Daily Postings
Art : Oral History

Adger Cowans

by Carrie Mae Weems

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.

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Art : Interview

Keith Haring: Languages

by Andrew Blackley Johanna Burton Scott Treleaven

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.

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Art : Portfolio
Art : Interview

Coco Fusco

by Elia Alba

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.

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Art : Interview

Chris Domenick

by Natasha Marie Llorens

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.

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Art : Portfolio

Portfolio

by Till Gathmann

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.

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Art : Interview

Teresa Hubbard & Alexander Birchler

by Irina Arnaut

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.

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Art : Interview

Amy Feldman

by Mary Jones

“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.

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Art : Portfolio
Art : Interview

Tobias Kaspar

by Daniel Horn

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.

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Art : Interview

Sean McFarland

by Ashley Stull

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.

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Art : Interview

Los Angeles Studio Visits #1: John Burtle & Guan Rong

by Molly Surno

A series of conversations about location, process, and practice.

The Los Angeles Studio Visits is an attempt to understand how architectural structures inform artistic practices. The nature of our quotidian relationship to room, the physical world, and sound drives this series as I go through the city meeting with artists to discuss what concerns they are working out in their studios.

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Art : Portfolio

Portfolio

by Hannah Whitaker

Ship of Theseus: Jam Regular, Tops Second Nature, Black Conson Mi-Teintes, Kodak Professional, Heavyweight Construction, Epson Premium Semi-Matte, Staples Graph Pad, Assortment Pack Tissue, Memo Pad Bloc.

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Art : Oral History

Edward Clark

by Jack Whitten

Edward Clark spent the early part of his painting career in post-war Paris with other ex-pats like Joan Mitchell and Beauford Delaney. When he moved New York in the 1950s, at the suggestion of Al Held, he helped found the Brata Gallery and worked at the prestigious Sydney Janis Gallery where he met everyone from Duchamp to Rothko—who gave the young painters his old stretchers. This past year The Art Institute of Chicago—his alma mater—awarded him their Legends and Legacy Award. Here, Clark talks to his friend and fellow painter, Jack Whitten, about growing up in Louisiana, coming of age in Chicago, heady days in Paris, and living in New York City when the abstract expressionists ruled.

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.

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Art : Interview

Ohad Meromi

by Naomi Lev

Visions of utopia, smoking cigarettes, acting methods, and other disparate things that preoccupy this artist.

As part of an ongoing series hosted by Independent Curators International, 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 NYC, the talks focus on Israeli art and artists.

These particular talks 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 begins with the study of Ohad Meromi’s practice and will continue by revisiting Dana Levy and Tamar Ettun’s works, as well as proposing a theoretical curatorial vision of the artists’ works as a whole.

On the occasion of Meromi’s participation in the exhibition Work in Progress: Considering Utopia at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco, we arranged a conversation which featured his recent video Worker! Smoker! Actor! (2012), screened for the first time in New York. The talk took place at the ICI Hub on December 5, 2013 and was an attempt to dig deep into Meromi’s influences, methodology, and the ideas behind his sculptural, video, installation, and performative works. The recent video as well as other pieces we discussed enabled us to reflect on the notions of art and labor. We started by watching the twenty-minute film with the audience.

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Art : Interview

David Brooks

by Mary Mattingly

Nature, sustainability, urbanism, and the overlapping interests of two artists who produce very different work.

I first met David at his DUMBO studio with the artist Greg Lindquist. An admirer of Brooks’s work since learning about it at PS1’s Greater New York (2010) exhibition, I was interested in talking with him to learn more about how our work and ideologies overlap and intersect. Our intention was to complete this interview in person in the summer of 2013. Amid traveling, we conducted the entire interview through sporadic email over the course of six months.

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Art : Interview

Madeleine Hunt-Ehrlich

by Legacy Russell

Choreography, hip-hop, and cricket in New York.

Madeleine Hunt-Ehrlich and I met as teenagers nearly ten years ago under seemingly fated circumstances—she was visiting my alma mater as a prospective student when I was a freshman at the school. She arrived on campus and it was my job to tour her around; we had been assigned to one another because someone in the Student Life office had noticed that Madeleine and I were from the same neighborhood in New York City, the East Village. In fact, upon closer inspection we discovered that we’d grown up on the same street, on opposite sides of Tompkins Square Park. For years we had shared overlapping groups of friends, lived in close proximity, and attended school in New York City, but neither of us remember ever actually meeting. Though, according to our families, we met when we were in diapers on the playground, our first real encounter occurred miles away from the East Village, in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

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Art : Portfolio

Portfolio

by Tyler Coburn

A bygone literary genre tells a story of the present age, tracing the transformation of a sand grain from CRT monitor to stone artwork.

Adventures of a Genre

In the heyday of print publishing, I played ventriloquist for the marketplace, endowing goose-quills, coins, waistcoats and snuffboxes with the ability to narrate their lives. My commodities were the protagonists of an emerging global economy and breathlessly traveled from exotic origins to shopfront windows, from far colonial reaches to domestic quarters. They rode the wake of British conquest with marvelous aplomb, more than justifying the means of their arriving. For how else could the earth's riches be made available to its greatest public?

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Art : Interview

Bryan Zanisnik

by Sara Roffino

Walking and talking in the Meadowlands outside of New York City.

I met Bryan Zanisnik at a backyard Brooklyn barbeque party several years ago. Knowing nothing about his work, but quickly learning that he was from New Jersey, I almost immediately began telling him about an essay on the Meadowlands that I had just read on Triple Canopy. Coincidentally, he was the writer behind that essay. Subsequently, we became good friends.

For this interview, we decided to take a trip to the Meadowlands—a place I was aware of and had driven through many times, but had never intentionally visited. The morning of our outing, it was raining and my car had a flat tire. We went anyway. After driving through the Holland Tunnel, and the town of Kearny, we had almost arrived at our destination when we took a wrong turn and ended up at Disposal Road, a wide dirt and gravel path with a lone smoke stack at the end emitting bursts of flame every few seconds to release methane from the subterranean landfill below us.

When we did reach the parking lot we were looking for—next to a baseball field with suburban homes on one side and a body shop on the other—a lone car was sitting in the far corner with a man in the driver’s seat. “A lot of men come here to cruise,” Bryan explained to me in an attempt to assuage my sudden concerns about our adventure. Climbing over tree stumps, and walking through reeds littered with mini alcohol bottles and even a small sack of weed, we ascended an embankment and emerged at a set of abandoned train tracks along which we spent the afternoon walking and conducting this interview.

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Art : Interview

Gordon Hall

by Emily Zimmerman

The founder of the Center for Experimental Lectures on lecture performances at the Whitney Biennial.

The staging, gestures, and language of lectures are so well known that even the barely initiated can rattle off their trappings without hesitation. Gordon Hall recently demonstrated this in conversation with a class of twenty-five students in the Arts Department of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. “What does a lecture look like,” Hall began, “what do you see?” The scene was all too easily conjured: a podium, a microphone, a screen, a projector, a glass of water. As the students enumerated every detail that one might encounter at a lecture, it became clear that we have become reliant on standardization and safe formats when it comes to discourse within the arts.

Gordon Hall founded the Center for Experimental Lectures in 2011 as a response to this situation, to promote lectures as a creative form. The Center for Experimental Lectures is part of Hall’s artistic practice, a condition crucial to properly understanding the project’s emphasis on embodied experience. The itinerant platform has realized events at Alderman Exhibitions, The Shandaken Project, Recess, MoMA PS1, and has most recently been invited by the Whitney Museum of American Art to collaborate on the re-envisioning of its canonical Seminars with Artists. The first seminar took place with Zoe Leonard on March 19th; forthcoming seminars include Susan Howe on May 14th, and Amy Sillman on May 22nd. Gordon Hall was in residence at the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) at Rensselaer in the fall of 2014 conducting research on the history of lecture-performances, which culminated in a new commission “Read me that part a-gain, where I disin-herit everybody.” Hall and I discuss the origins of the Center for Experimental Lectures, its current activities and mission.

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Art : Interview

Sara Greenberger Rafferty

by Cat Kron

Andy Kaufman and copyright meet in this conversation with the artist.

I asked Sara Greenberger Rafferty if I could interview her because of our shared interest in comedians. Also a mutual friend said she had a lot of insights on joke theft, which is a fairly specific thing to be insightful on. Rafferty is extremely well versed on this subject: in 2013 she led a discussion at the project space P! on the Patrick Carriou lawsuit against Richard Prince, who, among his wide range of previously-realized source material, traffics in old jokes. Rafferty debuted Mono, (2014) at the Whitney Biennial: it’s a video-based work that mines late night talk show host monologues to address issues of authorship. I approached her as part of my ongoing research on different issues of copyright in art, and our conversation was framed by a discussion of joke theft and comedic appropriation.

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Art : Interview

Jill Magid

by Jovana Stokic

Spy agencies, multinational corporations, and the exchange of information.

Jill Magid’s work is not hermetic or mute to the uninitiated: it has many points of entry. Magid radically breaks the boundaries of exhibiting and creating work. Her output has included some unusual—sometimes unintentional—collaborations with the police, as well as detectives, a foreign security agency, a diamond maker, a copyright lawyer, and a domestic terrorist. The list goes on. Magid never directly dissociates herself from the notion of authorship, she merely allows the narrative to unfold in ways that open her work to the viewers, allowing for unforeseen occurrences, even when a work is already installed at the museum.

Focusing on her role as both the instigator and the archivist of these curious events, I spoke with Jill about how these events translate into the context of the art world's accepted formats: objects in installations, performances, and, ultimately, her idiosyncratic books. I met with Jill in the backroom of Art in General where her critically acclaimed show Woman With Sombrero was on view.

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Art : Portfolio

Portfolio

by Anna Plesset

An artist traces her grandfather through Europe by way of footage he filmed during World War II.

It starts with a found film. According to Plesset, sometime around 1945 her grandfather, a division psychiatrist in the US Army during WWII, exchanged a pistol for a 16mm camera. The footage from this camera is a record of his passage through Europe during the last years of the war, lingering almost equally on landmarks, monuments, and landscapes as on bombed-out roads and abandoned cities.

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Art : Oral History

Kara Walker & Larry Walker

Kara Walker talks with her father, artist Larry Walker, for BOMB's Oral History project

BOMB’s Oral History Project, run by Editor in Chief Betsy Sussler, documents the life stories of New York City’s African-American artists. Forthcoming Histories include: Gerald Jackson, Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe, Melvin Edwards, Terry Adkins, and Adger Cowans.

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.

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Art : Interview

smudge studio

by Emily Gordon & Sara Jacobs

On nuclear waste, the vastness of geologic time, and their recent project Look Only at the Movement.

smudge studio, an ongoing collaboration between New York artists Jamie Kruse and Elizabeth Ellsworth, is dedicated to “exploring sites and moments where the human and the geologic converge.” Their work is grounded in the notion that geologic time should be central to discussions of human and non-human habitation, ecology and ethics, and art and design.

smudge studio’s recent piece, Look Only at the Movement, is a three-hour film that opened in October 2013 in New York and will travel to venues around the country through the spring of 2015. It opens at the Santa Fe Art Institute (SFAI) on May 1 and runs through June 12th. There will be a public talk at SFAI on May 12th. Look Only at the Movement invites viewers to experience both the banality and the complexity of nuclear waste disposal, storage, and transport in North America—an excess of remnant material for which there is no comprehensive strategy. Presented through visual and investigatory narratives, smudge studio’s body of work consistently questions our understanding of the compounded nuclear legacy of North America.

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