Daily Postings
art : interview

Neil Greenberg & Will Corwin

A discussion of urbanism and Staten Island, cartography, and monumental sculpture’s place in modern society.

The Great Richmond is collaboration between the cartographer Neil Greenberg and the sculptor Will Corwin. The two were introduced by Monica Valenzuela, the Director of Development and Community Programming at Staten Island Arts, after both independently proposed projects focusing on the future of the borough via abstract methodology—Greenberg through imaginary maps and Corwin via interactive sculpture. The simplest means of collaborating turned out to be Greenberg visiting New York for several weeks at a time and camping out on Corwin’s couch. They made field trips to the island, wandered its streets and researched its history at the archives in the basement at Snug Harbor. Two years later, the result is a game-based and crowd-sourced sculpture incorporating many ideas from previous projects. For Greenberg it references imaginary urban manifestations and interventions such as Fake Omaha and Freshwater Metro Transit, and for Corwin it is another iteration of pseudo-randomly generated sculpture such as the Clocktower Chess Match.

The Great Richmond is an interactive project that will draw its momentum from the 65,000 or so tourists and Staten Islanders who wander into the Staten Island Arts Culture Lounge at the Staten Island Ferry Terminal and are willing to interact with the piece. The rules are simple: choose two game tokens from the storage shelves and place them on any of the four color-coded tables. There are eight varieties of token, cast-plaster sculptures approximately a cubic foot in size, representing different facets of the island: infrastructure, history and culture, architectural fabric (retail and residential, government institutions, contemporary culture, and connectivity with the rest of the boroughs), and agrarian aspirations. The four tables represent four visions for the island—a return to an agrarian utopia, secession, and increased suburban or urban fabric. The possible outcomes of visitors’ choices are concretized in Greenberg’s cycle of four fantasy maps of the island, while Corwin’s contribution lies in the tokens and shelving matrix. [ Read More ]

art : interview

Neo Rauch

by Sabine Russ

"A precisely-aimed reach into the immeasurable flow of things."

For nearly three decades, German painter Neo Rauch has mesmerized and mystified viewers with his boundless imagination and his ability to give shape to the intangible, the bizarre, and the paradoxical. His figurative compositions, which also imply abstraction, reach far into the histories and myths of communal living, of ideology, faith, creativity, and the subconscious. From all of these realms Rauch spins scenarios with a pronounced absence of the linear and the logical, or of common temporal and spatial perspectives. Giant humans cradle their miniature selves or tower over dwarfed others; small German towns assume Himalayan dimensions; old-time laborers and modern-day businessmen engage in enigmatic tasks involving obsolete tools; trees grow houses like fruit, fields grow explosives like vegetables; sea creatures breed women, menfolk morph into flocks of birds; boulders become clouds, clouds become words; and arteries of bulging paint, hazardous-looking liquid, or pure energy snake or flow through it all.

Rauch’s palette ranges widely between tricolored scenes suggesting underexposed or lost histories and extravagantly colored canvases with dramatic, almost fluorescent highlights. His protagonists, whom he politely calls his picture personnel, serve the painting before they serve a story. They are employed for the purpose of creating tension, harmony, and discord of color and form. Rauch follows these figures’ evolution on the canvas, observing their influence, their pace and authority, which then prompts him to drive their activities further.

Physical and mental labor and, more recently, explicitly artistic labor, have always been in the center of Rauch’s interest. His early, agitprop-style compositions featuring pensive-looking staff (toiling toward alleged progress under looming watchwords in formal yet off-kilter semi-industrial landscapes) later gave way to more allegorical and epic scenes whose elements of folklore and myth seem at once local and elusive. Yet always, the depictions of men and women's active efforts and gestural communication, as disparate and enigmatic as they may seem, result in a strong sense of community in the painting. There’s an undisclosed common goal that Rauch’s protagonists dutifully pursue among globs of mysterious matter.

I’ve always been fascinated by the existential mood yet distinct air of neutrality and moral detachment that prevails in Rauch’s painted societies. While there’s conflict, even rebellion and upheaval, there’s neither overt terror nor affliction or even strain in the figures’ faces, no matter what type of crude or gentle acts they are engaged in. The man bound in ropes, about to be beheaded, appears in a strange and accepting union with his slayer. Victims and perpetrators are part of the same coin and dependent on each other. There’s no tension in a play without a villain; there is no progress without conflict. Like in a selfless universe, all participants seem to contain multitudes and to possess the fluidity to change and morph into one another.

The serene, unperturbed facial expressions in Rauch’s paintings are somewhat reminiscent of Western religious art, especially Giotto, the master of Italian pre-Renaissance who was active at the brink of a new era, just before individualism, science, and perspective started to enter painting. Rauch obviously knows how to paint in perfect perspective but he employs his skill to demolish ordinary notions of spatial proportionality. This allows him to present disparate events accumulatively and simultaneously, something only painting can pictorially accomplish. Everything exists in one single space and in one present: attempts from centuries ago face today’s endeavors face future pasts alongside individuals’ dreams and collective utopias.

On the occasion of his latest exhibition at David Zwirner gallery in New York, I had the opportunity to ask Neo Rauch seven questions, which he answered in writing.

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art : interview

R. H. Quaytman

by Antonio Sergio Bessa

On painting, architecture, and working in "chapters."

My first encounter with Quaytman’s work happened by chance around 2004 when I was working on a Portuguese translation of Susan Howe’s Pierce-Arrow. During a visit to Howe’s home in Guilford, Connecticut, the conversation quickly shifted away from Charles Sanders Peirce and semeiotics to architecture. At some point she volunteered, “If you like architecture, I must show you the house my daughter and her husband Jeff Preiss recently bought nearby,” the daughter being Quaytman. We drove for about five minutes and arrived at a magnificent structure designed by Tony Smith perched on the edge of a cliff overlooking the Long Island Sound. In hindsight, I feel like I have been stalking Quaytman, quietly following her development since the early days of the artist-run space Orchard.

In 2001, Quaytman introduced the idea of chapters as a way to organize her working on different subjects in discrete series. In an era that tends to (over?) analyze everything, the concept provides viewers with a roadmap, while at the same time allowing the artist space to experiment. The works that compose O Tópico (the subject), on view at Gladstone Gallery, have been commissioned by Brazilian collector Bernardo Paz for his private garden in Inhotim, Minas Gerais. The exhibition provided the perfect opportunity for me to finally meet Quaytman and talk about our common interests related to painting and language.

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art : interview

Nicholas Weist

by Ethan Philbrick

A residency program on view.

Nicholas Weist is the director of the Shandaken Project, which offers free residencies to artists and other cultural producers on a 250-acre grounds in the Catskill Mountains in New York. This month, the residency is organizing a three-year retrospective exhibition in a disused apartment in the East Village. Ethan Philbrick met Weist during a retreat-style conference held by the Shandaken Project earlier this year, which invited nine artists, scholars, and administrators to investigate how queer theory informs cultural production today. More on this program is available here. When they met for lunch to have this conversation, Weist made overflowing and unruly open-faced sandwiches.

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art : portfolio
art : interview

Melvin Moti

by Emily Zimmerman

The technology of light.

Sun dogs, or phantom suns, appear when sunlight moves through ice crystals in high-altitude cirrus clouds or low-lying air currents (known as diamond dust) and refracts horizontally to create a halo of light around the sun. Inspired by sun dogs, Melvin Moti’s The Vision Machine is a moving image installation that will operate with the same mechanical system for a period of fifty years, positioning the poetics of light refraction against the policies of planned obsolescence. The Vision Machine is a projector that creates images of refracted light through the paired down vocabulary of a light source, lens, and several rotating prisms. The piece was partially inspired by Riccardo Manzotti’s “the spread mind,” a radical externalist theory that holds that consciousness is spread between the material world and an individual. The Vision Machine is anchored between these two sources of inspiration—one physical, the other theoretical—arguing for the infinite interdependency of thought and materiality.

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art : portfolio
art : interview

Los Angeles Studio Visits #2: Hailey Loman & Jakob Brugge

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 : oral history
art : interview

Laura Buckley

by Rob Sharp

Technological distortion, motherhood, and painterly approaches to video.

Laura Buckley describes her video installations as “painting with light,” her work variously playing with music, rotating mirrors, and multiple projectors, her wires laying bare on the floor, displaying her means of construction. Her use of video blends analogue, abstract, and painterly forms along with homemade footage, shot on phone and video camera, purposefully incorporating the everyday. Glimpses of her children sometimes appear, fusing her life and work.

Buckley is currently shortlisted for the Jarman Award, and her nominated piece, The Magic Know-How (2013), is currently on tour across Britain before being shown internationally by the British Council. The award’s winner will be announced in December. I caught up with her to find out more about her process, and the experience of being an artist and mother in London.

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art : interview

Michele D’Aurizio

by Sam Korman

Opening—and closing—a gallery.

My recent conversation with Milan-based curator and writer, Michele D’Aurizio revolved around Gasconade, a nonprofit art space that D’Aurizio co-founded in 2011. I have followed the gallery for the past several years, and its program of largely Milanese artists (and a couple of international counterparts) seemed to sharpen over that time, responding to something specific and heretofore mysterious to me. In spite of my distance (I lived in the US), and having never seen an exhibition in person, my interest grew through the dark humor that surrounded and seemed to penetrate the otherwise traditional presentation of solo and group exhibitions, as well as specially commissioned projects. Hence, it felt less like the gallery made broad claims to a new direction in art, and more like its stakes were pointed, personal, and immediate. What seemed to happen at Gasconade was the generation of an attitude by which, as I discovered, its contributors might dig themselves out of the trenches of their immediate cultural environment and help them better understand a new urban bourgeoisie that has been growing internationally the last several years. So, D’Aurizio and I spoke about some of the exhibitions, but the interview, as with the gallery itself, was not contained by matters related to the specific day-to-day of the space. Rather, it became a conversation about those things which the gallery aided in understanding and challenging: the recent historical and contemporary issues that the artists and gallery sought to disrupt, how to responsibly record such provocations, and what it means for the catalyst of a young scene to grow up, or not. There’s more information about the exhibitions on Gasconade’s website, but the following conversation should likely be read as an exit interview.  

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art : portfolio
art : interview

Rachel Lee Hovnanian

by Dorothy Spears

Plastic babies, Fruit Loops, and albino mice.

Dorothy Spears Rachel, your work addresses issues related to food, beauty, and self-perception. It also examines social conventions and how humans interact, say, around the dinner table. What has drawn you to these subjects?

Rachel Lee Hovnanian Well, I was raised in a household of writers and artists. My parents both painted; they were friends with lots of artists, and so as a little girl I spent a lot of time in studios. And my mother, who was a great cook, decided she wanted to teach cooking, because growing up in Texas, food was not a big part of people’s lives. As a result, food was important in our home. It’s natural for me to combine the two.

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Art : Interview
Art : interview

Bradford Young

by Sarah Salovaara

Black Nationalism, rural Brooklyn, faces, and monoliths.

Bradford Young is obsessed with faces. More specifically, the Louisville-bred, D.C.-based cinematographer behind Pariah, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, and Mother of George, is determined to render darker skin tones with a quality that does them visual justice. A series of these portraits anchors Bynum Cutler, Young’s elliptical exploration of the evolution of urban landscapes and its demographics, particularly as it relates to Bed-Stuy’s Weeksville settlement. A historic, intentional community, Weeksville was founded by its namesake James Weeks in 1838, not eleven years after the abolition of slavery. An entirely self-sufficient enclave, whose landowners enjoyed their status as registered voters, Weeksville thrived through the early 20th century, until its schools, churches, and various organizations were subsumed by the encroaching cityscape. Rediscovered in 1968 and ushered into preservation, the present-day Weeksville Heritage Center and Creative Time are now probing the site as an early casualty of gentrification with Funk, God, Jazz, and Medicine: Black Radical Brooklyn.

The God proxy among the group, Young set his three-part installation inside the dilapidated nave of the local Bethel Tabernacle AME Church, which also served as the site of Brooklyn’s first racially integrated public school in the 1890s. Bynum Cutler mines the forgotten history of its surroundings through Young’s powerful, monochromatic examination of its halls and congregation, as well as the Weeksville campus and neighborhood at large. During its run from mid-September to October, Black Radical Brooklyn functioned as an essential, multi-faceted conversation starter to address a Bed-Stuy, city, and country in flux. BOMB spoke to Young about the past, present and future of Bynum Cutler, as well as the various subjects it seeks to depict. 

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Art : Interview

Natalie Czech

by Rachel Valinsky

Hidden poetry and repetition.

I first encountered the Berlin-based artist Natalie Czech’s work in 2012 at Ludlow 38 in New York. Her solo exhibition, I have nothing to say. Only to show. urged me to set aside any notion of passive viewership, and while the show’s title seemed to suggest that her photographs were merely to be looked at, they did in fact say something. The images felt like words to be looked at, but also carefully read, in pieces and over time, returned to like one returns to a poem, picks it up, and reads it over again. Opening up the connections between photography and writing in such a way as to eventually obscure their distinction, Czech’s work plays the visual qualities of text off the textual elements in the photographs, activating and crystallizing a mode of perception that both undoes and reconstitutes reading and seeing.

In pieces like A Small Bouquet for Frank O’Hara, for instance, Czech asked several writers to produce a text in response to O’Hara’s calligram “A Small Bouquet,” in which words and lines come together to produce an image corresponding to the poem’s title. These new texts are composed around the original poem, which is highlighted and circled so that its embedded reproduction is detectable amidst the new sentences that make use of O’Hara’s words. In her ongoing series, “Hidden Poems,” and the more recent, “Poems by Repetition,” Czech mines texts from a variety of sources, purposefully seeking or subconsciously finding in them words and fragments, which through a process of selection, repetition, and erasure, coalesce into poems by Gertrude Stein, Robert Creeley, Aram Saroyan, Bruce Andrews, or Tan Lin, to name only a few of the artist’s sources. Sometimes Czech finds poems that reappear in other texts, replicated down to the line break, which feels miraculous. Photography comes after—it seals, within the image, a proposition for one possible reading among many, of one text through another. She’s talked about the poem transpiring through, stuttering itself into existence, into enunciation. But as a whole, Czech’s project is to open up this realm of possibility endlessly, radically suggesting anew the potential coexistence of any and all texts within and amongst each other. This interview took place between May and June 2014 through e-mail correspondence, shortly after the opening of her project Il Pleut at the Palais de Tokyo, in Paris.

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Art : Interview

Sophie T. Lvoff & Garrett Bradley

Photography versus filmmaking, twenty-somethings, and New Orleans.

As participants of the international arts biennial, Prospect.3: Notes for Now, headed by artistic director Franklin Sirmans, Sophie T. Lvoff and Garrett Bradley discuss the nature of editing as it differs between still images and moving images, as well as questions on what differentiates art from moviemaking and narrative from documentary forms.

Lvoff is a New Orleans-based artist and curator. Lvoff uses literature as a jumping off point for her photographic-based work. Most recently having investigated the 1961 Walker Percy novel The Moviegoer, Lvoff’s body of color photographs entitled Hell’s Bells/Sulfur/Honey attempts to describe the indescribable in New Orleans through the search for authenticity and light.

After receiving a BFA from NYU and an MFA from Tulane University, her work has been exhibited in museums and galleries nationally & internationally. Her first solo show was at Good Children Gallery in New Orleans in 2013. Her work will be on view at the Contemporary Art Center as part of Prospect.3: Notes for Now opening October 25, 2014. In 2014 through 2015, Lvoff will attend the Ecole du Magasin curatorial training program in Grenoble, France.

Garrett Bradley is a New Orleans based artist working in film and video. Bradley’s work is reflective of the environments in which they are made. Often combining scripted scenarios with an impressionistic formality, the work leans toward the functionality of social juxtaposition and historical reflection as it relates to human conflict and class in America.

Below Dreams, Bradley’s first feature length film, was named the Best Narrative Feature, and Best First Feature in the 2014 TriBeCa Film Festival IndieWire Critics Picks. Bradley was also named Best Director. In additio to the work shown at Prospect 3, Below Dreams will be screening as a part of Festival du Nouveau Cinema Montreal, CPH:MARKET and the New Orleans Film Festival, October 18 and 23 at the historic Joy and Prytania Theater.

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Art : Interview

Rachel Sussman

by Monica Westin

Eternity, ecology, and outer space.

Since the book appeared this past April, Rachel Sussman's The Oldest Living Things in the World project has captured the public imagination; it's about time, ecology, and even our deepest conceptions of eternity and life. Sussman has shifted her focus from—in her own words—“deep time” to “deep space,” which she is currently researching during her tenure at LACMA's Art + Technology Lab. She also opened the first gallery show dedicated to this project at Pioneer Works last week. We talked about scales of time in her work, lichens in outer space, and what happens when a sleeper-bestseller photography book is translated into an exhibition.

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Art : Interview

Martha Wilson & Clifford Owens

“I never wanted to be a performance artist.”

Clifford Owens will present “A Forum for Performance Art” at the BAM Fisher on Thursday, Oct 16, 2014.

Martha Wilson In college, I minored in art because I was too afraid to declare myself to be an artist. During graduate school in English Literature, I would hang out at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, the art college across the street, because the visiting artists program was bringing in the Conceptual artists of the day from Vito Acconci to Lawrence Weiner, and the students (including my boyfriend) were way cooler. How did you become interested in performance art, Clifford?

Clifford Owens Indeed, I arrived to performance art through photography.

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Art : Portfolio
Art : Interview

Boru O’Brien O’Connell

by Cat Kron

The process of performance.

Boru O’Brien O’Connell speaks in open-ended sentences which frequently splinter into several different thoughts, reflecting the multimedia artist’s ambivalence toward didactic methods of relaying information and problems with pedagogy more generally.

His performance and film works feel like the artist’s internal dialogues. Since 2010, O’Brien O’Connell has been accumulating a body of looped films, projections made in collaboration with other performance artists, and monologues performed in public places. The performers, who range from the choreographer Miguel Gutierrez, who was included in this year’s Whitney Biennial, to children in the nebulous age range between nine and thirteen, spout chains of thought that often seem grounded only by the surety of the performers themselves. A 2013 piece titled I can only tell you what it does for me, performed by twelve-year-old Izzy Sherman, deftly sums the experience of watching these performances, in which oblique narratives leave the audience members wondering if others in the room understood what just transpired better than they did. Each performance is singularly moving, but you’re left not entirely sure you caught O’Brien O’Connell’s drift.

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Art : Interview

Charles Simonds

by Christopher Lyon

Learning to dwell in various landscapes.

Since 1970, New York City–based Charles Simonds has created miniature landscapes with meticulously crafted Dwellings, as he calls them, for an imaginary civilization of Little People, who are migrating through neighborhoods in New York, mainly the Lower East Side, and appear in other cities throughout the world. He is also known for larger-scale sculptures, installations, and videos.

Last year, Simonds gave a “Modern Mondays” talk at the Museum of Modern Art. Veronika Vogler attended the event, which included a Q&A with Stephanie Weber, then Assistant Curator at MoMA, and Christopher Lyon, now the publisher of Lyon Artbooks. An excerpt of their conversation is below, followed by Vogler’s further questions to Simonds about his Dwellings and Floating Cities, as well as recent projects.

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Art : Portfolio
Art : Portfolio