2nd Floor Rear is a 24-hour festival of experimental spaces, apartment galleries, and ephemeral and migrant projects, celebrating Chicago’s vibrant community of alternative and DIY art spaces. Each February, 2nd Floor Rear connects artists with new audiences, helps underfunded and under-appreciated alternative spaces get some exposure, and enlivens a dreary winter weekend at the peak of Chicago’s bleakest season. Past artworks, events, and happenings ranged from late-night studio square dancing to a guerrilla sculpture garden, a site-specific installation in an underpass, and a nomadic gallery in a handbag.
The curatorial premise for 2nd Floor Rear 2015 is more of a feeling than an idea; it comes from the nearly untranslatable Danish word hygge. Hygge is conceptually and culturally specific to Denmark’s subarctic lifestyle. It roughly describes the sense of contentment drawn from camaraderie during a long winter.
With another long winter upon us, we want to build a festival around this feeling. We want to adopt the hygge concept as our mantra and put it into practice. This year, we want art, performances, gatherings, happenings, installations, and events that warm us, that draw us in, that make us stay. We want prolonged engagement and mutual stewardship. We want to experience the intimate, the meditative. We want anti-spectacular wonder. We want practical, clear-eyed shamanism and radical tenderness. We want to feel present and connected even in our winter fugue states. We want a safe place to be vulnerable and wildish. We want things to resonate–to find us again days later while we’re waiting in line at the Walgreens checkout counter. The curatorial premise of 2nd Floor Rear 2015 is Chicagoans’ annual substitution of “stay warm” for “see you later”; it’s also the hypnotic quiet at winter’s core that makes the season’s deep melancholy savorable. Continue reading