Don't Forget Who U R

U R NOT A STAR was "found" scrawled on the back of a broken microwave pictured in the random detritus of one of our photographs. The phrase, and now the title of an exhibition of our portrait photographs, alludes to the meanings and dreamings small town people derive from stuff like punk rock, skateboarding and pop art. Sid Vicious, Joey Ramone and Andy Warhol may loom larger in the minds of people in towns like Manitowoc or Green Bay where rock magazines, MTV and record stores fuelled the sort of ironic escapist fantasies and aspirations expressed in Sonic Youth's cover of Superstar or Patti Smith's cover of So You Want to be a Rock 'n' Roll Star. We met the curator of the show, Rachel Vander Weit, at the Milwaukee Art Museum where she was a curatorial research assistant during the time we were working on Unmasked & Anonymous. U R NOT A STAR is Rachel's UWM Museum Studies Graduate Thesis Project focusing on performance as an aspect of portrait photography. We usually make (but rarely show) 3-D images with a vintage Stereo Realist camera which illicits a different sort of performance than our 8x10 Deardorff does. While digging through our archive with Rachel, she selected seven 3-D out-takes from a 1997 summer afternoon shoot with Brett and Nigel at their chaotic Madison, Wisconsin squat. Digital technology made it possible to scan the slides and make ink jet prints that could be displayed and viewed through small 3-D spectacles in a gallery setting. Rachel also included the text we wrote documenting events leading up to the portraits. Some of the people in these photographs actually did achieve a sort of under the radar fame. Brad X has his Get Drunk and Play Records Garage Punk podcast and YouTube Channel showcasing his homespun "vernacular avant-garde" videos including footage from opening night of this show. Rev. Norb is well known as a former columnist for Maximum Rock and Roll and for his many bands including Boris the Sprinkler, which was the only Wisconsin band to make it into the 2008 Encylopedia of Punk. Fame, real or imagined, is relative and a cultural construct that seems a twisted part of the American Dream. Judith Moriarty reviewed it for the Third Coast Digest and our Lawrence University colleague Martyn Smith did a post with video on his Old Roads blog. The show runs September 3-24, 2009 at the UWM Art History Gallery, Mitchell Hall, 3203 North Downer Avenue, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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