A selection of photographs and videos from June Kim’s Wolf series, 2009-2012.
Word Choice features original works of fiction and poetry.
Sears Modern Home
Don’t touch the river. And here you are with seaweed between your teeth. Beak marks pock your neck, silt pulls down your pockets like gold. Two little girls are sitting on the front steps of a broken-down tow-flat watching you go by, their absolute stillness and the Sears Modern Home blue sky beyond giving them a deadpan look. Well, more deadpan than the chandelier-crashing, chest-beating, picture-frames-pushed-off-the-piano-top, ghosts-wailing-behind-the-wallpaper, walk-the-plank scene you are surely moving toward. No point in trying to tell her the real story, she wouldn’t believe you, and anyway, you don’t remember it. You’ll be alive tomorrow. You’re just waiting for the conveyance that will take you there.
Performance artist Neal Medlyn discusses the celebrity public persona, growing up Pentacostal, and his new performance King, running through October 26 at The Kitchen.
Performance artist Neal Medlyn’s King, running through October 26 at The Kitchen, is the seventh and final installment of an eight-year series of shows in which he performs as pop culture icons including Lionel Richie, Prince, Britney Spears and the Insane Clown Posse. This one focuses on Michael Jackson. The show, in which Medlyn covers hit songs and tells stories, is accompanied by an installation of relics of previous shows in the theater during the day. Medlyn also now raps under the name Champagne Jerry.
Rosa Goldensohn Is this series an exploration of the idea of celebrity or is it an expression of your own stuff?
Neil Medlyn It’s expressing my own stuff, which has always been about performance. I’m interested in performance-related things, a lot of them being the things that pop stars do. Like there’s a part in every big pop concert where they suddenly stop in the middle of a well-known song and people applaud. A few seconds later, they don’t start the song again, they just stay silent. Then the 20,000 people there realize that they’re literally all in the same room and then they start to cheer even louder.
Taylor Swift stops and stands there for a second and then when people realize, Oh wait, this is really happening! she starts acting like she can’t do it… like she’s sort of overwhelmed by the cheering, by all those people reacting to her en masse. She stopped doing it, actually, because people caught on after a while. That kind of stuff can only happen with celebrities, in a way. Those performance ideas are awesome, I think.
RG And I guess the question is whether the audience is seeing “the real you,” when you’re performing.
NM Right, that’s been a big thing in the series. I was gravitating toward all these stars that had this thing about, “No, but this isn’t who I really am,” or “No, that wasn’t who I am, now I’m this person.” Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus was super-explicit about that being her thing. With Britney Spears it became very clear that what was going on with her emotionally was different from what she was doing on stage. And Prince realized that this bad part of himself called Camille had been responsible for all these dirty, nasty songs.
Mick Turner (who has a new album out soon) and Jim White discuss the Melbourne post-punk scene of the ’80s and ’90s, as well as their transition to playing in Dirty Three.
Melbourne’s Venom P. Stinger might best be described as the deviant offspring of two prevailing climates in the Australian underground of the 1980s: too tough for the art-drenched status quo, too formally estranged from the American-indebted hardcore emerging earlier in the decade. When the band was formed in the mid-’80s, Drummer Jim White (who, with guitarist Mick Turner, now comprises 2/3 of Dirty Three) had envisioned a project opposed to what he considered the “hegemony of chords [and] notes” in underground music, while still retaining the shape of a rock’n’roll band. He recruited Turner after hearing a cassette by the guitarist’s post-harcore band Sick Things and, along with Fungus Brains throatist Dugald McKenzie and bassist Alan Secher-Jensen, assembled Venom P. Stinger.
The result was nothing less than the rapid decay of rock music into VPS’s unique brand of discordance, punctuated by McKenzie’s guttural snarl: “I started swimming in my own blood/I saw my friends get taken/I don’t even like swimming/I wish I wasn’t tripping.” This summer, Drag City reissued the complete McKenzie-era recordings, from their debut LP Meet My Friend Venom (1986) through to the Waiting Room EP (1991). Mick Turner’s incredible new solo album Don’t Tell the Driver is out November 19 (also on Drag City).
I recently corresponded with Turner and White about the cloudy history of Venom P. Stinger, post-punk in Melbourne, and the band’s transition to the Dirty Three.
Tyler Curtis How did you two come together for Venom P. Stinger?
Mick Turner We knew each other from the music scene in Melbourne, and often shared the stage in various bands. I had recently returned from living in the UK and playing in the Moodists. Jim approached me about joining a band with him, Dugald, and Al. I already knew Dugald from playing with him in Sick Things.
Jim White Fungus Brains and People With Chairs Up Their Noses played together on some bills. Around that time, I’d heard about Sick Things and tried to see them, but they’d broken up. Mick and Dugald had gone on to be Spew Forth. I bought a Sick Things cassette from the counter of Greville Records, it was on Mick’s label Maxcass. Anyway, I really liked Mick’s style, also we both loved the Laughing Clowns. I went around and borrowed the Laughing Clowns record from him to tape. It wasn’t until some time after that we played together, after he joined the Moodists, went overseas, and came back.
Paper Clip is a weekly compilation of online articles, artifacts and other—old, new, and sometimes BOMB-related.
A.K. Burns on the queer body, slipping between forms, American fetishes, and becoming a cyborg.
A.K. Burns is a New York-based, multidisciplinary artist employing a vivid combination of sculpture, video and more in an exploration of the gendered body as rooted in queer and feminist politics. With Burns’s prolific practice, the work produced therein is best spoken for in the voice of the artist. That said, on the occasion of Burns’s most recent solo show—a powerful exhibition on view at Callicoon Fine Arts, aptly dubbed Ending with a Fugue—we sat down to discuss creative beginnings, the culture of American fetish, and the new media currency of the cyborg-as-geopolitic.
Elizabeth Robinson crosses genre to reveal what it means to be haunted.
On Ghosts, the most recent book by Boulder-based poet Elizabeth Robinson, explores the phenomenon of haunting through essay/poem compositions. The premise takes for granted those uneasy disruptions of daily reality—for example, the suggestion of a face in bedroom darkness or the sudden telepathic yearning for a dying loved one. Although the voice of the text is reserved and almost impersonal, the reader comes into intimate range of the speaker’s uncertainty about “presences,” life, and identity. The combined effect knits an uncanny emotional texture that rings both brutal and delicate.
Andrea Ray speaks to Matthew Buckingham about 19th century sexual freedom, the caring economy and her recent exhibition, Utopians Dance.
I met Andrea Ray in the autumn of 1996 when we were both students at the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program. Over the years we’ve remained close friends, sharing studios, reading groups, and teaching venues. I was always intrigued by how A.Ray invited viewers to investigate her installation works in ways a scientist or a doctor might. At the end of that year together at the ISP A.Ray showed her installation Architecture of Resistance in which visitors used stethoscopes to listen to murmuring and breathing translucent walls. This was the beginning of a series of projects in which A.Ray dealt with environmental illness, both metaphoric and literal. These works were structured so that the process of investigating them led viewers to discover and identify with human subjects who were unwilling or unable to assimilate to their environments. A.Ray used these characters, caught between their own psychology and physiology, to spin narratives that question our whole relation to the built environment and the economies that support them—monetary or otherwise. Subsequent works have continued to use sound as a hinge between narrative fiction and real bodies in real space while expanding into questions of social and political self-discovery. Her exhibition, Utopians Dance at Open Source in South Slope, Brooklyn, this past spring comprised an ensemble of works that employed light, video, sound, hand-bound books, photographs and other objects. We got together during the last week of the show to talk about the work.
Matthew Buckingham The thing that struck me, walking up to your show Utopians Dance, and seeing the quote-unquote “empty” space, a very brightly-lit room that opens directly out onto the street, was that I had to put back together, in my imagination, what it once was—a parking garage—and then seeing how you had transformed it, or what had happened, and what was part of the project versus the original space. The atmosphere of the opening and people socializing there, which was seamless with the work, told me something about how to look at the work. And I felt like that carried through everything, a kind of deliberate absent center, that wasn’t melancholic, but instead was a way of both putting the viewers onstage and making the viewers see themselves on that stage.
Word Choice features original works of fiction and poetry. Read “Bollywood Duet” by Kyle Minor and Dini Parayitam.
“Talk to your father.”
“It’s because I’m not Indian, right?”
“It’s because you’re married.”
“It’s because I’m not as good looking as your mother wants.”
“It’s because you’re married.”
Yisrael K. Feldsott on the river in all of us, spiritual medicine and living with Hell’s Angels.
Yisrael K. Feldsott has been painting and making art for almost five decades. In his early twenties, he exhibited his work at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, just part of of his notable, mythological journey. When Peter Selz, the well-known art historian and former curator of SFMOMA, viewed Feldsott’s work for the first time, he said the work simply stunned him with “its vitality, the spontaneous sense of ordered chaos, and the artistic quality.” He contacted Robert C. Morgan, an esteemed art critic and art historian, to view Feldsott’s work and write the introduction for the exhibit Cries, Chants, Shouts & Whispers: Songs of the Forgotten. Morgan interviewed Feldsott again recently, as preparations were underway for a second opening of his show in New York City.
–Bonnie Lou Feld
Robert C. Morgan We have talked about conflict and bloodshed several times during our conversations, and as you’ve said, there has always been a war during your lifetime somewhere. What kind of appeal are you trying to make to the audience in your paintings that deals with war subjects, or subjects of people being humiliated, tortured, and so forth?
Yisrael K. Feldsott It is interesting that you ask that, because somebody at my last art opening asked if I was a political artist, and the question stopped me for a moment. I really paused and thought about it. My response is that I don’t feel that I’m a political artist. I sense that I’m painting from some mysterious level of my own humanity and the outrage that I feel in relationship to violence, disagreement, or conflicts in the world is juxtaposed with the quality of cruelty, vengeance, and the need to destroy another people, another tradition, and another culture. These are really the issues that have galvanized me.