Jan Verwoert sits down with Sam Korman to tell him what he wants for the world. What he really, really wants.
Jan Verwoert is a writer and educator based in Berlin. After a missed opportunity to buy his book, Tell Me What You Want, What You Really, Really Want (Sternberg Press, 2010), I looked high and low for the volume, eventually mail ordering it from a book seller in New York. When it finally arrived and I read the first essay while at work, the Occupy marches in Portland were just beginning to take hold a few blocks away. In a recent conversation, Verwoert and I discussed Occupy, but it lead to many other things: throughout, Verwoert threads the idea of the commons, the shared, the public, and the civic space. As we looked at various examples from the art, theoretical, and pop-cultural worlds, we attempted to circumscribe the tragi-comic mood of the commons, asking, Where does the power lie? And the funny thing is, it may be in the exchange.
Sam Korman One of the primary reasons I wanted to talk to you had to do with the Occupation Movement. After reading your essay, “Exhaustion and Exuberance”, I saw a lot of similarities. But now, I’m looking at it, and as the protests have progressed and been kicked out and returned, and developed all sorts of institutions within themselves, it doesn’t seem that it’s all just a denial of performance as you outlined in that essay.
Jan Verwoert I’m never too sure from which position to comment on such political phenomena when arguably the right response would not be to comment, but to join, to participate. So, I feel that there is something inherently awkward about commenting on such things. Even calling them such things from a drawing room perspective. Yet, I feel I strongly sympathize with this idea of highlighting the value of the commons, common culture. That’s how I will understand the central concern of this Occupy Movement. To highlight the fact that the commons are being commercialized and destroyed at the very same time.
Frank Gaard’s got a show up at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. Jonathan Thomas sat down with Gaard recently to reflect on the artist’s retrospective and a career of panties and provocation.
A self-styled “sado-picturist,” Frank Gaard (born in 1944), is having the largest institutional exhibition of his career in the sprawling if somewhat selective retrospective, Poison & Candy, currently on view at the Walker Art Center. From 1974 to 1994, Gaard published and distributed the incendiary underground art magazine, Artpolice, where he perpetrated a cartoony profusion of art historical preoccupations mingled with Kabbalistic iconography and political-philosophical concerns, before turning his hand to the more contraband qualities of his and Stu Mead’s pornographic art publication, Man Bag. A time-tested provocateur, Gaard’s work as a painter and teacher has incited protest and secured him a position as something of a local legend. I was able to sit down with the artist in his Minneapolis home to talk about aesthetics and politics, Imagism, funk, the rise of the Christian right, Lolita, and the darkness of laughter.
For this installment of Post Impressions, Kanishka Raja takes the scenic route from Kashmir to Switzerland in conceptualizing his latest series of paintings.
Kanishka Raja’s colorful, complex paintings collapse and compress associations of space, perspective, and time to reflect the megacity experience. Ideas of movement, migration, and pattern are all considered in the density and structure of these contemporary images. I interviewed Kanishka in December in his Brooklyn studio as he prepared for an installation representing his gallery, Greenberg Van Doren, in the upcoming Armory Art Show (March 8–11). Kanishka Raja is a recipient of a 2011 Joan Mitchell Foundation grant; the 2004 ICA Artist Prize from the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; and residencies at the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Workspace Program, the International Studio and Curatorial Program and the Civitella Ranieri Center. His work is included in the collections of the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA and the Meadows Art Museum, Texas.
ABC No Rio as we knew it is no more—but its legacy lives on. Here Fred Paginton sits down with the legendary institution’s Steven Englander to reflect on the role of the activist art space and its next steps.
For over thirty years New York’s ABC No Rio garnered a widespread reputation as being a refuge for socially engaged and politically activated artists. During its lifespan, and in the midst of a rapidly changing landscape, ABC No Rio served as a constant support for radical projects, providing an alternative perspective to that of the traditional gallery scene and established order therein. First and foremost, 156 Rivington Street, located in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, has always been a melting-pot where art and activism intersect. Founded in 1980, when the landscape of the area (pre-gentrification) was dominated by Latino, Hispanic, and Jewish enclaves that co-existed (but did not always mix), ABC No Rio required of its visitors the commitment of involvement, participation, and ultimately collaboration. Through its various offerings of cultural education—poetry readings, print sessions, the extensive No Rio zine library, and the infamously popular Saturday Punk matinees—the space quickly became not just a gathering place, but a local institution. The question of sustainability within a city of rising rents, mounting numbers in population, and rapid revitalization has been a point of concern throughout. Yet, against all odds, ABC No Rio has managed to roll with the punches—even shelling a few out themselves—to protect and maintain this bastion of creativity. I recently came across an archived BOMB gem—a 1982 conversation with the then relatively new ABC No Rio. Inspired, I sat down with ABC’s Director, Steven Englander, to reflect back on their beginnings and contemplate next steps. Since this conversation, ABC No Rio—faced with insurmountable financial challenges and a need for renovation—has been forced to close its doors. Yet, despite this harbinger of the veritable end of an era, the legacy of this venerable cornerstone of New York City history continues to live on.
Artists Christopher Gideon and Elissa Goldstone live and work miles apart. Yet, they love the same game. The two sat down to discuss baseball and its role within the stadium of contemporary art.
At the risk of blaspheming, I’m going to go out on a limb here: I have always been generally mystified by baseball. Perhaps I have been too impatient with its pace or, more probably, too uncoordinated to actually play the game to really understand the value of it—to feel it in my very being. In middle school I was always that kid who selected the electronic bat, the one that, during whiffle-ball, would let out a satisfying crack mid-swing, despite the fact that nine times out of ten there would be no actual contact with the ball itself. That crack—the illusion of success, the physicality implied by the sound—always prompted a flutter in my stomach. Yet, I never delved any deeper in exploring what the flutter was all about, and never really connected with the cultural meaning of the sport. That is, until I attended my first baseball game. I was in Havana, Cuba. I was fifteen years old. The unique opportunity to witness a game that I had always understood via a strictly American lens, on the other side of the heavy veil of U.S.-Cuba embargo politic, was a siren song. The stadium was a veritable international summit; a diverse melting pot of nationalities and language, all in the same place, at the same time, to watch the same game. Initially doubtful about the purpose of my presence in the stadium, I quickly lost myself, whisked away by the energy of it all. The ritual of it. The signs and symbols, the hand gestures, the cheers, the distinctive smells. At one point, a fan got so worked up he rushed onto the field shirtless, screaming, seemingly having caught the spirit, driven by the love of the game. And there it was—that flutter again. I got it.
I wasn’t able to foster a deeper relationship to the game in the years that followed. That feeling, the flutter, it seemed to have dissipated. This is why, miles from any stadium, devoid of peanuts and Cracker Jack, I was startled by the return of the sensation, this time prompted by setting eyes on the respective works of artists Christopher Gideon and Elissa Goldstone. I encountered Goldstone’s work first, at Salomon Contemporary in the spring of 2011; Gideon’s I crossed paths with later that summer. Again—it clicked. And this time, the narrative behind the passion and value of the game was being related to me in my native tongue: contemporary art. Gideon and Goldstone’s translation of baseball-as-cultural-text is so adroitly precise that I, too, caught the spirit.
Goldstone is a New York native; Gideon hails from Detroit. The two have never met and encountered eachother’s work for the first time in this conversation about their unique relationships with America’s favorite pastime.
Bryn McConnell toys with color, line, expression, the canon—both on and off the canvas.
Bryn McConnell’s studio door is decorated with a clean grid of inspirations. One piece of construction paper reads, Everything is an experiment, while Art ‡ Democracy, Kunst ‡ Kultur, ART = Humpty Dumpty, ART = YUMMY YUMMY—the words of the German painter Jonathan Meese—mark a small poster. There are fashion ads and post-its, a magazine tear-out of the choreographer Trisha Brown, and just above the door’s handle a small white paper that says, go too far and get messy. On the right, a long, narrow white desk holds a diet coke can, an iPhone, a desk lamp, a bottle of Advil, clear glasses, a copy of John Richardson’s Life of Picasso, The Cubist Rebel, and the wings of an open magazine. Across the SoHo studio—which can’t be more than 300 square feet—two large canvases of brightly colored figures hang from a low ceiling and dominate the room like a pair of eyes.
Bryn McConnell just had her first solo exhibition at the Frontrunner Gallery in early February.
Titled Looked, the exhibition featured six paintings of iconic women, each of which McConnell made in the last two years. Linear brushstrokes dipped in vivid colors zigzag about in short rhythmic motions, just barely coming together to form the figures and faces that dominate the frame. Five out of six of these paintings were taken from her Re: self-reflection/refraction/reflexion series.
Ryan McNamara’s familiarity with celebrity extends far beyond the name of his cat. With a new exhibition at Elizabeth Dee on the horizon, the artist is poised to show New York what he’s made of—and it’s not just papier-mâché.
I met with Ryan McNamara in his Williamsburg studio, which is surprisingly quiet for being so close to the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. His cat, Celebrity, a stocky black male with noticeable white whiskers, greets me by rubbing against my legs, then quickly retires to a couch to sleep for the rest of the two hours I’m there. McNamara is working on some découpaged papier-mâché sculptures, so his surfaces are covered in Xeroxed cutouts and painted 3-D shapes. The ceiling’s covering is not his work but that of his studio-mate’s, and looks like miniature paper rafters, decorated sparingly with one-of-a-kind paper snowflakes. The atmosphere is altogether charming, each detail seemingly significant. This makes sense when considering McNamara’s work, which is, in a world where spontaneity and chaos can stand in for performance art cred, pretty near flawless. We watch a mini-retrospective video produced for the Elizabeth Dee Channel, which is charming and informative. McNamara’s work doesn’t take itself too seriously, but its production quality is striking. This isn’t to say that the work is always clean—sometimes, it’s far from it.
Neal Medlyn gives us a reason to revisit the ’90s, and to delight without guilt in the pleasures of popular culture.
One Christmas when I was a wee freshman in high school, my older cousin surprised me with a large case chock full of CDs. A guest DJ had left it at the bar he worked at and decided to gift it to me. By teenage standards this should have been a treasure trove—Nirvana to Nine Inch Nails to Tori Amos, they were all there. Unfortunately, I was a late bloomer to music and didn’t quite appreciate what had fallen into my lap. What was unforgettable, however, was the awesome cover art for Insane Clown Posse’s The Great Milenko (1997). I popped in the CD and immediately popped it right out—and into the trash. Now, somewhere in a Staten Island landfill, a trove of ’90s music awaits a lucky treasure hunter.
Insane Clown Posse has once again resurfaced in my life. I recently went to see Neal Medlyn’s latest performance extravaganza at The Kitchen, aptly dubbed Wicked Clown Love. Full disclosure, I was a bit worried as the lights lowered: (1) I had never seen any of Medlyn’s performances and (2) I still knew nothing about Insane Clown Posse. Despite having become a staple of the downtown scene, I never managed to see one of Medlyn’s productions that are described as part parody, part karaoke, and part homage to pop music. Reviews have raved about his clever investigation into the nuances of the music industry, leaving my friends to tell me that “You have to see for yourself.” And, as it turns out, seeing is believing.
Invented by Ryder Ripps, DUMP.FM is an online image-share platform with the rising reputation as one of the primary breeding grounds for young digital artists. One of them is Glass Popcorn. And he needs a date to the dance.
Raise your hand if the name GeoCities rings a bell. Or Angelfire. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? If your hand is up, chances are you were—like me—coming of age on the internet in the 1990s. Web hosts like these two were originally prime sandboxes for those toying with Graphics Interchange Formats. Fondly known amongst those that create them as “GIFs”, platforms like GeoCities or Angelfire in their earliest forms allowed artists and web developers to build out interactive journals, image databases, and graphic archives.
Before Friendster or MySpace or Facebook, before there was Wordpress or Tumblr or Twitter, came the intergalactic wallpaper patterns of Angelfire and the coveted Wall Street or Hollywood geographically-inclined web addresses of GeoCities. (Want a taste? Click here.) Though the era of these sites has passed, the fact remains that sites like DUMP.FM—the brainchild of artist Ryder Ripps—are, indeed, a throwback to the prehistoric web hosts of an early-90s enlightenment. DUMP is, like, totally vintage. A cross-breed between a basic chat room and a gallery space for the digitally determined, those down to dabble can register via DUMP.FM and within seconds have access to an infinite well of visuality, the majority of which is being created on-the-spot by members themselves. Spend some time cruising the site and you will come to see that DUMP.FM is, without a doubt, somewhat of a freestyle image-battle—one member might post an image only to find that minutes later it has been modified and manipulated into a different beast altogether.
Ripp’s creations, collaborations, and cyber-curations have become a go-to for creatives of all kinds, ranging from multi-media artist and art star Ryan Trecartin to rapper and pseudo-rebel M.I.A. It therefore comes as no surprise that a site where the boundaries between artist, producer, programmer, and chatter are blurred would produce someone like Glass Popcorn, a self-defined “rapper” who, at the wizened age of fifteen, has been dubbed by many as the Justin Beiber of the art world. And how! After landing a gig at the DIS magazine’s MoMA P.S.1 melee in the summer of 2011, Glass went back to his native Arizona to continue living with his parents. Yet, make no mistake—the byte-sized artist and musician has his eye on the prize, with the promise of a Ripps-produced rap album on the horizon and goals of grandeur to become not just the next darling of the art world, but of the whole world. Period.
I logged on recently to gossip with the guys and to get the scoop on why Ke$ha rocks, why Frank Lloyd Wright isn’t an asshole, and to explore the possibilities of this cybernated Monster-fueled renaissance.
Julia Solis has made a livelihood of exploring what lurks beneath the surface of structures across America and around the world.
I can’t remember how I stumbled upon artist and urban explorer Julia Solis’ work. I think I was searching for Revs, the graffiti artist who inspired a generation of street artists in the early ’90s, who painted “long, feverish diary entries worthy of a Dostoyevsky character on dozens of walls hidden deep inside the [subway] tunnels.” What New Yorker hasn’t looked up from her book on the subway to see some cryptic message swimming in drowned blue light and wondered who crawled through rat nests and cesspools, risked his life to leave those words? Though Revs fiercely guards his anonymity and avoids publicity, Solis gives foremost thanks to him in the “Acknowledgments” section of her book, New York Underground: Anatomy of a City, which offers a historical tour of New York City’s enormous subterranean labyrinth—from the bowels of Grand Central Terminal, to the labyrinthine ruins of the Croton Aqueduct, to the gang tunnels under Chinatown. Solis seems a gatekeeper to a vast shadowy underworld of outlaw adventure, and I assumed she’d be as elusive as Revs. Surprisingly, she responded to my interview request with the same generous accessibility that characterizes the tone of New York Underground. Solis is also the author of Scrub Station, a collection of stories, and a co-founder of the urban archaeology art groups Dark Passage, Ars Subterranea, Inc. and Furnace Press, which focuses on city architecture with a view towards the obscure and neglected. More recently, she’s focused on photographing above-ground decaying structures—capturing the opulent decomposition of theaters, psychiatric hospitals, prisons, pools, and other ruined urban spaces around the world.
Kari Adelaide reflects on the site and exhibition at the New York Public Library that explores Frederic Church’s art and life through photography.
As we slowly near summer, many of our gazes will be set on the Hudson Valley. Outdoor highlights from last summer include Jack Hanley’s ferry runs on the river and Cleopatra’s 24-hour satellite performance, Eye in the Sky, with barnyard camping to accommodate revelry beneath the night sky. The New Art Dealers Alliance will again host NADA Hudson (on July 28 and 29). But even in the dead of winter, there are ample opportunities to contemplate landscape and consciousness in the Hudson Valley.
The Hudson Valley’s appeal includes Frederic E. Church’s idyllic home, Olana, which beckons all year round with 250 acres of bucolic grounds that are open daily from 8 AM to sunset. As an ecstatic mid-19th century landscape painter of the Hudson River School, Church may be considered a maestro of terrestrial revelation not only in his paintings but also in his landscaping for Olana, a collaboration with Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, designers of Central Park. The exhaustive plotting of nature that is Olana allows us, much like Church’s paintings, to perceive heavenly beams of light that seem to emanate from bygone fantasies: volcanoes, icebergs, rainbows and double rainbows, mountains, rivers, meteors, and aurora borealis. The sublimity of nature, painted or planted, had no separation in Church’s art and life. His vision remains at every turn of Olana.
Tacita Dean is back at the Tate Modern, and is bringing her FILM with her.
This past fall the Tate Modern in London opened its latest Turbine Hall exhibition as part of the twelfth commission in The Unilever Series. Each year an artist is asked to take on the enormous central hall of the contemporary art museum and transform it into a new work that will welcome visitors as the very first thing they enter into, bound to be dwarfed by. It is considered a major honor to be asked to complete the task and whatever the artist makes in this space is unavoidably going to be viewed as a major statement if for no other reason than its foreboding size—not only are you looking at it, you are standing in it—a kind of cement cathedral to be filled. And filled. And filled. Previous Unilever Series commissions have been undertaken by Olafur Eliasson, Ai WeiWei, and Louise Bourgeois, to name a few contemporary giants. When Tacita Dean was invited to create something for the hall this year however, many couldn’t help but wonder what she would do with the space considering how understated, quiet, and poetic her works typically have been in the past. A good example of a work that encapsulates Dean’s style would be a personal favorite—the performance of John Cage’s Stillness by Merce Cunningham in three movements in which Dean films Cage’s lifelong partner Cunningham seated in a chair in the middle of an empty dance studio, still and silent, creating an incredibly beautiful ode to their partnership itself. However, Dean did manage to make a statement, (even an elegiac one, despite her firm opposition to this interpretation) by inventing an encounter with a portrait of film itself. The title of FILM pays homage to her chosen medium and vehicle for expression. Late one afternoon in London, while at the offices of the Tate Modern, Dean was kind enough to answer some questions about this new work.
Sabine Mirlesse How did you begin making art? Was there ever a decision-making moment?
Tacita Dean I had to fight to go to art school. There was no decision. It was always, always, what I wanted to do. Even from being very young. I grew up in a legal family—apart from my grandfather who worked in cinema and in the theater—so there was the connection to that but [it was a] struggle to be allowed to go to art school.
Raúl de Nieves and Colin Self get metaphysical with collaborative performances, dance parties, and the challenging of corporeal limitations.
I’ve been seeing a lot of Raúl de Nieves and Colin Self this month. I’ve been admiring De Nieves’s work since seeing some of his gallery shows and his performances both in Ryan Trecartin’s videos and at Trecartin’s closing party at MoMA P.S.1 last year, Dis RT, and Self’s since seeing him perform with the band Ssion and at his monthly party, Clump.
Based in Brooklyn’s out-of-the-way Red Hook, the Still House Group brings a fresh new perspective on what a collective creative effort should look like.
The Still House Group, founded by Isaac Brest and Alex Perweiler, is inspired by the ideals of a young creative demographic bound by expectations of subordination to preexisting models. Still House is hell-bent on escaping the traditional gallery set-up, gearing itself, regardless of the seemingly insurmountable challenges, toward the goal of creative sustainability. Method beyond madness; it seems to be working. After ending an impressive year with the exhibition Riffraff at Art Basel Miami this past December, the Red Hook, Brooklyn-based collective is now preparing for a solo show from one of its members, continuing to make strides toward a more self-sufficient—more communal—creative community.
Fred Paginton You held your first show as the Still House Group in 2008, emerging as a creative environment which allows artists free rein to experiment; what was it like once you began life as an exhibiting collective?
Isaac Brest The group has never been a collective in the sense that we work together on collaborative pieces. However, our process is such that during the conceptual, production, and exhibition phases, our work shares an underlying commonality that bonds it together. At times these similarities are obvious, and at other times they can be hardly noticeable, but palpable nevertheless. It’s undoubtedly been for the better, yet certain works or bodies of work call for individual exhibition, free of the associations brought on by the group. This has led us to program solo shows for all our artists, in order to examine the benefits and drawbacks of releasing the contextual implications of the Still House collective model.
FP Tell me about about the origins of the Still House Group.
Win $500 and have your work featured in an upcoming story or film.
This winter, FSG Originals and BOMB Magazine team up to invite readers, artists, and designers to submit a work of art inspired by the writing of by Israeli short story writer, filmmaker, and graphic novelist, Etgar Keret. The Something out of Something Design Contest, which takes its name from a passage found in Keret’s forthcoming story collection, Suddenly, a Knock on the Door (April 2012), will be run on a Tumblr site of the same name, where submissions can be viewed and commented on by other entrants, readers, and Keret fans.
We’re looking for visual art submissions that incorporate themes or are somehow connected to Keret’s works, whether it’s fiction, films, or comics. Submissions can take the form of anything really—paper sculpture, action figures, painting, diorama, animated video—you name it, we’ll consider it.
Make this opportunity your chance to make Something out of Something, and get noticed! Click through for more details and official contest rules. Media Sponsor: Tumblr
Janelle Iglesias + Lisa Iglesias = Las Hermanas Iglesias. The sisters share their reflections on collaboration, collection, and the absurd with Martha Moldovan.
My sister still bares a little scar on her cheek from the time we fought over a tube of Pringles—a permanent vestige of a sibling rivalry that no longer manifests itself around food. Luckily Lisa and Janelle Iglesias have not moved completely past such childhood quarrels and activities. Their video “Cherry Contest” (from the Sibling Rivalry series) shows Lisa and Janelle sitting at a table facing the camera in matching salsa-red jumpsuits. They shove cherries into their mouths in a competition to see who can more efficiently ingest the fruit. Through their collaborative project, Las Hermanas Iglesias present their versions of impromptu races, piñata parties, and scavenger hunts. Yet beneath their whimsical sculptures and performances dwells a chain of serious cultural inquiries.
Martha Moldovan Tell me about how your collaborative project was born.
Las Hermanas Iglesias Our collaboration started while we were both in grad school with a long stretch of I-95 between us. Neither of us had substantial art school training prior to grad school and we were feeling pretty overwhelmed as well as experiencing the same sort of existential questioning and vulnerability that many MFA students have. To deal with these feelings, we started sending drawings back and forth in the mail. Without any rules or verbal conversation about the marks, the drawings were purely a visual dialogue. We were interested in teasing out and discovering parallel tendencies in the images and palette we were using as well as to get to know each other’s practices more intimately. We both decided to move back to New York City after school not so much because of the art world but more because New York was ours and we missed it—our friends, foods, haunts—and it is a home we collaborate from.
Jennifer Lindblad experiences Carsten Höller and discusses the ways in which his work explores contemporary theories of body.
In 1961 Maurice Merleau-Ponty published “Eye and Mind”, his seminal essay on the role of perception in our understanding of the world. Much of the text is concerned with corporality, in asserting that the body is not only a thing in the world, but the vessel for—and condition of—experience. Carsten Höller’s exhibition Experience, which just ended at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York, played on some of these concepts.
Höller himself comes from a background of science. Born in Brussels in 1961, the same year Merleau-Ponty’s “Eye and Mind” was published, Höller earned a doctorate in biology in 1988 with a specialization in Insect Communication. He subsequently embarked on a career as an artist, with his previous work in entomology informing his artistic practice. Experimenting with social and institutional norms, as well as delving into conceptions of the self, Höller employs playful, interactive installations to discuss themes of childhood, safety, love, the future, and doubt. In an October 2011 interview with The Art Newspaper, he noted, “The real material I work with is people’s experience [. . .] I think of life as an experiment on oneself. Subjective personal experience in science is a no-no. In starting to make art, I wanted to bring in what had been forbidden.”1 Without recorded data or objective results, visitors are able to experiment with themselves freely, considering complex ideas and opening them up to the realm of possibility and personal discovery.
The man behind the Reanimation Library, an assemblage of discarded texts and cultural detritus, talks to BOMBlog about how to put life back into works ranging from taxidermy to a million random numbers to a 19th-century dentist’s rewriting of the Bible.
Zack Friedman What does it mean to reanimate books?
Andrew Beccone I think that on balance, most people would look at the kinds of books that I collect and have trouble seeing much value in them, aside from being a kind of minor historical curiosity. By collecting, cataloging, and making these books available, I am really hoping to demonstrate their continuing relevance and facilitate their further use. So rather than sitting in a basement or rotting away in some thrift store, they can continue to be of value. Perhaps the books have outlived their original intended purpose, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t other ways to use them.
John Reed takes notes (and footnotes) on the career of art animus Stuart Sherman, using the new catalog Beginningless Thought/Endless Seeing as a jumping-off point.
The child sews beanbags. “Why not make a business of it?” asks the adult. The commercial impulse is automatic. It is the channeling of art into market culture, and it is art’s end. In 1969, Stuart Sherman, an artist at play, wrote a related parable (with characteristic “o-o,” i.e. “spectacle” typography):
6/6/69: One little boy preferred stringing beads to all other amusements. But he concealed this preference from his playro-om teacher and from his play-ro-omates, because no one—not even girls—ever strung beads, and he did not want to be thought strange. To camouflage his real interest, he deliberately showed boundless enthusiasm for all the toys and utilized them with equal skill and imagination. Visitors to the playro-om often remarked the extraordinary versatility and quality of his achievements and then, when alone, dreamed of the heights of accomplishment the boy could reach if only he cared to concentrate his talent and energy on one particular plaything.
The new catalog Beginningless Thought/Endless Seeing: the Works of Stuart Sherman documents and reflects upon the performance and mixed media art of this mercurial artist, gathering archival materials from a 2009 exhibition curated by John Hagan, Yolanda Hawkins and John Matturri. Sherman (1945-2001) was an early member of Charles Ludlam’s Ridiculous Theatrical Company and Richard Foreman’s Ontological-Hysteric Theatre; he matured into a wide-ranging creative force: performances, film and video, writing, drawing, collage and sculpture. The catalog compiles essays written by Sherman’s colleagues, stills from performances, and reproductions of Sherman’s drawings and collages. Entries and poems from Sherman’s journals are inset in the pages, allowing Sherman to posthumously contribute to the dialogue.
Sherman’s output, if diverse, stemmed from a single, ineffable source. He was a performance artist, a sculptor, a filmmaker, a writer, but moreover, an art animus that manifested in various mediums, imperfections intact. As Sherman wrote in an unpublished syllabus, “Meanings are infinite, I vow to intend them. Unintended meanings are welcome, if invited—i.e., made plausible and/or inevitable by your actual intentions . . . Art is evidence, residue, relic, momentary concretization of beginningless thought and endless seeing.”
Energy drinks and LEDs shock the system and set the stage for Josh Kline’s curiously energized creative practice.
Josh Kline’s first solo show in New York, Dignity and Self Respect at 47 Canal, welcomed its viewers to the residual shock of the present, in a culture fueled by energy drinks, reality television, LED lighting, and the virtual Internet world that increasingly infringes upon daily existence. As an artist, curator, and collaborator, Kline’s practice often transcends the physical art object to pinpoint the nature of labor and productivity in a climate of posthuman conditions. We discussed his work and exhibition on a rare day off in Brooklyn.
Jenny Borland After watching the entirety of your video What Would Molly Do?, my experience of the exhibition seemed to shift—perhaps creating anxiety as I felt more implicated as relating to these interviewees. I’m curious about the video’s role in the show and if you could discuss some of the decisions made while filming?
Josh Kline The show’s focus was creative labor. Lifestyle aspirations encourage young people to make tremendous sacrifices for their careers today. Young creative people cast aside their dignity and in many ways, their humanity, for a chance to get started on the road to self-actualization. A job interview can be seen as a kind of sacrificial altar where you offer yourself up as a commodity, as a product. In the exhibition, I was offering up a suite of human products: the hands and gestures and biological material of creative workers, images of mass-produced celebrities, drug foods, and, in the video, potential interns.
Shifting Connections untangles the complexities inherent in the work of Hans Haacke.
One of contemporary art’s best-kept secrets is that Hans Haacke’s work can be fun: what a pleasure to see the repeat performance of his 1967 systems art exhibition at MIT! I tried to imagine what it would have been like to see this seminal work when it was first exhibited—questioning whether it was art or science—but I soon disconnected from time and history. It was simply nice to be there! The wafting sensuality of Wide White Flow (1967/2006/2010), the sinewy wiggle of White Waving Line (1967/2011), and the enamel-like sheen on the sleek, wet surface of Ice Stick (1966) all speak of a straight-forward aesthetic that shifted the emphasis in art from medium and mimesis to art as a dynamic environment. Whatever its effect in 1967, the work exerts a strong presence today as a lively interface between medium, methods, context, and content of art.
In the latest of BOMBlog’s reprints of [ 2nd Floor Projects ], Stephen Boyer takes inspiration from the work of Emily Jaine Wilson and Charlene Tan.
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
Artist Matthew Lutz-Kinoy collaborated with producer SOPHIE and triple-threat Chelsea Culp at the New Museum in September. The result? Paint on the dance floor, and an inescapable harmony that you can’t help but whistle to.
The night of New York-and-Berlin-based artist Matthew Lutz-Kinoy’s Fall performance of his Donna Haraway’s Expanded Benefits Package (DHEBP) at New York’s New Museum (featuring Chicago-based artist and curator Chelsea Culp and London producer-on-the-rise, SOPHIE) I found myself at home with the flu. It was only until later, after I had come back from the dead and was dining with friends downtown, that the reviews began to pour in.
“Describe it to me.” I demanded.
“I can’t, I’m sorry. I just can’t. You gotta hear it first.”
I went home and revisited Lutz-Kinoy’s website, a white space dotted with a variety of photographs, paintings, text, layered and liberated in their somewhat decontextualized presentation. There it was: D O N N A. And hear, it was (well—here). It was a palpation of a Fluxus-infused ecstasy, a sort-of-Schneeman-1964-Meat Joy in the air—but in lieu of the sanguine, and paired with Lutz-Kinoy’s tactile images, was the aural-ocular sensation of honey and glitter being poured all over me from a distance above. I listened to the track intermittently in the coming days and found myself, honied, floating in the ethereal regions between the art-haus, the funhouse, and the dancehouse. It struck me that, in some small way, though I had missed the show, I had not missed the performance.
Over the last few months, over the digital stratospheres somewhere between New York/London/Amsterdam/Berlin, I sat down with Lutz-Kinoy (a sculptor, a dancer, a video artist, a painter–and that’s just getting started) and the London-based musician SOPHIE to discuss DHEBP, cruising utopias, and how this producer/artist collaboration makes room for beautiful instrumentals in their combines.
Legacy Russell Matthew, can you talk about Donna Haraway’s Expanded Benefits Package (DHEBP)? What was the impetus for this work?
ML-K I think the most interesting starting point of this work is a merge that happened between my intuitive production that is heavily informed by collaborative relationships between curators or artists and the recent application of those methods into a framework that emphasizes political agency. This was heavily informed by José Esteban Muñoz’s book Cruising Utopia. But that’s getting ahead of myself and that context has a lot to do with framing and structuring, and I would say the real starting point—at least the more raw content—begins with a practice located in the atelier, the dance studio, and the night club, some place that locates itself between a painting and the representation-painting-dance.
Curator Dan Nadel speaks about Destroy All Monsters—the collective, the members, and their continuing relevance as “cool shit” it isn’t too late to learn about as part of the exhibition showing at L.A.’s PRISM.
The Destroy All Monsters exhibition Return of the Repressed at PRISM Los Angeles brings at least one idea to the table: it is never too late to learn about cool shit. Introduced to the music via my mother—who attended the same university as the members of the art/music/theatrical collective, Mike Kelley, Jim Shaw, Cary Loren and Niagara—I was inspired by their work to have one of those I-wish-I’d-been-around-then moments. Well, no longer can I lament being born too late to be a part of the small movement that (as noted by the exhibition’s catalog) “wanted to kill James Taylor”. Destroy All Monsters was one of the more short-lived (and most interesting) groups of artists that emerged in the ‘70s. At PRISM their compositions—a collection of photographs, musical experiments, collages and paintings—is back in action, this time in a setting that finds itself quite a distance away from its genesis. Attendees of the University of Michigan, Destroy All Monsters based their work often on their surroundings, rejecting most halcyonic concepts. Named after a Godzilla movie, the group prefaced punk with introducing monstrous noises in conjunction with the harmonized goal of creating an artistic space where they could do whatever they wanted. The result is virtually undefinable. These days, the artists do not create alongside of each other, but have finally found a moment where sharing a space makes sense again. Dan Nadel, the exhibition’s co-curator, took the time to let me know little bit about his attraction to the group, new and old work, and the Destroy All Monsters legendary homebase, God’s Oasis.
Micki Pellerano creates his own cosmos in his drawings. Legacy Russell takes a walking tour through the Lower East Side’s envoy enterprises and the mythical regions of an artist’s mind, beyond revelation.
This Sunday marks the closing of New York-based artist (and bassist for the gothic-folk group Cult of Youth) Micki Pellerano’s exhibition, Revelation. Pellerano’s work toes the line between dream and nightmare, a genesis sprung from an end-of-worlds. Want to witness the kiss of Hades and Elysium? The meeting of man and magic? Come see it for yourself at 131 Chrystie Street.
Legacy Russell Micki, I’ve said it before, and will say it again—it is, without a doubt, very difficult to create graphite-based work on any kind of paper, and then take it and display it in a place that, like envoy [enterprises], has lighting that outshines the likes of Duane Reade or Walgreens. To show highly detailed work under the infamously unforgiving glare of florescent and have it maintain its composure . . . how does that happen? What kind of lighting do you use when creating these works?
Micki Pellerano The lighting I use at home is rather intense so perhaps that lends to it. Either way, I’m glad you feel the drawings hold up under such scrutiny.
LR Can you talk a bit more about your process? When we first met you noted that the paper you use has different tones, sometimes different teeth, different weights . . . which comes first? The concept for a piece, or the paper itself? Do you select one in the interest of serving the other?
MP I have my old standards of types of paper that I prefer to use, and experience has taught me which ones don’t work. I still enjoy experimenting with new textures and imagining how they will be conducive to the concept I have in mind.
LR Walking into this exhibition was like stumbling into a combine of C.S. Lewis and Lewis Carroll. The work is gothic in some respects, psychedelic in others, fairy-tale like, at times. Can you touch on how fantasy is utilized in your process?
MP When attempting to render the idea of something formless materializing into a state of palpability or perceptibility, textural qualities such as melting and morphing enter your visual vocabulary, and these are redolent of motifs in psychedelic art or cinema. This is why popular psychedelic art borrowed so heavily from Art Nouveau with its ethereal vapors and shifting plasmas.
Charles Mary Kubricht’s new piece on the High Line dazzles and delights.
High Line Art, presented by Friends of the High Line, announced the beginning of its Fall 2011 season of public art with Texas-based artist Charles Mary Kubricht’s installation Alive-nesses: A Proposal for Adaptation. Implementing the celebrated Dazzle camouflage scheme of WWI and WWII naval merchant vessels, Kubricht reproduced the painted design on park storage containers located at the Hudson Yards end of the High Line. Originally garnered from the visual language of Cubism, early camouflage studies by Abbott H. Thayer, the general coloring of seagulls, and the final design implementation and promotion for military use by Norman Wilkinson—illustrator-cum-British lieutenant of the Royal Navy—Dazzle painting on commercial ships was once thought to effectively dodge attacks by enemy U-boats.
The evasion was, of course, not a result of the brazenly painted ship camouflaging itself into the sea, but instead a result of artillery rangefinders being unable to determine the painted ship’s distance, course, and speed due to its painted, black-and-white, angular geometry. Beginning in 1918, the American Camouflage Corps began camouflaging merchant ships in various east coast harbors including New York, Boston, and Norfolk, Virginia. Towards the end of WWII, the New York harbor was the busiest in the world with up to five hundred Dazzle camouflaged ships anchored at one time.
Tabitha Piseno You have been using the Dazzle painting technique in various installations for a few years now. How did your interest in this particular design begin, and what was the impetus for proposing such a project for the High Line?
Charles Mary Kubricht I have been investigating landscape art and technology since 1989 through rigorous experiences in the wilderness and research in historical moments, technological stages and political agendas that often converge at isolated wilderness sites. I started investigating the visual strategies of camouflage and came across the complex geometric shapes of Dazzle painting and anti-range finding camouflage schemes of World Wars I and II. Visual transformation occurs through the un-reading of the form so that it can be read in a new way. The High Line is a perfect example. What existed as industrial form was transformed into aesthetic form. The walkways and plantings are camouflaging the industrial past by adapting to the original form in a way that reorganizes our perceptual experience with nature. The tension between nature and culture is reduced.
Nicole Demby reflects on the aesthetics of femininity and the gendered codification of labor and the physical form within the work of three contemporary women artists.
Aided by Man Ray in 1921, Marcel Duchamp emblazoned a perfume bottle with an image of his newly-created alter-ego, the bedroom-eyed Rrose Sélavy. He entitled the work Belle Haleine: Eau De Violette, (Beautiful Breath: Veil Water). The name is a pun on both Eros, c’est la vie. (“Eros, that’s life.”), and Rrose Halevy, a common Jewish name that means “Rrose, the Levite” (Duchamp expressed the desire to make simply a Jewish alter-ego before deciding to make her a woman as well). As such, the artwork, which Duchamp attributed to Rrose Sélavy, connotes both libido and otherness, the essence of woman as well as its abstraction from the physical body (in this case, Duchamp’s, male).
In a strange way, Belle Haleine anticipates the idealized characterization of advanced capitalist society as one in which identity is completely fluid—in which culture and technology enable us to identify with whatever gender we wish, and the sustaining of our lives is detached from our bodies as work has become immaterial—cognitive, intellectual production removed from the brute physicality of industrial production. That Belle Haleine is a détourned luxury commodity is fitting; luxury goods advertise the possibility of simply buying in to a certain feeling, status, or lifestyle (who needs real work when one can simply buy one’s way into a certain class or social group?). Fragrance, in particular, is the symbolic antithesis of material work; cosmetic and immediate rather than sustaining and sustained. Sexy rather than banal, it offers the possibility of imbuing the subject with a desired aura, a kind of magic potion that circumvents the tedium of working for the desired qualities. Yet that Belle Haleine is actually an empty bottle is poetically suggestive of the missing substance at the heart of the notions of immaterial labor: the body.
Legacy Russell Twinterviews artist Man Bartlett about Occupy Wall Street, class and economy, and how Twitter just might be the next frontier for public sculpture.
Street Artist Raquel Sakristan on Dark Energy, defining consciousness, and not being afraid to disappear.
I first came across street artist Raquel Sakristan’s work in a literature and art publication I unearthed in a crowded independent book store in Valencia, Spain. As I flipped idly through the magazine of local artists and writers, one page in particular caught my eye: there was a dancing winged figure with a broken heart hinged at its groin, an electric plug for a tail, and a house for a head. The house had a penis for a chimney and fireworks exploded out and rained down on the figure from that chimney. The energy of this creature in mid-dance and the audacity of the phallic chimney struck me—they spoke of nameless human performances, the collusion of emotional, technological, and sexual forces, and seemed to attest to the vibrancy and strange vibrations of life. I bought the magazine and pinned it open on my desk to that page. The figure and its dance began to haunt my room.
What conditions had produced such a creature? Was this image holding up a mirror to mankind or portraying of our worst fears—and what if those were one in the same? Years later, in my exchanges with Sakristan it suddenly became clear to me that that image I remembered so well was, in fact, doing both: simultaneously reflecting the human psyche and projecting its shadows far out beyond the scope of conscious thought. Much of Sakristan’s artwork homes in on human obsessions, deep-rooted desires, doubts, and fears; fear of the dark and of our own disappearance, the latter of which pushes us to leave our cultural fingerprints on our edifices, wherever and however we can. Despite the urban setting of most of her works to date, Sakristan’s street art reflects all aspects of nature; the impetuses within our human nature that drive us to create, question, and change the outward forms of our environment, as well as the natural world and how we relate to and interact with it differently as individuals based on our cultural, ideological and spiritual beliefs. In conversation, Sakristan is both serious-minded and passionate, impressively self-aware and outspoken, when it comes to her motivations, her desire—and beyond that—her need to ply her craft on the street.
BOMBlog talks to artist Jackson Thomas Tupper about his work, featured as The Wick in Issue 118, on newsstands now.
I first came across Jackson Tupper’s work while flipping through my college literary magazine about a year and half ago and ended up in the same graphic design course with him not long after. It quickly became clear that Tupper, currently a junior Studio Art major at the University of Vermont, probably could have taught the class himself, with his masterful knowledge of Photoshop, InDesign, and design in general. My classmates and I became delightfully familiar with Tupper’s illustrated characters—gentle, goggle-eyed creatures with thick necks, missing limbs, and more often than not, mustaches. His work is technically beautiful and strangely mythical; there lies a strong sense of storytelling behind each piece—think your favorite fairy-tale gone wrong. I got to chat with the twenty-year-old Wick artist about combining cuteness with morbidity, and his preference for wearing many artistic hats.
Hannah Jansen You’ve said that street mural artists Blu and Erica Il Cane are two of your main influences. What aspects of their work have carried over into your own?
Jackson Tupper I’m most inspired by the way their minds work. My initial reaction whenever I look at their works is: “What the **?” followed by, “How did they think of that?” They’re really weird but also humorous and sometimes cute. I’m also really attracted to their drawing styles, specifically their sketchbook drawings. They’re simple in that, for the most part, they only use black pen against a clean white page. For me, they’re just really refreshing to look at—Blu’s clean consistent lines and Erica Il Cane’s fine subtle detail. Their raw sketchbook pages become finished products, and that has really inspired me too.