Portfolio by Douglas Boatwright

An archive—cycled through, printed in dying ink, and fed back again.

Discover MFA Programs in Art and Writing

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Brain Drain
Brain Gain

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It starts with a museum guard, pointing to a painting: three colors in nine blocks made to look like one, laid down on the ground against a rigid underlying structure.

It crawls through algorithms—formulas applied and calculations executed—until it reaches my screen. 

The image is printed until the ink is depleted and the black is removed.

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A square (neutral, shapeless) canvas, five feet wide, five feet high, as high as a man, as wide as a man’s outstretched arms (not large, not small, sizeless), trisected (no composition), one horizontal form negating one vertical form (formless, no top, no bottom, directionless), three (more or less) dark (lightless) no–contrasting (colorless) colors, brushwork brushed out to remove brushwork, a matte, flat, free–hand, painted surface (glossless, textureless, non–linear, no hard-edge, no soft edge) which does not reflect its surroundings—a pure, abstract, non–objective, timeless, spaceless, changeless, relationless, disinterested painting—an object that is self-conscious (no unconsciousness) ideal, transcendent, aware of no thing but art (absolutely no anti-art).
Ad Reinhardt

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It’s about nourishment, resources, economies; where we feed and how we survive and what we provide. It’s a complex path of flexibly connected loops.

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Click here to download a printable pdf of this image.

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“You find that’s true about all black people in the sense that they reflect a certain cast. And the film being very sensitive to blue, it is the one color that you really don’t want to introduce into their faces. I found that just playing around with the light and accentuating the best features of a person as you would do with a white person, is just really the way to attack the problem of lighting black people. And the other theory is not to put as much light on them as you might think.”

“It’s a problem that any cameraman is going to have if he has a mixture of black and white people in the same picture. It’s just the simple fact that a white face will reflect so much more light than a black face, which may be dark brown, dark blue, down to a skin tone that reflects very, very little light because it’s such a deep color. It would be no different than a room painted a certain color or anything else; the problem is the same, the only difference is that when it’s actors, they’re walking in and out of your lights. If they were all standing still, it would be easy.” 
– Masters of Light (1984)

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And here again.

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What is this alphabet?

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“Ah, but here’s the rub: Idleness is not just a psychological necessity, requisite to the construction of a complete human being; it constitutes as well a kind of political space, a space as necessary to the workings of an actual democracy as, say, a free press. How does it do this? By allowing us time to figure out who we are, and what we believe; by allowing us time to consider what is unjust, and what we might do about it. By giving the inner life (in whose precincts we are most ourselves) its due. Which is precisely what makes idleness dangerous. All manner of things can grow out of that fallow soil.” 

– “Quitting the Paint Factory“

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Elaborate here on this idea about cultural and social cannibalism feeding machines of artistic production and identity claiming.

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“He speaks to the press rarely—which means, among other things, that his few public utterances participate in an economy of scarcity, recycled in article after article. And in those much-repeated statements he often professes disdain for art, for the art world, for art audiences. Yet what is most remarkable about all this bad behaviour—all these end-runs around the standard gallery-museum-biennial system—is how successful it is. After achieving renown as a poet of refuse, [redacted] has become equally celebrated as a poet of refusal.” 

– “A Fraction of the Whole,“ Frieze

Douglas Boatwright received his MFA from Columbia University in 2009. He is an artist and editor currently living in Berlin.

BOMB Specific by Lyle Ashton Harris
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Mike Marqusee’s Redemption Song by Lawrence Chua
 Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X

The man the world knows as Champion came into being on February 26, 1964. Cassius Clay had just defeated Sonny Liston and taken the heavyweight title and he announced his involvement with the Nation of Islam to the press. 

Harmony Holiday by Farid Matuk
Miles Davis Trumpets

“I don’t want the kind of career where everything is sensible and safe; I’d rather suffer through the anxiety of wondering where I’m going next than suffer the boredom of dancing in the same safe square.”

Call to Witness by Nico Wheadon
James Baldwin Bomb 1

Raoul Peck’s I Am Not Your Negro testifies that James Baldwin’s embattled America is still our own.