Category Archives: ART

Vik Muniz: Equivalents, an artist profile by MoMa

“When you look at a picture with a certain degree of ambiguity, your perception heightens it,” explains artist Vik Muniz in this short film about the inspiration behind his “Equivalents” series.

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THOMAS NOZKOWSKI

” I have never thought of myself as a geometric painter, but I have always thought of myself as an improviser. The geometry in my work has increased over the years and I’m not completely sure why this is so. It isn’t by conscious intent, I can assure you. Improvisation, however, is essential to my work. I want my ideas to be located at the tip of my brush. I want my materials to talk back to me. I want to be surprised.”

“Every artist has little rules or devices that enables them to move a painting forward. I’m not thinking of great and meaningful exercises of desire, but simple, quotidian, almost mechanical procedures. I mean, one of the strategies that I’ve always used in different permutations is to, as a first step, go to the opposite of what the logical move would be. So if a painting would seem to have a source that is anthropomorphic or organic, you know, start geometrically. If a painting has a source in a city and architecture in the urban, let’s do it with curves and juicy paint running all over the place. And this is not out of perversity, but out of a desire to challenge any kind of received wisdom. In other words, if a city has to be geometric, well, okay, let it prove itself, let it become geometric in the process, in the procedure of thinking about these things. This interests me—looking for the core of things. What is essential? What is at the bottom of it?”

-Thomas Nozkowski, in conversation with John Yau, just prior to his exhibition at The Pace Gallery, NYC, The Brooklyn Rail, November 5, 2010

LAURIE ANDERSON INTERVIEW: A VIRTUALITY OF STORIES, via Louisiana Channel, 2017

Notes from Louisiana Channel:

In this exclusive video, Laurie Anderson presents her prizewinning virtual reality work from 2017: “I wanted to see what it would be like to travel through stories, to make the viewer feel free,” the legendary multimedia artist says.

Laurie Anderson’s ‘Chalkroom’ (2017) has been created in collaboration with the Taiwanese artist Hsin-Chien Huang. In ‘Chalkroom’ it is possible to float around virtually and to explore a hand-drawn universe of sentences and words written in chalk on the walls, guided all the while by Laurie Anderson’s voice – stories and storytelling are at the heart of the work.

You can interact in different ways and e.g. experience letters intermittently floating towards you: “Like snow, they’re there to define the space and to show you a little bit about what it is. But they’re actually fractured languages, so it’s kind of exploded things.” The most important aspect of working in virtual reality for Anderson was the fact that this technology enables you to fly, “like in your dreams.” Anderson feels that everything that she’s ever done is about one thing: disembodiment. In virtual reality, this is even more evident, as you become the ultimate viewer, who has amazing abilities such as flying: “My goal is to make an experience that frees you.”

Being inside Anderson’s VR work is an isolated experiment not unlike reading a book, and one of the things that make it different is that it isn’t task-oriented but rather “visually dazzling.” Another difference is that it isn’t as “perfect, slick and shiny” as VR is in general: “The reason it’s ‘chalk room’ is it has a certain tactility and made-by-hand kind of thing, and it’s the opposite of what virtual reality usually is, which is distant and very synthetic. So this is gritty and drippy and filled with dust and dirt.” Moreover, Hsin-Chien Huang – who is responsible for the extensive programming – made it full of never-ending secrets: “’Chalkroom’ is a library of stories, and no one will ever find them all.”

Laurie Anderson (b. 1947) is a legendary award winning multimedia artist based in New York. Initially trained as a sculptor, she has worked with painting, music, multimedia shows, drawings, operas, electronic software, theatre, films and installations throughout her career. Anderson became widely known outside the art world with her single ‘O Superman’, which reached number two on the UK pop charts in 1981. She is considered a pioneer of electronic music and is praised for her unique spoken word albums and multimedia art pieces. Among her most recent work is the film ‘Heart of a Dog’ (2015). In 2017 under the name of ‘La Camera Insabbiata’, ‘Chalkroom’ won for ‘Best VR Experience’ at the Venice Film Festival. Anderson’s visual work has been presented in major museums throughout the United States and Europe. From May 2017 Laurie Anderson’s ’Chalkroom’ is on view at the MASS MoCA, Massachusetts, USA. For more about Anderson see: http://www.laurieanderson.com/

Laurie Anderson was interviewed by Kasper Bech Dyg at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark in connection with ‘Chalkroom’ being shown as part of the Louisiana Literature festival 23 – 27 August 2017. Camera: Rasmus Quistgaard & Simon Weyhe Produced and edited by: Kasper Bech Dyg Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art Supported by Nordea-fonden

Nobuyuki Wakabayashi: Adam & Eve, self-published, 1970, *via @solitudeofravens (instagram)

Screen Shot 2017-09-14 at 4.56.17 PMNobuyuki Wakabayashi was born in 1939 in Okayama City, Japan. He became a member of the Japan Professional Photographers Association and held his first solo exhibition in 1962.  Published images of his work are very difficult to find, but thanks to the instagram page @solitudeofravens, (who shares images of post-war japanese “new” photography from their photobook/magazine collection), here are a joined pair of photographs entitled Adam & Eve from 1970.

PIETER HUGO AND NIGERIA’S HYENA HANDLERS: PORTRAITS OF THE GADAWAN KURA

“These photographs came about after a friend emailed me an image taken on a cellphone through a car window in Lagos, Nigeria, which depicted a group of men walking down the street with a hyena in chains. A few days later I saw the image reproduced in a South African newspaper with the caption ‘The Streets of Lagos’. Nigerian newspapers reported that these men were bank robbers, bodyguards, drug dealers, debt collectors. Myths surrounded them. The image captivated me.” -Pieter Hugo

 

Pieter Hugo first learned of Nigeria’s Gadawan Kura, or hyena handlers, in 2003 when he received an image taken on a cell phone camera depicting several of these men with their beasts in the streets of Lagos. A newspaper in Hugo’s native South Africa published a similar image and identified the men as debt collectors, drug dealers, and thieves who enlisted hyenas as muscle in support of their criminal activities. With the help of friends in Nigeria, Hugo found the group in a shantytown outside of the capital, Abuja. They were not necessarily criminals, but rather what Hugo describes in an artist’s statement as “itinerant minstrels… a group of men, a little girl, three hyenas, four monkeys and a few rock pythons,” who subsist by staging performances and selling traditional medicine. Hugo traveled with the group for weeks at a time over the course of two years, taking a series of portraits of the men posing with their animals.

Much of Hugo’s work documents life on the peripheries of African societies, addressing the complex political realities of race and identity through the conventions of portraiture. The circumscribed scope of the genre forces an engagement on the level of the individual, an approach that skirts both sentimentality and the journalistic impulse to explain. He has photographed inhabitants of border towns and civil war zones, farm workers, and migrants, in each case rendering social flux and marginalization with reference to the human face and figure.

In Hugo’s series on the Gadawan Kura, entitled “The Hyena and Other Men,” the subjects are also animals. The titles of the photographs include the names of both the humans and animals depicted along with a reference to the various cities in Nigeria where the images where taken. These double portraits describe a trans-species relationship unfolding in a setting of poverty and uncontrolled urbanization. They constitute a stark tableau of life on the margins, but also raise questions of how and to what extent this life can be something shared by human and non-human subjects.

– Will Smith, The Hyena And Other Men, Museomagazine.com

WILLIAM S. BURROUGHS :: A MAN WITHIN, directed by Yony Leyser, documentary, 85min.

This particular video of the film is intact, minus the end credits.  Please see credits below.

Directed by Yony Leyser
Produced by Carmine Cervi
Scott Crary
Ilko Davidov
Yony Leyser
Written by Yony Leyser
Starring Laurie Anderson
Jello Biafra
David Cronenberg
John Giorno
Thurston Moore
Genesis P-Orridge
Iggy Pop
Patti Smith
Gus Van Sant
John Waters
Distributed by Oscilloscope Laboratories

Notes about the film, from PBS’s Independent Lens:

William S. Burroughs: A Man Within investigates the life of the legendary beat author and American icon. Born the heir of the Burroughs’ adding machine estate, he struggled throughout his life with addiction, control systems, and self. He was forced to deal with the tragedy of killing his wife and the repercussions of neglecting his son. His novel, Naked Lunch, was one of the last books to be banned by the U.S. government. Allen Ginsberg and Norman Mailer testified on behalf of the book. The courts eventually overturned the 1966 decision, ruling that the book had important social value. It remains one of the most recognized literary works of the 20th century.

The film features never before seen footage of William S. Burroughs, as well as exclusive interviews with his closest friends and colleagues including John Waters, Genesis P-Orridge, Laurie Anderson, Peter Weller, David Cronenberg, Iggy Pop, Gus Van Sant, Sonic Youth, Anne Waldman, George Condo, Hal Willner, James Grauerholz, Amiri Baraka, Jello Biafra, V. Vale, David Ohle, Wayne Propst, Diane DiPrima, Dean Ripa (the world’s largest poisonous snake collector), and many others, with narration by actor Peter Weller, and soundtrack by Sonic Youth.

William Burroughs was one of the first to cross the dangerous boundaries of queer and drug culture in the 1950s, and write about his experiences. Eventually he was hailed the godfather of the beat generation and influenced artists for generations to come. But his friends were left wondering if he had ever found contentment or happiness. This extremely personal documentary pierces the surface of the troubled and brilliant world of one of the greatest authors of all time.

MICKALENE THOMAS interviewed by Alexander Benrimon, artnet, 2013

Video Notes:

Brooklyn-based Mickalene Thomas, well known for her rhinestone, enamel, and acrylic paintings, as well as her Blaxploitation-style portraits of black women, explores modern notions of beauty and sexuality, drawing heavily from pop culture and Pop Art. She received her BFA from the Pratt Institute in 2000, and earned an MFA from Yale University in 2002. Her work has been exhibited throughout the United States, including at The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Detroit, and The Renaissance Society in Chicago. The artist famously painted the first individual portrait of First Lady Michelle Obama, which was shown at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. During the interview, Thomas discusses her experiences as an art student, how interiors factor into her works, how being a mother has affected her, and her various recent projects, such as her mural at the Barclays Center.