Touring the Archive, Archiving the Tour

Based in Los Angeles, the Center for Land Use Interpretation describes itself as an independent, non-profit, educational organization “dedicated to the increase and diffusion of information about how the nation’s lands are apportioned, utilized, and perceived.” Through exhibits, publications, bus tours, an online database, and an artists’ residency program, CLUI has crafted a visually coherent and unaffected set of presentation and interpretive strategies drawn from the places where tourism, the archive, museum educational displays, and conceptual art intersect. While the organization refuses to state a clear position for or against particular ways land has been used, its body of work resists the notion that certain landscapes, especially ugly or utilitarian ones, are either unremarkable or inevitable.

Kanouse, Sarah, “Touring the Archive, Archiving the Tour,” Art Journal 64(2): 78-87.

Download PDF: Touring the Archive, Archiving the Tour

UnStorming Sheridan

UnStorming Sheridan consists of two bicycle rides commemorating the lives and afterlives of the Haymarket Martyrs.

On November 12, the day after both Veteran’s Day and the 117th anniversary of the Haymarket executions, I traced a route by bicycle from the new Haymarket memorial to Fort Sheridan, broadcasting a mournful and distorted “Internationale” at 4 watts all the way there, my signal growing stronger the farther from ClearChannel’s downtown antennas I traveled. I wish there was some elegant conceptual reason why my homage to the labor martyrs missed them by a day, but there isn’t. On November 11, I had to be at work.

The following May Day, three group bicycle rides in Chicago commemorated the events that made May Day a holiday in most countries, though not in the one in which they took place. The longest, the 27-mile ‘Unstorming Sheridan’ ride, connected the events of the Haymarket tragedy to the militarized repression of radical activism represented by Fort Sheridan, which was built in the year after Haymarket to permanently house Federal troops to ‘deal with’ any labor unrest. In 1894, the troops stormed Chicago to suppress the Pullman strike, following a route roughly similar to that which we reversed on bicycle.

See UnStorming Sheridan website in html and Flash (deprecated, may not display in your browser)



Chicago, IL – Zhou B Art Center, “Version 05″

Online – Ausgang, (December 2004-March 2005)


Kanouse, Sarah, Unstorming Sheridan, microradio commemorative performance and group event documented via video and web

Cooing Over the Golden Phallus

A increasing number of popular documentary films are employing prankster tactics for political effect.  With a heritage stretching back to the Yippies, the Situationists, and beyond, prankster activists harness broad dissatisfaction with contemporary society and express it in visceral, anarchic, experiential form. This paper considers and critiques these practices in light of the politics of the spectacle they engage. Specifically, what types of political activity – individualist or collective, transcendent or engaged, patriarchal or feminist – are suggested by the prankster-activist?  What economic and gender relations are engaged by pranksters, and do politicized pranksters reinforce these underlying schema even as they temporarily turn the tables on their powerful targets?  Does the popular reception of prankster politics represent a fulfillment of its promise to make dissent more ‘fun’?  If so, what kind of fun are we having, and what kind of politics are we not doing while we’re having it?

Kanouse, Sarah, “Cooing Over the Golden Phallus,” The Journal of Aesthetics and Protest 4 (2005): 21-31.

Download PDF: Cooing Over the Golden Phallus

Additional Publications

Publications grouped here are intended for a non-art audience, are short-form reflections on a creative work, or are commissioned and unrefereed. PDFs are supplied for all refereed publications, though editorial rather than blind peer review may have been the vetting mechanism.

Book Chapter

Kanouse, Sarah, “Installation Art,” in John Downing, ed., The Encyclopedia of Social Movement Media (London: Sage, 2010), 272-279.

Download PDF: Installation Art

Journal Articles

Greenwald, Dara, and Sarah Kanouse “What the Market Bares,” Critical Planning 18 (2011): 92-98

Download PDF: What the Market Bares

Kanouse, Sarah, “Tactical Irrelevance: Art and Politics at Play,” The Democratic Communiqué 20(2) (2007): 23-39.

Download PDF: Tactical Irrelevance

Brown, N., R. Griffis, K. Hamilton, S. Irish, and S. Kanouse, “What makes justice spatial? What makes spaces just?” Critical Planning 14 (2007): 7-28.

Download PDF: What Makes Justice Spatial? What Makes Spaces Just?


Kanouse, Sarah, “Marc Tasman,” Mary L. Nohl Fellowship Exhibition Catalog, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Peck School of the Arts, 2007 (unnumbered)

Kanouse, Sarah and Nicholas Brown, “Urban, Rural, Wild,” AREA: Art Research Education Activism 1:4 (2005)

Cover image: Art book spines, photo by Sarah Kanouse

Other Projects

While somewhat outside (but sometimes anticipating) my core interest in landscape and spatial politics, the projects documented here represent other facets of my work. In particular, these pieces demonstrate my longstanding interests in radical pedagogy, grassroots and DIY communications, and the power and constraints of public speech.

A Call to Farms

A Call to Farms Cover

“A Call to Farms” is a sixty-page, self-published pamphlet reflecting on the first summer drift of what would soon be called Compass, a loose collaboration of artists and writers investigating the histories and futures of resistant culture in what we call the Midwest Radical Culture Corridor. I edited the pamphlet and coordinated its design and printing as well as contributing the introduction and concluding chapter.


Kanouse, Sarah et al. “A Call to Farms: Continental Drift Through the Midwest Radical Culture Corridor”. Viroqua, WI: The Heavy Duty Press, 2008, 1 and 43-50.


Download as PDF: A Call to Farms

Voices of America

Voices of America Screenshot

“Voices of America” was a web platform to promote and facilitate the remixing of coverage of the American elections generated by the government-funded Voice of America radio network. It was designed to allow international participants to ‘speak back’ to the historic, if still spectacle-driven, 2008 election and to give Americans access to this peculiar governmental self-presentation. The project culminated in an election day listening party. The website,, is no longer live, but a screenshot is posted here.


Kanouse, Sarah and Lee Azzarello, “Voices of America,” 2008.


Solar Micropower Transmitter Network


Proposal for a distributed network of solar microbroadcasting transmitters. Each unit can be made for less than $50 and  is designed to flood the airwaves of the immediate area with homegrown music, voices, noise, and sound. It is powered by a rechargeable battery and solar panel and housed in an ordinary circuit box to be mounted outside and left to its own devices for days or weeks at a time. Possible applications include covert political speech, alternative historical or environmental education stations, and direct public participation in the electromagnetic spectrum. Deploying a network of these low-cost transmitters around a neighborhood or a city opens up many practical and symbolic possibilities.

Download as PDF: Micropower Zine


Sarah Kanouse, “Solar Micropower Transmitter Network,” 2007

The Public Square


While microphones record museum murmurings in a square claimed as public, people gather to make public what before was merely space.

For the three-week duration of the MFA exhibition at the Krannert Art Museum, in Champaign, IL, participatory events occured daily in roaming public spaces around the city. Museum viewers become speakers by using microphones to rupture the spectatorship, privilege, and permanence of the public museum, and spectators become discussants by joining or questioning the gatherings. The sounds from each location are relayed to the other space to contrast the implicit or explicit limits on engagement established by those who monitor, manage, and control.

The Public Square website


Sarah Kanouse, “The Public Square,” microradio broadcasts, webstream, installation, and website, 2004