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.
Paper Clip is a weekly compilation of online articles, artifacts and other—old, new, and sometimes BOMB-related.
James Ferraro discusses DIY aesthetics, apocalyptic visions, and his new album NYC, HELL 3:00 AM.
In November 2011, James Ferraro flooded a stack of end-of-year-best-of lists with the sharply produced sound-abstraction Far Side Virtual. The laptop-produced masterstroke spawned a slew of genre-bending digital releases and an ongoing discussion surrounding its conceptual themes. Ferraro has kept out of the race for editorial consensus, instead keeping himself busy pushing toward totally new vistas in music.
Since his days releasing scummy CD-Rs as a member of pioneering noise duo The Skaters, the music world has been paying close attention to Ferraro’s activity. His latest opus NYC, HELL 3:00 AM is out on October 15 by way of LA-based electronic label Hippos in Tanks. In this follow-up to last April’s online mixtape release Cold, Ferraro continues to work his moody, atmospheric deconstructions into a framework of cultural critique—describing in disturbing detail the psychological structure and decay of the American consumer economy.
James discussed the album’s dark matter, his fascination with post-apocalyptic dystopias, and how the landscape of his mind has changed since Far Side Virtual.
Catlin Snodgrass So you’re back in LA?
James Ferraro Yeah, I came to LA to record Far Side.
CS And you decided to stay?
JF Yeah, it kind of set itself up like that. My label’s out here in LA so I’m back-and-forth between here and New York a lot. I was also working on projects that were related to Far Side so it kept me out here for a little bit longer. But I’m out here post this album, NYC, HELL, to kind of get out of the inferno a little bit.
Painter Scott Olson on stumbling upon materials, the Ohio art scene, and the importance of frames.
The density and intricacy of Scott Olson’s work can be attributed to his meticulous attention to material as well as his overall commitment to the debris of abstraction lingering in contemporary art today. Olson’s skills find congruity between hand-crafted and sleek aesthetics, exemplified by the work’s surface polish. Olson meticulously fluctuates between the permanence in frame construction and the levity of pigment mineralization, building up the surface of his works through the mixture of marble dust and rabbit glue. His work incorporates the legacy of such artists as Kupka and Chagall, allowing him to create an abstract lyricism between color and form.
Veronika Vogler You used to live in Brooklyn and have recently moved to a more intimate location in Ohio. Do you feel that you have to be in certain environment to create your work?
Scott Olson I wouldn’t say that I have to be in a specific environment. My environment affects me a lot, of course. I loved the camaraderie of having my studio in Brooklyn, but also love watching the sun cast shadows across the enormous white barrels of the grain elevator we have in Kent along the river and the railroad track. I feel very adaptable to any environment. Technically, painting isn’t very portable unless you are looking at the tradition of plein air, and my movements are like those of a landscape painter. I’ve pared down my studio so it fits in two small boxes, including my complete set of paints. I use very little paint so some of my colors have been travelling with me for several years- they seem almost endless. I move my studio every summer to the coast of Maine, very far north. I cannot help but be affected by the changing light at any time of day. The tidal estuaries make it feel like the landscape is dramatically shifting in constant intervals, almost heaving up and down.
VV There has definitely been a shift toward sleekness within the parameters of art and design that seems to want to eliminate “clutter” while at the same time relying on locally sourced materials. Your frames are often sourced using local wood and your pigments are mixed with local soil. It appears your work is impacted by your surroundings in a very direct way.
Julien Poirier on the chips in his brain, going all the way, and his book Stained Glass Windows of California.
It wouldn’t be out of line to describe Julien Poirier’s writing as pretty immature, fuck-offy perhaps, even YA at times. Here’s a husk of neurology left behind on page twelve of his underappreciated 2010 masterpiece El Golpe Chileño (Ugly Duckling Presse) titled “Police Aquarium”:
My soda is a police aquarium
to please you, I would say anything
rat out my best friend
“Your Wildest Dreams”
and never blink
’til my eyes
locked in yours
You’re the law I live to break
time to leave a clue
before the ice melts
This isn’t a love poem; it’s a poem that loves. It swims in the really shitty language of now and thinks it’s funny while everyone else stands on the shore and points. It’s Andy Griffith in A Face in the Crowd mistaken for Andy Griffith in The Andy Griffith Show. You can almost hear Ian Svenonius singing his lines, which want to get caught, then point fingers: “His mind was a wild garden of aspects / a pocketful of solar powered nickels.”
In Poirier’s universe, the world is a stale baguette with goldfish caviar and moldy matchtips. Call it what you want. He hangs out behind the Kum and Go with Bob Kauffman, Bernadette Mayer, Richard Brautigan, and Henri Michaux and eats it.
Noel Black I’ve read your chapbook about five times now. I was looking for the right glasses through which to see it until I finally realized it was a pair of stained-glass glasses of California. It was like watching you put shards of Diebenkorn, Steinbeck, Stein, and Beck into this apocalyptic Wizard of Oz Musée Mécanique Tiffany window. How did you come to putting this thing together?
Julien Poirier Thanks, Noel. I love everything you mentioned. Beck too, my fellow Scientologist.
Well—I was writing on the fly all the time because I was in between work and taking care of my daughter. I’d end up with lots of pieces, like skit poems. They weren’t finished poems on their own and they all seemed like shadows of each other, though establishing shots were often missing. I had been assembling poem systems of this sort for about a year, and Stained Glass was the final system in that sequence.
Word Choice features original works of fiction and poetry. Read three poems by Alex Dimitrov with art by Paul Mpagi Sepuya.
Seduction and Its Immediate Consequences
One April in autumn you were my story for hours.
The silence of those days became like a shirt.
“His screaming fits were nothing other than
attempts at seduction,” writes Freud in The Wolfman.
How many accounts for how many things and what did we own?
In the movie of their lives there were people
they saw like notes in the margins
and in the vials a bright mess they carried inside.
Michael, Michael, Michael.
If a name is said enough times in a poem
something will happen. But that isn’t your name
and it isn’t a city, so where do you live?
Winter taught me to wear a very thin nothing those evenings.
When the car sped through the tunnel, when the cemetery
filled with the living, when the drink was named
for what they couldn’t quite taste.
And you didn’t decide on the friends or the lovers,
the shoes or the card that was sent and said
come—it’s a party for all of our questions.
And why shouldn’t we have it.
Why not invite what no one can have.
Immediately, he could tell. Even in the middle of the water.
Soon it will all close without warning or lights.
And between the acts, where we live,
after a while you’re wearing too much
no matter what you take off.
But you, filling the room with smoke,
trying hard to be human—
I love you and it’s cinema just to keep looking.
Listen, I would say in my messages…
on a page or a screen, through a window.
I’d follow you home but it’s a very brief night.
Ian Cheng on moral codes, the prescience of George Lucas and making an art world version of Angry Birds.
I first met Ian through our work at Badlands Unlimited, Paul Chan’s art/ebook/whatever publishing company. There, we bonded over our shared love for Kanye West, sardines, and over-the-top summer blockbusters. I suppose it makes sense, then, that his latest works Abax Siluria and Entropy Wrangler seem to take place as action scenes in metaphorical fish tanks. Imbued with his wit and a particular brand of Californian irreverence, these pieces are comical and deeply uncomfortable, often at the same time. His background in cognitive science serves to activate his objects, both physical and digital, with an energy as visceral as it is conceptual. Ian and I recently met at Whole Foods to talk about his recent projects, the importance of what he calls “social realities,” and Angry Birds: Rio.
Dylan Kerr I loved your swamp at PS1. Does it have a title?
Ian Cheng Abax Siluria.
DK Do you mind if I ask what that means?
IC Abax is a sand table, which in ancient times was a format for simulating the topography of the battleground in miniature and using proxy objects to model complex military scenarios. Siluria refers to the Silurian era in Earth’s history right before biological organisms got onto land, when they’re all kind of stewing in the water. It’s also the name of a petro-tech company catalyzing the mutation of actual shit, trash and decay into useful chemical products.