Tom McCarthy and Margarita Gluzberg ask whether psychosis can ever be critical, whether matter can transmit, and what the word fiction finally means.
Artist Margarita Gluzberg and novelist Tom McCarthy have publicly dialogued several times about concerns that run through both their work. In London’s Austrian Cultural Forum in 2001 they discussed their shared fascination with “base materialism”; at the Hayward Gallery in 2002 they debated the issues of the double and the monstrous; and at Paradise Row in 2008 they considered the erotic dimensions of capitalism. Conducting the latest episode of this ongoing dialogue on the pages of BOMBlog, they ask whether psychosis can ever be critical, whether matter can transmit, and what the word “fiction” finally means.
Tom McCarthy Your recent exhibition, Avenue des Gobelins, charts a journey into capitalism—into a space of capitalism which is an imaginative, or imaginary, space as much as a physical one. And that space has a strong relation to desire. Does that sound fair?
Margarita Gluzberg I think it does. And I think it’s this kind of territory that drives your novels too—especially Remainder. Whether either of our work is ‘critical’ or whether it just stages a certain situation is harder to say. Perhaps it describes the ambiguity of the consumer. It’s the consumer’s position that I’m interested in—the desiring consumer, and the desire-filled city that the consumer sees: like Remainders central protagonist. It’s his desire rather than a critical position on the world of capitalism that we’re looking at.
Jeannette Mundt’s new show at Michael Benevento in Los Angeles toys with atypical notions of space in a classic medium—paint.
Gertrude Stein, reality TV, J. W. M. Turner, Google images, modernist furniture, and professional photography all serve as parts of the mash-up of models and objects of critique that Jeanette Mundt deploys. Her current installation of paintings at Michael Benevento’s Los Angeles gallery is at first glance a polite meditation on the representation of private, domestic space flipped and exposed in the more public space of the gallery. This dynamic alone offers a plethora of contradictions for one who wants to read further into the contextual relationship; but it is the sourcing of images, decisions for their coupling, engagement with the gallery’s unorthodox space, and embedded critique of spectacle culture that resonates with our day to day mediated experience and belies the work’s initial reading. I was curious to hear more about the layered meanings that unfold in these pieces and how they reflect and engage with questions of perception and attention in contemporary culture.
Eve Fowler catches up with Sam Gordon on his latest body of work.
The first time I saw Sam Gordon’s work must have been at a 1999 show at Feature Inc., a group of small intensely worked paintings that were rendered as raw, sanded and scraped, refined, and highly detailed. I have followed his work ever since. The thing that struck me initially about Sam’s work are the symbols he uses in his paintings: the peacock feather, disco ball, and swastika—symbols that describe who he is and underscore who he is not, marking what he wants viewers to know about him. I think I read his work the same way I read Gertrude Stein’s text and subtext.
Since his show in 2001 at Marc Foxx, Sam has consistently shown in LA, in 2005 and 2006 for shows curated by Malik Gaines and Drew Heitzler respectively, and most recently in 2010 when he curated an exhibition for Artist Curated Projects (a project I organize with Lucas Michael). This past March, Sam screened 24 Hours in Los Angeles: The Lost Kinetic World, Volumes 1–12, at The Mandrake, and invited Jacob Robichaux and Amy Yao to collaborate on a performance/installation to punctuate the event. Sam and I had the opportunity to work collaboratively during his last visit, under the name Two Serious Guys, which Sam derived from Two Serious Ladies, a title taken from the 1943 novel by Jane Bowles. Sam’s current solo show Trompe l’oeil includes new paintings and a video slideshow at Feature Inc.
In her latest Shifting Connections, Kathleen MacQueen reflects on her favorite shows of the Spring of 2012.
Themes of language and communication ricochet through this spring’s exhibition season in New York City, from Jenny Holzer’s restricted language abstractions at Skarstedt Gallery uptown, to Elaine Reichek’s threads of betrayal and cries of complaint in her Ariadne tapestries at both the Whitney Biennial and downtown at Nicole Klagsbrun in Chelsea. The Biennial also features fragments of feminist Mary Wollstonecraft’s correspondence as interpreted by photographer Moyra Davey. Davey’s inclination to fold her own images as letter-envelopes sending them through the mail extends intimacy across time and space as a tactile flight of fancy and a restless search for communion. Even Nicole Eisenman’s languidly empathic painting at the Biennial entitled Breakup exposes the vacuum look of despair induced by a smartphone text that divides existence into before and after.
What interactions are triggered by the exchange of brief messages?
Panter and White make light shows together, the most recent of which is in a big, fantastical room at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit.
Gary Panter is a painter, a creator of extremely unconventional comic books, and a draughtsman of the images in his mind. He was the set designer of “Pee-wee’s Playhouse.” He has said he would sculpt more than he does but he knows how much space that would take up; there’s a gorgeous humility about his practicality.
Joshua White is the founder of the Joshua Light Show, which produced the famed and extraordinarily gnarly backdrops behind dozens of rock and roll luminaries at the Fillmore East and points west. He and Panter have been collaborating on light shows for years now.
I met Panter and White at Eisenberg’s, an old time Jewish deli in the Flatiron District in Manhattan. White ordered a tuna fish sandwich with an iced tea and a chocolate milkshake. Panter had a BLT and a Diet Pepsi.
Joshua White Now let’s get something straight here: Mr. White is my late father. I’m Josh. I apologize for being late. I’m the one that lives eight blocks away so of course it comes with the territory. I have to be late.
Gary Panter There was a flat on the unicycle.
JW Yeah. There was a flat on my segway.
Frank Thurston Green Do you really have a segway?
Marie Lorenz goes against the current with her recent body of work.
I first met Marie Lorenz at the American Academy in Rome in 2008, where she was a Fellow in Visual Arts. We spent the year with about 40 other scholars, artists, composers, architects and their families living in a palazzo on top of the Gianicolo hill. One comes to know people differently by living, eating, and drinking together everyday in close quarters. Marie, it quickly became clear to me, and to everyone else, was an adventurer, a trailblazing kind of person. She was not too concerned about what other people thought and had an amazing ability to make things both more fun and more dangerous. She spent much of the year building a boat out of wood and carving it with ornate patterns. She would take people out on her boat in the Tiber and other bodies of water around Rome. All of her nautical adventures, from Rome and back in the United States, are documented on her website. I sat down with Marie, on the occasion of her recent show at Jack Hanley Gallery, to discuss garbage, funky smells, and her relationship to the tides.
Jennifer Coates What is the most disgusting piece of garbage you have ever found on one of your boating trips?
Marie Lorenz That is such a good one. Well, I have never come across a dead body . . .
Lily Binns sits down with artist Pilar Gallego to discuss the importance of mentorship within community and the role it plays in creative production.
Pilar and I have lived across the street from each other in Flatbush for a couple years. The first time I came into real contact with them was when they walked into my living room several months ago to meet with me and my friend and colleague, film director Ira Sachs. In 2010, Ira and I started an independent program called Queer/Art/Mentorship, which pairs and supports advanced- and early-career queer working artists in New York City. Pilar, with short combed-back hair and black glasses, was coming to meet with us, as one of the fifteen fellows admitted to the program. The painter and curator Nicole Eisenman, a founding member of Ridykeulous, had chosen Pilar as her mentee, and Ira and I were welcoming Pilar to the program and getting to know them a bit.
I find Pilar’s art to be suggestive of stories, of time and change. Most often the work explicitly expresses a yearning for the trappings of masculinity, while complicating and hyperbolizing the longing itself. As we talked most recently, I learned how that impulse is evolving in Pilar’s current work. The conversations made us both reflect on the inextricable interconnectedness of our art and our personal growth at this moment in our 30-year-old lives, as we build bodies of art and community, and work to understand our bodies and identities themselves.
For this edition of BOMBlog’s reprint from [ 2nd Floor Projects ], Jennifer Blowdryer writes an aggressively witty autobiographical prose piece inspired by work in [ 2FP ]’s exhibition Here Comes Everybody.
About [ 2nd floor projects ]: Since establishing [ 2nd floor projects ] in San Francisco in 2007, I have featured twenty-six writers in the exhibitions, with eight writers forthcoming through 2012. My programming includes commissions to writers throughout the country to produce an edition: essays, personal narratives, interviews, poetry, or mixed-genre pieces in the form of handcrafted broadsheets or chapbooks. From early on in my art practice, I have been interested in trespassing disciplines. These visual, theoretical, and narrative crossings perhaps address an interstitial space of engagement with the artists’ works from the writer’s point of departure. A distal approach rather than the traditional essay model, such as an exhibition catalogue. For each exhibition, I design and print an in-house limited run of 100 on archival papers. The writers are also invited to give a reading during the course of the exhibition, or to send a recording if they are not in the area. [ 2nd floor projects ] participated in the NY Art Book Fair in 2009 and 2010. BOMBlog will be re-publishing these pieces regularly over the next several months.
—Margaret Tedesco, Director
BOMB revisits the work of Jonathan Lasker. Here the artist discusses his early works with Amanda Valdez.
Jonathan Lasker: Early Works at Cheim & Read highlighted the early output of this New York-based abstract painter’s career. Though the artist was born in New Jersey, the show started off with the last painting he made while at CalArts. Now known for squiggly black lines, thick impasto paint, and bright bold colors, the early paintings show the beginning of issues he would continue to mine in painting for the next thirty years. Moving between rooms there was a clear progression in his handling of paint, the sometimes awkward and challenging color choices, and the development of images and their relationship to one another. Some have the clarity and borders of brushstrokes in later works while most others lack the restraints he went on to develop. The washy backgrounds of paintings like the 1981 Pre-Fab View and Zen for Ben with the Richter-like painted forms that sit right on top, make for a completely new experience of Lasker’s work. Lasker took time in the studio recently to discuss these early works.
Amanda Valdez What does it mean for you to have this exhibition up of your earlier works? Do you regularly have these works around you in the studio or at home?
Jonathan Lasker In a way, I have never gotten completely away from the early works. I’ve written about one of the paintings, Illinois. It was the beginning of the whole figure/ground dialectic in my work. I’ve said in the past that, in a way, I’m still painting that painting with each successive painting. Namely, the foundation of what that started is still in my mind. Although, of course, the paintings that I’m doing today look radically different than the paintings from the late ’70s.
Away from the classroom and into the gallery space! Xylor Jane proves that artists get A’s in math, too.
Xylor Jane’s oil paintings are regiments of colorful dots, laid out in psychedelic grids and spirals. Working with systems of counting, such as palindromic prime numbers or Julian Day numbers, she develops a visual cadence on the panel. The rhythms she creates with the dots hide the figures with which she is working; buried in the negative space are sevens, threes, and eights. Standing too far away, the viewer loses sight of the numbers, too close and it’s all bits of color.
Jane blends the approaches of Pointillism, Op art, and Conceptualism, arriving at works which spike the synapses in our visual cortex and dazzle the mind. I had the pleasure of catching up with Jane at the close of her two-person exhibition Xylor Jane and B. Wurtz (curated by Arnold J. Kemp) and with a solo exhibition just around the corner, opening in New York this May at CANADA.
Fred Wilson makes history at the Savannah College of Art and Design Museum of Art.
“Papa Legba, ouvri berriere pour moins!” (“Papa Legba, open the gate for me!”): a plea to the voodoo intermediary between the world as we know it and the spiritual realm beyond, inscribed on the wall at the entrance of Fred Wilson’s recent intervention at the Savannah College of Art and Design Museum of Art entitled Life’s Links. Papa Legba is guardian of the crossroads and it is movement across boundaries that the artist evokes as he selects from Walter O. Evans’s rich collection of art, artifacts, and manuscripts of African-American history, a fraction of which has recently been gifted to the museum. Using the Savannah Grey bricks—a local hallmark—Wilson creates a resonant visual continuity that echoes the transition of the building from its former existence as the historic Central of Georgia Railway depot to its 2011 revitalization as a contemporary art museum. In doing so, he alludes to pavement and archives as well as barriers and slave quarters in an installation that opens chinks in the walls of historical blindness. Bricks—like the documents in the cases that guard Dr. Evans’s notable manuscript collection—are units that cumulatively have the potential to build or destroy.
Pablo Helguera deftly navigates the open SEAs.
If you have any interest in gaining an introduction to the field of socially-engaged art, read Pablo Helguera’s newly released overview, Education for Socially-Engaged Art: A Materials and Techniques Handbook. If you are an individual deeply immersed in social practice as an artist, curator, or teacher, it is even more essential that you pick up this modest publication. A clear and concise synthesis of the parameters of this increasingly recognized area of practice, Education for Socially-Engaged Art provides refreshing insight from one of the leaders in this new field. Through the publication, Helguera successfully tackles what few have been able to accomplish, crafting a transparent structure for thinking about socially-engaged art in a way that is digestible, and just plain pleasurable to read.
Designer Gigi Ferrante shares artist Arch Connelly’s style book and philosophy on art and life on the occasion of his exhibition at La MaMa Galleria.
Forget the oyster, consider the pearl—dip-dyed, vintage, faux, unstrung and pooling. The ebb and flow of fabulous across sculptural Midwestern mesas and painted scenes on ply mimicking moiré, moiré mimicking ply, and back again, to be taken by the undertow of an Arch Connelly and never to surface again, never to surface from the surface. The tide is high of Arch Connelly’s work currently at La MaMa Galleria where the first comprehensive survey of his work has been curated since he died of AIDS 20 years ago.
Moyra Davey’s been included in the 2012 Whitney Biennial and has an upcoming exhibition opening at the end of this month. Here, a pause for a portrait of the artist.
Moyra Davey has been busy: her photography and video work were featured in MoMA’s New Photography 2011 exhibition and she’s featured in the 2012 Whitney Biennial. Finally, Davey also has a show opening at Manhattan’s Murray Guy at the end of this month. Carmen Winant sat down with the artist at her apartment in Washington Heights to discuss private experiences in public places, resisting nostalgia, being messy, and how Roland Barthes is a perfect soundtrack for making work.
Carmen Winant Since we are speaking in your studio, which is in your apartment in Washington Heights, let’s start with this: how long have you lived here? Have you always had a live-work space?
Moyra Davey I’ve lived here since 2000. Before that I was in Hoboken, and, before that, in Williamsburg for five years. We had a big loft in Hoboken, but I didn’t like working there. It was a beautiful but really permeable space: noisy and dusty. I prefer this set up, which is an apartment in a pre-war building. The walls and floors are lined with cement so it is incredibly quiet and private. I work on the couch, the bed, at the kitchen table. It drives my partner crazy because I colonize the whole space. But I love to find the perfect spot for whatever it is . . . reading or writing, or working on some photographs. I want the best light, the best music. If I am doing something boring like folding up photographs I will go in the kitchen table, where there is a little MP3 player.
Uta Barth brings a new meaning to close looking.
Painting with light and chasing the ephemeral, Uta Barth brings us again into her Los Angeles home with new photographs that remind us not only of both the infinite and finite capacities of an eye’s perception, but of one’s bodily relationship with the background as well. In previous work Barth directs one’s awareness inward to the subconscious engagement one has with the act of looking. What feels so different about these new images however is the presence of the artist’s brushstroke—drawing attention instead to the way one can outwardly activate or interrupt a composition of space. Barth’s hands sweep back her curtains as a type of performance, an introduction to one’s own reflection, even. The narratives of light and its presence in life is the focal point of Barth’s photographs more than ever before in these images most recently exhibited at Tanya Bonakdar gallery this winter. Here the artist opens up about her beginnings and inspirations and why she might only be able to make her artwork in Los Angeles.
Sabine Mirlesse How did you begin taking photographs?
Uta Barth I was taking a painting class in undergraduate school and wanted to render certain spatial configurations and to study the light of these imagined scenes. I did not have the skill to paint the images directly, so I started to make photographs to work from. But repeatedly I found the photographs that I thought to be the disposable source materials much more interesting and more engaging than the paintings and drawings I made from them. I also found that the process of making photographs forced me to learn how to truly see, to see the light, to study how things in an image relate to the edge, how to crop and frame the most mundane and incidental subject matter into a compelling image. I remember a teacher talking about the difference of making an engaging photograph of an ordinary thing versus making an ordinary photograph of an engaging thing. So early on I started pointing my camera at the incidental, the ordinary and the insignificant information that surrounds us but that we pass by without noticing everyday.
Artist Jason Lazarus has his hands full—with GIFs, pics, and sign-sticks.
I first had the pleasure of meeting artist Jason Lazarus on a cross-country road trip in the spring of 2011. We happened upon one another at an event I produced in Chicago and, over a few beers, got to talking. At the time, Lazarus was working on his archival project Too Hard To Keep. Though the project had him knee-deep in an ocean of materials cast away by their original owners—leaving Lazarus with the weighty task of deciding how to conserve them—I was struck by the artist’s calm determination. It did not take long to realize that this is not uncommon for Lazarus—undertaking the seemingly impossible or generally monumental is de rigueur for him in his day-to-day, and, as a result, Lazarus has perfected the graceful juggling act required to merge the realms of artist and cultural producer. In this, Lazarus has proven himself to be a true model for the contemporary maker. Armed with a new project and fresh momentum, Jason Lazarus has got his hands full—yet he is ready for even more.
Legacy Russell Let’s talk about what’s been most recently on your plate—a project that focuses on modes of archiving and the recent social phenomenon Occupy Wall Street. Can you touch on this?
Jason Lazarus The archive is called Phase I, the title references conversations between Kalle Lasn and Micah White of AdBusters about broad steps for change, with Phase I being signs, meetings, camps, marches. This archive is a collection of recreated OWS signs used around the world. While a Kennedy Visiting Artist this past fall at the University of South Florida [(USF)] in Tampa, I started collecting .jpegs of signs from the Occupy movement and recreating them in my studio. This activity morphed to a weekly sign-making session where students from around the Department of Art and Art History were dropping in to make signs, talk about Occupy, eat pizza, and just blow off steam. This mode of production was significant as each sign has a message and a visual tactic used to create it . . . through the process of the students picking a hand-made sign to recreate, they not only connect with a message, but with the vernacular tactic used to get that message out quickly, loudly, artistically. We all couldn’t help but learn together about the economy of protesting.
Liza Béar talks to Turkish artist Serkan Ozkaya about his monumental David Double.
Twice the size of the original David in carrara marble that Michelangelo completed in Florence in 1504, Serkan Ozkaya’s David Double—made of fiberglass from a Stanford University computer model—is 17 feet tall. It has a metal armature and is sprayed gold. The homage to Michelangelo was shipped by a freighter from Istanbul to the Storefront for Art and Architecture on Kenmare Street, where it was parked on March 6, lying on its side in a low-boy tractor-trailer. David Double will be driven around New York on this rig before heading to Louisville, Kentucky, where it has a permanent home in the 21C Museum collection. A styrofoam version of David Double was previously shown at the Istanbul Biennal.
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 Steven Englander, who spoke on behalf of the entire ABC No Rio Visual Arts Collective, 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.
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.
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