Bellatrix Hubert talks with Legacy Russell about the state of the arts, not being a curator, and the buzz of her recent Hummingbird.
When Bellatrix Hubert and I first meet, we firmly shake hands.
“Legacy,” I say.
“Bella,” she offers.
I had arrived at Chelsea’s David Zwirner to check out the summer exhibition, a showing of twenty-two artists lyrically dubbed Stand Still Like the Hummingbird, an homage to Henry Miller’s potent book of the same name, first published in 1962.
Miller—a writer and a painter—built a career suspended between two identities, a life that enacted itself as both a bridge and a hybrid between the literary and art worlds. With this in mind, it comes as no surprise that the work for this particular exhibit at Zwirner seems to toy with perception: nothing is quite what it seems, everything is not at second glance what it postures to be at first. This is why it strikes me as a prime plot twist to discover that Bella—though curator of this particular show—is not, in fact, a curator. Partner and Director of the David Zwirner gallery in New York, Bella’s Stand Still Like the Hummingbird is a new direction for her and therefore somewhat of an experiment. Traditionally she spends her days with art, but not curating it; rather, she is a liaison between the gallery and the creative energies that fuel its existence: artists themselves. Thus, Bella-as-curator brings to Zwirner’s summer calendar a unique perspective, one that is not trained, trimmed, tailored, or edited, but rather visceral, immediate, and palpating with gut instinct.
In his Sexus, Miller noted, “Every day we slaughter our finest impulses.” For Bella’s Hummingbird, however, no blood was shed. With impassioned spontaneity alive and kicking, we sat down after the show to discuss how it got its wings and to meditate on the East, the West, and everything that flies between.
Legacy Russell spoke to artist Patricia Cronin about the installation of her Memorial to a Marriage, to be installed at Woodlawn Cemetery this Fall. With Memorial to a Marriage, art and politics will be forever wedded and bedded.
“Until death do us part” is a cornerstone of many nuptial negotiations throughout history. I say “negotiations” because, ultimately, that is where the seedlings of marriage find their genesis—in the realm of the legal, and therefore the contractual. Patricia Cronin’s Memorial to a Marriage, however, adds another element to the mix—the sculptural. We are born, we live, we die, and, from chapel to cemetery, pairs and partners swear to make these steps from the wedding bed to the coffin bed, together.
This is why Cronin’s piece, to be installed at the Woodlawn Cemetery on September 20th, strikes me as simultaneously an intensely pragmatic and graceful expression of the dawn of a new era in the politics of marriage and its relationship to art. Though the work draws on a Neoclassical aesthetic, it is inherently contemporary in its current relevance, cutting to the quick by depicting both Cronin and her wife, artist Deborah Kass, in repose, draped in sheets, and caressing in their coupledom. Memorial is a work of bronze a medium that Cronin adroitly notes was dubbed by Degas as the “medium for eternity”—a perfect wedding of form, material, and content, attended to by the ghosts of art history.
Legacy Russell Twinterviews performance artist Ann Hirsch about being scandalous, scandylicious, and the radical politics of the packaged female form in the sex-saturated era of reality television and social media.
Artists Christopher Gideon and Elissa Goldstone live and work miles apart. Yet, they love the same game. The two sat down to discuss baseball and its role within the stadium of contemporary art.
At the risk of blaspheming, I’m going to go out on a limb here: I have always been generally mystified by baseball. Perhaps I have been too impatient with its pace or, more probably, too uncoordinated to actually play the game to really understand the value of it—to feel it in my very being. In middle school I was always that kid who selected the electronic bat, the one that, during whiffle-ball, would let out a satisfying crack mid-swing, despite the fact that nine times out of ten there would be no actual contact with the ball itself. That crack—the illusion of success, the physicality implied by the sound—always prompted a flutter in my stomach. Yet, I never delved any deeper in exploring what the flutter was all about, and never really connected with the cultural meaning of the sport. That is, until I attended my first baseball game. I was in Havana, Cuba. I was fifteen years old. The unique opportunity to witness a game that I had always understood via a strictly American lens, on the other side of the heavy veil of U.S.-Cuba embargo politic, was a siren song. The stadium was a veritable international summit; a diverse melting pot of nationalities and language, all in the same place, at the same time, to watch the same game. Initially doubtful about the purpose of my presence in the stadium, I quickly lost myself, whisked away by the energy of it all. The ritual of it. The signs and symbols, the hand gestures, the cheers, the distinctive smells. At one point, a fan got so worked up he rushed onto the field shirtless, screaming, seemingly having caught the spirit, driven by the love of the game. And there it was—that flutter again. I got it.
I wasn’t able to foster a deeper relationship to the game in the years that followed. That feeling, the flutter, it seemed to have dissipated. This is why, miles from any stadium, devoid of peanuts and Cracker Jack, I was startled by the return of the sensation, this time prompted by setting eyes on the respective works of artists Christopher Gideon and Elissa Goldstone. I encountered Goldstone’s work first, at Salomon Contemporary in the spring of 2011; Gideon’s I crossed paths with later that summer. Again—it clicked. And this time, the narrative behind the passion and value of the game was being related to me in my native tongue: contemporary art. Gideon and Goldstone’s translation of baseball-as-cultural-text is so adroitly precise that I, too, caught the spirit.
Goldstone is a New York native; Gideon hails from Detroit. The two have never met and encountered eachother’s work for the first time in this conversation about their unique relationships with America’s favorite pastime.
South Africa-based painter Richard Hart brings a recipe for immortality to the canvas with fresh perspectives on a globalized neo-primitivism.
Here is what I notice about artist Richard Hart when we first meet in Dumbo: the dude comes prepared. He greets me with a winning smile and a firm handshake. As we talk, he looks at me dead-on—never wavering, never missing a beat, consistent eye contact. Hart doesn’t play around. Conversation comes with ease. When I ask if he has brought any samples of new work with him, he passes me a small black booklet. Inside: How to Live. Forever., a collection of his most recent series, gorgeous compositions printed in full color, laid out with the astounding precision and obsessive aesthetic found only with the best sort of art design. “I run a design studio,” he says simply as I flip through the pages. Go figure, Hart. The booklet is, in itself, a work of art.
Later on, as I go back through I realize that this new body of work is actually somewhat an illustration of a larger narrative. Within the cover, Hart has printed:
“After years of turmoil, brutality, corruption and war, a new Pan-African power base emerges. It is less a form of government than a transformation in consciousness, a sea change driven by the new values of a digitally empowered youth. Determined to right the wrongs of their forebears, and suspicious of Western political systems and failed economic models, the emergent leaders look inwards for counsel. They turn to their ancestors. To the Nature Spirit. They meld traditional notions of mysticism, magic and muti with technology and science. They forge new mythologies and rituals. Weapons become adornments. Music, poetry and rhythm are restored as portals to the divine. Animal spirits are called upon and revered. It is the dawn of a new primitivism. Though the dark soul of the continent remains, it is a warm, enveloping blackness that holds at its core love, optimism, healing and trust.”
I get it. Hart is molding new worlds, fresh possibilities, and a plan for eternity. And no wonder: each painting and sculpture presents faces, bodies, and objects with brave sight and new understanding. The work is all at once surrealist and stimulating, bemusing and beatific. Hart’s universe is one unknown, the geographies unmapped; there is so much to explore. The act of discovery is tantamount to the act of looking with each piece; to find is to see, and vice versa. Figures and structures unfold with a lyricism that excites and astounds. This is a novel direction and it is clear that Hart is in it for the long haul. With four international solo shows under his belt in locations ranging from Berlin to Cape Town, Hart is poised and ready to make his U.S. debut. Watching him hard at work, I can’t help but agree—this is, indeed, how to live forever.
After our first meeting, Hart and I continued to correspond, recording the artist’s first-ever interview about his creative practice for American press. I am honored to present it here.
Legacy Russell Twinterviews artist Man Bartlett about Occupy Wall Street, class and economy, and how Twitter just might be the next frontier for public sculpture.
With OPEN, director Jake Yuzna peels back the skin of love and sex in the modern age, giving audiences a glimpse of what the future holds—on the silver screen and beyond.
OPEN, a new film by Jake Yuzna, was released in North America in September. Within the last year, the acclaimed film has come to not only a theater near you—the New Museum hosted a sneak peek of the film in 2010—but to a computer near you as well, as September brought nationwide distribution and Instant access for all those with a Netflix account. The first American film to ever receive the esteemed Teddy Jury Prize as part of the Berlin Film Festival, OPEN and its director take first steps toward fleshing out narratives about love, sex, and sexuality in the modern age. Bolstered by a muted backdrop of Middle America, Yunza’s film revolves around several sets of star-crossed lovers, striving to make it honest within the geography of their own physical forms. OPEN is thus a journey from within, mirrored by a journey without—a bildungsroman/road movie combine that left me musing about what the future holds for LGBTQI communities outside of Yunza’s frame.
Legacy Russell Let’s talk about OPEN. How did this project begin?
Jake Yuzna It more or less started when I was co-directing the Flaming Film Festival in Minneapolis. Through the festival, I met a lot of the people who ended up starring in the film. Later I was fortunate to be awarded the first grant for the project, and the rest just developed.
LR The film is set in Minnesota, isn’t it? What role does the landscape of that particular site itself play in building out the story?
JY I’m from Minneapolis. It’s my home and in OPEN the Minneapolis community is in front and behind the camera. OPEN is a very Minneapolis film to me. It’s a little bit of a love song to the city.
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No—it’s BDY DBL!
Born in Los Angeles, now New York-based artist Kathryn Garcia subverts cultural taboos, delving directly into explorations of gender, sexuality, psychology, and their relationship to both art history and contemporary pop zeitgeist. We met to discuss the queering of culture and why her online alter-ego—BDY DBL—saves the day.
Legacy Russell Kathryn, how would you define your creative practice? As in, what modalities do you put into action via your work?
Kathryn Garcia I guess I would say my practice is not medium-specific—or you could say the mediums bleed into one another. The work bleeds. I work in drawing, as a practice, and also in video. I also employ methods of appropriation in various works; my website is both archival and interactive/schizoid.
KG By schizoid I mean that it is non-linear, basically there is no center. I put stuff on there randomly. It functions as an archive in a sense but doesn’t follow any kind of order.
For me art is about communication. Of course, I have aesthetic concerns when making something, but my work is content driven. I make art to talk about my ideas and political concerns: sex, gender, queerness, desire, trans-, becoming other, becoming flower, becoming man-woman, woman as man, man as woman, or that without distinctions.
Exploring zones that create precarity within meanings defined through oppositions, the bleeding of opposites, being that which bleeds. Those confusing in-betweens. What exists between a penis and vagina when both are becoming each other? And how these kinds of states of in-between challenge language, structures, and other mechanisms of control. Madness, anarchy, sexuality and the abject are a few examples of these types of states. I guess as a goal I aim to confuse people into a state of questioning why there are definitions in the first place, and more importantly, what those definitions are used for, preying on sexual impulse, attraction/repulsion, and liminal spaces.
Ariane Michel wants you to pay attention. In a work that premiered in New York on Monday evening at Van Cortlandt Park—aptly dubbed The Screening —Michel held up a mirror to film attendees by showing them a likeness of themselves on the silver screen.
Without giving too much away (no spoilers here!), the work chronicles a screening in the woods that, for those who found themselves that night in the Park after sunset, surely echoed the familiar.
In the run of the film we hear the crunch of leaves underfoot and the scuttle of an unknown woodland visitor taking us by surprise. An owl makes the star appearance, its eyes bottomless golden pools, confronting our gaze.
Who needs Chelsea? With Recess painting the town, contemporary art proves it can be approachable, engaging, interactive, and downright unassuming. Is it possible? Legacy Russell made a visit to 41 Grand to find out who’s at work and what keeps the gears turning at this storefront oasis.
Legacy Russell So let’s talk about what’s most important first—is it “Recess”? “Recess Activities”? “Recess Activities Inc.”? With all these names floating in the ether, I don’t know what to choose!
Allison Weisberg This is a timely question for us. We’ve just rebranded as Recess, and overhauled our website and logo to reflect the new simplicity. I like straight up Recess. It’s short and sweet, but has a lot of layered meaning packed into one word. Activities remains in places like our url, and our Con Ed bill, and it’s a fitting addendum for us, but just call us by our first name—like Madonna.
But here’s a little back story: we couldn’t incorporate as just Recess. We needed an addendum to reserve a corporate name (I know, snooze, sorry). Activities was the solution. It follows the playful recess vernacular and makes me think of hopscotch and freeze tag. We often use the word active to describe Recess—we expect active audiences, and foster an activated environment—we assume an active role in informing the trajectory of the contemporary arts. So although we embrace play, we require a level of creative and intellectual rigor that complements our recreational spirit.
In conversation with poet Richard Siken, be prepared to bleed a little.
In 2005, I happened upon a copy of Richard Siken’s Crush while browsing at Saint Mark’s Bookshop in the East Village. Published that year as part of the Yale Series of Younger Poets, the venerable Louise Glück had written the foreword. Her first sentence: “This is a book about panic.” Second: “The word is never mentioned.” My knees buckled. I sat down on the floor and read the sixty-two-page work from cover to cover; several hours later, sick to my stomach, I brought it home with me. Crush lived with me for years; during this time I lost copies left and right to friends and colleagues who borrowed mine without realizing how difficult it would become to part with it once immersed in the undertow of Siken’s text. In my final year of school, knee-deep in my own studies of poetry and art, I decided to write Siken: “It’s cliché as fuck to write a note like this…” I began. His reply: “It is cliché as fuck.” Thus began a war of words. Six years later, Siken’s bite still draws blood, and it feels good.
Legacy Russell So, Richard, I’m just going to put it out there—while your work can be found on a myriad of blogs, online journals, and a variety of publications, and while selections from Crush have been read on YouTube by aspiring poets, tattooed on people’s bodies, and passed around a far-reaching literary community as a publication that has been rumored to change people’s lives, you’ve been relatively private about your identity as a writer. What gives?
Richard Siken You know, I’ve dodged this question (or answered it dishonestly) so many times now, but I’ll go ahead and attempt an explanation. You get the page, I get the rest. That’s the answer but really, you want the reasons behind the answer.
Artists Mark Joshua Epstein and Wardell Milan talk on the record about working off the canvas, self-defining as a creative, and how Milan’s event series, The Critiques, rocks the white box in its focus on emerging talents.
This Sunday marks another session of The Critiques, to be held at Third Streaming in TriBeCa. Founded in 2010 by Wardell Milan and colleague Natika Soward, The Critiques proclaims itself as ”...a new initiative aimed at providing a platform for dialogue and exchange between emerging artists and critics.” Who’s on the roster this week? The scintillating combination of Mark Joshua Epstein and Duron Jackson. Curator Herb Tam will act as the evening’s critic-in-residence. Milan sat down with Epstein to warm up for what is sure to be another season of heavy-hitters.
Wardell Milan Why did you start making the collages?
Mark Joshua Epstein I don’t draw or sketch really, so it was a way of finding a trick to get myself into the studio where I didn’t have to say to myself, “Okay, you’re going to go make a painting,” which comes with some pressure. Instead it was “Okay, you’re going to take all of these magazines that pile up in your apartment and you are going to go through them and look for motifs and images that you think are interesting.” I could say to myself, “This isn’t a big deal, I’m just going to go through these magazines,” because I get all these free magazine subscriptions. I also started making collages because I wanted to do something quick, and I also think that the thing that people don’t talk about that often with collage, is that with painting, if you want to make a highly patterned painting or a highly intricate painting, it is very hard to do it casually, it’s very hard to dash it off right? Done. Casual painting. With collage, because things are already highly patterned, you can cut a casual shape, you can make some kind of casual composition but with highly patterned things—you can’t do this in a painting.
Artist Matthew Lutz-Kinoy collaborated with producer SOPHIE and triple-threat Chelsea Culp at the New Museum in September. The result? Paint on the dance floor, and an inescapable harmony that you can’t help but whistle to.
The night of New York-and-Berlin-based artist Matthew Lutz-Kinoy’s Fall performance of his Donna Haraway’s Expanded Benefits Package (DHEBP) at New York’s New Museum (featuring Chicago-based artist and curator Chelsea Culp and London producer-on-the-rise, SOPHIE) I found myself at home with the flu. It was only until later, after I had come back from the dead and was dining with friends downtown, that the reviews began to pour in.
“Describe it to me.” I demanded.
“I can’t, I’m sorry. I just can’t. You gotta hear it first.”
I went home and revisited Lutz-Kinoy’s website, a white space dotted with a variety of photographs, paintings, text, layered and liberated in their somewhat decontextualized presentation. There it was: D O N N A. And hear, it was (well—here). It was a palpation of a Fluxus-infused ecstasy, a sort-of-Schneeman-1964-Meat Joy in the air—but in lieu of the sanguine, and paired with Lutz-Kinoy’s tactile images, was the aural-ocular sensation of honey and glitter being poured all over me from a distance above. I listened to the track intermittently in the coming days and found myself, honied, floating in the ethereal regions between the art-haus, the funhouse, and the dancehouse. It struck me that, in some small way, though I had missed the show, I had not missed the performance.
Over the last few months, over the digital stratospheres somewhere between New York/London/Amsterdam/Berlin, I sat down with Lutz-Kinoy (a sculptor, a dancer, a video artist, a painter–and that’s just getting started) and the London-based musician SOPHIE to discuss DHEBP, cruising utopias, and how this producer/artist collaboration makes room for beautiful instrumentals in their combines.
Legacy Russell Matthew, can you talk about Donna Haraway’s Expanded Benefits Package (DHEBP)? What was the impetus for this work?
ML-K I think the most interesting starting point of this work is a merge that happened between my intuitive production that is heavily informed by collaborative relationships between curators or artists and the recent application of those methods into a framework that emphasizes political agency. This was heavily informed by José Esteban Muñoz’s book Cruising Utopia. But that’s getting ahead of myself and that context has a lot to do with framing and structuring, and I would say the real starting point—at least the more raw content—begins with a practice located in the atelier, the dance studio, and the night club, some place that locates itself between a painting and the representation-painting-dance.
Micki Pellerano creates his own cosmos in his drawings. Legacy Russell takes a walking tour through the Lower East Side’s envoy enterprises and the mythical regions of an artist’s mind, beyond revelation.
This Sunday marks the closing of New York-based artist (and bassist for the gothic-folk group Cult of Youth) Micki Pellerano’s exhibition, Revelation. Pellerano’s work toes the line between dream and nightmare, a genesis sprung from an end-of-worlds. Want to witness the kiss of Hades and Elysium? The meeting of man and magic? Come see it for yourself at 131 Chrystie Street.
Legacy Russell Micki, I’ve said it before, and will say it again—it is, without a doubt, very difficult to create graphite-based work on any kind of paper, and then take it and display it in a place that, like envoy [enterprises], has lighting that outshines the likes of Duane Reade or Walgreens. To show highly detailed work under the infamously unforgiving glare of florescent and have it maintain its composure . . . how does that happen? What kind of lighting do you use when creating these works?
Micki Pellerano The lighting I use at home is rather intense so perhaps that lends to it. Either way, I’m glad you feel the drawings hold up under such scrutiny.
LR Can you talk a bit more about your process? When we first met you noted that the paper you use has different tones, sometimes different teeth, different weights . . . which comes first? The concept for a piece, or the paper itself? Do you select one in the interest of serving the other?
MP I have my old standards of types of paper that I prefer to use, and experience has taught me which ones don’t work. I still enjoy experimenting with new textures and imagining how they will be conducive to the concept I have in mind.
LR Walking into this exhibition was like stumbling into a combine of C.S. Lewis and Lewis Carroll. The work is gothic in some respects, psychedelic in others, fairy-tale like, at times. Can you touch on how fantasy is utilized in your process?
MP When attempting to render the idea of something formless materializing into a state of palpability or perceptibility, textural qualities such as melting and morphing enter your visual vocabulary, and these are redolent of motifs in psychedelic art or cinema. This is why popular psychedelic art borrowed so heavily from Art Nouveau with its ethereal vapors and shifting plasmas.
Lydia Kellam is a Swedish Fish far from home, but her take-over of New York’s music scene is coming along swimmingly.
When I was a senior in high school, I had the fortune of meeting a handsome bloke from Sweden at a bar in the East Village (this was back when you could get a fake ID down on Macdougal street with a simple wave, smile, and fifty bucks). We fell for one another the summer I graduated, sharing a passion for the art of the mixtape. I moved to the Twin Cities in Minnesota—where IKEA rivals the Mall of America in its breathtaking grandeur and popularity—to do my schooling, but we kept in touch. Minnesota to some is “Land of Lakes,” but to many is also “Land of the Swedes”—Minnesota ranks as the #1 state in America with the highest population of Swedish Americans. I wrote letters to my Swedish puss (don’t go there: puss means “kiss” in Swedish), and in return often received mixtapes of the Swedish variety (quite a talent himself, he’s still at it; check out his most recent mix by clicking here). Upon my return to New York after studying abroad in the Midwest, I had the fortune of encountering the lovely Lydia Kellam through a mutual Swedish friend, a pal of my old Swedish flame. “I miss Sweden,” she’d sigh over dinner. “Me too,” I’d reply, shaking my head. An invitation from Kellam to attend a Swede Beat CMJ party brought myself and friends to the door of the Norwood Club in Chelsea. When we entered, Kellam—barely over five and a half feet tall—was in the DJ booth. She had both hands over her head. The party was in full swing, and I was pleased to recognize some of the artists being spun (ah, what love teaches you). At the bar a dapper gent tried to make small talk with me over the din of the music; after a few minutes of nodding, I realized I had no idea what he was saying. I took a moment and looked around, realizing that I was one of a small handful of folks in the room who had no clue how to speak Swedish. It didn’t matter: we were all there to dance the night away, with Kellam as our native guide.
During Basel week, BOMB teamed up with Gallery Diet to present Clifford Owens’s first Miami solo show. Legacy Russell was there to sneak a peek at the Audience.
Two years ago, after setting foot on the isle of Manhattan after a week of wandering the South Beach shores, I sat down and wrote out a call to action; A Miami Manifesto for all those in the art world incubator (and those on the outside of the fishbowl, looking in) to start paying more attention to one another. On the cusp of a prominent rise of participatory engagement and social practice, for me, 2009 still marked a year of negligence—Recession-swaddled, we either found ourselves putting stones in our pockets and Woolf-ing our way into the tides of financial despair or shouting from the rooftops, “Let them eat cake!”
This was why my sore eyes delighted when setting foot in the bright white box (no metaphor here, it was quite literally blinding) that is Gallery Diet in Miami’s warehouse-addled Wynwood District (think: Bushwick bathed in neon). Gallery Diet partnered with BOMB for a Basel-bound hang-out, hosting friends of the space (and the artist himself) for cocktails, conversation, and free BOMB swag.
Invented by Ryder Ripps, DUMP.FM is an online image-share platform with the rising reputation as one of the primary breeding grounds for young digital artists. One of them is Glass Popcorn. And he needs a date to the dance.
Raise your hand if the name GeoCities rings a bell. Or Angelfire. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? If your hand is up, chances are you were—like me—coming of age on the internet in the 1990s. Web hosts like these two were originally prime sandboxes for those toying with Graphics Interchange Formats. Fondly known amongst those that create them as “GIFs”, platforms like GeoCities or Angelfire in their earliest forms allowed artists and web developers to build out interactive journals, image databases, and graphic archives.
Before Friendster or MySpace or Facebook, before there was Wordpress or Tumblr or Twitter, came the intergalactic wallpaper patterns of Angelfire and the coveted Wall Street or Hollywood geographically-inclined web addresses of GeoCities. (Want a taste? Click here.) Though the era of these sites has passed, the fact remains that sites like DUMP.FM—the brainchild of artist Ryder Ripps—are, indeed, a throwback to the prehistoric web hosts of an early-90s enlightenment. DUMP is, like, totally vintage. A cross-breed between a basic chat room and a gallery space for the digitally determined, those down to dabble can register via DUMP.FM and within seconds have access to an infinite well of visuality, the majority of which is being created on-the-spot by members themselves. Spend some time cruising the site and you will come to see that DUMP.FM is, without a doubt, somewhat of a freestyle image-battle—one member might post an image only to find that minutes later it has been modified and manipulated into a different beast altogether.
Ripp’s creations, collaborations, and cyber-curations have become a go-to for creatives of all kinds, ranging from multi-media artist and art star Ryan Trecartin to rapper and pseudo-rebel M.I.A. It therefore comes as no surprise that a site where the boundaries between artist, producer, programmer, and chatter are blurred would produce someone like Glass Popcorn, a self-defined “rapper” who, at the wizened age of fifteen, has been dubbed by many as the Justin Beiber of the art world. And how! After landing a gig at the DIS magazine’s MoMA P.S.1 melee in the summer of 2011, Glass went back to his native Arizona to continue living with his parents. Yet, make no mistake—the byte-sized artist and musician has his eye on the prize, with the promise of a Ripps-produced rap album on the horizon and goals of grandeur to become not just the next darling of the art world, but of the whole world. Period.
I logged on recently to gossip with the guys and to get the scoop on why Ke$ha rocks, why Frank Lloyd Wright isn’t an asshole, and to explore the possibilities of this cybernated Monster-fueled renaissance.
Artist Jason Lazarus has his hands full—with GIFs, pics, and sign-sticks.
I first had the pleasure of meeting artist Jason Lazarus on a cross-country road trip in the spring of 2011. We happened upon one another at an event I produced in Chicago and, over a few beers, got to talking. At the time, Lazarus was working on his archival project Too Hard To Keep. Though the project had him knee-deep in an ocean of materials cast away by their original owners—leaving Lazarus with the weighty task of deciding how to conserve them—I was struck by the artist’s calm determination. It did not take long to realize that this is not uncommon for Lazarus—undertaking the seemingly impossible or generally monumental is de rigueur for him in his day-to-day, and, as a result, Lazarus has perfected the graceful juggling act required to merge the realms of artist and cultural producer. In this, Lazarus has proven himself to be a true model for the contemporary maker. Armed with a new project and fresh momentum, Jason Lazarus has got his hands full—yet he is ready for even more.
Legacy Russell Let’s talk about what’s been most recently on your plate—a project that focuses on modes of archiving and the recent social phenomenon Occupy Wall Street. Can you touch on this?
Jason Lazarus The archive is called Phase I, the title references conversations between Kalle Lasn and Micah White of AdBusters about broad steps for change, with Phase I being signs, meetings, camps, marches. This archive is a collection of recreated OWS signs used around the world. While a Kennedy Visiting Artist this past fall at the University of South Florida [(USF)] in Tampa, I started collecting .jpegs of signs from the Occupy movement and recreating them in my studio. This activity morphed to a weekly sign-making session where students from around the Department of Art and Art History were dropping in to make signs, talk about Occupy, eat pizza, and just blow off steam. This mode of production was significant as each sign has a message and a visual tactic used to create it . . . through the process of the students picking a hand-made sign to recreate, they not only connect with a message, but with the vernacular tactic used to get that message out quickly, loudly, artistically. We all couldn’t help but learn together about the economy of protesting.
Legacy Russell Twinterviews artist Devin Kenny about studio practice, studio work-outs, studio recordings, and how hip-hop helps to keep things in motion.
Amy Adler on artist’s rights, the impact of conceptual art on law and Texts from Hillary.
Amy Adler is the Emily Kempin Professor of Law at NYU School of Law. Her practice focuses on art, sexuality, and speech and explores the relationship between law and the construction of culture. At NYU, she teaches Art Law, First Amendment Law, Feminist Jurisprudence, and Gender Jurisprudence. She is also on the faculty of the Visual Culture department. When I first met Adler it was in a class of hers I sat in on at NYU Law. Into the Day-Glo fluorescence of classroom lights—at a time where most art world folk in New York are usually taking an Aspirin and mourning the err in judgment of attending whatever open-bar-gallery-crawl had taken place the night before—Adler strolled in fresh-faced and dazzling in a crisp Chanel suit and pearls. Along with her came a little boy—her own—who promptly seated himself at the front of the class. Not only did her son participate in class discussion (the kid just might have a future in art criticism), but Adler in the next forty minutes proceeded to create correlations between everything from reality TV, to feminist theory, to legal precedence. Nothing was safe. At the end of the session, with far too many questions of my own and too little time remaining, I knew I had to find a way to continue the conversation. It wasn’t until quite some time later that Adler and I found a few hours to lunch and discuss the laws of art, art law, authenticity, collective action, and the notion of provenance in a digital age.
Legacy Russell You have said before that the law “works by creating rules” and yet that “art is somehow bound-up in the transgression of those same rules.” Can you speak to this a bit? And talk about how it relates to the work you’ve done in a concrete sense?
Amy Adler I was just reading a passage today from Adorno where he writes: “Art revolts against its essential concepts while at the same time being inconceivable without them.” We are living in such an interesting moment in contemporary practice. I’ve been playing around with the question: What if art’s longstanding “revolt” against its essential concepts has been a bit too successful? Perhaps “art” as a category has become “inconceivable.” I wonder if we are teetering on that brink. Legal rules are premised on the assumption that art is a stable category, but what happens to law as that assumption becomes unsound? The instability of “art” as a category has implications across a wide swath of legal and cultural stuff. One place we can begin to talk about is in the area of moral rights, which is something that I’ve done a lot of work on and continue to do.