Past Event


What is a feel tank? Why should we explore the complexity of political feelings? How do you carry your political feelings, and how do you want others to carry theirs? And how can we extend our political horizons? Join us to explore these questions and interact with Feel Tank Chicago‘s latest exhibit, Pathogeographies.

This event will also feature a presentation by Feel Tank members Lauren Berlant, Debbie Gould, Mary Patten, and Rebecca Zorach and a discussion moderated by Therese Quinn.


6:00 PM

6:30 PM Presentation and Discussion

This Artists, Activists, and Authors After Hours (AAAH) event is co-sponsored by Gallery 400 and Feel Tank Chicago.

Events in the AAAH program series are intimate, informal discussions over meals that allow for meaningful exchanges among people who share some connection to the work of a visiting artist. Since coalition building is one of the cornerstones of social change, AAAH programs are structured to give individuals a chance to meet others engaged in similar struggles and projects.


is a collection of suitcases (real or imagined), created by individuals and collectives that can carry tools around the city of Chicago and elsewhere to incite, create, collect, and record political/emotional scenes and return them to the gallery to be inspected, collated, discussed, distributed, and diverted to new uses. For Pathogeographies, Feel Tank is trying to understand in other people’s baggage.We want to reveal hidden political histories as we map the affective expressions of the body politic, and to create magical linkages and utopian intensities that might extend our political horizons.

What’s at stake in such a project? To many, despair is the prevailing emotional current right now in many political communities, where the only “belief” is in our collective and accumulated failures—of stopping the war, of building a creative and effective left. The political arena seems either unthinkable or out of reach, eliciting intense cynicism from people whose votes aren’t counted, whose needs are ignored, whose grievances have no impact, and for whom “politics” signifies little but abuse of power. An unending sense of emergency is matched only by a corresponding sense of alienation. And yet, like so many, we persist; we are moved, not only by necessity, but also by a relentless search for joy, for a life that can be called good and just. Can hopelessness be transformed? Is there anything useful about guilt? How might we collectivize our despair, and our joys?


  • Lauren Berlant teaches about politics and affect in the English Department and at the Center for Gender Studies at the University of Chicago.
  • Debbie Gould is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Pittsburgh. Formerly a member of ACT UP/Chicago, she is writing a book about the affective dimensions of political (in)action, focusing on AIDS activism from the start of the epidemic through the mid-1990s.
  • Mary Patten is a visual artist, video-maker, writer, educator, occasional curator, and political activist. Her work is fueled by a desire to address the contradictory worlds of politics and art-making. She teaches in the Department of Film, Video, and new Media at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
  • Rebecca Zorach teaches art history at the University of Chicago and has collaborated with a number of artist, activist, and community groups that imagine and carry out creative political and social interventions.
  • Therese Quinn (moderator)


Feel Tank is a Chicago collective that’s been taking the emotionaltemperature of the body politic for four years. Feel Tank is now investigating the making of that temperature and exploring the political potential of “bad feelings” like hopelessness, apathy, anxiety, fear, and numbness.

In opposing the facile pitting of thinking against feeling, we advocate the eloquence of a surrealist and imaginative politics that embraces ambivalence, the paradoxical, the intricate, the partial, the ridiculous, and the raw.

Feel Tank members are artists, activists, and academics. They also often work in ad hoc or longer-term collaborations with other groups and individuals.


Gallery 400 is a not-for-profit arts presenter and exhibition space at the University of Illinois at Chicago that exhibits, supports and advocates innovations in art, design and architecture. Among Gallery 400’s many programs are the fall and spring Voices Lecture Series, exhibitions of national and international artists and the “At the Edge: Innovative Art in Chicago” series, of which “Pathogeographies (or, other people’s baggage)” is a part. “At the Edge” is a five year old annual program that commissions four Chicago area artists or artist groups each year to create new works that are experimental, risk-taking, difficult to show elsewhere and/or extend their practice.

For more information, please call 312.422.5580.