Tell me about Hot Kitchen – what do you do, and how and when did the collective form?
Katelyn Douglass: We formed in 2016, and are a theatre and performance group made up of eight artists hailing from Florida. Altogether, sometimes in pairs, or in any potential combination of members or outside collaborators, Hot Kitchen devises performances and experiences with a focus on the stupid and the absurd, disregarding the plot structures of traditional plays. The collective started by producing shows in found spaces around Chicago, working our way up to well-known Chicago performance venues. Recent productions include Bad Boy World at Rhino Fest 2018, TEEN HEAT at High Concept Labs, Leap Dog at iO Chicago's Mission Theater, Big Girl Stuff at Dfbrl8r Performance Art Gallery, and Dan, Daniel at the Lincoln Loft. Since our formation, we have also hosted an annual event called 13 Love Songs, where we invite 13 artists/artist pairs from a variety of disciplines in the Chicago community to perform a response to a popular love song. Beyond live performances, Hot Kitchen also explores video art, with our latest short film, How We Wake Up, made in collaboration with local Chicago filmmaker, Drew Angle.
"How We Wake Up," 2017. Katelyn Douglass & Drew Angle
What do you have planned for the June ACTIVATE event, “Evo’s Bazaar?”
Katelyn Douglass: We’ve got a number of fun things planned. We don’t want to give too much away, but mostly we will be guiding our visitors into alternate dimensions you know, your average Thursday night! In between dimension traveling, we’ll share our thoughts on the future (your future), show off some of our unique dance moves, make new friends, and we might even be giving away some delicious cakes.
"Oregon Trail Trail Trail," 2016. Photo by Drew Angle
Is this your first time working with Chicago Loop Alliance and/or Canvas? How did it come about that you would be a part of this event?
Katelyn Douglass: Yes, this is our first time! We have been big fans of the ACTIVATE events and jumped at the chance to work with the Chicago Loop Alliance and Canvas Chicago. We are always looking for opportunities to collaborate with more artists in Chicago, and when Emily asked us to join, we knew that this event would fit perfectly with our work and aesthetic.
Have you worked on events like ACTIVATE before? What are you looking forward to about this setting?
Audrey Polinski: No, this is brand new for us! This collaboration is very exciting. The use of the Riverwalk as a focal point for site-specific work is an opportunity for us to explore the space and use it in conversation with the art and the world. We, as artists, are inserting ourselves into the “real” world, blurring the line between life and art. The idea that anyone who may be walking by can engage with experimental art, who may not have the exposure otherwise, is an opportunity for people to deepen their experience in the city, and for us to expand our audiences.
Katelyn Douglass: We try to bring a bit of magic and absurdity to all of our performances. Hot Kitchen has performed in a variety of spaces, from church basements to clothing stores, to comedy clubs, and we feel right at home in unexpected places. We are really looking forward to taking over a little corner of Chicago for this event.
Tell me a little bit about your thoughts ACTIVATE as a whole, and the idea of transforming public places into art and performance exhibition spaces.
Audrey Polinski: The experimental art community in Chicago is really special, and a facet of the city that has been untapped. As mentioned before, there is an opportunity for us to get some new exposure, but also for new audiences to experience art in a way they’ve never seen before. Our hope is that this contribution will challenge the way people engage with art, and also expand the type of art they engage with.
Main Photo: "Teen Heat," December 27 by Whitten Sabbatini