Alicia Chester is a Chicago-based artist, writer, and curator. She works with photography, film, and video and is interested in building creative communities through collaboration. Her work has been exhibited at the Jean Paul Slusser Gallery, University of Michigan (Ann Arbor); Paragraph Gallery (Kansas City); and the Koehnline Museum of Art (Des Plaines); and she is a participating artist in Industry of the Ordinary’s portraiture project for their mid-career survey at the Chicago Cultural Center, Sic Transit Gloria Mundi (August 17, 2012–February 17, 2013). Recently she co-curated Quarterly Site #11: Line-of-Site at Western Exhibitions and Peripheral Views: States of America at the Museum of Contemporary Photography, where she was the Collections Research Fellow from 2011 to 2012. Alicia is a coeditor and contributing author for Theorizing Visual Studies: Writing Through the Discipline (Routledge, December 2012). She completed a Master of Arts in visual and critical studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2010) and teaches photography at Oakton Community College. Alicia attended ACRE residency this summer.
Vito Acconci’s canonical early video work uses performance to engage hierarchical power struggles, sexuality, violence, control, and resistance. Every Acconci in the Video Data Bank is a collaboration of Alicia Chester and Andrea Slavik to remake every Acconci video in the Video Data Bank, but with women and a HDSLR camera: these seem to be simple enough parameters to explore the intersections of performance and video and to ask, what would it mean to change the gender dynamic and remake Acconci’s work forty years later? The remake is not necessarily an homage to the original artist but rather can provide a predetermined yet flexible script as “a gauge for measuring the historical shifts of meaning that have taken place” (David Clark, “The Ghost of an Exquisite Corpse”). The videos mostly feature women artists based in Chicago whose work resonates with the specific videos we were remaking. These artists become performers and collaborators in each piece, leaving tangible traces of their own work and personalities. The result is a visible network of diverse and incredibly talented artists based in Chicago and a call and response form of conversation among our work created within the videos themselves. We are not the first to remake Acconci’s videos, even with women performers. But we are willing to reinterpret Acconci’s work in a post-second wave, post-9/11, post-Obama, post-YouTube and Facebook, post-Occupy Wall Street world and find what historical distance emerges.