MUSÃ‰E NO. 16. CHAOS
ALFREDO JAAR AMY ELKINS ANA MENDIETA DAVID LACHAPELLE DOUG & MIKE STARN FEDERICO SOLMI FRED TOMASELLI GIDEON MENDEL JEFF WHETSTONE JESSICA DIMMOCK JOHN BALDASSARI NICK WAPLINGTON PENNY SLINGER SANDY SKOGLUND
VIK MUNIZ WEEGEE ALICE WINOCOUR CHARLOTTLE COTTON REBECCA MILLER SHAWN WALDRON
11 November â€“ 23 December 2016 MARIAN GOODMAN GALLERY 24 West 57th Street New York, NY 10019 tel: 212-977-7160 mariangoodman.com
INTERNATIONAL EDITION NO. 16
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Cover Image: David LaChapelle, Aristocracy Three, 2014.
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INTERNATIONAL EDITION NO. 8 VOL. 1
5 EDITOR’S LETTER
INTERNATIONAL EDITION NO. 16
BY MUSÉE MAGAZINE
BY MUSÉE MAGAZINE
TOMAS VAN HOUTRYVE
BY ANDREA BLANCH
6 DAVID LACHAPELLE 10 SPOTLIGHT ARTIST
ELIZABETH VIGGIANO, ALBAN LECUYER
18 EMERGING ARTIST 20 GIDEON MENDEL
BY ANDREA BLANCH
32 EMERGING ARTISTS
BY MUSÉE MAGAZINE
FRAN ALVERSPEREIRA, DG KRUEGER, IOCOSE
JAN STALLER, KENTA COBAYASHI, TIM HODGE
39 FRED TOMASELLI
BY ANDREA BLANCH
54 SPOTLIGHT ARTIST 60 EMERGING ARTIST 63 PENNY SLINGER
ANNA AND BERNHARD BLUME CHRISTINA CORAL
BY MUSÉE MAGAZINE
74 EMERGING ARTISTS RORY CARNEGIE, YOSUKE TAKEDA, JÚLIA PONTÉS
80 VIK MUNIZ
BY JOHN HUTT
94 EMERGING ARTISTS SANDRO GIORDANO, OTTO OHLE, MADISON RICH
100 FEDERICO SOLMI
BY ANDREA BLANCH
112 SPOTLIGHT ARTIST
DONATO DICAMILLO, MADELEINE BAZIL BY ANDREA BLANCH
140 EMERGING ARTISTS
142 SPOTLIGHT ARTIST ROBERT & SHANA PARKEHARRISON
150 ANA MENDIETA
BY DAVID FRANCIS
160 EMERGING ARTISTS MADS HOLM, KAROLINA SEKULA
164 JOHN BALDESSARI 180 EMERGING ARTISTS
BY ANDREA BLANCH ANDREA BOTTO
MIKE + DOUG STARN
BY ANDREA BLANCH
FLORIAN MAIER-AICHEN GUANYU XU
BY MUSÉE MAGAZINE LANDON NORDEMAN BY ANDREA BLANCH
CHAOFAN HUANG, FRED CRAY
120 EMERGING ARTISTS 124 REBECCA MILLER
BY ANDREA BLANCH
BY ANDREA BLANCH
BY JOHN HUTT
BY ANDREA BLANCH
MICHEL MAZZONI, TATIANA GULENKINA
Opposite: Penny Slinger, Keeping in Touch, 1969. Courtesy Blum & Poe, Los Angeles.
MUSÉE MAGAZINE. ESTABLISHED 2011.
BY MUSÉE MAGAZINE
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.
MUSÃ‰E SPOTLIGHT A RTIST
TOMAS VAN HOUTRYVE
Tomas Van Houtryve, Midtown Manhattan. Temperature range: 30.0 to 38.2 degrees Celsius.
TOMAS VAN HOUTRYVE
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Tomas Van Houtryve, Manhattan, Grand Central Station. Temperature range: 21.5 to 29.8 degrees Celsius.
MUSÃ‰E SPOTLIGHT A RTIST
TOMAS VAN HOUTRYVE
Tomas Van Houtryve, Brooklyn to Manhattan subway. Temperature range: 20.4 to 32.0 degrees Celsius, xxxx.
TOMAS VAN HOUTRYVE
MUSÃ‰E SPOTLIGHT A RTIST
Tomas Van Houtryve, Brooklyn to Manhattan subway. Temperature range: 12.2 to 23.7 degrees Celsius, xxxx.
MUSÃ‰E SPOTLIGHT A RTIST
TOMAS VAN HOUTRYVE
Tomas Van Houtryve, Bar, Lower East Side, Manhattan. Temperature range: 16.2 to 31.0 degrees Celsius.
TOMAS VAN HOUTRYVE
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Tomas Van Houtryve, Brooklyn, Lorimer subway station. Temperature range: 18.6 to 32.6 degrees Celsius.
MUSÃ‰E SPOTLIGHT A RTIST
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Tomas Van Houtryve, Unt Manhattan, Grand Central Station. Temperature range: 18.9 to 27.2 degrees Celsius.
TOMAS VAN HOUTRYVE
MUSÃ‰E SPOTLIGHT A RTIST
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 friendâ€™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 didnâ€™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, Iâ€™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?
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.
MUSÃ‰E SPOTLIGHT A RTIST
ANNA AND BERNHARD BLUME
ANNA AND BERNHARD BLUME
MUSÃ‰E SPOTLIGHT A RTIST
Anna and Bernhard Blume, Mahlzeit, 1989. All artwork photographed by Nicholas Knight, courtesy Peter Freeman, Inc.
MUSÃ‰E SPOTLIGHT A RTIST
ANNA AND BERNHARD BLUME
ANNA AND BERNHARD BLUME
Anna and Bernhard Blume, Hansel und Gretel, 1990/1991.
MUSÃ‰E SPOTLIGHT A RTIST
MUSÉE SPOTLIGHT A RTIST
ANNA AND BERNHARD BLUME
Anna and Bernhard Blume, Top: Transzendentaler Konstrukt, 1992/2016; Center: Metaphysik ist Männersache, 1991.
ANNA AND BERNHARD BLUME
Anna and Bernhard Blume, Bottom: Trautes Heim Nr. 7, 1986/2003
MUSÃ‰E SPOTLIGHT A RTIST
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
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
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.
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
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.
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Motoyuki Daifu, Project Family, 2010. All images courtesy of Misako & Rosen.
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Motoyuki Daifu, Opposite and above: Still Life, 2013.
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Motoyuki Daifu, Top and bottom: Project Family, 2010.
Motoyuki Daifu, Still Life, 2013.
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Motoyuki Daifu, Project Family, 2010.
Motoyuki Daifu, Still Life, 2013.
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Donato DiCamillo, Top: Nailed It, Bottom: Chia, 2016.
Donato DiCamillo, Top: Itâ€™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
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.
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ROBERT & SHANA PARKEHARRISON
ROBERT & SHANA PARKEHARRISON
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Robert & Shana ParkeHarrison, Earth Coat, 2003. All images courtesy Catherine Edelman Gallery, Chicago.
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ROBERT & SHANA PARKEHARRISON
ROBERT & SHANA PARKEHARRISON
Robert & Shana ParkeHarrison, Garden of Selves, 2000.
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ROBERT & SHANA PARKEHARRISON
Robert & Shana ParkeHarrison, Gathering, 1994.
ROBERT & SHANA PARKEHARRISON
Robert & Shana ParkeHarrison, Reliquary, 1998.
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ROBERT & SHANA PARKEHARRISON
Robert & Shana ParkeHarrison, Flying Lesson, 1999.
ROBERT & SHANA PARKEHARRISON
Robert & Shana ParkeHarrison, Lucid Dream, 2005.
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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
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
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
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,
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
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
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.
MUSÃ‰E SPOTLIGHT A RTIST
Francois Laxalt, No Return XX.
Francois Laxalt, No Return XV.
MUSÃ‰E SPOTLIGHT A RTIST
MUSÃ‰E SPOTLIGHT A RTIST
Francois Laxalt, No Return V.
Francois Laxalt, No Return XXVII.
MUSÃ‰E SPOTLIGHT A RTIST
MUSÃ‰E SPOTLIGHT A RTIST
Francois Laxalt, No Return XXII.
Francois Laxalt, No Return VII.
MUSÃ‰E SPOTLIGHT A RTIST
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.
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
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-
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-
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,
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.
MUSÃ‰E SPOTLIGHT A RTIST
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.
MUSÃ‰E SPOTLIGHT A RTIST
MUSÃ‰E SPOTLIGHT A RTIST
Christian Berthelot, CESAR #13, Kevin, born 27th December 2013 at 10:36 am 4kg 366, 13 seconds of life.
MUSÃ‰E SPOTLIGHT A RTIST
Christian Berthelot, CESAR #9, Mael, born 13th December 2013 at 4:52 p.m. 2kg 800, 18 seconds of life.
MUSÉE SPOTLIGHT A RTIST
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.
MUSÃ‰E SPOTLIGHT A RTIST
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: ÂŠAdrian Gaut, 2016.
Opposite and above: ÂŠAdrian Gaut, 2016.
Arnold Odermatt: Top: Stans, 1967; Bottom: Stans, 1987. All images ÂŠ 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, 2012â€“14. Courtesy Le Bal.
MUSÃ‰E SPOTLIGHT A RTIST
MUSÃ‰E SPOTLIGHT A RTIST
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.
MUSÃ‰E SPOTLIGHT A RTIST
Landon Nordeman, Untitled, 2015.
MUSÃ‰E SPOTLIGHT A RTIST
MUSÃ‰E SPOTLIGHT A RTIST
Landon Nordeman, Top and bottom: Untitled, 2015.
Landon Nordeman, Top: Untitled, 2015.; Bottom: Untitled, 2016..
MUSÃ‰E SPOTLIGHT A RTIST
MUSÃ‰E SPOTLIGHT A RTIST
Landon Nordeman, Untitled, 2016.
MUSÃ‰E SPOTLIGHT A RTIST
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-
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
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 everâ€Ś 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-
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-
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.
MUSÃ‰E SPOTLIGHT A RTIST
Matthew Porter, Rikitea Island, 2015. Courtesy M+B Gallery, Los Angeles..
Matthew Porter, Gap-Phase Regeneration, 2015. Courtesy M+B Gallery, Los Angeles
MUSÃ‰E SPOTLIGHT A RTIST
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 â€œthe Beetleâ€? Beadle outside the Spot Bar and Grill, New York], December 9, 1939.
MUSÃ‰E SPOTLIGHT A RTIST
Ellen Carey, Dings & Shadows, 2014.
MUSÃ‰E SPOTLIGHT A RTIST
MUSÃ‰E SPOTLIGHT A RTIST
Ellen Carey, Dings & Shadows, 2014.
MUSÃ‰E SPOTLIGHT A RTIST
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
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
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.
MUSÃ‰E SPOTLIGHT A RTIST
Craig Becker, Scratch 10, 2015.
MUSÃ‰E SPOTLIGHT A RTIST
MUSÃ‰E SPOTLIGHT A RTIST
Craig Becker, Scratch 17, 2016.
Craig Becker, Scratch 4.1, 2016.
MUSÃ‰E SPOTLIGHT A RTIST
MUSÃ‰E SPOTLIGHT A RTIST
Craig Becker, Scratch 18, 2016.
Craig Becker, Scratch 16, 2016.
MUSÃ‰E SPOTLIGHT A RTIST
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,
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, thereâ€™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. Thatâ€™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, itâ€™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
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
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-
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.
MUSÉE A RTIST BIOGRAPHIES
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
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
MUSÉE A RTIST BIOGRAPHIES
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 eitherand.org (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-
MUSÉE A RTIST BIOGRAPHIES
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-
MUSÉE A RTIST BIOGRAPHIES
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
MUSÉE A RTIST BIOGRAPHIES
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
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.
MUSÉE A RTIST BIOGRAPHIES
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
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.
SPECIAL THANKS TO SHAHID & COMPANY & THE MUSÃ‰ E TEAM
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