Maggie Wong



Making Out

October 2017

SITE Sharp, 37 S Wabash, Chicago IL

Press Release 

MAKING OUT turns the SITE gallery into a space of playful resistance. The work will center around a large installation of bleachers that suggest a high school football field  — the kind of bleachers that provide a refuge for clandestine kissing. Making Out fosters radical imagination by constructing a particular, touchable, sometimes functional site for envisioning tenderness. This show is a collaboration by a group of artists known as HIVE.

The work is a site of negotiation between power and intimacy. It aims to clarify the question of whether tenderness can resist and alter systemic power structures. This work encourages and explores the practice of making out in the context of institutional subjugation. HIVE intends to remain hopeful via this exploration. HIVE intends, at every step, to acknowledge the possibility that if we keep kissing, we may alter the conditions of our subjugation. At the same time, paradoxically, we humbly acknowledge our helplessness in the face of power: we make out all the same.

Several programs and happenings will take place as we explore these ideas with the gallery’s visitors. Some programs take place under the refuge of the bleachers. Some will be available to stream online, as this show is both local and dispersed. In addition to the bleachers, this show includes interactive sound and touch installations, as well as a limited quantity of free zines.

Making Out is the first exhibition in SITE Galleries by students in SAIC’s Low-Residency MFA program, which was established in 2014. It is a joint effort by HIVE, a group comprised of class of 2018 Low-Residency students Maggie Wong, Nancy Murphy-Spicer, Morris Fox, Morgan Green, Brendan Getz, and C Alex Clark. We are grateful to the faculty, loved-ones, and remote collaborators who join us in this work.


OCTOBER 11 — Kissin’ and Kiss-in

4:00 PM Kiss-In

We encourage those who are curious about affectionate touch as a form of resistance to attend this event. We will model methods of consent before practicing them through kissing. Participants can kiss in whatever way they are comfortable: on the hand, on the cheek, or more intimately. Here we actively support careful touch, tenderness and communication. Participants may also choose at any time to watch, rather than participate.

This action is a sincere and hopeful attempt to evaluate the gallery’s potential as a space of resistance, of inclusion rather than exclusion. It looks to the 90s kiss-ins staged by ACT UP, an AIDS direct action advocacy group. These kiss-ins were meant to combat homophobia and subsequent apathy towards the AIDS crisis. They challenged repressive conventions by publicly affirming queer feeling and desire. Our action takes these tactics, which have been historically effective in the street, and enacts them in the space of the gallery — in the shelter we have built there. We are using these tactics in this case to build notions of empowerment through intimacy, and to fortify tools of consent. We hope that this action serves both as a way to try something new and as a way to honor history.

*** Due to the institution’s concerns with health and safety, Hive respectfully altered the program to eliminate participatory kissing. Instead, we modeled our forms of consent that we planned and facilitated a discussion around consent with the event attendees. We feel that the alteration still does not completely fulfill the mission of the intended KIss-In and are looking to see it through in another setting.

5:00 PM, We Won’t Get Bored Kissing Because Time Will Be a Mobius Strip

In this lecture, Morgan Green will seriously consider alternative conceptions of time as tools of resistance. She will draw from queer theory and popular media as she clumsily attempts to simulate (pedagogically) the experience of making out forever. A supplementary zine will distributed after the talk.


OCTOBER 18 — Digitally Intimate

Maggie Wong,  MC

4:00 PM Bedsheet Poetry Readings 

A series of video-cast poetry readings curated by C Alex Clark, who will Skype in to introduce poets, Katie Johnson (Sante Fe, NM) and Bailey Schaumberg (St. Louis, MO).

5:00 PM Drive-In / Kiss-In Movie

1.     High School (1968) – Frederick Wiseman
from min 1:01:49 – 1:10:10
2.     Confrontation: Paris, 1968 – Seymour Drescher min 31:53 to end
3.    Act Up Chicago “Kiss In” April 1990 (2 min)
4.     Fast Trip, Long Drop, Greg Bordowitz
       until min 7:19 “I’m fired up I am kissing everybody!”
5.     Thumb War – A.K. Burns, 3 min
6.     Touch Parade – A.K Burns, 9 min
All films are in the public domain and  screened via You Tube, Ubu Web, and Vimeo.


OCTOBER 25 — Artist Talk with Sarah Schulman

For this lunch time talk Hive and the School of the Art Institute’s Visiting Artist Program, and SITE hosted artist, writer, and activist Sarah Schulman under the bleachers. Facilitated by Maggie Wong, the conversation focused on the question “What does having a Kiss-In mean today?” and discussed the ideas of safety, institutional responsibilities, and urgency/radical actions.