read?
I enthusiastically recommend Megan Stielstra's "Once I Was Cool," a collection of essays that are in and around Chicago and about the experiences of singlehood, parenthood, writing, and just being human.

What projects are you currently working on?
I'm working on a novel that follows three young Muslim Americans that culminates in a hate crime shooting.

What made you want to be a part of LDOC?
As a co-editor of a non-profit journal, I hope to support other initiatives to spread words and art for free. It's a way to sustain and nurture our literary ecosystem. As a writer, it gives me an opportunity to reach beyond my typical audience of readers. Chicagoans braving the daily commute is a new audience; I'm excited that my story will be mainstreamed to my native hometown.

Look for Sahar’s story, “Soccer Moms” in two installments of LDOC this month. Enjoy.

Danielle

 

Project Launch and First Issue Debut

This week LDOC sees the light of day, or, the light of Chicago’s Red Line.

Last Saturday we launched with a celebration among friends, colleagues, photographers and writers in Chicago’s own CHI PRC. We had a blast, drank custom-made Red Line Rye-PA, listened to the words of our featured writers, and previewed photography from issues to come.


Eric Hazen reading from Issue 01.01


Left to Right: Sahar Mustafah, Danielle Wilcox,
Eric Hazen, Joseph Wilcox, Amy Giacalone

Thank you all who came out and supported LDOC! We feel lucky to have garnered such a large network over the last three years. Check back here for future events pertaining to the publication.

Monday the 5th marked the first distribution of LDOC, featuring artist Nathan Pearce and writer Eric Hazen.

Joe and I started at the Red Line’s 69th St. station on Chicago’s south side at 7am. There’s nothing like handing out something, for the first time, to a stranger. Luckily after two issues were delivered to hands, the job was a breeze.


Joseph at 69th St. Red Line Stop

All of our volunteers were warmly received at their locations and look forward to next Monday when we’ll distribute the second installment of October’s artist and writer.

Last, missed an LDOC? We’ll be publishing a list of coffee shops near the Red Line stops where you can pick up an LDOC if you miss a distribution, and, as always, subscriptions are available for purchase here.  

Danielle

 

You'll Be Seeing Us Soon

It's almost time to look for LDOC on the train! Our first issue will be distributed Monday, October 5th at various Red Line locations. Check out our about page to find out where you can grab an issue.

We're inviting you to join us this weekend for our launch, held at the CHI PRC in Chicago's West Town. The event is from 5-9pm, and there will be a short reading beginning at 6:30 from our first three writing contributors. Of course admission is free, so come out and take part in Chicago's photography and writing community.

Also available at the launch party will be the first issue of LDOC, hot off the presses.

Subscriptions to the publication and prints from featured photographers will be available for purchase.

In other news, our submissions page is now live. If you feel your work would do well in LDOC, please consider submitting. We seek to feature a new Chicago artist and writer every month, so make sure to show us your work while we're still searching.

Last, if you're interested in a subscription to LDOC or a print from one of our featured photographers, check out our buy page.

We look forward to seeing you at the launch, for being overloaded with submissions, and for seeing how big this project gets. Check back soon for more updates!

Danielle

 

Hi, Chicago

We’re so happy to be here. We’ve put a lot of thought and time into how to get art and writing to you in an easy, free way, and we think we’ve found the perfect answer: LDOC

Here are some questions and answers about the project:

  1. Who is LDOC? Right now the publication consists of me, Danielle, and my husband Joe. He’s an artist, I’m a writer. We live in Pilsen with our cat, Jack.

  2. What does the name mean? L as in the L in Chicago (elevated train track), and doc as in a document. The period “attaches” it to your day.

  3. Where did this idea come from? I love newsprint as a medium for text, Joe loves photography. We’ve been talking about using newsprint in a project for awhile. The medium fit with the idea of combining contemporary photography with creative writing to create an easy to access and read publication. It’s also important to us that it’s free, at least for now. We want anyone in the city to be able to pick one up. Thanks to the Crusade Engagement Grant, we are currently producing the first batch of issues to be printed and distributed in October. Thank you Crusade for Art!

  4. Where can I get LDOC? A few places. Every first and third Monday of the month, you can get it for free from a distributor at the following Red Line stops: Loyola Ave, Belmont Ave, Lake St, 69th St, and 95th St. If you miss an issue, you can purchase one on our website. If you don’t live in Chicago or don’t make it to the Red Line often, you can also purchase a subscription.

  5. When does the first issue come out? The first issue will be distributed on Monday, October 5th.

  6. Who contributes to LDOC? Check out our archive to find the biographies and contact information for artists and writers featured in the publication.

  7. How can I submit my own photography or writing to be considered? If you have engaging work that you feel would fit LDOC, check out the submission page.

Have other questions? Send them to ldoc@l-doc.org.

We’ll be featuring a preview of the first few issues here, so check back every now and then.

Until then, happy summer!

Danielle