Repris: TV Time.[ Read More ]
Books as an exhibition space, reprinting archival material, and some thoughts on the current state of art publishing.
Primary Information’s catalog is as broad as it is deep. Over the course of nearly a decade in arts publishing, the duo—curator Miriam Katzeff and artist James Hoff—have produced printed matter and sound work that reach back to the archives of the mid-century avant-gardes and put it in dialogue with a diverse span of current artistic practices. Their work as historical excavators is highly regarded; through their facsimiles, Hoff and Katzeff have brought back into circulation a number of seminal artists’ publications that would have otherwise been left to the exclusive domain of collectors and library rare book rooms, from The Anthology of Concrete Poetry to Aram Saroyan’s Coffee Coffee to the collected issues of Avalanche and Destroy All Monsters Magazine, among many others. Primary Information’s role as publisher of the contemporary is equally crucial, having produced original and boundary-pushing artists’ books by Elad Lassry, Florian Hecker, Lutz Bacher, Sarah Crowner, and others. (Lassry’s On Onions, a strange and encyclopedic montage devoted to the bulb, is one of my personal favorites. The book was named “Artist Book of the Year” by Art in America in 2013.) Add to this a handful of LPs that range from no wave to noise and sound poetry, and you’re looking at a shelf of titles that is more tastefully curated and well-assembled than that of any other publisher working today.[ Read More ]
The dreamlike state of drawing from nature.
I met artist Josh Dorman the second day of my freshman year of high school. His office, a nook in my new drawing classroom, was covered with detailed scientific drawings on stripes of off-white paper. As he led students through elementary drawing exercises, his precision and love of intricacy rendered a simple still life of a pepper into a deeply complex organism. Over the course of the next few years, admiring his drawings as I washed my paintbrushes, I began to better understand the science and further appreciate the imagination of his art. His drawings involve an attention to detail that is obsessive, methodical, and enthralling.
I exalted Dorman’s work from afar, frequently scrolling through the paintings on his website. In my drawing class my first year of college, I chose him for an artist project, in which I used his method to recreate one of his earlier works. This June, walking through the Ryan Lee gallery, I happened to recognize Tower of Babel (2008) from an exhibition of his works that was on view at Spence, my high school. In this painting, he demonstrates his ability to balance intricacies against grand scale, creating an imposing, mountainous form composed of machinery and architecture. When I noticed that the aged, yellow canvas was made of antique maps and piano scrolls, I knew the work had to be Dorman’s. I discovered he had a solo show at the Ryan Lee Gallery scheduled for September, right after I left for school. Luckily enough, Mr. Dorman, now officially Josh to me, welcomed me to his studio, tolerated my numerous questions, and gave me a private showing of his latest works.[ Read More ]
Art history via conversations
I was first introduced to Assaf Evron by a mutual friend at an art fair in Chicago. Shortly thereafter, he and I began a series of studio visits. Our relationship has become an ideal source of material for an essay about the collaborative nature of the relationship between artist and curator, because our discussions revolve around my insistence on visual coherence—what Assaf derisively refers to as "homogeneity"—and his vociferous defense of heterogeneity as an inherent and defining feature of his practice.[ Read More ]
BOMB’s Oral History Project documents the life stories of New York City’s African American artists.
I met with Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe in the late afternoon of a mild October day in an office building in mid-town where the Arthur Ashe Learning Center (AALC) is located. This trailblazing photographer and author of Daufuskie Island (1982) and Viewfinders: Black Women Photographers (1993), Daddy and Me (1993), and African Flower: Singing of Angels (2001) was seated at her desk busy with the details of her newest project, the AALC, which focuses on educating, motivating and inspiring youth. She is no stranger to devotion and commitment. These are the principles that she has always employed in every venture of her life from personal to professional. In fact, her astounding purposefulness has created a space where there is no distinction between the two. All of her work is profoundly intimate.[ Read More ]
On influence, feminism, and performance.
One of the lessons I learned from Antin's work is that an artist can make a stage out of anything and step inside of it with the simplest of methods. Her show felt like it offered a possibility: feel free to be a wanderer, create journeys, go on them, and see where they lead you. After wandering through her show, I decided to write to her and ask her some questions. The following is our correspondence.[ Read More ]
Infinite configurations: collection, space, and story.
I met Charlotte Moth in August 2012 in Paris, where she lives and works. She was preparing for an isolated year in the residency of Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart following her first major solo exhibition, at the Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève, which had just closed. We spent the afternoon looking through images of the exhibition, which brought together photographs, sculptures, and films made since the beginning of her Travelogue, a collection of images of exterior and interior architectural spaces without chronological or geographical indicators that evolves via processes of accumulation and deferral. The exhibition also included two works by her frequent collaborators Falke Pisano and Peter Fillingham.[ Read More ]
Life as medium: Physical and conceptual notions of the body, sexuality, and identity.
New Delhi–based artist Mithu Sen makes sculptures, installations, drawings, and texts that critique ideas around desire, sex and sexuality, representation, the body, and what it means to be an Indian woman in contemporary society. Sen feels a deep kinship with the legacy of feminism and often infuses elements like hair and blood from her own body into her art as a way of examining our relationship to the material world. The historical legacy her work carries through its subject matter may be heavy, but she manages to convey the lighter side of the human condition through humor and sharp wit. For her first solo museum exhibition in the United States, Sen created a large-scale installation of false teeth and dental polymer to question the visible and invisible dividing lines among human beings. During her travels to the US, as she worked to finish and install her work at the Broad Museum, Sen shared more with me about her work and practice that spans genres and disciplines.[ Read More ]
An outsider looking in.
For a number of years, Daniel McKewen taught a class at the Queensland University of Technology that functioned as a drop-in critique and discussion session for whoever was around at the time. We almost always ended up talking about film and the media, which for a number of years have formed the content of his video-based work. Last summer, sharing a workshop in the subtropics, we worked side-by-side in a steamy tin shed, doors thrown wide to catch whatever breeze there was. As he obsessively polished a bronze sculpture to mirror-finish, he offered his steady and reasoned advice to whoever came knocking. The advice was usually: Keep doing it. At the 2014 Sydney Biennale and the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art’s NEW14 exhibition McKewen showed video-based work focusing on popular media, cinema, and fan culture, but his newer pieces consist of sculpture and drawing. His work, culled from familiar sources, aims for the jolt of recognition before the quotidian is made strange. We spoke about harvesting laugh tracks, the politics of art funding, and his upcoming show at Milani Gallery in Brisbane, which deals with the global financial crisis.[ Read More ]
Finding meeting points: in preparation for a joint show, two artists talk about materials, process, and presenting their work.
At the onset of this conversation, the artists Laura Aldridge and Lee Maida had never met each other. We shared a couple of short, three-way email exchanges to get the ball rolling, but ultimately this session was a lot like a blind date, a real set up. We initiated the talk, which took place over Skype, because I had invited them to present new work in a two-person exhibition at Andrew Kreps gallery in New York over the summer. While Aldridge is based in Glasgow and Maida in New York, it would be easy enough to apply a synchronistic frame around their practices. Aldridge and Maida’s three-dimensional works show an interest in color, the legacy of images, and the malleable, textured life of material. If left to their own volition, though, I doubt that either artist would initiate a conversation about their work according to the vestiges of materiality. Especially for that reason, I leaned into this potentially troublesome zone. A discussion about material and desire might tease out various distinctions and nuanced similarities regarding the use of ceramics and fabric in each of their work, which include some of the most poignant, anachronistic examples of clay and fabric in a day-glo world.[ Read More ]
BOMB’s Oral History Project documents the life stories of New York City’s African American artists.
Adger Cowans is a renowned fine arts photographer and painter whose works have been shown by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, International Museum of Photography, Museum of Modern Art, The Studio Museum of Harlem, The Cleveland Museum of Art, Harvard Fine Art Museum, Detroit Art Institute, James E. Lewis Museum and numerous other art institutions. His photographs were highlighted in the exhibition, Committed to the Image: Contemporary Black Photographers at the Brooklyn Museum of Art in 2001. Cowans was awarded the Lorenzo il Magnifico alla Carriera in recognition of a Distinguished Career at the 2001 Florence Biennale of Contemporary Art. In 2015, Glitterati, Inc. will be publishing a book of his work.
Cowans attended Ohio University where he received a BFA in photography. He furthered his education at the School of Motion Picture Arts and School of Visual Arts in New York. While serving in the United States Navy, he worked as a photographer before moving to New York, where he later worked with Life magazine photographer, Gordon Parks and fashion photographer, Henri Clarke. The New York Times described Cowans’ work as “Boldly inventive and experimental ... the artist is a craftsman to his fingertips.”
Funded by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts with The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, with additional funding from the Dedalus Foundation and New York Community Trust, as well as A G Foundation and Toni L. Ross.
BOMB’s Oral History Advisory Panel is Sanford Biggers, Thelma Golden, Kellie Jones, Mickalene Thomas, Carrie Mae Weems, Stanley Whitney, and Jack Whitten.[ Read More ]
Ciphers, graffiti hieroglyphs, and lateral communication.
This conversation between Andrew Blackley, Johanna Burton, and Scott Treleaven is the third and final component of Keith Haring: Languages. It supplements an exhibition at the Fales Library and Special Collections (NYU) of 130 never-before-exhibited, understudied artworks and documents held by the Keith Haring Foundation. A conference featuring nine speakers coincided with the exhibition's opening, bringing together figures from across academic and professional disciplines in order to publicly address the lineages available in these text-based materials as adjacent and precedent to the more well-known visual art of Haring’s later career. The text below threads together the major themes from Keith Haring: Languages—historicity, methodology, and the readership of artists’ writings and papers as substantive material and theoretical categories.[ Read More ]
Being a provocateur, Planet of the Apes, and the "wow" factor of Cuban Art.
The complex structures of power and control have preoccupied performance artist, writer, and curator Coco Fusco for over 20 years. In A Room of One’s Own: Women and Power in the New America (2008), a performance lecture explores the expanding role of American women in the War on Terror.[ Read More ]
From science to cyber-punk: an artist and a curator read his works via books.
While he works primarily in sculpture and large-scale drawings that read like sculpture, Chris Domenick also composes performative lectures that sketch a chain of associations between 30–50 images over the course of 15 minutes. These lectures are (perhaps) exercises in widening the viewer’s capacity for associative reading. They try to forge an understanding between materials, objects, images, and fragments of history. I didn’t get something basic about Domenick’s objects—their layered literacy—until I saw the lectures and watched him slideetween reading surfaces.[ Read More ]
A research project about a self-taught scholar, the history of writing, and the alphabet.
Alfred Kallir's fascination with the letter V begins in 1942 in London, after Winston Churchill's famous "V is for victory" gesture. Born in Vienna in 1899, Kallir was a self-taught scholar whose research focused solely on the study of the alphabet. In his will, he drew up plans for an institution, called "V-Forum," that would carry on his legacy, but one was never founded.[ Read More ]
Where cinema and video overlap: the filmmakers on their subjects, process, and recent exhibitions.
I met Teresa Hubbard and Alexander Birchler in 2011. They were teaching at Bard, where I was getting my MFA. That summer I was working on a video of four ambiguously related vignettes that included, among other scenes, a talking mushroom and a woman slow-dancing with her dog. The narrative approach tended toward the experimental, but the aesthetic sensibility was unabashedly cinematic. One day, during a small critique, a fellow student said, “If you're going to be doing anything filmic, you should probably meet with Teresa and Alex.” I promptly nagged them for a visit. Working in the obscure space where cinema and video overlap, I was grateful to talk with Teresa and Alexander about the possibilities of developing a nuanced, critical relationship with an audience, a narrative, and even the camera, through the structures that cinema offers. We had this email conversation on the occasion of Eight, Eighteen, their recent exhibition at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, and Sound Speed Marker, a show that includes a trilogy of videos shot over the last five years, at Ballroom Marfa in Texas, which is up through August 10.[ Read More ]
“No room for doubt”: the painter on her formalism, subjects, and sense of humor.
Amy Feldman’s paintings definitely put the “form” back in formalism. Big, bold shapes squirm, teeter, and blast out of their white grounds like the thought balloons of a superhero in a comic book. Staunchly gray on white, Feldman’s palette in particular separates her rigorous practice from much of the abstract painting of her contemporaries, and resists any easy categorization. Critic Stephen Westfall thought of William Gibson’s Neuromancer, quoting “the color of television, turned to a dead channel.” Many connections to the neutral palette have been made along the walk to Feldman’s studio in an industrial part of Brooklyn.[ Read More ]
An almost interview.
Tobias Kaspar is an artist and publisher whose work limns the aesthetic sphere of contemporary art’s social dynamics, symbolic value creation, and the lifestyle and fashion trends these by turns emulate, oblige, and distort. By juggling memes ranging from modernist symbolism and Pop art to appropriation and institutional critique, his works reassemble the anemic residues of these personally formative critiques, exposing them to an ever-accelerating commercial image continuum that eagerly incorporates the latest forms of sensual differentiation and estrangement. This interview took place in Rome, where Kaspar was shooting a new film work, which just premiered in his recent solo show at the Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen, Switzerland.[ Read More ]
Finding landscapes in the least obvious places.
Sean McFarland makes pictures. This odd phrasing is choice, because the content of his work is not so easily condensed. McFarland has long been an almost academic observer of changes in the California landscape. The multi-layered realities of wild vs. preserved vs. man-made have deeply entangled sentiments, which are echoed in the deeply entangled methods he uses to produce his photographs. Inspired by fabricated representations of the natural world—natural history museum dioramas, postcards, images from the Whole Earth Catalog—McFarland experiments with his own pointed manipulations of landscape pictures. 2009 brought the documentation of ready-made “wildness” with a series of Polaroids titled Pictures of the Earth. The photographs are no ordinary snapshots, but are produced from a variety of pre-edited images, re-shot from delusory perspectives. To peek behind the curtain, the scenes are most akin to meticulously crafted collages with evidence of their individual parts concealed. The result is pictures constructed from almost entirely false environments. The irony in “instant” photographs, however, is that their veracity is difficult to question.
But in recent years McFarland’s interest in the truth behind analog photography has expanded—becoming an interrogation of suspended disbelief, and what we refer to as “natural.” His December 2013 exhibition Glass Mountains (Stephen Wirtz Gallery, San Francisco) is a collection of images presenting increasingly transparent artifice as compelling likeness of our lived environment. Produced from the abstraction of commonplace objects, the photographs blur the lines between expectation, sentiment and rational observation. A full moon is simply the result of a coin on light sensitive paper; the “stars” are a glistening in sidewalk concrete; and mountains are the reframing of broken shards of glass, printed to actual size. I’m in possession of image-altered postcards from the artist, and as I look them over, the change in spirit of his recent work is impossible to ignore.[ Read More ]