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Pollock /Benton

11 November – 23 December 2016 MARIAN GOODMAN GALLERY 24 West 57th Street New York, NY 10019 tel: 212-977-7160








Cover Image: David LaChapelle, Aristocracy Three, 2014.










































































































Opposite: Penny Slinger, Keeping in Touch, 1969. Courtesy Blum & Poe, Los Angeles.




E D I TO R ’ S L E T T E R

b y An d re a Bl a nch

Chaos has become an unavoidable element that has

explores the interdependence in the universe through

always been present in our lives. I now have to worry

chaos. Gideon Mendel explores chaos in its most natural

about women’s pussies being grabbed, the presidential

element of water by photographing floods in his series

election, the “deplorables”, Kardashian security, our

Drowning World. His images are structured portraits

country, Musée, my cats Shait and Adjo, climate change,

juxtaposed against the disarray of one of the most

the art world, Syrian refugees, my nephew’s wedding,

devastating environmental catastrophes.

Shahid & Co. (Sam & Matt), sex trafficking, my social

Fred Tomaselli’s The Times is a series of collages that

life, and robots. What does this mean for humanity’s

bring a subjective and disorderly universe to life in a

relationship with it?

medium proclaimed to be objective- the newspaper.

How do we respond to chaos? In this issue of Musée,

However, Tomaselli plays with the politically charged

eighteen featured artists explore their relationships with

ideas of ‘true impartiality’ that the media often sports

chaos - examining its personal, societal, and environmental

by prompting the viewer to wonder if his escapist

implications. They take on the seemingly impossible task:

imagery is any more subjective than an issue of The New

making shape of a formless entity.

York Times. In a similar vein, John Baldessari eliminates

Amy Elkins’ takes on this challenge in her Parting

the center of focus in his Crowds with the Shape of Reason

Words series; she uses a careful arrangement of typog-

Missing series, leaving viewers pining for more context.

raphy over the black and white portraits of inmates

His work deals with the chaotic resistance of personal

who were executed in the state of Texas. Each piece is

identity in the hive-mind of crowds.

an insight to the mind of an inmate, a lost identity in a

Chaos presents brilliant artistry to engage the viewer

faceless institution. Jessica Dimmock’s The Ninth Floor

in diverse narratives. However you might define chaos,

confronts the viewer with a desperate narrative seen in

as a void, a lawless anarchy, a formless entity, or an

an addict - an individual whose existence is scattered

indefinable mass you will be sure to find it represented in

by the chaotic pursuit of a substance. While The Ninth

this issue. I would like to thank the eighteen established

Floor and Parting Words illustrate an introspective

artists, as well as the emerging and spotlighted artists,

viewpoint on chaos that brews inside the individual,

who contributed their sagacious and unyielding work.

other artists portray chaos as an external, all-encom-

Through their lens, the concept of chaos evolves from

passing force. Doug and Mike Starn’s The Big Bambu

our own perspectives.

Pari Dukovic, Grand Central Terminal, 2013.


DAV I D L AC H A P E L L E co l o r cra sh

MUSÉE MAGAZINE: Your Aristocracy series shows

much more urgent, less tranquil feeling – do you read these

private jets crashing as a thing of beauty. You create

images as time lapse, or as moments frozen in time?

structure from chaos, order from disorder. Do you consider yourself a revolutionary?

DAVID: It’s variations of a theme.

DAVID LACHAPELLE: I don’t think of myself in terms

MUSÉE: Could you talk a bit about your use of color in this

that have political connotations. I take photographs and

series? Color is a big part of all your work, why did you go

do what I want – I try to say through a photograph the

with this palette?

things I wish to express. DAVID: I used colors that felt good next to each other. MUSÉE: You have returned to your roots of your early

Such as sunrises/sunsets.

work with this series, and those immediately preceding this – what brought about that change? Will you return

MUSÉE: Your work has always been steeped in art history,

to more celebrity focused work? Do you see this series as

your work references not only well known works, but move-

a return to your previous explorations, or do you see this

ments and times – are these Aristocracy works referencing a

as a natural progression of your body of work?

specific period or time? I see Turner.

DAVID: I make images that matter to me. I don’t have a

DAVID: There is the Turner clouds and the color field

map or plan. I go in the direction that feels right

paintings that inspired me. A lot of negative space. Also, maybe even The Hudson River Valley School as well.

MUSÉE: Why Aristocracy, why now? MUSÉE: Could you speak a bit about your new film  DAVID: The race to destinations that are unattainable. A

Dancer; you worked with Sergei Polunin in Take Me To

continuous, restless race with no end.

Church – which was an incredible video aesthetically and politically. How did this relationship branch into a film? 

MUSÉE: Maybe I am being too obvious here, but for years you photographed the rich and famous, the fabu-

DAVID: I love dance. I made a film called Rize, a documen-

lous and the, literally, jet setting crowd and now they are

tary about dance. They asked me to direct the documentary

burning – what is your message?

on Sergei but I opted to do just a segment. I love Sergei but I had the new book to work on and could not do both.

DAVID: I see things lost, nothing as burning. The planes are circling in confused spirals. The accumulation of lux-

MUSÉE: We have heard that you have been working

ury and wealth that has no end. The continuous journey

on a new book with Taschen, can you tell us what is

of acquiring more. And the busyness of accumulation.

going to be in it?

The unquenchable thirst of materialism. DAVID: Yes, I have a Taschen book coming out. It’s all MUSÉE: How did you produce the plane crash images? Were

unpublished work mostly from the last decade but also

they models you made? What is the process behind these?

much from the 1980 to 1990 time period. It’s the best book I’ve done. The most concise and narrative.

DAVID: They are models of private jets in a large water tank. Tempera paint was used to create the clouds along

MUSÉE: This issue is about Chaos – how does chaos ef-

with gelled lights.

fect your life? Is Hawaii a way to get away from it all, or is the jungle more chaotic than the city? Do you do better

MUSÉE: The difference between Aristocracy One, and Ar-

with or without a little chaos in your life?

istocracy Two is, to me, that One seems to illustrate a plane, on fire, swaying into oblivion. It’s very graceful,

DAVID: The jungle is peaceful. It’s sublime. I don’t feel

whereas Two seems to be two planes colliding and has a

it’s chaotic. There is the order of nature.

Photographer for David’s portrait is unknown, it was taken in 2011.


David LaChapelle, Aristocracy One, 2014.


David LaChapelle, Aristocracy Two, 2014.




Tomas Van Houtryve, Midtown Manhattan. Temperature range: 30.0 to 38.2 degrees Celsius.




Tomas Van Houtryve, Manhattan, Grand Central Station. Temperature range: 21.5 to 29.8 degrees Celsius.




Tomas Van Houtryve, Brooklyn to Manhattan subway. Temperature range: 20.4 to 32.0 degrees Celsius, xxxx.




Tomas Van Houtryve, Brooklyn to Manhattan subway. Temperature range: 12.2 to 23.7 degrees Celsius, xxxx.




Tomas Van Houtryve, Bar, Lower East Side, Manhattan. Temperature range: 16.2 to 31.0 degrees Celsius.




Tomas Van Houtryve, Brooklyn, Lorimer subway station. Temperature range: 18.6 to 32.6 degrees Celsius.




Tomas Van Houtryve, Unt Manhattan, Grand Central Station. Temperature range: 18.9 to 27.2 degrees Celsius.




Tomas Van Houtryve, Manhattan, Grand Central Station. Temperature range: 21.5 to 29.8 degrees Celsius.


Ellen Jantzen, Superjacent, One 1, 2009.



G I D E O N M E N D E L c on s tr ucted cha o s

ANDREA BLANCH: Congratulations on Drowning

theatre of operating with film and the Rolleiflex cam-

World. As soon as I saw it, I had to reach out to you. I’d

era. While an old camera, it slows it down and makes

like to know your beginnings, when did you know you

it more difficult, it adds a little more to the theatre in

wanted to be a photographer?

terms of engaging with your subject. But also using it at your waist, there’s no camera between your face and

GM: A really long time ago, in the early 80’s. I began

the person being photographed, which to me it makes it

working professionally at the end of 1983.

more of an intimate connection.

ANDREA: Did you have any art education? What led

ANDREA: Yes it does.

you to photography? GIDEON: I’m looking at someone, looking very carefully GIDEON MENDEL: I have a degree in African economic

at the expression of their eyes. And I’m looking at them

history and psychology, and not very distinguished degrees

partially through the camera and not through the camera.

either. Photography started as a hobby and became an obses-

The key thing for me in this kind of portraiture is getting

sion, kind of like a river that I fell into. In 1983, I spent a few

the expression and kind of meaningful connection. That

months in the darkroom learning the early system with An-

connected moment is what is so important to me.

sel Adam’s book. I’m a completely self-taught photographer. ANDREA: In the Drowning World, you’re not present ANDREA: Using a Rolleiflex camera to photograph in

when the flood occurs correct?

Drowning World, doesn’t that make things more difficult for you traveling around with film?

GIDEON: Yes. I kind of get there in the aftermath. Certain kinds of floods work better than others. When I have

GIDEON: It is a completely ludicrous and idiotic thing to do.

the resources and the funds to travel, I’m on the phone

But it’s a weird thing because when I first began the project

trying to do research to figure out how long the flood

in 2007, you could argue that working with a Rolleiflex gives

water is going to last. Am I going to be too late? Because

you a better quality of file compared to working on 35mm

I want to get there when the water is still relatively high.

or digital. Progressively, digital files and cameras are so good

I have to find out if the water is still there or if it will last.

now, so there’s less and less obvious reasons. But there’s

I’m trying very hard to get all this information before I

something very special and magical about the Rolleiflex.

travel. With the types of floods that happen in America, the water tends to move away rather quickly. I went to a

ANDREA: I understand, I used to work with Richard

flood in South Carolina last year which was devastating

Avedon and that’s all he used.

to Columbia but by the time I got there, the water had pretty much left and it was just the aftermath. But the

GIDEON: I’ve sort of been grappling with the thing.

water was moving so I was able to find flood communi-

When there were major floods in New York and England

ties further down the river. Sometimes it’s that kind of

last year, I went up as an experiment to work digitally

pacing of things. Floods in India usually last for a long

and the portraits were just not as strong even though

time. Like in Nigeria, I was able to make my trip there in

they were technically efficient. On one level, there’s the

time and still find communities under water. It’s really a

Portrait by Gowhar Fazili, 2014.


matter of research and time and sometimes I make huge

GIDEON: I had an exhibition at a national gallery in Afri-

trips across the world and end up getting there too late.

ca around 2001-2002 that I tied into the national campaign for AIDs treatments, and the black and white work was

ANDREA: Given that you photograph the floods in differ-

quite a strong exhibition of black and white photojournal-

ent places, are people more receptive to you in some loca-

ism. It was painful for the people who were dealing with

tions than others? Let’s say like Americans versus Indians.

the diseases themselves. It’s distancing whereas color felt much more approachable and a much better tool for being

GIDEON: There’s not much of a difference between the

able to change the situation there. I suppose it turned pho-

lesser developed countries and more developed coun-

tography into a tool of visual activism at that point in time.

tries, the only thing being that in developed countries people are sometimes more suspicious. I tell people what

ANDREA: Do you ever think images from photojournal-

I do and frequently they whip out their phones and they

ism can be considered art? What’s the difference between

Google my project to decide if they want anything to do

being a photojournalist and being a fine art photogra-

with it. When I’m part of a whole gathering of media,

pher in your opinion?

people don’t really respond well. They proceed to react to all the media being vultures.

GIDEON: That’s something people have been debating for a while. The analogy I draw is with the American em-

ANDREA: When you go to a place where it is flooded,

bassy in Saigon. Do you remember those images of the he-

how do you choose your people? How do you approach

licopter leaving the rooftop of the embassy and everyone

your people or find them if you don’t know anyone there?

trying to climb up? Every single photojournalist was trying to climb onto the helicopter. Photojournalism is such a

GIDEON: Completely random and a matter of circum-

mess and was the solution to the people who could never

stance. You find people, you speak to them and see if

really find themselves as artists’ and their career problems.

they are willing to be photographed. In some situations, I’ve found people outside of the area and we travel back

ANDREA: In what way? Recently, and I’m sure you’re

to their home on a boat and other times there’s quite

aware of this, brouhaha was made over someone who’s con-

complicated research. In Nigeria, there was this camp

sidered a really well known photojournalist and he changed

for people outside of the town where the flooding was

the color of what somebody was wearing in the photograph.

and I met people there and they took me back to their homes. When I was in Brazil, a lot of people went back

GIDEON: Steve McCurry?

to their homes after the flooding had gone down and they used the flood water to clean the mud and dirt off

ANDREA: Yes, everyone thought that was terrible.

their homes. So a lot of people were in their homes and I could approach them there. I think people are gener-

GIDEON: I think the point is that if you’re putting images into

ally, for the most part, open to doing this. When there’s

the newspaper and into the media, they are, on some level, pre-

water in your home there’s not much you can do, but

mised on the idea of a truthful reproduction of that situation.

as soon as the water is gone, there’s so much you have

In that context, it’s not alright if you’re going to physically ma-

to be doing and don’t have a moment to spare. While

nipulate the colors or objects or physically remove something

the water is there, it’s kind of a suspended moment and

because once you’re starting what’s the limits? I think photog-

it’s a space that I look into. People keep asking why I

raphers working in newspapers and media are very different

go back to these flooded areas, and for me there’s some-

from the art context and for me in situations my photography

thing about a flooded city or a flooded community that

is very different in the art context than in the media context.

I find very compelling, something about the lights, the reflection, and the color, and a sense of things being re-

ANDREA: I was curious as to how you feel about this.

versed. There’s water where there’s not meant to be water, and it’s a very weird place. There’s a lot of solidarity

GIDEON: If I’m looking at a magazine or a newspaper and I

amongst the people and they often tend to be very open.

see a photograph, I’d like to believe that it is an attempt at a truthful reproduction of that situation. Just as much as you’d

ANDREA: I had read that you considered yourself at

want a written article to be a truthful reproduction. You need

one time a “photojournalist” but then you wanted to

to state to people that a situation or photograph has been

start manipulating the photographs so you went from

deliberately changed to make it more attractive and let them

black and white to color. For activism, you thought

know in the media’s journalistic practice. There is a lot of de-

color works better and I’m wondering why that is?

bate about photography and art and a lot of photographers


and photojournalists have been making very strong attempts

in the Guardian magazine, National Geographic. It’s been

to redefine themselves as artists recently. In some cases, I think

published in a number of serious magazines and newspapers

it works very well and in other cases I think it feels artificial.

and continues to be. It’s also been used in the activism world.

It can be a strategic response to the practice. Photojournalism

It’s been used in a variety of protests and been part of time and

has become a mess in many ways, it has become harder and

change activism and that’s very important to me. And increas-

harder for photojournalists to make a living; journalism is a

ingly additionally been active in the art world in a variety of

state of mind. For a long time I’ve always tried to use a lot of

art contexts which I’m quite excited by.

art concepts in my photojournalism and I’m quite proud of the fact that my work seems to have that and speaks well in

ANDREA: I was very excited to see the process you go

a variety of different contexts. My Drowning World project has

through regarding photo montaging, scanning, and etc.

had a long and effective life in the media. It’s been published

There are no limits when you’re working that way.

Gideon Mendel, Florence Abraham, Igbogene, Bayelsa State , Nigeria, November 2012.


GIDEON: Yes. In fact, I’m in the middle right now for

response to the migrant crisis in Europe and photography

the first time — I haven’t really told anyone about it —

has failed on many levels. But, I was part of an attempt at a

but I’m in the middle of making some kind of physical

collaborative project working with migrants and wanting to

non-photographic objects. I had an experience recently

photograph their own lives, and for a whole set of reasons

working in the Jungle Camp, do you know what that is?

that project was pretty unsuccessful. In a moment of desperation, I felt a need to make anti-photographic material and


began collecting a variety of objects from toothbrushes to shotgun cases to hygienic objects. I’m working at the moment

GIDEON: It’s a camp in Calais in France. It’s occupied by

to create some photographic still lives, but I’m also making

6,000-9,000 migrants from all over the world who are trying

some physical installations from them. That’s quite a big

to illegally cross to the UK. In many ways I feel a particular

change for me but there’s a continuity in the work between

Gideon Mendel, Jameela Khan, Bemina, Srinagar, Kashmir, India, October 2014.


that and the Water Mark series for Drowning World. With that

this narrow street that’s flooded and it looks like they’re car-

project, I was becoming some sort of visual contemporary ar-

rying their belongings. I was wondering if you had more imag-

cheologist by rescuing images that had been damaged in the

es like that and what objects people generally take with them?

water. I integrated those images for the meaning they had in the flooded societies. The continuity between that work and

GIDEON: Generally, I’m not there when people are fleeing

the jungle, I felt like I’m almost working as an archeologist

and taking things away. I’m in the aftermath but it is some-

but removing objects that say a lot about what’s going on in a

thing I think about. What do you save when you need to flee

very charged and political place, prior to thousands of years

your house? There’s your family, there’s your cats…for me

of sediments working on top of them.

I would take my cats. Is it a personal thing, like would you take your laptop? I would take my cats and my laptop and

ANDREA: You have one portrait of this couple going down

my hard drives. But it’s dependent on the person. People

Gideon Mendel, Hilal Ahmed Shaikh and Shameema Shaikh Jawahar Nagar, Srinagar, Kashmir, India, October 2014.


Gideon Mendel, Chinta and Samundri Davi, Salempur Village near Muzaffarpur, Bihar, India, August 2007.


Gideon Mendel, Victor and Hope America, Igbogene, Bayelsa State, Nigeria, November 2012 .


often go back to their homes trying to find documents, like

ANDREA: Would that be the same thing as a conflict

their insurance. It depends on the amount of time you have


to flee and leave. GIDEON: Not really. Conflict photographers photograph… ANDREA: You have been described as a “struggle pho-

conflict. With struggle photography, you were photo-

tographer”, how do you feel about this title that has been

graphing a certain political struggle and identifying with

bestowed upon you and your work?

it. In Africa in the 1980’s it was a young generation of photographers whose work was kind of instrumental in

GIDEON: That term is very old. It’s dated back to my

the fight against apartheid. If you look at the series on my

time in South Africa in the 1980’s where I was working

website in South Africa called The Struggle, you can see

with a young generation of struggle photographers.

some of the images made in that time. Ironically, another

Gideon Mendel, João Pereira de Araújo, Taquari Districta, Rio Branco, Brazil, March 2015.


kind of twist in the tale of my Water Marks work. When

driven to make images that respond to the key social and

I left South Africa in 1990, I left some boxes in a friend’s

political issues of our time.

garage which I kind of forgot about, and among them was a box of color negatives and color transparencies. I didn’t

ANDREA: There are a lot of things that one could choose

consider them very important from the struggle era of

to photograph in this world. There are so many horrific

my work. That box got water damaged and it was given

things that need to be paid more attention to. I was won-

back to me recently and the whole top layer of the box was

dering why you chose the floods?

damaged and that actually created some intriguing images. I am dealing with my own images from the struggle

GIDEON: I felt that I wanted to develop a direct impact

era that have been water damaged in that way. I think that

of time and change on people and I wanted to look into

marked me as a photographer. Since that mark, I’ve been

the eyes of time and change victims. My first attempt

Gideon Mendel, Ahmed, Khairpur Nathan Shah, Sindh, Pakistan, September 2010.


was when I went to photograph a terrible drought in the

change increasing the amount of fires around the world.

North of Kenya which was an effect of global climate

Perhaps after fire, I could be looking at air. These are just

change. But when I began to first photograph floods

thoughts I’m kind of debating, I don’t really have these

something clicked in me and I realized there was some-

issues resolved right now.

thing very iconic about them. Floods have been around for many thousands of years and have affected almost

ANDREA: What impact have your images had on peo-

every single nation around the world so I think a flood

ple? Do you think your project has changed people’s con-

is something quite deeply engrained in us.

sciousness about climate change?

ANDREA: Do you think this project will ever end? Do you

GIDEON: I think in many parts of the world, particularly

think in your mind you will ever feel that it’s complete?

in America, there’s a ridiculous argument thing about climate change denialists. I would like to think my images

GIDEON: Yeah, that is a question that is coming up for

published in National Geographic and elsewhere might

me now because I’m trying to put a book together when

be instrumental in trying to end that outrageous argu-

the project is finished, so when is the project going to be

ment. In terms of climate change and for what needs to

finished? On one level I feel like I want to do a few more

be done it’s very hard for us to do things but what’s re-

trips to some of the wealthiest countries that are flooded

ally important is what governments do and what gov-

or the ones that emit the largest amount of greenhouse

ernments can do. Legislation is incredibly important, so

gases that cause flooding like China and America.

my work has been most recently seen at the UN Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, at The Paris Climate Change

ANDREA: Your photographs have a poignancy and

Conference and my work has been used at the conference

drama to them that’s inherent by the subjects that you

at the recent UN summit. They were also these huge bill-

choose. What would your photographs look like if you

boards that feature Drowning World, in and around Paris

weren’t photographing subjects like this? Would they

and used in these protests around Paris. It’s hard to tell if

have the same impact?

my work has any particular influence in that area. I like to think of it as part of the movement. What extent that pho-

GIDEON: I think I’m drawn to dramatic situations, and

tography played a part in it is very hard to forensically

people, and situations of great difficulty. And I suppose

judge but I know that it was part of something.

often when I give talks and presentations one of the most common questions I have is “what kind of impact

ANDREA: This issue is about chaos; would you say your

does this have on you? How do you deal with this psy-

life is chaotic or this project is the most chaotic one that

chologically? How do you deal with being in a different

you’ve ever had?

situation personally?” I’ve always struggled to find an answer to that question and I was talking about it to my

GIDEON: Chaos is a good issue for me because I do natu-

wife Sara. She said, you know that answer is really kind

rally lean towards chaos in terms of my organization and

of easy: I’m the kind of person who often struggles to

my mind, thank god you can’t see my office behind me,

connect with the people that I’m close to but I find that

but my work is often very structured. Both the images I

I have a great ability to connect with people in difficulty

create and the narrative structures I put my work into are

and difficult situations around the world and that I am

very structured. I think in my Drowning World project I’m

able to create a degree of intimacy.

operating in chaotic situations but I think I’m trying to create formal structured images. For example, I’ve been

ANDREA: Have you thought about what project you’d

editing some of my images from the Flood Lines series

like to do next? I know there are many aspects to Drown-

which are the most symmetrically structured images.

ing World so do you see yourself continuing to be immersed with this subject or moving on to something new

ANDREA: Putting yourself in these chaotic situations,

once this is finished?

have you had any disasters yourself?

GIDEON: I’m debating various options truthfully.

GIDEON: In 2008, I went to photograph a massive flood,

One scenario is that I continue with floods and make

it happened about a year before the earthquake. In a span

a book. Another is that in maybe the next year I visit

of like 3 weeks, Haiti was hit by four hurricanes and the

a few more flood locations but then be done with the

town of Gonaïves was terribly flooded. I got into the town

project and stop with floods and move onto other ele-

of Gonaïves, the town was covered in a thick layer of mud.

ments. I’m thinking of moving onto fire due to climate

The first thing that happened is that it began to rain really


hard, and I had one of the Rolleiflex cameras around my

me. When I went back and processed my film, much of it

neck and the strap, which was unfortunately made out of

was completely messed up. At first, I was upset that most

leather got very wet and it broke, so my camera fell into

of my film was completely ruined but then I had this re-

the water. I had my second camera with me and an hour

alization there was something fascinating about the flood

later we were in someone’s home and I had the camera on

having a direct impact on the film and it elicited a visceral

a tripod, and the guy who was assisting me, he was quite

response from myself. There is one really important and

large and he knocked over the tripod. I had these two wa-

great picture that came out of that and for me when I was

ter-soaked Rolleiflex cameras and I tried to dry them. They

in Australia the year after, I began to find damaged photo-

seemed to be working, so I continued photographing for

graphs and that’s how Drowning World began.

the next few days and those cameras gradually got stiffer and they began to rust. Eventually, they just jammed up on

ANDREA: That’s a good story.

Gideon Mendel, João Gonzaga de Sousa, Taquari District, Rio Branco, Brazil, March 2015.


Jan Staller, Dryer Duct Drawing 2010.



Kenta Cobayashi, Construction Site 1, 2015.


Kenta Cobayashi, Pink and Blue, #blur #sharpness, 2016.


Tim Hodge, TheRinger_010, 2016.



F R E D TO M A S E L L I the sub j ecti v e o b j ecti v e

ANDREA BLANCH: I wanted to start off by saying

own devices. So, I kind of have to meet them on their

while you were having a show at the Brooklyn Museum,

own terms and be a little off balance to try and deal with

as I was exiting, my therapist was arriving. We looked at

that. I think that’s a good thing for me at this point.

each other taken aback. Considering what you were showing was, for me, psychedelic, it was quite the coincidence.

ANDREA: You’ve been doing this for twelve years, what would make you stop? How will you know when

FRED TOMASELLI: Is she a Freudian or a Jungian?

it’s completed?

ANDREA: A Jungian.

FRED: Maybe when they stop printing newspapers.

FRED: Oh okay, so she would get it.

ANDREA: That’s a long run!

ANDREA: You were quoted as saying in the LA Times,

FRED: With the way things are going, it could happen

“I get to talk back to The Times, I get to be an editor.”

any day now. It might not be that long of a run.

Was this your intention from the start of the The Times? ANDREA: True. FRED: Originally, I don’t think there were any intentions. I started out with ideas that were revealed

FRED: Papers are getting thinner, it’s a weird time.

through the process of play. Those ideas consequently

Maybe this project is an extended elegy for something

informed the subsequent work; eventually a set of in-

that’s disappearing. One could say I’m in the process of

tentions evolved out of the process. One of the processes

playing with a soon to be obsolete media artifact.

was becoming part of this hive mind that puts together the paper through this collectivity. I feel like I’m just

ANDREA: There was one work that stood out as unique

another editor with this group of fact checkers, writers,

to me, there was nothing similar to it on your website.

editors, and photographers. And that just appealed to

You did it in the last couple of years, the one with all

my collective, the sort of sense of the collective that I’ve

the nude men?

always been involved in with my collages. Prior to this project, I used all these images that were, in some part,

FRED: Some of them are more sarcastic than oth-

created by others but always nameless. Now I have all

ers. I just felt like I had to do it, they looked so ri-

these bylines that give people credit.

diculous and pompous. That’s how I felt, so I did it. What can I say about that except that I had to see

ANDREA: It gives you a parameter to work with, no?

that? So, I made it.

When you’re doing your own work, you’re working with a blank canvas. This gives you something to feed off of.

ANDREA: It’s great. Is it about suggesting the viewer

Could that be helpful?

to reflect on what they see every day through a different perspective?

FRED: Well it keeps me off balance. The images are not necessarily what I might be gravitating to if left to my

FRED: That’s part of it. Even though I’m dealing with

Portrait by by Fred Tomaselli. All artwork courtesy James Cohan, New York.


an artifact, it deals with this social world, this world of the social and the political. When it comes to actually making the work, in a lot of respects, my motivation is simply just to amuse myself. I don’t even think about the viewer; I just make the things I want to see. Later on, I think about where the viewer fits into all of that. If I don’t think the viewer has a place or can find a way in, or seems too obtuse, then I just shred them. I shred a lot. ANDREA: I’m not saying this is consciously your intention, but it’s like Marshall McLuhan said, “The medium is the message”. This has become an asset to your political arena, whether this was your intention or not. Have you thought about this? FRED: I’m a pretty political person. You know I’m obsessed with the news and I consume it through radio, through TV, and through print media. And I do believe that The Times is inherently political and the news is often horrible, but the world is also funny, beautiful, absurd, and mysterious. I try to get all that in too. In some respects, I’m imposing this other kind of reality on this grim reality of The Times. I don’t mean for it to be escapist, but rather to interject some other kind of space by using The Times as a launch pad for this other reality. That being said, my political persuasions do sneak in all the time and I own it. ANDREA: You’ve done escapism art but you’re very focused on the press, don’t you find that unusual? FRED: I think most of our reality seems pretty slippery and that includes the media, maybe even more so. One could make the argument that the media dictates our very desires, our very core of who we are as people, constructs that we spend from certain seductive mechanisms that the media has sort of harnessed. I think that’s one of the reasons, or one of the attractions to playing with the media, to playing with The Times, to play with this manipulator of our beings. I would say that, getting back to this idea of escapism; the presumption of impartiality really is a fiction that deserves some general deconstruction. Newspapers choose what to spotlight and what to ignore and I don’t necessarily believe that it’s less escapist than anything else when you get down to it. The New York Times is, for as good a paper as it is, still guilty of some of these things I’m referring to. But since it is the paper record, it is supposedly the arbiter of objectivity. It seems like a perfect foil to play around with that very idea.

Fred Tomaselli, Above: Dec 18, 2008, 2009.


Fred Tomaselli, Following spread: Mar. 13, 2011, 2011.




Fred Tomaselli, Above: Feb 16, 2016. 2016.


ANDREA: I agree with you, but would you agree that nothing can truly be objective? FRED: Yeah, and that includes me. I would say that it’s just a set of subjective decisions that go into making these papers under the rouse of objectivity. But I’m sort of supplanting another set of subjective decision making on top of the papers. If I’m trying to highlight anything, it might be about that inherent subjectivity. Because I’m not an objective person either. ANDREA: Would you say that a big part of your artwork is based on your experience with drugs? FRED: It started out that way. Actually, it started out with theme parks in the 80’s. I did a lot of installations that were sort of like punk rock, light and space that were very informed by escapist amusement and theme park type installations. And then from there, from these assemblages and installations, my thinking, because I was already interested in the landscape of the unreal, it was not too big of a leap to go looking into drugs. And to see how the rhetoric around psychedelic drugs was really similar to the rhetoric around paintings. This idea of this window to another reality, this art object as a transportational vehicle to take you to other dimensions, it seemed a lot like what people say when they’re talking about drugs. So I played around with those corollaries and I evolved back into being a painter; I had left painting behind for about 10 years to do this installation work, and now it’s sort of migrated to that same obsession with reality and perception that has been culturally modified and has now been moved intoTthe New York Times and into the media. But yeah, I don’t remember what your original question was. ANDREA: We were talking about how your experience with drugs influenced your work. FRED: I mean that was the influence. Our history professors were talking about paintings the same way they were talking about psychedelics. I was part of both worlds. ANDREA: I never looked at it that way. FRED: That’s the way I put it together in my drug-addled mind and there just seemed to be all these weird convergences between these two very different kinds of things. My work is sort of a hybrid of these corollaries between these two schools of thought. ANDREA: Do you still do drugs?

Fred Tomaselli, Following spread: Sept 21, 2012. 2012.




FRED: Not really. I mean I don’t smoke anymore but I

pharmaceutical industry, and I really liked that kind of

still chew nicotine gum. I drink coffee every morning and

tension. I started to think about how nature was one

occasionally I smoke pot to get to sleep but that’s about it.

of the big constant truths in art. It keeps coming up in various cultures throughout history and that is because

ANDREA: Just curious.

we have co-evolved with nature, it’s how we survive. I realized it then, that I started adding nature into my

FRED: Yeah, I have a really boring life now but you

work, like real nature, real flowers and real insects and

know, maybe I’m not that boring.

that sort of thing; the shape of nature became more and more a part of my work. Subsequently, we are in fact,

ANDREA: You seem very comfortable talking about

nature as humans. But the things that we make, and

drugs. Were you ever criticized for that?

the things that we are, are also antagonists to nature. I started putting in the parts of the manufactured land-

FRED: Some people have thought I glorified these

scape into the work. I have introduced nature and its

“agents of destruction”, but drugs and the urge to

antagonists into my work.

change perception is so much more complicated than that. I feel that the most realistic way to deal with the

ANDREA: That’s how far you’ve gone with it; do you

subject is to acknowledge their inherent seductiveness:

intend to go further?

the seductiveness of getting high. I think it was Ron Siegel, in a book that I read once, that said something

FRED: The shape of nature and its antagonists?

to the effect that much like our drive for food, sleep, and sex, getting high is our fourth drive. Intoxication is

ANDREA: Yes, you said you stopped painting because

part of every culture known to man. Everybody wants

you’re doing the New York Times. I’m wondering where

to get high. So my starting point is this seductive world

you picked this up?

that people are drawn to and I’m interested in that. And I’m interested in why are people trying to change

FRED: In The New York Times works and in these big

their consciousness? Why do they want to change their

ones, I occasionally introduce leaves, real leaves, into

reality? Why do I want to change my reality? That just

the work because I’m working on a scale where it’s pos-

seems really inherent to the human condition. So if I

sible to put leaves into the work. There’s always been

acknowledge their seductiveness I’m just being real-

this tension between what’s real, what’s photographed,

istic about it and I would never be so reductive as just

and what’s painted in my work. Sometimes, it’s a little

to say no. Even though I acknowledge their inherent

hard to tell the difference. Occasionally I’m achieving

destructiveness in many cases.

that, but you’re right because these are just works on paper. There is little of the introduction of objects into

ANDREA: You say using drugs or pills as part of the

the work right now. It’s primarily just collage, photo

artwork is another way of getting them into the viewers’

collage, and paint and that’s a challenge to me.

brain through their eyeballs, but what is your criteria for other objects that you choose to use in your artwork?

ANDREA: And why collage? I’m wondering what turns you onto it and what kind of mindset you need for it?

FRED: Okay so you know how people talk about how pot is a gateway to harder drugs?

FRED: I come out of this sort of cut and paste culture; we sample other cultures and integrate them into our


lives. So, collage to me has always seemed really natural. It may have descended out of people like Picasso

FRED: For me, pot was a gateway into the shape of

or Braque back at the turn of the century, but it’s been

nature. Prior to putting pot into my work, I was using

the constant that keeps coming up throughout history.

pills. And then I thought, I want to put some subcul-

But I really do think I’m sort of comfortable in this idea

tural drugs in there because I felt the pharmacological,

of having a pre-existing image, or having thousands of

corporate culture of drugs and the sub-cultural drug

pre-existing images, and then sort of playing with them.

world were about similar things. Both about relief of

Maybe that comes from me playing with component

pain, or the agency of pleasure. When I started insert-

toys from when I was a kid like Legos or Lincoln Logs,

ing pot into my work, I introduced the shape of nature

this idea of assembling a thing with one premade piece

into my work. I started to think of the soft shape of

at a time. It feels really natural to me and I have to listen

the leaves of nature against the hard geometry of the

and be attentive to my sensibility.

Fred Tomaselli, Apr. 2, 2015, 2016.




ANDREA: Yes, I love it. I’m just curious, in other words,

ing that start from a seed. It’s a daily activity, much

why people turn right instead of turn left?

like reading the paper. I feel like they’re connected in a myriad of ways, but also disconnected. I’m going

FRED: It’s funny because I have this whole background

to theoretically see if the tension is good or bad. And

in painting. I’ve had a period in my painting where I

then…I don’t know what I’ll do. I’ll just have to wait

was doing photorealistic paintings. I sort of feel like I

and see how it all looks together and decide whether

could probably invent a lot of the things I want to see

it’s a good idea or not.

through the laborious process of hand-eye coordination. But, collage is just so much more direct and faster. Even

ANDREA: But you have to show it?

though these things take me a long time, it’s a direct way to express yourself. Some people have said that all

FRED: Yeah, well I guess, I don’t know, I guess I will. I’m

the images that need to exist in the world have already

going to show it in London at the White Cube in March.

been made. That’s a problem that every artist has to deal with, “why add to the glut of images?” I bring it

ANDREA: Well that sounds terrific!

all together in my studio, I can be the conductor of these images and play with them. It seems really natural to

FRED: What I need to do is get some of this work

me and natural to the world we live in with the contem-

framed up and see how it all looks together. I’ll see if

porary landscape. We live in a sea of images now and

the dialogue makes any sense because that is my big

anything you want, you can just Google it and it comes

question. These are the unanswered questions at this

up! It kind of feels like this is just the natural way to live

point that I’m still working at. I have to say this whole

and I’m just living it.

project has kept me really off balance. I don’t know how to approach each piece and how to get to the end

ANDREA: And loving it!

of it is a real mystery to me. I’ve only just recently figured out how to frame them. I’m doing this pho-

FRED: Yeah I’m just being real about it. This is how it

tographic project simultaneously with it and I don’t

is and how my pre-existing sensibility is to be plugged

know how that will look in conjecture with the Times.

into a reality that has sort of evolved since I started this

So you’re talking to a person who is entirely unsure

project. When I started this project, I didn’t have a com-

and unbalanced in where I’m going…

puter, I didn’t know how to use one, and we’re talking 1990. And as it evolved it seems to comfortably inhabit

ANDREA: In chaos, you’re in chaos!

around the digital world even though it started before it. It started in an analog sensibility even though it’s still

FRED: Yeah, okay I guess you got me to admit it. You

made in an analog way.

know what it is, I have jumped off a cliff my whole life as an artist. I jumped out of painting and entered

ANDREA: Tell me about this exhibition in London.

installation and performance work in the 80’s. I swam around this lake and looked at the possibilities, I felt

FRED: It’s this show called Paper. And it’s sort of a play

like I was getting to the end of it. Then, I jumped

on paper, you know The New York Times, so I’m going to

out and started making these things that looked like

be doing about 10 large scale New York Times pieces. I’m

paintings that eventually became paintings, the drug

trying to get more done before March. In the process of

stuff, then I swam around in that for like 20 years try-

this show I’m also making photograms so there’s going

ing to push it in every different direction. And if you

to be two bodies of work so I can completely fuck up

start to know what you’re doing, it’s not interesting,

my career and confuse everyone (laughs). But the photo-

so I jumped out of that and into The Times. Now, I’m

grams, you know what photograms are?

back to not knowing what I’m doing.


ANDREA: That’s good when you don’t know what you’re doing, though.

FRED: I love the fact that they’re a shadow of the real. I’ve been working on photograms since 1990 with

FRED: It makes things a lot more compelling. I don’t

these leaves but then digitizing them and blowing

want my art to become my day job. I want it to be

them up really big and painting on top of them. I grew

something that’s really exciting and engaging and

and pressed all the plants myself and these images

challenging. That’s where I’m at right now and I re-

are not entirely collages, they’re things that I’m mak-

ally don’t know what I’m doing again.

Fred Tomaselli, Opposite top: Nov 4, 2009. 2010; Bottom: Apr. 3, 2015, 2015. Following spread: Aug 31, 2005. 2009.









Anna and Bernhard Blume, Mahlzeit, 1989. All artwork photographed by Nicholas Knight, courtesy Peter Freeman, Inc.






Anna and Bernhard Blume, Hansel und Gretel, 1990/1991.





Anna and Bernhard Blume, Top: Transzendentaler Konstrukt, 1992/2016; Center: Metaphysik ist Männersache, 1991.



Anna and Bernhard Blume, Bottom: Trautes Heim Nr. 7, 1986/2003



Cristina Coral, The other part of me, 2015. 60


P E N N Y S L I N G E R di r ty g i r l

MUSEÉ MAGAZINE: How did you meet Sir Roland

the movement made art that delved into areas specific

Penrose, who became a major support figure in your

to the feminine, and that is where I felt my contribution

early career?

came into focus. In retrospect (because I was not that familiar with her

PENNY SLINGER: When I was in my last year of my

work at the time) I feel more akin to Frida Kahlo than

diploma course at Chelsea College of Art, I was review-

any other female artist. She used the language of Sur-

ing the history of art to find subject matter for my the-

realism for her own form of intense introspection and

sis. I realized I was most interested in art that included

self-reflection. From the start, I wanted to apply the tech-

the human form, but used it in a symbolic rather than a

niques opened up by Surrealism to probe and lay bare

representational way. When I reviewed the 20th century,

the female psyche. Similar to Frida, I was not so involved

I found what I was looking for in the collage books of

with fantasy, but with plumbing the depths of the sub-

Max Ernst: ‘Une Semaine de Bonte’ and ‘La Femme 100

conscious in order to mine the jewels of the inner being

Têtes’. In England at the time, Surrealism was not very

and shine some light on them.

well represented. However, a friend of mine, Robert Erskine, offered to introduce me to Sir Roland Penrose. He

MUSEÉ: How did the topics of sex & religion become of

said Roland was the only person he knew, in England,

interest to you?

that really understood Surrealism. After the introduction was made, Roland was incredibly

PENNY: I think these are of deep interest to the seeker

generous with his time, knowledge, and enthusiasm. It

of truth and anyone with a physical body! But maybe

was Roland who introduced me to Max Ernst in Paris

that’s just because of who I am; my particular astrology,

and got my student work into the exhibit ‘Young and

and make up...

Fantastic’ at the ICA, London, in the summer of 1969,

Sex held a fascination for me from an early age. The first

just after I graduated.

portraits I did of my parents when I was 4 ½ years old did not fail to include their sexual organs!

MUSEÉ: Where do you see yourself fitting within the

Growing up in England in the 1950s was certainly not a

context of the British Surrealist Movement? How did

sex positive climate for women. The general consensus was

you see women interface with the movement in general?

that sex was something a woman had to submit to for the pleasure of man. This did not seem good enough for me.

PENNY: I was never part of the movement as such be-

I felt there had to be more to it than that. Therefore, I em-

cause the heyday of the Surrealists was over by the time I

barked on my own campaign to find out, using my body

appeared on the scene. This saddened me a little as I was

and mind as the set crucible, what was really going on.

longing to be part of something bigger than myself and I

Then I sought to convey my findings in my art, complete

wanted the co-creative dynamic of an actual movement.

with all the contradictory signals surrounding the subject.

However, I felt the tools offered by Surrealism had long-

Religion was another sacred cow whose divinity I ques-

term validity and application.

tioned because of the way I saw it practiced, as well as

I was always more attracted to the European Surrealists

the restriction and dogma associated with it. So, I soon

than the English. As far as women Surrealists were con-

rejected and renounced religion, but was always pas-

cerned, I did not feel that the women working within

sionately spiritual. I discovered the path of Tantra later

Portrait by Dhiren Dasu, 2016, clothing by Tessa Edwards, All images courtesy of Blum & Poe.


Penny Slinger, Above: When the Head Leaves the Body, 1969; Opposite: Our Seduction was Beautified, 1969.


Penny Slinger, Clues to the Stigmata Myth, 1969.


in life, which resolved the dichotomy for me because it included sacred sexuality. MUSEÉ: In one of your collages for ‘50% - The Visible Woman’, you have a portrait of a woman with “wanted” in text over her mouth. Why was this phrase important for you? PENNY: The woman is a photograph of myself. I chose to use my own image in my work, early on in my career. I saw that women were central to subject matter throughout the history of art. Generally, the woman was viewed through the eyes of a man. I wanted to be viewed through my own eyes and be my own muse. Also, I felt that I could take the most liberties in transforming my own image rather than doing that to someone else’s. I used the ‘Wanted’ slogan as a double entendre. The main association was with ‘Wanted’ posters of outlaws. I put myself in that position, outside the law. I was also aware of my allure as an attractive young woman, so that was the other side of the reference. The bandage over the mouth suggested the covered face of a bandit, and also represented the idea that I was being gagged because society sought to stop the things coming out of my mouth and wanted to silence me; to silence the outspoken feminine. MUSEÉ: Themes of vulnerability, and also strength, are apparent in your self-portraits. Has balancing those two notoriously been a struggle for you? PENNY: It is the struggle flesh is heir to. Particularly female flesh! Aren’t we all a paradoxical mix of these qualities? I always felt women needed to claim their right to equality not by being more like men, but by being fully themselves. The feminine qualities of being have been undermined for so long. It is time for them to assume pride of place for the attributes that are theirs rather than trying to match up and conform to some masculine standard. It’s in the ‘frisson’ between vulnerability and strength that rich and fertile arenas can be found. MUSEÉ: How do you incorporate ritual into your artwork? PENNY: Creating art is a ritual in itself. It takes many complexions, depending on the requirements of the project. One of the most interesting experiments I conducted in art and ritual was in the creation of the ‘64 Dakini Oracle.’ For that project, I worked with more than 50 different women. Each would go through a process of transformation, in their consciousness and through the use of costuming, makeup, body paint, and props. Once prepared, we would go into my video studio and


Penny Slinger, Alice entered the Looking Glass, 1969.


Penny Slinger, Wanted, 1969.


My work evolved according to my own understanding of the nature of self and its liberation.

ritualistically invoke and evoke the spiritual entity, the

held from the start. My difference with the face of femi-

Dakini (manifestation of a specific Feminine Wisdom).

nism in the ‘60s and ‘70s was that in seeking equality,

The energy of this being would be felt palpably and then

it seemed to take on more masculine characteristics to

I would make a photographic and videographic record

deny the truth of the body and the emotions. Going to

of how the transmission manifested.

a couple of those political meetings back in a day, I felt

Art and ritual are natural companions. In tribal culture,

only my head was being addressed, so it may as well

they are intimately interwoven. I appreciate the meaning

have been cut off!

and life this brings to art, imbuing it with vibrant totemic

The new waves of feminism are much more body and sex

qualities. I seek to make all my art totems of experience.

positive. They are holistic, and even include spiritual qualities. The more militant politics of the past denied women

MUSEÉ: You have mentioned honoring “the divine femi-

their sensual sides. But this has to be part of the new know-

nine” within your work, but also have spoken in inter-

ing and I am glad to see feminism coming of age in this way.

views about honoring the balance of masculine & femi-

My work evolved according to my own understanding

nine within you. How does gender identity, & the rise of

of the nature of self and its liberation. At first, it was

non-binary identities influence your work today?

more psychological and introspective, then broadened into a more expansive view of self-nature.

PENNY: I have always felt that the gender specific

The art world is still only embracing my early work. I

boxes we are placed in stifle us. We all have male and

hope in time, the breadth of my journey on life and art

female elements within us and their dance is the dance

will come into the full light of day and the trail I have

of creation. Inspiration is the lovemaking of our male

emblazoned be recognized. Nevertheless, I have to fol-

and female inner energies. Experiencing the divine

low where I am guided, regardless of how it is seen by

feminine is not the birthright of women alone. She

others at the time.

needs to awaken in the hearts of everyone. The femi-

I recently completed a new series entitled ‘Reclaiming

nine needs to be supported to rise because she has been

Scarlet’ which integrates my own perceptions with fash-

suppressed for so long. However, not to create a ma-

ioning an archetype of the ‘new woman’. It reflects on

triarchy. We don’t need that anymore than we needed

what I see happening in current women’s movements

patriarchy. We need balance and flow, each supporting

such as the Red Tent movement around honoring the

the other in each other and in ourselves. That’s the new

moon cycles.

harmonic. It’s much more androgynous than the way affairs have been handled for a long time. But this does

MUSEÉ: If you could give any advice to young women

not mean a flattening out of the male-female dynamic.

artists today, what would you tell them?

That’s where the juice is. In Tantra, the aim is union from duality, but if there was no duality, the coming

PENNY: Look for a pure source of inspiration, uncluttered

together wouldn’t be nearly much fun! Perhaps we

by anyone else’s opinions, likes, or dislikes. Anything that

could have removable sexual organs that could be ex-

conforms to the views of others can only be more of the

changed. That would spice it up and remove all this

same and never break new ground. You can immerse

boring gender role nonsense.

yourself in the milieu of art and culture, for everything arises out of a context and that is what gives it roots and

MUSEÉ: In the context of the third (and transitioning into

relevance. But then cut your own trail. Go where others

the fourth) wave of feminism, do you think your work has

have not dared, for in the wilderness is where you will

changed? Do you find that people receive it differently?

encounter the rawness of who you really are. That is your raw material, the mud from which your lotus can grow.

PENNY: It is interesting as the arch of feminism appears

Wallow in it as fertilizer for the soul. Do not be afraid to be

to have now come more in alignment with the views I

a dirty girl, for every work of art is a Virgin birth.

Penny Slinger, So Back to the Point of Separation, 1969.


Penny Slinger, Above: Passivity is the Active Fantasy, 1969; Opposite: The Mud Pack Smoothes, 1969.


Rory Carnegie, Above: Rory Carnegie, Perm #2, 2006. Opposite top: Perm #6, 2006; bottom: Perm #1, 2006.



Yosuke Takeda, “172136”, 2014. Courtesy of Taka Ishii Gallery, Tokyo.


Yosuke Takeda, Top: “060700”, 2014; Bottom: “081112”, 2012. Courtesy of Taka Ishii Gallery, Tokyo.


JĂşlia PontĂŠs, Depersonalization #5.



V I K M U N I Z u pstagi ng memo r y b y Joh n Hut t Do you know what is actually in paint? They used to

or image and memory, Muniz employs the kind of in-

grind up mummies to make brown, what is less orthodox

stantly recognizable poster store iconography that make

than paint? – Vik Muniz

up his most popular work. A pile of junk in the shape of a Titian, a plate of caviar creating an image of Karl

Art is not a thing, it is not a subject, it is not something

Marx. His choice of materials, for the most part, make

that you can grab or understand. Art is a vehicle, a filter;

a statement about the image he is creating. In Muniz’s

you have to pass life through it in order for it to work.

early work with string, he found that the topography of

Muniz sees himself precisely as Cézanne or Matisse; easel

the string on the paper made landscapes, influenced by

painters, people who took their canvases to the landscape

their own topography, a natural process. In other works,

and painted what they were looking at. Muniz is doing

he creates a solider from toy soldiers and turns Warhol’s

the same thing, but his landscape is different. His land-

(not DaVinci’s) Mona Lisa into PB&J. This can be inter-

scape is the result of a cross referential maze of loaded im-

preted easily and heavy handedly as soldiers used as

ages, of every preconceived image full of what has come

toys or the Mona Lisa as the most recognizable image

before it. Every image has attached to it the memory of

from the most recognizable food of the world’s premier

that image and the memory of making that image. We see

consumer culture. Muniz is humble and unpretentious,

too many images and the images are very complicated. If

he is asking questions about image representation most-

we are going to reproduce the world as artists, that has to

ly for himself, for the audience he is making a picture of

come with the same complexity as the world, but, in order

spaghetti sauce look like an image they have seen before.

to do that you have to start from the very beginning.

We are all, from a child who has never been in a museum

Art is all about realizing and updating rituals in which

before, to a debt ridden MFA student, in on the joke and

mankind deals with their environment, the duty of the

that’s the fun part.

artist is to help realize but also to update the idea of re-

His most entertaining works are predictably his most

alism itself. Children can rotate objects within a special

popular, things like Sigmund Freud in chocolate. Mu-

field, when we grow old we lose this ability. When we are

niz likes to playfully remind us that chocolate is tied

older we conceive objects from a specific vantage point,

to romance and sex, but also it looks like poop, and the

when we are dealing with an object we put the object on

first person to be able to explain this relationship would

a pedestal and we rotate it until we find a match that we

be Freud. That work is a perfect microcosm of Muniz’s

can view from the same vantage point that we had in

work – a low barrier to entry that we can all enjoy (read:

our minds. The history of representation is the history of

poop is funny), to a more nuanced examination of the

technology – from cave paintings to photography.

subject (read: Freud actually did have a lot to say about

All of the above is paraphrased from a lecture Muniz

feces and sexuality).

gave on contemporary perspectives; it is as close to

This place of low floors and high ceilings is where Mu-

a distillation on Muniz’s visual theory as there is. Not

niz likes to play. Muniz’s works encourage the viewer to

only a visual artist, Muniz is a prolific writer, lecturer

see them from many different perspectives, the first is a

and teacher. All his images can be tied together through

quick glance and a reading of the image as something

his investigation of what the difference is between what

we know, the second is to get up close and see what the

an image looks like and what it is.

image is actually made of. The Pictures of Junk series is a

To examine the area between image and representation,

Caravaggio made out of trash. Muniz found that people

Portrait by Vik Muniz (Brazilian-American, born 1961), Khyber Pass, Self-Portrait as an Oriental, after Rembrandt, from the Pictures of Junk series, 2005. Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. All following artwork courtesy of the artist and Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York. Following spread: Easter Island (Postcards from Nowhere), 2015; Following spread: Switzerland (Postcards from Nowhere), 2014


My philosophy is that you really see something for what it is when you are presented with its opposite.

like to know what is what in a picture and would get

of fascination with size has informed his most recent

close to his images and say out loud to no one in par-

works. Muniz will draw huge line drawings in the desert

ticular what was in the picture: “Oh, that’s a tire! Wow

using bulldozers and photograph them from the air, but

Diamonds”. Muniz also noted that people, particularly

he will then display them next to line drawings in dirt

people on dates, like to remark out loud when they rec-

photographed from a few feet away, as ever Muniz, is

ognize an art work; “Ah that’s a Klein, you can tell by the

forcing the viewer to look closer. In the world of Muniz

blue.” It is a good time at the museum.

”forcing the viewer to look closer” could be written as

Form follows function, but you can use an Etruscan

messes with the viewer, teases the viewer, tweaks our

bronze to hammer in a nail.

nose and laughs.

Trash pickers in Brazil are depicted from recyclable ma-

Some of his other work; the Postcards from Nowhere use

terials in his Pictures of Garbage series. A series docu-

postcards to create what are essentially stock images

mented in the film Waste Land. In one image, styled on

of well known places. His skill with collage is visible

the death of Marat, the leader of the garbage pickers

within Postcards from Nowhere as he uses it once more

union, Tião, plays the part of Marat. A modern day

in his Family Portraits series where Muniz uses found

union activist playing a dead human rights activist, all

family portraits to create idealized versions of family

in garbage. This work was later sold at auction and the

portraits. Each one has almost infinite depth and scope,

entire sum was given to the workers union. In a nice

visual jokes and clever placement of the found pictures.

bookend, near the end of Waste Land, we see Muniz

One piece in particular from Family Portraits stands out.

showing Tião, Gavin Turk’s Trash.

Amidst the pictures of children learning to ride bikes,

Later series become even more self referential, a rough

families blowing out candles on cakes and Dad cleaning

drawing of a cloud drawn in the sky by a plane – a cloud

the car is the mug shot of a 14 year old boy. The young-

that is a picture of a cloud drawn using clouds. Some-

est person ever given the death sentence in the United

thing Muniz has been interested in since his early work

States; he is the only black face in the entire series.

with cotton cloud creations. People can see anything in

Muniz, a brilliant curator as well as his other talents, re-

clouds, but they can only see one thing at a time.

counts a story where he was approached by MOMA to

In another series that focuses on reproductions of mini-

curate a show; “My retrospective!” he asked excitedly. It

malist sculpture in the Whitney, Muniz collected dust

was not to be until this year however, MOMA giving the

from the museum to recreate the image of a Judd or a

excuse that Muniz was so prolific the museum could not

Serra, creating a dichotomy between the permanence

fit enough of his work to do it justice.

and strength of the sculpture and the fragility of the

Vik Muniz previously had a retrospective at the High

medium; it is also very small when those sculptures are

Museum of Art in Atlanta from February 28th-August

normally very big. This kind of playfulness with scale

21st this year. He will have another retrospective at the

and expectations comes when Muniz recreates land art

Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art at Indiana

like Spiral Jetty in his studio using some dirt. This kind

University from October 1st through February 5th, 2017

Vik Muniz, Waterskiing (Postcards from Nowhere), 2014; Following spread: Rome (Postcards from Nowhere), 2014; Following spread: Piccadilly Circus (Postcards from Nowhere), 2014; .Following spread: Hollywood (Postcards from Nowhere), 2014;



Sandro Giordano, Hungry Doggy Boy, 2015.


Sandro Giordano, Clockwise from top left: Giuro Smetto Domani, 2015; Tanti Auguri A Me (un anno dopo), 2015; 84 Perry Street, 2015; Berlin Trans Express, 2016.


Otto Ohle, Untitled, 2016.


Otto Ohle, Untitled, 2016.



Madison Rich, Bleach, 2015.


F E D E R I C O S O L M I e vi l u top i a s

ANDREA BLANCH: Your work consistently criticizes

ANDREA: One of the reasons why I think your art is

the failure of modern society and the leaders who are

so successful is because you use satire—and use it well.

undeservingly held up on a pedestal. Is there any aspect

What brought you to this device?

of government and leadership that you find to be more effective and genuine rather than dishonest and greedy?

FEDERICO: I was always interested in being an artist, but I didn’t want to just be an artist who creates patterns,

FEDERICO SOLMI: Well, I think it’s very difficult to

or makes objects to feed the aristocracy or a self-referen-

find authentic leadership throughout human history.

tial art world that doesn’t look at what’s happening in

The moment you want to become a political leader, you

society. I became an artist simply because I want to speak

become a certain kind of person. It’s hypocritical, be-

about society. I found myself getting very into making

cause power is ruthless; it’s cynical. So it’s kind of hard

drawings and paintings, after that I understood that I

for me to find, even in the most utopian and idealistic

want to tell a story. I wanted to create a narrative work,

leader, one that doesn’t have to deal with horrible deci-

and I thought that the best way to make an impact on the

sion-making. Because in the end, a political leader, from

viewer would be to use my drawings and paintings in

my understanding, is protecting the interest of just one

combination with moving image, with video. I want to

group of people, a nation. They have to make ruthless

speak about why we are here, what’s going on in society,

decisions against other countries, against other inter-

what’s going to happen in the next fifty years if we keep

ests. One of my typical examples is the figure of George

on this course. I’m interested in finance, I’m interested in

Washington. Today he’s considered the greatest hero of

politics, I’m interested in art, of course; all of these mix-

American history. He did incredible things for Ameri-

tures that I expose myself to helps me to create my vision.

can society and American people, but he did horrible things towards the Natives. He was called the “Town

ANDREA: So how does the structure of satirical critique

Destroyer” by the Lakota Native Americans. It’s shock-

compare to a more conventional commentary?

ing to see how such a celebrated hero is seen as an incredible, idealistic leader. Meanwhile, on the other side

FEDERICO: Oh, I don’t think satirical critique was ever

of history, he is seen as a murderer. In my Utopia, I want

really embraced by the art establishment. Artists like

to see a mythical leader from 360 degrees. I want to see

Goya and Daumier were challenged. Especially Goya,

how it was for the American, the Native, and for others.

his later work was never exhibited. I think when you do satirical work, you’re criticizing the leading hierarchy of

ANDREA: Are there any heroes left in the world that you

art, politics, business—any power structures in society.

can satirize?

Those people in power don’t like to be criticized, but to me, the artist has always been interested. They were the

FEDERICO: Oh, there are plenty. I’m sure I can find a

ones that were saying, “Listen, all of these fake castles

dark side in many, even the people remembered as the

that you build—that you celebrate in business, in lit-

most incredible. I have a hard time with Abraham Lin-

erature, in politics—a lot of times it’s a bunch of lies.”

coln, you know. I didn’t want to put him into the mix,

Goya’s most celebrated period was not the one where he

because I genuinely like his history, but I know he had

was making the portrait of the king, but the dark period.

some dark sides, too.

People don’t want to see their weakness mirrored in a

Portrait by Andrea Blanch. All artwork appears courtesy of Postmasters Gallery, New York, except The Freedom Fighter, 2015, which appears courtesy of Luis De Jesus Los Angeles.


painting. They like to be disconnected from the problems

I want the audience to not trust what is put in their face.

of society. So in my work, I put what I think about society

Just try to dig and have a deeper approach to everyday

in their face, and I don’t see any other way for me.

life. Nobody questions the nature of politics and the society in which we live. Sometimes my wife says, “Fed-

ANDREA: You are putting it in their face, but it has a

erico, you should settle down and try to see the world

humor to it, even though it’s very serious. Why do you

as less malicious.” But at the same time, I feel like that’s

think people have connected to your work?

my call. I’m here. I’m on a mission. I was on a mission when nobody gave a shit about what I was making, and

FEDERICO: I think they don’t want to connect because

I think that’s what I wanted to do: to destroy myth. To

usually satire is not very elegant or polite. It’s always

destroy what people believe and take for granted.

brutal, direct, grotesque, and aggressive. I think my work is connecting better now because I am astute with

ANDREA: Do you tailor your work to any specific audience?

experience, and of course I’m becoming an older and more mature artist. In the past, it used to be very aggres-

FEDERICO: I think my work speaks amazingly to young-

sive, bloody, and stereotypical, because that was my way

er audiences because I use a lot of technology. I think to-

of doing things when I was younger. Now I think the sat-

day, the older audience has a hard time connecting to my

ire and all of the critique is more polite—but also more

work. I’m using tools that ten-year-olds are familiar with.

efficient, because I understand now that you can be very

I’m talking about video game technology and all of these

efficient without being outrageous and obnoxious. You

interactive elements in my work that children are grow-

can direct your point without being cut out of events.

ing up with now. At the same time, I wanted to combine traditional media like drawing and painting with technol-

ANDREA: But speaking as your audience, there is—well,

ogy to make something relevant and lasting. I remember

you know, I think your work is genius—but there is a

in 2002/2003, when I did the first one-minute narrative

grotesque aspect to it. I was mesmerized by all your

video combining game technology, paintings and draw-

detail in the work itself and how much effort must have

ings, I said, “Wow, I just need five of these videos to con-

gone into creating it. So, all the things you’re describing

vince people.” It took five years. Each three-minute video

about satire that don’t work, you have in your work, and

was a year of work. Then things started to happen.

it works well. ANDREA: How did you begin producing art? Do you FEDERICO: No, but what I’m trying to say is that now

have a specific background or upbringing that contrib-

I am able to basically have much better, and less obnox-

uted to these political and cultural pieces?

ious artwork. I used to do that purposely—that was me. I’m very happy that I did it, that I have criticized and

FEDERICO: No, my family were incredibly nice people,

been visually overwhelming, obnoxious, violent, and

but they were completely uneducated. My mother went

sexy. But if I wasn’t able to reach this politeness, I would

to elementary school, but nothing beyond that. My father

simply be cut out of many of the events that I’m invited

was a butcher, so I grew up in an environment where edu-

to today. Many times in the past, I was simply crossed

cation and culture was kind of like a crime, like a waste

out from museum shows, because I was considered, as

of time. But in Bologna, where I grew up, art and culture

an artist, ‘too much.’ And I didn’t change because I felt I

were in every church, in every angle of the street. It start-

had to change; I changed because of something connect-

ed to become relevant for me, and I felt like I was living

ed to my maturity, and I feel so much better that now I

a life that didn’t belong to me. When you feel completely

can be aggressive, grotesque, satirical, but in a smoother

cut out from education, you develop this tremendous, un-

way. I think that is the key of this body of work.

beatable desire. So I started to study and research with such energy and devotion that it was like I had found

ANDREA: What kind of impact do you feel it has on

God. I pushed this escape from the life I was living with so

your audience, and what kind of reaction or response

much intensity that it was so obvious that I had to become

would you like your audience to walk away with after

an artist. It was like inventing a life.

they see your work? ANDREA: So how did you start producing? FEDERICO: I think if I go back to the beginning of my career, the idea and the goal in making art was to make

FEDERICO: I think the first three or four years after I

the audience reflect on the subject that I was choosing.

came to New York, it was just about observing. The big

Basically, no matter what theme I choose to investigate,

turning point for me was moving to Dumbo, in Brook-

Federico Solmi, Opposite: The Almighty of Africa, 2015; Following spread: Left: The Savior, 2015; Right: The Freedom Fighter, 2015.


lyn. I was able to rent a studio in 2002 on Jay St. I started

ANDREA: You had told me that you teach at Yale, but

to develop my drawings; I started to do open studio,

you don’t have academic credentials to teach there. I’d

and all these other things, and I started to look at other

like to know how that happened and what you teach.

artists. It took a while to develop a body of work. I was ready to show work when I was 30.

FEDERICO: I was invited to Yale to do a series of lectures, so that was the turning point. I was part of this fantastic ex-

ANDREA: Were these drawings and paintings?

hibition that happened in Site Sante Fe Biennale. It was a show with twenty artists, all of the best video artists you can

FEDERICO: They were mainly drawings. Very neu-

think of today, and a professor at Yale, a young guy named

rotic, very busy. It had a very positive effect on me to

Johannes Deyoung. He got in touch with me, saying, “I put

be in Brooklyn and to be exposed to this first wave of

your video in the graduate program at Yale. Would you like

Williamsburg and Dumbo and all of these underground

to come do a lecture?” And I agreed. I started correspon-

environments. My first show was in a Brooklyn gallery

dence with Johannes, and they invited me several times.

back in 2005. I knew that all of these galleries were do-

The last time, they said, “Federico, what do you think about

ing okay and that they were going to move to Manhat-

teaching a class?” I’m teaching an interdisciplinary video

tan. So before long my work was in Chelsea. I ended up

class; we are basically doing what I do in the studio, us-

in the Art Fair, and that was the first week or so that I

ing game engines to create narrative and interactive video

had visibility. And around the same time, I started ex-

work. I have to say, America, which I often criticize in my

hibiting in Europe, so things started to happen.

satirical work, is incredibly receptive. When I was 35 years old, I got the Guggenheim Fellowship, which is one of the

ANDREA: And still not the kind of work you’re doing now?

best academic recommendations you can have in the United States, and I didn’t go to college! I didn’t have anything!

FEDERICO: The kind of work I’m doing now I started

Which means that, despite all of the problems and the crises

in 2003/2004 when I did my first video animation. The

and violence or whatever, it’s still an incredible country, be-

first animation was integrated in a large drawing instal-

cause it allows people to come here with nothing to show

lation. I placed a monitor inside a sculpture, it was very

except hard work—and they’re receptive.

rudimental. I remember when I did my first animation, using Grand Theft Auto, it was life changing for me. I still

ANDREA: You’ve produced an impressive amount of work.

wasn’t selling anything, and nobody wanted to show my

What pushes you to work with such vigor and frequency?

work, but I know there was a big change. I said, “I need five years. I need five videos.” And I started to put togeth-

FEDERICO: A true artist, in an older sense of the word,

er some really cool early work, which I still exhibit today.

is someone that is always constantly trying to master his ability and never sees a perfect work. He’s always looking

ANDREA: So, tell me a little bit about your process.

unconsciously to improve himself, to go deeper, and to use every minute of this life to shape his idea. I always tell

FEDERICO: The things that I struggle with the most

my wife, “Listen, I would never retire.” She says, “What

are not the things that people see. The hardest part is

if we won the lottery?” I say, “I will be old with you, but I

putting together a narrative for a series. I struggled a lot

want to keep working.” To keep sane, you know?

putting this Brotherhood series together, and amazingly, suddenly everything started to come together. Once I

ANDREA: Your work has evolved dramatically since your

have a narrative, I start to sketch the characters by hand,

ironic Safe Journey in 2003. Why did you introduce color?

doing drawings. Then, I hire a 3D modeler to create 3D models of each character and we replace the digital tex-

FEDERICO: The big turning point was the video called

ture of each character with hand painted textures. You

The Evil Empire, which was a really explicit work about

end up with a 3D character that is dressed with painted

the abuse of the Catholic Church. In order to portray

textures. After, I create environments that I make in the

this awful fictional pope, all the environments in which

video game engine that we shape and create at the stu-

this character lived were like gold frescoes, and color

dio by modeling with all this software. Then everything

came with that. So, going back to what we said before,

is texture mapped with hand-painted drawings. Once

what is grotesque, what is caricature, is when you take

we have the environment and the character—which in

an element of a pictorial project and you exaggerate it

this case took six months of ten people working—I start

in an obnoxious and nonrealistic proportion. So this

to develop individual storyboards for each video-game

overwhelming color that you see in my work acts like a

painting that we’re creating.

bombardment to the viewer. Going back to the issue of

Federico Solmi, The Invader, 2015.


chaos, it’s sort of transmitting the sense of anxiety—an

FEDERICO: Honestly, I think that the school system in

overwhelming chaos—that represents the big metropo-

the United States is very perverted, particularly the art ed-

lis in the 21st century. I like to overwhelm the viewer, to

ucation. I think all of the weakness you see in the art comes

bombard them sometimes.

from art education. To be more specific, most of the students go to grad school for networking. Not even to study,

ANDREA: You do a good job of that. [both laugh] So tell

just to build a network. It’s depressing that people are will-

me, what ambitious project are you working on now?

ing to pay $150,000 for networking. Who has $150,000 to go do an MFA? Our profession is becoming a profession

FEDERICO: Right now I’m working on an exhibition

for the elite. Our education is becoming very mild. Every-

that is opening in August in Venezuela in three loca-

one is so polite, they’re so afraid to speak out. There is no

tions. It’s an unusual event. It’s a big museum solo

animated conversation about art. It makes me believe that

show in a nation where politics have taken everything

whoever is considered very important today from this bu-

away from their people. Of course, it’s a show that

reaucratic structure will be nothing in fifty years. The art

won’t generate a single dollar, but I’m excited about

world is ruled by art consultants, Wall Street tycoons, and

the challenge. Also, instead of making a catalog, we

a few galleries. So I feel like we live in a very perverted

are making a coloring book based on my drawings.

environment. I don’t want to be corrupted by all of that. I

The title for the show is “Counterfeit Heroes,” and ba-

never give a damn about what is hip or what is trending.

sically we’re going to distribute, free-of-charge, all of

It’s not that I don’t care, it’s that I don’t trust them.

these coloring books with each of the characters, like George Washington and Mussolini, so that people can

ANDREA: When you came here with nothing, what did

take home a coloring book that shows these mythical

you live on? Did you have a second job?

political leaders alongside the reality of their politics. Of course there’s a problem with censorship that we’re

FEDERICO: Absolutely. I’ve always been very hard-

trying to figure out, also the event is sponsored by the

working. When I first came to New York, I had saved

American Embassy and the Italian Embassy, so I have

some money in Italy, so for the first two years I had

to be careful about what leaders I pick to feature. I’m

enough money to just observe. Then, I had to do any

also going over some thoughts I have about the next se-

kind of job. I did everything from modeling to plaster-

ries with my assistant, who’s basically my shrink right

ing walls. I think it’s important to be exposed to the

now. At the moment, I’m very focused on American

most corrupt of society while in the craziest, most in-

history, American society and American historical con-

novative environment. An artist is someone that is able

text. We’re about to have the election in 2016.

to digest and understand the course of society before many average people are able to. There’s got to be some

ANDREA: Do you have anything with Donald Trump?

magic about the artist, they cannot just be crazy. I have to think that what pushes me to do all of this is beyond

FEDERICO: Absolutely. I’m interested in Melania

just being crazy, it is like an extreme desire for clar-

Trump, too. That couple is like a caricature. It’s going

ity. I think from an outside point of view, it looks like

to be very difficult for me to do a satire on a satirical

madness, because there’s not much money involved. If

character. But I’ve studied American history quite a

you’re lucky you can pay expenses. There’s this percep-

bit, trying to be educated before making work about

tion that with success, money will follow, but the reality

it, and I think that the history of this country has

is you barely have the money to do the next series. And

always been problematic. Politics has always been

things probably are not going to change.

the game of the super powerful. Maybe it was an exception with Obama, but he was still a Harvard-

ANDREA: So what do you do, receive patronage, get com-

educated man. He’s one of the few that I really ad-

missioned, sell your work?

mire, but there is a system that makes it impossible to create your dream and your utopia. I think Obama

FEDERICO: No, not really. Basically, whatever I sell

is a very good example to show that the system is

goes into the next project. We’re not talking about mak-

so corrupted that the most idealistic person is com-

ing serious money here. It’s a labor of love. The big

pletely paralyzed.

money at the moment is in the most predictable art. That’s obvious. If you’re not predictable, you just get

ANDREA: I agree. I’m curious about a couple of things

kicked in the ass. And it’s always been like this. You do

about you. With your lack of formal education, how im-

predictable, luxurious, and well-packaged art, and you

portant do you think art school is for children now?

get ahead. But I have zero interest in that.

Frederico Solmi, Opposite: The Waltz, 2015; Following spread: Left: Madame Royale, 2015; Right: Who He Shake the Earth, 2015.






Motoyuki Daifu, Project Family, 2010. All images courtesy of Misako & Rosen.







Motoyuki Daifu, Opposite and above: Still Life, 2013.





Motoyuki Daifu, Top and bottom: Project Family, 2010.



Motoyuki Daifu, Still Life, 2013.





Motoyuki Daifu, Project Family, 2010.



Motoyuki Daifu, Still Life, 2013.



Donato DiCamillo, Top: Nailed It, Bottom: Chia, 2016.


Donato DiCamillo, Top: It’s A Wrap, Bottom: Smoke On The Water.


Madeleine Bazil, Après (Place de la République), 2015.



R E B E C CA M I L L E R th e gard ner

ANDREA BLANCH: You do it all, writing, film, even

REBECCA: Well no, they don’t always tend to work out

painting at one time. I imagine one reason why you

well. I am interested in the centrifugal force that hap-

left painting was because you wanted to get out and

pens once certain elements are put into play. There’s an

meet people, you were dealing with isolation, but

emotional physics to it, where the premise has to do with

writing is isolating.

characters, and these characters have inner motions. Those inner motions give birth to the whole thing. If you

REBECCA MILLER: Yes, well at that time, my life as

add up certain character traits and put them together in

a painter was very hermetic in a sense that I was work-

a test tube, there’s going to be some kind of explosion.

ing off of dreams, so I was dreaming and painting. I had

And that’s what a story is, it’s the result of different char-

my little set of friends that I had known since college,

acters coming together and intermingling, which then

but I began to feel like I was never going to meet a new

creates an uncontrolled situation.

person. Although I loved it, it was sort of claustrophobic. When I started thinking about film, it was liberating.

ANDREA: How would you have handled the situation

Suddenly your life is material and you can meet people

if you were Maggie? I related to her in many ways, but

and look around you and go to new places. It was very

what I found interesting was her trying to reunite her

important for me to do that.

husband with his ex-wife. I think most people would have a hard time thinking of that and putting it into

ANDREA: Do you prefer film or writing?

plan, but to actually do it…

REBECCA: I think it depends on the period in my life.

REBECCA: No, I don’t think I would exactly do that,

When I wrote Jacob’s Folly, which was my last novel, it

but I’m not Maggie. Maggie is someone whose ethics

took five years. I was living in remote Ireland with my

come first since she is very ethically driven. And strange-

family. My kids were young and it was the right thing

ly enough, this is for her, a very ethical solution. It’s like

to be doing at that time. I had a novel in me. I don’t al-

you broke up someone’s marriage, you’re not in love

ways have that concentration nor would I want to live

anymore, and even though it costs her a lot to do, the

that way all the time, because it is very isolating. You are

scene where he tells her it actually worked is a very pain-

living inside yourself a lot. That being said, it could be

ful scene for her, she believes it’s the right thing to do,

very liberating too because you control the world. At this

and for Maggie, that’s actually above everything even

point, making films is more exciting. I do have one thing

though she gets herself in all sorts of messes.

that I’d like to write as a fiction piece, but in general it’s a moment in my life where I feel like I can get the money

ANDREA: I like that; I like the premise. Now it’s been

to make films and I’m on a roll.

written that Maggie’s Plan is thoroughly female. How does cinema facilitate the female point of view, and has

ANDREA: Let’s start talking about your films. This is-

that expanded since you started working?

sue is about chaos, and consequently is also about order which is something you explored in Maggie’s Plan. What

REBECCA: I don’t know. People think it’s female partly

draws you to deliberately uncontrolled situations, and

because it’s taking a genre that generally is centered

do they always tend to work out well?

around the male looking at female, and changed the

Portrait by Andrea Blanch. All still photos by Jon Pack, Hall Monitor, Inc., from Maggie’s Plan appear courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics. Following spread: Left to right: Greta Gerwig as Maggie and Julianne Moore as Georgette.


gaze so it’s the females at the center. In that sense, I think

about the other side of it which argues that by saying a

it is female. In terms of the actual way it’s filmed, or the

female directed it doesn’t that also push…

technical aspect of that, I think if people didn’t know what sex the person was, they would certainly think

REBECCA: Yes, but that’s different. I don’t necessar-

this is a male. I have trouble buying this whole thing

ily think I’d want to direct the next Jason Bourne movie,

where people say ‘this movie needs a female character’.

but I think that there are plenty of women who would be

My problem with that is that no one would ever say

very good at that. That’s just an example of how they are

this movie needs a male director so it’s implicit that the

typecasting directors now. Every time one of us makes a

director will be male. If it needs a female director, that

successful film, it helps all of us. Likewise, any time one

means it usually has certain things about it that makes

of us makes a film that’s not made for a tiny budget, that

people think a female director would do a better job,

also helps us. Whether I want to or not, every time I make

but it also makes all female directors lumped together

a film, it is a political act. It just is as if a person of color is

as one. It’s implicit, like anybody with ovaries [laughs]. I

making a film, or anybody who is marginalized or in a mi-

find that offensive, because in truth, we’re all different. I

nority doing something where it is only a tiny percentage

admire Katherine Bigelow enormously, but she and I do

of people that are similar who are doing that same thing,

not share the same sensibility, where as in certain cases,

then of course it becomes important in a different way.

there are certain filmmakers that are male that I actually share more with in terms of my sensibility. I think re-

ANDREA: You spoke about the way the film is shot. I’d like

ally true progress is only going to happen when we stop

you to talk about your shooting style on Maggie’s Plan, be-

thinking about ourselves so much in terms of our gender

cause I read how it came about with the pacing and then

and think more of ourselves in terms of individuals. That

the dialogue and then you developed it. What style is that?

may be weirdly reactionary, but that is what I think. REBECCA: Sam Levy, the photography director, did ANDREA: I think that’s a good argument but what

something that we call playful panning, where we want-

Left to right: Greta Gerwig as Maggie and Ethan Hawke as John.


ed the camera to have a prescient quality almost like

stand how to approach love scenes. The actors really

it knows more than the viewer. It demonstrates there

don’t want to be told what to do, because it’s not like you

is something to be known that maybe Maggie doesn’t

do that to them in any other context. There is a need to

know, like the camera is ahead of her in very simple

choreograph love scenes in some way but still keep them

ways. For example, there is one shot of them walking

fresh and real, because I’m actually quite a shy person, but

down the hall and rather than cutting the camera swiftly,

I write a lot about sex and I’m really interested in sex and

it swerves down to a bench where they’ll be, in fact, fall-

I have to weigh in there. I’m not afraid of really almost

ing in love sometime later. You’ll see that bench again

anything but directing love scenes, it’s something that—

behind the characters in the next scene where she talks to her friend, Felicia, and they discuss John Harding. You’d

ANDREA: I loved that scene in Maggie’s Plan when he

have to go and see the film twice to catch that maybe, but

was undressing.

it’s there. There’s another scene where the camera moves toward the buzzer in her apartment before it rings. That

REBECCA: Yes, it’s very sexy, right?

was one of the things we did to create this prescient camera without making it overtly stylized. I didn’t think it

ANDREA: It was amazing (laughs).

was that sort of movie. It’s a very painterly movie to me in the way that color was used. I thought a lot about how

REBECCA: I was very happy with that. That was a real

this sweater works against that wall and how meaning is

collaboration with the actors. It was Greta who said that

constructed through color.

she needed an enormous nightgown and then we had this idea — well we had several ideas — but in the end

ANDREA: What is the most difficult part of being a di-

he ended up falling to his knees, and it was so romantic.

rector for you?

It’s really hard to find new ways to do love scenes. When you look at most love scenes, it’s as if the actors just hang

REBECCA: I think it’s taken me a long time to under-

up their talent at the door and then they just do this oth-

Above: Left to right: Ethan Hawke as John and Greta Gerwig as Maggie; Following spread: Left to right: Greta Gerwig as Maggie and Julianne Moore as Georgette


er thing. It becomes like its own separate universe. It’s

this is a part of, was probably more of a direct influence.

a tough thing for everybody and yet it’s so important. ANDREA: Talking about the language, where did the ANDREA: There are people that, because of this movie,

idea of fictocritical anthropology come from?

are comparing you to Woody Allen a lot. How do you feel about that and what do you feel the similarities are, if any?

REBECCA: It’s a real thing. It actually was a gift given by my best friend Barbara Browning, a professor at

REBECCA: I think I was aware of that going in. You

NYU. When I had her read the very first draft, she said

can’t make a movie that’s set in New York involving in-

these people really seem like fictocritical anthropolo-

tellectuals on the comic side without invoking Woody.

gists. I was just lapping it up the minute I heard about it.

He’s a master of the word movie form. This movie is fired by language, the humor is fired by language and

ANDREA: So what happened in Jack and Rose? Where

the ideas are fired by language, but I tried to make it as

were you in all of that?

visually appealing and interesting as possible. There’s no denying that it is a word movie. It’s inevitable that there’s

REBECCA: I think Jack and Rose is what happens or

a comparison and I find it interesting that some of the

what is taboo when someone isn’t socialized. You take

things I read talked about the inversion of that kind of

someone out of society or they are not educated in terms

form, and it becomes that I’m turning it a little bit on its

of the ways of society, and then you suddenly put them

head because the female is at the center instead of being

into a context that’s very challenging because they have

observed by the male now and that’s kind of fun. I was

to defend their ground. In her case, that was her relation-

aware of doing it and it was fun to do in part because I

ship with her father. There’s an emotional mathematics

did think it was a genre. I was looking at Preston Surges

that happens and it becomes explosive. That film is inter-

and some of the older films like Philadelphia Story for ex-

esting because when I started, it took ten years to get the

ample, and the tradition of the comedy of remarriage that

money for it. At the beginning, I was an adult but I had

Left to right: Ethan Hawke as John and Greta Gerwig as Maggie. Julianne Moore as Georgette


no children so it was very much of that Rose. By the time

Place, I felt that she was screaming for attention and he

I made the film, I had rewritten it several times and it

just didn’t give her any.

had really become as much his story as her story. I began more and more to see it from his point of view.

REBECCA: I mean, it’s an old German saying that every relationship has a gardener and a rose. I remember

ANDREA: I agree with you. What do you think the

a German friend of mine saying that to me, and think-

“thread” is going through your movies, if you think you

ing that is so interesting, even though I think in a lot of

have one, even when the movie subject changes?

relationships that can switch for a period of time, and I think it should switch. He’s definitely the gardener,

REBECCA: I think there are a couple of things actually,

and Georgette is definitely the rose, and then he goes

and I am probably not aware of a lot of them, because I

off with Maggie and he’s so relieved because he gets

think sometimes artists are the last to know. I definitely

to be the rose. What doesn’t happen and what should

seem to return to the idea of innocence or “the innocent”

happen is that when Georgette is saying I have to talk

quite a lot. Rose is an innocent who is actually quite dan-

to him in the snow, that she realized she made a mis-

gerous, and Maggie is an innocent in a sense, because

take. In a healthy relationship, it goes back and forth.

she is unknowing of the way that most people do things.

There’s probably someone who’s dominantly more of a

She has a type of blankness to her in terms of how people

gardener and someone who’s dominantly more of a rose

normally act. It’s like what Georgette says to her towards

but if it’s only that, then the gardener’s going to start

the end, “you’re such an interesting person, something

to feel abused or used and the rose, might become dis-

about you is a little bit stupid but you’re so unconscious,

connected and finally not really appreciate the gardener

I can’t help it, I like you”.

anymore. What you also need is two people saying ‘I need this’ but it’s a hard balance to achieve and I think

ANDREA: I’d like to talk about the gardener and the

that’s what happens; it’s two cases of imbalance. I think

rose. Do you think that was the problem? In Maggie’s

finally what we have in the end was two mature people

Above: Julianne Moore as Georgette; Following spread: Left to right: Maya Rudolph as Felicia and Bill Hader as Tony.


who actually have an enormous amount of curiosity

ANDREA: Do you feel satisfied with the films that

about each other and that’s what’s going to get them

you’ve made? Do you feel that they have been fully real-

through. What the older couple has is that they are com-

ized? Do you go back and watch them and say, ‘I wish I

pletely passionate about their work and each other’s

would have done that’?

work and they’re very interested about each other. She’s also learned a lesson.

REBECCA: I don’t really go back and watch my films that much after I’ve made them. I’ll watch them a few

ANDREA: I loved that scene; I thought it was a riot.

times while we’re up with them, because of course I am

I have to say, in movies, I usually find myself knowing

worried I am going to go back and think ‘oh my god,

what’s going to happen, but in your movies it’s very,

why did I do that’. They’re all accurate portraits of where

very subtle. That scene when she was in the snow and

I was at the time. Imitating yourself is always a mistake.

she’s confessing and saying ‘Are we going to die yet?’ completely cracked me up.

ANDREA: You’ve had quite the success in the fields that you’ve branched into. Do you have one that you are most proud of that

REBECCA: It was that scene that made Julianne Moore

stands out most to you. Personal Velocity, for example?

want to do the movie. REBECCA: I was very proud of Personal Velocity, I did ANDREA: Your movies really captivated me. I feel very at-

not anticipate something like that happening and then

tracted to the subtlety and there’s even a quiet to your movies.

actually collecting my films has been amazing. Winning Sundance was a big deal for me. I was with my friend,

REBECCA: I like to give room for the viewer to enter,

Gary Winneck, who really made it possible for me to re-

to be part of it. If you do everything for the viewer, that

turn as a director. I had quit directing after I decided I

can be pleasurable too, but I think sometimes it’s nice to

was going to write fiction because I couldn’t get money

allow a viewer in.

to direct Jack and Rose, thinking I’m not going to spend

Left to right: Greta Gerwig as Maggie and Bill Hader as Tony.


my life looking for money, so I’ll just write fiction and

too many ideas and too much going on and I could have

try to make a living that way. Gary resuscitated me and

just floated off to the stratosphere if I didn’t have limita-

asked me to make an indie budget film. It was really

tions. Having a family, in a positive way, was limiting to

through him that I came back to filmmaking and won

me. I could only have this many hours to write, or if I

Sundance. It was also very moving that he won Best Di-

made a film, this is how much I had and I had to orga-

rector and I won the Grand Jury Prize because no one

nize myself around that. It acted as a a defining grid. I

was really making digital films then.

think I have chaos bubbling inside of me and I need order. I need to impose order in chaos, or else I’d be stark

ANDREA: If anyone was to look at your person, your

raving mad. As an artist, you need both. If you don’t

life, your children, your upbringing, they would see you

have chaos you have nothing to say, but if you only have

have it all. What is it about your character, or the quali-

chaos, then you really are crazy. I think those two things

ties you possess, that have created this success? People

need to co-exist.

can work hard, people can have connections, people can be attractive and all of that but that doesn’t mean they

ANDREA: What’s next for you?

will achieve what you have achieved. REBECCA: Well, I wrote Jacob’s Folly, about a Jewish fly REBECCA: Thank you. You only need to look at my

reincarnated in contemporary Long Island, and that is

films to realize I did not have it all together (laughs).

something I might look into making into a multi-part se-

I’m somebody who is haunted by a lot of stuff, and there

ries at some point, but that’s a dream right now. I have a

are stories bubbling up inside me all the time. I have

script I finished that I am going to try and make next year,

too many stories going on at the same time, and for me

but I am in no rush because I like to creep up on things and

it’s about trying to pare things down and control the

take a really long time on pre-production. That’s one of the

floodgates. In some ways, my saving grace was having

things I need for full preparation on set and to feel secure. I

a family because it created boundaries. Otherwise, I had

think I am probably going to start casting that soon.

Above: Greta Gerwig as Maggie; Following spread: Left to right: Sue Jean Kim as Komiko and Greta Gerwig as Maggie.


Brian Pinkley, No. 786, 2015.


Brian Pinkley, No. 811, 2016.







Robert & Shana ParkeHarrison, Earth Coat, 2003. All images courtesy Catherine Edelman Gallery, Chicago.






Robert & Shana ParkeHarrison, Garden of Selves, 2000.





Robert & Shana ParkeHarrison, Gathering, 1994.



Robert & Shana ParkeHarrison, Reliquary, 1998.





Robert & Shana ParkeHarrison, Flying Lesson, 1999.



Robert & Shana ParkeHarrison, Lucid Dream, 2005.



A N A M E N D I E TA th e sub l i me b y Da v i d Fra nci s In an exhibition titled Sublime. Tremors of the World, a

low the steps, one looks up and sees darkness and tiny

geological inferno opens way to an exploration of the

protrusions of light that appear to be stars. The beauty of

sublime, an exploration that ends with selections of Ana

celestial spheres is, we might imagine, all that remains of

Mendieta’s photographic and filmic works. To be sure, in

light blotted out by waste. Elsewhere, I see Leonardo Da

Metz, France, my path through the Centre Pompidou’s

Vinci’s Deluge (1517-1518), a 15.8 X 20 centimeter char-

rooms begins also with film. When I enter, the architec-

coal drawing of swirling lines that encompass miniscule

ture that encases my exploration disappears in darkness.

outlines of houses and trees. In another piece, I observe

A projection covering the first room’s left wall shows

a series of 19th century plaques of reverse painted glass,

a crater 70 meters wide and filled with brown stones,

one of which contains the image of a family fleeing their

scorched and burning. My eyes follow the emanation

home as an avalanche crashes down from above. Used

of light in the cinematic space. Smoke billows, reflecting

in magic lanterns that preceded the onset of modern cin-

the white radiance of fire before the camera’s lens takes

ema, the plaques are part and parcel to a long history of

a crane shot and plunges my view into a pit in the earth

capturing the sort of movement that preoccupied Da Vin-

that has been burning on methane gas since 1971. The

ci. The machines of invention, nevertheless, made such

sensation of this full-bodied experience—the movie the-

movement more expansive, as the stilled image on the

ater translated to the museum—comes from Adrien Mis-

plaque would be magnified in lamplight on a nearby wall

sika’s Darvaza (2011), a film named after Turkmenistan’s

or screen for many to observe, together, in darkness. In

burning crater, commonly known as the Gate to Hell.

the exhibition, this memory of magnified and incumbent

From this scene, my path toward Mendieta’s select 15

devastation, I’d like to posit, now shares with Mendieta’s

photographs and 2 video projections follows a variety of

work suggestive links to a history of collective viewing

spaces and landscapes that the museum curators employ

and ongoing interpretation of captured movement and

to present a long history of imagining and responding to

imminent human erasure.

the sublime, a concept that has roots in the 18th century.

Yet, despite her use of multiple media, Mendieta’s con-

What Frances Ferguson has called “all that we fear for

tributions to our collective viewing and interpretation

being greater and more powerful than we are” appears in

of the natural world seem, on the surface, to be far less

many of these works to be the devastation of the elements

magnified and catastrophic. Far from encompassing

framed as (nearly) overcoming humanity, the body, or the

the entire sensorial experience of a museum room’s

notion we maintain of our stable relationships with the

four walls, the exhibition’s final room contains two of

natural world (1231).

the Cuban-American films, positioned diagonally from

Before I arrive at Mendieta’s works, the trepidation with

each other, on opposing walls. The curators have called

which I observe the deterioration of the earth is empha-

the final space “Osmosis: the sublime reinvented,” and

sized as the slow or rapid encroachment of the apocalyp-

it therefore outlines the contributions they suggest that

tic. In Mark Dion’s Deep Time Closet (2001), for example,

Mendieta has made to the sublime’s redefinition.

tar is spilled over steps above a closet situated in the

In the room’s first film, Grass Breathing (1974), the camera

middle of a room. Each step bears the name of a period of

remains still, focused on a yard of green grass trembling

the earth’s history (quaternary, tertiary, etc.), and the tar

in wind. In the distance, tree branches rise and fall in

itself is stilled in the act of dripping what looks like thick,

gusts of air, and slowly, as the image proceeds, a plot of

black blood down each step. Upon entering the closet be-

grass in the center of the screen gains my attention. The

Ana Mendieta with an untitled sculpture, 1995. All images ©The Estate of Ana Mendieta Collection, LLC, Courtesy Galerie Lelong, New York.


The loss of vision of the whole appears to bring us into more detailed contact with its parts

plot rises and falls, as if it were taking in air. The film

on smoke, the life and death of the natural world com-

lasts 3 minutes and 8 seconds, and it loops back for the

municated through intense mediation and technological

benefit of each walking viewer. Each time I see it begin,

innovation. However natural I might take them to be, the

I watch the grass undulate with increasing force, higher

landscapes I see projected are also artificial, architectur-

from the level ground and collapsing again, appearing to

ally framed, projected, and viewed on the wall’s screens

be an expansive lung more fully active with each breath.

in an air-conditioned space. At the same time, the work

Turning around, I see Giuseppe Penone’s Soffio di foglie

of framing the so-called sublime in nature is not merely

(Breath of leaves) (1979) in the center of the room: a pile

that of the artist, but has become that of the museum’s

of leaves with the imprint of the artist’s breath and body,

curators and its patrons.

now absent, marking its form. I walk around it and ar-

In a space so occupied with history, Giuliana Bruno’s

rive at Mendieta’s Birth (1981), taken from her series of

writing on the museum helps me make sense of inhabit-

Gunpowder Works. It is the room’s, and the exhibition’s,

ing these rooms of emotive terror, of loss and the interpre-

final piece. The film is black and white, and the camera

tation of catastrophe. Examining the architecture of mu-

focuses from a roughly 45-degree angle on the shape of

seums, Bruno looks to the history of surfaces, of skins, to

a female body, made of earth, situated in mud beside a

make sense of “different ruins,” time “impressed on other

body of water. Seconds after the film has begun, smoke

kinds of architecture—the translucent screens of moving-

erupts from between the figure’s legs and flows into the

image installations.” I therefore write of Ana Mendieta to

air. I watch as the smoke becomes thicker and the camera

argue that her art continues to take shape in an increasing-

presents a series of shot/reverse shots between close-ups

ly expansive conversation regarding the history of ruin

of the water or the cracked earth and the original scene.

that artists have documented and imagined over time.

The close-ups present the texture of the earth, the mud,

Equally important to me are the lessons her works suggest

and the water while simultaneously excluding from view

when juxtaposed beside other artists’ creations. Move-

the body of the earth’s form as the film first presents it.

ment, in most pieces I observe in the Centre Pompidou, is

Some of this form’s contours are visible, but I recognize

central to communicating the devastation and chaos that

them as sculpted parts of the human shape only with the

the natural threatens in our carved-out, mechanical lives.

memory of a past image. Depending on how I view the

Much has been written about Mendieta’s relationship

film’s close-ups, the body’s figure is both hyper-present

with the earth, but not a great deal has focused on this

and easily forgotten, mistaken (or taken more accurately)

sense of global catastrophe, the overwhelmingly real or

simply as fragments of the figure, of earth, as landscape,

feared natural events that might make our moving bod-

obscured within a vision of the surrounding environ-

ies disappear. To be sure, the artist’s Silueta Series photo-

ment’s minutiae. Just as quickly, the original figure ap-

graphs, also on display in Metz, help us to think about

pears again, restored and, in a word, reborn.

the history of Mendieta’s marked absence, the notion of

This is one lesson I learn from Mendieta’s work in the

the trace of an end or an incomplete whole in her pre-

museum space: the loss of vision of the whole appears

sentation of earth/body symbiosis. I have consequently

to bring us into more detailed contact with its parts. The

opened with the moving image because I believe that the

vertiginous movement of perspective does more than

recent resuscitation of the entirety of Mendieta’s filmic

teach the viewer the presence of absence. It communi-

works, led by her niece Raquel Cecilia Mendieta, will

cates the feeling of instructive and interpretive vertigo.

further revolutionize the way we understand Mendieta’s

When viewing what I think is the complete figure of a

life’s production. I also believe that the manner in which

body beside water, I appreciate conversely the material-

we view her old and revived work—in conjunction with

ity of its form through a memory of its parts.

moving image theory—needs to be addressed in relation-

Can this experience teach us about Mendieta’s works as a

ship to the museum’s unique cinematic architecture and

whole and the relationships her works might have to the

its moving patrons.

museum space and the future of land art?

Captured in film, Mendieta’s revived works are now also

Though the scene of vertigo is different from that of

digital, and might have been witnessed most recently in

Darvaza, the exhibition’s ending has much in common

Galerie Lelong’s Ana Mendieta: Experimental and Interac-

with its opening space: the moving image’s emphasis

tive Films. The resuscitation of Mendieta’s filmic work

Ana Mendieta, Untitled: Silueta Series, Mexico, 1976.


Rather than threatening death, absence of the human is revealed, already present.

and her continued exhibition within the archive of the

was on the rise once again during and since the 1960s.

museum appear to be ordered, the result of systematic

Born in Havana, Cuba in 1948, Ana Mendieta produced

focused labor, a far cry from the “chaos” that marks this

a noteworthy number of works that contributed to this

edition. Yet, within the museum, the artist’s pieces are

movement before her tragic death, falling from her 34th

luminous of how the lived space of multiple viewers can

floor apartment, in New York in 1985. However, among

present new readings of the elements Mendieta inhab-

over 100 works in the Pompidou, Ana Mendieta’s pho-

ited, shaped, and documented. “Chaos” comes etymo-

tographic and filmic pieces contribute to the museum’s

logically from “the abyss”—the Greek khaos, denotes this

more contemporary definitions of sublimity. If they are

void. And the empty space between Mendieta’s moving

representative of the sublime, her works are remarkably

and still images in the museum allows for “chaos” to be

different and intersect with multiple understandings of

aligned with the perspectives of new viewerships.

muted fear in the face of our passing through time. With-

Indeed, these empty spaces are highlighted in Mendieta’s

out resorting to intense magnification, Mendieta shows

photographs on display in the Centre Pompidou’s pen-

not (or not only) the framing of ruin, but the fact that

ultimate room. In Siluetas (Image from Yagul) (1973), the

our memory and our bodies might be (and are) miscon-

nude body lies in a grave, and white buds blossoming

strued, misread, erased. Writing on Mendieta’s 3-minute

from long green stems grow around her body, between its

Super-8 film, Sweating Blood (1973), Abigail Solomon-

limbs, overtaking and obscuring the contours of the hu-

Godeau was right to attribute blood to the act of labor,

man. What was once an empty death bed has now been

but also to “giving birth, not being born” (4). Land art is,

framed as a bed of flowers, the space of verdant growth.

of course, the art of laboring in and framing the land, so

Not on display at the Metz, On Giving Life (1975) repeats

much reminiscent, to me, of landscape poetry, where no-

the spirit of offering life in the juxtaposition of a skeleton

tions of race, gender, and class may also be given, made

and a living woman. Naked in the photograph, Mendieta

evident, and then, at times, misgiven, muted.

kneels over the skeleton in deep grass. As if arranging the

Nevertheless, the Cuban-American’s Silueta Series evokes

body’s bones, she touches its arms. The photographed

a concern not only for the mark or trace a body might

piece aligns the nude body with the “bare bones” of the

leave in the earth, but for how the body’s insertion into a

dead, captures an act of ritual, as the skeleton, positioned

landscape might remain. Despite the chaos of the earth,

on the earth, maintains contact with the living, uncovered

or our chaotic dealings with it, which we still, it seems,

by earth. Rather than presenting terror in the face of the

remain startled to see, Mendieta’s works haunt differ-

living body (whose face we cannot see, is directed toward

ently. And, yet, they are also imbued with the urgency

the bones), the photograph presents the deterioration and

of giving life. However much the chaos of the natural

absence of human skin as one that lies coterminous in time

threatens our lives, her works in the exhibition do more

with life and the artist’s bare body and human touch. Such

than confirm a pleasure of aestheticizing terror. However

human contact, in other pieces, is stilled only in memory,

representative of mortality, her work is tinged with re-

as an untitled work in the Silueta Series at the Pompidou

birth, which communicates the indelibility of a sublimely

frames only the trace of the body, an indentation left on

emotive life, captured in print and captured in space be-

beach sand and filled with red. Unlike the moving image,

tween a viewer’s ongoing observance of birth and decay.

the photograph captures a moment of seaside activity

In the sublime, “fear” and “power” evoke critique, com-

whose waves will eventually erase the body’s mark and

parison, and, Kant and Schiller would have it, socializa-

the color of blood that once filled it. Rather than threaten-

tion. Mendieta’s works appear to have done the same.

ing death, absence of the human is revealed, already pres-

One wonders if the impulse to align these artists together

ent. Immanence of erasure is merely documented, and our

across centuries was not merely to suggest the develop-

acknowledgement that such erasure must now have hap-

ment of an idea in relationship with the expansive nature

pened occurs in the present moment.

of the world’s catastrophes. In visiting the exhibition, pa-

In the transhistorical examination of the sublime, Mend-

trons might witness also the history of our attempts to

ieta’s works reorient what organizers of the exhibi-

frame the sublime, to inhabit it, to enjoy its apparently

tion have marked as many artists’ resurgent interest in

life-giving potential, and the pleasure of our having sur-

landscape and environmental chaos, an interest which

vived, for the time being, its eminent force.

Ana Mendieta, Opposite: Untitled: Silueta Series, Mexico, 1973. Following spread: Left: Untitled: Silueta Series, Iowa, 1977; Right: Alma, Silueta en Fuego, 1975; Following spread: On Giving Life, 1975.



Mads Holm, Opposite: CIVIL WAR #01, 2012; Above: CIVIL WAR #12, 2012.


Karolina Sekula, Above: Tomasz Haladaj , Siano, 2016; Opposite: Tomasz Haladaj, Morning, 2016.




J O H N B A L D E S S A R I r u l e s f o r l i v i ng

Portrait by Michael Tighe. All artwor courtesy of John Baldessari and Mixografia.


Arguably one of the most important artists of the 21st century, John Baldessari has and continues to create works that disorient cultural iconography. For this issue, I specifically selected his series, Crowds with the Shape of Reason Missing, because crowds speak to chaos. Crowds create a collective energy that is unpredictable. When the “I” is submerged in the “we” and boundaries of selfhood are dissolved, people commit obscene or violent acts that they would never do on their own. But on the opposite end of the same psychology they are powerful acts of solidarity, support, and empathy. Crowds strip us of our sense of self-awareness, thus de-individualizing us. This clashes with the development of our individuality, a concept that Western society has valued for centuries. We lose our personal identifiers that let us distinguish ourselves from others. We start to think and act similarly. We are engulfed by one large being, a category essentially. Within the crowd and without personal values or norms, the sense of self is thrown into a state of chaos. ANDREA BLANCH: Let’s start with your series, Crowds with the Shape of Reason Missing. Can you speak about how this came to be? Why did you choose those particular images? Does the series have any political references? JOHN BALDESSARI: Okay. Working backwards, I don’t think any political stuff was involved. At the time, I was influenced by a book called The Shape of Crowds written by a famous Vietnamese psychiatrist. I liked the idea that crowds have a certain shape. So I had a lot of movie photographs of crowd scenes, and I just blanked out the middle--painted out the middle; it looks like what I thought was attracting the crowd. And that was it. Of course there are no more authentic crowd scenes in film anymore, they’re all digitalized. ANDREA: That’s intriguing. Your use of crowds in Hegel’s Cellar was fantastic. JOHN: Yeah, and I had a reason for doing that…and I forget what it was, so I can’t tell you. [both laugh] I figured I was interested in Hegel at the time, but I don’t know why I decided to do prints. I can’t tell you. ANDREA: I think they’re fabulous. Is there something about crowds that attract you? JOHN: It’s kind of a frightening idea to think that you’re only a face in the crowd. It sort of eradicates identity. ANDREA: You’ve expressed that an artist shouldn’t need to reinvent the wheel. However, you’re a serial inventor, doesn’t that get you attention and hook people? JOHN: Well, I think that’s part of the life. If you

John Baldessari, Above: Crowds with Shape of Reason Missing: Example 1, 2012.


John Baldessari, Following spread: Crowds with Shape of Reason Missing: Example 2, 2012.


want to be an interesting person, you have to keep

JOHN: That’s true, I think all the works I finished now

on reinventing yourself. I mean, imagine being at

are going to be at the Marian Goodman Gallery starting

a party and you’re talking to somebody that keeps

November 11th and they’re about Jackson Pollock and

on saying the same thing. Well you’re going to walk

Thomas Hart Benton, who is his teacher. The middle

away, aren’t you?

of the paintings are all blocked out by large rectangles of pure, white paint. You see something, but you’re de-

ANDREA: Absolutely. I can’t imagine you’ve ever lost

prived of a lot of information too. The skill that has to

your identity.

come up with this of course you know, show a little skirt, but not too much.

JOHN: Well, no. I think that for every artist you have to sort of establish yourself as somebody that’s worthy of

ANDREA: Do you feel that this is a literary device?

looking at, otherwise nobody’s going to care about looking at your work.

JOHN: No, I think of it as a universal art concept. No artist wants to come up with “this means blah blah blah

ANDREA: You once said CalArts was chaotic. Were you

yaddah yaddah yaddah.” You have to balance; you have

referring to when it first began?

to be economical so people will pay attention.

JOHN: It was an experimental school, our model is

ANDREA: That addresses your preference to do things simply.

Black Mountain College; we gave no grades. Students didn’t have to show up for class if they didn’t want to. So

JOHN: Yes, exactly.

it was a school in the making, so to speak--students and instructors, they created a school.

ANDREA: Do you think that the Crowd series is simple?

ANDREA: What would I have learned if I was a student

JOHN: Well I hope it’s a paradox. It’s simple and com-

in your class?

plex at the same time.

JOHN: I haven’t taught in years. I believe in the trial

ANDREA: Well, I think it’s complex. [laughs] What

and error thing. One thing doesn’t work, you try another

led you to choose the pictures for the Crowd series?

thing, and I remember one of the students, Matt Mul-

Was it the subject, or where you were able to use

lican, who is a pretty famous artist now. He did a piece

negative space?

where he had somebody at the entrance of CalArts with a mirror that caught the sunlight and then somebody at

JOHN: It really didn’t matter, it just had to be a generic

the door caught that sunlight and somebody else caught

crowd scene.

that until the sunlight entered our classroom and the piece was finished. That was quite inventive I think.

ANDREA: You’ve also said that you find the imagery to escape your own good taste. Can you explain that?

ANDREA: And delightful. That’s really beautiful. So how do you grab people’s attention now?

JOHN: Well I think we all hate connoisseurs that are so exquisite in their taste that we can’t stand listening

JOHN: I’m only as interesting as the work I do. Every-

to them. You’ve got to have a rougher profile than just

day, there is a big load on my shoulders. I can’t be the

being a connoisseur.

same old same old artist. I must produce work that grabs people’s attention. That kind of dictates what I do.

ANDREA: You’re selecting everything that goes into your work. That’s still a question of taste, no?

ANDREA: What other artists are creative, innovative and have garnered a lot of attention during your time?

JOHN: Well yeah, but there are reasons for selecting imagery. In the history of my work, I’ve used parts of the

JOHN: Well a lot of my students, like David Salle for instance.

anatomy, like a hand or a nose. A lot of times when I pick an image, it’s because in that image there’s somebody’s

ANDREA: Some of the devices you employe; your use

arm or eye that attracts me and that’s enough.

of absence, eliminating the point of interest in a lot of your work captivates the audience. It makes you curi-

ANDREA: I went to see Hieronymus Bosch: Touched By

ous; while more importantly, makes you yearn for more.

The Devil. At the bottom of one of his paintings, there


were all these eyes and I thought “Oh my God! It’s just

you might have a dog. It seems kind of homey. I don’t

like John” right away.

think I get that kind of response.

JOHN: That sounds great! I’ll have to look at them.

ANDREA: Not at all, I don’t have that response when I look at your work. So, I’m curious about this: I had

ANDREA: Before you cremated yourself, The Cremation

a lover who was 6’6” and we went out to take pictures

Project, you had already begun to do fragments of things

together. Our pictures were of the same subjects, but his

in your work. How did this come about?

were superior to mine because of the different perspective his height allowed him.

JOHN: About that same time, I had a friend who worked for a billboard company, and I asked him if I

JOHN: I hope you got rid of him. [Laugh]

could have the leftover billboards. There’s a term in the billboard industry that’s called 24 sheet billboard,

ANDREA: [laughs] I did because he was a son of a

which means there would be 24 sheets of paper on that

bitch! [both laugh] Excuse me. My point being, have

billboard to be pasted to it. Because of that, I got the

you ever thought about what effect your height has on

idea of doing parts of things. I have 1/24th of an image,

your work?

and that influenced me a lot. JOHN: The only time it eludes me is when I had a show ANDREA: Your lack of attachment to your work in-

in La Jolla, California at the La Jolla Museum of Art. The

trigues me.

poster for the show was a frontal shot of me from head to toe, butnhj it printed out as 6 foot 7 inches so it came to

JOHN: I have photos of everything, so I don’t need to

you in a roll. Best announcement I’ve ever done.

own anything. ANDREA: It’s a collector’s item! During an interview ANDREA: How do you live with chaos in your day to

with Susan Collins, you said that images and words

day life?

could be interchangeable. Would you give a good example of this?

JOHN: [laughs] Think of all the downers. JOHN: Well, if we think of our language, sometimes ANDREA: [laughs] I read that you don’t like to do your

in conversation when somebody is trying to explain

bills; you don’t enjoy mundane work. Everyone can re-

something they say, “Well, let me draw you a picture

late to that. I saw that your studio has a lot of clutter.

of that.” That’s a chosen device to explain something. It

How does that filter into your life?

would be great if someone developed a picture dictionary for kids.

JOHN: I’m fortunate now because I can afford assistants. ANDREA: There are emojis, which serve as a visual lanANDREA: Is there a personal quirk of yours that has

guage. I’m curious to hear what you have to say about

served you well?

interdisciplinary work and how artistic languages contaminate each other. What are your thoughts about that,

JOHN: People say that I’m witty, and I always think, “Oh

and how has that informed your art practice?

I’m a witty artist!” People seem to be satisfied with that idea. JOHN: I believe what you’re saying is how different ANDREA: [laughs]

practices can contaminate or influence each other. I guess that would be so. I know John Cage was a huge

JOHN: Unfortunately, it sounds very much like “shitty,”

influence on me and my work. It was his music that in-

but that’s okay [laughs]

fluenced me a lot, so yeah I think so.

ANDREA: [laughs] Not at all. I think you make the dis-

ANDREA: The other thing that you’ve spoken about in

tinction when you say Bill Wegman is funny, whereas

interviews is that you don’t like to be called an LA artist.

you don’t think you’re funny. JOHN: No. JOHN: I don’t. No. When the average person looks at one of Bill’s work, you smile and identify with it because

ANDREA: Right, but people still do. How has living or

John Baldessari, Following spread: Crowds with Shape of Reason Missing: Example 5, 2012.


being brought up in LA influenced your work? You’ve said that you had nobody looking over your shoulder; you seem to be a very independent person. Why would it matter where you lived? You would still do what you want, no? Or do you feel that there would be more peer pressure elsewhere? JOHN: Well, I don’t know. I know I was bicoastal for years, and I had an apartment in New York. I tried to do art there, I couldn’t do art there. I think something about LA is so boring, it’s all upward from there. You can’t get any worse, you just have to get better than it is. [Laughs] ANDREA: You’ve also said that LA is ugly, but seductive. Why? JOHN: Yes, I think so. Ugly and boring; I probably use the two words interchangeably. ANDREA: Wouldn’t you use your work as a way to cure your boredom? JOHN: I do that everyday, it’s like a state of mortem. It seems like I would make something that interests me or interests one of my assistants or anybody else. ANDREA: I’ve read you look at thousands of images, but is it true that you want to slow down this process? JOHN: Well, I look at images like when you’re in a dentist’s office in the magazines flipping through it. All of the sudden you flip a couple of pages back and you’re thinking “What did I just see?” If I could develop that kind of perception, I would like it. ANDREA: Wouldn’t everybody? [laughs] What’s your routine like? JOHN: I meet with one of my assistants to go through all of my business mail, emails, and so on. I usually start looking at some artists that interest me. Right now it’s Miro and Picabia, I keep looking at them till they give me some sort of idea for a work. Then I start playing with that imagery. ANDREA: Your show coming up at Marian Goodman’s is about Jackson Pollock and Thomas Hart Benton. I know that you said Pollock inspired you to take risks in your work but how else did he give you inspiration? JOHN: There’s before Pollock and there’s after Pollock.


John Baldessari, Above: Crowds with Shape of Reason Missing: Example 3, 2012.


John Baldessari, Above: Crowds with Shape of Reason Missing: Example 4, 2012.


Jackson Pollock changed the whole game of art. That was what motivated me. ANDREA: And Thomas Hart Benton? JOHN: Because he was the teacher of Jackson Pollock. ANDREA: His work is brilliant. JOHN: And the interesting thing, if you read about Benton, a lot of his production was in Hollywood. He was doing things for movies, drawings and backdrops. Things like that. ANDREA: Were you ever tempted to do any work in Hollywood, with the film? JOHN: Nobody has asked so far. But, I would probably say yes, of course. ANDREA: As someone who has had over two hundred shows, why do you think of yourself as being lazy. You’ve been so prolific and have produced so much. JOHN: Well because I came from a strict religious background and my parents always said I was lazy. So I’ve always had an image of myself as being lazy. ANDREA: [laughs] I read an article where you said you had a very religious attitude about making art, meaning that you have to be more focused; that artists have to give up something. When they asked what you had to give up, you said, “being an international playboy.” [Both laugh] JOHN: Hah, I like that. ANDREA: How very funny! Do you miss that? JOHN: Well you know that’s all about celebrity and that’s a big word right now, being a celebrity. Now and then, I’m someplace and somebody says, “Can I have my picture taken with you?” and I say, “Yeah, okay.” So I guess somebody recognized me; I don’t know how they recognized me. But they did, and they wanted their picture taken so I say, “Okay, why not?” ANDREA: You’re an extraordinary artist. Thank you for giving me this time. Everyone says you’re very generous, is this the reason why? JOHN: Wait a minute…are you trying to get bonbons out of me? [Both laugh]

John Baldessari, Following spread: Crowds with Shape of Reason Missing: Example 6, 2012.



Andrea Botto, Opposite: KA-BOOM #31, Beauregard, 2013; Above: A-BOOM #17, Rapallo, 2009.




Francois Laxalt, No Return XX.



Francois Laxalt, No Return XV.





Francois Laxalt, No Return V.



Francois Laxalt, No Return XXVII.





Francois Laxalt, No Return XXII.



Francois Laxalt, No Return VII.



S A N DY S KO G LU N D th e d el i b era te schi z o i d

MUSEÉ MAGAZINE: What’s your process when con-

Acconci, and many others. There was an irreverent spirit

structing a tableau? Where do you start?

in that work that I connected with. It seemed like they were using photography outside of the traditional can-

SANDY SKOGLUND: I usually start with a very old

on. Since I had never studied photography in school, I

idea, something that I have been mulling over for a long

felt that I could just jump in anywhere. I discovered that

time. Sometimes it is a theme, but usually it is a distinct

I loved the craft and science behind the medium, and

visual sensation that is coupled with subject matter. It

decided to pursue it.

feels like a bright little moment of excitement in my chest when I think about the idea. Then, it is a question of ac-

MUSEÉ: Your videos are very chaotic as well, are you

tion and pursuit and perseverance. Since I prefer subject

intrigued by disorder, or are your pieces more calculated

matter that is usually familiar and common, I often ask

than your audience might perceive?

myself if there is a new way to approach it. I hope for something to come straight out of my imagination.

SANDY: The concept of order and disorder are at the heart of my work. I love working meticulously to make

MUSEÉ: What steps do you take when constructing a

something that appears to be chaotic. Also, chaos is a

set so that it renders properly in an image? Do you ever

matter of perception. In my piece Fox Games, the foxes

get more attached to the sculptural elements than the ac-

probably do not feel that they are creating chaos by

tual photographic product?

jumping around on the carefully arranged tables. They are just doing what they would normally do in an envi-

SANDY: I do take elaborate steps to see how the sculp-

ronment, but with different obstructions and plateaus.

tural elements and materials are translating photographically. I take photographs as I go along to see if the imag-

MUSEÉ: What does the repetitive nature of your subjects

ined photo image is still on track, or if it is starting to

represent? Why not just one spoon, one cat, one fish?

run amok. So I am committed to the photographic result from the beginning, but the sculpture is equally impor-

SANDY: I cannot help but see repetition in two contra-

tant and compelling to me. So, yes, I do get very attached

dicting ways: the abundance of things as a beautiful ag-

to the sculptural elements. I have never thought of them

gregate that is greater than the parts, but also the over-

as just props.

abundance of things as alarming and invasive. I think the repetition is derived from my early history with Min-

MUSEÉ: I saw that you studied painting. How did you

imalism, in which repetition was used toward existential

get involved with photography?

philosophical goals. Here I am thinking about the work of Agnes Martin, Donald Judd, Carl Andre, Sol LeWitt,

SANDY: I became interested in photography in the

and others. In their case, the repetition was reduced to

1970s, after graduate school at the University of Iowa.

basic components.

When I moved to New York in 1972, photography was exhibited by conceptually driven artists to document

MUSEÉ: You often use animal iconography in your im-

their performances and events. I am thinking of John

agery. In what ways is the interaction between human

Baldessari, William Wegman, Robert Cummings, Vito

and animal symbolic?

Portrait copyright Sandy Skoglund 2016. Following spread: The Lost and Found, 1986.


Sandy Skoglund, Above: Babies at Paradise Pond, 1996.


Sandy Skoglund, Gathering Paradise, 1991; Following spread: Maybe Babies, 1983.


My philosophy is that you really see something for what it is when you are presented with its opposite.

SANDY: I like to think about my photographs in terms

witness television screens that show every blemish.

of, “who is looking at whom?” As much as we talk about the “male gaze” we could also talk about the “human

MUSEÉ: You have described your thoughts & decisions

gaze” when it comes to the living world as a whole. So

on the materials that you use as “schizoid”. Could you

I am often trying to undermine the normal human gaze

elaborate on this?

when working with animals. SANDY: I think I meant deliberately impulsive and MUSEÉ: Can you describe one of your favorite icons

irrational. I try to create contrast and conflict with

that you have utilized in your work and its cultural

everything I work with: color, materials, subject mat-


ter…. My philosophy is that you really see something for what it is when you are presented with its opposite.

SANDY: I think of popcorn and cheese doodles as some

You really see a blue color best when it is opposed to

interesting icons of the American pop culture experi-

orange. You really see chaos best when it is situated in

ence. They speak about natural and unnatural, and they

an orderly setting.

reflect the American cultural contribution of “fun” to the global cultural landscape. I think it is the element

MUSEÉ: The process seems very delicate. Have you ever

of fun that is so attractive about American culture, even

had any accidents or mishaps during the process that

when we are being suffocated by it.

have set you back? Can the process itself become chaotic?

MUSEÉ: Why do you always choose to include at least

SANDY: Yes, all the time. I will wake up in the morn-

one humanoid figure in each photograph?

ing full of excitement to try some new color or material, and then by the end of the day I will realize that it is just

SANDY: The human figure frames the situation into a

not working. There is a tremendous amount of “wasted”

narrative and creates a sense of scale.

time and materials to get what I want. I think it’s an important part of the process: to throw things out.

MUSEÉ: Your use of saturation and contrast has given your work acclaim in both the fine and commercial arts.

MUSEÉ: In a lot of the photos, the humans either don’t

How do you think concepts of commercialism & Ameri-

pay attention or barely care about all the craziness around

can sensibility affect the way your images are perceived?

them. Is this meant to say that the chaos is accepted?

SANDY: Starting in 1978 with a series of Food Still

SANDY: Well, I think that maybe the chaos is not seen

Lifes, I was deliberately trying to make images that

or recognized.

were commercially uncommercial. I looked carefully at advertising photography, which was very special-

MUSEÉ: Much of your work seems to involve meticu-

ized, slick, contrived, and polished. I decided to work

lous arrangements in some way, even digitally in True

that look and feel into my own studio constructions by

Fiction Two. What is it that you find so fascinating in

using a large format camera and elaborate lighting set-

the process of arranging?

ups. I still find very hi-res detailed photography to be the most satisfying to look at, but it no longer has the

SANDY: I think that the process of arranging is like

same “commercial” feel because all digital photogra-

“nesting,” just a way of making the world in your own

phy has migrated us toward a detailed view of things:

image rather than someone else’s.

Sandy Skoglund, Opposite top: Radioactive Cats, 1980; Bottom: Revenge of the Goldfish, 1981; Following spread: Fox Games, 1989.



Sandy Skoglund, Spoons, 1979.


Sandy Skoglund, Patiente and Nurses, 1982; Following spread: Hangers, 1979.


Elizabeth Viggiano, The Living Room, 2015.


Elizabeth Viggiano, Age of Technology, 2016.


Alban Lecuyer, Corner between Preah Monivong Boulevard & Preah Sihanouk Boulevard, 2015.



A M Y E L K I N S swan so ng

MUSÉE MAGAZINE: What are your thoughts on the

traits and information from the penitentiaries?

death penalty? What drew you to this topic? AMY: All of the information that I used to create Parting AMY ELKINS: I think it is a flawed system. It is expen-

Words was easily obtainable online and in books.

sive, there is little proof it works to deter crime and since 1973, more than 150 people have been released from

MUSÉE: How many portraits have you completed so far?

death row with evidence of their innocence. In addition,

What was the criteria for choosing the people you showed?

over a dozen cases have surfaced where there was very strong evidence of innocence for individuals after their

AMY: I have created 537 portraits for the series Parting

executions took place.1

Words. There is no criteria or selection process other than

I didn’t gravitate towards this topic in the most direct

that with Parting Words I am working solely with those

way. I was doing research for a photo series about mas-

who were executed in Texas, the state with the most ac-

culinity and violence. In a roundabout way I stumbled

tive death penalty in the country. I worked in chronologi-

across a website that featured profiles of inmates in pris-

cal order from the first execution that took place after the

ons throughout the country who were looking for pen-

death penalty was reinstated until the most current ex-

pals. There were search options that included searching

ecution that has taken place.2

only for inmates serving life sentences or the contrary, serving death row sentences. I, like many, had never

MUSÉE: I’m very curious about how you layered the part-

really been confronted with these types of realities. I

ing words over the portraits. How did you accomplish this?

wasn’t entirely sure what would unfold, but eventually I decided to open a PO Box and write to some of these

AMY: After months/years of collecting the data and

men. That correspondence went on for several years and

archiving it in a way that was all easily accessible and

turned into the project Black is the Day, Black is the Night.

in chronological order, the images were then processed

Parting Words came out of that project.

through an algorithm that converted each grayscale mugshot into text. The hardest part was retrieving the in-

MUSÉE: Why did you choose the Texas penitentiaries?

formation and sifting through the heaviness of the words

Did you ever visit them?

involved in this project. The easiest part was running it through the algorithm software that forced the patterns

AMY: I didn’t work solely with Texas institutions. I wrote

you see in each portrait. The patterns are entirely dictated

to men serving life and death row sentences in maximum

by the length and structure of each person’s last words

security prisons in California, Georgia, Idaho, Missis-

and sentences.

sippi, Nevada and Texas. The project was done entirely through written correspondence (BITDBITN) and online

MUSÉE: Why do you choose not to give context to the

resources (Parting Words).

crimes these people committed? For that matter, why did you choose not to give us any background on the

MUSÉE: How did you gain access for obtaining the por-


inmates at all?


Portrait ©Amy Elkins. Courtesy of the artist. All artwork courtesy of artist & project spans from 2009-2016.


AMY: For many reasons. Mainly because that is not what

in a much more direct and personal way than Parting

I was struck with when making the work. What I was

Words. With BITDBITN I spent years writing back and

struck with was the power and poetic nature of having

forth with several men. While I tried to remain objective,

last words at all…. which if you think about it is a very

my emotions fluctuated throughout the project (that

rare opportunity for any human being to have.

spanned from 2009-2014). I stopped making work when things got too heavy. There were many ups and downs.

MUSÉE: In “George Cordova, Execution #168,” part of

Two of my penpals were executed during the making of

the final statement was spoken in Spanish that the tran-

this work and two were released early. I can’t deny that

scriber couldn’t understand, so they just wrote “Span-

these events affected me.

ish.” How many prisoners were there that didn’t receive an accurate transcription?

MUSÉE: You state on your website that Parting Words emerged out of Black is the Day, Black is the Night when

AMY: Off of the top of my head there were several that fell

one of the prisoners you were in correspondence with

in this category. There were others where the person tran-

was executed. What was the reason you turned Parting

scribing inserted emotional or physical descriptions as well.

Words into its own series as opposed to making it a part

In those cases it almost comes across like stage direction.

of Black is the Day, Black is the Night?


AMY: These two projects both talk about capital punishment, but in very different ways, and I felt the need to

“I  want you to know that I did not kill anyone. I love

separate the varying methods used to create the work. The

you all. [Inmate’s words were not clear. He was choked

sheer volume of Parting Words stemming directly out of

up.]” Anthony Westley, Execution #117, Age 36

the personal nature of BITDBITN connects these two bodies of work for me perfectly. They have been exhibited side

“..Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth.

by side in every solo show I have had of the work to date.

Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things. You have not dreamed of... offender gasped and stopped

MUSÉE: After you won the Aperture Portfolio Prize for

breathing” - Robert Black Jr, Execution #50, Age 45

your work in Parting Words and Black is the Day, Black is the Night, you received a lot of attention. What im-

“Mom.....(crying) I am ready to go Warden. Coming

pact did it have on your career?

home dad, coming home dad.”-Michael Perry, Execution #461, Age 28

AMY: Receiving the award gave these bodies of work a lot of needed exposure. I was nominated for a few grants

“I don’t know what to say. I don’t know.  (pauses)  I

shortly after receiving the Aperture Portfolio Prize and

didn’t know anybody was there” - James Clark, Ex-

was awarded the Peter S. Reed Foundation grant to use

ecution #391, Age 38

towards the publication of my first book which comes out this Fall. The exhibition that originally started at Ap-

MUSÉE: Given that the inmates are represented solely

erture Gallery in December of 2014 ended up traveling

by their final statements, what has been the viewers’ re-

for over a year and a half, from New York to Houston to

sponse to the project?

California to Tennessee. With all of that has come some pretty wonderful experiences, publications and com-

AMY: The work has received a pretty strong and emo-

mercial assignments.

tional reaction both online and in exhibitions. The work is most impactful, I feel, when it is seen installed in large

MUSÉE: What are you doing now? Will you continue to

grids and the volume becomes immense. Going from

work on this project, or move on to something else entirely?

one portrait to the next installed in tightly formed grids, when there are hundreds of images surrounding you is a

AMY: My first book Black is the Day, Black is the Night

fairly overwhelming experience. I think people respond

comes out in Oct. I’ve been working hard with a great

to that volume. And I think people respond to the basic

designer and writer over the past year. I am anxiously

idea behind the work. It’s eye opening if one is not aware

awaiting getting my hands on a few dozen early copies,

of just how active our nation’s death penalty is.

which are being shipped to me just in time for the New York Art Book Fair at PS1 in mid-September.

MUSÉE: You were sending letters to inmates as part of your

I have been working for the past year on a new and un-

project, Black is the Day, Black is the Night. Were you able to

related portrait project that I am pretty excited about as

remain objective? At any time did your emotions take over?

well. It’s too early on to talk about but I’m looking for-

AMY: Black is the Day, Black is the Night was created

ward to it all coming together.


Amy Elkins, Elliot Rod Johnson, Execution #24, Age 38.


Amy Elkins, Ignacio Cuevas, Execution #39, Age 59


Amy Elkins, Clockwise from top left: Leonel Herrera, Execution #58, Age 45; Samuel Hawkins, Execution #92, Age 52; Clifton Belyeu, Execution #118, Age 38; Robert Madden, Execution #123, Age 33


Amy Elkins, David Stoker, Execution #129, Age 38.


Amy Elkins, Karla Tucker, Execution #145, Age 38.


Amy Elkins, Clockwise Clifford Boggess, Execution #153, Age 32; Martin Vega, Execution #167, Age 52; David Gibbs, Execution #230, Age 39; Jason Massey, Execution #245, Age 28


Amy Elkins, David Goff, Execution #246, Age 31.


Amy Elkins, Allen Janecka, Execution #309, Age 53.


Amy Elkins, Milton Mathis, Execution #470, Age 32.


Fran Alvespereira, Above: Cotidiano_ 2, 2015; Opposite: O menino e as laranjas_ 4, 2013



DG Krueger, Top: Barrie no.1, attacked by 6, Williamsburg, 2015; Bottom: Texas hate crime (Aaron), 2016.


DG Krueger, Hate Crime, (Brandon) UK, 2016.


Iocose, Clocksise from top left: #restroom #droneselfie #intimesofpeace; #bedroom #droneselfie #intimesofpeace; #littleangels #droneselfie #intimesofpeace; #happyhour #droneselfie #intimesofpeace, 2014.


Iocose, #lounge #droneselfie #intimesofpeace, 2014.


D O U G + M I K E STA R N si ze ma tter s

DOUG + MIKE STARN: I don’t really know what our

MIKE: Yeah, the work that we did with the Dalai Lama

fascination with chaos is. It’s been there as long as we’ve

was everything in the series, which is Snowflakes. And

been artists. I don’t like being too neat…. But we knew

Snowflakes are in many ways pretty connected with

intuitively that by just having this chaotic interconnec-

what became Big Bambú; even going back to the 80’s, it’s

tion that the interdependence is natural and fluid.” “The

very related to the Big Bambú. When we first scotch taped

concept of Big Bambu has nothing to do with bamboo; it

photographs—they are very much about what the Big

is the invisible architecture of living things. Every per-

Bambú is about, which is the interconnections and inter-

son, every culture has been built with this architecture,

dependence of everything on everything else.

that architecture is chaos, random interdependence of moments, actions becoming interactions, trajectories

DOUG + MIKE: We thought the idea of all the intercon-

intersecting - creating growth and change… We gain

nected snowflakes could apply to Buddhism pretty well.

footholds on their [the individual’s] activities and cir-

The Aspen Ideas Festival people wanted to have little kids

cumstances and use them to move through life – swim-

be involved with the Dalai Lama’s stage, so we had the kids

ming on the chaos medium of life. Chaos is a law of the

make paper cut out snowflakes. (as an aside, the lecture was

universe, and we recognize it as a part of life that we

pretty funny at the beginning, the Dalai Lama started out his

all flow through everyday…. Humans, animals, people

talk by encouraging people to stop thinking about perceived

and their goals and their projections – these all exist in

problems and let go and enter the flow. He tells everyone to

chaotic interdependence with each other in progressive

‘just fuck it’, he says it over and over, and this made people

time, just as all things in the natural world.

start laughing uncomfortably. It turns out he was saying ‘just forget’, but his accent makes it sound different.)

ANDREA BLANCH: Your art navigates between different mediums—photography, video, installation. Did it evolve

ANDREA: Why did you decide to name your project

this way, or did you plan it this way from the start?

Big Bambú? Did it come from Cheech & Chong?

MIKE: I want to say both. We always planned to keep the

DOUG + MIKE: Yes, the name is from the Cheech and

work open; we never wanted to be defined by one type

Chong album. Growing up, all identical twins must suf-

of parameter. There’s no reason not to go wherever the

fer ridiculous nicknames as a form of entertainment for

work is asking you to go. No reason to limit ourselves.

their peers. Reaching our teenage years in the mid ’70’s, having long hair, ripped jeans and looking like stoners,

ANDREA: Are your projects premeditated? Or do

we became Cheech and Chong. It wasn’t so bad. 30 years

your projects happen organically? Specifically with

later, when we conceived of a gigantic artwork made of

the Big Bambú, I was curious if that happened after

bamboo, what else could we title it but Big Bambú in

your meeting with the Dalai Lama. Did that influence

honor of the gentlemen that gave us our names?

you at all? ANDREA: So, the MET commissioned you to do a projMIKE + DOUG: No. No.

ect. Did they give you any parameters? Did you right away think that the Big Bambú was what you were

ANDREA: So you had this idea before?

Portrait by Wowe, 2010.


going to do?

And if there’s no vulnerability in the artwork, to us, there’s something missing that’s not providing the full truth about life.

MIKE: No, we had already moved our whole studio in order to try out the Bambú work— DOUG: —and the project had gotten some press, and that’s why they came to us because of their knowledge about what we were doing. So they asked us to do the Big Bambú for the roof. ANDREA: I’m curious, because of your whole relationship to chaos, how was this constructed? It seems like you just pieced one piece of bamboo next to another piece of bamboo. It couldn’t have been made that way, was it? MIKE: Yeah, that is how it’s made. The way the physical structure always begins is with a tripod. You take three poles, tie them together near the top and then spread them out and tie two of those poles together with a fourth pole. DOUG: And then you just stand on that pole and you start moving outwards from that. So yeah, it’s just one pole tied to another. There’s no scaffolding; there’s no cherry pickers. ANDREA: I walked through it; it was astonishing. I felt vulnerable, and some critics have discussed vulnerability in your art. How do you respond to that? MIKE: Well, you know there was one critic in Rome, I really liked what he wrote as far as vulnerability goes. He says in the Corriere della Sera, ”Big Bambú is a challenge. One way to give form to the formless. One way to provide an architecture to nature. To lead us into a journey that is unstable and provisional. Intentional.” As for us, art, our art, reflects life. And if there’s no vulnerability in the artwork, to us, there’s something missing that’s not providing the full truth about life. ANDREA: Some say that the size of your work relates to your ambition. Would you say that’s true or false? MIKE: Well, I don’t think that that’s conscious. It’s something that we’ve always responded to; large scale, large volumes, and even loud music. It’s just something that we like, that feeling of being overwhelmed.

Doug + Mike Starn, Blot Out The Sun 8, 1998-2007.




DOUG: And with the Big Bambú in particular, we want the work to be something that you are within. And as much as we are experiencing the world that we are in, the world is constantly perceived within our heads, and we’re looking out with our own perception at the rest of the world, and so in creating artwork that is so immersive, we’re trying to recreate that sense of looking out of your own head. When you’re in Big Bambú, you’re looking out at the world. ANDREA: I wanted to ask you, how do you handle conceptual and visual discrepancies between the two of you? MIKE: Well, we are very similar, so it’s not like it happens all that often. We’re identical twins; it’s just who we are. I think it’s how we relate to the world, and people say that you make art for yourself, but I think that, at least for us, you make art to communicate with other people. And it’s like, “I have this idea. I just thought of it, and I want to show you,” so it’s about communication. We seem to have similar ideas that we want to show people and have them think about. DOUG: And I think that it’s also what we want to think about. MIKE: Yeah absolutely; that’s what I mean with saying, “I have this idea, let me show you.” So yeah, we have arguments, and we try to work them out. ANDREA: What about criticism from the outside world? You had a lot of it at one point. Now you’re revered, but there was a point where you weren’t, how did you handle it? DOUG: Well, like with anything, it’s true that you don’t always read everything that comes out. Depends on where it is, who promotes it, so I don’t know if I’m aware of some of the things you’re talking about [laughs]. You just think about it and you think, “Well do they have a point there? Is that true; is this true?” and discuss it. ANDREA: When I asked you to be in the magazine, I asked you which work you think represents the chaos theory best, you picked the Big Bambú. Can you tell me why? MIKE: Well, that’s really what it’s about [laughs]. This work more specifically and overtly, I think. All of the work has been dealing with this idea of interdependence and beginnings— DOUG: —and we realized that, this is something that can be physically demonstrable, and we can have architecture that you can literally ascend and be supported by,

Doug + Mike Starn, Above: The No Mind Not Thinks No Things vokgret, 2012-2013; Following spread: GR, 2008-2009.




...the way any complex thing grows and evolves whether it’s an animal, social structure, cultures, it’s growing through a chaotic interdependence...

you know the same architecture that has been there in

ANDREA: I saw photographs or images of the astro-

all of our work. This idea of putting elements together.

nauts that you’ve done, and that looks like a very technical process to me. I think they’re exquisite. Would you

MIKE: —But that’s focusing on interdependence, this is

mind talking about that?

more about chaotic interdependence, which is why we felt that this group specifically was best to talk about. Re-

MIKE: We’re still in the midst of it. The piece won’t be

ally, I think in anybody’s life or culture, society, families,

done until early next Spring. So it seems a little early to

we all move through a medium of chaos—

talk about it because we don’t know quite how it’s going to be physically—I mean it’s in glass. We’re just working

DOUG: —the way any complex thing grows and evolves

with the glass studio right now figuring out how to do it

whether it’s an animal, social structure, cultures, it’s growing

all. It is a photographic image that has been...I won’t say

through a chaotic interdependence, and it’s the philosophical

reproduced, all photography is translated into a printing

engineering that creates the artwork so I think it’s the most...

process instead of silver or ink, and ceramic and glass. It’s both technical and organic.

ANDREA: —appropriate [laughs]. When you say “chaos” to people, their response is not always positive.

ANDREA: Are there any more plans to do a big structure like the Big Bambú?

MIKE: Exactly. MIKE: Yeah sure, oh yeah. We’ve been doing some charANDREA: How do you think the photographs of Big

ity around the world and some public installations and

Bambú provide an extra dimension to the work?

some private installations as well.

MIKE: We have different types of photographs. Some of

ANDREA: Did you hire people that actually build these

them are documentary photographs: as photographers,

for you?

we’re very interested in documenting these activities, these actions, that come together to build these structures.

MIKE: Yeah, we work with them, they’re rock climbers.

It’s very important for us to see that record. Beyond the

People are really relying on each other, and they can’t

documentary photograph, it then shows something like a

be afraid of heights—you know, the piece in Rome was

painting would—as a metaphor. You see this person that’s

140 feet tall. These people know how to depend on each

in there building this living organism. But then, we have

other; they know how to take it seriously, but also have

artworks where we take the orthographic views of the

fun with it. They really understand the idea of the chaotic

whole object, it becomes more of an architectural draw-

flow of the work and comprehend what we’re talking

ing, and it puts you more outside of the documentary and

about, and we bring them into the family.

puts you into seeing it small, one view—it’s hard to put into words. It allows you to think of it conceptually rather

ANDREA: Your art commands attention. I’m excited

than as the nuts and bolts of what actually happens.

to see what you produce next.

Doug + Mike Starn, Opposite: Yellow Concave Assumption, 1993; Following spread: Snow Specimens, 2006.





Christian Berthelot, CESAR #10, Steven, born 21th December 2013 at 4:31 p.m. 2kg 425, 15 seconds of life.



Christian Berthelot, CESAR #15, Leanne, born 8th April 2014 at 8:31 am 1kg 745, 13 seconds of life.





Christian Berthelot, CESAR #13, Kevin, born 27th December 2013 at 10:36 am 4kg 366, 13 seconds of life.




Christian Berthelot, CESAR #9, Mael, born 13th December 2013 at 4:52 p.m. 2kg 800, 18 seconds of life.




Christian Berthelot, CESAR #1, Chloé, born 18th January 2013 at 8:34 am 3kg 620, 11 seconds of life.



Christian Berthelot, CESAR #4, Louann, born 12th April 2013 at 8:40 am 3kg 574, 14 seconds of life.



Charles Sainty, Ordinary Mass, 2014.


Charles Sainty, Trophy Space, 2014.


S H AW N WA L D R O N gu e st cura to r b y Sh a w n Wa l d ro n Modern life is spent in transit. We hurtle our bodies down

In much of the developing world, roadways are given top pri-

roads, tracks, and waterways. We pass through the air

ority. Bigger and ever-widening highways cut through cities

physically and virtually. The networks we travel are glob-

and countryside in the name of progress. For economic and

al, unruly, and prone to disruption, but can we exist with-

practical reasons, many have left the ground, jumping over

out them? The result, a type of transit chaos, is unavoid-

existing forms. Humans, ever adaptable, have begun to popu-

able and frequently banal. It prevails on many levels:

late these new spaces by relaxing, socializing, and even living beneath the spans. Gisela Erlacher, in her poignant series and

COMMUTE: The most unexceptional and essential.

book, Skies of Concrete, exposes these new urban spaces.

HOLIDAY: The opposite of commuting is traveling for

Grand Central Terminal is traversed by 750,000 commut-

pleasure. We aim for serendipity and leisure but get the

ers every day; Pari Dukovic invades the pandemonium.

occasional side of chaos.

The numerous refugee crises throughout the world are a

WRECKAGE: Based on the sheer numbers and unlimited

defining story of our times. This issue, focused on chaos,

variables, collision is inevitable. Let it not be us!

would not be complete without mentioning it. Exile’s root

FLIGHT: For some, however, the rush of travel is not

causes are many and varied, but the results are nothing

joyful or intentional. They are the disrupted, and flight

short of catastrophic. While a student at the École Supéri-

is their only option.

eure des Beaux-Arts in Marseille, Samuel Gratacap saw

THE LAND: What effect does all of this movement and

firsthand how displacement can be easily and heartlessly

forward progress have on the landscape? How will it

exploited by journalists. In reaction, he began La Chance,

bear the scars?

a photographic series featuring men being held in a local detention center; Castaways expanded the scope by focus-

When Adrian Gaut often finds himself on the street in a

ing on refugee areas throughout the Mediterranean. From

new city, his camera is trained on the smooth veneer of

2012-14, Gratacap immersed himself in Tunisia’s Choucha

a building facade. He instinctively seeks visual harmony

refugee camp. The resulting series and book, Empire, pres-

and balance, but as these photos show, the parallel lines

ents people at their most vulnerable. The project’s purpose-

and reflective surfaces of modern urban structures some-

driven micro approach has global implications. Gratacap’s

times produce incongruous, yet dazzling, results.

pictures broadcast refugees’ humanity at a time when they

For more than 40 years, Swiss police photographer

are otherwise being forgotten, rejected or demonized.

Arnold Odermatt documented automobile accidents,

My apartment faces out onto eight lanes of traffic. According to

mainly for insurance and judicial purposes. The re-

official City of New York statistics there were 10,822 pedestrian

sulting photographs fulfilled their conventional rai-

injuries and 137 deaths within city limits in 2015. Yet, every

son d’etre, but as the art world has come to recognize,

morning, I walk my children to school along public streets. There

they were created with a low-lying humor just be-

were 4,896 bicycle injuries and 16 deaths, but on the weekend we

neath the surface. Like Weegee, Odermatt presents

ride along Queens Blvd, aka the Boulevard of Death, to Flushing

the results of what must have been a terrifying ordeal

Meadows Park. Even with a newly reduced speed limit and the

for the victims. Unlike Weegee, however, Odermatt

Mayor’s safety initiative, last year recorded 53,987 traffic inju-

excises the gore. Looking at what remains of the man-

ries and 234 deaths. Regardless, we routinely pile into our car and

gled and dangling vehicles the viewer wonders how

set out upon well-traveled streets and highways. Chaos, it would

and why, not what.

seem, is as much about comfort as it is about destruction.

Portrait by Andrea Blanch.



Opposite and above: ŠAdrian Gaut, 2016.



Opposite and above: ŠAdrian Gaut, 2016.


Arnold Odermatt: Top: Stans, 1967; Bottom: Stans, 1987. All images Š Urs Odermatt, Windisch. Courtesy Galerie Springer Berlin..


Arnold Odermatt: Top: Hergiswil, 1969.; Bottom: EnnetbĂźrgen, 1955; Following spread: Buochs, 1995.


Gisela Erlacher, Yuzhong VI, Chongqing, China, 2011.


Gisela Erlacher, Above: Huangpu IV, Shanghai, China, 2013; Following spread: Huangpu II, Shanghai, China, 2013.


Gisela Erlacher, Ă–tztala station, Tyrol, Austria, 2013.


Gisela Erlacher, Yuzhong I, Chongqing, China, 2011.



Pari Dukovic, Above and following spread: Grand Central Terminal, 2013.



Pari Dukovic, Grand Central Terminal, 2013.


Samuel Gratacap, Top: Empire, Choucha Camp, Tunisia, 2012–14; Bottom: Departure day, Choucha Camp, Tunisia, 2012–14.


Samuel Gratacap, Above, Following spead and the spread following: Empire, Choucha Camp, Tunisia, 2012–14. Courtesy Le Bal.







Florian Maier-Aichen, Untitled, 2005. Courtesy of the artist and Blum & Poe, Los Angeles/New York/Tokyo.


Guanyu Xu, Constructing Utopias #1, 2016.



A L F R E D O J A A R pe s si m i s tic o p ti mi st

MUSÉE: Our issue is about chaos. How does chaos in-

disregard, or immunity, to the genocide in Rwanda. In

fluence your life and your work?

your opinion, what other events have they fallen short on?

ALFREDO JAAR: If we look at the state of the world,

ALFREDO: Most of the media today is owned by enor-

chaos, unfortunately, is our present condition.

mous for-profit multinational corporations and they are

I am reminded of a famous Chinese proverb: “Better to be

supported by advertising. Independent, critical journal-

a dog in a peaceful time, than to be a human in a chaotic

ism has practically disappeared. We live in a deeply un-

period.” Well, as a human in this chaotic period, and as

informed democracy: the genocide in Rwanda is just one

an artist for whom context is everything, chaos is then my

of thousands of stories ignored by corporate interests. The

context. I have no choice.

show must go on, they say.

MUSÉE: It seems your work is largely about human im-

MUSÉE: I saw your project “Lament of the Images” at

pact, how our actions influence the world around us and

MoMA and it really struck me. Bill Gates and the “safe-

how we are not likely to stick around to watch the world

keeping” of 17 million pictures, as well as the US Defense

burn after we toss the match. To me, you hold up the mir-

Department’s retrieval of all the satellite images of Af-

ror. What impact would you like your work to have?

ghanistan during the 2001 air strikes—what do you think these actions say about the powerful nature of the image?

ALFREDO: I hope to offer a little hope in a time of despair. But it is difficult. I remain a Gramscian: I am a pes-

ALFREDO: Images are important, because images are

simist with my intellect, but an optimist with my will.

not innocent. Each image and every image that we produce contains a conception of the world. Most of the im-

MUSÉE: I would like to begin with your Rwanda proj-

ages we are confronted with in our daily lives have been

ect (1994-2000). I specifically want to touch on a line

created by experts in communications at the service of a

that struck me in Ben Okri’s essay that accompanies the

system of consumption: they exist to sell us products, and

work: “The world was now at the perfection of chaos.”

ideas. As a recent work of mine suggested, “we do not

What comes to mind when you hear this?

take photographs, we make them.” And those making them today are producing invitations to consume, con-

ALFREDO: That is one my favorite lines from Okri’s es-

sume, consume. And in that sea of consumption, it is very

say. It is brilliantly devastating: chaos has indeed reached

difficult for an image of pain to survive: it is drowned.

heights of perfection thanks to the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. As you

MUSÉE: You have said that the hardest thing for your cre-

know, these five countries are also amongst the biggest

ative process is arriving at what you’d like to say about a

arms dealers on the planet. They are merchants of war,

subject. How do you get there? Can you provide an example?

and at the same time, the most cynical brokers of peace. The current chaos is their masterpiece.

ALFREDO: Context is everything. I need to understand the context before creating a work. That is why my mo-

MUSÉE: You have been called a moralist. In your (Un-

dus operandi has always been the same: before acting in

titled) Newsweek (1994) project you explore the media’s

the world, I need to understand the world. That under-

Portrait ©Alfredo Jaar, All images courtesy the artist and Galerie Lelong, New York.


All my work is born as a reaction to the reality that surrounds me.

standing is the result of a long period of research that can

always find Giuseppe Ungaretti, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Anna

last years. Only when I reach what I believe is a critical

Akhmatova, Adrienne Rich and Ben Okri, as well as Rubén

amount of knowledge, when I feel that I have acquired

Darío, César Vallejo, Raúl Zurita, Nicanor Parra and Vicen-

a responsible amount of information about the context,

te Huidobro. I find solace in their words every day.

only then I dare to start articulating possible ideas. MUSÉE: You recently did a project in Switzerland at MUSÉE: I know you’ve trained as an architect; what

Art Basel where you distributed boxes containing the im-

sparked the use of photography as a medium in addi-

age of the beach where Alan Kurdi, a boy who drowned

tion to your installations? How and when do you decide

at sea trying to escape Syria, washed ashore. What about

which medium you are going to use?

the Syrian crisis compelled you to create this project?

ALFREDO: My work is not medium-specific but idea-

ALFREDO: I was invited by Art Basel to create a public

specific. The final project is an idea that requires a me-

intervention. I had been following the so-called immigra-

dium. And that medium is at the service of the idea.

tion crisis for a long time and I felt compelled to react to the desperate situation of the millions of Syrian refu-

MUSÉE: I’ve seen Susan Sontag referenced often in ac-

gees trying to reach Europe. I created “The Gift” to try to

cordance with your work. I saw a quote of hers that par-

raise funds for MOAS (Migrant Offshore Aid Station), a

ticularly resonated with me: “Literature can train, and

young NGO that is dedicated to save people at sea. With

exercise, our ability to weep for those who are not us.”

the exception of Germany, Europe’s reaction to this crisis

You use a lot of text, primarily poetry in your work. What

has been despicable and I needed to express my indigna-

is the significance of your use of literature in your work?

tion through a project. In the end, as it always happens, I managed to channel my rage in a constructive and cre-

ALFREDO: My work changed radically after my experi-

ative way. With “The Gift,” I attempted to engage a very

ence in Rwanda where I witnessed a genocide that left one

wealthy audience into thinking about this crisis and give

million people dead in the face of the barbaric and crimi-

visibility to a fantastic organization saving thousands of

nal indifference of the so-called world community. After

lives at sea. In fact, MOAS saved more than a thousand

that experience, my relationship to photography changed.

people during Art Basel.

I started using more text and less images. I distrusted photography’s capacity to affect change in the wake of

MUSÉE: It feels as though the Syrian refugee crisis is

the genocide. But words failed me too. As Adrienne Rich

the epitome of chaos. Do you have any further projects

wrote, “tonight no poetry will serve”. How do you make

coming up about it?

art out of information that most people would rather igALFREDO: I am not a studio artist, but a project artist.

nore? I have no answers to this question.

All my work is born as a reaction to the reality that surMUSÉE: Moravia has said that there are only three or

rounds me. And the Syrian crisis is a world crisis that we

four great poets born every century. Who do you think

must address. Chinua Achebe wrote that “Art is man’s

falls into that category today?

constant effort to change the order of reality that was given to him”. That is what I try to do. I still do not know how

ALFREDO: The great poets of this century are yet to be

to change this order of reality, but I am trying hard. It is

born. But from the last century, in my reading list you will

also clear to me that my work is always born out of chaos.

Alfredo Jaar, Opposite and following spread: The Eyes of Gutete Emerita, 1996



Alfredo Jaar, Opposite: Rwanda, 1994. Above: Untitled (Newsweek), 1995.






Landon Nordeman, Untitled, 2015.





Landon Nordeman, Top and bottom: Untitled, 2015.



Landon Nordeman, Top: Untitled, 2015.; Bottom: Untitled, 2016..







Landon Nordeman, Untitled, 2016.



A L I C E W I N O C O U R te a mw o r k

ANDREA BLANCH: Your film is Disorder. Originally you

all in this hyper vigilant state, but of course, you have to

had a different title for the film. Why did you change it?

continue your life as if it is normal. We are all, in a way, post-traumatized.

ALICE WINOCOUR: In France the title is Maryland, which is the name of the huge Hitchcockian villa where

ANDREA: I just want to say, I thought your casting

the film is set. I thought the film should be named after

choices were brilliant. I’ve seen Matthias Schoenaerts

the villa because it all takes place in the house, which is

now in three films, yours was the third, and I think you

almost a character. Of course, it’s too ambiguous for an

got so much more depth out of him being a quiet charac-

American audience.

ter. I really felt things coming from him in your film that I didn’t feel in the other films.

ANDREA: The film is incredibly chaotic. How does chaos as a theme drive the film?

ALICE: He really immersed himself in the part. As a director, it’s really touching when you see an actor devoted

ALICE: In many ways. First, there is chaos with the

to the film, even if he was sometimes violent on the set. He

main character Vincent’s body, because PTSD’s really

was in Vincent’s body, and I really saw him changing. For

at the center of the film. He can’t rely on his perception

instance, he punched someone completely out. He was

anymore, and you never know if what we see is real or

really out of his mind. I really wrote the part for him be-

the effect of his paranoia or post-traumatic syndrome.

cause I knew he had this physical animality. The film was

You have to doubt everything. Then there is chaos of the

about bodies, so I had to have someone really expressive

weather, because while you’d expect the French Riviera

with his own. But he really got close to his own demons.

to be sunny, there are all these storms and it’s raining all

Sometimes I was afraid that he would go too far, because

the time. Sometimes the storms were so loud that we had

he was really in a bad condition.

trouble recording the sound of the film. And then there is the chaos of politics. Everything remains mysterious

ANDREA: I’d like to also talk about the music. The

because of the single point of view, but we can still under-

music was incredible. The sound mixing seems to be the

stand that there is this corrupted milieu, this arms dealer

main crux in manipulating the film. Was this created in

related to the politics, and this very cynical atmosphere

post-production, most of it?

at the party that is a very long scene in the film. There is also chaos in the love story. I like the idea that the one that

ALICE: The musician, Gesaffelstein, composes what

is supposed to protect you is the one that frightens you.

we’d call French-touch electro techno music. It’s really

Vincent’s constantly watching her and not knowing what

violent, but at the same time, really emotional, and to me

she’s doing, and she’s also fearing him. Most important

it really recreated the mental landscape of a soldier com-

was this idea of fear. I put all my fears from childhood in

ing back from war. There is no visual flashback, but the

the film: fear of the storm, of the dark. But there’s also this

music is a flashback for him. We had to be really in his

fear of the contemporary world derived from the constant

head, in his mind, and the music was best for that. It also

flow of information and all these attacks, like in Nice and

helped me a lot in finding the rhythm of the film because

Bataclan. You never know where the danger is coming

one thing that is particular to this music is that when you

from. I think we’re all experiencing that fear now. We are

expect, for example, a beat, it doesn’t come until later

Portrait by Andrea Blanch. All images are stills taken from the film, Disorder, 2015.


When you write, you’re alone. And when you are with crew, it’s so great to have all those people working for an idea…

when you don’t expect it. It also inspired this idea of dan-

bounding themselves in this little moment.

ger not coming, but looming. You know that an attack is going to come because it’s a threat, but you don’t know

ANDREA: The only reason why I thought it was a hallu-

when it’s coming.

cination is because,, I thought she’d never leave the child.

ANDREA: Now, you write, you direct…Where’d you

ALICE: You’re right. I also shot in that way because she’s

get this story from? How’d you come up with Disorder?

like a ghost. The shot is slightly in slow motion, so there’s

What inspired you to write this?

a feeling of something unreal. It’s my feeling when I kiss someone that I start to feel I’m not in reality anymore.

ALICE: When you write, there’s an unconscious process. You don’t really know why something, especially an im-

ANDREA: Do you prefer writing or directing?

age, strikes you and turns into the beginning of a story. For my first feature, Augustine, the idea came from these

ALICE: Directing.

paintings I had seen with a women naked in front of men that were dressed up in black suits and looking at her as


an animal. And I thought, “Well, what is this? This is such a violent picture. I want to know more about this whole

ALICE: Because I like this collective excitement of a crew.

world.” And then I arrived with Augustine, which focused

When you write, you’re alone. And when you are with crew,

on this shady relationship between a doctor and a patient.

it’s so great to have all those people working for an idea…

For Disorder I was just listening to the radio and hearing all the soldiers that were coming back from Afghanistan.

ANDREA: …that is yours. (laughs)

I thought, “It’s amazing what they’re talking about there, this violence.” Then I went to Pessi hospital where all

ALICE: And it’s a dream, but you dream with a hundred

those soldiers, post-traumatized, are coming back. I met so

people. But when you are writing, you are dreaming alone.

many of them, and I was obsessed with listening to them. I came up with the character of Vincent from that.

ANDREA: Do you have any aspirations to work here, in America?

ANDREA: Two quick questions: First, the ending. Was that an hallucination? Did you want to leave it ambiguous?

ALICE: Yes. I think if I found an intimate connection with a subject I can do really different types of things. My films

ALICE: I wanted to leave it an ambiguity. To me, it’s

are really different, but I think I could find an intimate

real, but maybe it’s because I like the idea of redemption

connection with all of them. So I think I could direct an

and that their relationship was something so profound

action movie, but also something much more intimate. I

that he’s coming to save her. Like a motherhood thing.

just have to feel close to the subject.

It’s more something about tender than something about desire, really. At the beginning he says, “Do you have

ANDREA: What’s next for you?

any sexual problems?” and she says, “No.” But, you can tell he has with all the medicine and stuff. He can have

ALICE: I’m finishing writing a script about an astronaut

sexual attraction, but he’s too fucked up, in a way. So to

leaving her seven-year old daughter on Earth. It’s really

me it’s something more tender, and to me the sex scene in

about dealing with your passion, and at the same time,

the film is a moment where they sleep together. They’re

separating what is the most precious thing for you.









Chaofan Huang, Self-destroyed, 2016 .


Chaofan Huang, Have you ever‌ never mind, 2016.


Fred Cray, Above and opposite: Untitled Unique Photograph, 2016.



C H A R LOT T E C OT TO N gu e st cura to r

ANDREA BLANCH: First of all, I’d like to know what

either do one model, which is the Museum of Photogra-

brought you to ICP. You’ve had many jobs. Why did a

phy, like you might do the Museum of Sex or the Museum

residency there interest you?

of Sport, where you have a baseline. What’s the lowest common denominator or understanding of the medium

CHARLOTTE COTTON: Well, it was a number of

that we want people to have? That’s not really what we’ve

things. Lots of people love the idea of ICP; there is im-

decided to do here. This is a space for people who self-

mense promise in the prospect of an organization that

identify as image-makers. They have enormous visual

stays pretty true to its founding principles. What excited

literacy. They have a deep understanding of an aspect of

me about ICP was not only did it have some politics and

photographic practice and its history. Plus, it’s not a major

a kind of fundamental idea that social implications are the

museum. It doesn’t say we have to label text which speaks

most important values to draw out and discuss around

to every man, woman, and dog. That’s just not ICP’s au-

photography—rather than yet another institution rein-

dience. I think there is a purpose for creating these gen-

forcing it as a contemporary art or modern art form—but

eralized understandings of photography, but there’s no

also ICP’s capacity to look. It always has looked really

reason why ICP, in this space, would do that.

broadly, throughout its history. So it can talk about amateur practice, it can talk about the industry of photogra-

ANDREA: About your exhibition, Photography is Mag-

phy, it can talk about lifelong projects, and it can also talk

ic. Do you see that ever being displayed at ICP?

about contemporary art. But it hasn’t already constructed that sort of immortal of itself, which is really about sup-

CHARLOTTE: No, I don’t think it’s quite the right show. I

porting the idea of photography as contemporary art at

hope that ICP finds a model for engaging with artist-led prac-

the expense of everything else. So the potential of ICP is

tices. Actually, the primary form of my project is a book. I did

that it becomes a super relevant institution once more. If

a biennial in South Korea in 2012 called Photography is Magic,

it can move away from simply talking about genres like

but I had 20,000 square feet of space, so I could do an exten-

documentary and photojournalism and actually talk

sive project like that. With the capacity of ICP, you would end

about this broad church of image-making culture right

up producing a show of 5 to 7 artists rather than 85.

now, it’s going to be the host to the most important discussions we can have at this particular moment.

ANDREA: You’ve also commented that we are a civilization of amateur curators and publishers. You are

ANDREA: So the question is, how do you get more

yourself a professional curator. How do you distinguish

people to accept the different ways people are embracing

between yourself and those who operate in a similar

photography today? What is photography today?

sphere, both recreationally and online?

CHARLOTTE: I’m actually not very worried about that,

CHARLOTTE: I don’t really make any distinctions. My

because I think that so easily falls into the trap of being

observation of curating is that it’s a broad field—I bring

this kind of generic idea of what photography is. Then

my own experience, so I know when somebody’s doing

you fall back to updating “the history” of photography. I

something super clever, or something that hasn’t been

don’t have any interest in doing something generic, and I

seen before, or making a counter-argument to the conven-

think that’s been one of the issues for ICP—that you can

tions. I have deep admiration for somebody who is able

Portrait by Christian McDonald.


to hold attention curating online. I suppose you could call

ing a moment of crisis, but some institutions are going to

me a professional curator, but I think over the last few

treat photography like a closed collection.

years—particularly given that I haven’t chosen to work full-time for one institution—it feels like less of a profes-

ANDREA: You started your curatorial career at the Vic-

sion and more like a practice. I think that brings me closer

toria and Albert Museum where you worked with a mas-

to people who are doing it in their spare time or collec-

sive archive of historical photographs. What effect did

tively. Curating is just a modality, really.

that experience have on you?

The reality is, everyone’s doing a little bit of curating. Curating is essentially this idea of doing things for other human

CHARLOTTE: Well, my first show there was called Im-

beings. Whoever the audience is, your argument and the

perfect Beauty. It was interviews with photographers, styl-

invitation has to be really specific to them. I think anyone

ists, art directors, hair and makeup artists. The first show

could curate a standard history of photography. I mean,

in Imperfect Beauty was really a look at the processes be-

realistically, I think anyone who’s interested in the subject

hind fashion photography. It was in response to all those

could do that. There’s nothing special in doing that.

big museums doing solo shows of fashion photographers that were very hyperbolic—just a terrible misunderstand-

ANDREA: As a curator, how do you bridge the gap be-

ing of how amazing the fashion industry is. Then I did

tween younger and older spectators?

Guy Borduin, and then I got hired by Art and Commerce. That was my first job in New York. I worked on their cul-

CHARLOTTE: You have to create a common space

tural program for two years. I was able to talk about the

where everything is permissible. At ICP, there were ap-

real industry of fashion photography without mystifying

parently some older women berating the fact that Kim

it, actually giving it cultural value. And it was the same

Kardashian is in [Public, Private, Secret], and then some

with Bourdin. So there was a role for me.

SVA students came up and they had a chat, and they agreed to disagree. You need to have a forum where

ANDREA: I’ve found a great resistance from institu-

you’re not rejecting anyone. ICP is about those 17-year-

tions, and even galleries, that wouldn’t accept fashion

olds; it’s about people who are two years out of college

photography as art. And some still don’t.

and in the midst of pure silence and tumbleweed—they don’t know if they’re going to continue with their prac-

CHARLOTTE: Oh, absolutely. They don’t. I was told it

tice, they’ve got debts. It’s about somebody in their

was career suicide to even deal with the subject. But for the

mid-30s who has just about resolved their student loans

curator, it tests your mettle. I’m actually working on a film.

and is about to do the sole-authorship thing, and might

I’m fascinated with what happened to commercial image-

need an environment that pushes their boundaries a

making after 9/11 and this perfect storm of what happened

little bit. And then you might be in your 50s, slowing

digitally and what happened commercially and genera-

things down on the professional front, and your pas-

tionally. It’s a really complicated story about who the domi-

sion is photography, but you realize you are way out of

nant image-makers are right now and this possible passing

the loop. That is essentially what ICP’s continuing aid

of an ancient regime with the last generation of greats.

program has always done, right? It’s a way to get back into this world.

ANDREA: Are we talking about fashion?

ANDREA: In which ways do you think the fine art world


can develop to accommodate the growing mass of amateur photographic material online, and do you think it

ANDREA: Yeah definitely. At one time people were able

should? Or has it done so already?

to have a commerce span of like 40 years. That doesn’t happen anymore.

CHARLOTTE: I don’t know if it should, just because I think it would make a horrible mess of it. I think it’s more

CHARLOTTE: The youngest group is in their mid-forties,

complicated for a big institution to do anything more than

with Mario Sorrenti, Glen Luchford, and Craig McDean.

acknowledge photographic histories outside of contempo-

But everyone else is older, and part of the argument is

rary art. They never really get to the soul or the substance

what happened after 9/11. The people who should have

of it, because, essentially, the values are in the material ob-

been rotating out to allow a new generation in didn’t leave.

ject and the collection. And I think each institution has its

Basically, you’re talking about the same lineup of the top

own history and its own pattern that will determine where

half-dozen that you had 10 years ago, and to some degree

photography will fit. And I’m not saying that we’re reach-

20 years ago. It’s become really quite a fossilized world.

Merry Alpern, Dirty Window Series #19, 1994.




ANDREA: Coming back, if you don’t mind, to print for a min-

referential medium. Is this because of the ubiquitous role of

ute, I saw Cindy Sherman’s show. But before I saw that show, I

the photograph in society? In which ways does this practice

saw everything online, and I thought they looked brilliant online,

provide salient and productive cultural commentary?

as all photos are, but I thought, “I’m not crazy about it.” Then I went to see the show in person, and her prints were dye sublima-

CHARLOTTE: I think the self-reflexivity of contempo-

tion on aluminum. It made them just so luminous and vibrant

rary art photography is a necessary given now, for those

that it just changed it for me. It really, really did. So it can do that.

reasons that we’ve kind of been discussing. There’s just no way to make a photograph and say, “no, the photo-

CHARLOTTE: It absolutely can. It’s a really, really pro-

graph is just the medium.” It’s actually the story em-

nounced and heightened experience. I think you’re just

bedded within it that I want you to read. There’s also

really conscious that the photograph is an object; it’s a

just no way to look at a photographic print and treat

thing rather than a vehicle for something.

it as if it’s a window into the world. And you know some artists have pushed that to its logical conclu-

ANDREA: And I think a lot of photography is becoming ob-

sion—eradicating the subject from the real world, al-

ject-oriented. I think that’s what people want.

ternative processes, camera-less—all of that is in some way a meditation on this fact. There’s no such thing as

CHARLOTTE: Yeah, absolutely. And long may it con-

a mutual photograph. Now we’re sort of back with the

tinue. Everything’s at play at the moment—I think that’s

territory that we started with: does a photograph need

another really special thing.

to be literal in order to be understood as a social commentary? And I think not. I think the bit that is missing

ANDREA: It’s very exciting. Is that why you think it’s a piv-

is the way in which the camera is used to simulate hu-

otal moment?

man monocular vision. So then we had reams of textbooks written about the relationship between subject

CHARLOTTE: Yeah, everything’s at play. It’s not like

and photographer, because there was a simulation of

the end of something, but everything is altered by this

that in the vantage point of the camera and in the me-

moment, I think. The reading of everything, what it

chanics of the camera.

means to make a photographic print, what’s the dialogue with our day-to-day image encounters—all of

ANDREA: But these days, in the digital age we’re in, the

these things are circulating. There’s this book that I

boundaries of contemporary photography are constantly being

read a few years ago by Kathleen Hales who’s a com-

expanded and reimagined. A lot of people lament that a lot of

parative media professor. It’s a little booklet called

what was celebrated about photography as a medium before is

“Writing Machines” that she wrote for MIT. Its subtitle

getting lost now.

is something like “The Materiality of Literature in the Digital Age.” It was when I was starting to really think

CHARLOTTE: And I think that’s what the true loss is—

about Photography is Magic, so I glommed onto mate-

contemporary art photographers can’t really be blamed

riality and wondering what’s happening in literature.

for using the current means of production. You can’t real-

She creates this fictional character who has all of these

ly say that they shouldn’t be doing that. That’s kind of so-

encounters, meetings, and conversations that shift her

cially amoral. I think artists have always used the means

understanding of what’s happening in literature. And

of production available to them and respond to the mo-

it was so genius. It stays with me, as a model that all

ment, and that is really the social position of art practice—

of these are relevant to our understanding of now. And

to respond to your time. I wouldn’t blame practitioners

why wouldn’t that be the case? Any visitor to this show,

that we platform-sensitive, non-digital native viewers feel

they bring their own anecdotal understanding into the

the loss of something which was about the encounters

show. I’m not asking them to accept the proposition

and the permissions that the camera gives. Luckily, there

and then find an answer in the show that I’ve laid out

are some really strong examples in the show.

for them, because I haven’t laid out the answer to this. I’m really responding, curating, pinpointing what you

ANDREA: For an artist, it’s ever-expanding, there are no

see. And the show as a whole is about creating a con-

limits which is so stimulating and exciting.

text, and then there’s the anecdotal, and each of us has our own anecdotal reading of this moment. That’s why

CHARLOTTE: It is. And what choice do we have? We

it’s so exciting for me.

can either say that this is wrong or we can be really curious about it, can’t we? I think curiosity is the route to

ANDREA: Contemporary photography is a uniquely self-

staying young.

Top: Kemal Akdogan, The Other: a real time feed; Bottom: David Reinfurt, O-R-G Clock, 2016.



John Houck, Portrait Landscape (video still), 2015


Top: Jill Magid, Trust, 2004; Bottom: Andrew Hammerand, The New Town, 2013.


Top: Cindy Sherman Untitled, 1979; Bottom: Saul Metnick, New ICP Museum at 250 Bowery, 2016.




Matthew Porter, Rikitea Island, 2015. Courtesy M+B Gallery, Los Angeles..



Matthew Porter, Gap-Phase Regeneration, 2015. Courtesy M+B Gallery, Los Angeles



W E E G E E f/ 8 b y Joh n Hut t Weegee’s photographic advice was reportedly something to

shabby suit wearing reporter with a huge flash bulb, we

the effect of “F/8 and be there”. This statement is a perfect,

are indebted to Weegee. The reason that archetype ex-

but probably apocryphal summary of one of the most im-

ists is because of Weegee, and he was much more than a

portant photographers of the first half of the 20th century.

stereotypical newspaperman. Weegee, if it was possible,

Born Usher Fellig, later Americanized to Arthur Fellig,

spoke to his subjects and made them feel comfortable be-

Weegee took the ‘be there’ portion of his advice to heart.

fore getting the shot, but other times he would have to

He earned the name Weegee as an alternate spelling of

act on the spur of the moment, relying on his timing and

Ouija, because of his preternatural ability to get to the

eye. He was quoted as saying that “dead bodies are the

scene, and because it does not really make sense that

easiest to shoot because the stiff isn’t going anywhere.”

‘Ouija’ should spell Weegee. He must have some kind

Weegee remains relevant and is being written about in

of supernatural power, always the first on the scene, get-

this publication because he straddled two worlds. His

ting shots no one else would ever manage to get then

pictures graced the front page of the New York Post, but

selling them to the papers mere hours after the fact. In

they were also included in one of MOMA’s first photog-

reality, he was sleeping in his car listening to the police

raphy shows, placing him squarely in photographic his-

scanner and developing pictures in a makeshift dark-

tory. His eye and his frames, his subjects, and his sense

room in the back of his car. Although, ask Weegee how

of space and proportion all foreshadowed everyone from

he ended up on the right bloc at the right time and he

Arbus to Winogrand. His photographs, now ‘works’,

would mention a vague sense that something was going

were collected in books and exhibited nation wide. When

to happen, but then again, there were few times Weegee

photogrphay was gaining acceptance as an art form,

wasn’t working. Stay up all night and always have your

Weegee was at the forefront. Later in his career Weegee

camera ready is a great way to get the shot. The fact that

worked on what he called “creative photography” - dis-

for his early work Weegee was lugging around a huge

torting the image using plastic or long exposure times.

4x10 Speed Graphic Press Camera, making his rapid un-

He took portraits of Salvador Dali and Andy Warhol as

planned shots that much more impressive.

well as female nudes and burning buildings. There is no

It was not all just being in the right place at the right

better way to understand the development of photogra-

time, Weegee was an early proponent of marketing him-

phy as an art form than to trace Weegee’s career.

self, stamping his photos with his “PHOTO CREDIT

The International Center of Photography is home to the

THE FAMOUS WEEGEE” rubber stamp and selling

world’s largest holding of the work of Weegee (1899-

them to his newspaper contacts who knew if they need-

1968). Bequeathed to ICP in 1993, the Weegee Archive

ed a shot, Weegee would deliver. He was not an artist

contains 20,000 original prints and negatives, films, tear

sitting in an ivory tower deconstructing theory, he did

sheets, manuscript drafts, correspondence, and other

not produce work for a gallery, or to be shown anywhere

personal memorabilia of one of the most inventive fig-

other than in the pages of a daily newspaper that would

ures in American photography. Best known for his tab-

be irrelevant in a few hours. He was a working man, he

loid news photographs of urban crowds, crime scenes,

did his job and he was good at it. There were others like

and New York City nightlife of the 1930s and 1940s, Wee-

him, others who wanted to be as prolific, as talented, but

gee later dedicated himself to his creative photography,

he carved out his niche as the best of his kind, and when

manipulating images by distorting lenses and adding

we remember the bygone days of a cigar chomping,

other optical effects.

Weegee, The Genius of the Camera, ca. 1938. ©International Center of Photography/Getty Images. All images courtesy International Center of Photography, New York. Following spread: Weegee, Their First Murder, October 8, 1941.


Weegee, Murder on the roof, August 13, 1941.


Weegee, Above: [Body of Dominick Didato, New York], August 6, 1936. Following spread: [Time Is Short, Little Italy, New York], 1942.


Weegee, [Bystanders looking at blanket-covered body of woman trampled to death in excursion-boat stampede, New York], August 18, 1941.


Unidentified Photographer, [Weegee and police with body of longshoreman David “the Beetle� Beadle outside the Spot Bar and Grill, New York], December 9, 1939.






Ellen Carey, Dings & Shadows, 2014.







Ellen Carey, Dings & Shadows, 2014.



J E S S I CA D I M M O C K add i cti o n

JESSICA DIMMOCK: I always had an interest in pho-

I was walking around with my camera on a way to a

tography. My dad ran the printing press of the The New

friend’s dinner party. A man approached me wanting

York Times, all of my life in my parent’s apartment in NY.

to know if I was a photo student, and if I wanted to

He’s a terrible photographer; I don’t even know how

photograph him. He kind of made it clear that other art

we’re from the same gene pool. He’s just horrible at it,

students had photographed him, and he also made it

but I grew up in this home where we always talked about

clear he was a cocaine dealer, and that if I wanted to fol-

how the image looked on the page, because that’s what

low him around I could. So I said yes, and followed him

my dad did. He got me a camera when I was young, I set

for just three nights, which in the scope of the project is

up a dark room in the bathroom in our two-bedroom-

kind of nothing. I went to a bunch of places with him, I

one-bathroom apartment when I was a kid. I always re-

went to parties, to apartments where he sold, and tele-

ally loved taking pictures, it just never occurred to me

phone booths and stuff like that, and the very last place

that I could do it. It seemed like something other people

he ever took me was the apartment where the 9th Floor

got to do. It didn’t occur to me until I’d been teaching in

takes place. He said, “This is Jessica, my photographer”,

public school for a few years, and I wasn’t picking up my

because I came in with him, they were very open with

camera at all, and I missed it. It made me feel insecure.

me that first evening. They were like, “Oh you can take

Part of the reason for being a teacher was that I’d have

some pictures of us too”.

all this free time and I would make these projects, and I

He then was arrested, probably because he was walking

didn’t pick up the camera once and it was eating away

up to strangers telling them he was a cocaine dealer, but

at me. Then I met this guy in a coffee shop, he’s a great

from that initial connection, I was able to reestablish a

friend to me to this day, who had gone to SPA. I met him

little bit of a connection. It took me a while but I was able

while grading papers and he said; “You should go to art

to find that again.

school, if this is what you want to do, you can do it.” That shifted everything.

ANDREA: So, after the first night, you left, when you came back the second time, when you rang the buzzer

ANDREA BLANCH: Do you set up any of your shots or

what did you say?

is it spontaneous? JESSICA: I kind of assumed that Jim, the man from the JESSICA: No, its all spontaneous. Unless its a portrait,

street, would take me back there again. I’d never thought

but I’m really best with an environmental portrait any-

he would go to jail, I had no idea that would be the scenar-

way. I’m really my best when someone has me in their

io. So, I didn’t know how to get in touch with these guys,

home and then I take a picture of them there. I’m a better

and I knew that the apartment that I’d seen was some-

observer than anything else.

thing really unique and crazy and special, and I didn’t know how to get back there. So I hovered around Union

ANDREA: You mentioned in an interview for Pho-

Square, because I had heard that night in talking to them

toShelter that you stumbled upon your subjects for “The

that they hung out there, and after a month I saw one of

9th Floor”. How exactly did that happen?

them and I was like “I have been looking for you”. I basically said, I have all these pictures that I took that night

JESSICA: I was studying photography at ICP, and

and I’d love to give them to you, and could I come by

Portrait by Jessica Dimmock / VII. All images courtesy Jessica Dimmock


tomorrow and give you guys some pictures and they said

premise of me not judging her. Part of the reason that this

sure. So, the very first time I came over after that I didn’t

woman lets me see her is that I’m going to be someone

even come with a camera, just a stack of prints and they

in her life, probably the only normal sober person in her

really liked them and that became something that I did

life, that doesn’t judge her. When you’ve been using for

pretty regularly; I always brought pictures from the previ-

that long, you don’t really have those people in your life

ous time with me, and I found that that really worked to

anymore. Then two or three years in, when I really care

get them kind of excited to see me but also to get us all on

about this woman it’s impossible not to try to change her,

the same page. I mean, these are people all doing a lot of

and addiction doesn’t really work that way. People don’t

very illegal, dangerous activity and its not like that’s not

get cured from addiction because their friends plead

being shown in the pictures, but I think somehow seeing

with them, they don’t get cured from addiction because

the images through my lens and seeing what I was seeing

people around them die; it’s not how it works. There was

there, kind of allowed that trusting relationship to build

probably a feeling of betrayal on Jessie’s part. Where she

up. Certainly there was a lot of illegal activity in those im-

was like, “wow wait, now all of a sudden the terms are

ages, but I think that by me sharing them with them and

different. You said you wouldn’t do this, and now you’re

not keeping it secret and hidden helped.

coming down on me too”. When you spend all this time with these people, and you develop a relationship, it’s

ANDREA: When Jim brought you up there, what was

painful to watch them do things that are really dangerous

your initial reaction?

and painful. People died during the course of that project, I was lucky that none of the people that I had become

JESSICA: First, it was really shocking, and I knew I

close with did, but I know of five / six / seven people

needed to just chill out, be calm, and not seem nervous.

that died during the course of that project.

The other thing that happened dawned on me later; I think I felt it immediately, and I just didn’t know that I

ANDREA: Are they in the book?

felt it. My dad was an addict when I was a kid, and I had been in lots of places like this. I’m pretty sure that I never

JESSICA: They’re not really. People have done projects

saw people using in front of me, but I was around that

about addiction before. There was no need for another

type of adult for sure as a child. I definitely didn’t seek

one, and I felt like one of the only things that I could con-

this project out, I just bumped into it, I didn’t want to

tribute was a sense of intimacy with these particular char-

solve some daddy issues or anything like that. I think in

acters, so because of that I really honed in very closely on

my gut, my immediate feeling of “Oh I know this type of

just a couple of people. There’s a lot of chaos in the book,

person”. There was something about being very vacant,

but you still kind of follow some folks, but you know

everyone being there but not being there. People not re-

there were these peripheral people, definitely people that

ally connecting with each other. The kind of empty look

I photographed a lot, that were dropping left and right.

in people’s eyes, and I think it just struck me as really familiar. Even though it was kind of shocking, I felt more

ANDREA: How did you cope? Did you have people that

comfortable with that environment than I should’ve

supported you?

been. I mean I was brand new at photography, this is the first thing I’ve ever done.

JESSICA: I had a good boyfriend at the time, someone who I am still very close with, but I think I spent a lot of

ANDREA: How did you manage to navigate boundaries

time alone, which I think for me is one of the best ways

between being intimate with your subjects and protect-

to process. In more recent years as I’ve tried to maintain

ing yourself?

a normal life or have a resemblance of social life, coming back into the regular world, after immersing myself

JESSICA: I tried to not think about me too much, I tried

in other projects, that toggle back and forth has kind of

to be really open. Again, because I hadn’t been doing this

been the death of me. It’s ruined relationships, it’s made

for a while, or any time at all, I hadn’t been hardened or

me really feel that I’m not in either world. I think at that

I didn’t have any ideas about maintaining distance or

time I might just have spent a lot of time alone, which

maintaining objectivity, which I don’t believe in anyway.

is probably a good thing. I never even thought about it

I cut my teeth on this project and there was no way to

before you asked… I should probably do more of that.

stay truly objective.

It was just heavy, and I think I processed it by not run-

At the beginning it wasn’t complicated, and in the last

ning back to my friends. I also hadn’t been doing it for

year or so of the project it got really complicated for me.

that long so I didn’t miss people in the same way that I

I had met these people, Jessie in particular, under the

do now. I didn’t crave my normal life, I was newer at it.

Jessica Dimmock, Opposite top: caption to come, xxxx; Bottom: caption to come, xxxx; Following spread: caption to come, xxxx.






I think it’s always helpful if you can humanize and personalize something that is incredibly taboo.

Now I’m like “ugh, I can’t go to a fucking dinner party

everywhere. My biggest fear was getting knocked over and

like a normal person”.

landing on a needle, and that would have been disastrous.

ANDREA: Well, I think that the project is very brave.

ANDREA: Were the fights over drugs, over money, over

Looking at a pregnant woman shooting up, from my dis-

personalities, over everything?

tance, my perspective - is revolting! JESSICA: A lot of it was just about money. Money repJESSICA: You know, Rachel was kind of interesting.

resents drugs. I’ve actually always in a weird way been

Rachel and Dion, they went through this really inter-

impressed by it. These are people that have a $100 a day

esting transformation. When they got pregnant, they

addiction, and every single day they wake up without

sobered up in a way, but I’m glad they’re not my par-

$100, without any dollars, and they’ve got a small win-

ents. Rachel stopped using illegal drugs, she used a lot

dow of time before they start getting sick. They’ve got

of prescription drugs, which I’m not saying is good, but

to figure out where they’re going to get money, where

it’s fair game. A pregnant woman should not detox from

they’re going to get their dealer, find their dealer, find

heroin, that’ll probably result in a miscarriage, so there

a safe place to shoot up. Every single day. It gets a little

are a lot of people that go on Methadone, Quanifen,

Lord Of The Flies, everyone gets sick, everyone’s sick in

Xanax and other types of doctor regulated drugs. It’s

the morning, and everyone’s scrambling.

still not good, but Rachel got clean by street standards as soon as she got pregnant, and Dion stopped using all

ANDREA: Do you think that the work helped make a

together. Rachel was using a lot of prescription medica-

difference in regards to drug addiction?

tion which she needed to, but it is still not ideal for pregnancy, and Dion switched to alcohol. I was incredibly

JESSICA: Probably not. I think it’s always helpful if you

impressed that Dion completely stopped using drugs,

can humanize and personalize something that is incred-

but again, it’s not how addiction works. People struggle

ibly taboo. If people feel like they know Jessie or Dion

with this. People need real intensive treatment, and so

or Rachel, then that is a help. I make work to document

when he went off of shooting up he turned to a lot of

very specifically what a certain moment in time actually

drinking. He drank so much he was like a pickle. I was

looked like. This was the cause of a little struggle that I

impressed by that, I had seen them at their worst. I could

had with Jessie’s parents. If there’s one remorseful feel-

see that they were really trying, I was impressed by their

ing that I have it’s that I know the book very much upset

dedication, that they were doing something really hard

her parents. My feeling was that, in an addiction there is

not for themselves but for the sake of their kid.

a lot of denial going on, she was living in their house and this was all going on at the same time, they didn’t really

ANDREA: Were there any moments during the course of

want to face it. I certainly didn’t want to hurt or upset

doing the project where you felt endangered or had sec-

them, but also Jessie is a grown woman and I needed her

ond thoughts about the project.

permission for sure, but I didn’t really need their permission. Sticking with that was tough, because I liked

JESSICA: No, I didn’t really. There were definitely days

these people a lot and I know that they liked me, and I

when I would show up at the apartment and I could just

know that they felt it was hurtful for them to see this. All

tell in the air that something was not right, and then I

I wanted to do was be honest and accurate about what

would just leave. Things can go bad in a situation like that.

was happening, and I think that’s the part that hurts.

I don’t think anyone would have attacked me, but even if

It doesn’t hurt that I made a book about her, the book

a fight broke out, which would happen, there were needles

stings but that’s not the problem.

Jessica Dimmock, Top: Untitled, 2005; Bottom: Untitled, 2005.


ANDREA: Do you keep in touch with any of them today?

in the hospital, and the next page we’re in the field and the next you’re in the house, and the next page she’s giv-

JESSICA: I do, I keep in touch with Dion a bit. He’s out

ing a blowjob, you just like bounce all over the place,

in LA, he’s got two kids now. Matilda, the baby from the

and it weirdly makes sense. It’s like this quilted version

book, is now 10. I’ve worked on different projects, I’ve

of life, film doesn’t work that way. So, you have to be

just worked on a film for three of four years that is com-

plotting and planning and a great way of doing that is

ing up on the festival circuit in fall. It’s getting posted on

talking it out. We also co-shot it. The idea was to be able

Facebook all the time and Dion always likes the posts

to make a documentary that really looks like a narrative,

and says things like, “I’m proud to know you”, or makes

so that we can do shots and counter shots and use cin-

a thoughtful comment, and it just blows me away. He’s

ematic language that you see in narrative all the time,

always going to be a little out there. There are a lot of ob-

and do that in a documentary happening in real time just

stacles, but he seems to be doing really well. He’s post-

because we were both there capturing it.

ing things about politics. Rachel, I’ve spoken to over the past couple of years and she seems OK, she seems still a

ANDREA: You love video, why do you love video?

little hectic sometimes but trying. Jessie will surface every year or two. I love her so much, I’ll always try to find

JESSICA: I love what it’s done to how I think. I try some-

her, but I’m often away, and so when she pops up I have

how to separate these things as still photograph and vid-

to grab her right away, because she doesn’t stay popped

eo, I try to think about them as being a visual artist with

up for very long.

success in a frame. I love what video lets me do, there’s a sort of sex to video, there’s a little bit there in photog-

ANDREA: I’d like to talk about your film The Pearl?

raphy, but its really there in video. In the way things can

Can you say something about it?

pulse and vibrate, and the light can flood the frame and leave. You can go on these waves of things, and with vid-

JESSICA: Over the past three or four years, I’ve been

eo I’m really enjoying it, and it wasn’t hard to make the

working on a documentary feature called The Pearl, I co-

jump because as an artist that is obsessed with the frame, I

directed it with another photographer-turned-director,

already knew one very big part of video: what is this thing

Chris LeMarcer. It tells the story of four later-in-life trans-

look like within four corners? Then I had to figure our

gender women that have come out, not in their twenties

how does this group of four corners relate to that group

or their teens, but in their sixties and seventies, that have

of four corners, and it was a learning curve in that sto-

been living their whole lives as men. They were born bio-

ries are told but photographers already have a big leg up

logically male, and they all did a very good job of being

in that world if they’re interested in it. I’ve been playing

men, and lived in a place, the Pacific North West, that

with video now for four or five years and it really works.

has a really strong idea of masculinity and masculine culture. They all shoved it down for a long time until they

ANDREA: Can you talk your other photography assign-

got to a breaking point where they just couldn’t live with

ments, and what you are drawn to?

it anymore. The film explores them coming out for the first time in their sixties and seventies. We followed them

JESSICA: It really depends on the type of assignment.

for three years, kind of the same amount of time that The

I’m not the type of person who should go to the Middle

Ninth Floor took, which seems to be my sweet spot. So we

East to go photograph war, but when there’s something

followed them for three years as they stepped out into the

real creepy going on out there and someone needs a dark

world. I don’t think the project is about them transition-

creepy photographer, I get that call. It’s the best, it’s my

ing into becoming women, instead it’s really about them

calling. No one’s asking me to photograph weddings,

leaving behind being a man, and what that means to take

no one’s asking me to photograph puppies or babies.

that cloak off after all those years.

I’m not a dark person to be around per say, I’ve just got a dark bone in my body and I definitely see the world

ANDREA: How do you co-direct?

through that lens. So when I get the opportunity to exercise that muscle, and someone says go do your thing, it’s

JESSICA: It was great. I think that video is a team sport,

kind of the best because I get to express who I am and it’s

and that co-directing is not that rare in documentaries,

really fun. The worst thing for me is if someone asks me

especially because you’re there with your subjects, but

to do what I don’t really do. I’ll say yes anyway because

you also need to be plotting, you can’t just collect in the

I like working, but the creepy assignments are great.

same way that you would in photography. In photogra-

Sometimes they’re just dark and sometimes they’re just

phy, you can have a book. In my book, one page you’re

sad. I get that kind of request.

Jessica Dimmock, Opposite top: Untitled, 2004; Bottom: Untitled, 2005; Following spread: Untitled 2005.









Craig Becker, Scratch 10, 2015.





Craig Becker, Scratch 17, 2016.



Craig Becker, Scratch 4.1, 2016.





Craig Becker, Scratch 18, 2016.



Craig Becker, Scratch 16, 2016.



J E F F W H E T STO N E the cl o ck

JEFF WHETSTONE: Personally, I thrive on chaos. I re-

billboards or vestiges from a really violent history. That

ally like chaotic situations, and as a photographer part

violence, those wars out west in the middle of the 19th

of my strategy is improvising around chaos. There’s a

century, the landscape doesn’t record them. There were

video of a snake I caught, Drawing E. Obsoleta, which is,

no buildings to record them; what records them is the

in a way, me dealing with the very unpredictable nature

culture; the gun culture of the west: the targets. You can

of the snake and trying to control it, knowing that I can’t

see the vestiges of that expansion recorded in an abstract

control it. Maybe as a species, our relationship to nature

way through these targets. I thought they were, in a very

is trying to control something that is really not neces-

confusing way, in a confused space. Hopefully maybe

sarily chaotic, but unpredictable. I think our frustration

even confuse a sense of where it is, what it is and maybe

and our attraction to nature comes through that. It’s a

even confuse historical eras.

bigger force than we are. The unpredictability of nature is something that I think we’re all trying to battle with.

ANDREA: I wanted to ask you why it is called Seducing Birds, Snakes and Men.

ANDREA BLANCH: Can we talk a little bit more about the images in Central Range? They’re very beautiful.

JEFF: The seducing part of that was the pictures. They

How did you come by these structures? What is it that

were vehemently beautiful. They’re breathtaking, but

possessed you to shoot them?

once you realize what they are, they’re kind of violent. I mean, how many bullets went through that board?

JEFF: I came to those structures through a very chaotic

For what? Well, people playing with guns, and target

approach. I spent two summers photographing locusts,

practicing and hunters getting their targets out, but you

or grasshopper swarms in Utah, Nevada. I was very in-

know, lots and lots and lots of them. What I did, I was

terested in the history of the Rocky Mountain locusts,

kind of playing a little bit with Utah. I went to every

which were the largest conglomeration of terrestrial ani-

town named after one of the new apostles of the church

mals that the earth has ever witnessed. The locust swarm

and photographed their target range.

in 1847 really changed the history of the expansion west. After two years of photographing locusts and getting ba-

ANDREA: Is that what those are?

sically one usable picture out of it, I realized they’re not that impressive photographically. It’s very hard to record

JEFF: Yeah, those are target ranges in all the towns

the imagery of a swarm of locusts and I decided I would

named after the apostles. So, I was kind of playing with

never take another picture of a grasshopper again. I still

the violence of church history, not to pick on the church

had a month out in Utah, it was all paid for, I’d bought

or any particular denomination, but that’s where I was.

my ticket and made all these arrangements. I had a car

I was in a landscape slaughtered by territorial violence,

full of cameras and film and I said “Well, what’s next?”

and there were target ranges in every little town. They

I started driving and I drove to what are targets on tar-

were beautiful. I must mention, Seducing Birds, Snakes

get ranges. I was looking for something. I thought they

and Men - That was the name of the show. Louise Bour-

were beautiful, and I photographed this one target, kind

geois was asked “what is art?”. Art is seducing birds,

of over and over. I guess I realized that these targets are

snakes and men. She’s the coolest ever. I was so glad

kind of ominous. Public parks in Utah are, in a way,

that show was about birds, snakes, and men. There was

Portrait byAndrea Blanch. All artwork courtesy Julie Saul Gallery, New York.


a little homoeroticism in the show too, so I thought it

outside. Deliverance has been a really important part of

was really appropriate to use Bourgeois’ quote.

how I think, how others think about Appalachia. I really love to play with masculinity in my work. Sometimes I

ANDREA: There were 6 images in that show, but what

make it really sweet, sometimes I pose men in the flesh,

was homoerotic?

and sometimes I make it really scary. But what I love about doing it is that the men and I work together on

JEFF: It’s in a video that was called On the Use of a Syrinx,

this. It’s not like I’m secretly manipulating them into a

it was about turkey hunting. It was part of wild men, the

pose. I tell them exactly what I’m doing, tell them I’m

guys in camouflage. How do you hunt turkey? You only

playing with masculinity, the camouflage costumes, and

shoot the male bird and the only way to get the male bird

we collaborate. I feel that’s really fun, more than fun. I

in the range of your gun is to imitate a female mating call.

guess everyone in a way thinks that the south is this

So we have male hunters, imitating a female bird’s mating

monolithic, homophobic right wing Trump supporting

call to attract a male. I put little tiny microphones on the

area, which it’s not. It’s not at all. It’s very diverse, and

hunters, and asked them to translate what they were say-

the more you get into peoples’ personalities, everybody

ing to the male bird in English. In the end, it became sort

is post modern and a real mix of who they are, who they

of an x-rated hunting documentary. It’s kind of funny, it’s

portray themselves to be and how they understand their

on the website and you can watch it. It’s funny and hor-

own portrayal. I love having those conversations with

rific, yet somehow kind of alluring and savage. We had

people in rural regions.

this male in a very southern dialect talking as if he were a female describing what kind of sex he would have with

ANDREA: You previously talked about how you have a

that male turkey.

cousin or an uncle that you said had a biological clock, he knew how to time the suckerfish?

ANDREA: You have talked about Deliverance. When I think of Appalachia, that is the first thing that comes to

JEFF: That was my uncle Tim, his story has a huge in-

mind. In your words, how did that influence you and your

fluence in my life because of what this story illustrates.


He caught these suckerfish that no one really eats except really traditional people in Appalachia. They’re actually

JEFF: Where I grew up was about 50 miles, as the

incredibly delicious, but no one catches fish to eat them

crow flies, from the set of Deliverance. It came out when

anymore, especially suckerfish. Well, he does, he loves

I was about 12 years old. It was a movie that kind of

them. I said, “I want you to take me suckerfishing so

devastated Appalachian culture in ways a lot of other

that I can photograph it,” and he said, “well, Jeff, when

stereotypes didn’t. I think part of the reason it was so

the first dark wood petal hits the ground, they’ll start

effective in really coining this Appalachian stereotype

running.” I thought that was so poetic, because it visual-

of these sexual predators out in the landscape, is that

izes that middle of May when the first dark wood petals

there was a great deal of truth within the movie. It was

would swoon. Once they’re done blooming, the petals

a movie about tourists against natives, about progress

start following him. When the first one hits the ground,

against nature, about is there anything to be saved of

it releases a signal for a migration to happen. Because

indigenous culture, about rural Appalachian culture

they’re migratory fish, they swim upstream like salmon

against this cosmopolitan culture moving in. All these

spawn. That clock is so ancient, and so mystical. That

issues were very much alive in Deliverance. Deliverance

mysticism of nature, it’s something that I think we lost.

is a fascinating book by James Dickey and film by John

Now we look at nature through these scientific ecolo-

Boorman that investigated a lot of issues people from

gies, and not through mystical ecologies where trees

rural Appalachia were dealing with. Then there were

communicate with fish. My uncle Tim understands a lot

sex scenes, specifically the rape scene. What it did for

of what the Appalachian people say: that old-fashioned

me as a kid, was that it made me afraid of my neighbors.

wood talk. Literally a mystical, anti-modern way think-

All of a sudden I was like “man the Lawly boys that live

ing about nature. I really want to hold onto that.

up the road, I’m going to go down to the woods and get raped by them.” It made me scared of my own culture

ANDREA: So what was your clock, what was your knowledge?

in a way. It’s a movie that was both very respected and very reviled. I grew up with these masculinity contests.

JEFF: You know I grew up in a very rural area, no one

Just like a lot of rural or urban boys, we had a lot of the

lived near me. We lived on this defunct farm way out. I

southern masculinity contests and I was never a winner

didn’t have any neighbors my age, so I was pretty much

of these contests at all. I kind of saw things from the

left to my devices. My entertainment was catching ani-


Jeff Whetstone, Ephraim, 2010.


mals, watching animals, and hiding from animals. As

During those periods, I understood how animals, even

a kid, I would enter the woods as an eleven year old

something like salamanders, would return to the same

with two dogs and a complete thought of fascination

little spot over and over. I got to know certain birds

and fear. I was scared the whole time, I was constantly

that would nest in the same trees, and the snakes that

hiding and searching and catching things. If I heard the

I would never catch were always in this rock pile at a

slightest noise, I would hide. You know, as a kid, fear

certain time of day. I figured that there was this whole

is sort of fun, there’s something exhilarating about fear.

system of natural habits that seemed to be hidden to us


humans. The secret of the hundred acres around our

why you have chose to use an 8x10?

house. That’s what made me really go into the study of biology. I studied zoology, and realized that it was even

JEFF: Yes, definitely. The 8x10 is my magic hat. I have

broader than that, and I found that really fascinating.

to have some kind of weird contraption that never really wants to work right. My 8x10 is really beat up, it’s

ANDREA: You also say that you are a performer of

always giving me trouble, but it allows me to not hide

sorts, and I was wondering if that is one of the reasons

behind the camera to observe someone. It requires me to

Jeff Whetstone, Nephi, 2010.



enlist the help of someone in the making of their image. Someone will ask me “can I help you with that thing?”, and I’m like “actually you can, can you hold this for a second while I put this screw in?” No matter what type of photographer you are, a sports photographer, a nature photographer, etc, someone will come up and ask you about your camera. It became a joke and I really embrace that. With an 8x10 the question, “why do you use a camera like that?” becomes a normality. When I get that question, I can give a short talk about the history of photography. The history of the field is fascinating and I think other people find it fascinating as well. That’s why they want to know why this camera. I want to try connect to all the people who’ve used cameras in the past. There’s something magical in the making of film, what makes it different. What really makes it different to me is that I have a conversation and enroll people into my endeavor. I am the performer, I think that’s what a lot of people don’t understand about photography. The performer behind the camera is really intense and interesting, and sometimes a lot more interesting than the performer in front of the camera. ANDREA: So you are the head of photography at Princeton - if I was to enroll in your course: what would I be learning? JEFF: That’s a very good question. It may surprise you that you learn about art history, especially history about Renaissance paintings. A lot of art is based on representational image culture, especially in photography. If we talk about light in photography, you can take Hollywood light all the way back to Caravaggio, or even before - Raphael. You learn about Raphael and Caravaggio and that kind of western art history. That made the birth of photography imminent. Photography had to be born after Caravaggio painted those paintings. Because if we’re advancing our language in art and everything else, photography is the next step. The first day of class, I take my students to the museum and we look at paintings. We look at Diane Arbus and talk about what modernism means. So, you learn that, and you try to unlearn things too. Everyone knows how to take a picture, but you don’t have to know how to take a picture to take a picture. Everyone is almost a natural at it, but what are the decisions that you are making with your phone when you frame something? I don’t think anyone thinks about that consciously. I try to go into vernacular photography too, and try to talk about the myriad of decisions and hopefully I turn people onto art. That’s the main goal for me: turn people on to a lifelong passionate love affair with art. Humans have made art before we were humans. When we were homoerectus or neanderthals, we were making art. Art is older than homo-

Jeff Whetstone, Joseph, redux, 2010.


I’m manipulating light, I’m waiting for light. That’s all I really need to say about it

sapians, the thing that connects us to our evolutionary

choice, at the Julie Saul show, you have one that is black

routes more than anything else, maybe sex, but art and

and one that is white. I wonder why you chose to do that

sex are the first two professions, I think art was first.

image in black and white and not the others, or why you

How else are you going to get a mate, you make some-

thought it expressed it better in B&W?

thing. Or you make him something, you do a dance or you sing a song - it’s art that makes us love each other.

JEFF: In that one, the paint had been chipped off the

Photography is the gateway drug. Everyone loves pho-

metal frame that held the ply wood that was the target

tography, if you learn a lot about photography it doesn’t

in the background. Behind that, there were these scrub

take very long. You’re quite close to the steps to start

bushes, these dark green sage bushes that actually turned

getting into Louise Bourgeois as we mentioned earlier,

black in certain types of B&W film, or certain types of

or whatever kind of contemporary art is out here that

filters. They were roughly the same size in the frame; the

suit you need.

bushes were far away and the target frame was close and so these black areas, the black splotches, really mimic

ANDREA: You have said that you spend time sculpting

each other on the same scale. What I really wanted to do

an infant on the camera, would you elaborate on this?

in that picture is compress space, or rather confuse 3D. You see these things near each other, you know one is in

JEFF: You know I take all kinds of images, but I think

front of the other, but for a minute you don’t know what

when I feel like I am most effective is when I am work-

is in front of what. You get back to chaos, you get con-

ing incredibly slowly, when I am analyzing every little

fused about the most fundamental thing, which is dimen-

thing in front of the camera and that I perhaps even

sionality. That can be very disorientating, and the reason

make things to go in front of the camera. Not necessarily

why I wanted to disorient it, and I don’t know if I can

sculptures but, manipulating things. I’m manipulating

explain this. It’s more of a notion than anything, I think

light, I’m waiting for light. That’s all I really need to say

if you confuse space in a picture like this one, you also

about it. If it takes me a week to get the picture, I’ll take

confuse a sense of time. I wanted the picture to be about

a week to get the picture. I use $1,000 worth of 8x10 film

history in some way, I wanted that time to be shifted,

to get one picture. Miles and miles of photographing in

not in any kind of literal way, but in a symbolic way. The

different light and different angles; figuring them out

symbolic way was the shift: space. That’s why that was

from behind the camera, and taking a long time to do it.

in black and white, because if it was in color, the green of

That’s when I feel the richest, the most fortunate.

the bushes, you would see oh these are bushes and this is rust, and instead you see the rust and the bushes as

ANDREA: Coming back to the target and your aesthetic

relatively the same color. Can you see that in the picture?


Jeff Whetstone, Joseph, 2010.


Jeff Whetstone, Enoch, 2010.


I do find urban environments, the weeds that grow through the cracks, and all the animals that survive among us very interesting.

ANDREA: Yes, is that what you referring to when you

taking pictures of the Lower Trenton Bridge. It’s famous

say that landscape is a blank canvas that you project

for saying “Trenton makes, the world takes.” They choose

your image on it. Is that what you talking about, it’s you

letters that are 13 feet high. It’s a vestige of when it was

dealing with this aesthetically.

a manufacturing mecca. The Brooklyn Bridge, Washington Bridge, Queensburough Bridge, Golden Gate Bridge,

JEFF: Yeah, I think the camera works the opposite way

many of their steel parts were made in Trenton. Of course

you think it does, if you truly devote yourself to the me-

not anymore, not since the sixties. That sign is still up, it’s

dium, you direct your thoughts through the lens onto

still very much a part of Trenton. I am photographing it and

what ever else is out there. It’s not like you’re recording

rearranging the letters in the landscape to kind of figure out

what’s out there onto, you’re actually projecting what’s

what it means now. What does a post-industrial northeast

out there and what I wanted to project was a chaotic his-

corridor that’s long been post-industrial say now?

tory, a chaotic human connection to landscape that reference chaotic history. And so I know of projected that.

ANDREA: You’re kind of poetic and romantic in my opinion. Are you kind of homesick photographically? It’s

ANDREA: So it’s creating you’re own narrative in a way.

a different genre I think, it’s landscape but it’s different.

JEFF: Yeah, yeah its my own narrative. Anybody else

JEFF: Yeah, it’s a different genre but I guess I look at it

would take a picture in the other direction. Or take a

through my zoological and cultural anthropology cours-

picture of how unbelievably beautiful central Utah is.

es. In New York City, there’s congestion, throughout the

Or take a picture of the hunter shooting the target or

eastern seaboard, there’s congestion. It’s also kind of

whatever. And I want to take a picture of history in a

wild. Not only wild as in people, but there’s some really

symbolic way.

interesting nature that happens within this urban mecca. To me, it’s more interesting than nature what happens in

ANDREA: So, what are you taking pictures of now?

a natural park. Human nature and the more nonhuman nature are in this sort of contact that marks our time in

JEFF: Good question, right. I have a great project here. I

2017. Maybe more than a natural park which is a token of

like taking pictures of things close to me. People think, “Oh

a bygone era. A hermetically sealed thing, I’m not against

he’s a Southern photographer.” Well, it’s because I lived in

them but I don’t find them interesting artistically. But, I do

the South all my life and I don’t want to drive 1000 miles to

find urban environments, the weeds that grow through

take pictures all the time. Sometimes I like to take pictures

the cracks, and all the animals that survive among us very

nearby, so what I’m taking pictures of now is something

interesting. So I’m not really homesick to tell you the truth

that I think is very interesting, humorous, and funny. I’m

now, but I might be later. I’m kind of loving it actually.


ANDREA: Photography has changed a great deal since we have started, even in the past year or two, it is constantly changing. JEFF: Well, that takes us back to Central Range. If you look at Central Range, they look like composite pictures. They look like they’re different pics of some sort of thing, I didn’t photoshop. They are very influenced by photographers of different generations, people like James Welling and Lucas Blalock and other photographers like Hannah Whitaker, who collage or manipulate photographs to reference different kinds of sculpture and painting. They’re very much on my mind when taking pictures, but I kind of want to do it through the photographer to remind them or myself that the world is already a chopped up mosaic of different times and symbols. The world is fractured and put back together. We have signage, Walker Evans sort of did it too. So many different artists like Aaron Sisken. It’s totally a conversation with these other artists, but I do make a restriction of the one piece of film restriction. Restrictions make you think a lot. I don’t miss anything of photography today and I don’t miss anything of photography yesterday. It’s expanding in very different ways, and in a lot of ways it allows for some of the documentary forms to look new again. ANDREA: Because I tell you, from my personal view, I was so tired when I started this magazine. Looking at any documentary photography and just because we’ve all seen so much of it. And I don’t know maybe two years ago, just all of the sudden it looks fresh and good to me because I’ve been seeing so much of the new photography, and I like it by the way. I like all of this crazy stuff, then all of that stuff started to look so old and it’s all not well done it looks awful. You see a lot of things like this that aren’t well done so now it just looks so beautiful again. JEFF: I think we were done a great favor, photography was done a great favor by this sort of composite language. Because it made the non-composite language look fresh again. At least it gave it some room to breathe. It’s kind of an exciting time for photography in general. I think what we have to contend with is education. Everyone has the technological capability of making a sound image. You know, one that’s descriptive and the colors are light. Now that is true, what are we going to do with that awesome capability? It’s like if you were back in 1670 and suddenly everyone had the capability to draw like Raphael. That’s an incredible challenge for painting, and I think that’s why the study of photography is more important than it’s ever been. We almost communicate in images as much as we communicate in words.


Jeff Whetstone, Orderville, 2010.


Michel Mazzoni, AC, Narita, 2014.



Tatiana Gulenkina, Untitled #20, Things Merging and Falling Apart, 2010.


Tatiana Gulenkina, Untitled #24, Things Merging and Falling Apart, 2013.


N I C K WA P L I N GTO N chi l d ’s p l a y

MUSEÉ MAGAZINE: I recall strolling through my col-

arch’s Wardrobe was actually the first work from my time

lege in New York City, a place so distant from the West

in The West Bank to be published and exhibited.

Bank, Hebrew and Arabic speakers would hurl insults each other like “child murderer” and “terrorist”. How-

MUSEÉ: You decided to go to multiple landfill sites and re-

ever, you choose to name your works with a combination

cycling plants in places as far as the West Bank during your

of Arabic and Hebrew names knowing how strong the

career. What made each landfill distinct from one another?

animosity is amongst both groups. How do you reckon these groups will abridge their passionate hatred that

NICK: All the photos in this work are taken in the same

has been rooted in their communities for centuries?

landfill south of the Palestinian city of Hebron. The landfill serves both the Palestinian and Jewish communities

NICK WAPLINGTON: I know many Arabs and Jews

living in the West Bank and is run by the French com-

who know each other, respect one another and live side

pany Veolia, at least it was when I made the work.

by side in the West Bank; no one is going anywhere so they have to learn to make the best of the situation. The

MUSEÉ: Merely mentioning the West Bank arises a

pragmatic everyday is not visible to the world outside,

politically charged discussion regarding Israel and

but I have lived there and witnessed it with my own eyes.

Palestine, yet your work for The Patriarch’s Wardrobe seemingly lacks the divisive elements that many other

MUSEÉ: What led you to photograph landfills in the

works of the West Bank have. What is your intention by

West Bank?

producing an impartial work?

NICK: During my time living in Jerusalem I decided to

NICK: With that question you are implying that the work

make work exclusively in the West Bank, I made a num-

is impartial I would question that assumption; I believe

ber of works using photography, painting, sculpture,

it is almost impossible to make impartial work in the

and process based art, and one work seemed to lead to

West Bank. But while stating this, it is almost impossible

the next. One day while out in the South Hebron Hills

to actually state where that lack of impartiality actually

visiting a tribe of Bedouin who live in caves, I came

lies, as everyone’s view of the West Bank and life there is

across the landfill site in this work. I returned a number

different. I feel as an artist I was making work there but

of times to view the location and eventually decided to

I have very little say about the interpretation of the work

make work there.

itself-that is up to the audience. I thrive on this ambiguity I create and what I can learn from my audience about

MUSEÉ: The Patriarch’s Wardrobe is your second work

their own beliefs and prejudices. I enjoy bringing these

that occurs in the West Bank, however a great deal of

contradictions to the surface. I am then able to feed this

time has passed between this project and your first proj-

back into the work itself. This is art, not a documentation

ect there. What made you return?

exercise. I am trying to use visual devices to fuck with people’s preconceived ideas, notions, and prejudices. By

NICK: This is not actually the case, I lived in Jerusalem

doing this I am able to draw in viewers to greater and

for four years and during this time I made a number of

more intimate ‘truths’ and the psychological meanings

works as I already stated, the work in question The Patri-

that are buried below the surface of the pictures. I allow

Portrait by Nick Waplington. All images ©Nick Waplington and appear courtesy of the artist.


Nick Waplington. Top: Untitled, 2010; Bottom: Pene Hever, 2010.


Nick Waplington. Top: Talmon, 2010; Bottom: Untitled, 2010.


I was in fact creating bad will and friction so I stopped, this was all part of the process of making this work.

the viewer to grapple with the philosophical discourse

MUSEÉ: What were the children typically asked to

being debated within the interplay between the photo-

search for?

graphs and paintings. NICK: Metal is the primary source of interest but anyMUSEÉ: Even though The Patriarch’s Wardrobe doesn’t

thing of value really, I started off buying the metal from

seem to state whether it is pro-Israeli or pro-Palestinian,

the kids to use in my paintings, but I soon realised I was

your website says that “these photographs were taken in

destroying the delicate barter based eco-system on the

the land that was once called Palestine.” Is that your

landfill as I was able to outbid the scrap metal buyers

view on the issue?

which wasn’t a good thing as I had no long term interest in purchasing the scrap. I was in fact creating bad will

NICK: That is a fact, it was once a land called Palestine, I

and friction so I stopped, this was all part of the process

don’t think anyone would argue with that, where people

of making this work.

do argue is if it is now called Palestine or ever will be again, this is not my issue here but the wording of the

MUSEÉ: You agreed with the adult handlers that you would

statement in the text of the book is worded in such a way

shoot from a distance to keep the children anonymous.

to tease a position in the viewer of this work.

Why did the adults want to keep the children anonymous?

MUSEÉ: Your work calls to mind Vik Muniz’s work.

NICK: Everyone wanted to be anonymous, not just the

Many artists have looked to landfills before. In your opin-

children. They understood why I wanted to make the

ion, why are artists like yourself attracted to them?

work, but working on a rubbish heap is not a dignified job in many respects and the Bedouin are proud and upstand-

NICK: I cannot speak for other artists, or for anyone else

ing people. This work was for them as much as anything

for that matter, I create a discourse with my work and with

else and as I said to make the work, I needed to go through

this work, the ‘prop’ is a landfill site. The idea of ‘landfill’

a process of understanding of a very delicate situation.

artists is absurd is it not? But then again, art and the absurd is interesting within itself. Everything is interesting to me

MUSEÉ: In Adam Lehrer’s interview with Autre Maga-

and the possibilities that can offer are endless..

zine, you said that “everything is slightly chaotic with you” because you are dyslexic and left-handed. Since you

MUSEÉ: Can you describe how the work system functions

will be featured in our Chaos issue, how do you incorpo-

in the landfill. Who does what between children and adults?

rate that into your art and life?

NICK: The workers on the site are all from one Bedouin

NICK: After over thirty years of making art, I now feel

tribe from the northern part of the West Bank; Sunday

I am coming to an understanding of how my production

to Thursday they live in tents next to the landfill. Ba-

takes place, I allow myself to work intuitively and just

sically the children can access areas of the landfill the

follow my instincts. By allowing myself complete free-

adults cannot because they weigh less, also child labour

dom and working hard, every day things just fall into

is cheaper. Also coming into play here is hierarchical

place and the work gets created. I am open to disparate

kind of social class system found in any society. This

elements of discovery and see myself as the catalyst; of-

exists within the Bedouin, I can explain in more detail

ten I am not quite sure what I have made until many

if you want, but basically these people are near the bot-

years after a work has been created. But by then, of

tom of class structure.

course it may be a long way from my original intention.

Nick Waplington. Top: Untitled, 2010; Bottom: Ghwien, 2010.



Nick Waplington. Top: Untitled, 2010; Bottom: Hebron H1, 2010.


Nick Waplington. Top: Hebron H2, 2010; Bottom: Untitled, 2010.



ALFREDO JAAR was born in Santiago, Chile in

(2015) is her second feature film.

1956 and currently lives in New York. He uses pho-

AMY ELKINS is from Venice, California and gradu-

tography, film, installation and new media to exam-

ated with her BFA in Photography from the School of

ine complex socio-political issues and the limits and

Visual Arts in New York City. She has been exhibited

ethics of representation. Some of his notable projects

and published both nationally and internationally,

include The Rwanda Project (1994-2000), covering the

including at Kunsthalle Wien in Vienna, Austria; the

Rwandan genocide in 1994. He recently staged a pub-

Center for Creative Photography in Tucson, AZ; the

lic intervention, The Gift (2016), in the Parcours sec-

Minneapolis Institute of Arts; North Carolina Muse-

tor of Art Basel, highlighting the immigration crisis

um of Art; Light Work Gallery in Syracuse, Aperture

in Europe and raising funds for Migrant Offshore

Gallery in New York, Yancey Richardson Gallery in

Aid Station, a NGO dedicated to saving lives at sea.

New York, De Soto Gallery in Los Angeles, the Hous-

Jaar has been shown extensively around the world:

ton Center for Photography in Houston, TX among

Biennales of Venice (1986, 2007, 2009, 2013); Sao

others. Elkins has been awarded with The Light Work

Paulo (1987, 1989, 2010); Istanbul (1995); Kwangju

Artist-in-Residence in Syracuse, NY in 2011, the Villa

(1995, 2000), Johannesburg (1997), Seville (2006) and

Waldberta International Artist-in-Residence in Mu-

Documenta, Kassel (1987, 2002). There have also been

nich, Germany in 2012, the Aperture Prize and the

several retrospectives of his work: Berlinische Gal-

Latitude Artist-in-Residence in 2014 and The Peter S.

erie (2012); Neue Gesellschaft für Bildende Kunst e.V.

Reed Foundation Grant in 2015.

(2012); Alte Nationalgalerie (2012) in Berlin, and the most extensive at the Museum of Contemporary Art

ANA MENDIETA was a Cuban-born artist who cre-

Kiasma, Helsinki (2014). Currently, his work can be

ated groundbreaking work in photography, perfor-

found in the Museum of Modern Art and the Gug-

mance, film, drawing, sculpture, mixed media, and

genheim Museum in New York City, the Museum

site-specific installations. In her brief yet prolific ca-

of Contemporary Art in Chicago, the Museum of

reer, Mendieta was a pioneer among artists dealing

Contemporary Art and LACMA in Los Angeles, the

with identity in politics and feminism. Ana Mend-

Tate Museum in London as well as dozens of other

ieta’s work has been the subject of over six major

institutions and private collections worldwide. In

museum retrospectives. Ana Mendieta: Traces—was

1985, he was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship,

organized by the Hayward Gallery in London in 2013

followed in 2000 with a MacArthur Fellowship, and

and traveled to the Museum der Moderne, Salzburg,

has released more than sixty public interventions.

and the Galerie Rudolfinum, Prague. Ana Mendieta:

Aside from the international locations at which he

Earth Body, Sculpture and Performance (1972–1985) was

has shown and is currently on display, more the fifty

organized by the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture

monographic publications have been published on

Garden in 2005 and traveled to the Whitney Museum

his work.

of American Art, the Des Moines Art Center and the Miami Art Museum. Covered in Time and History:

ALICE WINOCOUR is a screenwriter and director

The Films of Ana Mendieta, the largest collection of

from Paris, France. She is a graduate of the screen-

Ana Mendieta’s films ever presented as a full-scale

writing department at La Fémis film school. Through-

gallery exhibition in the United States, debuted at the

out her career she has directed three award-winning

Katherine E. Nash Gallery, the University of Minne-

shorts (including Kitchen, which screened in competi-

sota in Minneapolis in 2015. The exhibition traveled

tion at Cannes in 2005) and has worked on the script

to the NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale and will be

of several feature films including Ordinary People by

on view at the University of California, Berkeley Art

Vladimir Perisic (2009 Cannes Critics’ Week) and Mus-

Museum and Pacific Film Archive in the fall of 2016.

tang by Deniz Gamze Ergüven (2015 Cannes Direc-

Her works are found in over thirty public collections

tors Fortnight). In 2011, she directed Augustine, which

worldwide, including the Solomon R. Guggenheim

premiered at the 2012 Cannes Critics’ Week. Disorder

Museum, New York; Whitney Museum of American



Art, New York; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture

world for fine art, his work now reflecting a sense

Garden, Washington, D.C.; Musée d’Art Moderne et

of art history and significant social messages. At 17,

Contemporain (MAMCO), Geneva; and Museo Na-

LaChapelle started his commercial photography ca-

cional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid; Tate Gal-

reer at Interview Magazine after Andy Warhol spot-

lery, London; Verbund Collection, Vienna; and the

ted his art in New York City galleries, soon after which

Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris.

his images were on the covers of Italian Vogue, French Vogue, Vanity Fair, GQ, Rolling Stone and i-D. After

CHARLOTTE COTTON was born in 1970 in Cots-

establishing himself on the celebrity scene, he started

wolds, United Kingdom. She is a curator, writer and

directing music videos, live theatrical events, and

creative consultant who has explored the photograph-

documentary films. His transition into film inspired

ic culture for over twenty years. She has held positions

two film projects: Sundance award-winning Krumped

including Curator of Photographs at the Victoria and

(2004) and Rize (2005). In 2006, LaChapelle returned

Albert Museum, Head of Programming at The Pho-

to his fine-art roots, and has been internationally cele-

tographer’s’ Gallery in London and the Curator and

brated since, showing in museums around the world,

Head of the Wallis Annenberg Department of Photog-

including: Barbican Museum, London; Palazzo Reale,

raphy at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Her

Milan; Museo del Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso,

book, The Photograph as Contemporary Art, is published

Mexico City; Musée de La Monnaie, Paris; Museum

in nine languages and has been a key text in its chart-

of Contemporary Art, Taipei. He has also had a num-

ing of the rise of photography as an undisputed art

ber of retrospectives of his work, featured around the

form in the 21st century. Cotton is also author and

world in Museo Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico;

lead essayist for numerous fashion photography pub-

the Hangaram Design Museum, Seoul; Galerie Rudol-

lications, including Imperfect Beauty (2000) and Guy

finum, Prague; Fotografiska Museet, Stockholm and

Bourdin (2003), both of which accompanied critically

the Tel Aviv Museum of Art in Israel. He continues to

acclaimed exhibitions curated by her for the Victoria

exhibit his work internationally, including the series,

and Albert Museum. She has also written extensive

Landscape (2014) in New York, London, Paris, and Vi-

essays for books including Nick Knight (2009), Vivi-

enna. LaChapelle’s 30+ year career includes numer-

ane Sassen: In and Out (2013) and Louis Vuitton Fashion

ous books, films, and many awards.

Photography (2014). She has curated photography and contemporary art exhibitions for museums, interna-

DOUG AND MIKE STARN are identical twins from

tional art festivals and biennials, including in the UK,

New Jersey born in 1961. They are world renowned

US, mainland Europe, Israel and South Korea. Cotton

artists known for their collaboration of photography,

also contributes feature essays to magazines includ-

video, architecture, and sculpture. First gaining at-

ing Aperture, IMA and Artforum and is the founder

tention from the 1987 Whitney Biennial, they have

of two photography discussion websites – Words

gone on to show and construct installations globally,

Without Pictures (2008-9, summary book published

including the upcoming 100-ft long glass wall for the

in 2010) and (2012-). Her forthcoming

United States Embassy in Moscow (Spring 2017),

book, Photography is Magic, is published by Aperture

(Any) Body Oddly Propped, a permanent glass and

in September 2015 and surveys over eighty artists

steel sculpture (18’ tall x 45’ across x 15’ deep) com-

whose photographic practices shape the possibilities

missioned by the Princeton University Art Museum

of our contemporary image environment.

(2015). In 2008, from their immense studio space in Beacon, New York, the twins began working on Big

DAVID LACHAPELLE was born in Connecticut in

Bambú, an ever-evolving installation made from

1963. He has become a world-renowned American

5000 bamboo poles and 50 miles of nylon rope. Big

photographer, in both fine-art and commercial fields,

Bambú would go on to exhibit around the world, each

music video director and film director. Formerly a go-

time growing and changing, worked on with a team

to photographer to the stars, he traded in the fashion

of rock climbers. It was first exhibited at the Metro-



politan Museum of Art (2010), becoming the 9th most

Site Santa Fe 2010, Santa Fe, NM; Centre Georges Pom-

attended exhibition in the museum’s history and fol-

pidou, Paris; The Drawing Center in New York; Haus

lowed at the 54th Venice Biennale (2011); Macro Tes-

der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin; Kasseler Kunstver-

taccio, Rome (2012-16); Setouchi Triennial, Naoshima

ein; the Kassel Documentary Film and Video Festival;

Museum, Japan (2013-) and The Israel Museum of Art,

Shenzhen Independent Animation Biennial in China;

Jerusalem (2014-permanent). See it split, see it change

National Center for Contemporary Art in Moscow;

(2009), a 250-foot long artwork, 14 feet in height in the

CA2M Centro de Arte de Mayo in Madrid; Loop Bar-

South Ferry Subway Terminal commissioned by the

celona; Australian Center of Moving Images; Victoria

New York City Metropolitan Transit Authority, their

Memorial Museum in India and more.

first public commission, was awarded the 2009 Brendan Gill Prize. For over 3 decades, the Starns’ photo-

FRED TOMASELLI is an American artist from Santa

based work has been the object of solo institutional

Monica, California. He has had numerous solo exhi-

exhibitions including Gravity of Light; Absorption and

bitions including the Modern Art Museum of Fort

Transmission; Doug and Mike Starn (1990-91); The Christ

Worth (2014) and the University of Michigan Mu-

Series (1987-88), and numerous group shows. Several

seum of Art (2014); a survey exhibition at Aspen Art

of their monographs have become iconic art books.

Museum (2009) that toured to Tang and Brooklyn

Major artworks are represented in public and private

Museums (2010); The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh

collections including MoMA; SFMOMA; Solomon R.

(2004) toured to four venues in Europe and the US;

Guggenheim Museum; The Metropolitan Museum of

Albright-Knox Gallery of Art (2003); Site Santa Fe

Art; The Whitney Museum of American Art amongst

(2001); Palm Beach ICA (2001), and Whitney Muse-

so many others. The Starns are the recipients of the

um of American Art (1999). His works have been in-

International Center for Photography Infinity Award

cluded in international biennial exhibitions including

for Fine Art Photography (1992) and two National En-

Sydney (2010); Prospect 1 (2008); Site Santa Fe (2004);

dowment for the Arts Grants (1987, 1995).

Whitney (2004) and others. Tomaselli’s work can be found in the public collections of institutions such as

FEDERICO SOLMI was born in 1973 in Italy and is

the Museum of Modern Art, NY; Whitney Museum of

currently based in New York. Solmi is an accomplished

American Art; the Brooklyn Museum; Albright-Knox

animated video artist who uses a satirical aesthetic to

Gallery; and the Museum of Contemporary Art, LA.

portray a dystopian vision of our present day society. Irreverent, surrealist, and politically charged, the

GIDEON MENDEL was born 1959 in Johannesburg,

videos and works are extravagant, rowdy, and ironic.

South Africa. As a leading contemporary photogra-

His exhibitions are known to use bright colors as well

pher, his intimate style of image making and long-

as combining different forms of media such as video,

term commitment to projects has earned him interna-

paintings, drawings, and even mechanical sculptures.

tional recognition and many awards, most recently the

They are satires about the evilness and vices that affect

Pollock Prize for Creativity. He studied Psychology

contemporary society and mankind. The universe that

and African History at the University of Cape Town

he likes to represent is the exaltation of a present that

and began photographing in the 1980s during the fi-

is crumbling apart. It is also a criticism of a system that

nal years of apartheid. It was his work as a ‘struggle

approves and trusts without questioning the fragile

photographer’ at this time that first brought his work

foundation on which our culture and post-modernist

to global attention. He has produced a number of pho-

society is based. He was awarded the BEN Main Prize

tographic advocacy projects, working with charities

2015 at the B3 Frankfurt Biennial and was honored

and campaigning organizations including The Global

with the 2009 Guggenheim Fellowship for Video Art.

Fund, Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Bor-

Solmi’s work has been exhibited in numerous muse-

ders), Treatment Action Campaign, the International

ums, institutions, and festivals. Among those are Haifa

HIV/AIDS Alliance, Action Aid, the Terrence Higgins

Museum of Art in Israel, 54th Venice Biennale (2011);

Trust, Shelter, Leonard Cheshire International, UNI-



CEF and Concern Worldwide. Mendel has worked for

Photographs and Films (2014) NSCAD University,

many leading magazines — amongst them National

Halifax. Whetstone has been awarded a number of

Geographic, Fortune Magazine, Condé Nast Trav-

fellowships: the North Carolina Arts Council Fellow-

eler, Geo, The Independent Magazine, The Guardian

ship (2006; 2012) and the John Simon Guggenheim

Weekend Magazine, The Sunday Times Magazine,

Fellowship (2007), as well as the Factor Prize for

L’Express, Stern and Rolling Stone. Since 2007, Men-

South Art (2008) and the George Sakier Prize from

del has been occupied with Drowning World, an art

Yale University (2001). He is currently the Head of

and advocacy project about flooding that is his per-

Photography at Princeton University and continues

sonal response to climate change. His work is increas-

to work from his studio in New York City.

ingly being seen in a variety of gallery contexts, with some of his earliest work from South Africa included

JESSICA DIMMOCK born in 1978, is an award-win-

in the ongoing Rise and Fall of Apartheid touring ex-

ning photographer and filmmaker and a member of

hibition. Drowning World has featured prominently at

VII, an international photography agency. In 2010, she

the ICP Triennial and Picture Windows installations

was awarded the Best Cinematography Award at the

in New York, as well as in the numerous other public

Hamptons International Film Festival from Kodak for

installations, photo festivals, and galleries. Amongst

the film Without (2011), directed by Mark Jackson. The

many accolades, Mendel has won the Eugene Smith

film, which she also produced, premiered in New York

Award for Humanistic Photography, six World Press

City at the Museum of Modern Art and garnered sig-

Photo Awards, first prize in the Pictures of the Year

nificant critical acclaim at festival screenings globally

competition, a POY Canon Photo Essayist Award, the

including the Film Society of Lincoln Center, Locarno

Amnesty International Media Award for Photojour-

International Film Festival, and The Deauville Film

nalism and he was shortlisted for the Prix Pictet Prize

Festival. Jessica was commissioned by the Grammy

2015 for Drowning World.

Award-winning artist Moby to create the official music video for the song “Wait for Me.” She contributed two

JEFF WHETSTONE was born in Chattanooga, Ten-

short films to the MSF campaign, Starved For Attention,

nessee in 1968. He is known for documenting the

which has been nominated for an Emmy. Most recent-

relationship between man and nature through his

ly, she worked as a photographer and videographer

photography and writing. Whetstone graduated

for the HBO four-part Emmy-nominated documen-

from Duke University in 1990 with a B.S. Zoology

tary series The Weight of the Nation. Jessica published

and went on to obtain his Certificate in Film Stud-

her first monograph, The Ninth Floor, in 2007 and is

ies M.F.A. Photography from Yale University in 2001.

the recipient of international photography awards in-

Since then he has been exhibiting his photography

cluding the F Award for Concerned Photography and

and video installations all over North America. Some

the Inge Morath Award from Magnum. Her work has

of his most notable solo exhibitions include: Jeff Whet-

been exhibited at solo shows at Foam, The Photogra-

stone (2006) Karyn Lovegrove Gallery, Los Angeles;

phy Museum of Amsterdam, The International Center

Introducing Jeff Whetstone (2007) Jackson Fine Art,

of Photography in Milan and Foley Gallery in Chelsea.

Atlanta, River of Earth Center for the Study of the American South, Chapel Hill, NC, Pioneer Species

JOHN BALDESSARI was born and raised in Cali-

Branch Gallery, Durham, NC; Post-Pleistocene (2008)

fornia where he attended San Diego State University

Julie Saul Gallery, New York, Karyn Lovegrove Gal-

and did his postgraduate work at Otis Art Institute,

lery, Los Angeles, Weatherspoon Museum, Greens-

Chouinard Art Institute as well as the University of

boro, North Carolina; Outliers (2010) John C. Smith

California at Berkeley. He taught at the California In-

University, Chapel Hill, NC; Seducing Birds, Snakes,

stitute of the Arts in Valencia, CA from 1970 - 1988

Men (2011) Julie Saul Gallery, New York; Frame /

and the University of California at Los Angeles from

Ablate (2013) Contemporary Art Museum, Raleigh;

1996 - 2007. Baldessari’s artwork has been featured

Pattern of Man (2013) Appalachian State University;

in more than 200 solo exhibitions and in over 1000



group exhibitions in the U.S. and Europe. His proj-

received her pre-diploma at West Surrey College of

ects include artist books, videos, films, billboards

Art in 1966 and graduated with a First Class Honors

and public works. His awards and honors include

Diploma in Art and Design from the Chelsea Col-

the 2014 National Medal of Arts Award, an upcom-

lege of Art, London in 1969. Since the 1970s, Slinger

ing award from the International Print Center New

has explored the connection between eroticism,

York in 2016, memberships in the American Academy

mysticism, feminism, and art through her work.

of Arts and Letters and in the American Academy of

She has authored and illustrated numerous publi-

Arts and Sciences, the Americans for the Arts Life-

cations and has exhibited her work internationally,

time Achievement Award, the Rolex Mentor and Pro-

including History Is Now: 7 Artists Take on Britain,

tégé Arts Initiative, the BACA International 2008, the

Hayward Gallery, London (2015); Cry Me a River,

Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement, awarded by

Etoile Polaire Lodge #1, New Orleans, LA (2014);

La Biennale di Venezia and the City of Goslar Kaiser-

Lips Painted Red, Trondheim Kunstmuseum, Nor-

ring in 2012. He has received honorary degrees from

way (2013); The Dark Monarch, Tate Gallery, St Ives

the National University of Ireland, San Diego State

(2009); Angels of Anarchy, Manchester Art Museum

University, Otis Art Institute of Parsons School of De-

(2009); Surrealism Unlimited 1968-1978, Camden Arts

sign, and California College of the Arts. He currently

Center, London (1978); Metamorphosis, University of

works in Venice, California. Recent projects include

Cambridge, England (1978); XII Bienal de São Paulo,

exhibitions at Sprüth Magers Gallery, Los Angeles

São Paulo, Brazil (1973); and Young and Fantastic,

(2016); the Städel Museum in Frankfurt, Germany

Institute of Contemporary Arts, London (1969).

(2015); Marian Goodman Gallery, London (2015); an

Slinger lives and works in California. Penny Sling-

exhibition at the Garage Center for Contemporary

er’s latest show is entitled Feminist Avant-Garde of

Culture, Moscow, Russia (2013) and the 2009-2010

the 1970s: Works from the Verbund Collection, and

traveling retrospective John Baldessari: Pure Beauty.

runs from 7 Oct - 8 Jan 2017 at The Photographers’

Upcoming projects include exhibitions at Marian

Gallery, London.

Goodman Gallery New York; Mai 36 in Switzerland; New Prints with Gemini G.E.L. and Mixografia in Los

REBECCA MILLER is an independent filmmaker

Angeles; a design for the BMW Art Car, and a design

born in 1962. She has written and directed five fea-

for the sets and costumes of the Paris Opera.

ture films: Angela (1995) winner of the Sundance Film Festival Filmmakers Trophy and Cinematography

NICK WAPLINGTON was born in 1965. He is a Brit-

Award; Personal Velocity (2002) starring Parker Posey,

ish photographer who currently resides in Los Ange-

Kyra Sedgwick and Fairuza Balk, winner of the Sun-

les, California. Some of his published works include;

dance Grand Jury Prize and Cinematography Award,

Other Edens (1994), Working Process (2013) which was

as well as the Independent Spirit John Cassavetes

a project he worked on with designer Alexander Mc-

Award; The Ballad of Jack and Rose (2005) starring Dan-

Queen and Surf Riot (2011). With roots in his Jewish

iel Day-Lewis and Camilla Belle; The Private Lives of

background, his family and friends became the sub-

Pippa Lee (2009) starring Robin Wright; and Maggie’s

ject for some of his books and exhibitions, as well as

Plan (2015) starring Greta Gerwig, Ethan Hawke, and

his concern for the environment influencing his veg-

Julianne Moore. Miller is also the screenwriter of the

an lifestyle. He has received an ICP Infinity award in

feature film Proof (2005) adapted from the stage play.

1993, as well as representing the UK at the Venice Bi-

Miller is the author of the short story collection Per-

ennale in 2001. Many prominent museums house his

sonal Velocity (2001) and the novels The Private Lives

works including the Guggenheim Museum in New

of Pippa Lee (2009), which has been published in over

York, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Museum

thirty countries, and Jacob’s Folly (2013). She adapted

of Modern art New York.

Personal Velocity and The Private Lives of Pippa Lee for the screen. Rebecca Miller lives in New York and Ire-

PENNY SLINGER was born in London in 1947. She

land with her family.



SANDY SKOGLUND was born in Massachusetts,

wide variety of materials—from chocolate and sugar

where she studied Studio Art and Art History at Smith

to junk and toys. His work has been exhibited widely

College in Northampton, Massachusetts from 1964 to

throughout the globe and is included in numerous in-

1968. She then went on to graduate school at the Universi-

ternational public and private collections, including the

ty of Iowa in 1969 where she studied filmmaking, intaglio

Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Tate Gallery,

printmaking, and multimedia art, receiving her M.A. in

London; Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo, Brazil;

1971 and her M.F.A. in painting in 1972. Skoglund moved

and Fondation Cartier pour L’Art Contemporain, Paris.

to New York City in 1972, where she started working as a

Vik Muniz was the subject of the Academy Award-

conceptual artist, dealing with repetitive, process-oriented

nominated documentary film Waste Land (2010) which

art production through the techniques of mark-making

followed his work with a group of catadores – pick-

and photocopying. In the late seventies, Skoglund’s desire

ers of recyclable materials – in Jardim Gramacho, the

to document conceptual ideas led her to teach herself pho-

world’s largest garbage dump located outside Rio de

tography. This developing interest in photographic tech-

Janeiro. In recognition of his contributions to education

nique became fused with her interest in popular culture

and social development including his work with the

and commercial picture making strategies, resulting in the

catadores, he was recently named a UNESCO Good-

directorial tableau work she is known for today. Skoglund

will Ambassador. Muniz currently lives and works in

currently lives in Jersey City, New Jersey.

Brooklyn, New York and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

SHAWN WALDRON is an independent archivist and

WEEGEE, originally named Usher Fellig was born

curator. He was first exposed to photographic archives as

in 1899 in Złoczów (now Zolochiv, Ukraine). He first

a caption writer at Corbis and instantly fell in love. After

worked as a photographer at the age of fourteen, three

earning a Masters in Library Science from Simmons Col-

years after his family immigrated to the United States.

lege, he was appointed Condé Nast’s archivist. In 2006,

This is where his first name was changed to the more

he was promoted to archive director, a position he held

American-sounding Arthur. Self-taught, he held many

for the next decade. While at Condé Nast, Shawn col-

other photography-related jobs before gaining regular

laborated with the editors of Vogue, Vanity Fair, GQ, W

employment at a photography studio in lower Man-

and The New Yorker on a variety of projects. He is also

hattan in 1918. This job led him to others at a variety of

the founding curator of the Condé Nast Gallery at One

newspapers until, in 1935, he became a freelance news

World Trade Center. Exhibitions include Elinor Carucci:

photographer. He centered his practice around police

The Effect of Motherhood, Peter Schlesinger: Photographic

headquarters and in 1938 obtained permission to install

Memory, and Untold Stories. Shawn has presented at Yale,

a police radio in his car. This allowed him to take the

the Victoria and Albert, and the Smithsonian Museum of

first and most sensational photographs of news events

American Art and appeared in a number of documen-

and offer them for sale to publications such as the Her-

tary features including In Vogue: The Editor’s Eye and The

ald-Tribune, Daily News, Post, the Sun, and PM Weekly,

Man Who Shot Beautiful Women. Museum catalog contri-

among others. New York’s Photo League held an exhi-

butions include Faking It: Manipulated Photography Before

bition of his work in 1941, and the Museum of Modern

Photoshop (Metropolitan Museum of Art); Horst, Pho-

Art began collecting his work and exhibited it in 1943.

tographer of Style (Victoria and Albert Museum); and

Weegee published his photographs in several books,

Charles Sheeler: Fashion, Photography, and Sculptural Form

including Naked City (1945), Weegee’s People (1946),

(James Michener Museum). He is currently working on

and Naked Hollywood (1953). After moving to Holly-

a monograph focused on the color photography pioneer

wood in 1947, he devoted most of his energy to making

Anton Bruehl.

16-millimeter films and photographs for his Distortions series, a project that resulted in experimental portraits

VIK MUNIZ is a Brazilian born artist and photogra-

of celebrities and political figures. He returned to New

pher. Recognized for his photographs of reimagined,

York in 1952 and lectured and wrote about photography

largely art history imagery, which he creates out of a

until his death on December 27, 1968.





SUBMIT YOUR WORK TO MUSÉE NO. 17: ENIGMA 1. Submit high resolution images. 2. Please do not include watermarks. 3. Use ‘Issue No. 17’ as the email subject. 4. Include name, photo title and contact information that you would like to see published. 5. Deadline for submission is December 15, 2016. 6. To submit, please visit or send your work to



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