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Issue 1. Functional Openness

In just a few weeks the foundations and structures supporting our lives have shifted, evaporated, and morphed in unthinkable ways. The COVID-19 pandemic is a threshold: there was life before and a different life after. We are currently occupying an interstitial space where the past does not resemble the present and the future is uncertain. What this moment demands is a radical reconfiguration of our daily lives, routines, and of our personal and professional worlds. Many of us will be drawing on every ounce of our flexibility and resourcefulness to survive this time of massive change. The world has changed and the way we think and live must change as well.

Remote Control is an e-publication that takes shape in this shifting landscape. Its aim is to respond in real time to the complex ramifications of this moment of upheaval by consulting with contemporary artists and disseminating their work and ideas. It will provide moments of reflection, opportunities for connection, and ventures into looking ahead. The goal of this first issue, Functional Openness, is to look at how these changing circumstances require us to adapt how we think, how we live, and how we function.
Remotely wishing you
good health and safety,

Elizabeth Chodos, Miller ICA Director

Q+A with Andrea Zittel

Andrea Zittel's solo exhibition Andrea Zittel: An Institute of Investigative Living, recently closed at the Miller ICA on March 8th, 2020, just before CMU's campus was closed and the Miller ICA's operations went remote. This recent interview was taken with Zittel since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Elizabeth Chodos: Do moments of crisis like this cause you to rethink or reevaluate your list of things you know for sure? How can times like these reveal deeper truths?

Andrea Zittel: So much is changing every single day right now that it’s kind of mind-bending. But yes, this has been a rare and useful opportunity to reflect on the list of principles that I have gathered over the last 25 years. Frankly a few things, such as design principles, don’t feel super relevant in this particular moment – but others, such as #11, feel incredibly prescient: Things that we think are liberating can often become restrictive, and things that we think of as controlling can sometimes give us a sense of comfort and security.
EC: What has this moment done for your research and investigative living?

AZ: For the last two weeks, A-Z West has been super quiet. Normally it’s a humming community of staff, residents, and visitors – but lately it’s just myself, my partner Katy, and our animals. Most of my staff is working from home, although a few have been coming in once or twice a week to work alone in various parts of the studio or grounds. So, at this immediate moment, daily life is very pared down and feels like the early days when I first started living in the desert, before the whole A-Z enterprise became really public. I have to admit that other than feeling deeply concerned by the plight of the country, the health care workers, and people who work at Amazon or even at our local
grocery store, I’ve been really gratified by this renewed focus on the domestic, individual experience, and the simple facets of day-to-day living - and I keep thinking about how these all add up to some larger form of psychic survival.

EC: Are there lessons from your work at A-Z West that feel relevant to this situation? I’m thinking specifically about the ways living and working can exist in the same place and the need to creating our own rules and boundaries around time and activities when the physical boundaries of work space and personal space blur or disappear.

AZ: Yes, completely. This particular situation is one in which most people in our country (and around the world) are finding themselves limited to their own
Another principle that has come up in conversations lately is #12: Ideas seem to gestate best in a void—when that void is filled, it is more difficult to access them. In our consumption-driven society, almost all voids are filled, blocking moments of greater clarity and creativity. Things that block voids are called “avoids.”

With all of the galleries and museums closed, and the art fairs and gala dinners canceled, it seems like the art world is reacting by creating a lot of chatter. – But I think it’s time we embrace this void as a rare opportunity to take a real pause. And to drop old forms of conditioning and patterns, and think about what new ones could rise from the ashes.

personal domestic realms: their own constructs of “investigative living” - which is essentially about making a world and then living in it. We are all in these individualized spaces as if they are small isolated private islands; each one an autonomous realm where we are in charge of the realities of our day-to-day lives. We can stay in our pajamas all day or wear something outrageous with no fear of social stigma. We can maintain structured daily routines, or get into deep cleaning that we never have time to do, or we can read, write, and think about the state of the world right now. The next few weeks or months will reveal new opportunities for learning about ourselves, our patterns, and our needs – and for confronting fears, desires and figuring out what is truly necessary to live.

For more from Andrea Zittel, please see her annotated book recommendations at the end of this issue.

Stay connected to community and engage in programs while keeping a safe physical distance by joining us next week for these live zoom events!
Join us on Zoom for a collective reading of Donna Haraway’s “A Cyborg Manifesto” lead by Molly Wright Steenson and Jongwoo Jeremy Kim.

This live virtual tour looks at works in the recent exhibition, Andrea Zittel: An Institute of Investigative Living and explores the fundamental question of how to live? —Join the discussion!



Watch RWD: Revisit - "Andrea Zittel: An Institute of Investigative Living". Take a closer look at Zittel's work Linear Sequence and learn about key ideas and the life-long experimentation in Zittel's work.


Want to learn more? RSVP for a Virtual Tour of Andrea Zittel: An Institute of Investigative Living. 


Get ready for Fall 2020! Miller ICA Presents: Jacolby Satterwhite: Spirits Roaming on the Earth on view Oct 9–Dec 13, 2020.

WATCH ON ART 21 - Jacolby Satterwhite interviews

Jacolby Satterwhite (New York) brings together vogueing, 3D animation, and drawing to explore his own body and queerness while also incorporating his mother’s identity, her schizophrenia, and the thousands of illustrations she made throughout his childhood.   

Recommended Resources
A curated selection of artist-generated content for your time in coronavirus isolation.

8-ball Community - COVID19 Hangouts 

Public Google Folder Organized by Jason Lazarus - Coronavirus Readings for Artists

Heavy Breathing - Laura Hyunjhee Kim: Hi-Feel Lo-Tech Workout (HFLTW): Relaxation and Recovery 

Annotated Bibliographies
We've asked artists to recommend reading lists to help make sense of this moment. Pick up one of these titles when you need to power down your screen and get off the internet. Full annotations and book descriptions available on our website.
Andrea Zittel

Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari
Paradise Now: The Story of American Utopianism by Chris Jennings
Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino
Rich Pell

Big Farms Make Big Flu (2016) by Rob Wallace
Aesthetic, Necropolitics, and Environmental Struggle (2018) by Critical Art Ensemble
Earthseed Duology -Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents by Octavia Butler
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy
Molly Zuckerman-Hartung

Thinking in an Emergency (2011) by Elaine Scarry
Touch (1996) by Gabriel Josipovici
The Resonance of Unseen Things: Poetics, Power, Captivity and UFOs in the American Uncanny (2016) by Susan Lepselter



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