Danny Volk Studio

Friday, July 31, 2020

STUDIO NOTE: The Black Sequence (Midnight)


I’ve been organizing in the studio lately. An old batch of spray paint and a fresh roll of contact paper reminded me to revisit the Stations. 


The rationale for designing the “Stations of the Cross: Initial Cycle - Intersection” was based on suppositions about the way the sun would hit a very specific but hypothetical object from its shifting angle over the course of a day. The design could only incorporate the use of the primary colors + black and white. Somehow I figured it out to where it made sense to me. To get there, I related white to the strongest amount of light and black to the least. This led to the use of very specific and problematic language in the studio. As I worked through the way light intensity was represented through the five colors on the object, I kept repeating so as to remind myself: "Black can never be on top and white is never on the bottom." 


Of course I was working out the impossible logic here for the way infinite light variations might be represented through five colors for 24 different representations of time in a day. And for that logic within this made-up belief system, those sentiments are one version of true. But I became aware of the mutability of these words and how, in another context, what I was saying reified institutionalized policies and personal implicit and explicit biases that affect real people in concretely negative ways.


“The Black Sequence (Midnight)” is a working title for an iteration of the project that thinks about symbolic interactions and is concerned about the ways that the language we use has a critical impact on the lives of ourselves and others. “The Black Sequence (Midnight)” shifts the hierarchy of the word, location, and color “black” from that of the previous cycle. Now when we speak about the work and its logic (even as personal and idiosyncratic as it may be) our language reflects another possibility, a worldview linguistically antithetical to one dominated by white supremacy.


The work is currently in progress, but I've been getting my hands dirty with it these past few days and wanted to share a bit of the process.








Saturday, May 9, 2020

WORK: Mrs. Lincoln, what did you think of the play?

“Mrs. Lincoln, what did you think of the play?” is an exhibition of performance documents struggling to make meaningful material evidence out of one man’s tragic life event and the artist’s process of turning that into something for people to look at.  If a recordreplaces the reality of which it testifies, how do you faithfully and emotionally represent truth without it toppling into a work of fiction?


In 2015 a tornado cut through the town of Fairdale, IL and destroyed Clem Schultz's home, his antique typewriter collection, and killed his wife, Geri. Schultz recorded a cellphone video from the second floor of the house as the tornado approached and demolished it. The video has since become a valuable resource for atmospheric scientists at the University of Illinois in their study of severe weather phenomenon. Clem believes his video will help save the lives of others as he believes it saved his own. For Clem, documentation has the ability to save lives.


In the pursuit of an accurate and deep understanding of another’s experience, can the theatrical intercede on behalf of the documentary, and vice versa? “Mrs. Lincoln, what did you think of the play?” is an installation of intercession. It includes video reenactments, archival documents, museological objects, recorded interviews, and eye- witness video.


This exhibition was shown at Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, Brooks Stevens Gallery from January 27 - March 14, 2020.











Saturday, January 18, 2020

STUDIO NOTE: Clem in Genoa

Drove to Genoa yesterday to pick up Clem's typewriters. The snow began that night and covered everything. My friend Amy came along with me to help install. We stayed at an AirBNB that is also a retreat center. It was a very peaceful night. We visited Clem who took us out to dinner. He tried taking us to a truckstop restaurant but it was gone. The attendant told us there were no sit-down restaurants in the area until you get to Elgin. So we went to a truckstop with a food court consisting of Burger King and Popeyes. Later, Clem showed us pictures of a trip he helped lead for a troop of boys in the late 60's. I took a copy of his tornado video for the show. 

The next morning we picked up the typewriters, a photo of Clem and his wife Geri, and headed to Milwaukee. Tomorrow we install. 






Clem finishing up a typewriter before we leave for Milwaukee.

Friday, January 10, 2020

WORK: Submissive Exhibitions


(from the press release)

SUBMISSIVE EXHIBITIONS is excited to announce a series of exhibitions and programming events curated and organized by Danny Volk. The curated series, SUBMISSIVE EXHIBITIONS, will commence on Friday, March 10 and will run through Saturday, April 22, 2017. An opening reception – in conjunction with a reception for Michelle Magot in THE MISSION – will be held on Friday, March 10 from 6:00 to 8:00pm.

In SUBMISSIVE EXHIBITIONS, Volk converts THE SUB-MISSION into an office space for arts administration and exhibition. Within the space, he will meet with artists, curate a diverse set of exhibitions, and host artist conversations. Volk’s curatorial focus will be engage with and showcase the artists who were not selected to exhibit in THE SUB-MISSION, but who did apply. Most pertinent to Volk’s interests is to perform administrative tasks within THE SUB-MISSION. As his role as arts administrator, Volk will facilitate other artist’s practices – a common gesture of artists who work in the administrative field. Administrators have the ability to connect art makers with art institutions and organizations to provide exhibitions, networking, and other exposure opportunities.

Volk’s project exists as a performance; however, unlike the ephemeral nature of performance, Volk’s work will live on through exhibition documentation and the paperwork surrounding their development. Volk is utilizing his slot to provide exhibition opportunities to others through the performative element of arts administration.







Artists who agreed to be part of the exhibition:



Wednesday, January 8, 2020

STUDIO NOTE: Connecting through Documenting


I'm finishing up some work for a show at Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design (MIAD). This video (clip above) was shot December 7, 2017 but edited two years later. At the time of shooting and at the time of editing, I work to get Clem, on camera, to connect with the emotions of the event that impacted his life so significantly. This is one of the first moments in the 36-minute video where we see him get there: the crack in his voice, the way he immediately distracts himself by fidgeting with small items on his desk, the pause while he composes himself again. 

Documenting feels invasive. It's distinctly different from the rhythm of living, though in subtle ways. Why must I record my connection with Clem, why can't I just live it? And do the technicalities of documentary diminish the ability to truly connect? Or do those artificial technicalities provide frameworks that allow for something less artificial to take place?

These are the kinds of questions the show is thinking about. 

If you are in the Milwaukee area, please come see the show Mrs. Lincoln, What Did You Think of the Play? opening January 27 through March 14, 2020.

Monday, January 6, 2020

WORK: The News Gallery, Volume 1

The News Gallery, Volume 1 was a weekly newspaper that highlighted and focused on the work and practices of artists who applied but were not accepted to show work at SPACES R&D over the past few years. Using artists’ SPACES proposals (CVs, artist statements, and supportive documentation) as newspaper copy, The News Gallery will publish (with the artists' consent) these materials as articles, blurbs, notices, photos, etc.


The SPACES physical gallery was used as the newsroom where The News Gallery was built, designed, and published. Visitors could show up to the newsroom to witness the work taking place, talk with Volk about the project, read the latest issue of The News Gallery, etc. Additionally, subscriptions could be purchased and The News Gallery was delivered to doors all across the US, Canada, and the world. This subscription option means that audiences from all over can become familiar with artists they may never have encountered before, and artists can broaden their audience at the same time.

Each issue had a limited run of 250 numbered editions. If you are interested in purchasing a subscription, please contact the artist.


At SPACES during the opening reception January 25th, 2019.

Letter of  invitation to the artists. 


Center spread, work of R.W. Miller. Volume 1, Issue 5/8



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WORK: Stations of the Cross - Initial Cycle, Intersection

Stations of the Cross - Initial CycleIntersection. Digital rendering superimposed on a Google map of 
the intersection of S. Drexel Ave. and E. 61st St. in Chicago, IL. 2014