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.
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.
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.