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INTERIOR Why INTERIOR? Our “Studio

Visit” column, launched this year, addresses both the process of making and how the site of production can change the working context. Atlanta’s art community is very decentralized and the landscape rather horizontal; spaces pop up and are, in large part, repurposed on an individual—and not communal—case basis. Galleries and exhibition spaces as well are unique, and most do not fit within the contemporary white-cube model.

ARTIST PROJECT 2013: Jody Fausett

2013

What does this mean for a city’s contemporary art scene? Does this allow for flexibility or hinder curation? And, as part of a larger picture, how does artistic output reflect this landscape? Are artists creating work for the spaces they present their work within, or is that an afterthought? Are there times when the work thrives best in the studio? Which initiatives, programs, and exhibitions have really exemplified a site-specific use of space? What are the myriad ways artists are making use of and creating “studios” within the city?

INTERIOR is the inaugural annual print edition produced by BURNAWAY Magazine, and presented as a curated visual essay.

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ARTADIA EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR CAROLYN RAMO IN CONVERSATION WITH ARTIST AND FORMER ARTADIA PROGRAM DIRECTOR CARA BENEDETTO

Cara Benedetto: A few things I immediately relate to the term interior, specifically in relation to the arts, are topics within spatial politics: including struggles over women’s bodies, the ways in which our culture memorializes historical trauma, and nonprofit structures that claim (and sometimes succeed) to engage diverse groups, considered the public. Being somewhat involved in the Occupy movement, many conversations happened around methods of privatization and models of exchange that inhibit the commons. This is something that Artadia works to eliminate by focusing on democratic models of dispersing private funds across America. It may be interesting to begin our conversation with some differences that you’ve witnessed, coming from a gallery background, between for-profit and not-forprofit structures and the communities of artists that form around each. Carolyn Ramo: For me personally, it has been easy to translate the way I think about artists. I’ve (hopefully) been an artist’s advocate as both a gallery director and nonprofit executive director, but what’s been vital is the now broader definition of success and a new understanding of a larger art world that extends beyond the small but influential commercial side. It’s been fascinating to see how artists in cities like Houston or Atlanta work together to create other models that work for them. There’s an encouraging expansiveness and connectivity that is important for artists that we should all be fostering. This counters how I traditionally thought of artists, tucked away in the interior of their studio: to me, artists want to partner more in the nonprofit context. CB: I agree that forming new terms of success is crucial to sustaining a creative practice. Historically speaking, communities and collectives have formed to combat conventional terms of success in order to provide for more artistic agency. This conversation usually originates from desperate financial need. I think this is one of the most important things Artadia deals with: by granting unrestricted cash awards, focus is placed upon artists and their communities while maintaining respect for their autonomy. How do you see Artadia helping artists to gain commercial or economic viability so that they can maintain their creative lifestyle?  CR: I think the most valuable thing an artist can have is other relationships with artists. This was true when I was working with artists at galleries, as I always trusted other artists regarding recommendations, and this is definitely true at Artadia. Dialogue and support, and even a bit of competition, can really allow artists to reframe and also reach their goals. This is also the case with the artist-as-teacher

All Artist Project images courtesy Jody Fausett and Jackson Fine Art, Atlanta. Jody Fausett, Tiger Lilies, from Million Years series, 2012, 40 x 60 inches, archival pigment print, edition of 3. Jody Fausett, Camouflage, from Smoke From Another Fire series, 2007, 40 x 50 inches, archival pigment print, edition of 3.

role; it is an incredibly valuable and fruitful position for artists to be leaders in their communities. As a teacher, an artist, and a nonprofit program director, you must understand the balance of these crucial roles and also how important it is to create your own productive interior space. Is this something you constantly balance? CB: That’s an interesting equation. As an art administrator, teacher, and practicing artist, I have always felt that creating a sustainable situation that integrates all fields of work is crucial to being a healthy citizen and ethical member of the art-worker community. It involves a radical form of honesty and openness that disavows the kind of exploitation that often happens in working environments that claim transparency. I do think that rather than mining an imaginary interior—of one’s mind, body, or social space—it’s interesting to think of the in-process and in-relation-to approach to art-making economies. The true platform that Artadia creates establishes itself in the relationships between all members of the Artadia community as well as in its giving unrestricted funds in order to support creative thought, which is an everyday struggle.  Carolyn, you recently visited Atlanta. How did you navigate the cultural landscape or find the artistic models already in place? CR: Due to the lack of commercial support, many diverse sets of artists have created an incredible support structure for each other and have established these great artist-run spaces, like The Goat Farm Arts Center. Another example would be the many unique ways in which people have taken advantage of Atlanta’s very rapidly evolving neighborhoods: so you will find galleries in homes or outdoor mural projects. There is a real sense of people wanting to communicate with each other across disciplines, and so much can be done with that energy. More than anything, I felt a desire for artists to contribute to a national sense of criticality. Artists in Atlanta can take it.  Carolyn Ramo is the executive director for Artadia: The Fund for Art & Dialogue. Ramo joined Artadia in July of 2012. Prior to serving at Artadia, Ramo was a partner at Taxter & Spengemann, a contemporary art gallery in Chelsea that focused on emerging artists. Previously, Ramo was the production director at David Zwirner Gallery and the director of Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery.  Cara Benedetto is a practicing artist and the former program director for Artadia: The Fund for Art & Dialogue. Prior to working with Artadia, Benedetto directed programs at various New York City-based nonprofit organizations.


Out There Atlanta: Episode 67 [May 15, 2013], Jason Kofke’s studio. Photo by Lilly Lampe.

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A CONTRADICTION IN TERMS: ZEN DIXIE IN ATLANTA by Amy Mackie Zen Dixie, John Otte’s most recent curatorial endeavor, brings together work by Atlanta and New Orleans-based artists in a 100-year-old house in Atlanta [June 15-July 15, 2012]. Otte, who describes himself as a “self-taught curator,” grew up surrounded by art and artists as an observer and occasional participant in unofficial salons hosted by his mother, Susan Bridges, who later opened Whitespace Gallery. As a result, the practice of placing and contextualizing objects—and creating experiences through and by means of art—was something Otte was involved in at a young age. His initial resistance to much of what he learned through this formative childhood in Atlanta came full circle in the 1980s amongst the artists, writers, and curators he met in New York while studying art history at New York University. When Otte returned to Atlanta in the early 1990s, he met architect Nicholas Storck. The idea for the house located at 323 Berean Avenue SE in the historic southeast Atlanta neighborhood of Cabbagetown took shape through numerous conversations about modernist architecture and authenticity between Otte, Storck, and stylist Kim Phillips (the owner of the house and Otte’s former partner). Since its purchase in 1998, the development of the house has served as a continual source of inspiration, informing the manner in which Otte synthesizes art and architecture. Much like Otte’s 2011 exhibition at The Pearl—a Creole plantation house turned speakeasy in New Orleans—Zen Dixie reads more like an installation or intervention, where objects and ideas (both artworks and found objects) mingle and mix and are occasionally muddled. In both cases, unique architectural environments take center stage while Otte serves as a kind of agent provocateur in object-filled spaces lacking traditional—one might say conventional— notions of display.

Courtney Egan’s Sleepwalkers, 2011, is projected on a wall above Gyun Hur’s Untitled, 2012, as installed in Zen Dixie, curated by John Otte [June 15-July 15, 2012], Atlanta, GA. Image courtesy Pelican Bomb. Photo by John Otte.

The curatorial methods Otte employs are in many ways the antithesis of those of the late Alfred H. Barr. Jr., who with curator Phillip Johnson developed a modernist method of installation that relied on “widely spaced pictures hung at eye-level on a neutral background.” This manner of presenting art, considered innovative in the 1920s and 1930s, changed the course of curatorial practice, particularly at the Museum of Modern

Art where Barr assumed directorship in 1929. Barr’s approach to exhibition making subsequently became standardized in many New York institutions—though it has also been widely contested in recent decades. In 1942, Marcel Duchamp’s contribution to First Papers of Surrealism at the Whitelaw Reid mansion in New York interrupted the viewer’s experience of the otherwise modernist hanging of paintings with 16 miles of string woven throughout the space in a chaotic web (a gesture often discussed in relation to the bags of coal Duchamp suspended from a gallery ceiling in 1938’s Exposition Internationale du Surréalisme in Paris). For art historians, these particular examples have come to illustrate two distinctly different approaches to the politics of display: a position of perceived authority and objectivity in the former and a more creative, albeit intrusive, approach in the latter. Though Otte identifies himself as both a curator and an artist, in Zen Dixie the hypothetical line between these positions is blurred, making it difficult to discern where the curating ends and the artwork begins. This is also exemplified by Otte’s inclusion of his own work in the exhibition, as well as a variety of found objects not included on the exhibition’s checklist, such as wooden posts used for cultivating oysters and a composition of broken railroad pieces. This “heavy-handed curating,” as Otte describes it, is most apparent in pieces that have been modified or altered in some capacity for display. Christian Bradley West’s array of delicate graphite drawings mimics sepia-toned historical photographs and brings to mind the work of Japanese artist Masao Yamamoto. Installed on a bookshelf with built-in cabinet lighting, they are arranged on a mass of found objects constructed by Otte. Otte explains this intervention as simply the creation of a device for display, but it is impossible to ignore the layers of meaning imposed on West’s drawings with the addition of this accumulation. The process of layering and remixing Otte utilizes in his curating reflects his passion for hip-hop and funk beats, where rhythms and rhymes are parsed, then spliced to create a mash-up of various sounds and sensations. Having deejayed in Atlanta and New York and citing experimental musician Brian Eno as an important influence, Otte seems to


lean most heavily on the means and methods of deejaying. When it comes to contemporary art, however, this approach is a bit more challenging. In some instances, such as with West’s photographs, the collaboration between artist and curator is harmonious; in other cases it compromises the autonomy of the artist’s voice. The unusual display of New Orleans-based artist Nina Schwanse’s Civil Realness: Grant vs. Lee, 2011, in Zen Dixie is a glaring example of an imposing curatorial hand. The narrative video was first presented on a boxy video monitor in Grant v. Lee curated by artist Sophie T. Lvoff at Good Children Gallery in 2011. It was also shown in an isolated screening room in a large group exhibition I curated at the Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans later that year. An over-the-top parody, addressing the tainted history of two infamous US generals, Civil Realness is reminiscent of Alex Bag’s ironic performative videos from the 1990s that poke fun at the art world. Schwanse plays both generals as drag queens representing the North and the South, attired respectively in blue and red. In Zen Dixie, Schwanse’s video is shown on a large flat-screen monitor positioned on its side, tucked into a small closet fitted with a fluffy sheepskin, and heard through headphones. The inquisitive viewer must awkwardly crawl into this uncomfortable space and crane his or her neck to get a glimpse of the otherwise larger-than-life personas of these historical figures. This presentation diminishes one of Schwanse’s most successful videos to date, and though it melds seamlessly with other works in the exhibition that mine incongruities of Southern history and culture, such as Gregor Turk’s Sherman Williams, 1998, in this context its content is lost in translation. Also based in Louisiana, Brian Guidry is best known for his meticulously made paintings of hard-edged lines utilizing a color palette drawn from the plant life surrounding his home outside Lafayette. His paintings are of incredibly high caliber, and they seem to represent everything both Zen and Dixie, so it is baffling that Otte continues to embrace Guidry’s forays into video (he also included a video by Guidry in his exhibition at The Pearl). Regardless, Guidry’s video Hunters of the Sky, 2012, is a focal point of the exhibition. To create this work, he has removed the audio narration and human voices

from a vintage episode of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, leaving only the sound of the wild animals in tact. By stripping down the audio (much like a DJ might pare down a series of beats), Guidry removes a layer of context, transforming the visual content and drawing the viewer back to the birds themselves. Perhaps this process of stripping and thus altering content is what appeals to Otte’s sensibilities.

and facilitates better understanding of his relationship to this particular house in addition to the objects and installations he uses to illustrate terms as disparate as Zen and Dixie. The experience of an exhibition like Zen Dixie appeals to me as a viewer, but as a curator and an educator, I find myself advocating for a curatorial approach that does more than simply find “uses for art,” but one that facilitates greater understanding of each individual artist’s vision.

Korean-born, Atlanta-based artist Gyun Hur creates stunning floor installations made of shredded silk flowers that are reminiscent of Sol LeWitt’s wall drawings. They are melancholy meditations on both color and form. Utilizing the floor as canvas, Hur’s 2012 installation of sharp geometric shapes in bright and black hues was spectacular at the opening reception of Zen Dixie. After sustaining significant damage that evening, Hur reclaimed her work in a performance for a small audience the following weekend. Wearing a virginal white dress, she entered the space and proceeded to coat herself in honey from a bowl placed alongside her installation. Kneeling as though praying and sobbing uncontrollably as if in mourning, Hur writhed and rolled through the flowers. Masking the footprints that interrupted her piece, she replaced them with an imprint of her own body. Guidry’s Hunters of the Sky video, peppered with cries and squawks of wild birds, functioned as the unintentional soundtrack of the performance as it wafted into the space from the adjoining room. Hur’s performative assertion did indeed feel cathartic, and paired with the rainstorm that passed overhead shortly afterward, it also served as a form of cleansing.

Originally published in Pelican Bomb, July 5, 2012.

As an ostensibly private exhibition, in a private space, intended for a private audience, Zen Dixie offers its own kind of meditation. Unlike most exhibitions meant to engage the public, this is a quiet conversation—one intended only for those who have been invited (or are otherwise in the know). Otte ultimately complicates the role of the curator by occupying an unabashedly subjective position. Without his physical presence in the space, the experience of Zen Dixie is somehow incomplete. A more traditional approach to curating, where the curator assumes an objective position by providing viewers with the tools to see and understand the artists’ intentions without them, is absent here. Otte’s assertion that he is most interested in the “uses for art” points to the history of the readymade as defined by Duchamp

I left New York City in January 2011 and I’ve spent most of my time the last few years in New Orleans and Atlanta. Shortly after arriving in New Orleans, I met John Otte (1963-2012), an artist and curator who nurtured a deep relationship with both southern cities. Incomparable in every possible way, their populations possess a proprietary sense of place that defines the spirit of each locale. Zen Dixie, one of Otte’s last curatorial efforts before his untimely passing, brought together Atlanta and New Orleans’s artists in a prudently restored century-old house in Atlanta’s Cabbagetown. Parse Gallery in New Orleans occupies the storefront space in a mostly unrenovated three-story building that has served various purposes since it was constructed in 1892. Located in the city’s Central Business District, this artist-run initiative has been a platform for many innovative installations and built environments since its inception. The texts, “A Contradiction in Terms: ‘Zen Dixie’ in Atlanta” and “Parse’s Moving Castle,” offer a glimpse at several of the most compelling projects recently presented in two vastly different spaces in two incredibly disparate cities.

Nina Schwanse’s Civil Realness: Grant vs. Lee, 2011, is displayed in a closet in Zen Dixie, curated by John Otte [June 15-July 15, 2012], Atlanta, GA. Image courtesy Pelican Bomb. Photo by John Otte.


Mike Goodlett, Louis Zoellar Bickett, and Robert Morgan live, work, and inhabit their studios in a way that completely destroys the barrier between home and workplace and ultimately between life and art. Mike Goodlett’s paper flowers bloom from cracks in the ceiling, sculpted forms rise over doorways, and delicate ballpoint-pen webs emanate from electrical outlets. Louis Zoellar Bickett’s home artfully stores decades of boxes, volumes, artworks, photographs, and ephemera from THE ARCHIVE, a project he has dutifully created and maintained daily since 1973. And Robert Morgan’s works, collections, and ever-changing altar have slowly consumed his living room, dining room, bedroom, and kitchen, giving the occasional visitor complete access to the lives, stories, and individuals he has encountered over the years. The images published herein provide the viewer with a cursory glance into the intimate worlds of these artists whose artworks, lives, and studios have fused into one inseparable reality.

Louis Zoellar Bickett (Lexington, KY)

-Phillip March Jones, 2013

Phillip March Jones is an artist, writer, and curator who shares his time between Lexington, Kentucky and Atlanta, Georgia. He is the founder of Institute 193, a nonprofit contemporary art space and publisher. His most recent publication is Points of Departure: Roadside Memorial Polaroids, released by the Jargon Society.

Robert Morgan (Lexington, KY)

Mike Goodlett (Wilmore, KY)

All photos by Phillip March Jones. The following images show Goodlett’s house and studio.


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Jody Fausett, Flower Room, from Snake Eyes series, 2008, 40 x 50 inches, archival pigment print, edition of 3. Centerfold: (L-R) Jody Fausett, Coffee Table, from Niceville series, 1999, 36 x 24 inches, archival pigment print, edition of 3. Jody Fausett, Pink Outfit, from Smoke From Another Fire series, 2005, 50 x 40 inches, archival pigment print, edition of 3.

PARSE’S MOVING CASTLE by Amy Mackie

Few young galleries in New Orleans have been bestowed with such extraordinary spatial possibilities as Parse Gallery. Their efficacious use of the building located at 134 Carondelet Street has enabled the presentation of several significant architecturally motivated immersive environments and experiential sculptural installations over the past several years. Their second exhibition, Between the Tracks, a one-night event concurrent with Prospect.2 New Orleans in 2011, transformed the enormous vacant lot behind their gallery space, which encompasses the crumbling reverse façade of the neighboring Whitney National Bank and other buildings. Those fortunate enough to enter this humble wonder world will remember the slide installed in the back of the gallery that transported visitors to a quizzical yellow brick road paving the way for various sculptures and installations. A teepee constructed by Ricardo Barba and Andrew Schrock, a glowing oversized Rubik’s Cube by Schrock, and an audio-enhanced wishing well by Rachel Avena Brown dotted the otherwise empty slice of land. Several dramatically lit, Plexiglass, architectural sculptures by Alyssa Dennis were framed by the city’s sleek high-rises and hotels, appearing as ghostly apparitions on what remains of the bank’s tile floor. In retrospect, this succession of solitary sculptures hinted at what was yet to come: several large-scale installations, freestanding sculptures, and structures throughout 2012, including Andrew Schrock’s The Harness of Chaosynchronous created in collaboration with Rabid Hands Arts Collective in January, Corinne Loperfido’s The Trust in May, Serra Victoria Bothwell Fels’s Between You and the Mountains in October, and most recently in 2013, The White Snake by Amanda Stone and VnessWolfCHild (Vanessa Cronan).

Night falls on Alyssa Dennis’s Stripped Opacity Construction Playground, 2011, dimensions variable, as installed in the one-night event, Between the Tracks, concurrent with Prospect.2 New Orleans in 2011. Photo courtesy Parse Gallery.

Teetering somewhere between vernacular art, set design, and shipbuilding, many of the installations and built environments presented at Parse have precipitated or been created as a setting for music, dance, and performance art. On the opening night of The Harness of Chaosynchronous, singers and musicians Cronan and Adriana Atema (known collectively as Wildway) performed a series of melancholic yet quirky songs in Schrock’s colorful, hard-

angled installation, and several months later, Loperfido’s sumptuous tea room (and the gallery’s street-level display window) was utilized for a series of participatory tableau vivant performances curated by Delaney Martin as part of The Trust. The elaborate wooden installation in The White Snake recently served as a backdrop for a haunting dance performance by its creators in which audience members were caught between moving performers and the static structure. Couplings of art and architecture bring to mind New York’s Storefront for Art and Architecture (a nonprofit founded in 1982) or the now defunct Max Protetch Gallery (who began showing architectural drawings in his New York City space in 1978). Both serve(d) as critical and commercial platforms for artists and architects. Parse, however, is more closely aligned with artistinitiated endeavors such as Gowanus Ballroom and Cinders Gallery in Brooklyn, spurring and propagating experimental ideas related to architecture and space that don’t necessarily fit into more normative art venues. Located across town from the cluster of artist-run spaces and alternative galleries in the St. Claude Arts District, and helmed by artists Margot Walsh and Barba, Parse has always been attracted to a slightly atypical approach to the production and presentation of contemporary art, one that takes advantage of the city’s communal nature and history of ad-hoc organizing and programming. Parse is quite appropriately situated in a place where temporary modes of mobility and display, moving castles of sorts—much like the anthropomorphized structure made famous in Hayao Miyazaki’s Howl’s Moving Castle—are erected annually, only to be destroyed, then salvaged, and then readorned the following Mardi Gras season. These magnificent, and at times superfluous, floats serve as stages and settings for myriad performative acts. Parse is also located in the midst of several parade routes on a street where second lines are a frequent occurrence. Thus, this welcomed yet cacophonous exuberance continually seeps into the structure the gallery occupies. Like Martin’s The Music Box from 2011 (a community-built architectural and sound environment created primarily out of found materials at 1027 Piety Street), the fantastical


environments that have been constructed in Parse’s first-floor gallery commingle with the sounds and actions that temporarily inhabit their space, filling them with life, if only for a brief moment. Parse’s repeated embrace of salvaged materials and inspired functionality also recalls the ramshackle boats and shelters that figure so prominently in the sets of the now infamous motion picture Beasts of the Southern Wild. For New Orleanians, of course, such impermanent structures and accumulations are fixtures in the landscape in the form of blighted buildings, makeshift shelters, and abandoned detritus that might remain in place for years, or disappear as quickly as amassed. In a city full of transients, lost souls, and passersby, Parse’s exhibitions and installations appear to jibe seamlessly. In addition to Parse’s program and Martin’s elaborate and immersive sound and structural installations, there have only been a handful of encapsulating room-size or large-scale freestanding structures—worlds unto themselves—recently presented in New Orleans’s ever-growing visual arts community. Brad Benischek and Case Miller (founding members of Press Street/Antenna), in collaboration with Margaret Turner, Ian Vanek, and Guy Pierce, created a dystopian and gritty glimpse of urban decay, evidenced in the tworoom installation breaking up is hard to do at

Amy Mackie is a nomadic curator and writer currently based in New Orleans. She curated numerous exhibitions as the director of visual arts at the Contemporary Arts Center in New Orleans from 2011 to 2012 and as the curatorial associate at the New Museum in New York from 2007 to 2010. Mackie was the recipient of a 2010 fellowship at the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds, England, where she researched the work of Helen Chadwick, and a 2009 CEC ArtsLink grant winner, which funded an exhibition and series of performances by A.L. Steiner + robbinschilds in Sofia, Bulgaria. Most recently, she received the 2013 Curatorial Fellowship from the Stavanger Municipality Culture Department in Norway and she is organizing It Could Go Either Way: Mariam

The Front last year. Another, and perhaps more direct parallel, can be found in the geodesic dome, The Front built in June 2011 as a result of their exchange with Team Lump in Raleigh, NC (informed in part by the inventions of Buckminster Fuller and the artist community Drop City in Colorado in the 1960s). The psychic energy that has infused many of the commanding yet inviting installations housed at Parse implies that they are not merely an end in themselves. Much like the experiential approach of The Music Box, such environments are potentially portals to another dimension, a gateway to an intangible, yet enlightening experience. Though an insatiable relationship to structures and spaces is not singular to New Orleans, it figures prominently in the psyche of the city. Countless unoccupied buildings brimming with layers and layers of history—permeated with the sights and sounds of renovations and construction—dominate the landscape. Though a relatively new creative endeavor in this community, Parse Gallery has already proven itself to be a platform for ongoing experiments in spatial and sensorial relationships, aptly positioned in an urban landscape that inspires a constant and perpetual state of becoming. Originally published in Pelican Bomb, May 15, 2013.

Ghani + Erin Ellen Kelly, which opens at Rogaland Contemporary Art Centre in Stavanger in spring 2014. She has lectured at Bard College, Brooklyn College, the College of Charleston, and Yale University, and has written for ART PAPERS, FANTOM Photographic Quarterly, Pelican Bomb, and Universes in Universe. She was a contributing writer for Jeremy Deller’s It Is What It Is: Conversations About Iraq (New Museum and Creative Time, 2011), Rethinking Contemporary Art and Multicultural Education (New Museum and Routledge, 2010), and Brion Gysin: Dream Machine (New Museum and Merrell, 2010). Mackie holds an MA in curatorial studies from the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College and a BA in liberal arts from Sarah Lawrence College.

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Serra Victoria Bothwell Fels created a labyrinthian series of hutlike structures for Between You and the Mountains [October 5-26, 2012] as installed at Parse Gallery. Photo courtesy Parse Gallery.


Jessica Caldas gets a visit from SeekATL, March 16, 2013, as she prepares for a solo show at Beep Beep Gallery [Falling In..., March 30-May 4, 2013]. Photo by Joshua Gwyn.

SEEK ATL: CREATING COMMUNITY THROUGH STUDIO VISITS by Karley Sullivan Each month SeekATL visits an artist’s studio for an informal critique, drinks, and camaraderie. The founders, Shara Hughes and Ben Steele, are both widely exhibited artists based in Atlanta. They have curated and guided the program over the last two years. It’s the first group of its kind in Atlanta, and was inspired in part by POST, the Philadelphia Open Studio Tour. On a balmy spring day, I sat down with them for a mellow chat over margaritas. Jessica Caldas joined us, who most recently hosted the March 2013 SeekATL group in her studio at The Goat Farm Arts Center. Karley Sullivan: So, what’s up with SeekATL? Do you have any new initiatives or directions for the group? Shara Hughes: A brewery. [Laughs.] KS: [Laughing] I can actually see ya’ll doing that. SH: It’s not out of the question. [Delivers this seriously.] Ben Steele: Since the last time we talked to anyone about it, it’s really taken off; we have a good 80 to 100 people on the mailing list, and many of those people regularly exhibit and get press. That means we’re not going to run out of artists to visit. Now, we want to focus on finding artists who are doing excellent work but aren’t necessarily in the spotlight. SH: It’s been great so far, but we want more people to come to the visits, and it’s actually people who aren’t art-world people that we want to join us. That’s our goal: to bring out the people. We want people to come out and experience something they wouldn’t have gotten a chance to see otherwise. We’re hoping that the community gathers enough strength to realize that it’s not an opportunity to get into a famous artist’s “cool” studio, but that it’s a discussion and an exploration. BS: We also have more events in the works like the Art Drive that we put together with

BURNAWAY and WonderRoot last November. We all know that Atlanta is fragmented, and we talk a lot about how everyone drives around in separate cars to the galleries. That’s how we came up with the idea of renting a bus so that our group could visit Beep Beep [Gallery], Hagedorn Foundation Gallery, {Poem88}, and Souls Grown Deep [Foundation] all together, without having to take 20 different vehicles. We also visited Sarah Hobbs Peck in December when she worked with Solomon Projects to do a three-room installation at the W Hotel. So, we’re working on a gallery-visit group to compliment the studio visits. SH: Seriously, it’s like, “Hey, we all do this, why don’t we do it together!” It’s not like I have a group that always comes with me to openings. Often, I go to a gallery, and it’s awkward to be there alone, surrounded with people you barely know, and no one to comfortably discuss the art with because most people are there to drink and socialize. I think most people who go to galleries can identify with that feeling. We want to bring the group to galleries to talk about the work, and have a good time. BS: Another great thing is that artists who are new to Atlanta can come to SeekATL and instantly gain a serious, thoughtful, creative community. I can identify with that because that was me a few years ago. Now we’re trying to be the medium where artists can connect with each other instantly. SH: Yeah, there are solid crit groups, where it’s like five people, and that’s their crit group, and it feels cliquey and exclusive. We want to be inclusive, to encourage an informal environment, and we need a certain critical mass to make that happen. That’s why even though we already have a large mailing list, we want it to keep expanding. KS: So if you guys are interested in artists who aren’t well-known or who operate on the

SeekATL visits Carl Rainey’s warehouse studio, October 13, 2012. Photo by Ben Steele.

periphery, how do you plan to garner interest in the visit? SH: We keep in touch with our mailing list, keep a Facebook page, and include links to the artist’s websites so people can take a look before they come. Also, Ben and I choose artists who are doing interesting work. An artist doesn’t have to be getting a bunch of public attention to be making work that matters. That’s why we are so into this idea. Atlanta has more going on than we know about, and we want to seek it out. KS: And how will you maintain a certain level of discourse so that an artist, at any phase of his/her practice, can take something valuable away? BS: Even when we’re visiting someone who isn’t in the spotlight, there are always highly informed artists attending. Also, we curate our host artists, so even if you haven’t heard of them, they will be making work that’s worth talking about. Artists at every level recognize the value of a community dialogue about their practice, and that’s what‘s really at the heart of it. We want to sustain that, so it’s a community that stays together and shares these experiences. I’ve been to each and every visit, and they’ve all been valuable. It’s an opportunity for conversations and a chance to talk to an artist about his/her work outside of the gallery setting. It’s a chance to really dig into the

method and the meaning of it. The host artist gets something out of it and so does everyone else. KS: Yes, and that’s the great thing about critique, when you realize that it’s not just for the artist but also for all the people contributing. SH: Right, and it’s not about having an exhibition up in your studio for us to see; it’s a chance to see the process. Plus, there are fun things that happen, like when you see some strange doodle on the floor, and you can say to the artist, “Hey, what’s that? It’s interesting and it works with the things that you’re doing,” and they hadn’t thought of that before. It’s a chance for an artist to get fresh input for their practice. BS: It’s also about artists not presenting themselves as bulletproof. It’s a chance to talk about the process of art making. It’s about what they’re doing, and, to some degree, that’s so much more powerful than a finished product. Originally published in its entirety online in BURNAWAY Magazine, April 5, 2013. Karley Sullivan is an artist-photographer engaged in the study of identity and ecologies both environmental and social. She is enrolled in the low-residency MFA program at the Maryland Institute College of Art and holds a BFA in Drawing from the University of Tennessee.


* The Latin word for a human body and a person’s literary output are the same word.

Jiha Moon’s studio at The Goat Farm Arts Center, January 2013. Photo by Rachel Reese.


STUDIO VISIT: JIHA MOON ON THE SPONTANEOUS MARK by Rachel Reese Rachel Reese: How long have you been at this studio and what do you think of The Goat Farm community and location? Jiha Moon: I’ve been working here at The Goat Farm about three months now, and I really like my studio. It’s really large—larger than any studio I’ve ever had. So I can work really easily on large-scale pieces. I don’t have to move things around to accommodate the work. The Goat Farm is an interesting place! [Laughs.] I am learning a lot about it so far, but it is great to work alongside a new group of creative people. RR: How has moving into this newly renovated, almost white cube-like space, shifted your studio practice and helped evolve the work that leaves the studio? Or is that irrelevant to your practice? JM: I guess I’ve really been thinking about how to use time to my advantage ever since I moved here. Elements of time are key in my work. I get really spontaneous and work on mark making for long periods of time. There is so much less distraction here than in my previous home studio. Here I am afforded the space to make very large, spontaneous, and free marks, which I can do very quickly, and I literally can shift the work and change directions, and it feels fresh and new. I couldn’t do that previously. This space has allowed me to work in the moment. RR: I can see that physical shift happening. Here there is so much space; you have a large work on the floor and are clearly moving it around and working on your knees. * Now

adays learning more about your process; I’m , we g lot interested of our in et a inintuitively forma or do you work formulaically, and is am tion frmore achine . Bulayering m tthere t we fothatooccurs? hat baospecific I guess I want to oks co rget me m achin know ifeyou have an idea of the outcome when you f r o m s as start the work,worellif. it evolves naturally?

JM: It’s kind of both. In the beginning I do let things happen. I’m thinking about the subject of my work all the time. Not only when I’m here working, but all day long. Even when I go to the grocery store, I’m thinking about my process. [Laughs.] But when I physically work, I do like to allow things to happen and forget about my heavy subject matter. If I over-

think things, I lose the freedom in making, when I would rather my subjects reveal themselves almost secretly. So the more I work in this way, the less I feel restrained. I do think about basic things like the size of paper and color shifts in advance. I actually start to develop the imagery in the middle of the process; that is when I really try to scrutinize and control my process—what do I need to develop more, and what do I need to abandon? RR: And are the images—subjects that are in this constant cycle of surfacing and disappearing— preconceived or spontaneous? There are several little tchotchkes here at the studio, so I wonder if you are working directly from these or mentally tucking them away for a future date? JM: I collect things without even knowing it sometimes, even from grocery stores, junk stores, or toy stores I visit with my son. And when I’m looking at the computer, I save images of things that grab my attention to a special folder on my desktop. So first I’m trying to process why I habitually do this; I think I have a desire to collect and for it to represent my life and thinking process. Collecting shows my desire for an object, and how it relates to my memory; I believe it becomes a part of me. I would even say my drive to collect has come from the consumerist American culture I’ve learned since living here! But it’s not like I’m shopping all the time. Some things I collect do not cost money: images I cut from a magazine and save, or a little rock I found here at The Goat Farm that reminds me of a Chinese scholar’s rock, for example. Collecting is my habit, desire, and anxiety all at the same time! RR: So what attracts you to an object? JM: I’m drawn to things that represent my mixed identity: I recently bought a Korean flag that had “Made in the USA” on its label; or fruit stickers— a peach from “Atlanta, GA.” RR: So they’re informed by a sense of conflict with place or identity? JM: Yeah. I guess they have a sarcastic irony to them; something that is supposed to be one thing but in fact is something else entirely, like when you have a wrong first impression of someone. The element of miscommunication as part of

communication happens all the time in our daily lives. I’ve found it gives people comfort to understand me as Korean—because of my name— even though my life is so much more complex than that simple representation. In effect, it’s misleading. A lot of elements in my work are iconographic but allow themselves many different readings. This is something I actually really love about America! ... RR: Can you talk about the unpacking that happens in your work? The element of time that you mentioned a bit prior is multilayered: from a literal and physical process of time to a grander historical timescale. I think of the greater historical timeline you are working within due to some cultural and art historical references. JM: I try to combine those two extremes on the same page. The first layer is quick and fresh. And I try to connect my first layer of mark making to my last layer of mark making. And sometimes I go back and cancel marks; the repetition of this process happens over and over again, almost daily. When I see there is no way to push forward anymore, I stop the work. So there is a freshness but also millions of tiny marks that dictate the shape all on the same page. It depends on people’s experience too: some choose to see my spontaneous marks, and some happen to see the small ornate details. I want them both to be there. So back to the humor factor: humor is really important. I’m almost joking but really, really seriously. I wouldn’t spend countless hours making my work if it was a joke, but there are hidden jokes, and it’s also in the way I approach the process. I don’t want my labor to overwhelm people; I want them to talk about [the] image. I always try to control that balance. RR: So you want to control the way someone reads the work? Either through literal entry/exit points or just by controlling the way we interpret symbols? Or are you simply putting them out there and handing them over for interpretation? JM: I throw out a lot of information. [Laughs.] For example, one fan painting contains one main story. But when I juxtapose them together, the narrative starts to break down, so I consider how these new elements—form and color—work to create a new composition. And then I start to see a bigger picture and make a hierarchy; I can’t really hang on to just one thing. The element of one fan becomes important in the context of all the other elements in the painting. New problems arise and I let them happen. There is a constant push and pull that makes the composition that much more complex. The fan paintings are supposed to be bombastic and

make you feel overwhelmed. For example, it’s like watching a news story develop on CNN: you start by watching a local report in your language and then developing stories start to pop up around the world, all being shown on the same screen at the same time and in ten different languages. ... RR: Where do you source the hanji paper? JM: I source it from all over Korea every time I return home. Mostly I’m buying from my hometown in Seoul. I have a couple of favorite places. I buy a wide variety—from the very thin to very thick and from the cheapest to most expensive—and they all serve distinct purposes for me. Using hanji makes me feel unique. [Laughs.] Here, I am contradicting myself: saying that identity is complex and not a quick read, all the while asserting my Koreanness through material choice! I like to specify its Korean name, hanji, as opposed to simply saying mulberry paper; hanji is unique in the way the fiber is laid. And I think this specificity of material is a quick way to provide authenticity and ownership for my work. And the fact that it is all handmade, both the paper and my mark making, reinforce each other in this way. RR: Can you talk about color palette? You are attracted to bright colors. JM: Colors are a way to code for me. I do not want to reject color; color is the given element that painters can easily manipulate. Every part of my works have significant identity so I try to use a limitless amount of color combinations in order to present the most representations of culture and identity, or even mix them up purposely. There is a freedom in changing the color of a familiar object; creating this familiar yet foreign qualitity to viewers. I like to use that a lot. RR: So this in effect slows viewers down… JM: Yes, and I like that. I’ve talked about this uncanny feeling in an artist talk before. I am reminded of young Asian kids wearing blue contact lenses. When I asked them why they wear them, they said it’s the desire of having something they don’t have—that’s the beauty or attraction. Originally published in its entirety online in BURNAWAY Magazine, January 30, 2013. Rachel Reese, an independent curator and arts writer, is the editor of BURNAWAY Magazine. She produces Possible Press, a free curated publication of artists’ writings. Reese writes for BOMBlog, and her writing has also appeared in Temporary Art Review, ART PAPERS, and TWELV Magazine.


*W of, e a ou and ct o ma r em fru ut o kin bo stra ur f g b dim tio ea oo en ns rs ks t b wi th, . y

Out There Atlanta: Episode 65 [April 17, 2013]. In January of 2013, Kristin Juarez and Karen Tauches started a curatorial project entitled the Sunday Art Salon. Hosted at Tauches’s home in Cabbagetown the last Sunday of every month, these themed events feature art installations, readings, and discussions, surrounding a theme. These events transform Tauches’s home into an experimental space as the concept itself continues to evolve.


An easel on Bailey’s studio patio, May 2013. Photo by Lilly Lampe.

* Print pre sents the opportunit y to experi ence the tactilit y of inform ation.

Radcliffe Bailey’s studio, May 2013. Photo by Lilly Lampe.


STUDIO VISIT: RADCLIFFE BAILEY’S PERSONAL INVESTIGATION by Lilly Lampe [Sitting on porch] Lilly Lampe: Do you paint out here as well as in the studio? Radcliffe Bailey: Sometimes, sometimes. LL: How long ago was this studio built? RB: I think we’re going on ten years. The reason why it was even built was because, well, I realized I was going to stay in Atlanta: my parents live two blocks away, I grew up in the same neighborhood, and this was the first piece of property I’ve purchased from my work. I purchased this in the early ‘90s and had a dream of building a studio, you know, like most artists. It was one of those things I could probably never do in another city, and I had an opportunity to do it here. LL: Do you say that because of the amount of space, or for other reasons? RB: Cost. [Laughs.] The only way I could stay in Atlanta and make work was if I had a space that I was comfortable in, family and work-wise. LL: What kind of space were you working in before you built this? RB: I was in several spaces. I used to be at Candler Smith Warehouse; I was there for seven or eight years. I was at the Contemporary [Atlanta Contemporary Art Center], King Plow...eventually I got tired of renting spaces. I wanted to have a space of my own. I’ve had spaces across town. My first space was at Chastain Park, at the Arts Center there. I had one of the classrooms. Then it was the Contemporary, when it first opened up on Means Street. At the same time I was at King Plow. I’d live and work at King Plow but was also at the Contemporary. LL: Were you doing two different types of work in each studio, like painting in one and sculpture in another? RB: No, mostly painting. I started out painting but was more a sculpture major. It was easier to move painting than sculpture, and my work has always fallen between the two. Some people see me as a painter, but I don’t see myself as a painter or a sculptor, just an artist.

LL: I read somewhere that you said you were really glad to be categorized as an American artist, not as a painter, not an African American artist—not any one thing. What do those titles mean to you, and why do you want to eschew those labels? RB: Those labels don’t bother me, but when I walk into a museum and see my name, I want to be put around others; I don’t want to be the “other” [laughs]; not a Southern artist, not a Northern artist, just an artist. I was born in the North and raised in the South. A lot of people see my imagery and my work and assume “South!” when really the photographs are from the North. I don’t put myself in a region. I see myself as making work that is universal in many ways. First and foremost people say, “You’re this, you’re that,” but I’m human. These names and categories change across time and I want to make work that’s timeless. And I want to make work that deals with who I am as a person, politically or spiritually. But then there’s this other place where I’m fascinated with what I don’t know about and what we all don’t know about. Yes, I’m an African American artist— proud of it! I’m someone who sits between generations. In many ways I’m connected to a lot of older artists, and I understand their struggles and the fact that they didn’t get a lot of opportunities that I’m able to get. I have a lot of respect for them, so much so that I see myself as a vessel and things go through me. I don’t take for granted their struggles. I don’t see myself as a young cynical artist who rebels, as much as I respect those who do. Sometimes I feel I’m walking on a tightrope made of razors, where no matter which way I go, I’ll get cut. So I just try to take it in stride. ... LL: You speak about your work through a personal viewpoint yet, at the same time, speak to representing a collective consciousness, like this idea of being a vessel. What do you feel the relationship is between the individual and society, and where does this idea of you as the vessel or the artist as a vessel come from? RB: I remember some older person said they thought of me as an old soul. And I said, “Really?” I think it has to do with how I was raised. I grew up around my mother and father and I never took for granted the fact that I had the opportunity to go to college. But then I can look at someone like my grandfather who had a sixth-grade education but made the most of it and created and did a lot of things. And that was just yesterday.

Not too long ago [certain] people weren’t allowed to vote! And right now we’re dealing with issues of sexuality: homosexuals [not having rights]; these things still exist! I kind of walk in a way where I wouldn’t be surprised whatever happens. Beyond the art, there’s this whole other part about just living. I didn’t go to art school thinking about a career; I went to art school because my mom was a schoolteacher and gave me pencils and paper and I drew. And then she pushed me into it, and I was led into it—and that was by way of her aunt who introduced her to museums—and so she passed that down to me, and that was a beautiful thing. It wasn’t because my parents had this or that that gave me the opportunity to go to art school. I don’t think that a lot of kids even thought about art school. When I was in undergrad there wasn’t a lot of talk about grad school. Now, how can you not go to undergrad and not go to grad school? And I didn’t go to grad school and had a different experience than people who may have gone. It’s a different space to occupy. Another space is being an artist living in Atlanta and seeing myself outside of Atlanta. I don’t necessarily have all the guidance or those I can talk to about my experience outside of here. It’s an interesting place to be in. It’s like going to a studio for the first time or trying to create a studio space within a world or place where it’s not the norm. And you’re trying to make work, and you’re uncomfortable with your surroundings, and you learn to adjust and deal with them and not move away from them. For me, it’s like I went to my mom and I said, “Hey Mom, I’ve finished school; I want to get a studio! And I want to go to grad school.” I remember going to the Maryland Institute [College of Art] to visit. Grace Hartigan was alive then, and I met her. She looked at my work and said, “What the hell do you want to come here for? You need to go do your work!” I came back to Atlanta and told my mom this and my mom looked at me like, “Why would she say that?” So I was encouraged and that came from many places. I see myself as being here [in Atlanta] but being of the world. LL: Like in your house here, you see the forest but you’re not seeing Atlanta, you’re not confronted with the skyline. RB: Yeah, [this property] is also Civil War grounds, and the history of Atlanta is another part. Sometimes I think about those histories of the Civil War and the battles that were fought here. And I think about growing up in this neighborhood, and the promises that were made to African Americans that fought in the Civil War about forty acres and a mule.

And I think, “Wow, I have my forty acres!” It’s in the oddest ways. It’s not about what someone else gives you but about doing as much as you can. ... LL: When you bring in items like the tintypes and the busts, how do those fit into [your] problem solving? RB: Well, the tintypes were given to me by my grandmother, so it was like, “Hey, how do you deal with these things?” It’s almost like what I was saying about moving into a space. Say, if I moved into my parents’ basement and wanted to make art in that space, I have to figure out a way to make art and not remove myself from who I am. So here I am given these photographs by my grandmother—who didn’t know the kind of work I was interested in making or even the situation I was dealing with as to art school. I’ve always been concerned with how I put myself in my work. Right before she died, [my grandmother] gave me this family album. What do you do with that? So I pulled my inspiration from the first thing close to me, my grandma, rather than my art professors. That was to honor her, and my family. I’ve always been concerned that art history—which we like to say is “art mystery,”—never really talks about all people, just a certain group of people. It was always limiting, and I was always curious about what [those other groups] were doing. ... I’m not concerned with art trends but with what’s important to me and what’s important to pass down to kids. We live in a world where things are moving so fast that...I don’t know how to explain it, but I remember as a kid going outside and being in one of those 17-year locust storms in Virginia; I remember watching my grandfather work with his hands. Those are the things that influence me. As simple as they may be, I draw a lot from them. ... LL: If someone lined up all of your works in a row they would see an unfolding of your biography until now? RB: Yeah, I think so. I’d hope so. LL: Joseph Kosuth was speaking of his curation and said something like, “a painting or a work of art is like a word, and when I arrange them I can make paragraphs.” It’s interesting to apply that to your artistic work and read the story. So you’ve explored the past with DNA and old photographs, what’s next? The future? The present? RB: Right. There’s another part of it where you go to the studio and you don’t know what’s going to come out, it just happens. I’m a news junkie. There’s a lot that’s spiritual, but I’m very concerned with [the news].


LL: When we walked past your desk earlier I noticed a news station was streaming. What was it? RB: Al Jazeera. I’m on that every day. I think part of it is that I’ve always watched the news every morning. I lived in this little yellow house [on my property] while construction was happening [on the house and studio], before I had a family, and I didn’t have TV; all I had were books. That was my getaway. I’d do my own residencies here. I’d lock myself in on the weekends and just read my books and [sleep] and just [walk] and my mom would say, “You don’t know what’s going on around here! You need to watch the news!” and I’d say, “Really, Mom?” And now I can’t help but watch the news, especially with the presidential elections. So now I’m trying to figure out how to incorporate what’s going on today in my work but figure out how to do it in a way that’s timeless, that can stand the test of time. LL: Does this come from a sense of understanding your own aging? RB: Me? Aging? [laughs]...I like growing older. LL: What I mean is, are you wondering what your own legacy will be? RB: Maybe so, maybe so. There are artists whose works we think about, and we may not have seen them in person but on a computer screen or in books; their work stands out and it helps us. And we learn through people. We’re not interested in repeating what they’ve done, but [we] learn from other people’s experiences and some of the things that they’ve done that were great, and some of the things that they’ve done that were not so great. I can go down the history of musicians, and some of the greatest musicians had the most tragic lives. So you learn what not to do. I think about, “What can I leave behind for those that I care about?” I would be an idiot not to think about it like that, to think of my own worth. When you’re making art, selling art, moving things around, you don’t collect your own work. And maybe you don’t think of it that way, but [you realize] you have to. ... LL: Place is such an integral part of your work, like your house and studio being on Civil War grounds. Do other sites resonate with you in the same way? RB: Yeah. Everything influences me. I was just in Syracuse for six weeks and the thing I remember the most was snow [laughs] and making work in the snow! I did this thing in Skowhegan in 2006, and it’s funny, I applied two times when I was in school and never got in, and then here I am being invited as a

visiting artist, and that was a whole different space. Going back to Grace Hartigan, it’s weird, it’s almost like [after those rejections] I’m having those experiences with those institutions regardless. It was nice to have someone like Grace to push you, not even by going to school there. And I’ve made a lot of friendships with artists, art historians, and curators in different cities. When I think about art community, I think about everywhere. And that’s the only way we can truly exist as artists in Atlanta: [we have] to move, to not fall into placing ourselves in one particular way, but to just move. The more we move, the better it is for the city. LL: I like this bird flapping motion you’re making. RB: Yeah [laughs], it’s like that phoenix [the symbol of Atlanta], the city rising from the ashes. LL: Oh yeah [laughs], we’re always hearing about the phoenix in Atlanta. Changing topics a bit, I was reading last night about your studio practice and read that you wake up at 3 a.m. and work in the studio until 8 a.m. Is that an exaggeration or are you working like that every day? RB: Well, time doesn’t exist when I’m working; I shut everything down and don’t think about how other people operate. It’s like you get off a plane, and you’re still in the time zone you came from. I have to create that time zone to work, which doesn’t relate to any particular coast or anything; it’s more like my own personal time zone. And that’s when I work the best. I put myself in that time zone. I sleep when I want to sleep, get up when I want to get up, I work when I want to work, and I create a pattern and try to stay to that. I don’t look at it as the sun rising or the sun setting, or a nine-to-five: it’s day to day, which can be difficult if, say, you’re a professor and you have to deal with time or when you’re living in a city and things are moving around constantly. I think if I lived in New York I’d definitely have to work when no one else was around, when the streets are quiet. I like working when I can go out and listen to insects or take note of the moon. “It’s a full moon today, oh man, maybe I need to go to work!” [Laughs.] You do find these periods where you’re just real creative. I’ll go through this period when I don’t eat. And it’s like a fast, and then my brain is thinking in a different way, and I start to see things, things become clear. You’re so caught in your thoughts [that] you don’t want to leave. LL: Is it fasting in a spiritual sense? Are you thinking of eastern religions or a mind-body relationship? RB: Kind of, but not really. I don’t fall under any

particular practice. Religion has always been a tricky space. Yes I grew up going to a Baptist church, but do I go to church? No. Do I understand Christianity? Yeah, I get it, and for people to find strength and believe in certain things, that’s fine. But, studying the history of slavery, I know people were given this one opportunity to go to church, which was on Sunday when they didn’t have to work in the fields. And I don’t really prescribe to that. So I look at it a different way. A studio is a church. If I have a problem I go to a studio and solve it; I get in there and work it out. And the day by day experience of art, even though my work may seem to have this layer of history, is also a cover for what I’m dealing with from day to day; it’s very much about today. We were talking about where I go next: I’m still thinking about today and yesterday and what’s coming in front of me tomorrow. It’s my attitude to my studio practice. I try to make it as simple as I can: I try to erase everything I know about painting and sculpture when I go into the studio, and I just try to play. It’s like picking up an instrument for the first time: you don’t know anything about how to play an instrument but you start to figure out how to make this sound. I have an upright bass in my studio, and I go and play with it. I don’t know how to play it, but I play with it. That’s kind of like painting; I kind of play chess with myself, back and forth. I create problems in this corner and try to solve them, create problems over there and try to solve them. It’s like going to a canvas, and it’s white canvas that’s just been painted, and I decide I’m going to paint the canvas black, ch-ch-ch [waves hand in the air as if holding a large brush], because I can see more into space with that and pull from that. That’s a kind of play. LL: It sounds like it’s important for you to be working on several things at a time. RB: Right. I can’t work on one thing at a time. I have to work on maybe twenty or thirty different problems and learn from each one of them to influence the next. Maybe it’s a mindset I picked up from having shows and having created a certain amount of work. But if I start on these thirty things at one time, I’ve learned I become comfortable with almost any mark I make. It’s tricky, but any mark I make, I have to live with it—I can live with it. It’s just like being comfortable in your skin, and I’m probably one of the most insecure, shy, standoffish people. But I’ve learned to—I’ve become—more secure. I still use that insecurity. It’s actually a good space to be in. It’s like making something and making marks and you just don’t like it. Well, walk away from it for a little while, and appreciate it. It

may not make sense to people around you; it may not make sense to you, but people will remember it. And so, I’ve learned to, as I’m painting, have a bunch of places that don’t work. And then, I create almost like a band, and they all play with each other. It’s like making music. I say music because most people can relate to what music is. Most people don’t understand art. But music…I think that we all make a certain type of music. And I’m using music, and there’s probably another word that we need to create, but music tends to be the glue for everything. We can all relate; we’re all playing. LL: When you say you make marks and have to live with them, in your paintings is there not a lot of layering and covering up? Does everything that happens remain in the finished product? RB: Yeah. Even though I cover it up it’s still there for me. So, it’s like you see this space that’s covered up right here [gestures], well I may look at it and smile and grin about it because I know what’s behind it. It’s almost like, you put something in a box, and you shut that box up and nail it and wrap it up tight; everyone’s going to become very curious about what’s in that box, which is going to make it relevant. So for me, it’s like creating that [box]. And I think it’s important that every artist keeps a certain level of secrecy in [their] work, which gives it a longer life too. I think that’s very important. Not everything should be known. . . . I like using water from different places. LL: Do you have a collection of water? RB: Yeah, I use it every once in a while. I figure out a way to use it. Not that I drink water and then pee on something [laughs], but I carry water from different places, and I think it’s interesting to mix it in. LL: What has been especially good water for painting? RB: Oh, I couldn’t tell you. [Laughs.] I like salt water. Originally published in its entirety online in partnership with BURNAWAY Magazine and BOMBlog, June 16, 2013. Lilly Lampe is an art critic, writer, and editor. Originally from North Carolina, she came to Atlanta by way of Chicago, where she earned a master’s of humanities degree with a concentration in art history from the University of Chicago. Her writing has appeared in Artforum.com, Art in America, ART PAPERS, Modern Painters, Raw Vision, and Sculpture. She is a member of the International Association of Art Critics. Lampe currently lives in Brooklyn.


* BOOKB URNING(AWAY) by Kate Doubler

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These images originally published in BURNAWAY Magazine online for an interview entitled Studio Visit: Chris Chambers’s Analog Archive [June 25, 2013] by Lilly Lampe. Photos by Lilly Lampe.

A neon sign hangs at Get This! Gallery during Ben Roosevelt’s Blue Flame exhibition [March 17-May 12, 2012]. Photo by Jason Travis.


BURNAWAY: INTERIOR (2013) Published by: BURNAWAY Magazine, Atlanta Publish date: August 2013 44 pages, full color with perfect bound cover, 7 x 10 inches Edition of 500, with limited edition print of 50 by Ben Roosevelt ISBN: 978-0-615-85613-1 Executive Director: Susannah Darrow Editor: Rachel Reese Designer: K. Tauches Copy Editor: Rachel Chamberlain Printer: ElandersUSA, Acworth, GA Funding provided by: MailChimp Support provided by: Fulton County Arts & Culture, Georgia Council for the Arts,  LUBO Fund, Possible Futures Foundation, Sara Giles Moore Foundation,  Straw Hat Press, Tokio Marine Management Introductory interview: Carolyn Ramo, executive director of Artadia, with Cara Benedetto, artist and former Artadia program director Artist Project: Jody Fausett With contributions by: Kate Doubler, Lilly Lampe, Amy Mackie, Phillip March Jones,  Rachel Reese, Karley Sullivan Including: Radcliffe Bailey, Louis Zoellar Bickett, Chris Chambers, Mike Goodlett, Jason Kofke, Jiha Moon, Robert Morgan, John Otte, Out There Atlanta, Parse Gallery, Ben Roosevelt, SeekATL, Sunday Art Salon, Zen Dixie Limited edition print: Ben Roosevelt, in collaboration with Straw Hat Press, I Like America and America Likes Me, 2013, photogravure, 6 x 8 inches, edition of 50, from the painting, I Like America and America Likes Me, 2013, 36 x 48 inches, oil on panel, courtesy the artist and Get This! Gallery, Atlanta. BURNAWAY Magazine is an Atlanta-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to providing critical coverage and dialogue about arts in Atlanta and the Southeast since 2008. BURNAWAY, Inc.

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A crowd gathers at Get This! Gallery during Ben Roosevelt’s Blue Flame exhibition [March 17-May 12, 2012]. Photo by Jason Travis.

Funding generously provided by

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BURNAWAY: INTERIOR (2013)  

INTERIOR is the inaugural annual print edition produced by BURNAWAY Magazine, and presented as a curated visual essay.