Sara Greenberger Rafferty creates fissures and tears in the realms of photography and sculpture.
After stumbling upon Sara Greenberger Rafferty’s work at the New York Photo Festival this spring, I became curious about her varied approaches towards making art. One of the reasons her work is so interesting to me is that she prefers not to be boxed into a corner by material, method, or medium-specificity. Punching, waterlogging, cutting, and rephotographing are some of the techniques she uses to re-appropriate photographs of performers, comedians, and television personalities, into strong art objects. These objects include Double Issue, her 2010 artist book modeled after a TV Guide, and a video tableaux she is working on with Triple Canopy. She understands how the interplay between pieces can create a dialogue between the viewer and the works themselves and how a heteronomic exhibition title can further the analysis of the work. In addition to her studio work, Rafferty works towards providing a realistic representation of what it is to be a working artist in a contemporary world.
Ashley McNelis Your degrees are in sculpture and photo, correct?
Sara Greenberger Rafferty Yes. I liked that as my interests were in sculpture and new genres. It’s very à la mode right now to be medium-specific. I’m not one of those artists that doesn’t believe in material specificity. It’s very important to me but I don’t feel that I fit into any one dialogue. I’ve more often than not been contextualized with photo recently, but I don’t want to choose. I make artworks.
Clunie Reid plays with representation, multi-media, and the process of (re)production.
British photographer, filmmaker, and mixed media artist Clunie Reid creates photographs, photo collages, and reappropriated pictures by borrowing images from the realms of media—advertising, publishing, TV, the Internet, and beyond. Through processes of cutting, scribbling, and pasting, her work highlights implicit constructed messages in the media about beauty, sex, and contemporary identity. In addition to covering Reid’s interest in acts of détournement and representations and materiality in media images, we discussed the importance of style references and why her work is taking on a new medium.
Ashley McNelis I’m curious about the New Museum’s Free exhibition that you participated in, which focused on the changes that the Internet has created in interpersonal connection and the spread of information. How have the changes in the ways we relate to each other and receive information affected your work?
Clunie Reid Rather than how the Internet functions as a tool, I’m interested in the shift from implicit to explicit in the stuff you find there. There seems to be a way in which the vulgar substrate of advertising can be seen now in self-representation or modes of interpersonal relations, like the greeting card.
Wie hiesst Himmler’s brain? Ashley McNelis on Laurent Binet’s HHhH.
Reinhard Heydrich was known as the Blond Beast, the Butcher of Prague, and Heinrich Himmler’s right-hand Nazi. Laurent Binet’s HHhH—Himmlers Hirn heisst Heydrich (Himmler’s brain is called Heydrich)—is at once an exhaustive historical novel on the rise and fall of a fundamental figure of the Nazi Party during the Holocaust and a reflection on the efforts involved in writing such a compelling and significant historical tale. An impressive debut, HHhH was awarded the distinguished Prix Goncourt du Premier Roman Prize.
The narrative both fascinates and disgusts; Heydrich’s career in the Third Reich was overwhelmingly “successful.” Once he joined the SS as a foot soldier, he rose startlingly quickly through the ranks, and went on to hold many powerful office positions where his actions greatly enhanced the control and reach of the Nazi government. In many situations, his ruthlessness was unsurpassed; on occasion, no mercy was given to Aryan citizens who disobeyed the government. He served as the director of the Reich Main Security Office, which oversaw the SS and the Gestapo, and where he founded the SD, an organization of spies in charge of exterminating resistance efforts. He acted as the chairperson at the Wannsee Conference where the Final Solution plans were laid out and was also a main organizer of the infamous Kristallnacht. For a time, he was president of the international law enforcement agency, Interpol. But, his most powerful position was as the Deputy Protector of Bohemia and Moravia, where he exterminated almost all of the resistance, lived like a king while he operated out of Prague—the largest castle in the world and the seat of the Czech government—and ultimately met his demise.
Ashley McNelis on Héctor Abad’s memoir, Oblivion.
Renowned Colombian journalist Héctor Abad’s Oblivion, a memoir on his father, Héctor Abad Gómez, is an honest and thorough reflection on a man’s life from his son’s perspective that also considers the private sphere of the family and the political turbulence in Colombia in the 1980s. His father, a public figure who, in addition to being a progressive university professor and a human rights and union organizer, opened the Colombian Department of Preventative Medicine and the National School of Public Health and served as an ambassador to Mexico.
Although the unresolved tragedy to come is hinted at, the memoir is more a celebration of his father’s life and progressive work than the reactionary political turbulence that brought it to an end; in 1987, Gómez was murdered by Colombian paramilitaries in broad daylight. For decades beforehand, tensions between the conservative and liberal parties flared violently despite many governmental actions such as the creation of the National Front where power between the two parties was passed back and forth. In the 1970s and ’80s, right-wing paramilitary groups’ cartels—including the cartel that reigned over the city of Medellín, the city in which the Abad family lived—reigned and terrorized the nation.
The clarity with which Abad writes is one that can only come with time and perspective after such a tragedy and years of journalistic and novel-writing experience. Abad, the only boy in the family, had an especially close relationship with his father. His mother and several sisters were more religious and traditional, while Gómez based his thought on the rationality and knowledge taken from books. In a way, they were best friends; Abad even relates that he found separating himself from his father difficult and painful in the early years of his adult independence.
The founders of Mossless on turning their photography blog into a magazine: why self-publishing can be the scary future of art books.
Initially a daily blog where Romke Hoogwaerts and a few contributors interviewed over 300 photographers, Mossless has now grown to be a sophisticated two issue photography magazine. Launched by Kickstarter, Issue 1 garnered a quick and widespread following among the small but close-knit photography book community. Issue 2, which launched last fall, was hand-made by co-editors Hoogwaerts and Grace Leigh in their home/studio in Long Island City.
The small niche of photography magazines—while popularized by events such as Printed Matter’s LA and NY Art Book Fairs—is still a small and challenging market. In our interview, we discuss the hurdles in Mossless’s transformation from an interview-based photography website to a print magazine as well as the role of the internet in their process. Hoogwaerts’s accompanying essay in Issue 2, Swimming in the Center of the Earth, focuses on how the internet has introduced an arena for artists to show their work, while additionally generating a new kind of competition between artists.
While attending school, working, and creating art, Hoogwaerts and Leigh managed to produce a magazine that has already been recognized by museums, store owners, and individuals as something unique. The dedication and joy involved in the making of Mossless is essential to their success.
Ashley McNelis Romke, previously you were the editor of the Mossless blog where you interviewed contemporary photographers several times a week for over two years. Why did you decide to shift into creating a photo magazine of the same name?
Romke Hoogwaerts The magazine was the idea that started the interview blog. I’d always wanted to work in publishing and I figured there might be a way to carve my way through to it independently. I launched our first Kickstarter campaign to light a fire under my ass and so that I would graduate college with something in my hands. Most importantly though . . . these things look better in print, right?
In her new work, Laura Letinsky unites photography and sculpture to raise broad questions about how we see, how we live, and how time passes.
Since the late 1990’s, Laura Letinsky has created photographic still-lifes that address themes of materialism, domestic life, and melancholia. Her recent exhibition Ill Form and Void Full at Yancey Richardson in New York presented sculptural constructions that combine images cut from magazines with miscellaneous household objects. While Letinsky continues to investigate quotidian life, and how we view our world, these photographs clearly evolved from past work that dealt with loss and grief. Letinsky has a mid-career retrospective opening at the Denver Art Museum on October 28th.
Ashley McNelis The works in your new exhibition at Yancey Richardson, Ill Form and Void Full, are magazine cutouts and photographed objects made into constructions that are then rephotographed. They have a muted color palette, and carefully curated subject matter. However, they still exude the quiet power found in your earlier work. Why these color choices? Why this quieter mood?
Laura Letinsky The color palette is slightly muted but still within the range of what I have worked with over the past several years, dare I say, decades. I guess it’s less “natural” than the earlier still lifes, partly because I am picturing pictures, and in my studio. It’s a bit funny though as for years my color choices have been commented on, yet to me they simply feel natural. Isn’t this the way everyone sees?