In Your Face: The Performance Art of Joseph Ravens and dfbrl8r

As I sit here and stare outside at the first real snow of the winter season, I’m reminded of last year’s blizzard. N and I were living in Chicago and witnessed the Blizzard of 2011, which dumped over 20 inches of snow on the city. It left us few options but tunneling through mounds where the sidewalk used to be and throwing impromptu snowballs during our daily walks. This was also about the time our friend and performance artist Joseph Ravens opened dfbrl8r Performance Art Gallery a few doors down from our building. Joseph is well known around Chicago and has had his fair share of controversy and notoriety. His style is one of spontaneous reaction, comedic timing and conceptual play. He transformed a once-failing antiques store into a thriving space of collaborative performance with endless themes and ideas.

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Dad poses with an angry bird

The inaugural event was fantastic. There were two feathered artists in the front window, flapping their wings and pecking at passerbyers. (My dad came with us and taunted the birds to no end). Then there was the woman who kept having her coat trimmed by the men in lab coats. But the finale really set things off, including firecrackers, a gun (filled with blanks, of course) and garbage pails of snow being hurled at the audience. It turned into quite a smoky snowball fight of sorts –  a memorable evening and a great start for dfbrl8r.

Joseph Ravens does his thang

I was offered chew by the guy. I declined.

Have you ever seen performance art? What do you know about it? During college, I took a 4-D class. Yes, 4 dimensional meaning time-based. That includes performance, video, film, really anything that has the element of spatial time. Maybe you’ve never thought of it that way. Explore dfbrl8r events when you’re in Chicago next time and you may be surprised…for many reasons.

Happy Anniversary, Joseph and dfbrl8r! Congrats!!

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