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.
In this roundtable discussion with the participants of the new art show Don’t Wake Up, Richard Goldstein inquires to each artist how estrangement, displacement, and their environment effect their artwork.
There are times when one goes into a group show and is surprised to find out it wasn’t a group at all, but a solo by an artist-chameleon type. And then, there are times when the selections made are so even that it seems like a show by one artist. I didn’t know what to expect when I got the announcement to Colt Hausman, William Latta, Susan Sabiston, and Nathan Spondike’s Don’t Wake Up nor do I still know what to think. The space, a reclaimed Catholic brothers’ house that was condemned for a decade, is such a surprise in its stage one restoration by the organizers. The art and site are in such good balance it is hard to believe the works ever belonged or were made anywhere else. It’s as if you are walking through a movie set, which this space was used for—a shoot of Boardwalk Empire before the exhibition. Though with the works installed, there is a sense of life to this former monastery.
Ross Racine’s maplike prints of suburban landscapes are like being airborne over an imagined America. He talks to Sarah Gerard about materiality and immateriality, paper, and maps.
I found Ross Racine first in the summer of 2010, when an editor-artist I was working with at the time suggested we interview him for a journal we were publishing. Having recently moved to New York, I was eager to visit galleries. I discovered Racine had work in a group show hanging in the Jen Bekman Gallery, in a show called “Land Use Survey.” I went.
Racine’s work tells the story of the quintessential suburb. If he were a writer, he might be something like Franzen or Roth, but with a dreamy, ethereal layer he places between you and the subject. You’re in the position of a God, or a child, looking down from above, fingers twitching to move the pieces.
I met him in his apartment in Manhattan on a sunny afternoon that came in through his tall, stately windows. He pulled out three portfolios and began to talk.
What happens when choreographers and performers delve into the field of visual art? Lauren Bakst had a chance to find out at the Art (dance) Show, the opening event of Movement Research’s Spring FESTIVAL!.
On Thursday June 2nd, Movement Research kicked off their spring festival with what may seem like an unlikely event for a collective of dance artists—a visual art show, complete with a backyard barbecue. This year’s FESTIVAL!—aimed to stretch the concept of choreography beyond its usual parameters—and the Art (dance) Show hosted at FACADE/FASAD in Red Hook did just that. The show featured art objects made by over 75 contributing choreographers and dancers. “The invitation terrified me, but also offered an exciting challenge,” said iele paloumpis, one of the participating artists.
Bhanu Kapil interviews Luke Butler, with ancillary notes on vertigo, citizenship, and Gerald Ford’s penis, in the fifth installment of BOMBlog’s reprints of [ 2nd Floor Projects ]’s editions.
The Body That Doesn’t Belong To You Anymore: an interview with Luke Butler, with ancillary notes on vertigo, citizenship, and Gerald Ford’s penis.
Since 1974, when I first saw one, I’ve seen approximately eight. Well, somewhere between eight and twenty-four, including my stint as a volunteer in the geriatric ward of Mount Vernon Hospital in Northwood, Middlesex, when I was seventeen.
Artist Becca Albee talks to BOMBlog’s Rachel Reese about her new installation, Joan Lowell, and the meaning of authenticity
Becca Albee’s photo-based work often combines installation, sculpture, video, sound, and small printed editions. A former member of seminal Olympia band Excuse 17, Albee is currently Associate Professor of Photography at City College, where, as a graduate student, I first met and worked with her. We sat down recently to talk about notorious fraudster author/actress Joan Lowell and Albee’s most recent body of work in F is for Fake: The Construction of Femaleness by the US Media, on view at Cleopatra’s in Brooklyn and at Cleopatra’s Berlin. Lowell’s fictionalized 1929 childhood memoir, The Cradle of the Deep, fabricated a narrative of growing up on a schooner sailing the Pacific Ocean and South Seas in the early years of the 20th century. It was the literary sensation and scandal of its time.
Rachel Reese The last time I saw your work in progress you were a resident at LMCC (Lower Manhattan Cultural Council). I remember you had just switched studios and your new studio was really large with windows overlooking the East River with flower bulbs growing in your windowsills. What work were you concerned with during your residency, and have any of those projects carried over post LMCC?
Becca Albee That was an amazing studio and residency. The narcissus paper-white bulbs were a part of a project that I started in my first LMCC studio. During the residency I was working on photographs, xeroxes, and sculptures, some that were site specific. My time there was really productive and facilitated projects that were completed during the residency and some that are in various stages of development now.
Shifting Connections continues with writer and critic Kathleen MacQueen’s interview with Alejandro Cesarco, Uruguay’s representative in this summer’s Venice Biennale.
I joined conceptual artist, Alejandro Cesarco, Thursday afternoon, May 5th, to screen and discuss his recent work, including Everness (2008), The Two Stories (2009), Zeide Isaac 2009), and Present Memory (2010). We also referred to Turning Some Pages commissioned by the Museum of Modern Art in 2010.
Kathleen MacQueen I was motivated to speak with you because your work introduced me to experiences that are both distinctly different from and also extremely similar to my own. In homage to your indexes for books you have not “yet” written [Index from 2000, Index (a Novel) from 2003, and Index (a Reading) from 2007-08], I found myself preparing a set of questions for works I have not “yet” seen. Even so, in the way you work—the culling of diaries, a precise selection of memories, an open sharing of influences—the unfamiliar is expected. It is not that I know where the work leads but I recognize in my reading of it where I am.
Alejandro Cesarco Two Stories and Turning Some Pages both suggest an open-ended conversation. They offer spaces to fill, a discussion to join.
Marina Zurkow makes art about the coexistence of the natural world and the human world. Katy Gray spoke with her about her 146 hour video piece, the oil industry, and the patterns found in the overlap between nature and culture.
Marina Zurkow and I met at a birthday party for a mutual friend at a restaurant on Grand street in Williamsburg a few blocks from where she lives and makes her work. She was talking about a recent trip to NYU’s new digs in Abu Dhabi, the oil industry, and an upcoming residency in Texas. As my people are petrologists in Texas and Oklahoma I promptly gave her my mother’s email address. I thereafter much enjoyed being cc’d into their brief correspondence, especially when the men my mother works with were brought into the conversation. It was just a few exchanges between three or four strangers but it was enough to get me thinking about Marina’s work and how it is not only about the way humans interact with their environments but also about how we interact with each other when our interests conflict—when we are confronted with conversations we avoid having with certain people.
She is an artist looking for trouble, good trouble. Her humor and intelligence, along with a healthy attitude towards our inevitable demise, allow her to navigate those who might otherwise be unwilling toward uncomfortable yet important conversations.
KG Your more recent animations unfold slowly over a long period of time, would you explain, in layman’s terms, how they work and how it is that no two viewings are the same?
MZ The Mesocosm series is a new strategy—each work is long in duration and recombines perpetually. Chance determines order, density, and interrelationships. Like my previous pieces, these works have no beginning or end.
Listen to “The Splits I” from The Splits, composed by Matt Schickele for Jane Benson’s splits dectet.
This podcast was recorded live April 27, 2011 at the Abrons Underground Theater, New York City.
In the fourth installment of BOMBlog’s reprints of [ 2nd Floor Projects ]’s editions, true-blue Californian Bill Berkson reflects, in verse, on an exhibition of work by Ishan Clemenco, Susan Martin, and Nina Hubbs Zurier.
For the Heart of the Second Floor
Now you see it
no you don’t
Not a problem put
this next to that
Time and materials
that’s the work
You recognize like the back of
Stephen Truax visits artist Kevin Zucker in his studio to discuss his work’s relationship with the Internet and digital media, and how the digital space has impacted the experience of art in our contemporary context.
Stephen Truax How have you come to engage the Internet in your practice?
Kevin Zucker Talking about the Internet can get to be like talking about air. It’s as much a fact of our existence. I have a friend who teaches in Digital Media at RISD and we’ve talked about what that label means, how impossible it would be to make anything that wasn’t in some way digital. That presence of the computer gets acknowledged in my work in the same way that the channels of distribution that get my work into the world are reflected in it, or the conventions of linear perspective.
There was a period where I made paintings that made direct use of online collections and source material gathered from digging around online; in that same period I was using models of steel utility shelving units as a kind of template where content could get gathered and shuffled around, collected, curated, displayed, stored. Those templates later became opportunities for other kinds of curatorial activity, like the “group show” paintings where I defined the theme of a painting and provided a framework and process but then had other artists contributing the content.
Kevin Kinsella takes issue with the Gagosian Gallery’s framing, both literal and figurative, of Russian Supremacist Kazimir Malevich.
Just before the 1915 opening in St. Petersburg of “0,10 The Last Futurist Painting Exhibition,” the main exhibitors came to blows. Kazimir Malevich, whose new Suprematist school of painting was to have its debut at the show, and Vladimir Tatlin, a founder of Constructivism, were in violent disagreement over the validity of abstract art.
Malevich and his followers conceived of art as a spiritual activity whose purpose was to give man a new vision of the world; their nonobjective paintings were intended to free man from the shackles of natural forms. But Tatlin and the other Constructivists dismissed abstract art as amateurish and useless, advocating instead that art be integrated with the material world and that it serve society.
Sascha Braunig speaks with fellow artist Aaron Gilbert on transformative acts of the body, and the transformative act of painting.
Braunig’s paintings of hybrid figures exist in a shifting ground between portraiture and invention; painted in an ostensibly realist style, their fantastic coloration and augmented bodies suggest a parallel realm. These beings, though artificial, carry a unique personal and social charge.
Aaron Gilbert I fluctuate between seeing the subjects as being mutilated or as being adorned.
Sascha Braunig I have impulses towards doing both, and I think that they’re pretty related. I think that fashion and art have always mutilated the figure. I’m both attracted to and involved in that history, but also commenting on it.
AG You say mutilation and adornment are pretty related, could you expand on that?
SB Maybe I wouldn’t use the word mutilated. But adorning the body is fashion, and fashion often uses death-like imagery in its treatment of the body. And of course figurative art is very decorative, but it has treated the body, especially the female body, pretty badly over the years.
AG Any specific moment that stands out in your mind, in that regard?
SB In art, literature, and fashion the female body is perpetually abstracted, reduced, distorted, or compared with inanimate objects. From Baudelaire to Picasso, to Otto Dix, to any kind of fashion photo. I immediately think of Hans Bellmer as an artist who is almost pathologically or sadistically distorting the female body.
Kaveri Nair reviews Bologna Meissen, Dianna Molzan’s new solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum, and assesses the difference between painting and “painting.”
Friends of the High Line commissions artists to make site-specific works along the former railway. Tabitha Piseno speaks to curator Lauren Ross and artist Kim Beck about art and the urban environment.
Shifting Connections continues with writer and critic Kathleen MacQueen’s take on Joseph Kosuth’s new installation at Sean Kelly Gallery, on view through April 30th.