Lucio Pozzi discusses his multifaceted, multifarious solution to the problems of orthodoxies and rules that limit the artistic process.
Schools—or, for those who do not attend school, magazines, museums and galleries—teach us about the discoveries of the twentieth century. To “Discover” ought to mean that something was once covered, and then someone took off the shroud that concealed it to unveil a hitherto unacknowledged essence. However, many of the matrices “discovered” over the last century already existed as part of a larger whole in the artistic practices of various past cultures, such as geometric images or dream imagery, but because they had not been identified as separate linguistic entities, as such they were discovered by us.
When discoveries start to be taught in schools, it means that we have managed to extract some rules than can be explained. The moment this happens, they cease to be discoveries and become canons from which one can depart on new explorations. Canons can be used as open departure platforms or be guarded as closed criteria out of which one should not stray, confines a serious artist is expected not to trespass. The latter is an option that leads to artistic red tape. Today’s artists take the plunge, full of anticipation only to find themselves bogged down in a Byzantine labyrinth of reckoning and precaution, imposed by the bureaucratization of culture.
Ingredients for Keating Sherwin’s paintings? Canvas, brushes, paint, and, of course, cooking utensils.
Keating Sherwin paints large, sculptural oil paintings of women. Preferring cooking tools to paintbrushes, Sherwin’s process is one of the most fascinating aspects of her work. She seems to wander in and out of consciousness as she moves around—often hovering on top of her canvas, paint tool in hand. Other times, she sits up close to her paintings, inspecting each detail, completely unmoved.
Sherwin’s work reflects two of her favorite muses: lips and women. Her lip series features frames of lone impasto lips, formed by blends of indigo, violet, blue and pink or yellow against a thick, white, dripping background. The women are darker with softer edges, but thicker lines. These women, often cut off at the hip, seem both feminine and masculine, always confrontational, at times angry and absent. Many of these women have been painted with one, irisless eye. Man in Black features a figure with an almost feminine stance, a dotted eyeball, and a raised middle finger seemingly gesturing towards the viewer.
Sherwin’s handling of thick, impasto globs of oil paint results in a gritty, naturalistic outcome. These strokes (be it brushstrokes or spoon-strokes) dance to the rhythm of her emotional state, and reflect the characteristics of her subjects on the canvas. When I visited her studio in June, Keating Sherwin was been busy preparing for her first solo exhibition—You, Legend, which remains on view at Three Squares Studio—a gallery in West Chelsea that doubles as a hair salon—through the middle of September. The exhibition features a dozen works by Sherwin, all created in 2011 and 2012. The conversation below occurred in two stages, the first of which took place at her studio in downtown Brooklyn, the second of which occurred at the gallery in West Chelsea.
Eskor Johnson spends a day in the life of The Love Child.
Twenty-three hours in the life of The Love Child, one for each year he’s been alive and counting. Potentially twenty-four, had I not arrived an hour past our scheduled meeting time—a friend, Natalie, was baking me a lasagna—and had he been born earlier than January 11, 1989. To apologize I’ve brought along a piece for him in a Tupperware container and I’ve also brought Natalie, to redirect the blame. This is on Prince Street, at one of three locations The Love Child usually sets up shop. He likes the lasagna: “This is mad good,” he says after a bite. “This is mad good.”
Jay Michael Gittens: Grenadian born-and-raised until age ten, British Virgin Islands until fifteen, now New York; newly slim (“That’s why I wear the suspenders. These pants don’t fit me anymore.”) and wearing it well; aka The Love Child, street artist and starer into space. Media: acrylic, oil (once, accidentally), canvas, wood, cloth, paper, paraphernalia.
It is windy today, enough to disturb some of the smaller pieces Jay has taped down to the concrete ledge he uses both as seating and showcase. The passers-by are a mix of New York everything, though they mostly have in common the sartorial sense it seems is requisite to walk around Soho. Jay is in red sneakers and blue jeans and blue polo, and cool snapback cap with New York graffitied on the front (the “O” is an eyeball). He is tall. Though he smiles often, when he is not his face falls into a haze-eyed stare that seems morose and bored. Perhaps this is a necessary symptom after entire days spent in the throng of so many people in transit, a near-overdose of temporary audiences. His laugh requires his whole body and goes Kee-hee-hee-hee-hee-hee, like Ernie from Sesame Street. There is paint on his hands and when he gives me back the Tupperware there are little dots of yellow on the lid. Jays leaves these traces most places he goes.
His setup today is of eighteen pieces, eleven of which are on paper, two on wide planks of wood, two much larger than the rest, three framed, one that is his first oil piece (accidentally) and one on a rough-edged section of brown paper that looks torn from a gift-wrapping roll. For those of you counting, there’s some overlap going on here so the math doesn’t quite add up. One of the two larger ones, for example, is also the one in oil and also framed. The frame Jay found somewhere and is made of metal and does not really match the pell-mell of color within its boundaries. To dry this painting Jay left it out on top of a phone booth overnight—it was neither rained on nor stolen. “I have another frame on top a phone booth,” he adds. “Just like a big wooden joint.” While Jay and I talk about his beginnings in photography and drawing, Natalie snaps pictures and inspects the paintings. So do some of the pedestrians who pause mid-stroll to look at whatever has caught their eye.
Holding a Peach, Storm Tharp’s exhibition of new paintings and sculptures, is a study in intimacy.
September 24—29th is the final week of Holding a Peach, an exhibition of new paintings and sculptures by Storm Tharp at PDX Contemporary in Portland, Oregon. At a glance, the new work by Mr. Tharp hardly looks to be a radical departure from the old. Upon entering the first room of the gallery, which is hung with 16 paintings, you can see plenty of his trademark ink spills and spidery lines, his light watercolor palette with occasional hints of gold leaf.
In place of the usual portraits, though, one finds paintings filled with an abstract jumble of legs, butts, and chests, with inky hairs and lumpy love handles hanging out. By and large the forms are masculine, the body hair abundant. Wide ribbons of paint allude to boxer and brief waists, sharp blue corners evoke gentlemen’s shirt collars, black bands resembling cod-pieces wrap around fatty flesh. The mish-mash of these elements in paintings like Spring Picture: Athlete could represent an act of love-making (or at least vigorous wrestling), but the parts also adhere together to make a callipygian whole.
Kevin Kinsella discusses the current exhibition on view at the Radiator Gallery, This Is How My Brain Works, which offers a keen curatorial selection of collage art by various artists.
Bells and whistles aside, early slot machines were simple gambling devices with reels that spun when a lever was pulled, resulting in a pattern of symbols when they stopped spinning—and hopefully the clatter of a few coins dropping into the till. Over time, they got a bit more sophisticated. Nowadays, slots are high stakes affairs. And while the bells and whistles remain, the rules of chance have long been refined.
In most 20th century slot machines, numbers representing symbols are assigned to stopping positions and entered into a random number generator to control the payout odds of each position. While the owner could tweak the odds a bit, Lady Luck was still either with the player or against him. Today, computers inside the machines allow their owners to assign a different probability to each symbol on every reel allowing any odds to be set. While you might think that you just missed a jackpot, odds are, you weren’t even close. The inherent randomness of chance and risk is mitigated by deliberate checks—or filters. Still, you were this close to beating the house. Sure you were.
Now, at Radiator Gallery in Long Island City, Queens, the stakes just got higher. In “SLOTS,” multimedia artist Maximus Clarke employs the metaphor of the slot machine to consider randomness in the life of the artist, only the payout isn’t anything like a deluge of coins; rather, it’s Western culture itself. The piece, a projection-mapped video installation, is a part of This Is How My Brain Works, a group exhibition organized by first-time curator Michael Lee that examines the practice of collage in media ranging from works on paper to artist books, photographs, sculpture, textiles, and video. According to Clarke, collage is a practice that can extend across any and all media and “SLOTS,” which questions whether there’s a set of steps that the artist can credibly climb to achieve significance, or if it’s just a game of chance, a “digital, multimedia embodiment of that practice.”
Gillian Sagansky talks with gallerist Jack Chiles and curator Pati Hertling about their collaborative project on the Bowery, which features artist-designed signs.
The Jack Chiles Gallery occupies the top two floors of a three-story federal townhouse which dates back to the 1790s, making it one of the oldest buildings on the Bowery. Jack Chiles, who is British-born, has teamed up with curator Pati Hertling to present the most recent edition of the 208 Bowery Sign Residency project at his gallery. Every few months the pair chooses a different artist or group of artists to take over the advertising space which consists of one large sign that spans the width of the building (measuring 16 by 4.5 feet) and a light box sign that projects at a right angle from the building (measuring 5 by 3 feet).
The duo launched their sign residency project in July with a dinner catered by famed Mission Chinese, and chose the New York-based collectives United Brothers (consisting of Ei and Tomoo Arakawa) and Rirkrit Tiravanija (German artists Kerstin Brätsch and Adele Röder) to kickstart the project with two original signs. The collectives wrote a haiku on the large sign in commemoration of the Fukishima catastrophe (“B Personal/Sun in the Sky Blocked/Radiants Cost. A Tanning Haiku by Das Institut & United Brothers”), and used the lightbox to advertise their upcoming shows in Japan. The current artist in residence is the highly acclaimed Thai artist Rirkrit Tiravinija who has transcribed the English words “Freedom cannot be simulated” across the larger sign and “Time not waiting” (which translates into “Don’t waste time”) in traditional Chinese characters on one side of the lightbox and in contemporary characters on the other side.
I met with Jack and Pati on the first floor of the gallery. Their personalities complemented one another—Jack is bubbly and witty with a charming British accent, while Pati is more contemplative and soft-spoken. We discussed the motivation for the sign residency and explored the relation between their site-specific project and the environment in which it resides.
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.
Alex Zafiris talks to artists Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe about their new installation and fourth collaboration, Stray Light Grey, presented at Marlborough Chelsea in New York.
Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe have been creating all-immersive sequences of abandoned rooms since their first project, Hello Meth Lab in the Sun, debuted at Ballroom Marfa in 2008. This evolved into Black Acid Co-op, shown by Jeffrey Deitch the following year, which then morphed into Bright White Underground, housed at Country Club in Los Angeles in 2010. The latest incarnation, Stray Light Grey, continues their reach into the recesses of the mind with spaces laden with excess, alienation, disconnect and darkness.
It is late August in the city. Freeman and Lowe are mid-installation at the Marlborough Chelsea for their opening on September 13. There is almost no natural light, the radio is playing, power drills are drowning out conversation. After this interview, conducted on the second floor in the gallery’s pristine offices, we go downstairs and they lead me through it. Stray Light Grey resembles a construction site, save for details that have begun to surface: a human-sized hole in the back of the gallery bathroom, which leads into a room papered with original 1970s wallpaper. A black-and-white checkerboard floor in an off-site betting shop. Standing still in a tight spot, Freeman says, “This is what we’re calling the Kowloon hallway.” I’m not familiar, and he explains about the Chinese Walled City, which was demolished in the early ’90s. “It was a slum that grew together into one interiorized building. All the alleyways were caved inside, everyone did their own plumbing and electricity. It had intense decay and disuse. This will look like that.” Around the corner is the almost completed Brain Room: an enclave of white, crystallized electronics. There is too much work going on nearby, so we take an alternate route. “Normally you’d go up the stairs,” he says, pointing upwards to another level. “That’s going to be our plastic surgery clinic. That will then come down into the Mexican hybridized retail environment, where we’ll have a cake shop, and a pharmacy.” This leads to what will become a mahogany library belonging to an eccentric aristocrat. I ask them what kind of books they’re planning to create for the shelves. “A lot of science fiction, psychedelic drugs, things about community ritual and group psychosis,” says Freeman. “And humor,” says Lowe. “A lot of comedy.”
Sabrina Ratté. Faceless Kiss. Music by Jeffre Cantu-Ledesma. Digital and analog video. 2012. All video courtesy of the artist.
Sabrina Ratté talks to Ari Spool about her films and the organic nature of the inorganic artifice. Sabrina Ratté’s films are usually set to music made by machines. Out of the 20 or so videos she’s made that I’ve seen, only two had a human figure, and every single one had music made by digital or analog synthetic means—in Sabrina’s work, no one is ever playing the violin. Synthesizers of all types are the soundtrack to her films, and they are almost uniformly lush, ambient, and beautiful. To talk about the music before addressing the visual elements of the films themselves is necessary: in order to understand the imagery presented one must know that the music is inorganic. A viewer must also engage with the colors, drawn from nature—an aqueous palette of purples and blues, sometimes veering into a heat-map red, sometimes working with beige-inflected oranges and greens. Once familiarized with the music and the colors, all that remains to approach are the shapes. Depending on the music used, the shapes follow different rules. Sometimes they are anthropomorphic daubs, sometimes skittering matrices. In each of these works, the viewer enters into worlds of Sabrina’s making. A view of these artificial settings is washed with a fuzz, as if the lens has been scrubbed with a scratchy sponge. Nothing stands still—the view out the windows, the floors, and the walls all appear to vibrate, either with the flicker characteristic of a VHS, or with an even, steady glide across other panes of the image. In the presence of these environments the sensation is all-encompassing; the artificiality is, at times, almost overwhelming. Sabrina lives in Montreal. I live in Queens. Over a month’s time, we corresponded via email to build out this exchange.
Sabrina Ratté talks to Ari Spool about her films and the organic nature of the inorganic artifice.
Sabrina Ratté’s films are usually set to music made by machines. Out of the 20 or so videos she’s made that I’ve seen, only two had a human figure, and every single one had music made by digital or analog synthetic means—in Sabrina’s work, no one is ever playing the violin. Synthesizers of all types are the soundtrack to her films, and they are almost uniformly lush, ambient, and beautiful.
To talk about the music before addressing the visual elements of the films themselves is necessary: in order to understand the imagery presented one must know that the music is inorganic. A viewer must also engage with the colors, drawn from nature—an aqueous palette of purples and blues, sometimes veering into a heat-map red, sometimes working with beige-inflected oranges and greens. Once familiarized with the music and the colors, all that remains to approach are the shapes. Depending on the music used, the shapes follow different rules. Sometimes they are anthropomorphic daubs, sometimes skittering matrices.
In each of these works, the viewer enters into worlds of Sabrina’s making. A view of these artificial settings is washed with a fuzz, as if the lens has been scrubbed with a scratchy sponge. Nothing stands still—the view out the windows, the floors, and the walls all appear to vibrate, either with the flicker characteristic of a VHS, or with an even, steady glide across other panes of the image. In the presence of these environments the sensation is all-encompassing; the artificiality is, at times, almost overwhelming.
Sabrina lives in Montreal. I live in Queens. Over a month’s time, we corresponded via email to build out this exchange.
Simon Dinnerstein on the power of sychronicity, the idea of the “masterpiece,” and art that defies strategy, taxonomy, and possibly even the artist.
I learned about Simon Dinnerstein through a bizarre series of sychronicities. First, I encountered an image of Dinnerstein’s epic Fulbright Triptych on the cover of a book of essays at Strand Book Store. Hailing from the eerily poetic world of Alice Neel, Alfred Leslie, Kerry James Marshall, or David Hockney, the image stopped me dead in my tracks. I was startled that I had not seen the painting before. I thumbed through the book to find that the collection of essays, written by a motley array of prominent writers, poets, psychologists, and actors, were all devoted precisely to the mystery and heft of this singular painting. I learned that the painting was housed in Penn State’s Palmer Collection and I vowed to go see it as soon as I could.
Before doing so, however, my second encounter with the work took place: a sighting of the painting on a poster at the home of a family friend, who, it turns out, had been a student of Simon Dinnerstein’s at the New School/Parsons in the ’70s. She had just gotten back in touch with Dinnerstein after learning from an article in the New York Times by Roberta Smith that the Triptych had made its way to the German Consulate, where it is—and will be—on view for the next two years.
My third encounter with the Triptych took place much sooner and more locally than I expected. It was just a few days later that I stood before its fourteen-foot glory, beside Dinnerstein, who had agreed to come walk me through his work. We looked together for hours at this paean to the tools, forms, and genres of art-making—a haunting homage to those objects, people, and ideas that inspire artists to make art.
As he lead me through the marks and methods of the Triptych that day, Dinnerstein spoke with a peculiar detachment, as if the work was so great, so interwoven and dense, that it existed entirely on its own, beyond him. This first encounter with Dinnerstein left me wanting to know more about this man whose creation seemed almost to eclipse his entire being—where does an artist go from here? At his Park Slope studio and home of over 40 years, I met the world of a curious and engaged mind, whose walls boasted sustained and varied lines of inquiry both stemming and diverging from those in the Triptych. As we spoke about the piece, I saw that Dinnerstein lacks nostalgia or complacency and has avoided succumbing to an art market-driven aesthetic in his work. I left with the sensation that I had just been in the presence of a bygone—or perhaps just rare—breed of artist, for whom the greatest accomplishment and potential of work is its ability not only to astound viewers, but to beguile and awe its own maker.
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.
Artist Emily Roysdon on the many facets of “queer,” playing with language, activism through aesthetics, and making the audience happy.
“Clock! Block! Block!”
Shouting this loudly and in quick succession with over one hundred other bodies in Emily Roysdon’s I Am a Helicopter, Camera, Queen (2012), I found myself inevitably shouting “Cock! Block!” I tried to remember clock, but I could not quite get the cock out of my clock. This linguistic stickiness is just one of the many sideways promises of the score Roysdon set out for her Tate Live Performance Room piece. In fact, this is a staple of Roysdon’s work: the persistence of an idea that rolls around in your head and on your tongue, an idea which slowly works its way up through your feet to percolate, finally finding an unforeseen home inside of you.
Emily Roysdon’s practice is the concept, the idea that comes to life in the form of bodies that take shape through photography, collaboration, or correspondence. Her work is the quiet choreography of language through simple and provocative images. A founding member of the feminist genderqueer artist collective, LTTR, Roysdon’s work has its roots in the language of community and conversation. Since her days with the collective, Roysdon has shown artistic works internationally from New York to Madrid to Prague, and was just shortlisted for the Victor Pinchuk Foundation’s Future Generation Art Prize in Kiev. In addition to art objects, images, and multimedia works, Roysdon also creates event scenarios that bring artists together in response to a specific challenge such as in 2011’s A Gay Bar Called Everywhere (With Costumes and No Practice) at The Kitchen in New York City. Roysdon and I connected online between London and Stockholm—Roysdon’s other home away from New York.
This year’s Havana Biennial breaks away from pavilions, focusing instead on conversations between regions.
The Havana Biennial was founded in 1984 on the premise of building a platform for artists systematically excluded from the capitals of the visual arts market. From its beginning, it was self-classified as a “biennial of the third world.” Jorge Fernández Torres, Director of the 11th edition, says the Biennial’s early strategies “consisted of breaking away from the bazaar of pavilions and countries, thinking in the terms of artists from different regions, and allowing them to converse around a single thesis to bring forth investigations in transcendence for the whole planet.” Fernández’s perspectives align with a generation of Cuban artists who came of age in the 2000s, whose work focuses on a growing internationalism. The 11th Biennial’s integration of world-renowned European and U.S.-based figures was done with care, steering clear of eclipsing its local and regional focus on developing countries. Marina Abramovic, Hermann Nitsch, Los Carpinteros, and Gabriel Orozco’s presences all graced Cuba to contribute to a solidly global Biennial. However, rather than replicate the parachute effect characteristic of many present-day international biennials—in which curators and artists descend from abroad, develop temporary programs, and then abandon ship thereafter—the Havana performances inspired lasting dialogues with local players around the dialectics of new relationships formed by the increasingly open island borders, both virtual and physical.
Parker Ito discusses AFK, IRL, and post-Web 2.0 arenas.
Although his new paintings attempt to create an artwork that cannot be documented, it was documentation itself that was the aim of one emerging YIBA (Young Internet-based Artist). Parker Ito’s most well-known exhibition projects, New Jpegs took place at Johan Berggren Gallery in Malmo, Sweden in 2011; the artist generated content in the form of installation shots that were then manipulated through digital imaging software to create an entirely new body of work. This conversation between Ito’s practice in the digital realm and three-dimensional artworks that have the capacity to exist within physical space weaves throughout Ito’s work. JstChillin, an online curatorial project that lasted eighteen months, in its retrospective, stepped away from the screen and manifested itself in real space, while his project The Most Infamous Girl in the History of the Internet exists simultaneously as a series of paintings and a continuously re-blogged Internet meme.
With much of his earlier work available online via the artist’s website, and with three exhibitions this summer in New York, Chicago, and Toronto, the perceived notion that a digital environment exists separately from its physical counterpart is limiting. Musing over the oppositions of physicality and virtuality both in space and objects, Ito and I conclude that an artwork—and, by implication, an exhibition—cannot exist solely in real space, but must include an online presence in order to fully exist.
Antonia Marsh While some of your earlier projects such as JstChillin.org and PaintFX were web-based to begin with, they have also included live, real-time aspects. How do you understand this transition from an online environment to an IRL [“In Real Life”] environment?
Parker Ito Well, to begin with, I no longer believe in the relevance of the term “IRL.” Although perhaps somewhat dogmatic, I find its usage antithetical to my entire practice. For me the term “IRL” constitutes a relic of Web 1.0 net anxiety/novelty. “IRL” infers a division between a presumed “real world” and what happens online that I don’t think exists anymore. We live in a technologically hybrid reality where the space between the physical and the virtual is fluid.
Stephen Posen walks—and crosses—the line between painting and photography. In this studio visit, the artist reflects on some of the concepts and processes of his near 50 year practice.
Pop was just beginning to, well . . . pop when Stephen Posen and peers Richard Serra, Chuck Close, and Brice Marden were completing their studies at Yale. Thoroughly steeped in Abstract Expressionism while in school, they were confronted upon graduation with the conceptual challenges of not just Pop, but its even more conceptual counterpart, Minimalism, neither of which Posen could relate to. His love of paint kept him from crossing fully over into the language of advertising or capitalist critique. However, he did reconcile paint with consumerism, rendering everyday objects floating in space and challenging the vestiges of Abstract Expressionism under the influence of commercial art. This manner of working marked the time when the Pop style was just beginning to form, before “painterly” notions and the hand dropped out of the equation.
In the latest of BOMBlog’s reprints of [ 2nd Floor Projects ], Suzanne Stein takes inspiration from the work of John De Fazio and Daniel Minnick.
About [ 2nd floor projects ]: Since establishing [ 2nd floor projects ] in San Francisco in 2007, I have featured twenty-six writers in the exhibitions, with six writers forthcoming through 2013. My programming includes commissions to writers throughout the country to produce a limited edition: essays, personal narratives, interviews, poetry, or mixed-genre pieces in the form of handcrafted broadsheets or chapbooks. From early on in my art practice, I have been interested in trespassing disciplines. These visual, theoretical, and narrative crossings perhaps address an interstitial space of engagement with the artists’ works from the writer’s point of departure. A distal approach rather than the traditional essay model, such as an exhibition catalogue. For each exhibition, I design and print in-house, a limited run of 100 on archival papers. The writers are also invited to give a reading during the course of the exhibition, or to send a recording if they are not in the area. [ 2nd floor projects ] participated in the NY Art Book Fair in 2009 and 2010. BOMBlog will be re-publishing these pieces regularly over the next several months.
—Margaret Tedesco, Director
Kathleen MacQueen travels to Kassel to immerse herself into the depths of dOCUMENTA (13).
Therefore, an exhibition may be conceived as a network of many exhibitions, each shifting continuously between forefront and background, some visible, some invisible, some visible only many years after the event. – Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, 100 Notes—100 Thoughts
This year’s dOCUMENTA (13) is often confusing, frustrating, and in need of signposts. The installations are so determined by their spaces that they hide among the scientific instruments in the Orangerie, tower in the “grandiose display” architecture of the documenta Halle, and, like travelers between trains, are lost to the expanse of the Hauptbahnhof. A two-day visit, as recommended by the online visitor’s guide, is scarcely enough with distances between venues too great and artworks too complex to absorb in such a short period of time. With ten primary venues and twice as many off the main site, there is a bewildering array of choices: one can choose among a range of dTours and dMaps as guides or get sidetracked as I did, hoping to find satisfaction in unexpected encounters.
Activists, artists, and animal-lovers Sunaura Taylor and Sue Coe sit down at Moo Shoes to discuss propaganda, animal rights, and Coe’s new book, Cruel.
Sue Coe is best known for her paintings and drawings of animals in slaughterhouses and factory farms, but her work examines social justice issues ranging from union struggles to the civil rights movement, from prison abolition to rape. Coe’s images have the urgency of someone trying to save a life, and in a way that is what she is doing—drawing attention to the death and exploitation that happens daily all around us in an attempt to awaken our compassion and move us to action. Coe’s newest work, Cruel, is a harrowing and heart-wrenching examination of animal cruelty in the meat industry. Coe takes us into the slaughterhouse with her. Armed with her pencil and sketchpad, she allows us to be present with these animals, who are usually viewed as nothing more than a future meal, in the last moments of their lives. Coe’s images often take on the dark humor of political cartoons and her graphic imagery sits burned into one’s brain—as any successful piece of propaganda should.
I met Coe at Moo Shoes, a vegan shoe store on Orchard Street in Manhattan. It was an unusual place to do an interview, but as Coe had just celebrated the book release party for Cruel there a few weeks prior, it seemed fitting. It turned out to be a welcoming and quiet place to talk.
Coe’s passion for heart-breaking subjects doesn’t stop her from being a delightful, kind and funny woman to talk to. When I met Coe she was wearing a flowing black dress that matched her long black hair. Her attire was accompanied by bright red lipstick, which, along with her gentle accent and sweet tone, gave her the distinct look of some radical anarchist Hogwarts professor who had been edited out of the Harry Potter books.
We immediately began joking and ranting about the ins and outs of the animal rights movement, and before I knew it, our time was up and we had barely touched on Coe’s work. We did a follow up interview a few weeks later over the telephone and were equally silly, ranty, and loquacious. What no doubt could have been a depressing conversation between two people deeply worried about injustice in the world, was actually more like, as Coe described it after reading the transcript, “two drunken anarchist sailors in a bar.”
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.
Rachel Mercer on the stark and moving photography of Rineke Dijkstra, now on view with a retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum.
As a photographer whose focus is portraiture, Dutch artist Rineke Dijkstra, captures a range of vulnerable subjects, including children and teenagers, soldiers, bullfighters, and women who have literally just given birth and stand before the camera, naked, clutching their red, grub-like newborns to their chests. Dijkstra, is particularly well-known for her portrayals of adolescents, young children/adults in the throes of puberty. Her approach, in all her work, is tender yet unflinchingly honest. Her portraits are confrontational in the ways their subjects peer, stare, or glare at the viewer, and yet inviting at the same time; they draw us in, asking us to recognize ourselves in the faces of those before us. No matter whom Dijkstra depicts, her work is about vulnerability and transition. The identities of the subjects are often at stake in the photographs, as they are portrayed at liminal stages in their lives, and so the work is underscored by movement, the ever-present forward motion from birth to death, which is at the core of what it means to be human.
The artist Fafi brings the striking perspectives of a woman into a field of creative practice traditionally dominated by men—graffiti. With a new book out, the artist reflects on an illustrious career of public illustration.
French graffiti writer Fafi recently published her first graphic novel, Fafi: The Carmine Vault. Her illustrated characters are colorful, voluptuous women with a heightened sexual energy. I met with her recently for a chat about city life, graffiti, and what it means to “sell out.”
Jon Handel What are your thoughts about New York City? Things you love, things you hate. How do you feel about New York in general?
Fafi A few years ago, I came to live here for three months with my son and my husband. We wanted to stay longer but life and Paris held us again, so we went back. But there is something that belongs to every city, and its violent and overwhelming urbanicity scares me a little bit.
J. Morrison’s got a bunny head, a jockstrap, and twenty-four days of printed matter under his belt.
Truth be told, J. Morrison is the first man to dance on top of me wearing a bunny head while in a jockstrap. “Soundtrack: 3 Movements,” Morrison’s latest performance, is no less humorous nor macabre. Part fun-house theater, part Brooklyn wet-dream, he swung back shots of whiskey, rolled about in crinkled paper and romped around to Britney Spears. The psycho-sexual is never far off in anything the artist does, a fact made clear in the recent exhibition he curated at Splatterpool in Greenpoint: I DREAM OF A THREESOME (with a Forget-me-not, Pansy, and a Bleeding Heart.) Participating artists were asked for three artworks that were divided and mixed up throughout the exhibition. The threesomes, as Morrison explains, were paired “in a dreamlike fantasy sequence.” With a careful eye, J. Morrison forms new statements and identities through these unique combinations. His hand was also integral in organizing 24 DAYS OF MATTER PRINTED, a live screenprinting project that was presented at Printed Matter in December. The daily sessions featured a rotating cast of twenty artists, each adding their own print to the others previously produced. Working under the theme of “self-portrait,” the artists printed their widely different images on a variety of media that included underwear and handkerchiefs.
Ryan Mrozowski talks about his studio practice and the role painting plays within it.
Ryan Mrozowski’s A Mouth that Might Sing was the painter’s third solo show at Pierogi in Williamsburg. It was also his most diverse to date; filling the two galleries, Mrozowski’s new work included collage, video, drawing, and found paper objects. Still, the Brooklyn-based artist is, by his own definition, a painter at heart. Mrozowski sat down with me recently to discuss failure, the uncanny, and being a weirdo at the Strand.
Carmen Winant Your third solo show just closed at Pierogi. How has the work changed over the course of those exhibitions, or during the last several years with the gallery?
Ryan Mrozowski Those three shows happened over the course of four and a half years. My first show was in 2008, when I was a few years out of grad school at Pratt. I was still finding my voice as a painter, let alone as an artist. During the last four years, I’ve allowed the play in my studio practice to find its way to the gallery wall. And in that process, which is decidedly more open, other materials and mediums have found their way in. It has been a process of outward growth.
Photographer iO Tillett Wright looks back to her first image and the varied alphabet of sexual identity she’s captured since.
When sociobiologist Edward O. Wilson traveled to Africa, he found homosexuality in tribes that had been untouched by Western society. The existence of it, he theorized, came from an evolutionary adoption of unattached intermediacy that could bridge the social disparity between the sexes in the simultaneous hunter-nurturer. Like fellow tribesmen or a friendly next-door neighbor, iO’s photographed subjects feel that familiar. Like infrequent cousins, their biological features seem faintly recognizable. With the sheer number so far, Self Evident Truths has documented a diverse presence of LGBTQ across the landscape of America. With its goal of 10,000, it will dare you to shut out the people that surround you. Sharing her name with a fiery Greek goddess and one of the sixty-six moons of Jupiter (that happens also to be the most volcanic), iO seems innately suited to the job of erupting voice and message by pantheon and satellite. With the bang of iTechnology, the world of iO is only getting that much bigger.
Frank Expósito Let’s go back two years. What prompted you to take on this project?
iO Tillett Wright I had gone on a road trip through North Carolina with three of my friends who are All-American girls from Wisconsin. I had never been to Wal-Mart in my life; I was born and raised on Third Street. I got called a dude. For four days straight, I pissed in men’s bathrooms. It was terrifying. That’s what people have to deal with in this country, and that’s what ultimately kick started it.
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.
On a quiet street in Long Island City sits a modern-day oracle, a play space and pilgrimage mecca for a new group of creative intellectuals.
Jenna Gribbon and Julian Tepper admit they leave their building, a pre-war brick affair in Queens, only occasionally. And it’s for good reason. The couple lives above their latest endeavor: The Oracle Club (TOC), a members-only workspace that is more oasis than office or studio. Gracefully situated with Victorian-era Texan steer horned furniture, tall potted palms, and plenty of paintings by Gribbon, the space has an easy elegance that makes visitors feel as if they’re in a more magical version of home.
A typical day finds Gribbon and Tepper slipping back and forth between the club and their apartment above, shared with Silas, their one-year-old son. Tepper, whose debut novel Balls comes out in July, often rises at 4 a.m. to write in the TOC’s library. Jenna, a painter, works most days in her sunlit studio on the club’s basement level.
TOC’s carefully curated environment, the making of which Tepper describes as a “meditation,” is just a backdrop. The real essence of TOC is in the work that happens there. Writers, artists, and other “extraordinary” people gather at TOC to work, mingle, and learn from each other. Members pay monthly fees for various levels of access. Artists have a dedicated studio and locker access, while writers use the library, and salon members drop in for meetings in the salon. Non-members can attend classes like collage or ballet (TOC has a discrete barre and antique mirrors for hazy self-monitoring) or visit for special evening events ranging from a recent informal recital by pianist Harriet Stubbs, to an exhibition by photographer Alison Nguyen.
I recently spoke with Gribbon and Tepper about their inspiration for TOC, their plans for its future, and the space’s distinctly “not-a-gallery” approach.
Rachel Reese talks to artist Francis Cape along with curators Richard Torchia and Daniel Fuller about Cape’s Utopian Benches exhibition.
During the winter of 2011, Francis Cape transformed the gallery at Arcadia University into a place for conversation with his exhibition Utopian Benches. The British sculptor returned to his woodworking roots to beautifully reconstruct twenty benches originally designed for American utopian communities—many measurements were obtained from his own on-site visits and research. A small publication, we sit on the same bench, produced on occasion of the exhibition, outlines the communal societies from which the benches were sourced and includes notes from Cape’s personal visits to selected communities. Utopian Benches focuses on benches designed for 19th-century American utopian communities with a craft tradition—most famously the Shakers—but also includes the Amana Inspirationists, the Zoar Separatists, and the Harmony Society. Cape recreated benches intended for many uses—in some instances, for communal kitchens or meal halls, and others, for meeting halls.
I had the opportunity to speak with Cape and Arcadia Gallery Director Richard Torchia about this new body of work. Utopian Benches travels to the ICA at the Maine College of Art in Portland, Maine this June, where it will remain until August. Daniel Fuller, Director of the ICA at MECA, spoke with me about this iteration of the project and how Utopian Benches might change with this new audience.
Rachel Reese Hello Francis, Richard, and Daniel! I’d like to start by speaking on Utopian Benches at Arcadia and how the exhibition was initiated. Richard, how did you propose the exhibition to Francis? Or was it vice versa? And, in response, when did you begin your research of these utopian communities, Francis?
Francis Cape After I finished the work Home Front, which, among other things, considered the now-dead link between furniture design and social idealism, I wanted to find out what happened to the social idealism of the arts and crafts movement when it came to America. William Morris is variously described as socialist, anarchist and utopian. There was no one like that in the arts and crafts here, but there was all of that in the utopian communities.
Without knowing what I was doing at that stage, I had made four benches by the time Richard talked to me about doing the show. I’ll let him tell how that came about. So I had started reading about the communes in a leisurely sort of way already. Then as we put together the idea for the show I got going and started researching in earnest.
Fellow painters Greg Lindquist and Tom McGrath sit down to discuss landscape painting in an era steeped in new media and technology.
I met Tom McGrath in 2011 at a summer party at artist Franklin Evan’s loft on the Lower East Side. We immediately connected discussing The Hudson River School, Frederick Law Olmstead and Robert Smithson. Our dialogue continued through an exchange of emails, conversations at subsequent parties, and the following discussion, which took place at McGrath’s studio in Gowanus during his recent exhibition Profiles in Fugitive Light at Sue Scott Gallery. McGrath is an important contemporary addressing perceptual issues of painting with landscape.
TM Let me start with an image that stuck with me from your last show. It may not have been the most consequential piece, but it was the piece [of an iPhone] that made me think about the difficulty of representing technology. I have a class on the subject of technology and painting at School of the Museum of Fine Arts; I always begin by cautioning students against making paintings of their cell phones. Dry humor aside, what is more interesting, the cell phone or the conversation on it? I want them to ask whether the measure of technological change is visually representable in the apparatus, or if it is something best made visible through other relations or means? But now, I cannot use that example any more, because you have painted exactly that in a way that works . . . I guess it’s a good filter.
Nato Thompson and Eyal Weizman sit down to discuss the politics of space, aesthetics, and “Institutional Critique 2.0.”
Critical spatial practice, forensic aesthetics, and Institutional Critique v. 2.0: What do these terms mean, and what tools do they give artists, architects, and activists in their aesthetic and political pursuits? Eyal Weizman and Nato Thompson are both writers, curators, and activists expanding these terms in discourse and in action. Both are also poised to publish books this summer. Thompson’s new book, Seeing Power: Art and Activism in the Age of Cultural Production, considers art production in an age of American neoliberalism and how artists might liberate grassroots political organizing, social networking, and even the history of art from the grasp of consumer capitalism. Weizman, meanwhile, explores the rise of the humanitarian sphere and how contemporary warfare and occupation have distorted its initial tenets of compassion and proportionality in The Least of All Possible Evils. Here, Weizman and Thompson join Anna Altman to discuss how cross-pollinating disciplines can generate new research methods, new positions of power, and new political aesthetics.
Mira Schor talks Miss Marple, Philip Guston, and big dreams.
Mira Schor’s recent show at Marvelli Gallery, NYC Voice and Speech, brings the viewer into the private, contemplative world of the painter at work—not so much with brush in hand, but with the mediation of ideas through language. Mira has pursued this subject for decades, through both her painting and writing. Feminism has been at the center of both pursuits, and her work combines this intellectual inquiry with an insistence on the female body as progenitor. To me, her work represents some of the best aspects the F-word exemplifies. It is fiercely personal, often confrontational, and demands that she observe the world through the lens of her own experience. I interviewed Mira in her home on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.
Mary Jones The figure that has recently emerged in your work made me think of Guston’s late paintings, and his cartoon-like representation of himself—observing himself in the studio painting, smoking, and eating. I thought of [the figure] as a feminine counterpoint to his: reading, thinking, and writing. Also like Philip Guston, you represent not just the pleasures, but also the anxieties of the studio: the feelings of mortality inherent to the situation, of vigilant awareness, and of never having enough time.
Mira Schor I admire Guston tremendously, and any resemblance comes out of a basic admiration for his work. It’s a lifetime goal to paint at that level.