Joan of Arc is one of those bands cemented into the history of Chicago’s music scene. Formed after the demise of Capn’ Jazz (another Chicago music staple), Joan of Arc has been one of the more prolific outings of Tim Kinsella, the band’s sole permanent member. Since 1996, he has led a rotating cast of musicians and collaborators, creating unique and atypical melodies that Kinsella has described as “music for no audience.” Despite the initial sound of that claim, Joan of Arc has accrued a sizable following and will be celebrating 20 years as a band with JOA20, an exhibition and performance residency at Elastic Arts.
Like most things the group does, the term “music for no audience” isn’t as cold-cut as it seems. The phrase was born from the idea that Joan of Arc would be eschewing the restrictions of any one genre, leaving them without an established genre fan base. Instead, Joan of Arc opted to implement multiple elements and emotions of music that the band members knew and loved. Emo, kraut rock, experimental, punk, psych and countless other influences touched upon their sounds, guaranteeing them a unique spot in Chicago’s musical hierarchy.
It’s no surprise that their intense inclination to unconventional definitions would spill over to their residency at Elastic Art. The exhibition will showcase works from the past and present members of Joan of Arc, as well as its frequent collaborators. Some participating artists and musicians include Theo Katsaounis, Melina Ausikaitis, Tim Kinsella, Bobby Burg, Jeremy Boyle, Todd Mattei, Chris Strong, LeRoy Bach, Ben Vida, Matthew Goulish, Lin Hixson, and Dan Black. The pieces will feature a wide range of resources and materials, from photography and canvas, to tube socks and altered copies of The Communist Manifesto.
In addition to the exhibition, Joan of Arc will be presenting a series of performances every Tuesday, from June 21 to Aug. 16. Once again, you can expect the unexpected from these presentations, as they will take the form of music, film, or whatever Joan of Arc feels like. If past art performances by the group are any indication, you’re in for a treat. Joan of Arc and crew have done some incredibly fun shows, such as when they played the intro to “Under Pressure” for over 30 minutes, or Kinsella’s performance of unapproved samples of David Bowie's Hunky Dory, remixed onto a template of Andrew Dreyblatt's Propellers in Love, entitled "Hunky Dory TK" (which is totally not available here).
JOA20 will run June 4 to Aug. 21 at Elastic Arts, 3429 W Diversey Ave #208. The opening reception for the exhibition will be on June 4 at 7 p.m., and whether you’re a lifelong fan of the group, or are new to their atypical greatness, JOA20 is sure to be a worthwhile experience.