In light of the politically empowered movements that have risen across the globe during this turbulent year, George Scheer explores the role of the artist becoming a catalyst for broad social change and questions the purpose of integrating politics with creative forms.
Social, participatory, and engaged art practices, critically imagined, must eventually grasp their political foundation. These art forms, which take cultural production as their interest are an implicit part of a Political project—big P—by framing living practices as a ground for world-making projects. They articulate the boundaries and intersections of living persons congregating, communicating, corporatizing, and collectivizing. However they go about it, these artists and their projects set the stage for an emergent context, a field of possibilities, a potential to constitute relations—the Political as form—big P. As social practitioners and cultural producers we literally conceive, in our poetics, new Political imaginaries.
The third annual Creative Time Summit, Living as Form, presented by public arts organization Creative Time and curated by Nato Thompson, was held on September 23 at NYU’s Skirball Center for Performing Arts. The Summit offered a broad (and at times scattershot) survey of socially engaged art practices on a global scale. Approximately 32 presentations, each held to eight-minute segments, provided a flip-book of contemporary practices, activist exploits, and creative interventions into civic, private, communal, and political realms. The summit marked a continued commitment to these art practices—which remain under-recognized and underfunded—and a witness to their global perspective.
Artists Mark Joshua Epstein and Wardell Milan talk on the record about working off the canvas, self-defining as a creative, and how Milan’s event series, The Critiques, rocks the white box in its focus on emerging talents.
This Sunday marks another session of The Critiques, to be held at Third Streaming in TriBeCa. Founded in 2010 by Wardell Milan and colleague Natika Soward, The Critiques proclaims itself as ”...a new initiative aimed at providing a platform for dialogue and exchange between emerging artists and critics.” Who’s on the roster this week? The scintillating combination of Mark Joshua Epstein and Duron Jackson. Curator Herb Tam will act as the evening’s critic-in-residence. Milan sat down with Epstein to warm up for what is sure to be another season of heavy-hitters.
Wardell Milan Why did you start making the collages?
Mark Joshua Epstein I don’t draw or sketch really, so it was a way of finding a trick to get myself into the studio where I didn’t have to say to myself, “Okay, you’re going to go make a painting,” which comes with some pressure. Instead it was “Okay, you’re going to take all of these magazines that pile up in your apartment and you are going to go through them and look for motifs and images that you think are interesting.” I could say to myself, “This isn’t a big deal, I’m just going to go through these magazines,” because I get all these free magazine subscriptions. I also started making collages because I wanted to do something quick, and I also think that the thing that people don’t talk about that often with collage, is that with painting, if you want to make a highly patterned painting or a highly intricate painting, it is very hard to do it casually, it’s very hard to dash it off right? Done. Casual painting. With collage, because things are already highly patterned, you can cut a casual shape, you can make some kind of casual composition but with highly patterned things—you can’t do this in a painting.
Everything is bigger in Texas. Jennifer Rubell takes on the Lone Star state, with, among other things, a gigantic pile of tortilla chips.
The leckerli were fantastic: dry, chewy, and richly flavored with honey and spices. “They’re from Basel,” Jennifer Rubell told me, as we settled in to talk at her Murray Hill home over mugs of tea. The reference to the Swiss city that also happens to be the site of Art Basel struck me as a glancing nod to Rubell’s position in the art world. A self-proclaimed insider (she’s the daughter of the Rubell family of collectors), it’s important to mention her background when talking about Rubell’s work. Growing up with art as a fact of life has given Rubell an innate understanding of the social interactions that happen with and around art. And in her art, interaction and reaction is the end game—by using food as her primary medium, she sweetens the pot for viewers unwittingly turned subjects. A fair trade off, if everything tastes as good as that cookie.
Hannah Hart I want to start at the beginning. I’m curious about how being a hostess as a young person, as part of a public family, influenced what you’ve chosen to do in your work, whether that contributed to your use of food as a way of bringing people together and engaging them in conversation.
Jennifer Rubell Yeah, I guess you can’t choose what medium you’re interested in. For most of my writer friends it starts with an unreasonable love of words, compared to other things in the world, and for me food occupied that place. Food, social interaction, the structure of celebration or the structure of social interaction particularly inside the art world was just always interesting to me.
My family has always entertained. My parents held this big party during the Whitney Biennial every year . . . it’s funny, things become a legend when actually they start off as some kind of party. Basically my mom made pasta and my dad made these long filets of beef (well, my mom actually made the pasta and the filets of beef, my dad carved the filets of beef) and I think what made those parties so significant is that there was no list at the door and they threw open their doors and whoever came, came. It was totally self-selecting, it was like an art opening, and so because of that people came who later on would become very significant artists, but they were kind of crashing in a way.
In conversation with poet Richard Siken, be prepared to bleed a little.
In 2005, I happened upon a copy of Richard Siken’s Crush while browsing at Saint Mark’s Bookshop in the East Village. Published that year as part of the Yale Series of Younger Poets, the venerable Louise Glück had written the foreword. Her first sentence: “This is a book about panic.” Second: “The word is never mentioned.” My knees buckled. I sat down on the floor and read the sixty-two-page work from cover to cover; several hours later, sick to my stomach, I brought it home with me. Crush lived with me for years; during this time I lost copies left and right to friends and colleagues who borrowed mine without realizing how difficult it would become to part with it once immersed in the undertow of Siken’s text. In my final year of school, knee-deep in my own studies of poetry and art, I decided to write Siken: “It’s cliché as fuck to write a note like this…” I began. His reply: “It is cliché as fuck.” Thus began a war of words. Six years later, Siken’s bite still draws blood, and it feels good.
Legacy Russell So, Richard, I’m just going to put it out there—while your work can be found on a myriad of blogs, online journals, and a variety of publications, and while selections from Crush have been read on YouTube by aspiring poets, tattooed on people’s bodies, and passed around a far-reaching literary community as a publication that has been rumored to change people’s lives, you’ve been relatively private about your identity as a writer. What gives?
Richard Siken You know, I’ve dodged this question (or answered it dishonestly) so many times now, but I’ll go ahead and attempt an explanation. You get the page, I get the rest. That’s the answer but really, you want the reasons behind the answer.
After the fall, comes Autumn: Saddam’s palace to your plate. Elias Tezapsidis takes a bite of Rakowitz’s controversial concoction.
The Park Avenue Autumn / Winter / Spring / Summer restaurant changes in its entirety, as dictated by its title: the ambiance, menu, and smaller details of the dining experience—even the soap used in the restaurant’s bathrooms—transform with the season. Throughout this past year the New York public arts presenter Creative Time has been collaborating with Park Avenue’s Chef Kevin Lasko to create an art-intensive interactive culinary experience. The fourth (and final) segment of the partnership, entitled Spoils, brings artist Michael Rakowitz to Lasko’s kitchen. Ironically, it is Rakowitz who provides the plates this fall. Rakowitz’s interest in the symbology of Iraq following the end of Saddam Hussein’s reign is represented in the project through two key components: the date, and plates from Hussein’s palace.
Martha Wilson’s solo exhibition, I have become my own worst fear, is up at P.P.O.W. gallery through October 8th. Lauren Bakst delves into the many faces of Martha Wilson, examining their relationships to the passing of time, the embodiment of aging, and the intertwining of the personal and political.
Martha Wilson’s solo exhibition, I have become my own worst fear, comprises a series of self portraits that repeatedly distort the self until any fixed notion of subjectivity has utterly dissolved. Spanning from 1974 to 2011, these works reveal Wilson through specific markers in time, and invite the viewer to imagine the lived space beyond each image. Through the juxtaposition of younger and older, of before and after, Wilson makes tangible the space between these captured moments. Her images seem to ask, how did time pass between then and now? Furthermore, what was the embodied experience of that passage? In Beauty + Beastly, a profile image of Wilson in 1974 is positioned adjacent to a profile image of Wilson in 2011, a portrait of the artist peering simultaneously backwards and forwards at herself in spite of and through time. Rather than to spiral into an unending cycle of self reflection and critique, when Wilson looks at herself, she also looks at the viewer, beckoning us to examine the value systems that shape our ways of seeing. Her image and text work invoke the expectations and preconceptions that are written and re-written on women’s bodies every day. The terms “beauty” and “beastly” applied by Wilson to the young and old images of herself reference the persistent intertwining of the personal and the political, bringing awareness to the cultural discourses that frame the female body.
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No—it’s BDY DBL!
Born in Los Angeles, now New York-based artist Kathryn Garcia subverts cultural taboos, delving directly into explorations of gender, sexuality, psychology, and their relationship to both art history and contemporary pop zeitgeist. We met to discuss the queering of culture and why her online alter-ego—BDY DBL—saves the day.
Legacy Russell Kathryn, how would you define your creative practice? As in, what modalities do you put into action via your work?
Kathryn Garcia I guess I would say my practice is not medium-specific—or you could say the mediums bleed into one another. The work bleeds. I work in drawing, as a practice, and also in video. I also employ methods of appropriation in various works; my website is both archival and interactive/schizoid.
KG By schizoid I mean that it is non-linear, basically there is no center. I put stuff on there randomly. It functions as an archive in a sense but doesn’t follow any kind of order.
For me art is about communication. Of course, I have aesthetic concerns when making something, but my work is content driven. I make art to talk about my ideas and political concerns: sex, gender, queerness, desire, trans-, becoming other, becoming flower, becoming man-woman, woman as man, man as woman, or that without distinctions.
Exploring zones that create precarity within meanings defined through oppositions, the bleeding of opposites, being that which bleeds. Those confusing in-betweens. What exists between a penis and vagina when both are becoming each other? And how these kinds of states of in-between challenge language, structures, and other mechanisms of control. Madness, anarchy, sexuality and the abject are a few examples of these types of states. I guess as a goal I aim to confuse people into a state of questioning why there are definitions in the first place, and more importantly, what those definitions are used for, preying on sexual impulse, attraction/repulsion, and liminal spaces.
Deana Lawson’s photographs are now featured in MoMA’s New Photography exhibition. Carmen Winant sits down with Lawson to discuss the visual vernacular of her background, large and small format photography, and Audre Lorde’s definition of the erotic.
New Photography at MoMA features six artists, the Brooklyn based Deana Lawson among them. Lawson has been steadily working and exhibiting her photography and photographic assemblage since graduating from RISD in 2004. Most recently, she participated in PS1’s Greater New York 2010 exhibition. I met Lawson last year when we were both teaching photography at California College of the Arts in San Francisco. She had a show nearby at Baer Ridgeway exhibitions, and the work gripped me in a way that hasn’t quite let go. We spoke about her upcoming show at MoMA, her process of cultivating ideas and making work, and the implications of investigating personal and social histories through photographic processes.
Carmen Winant Along with five other photographers, your work will be featured in New Photography 2011 at MoMA. Can you talk a little bit about what will be in the show, and the process of being curated into it?
Deana Lawson Sure. The work in New Photography has all been made in the past three of four years. I don’t work in series—everything is ongoing—so what is being shown is a chronological mix from that time. As far as the work itself, I’ve always been deeply invested in psychological portraiture, the body/sensuality, and family relationships.
The punk era may be over, but the music, art and political messages are still relevant. Curator Johan Kugelberg talks to BOMBlog about the show he has curated with Crass’s Gee Vaucher, opening Friday, September 30th.
Crass, the anarcho-punk band formed by Penny Rimbaud, Eve Libertine, Phil Free, Joy De Vivre, Steve Ignorant, Pete Wright, N.A. Palmer, and Gee Vaucher in 1977 is making another appearance. Granted, in spirit—after twenty years, the innumerable fanzines given or sent to their Dial House headquarters in England are coming to New York for an exhibition at Boo-Hooray gallery. Dial House has been running since the late 1960’s, and the fanzines are only a small portion of the posters, pamphlets, flyers, and original artwork (including Gee Vaucher’s famously controversial International Anthem zine) housed there. The fanzines are intricate, clever and bizarre DIY creations and depict everything Crass stood for: pacifism, vegetarianism, direct action, environmentalism and the original principles of anarchism. Johan Kugelberg, the exhibit’s co-curator, a veteran of the punk-era, and a prolific writer himself, emailed with us about Crass, contemporary forms of activism, and how bourgeois and useless MoMA is.
AC “In all Our Decadence People Die” is a lyric from Crass’ “Shaved Women”. Why is this the title for the show?
JK Gee chose it. It is a superb lyric that leaves plenty of room for interpretation, as do most of Penny Rimbaud’s brilliant lyrics and poetry, or Gee’s artwork, come to think of it.
AC It makes me think of this Crass song I love, called “Sucks”. The lyrics to the first verse are: “Do you really believe in Buddha? Buddha sucks/ Do you really believe in Jesus? Jesus fucks/ Is it alright really? Is it alright really?/ Is it working?”. The lyrics are fantastic because although they shut down common systems of belief, they’re also asking questions. One of the unique things about Crass is the way their music forces you to question so much; what you want to hear, what you want to do about what they’re saying; who you are in comparison to their music. Is this what drew you to them in the ’80s?
JK Hopefully! But honestly, it was because the jams were fast and loud and that the slogans looked and sounded so cool. Me and my stupid friends used to spray-paint plenty of slogans back in the long-ago, possibly without really understanding what Vaneigem or Debord or Crass meant, but thinking that it sounded right and sounded cool. Now that I’m old (46!),and have read all those difficult texts that I only alluded to back then in order to impress brainy girls, I can honestly say that those texts are right and are cool and are well worth reading.
Ariane Michel wants you to pay attention. In a work that premiered in New York on Monday evening at Van Cortlandt Park—aptly dubbed The Screening —Michel held up a mirror to film attendees by showing them a likeness of themselves on the silver screen.
Without giving too much away (no spoilers here!), the work chronicles a screening in the woods that, for those who found themselves that night in the Park after sunset, surely echoed the familiar.
In the run of the film we hear the crunch of leaves underfoot and the scuttle of an unknown woodland visitor taking us by surprise. An owl makes the star appearance, its eyes bottomless golden pools, confronting our gaze.
In her latest installment of Shifting Connections, Kathleen MacQueen sits down with South African photographer Jo Ractliffe.
South African photographer Jo Ractliffe and I had each read Another Day of Life, Ryszard Kapuściński’s account of the events leading up to Angola’s struggle for independence from Portugal and the civil war that ensued. To her, Angola had been a myth, the site of a border war between her native South Africa and Namibia, a place where brothers and boyfriends were sent for military service. For me, the conflict had continued through six presidencies but I was completely unaware of either U.S. or Soviet involvement—a protracted parallel of the Cold War—a struggle over ideological positions and resource allocation. It was a global struggle mapped as local, which ended militarily in 2002 but continues economically today. We shared a conversation about her landscape series As Terras do Fim do Mundo as an imaginative space that creates its own language.
Kathleen MacQueen Thinking about Sontag’s early essays included in On Photography (1977), I question photography’s value as documentation of reality. Looking at your images—particularly this latest series entitled, As Terras do Fim do Mundo (The Lands of the End of the World)—I consider a way of seeing rather than a documentation of fact. In this sense, the American geographer D.W. Meinig introduced in the 1970s a hypothetical landscape with ten viewers; each saw the same landscape differently: as nature, habitat, artifact, system, problem, resources, ideology, history, place, and aesthetic. He failed to foresee an 11th viewer: you, who see landscape as conscience! Why landscape, why Angola, and why now?
Jo Ractliffe I agree; for me, photography is very much about seeing—and being critical and self-reflexive about what such seeing means. Jill Bennett has a fine way of articulating it; she talks about a seeing that reflects upon “conditions of perception.” I like that; how it speaks to the contexts that frame our perceptions and understandings of things . . .
Why landscape? I’m a little hesitant to even call it landscape; it’s more about space and the ways space speaks to the things I’m interested in expressing in my photographs. And to be honest, I prefer working with space and structures and objects. I have difficulty with what it means to photograph people–the complex, often fraught, exchanges it entails. David Goldblatt says I like landscape because it doesn’t talk back! I don’t entirely agree; I find landscape very present and I have a strong sense of being in dialogue with it. I also like the solitariness that comes with the process–the road, the journeys, time and distance.
Carmen McLeod cracks open the creative process with Open Structure, her debut show at CRG.
Carmen McCleod pulled out all the stops with her first solo exhibition, Open Structure, at the new CRG Gallery Thursday, September 8th.
From representational to abstract, paintings to sculptures, Open Structure demonstrates a solid studio practice with a number of ideas overlapping and competing in both wall pieces and floor assemblies. Through isolation, juxtaposition, and, in some instances, excavation, common materials are laid bare, raw, and unfinished to reveal sculptural qualities otherwise unnoticed. A balance of hesitation and resolve lends the work personality, temperament.
Legacy Russell spoke to artist Patricia Cronin about the installation of her Memorial to a Marriage, to be installed at Woodlawn Cemetery this Fall. With Memorial to a Marriage, art and politics will be forever wedded and bedded.
“Until death do us part” is a cornerstone of many nuptial negotiations throughout history. I say “negotiations” because, ultimately, that is where the seedlings of marriage find their genesis—in the realm of the legal, and therefore the contractual. Patricia Cronin’s Memorial to a Marriage, however, adds another element to the mix—the sculptural. We are born, we live, we die, and, from chapel to cemetery, pairs and partners swear to make these steps from the wedding bed to the coffin bed, together.
This is why Cronin’s piece, to be installed at the Woodlawn Cemetery on September 20th, strikes me as simultaneously an intensely pragmatic and graceful expression of the dawn of a new era in the politics of marriage and its relationship to art. Though the work draws on a Neoclassical aesthetic, it is inherently contemporary in its current relevance, cutting to the quick by depicting both Cronin and her wife, artist Deborah Kass, in repose, draped in sheets, and caressing in their coupledom. Memorial is a work of bronze a medium that Cronin adroitly notes was dubbed by Degas as the “medium for eternity”—a perfect wedding of form, material, and content, attended to by the ghosts of art history.
In the seventh installment of BOMBlog’s reprints of [ 2nd floor projects ] editions, William E. Jones, George Kuchar, and Curt McDowell reflect on An Uneven Dozen Broken Hearts.
This article contains explicit language.
WE ARE NOT AMUSED
by William E. Jones
I hate The Beatles. As Futurama’s mock-cuddly monopoly capitalist Mom would put it, they make me want to puke my face off. I suspect this has some connection with “Love Me Do,” the first single by the Liverpudlian mop-tops, released in the land of my Mom’s people (England) on the day I was born. Astrologers may impute cosmic significance to this coincidence, but as I know less than nothing about such matters, I attribute my perpetual resentment to years of brainwashing.
My earliest memories of commercial radio broadcasts are of The Beatles. They were truly unavoidable during their existence as a recording entity, and instead of fading away after their dissolution, they only seemed to loom larger in the public mind. There were the solo careers, the publicity surrounding various lawsuits, and with a crushing inevitability, the continued broadcast of their music out of a sense of mourning. Around this time, popular music began to look back on itself – always a bad sign – with various nostalgia crazes, revivals, and worst of all, the enshrining of the “greatest” in monstrous social Darwinist play lists and anthologies. For a moment in the mid-to-late 1970s, Punk would dissipate some of this fatuous piety, but the disturbance of business as usual was only temporary. I mention piety, and that is precisely what it was. The Beatles, their music, their images, their achievements, their chart positions, ad infinitum, became a new catechism for people who really could have been doing better things with their time, like making Molotov cocktails or teaching their children how to read.
Krystian von Speidel sits down with artist Nick Cave to talk about his incredible Soundsuits and his concurrent exhibits at Jack Shainman and Mary Boone Galleries. Cave shares his thoughts on pipe cleaners and fashion week, and invites everyone to come to his playground.
In the several years since Nick Cave emerged on the scene, his signature artwork, the textile-and-found-object “Soundsuits,” have become a must for the art world cognoscenti.
Cave’s Soundsuits were initially viewed as hijacked haute couture. They are now highly collectible and increasingly coveted artworks, whose manufacture transcends craft, sculpture, and art. Their categorization, in fact, Cave himself dismisses as unimportant. According to Patricia Hickson, the Emily Hall Tremaine Curator of Contemporary Art at Hartford’s Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, “In the contemporary art field, it is so exciting to come across an artist with a wholly original artistic voice. Nick Cave is one of those rare artists whose work is unmistakably his own. The Soundsuit in the contemporary art collection at the Wadsworth Atheneum—an encyclopedic museum—bridges numerous collections with its direct connection to African art, Modern abstract painting, performance art, contemporary sculpture, and costumes and textiles. The versatility of the Wadsworth Soundsuit as a collection object allows for its presentation in numerous contexts, which is a great benefit in addition to the celebratory and joyful nature of Cave’s work.”
Richard J. Goldstein explores the shifting, spectral geometry of Dorothea Rockburne’s retrospective, In My Mind’s Eye. Watch a video of his visit in the first of a two part installment of BOMB on the Scene.
Before the museum’s opening hours, I met Dorothea at the Parrish to view and discuss her retrospective In My Mind’s Eye. Memories of childhood paper fortune tellers came to mind when I was standing in front of one of her shaped canvases Inner Voice. The allusion to a game of d.i.y. divination seemed too simple to share with the artist, looking on with me, who has plumbed the structure and meaning of Golden Mean, Non-Euclidian Geometry, Three-Point Manifold, and astral events. But there was something about the work that I half expected it to snap into motion, to open and close much like origami fortune tellers, which the painting’s tilted central square resembled and flanking deep purple twin scalene triangles emphasized. Answers were written in the folds of those game pieces, something I found to be true in Rockburne’s work and thoughts.
Samuel Jablon engages artist Aaron Sheppard in a discussion about his new work the cake in the room, Alice in Wonderland, Jesus, and Miss Havisham.
This conversation began when I met Aaron Sheppard at an opening in Chelsea, and ended months later. In person as well as over email, we explored transformations and transitions from Jesus to Marie Antoinette for Aaron’s performance/dinner party, cake in the room part of the tisch im raum (table in the room) series at the Kunsthalle Exnergasse in Vienna, Austria. Aaron’s performance, which occurred in mid-July, highlighted stereotypes in physical appearance and explored the humanity hidden in the transitions between transformations. As Aaron went to Vienna and I left for Beijing, our conversation transitioned to a cross-continental dialogue, but ultimately wrapped it up much closer to home, both transformed by our travels, chatting over a beer back in New York.
Samuel Jablon Could you tell me about your performance in Vienna?
Aaron Sheppard tisch im raum (table in the room) is an ongoing project/tradition for Kunsthalle Exnergasse which involves presenting an artist’s work to 50 dinner guests seated at one long dinner table placed inside the gallery. Discussion of the art occurs around the table with the artist either before or after the work has been viewed, food and wine have been consumed. Always a one night event, the table and work remain on display for the duration if the exhibit, accompanied by video and audio of the dinner and discussion.
In her latest Shifting Connections, Kathleen MacQueen reflects on three of her favorite shows from the Summer of 2011.
First, I’ll admit that I am out of my element, thrown against the grain of my comfort zone—viewing Ryan Trecartin’s installation videos at PS1 is like asking me to accept a child who has mutated to a completely different genetic code and adopted a distinctly altered social construct than my own. It’s a generation gap thing, confronting an alien set of values, and a disconcerting, unfamiliar experience. Yet his épater la bourgeoisie, in-your-face, gender-bending outrage has a distinctly hopeful glint of bad boy/bad girl possibility: a revolution whose lack of political gravity might just be the tremor that dismantles neo-capitalism in a way that it least expects. The threat that Trecartin poses is the very transmutation of product culture, reality television, and rhythmic MTV overload that determines the perfect flight attendant, ruthless CFO, calculating media strategist of the corporate boardroom and the campaign trail. Through a lineage of influences—a tearless Paris is Burning, Alexander McQueen sans Goth, chaos infiltrated Bauhaus—Trecartin’s scandals are the dry heaves of thwarted expectations. Overdosed on visual and auditory stimuli, the psyche splinters helplessly yet this artist’s visual tantrums are assembled with such an aesthetic consistency that chaos appears to be a reasonable state of being.
Paul Morris chats with artist Dale Williams about his melancholy characters, populating an imaginary borough, and the Phrygian cap of liberty.
I first encountered Dale Williams’ work last year at a silent auction benefit for One Story, their first ever Literary Debutante Ball, at the Old American Can Factory near the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn. An entire wall of that huge industrial space had been dedicated to the auction, which featured an eclectic mix of 40 or so original works of art, photography, and sculpture inspired by stories originally published by One Story. I placed bids on several of the pieces right away, but kept returning to one in particular….
Paul Morris How did you get involved with Ben Miller? What was it like to collaborate on that project?
Dale Williams I’ve known Ben for the past 15 years or so, since we began working together for the same publishing company. We shared our work with each other over the years and sensed a potential affinity of vision. The group of drawings I made for Ben’s novel, Meanwhile, in the Dronx . . ., was our first collaboration. I was supposed to make four drawings. I ended up making 22, hand lettering all of the chapter titles, designing a map, and cover jacket. We found out we worked well together.
PM Were the characters you created for him very distinct from what you were already doing? I’m curious if Miller’s project ended up influencing your other work at all.
DW It was a big influence. It basically got me out of an impasse with my own work. When I began the Dronx drawings I wasn’t doing much with my own work except doubting it. I’d always been involved with a kind of figuration not dissimilar from those done for the Dronx but it had never been the exclusive focus of my art. The group of pictures I’ve been working on for the past couple of years, Strugglers and Stragglers grew directly out of the drawings for the novel. Now I am focusing on the figures alone.
Billy Name speaks with photographer David Shankbone about hacktavism, Wikileaks, and the cultural revolution of new media.
Wikipedia has amassed what is arguably the largest collection of knowledge out there, and a group of artists and graphic designers have grown up on that website. The most well-known is David Shankbone, whom I met in 2006 when he was first starting out with what is now a massive photography collection licensed so that anyone can use the images. There’s a lot he doesn’t like about copyright. When he said he was photographing for Wikipedia, I thought that was big time and I expected a circus to show up in my home—umbrella lights, tripods, flash meters, assistants. Instead, a tall, thin handsome guy walked through my door alone with a two megapixel point and shoot. He apologized for his cheap camera and said that it was all he could afford, and I told him to get over himself. Necessity breeds creativity. Since then I’ve watched him grow, buy better equipment, learn the skill and confidence that it takes to photograph publicly, and spend years on something that makes him no money.
He’s been controversial, with some of his work banned in Australia as obscene, and yet he was invited by the president of Israel to discuss Middle Eastern politics and photograph the country. He asked Al Sharpton how he wanted to die, and Billy West called him the Barbara Walters of his generation. His images are everywhere, on hundreds of thousands of websites and in every language. He is possibly the most viewed photographer in the world, and chances are you’ve seen his work. From urban landscapes to A-list celebrities David captures reality how it is, not necessarily how people wish it to be, in a way that reminds me of Diego Velázquez. We live in an age of over-stylized everything, and what David reveals is the natural beauty and humanity of his subjects and the world around us. I watched that guy with the point-and-shoot morph into the people’s photographer, everyone did, because it all happened on the most public of venues.
“It is a disgraceful world, populated by some creatures that were once humans, but now these living beings are degraded, ghastly, appalling.” Kevin Kinsella discusses the photography exhibition, Boris Mikhailov: Case Study, which runs at MoMa until September fifth.
This year marks the 450th birthday of what is probably Russia’s most recognizable landmark. Although originally consecrated the Cathedral of the Intercession of the Virgin by the Moat, most know it simply as St Basil’s Cathedral, referring to Basil the Blessed, a so-called “holy fool” who was buried on the original site before the present church with its five famously motley onion domes was erected. As part of the commemorative festivities, Moscow’s State History Museum, whose holdings include the cathedral itself, is presenting an exhibition detailing the lives of St Basil and other “blessed” fanatics.
The holy fools—in Russian, yurodiv—often walked around stark naked or mortified their flesh by wearing heavy chains or filthy, lice-ridden rags. They fasted and slept out of doors, uttered prophecies, and, according to legend, performed miracles. The madness, or “foolishness,” of the yurodivy was ambiguous, and could be real or faked. St. Basil’s was thought to be divinely inspired, and therefore the tsar listened to his parables. Because no one could tell one way or the other, holy fools like St Basil dared to speak truth to power, being virtually the only group that could openly criticize the Kremlin and express the frustrations of ordinary Russians. Even Josef Stalin, personally responsible for the destruction of tens of thousands of religious buildings, spared the cathedral named for St. Basil.
In an informal conversation held at the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, MA on August 6, 2011, Edward Sullivan, professor of art history at NYU, writer, and curator, sat down with Roberto Juarez to talk about his most recent exhibition Mural Paintings. Together they discuss the difference between public and private art, and Juarez explains the role of abstraction in nature through his painting process.
Edward J. Sullivan How would you define these works as public art, and maybe you could talk a little bit about the origin of them, how these commissions came to be and what you think about them in terms of their “public-ness”?
Roberto Juarez For “Times square Tiles” and “New Building” I didn’t want to make a window or a picture that sat on a wall, and so the limitations of the size of the wall of my loft became my project, which was a private commission for Whitman College in Walla Walla, WA. They are fairly abstract paintings, and I composed them using pieces of rice paper tiled onto the surface which became the language that allowed me to expand the vision of what a picture was to fit the dimensions of what I needed it to be. So after I did these for myself, so to speak, and then exhibited them in New York, Bonnie Clearwater showed these pictures at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Miami, and from there the G.S.A. asked if I would propose something for a courthouse. That’s how I got this commission in Washington. I had also done other public commissions for Grand Central Terminal, which helped me be able to compose something as large as this.
Alyssa Kilzer speaks with Cole Rise, a photographer whose work achieves both surreal and cinematic qualities. They discuss his technique and process, travel, and his inspirations—including the challenging and maybe impossible question of why and how we are here and the size and existence of the universe.
Cole Rise’s photographs are both comfortingly familiar and hauntingly distant. He sets up emotional and mysterious scenes while focusing on the details and the larger forms in nature. As a result our world is portrayed as beautiful and strange. The permanent and ethereal beauty of nature is in the transformative sky, with its glaring sun, soft fog, bright constellations, or heavy clouds, in the volumes of the earth, the water and rocks, and, occasionally, in the frozen motion of an air born figure within these dream-like settings.
In anticipation of the culmination of Will Corwin’s Clocktower residency, artist Eve Sussman queried him about his take on futility and repetition and his interest in architectural interventions.
Will Corwin has been ensconced in his studio at Art International Radio’s Clocktower residence program for a little over a month, obsessively stacking a makeshift shelving unit with plaster objects that stand for a personal museum—memories crystalized and piling up till some of them, the ricketier ones, inevitably topple and crumble.
Next Wednesday, August 10th, from 6-8 PM, the Clocktower Gallery will host a chess match between International Master Irina Krush and Grandmaster Robert Hess, with blow-by-blow commentary by Grandmaster Maurice Ashley, on a chess set built out of components from and referencing Corwin’s installation, Auroch’s Library. In anticipation of the culmination of Corwin’s Clocktower residency next Wednesday, artist Eve Sussman queried him about his take on futility and repetition and his interest in architectural interventions.
—Mónica de la Torre, Senior Editor, BOMB Magazine
Eve Sussman You’ve completely taken over the room in a matter of weeks—with a massive amount of hard labor and heavy lifting. I’m curious about your interest in architectural intervention and your relationship to repetitive work.
Will Corwin The heavy lifting was over pretty quick. It took three or four 16-hour days—once I’d built the framework for the piece from the leftover lumber from the James Franco exhibition at the Clocktower Gallery last year, it mostly came down to endless casting of small plaster objects, which, I guess, can be hard labor in its own right. It’s repetitive, to say the least. Unfortunately, the repetition is necessary in order to achieve a certain sense of overwhelming-ness. It’s easy enough to make a mess with dissimilar objects, but to overwhelm the viewer with hundreds and hundreds of versions of the same thing has a disturbing quality. In his Maestà in the Louvre (and in lots of medieval art, to be fair), Cimabue paints the angels and the Virgin Mary all with the same face. That’s my favorite painting in the world, and maybe that’s where I get the fascination with repetition, though it’s not like it isn’t a recurring theme in art . . . .
“For me, there’s something absolutely affirming and necessary in exploring the negative . . .” Mary Jones speaks to artist Marc Handelman about multiculturalism, marble, and mountains in the latest Post Impressions.
Marc Handelman’s most recent show Geological Studies at Home and Abroad took place at Sikkema Jenkins & Co. where he is represented. He will also show at Reception Gallery in Berlin this November. Marc was a recipient of the 2011 Awards for Artists from Printed Matter, and his book Archive for a Mountain will soon be published by Publication Studios. Marc graduated from RISD in 1998 and from Columbia in 2005. I met him in his Brooklyn studio in July.
BOMBlog’s Rachel Reese talks with some of the founders and co-directors of Philadelphia’s Bodega, an artist-run exhibition and performance space in operation since 2010. Together they discuss the Philadelphia art community and Bodega’s role, as well as Bodega’s most recent exhibition Wax Apple.
When my husband and I moved to Philadelphia (now one year ago), I began to follow an exhibition space named Bodega operated by five young and ambitious artists—Elyse Derosia, Ariela Kuh, Lydia Okrent, James Pettengill, and Eric Veit—that began exhibitions around the time of our move. Having successfully survived a huge milestone, one full year of operations, I recently had the opportunity to sit and talk with the Bodega founders in depth about their exhibition programming and future goals.
Rachel Reese Can you tell me about Bodega? How many members are there and how did you meet? What was the impetus to get together and start the gallery?
Bodega There are five of us and we all know each other from having gone to Hampshire College together. We moved to Philadelphia after graduating, though not all at the same time. Lydia had been here for three years, Eric, Elyse, and Ariela for two, James for one before we started it. The possibility of starting a space seemed very tangible and interesting to us because space is pretty affordable in this city. Philadelphia has a bunch of non-commercial or collective or “alternative” art spaces, and we wanted to add to that culture but also expand it and reinterpret it in a new way. We’re not a collective and we’re definitely not driven by commercial concerns. Creating a place for performance was also a big part of the desire to start the space.
In this candid interview, photographer David LaChapelle touches on his diverse origins, what makes a subject natural, and his complex relationship with Christianity.
Perhaps best known for his dynamic, charged imagery from the 1990s, photographer David LaChapelle is experiencing a renaissance of sorts. He has emerged as a darling of the fine art photography world that had long shunned him for being too commercial. Although he spent decades capturing famous faces, it was advertisements that lent a pop aesthetic to his four books, an award-winning film, and myriad magazine covers. LaChapelle was not accepted as an artist but rather as a commercial photographer.
What we say and what we fail to say matters. Read what Kathleen MacQueen succeeds in saying about the 54th Venice Bienalle in the latest installment of Shifting Connections.
What we say and what we fail to say matters. How we are prevented from speaking matters as well. The innumerable implications of the expressed and unexpressed struck me dumb in facing the themes of war, violation, displacement, power, and isolation that course through this year’s Venice Biennale. It is, according to New York Time’s reviewer Roberta Smith, a biennial beefed up on steroids but, by looking beyond the spectacle to the smaller details, one can discern both subtle and complex exhortations to the subjects that matter in contemporary art’s most prominent arena.
“Speech matters” (Katarina Gregos, curator, Danish Pavilion).
For its second biennial in a row, the Danish committee has eschewed the tradition of national pavilions by selecting the Belgium-based Greek curator Katarina Gregos to construct an international dialogue on issues of free speech. Gregos has curated a group exhibition with only two Danes among eighteen artists or collectives from ten other countries, infusing both depth and breadth into a topic that is not simply a “thumbs up or down” decree but a complex discussion relevant to Danish society and of utmost urgency world-wide.
Of particular note are American Taryn Simon’s photographs of hidden subjects—glowing radioactive capsules at a nuclear waste storage facility, deformed white tigers (the product of genetic breeding), gynecological surgery to restore the hymen of women before marriage—experimentations of ethically questionable social, economic, or scientific taboos.
Alyssa Kilzer speaks with Nick Ravich and Wesley Miller, co-creators of New York Close Up, Art21’s new series which exposes all aspects of the lives of artists working in New York City in the first ten years of their career. The three chat about inspiration, the creative process, and developing the series.
New York Close Up is Art21’s new online documentary series about artists in the first decade of their careers, living and working in New York City. The series takes a look at artists and their creative processes, the way contemporary art works with and within the diversity of New York City. By examining all aspects of the artists’ lives—their homes and studios, friends and collaborators, social life, daily life, nightlife, and gallery-life, New York Close Up makes palpable a raw and often unconventional creative process. The inaugural season alone looks at the work of Rashid Johnson, who “makes things to put things on,” a collaboration between James Franco and Kalup Linzy, “A Brief History of Shana Moulton and Whispering Pines,” among others. The work of these artists frequently blurs the boundaries between the genres of painting, photography, sculpture, performance, design, and more, and we are given an intimate look into how this happens.
Samuel Jablon talks to sculptor Diane Al-Hadid about her monumental structures and their relationship to gravity, black holes, and “being our heads.”
The sculptural work of Diana Al-Hadid is imposing in mass, yet fragile in its construction. Her monumental towers, conglomerations of material, seem to mimic ecosystems in their precarious construction. Al-Hadid’s work references both architecture and particle physics in an attempt to make sense of the accumulations of stuff that somehow organizes itself into structures.
I met Diana on her lunch break in her Brooklyn studio, where she gave me a tour of work in progress. Female figures floated upwards towards the studio ceiling supported by a half finished pedestal of sorts, while another piece was just taking form wrapping its wire frame. We talked about good Turkish food, old studio buildings, and finally her work.
Check out Diana’s art at the Marianne Boesky Gallery, July 7 through August 5. This group show will include Diana Al-Hadid, Mark Tansey, and Mathias Kessler.
Samuel Jablon Could you talk about your work, and your starting points?
Diana Al-Hadid The starting points for my work vary from piece to piece, sometimes it’s a small fact I have learned by accident or by research. Sometimes, I start by trying to address something I noticed I have been avoiding, like filling a gap or a blind-spot of sorts. Generally, I will have learned something (an experiment with a material for example) from the previous piece that becomes the catalyst for the following work.