Daily Postings
art : oral history

Terry Adkins

by Calvin Reid

BOMB’s Oral History Project documents the life stories of New York City’s African American artists.

Download this Oral History as a PDF, EPUB, or MOBI file for your ereader.


Part 1

Calvin Reid Where did I first meet you? It seems like I knew you and then I didn’t know you and then I did know you. Were you at the Studio Museum in Harlem?

Terry Adkins I think we may have met at Howard University in printmaking somehow, or we vibed next to each other. I went to Fisk and I came to Howard to take a summer course with Winston Kennedy.

CR Yeah. That was my printmaking teacher.

TA So we had that in common. And when we both came to New York City around ’82—

CR I got here ’81. I remember the exact date. June 7, 1981.

TA That is how I knew you.

CR And you were originally from DC.

TA So we have that in common.

CR Well hey, you know, I have always liked your work. I wrote something when you had pieces at the Whitney’s Phillip Morris annex. That must have been in the ’90s sometime.

[ Read More ]
art : interview

Sterling Crispin

by Ben Valentine

Data masks and the technological other.

Over the past few years, there has been a flood of news and art responding to surveillance technologies. Artists like Zach Blas, Simone C. Niquille, and Adam Harvey have made powerful works reacting to, and protesting, the growing use of biometric technologies as a dehumanizing means of classification and pacification. As Edward Snowden has revealed, these technologies aren't science fiction, and they are no longer relegated to test labs. Rather, they are actively being used on an increasingly larger section of society, criminal or otherwise. Snowden presents a dilemma for us as critical readers: What are we to do with all of this information; what can we change? When confronted by the enormity of the police state, and the advanced technologies at play, one can't help but feel powerless.

Sterling Crispin, with his latest body of work, Data-masks provides a refreshing new means of considering the surveillance state. These masks are algorithmically formed using biometric facial recognition software. By reverse engineering facial recognition and detection algorithms Crispin was able to make 3-D printed masks and photographs that illustrate the way in which the machines might visually understand our faces. The resulting pixelated ghosts are what a computer imagines a human to look like.

[ Read More ]
art : interview

Mary Walling Blackburn

by Natasha Marie Llorens

Sex objects, dead zones, and trace fossils.

Mary, this is ostensibly an interview. I am a curator. You are an artist. We work together on many things. Sometimes we work on exhibitions or commissioned artwork, but more often (more productively?) we argue about ideas—risk, pedagogy, radicalism, what it means to be feminists working in the art world or working against the art world. I'm asking you to write with me about some of this interstitial intellectual work as it relates to four of your projects. This thinking together—about the work and about the reading that runs like a current underneath everything you do and I do—is foundational to ethical collaboration. I do not only ask questions. You do not really answer me. This is a mockery of an interview, but it is an honest attempt to make thinking with one another appear.

[ Read More ]
art : interview

Basma Alsharif

by Aily Nash

Working with, and through, conflict.

Basma Alsharif’s work implores us to experience beyond the delineations of place, language, story, image, and the political, showing us that a place is not local, language slips, stories can’t be told, images lie, and that we’re humans beyond our politics. Her mode of working and exhibiting is multifarious, operating between installation and cinema, and incorporating a variety of mediums. The following conversation focuses predominantly on her newest projects, a selection of which were exhibited in the solo show Doppelganging at Galerie Imane Farès in Paris this past spring. The moving image works in the show, Deep Sleep, Girls Only, and The Story of Milk and Honey, exist in various forms: as a self-contained work for cinema, as a film installation loop, and as part of a larger scale installation that included photographs, drawings, and texts. The entire exhibition was set within an astro-turfed environment with a soundtrack that filled the gallery with birdsong, the sound of thunderstorms, and a backwards rendition of Jeanette singing Porque Te Vas. Doppelganging also took the form of a performance lecture that included Alsharif’s newest work to date O, Persecuted and was presented in May at the Berlin Documentary Forum.

[ Read More ]
art : essay

Allison Katz

by Rosanna Mclaughlin

Insufferable familiarity.

I met Allison Katz for the first time in her London studio in January 2014. At the time of my visit she was a month away from an exhibition at Piper Keys, in which she was showing a series of portraits collectively titled “Adele,” after their sitter. Katz told me that she had known Adele for a long time, and had begun painting her when they both lived in New York. A number of the portraits were tacked up on her studio walls, each painted in oils on leather hides. Adele appeared on the leather in a variety of guises: in some as a barely there monochrome, more apparition than body; elsewhere sonorous, fully formed features stared out accusingly, as if I had interrupted some modern luminary in a moment of intense privacy. 

[ Read More ]
art : essay

Playing Chicken with Photography

by Clifford Ross

Photography, poultry, and the question of objectness.

Artists challenge our understanding of things and our feeling for them. Like magicians, artists make the unseen visible. Unlike magicians—I want to say beyond magicians—they also take what is known and make it appear new. Artists are magicians plus.

Jean Pagliuso has found her magic wand. At one end are the two essential elements of a photograph: paper and emulsion. At the other end is a chicken. What she does with this wand is preposterous and unexpected—and well beyond magic.

[ Read More ]
art : interview

Jules Gimbrone

by Suzy Halajian

On getting it.

I was introduced to Jules Gimbrone’s work a few days after I moved back to Los Angeles at the end of last year. Jules had curated Fault Lines, an evening of sound performance at Human Resources LA in Chinatown. The program encouraged composers, mainly from CalArts, where Gimbrone was studying composition at the time, to create time-based work that resembled the temporal scales of tectonic plates. Sitting there quietly, listening to those textured and oftentimes jarring compositions, I was overwhelmed by the uncompromised sounds. I also had the feeling that we would work together in the coming months.

Our first collaboration took place this past summer at Fahrenheit where I curated the project Cover, Junk, Strike, with work by Gimbrone, alongside artists Corey Fogel and Rosalind Nashashibi. Gimbrone’s rehearsal process gave us the chance to discuss her practice further and to form a friendship that sustains an ongoing dialog about art as a critical tool, Los Angeles as one of our many common denominators, and how one chooses to participate in today’s creative economy.

[ Read More ]
art : interview

Maren Hassinger

by Mary Jones

"Politics are always there, it’s inescapable. If you’re going to be a really good artist, it’s got to be there, because it is there."

For over four decades, sculptor and performance artist Maren Hassinger, has created powerful images that refer to nature as a complex, psychological space for political and personal transformation. Early pieces resembled stark groves of bare trees; wire rope forms twisted and bent from the heat of her welding torch. Lately her materials have included the underfoot and overlooked: trash, leaves, boxes, and piles of newspaper. Dance and movement are seminal to her work, and from her earliest pieces on, the viewer must circumnavigate and interpret the space, whether it’s a freeway overpass, a pink path, or a crowded, small room.

Maren Hassinger…Dreaming, a retrospective of her works, opens this spring at the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art in Atlanta, “the only museum in the nation emphasizing art by and about women of the African Diaspora,” as the statement on the institution’s website reads.

A native of Los Angeles, Hassinger’s work was included the traveling 2011 exhibition Now Dig This! Art and Black Los Angeles 1960–1980, and in Radical Presence: Black Performance in Contemporary Art in 2012. A residency at the Studio Museum in Harlem brought her to New York City in 1983, and she’s been in the Northeast since, where she raised her two children. Her daughter, Ava Hassinger is also an artist, and the two work collaboratively under the name “Matriarch.” Hassinger and I met in her apartment on Malcolm X Boulevard, in Manhattan.

[ Read More ]
art : interview

Sara Cwynar

by Ashley McNelis Legacy Russell

The origins of nostalgia and some theoretical foundations of photography.

I was first introduced to Sara Cwynar’s work while studying at Goldsmiths in London. My research explored the construct of what I call “social shrines”—creative manifestations wherein artists make use of and document everyday actions as a means of commenting on and elevating socio-cultural practices. My own creative and academic practice both revolve around an investigation of how ritual manifests itself in the spaces of the everyday. How can the banal be beatific? In what way have ideas of worship been redressed by modern American culture? How does ritual manifest in spaces ordinarily designed as secular? Cwynar’s work speaks to these questions by toying with camp popular visual tropes in a deft manipulation that presents a topography of North American consumption and cultural experience. Continuing in a long line of female assemblage artists, ranging from Vadis Turner to Amalia Mesa-Bains, in combining objects Cwynar offers an elevation of the familiar to that of the fantastic, desirous relics of the ordinary that reignite one’s appreciation of daily objects. In addition to beginning her MFA in photography at Yale University this fall, Cwynar recently published two books, Kitsch Encyclopedia (Blonde Art Books, 2014) and Pictures of Pictures (Printed Matter, 2014). My co-interviewer, Ashley McNelis, was first introduced to Cwynar’s work through these publications. We both sat down with the artist to learn more about what makes her encyclopedic kitsch stick. —Legacy Russell. 

[ Read More ]
art : portfolio
art : interview

Toyin Odutola

by Ashley Stull

On race, representation, and inspiration.

Toyin Odutola is a master of treading softly while issuing a powerful statement. Her conceptually direct images carry with them dense political undercurrents, yet never neglect the fundamentals of form and craft. While the formal concerns of mark-making and portraiture are in the foreground of her renderings, the ideological foundation on which Odutola works separates her from other artists. The images she creates speak about blackness—African blackness, American blackness, and the blackness of the 20th century color field—compounding these issues of race and history with those of gender. Having recently relocated her studio, the artist discusses her new locale, the evolution of her practice, and the few things that will never change.

[ Read More ]
art : portfolio
art : interview

Melvin Van Peebles

by Lee Ann Norman

Artistic development, near-death experiences, and the power of persistence.

Melvin Van Peebles is truly a renaissance man. While he is perhaps best known for the groundbreaking film Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song (1971), it’s only a small part of his oeuvre. He’s published books and stories, released a record prefiguring spoken word and rap, reimagined Sweetback as an opera, and is currently working on two theatrical productions. A grounding place for Van Peebles through it all over the years has been painting, and last December he participated in a group exhibition at Merton Simpson in New York’s Chelsea gallery district. Van Peebles is a small, slight man, who is terribly modest. I met with him a few weeks ago at his studio, and his friends and colleagues spoke highly of his honesty, generosity, and tenaciousness. He charmed us with his directness and authenticity. In his modesty, he avoided most of my questions about trying to get to the core of how he makes time for it all, but I did gain some insight into how exactly it is he came to be not only self-made, but also self-determined.

[ Read More ]
art : interview

AND Publishing

by Hatty Nestor

Publishing as a tool of discovery.

AND is an interdisciplinary platform for artists’ books and art-related publications. Their premise is theoretical and experimental, presenting a rich terrain of versatile publications and concepts that consider printed matter and the role of the publisher today. AND originated from an inquiry concerning the concept of print on demand at a time when attitudes to publishing were shifting and everyone was talking about the death of the printed page. For AND, publishing is about creating a dialogue and connecting their readers to different concepts surrounding artists’ books. Founded by Eva Weinmayr and Lynn Harris at the Byam Shaw School of Art in 2009, AND devises a strong collaborative element in the making of publications. Their recent project at The Showroom, "Working in the Edges," discussed the idea that in communally sharing tools, publications can be constructed critically, conceptually, and practically. By bringing practitioners together to discuss publishing, its constraints, and its possibilities, the project allowed participants to develop a sense of community, making it possible to share ideas. From this perspective, publishing becomes a tool to make discoveries. 

[ Read More ]
art : interview

Allora & Calzadilla

by Christopher Y. Lew

Music, the voice, intention, and history.

For Allora & Calzadilla (Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla), music does not soothe the so-called beast but is intertwined with the long history of war and human conflict. Making use of brass instruments that are featured prominently in military bands as well as rock-and-roll anthems appropriated by US soldiers as psychological weapons, the artists have drawn attention to the complicated role music and sound have played in warfare and nation building. In their early video, Returning a Sound (2004), they welded a trumpet to the exhaust pipe of a moped. Marking the end of the US Navy’s use of Vieques as a bombing range, a local activist drove the modified moped around the island with the trumpet blaring with every rev of the engine. Similarly, their installation Clamor (2006) featured a bunker-like structure that secreted away a group of musicians. With horns and flutes instead of guns protruding from the structure, the band played a range of war music from Ottoman Janissary bands to Twisted Sister, whose song, We’re not going to take it, was infamously used during the American invasion of Panama in 1989. More recently, Stop, Repair, Prepare: Variations on the Ode to Joy for a Prepared Piano (2008) engages with the idiosyncratic history of the fourth movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony which has been embraced over time by a range of groups, from the Nazi Party to the European Union. Performed on a piano set on castors and customized so that the pianist stands in a hole cut in the very center of the instrument, the player and instrument act as a single unit—one inside the other—perambulating around the exhibition space.

At their recent exhibition at Barbara Gladstone Gallery, Fault Lines, Allora & Calzadilla worked with trebles—boys who sing as sopranos until puberty when their voices break—from the American Boychoir School and Transfiguration Boychoir. Performing in pairs, the boys stand, sit, and bound off of sculptural stone risers installed throughout the space, all the while singing antagonistic lines culled from Cicero, Shakespeare, and popular culture. This interview took place over email throughout the course of the exhibition.

[ Read More ]
art : interview

Valentin Carron

by Clément Delépine

How to modernize your medium.

Carron was kind enough to give me a tour of his recent exhibition at 303 Gallery in New York, Music is a s-s-s-serious thing. The title borrows the words of the Romanian pianist Dinu Lipatti who, despite a very short career, was considered one of the most talented musicians of the 20th century. Carron’s first source of inspiration for this exhibition was an LP recorded by the pianist, which features abstract graphic design on the cover, though he eventually parted from any visual reference to it. Much like the sculptures he appropriates, Carron altered the quote with a stammer. A repetition of the consonant S, which alleviates the seriousness conveyed by Lipatti’s words.

[ Read More ]
art : portfolio

Portfolio

by Theresa Himmer

I began working on Parallel Memories while I was in Russia to develop a public art commission in a city called Perm, by the Ural Mountains. There I met Mikhail Nagaitsev, a Russian man about my age, who told me of his fond memories from early childhood in Czechoslovakia.

[ Read More ]
art : interview

Tomi Ungerer

by Natalie Frank

"It’s so important to make your own little specks of peace around you. It’s a matter of being an idiot."

It was by way of the New York Drawing Center that I discovered Tomi Ungerer. After rabidly devouring all that I could get my hands on, I wondered why it was only later in life that I had found his work. The adults of my childhood had certainly played a cruel trick on me. I can't fully describe the way I felt looking through the diverse, wily, brutal, and tender graphic work of this artist, except to say that my skin chilled. His hand is one of complete freedom as well as control: his humorous depictions of animals feel more human than people beside you; the elegance of the renderings of bodies and politics in Babylon and in The Underground Sketchbook seduce and invade your mind; Fornicon titilates while admonishing us and our machines; and, then there are the children's books which bestow respect on children—those who need not be coddled by the un-realities of life. Ungerer himself and his work can be flirtatious, unflinching, and ruthless in satire; his drawings always lead you on a journey that is equal parts magic yet stinks of the real. I had the pleasure to speak with Ungerer at length by phone while he was in Strasbourg, and I in New York, where his first US retrospective opens at The Drawing Center on January 15. Claire Gilman has curated an exhibition representative of both his erotic works and his children's book illustrations, a vindication for an artist once banned in this country.

Ungerer has been recognized as a Commander of the French Order of Arts and Letters, a Chargé de Mission by the French Ministry of Education, Officer of the Legion d’Honneur, and was awarded the National Prize for Graphic Arts by the Ministry of Culture. He has worked passionately on behalf of Franco-German Relations, and with humanitarian operations, the French Red Cross and Amnesty International. Ungerer is the recipient of the Hans Christian Andersen Prize, the most prestigious children’s literature prize, as well as the European prize for Culture. He holds an ambassadorship for Childhood and Education by the Council of Europe for which he drafted the Declaration of Children’s Rights. The Tomi Ungerer Museum in Strasbourg opened with Ungerer's collection of over 1500 volumes and a stock of over 8000 drawings; it is unique and a first in French history that a government-funded museum has been established on behalf of a living artist.

[ Read More ]
art : interview

Clive Phillpot

by Ashley McNelis

Expanding the medium of artists' books.

Clive Phillpot is a writer, editor and curator best known for his tenure as the head of the library of the Museum of Modern Art from 1977 to 1994. At MoMA he initiated and shaped the Artist Book Collection, one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of its kind. In 2013, a selection of his writings on artists’ books was published by JRP|Ringier: Booktrek: Selected Essays on Artists' Books (1972–2010) is a record of the medium from its beginnings to its current widespread and influential state. The essays include texts from his early “Feedback” column for Studio International, exhibition catalogue contributions, interviews with professionals, and essays on pivotal artists working in the field. Like the Artist Book Collection, Booktrek is a vital reference for anyone interested in the medium and its history. Like his career, our discussion at the Institute of Contemporary Art in London intersected with many of the notable people, institutions and circumstances significant to the origins and proliferation of artists' books as a medium.

[ Read More ]
art : interview

Tamar Ettun

by Naomi Lev

A live conversation about performance, adventure, and objects.

As part of an ongoing series hosted by Independent Curators International (ICI), I invite artists to discuss their work in an intimate environment. These talks are a continuation of a larger series of conversations and panels I’ve been initiating with artists from around the globe. Here in New York, the talks focus on Israeli art and artists. These particular conversations aim to explore the artists’ work in relation to place and time. While considering their origins and background, these artists react and examine possibilities of reshaping political, religious, and social structures. The series of articles began with the study of Ohad Meromi’s practice and will continues by revisiting Tamar Ettun’s and Dana Levy's works, as well as proposing a theoretical curatorial vision of the artists’ works as a whole.

[ Read More ]
art : interview

Gary Simmons

by Jodie Bass

Building a mutable sound system with found materials.

Gary Simmons is a contemporary artist, teacher, collaborator, and proud father of one. He was formally trained in painting, but his body of work interrogates notions of race, pop culture, social stereotypes, and politics through a variety of mixed media. After twenty-five years of art making, his work has been acquired by a host of major public art institutions including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Museum of Contemporary Art, Museum of Modern Art, The Studio Museum of Harlem, and the Whitney Museum of Art. Simmons’ was born and raised in New York, where he currently resides. He completed graduate studies in Los Angeles.

I caught up with him at the site of his current show in the Treme, as participant of the biennial Prospect.3, the afternoon before the performance with the hip-hop artist Beans (Robert Edward Stewart II), a long time friend. This is Simmons’ first experience working in New Orleans.

[ Read More ]
art : portfolio
art : portfolio