Samuel Jablon sits down with legendary god of space, redefiner of public, and Bronx-born extraordinare, Vito Acconci.
Rob Voerman’s sculptures rise from the wreckage, each one the phoenix of a modern age.
Rob Voerman is a bricoleur. His work nudges global collective memory with a generation’s worth of material history. A whimsical pile of remains of a machine age, industrial revolution, pieces of bygone eras that form a hybrid of heterogeneous meanings and interpretations—pieces of car parts, cardboard boxes, colored glass, wood, clothing, jewelry- which when compiled together, transform into a kind of temporary architecture that makes wreckage more captivating than structure. The ways in which he compiles such materials into precarious structures also dictates how viewers can interact with his installations. Voerman recently exhibited his work in the group show Kaleidoscope with Shannon Finley, Grazia Toderi, and Canon Tolon at C24, where the particular interior architecture of the gallery informed the dimensions and materials he came to use for his featured sculpture, “A Permeable Body of Solitude,” where, at the opening reception for the exhibition, some viewers posted up inside the sculpture like voyeurs to watch the gallery’s crowd. At the 2012 Armory via the Amsterdam-based Upstream Gallery, viewers could enter Voerman’s “Dawn of a New Century” and partake of single shots of whiskey. In other iterations of this installation done abroad, viewers were invited to do the same—take time in his post-apocalyptic, untenable structures by enjoying conversation, drinking booze, and smoking. Voerman himself is constantly at work navigating his practice. This Spring, he completed the first of two 3-month residency interims at the International Studio & Curatorial Program (ISCP). Voerman will return for his second interim in 2013; a solo-show will be presented at the C24 gallery in Chelsea.
The artist Taliesin pays homage to the spirits and toys with commercialism.
This conversation between Bodhi Landa and Taliesen Gilkes-Bower (aka Taliesin) was commissioned by Franklin Street Works on the occasion of the exhibition House Arrest, curated by Terri C. Smith at Franklin Street Works in Stamford, Connecticut. House Arrest is on view from April 5–June 10, 2012, and explores the domestic in artworks, including the shifting relationships between cultural and social norms, both shared and personal. As part of the show, Taliesin curated a pop-up shop of commercially produced items that reflect, in his words, a spirit of “domestic antagonism,” expanding the themes of the exhibition in new and interesting ways via a curatorial approach to ordinary objects.
Bodhi Landa To begin with, how would you describe your occupation? What is it that you do?
Taliesen Gilkes-Bower I’m not really sure I have something that I do yet, or if I ever want there to be some singular thing that I do. I like to play in the intersection of digital networks and physical spaces. The dominant ideologically driven discourse of “correct living” is such obviously limiting shit, but so much of what is placed in opposition to it is equally complacent. I try to avoid that infinite regress of criticism while acknowledging the realities of an inescapable dialectic.
Legacy Russell Twinterviews artist Devin Kenny about studio practice, studio work-outs, studio recordings, and how hip-hop helps to keep things in motion.
Jacob Krupnick’s new film, Girl Walk // All Day, has an audience both in the street and in the theater.
Rollerblading through the streets of New York City as a teenager in the ’90s, Jacob Krupnick relished living in a vibrant metropolis where he had access to culture at all levels. As a college student at Vassar, he wrote a thesis on the decline of public space in American cities, and the rise of shopping mall complex construction.
In Krupnick’s 71-minute “epic dance music video,” Girl Walk // All Day, which is showing in select venues in and around New York (and which you can see for free by clicking here!), three dancers resurrect Krupnick’s adolescent experience of moving freely throughout the city, busting out pirouettes, shimmying, grooving, hip-pumping, and freestyle-walking as they go. Their soundtrack is a mash-up of pop songs ranging from “Single Ladies” to “Get Your Freak On” to “Can I Get a What-What.” The main character, Girl, is a frumpy and loveable Every-Woman played by Anne Marsen, who, after ditching ballet class in the opening scene, irreverently combines moves from every genre of dance imaginable. And once she’s out, nothing can stop Girl: she grooves with buildings, Hasidic Jews, Wall Street women, and the film’s other stars, John Doyle and Dai Omiya, both of whom are pining (in vain) for her affections.
The film extends beyond the screen as it engages the public and gets audiences on their feet to move and dance; Krupnick hopes that it will help people think more creatively about public space. We met recently to discuss the process of scripting and filming Girl Walk.
Jeffrey Grunthaner looks at the triad of art, life, and aesthetics via the Spencer Sweeney lens.
[My] current work has evolved according to a process I didn’t exactly plan. I come across a concept, symbol, artwork, music or philosophy that strikes a chord. From there I choose a way to incorporate this into my practice, and thus my life. I surround myself with representations or reproductions of these ideas and works, which are the motors. They give off energy. This drives me to familiarize myself with them inside and out, and this is the fuel. — Spencer Sweeney (exerpted from “The Pains of Being Spencer Sweeney” by Jane Harris, Art in America, January 13th, 2010)
If the panoply of motors Spencer Sweeney surrounds himself with and the energy they give off remains obscure here, this very obscurity contributes to what gives life to his art. An almost panoramic attitude underlies Sweeney’s work, something that would be universally embracing: a noumenal wholeness that can only be phenomenally grasped in terms of contradictory representations. The limit of this kind of aesthetic is the image of an all-embracing freedom, where all forms of diversity meet and interconnect—and where even the notion of an image, the static displacement of self from world, is finally transcended.
Pieter Schoolwerth makes music with his paintings, gets Wierd with his art.
Pieter Schoolwerth straddles two worlds. As a painter, he creates work that merges abstraction and figuration; his most notable series, the recent Portraits of Paintings, looks to classic Early Modern works of art for inspiration but rearranges their form and meaning to speak to the contemporary world. Alongside his career as an artist, Schoolwerth runs the independent music label Wierd Records and organizes a weekly party at Lower East Side establishment Home Sweet Home which features regular and rotating live acts and DJs. While the music veers towards the dark, noisy, and industrial, the atmosphere at Wierd is other-wordly and liberating; Schoolwerth’s goal is to forge a real, live community in an age of the increasing abstraction of social interaction. What follows is the first of a two-part conversation in which Pieter and I draw some connections between his two distinct but imbricated practices.
In 1993 Alexander Floresnky nearly turned down the opportunity to illustrate the collected works of the great Russian humorist Sergei Dovlatov.
Of the Soviet writers who emigrated to the United States between the late 1970s and end of the 1980s, the Russian humorist and novelist Sergei Dovlatov probably had the most significant influence on the American reading public outside of émigré communities. Significantly, while several of his books have been translated into English, eight of his stories have appeared in The New Yorker. Indeed, Poet Joseph Brodsky, who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1987, called it about right when he said that Dovlatov’s popularity in the United States was “natural” and predicted that one day he would be just as popular in Russia.
Dovlatov, who was born in the Soviet Republic of Bashkiria in 1941, studied at Leningrad State University, served in the Soviet army as a prison camp guard, and worked as a journalist for newspapers in Leningrad and Tallinn. He began writing fiction in the early 1970s, but failed to get anything published in the Soviet Union—his first collection of short stories was suppressed by the KGB. In 1979, after being expelled from the Union of Soviet Journalists (for publishing stories abroad) and conscripted into military service, Dovlatov left Russia for the United States.
What do contemporary art and raves have in common? According to Francesca Gavin’s E-Vapor-8, quite a bit.
E-Vapor-8, the recent exhibition at 319 Scholes in Brooklyn, borrowed its title from a 1992 track by the British rave band Altern8. Curated by Francesca Gavin, a writer, editor and curator based in London, the exhibition explores the relationship between contemporary art and rave culture. The exhibition continues a trajectory that was initiated at The New Psychdelica where Gavin investigated the aesthetic commonalities between the visual imagery of iconic sub-cultures and artists working in new media, digital and web-based art today. The influence of rave on this generation of artists, Gavin suggests, goes deeper than the purely visual and aural, and opens conversations surrounding community, freedom and rebellion.
Shifting Connections returns to the work of Fred Wilson, staring through the looking glass at a different facet of the artist’s creative practice.
In his recent exhibition at the Pace Gallery in Chelsea, Sala Longhi & Related Works, Fred Wilson, a sculptor and conceptual artist, extended themes begun in Venice nearly a decade ago when the artist represented the United States at the 50th Venice Biennale with the exhibition Speak of Me as I Am. Returning to Venice in 2011, he created an installation inspired by Pietro Longhi’s 18th-century painting cycle in the Sala Longhi of the Palazzo ca’ Rezzonico in Venice. Wilson’s Sala Longhi (2011) was first installed in Glasstress during the 54th Venice Biennale. In a salon-like setting of twenty-seven artworks framed in gold, Wilson replaces Longhi’s genre scenes with sheets of black Murano glass graced with cutouts where Longhi had painted faces and masks. An additional central canvas is a cascade of glistening white leaves and flowers, an opulent sconce blossoming from the wall.
Fascinated with Western culture’s primacy of vision as a means of measuring worth, Fred Wilson recognizes both the seductive power of visual objects and their subtle influence on our psyche. With Sala Longhi & Related Works, including Iago’s Mirror (2009) and To Die Upon a Kiss (2011), Wilson intimates that splendor and magnificence are often matched by cruelty and intolerance.
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.
Blessed be Catholic performance artist Linda Montano and her life/art. Amen.
As Linda Montano states in her book Letters from Linda Montano, “Performance Art’s ability to de-automate the artist and viewer makes it a worthy vehicle for mystical transformation.” As the world submits more and more to the abstractions of capital, the interconnectivity of digital networks, advertising overload, and consumerism, there also appears to be a reawakened interest in visionary perspectives, the language of mystery, or the freed language of what we could call faith. In contemporary Western culture the liminal space of the transformer, the oracle, the innovator, the deviant, the mystic, and the mad is often occupied by the performance artist. Linda’s work seems more pertinent than ever in its attempt to dissolve the border between art and life through intricate ceremonies, some which seem to not only hold the duration of years, but of a lifetime. Her art and life are characterized by exquisite risks—paradoxical, personal, bodily, artistic, egoic. Her current position as a Catholic artist is tense as it positions the limits and restrictions placed on Catholic practitioners against the questioning of limitations inherent in performance art. A letter to Pope John Paul II, written by the artist, movingly illustrates this:
It is with a heart filled with contradictions and paradox that I address this letter to you. It is a letter of public admission of my position as a Catholic Performance Artist. The title is almost a contestable oxymoron. How can they both co-exist . . . the vocation to be a performance artist and loyalty to the Roman Catholic Church? This is mystery.
Eliza Swann One of the reasons I contacted you in the Fall about doing an interview was that I was feeling all this frustration about being really far away from the Occupy Wall Street movement and not being able to contribute my body to it. I thought a lot about you, and other teachers, that taught me to make change by simply taking up space with intention. To use the body as a starting point for great transformations. What’s going on with your body right now? What kind of issues are you examining with its help?
Linda Mary Montano If you go on YouTube and look up “Dystonia Linda Montano” you’ll see sort of an image or a fairytale version of it. After I took care of my dad for three years 24/7 I noticed that I had not been taking care of my body, that I was using it wrong, and I developed a movement disorder because I had also gone on an anti-depressant. One of the side-effects of the anti-depressant Zoloft is body issues, neurological issues. So I developed a neurological phenomenon called dystonia, which is in my neck, but really twisted my whole body intensely. As an artist I ask: what is this? How do I feel about it? What do I want to do about it, and how do I create a transformation out of it?
John Reed keeps it real and critical with this year’s much-anticipated 2012 Whitney Biennial.
We are privatized. In the United States a trend toward privatization has commodified domains traditionally thought of as public or free. “Most of what we currently perceive as value and wealth,” noted Alan Greenspan in 1999 speech at the Gerald R. Ford Museum, “is intellectual and impalpable.” The seemingly innocuous statement was a bombshell, one that would eventually explode the Western economy: valuation was no longer an objective assessment of materials, it was a subjective assessment of ideas. The Information by bestselling author James Gleick, chronicles the seismic economic shift, exclusive to our time: information is available, but at a price.
The museum is a curious iteration of the balance, the romance, and the struggle between private enterprise and public good. Without an inclination to public good, museums wouldn’t be here; without private sponsors, museums wouldn’t be here. In such a microcosm of the world’s present day challenges, what then is public, and what is private? What is privately owned, and what is private unto ourselves, and what is for all of us?
Tom McCarthy and Margarita Gluzberg ask whether psychosis can ever be critical, whether matter can transmit, and what the word fiction finally means.
Artist Margarita Gluzberg and novelist Tom McCarthy have publicly dialogued several times about concerns that run through both their work. In London’s Austrian Cultural Forum in 2001 they discussed their shared fascination with “base materialism”; at the Hayward Gallery in 2002 they debated the issues of the double and the monstrous; and at Paradise Row in 2008 they considered the erotic dimensions of capitalism. Conducting the latest episode of this ongoing dialogue on the pages of BOMBlog, they ask whether psychosis can ever be critical, whether matter can transmit, and what the word “fiction” finally means.
Tom McCarthy Your recent exhibition, Avenue des Gobelins, charts a journey into capitalism—into a space of capitalism which is an imaginative, or imaginary, space as much as a physical one. And that space has a strong relation to desire. Does that sound fair?
Margarita Gluzberg I think it does. And I think it’s this kind of territory that drives your novels too—especially Remainder. Whether either of our work is ‘critical’ or whether it just stages a certain situation is harder to say. Perhaps it describes the ambiguity of the consumer. It’s the consumer’s position that I’m interested in—the desiring consumer, and the desire-filled city that the consumer sees: like Remainders central protagonist. It’s his desire rather than a critical position on the world of capitalism that we’re looking at.
Jeannette Mundt’s new show at Michael Benevento in Los Angeles toys with atypical notions of space in a classic medium—paint.
Gertrude Stein, reality TV, J. W. M. Turner, Google images, modernist furniture, and professional photography all serve as parts of the mash-up of models and objects of critique that Jeanette Mundt deploys. Her current installation of paintings at Michael Benevento’s Los Angeles gallery is at first glance a polite meditation on the representation of private, domestic space flipped and exposed in the more public space of the gallery. This dynamic alone offers a plethora of contradictions for one who wants to read further into the contextual relationship; but it is the sourcing of images, decisions for their coupling, engagement with the gallery’s unorthodox space, and embedded critique of spectacle culture that resonates with our day to day mediated experience and belies the work’s initial reading. I was curious to hear more about the layered meanings that unfold in these pieces and how they reflect and engage with questions of perception and attention in contemporary culture.
Eve Fowler catches up with Sam Gordon on his latest body of work.
The first time I saw Sam Gordon’s work must have been at a 1999 show at Feature Inc., a group of small intensely worked paintings that were rendered as raw, sanded and scraped, refined, and highly detailed. I have followed his work ever since. The thing that struck me initially about Sam’s work are the symbols he uses in his paintings: the peacock feather, disco ball, and swastika—symbols that describe who he is and underscore who he is not, marking what he wants viewers to know about him. I think I read his work the same way I read Gertrude Stein’s text and subtext.
Since his show in 2001 at Marc Foxx, Sam has consistently shown in LA, in 2005 and 2006 for shows curated by Malik Gaines and Drew Heitzler respectively, and most recently in 2010 when he curated an exhibition for Artist Curated Projects (a project I organize with Lucas Michael). This past March, Sam screened 24 Hours in Los Angeles: The Lost Kinetic World, Volumes 1–12, at The Mandrake, and invited Jacob Robichaux and Amy Yao to collaborate on a performance/installation to punctuate the event. Sam and I had the opportunity to work collaboratively during his last visit, under the name Two Serious Guys, which Sam derived from Two Serious Ladies, a title taken from the 1943 novel by Jane Bowles. Sam’s current solo show Trompe l’oeil includes new paintings and a video slideshow at Feature Inc.
In her latest Shifting Connections, Kathleen MacQueen reflects on her favorite shows of the Spring of 2012.
Themes of language and communication ricochet through this spring’s exhibition season in New York City, from Jenny Holzer’s restricted language abstractions at Skarstedt Gallery uptown, to Elaine Reichek’s threads of betrayal and cries of complaint in her Ariadne tapestries at both the Whitney Biennial and downtown at Nicole Klagsbrun in Chelsea. The Biennial also features fragments of feminist Mary Wollstonecraft’s correspondence as interpreted by photographer Moyra Davey. Davey’s inclination to fold her own images as letter-envelopes sending them through the mail extends intimacy across time and space as a tactile flight of fancy and a restless search for communion. Even Nicole Eisenman’s languidly empathic painting at the Biennial entitled Breakup exposes the vacuum look of despair induced by a smartphone text that divides existence into before and after.
What interactions are triggered by the exchange of brief messages?
Panter and White make light shows together, the most recent of which is in a big, fantastical room at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit.
Gary Panter is a painter, a creator of extremely unconventional comic books, and a draughtsman of the images in his mind. He was the set designer of “Pee-wee’s Playhouse.” He has said he would sculpt more than he does but he knows how much space that would take up; there’s a gorgeous humility about his practicality.
Joshua White is the founder of the Joshua Light Show, which produced the famed and extraordinarily gnarly backdrops behind dozens of rock and roll luminaries at the Fillmore East and points west. He and Panter have been collaborating on light shows for years now.
I met Panter and White at Eisenberg’s, an old time Jewish deli in the Flatiron District in Manhattan. White ordered a tuna fish sandwich with an iced tea and a chocolate milkshake. Panter had a BLT and a Diet Pepsi.
Joshua White Now let’s get something straight here: Mr. White is my late father. I’m Josh. I apologize for being late. I’m the one that lives eight blocks away so of course it comes with the territory. I have to be late.
Gary Panter There was a flat on the unicycle.
JW Yeah. There was a flat on my segway.
Frank Thurston Green Do you really have a segway?
Artist Marie Lorenz goes against the current with her recent body of work.
I first met Marie Lorenz at the American Academy in Rome in 2008, where she was a Fellow in Visual Arts. We spent the year with about 40 other scholars, artists, composers, architects and their families living in a palazzo on top of the Gianicolo hill. One comes to know people differently by living, eating, and drinking together everyday in close quarters. Marie, it quickly became clear to me, and to everyone else, was an adventurer, a trailblazing kind of person. She was not too concerned about what other people thought and had an amazing ability to make things both more fun and more dangerous. She spent much of the year building a boat out of wood and carving it with ornate patterns. She would take people out on her boat in the Tiber and other bodies of water around Rome. All of her nautical adventures, from Rome and back in the United States, are documented on her website. I sat down with Marie, on the occasion of her recent show at Jack Hanley Gallery, to discuss garbage, funky smells, and her relationship to the tides.
Jennifer Coates What is the most disgusting piece of garbage you have ever found on one of your boating trips?
Marie Lorenz That is such a good one. Well, I have never come across a dead body . . .
Lily Binns sits down with artist Pilar Gallego to discuss the importance of mentorship within community and the role it plays in creative production.
Pilar and I have lived across the street from each other in Flatbush for a couple years. The first time I came into real contact with them was when they walked into my living room several months ago to meet with me and my friend and colleague, film director Ira Sachs. In 2010, Ira and I started an independent program called Queer/Art/Mentorship, which pairs and supports advanced- and early-career queer working artists in New York City. Pilar, with short combed-back hair and black glasses, was coming to meet with us, as one of the fifteen fellows admitted to the program. The painter and curator Nicole Eisenman, a founding member of Ridykeulous, had chosen Pilar as her mentee, and Ira and I were welcoming Pilar to the program and getting to know them a bit.
I find Pilar’s art to be suggestive of stories, of time and change. Most often the work explicitly expresses a yearning for the trappings of masculinity, while complicating and hyperbolizing the longing itself. As we talked most recently, I learned how that impulse is evolving in Pilar’s current work. The conversations made us both reflect on the inextricable interconnectedness of our art and our personal growth at this moment in our 30-year-old lives, as we build bodies of art and community, and work to understand our bodies and identities themselves.
For this edition of BOMBlog’s reprint from [ 2nd Floor Projects ], Jennifer Blowdryer writes an aggressively witty autobiographical prose piece inspired by work in [ 2FP ]’s exhibition Here Comes Everybody.
About [ 2nd floor projects ]: Since establishing [ 2nd floor projects ] in San Francisco in 2007, I have featured twenty-six writers in the exhibitions, with eight writers forthcoming through 2012. My programming includes commissions to writers throughout the country to produce an 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 an in-house 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
BOMB revisits the work of Jonathan Lasker. Here the artist discusses his early works with Amanda Valdez.
Jonathan Lasker: Early Works at Cheim & Read highlighted the early output of this New York-based abstract painter’s career. Though the artist was born in New Jersey, the show started off with the last painting he made while at CalArts. Now known for squiggly black lines, thick impasto paint, and bright bold colors, the early paintings show the beginning of issues he would continue to mine in painting for the next thirty years. Moving between rooms there was a clear progression in his handling of paint, the sometimes awkward and challenging color choices, and the development of images and their relationship to one another. Some have the clarity and borders of brushstrokes in later works while most others lack the restraints he went on to develop. The washy backgrounds of paintings like the 1981 Pre-Fab View and Zen for Ben with the Richter-like painted forms that sit right on top, make for a completely new experience of Lasker’s work. Lasker took time in the studio recently to discuss these early works.
Amanda Valdez What does it mean for you to have this exhibition up of your earlier works? Do you regularly have these works around you in the studio or at home?
Jonathan Lasker In a way, I have never gotten completely away from the early works. I’ve written about one of the paintings, Illinois. It was the beginning of the whole figure/ground dialectic in my work. I’ve said in the past that, in a way, I’m still painting that painting with each successive painting. Namely, the foundation of what that started is still in my mind. Although, of course, the paintings that I’m doing today look radically different than the paintings from the late ’70s.
Away from the classroom and into the gallery space! Xylor Jane proves that artists get A’s in math, too.
Xylor Jane’s oil paintings are regiments of colorful dots, laid out in psychedelic grids and spirals. Working with systems of counting, such as palindromic prime numbers or Julian Day numbers, she develops a visual cadence on the panel. The rhythms she creates with the dots hide the figures with which she is working; buried in the negative space are sevens, threes, and eights. Standing too far away, the viewer loses sight of the numbers, too close and it’s all bits of color.
Jane blends the approaches of Pointillism, Op art, and Conceptualism, arriving at works which spike the synapses in our visual cortex and dazzle the mind. I had the pleasure of catching up with Jane at the close of her two-person exhibition Xylor Jane and B. Wurtz (curated by Arnold J. Kemp) and with a solo exhibition just around the corner, opening in New York this May at CANADA.
Fred Wilson makes history at the Savannah College of Art and Design Museum of Art.
“Papa Legba, ouvri berriere pour moins!” (“Papa Legba, open the gate for me!”): a plea to the voodoo intermediary between the world as we know it and the spiritual realm beyond, inscribed on the wall at the entrance of Fred Wilson’s recent intervention at the Savannah College of Art and Design Museum of Art entitled Life’s Links. Papa Legba is guardian of the crossroads and it is movement across boundaries that the artist evokes as he selects from Walter O. Evans’s rich collection of art, artifacts, and manuscripts of African-American history, a fraction of which has recently been gifted to the museum. Using the Savannah Grey bricks—a local hallmark—Wilson creates a resonant visual continuity that echoes the transition of the building from its former existence as the historic Central of Georgia Railway depot to its 2011 revitalization as a contemporary art museum. In doing so, he alludes to pavement and archives as well as barriers and slave quarters in an installation that opens chinks in the walls of historical blindness. Bricks—like the documents in the cases that guard Dr. Evans’s notable manuscript collection—are units that cumulatively have the potential to build or destroy.
Pablo Helguera deftly navigates the open SEAs.
If you have any interest in gaining an introduction to the field of socially-engaged art, read Pablo Helguera’s newly released overview, Education for Socially-Engaged Art: A Materials and Techniques Handbook. If you are an individual deeply immersed in social practice as an artist, curator, or teacher, it is even more essential that you pick up this modest publication. A clear and concise synthesis of the parameters of this increasingly recognized area of practice, Education for Socially-Engaged Art provides refreshing insight from one of the leaders in this new field. Through the publication, Helguera successfully tackles what few have been able to accomplish, crafting a transparent structure for thinking about socially-engaged art in a way that is digestible, and just plain pleasurable to read.
Designer Gigi Ferrante shares artist Arch Connelly’s style book and philosophy on art and life on the occasion of his exhibition at La MaMa Galleria.
Forget the oyster, consider the pearl—dip-dyed, vintage, faux, unstrung and pooling. The ebb and flow of fabulous across sculptural Midwestern mesas and painted scenes on ply mimicking moiré, moiré mimicking ply, and back again, to be taken by the undertow of an Arch Connelly and never to surface again, never to surface from the surface. The tide is high of Arch Connelly’s work currently at La MaMa Galleria where the first comprehensive survey of his work has been curated since he died of AIDS 20 years ago.
Moyra Davey’s been included in the 2012 Whitney Biennial and has an upcoming exhibition opening at the end of this month. Here, a pause for a portrait of the artist.
Moyra Davey has been busy: her photography and video work were featured in MoMA’s New Photography 2011 exhibition and she’s featured in the 2012 Whitney Biennial. Finally, Davey also has a show opening at Manhattan’s Murray Guy at the end of this month. Carmen Winant sat down with the artist at her apartment in Washington Heights to discuss private experiences in public places, resisting nostalgia, being messy, and how Roland Barthes is a perfect soundtrack for making work.
Carmen Winant Since we are speaking in your studio, which is in your apartment in Washington Heights, let’s start with this: how long have you lived here? Have you always had a live-work space?
Moyra Davey I’ve lived here since 2000. Before that I was in Hoboken, and, before that, in Williamsburg for five years. We had a big loft in Hoboken, but I didn’t like working there. It was a beautiful but really permeable space: noisy and dusty. I prefer this set up, which is an apartment in a pre-war building. The walls and floors are lined with cement so it is incredibly quiet and private. I work on the couch, the bed, at the kitchen table. It drives my partner crazy because I colonize the whole space. But I love to find the perfect spot for whatever it is . . . reading or writing, or working on some photographs. I want the best light, the best music. If I am doing something boring like folding up photographs I will go in the kitchen table, where there is a little MP3 player.
Uta Barth brings a new meaning to close looking.
Painting with light and chasing the ephemeral, Uta Barth brings us again into her Los Angeles home with new photographs that remind us not only of both the infinite and finite capacities of an eye’s perception, but of one’s bodily relationship with the background as well. In previous work Barth directs one’s awareness inward to the subconscious engagement one has with the act of looking. What feels so different about these new images however is the presence of the artist’s brushstroke—drawing attention instead to the way one can outwardly activate or interrupt a composition of space. Barth’s hands sweep back her curtains as a type of performance, an introduction to one’s own reflection, even. The narratives of light and its presence in life is the focal point of Barth’s photographs more than ever before in these images most recently exhibited at Tanya Bonakdar gallery this winter. Here the artist opens up about her beginnings and inspirations and why she might only be able to make her artwork in Los Angeles.
Sabine Mirlesse How did you begin taking photographs?
Uta Barth I was taking a painting class in undergraduate school and wanted to render certain spatial configurations and to study the light of these imagined scenes. I did not have the skill to paint the images directly, so I started to make photographs to work from. But repeatedly I found the photographs that I thought to be the disposable source materials much more interesting and more engaging than the paintings and drawings I made from them. I also found that the process of making photographs forced me to learn how to truly see, to see the light, to study how things in an image relate to the edge, how to crop and frame the most mundane and incidental subject matter into a compelling image. I remember a teacher talking about the difference of making an engaging photograph of an ordinary thing versus making an ordinary photograph of an engaging thing. So early on I started pointing my camera at the incidental, the ordinary and the insignificant information that surrounds us but that we pass by without noticing everyday.
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.
Liza Béar talks to Turkish artist Serkan Ozkaya about his monumental David Double.
Twice the size of the original David in carrara marble that Michelangelo completed in Florence in 1504, Serkan Ozkaya’s David Double—made of fiberglass from a Stanford University computer model—is 17 feet tall. It has a metal armature and is sprayed gold. The homage to Michelangelo was shipped by a freighter from Istanbul to the Storefront for Art and Architecture on Kenmare Street, where it was parked on March 6, lying on its side in a low-boy tractor-trailer. David Double will be driven around New York on this rig before heading to Louisville, Kentucky, where it has a permanent home in the 21C Museum collection. A styrofoam version of David Double was previously shown at the Istanbul Biennal.