Daily Postings
art : comment

We Are Orlando

by Malik Gaines

“Americans don’t agree on what happened in Orlando, or what should happen now.”

Are we? Or…

America is very concerned with which forms of violence are permissible when. Execution, murder with impunity, homicide, warfare, negligence, and revolution—each holds an important place in our law. In our discourse, we constantly debate the proper distribution of these forms. In our field of representation, we rehearse their efficacies. I’ve seen so many murders on TV.

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art : comment

We Are Orlando

by niv Acosta

"Orlando is a queer AND racial issue AFTER a gun control, Islamophobia, and mental-health issue."

first i would like to acknowledge that i am one of two artists of color who was invited to contribute on a story about the mass shooting of a club full of Queer and Transgender people of color (QTPOC)…

i was traveling while black recently in three different cities, London, Hamburg, and Berlin, when i logged onto social media and realized yet another instance of gun violence had occurred in Amerikkka. normally i scroll endlessly until i’ve scraped together the entire story and subsequent op-ed's that follow to craft a robust and informed post regarding the issue, but this time was different. facebook widget wiggled and cleared.

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art : oral history

Eldzier Cortor

by Terry Carbone

American Art lost a unique and vital presence last year, when the painter and master printmaker Eldzier Cortor died on Thanksgiving Day, just months before his 100th birthday. The oral history presented here is synthesized from two interviews permitted by this intensely modest and private man, at the Brooklyn Museum in 2014, and at his Lower East Side home last fall. I was introduced to the work of Eldzier Cortor in 2005, when I saw his arresting Southern Landscape (Southern Flood) in a booth at the Park Avenue Armory. The artist presented two beautiful, young black figures stretched out on a grassy hill, while behind them flood waters sweep through a valley and carry away unmoored, frame houses. The figures appear calm, owing to the artist's having cast their faces according to the forms of African masks. We purchased the picture for the Brooklyn Museum, where it has hung ever since. I called Mr. Cortor at the time. Although he claimed he remembered little about a work he had created sixty years earlier, he subsequently completed a questionnaire with precision, noting his materials ("Gesso panel, Shiva casein paint, Shiva emulsion, Shiva oil paint, Shiva glossy varnish, Damar varnish—glossy finish.") and the location, a site in Kentucky that he had witnessed en route to the Sea Islands off the coast of South Carolina. He wrote, "It was created from my feelings in the face of devastation, and the two figures represent youth with hope." When I asked Mr. Cortor if he would come to the museum to speak, he replied with a polite but categorical "no thank you."

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art : comment

We Are Orlando

by Corrine Fitzpatrick

"We need a new word, because neither 'hate' nor 'terror' will suffice."

Will called me from Missoula on Tuesday to talk. He told me that one of the times he'd gone to see Carol in the theater there he'd been touched to see so many older lesbian couples in attendance. Then it occurred to him that someone could come into the theater and wipe out "a hundred of us at once." He spent the movie wondering what he would do if somebody opened fire.

As the massacre at Pulse began, I was in my living room in California drunkenly discussing the pace of gay progress versus race progress in the United States. I cautioned Chris and our guests, who were thoughtfully commending the swiftness of gains in gay rights and mainstream acceptance of homosexuality. I brought up suicide rates, addiction rates, homelessness rates, assault rates, murder rates, and insidious marginalization—particularly the alienation of queer people from their families.

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art : comment

We Are Orlando

by Gerard & Kelly

“I don't know how to pray so I cry.”

Dear Brennan,

I did not want to begin my email to you like this, but oh no, Orlando. The sinking feeling of opening Facebook to see a friend marked “safe,” signifier of our time. Globe-trotting crises; Orlando, the next peg on the map of violence. Pulse nightclub. No, not another nightclub, too soon after the Bataclan. Then, the sucker punch, a gay nightclub. 50 dead and counting, as many injured. They call it a terrorist attack. Why not a hate crime? It is not immaterial that these bodies were queer and mainly brown. I want hate there in what we call this thing. I update my status: I don't want to pray for the dead or their families. I don't want to thank the police for their courage. I want to pass a fucking law that prohibits the sale of assault weapons.

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art : comment

We Are Orlando

by Carlos Motta

"Queerness is a political force powered by anger."

Queerness is an unstoppable force powered by dreams of survival. Queer is a language of freedom from systemic oppression. Queer lives hardened by violence: familial prejudice, bullying at school and work, exhaustively discriminatory institutions. Yet we carve spaces to cope and thrive. We build dissenting forms of living. We construct futures that resist the suffocating norms of the mainstream.

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art : comment

We Are Orlando

by David Everitt Howe

On June 12, 2016, at just after 2 AM, Omar Mateen entered Orlando's Pulse nightclub—the city’s biggest LGBT club—and opened fire, killing 49 people and wounding 53 others. I, like many, awoke the next morning to loved ones marking themselves “safe” on social media. This is a really unsettling thing. While the massacre—now the nation’s worst—was in Orlando, it could've been Boiler Room or Eastern Bloc here in New York, or anywhere really. You can be shot anywhere, at any time. And as a gay man, the attack feels personal. It's difficult to put words to it.

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art : portfolio

Portfolio

by Baseera Khan

"One actively is olived, one actively becomes a desired color, desired manufactured ethnicity."

Personally-recorded conversations, emblematic artifacts, diplomas, college lecture mini-cassettes, academic texts, vinyl and Bollywood mixtapes, clothing, expired identification cards, empty billfolds, and torn family photographs from my father's migration to the US in 1973. These materials often lack essential information, which become unmoored along with the displacement of its person. Literature and music are used to form and fill in narrative. Emotional testimonies.

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art : portfolio

Portfolio

by Sebastian Black

"It felt like a thought. That's something."

For whatever reason, I thought it would be nice to make some black paintings. Then when I was in Berlin I saw an x-ray of an old, old painting. The image was very dark and its circumference was peppered with pale imprints of the little nails used to pin the canvas into place.

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art : interview

Jamian Juliano-Villani

by Samuel Jablon

"I'm not trying to make post-Internet paintings. What the fuck is post-Internet? It's life."

Jamian Juliano-Villani does not paint a nice picture; there's something haunting and dark to her work that I can't pinpoint. Vulnerability, trauma, and humor are all on display. At her 2015 exhibition Crypod at JTT, her paintings' punchy and unresolved narratives left me hanging. Unable to grasp the whole story, what I was able to grasp seemed fucked.

A few months ago Juliano-Villani and I sat down in her studio and had a conversation. We discussed how nice paintings are formulaic—caught up in skill, craft, and technique. Hers are a mix of emotion and intuition. She makes decisions necessary to her narratives, which are like a series of childhood nightmares.

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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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