Daily Postings
art : portfolio

Patrick Angus in Arkansas

"A kind of home museum, starting with the garage."

Patrick Angus was a New York City-based realist painter of the city's homosexual milieu, who was active in the 1970s and '80s; he's perhaps most known for his depictions of bathhouse and porn cinema interiors—such as the Gaiety Theater—crowded with men cruising, hooking up, or lounging. But there are numerous other works, too, that are less sexually charged and more in the vein of sketch-like sitting portraits. Painting in a somewhat Primitive style, there's something a little Rousseau about them, but they pop with color.

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art : interview

MPA

by Harry Dodge

“Mourning the Earth.”

I met MPA four summers ago at a thumping, outdoor birthday party planned with the idea of mud wrestling as its vital core. I'm good on task and had been charged with lobbying strangers, one-by-one, to join in this tatty keynote enterprise. By no miracle, the grappling round-robin eventually launched—on the other side of the yard—and though we talked avidly that night, oddly prolix, MPA and I did not reconnect for years, until this last February when I got a note from her suggesting the following conversation.

She was reading my text, The River of the Mother of God: Notes on Indeterminacy, v. 2—a long essay in the form of a small 94-page newsprint pamphlet exploring the mutual imbrication of form-flow, position-momentum, now-then—and was "inspired by the feeling of parallel think tanks." Forthwith, I attended the opening of her first solo museum exhibition, THE INTERVIEW: Red, Red Future at the Contemporary Arts Museum of Houston. The polestar of this installation is an active telephone line through which MPA has conducted over 200 conversations with strangers imagining a "red future" in light of plans for the imminent human colonization of Mars. We recorded the following in my studio. I had prepared a score of questions, but most of these disappeared into the maw and draw of our manifest energies.

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art : interview

Aidan Koch

by Chantal McStay

“A lot of times I end up turning on the camera on my computer and playing something out, and pausing it and seeing what tonal or emotional nuances are there that I can work with.”

Fragmentation is a trademark of the comics of Aidan Koch, often in the form of visual synecdoche. An auburn splotch of hair or a flash of penciled brow can capture a whole figure with a specific posture and character, even as many details are left to the imagination. Her use of this technique, where a part refers to the whole, is one of a number of ways in which Koch reinterprets and complicates traditional motifs, employing the symbolic language of historic art and imagery to new purposes. Her excerpting and chopping of the idealized female form plays with gaze and problematizes the idea of formal completeness. At its simplest, her use of synecdoche acts as a visual shorthand, where the part acts as a symbol pointing to a single meaning, but much of what makes Koch’s comics so compelling is the way they lean on the fragment’s aleph-like openness to infinite possibilities and perspectives.

Koch’s newest book, After Nothing Comes (Koyama Press), collects a number of her early comics and zines and traces the initial development of her quiet and elliptical form of sequential storytelling. She also makes sculptural pieces that look like artifacts unfettered from place and time. I spoke with Koch in her basement studio in Bushwick, surrounded by handmade ritual objects—candles in sprightly figural holders, flagpoles for hanging silk banners, a braided horsetail tied with string.

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art : interview

Carlos Motta

by Cat Tyc

“Queer lives are conditioned by violence.”

The first encounter I ever had with Carlos Motta’s work was at the New Museum in New York, when I saw his 2012 exhibition Museum as Hub: Carlos Motta: We Who Feel Differently. It was a significant moment for me. I’d been frustrated by the limitations of documentary practices in my own work, but Motta’s installation suggested that the term “documentary” could open up multiple possibilities in content and form. Motta’s research-based practice is constituted by discursive spaces, presented in a variety of different spatial forms, which create—in his own words—“counter-narratives that recognize suppressed histories, communities, and identities.” In particular, he recognizes the particular histories of queer culture and activism, paralleling the multiplicities of queerness itself.

Earlier this year Motta and I had a chance to publicly speak about his interest in research and documentary aesthetics at Pratt Institute, but that conversation only broached the surface of his interests. This past fall, he presented We Who Feel Differently together with his newest work Patriots, Citizens, Lovers… (2015) at the PinchukArtCentre (PAC) in Kiev, a result of his winning the Future Generation Art Prize in 2014. It felt appropriate to continue our conversation for BOMB and discuss his relationship to art, activism and to the experience of presenting this work in Ukraine, a country with such heightened animosity towards LGBTI individuals.

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art : interview

Lucas Blalock

by Taylor Dafoe

“If I do something to a photograph, the viewer has an impulse to naturalize what happened, to correct the mistake.”

Lucas Blalock has emerged as one of the faces of a new generation of photographers, a group largely concerned with issues of image scale, speed, and physicality in a time when the medium’s relationship to these conditions is becoming increasingly complicated. Using his characteristic clunky editing style, Blalock brings the behind-the-scenes labor of the picture to the forefront and invites us to question aspects of image production that we otherwise take for granted. And he does so with a great deal of humor, allowing for many entries into his work.

His new show, Low Comedy, is currently on view at Ramiken Crucible’s new space in an unfinished basement below a bank on Grand Street. I visited Blalock’s studio on a rainy day in April to discuss the show and some of the larger themes of his work, including his interest in painting, pictorial space, and the perversity of claiming photography as one’s art form.

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art : anything but art

Car Talk

Artists Mary Simpson & Carroll Dunham hit the road.

Something you may not know about artist Carroll Dunham is that he loves road trips; he will drive to Iowa to watch the HBO filming of Girls just because it's an excuse to drive to Iowa. Mary Simpson loves chatting with someone in a car for the same reason she prefers sitting with someone at the bar instead of a table; seated side by side and gazing in the same direction gives a different angle to a conversation—you’re both looking, only not at each other. For this conversation they drove to Connecticut just before a snowstorm.

— David Everitt Howe

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art : portfolio

Portfolio

by Martha Rosler

“Bodily trauma at the very level of form.”

In response to the atrocities of the Iraq War, Martha Rosler added to her iconic series House Beautiful: Bringing the War Home (1967–72) in 2004 and again in 2008. Her combination of pristine scenes from design magazines with photographs of war makes explicit the connections between a specifically gendered iteration of capitalism and global conflict. This reinvigoration of House Beautiful is not a revision; Rosler instead requires us to reconsider the tools with which we analyze her entire practice. Her return to the photomontage technique, despite the advent of Photoshop, insists there is something essential about the medium itself that works in tandem with a continued critique of war. In this way, neither medium nor concept takes precedence over the other, creating a formalism driven by ethics—an operation that is as conceptual as it is corporeal.

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art : portfolio
art : portfolio

Portfolio

by Elise Rasmussen

“…light off the water.”

Robert Smithson’s failed Broken Clear Glass (Atlantis) project was to be the artist’s first permanent earthwork; his intention in 1969 was to fill a small islet off the coast of Vancouver Island with one hundred tons of glass shards in an attempt to turn it into a “thing of beauty, reflecting the light off the water.” Over time the glass would erode back to sand, its original form.

After reaching an agreement with the British Columbia government and making arrangements for the glass to ship from California, press coverage of the proposed work alerted environmentalists to the project. They objected, stating that it would disrupt the ecological system of the area, and pressured the government, who withdrew its permission to loan Smithson this or any other property for his project.

The failure of Broken Clear Glass signaled the end of Smithson’s work in Canada, causing him to look for sites in the United States. Although frustrated at first, this failure ultimately led him to Utah and the creation of Spiral Jetty, arguably his most renowned work. In revisiting Broken Clear Glass, this work reconsiders Smithson’s working process and failure, and how that reflects the myth of Atlantis, which is both utopic and catastrophic.

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art : portfolio
art : interview

Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige

by Jessica Hong

“A good part of our work is about giving materiality to things that aren‘t visible.”

Based in Beirut and Paris, Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige are filmmakers, visual artists, and avid researchers who employ images they have captured or made to investigate our relation with history. They both came of age in Beirut during the Lebanese Civil War, a period often bracketed as incongruous with the rest of Lebanon‘s history. But the latent power of images and unheeded effects of violence from the past loom large in the present—and urgently in their work.

Their inspiration often comes from specific, potent interactions with history, resulting in projects like the Lebanese Rocket Society—a multifaceted work that explores an actual, all but forgotten Lebanese space program from the mid-1960s, which the artists only stumbled upon after finding an old commemorative stamp. Hadjithomas and Joreige, however, work against the concept of nostalgia by evoking the past constructively, as a way to understand the present and how we position ourselves in a broader historical and temporal context. In Je Veux Voir (I Want to See), starring film icon Catherine Deneuve, the filmmakers adduce both the history of cinema and the country’s socio-political history. Filming near the border between South Lebanon and Israel—a contentious site, normally guarded and closed—they were able to test the potential power of cinema and open a small road just for a moment, demonstrating the possibilities when disparate histories, motivations, and realms (here the political and the filmic) clash with the present.

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art : portfolio
art : interview

Mariah Garnett

by Risa Puleo

“In representing someone else, all of my films are actually representations of myself.”

The cinema “teach[es] me to tirelessly touch with my gaze the distance from me at which the other begins.” So wrote the French film critic Serge Daney in 1992, reflecting on a life led looking and thinking about cinema in the months before his death. Mariah Garnett uses the camera to see her subjects from various perspectives to bridge this distance. Aware of the camera’s limitations, she employs various strategies belonging to documentary, narrative, and experimental filmmaking, occasionally reenacting her subjects in attempt to know them further.

The subjects Garnett has engaged with her camera include Catalina de Erauso, the seventeenth century Basque nun who lived as a man and a soldier in colonial Latin America, in the 2011 film Picaresques; the sex symbol Peter Berlin, in the 2012 film Encounters I May or May Not Have Had with Peter Berlin; and veterans who place their bodies in extreme circumstances as Hollywood stuntmen, in the 2014 film Full Burn. The subject of Garnett’s most recent film, Other & Father, premiering in Belfast in February and Los Angeles in March, is her father.

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art : anything but art

The Kardashians

by Chelsea Knight Elise Rasmussen Brienne Walsh

"They own their own image. In a world where image is everything, that's a very serious kind of ownership."

One of the longest-running reality TV shows in network history, Keeping Up with the Kardashians debuted on the E! network in 2007. Since then, it has come to represent, for many, everything that is wrong with American culture: its obsession with celebrities; its financial empires built seemingly from nothing; the increasingly blurred demarcations between on-screen and off, personal and private, online and IRL; not to mention talent versus personal and family connections. The list could go on and on, the groans endless.

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art : portfolio

Portfolio

by Lauren Clay

“Walls become panoramic vistas, referencing fractal geometries, viscous lava flows, and ’60s psychedelia.” —Peter Halley

Lauren Clay’s work begins with an investigation of the artifact, a meditation on a culturally resonant object. It is an oblique approach to the act of self-expression. She concentrates on the transformation of the artifact through a process of spatial manipulation. Her process eschews narrative and representation, focusing instead on the power of morphological and spatial changes to metamorphose the artifact.

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art : interview

Barnaby Furnas

by John Reed

“Our world is totally dominated by rectangles.”

In 2004, when I was walking around the Barnaby Furnas show Works on Paper, taking notes for the short review I would write for TimeOut, I had the vague notion that I should really be talking to the artist. Since then, the world has been remade in pixels—Wikipedia knows all, and we are creatures of the clouds—and Furnas's epic imagery has zoomed out, micro to macro, from the scale of the human, blood and guts, to the scale of the planetary, oceans and mountains. Marianne Boesky Gallery, too, has taken on grander proportions, still in Chelsea but now in a ground-floor space, so I built up my courage to upsize my own operation, requesting an installation walk-thru of First Morning with the artist. With drills whining, hammers slapping, and big paintings going on the wall, we sauntered through his sixth solo show.

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art : portfolio
art : portfolio
art : oral history

Gerald Jackson

by Stanley Whitney

I’m very pleased to present this introduction into the world of Gerald Jackson. I think you will find him a very rare and extremely creative human being. I have known Gerald now for over thirty years and continue to find our conversations inspiring, funny, and poignant. As an artist, his work goes from video to painting, sculpture to fashion, and music to performance.

Stanley Whitney So Gerald, I’d like to start with your early life. You’re from Chicago. Can you give us a little background about when you were born, your parents, your history?

Gerald Jackson I was born in Chicago. My father and his brothers ran a numbers racket. So my earliest memory was: I woke up, and I was in a suit. Men were walking around, guys in their suits. There was a big wheel that they would spin and get their numbers. And we were all dressed up.

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art : interview

Camille Henrot

by Michael Barron

“We also looked into hysterical and mythological bad dads. And so we twisted all this material into questions like ‘Has your father eaten your siblings?‘”

At the recent opening of Camille Henrot’s solo show at Metro Pictures, I stood in a line, waiting to use a telephone. There were eight of them, all occupied by people with receivers cupped to their ears. But one in particular, stylized and colored like a Nickelodeon TV show prop, had caught my attention. Its occupant, a young woman whose bunned hair threatened to topple from her head, widened her eyes and furled her brow as she listened to the voice on the other end. Finally, she hung up and shot me a nonplussed look. “So weird…” she said. Then, as if proffering advice, she suggested, “I just pressed ‘0’ for every question. Maybe you can keep hitting ‘1’ then come find me to compare answers.” I picked up and heard a male voice who, friendly enough and definitely assertive, had me run a gamut of bizarre questions, such as, “If your dad has fathered more than nine children, press ‘0‘ / If your father has eaten any of his children, press ‘1‘.” For a non-native English speaker like Henrot, who expatriated from Paris to New York in 2011, hotlines are a demonstration of how easily language can bewilder and command.

Being misunderstood has given Henrot an appreciation for the exotic. In her first work completed in New York, Is It Possible to Be a Revolutionary and Still Like Flowers (2012), Henrot created a series of installations inspired by Ikebana—the Japanese art of floral arrangement notorious for its opaque techniques—to explore a grand metaphor for translation and the limits of cultural understanding. Henrot’s most famous work to date, Grosse Fatigue, is a thirteen-minute multimedia narration of Google images, Youtube videos, and a spoken word voice-over that explores the diversity of creation myths and underlines one of humanity’s greatest gifts: its ability to tell stories.

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art : interview

Ethan Greenbaum

by Andrianna Campbell

“It’s nice when you can make connections in hindsight. Your life feels like chaos, then you realize there are patterns.”

It was after 6PM on a warm night in my Brooklyn apartment, where Ethan Greenbaum and I spent a few hours before he had to meet his wife, the artist Sun You, for dinner. He chastised me for not being as serious as when I interviewed other artists. In the early days of my writing, he had been an especially harsh critic, at least for a friend. So, my writing developed very much in conversation with him as an artist. Once, I read him a short story in his kitchen, which was a fictional retelling of a story he had told me. It was sort of a portrait of the artist as a young man. I thought it hilarious; he said it was boring.

Ethan is always moving, making, thinking, listening to philosophy podcasts, reading New Yorker short fiction, and he’s always able to—on the spot—produce a witty interpretation of something as if he’d been thinking about it for years. That his art has been the opposite for so long—so layered, nuanced, and slow to reveal itself—has always been a bit of a mystery to me. This new Pop-inflected work co-mingles with that earlier, almost obsessive need of his to create an aura with materials that seem not to deserve it: plastic, Formica, and now plaster and plastic wrapping. As we sat down at my desk, we drank beers but wanted whiskey. The moment seemed like it had been a long time coming, so I turned on the mic and got serious(ish).

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art : review

Marina Abramović’s Goldberg

by David Brody

“In the coy manner of Yoko Ono, we were instructed: ‘Listen.’ (No duh.)”

At the time of her 2010 MoMA retrospective, “The Artist is Present,” Marina Abramović spoke in an interview about the challenge of documenting and transmitting (that is, re-performing) her art. Perhaps, she mused, the best documentation would be a story about the event told by a performer or viewer. Both parties, of course, must be “present” for a work of performance art to exist; and in its imperative to shock viewers into such presence, she went on, performance art was superior to painting, sculpture, and all other forms—all except music, which she ranked highest among the arts.

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art : interview

Celia Paul

by Hilton Als

“Pictures unpainted make the heart sick.”

Women, and their spirits, permeate the work of painter Celia Paul and writer Hilton Als. Paul, for example, has often relied on her mother and four sisters as models for her exquisitely delicate, practically dissolving, portraiture. Her technical style with her chosen media—both oil and watercolor—feels both physically immediate yet completely mnemonic. If she doesn’t personally, deeply, know the person she paints then the image leads to nothing—to where it all began—a blank canvas. Hence: the significance of her beloved mother. This is where the story turns, as some might say, a wee bit weird: Her student paintings of her mother served as a point of introduction to the visiting tutor Lucian Freud—soon to be (temporary) mentor, lover, and father of her son, Frank. Paul, at the time, had been entranced by Freud’s paintings of his own mother.

The first chapter of Hilton Als’s debut book, The Women, begins with a mystery: “Until the end, my mother never discussed her way of being.” The writer’s mother—reminiscent of those of Paul’s and Freud’s—serves as a model for artistic exploration. I see Als, just like Paul, merging with (and often dissolving into) his subject matter. Or, better yet, trading places. My favorite example, at the moment, can be found in White Girls, his second book. It occurs in the chapter, “I Am the Happiness of This World.” In it, Als proclaims: “I am Louise Brooks.”

This interview, published on the occasion of the Celia Paul exhibition (curated by Als) at the Metropolitan Opera House’s Gallery Met, adds yet another woman to the equation. This time she’s even more of a phantom. Her name is Desdemona (apparently in opposition to Eudaimonia). The show—which includes a small (of course dissolving) portrait of Als—is pegged to the Met’s current production of Verdi’s Otello. Paul’s self-portraiture, the images of her family, and a few of her ocean wave paintings, feel, somehow, perfectly in place here. In keeping with the theme of the deliquescent, Als suggested that their interview appear without his questions. BOMB has dutifully granted that request.

—Chris Chang

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