THE EXCELLENT PEOPLE THE VOYEUR: @HOME WITH GAY TALESE MOCA’S PHILLIPPE VERGNE MICKALENE THOMAS DANIEL ARSHAM VINTAGE LOVE STORY ¡HOLA HAVANA! FLAVIN JUDD’S CURATORIAL VISION BRAD ELTERMAN IN FOCUS AND MORE!
THE EXCELLENT PEOPLE THE ORIGINAL EYE ISSUE VOLUME 2, ISSUE 1
They might have been so many gods and goddesses. They accepted their worshippers with equanimity, for it was simply the case that they were far above ordinary mortals in the perfection of their hair and teeth and skin and features. Their supple bodies deserved to be adored, as the nearest mirror could not fail to tell them. ~Brendan Gill and Jerome Zerbe, Happy Times, 1973 Editor-in-Chief and Creative Director
Ricky Lee Art Direction
Andrew Hart Editor-at-Large
Jen Sall Paris Correspondent
Jean-Luc Dupont Special thanks:
Sam Allen Joakim Andreasson Carolyn T. Angel Daniel Arsham The Black Soft Jessica Carlisle Meghan Clohessy Richie Davis Kim Donica Brad Elterman Peter D. Gerarkaris John Gosslee Jason Hanasik Emilie Hawtin Henzel Studio Remi Koukou Allison Krier Arthur Laborie
Allegra La Viola Alejandro Medina Olivier Mulin Galerie Perrotin Allie Pohl Meredith Rosen Katie Sharrar Ira Silverberg Adam Shopkorn Yutaka Sone Stumptown Coffee Roasters Gay Talese The Judd Foundation Mickalene Thomas Tom of Finland Phillippe Vergne Andrea Walsh David Zwirner Gallery
photograph courtesy The Black Soft the EXCELLENT PEOPLE
contact: email@example.com 917.382.9397
Jason Hanasik is a Dean’s Fellow studying Documentary Film and Cinematic VR at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism. Hanasik completed a MFA at California College of the Arts in 2009 and in 2011, the Gap created the role of Global Storyteller for him. While leading a team of designers at Gap, Hanasik finished his long term photo and video documentary project about military masculinity titled I slowly watched him disappear. He exhibited a portion of the project at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery from 2012 to 2013. Hanasik is currently working on the final edits of his video installation Surviving Survival: Jerry Rosenstein.
Flavin Judd is the husband of psychoanalyst Michèle Judd, the father
of three children and the son of Donald Judd. For Donald Judd he assisted in the making of spaces and the installation of art in the US and Europe. For Judd Foundation he is the Curator and Co-President, overseeing all architectural projects, art installations, and curatorial matters. He is responsible for design decisions across the Foundation’s many projects. He oversaw (with fellow board member Rob Beyer) and determined the design of the recent 101 Spring Street restoration for Judd Foundation. His installation and architecture for the 2006 Christie’s exhibition of his father’s work earned an AICA award. His design for the restoration of 101 Spring Street has won it numerous awards. He studied at CalArts (art/cinema) and University of Texas, Austin (philosophy/architecture).
Allison Krier is the founder and editor of NEON SIGNS, a new online magazine on arts and culture. After completing her MA in design history from Parsons in conjunction with the Cooper-Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum she has since been an editorial contributor with MODERN and the Magazine ANTIQUES, has written for Artlog.com, and the Bloomsbury Press's. Allison also currently teaches design history at Philadelphia University for the MA in Interior Architecture program, and previously she was a Instructor and Teaching Fellow for undergraduate and graduate courses on design history topics at Parsons, and prior to her graduate studies.
Alejandro Medina currently resides in Los Angeles where he
studies at the University of Southern California (USC). His first public exhibition was during the summer of 2010 at the inaugural Guatephoto Festival, becoming one of the youngest artists to exhibit his work in Guatemala’s Museum of Modern Art. He has now exhibited in several other national exhibitions and internationally at festivals in North America, Europe and Asia.
Allie Pohl is a Los Angeles-based conceptual artist whose work
explores the social and cultural constructions of contemporary Western society. Questioning the notion of perfection, Pohl created the “Ideal Woman” by digitally enhancing Barbie to fit Western society’s ideal female measurements of 36-24-36. This avatar symbolizes anti-perfection and is repeated throughout Pohl’s work in sculpture, video, ceramic, installation, and jewelry line. Pohl's unique aesthetic has been widely exhibited with features in the Orlando Museum of Art, Context Miami, Dallas Art Fair, Cornell Museum of Art and American Culture, the Denver International Airport, and a public sculpture show curated by Olga Viso, in which she won the People’s Choice Award.
The EP Editor at Large, Jen Sall, is a Los Angeles based Producer for feature films, commercials and music videos. She currently producing a feature film shooting in Miami this spring. When she's not on-set you can easily find her an art opening or screening in and around Los Angeles.
Katie Sharrar is a New York City-based Consultant at
LEITZES&CO. Specializing in strategic partners she helps to facilitate innovative marketing and product collaborations between creative talents and forward-thinking retailers, real estate developers and brands. Her work in the arts includes partnerships with renown contemporary artists Rob Pruitt and assume vivid astro focus just to name a few. For more information, visit www.leitzes.co or follow Katie on Instagram @katiesharrar.
Heather Zises is a Brooklyn-based writer and independent curator.
In 2013, Heather launched (READ)art, an independent platform for contemporary art and culture. Working both locally and abroad, Heather participates in a spectrum of projects through dynamic collaborations with artists, galleries, non-profits, and private clients. Heather’s essays, reviews, and interviews have been published in books and magazines, while her art consulting portfolio includes gallery tours and studio visits, art advising, social media strategy, and collection management. www.readartny.com THE ORIGINAL EYE ISSUE
THE ARTISTS ARE PRESENT
08 Curator’s Questionnaire: 10 probing
questions for Philippe Verge, Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
CONVERSATIONS ON A BANQUETTE ARTIST STATEMENT
12 From A to B and Back Again: Artist Allie Pohl talks with legendary LA scenester Brad Elterman about his 30 year long career as Hollywood’s most ubiquitous and sought after paparazzo
28 PORTFOLIO: A look at the
22 In Plain Sight: Ricky Lee sits down
with art advisor and collector Adam Shopkorn, founder of Fort Gansevoort, Manhattan’s latest cultural and culinary hub
visionary work of artist and architect Daniel Arsham
34 Musing with Mickalene Thomas 42 The Art of Seeing: Heather Zises on Peter D. Gerakaris’ tropical eye
44 PORTFOLIO: Introducing
70 The hardcore sounds of musical duo The Black Soft by Katie Sharrar
76 Closet case: A vintage fashion love
story. Concept and photographs by Jean-Luc Dupont. Styling by Olivier Mulin, assisted by Arthur Laborie
84 Behind the scenes at the 2016
Spring / Summer Paris haute couture collections. Photographs by Jean-Luc Dupont.
54 The voyeur: On the outside looking in.
Writer Emily Hawtin at home with author Gay Talese
58 V Twin Architecture: An essay by
60 Out of Context by John Goslee. One
man’s quest to become a poet
64 Breathing His Way Through the
Rock. Photographer and filmmaker Jason Hanasik pays tribute to Holocaust survivor Gerald B. Rossentein
94 Pasadena: Alejandro Medina spends an afternoon in the studio and garden of artist Yutaka Sone
100 Havana: 36 hours in Cuba with
104 Lower East Side: Sisters are doing it
for themselves. Allison Krier meets up with Sargent’s Daughters Gallery founders Allegra LaViola and Meredith Rosen
106 Randall’s Island: A parting glance at
the EXCELLENT PEOPLE
the 2016 Frieze New York art fair
On The Cover: photograph by Alejandro Medina This Page: photograph by Brad Elterman
photograph by Alejandro Medina THE ORIGINAL EYE ISSUE
CURATOR’S QUESTIONNAIRE PHILLIPPE VERGNE, DIRECTOR
OF MOCA, LOS ANGELES
hillippe Vergne, the new (as of 2014) Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, assumed his leadership role after the controversial and much discussed, brief tenure of dealer Jeffrey Deitch. Since arriving, Vergne and his staff have organized audience-pleasing, forward-thinking, first-ever West Coast solo surveys of works by such artists as Matthew Barney and William Pope L. Other still in development, sure-to-be blockbusters include upcoming shows by Doug Aitken, Mickalene Thomas and R. H. Quaytman. In our Excellently probing 10-question tête-à-tête the ever-elegant Frenchman, formerly of the Dia Foundation and the Walker Art Center, who has curated over 25 international exhibitions—including the 2006 Whitney Biennial—shares his edgy, artist-centric aesthetic vision and strategic programming plans for the future of the 35-year-old MOCA.
Ricky Lee: How has MOCA’s programming and mission evolved since your arrival at the museum? Phillippe Vergne: First, we increased it, for the first evolution. We increased the programming in all locations. For me, it’s difficult to compare because I wasn’t here before I was really here. I think the way that I would like to define the program is that it’s artistcentric. MOCA was created by artists. We are known as the artist’s museum, so that’s what I want to do. I want to work with artists. I want to work far artists and I want to make their work available to the public. I want the museum to be at the forefront of contemporary art museums. I don’t know if it’s the right answer, but I know I want the museum to be international. I want to commit to artists in depth. I want people to come and say, “Wow!” RL: What are some of the plans that you have in mind for the future to achieve that goal? PV: Well, to look back a little bit, I believe the work we’ve done with the artist William Pope L. [Trinket, an exhibition of new and recent work by the Chicago-based artist] was, I believe, a project that very few museums can embrace and support: to install a 60-foot long American flag in the middle of the museum, which appeared to be bowing in the wind because it was surrounded by large-scale industrial fans, the kind used on Hollywood movie sets to create wind or rain effects. That’s the kind of project I want to do. Last September, we opened a major exhibition by Matthew Barney [RIVER OF FUNDADMENT, Barney’s first solo museum exhibition in Los Angeles] and we are the only venue in this country, in the US, to have shown this work. That’s also what I want to be able to do, to be able to make a difference for the artist and for the audience, knowing that if they come here, they’re going to see some things they may not have seen otherwise. We will do a survey with the EXCELLENT PEOPLE
the artist R.H. Quaytman, which will be the first survey of her work. The same thing with someone like Zoe Leonard. These will be the first surveys of their work in a museum. Later this year, we will be opening the first survey of Doug Aitken’s work. RL: Oh. Wow! That is exciting! PV: So, I would like the ‘Wow!’ to come from that, but also for the ‘Wow!’ from the audience to be, ‘Oh, I didn’t know that about this artist. This is a way to look at this artist that I did not know.’ That is very important to me, that, in our programming, we have a sense of independence and that we show work that is not yet part of the mainstream. We are commissioning a new body of work from Mickalene Thomas. We started the project in exchange with an institution in Los Angeles called the Underground Museum that was created by the late artist Noah Davis. RL: Who recently passed away… PV: He passed away last year and we worked on the project with our chief curator Helen Molesworth and it’s a three-year project with the Underground Museum that started with us installing at the Underground Museum a very large William Kentridge work from our collection. So, all of that, for me, is a way to extend on the idea of the museum rather than expanding the museum. RL: Is there any special strategy that you have developed particularly because you’re in Los Angeles? Or would you do these types of exhibitions that you’re organizing at any museum with which you happened to be working? PV: Well, I think, consciously or unconsciously you adapt to your location. There are a lot of artists here. The density of artists in Los Angeles is incredible so that’s one more invitation to listen to them. That’s one of the things that I want to do, to listen to the artists. I would say, too, that the density of artists in Los Angeles is one of the reasons we have five artists on our board and that is specific to MOCA and very important to me. And, of course, we need to understand the culture, the culture of the place, which is a culture of creativity based on, traditionally, the Hollywood film industry and, less traditionally, the tech industry. I’m still a newcomer to Los Angeles. So, I’m working on understanding it. We need to understand the way people think and look at their visual culture so that we can, not necessarily cater to that, but find the right language to communicate what we’re doing and learn from it. RL: Los Angeles is increasingly being recognized as one of the most important
09 International art hubs. What part has MOCA played in that development? PV: Well, MOCA was created 35 years ago by artists from Los Angeles because these artists from Los Angeles wanted their city to be a center, to be a place where artists can identify with and create, at the center of this place, an institution to show their work. I might sound a bit arrogant, but MOCA has been, over the years, since its inception, fully, fully, as you say… I don’t want to say responsible, but dedicated to making Los Angeles a cultural center. And the work that my generation of curators have done at MOCA has been to make sure that the exhibition program, the acquisitions, the dialogue with the artists on a day-to-day basis and the dialogue with the curators would make Los Angeles a place that artists could identify as their home. An exhibition like Helter Skelter: LA Art in the 1990s, curated by [former MOCA Chief Curator] Paul Schimmel years ago, has totally changed the way people look at Los Angeles. So yes, MOCA has been part of this development of Los Angeles as an art hub and MOCA is downtown and was downtown when nobody was coming downtown. Where is the center of the Los Angeles art boom right now? It’s downtown. RL: What role does MOCA play in the global art market? PV: We don’t play a very big role in the market. But in a global art community, I think a lot of artists look at MOCA as the destination. A lot of curators have learned from the
But we invite artists to do performances. We are artist-centric but the word contemporary is very present to us. We need to be with the art of our time. Aggressively with the art of our time, so aggressively open to changes, to evolution, to the shifts in the art situation. But I would say that all these transitions are very different but they share the same values and the same values are civic, aesthetic and based on a dialogue with the artist. RL: A lot of people are talking now about how museums need to change and adapt to the changes of time, whether that be because of technology or just the fact that museums are very interested in attracting a younger audience and educating a younger audience. How does a museum today communicate more effectively and engage more effectively with their audiences? PV: Interesting. It’s a big question. It’s a hard question. I don’t think there is one answer. I think first you have to choose and state your values because when you talk to a younger audience, they don’t understand bullshit and they have no patience for it. If you don’t really speak to your values or your mission statement they feel it. If what you do is not truly genuine or fully attentive, they feel it, whether you are an archeological museum, a museum of Jurassic technology, or a museum of contemporary art. So being true to your values is one of the best strategies to start answering your question. Next, museums need to surround themselves with those people who understand the mode of communication of
“Regardless of what happened recently with MOCA, the museum has always been a focus of interest for the art community. It’s where you were able to see, very early on, people like Paul McCarthy, Liz Larner, Mike Kelley, Charlie Ray, Sam Durant and Gabriel Orozco. MOCA was founded by artists and it is part of the constellation of art institutions that matter.” program that MOCA has done over many years. A handful of museums in this country have been the kind of museum that has changed the way museums work and the way that museums committed to artists. So, I think regardless of what happened recently with MOCA, it has always been a focus of interest for the art community. It’s where you were able to see very early on people like Paul McCarthy, Liz Larner, Mike Kelley, Charlie Ray, Sam Durant and Gabriel Orozco. So, it’s a place; it’s not the center because there’s no more center. But MOCA is part of the constellation of art institutions that matter. RL: You worked at the Walker Art Center, the Dia foundation and, with Chrissie Iles, you co-curated the 2006 Whitney Biennial. How are these institutions different or similar to MOCA and how has your experience working at these institutions influenced your approach to your role as Director of MOCA now? PV: They’re all different. Just geographically: Minneapolis, New York and Los Angeles. That’s a lot of regions. The only area I’m missing is the South. The Walker Art Center is a multidisciplinary institution with a strong focus on the global situation. I learned tremendously from the Walker and what I learned was to put the artists at the center and to put the institution at the center of a sense of civic engagement. Dia was very different. It is an institution dedicated to a small group of artists represented, commissioned and acquired in depth. So, very specific, a very specific institution that, for the artists that Dia works with, is the ultimate tie-in to their work, whether it’s Joseph Beuys, Blinky Palermo, Bob Whitman, Fred Sandback, Donald Judd, Dan Flavin. But what the Walker and Dia have in common, again, is that the voice of the artists is at the center. I shared all of these values with Dia and the Walker. The difference there is is that MOCA was invented by artists, was created by artists. MOCA is an artist project. We do performance but we do not have the kind of facilities that the Walker has. We don’t have a black box. We don’t have a theater.
today, people who are not afraid to think outside of the box, who are not afraid to experiment with different ways of communication and that also needs to be represented in the program. What our people interested in right now? What is going to make them think of art and think of the world differently? For us, working with the Underground Museum was about the dispersion of the museum rather than about the concentration of the power of the museum. It’s kind of giving away a little bit of the authoritarian voice of the museum. And I think if we do that, I think a different generation will look at the museum as a place where we can engage in dialogue, where they will find expertise and connoisseurship that is open to dialogue and open to other opinions and connoisseurship that is equipped to learn from different kinds of connoisseurship. It’s incredible to meet people who are involved in the tech world and who have an expertise that I can barely comprehend. I want to learn from them. You talk about the museum educating the audience. We need to be educated by our audience, too. RL: How would you describe your aesthetic? You can use a personal example or a professional one. Are they different, are they alike or are they the same? PV: I think they are the same. I think my answer might be self-serving. I would love to be a dandy. I like elegance with an edge. I love ornamental detail. I don’t know. Someone once asked me, ‘If you could commission an artist of your generation to do a work of art for your home, what would you do? Who would you pick?’ And my answer was, ‘Well, then I would ask Kara Walker to do a mural in my living room so that I could surprise and shock my friends and then educate my son.
Image courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, photo by Myles Pettengill THE ORIGINAL EYE ISSUE
the EXCELLENT PEOPLE
Brad Elterman Adam Shopkorn of Fort Gansevoort
photograph by Brad Elterman THE ORIGINAL EYE ISSUE
FROM A TO B AND BACK AGAIN:
WHEN BRAD MET ALLIE... by Allie Pohl
INT. THE GOLDEN BULL RESTAURANT, SANTA MONICA - DAY
rad Elterman, outstanding and legendary photographer from Beverly Hills, who has documented the rock ‘n’ roll scene in Hollywood for over 30 years, covering pop, punk and rock bands including the Faces with Rod Stewart, David Bowie, Robert Plant, The Sex Pistols, the Runaways, Bebe Buell, Kiss, Queen, Blondie, the Ramones, Bay City Rollers, Abba, Boney M, Kenny Rogers, The Who, Leif Garrett, Michael Jackson, and almost every other LA hipster inbetween, sits at a banquette with his friend and muse, artist Allie Pohl, ideal woman, known for her conceptual works which explore the social and cultural constructions of contemporary Western society. As they eat, drink and appreciate the aroma of effervescent tea, they also ponder the illusive essence of coolness. Allie Pohl: There is always something to do and some place to go. How to you decide what to do or where to go? Brad Elterman: I’ve always done exactly what I want to do in life. It’s a balancing act, especially with the city of LA. You don’t want to waste time, so I go where there are cool young people. That’s what I get out of this. It’s going with the cool young crowd, whether it’s something down in Silverlake or Echo Park or wherever. I’d rather go where the pulse is, where the vibe is.
I think maybe men are a little bit tougher to crack. I’m interested in either one but there’s nothing like a girl who plays electric guitar. It doesn’t get any better than that! AP: Why? BE: It’s exotic and it was very exotic, you know, with four girls called The Runaways, who played electric guitar. Nobody had ever seen anything like that. The Japanese went crazy over that. The Europeans when crazy over that. I mean, now it’s kinda en vogue to be a girl playing an electric guitar but here’s something very cool, very sexy about it. It’s just a feeling and it’s hard to describe that feeling but the feeling is very strong. AP: Which is the perfect segway into love. Tell me what love means to you. BE: Well. Gosh. Ugh. I haven’t been in love in a long time and I kinda miss that feeling… of love. And I am available, if anybody’s interested out there. And I think that I’m a heck of a romantic and I’ve read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s books. I think it’s very important to find your soul mate. Love, for me, today, is my adoring fans, who give me all of this support and tell me how much they love what I’m doing and tell me who’s cool to take pictures of. Love is really important and I feel it today in what I’m doing. AP: You’re one of the most real and human people I know. What / who do you attribute your charming self to? BE: Well, the humble-ness is probably my mom and the charming-ness is probably something that I just invented. I don’t know. Watching Bryan Ferry so many times, I suppose, but maybe it’s watching Cary Grant films, George Sanders ….
“There’s nothing like a girl who plays electric guitar. It doesn’t get any better than that.”
AP: How do you pick your subjects? BE: It’s all about the essence of coolness and you can’t really describe coolness. Either —Brad you have it or you don’t, you know? Having a muse is wonderful, whether it’s Joan Jett, or Allie Pohl. It’s something you can’t describe. It’s just the essence of coolness. It’s a feeling, a vibration. It’s not about how many records they’ve sold. It’s not about how many followers they have on Instagram. It’s just this special vibration and that usually translates on film for a photo. AP: What are your thoughts on creating and documenting? You seem to document these little moments in time. BE: I think I’m documenting Los Angeles through my eyes as I experience it, whether it was in 1977 or now in 2016. I just get this wonderful feeling that something is happening or is about to happen and it’s something very personal and, once again, it’s just a feeling I have. AP: What lead you or motivated you to be an artist? BE: I always wanted to be an eccentric. I am an eccentric. And I didn’t want to go to dental school. So, you know, it’s just me being me, basically. And I think my mom was a great inspiration also because my mom was a painter. It was just about being creative, doing something cool. AP: You have photographed some of the greatest musicians of our time. Is there a difference when you photograph men and when you photograph women? BE: Um… Not really. It’s just, um… I’m more attracted to the women. And I think you can maybe find their vulnerabilities for a picture. You can see who they are a little easier. the EXCELLENT PEOPLE
AP: But I think, more importantly, the amazing human that you are … BE: …It comes from within. And it’s tough in a city like LA. This is the best time to be in LA. It’s finally a world-class city, Los Angeles, but there are a lot of douchebags here also, you know, and you have to pick your friends very carefully and I want to hang out with other people who have the same dreams, goals, values that I have. AP: I think that’s so important but I think that that what’s so miraculous about you. You are those things. BE: You’re so sweet. Thank you! Thank you! AP: So, those are my questions. BE: We’re hugging now. As Brad hugs Allie, scene closes. AP: Scene close! FADE OUT Brad Elterman, www.bradelterman.com, has contributed to such magazines as Crème, Circus, Rolling Stone, People, Hit Parade, the New York Post, National Enquirer, New Musical Express, Melody Maker, and Purple, among others. His latest book, No Dogs on Beach, was published by Bywater Bros. Editions and Smoke Room 2015. For information on Allie Pohl, please go to www.alliepohl.com.
Images Courtesey Brad Elterman
THE ORIGINAL EYE ISSUE
the EXCELLENT PEOPLE
THE ORIGINAL EYE ISSUE
“I go where there are cool young people, whether it’s something down in Silverlake or Echo Park or wherever. I’d rather go where the pulse is, where the vibe is.” —Brad Elterman
the EXCELLENT PEOPLE
THE ORIGINAL EYE ISSUE
the EXCELLENT PEOPLE
THE ORIGINAL EYE ISSUE
the EXCELLENT PEOPLE
THE ORIGINAL EYE ISSUE
IN PLAIN SIGHT: FORT GANSEVOORT
ort Gansevoort, the innovative cultural hub located in the center of Manhattan's Meatpacking district, is many things to a diverse group of many people. Founded by art advisor, collector and curator Adam Shopkorn and his wife, fashion authority Carolyn T. Angel, this thriving creative hot spot, stationed in a stunning 19th Century Greek Revival row house, is at once an exhibition space, a Maker residency program and a take-out BBQ restaurant spread out over three floors. In Part 1 of our encounter with Shopkorn, we find out what he was up to before he came up with this genius idea. Ricky Lee: Tell me a little about yourself and what you were up to before you opened Fort Gansevoort. Adam Shopkorn: My interest in Post-War and Contemporary Art actually started in 1993-94, when I was in high school. I had this amazing professor named Donald Yates… RL: And where are you from? AS: I’m from the Bronx, raised in Manhattan. [Yates] kind of saved me in high school. Me and all of my classmates had to go to the 1995 Whitney Biennial. I was a junior in high school and we had to each select an artist that we were going to do a presentation on for 15 minutes and I chose Catherine Opie’s portrait series, those really tough kind of S&M pictures. It’s funny about the work that I chose because I played a lot of sports in high school and I was really into art and theater, which wasn’t terribly conventional. I feel like it’s either one or the other. I was going to football practice and then doing presentations on Catherine Opie’s portraits of transgender people in San Francisco and the Bay Area. And that was kind of an amazing time. RL: How did you discover Opie? AS: By going to the biennial. Some kids were, like, “I want to do Jason Rhoades” or “I want to do Nan Goldin” and I was, like “I’ll take Catherine Opie’s portraits.”
RL: But you liked them when you saw them? AS: Yeah. I liked them and the more I started to learn about them, they became very interesting to me. It’s a visually arresting body of work. There’s a very famous pervert picture where one of the subjects has the word pervert almost branded into her back and she’s the EXCELLENT PEOPLE
wearing a leather dominatrix mask and she has the pins in her skin… I’m just giving you where it all started and then I want a small school in Upstate New York for a year… RL: What school was that? AS: Hamilton College. In Clinton, New York, which is near Utica, a straight 4-hour shot north of where we are now. RL: Did you study art at Hamilton? AS: I studied a lot of experimental film. I had an amazing professor by the name of Scott MacDonald, who is one of the premiere experimental film people. Scott MacDonald’s film class was amazing at Hamilton. But I left there and went to Tufts in Boston for 3 years to study English and Art History. And them I worked in film production right out of college for a guy named Ed Pressman, who has a filmography that just goes and goes for miles. He did Wall Street and City Hall, American Psycho, Conan the Barbarian. Cissy Spacek’s Badlands was the first film that he produced when he was 24. He did all of Brian de Palma’s films. I worked for him for about 2 or 3 years and then went back to business school and while I was in business school, I started collecting some work for myself and then started putting together collections for a handful of friends who wanted advice on art. So when I got out of school, I asked myself “Can I actually make a living by buying art for other people?” RL: Where did you go to business school? AS: At NYU. I was doing private collection advisory work, if that’s what you call it, and then I started to branch out into corporate consulting and a friend of mine was running Morgans Hotel Group, so he brought me in to, hopefully, make the brand a bit more interesting. RL: And what year was this? AS: 2009, 2010. RL: Who was this friend? AS: His name is Michael Gross. I was helping him on the private advisory side and he actually was running Morgans Hotel Group, which has the Mondrian Hotel and has the
23 Shoreclub and has the Delano. Before that, I had organized a couple of shows at Salon 94. I have a friend there who is the director, named Fabienne Stephan, and she’s a close friend of mine and she kind of was supportive of some of the ideas that I had and, you know, her and Jeanne [Greenberg Rohatyn], I have a feeling it was mostly her, but maybe I’m wrong, but they allowed me to do a show in 2010 or 2011 where I took these vintage sports posters that were in my room as a child, that were created by these Greek-American brothers, whose names were John and Tock Costacos. But people know them as the Costacos Brothers. In the mid-80s, they basically would call up athletes, well, they would corner athletes, and say: “We’d like to make a killer poster of you and we’ll give you a nickname, so your name will be, like, the basketball player Karl ‘the Mailman’ Malone.” They would basically fly out to Salt Lake City, Utah and they would do a photo shoot with Karl Malone where they dressed him as a mailman and he’d be delivering basketballs and mail. But these images were for posters… These were the heroes of my generation. These were the posters that I had in my room. RL: You got the posters from where? You purchased them? AS: Yeah. From a store called Herman’s. Herman’s was a sporting goods store, no different than a Modell’s or a Dick’s Sporting Goods store but every kind of kid who was into sports, who is now between the ages of 36 and 42 had Costacos Brothers posters on their walls. RL: And they were doing the posters just to sell to people who were into sports? AS: Kind of. Yeah. Sports fans. RL: But not to be shown in galleries or anything. AS: Absolutely not. They were thumb tacked to the wall. Super lowbrow. Kitsch-y; even more kitschy today. But I revisited them one day. There are a couple of things that I’m intrigued with: the ability to blend low and high culture and to almost intimate or make new markets in new things and to reformat or re-contextualize certain things. So I said to myself: “Wouldn’t it be interesting if I got in touch with the Brothers and sourced some of their really, really early, early posters?” Their early posters were made without the consent of the large sport leagues and they didn’t have a license. They had to be creative. For example, if they were doing a poster with Patrick Ewing from the Knicks, they’d have to put Patrick Ewing in orange and blue because those are the Knicks colors but they couldn’t put Patrick in a Knicks jersey because they didn’t have the legal right to do it. So they would be clever and every sports fan knows who Patrick Ewing was, so they could get away with certain things. Their art direction was phenomenal!
interesting. But it wasn’t even well-heeled collectors. It was... Dana White. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen those guys battling in the cage on television called Ultimate Fighter Championship? RL: I’ve heard of Ultimate Fighter Championship but can’t say I’ve ever watched it. AS: Well, he runs UFC. It’s a giant business He was in New York accidentally, on a press tour and he bought the whole show. I’m sure Dana could be a big art collector if he chose but he bought the work because he fits into that demographic. [For him] the show was about nostalgia. There were some very thoughtful pieces written about the homoeroticism of the posters. Art in America delved into it. RL: What was the title of the show? AS: It was called For the kids, because John and Tock Costacos were always making the poster “for the kids.” But now the kids are all grown up. It was really sweet, when I was sitting in Salon 94, I used to say to them; “I’m telling you, 40-year-old dads are going to walk into the gallery with their kids and they are going to be like ‘That guy was one of the best players ever.’” That was just one show that I did. RL: Was this at Salon 94 Uptown or Downtown? AS: It was in Freeman’s Alley. So I realized then and there that this was much more stimulating than just putting together collections privately. Michael gave me the ability to do some really nice projects. I did a project called PLANE TEXT for Morgans where I partnered with a company called Van Wagner Communications, which used to own 7 out of every 10 billboards that you’d see in the New York City area. But they also owned all the airplanes that tug the banners that you see flying above beaches in warm weather climates. I’m friendly with a lot of artists so I thought to myself “How can I do a really impactful project without asking some artist friends of mine to do something incredibly demanding?” Because they’re already oversubscribed, they’re already over programmed. Galleries here and galleries there are asking them to make more of this and more of that. When is enough too much? And I thought to myself: “How am I going to get to big caliber artists?” So I figured that I had to do a project where my ask was small but the effect was bigger than my ask, so I conceived of this project called PLANE TEXT where I would email 15 artists and I would say: “Hey, Ed, for Ed Ruscha, or Hey, Richard [for Richard Prince], This is Adam Shopkorn and I’m doing this project in Miami Beach for Art Basel 2012 where I’m going to have 3 airplanes tugging the basic, kinda kitsch-y, no-frills banners that you see on the beach. The will-you-marry-me-like banners. I’m doing this project called PLANE TEXT, like P-L-A-N-E, a play on PLAIN TEXT, obviously. Can you give me a line that we can tug on the beach?” And, you know, Ed Ruscha wrote back. Jack Pierson wrote me back first and he said: “Hey, Adam. Sure. No problem. ‘WE’RE RICH. WE CAN DO WHAT WE WANT.’ And then Ed Ruscha wrote back: “Hey, Adam. No worries: ‘PEOPLE GETTING READY TO DO THINGS.’ Gary Simmons wrote back: “Hey, Adam: Great idea: ‘I WISH IT WERE MORNING ALL DAY LONG.’ It had a ton of exposure because I was flying these planes all over Miami. It said ‘Project by Morgans’ but it was very conceptual. We even made these field guides. It’s a project that I’m really proud of.
“There are a couple of things that I’m intrigued with: the ability to blend low and high culture and to almost intimate or make new markets in new things and to reformat or re-contextualize certain things.”
RL: But they actually got the players to be in the photographs? AS: In 1985, they got a guy by the name of Jim McMahon, who was the quarterback of the Chicago Bears, and he was an absolute rock star in 1985 and there was no bigger athlete in the world to get their hands around. Jim said ‘yes’ and once Jim said ‘yes,’ it was like a domino effect and they got everyone and then they got Nike’s attention. The idea was cooked up at, like, a frat party in a dorm room at the University of Washington because they were Seattle-based. So I thought it would be interesting if I did a sort of greatest hits of these posters, if I mounted them and framed them and made them really beautiful. Then I thought how about if I go to Jeff Koons and I ask him for a handful of his Nike poster series from his Equilibrium show. In 1985, he showed that Equilibrium exhibition at International With Monument Gallery in the East Village and people thought he was absolutely out of his mind. It’s not like any of the work sold. I used to see those posters come to auction, the Jeff works. Jeff went to Nike and saw the Costacos posters at their headquarters. I believe this is the story. He was out in Beaverton, Oregon and saw the posters and said: “These are amazing posters!” and said, “I’m going to make a series out of them. I’m going to mount them. I’m going to frame them, in an edition of 5 and they will be Jeff Koons!” And, now, those are like the least expensive works in the whole Jeff Koons canon, if you will. Jeff actually wound up loaning us 3 or 4 works from his private collection. So there were like 7 or 8 Costacos Brothers posters and then there were Jeff’s Nike posters, 7 or 8 of them. Jeff’s works were not for sale. The Costacos Brothers works were for sale. They were like $2,500 each and we sold like 100 of them. RL: What size were they? AS: Um, like 24 x 36. And I was, fortunately, very much able to achieve the result that I was looking for. RL: Which was…? AS: Which was having well-heeled collectors walking in and saying this work was quite
RL: Had you worked with any of these artists before? AS: Not really. RL: And when you got the posters from Jeff Koons, did you know him? Had you worked with him before? AS: No. I depended on Salon 94 for that relationship but I thought it was a strong idea. I thought that it wasn’t that different than him going to Nike in 1985. I thought: ”How could I show the Costacos Brothers with showing Jeff’s work?” That would push the whole idea up a notch. To make people think, “Which work is a Jeff Koons? Which is a Costacos Brothers poster?” The most beautiful part of the PLANE TEXT ideas was going up to the air field, 20 miles north of Miami Beach, and actually meeting all the pilots that fly those prop planes that pull the banners and the most beautiful part of the project was that the banners got laid out on the field and they are huge. You look at them up in the sky and you don’t think they are big but they are huge! The planes taking off and the banners getting swooped up off the ground and watching PEOPLE GETTING READY TO DO THINGS going up. Wallpaper did a really beautiful piece on it, which was sweet and I was fortunate enough to meet the editor-in-chief at a party that night and he was like “You’re the guy? And I’m, like, “Yeah.” This project was about me getting THE ORIGINAL EYE ISSUE
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25 more into of the realm of public art. It was incredibly public and it was as intriguing for any art-goer who was outside the fair as it was for anyone who was taking the day off from work, who was getting out of the ocean. RL: So they flew just over Miami Beach? AS: Everywhere. The Design District, too. We had a whole chart. I was running around with this sweet girl named BiBi, whose mom is the fashion designer Maria Cornejo and her father is the fashion photographer Mark Borthwick. Bibi’s a sweetheart and she lives in LA. Carolyn, my wife, knew Bibi and she helped me take pictures of the work all week. So, I literally would pick her up and be like: “Bibi, it’s 1:21 in the afternoon. You’re going to be on, like, 112th and Collins and at 1:30 let’s go, you know?” And they would actually pass by. You couldn’t miss them. I was getting joke texts from people, like, “Enough with the planes!” But even if it had been just one or two artists, it would have made an impact. RL: How many artists did you get? AS: It was 15. And it was 3 a day for 5 consecutive days. It was pretty awesome and it didn’t cost a fortune for Morgans. No artist asked for a fee. We made a PLANE TEXT field guide so you could open it up and see all the texts. It was fun but at the end of the day it was, like, I sent an email; I got a response and I was out of their hair. I’m friends with enough artists and I’m sensitive to what goes on with them and I wouldn’t have asked them to build a 9-foot sculpture. So that was something that I’ve done and I’m in the process of helping a friend build an art program. He was quite young when he started a company, a sneaker consignment company called Flight Club. They are between 11th and 12th Streets on Broadway and they’re for, like, all the quote unquote sneaker heads, young kids but not only young kids, but also athletes, entertainers from all over the world. It’s a cult brand. It’s sort of like Supreme. I equate it with what Supreme was maybe 10 or 12 years ago. RLL What does sneaker consignment mean? AS: Meaning that you wait outside Nike for a new Air Jordan sneaker that they release in limited supply. You wait all night like you wait for the iPhone and you get the sneaker. You’re lucky enough to get the sneaker for $100, let’s say. There’s such pent up demand for that sneaker that the way that it works is that you can walk right over to Flight Club and Flight Club will say: “OK. We will consign that sneaker for you for $400.” And someone’s going to come in there and buy it on the secondary market. Flight Club will take 20% of that $400. So $80 will go in Flight Club’s pocket and $320 will go in your pocket. You’ll make $320 bucks. The owner has developed a keen interest in contemporary art and we’ve become friends and he’s doubling the size of the store over there and we’re actually building a real art program over there where we will probably do 4 shows per year there in the store. The first show opened and it’s called Arena and it deals with the definition of arena, the place for dueling in sports, a place for competition. It’s a group show and we’re being very sensitive about introducing art to the relatively younger consumer, who perhaps doesn’t have a tremendous amount of knowledge about contemporary art. So we’re holding their hand and easing their way in. We commissioned Hank Willis Thomas to do a number of pieces for us. There is a great conceptual artist, who shows at a gallery called Kansas Gallery, Sylvan Lionni, he’s actually a professor at the University of Oregon. Paul Pfeiffer is loaning us 3 pictures from his Four Horseman of the Apocalypse series, Gary Simmons is loaning us his giant painting of Madison Square Garden’s old marquee. It’s called Fight Night. Who else? Some Katherine Bernhard paintings. We are getting some of Catherine Opie’s football pictures because she took night shots of Southern California inner-city football schools. She went into Compton and took these beautiful pictures of high school football teams in and around that area. RL: That’s amazing. How big is the space? AS: It’s gotta be 6000 sq. ft. RL: Just the gallery space or the entire space? AS: It’s not even… It’s more like retail. We’re figuring out how the work is going to be shown. But again, similar to the way that Supreme does those artist skateboard decks that everyone goes crazy over and you actually see them come up at auction from time to time. Somebody will sell the 3 Marilyn Minter decks or the Chris Wool decks or the 3 Jeff Koons decks. I’m building this program for Flight Club. And I haven’t even gotten to Fort Gansevoort but these are the things I am doing / was doing before I decided to take over this space. So it’s a lot now and there are many different opportunities outside of here but this is the space that I come into everyday and now I’m tying to figure out the program that I’m developing here but, of course, it’s not just a pure play art gallery. I had to tack on the Small, Medium and Large concept, which is a residency Maker program, with the barbecue outside. Carolyn T. Angel, my wife, who was a fashion editor at W magazine for a long time is helping. RL: So let’s talk about… AS: I did one other show at Salon 94. It was a group show called Transition Game. It was rooted in the 60s. Kind of like segregated 60s America. The theme of the show was Transition Game, meaning that sport (and, obviously, you can see the theme that I come back to a lot is sports because I’m really interested in sports) or the world of sports was one of the safest places for interracial people to be in the 60s: on a basketball court or on a football field because you were able to mix and you were able to compete and you had some horribly harsh judges sitting in the stands, which was neither here nor there but that was America at that time. It was all about how the basketball court and the football field were
ahead of America at that point because when you got back on the bus or when the team went out to dinner, the harsh reality set in: “You can’t eat together.” “But we play together.” We had a beautiful piece by Lorna Simpson that we included in the show. There was an artist, Howard Kanovitz, who was a photo realist, who, I believe, passed away in 2007, who lived out in Southampton, who was in a jazz band with Larry Rivers and in 1969 he was commissioned by Sports Illustrated to travel around with the 5 best college basketball players in the country and photograph them and then, at the same time, on December 1, 1969 when Sport Illustrated came out, Howard had decided to make these 3-dimensional realist sculptures of these basketball players, and I’m convinced that his gallery at the time, the Waddell Gallery, on 57th Street, said: “Howard, this is a really interesting project. We should make some art. We should make some money out of this, right?” I found the work online late one night and I met the executor of his estate, who is his widow and that was the centerpiece of the show. And there was a Lucien Smith piece. He did these index paintings where he blows up the indexes of actual books and there was a basketball almanac that he blew up and it was a really beautiful painting and then there was that very famous photograph of Lou Alcindor, who is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, taken when he was a 16 year old kid up in Harlem by Avedon. So there was a great Avedon picture, which wasn’t an easy picture to find. It’s quite an iconic photo, beautiful. RL: How did you find it? AS: With Salon 94’s help, as I’m sure it came from someone’s collection that loaned it to us. Basically, the show was about race in America in the 1960s. That is the most recent show that I did, in 2013. I’m talking with a new music festival that’s sprouting up in Northern Florida that wants to bring pubic art into their festival and program public art similarly to how they are programming the music. There are a few developers in New York that I’m talking to about public art projects. I’m trying to do as much as I can. RL: What would you call yourself? Are you a curator? Do you have a title for what you do or you don’t need a title for yourself? AS: I don’t know. I guess now I’m a gallerist-curator? RL: What made you decide to open this location? AS: It was available. It was sitting idle for a little while. I thought it was a beautiful building. I swore to myself that … I used to joke that the last thing that New York needs is another gallery. I’ll open a gallery in Saskatchewan! No offense to anyone in Saskatchewan. I’ll open a gallery anywhere but I’m not opening a white box space in New York. I wanted to do something a touch non-traditional in nature because I also didn’t want to open quote unquote a project space where I was leaning on artist friends of mine who have representation and having to go to them and say: “Hey can we do a one-off show. And they’d say: ‘Oh, yeah, Adam. Happy to do a one-off show. You have to talk to blah, blah, blah.’ Then, I’d have to talk to their gallery to get the work on consignment. I just felt like that was the last thing that I needed to do, so I thought: Let’s build our own program from scratch. RL: When you say “our,” who are you talking about? You and Carolyn? AS: Yeah. Carolyn and me. So we took the space and the first show that I decided to do was with… Most of the world knows him as a graffiti artist. His name is Ces. I went to high school in the Bronx and I used to ride the school bus from Manhattan up to the Bronx and Ces is one of he most prolific graffiti writers in the world and I know his work, well, literally from staring out the window onto the highway as I would drive up to school. I had a conversation with a friend about what we could do differently. I had kind of lost interest in graffiti art. When you’re looking at it, you look at it. And then you loose interest and you stop. It’s invisible. You don’t even realize it’s there unless you’re looking. So I had a conversation about whether street art can be re-contextualized or is there a really interesting, historical way to present it so it’s not being presented in the way that it’s being presented. I started following all of these graffiti-centric Instagram accounts and I fell into Ces’s feed and I saw that he was doing these really intricate, incredibly delicate still lifes, 11 in. x 14 in. still life food drawings. Which reminded me of, well, the obvious choice is a small Wayne Tiebaud painting but it reminded of this show that Paula Cooper did back in 2004 of Claes Oldenberg and his wife Coosje [van Bruggen]. They did a show called Images a la Cart, tiny sketches that Claes did for his wife on notebook paper and the notebook paper I’m talking about is like an old school recorder that he would carry in his pocket. That thing. Like this big [motions with hands]. She had food allergies so she wasn’t able to eat sweets so Claes used to draw deserts for her, hence Images a la Cart, and he would draw these beautiful blueberry pie islands, banana splits, iles flottantes, beautiful drawings. The show was killer at Paula Cooper Gallery and I thought that Ces’s work looked like 17th Century Dutch still lifes. They felt Morandi-esque to me, rather than like hard-edged graffiti art. It was a total departure. So I reached out to him and I told him that I was a big fan and that I would love to show the body of work and we mounted and framed 26 of the food drawings and the one thing that isn’t terribly obvious when we first looked at the work, but should be obvious once you know that Ces is an incredibly gifted graffiti artist, is that every single drawing had his initials C-E-S embedded in it. I thought they were really interesting and really beautiful and I didn’t give too much thought to where does he show, who shows him, has he shown before. It was more like: These are great and I’m going to show them. RL: Had he shown before? AS: No. Not really. After that it was a whole other story… Part 2 of this interview to be continued at theexcellentpeople.com THE ORIGINAL EYE ISSUE
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Daniel Arsham Mickalene Thomas Peter D. Gerakaris Alejandro Medina
Image courtesy of Daniel Arsham and Galerie Perrotin THE ORIGINAL EYE ISSUE
DANIEL ARSHAM Multimedia artist Daniel Arsham likes to say that he makes architecture do things that it’s not supposed to do. His exquisite creations often blur the lines between art, architecture and performance, produced through collaborations with Hedi Slimane, Merce Cunningham and Robert Wilson, Pharrell Williams, among others. Herewith, a look at some of his most visionary works. danielarsham.com
Images courtesy of Daniel Arsham and Galerie Perrotin the EXCELLENT PEOPLE
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THE MUSE: MICKALENE THOMAS by Ricky Lee
icky Lee: What’s your background? Mickalene Thomas: I attended Pratt as an undergraduate, where I had supportive teachers who helped me understand what it means to have a studio practice. I spent a portion of that time studying at Southern Cross University, which is in Lismore, New South Wales. I had an awakening as an artist in Australia—the land, the artists and the Aboriginal people were so inspiring. After Pratt I attended the Yale Norfolk summer program, which is similar to Skowhegan for undergrads. And then I entered Yale’s graduate program. Yale was a wonderful place for me to strengthen my artistic practice. There were a handful of young African-American artists all in one place, feeding off each other and having great dialogue, challenging one another in a competitive working environment.
artifice have been central to my work for a long time now. I’m interested in the various layers of presentation, perception and masking that influence how we see a person, and my work explores the way that fashion allows a person to make a poignant statement about themselves or how they want to be perceived. Some of the materials in my work, such as the wigs, textiles and rhinestones, reflect fashion’s methods of constructing image and identity. I use these materials exuberantly—not as embellishments but as a way to claim a space: “I’m here, I exist, see me”. In this way, the black woman is validated, I am validated.
RL: Tell me about your working process. You have a unique method of rhinestones, acrylic, enamel... MT: My process begins with photography. Using photography helps me to sketch my ideas and develop the compositions and formal aspects for paintings. Some of the photographs are eventually incorporated into collages, which allow me to add greater complexity to the composition and serve as the basis for paintings, which are created with rhinestones, acrylic and enamel. The rhinestones first came into my work as a way of working through ideas having to do with pointillism and Seurat. They have been an element of my paintings throughout my career, but I think too much of a focus on them risks overlooking other aspects of my technique that have evolved over time. In the past few years I’ve incorporated some new processes—for example, silk screening and airbrushing—that allow the paintings to reflect their basis in photography and collage in new and interesting ways.
RL: Where do you find or look for inspiration?
RL: What are some of themes, concepts and ideas that regularly occur or are explored in your work? Why? MT: There are a number of central themes in my work: questions of race, gender and sexuality; of the modes through which culture shapes perception across social, spatial, and ideological platforms; and of the body’s physical presence and its relation to a viewer. I consider these through a historical lens, since I think engaging with history—whether it’s art history, political history or cultural history—allows you to understand how certain discourses have developed and how you can engage with them or dispute them and create your own biography. I return to the past as a way of considering what’s missing and what I can add to the conversations in painting that I find most interesting. Painting from the late 19th and early 20th century is of particular interest both because I see it as the root of the formal discussions still happening in art today, and also because it marks the time when female models started to assert their own identities and presence. Around this time, at least in the contemporary discourse, the sitters for the classic genre nude ceased to be anonymous props and began to insist on their individuality with their gaze. I began my work as a way of representing figures largely absent in the canon—African American women—so I feel a kinship and imperative to interact with these pivotal figurative painters. RL: You often explore complex meaning and interpretations of beauty. What’s the meaning behind that? MT: When I first started taking pictures in the early 2000s, there was a dominant stereotype of the young, black, female body. I was seduced by images of some of the women who were all over the media—women like Mary J. Blige and Lil’ Kim—but I also questioned these stereotypes and often found them conflicting with my perception of myself and most black women. I wanted to contemplate and challenge these stereotypes through my work. It was important for me to flip these perceptions by making images of women who were not, for example, a “Foxy Brown.” This wasn’t meant as a political statement, but I was conscientious of the fact that the diversity of black women was not represented in the media, or for that matter in art. When I started out, I was studying the work of Cindy Sherman and Adrian Piper, thinking about fashion and artifice and how these figured into my artistic practice. Fashion and the EXCELLENT PEOPLE
RL: How would you describe your aesthetic? MT: Unapologetic, abstract, Afrofuturist, in-your-face, figurative, conceptual and shape-shifting.
MT: I’ve been fortunate to be able to do a lot of traveling in the past few years, which has had a strong creative impact on my work—most notably, in my developing an entire body of landscape and interior paintings. I also see a lot of art that inspires my studio practice. I love museums—every time I visit one I discover something new or something I hadn’t considered before that suddenly has a new relevance. But the place I go to for inspiration, above all, is my studio in Connecticut. I’m a great believer in a strong studio practice as the most generative and productive place for thinking about and making new work. RL: What do the 1970s mean to you? MT: I was born in 1971, so my earliest images of women were strongly influenced by the aesthetic of the 1970s. When I started to make portraits of women, especially when I began to paint and photograph my mother, it seemed like the natural and logical choice to style them in the manner of these formative images. Pam Grier was everything! Social and cultural cues like the afro became prevalent in my work. My practice has always come from a sincere place of self-exploration, and part of the excitement of making the work has been to see how other women relate to the images I remember from my childhood. Over time, I have held onto some aspects of the 1970s aesthetic more than others; afros, patterns, wood paneling, and costuming remain key elements that I use with both formal and conceptual intentions. I’m interested in the 1970s as a historical period socially and culturally, but I’m even more interested in how the materials and culture from that period relate to my personal African American social history—specifically the experience of African Americans from northeastern cities. RL: What are some of your other work series / projects? MT: Currently film and video are becoming an important aspect of my artistic practice. My appreciation for movies has inspired me to use this medium in new bodies of work that incorporate an autobiographical narrative of time and space. This allows me to convey and formulate notions of beauty and love that aren’t easy to portray in my paintings and collages. RL: What’s ahead for you? MT: Many things—to name a few: a solo film, video and photography installation exhibition at the Aspen Art Museum, and a solo exhibition at the MOCA Pacific Design Center. The Aspen show opens in the spring of 2016, and conceptually it focuses on muses, mentors and celebrities—how they’re one and the same. The MOCA exhibition opens in the fall of 2016, and I’ll be creating a complex, large-scale, site-specific installation there. RL: What is excellence? MT: Perseverance.
Right: I’ve Been Good to Me, 2011 from Muse: Mickalene Thomas Photographs (Aperture, 2015) Copyright and courtesy of the artist and Mickalene Thomas Studio, Inc. 2015
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Previous spread: Clarivel Centered (2014) This page: Remember Me, 2006, from Muse: Mickalene Thomas Photographs (Aperture, 2015) Copyright and courtesy of the artist and Mickalene Thomas Studio, Inc. 2015 Opposite page: Maya 2, 2014 the EXCELLENT PEOPLE
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“Painting from the late 19th and early 20th century is of particular interest [to me] both because I see it as the root of the formal discussions still happening in art today and also because it marks the time when female models started to assert their own identities and presence.” —Mickalene Thomas
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PETER D. GERAKARIS by Heather Zises
merican interdisciplinary artist Peter D. Gerakaris’ “pop-botanic” style tickles the retina and mind, presenting a postnatural vision of nature as if diffracted through a pop-cultural lens. We sat down with Gerakaris on the closing night of his exhibition Tropicália--a 1,000 sq. ft. immersive, site-specific installation on Roosevelt Island commissioned by Cornell Tech--to discuss his recent opus, the creative process, and his foray into the fashion world.
Heather Zises: Your practice has become increasingly interdisciplinary over the last two years. Let’s go back to January 2014 when you were commissioned by Grey Area and Bergdorf Goodman to create a window installation for “10 Artists for 10 Spaces.” How did your original eye lend itself to this project? Peter Gerakaris: I will bracket everything by saying the creative process begins with a direct connection between the eye, the brain, and the human hand. Naturally, the eye is essential. As a visual artist, I think my work boils down to the act of seeing; therefore I am very conscious of the limitations of human perception and hope to evoke this for my audience. With the Bergdorf project, I stepped out of my “analog” comfort zone by digitizing my original paintings. This process allowed me to produce a stage-set like window through origami sculpture, installation and large-scale visuals. High tech printing enabled me to digitally remix versions of my artwork at a very high resolution. HZ: What would you say was the most unique aspect about your BG window project? PG: Two things struck me about the project. One was the highly visible public nature of the piece on Fifth Avenue. The experience felt more public than private because the artwork was more accessible than a typical white cube exhibition space--viewers did not have to walk into the store to participate with the artwork or to look at the fashion. The second element that was fascinating is how organically the art and fashion came together for my window display. I assumed Bergdorf’s would come to me and say, “Here is the fashion item we have selected for your window--please create an artwork around that.” It was actually the contrary. Art Director David Hoey handpicked a Pucci dress that uncannily matched my window after the art was made. The dress also tied into the concept of my Rappaccini Series, where the figure becomes a vehicle for camouflage. Inspired by a Nathaniel Hawthorne tale Rappaccini’s Daughter, the muse is as much plant as she is human; therefore her body is camouflaged into the background so figure becomes ground and vice-versa. Considering the purpose of Bergdorf’s window displays is to sell garments, I think it was a bold move by Hoey to choose a garment that essentially was camouflaged into the installation. HZ: One might say Hoey has an “Original Eye” too! PG: Absolutely! Your point also connects to the giant eye in the middle of my window installation: the Rappaccini muse stares back at thousands of gawkers fixated on looking. An extreme kind of voyeurism occurs through these storefront windows therefore I got a perverse kick out of playing up the spectacle that is window-shopping on Fifth Avenue. HZ: Most of your works resist traditional figures and faces, yet you have found a way to incorporate a human eye into many of them. These eyes are captivating, as they tend to follow the viewer as they walk from one side of the room to the other. In addition to your Bergdorf window installation, this heady effect is particularly emphasized in Rappaccini Chartreuse Muse Tondo, and in Carnival Kriol Mask, which is a central work in Tropicália. What is your message? PG: I don’t think it is my place to overprescribe or dictate any meaning—it is really up to the viewer what they get from the work. As an artist, I’m a vessel through which different energies are transmitted. What I can say more specifically about Carnival Kriol Mask is it was deeply inspired by my travels both in the Caribbean and the Cape Verde Islands, West Africa during an artist residency program. I happened to have been in Cape Verde during Carnival, which is one of the most sacred and celebratory events for the Kriol culture. The islands are pulsing with energy and people are expressing themselves by dressing up in the EXCELLENT PEOPLE
costumes and wearing masks. Carnival Kriol Mask is very evocative of that experience. It also ties into a larger mask series I have been creating which I consider to be “global masks”. Rather than creating a mask that is specific to any one culture or region, I am trying to create masks for a hypercoherent global time: masks that remix and combine all cultural motifs into one visage. They are also psychologically charged so that they translate into ‘inside-out’ masks where I am able to wrap the inner psyche onto an exterior that is normally meant to conceal. In this case, I think the eyes are really portals into a metaphysical being that work both ways: they are gateway into another person but they are also gazing at us simultaneously. HZ: Your masks convey an incredible amount of spatial dimension even though they are rendered in 2D. Actually, I’d say all of your 2D works are extremely multifaceted. Do you have a background in sculpture or working in 3D? PG: Although my father is a sculptor and I have made sculpture, I’ve never considered myself a sculptor. But the spatial dimension you pick up on is intentional. Whenever I create a work I feel like I am constructing an image as if I am creating a stage set or a sculptural space, which is why it was not a big leap for me to create the Bergdorf window installation. I often play with impossible perspectives and shallow depth while confronting things from a frontal angle. For Tropicália, I introduced a new layer of dimension by inviting viewers to wear ChromaDepth 3D eyewear, which allowed me to create 2D artworks that had a 3D implication. This means I did not have to alter my original work in any way; for example, in 3D film you have to offset images in order for the effect to really work. With the advanced technology of ChromaDepth 3D, the original image remains totally unaltered to the naked eye, but you get that extra layer of enhancement and color space with the glasses. What is fascinating to me is the way the ChromaDepth 3D separates colors into a foreground, a middleground and a background depending on the hue. The viewing experience also changes depending on how long the viewer is staring at color and how near or far they are standing from the artwork. It can either negate or enhance dimension. HZ: Would you say the ChomaDepth 3D eyewear changed your art making practice? PG: Yes. It has changed my process by further honing my sensitivity to color in the studio, which is something upon which I am constantly trying to expand. I was so inspired by the ChromaDepth experience I made a painting in response to it, called Rappstraction I Diptych, which is on view at Gallery Nine5 right now. Most importantly, I feel the process was a breakthrough in terms of generosity to the viewer. During Tropicália, I got very candid feedback from the public just by watching people come in and express their visceral responses. One person expressed that the ChomaDepth 3D eyewear gave the artworks “space to breathe,” such that all of the elements were not competing on the same plane. Time and time again, I would hear people exclaim that Tropicália was like two different exhibitions depending on whether or not you opt for the eyewear! In essence, I was able to create two experiences out of one by offering a shift in perception. Pushing the work in terms of scale and spatial dimension took it from a representational space into an experiential space. HZ: Tell me about your latest fashion project with Print All Over Me. PG: I never would have thought my art would be a gateway into fashion until the Bergdorf window Installation. Subsequently, many art-loving and fashion savvy friends suggested I make wearable art. So after a steep learning curve, I learned what was possible in terms of fabrication, print technology and fabrics. I connected with Print All Over Me, an online style incubator that helps artists and designers cross over into fashion to create capsule collections. We figured it would be a great cross-pollination project to design a line of art leggings based upon Tropicália. I took four primary vignettes from the installation and turned them into four legging designs. Each pair has a different mood and character. They launch Sept 8 and will be available through the PAOM website. For me, I see the leggings as a canvas for expression that hugs the human form.
Opposite page: Rappstraction (diptych-detail)
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lejandro Medina is a multidisciplinary designer and artist interested in geometrical abstraction, the design of systems of thinking and the ephemerality of nature. Approaching art-making as science, his process often involves research, material investigation and constant iterations. Building on his studies in architecture and cinematography, his work lies between the crossing points of different mediums. Incorporating distinct technologies and materials in order to arrive at new and unique results. Medina draws inspiration from his childhood encounters with nature. Born and raised in Guatemala, he grew up very close to the natural world. He is especially interested in the geometric peculiarities that occur under extreme conditions. In the case of Guatemala, the tropics; environments such as the rainforest and coral reef. alejandromedinagt.com
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Mutaciรณn, 2015 THE ORIGINAL EYE ISSUE
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Eternidad Momentรกnea, 2012 THE ORIGINAL EYE ISSUE
Ciclos, 2012 the EXCELLENT PEOPLE
Mutaciรณn, 2015 THE ORIGINAL EYE ISSUE
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Gay Talese Flavin Judd John Gosslee Jason Hanasik
photograph by Emilie Hawtin THE ORIGINAL EYE ISSUE
ON THE OUTSIDE LOOKING IN
Text and photography by Emilie Hawtin
ho’s afraid of peeping tom? A watcher, a pervert, a ‘perv’ for short. By definition, a voyeur is someone who gains pleasure from watching others engaged in sexual activity. The term itself dates back to the early 20th century, stemming from the French word ‘voir’ or ‘see’. If seeing is believing, are we not all ourselves voyeurs? Enter the world of Gay Talese. Celebrated American author, husband, father, and perhaps most inherently, voyeur. His redefining profile of Frank Sinatra in the April 1966 issue of Esquire is revered as one of the most influential American magazine pieces of all time. Not to mention that of Joe DiMaggio, Floyd Patterson or the many ‘invisible’ New Yorkers Talese has drawn out for countless articles and extensively researched novels. Clearly a man of non fiction, he prefers to capture the real deal and disclose the actual names of his subjects- no fluff. “I don’t want to fool the reader, I don’t want to keep things from the reader. That’s why I take 13 years, 15 years to write a book. It’s about the trust, that’s the trick. I never had a contract where the people who i’m writing about are able to review it before publish.” Cuff links, fedora and freshly shined cordovans, Talese is impeccabliy dressed as always in the Upper East Side townhouse he has resided in for decades. He offers a stiff drink in the drawing room where a few guests gather from here and there, something seemingly routine, garnering a salon style atmosphere. Runs in the family. As a kid he worked in the dress shop of his mother, Catherine, an immigrant daughter who set up business in Ocean City, NJ and quickly got to know the private lives of the local clients they catered to. Primarily middle aged fat women with money, the ones who wore white gloves in the summertime. “The wife of the cadillac dealer, the wife of the superintendent, the wife of somebody who ran a hot dog stand on the boardwalk and made a lot of money” he explains. Whatever it was, the Talese’s wanted to know who the heck these American women were. So he eavesdropped, learned about these women and the people on main street. “As an adolescent working in a store I learned more about journalism than if I had gone to Columbia School of Journalism (which I did not do), this is where I learned about reporting. Listening, having good manners, they’re your sources of wealth, just like your sources are meaningful as a journalist- you’re nice to your sources, you protect your sources. And you’re not a total fraud either, you’re not just flashing on the charm, you’re also keeping in touch with your sources, and writing with respect about your sources. So then at 83 I can tell you I don’t ever remember having a letter from somebody I wrote about or a phone call to say I seduced them and made them believe I would do a good story and do a hatchet job. Sinatra, Dimaggio, Diane Weber, the bridge guys, the mafia guys- I never was in a situation where I couldn’t call up somebody 15 years after interviewing them and I couldn’t get another interview. And that is because I treat people with respect and I learned that in the store as a 9 year old kid.” Emilie Hawtin: In a recent interview you called yourself a voyer. What does that mean? Gay Talese: When I was writing in 1980, Thy Neighbor’s Wife, or actually I completed Thy Neighbors Wife and it was being publicized, I received a letter from a married man who was about my age living in the midwest. He said that it’s too bad he didn’t know about my book before, he would have given me some useful information. But, he said, “I’d like to keep my name out of print because I could get in trouble for violating people’s privacy— i’m a voyer.” I received this letter and what impressed me about the letter was how well it was written. Whenever I see letters in handwriting I assume it’s from a person with limited formal education, written without a typewriter or a computer. Since it was in longhand, most likely a person in prison. EH: You mean mean today, or even back then? GT: Ever. Whenever I receive a letter written in longhand I assume most likely it’s from a prisoner. It’s where they write lots of letters. And the letters are usually about needing help to get out of prison. They write something, that i’m a nice guy and maybe I could help them get out. Or they’ve written a novel, and they know that my wife is a book publisher or I might know somebody. But a hand written letter is, more often than not, from an ernest but not well educated person. This letter, handwritten, was very well written. If you retype the letter you could have made an essay out of it. All the letter discussed was who this person is, and why this person began as a voyer. And the reason he’s a voyer is that his mother came from a large German-American family, there was a younger sister of the woman who was a rebel. Late 20’s and used to walk around in her bedroom nude. No one
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else in the family would walk around without a robe, the man who wrote me the letter said that his mother even dressed in the closet. She and the husband would never discuss sex and were very remote. But there was this one exception in the family in the farmhouse they had, this extended family had property adjoining property with their relatives. So the man who wrote me a letter, the man in his mid 40s, said that when he was 9, 10, 11 he was aware that in this neighboring farmhouse there was this woman, his aunt, who felt so comfortable in her beautiful body that she’d often walk around nude. He became a visitor to the windowsill of his aunt at night, sneaking peeks. EH: So this is his mother’s sister? Yes. GT: So this launched his career as a voyer, this fixation. Then he went to high school, star football player, had a regular dating relationship with the cheerleader of the football team. He later went into the navy and became what would be a seal today- very athletic person, diver, served in the Korean war. Came out of the navy and met a student he went to high school with who was a nurse. The high school cheerleader had married somebody while he was in the navy. But he then met another woman, got married, had two children. When he wrote to me he was a vast owner of a lot of property, and had decided that he was going to buy a motel. With his wife’s concurrence. And he was going to fix the ceilings of certain rooms with a fake ventilation system, allowing him from the attic of the motel to see and hear. What he began doing in 1965, he not only took book notes on everything he saw and heard, and kept a written record for 15 years. When he contacted me in 1980 he wouldn’t let me use the story, he’d go to jail forever or be sued or go into bankruptcy obviously. But he said he wouldn’t mind if I would sign a privacy agreement with him to show me. Not surprisingly I made it my business to go out and meet him, in the midwest of course. Go to the motel, to see what he saw to make it a fact that he had this advantage of privileges. He had a record of all that he saw, and continued to do this for the next 15 years. Always with the idea not to show it to anyone. Just as the letter was well written, his chronicles were very well written. And it showed, for the first time, human beings in sort of a laboratory situation— what people do when they’re not aware of being watched. Most of your sexual experimentation, such as Kinsey, getting the sexual life and private life is from volunteers. Even if they’re secretly communicating in a clinic, they’re volunteers. These people that this guy wrote about were not aware, ever, and he was never caught. For 40 years, never caught. Then he decided to sell the motel. The reason is the arthritis in his knees, football injuries, he could no longer climb the stairs of the motel to the attic, his observation platform. And so he sold the motel. Ten years passed, and he said to me that he would like to talk to me for the record. So, I went out and interviewed him for the first time now. And i’m writing about him now. EH: Just recently? GT: Yeah, I just got back. And the other thing i’m doing is i’ve kept a record of my own marriage, so in a way i’m a voyer too. I’m not so different. The voyer says that all men are voyers. Women, most women like to be watched. Men buy porno, and women buy cosmetics. He does his job, as an observer, finding the differences. And i’ve also done a good job in 57 years of marriage. A profile of my own life is almost voyeristic. In a way i’m an observer, everybody is an observer. The opening line of my book, called The Kingdom And The Power, is “Most journalists are restless voyeurs who see the warts on the world, the imperfections in people and places.” That’s me. But it’s also every pulitzer prize winner who are observers. Rarely are we part of the news, unless we do something wrong. Most journalists are observers, voyers, I say that and personify that. Since the early days of my marriage which began in 1959 in Italy where I got married to an American woman (who’s upstairs now) we lived in this house at that time and we still do. Not much changes here. I don’t change wives, I don’t change houses, I haven’t even changed cars. In my Roxburry, CT house where we’re going tomorrow I drive the same car that I drove even before I got married, a 1957 Triumph TR3. I also drive a car that we bought because when we had the first of our two daughters born in 1964. Now most married people sell the car, not me, I just got a bigger sportscar, a1971 Stag. I still drive that car. I don’t change. In my method of work I take a recorder, I take notes, I don’t necessarily approach my work as a reporter at 83 the same way I did when I was 23. In this year I had a front page story in the New York Times, March 7th 2015— I wrote the same story on March 7th 1965. It was the story of Selma. You saw Selma the film didn’t you? That was a BIG story. I was 33 and I wrote a lot about Selma and my method of
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56 working is exactly the same… you watch people, talk to people. My first book, published in 1961 when I was still a reporter, 4 years before I went to Selma was about the obscure people of New York. I was coming to the big city, looking at all of the people in the shadows of the city. The city of skyscrapers and shadows. Who are these people that we pass everyday? Doormen, people who walk dogs. EH: What was it about these people? GT: Well, what journalism is all about is noteworthiness. Newsworthy people; the mayor of the town, the board of chamber, the celebrities, Donald Trump. I wrote once about the doormen who are in front of these Park Ave buildings, Bergdorfs, Bloomingdales department stores. The overlooked people who, when they die, are not worth an obituary. My first story in Esquire was about an Obituary. I like to take the people who are usually ignored and find the story, it’s interesting. Everything is interesting if you know how to write, if you can make it a story. You don’t have to think it. You get to know people well enough and get them to open up to you, which you do by having a patience and sincerity about you. They will reveal themselves with a candor that is really interesting and it’s usually the material of playwrights or novelists. Fifty years ago I wrote a book THE BRIDGE. In 1964 the Verazano bridge was open for the first time, but I watched 4 years before as it started to be built by men in hard hats who climb in high places on swinging steel catwalks linking sections of steel to sections of steel. The people who build it are usually so far up in the sky you usually can’t see them, they’re little figures the size of an ant up there, but they’re people. So I wrote about them in 1964 and went back in 2014 to write about them all over again, and reissue a new book. Which is an old book. It’s an old story but it isn’t an old story really. No stories are ever old. EH: And this story, is it more about the psychology of the guy who owned the motel or just about his thoughts on how he became a voyeur? GT: All of those things. It’s about man, how he became that kind of man, what his marriage is like, what did he see, what he wrote about what he saw. I also went up with him, and I also saw what he was seeing and i’m seeing him seeing. So you have a voyeur with another voyeur. I’m reporting about his activity while watching him watch. I often write about myself without identifying myself. EH: Did you feel this way many years ago when you first started? Or is it much more intense now? GT: Oh yeah. When I started, certainly, I was with the mafia for a while. I was with the mafia from 1966-1971 and when I was I was at the homes of the people that I infiltrated. I mean talk about gaining trust, I was the first guy in that secret society. EH: Was that purely for research? GT: Well I was a nudist because it was for research but I was also a nudist in Thy Neighbor’s Wife. For Honor Thy Father I didn’t kill anybody but I was certainly around killers all of the time. EH: Did they know you were a writer and going to write about them? GT: Oh it took me 5 years to get in the door. I didn’t start writing Honor Thy Father until 1970, but I cultivated the characters in 65, 66 they would all come here. It was all one mafia family called the Bonanno family. I remember when I was with these mafia guys they were always worried about bugs in their house, and they would watch television all day long in their homes and operate at night, it always had the noise of the television soap operas, because they wanted to drown out whatever tapping equipment was. So as a reporter I lived the world. I write about a voyeur i’m a voyeur, if i’m writing about adultery in this sex book called Thy Neighbor’s Wife then i’m practicing adultery. You say oh is it for the book. It’s never just for the book, you’re always capable or not capable, it’s mandatory that you’re able to play the part because you’re an actor. I’ve tried to be committed to the atmosphere and with the occupants of the space. Be them swinging sex freaks at Sandstone or gun swinging mafia guys in brooklyn, bridge builders on the side of the Verazano bridge wearing belts filled with heavy tools. Whatever i’m writing about, I want to be at home in this territory. I don’t think of myself as an authority on anything except I have the capacity to blend in without taking off my 3 piece suit, or be totally nude and comfortable. That’s not easy. Many people are great with their clothes on but they don’t want to walk around nude. EH: If you were not doing this what would you have done? GT: I could have been a restaurant owner. I could have been a very successful owner of restuarnts. Not that I like cooking but I get along with people. I think if I had to make a living, I could make a good living being a Maître D’. EH: What kind of restaurant? GT: When I first came to New York and got a job at a newspaper there was a guy named Toots Shore, he owned a restaurant. And when I had my first date with the woman i’m married to, I took her to Toots Shore’s. Here’s a guy who greeted people, knew everybody. Drank a little bit, or quite a lot, and turned this restaurant into kind of a theatre. Which is what a restaurant really is. All of the people seated making business deals, trying to seduce somebody. You know restaurants are very seductive. If you want to have sex with a woman— well if you don’t want to have sex you have lunch— but if you want to have sex you have dinner. And anybody who has had dinner with you, you’re almost half way there. the EXCELLENT PEOPLE
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V TWIN ARCHITECTURE by Flavin Judd
hile riding a motorcycle on a curvy canyon road, I once passed a guy and a woman in a loud, gaudy, expensive Ferrari. The combining of the loud sound of the motorcycle and the car made for an oscillation that changed as I rode past. The woman asked what was making the overwhelming sound that was uniting us all but the guy’s explanation got lost as I rode abreast of them, both motors in synch and humming beautifully. I stayed that way for a second, taking in the sound. As I passed them a womp-womp of out of synch sound waves took over, it all sounded great and guttural, a moving set of sine waves going in and out of synch with distance. It turns out that curating and sound waves are related. Recently a writer asked me how I placed the artworks in the recent exhibition of Don’s corten work at Zwirner. I found it hard to answer as there is no one “thing” that makes it all work. It’s lots of things. I said one way to tell is the oscillations, the art pieces create visual oscillations and I try to reduce the interference so the works don’t get in each other’s way. Apparently this was not the answer that the writer wanted. Let me insist further. the EXCELLENT PEOPLE
When you fly prop planes (twins) or you ride twin or triple cylinder motorcycles you have a very visceral connection to the engines, you can feel them. If the motors in the plane are out of phase or the motorcycle is passing another loud motor you can feel when the sine waves are in synch and when they are opposite and when they are moving towards either state. Your stomach knows even if you don’t. You can feel the math and you can visualize it in your head. It’s the same when curating the artworks. If they get too close to each other it’s almost like an oscillation occurs and you feel compelled to move the works apart, give them more space. If there are certain colors that are similar and you put them too close to each other you will find that they want to be separated, they don’t work together. Possibly there are some mathematical equations that reflect these feelings, like the visible sine waves of sound, I don’t know and it doesn’t really matter, but that’s how the works get placed: by the stomach. Donald Judd: Cor-ten, the first-ever focused examination of Judd’s work in cor-ten steel, which includes texts by Claudia Jolles, Flavin Judd and Ellie Meyer, was recently published by David Zwirner Books and is available at davidzwirnerbooks.com.
Installation view, Donald Judd, David Zwirner, New York, 2015. Art Â© Judd Foundation. Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Courtesy David Zwirner, New York/London THE ORIGINAL EYE ISSUE
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ONE MANʼS QUEST TO BECOME A POET
Out of Context by John Gosslee
here to start? That’s the problem I’ve always had. So I start where I am and with what I have because that’s all that I can do. Poetry is my savior, the writers of poems are like gods with their hands on the water determining how fast the mill wheel will spin, and when I was a young poet, the only water I could find was in books. I began to write poetry, very bad poetry, the worst poetry perhaps that anyone could write, because that’s how everyone starts. I knew I needed direction, mentorship, and I began to approach poets online, by phone, or in person. They weren’t interested in the work of an eighteen-yearold. Perhaps I could have chosen less popular poets, who weren’t as busy, but I felt it was important to start with the strongest sources I could find. The poetry game was largely closed in the late 1990s, as it still is, and I wasn’t in the right circles. I actually didn’t realize there were real classes in poetry until I was in my late twenties. If I’d known, I would have gone to a school that offered poetry as an undergraduate major. After reading for years I began to submit to small magazines, and in my mid-twenties, my work started getting published. At the same time, the system was closed, I was at odds with contemporary literature, and I knew that I’d never be a literary darling. I define a darling as someone who knows how to do everything, does it right, and gets pretty much universal love. After learning about masters classes in poetry, I was excited and optimistic, enrolled in a two-year program where I forged some good relationships. Shortly after my graduation these same professors wouldn’t return my emails, and it was like I hadn’t attended, except that I had a piece of paper I didn’t care about. I didn’t want a degree, I just wanted to work with poets I respected. Whatever the reasons that is what happened. While walking around the large green-walled room that served as my office, bedroom, and art studio in the winter of 2014, I thought about the implications of redacting other poets’ work and wondered if it would ruin my career as a writer and my reputation as an editor. But what was I really doing? Utilizing someone else’s voice to create an expression of my own, acting as the censor from that very place of feeling isolated and disempowered. I felt terrified and wondered why I felt that way. There is a long history of redaction in poetry, but it has never focused on contemporary creative writers. I think no one dared to step outside of the perceived boundaries. The act of empowering the self is the most important thing a person can do, and as I thought about the facts of redaction, I became committed to amplifying my own voice through modifying one of the thousands of copies of someone else’s work. I knew that I wanted to honor the writers who’d made that realization and path possible, but still say what I wanted to say through the work and express as many sides of myself as I could. The theories behind Out of Context are sometimes contradictory. 1. Tell a bird how to sing. No one owns language or voice. 2. A bird in the hand. Writers only own their original work, not copies of it or interpretations of that work. 3. Aviary. Every book is subjected to the same redaction procedure regardless of any personal feelings or motivations. Some goals around my work were: 1. To center the inherent energy of the work in a one-sided conversation, the kind I’d often felt subjected to myself. 2. To credit the original poems and authors in the title of each piece while exercising a personal empowerment through the editing. 3. To include a large variety of voices, drawing on the work of writers I knew, did not know, was excited by, felt nothing about, that were risky to redact or that no one would care about, with the only constant being my sense that each would benefit the collection in a different way. 4. To view each book as a kind of dictionary, a kind of map, through which I could utilize language in a way that benefited my practice. 5. To accept any positive or negative reactions around the work in the future, because of the multitude of interpretations it by its nature will receive and to accept that the work and my goals would be taken out of context in a similar way to how I was taking each poet’s work out of context. 6. To remain as objective as possible in the redaction and interact with the poem in a way it dictated while adhering to some of the stylistic theories of my original poetry. 7. To always follow the same procedure, reading each poem one time and then enacting the blackout in a single motion without returning to fix any mistakes. With all of these things in mind I began selecting the books and chose six pages from each for Out of Context. THE ORIGINAL EYE ISSUE
Opening page: Blackout 110 – “Notes of a Native Son” by D.A. Powell from Useless Landscape, or a Guide for Boys (Graywolf, 2012) This page: Blackout 317 – “The Importance of Being Bob” by Charles Bernstein from Recalculating (University of Chicago Press, 2013) Opposite page: Blackout 164 – “Hard as Ash” by Peter Gizzi from In Defense of Nothing (Wesleyan, 2014) the EXCELLENT PEOPLE
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BREATHING HIS WAY THROUGH THE ROCK
Text and photography by Jason Hanasik In memoriam: Gerald B. Rosentein, 1927 - 2016
want to get out of here. How do you make this stop?” Gerald Rosenstein—who prefers Jerry—said loudly as he fidgeted with the audio device in his hand. He was hyperventilating and slightly trembling as he started pressing every button on the device. I reached over, grabbed the black mp3 player and pushed the stop button. As I handed the device back to Jerry, the cling-clang of a jail door wailed through my headphones and a gaggle of German tourists streamed passed us on either side. I grabbed Jerry and said, “Take a deep breath, Jerry. Come on, breathe with me.” As I exhaled, my audio guide said, “Turn left and walk forward I pushed stop on my audio tour and for a few moments, Jerry and I were alone, taking deep breaths together. His face relaxed, but he told me that he wanted to find the nearest exit. Pushing our way through the herds of tourists lost in the history of Alcatraz—popularly known as The Rock—Jerry and I found an exit sign, returned our audio tour to the staff and exited through the gift shop. At 87, Jerry ambles slowly but as soon as the exit door came into sight, his pace considerably increased. As he pushed the exit door open, the salty sea air replaced the stagnant, still air of the jail and I could sense that the minor crisis was over. I found Jerry on a bench just outside of the main jailhouse. His eyes were closed and, as I approached, he inhaled quietly and said, “Fresh air. It smells so sweet.” The first time I met Jerry was at his home in the Presidio Heights neighborhood of San Francisco. Larry Sultan—my graduate advisor at California College of the Arts—had mentioned him to me during one of our biweekly critiques. He cryptically said, “I have someone I want you to meet. I think you’re the one to get his story,” and asked me to write an essay about my interest in intergenerational relationships amongst gay men. I wrote the essay, and after a quick email exchange between Jerry and myself, a coffee date was set. During our first meeting, Jerry mentioned that he had a computer problem and I volunteered to help. For the next year and a half, our interactions were quick catch-ups about each other’s lives, a meal, and working through a laundry list of issues with his Mac. What we didn’t discuss was Jerry’s past. In 1945, when Jerry was 17 years old, he and his father cautiously walked out of a camp in the Auschwitz complex and headed East. At 88 years old, Jerry is among the last generation of individuals who were old enough to recall specifics about their time in the Nazi concentration camps. In the Fall of 2010, my sister—Jennifer Hanasik—suddenly passed away. When I returned to the Bay Area, Jerry was one of the first people I visited. Over a meal of cold meatloaf, green beans, cucumber salad and potatoes, Jerry said, “I read the eulogy on Facebook. It gave me a better understanding of who you are and your emotional depth. I think you understand what it was like. What it was like for me to go from being a brother to an only child so suddenly. To be both a child and forced to be very independent at the same time.” My eyes filled with tears as he finished sharing. As I sobbed, Jerry sat still and watched me. A few minutes later, I composed myself, cleared the dinner plates and prepped dessert while we discussed my day job. Jerry Rosenstein was born in 1927 in Bensheim, a small town in the South Central part of Germany, to Sophie and Max Rosenstein. His mother’s family had lived in Bensheim since 1750, and were fixtures in the local Jewish and larger civic community. As anti-Semitism spread across Germany, the family began experiencing isolated incidences of verbal and physical violence. In 1934, when Jerry’s father Max was away on business, a group of Nazis attempted to light the family’s garage on fire. When the police did not come, the family decided that it was time pack up their belongings and move to the nearby town of Darmstadt. A few months later, they moved to Amsterdam,
hoping that they would be able to ride out the rise of Nazism sweeping across Germany. In Amsterdam, Jerry quickly picked up Danish and began working as a dog walker for a local family. In 1940, the day Jerry celebrated his bar mitzvah,the German army invaded Amsterdam and Nazism was once again on the Rosensteins’ doorstep. Jerry’s family quickly began to be split apart. His eldest brother, Ernst, 17, left for Palestine to live on a Kibbutz, and his other brother Hans was deported on an early transport to Auschwitz. In 1942, Jerry and his parents were sent to Westerbork in the Netherlands and then to Theresienstadt. Jerry’s mother was imprisoned there for the duration of the war,but Jerry and his father were deported a few months after their arrival. They were able to stay together as they traveled to Auschwitz-Birkenau and then to the work camp Gleiwitz. In 1945, Max and Jerry were liberated from Gleiwitz by the Russian forces and slowly made their way to Paris via Odessa. Sophie, Max and Jerry reunited in Paris in the spring of 1945 where they learned that both Hans and Ernst perished during the war. Prior to the Fall of 2010 and my sister’s death, I did not ask Jerry about his time in the camps. Jerry was not uncomfortable or averse to talking about it, but since I had spent so much time with friends who were Iraq veterans and saw how difficult it could be to go back to traumatic, emotional spaces, I did not want to create a similar situation for him. In the months after Jennifer died, I began searching for narratives of survival and started to ask Jerry about his experiences immediately after the camps. I was curious about what he did with the weight of his experience and the prying questions of those around him. Jerry always responded with a similar refrain, “You keep moving forward. What happened in the past is in the past and there is nothing you can do about it.” Jerry shared that his frustrations with questions by others about his time in the camps climaxed one afternoon on Stinson beach. He was enjoying a leisurely day with friends when he noticed that everyone kept staring at the numbers which had been tattooed on his arms in Auschwitz. He decided to have his number removed and when he met a plastic surgeon at a party a few weeks later who said he would do it, he immediately jumped on the opportunity. The surgeon offered to do the operation for free but Jerry insisted that he send him a bill so that he may forward it to the German government. Upon receipt of the bill, the German government replied saying that tattoo removal would not be covered under reparations and Jerry replied, “Figure out how to cover it. It’s not like I asked to be branded.” The German government paid the bill a few weeks later. In May 2014, Jerry and I traveled to Germany together to visit his hometown. By this point, I was calling him my adopted gay granddad and he was introducing me at parties as his adopted grandson. We told our friends and family that we were traveling to Germany so that I could gather footage of him for a film I was making about his life. I felt I was finally ready to deliver on the request Larry Sultan had made six years prior. I was ready to “get his story.” When we arrived in Bensheim, I felt no desire to pull out my camera and film him walking around the town. As the anxiety about the distance traveled and my absence of interest in filming Jerry mounted, I started breaking out into a series of rashes on my arms and legs. In the morning, I’d wake up from a night of scratching and find small streaks of blood and on the sheets and raw wounds. Jerry noticed that I was a “little out of sorts,” but he did not seem to be fazed. He would randomly mention, “This your project, you’re the director. I’m just here to tell the story.” I ended up making one video the last day we were visiting the city of Bensheim. In Germany, all Jewish cemeteries are gated, and you must request access to the site days in advance. Given my last minute decision to film, Jerry suggested I climb the wall and then
I lived through something historic and then moved on, moved forward. I’m so much more than a survivor.
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66 he’d pass my equipment through the iron bars. I walked as softly as possible through the overgrown and seemingly neglected cemetery while balancing a GoPro camera on a homemade Stedicam. Jerry stayed on the perimeter and answered my shouts of, “Do you know this relative?” Walking amongst the waist-high weeds, I could barely see the crumbling headstones demarcating the final resting place for Jerry’s ancestors. Jerry does not appear in the film. A week and a half later, Jerry and I connected with Friedrich, a writer who was about to publish a biography about Jerry. During the afternoon of our first full day in Berlin, Jerry decided to go swimming while Friedrich and I went in search of Berlin’s main gallery district. Ten minutes after sitting down for lunch with Friedrich, a father and daughter sat down at the table across from us. A small film crew appeared with their lens trained on the father’s quickly crumbling demeanor. As the man became more and more emotional, the camera appeared to get closer and closer to him. While I couldn’t understand what he was saying, when he stretched his arms out, a tattoo of a series of numbers peeked out from under his shirt and my suspicions were confirmed. He was a survivor of Auschwitz. I suddenly realized why I had not wanted to film Jerry in Bensheim and why I had resisted making anything with him on camera in Germany. I turned to Friedrich and said, “Remember when I was having a complete breakdown in Bensheim? What’s happening over there with that gentleman is the reason why I didn’t want to make anything with Jerry. I have no desire to make someone else’s emotional breakdown the main subject of anything I put into the world. There must be another way to document and share this story.” By this point, the gentleman being filmed was sobbing and the film crew had moved behind Friedrich and myself. I looked directly into the lens and then at the subject of the film and realized that the cameraman was using Friedrich and I as framing devices for their shot. Disgusted by the entire scene, I suggested that we finish our lunch and move on. After six weeks in Europe, Jerry and I returned to the U.S. While I made a few portraits of Jerry while we were traveling and a short video in the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin, I still had not found the film I wanted to make with him. One afternoon, while Jerry was telling me about his day, he mentioned that he had been interrupted by a phone call during his daily Pilates routine. While he had told me about the routine often, I never gave it much thought. When he finished his story about the interrupted routine, I asked if I might join him for his workout the following day. While watching his eighty year old body flow through the scripted sequence of exercises, I realized that I had found the perfect imagery to float above the emotional landscape of Jerry’s story. We started filming in the basement of his home the following week. At the end of one of the sessions, Jerry mentioned that he wanted to see the new exhibition on Alcatraz by the Chinese artist, Ai Wei Wei. I pulled up the ferry schedule and reserved a spot for the two of us on the 10 a.m. ferry on Oct. 7. As we approached the ferry that morning, Jerry shared that while he had lived in San Francisco for over 50 years, this was his first trip to Alcatraz. The fog wrapped around the island in the San Francisco Bay as we slowly ambled up the hill housing the main prison building. As we approached, Jerry’s demeanor started to shift. It was subtle and almost imperceptible. At first, he was irritable and moody but when he pressed play on the audio tour, I finally realized what was happening. Jerry was having a mild panic attack. As the sounds of incarceration filled both of our earphones, trembling, Jerry shouted over the audio tour, “I want to get out of here. How do you make this stop?” As we left the prison, I wondered if the reason he had never been to The Rock was because being incarcerated—in the broadest definition—was in his past. Perhaps the institutionalized space and the sounds being played in the audio tour were too close to the ones he had experienced 60 years ago. What he had fought to do successfully—to stay in the present—had been undermined and he was suddenly thrown back into a past he couldn’t control or contain. Jerry has visited Germany often but when people ask him if he has gone back to a concentration camp, he gives them a stern, quizzical look and promptly changes the subject. Three weeks after our visit to Alcatraz, Jerry’s distant cousin and her husband visited Jerry at his home for dinner. Over dinner, Jerry shared anecdotes about extended family members and his interests in philanthropy, theater and music. While Jerry never mentioned his time in the camps, Jerry’s cousin’s husband creatively found ways to merge the current topic into an inquiry about the Holocaust. After hearing Jerry deliver his third, punctuated, one-sentence answer to a Holocaust question and quickly change the subject, I chimed in. “Did you know Jerry has a website which houses a series of videos in which he narrates his history in great detail? I imagine that’ll answer all of your questions,” I said. Jerry looked up at me and smiled, and the conversation never returned to the two and a half years he spent in the camps. Instead, we were able to peruse the stories of the 60 years which have elapsed. “Thank you for that,” Jerry said as I was clearing the table after his guests had left for the evening. I looked up, smiled and replied, “No problem, I’ve got your back.” Jerry’s health deteriorated slowly during 2015. The film I set out to make wrapped in late summer but on Dec., 2015, I set up a microphone in his bedroom and we recorded what was our final interview. I asked him what he knew about life now that death was so near. He laughed and said, “these questions assume that I’m a special person. I’m not a special person. I lived through something historic and then moved on, moved forward. I’m so much more than a survivor, but I’m just a normal person who had a lot of luck. ” the EXCELLENT PEOPLE
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Image courtesy of Daniel Arsham and Galerie Perrotin THE ORIGINAL EYE ISSUE
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THE BLACK SOFT
ARE ON A MISSION by Katie Sharrar For as lightening that comes from the east is visible even in the west so will be the sound. And after the ear has been destroyed yet in your drum you will hear. Listen carefully for your hearts will feel the weight. We’ve brought the day of closing in on you. This is…
~ The Black Soft
eave it to Chase Coughlin and Joey Topmiller to announce their birth onto the music scene by repurposing phases from the Bible. Formerly known as the band “The Second Comings,” hence the Biblical reference, the two have been on a mission to share their unique and heavenly sounds with the world ever since. Convinced there was a Renaissance of fashion, art and music happening in Manhattan’s East Village neighborhood the long-time friends moved to the city from their native Arizona in 2011. Certain they would arrive to find countless like-minded creatives and become instantly famous they dreamed of modern day Warholian Factory ideals. Today, when you meet Coughlin and Topmiller, now known as the electronic music and performance art duo “The Black Soft,” they are the first to admit the idea was more than a little naïve. But after putting in years of hard work, and with the same unwavering enthusiasm The Black Soft have hit their stride as they prepare to launch a new album of B-sides, also titled “The Second Comings” - a cheeky homage to their band’s humble beginnings - this March. Inspired by the idea of rebirth, re-appropriation and storytelling the album is a collaboration between the band and fellow musicians Jypsy Jeyfree, Dellasie, Marshun and Miss Chemi. Rearranging all of the songs from their first vinyl with the help of their friends, they wanted to go back to why they started performing in the first place, and deliver on what they originally set out to do. Fans can expect more of Coughlin and Topmiller’s signature haunting vocals re-mixed in a culmination of everything they have learned over the years in New York. Taking risks they describe the album as “everything we weren’t brave enough to do back then.” True to their passion merging music with fashion and art the album would not be complete without original artwork, and The Black Soft gives The Excellent People the very first sneak peek. Taking still photographs from their first ever music video shoot (the video itself was never released), the duo have re-worked the band’s earliest images. Applying their own digital art on top of the photographs they transforms themselves into crying clowns, nuns, and even a beehived Barbie to create feminine characters and reinforce the theme of rebirth. Whether it’s collaborating with leading fashion talents like Nicola Formichetti and Patti Wilson, working with forward-thinking artists like Robert Knoke, or lending their music to a campaign for Diesel The Black Soft prove once again their sound and their image are ever evolving. For more information visit www.theblacksoft.com. Look for the new album on iTunes in March and watch out for big things to come from The Black Soft. THE ORIGINAL EYE ISSUE
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Images courtesy of The Black Soft. THE ORIGINAL EYE ISSUE
photograph by Jean-Luc Dupont THE ORIGINAL EYE ISSUE
Olivier: Jacket by Adidas (2012) Top by Sébastien Meunier (AW 05/06) Shorts by Le Coq Sportif (Late 80s) Arthur: Top by sports shop in my hometown (Circa 1975) Pants by Bodymap (Early 80s) Sweat-Shirt by Absolut Label By Benoît Missolin (2004) Hat from Triathlon Competition (90s) Ring Arthur’s Own the EXCELLENT PEOPLE
VINTAGE LOVE STORY Photography & Concept by Jean-Luc Dupont Styling & Modeling by Olivier Mulin with Arthur Laborie Story based entirely on collections from my private fashion archive â€¦ THE ORIGINAL EYE ISSUE
Olivier: Jacket by Only for Men Xavier Delcour (AW 99/00) Top by Daniel Herman (AW 10/11) Pants by Aziz (SS 01) Shoes by One of Some by Petar Petrov (AW 05/06) Jewellery Olivierâ€™s own Arthur: Top by Daniel Herman (AW 10/11) Pants by Only for Men Xavier Delcour (SS 96) Belt by Burro (Circa 2000) Socks by Postweiler Hauber (AW 05/06) the EXCELLENT PEOPLE
Olivier:Shirt by Gianfranco Ferré (Late 80s) Shorts by Romain Kremer (SS 07) Shoes by So By Alexander Van Slobbe (Late 90s) Cap by Jean Paul Gaultier Homme (90s) Jewellery by Sophie Girma (Mid 90s) Arthur: Shirt by Geoffrey B. Small (SS 99) Shorts by Antonio Azzuolo (Circa 1995) Sandals by Mi-Chemin Marithé & François Girbaud With Stéphane Kélian (Early 90s) Sunglasses by One Of Some By Petar Petrov (SS 10) Ankle Charm and Ring Arthur’s own THE ORIGINAL EYE ISSUE
Olivier: Jacket by Raphael Hauber (AW 10/11) Shirt by Burro (AW 97/98) Pants by Roelli Testu (Mid 80s) Shoes by Spastor for Luan Maró (SS 07) Arthur: Shirt Burro (AW 97/98) Pants by Raphael Hauber (AW 10/11) Belt by Benoît Missolin (AW 02/03) Sneakers by Burro X Dunlop (SS 02) the EXCELLENT PEOPLE
Olivier: Bulletproof vest by Helmut Lang Jeans (AW 98/99) Top by Thierry Mugler (Unknow Date But Surely From The Master’s Days) Chaps by Junior Gaultier (Early 90s) Pants by Jean Colonna (AW 94/95) Bag by Sébastien Meunier Feat. Wade H. Grimbly (AW 05/06) Sneakers by Adidas customized by Pierre-Henri Mattout (AW 00/01) Arthur: Top by Jean Paul Gaultier Maille (Late 80s) Pants and Belt by Jean Colonna (Early 90s) Bag by Sébastien Meunier Feat. Wade H. Grimbly (AW 05/06) Shoes by Dr. Martens (Late 80s) Ring Arthur’s Own THE ORIGINAL EYE ISSUE
Olivier: Jacket by One Of Some By Petar Petrov (SS 05) Top by Postweiler Hauber (SS 10) Pants by Marithé & François Girbaud (90s) Boots by One Of Some by Petar Petrov (AW 07/08) Necklaces by Martine Sitbon (Early 90s) and Olivier’s Own Bracelet from Rag Store (Mid 90s) Arthur: Top by Maison Martin Margiela (Circa 2003) Pants by Wooyoungmi (AW 03/04) Necklaces by Jean Paul Gaultier (AW 94/95) Bracelet from Rag Store (Mid 90s) Ankle Charm Arthur’s Own the EXCELLENT PEOPLE
Olivier: Cardigan by Monsieur Nicole (Early 80s) Shirt by Thierry Mugler (Mid 80s) Tie Knot and Handcuff by Dirk Bikkembergs (Late 90s) Chaps by Jean Paul Gaultier Homme (90s) Pants by Dries Van Noten (Late 90s) Boots by Only For Men Xavier Delcour (AW 01/02) Bandana from Rag Store (Early 80s) Arthur: Hat by Benoît Missolin (SS 02) Poncho from Rag Store (Late 70s) Waistcoat by Dries Van Noten (Late 90s) Top by Junior Gaultier (Early 90s) Pants by Xavier Fenouil (AW 00/01) Belts Burro (Circa 2000) and Spastor (Circa 2003) Gloves by A&V (AW 07/08) Espadrilles from traditional maker in the Bask Country (Circa 2007) Ring Arthur’s Own THE ORIGINAL EYE ISSUE
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HAUTE COUTURE Text and photography by Jean-Luc Dupont
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Pasadena Havana Lower East Side Randallâ€™s Island
photograph by Jen Sall THE ORIGINAL EYE ISSUE
STUDIO VISIT AN AFTERNOON WITH
Text and photography by Alejandro Medina
hile I had seen one of Yutaka Sone’s marble sculptures a few years back, I was not completely aware of his complete body of work. After surveying it online and being asked to meet up with him, I was surprised that he was working out of the suburbs of Los Angeles. However, after spending an hour with him moving around his quiet studio space I came to understand that Los Angeles is a rest stop for him. Sone is always on the move, transitioning between different landscapes, a man in flux; which is what informs his work and makes it so fascinating to me. While he sometimes deals with the intricacies of industrial landscapes, his work also concerns purely natural ones. The range in these, allows his work to move in the direction that he wants. Like the artist himself, Yutaka’s work is anything but static. When he paints, the resulting work is always enthused with movement. When he sculpts, while he may be freezing an entire city into place, he counteracts this gesture with dramatic topographies cascading down from the city’s sides. When we finished our short talk Yutaka was off to LAX. On the move to the next project.
YS: China, Mexico… China for twenty years, then Mexico ten years, Beijing, Antwerp a year and a half and so on. AM: Have they always been located in urban areas? YS: No, totally different kinds. Jungle in Mexico, then in China my studio was out of “China.” No city people would come. AM: Do you have a preference between urban and rural areas? YS: No, I like them both. I hop on to one area, then hop off to another. Sometimes there’s nothing, and then sometimes I need to go back.So I am constantly traveling, moving between one and the other. AM: Do the locations of the specific studios inform your work? YS: Yes, the different studies in my work start naturally happening in each of the studios. I really enjoy working with many studios and then one gallery. The opposite of what many of today’s artists do. I’m always traveling. Jungle to jungle, oceanside to industrial area and so on.
“I do a little work here and a little work there. Everyday when I wake up. Very much like gardening. It’s not like I make one project directly after another.”
AM: So do you stumble upon your inspiration as you travel? YS: Traveling is good for me in many ways. One because I can see unknown landscapes, and, two, because I get to meet unknown people. The unknown surfaces of the planet are very exciting things to me. I started traveling in the 1980s and I’ve been doing so AM: Given that you have this background, is there a specific importance to scale that almost 40 years. So for me traveling is very is given to your work? much a daily thing. But I’m not traveling all the time. Because I have a house/studio here YS: Yes, both scale and un-scale are importhat I end up coming to, so then when I get tant to me. —Yutaka Sone here its all very low key. While I enjoy travelAM: For me your work is very much about these sort of gestures. Its all about taking a ing, I don’t like airplanes. More cozy transportation systems have to be discovered. Or. massive city and bringing it down to a small scale, and vice versa, taking a minuscule maybe some with more space, more fresh air. snowflake and expanding it outwards. AM: How do you like Los Angeles? YS: Right, although for me its not only about scale. The fact is that sculpture has a limYS: I very feel bad that I don’t feel like I actually know California. I know this area, the iting size. So with the city I decide to go small, and then as you said with the snowflake, which is a very small phenomenon. I can not make it it’s actual size. So I try to capture it mountains and then LAX. But I need to go out more. at a different scale. I enjoy making things bigger and then small. But I am not interested in AM: Have you been to the desert? precise numbers in scale. YS: Yes, actually I really love it. I’ve been living here for fifteen years and I always go one Saturday of every month. AM: Can you tell me more about your process? What goes on in this studio? YS: Currently, I am making a lot of projects in this garden. Today I was working a little bit here, and then with this formwork over there. If I’m not flying out and traveling, then AM: That’s what I personally enjoy about Los Angeles. We have the ocean, the mountains, the desert, the city all types of landscapes. many projects end up happening here in Los Angeles, where I have a full studio. So a little YS: Yes, very true. Nature is hiding in LA. And nobody believes I’m living in LA because work here and a little work there. Very much like gardening. Every day when I wake up. It’s I show my work in New York. not like one project directly after another. In some of my other studios, the direction has been with one specific project. But not here in Los Angeles. AM: What are you currently working on? YS: Im working in a set of line based artworks, with many layers of lines not just one. AM: Were else have you had studios? Alejandro Medina: I was told you have a background in architecture, can you tell me a bit about that? Yutaka Sone: Yes, I started out with architecture. I still remember the long projects and it was almost thirty years ago in Tokyo.
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ยกHOLA HABANA! THE ORIGINAL EYE ISSUE
CUBA L Text and photography by Jen Sall
ast December, I was fortunate enough to tag along with the Sundance Institute, in partnership with the Havana Film Festival, in its 37th year, for a memorable and whirlwind trip to Cuba. I was thrilled to be able to visit the country before the embargo is officially lifted, as I am sure change will happen swiftly. Even with the movement underway, Wi-fi is extremely scarce, cell phones do not function, there are no logos or brands for miles and cash remains king. Heavenly! With Jauretsi, who has been called "The New York, Miami-based Cuban Culture Hunter," as my guide, I was whisked to as many of the nooks, crannies and hidden gems of Havana as we could squeeze in to my shrt visit. Jauretsi's Havana roots run deep. Her grandfather was the proprietor of the legendary nightclub, Centro Vasco. The film festival was headquartered at the Hotel Nacional, built in the 1930s, on the site of the Santa Clara Battery, which dates back to 1797. Frank Sinatra, Ava Gardner, Mickey Mantle, Buster Keaton, Errol Flynn, John Wayne, Marlene Dietrich, Gary Cooper, Marlon Brando and Ernest Hemingway all slumbered at this historic hotel. The Nacional is perched high above the Malecon, (officially Avenida de Maceo) a broad esplanade, roadway and seawall stretching five miles along the coast from the mouth of Havana Harbor in Old Havana, along the north side of the Centro Habana neighborhood, ending in Vedado. Diverse is the only word to describe the architecture of this magical city, from the neo-classical to the modern (Meyer Lansky's spectacular Hotel Habana Riviera). Unfortunately, many of these majestic edifices are now mere skeletons of their former selves, due to years of neglect. Even in this city where these gorgeous buildings abound, the most memorable moments of my trip occurred while i was nestled in Havana's hidden locales, which seemed fixed in time and which have been transformed to elegant clandestine restaurants and event spaces, some arranged by the lovely and most hospitable Geo Darder, or Pamela Ruiz and her husband, artist Damian Aquiles (who outlasted a hurricane and Soviet regime to transform a grand villa into a breathtaking art installation and home all rolled in to one). the EXCELLENT PEOPLE
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LOWER EAST SIDE
SISTERS OF THE REVOLUTION A by Alison Krier
llison Krier, editor-in-chief of NEON SIGNS magazine, talks with Allegra LaViola and Meredith Rosen, the dynamic founders of Sargent’s Daughters, a young and thriving gallery on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.
Allison Krier: The name of your gallery heralds a virtuoso of the past, yet you are committed to the present. How does this moniker represent the artists you have exhibited and themes for shows? Sargent’s Daughters: Sargent was an innovator working in a traditional medium and we have let that idea inspire us and direct the exhibitions to an extent. We are committed to new and exciting art, but we look for a connection to history. AK: Can you please elaborate on this a bit? How does this name choice affect the artists that you show, your programming? Maybe you can talk a bit about your aesthetic and that of the gallery and the artists that you work with. SD: We are interested in work that combines tradition with cutting edge. Our aesthetic is broad but tends towards beauty. AK: So is there sense of timelessness with this concept? SD: Yes. The old adage of why a classic is a classic resonates with us.
AK: Why / how does it resonate with you? Please give some examples. SD: Sargent’s work is timeless in that it has an emotional connection to the viewer, just as a classic book (say “Middlemarch” or “Great Expectations”) has a connection to the reader through the ages. AK: How have you initiated a dialogue with the artists you have exhibited based on this notion? SD: Any artist we are in communication with already fits this idea, so a specific dialogue is not needed. AK: It would be good to give some examples of your working process. How do you go about selecting the artists that you work with? SD: We do a large number of studio visits and then take it from there. Work that grabs us in the studio then usually leads to a show. We are always involved in the selection of work that will be in the show, as well as hanging the exhibit. Working in collaboration with the artist is important to us and leads to the best possible exhibit. AK: Dialogue is often a vehicle for progress. How have your interactions with artists been mutually inspirational? SD: yes, the artists we work with constantly inspire us. We hope the same is true for them! AK: How do the artists inspire you? Please give one or two examples. SD: We are inspired by their hard work and dedication above all. All of the artists we have worked with have had difficulties in one way or another and been able to persevere. Cy Gavin was not encouraged to pursue his artistic inclinations, but did so the EXCELLENT PEOPLE
anyway. This kind of courageous attitude and willingness to throw yourself into your work is vital and inspiring. AK: Sargent’s renown of course is in part for portraiture. A recent successful and provocative show exhibited Deborah Kass’ silkscreened portraits of curators ala mug shot based on the scandalous Warhol commission for the1964 World’s Fair where he appropriated images of criminals from the Most Wanted list. This calls into play another notable art historical figure and one where portraits are re-construed. How do you see Kass’ choices fitting into or responding to this continuum? SD: Kass used her trademark irony and wit to transform and comment upon Warhol’s work, the role of curators and the art world in general. Her work stands alone as well as being a meaningful part of the historical dialogue. AK: Again, some specific of examples of how she does this would be great as well as what attracts you (or anyone) to her work and why she is a meaningful part of the historical dialogue. SD: Kass based her series “America’s Most Wanted” on Warhol’s series of the same name, commissioned for the 1964 World’s Fair. His mural was whitewashed within 48 hours and here Kass pays homage as well as adds to the dialogue, replacing the actual criminals with curators. In an earlier series, “Double Double Yentl (My Elvis)” from 1993, Kass takes the familiar stance of Warhol’s “Elvis” and replaces it with Barbara Streisand as Yentl. Using a Jewish woman as a replacement for Elvis is both subversive and intelligent—bringing to light overlooked artists and highlighting Kass’ own ethnicity as well as acting as an agent to open the discussion of who/what gets to be “historically important”. AK: Context and a sense of place can be considerable. How has your location choice of Manhattan’s LES/Chinatown neighborhood – where many new galleries have emerged – shaped Sargent’s Daughters? Is there a simpatico with this intensely American but also diverse international locale? SD: We love the LES/Chinatown area for the vibrancy and eclectic mix of shops, food and art. We feel we fit into the scene as we are a young gallery and that is the mood of the area. AK: This could be said about almost any neighborhood in NYC. Were there specific reasons why you chose the LES that you can discuss a bit? SD: We feel the area is appropriate for a young gallery as there are a considerable number of young galleries here. AK: Appropriation is certainly one way to connect and keep history alive such as Kass’ sharp witted Warhol remakes. Is this something that inspires you? And will we see some who fit this ideal on your artist list? As you say it’s part of a meaningful historical dialogue. SD: We do like appropriation! I would not say it “inspires” us necessarily, but we enjoy it when used adroitly. Sargent’s Daughters Gallery is located at 179 East Broadway, New York, New York 10002. Sargentsdaughters.com.
Black, Black, Black is the Color of My True Love’s Hair, Cy Gavin, 2015 acrylic, oil, and chalk on brushed cotton, 55 x 50 inches THE ORIGINAL EYE ISSUE
MAGIC MIRROR ON THE WALL, WHO IS THE FAIREST OF THEM ALL?
Closing shot: The fifth edition of the Frieze New York art fair. Randalls Island, New York City. Saturday, May 7, 2016, 5:45 pm. Image courtesy The Excellent People. Follow us on Instagram: @the_ep_magazine or visit theexcellepeople.com. the EXCELLENT PEOPLE
Outstandingness at its best.
Published on Jun 3, 2016
The Excellent People magazine A biannual cultural journal inspired by Andy Warhol's Interview, covering Outstanding people from the worlds o...