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Mix Tape Blurb
NewCity Chicago


Michael Workman

Tale of the tape

"In this exhibition, one thing I wanted was for people to think about how in the seventies, when cassette tapes were first coming out, the industry had this reaction that mix tapes were going to kill music," says Terrence Hannum, curator of the show "Mix Tape," open this week at Gallery 400 at the University of Illinois at Chicago. "I'm hoping that people can put this in perspective. You have this kind of thing where democracy enters in and then the industry comes out with all this stuff that plays on our fears and tries to quell that." If there's a message in this show, it's the kind of song collections that we've all made in a bid to express heartfelt emotions or express our tastes. Inviting thirteen artists, Hannum approached two companies here in Chicago, Teletech and The Tape Company, for donations of some 2,000 cassette tapes. A thousand were used to duplicate artist's submissions for visitors to take away with them at the exhibit and the second batch of 1,000 are for visitors to use to make their own mix tapes. Artists' mixes will be available for the taking, stacked on pedestals throughout the gallery, sometimes integrated into an installation or sculptural piece, and visitors can mix their own on a head-to-head reel mounted in the hall. "Part of this is that I knew it would be a little easier to approach people for cassette-tape donations. Everybody's trying to dump their stock," says Hannum, who also asked every artist in Gallery 400's upcoming annual At the Edge series to participate.

Among those who obliged, Elijah Berger assembled a complete pre-Riot Grrrls history of women in punk rock, spanning ten years from 1978 to 1988, available on three sixty-minute cassettes. Dawn Reed and Carl Warnick produced T-shirts with cassette pockets. Dan Tinenda and art collaborative Total Gym paired up and made recordings using original sound that Tinenda played through speakers he made in birdhouses and tufts of moss. John Phillips compiled a collection of obscure Chicago rock and blues recordings. Hannum made his own collection of one-minute mixes, contrasting thirty seconds or so of classical selections such as Schoenburg with thirty seconds of "power violence" screeches and banging.

"Mix Tape" showed at Gallery 400, 1240 West Harrison, (312)996-6114. Through January 29, 2005