Armpit: A Roving Street Gallery
Chicago, Illinois, USA
1992 – 1998

Armpit was formed in Bloomington, Indiana by
Jesse Bercowetz, Chester
Alamo-Costello and Michael “Octopus” Plaza.

Select exhibits, performances, and projects:

Slurs, Blurs, Recent Renderings, and Other Devices
431 Gallery, Indianapolis, IN
April 3, 1992 through
April 25, 1992.

Exhibition Video:
Slurs, Blurs, Recent Renderings, and Other Devices

Over the course of a 2 week period, Armpit: RSG members, Jesse Bercowetz and Chester Alamo-Costello, produced and installed a large autoschediastic photo-painting measuring 9 by 108 feet while collaborating with the general public. The eclectic and contentious imagery was taken from the fringes of their Midwestern American experiences and included biker tattoos, alien spaceship encounters, personalized license plates, muscle-bound female wrestlers, and fragmented stall-writings.

Urban Totems
1400 South Wabash Avenue, Chicago, IL
August 5 through
November 15, 1994.

Working with local refuse, power-tools, house paint, and an assortment of found objects, Armpit: RSG transformed the vacant lot on the west side of 1400 South Wabash into a temporary sculpture garden. The area, frequently considered an eyesore, was developed into a cooperative sculpture area where casual passerby was asked to interact with the works by adding to or taking away from the site.

700 to 1200 block of South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL
February 25, 1995 – 6 a.m.
to 7 a.m.

Armpit: RSG members posted “Boogie” posters on every vacant building in the south Loop of Chicago.

Red Chair Arm Movement
Armpit: RSG Studio, West 500 Cermak Avenue, #401,
Chicago, IL
October 10, 1994 – 9:02 p.m. to October 14, 1994 – 9:26 p.m.

For over 96 hours, Armpit members interacted with a red folding card-table chair through lifting, passing, sitting, humping, scratching, standing, and eventually destroying the principle article connecting each of the collective’s members.

The Walks
#1, 52 miles, Bloomington, Indiana to Indianapolis,
Indiana 1993
#2, 120 miles, Indianapolis, Indiana to Cincinnati, Ohio 1993
#3, 298 miles, Chicago, Illinois to St. Louis, Missouri 1995

Five Finger Discount
Wicker Park, Chicago, IL,
September 16, 1995

Armpit members produced a ‘barrio’ pushcart and gave rides to any individual willing to take a survey addressing the gentrification occurring in the neighborhood of Wicker Park. Over the course of 5 hours, 38 persons completed the journey while bringing automobile traffic to a standstill at Damen, Milwaukee and North Avenue. Dr. Jim Norland organized a protest of Armpit’s performance. Shortly after midnight, the Chicago Police Department disbanded the troupe’s effort.

Head Joys
Armpit: RSG Studio, 500 West Cermak Avenue, #401
Chicago, IL
September 30 through
October 1, 1995

A series of projection portraits of each Armpit: RSG member was made using materials from previous projects. Each member selected an image from the groups past projects. The image was then projected on the member and a portrait was made.

Framed Movements
Armpit: RSG Studio, West 500 Cermak Avenue, #401,
Chicago, IL
May 16 and 17, 1995 – 8:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m.

Through the use of red electrical tape, a pair of torn blue jeans, an empty Polish dill pickle jar, 6 oz. of Prussian blue acrylic paint, 4 rolls of packing tape, 6 oz. of cadmium red acrylic paint, a pair of green cut-offs, a slide projector with 24 random abstract slides, a spray bottle, 2 white t-shirts, 18 Budweiser beers, a pair of blue flip-flops, 6 quarts of water, 6 oz. of yellow hansa acrylic paint, 420 minutes of death metal contrasted with country music performed by Hank Williams Sr., numerous paint brushes, 6 oz. of cobalt blue acrylic paint, 14 loose strips of lumber, a cheap frame spray-painted gold, and a 5-foot-7-inch Caucasian male, nothing worthwhile can truly get accomplished.

Heroic Efforts
Window Installation
Museum of Contemporary Photography
Chicago, IL
November 15, 1997 –
January 10, 1998

Posing as ephemeral art-superstars Jesse Bercowetz and Chester Alamo-Costello examined the commoditized artist as hero myth through the contrasting and recontextualizing noted high art by contemporary masters (e.g., Hirst, Nauman, Goldin) with appropriated found imagery published in mainstream art and fashion magazines. Upon the exterior of the installation windows, exhibition key chains with a portrait of the artists were hung for the causal passerby to take free of charge.