Posted: October 27th, 2010 | Author: Adeline Wessang | Filed under: no blah blah: one artist | Tags: Adam McEwen, Air de Paris, Fresh Hell, Gavin Brown's enterprise, Palais de Tokyo, Rob Pruitt | 1 Comment »
‘Rob Pruitt makes art easy‘ Cris Moor, fashion photographer
In 1992, Rob Pruitt had a show at Leo Castelli Gallery in New York called Red, Black, Green, Red, White and Blue. At the time he was the toast of the NY art scene and he was working with fellow artist Jack Early. The show – which doesn’t seem to appear on the exhibition history section on the gallery website – was heavily lambasted. It featured golden sheets on the walls, with sprayed painting, totems with pictures of famous American black people such as Michael Jackson or Martin Luther King and criticized racial issues in the US.
Jack Early left the profession afterwards and Rob Pruitt did not have a solo exhibition in the USA for several years.
In 1998, he did what looked like a Minimalist sculpture with cocaine : Cocaine Buffet had a 16-foot mirror displayed on the floor with a line of coke stretching down on it. The piece, like its title said, was also a feast for anyone who happened to be there and agreed to get down on their knees to snort cocaine and be photographed while doing it.
Rob Pruitt promoting my blog, picture by the author
In 1999 he did 101 Art Ideas You Can Do Yourself which invites the audience to be part of easy art making in a funny way.
Idea No. 1 Tell the truth
Idea No. 2 Tell a lie
Idea No. 3 Change your name
Idea No. 4 Make someone happy!
Idea No. 5 Make someone cry
Idea No. 6 Fake laugh
Idea No. 7 Fake an orgasm
Idea No. 8 Fake your death
Idea No. 9 Get plastic surgery
Idea No. 10 Put make-up on body parts. Ear shadow, belly blush
Idea No. 11 Put make-up on your face
Idea No. 12 Make a painting with make-up
Idea No. 13 Stay in bed
Idea No. 14 Draw on your bedsheets
Idea No. 15 Make a baby
Idea No. 16 Kill yourself
Idea No. 17 Sell a collector the key to your house
Idea No. 18 Customize your refrigerator with paint, decals and locate in a place other than your kitchen
Idea No. 19 Customize storage boxes and display as sculpture
Idea No. 20 Make a painting on a lampshade
Idea No. 21 Vandalize your home with spray paint
Idea No. 22 Graffiti your bathroom
Idea No. 23 Use a magazine as a sketch book
Idea No. 24 Spread rumors
Idea No. 25 Draw something small, scan it, print it out big
Idea No. 26 Turn your TV upside down
Idea No. 27 Turn your TV on its side to watch while lying on your side
Idea No. 28 Watch TV without sound or listen to TV with the screen covered
Idea No. 29 Watch a DVD in fast forward, slow motion or reverse
Idea No. 30 Make a drawing by pressing pause and tracing the image off the TV screen
Idea No. 31 Spend the day in a costume
Idea No. 32 Sit on the toilets backwards
Idea No. 33 Make a sound composition when you pee by alternating the flow between the porcelain and the water
Idea No. 34 Do an interpretative dance to environmental sound. Baby crying, vaporetti, pigeon cooing
Idea No. 35 Wear diapers
Idea No. 36 Sprinkle glitter
Idea No. 37 Take drugs
Idea No. 38 Shoplift
Idea No. 39 Sneak your own merchandise into stores
Idea No. 40 Collect stuff
Idea No. 41 Curate a Youtube or Netflix festival
Idea No. 42 Make a mix tape
Idea No. 43 Take audio snapshots with a digital recorder
Idea No. 44 Arrange flowers in unexpected combinations. Baby’s breath & spring onions; buds, blooms & withered blossoms
Idea No. 45 Make a monochrome meal
Idea No. 46 Dress in monochrome
Idea No. 47 Live in a monochrome house
Idea No. 48 Be a photographer without a camera. Download images from the Internet
Idea No. 49 Buy something expensive and put it on a pedestal. Return it for your money back. Repeat
Idea No. 50. Make mud. 2 parts dirt, 1 part water. Use as paint or clay
Idea No. 51 Make a leaf out of paper and tape it to a tree
Idea No. 52 Make a tree and add it to a forest
Idea No. 53 Pour a glass of water to look at
Idea No. 54 Draw yourself into your favorite comic strip
Idea No. 55 Put everything inside outside
Idea No. 56 Bring everything outside inside
Idea No. 57 Fill a desk drawer with gravel and make a secret zen garden
Idea No. 58 Make a drawing by holding a marker in a place other than your hand, wherever you can. Toes, mouth, underarm, butt cheeks.
Idea No. 59 Make a drawing by highlighting as you read
Idea No. 60 Translate from one language to another
Idea No. 61 Frame a painting with a feather boa
Idea No. 62 Hang a painting crooked, sideways, upside down, or face to the wall
Idea No. 63 Go on an urban animal photo safari. Pigeons, rats, squirrels, cockroaches
Idea No. 64 Paparazzi your pet
Idea No. 65 Interior decorate your pet’s habitat
Idea No. 66 Make a valuable sculpture by adding a diamond
Idea No. 67 Put things on pedestals
Idea No. 68 Take things off pedestals
Idea No. 69 2 identical things side by side
Idea No. 70 10 identical things in a row
Idea No. 71 Something cut in half
Idea No. 72 Put googly eyes on things
Idea No. 73 Draw faces on Styrofoam wig heads, light bulbs and eggs
Idea No. 74 Point a treadmill at a painting
Idea No. 75 Name all the bricks that make up a wall
Idea No. 76 Make up drag queen names. Amber alert, Whitney Biennal
Idea No. 77 Make up band names
Idea No. 78 Name your plants
Idea No. 79 Name household pests. Bugs, mice
Idea No. 80 Invent a new color and name it François Pinot
Idea No. 81 Take things apart
Idea No. 82 Put things back together
Idea No. 83 Toss loose change into a pile on the floor
Idea No. 84 Make an aluminium foil death mask
Idea No. 85 An electric fan wearing a t-shirt becomes an easy figurative sculpture
Idea no. 86 Make a portrait of someone by printing their phone number poster-size
Idea No. 87 Make a portrait/self-portrait by captioning a mirror
Idea No. 88 Frame your credit card statement. I.E., the month of your trip to Paris
Idea No. 89 Stalk someone
Idea No. 90 Collect autographs, one per canvas or page. Think of as portraits
Idea No. 91 Make a photo album of all your worldly possessions
Idea No. 92 Record yourself talking for fifteen minutes, let your consciousness stream
Idea No. 93 Save and transcribe your voice mail. Publish your emails
Idea No. 94 Make a collage on an unopened wine bottle for the year of its vintage
Idea No. 95 Don’t clean your house and call it scatter art
Idea No. 96 Make a scent installation. A pine branch in a microwave, pour a glass of Cologne, fart
Idea No. 97 Write captions on the glass for the view outside your window
Idea No. 98 Write lyrics to a classical music composition
Idea No. 99 Title untitled paintings
Idea No. 100 Make a list
Idea No. 101 Title your life
He is currently exhibiting in FRESH HELL, show curated by artist Adam McEwen at the Palais de Tokyo. Esprit de Corps is a series he has been doing since 2006, which consists of several pairs of jeans filled with cement and laid out as a ballet choreography.
Esprit de Corps, 2006, installation view, Courtesy of Gavin Brown’s enterprise, NY
Rob Pruitt is represented by Gavin Brown’s enterprise and Air de Paris.
FRESH HELL, carte blanche à Adam McEwen, Palais de Tokyo, on view until Jan 16 2011.
Posted: July 6th, 2010 | Author: Adeline Wessang | Filed under: no blah blah: one artist | Tags: Catherine Opie, photography | No Comments »
‘I moved from Virginia to San Francisco in 1982, where I came out as a lesbian. I can’t imagine a better time and place to have done so. It was incredible, too, because that was pre-AIDS, and then I watched AIDS happen and became part of ACT-UP and Queer Nation. During our time at CalArts, Richard Hawkins gave me a book on Hans Holbein, and when I began my series ‘Portraits’, I decided that it was important for me to look at people in the queer community not as segmented bodies but as whole individuals‘.
American photographer born in Sandusky, Ohio, 1961
Lives and works in Los Angeles, California
Education: BFA San Francisco Art Institute, 1985
MFA CalArts, 1988
Her Portraits, a series of photographs taken between 1993 and 1997, depict members of queer communities in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Since then, she has worked with a wide range of subjects: from L.A. freeways to surfers in Malibu and ice fishers in Minneapolis. She was Professor of Fine Art at Yale University from 2000 to 2001. She has been teaching Fine Art at the University of California in Los Angeles since 2001. The Guggenheim Museum in New York staged a survey of her work in 2008.
The following interview took place just before her exhibition Girlfriends, held at Gladstone Gallery, New York, March 19 – April 24, 2010
Vice: Can you tell me about this group of photos?
Catherine Opie: They’re all from my archive. I’m working on this new body of work for an exhibition called Girlfriends, where I’m photographing kind of iconic butch lesbians, and I’m also pulling out all these black-and-white square-format photographs I did throughout the 80s and 90s, as these little moments of sexy desire and memory. It’s kind of like an ode to my former life, before domesticity and motherhood. [laughs] I’m not really hanging out in the dungeons anymore or shooting the SM community in the way I used to.
Does looking at these make you nostalgic for those times?
Yeah, it’s really fun to go through the archive. I don’t think I would have dared touch the archive like I’m doing now if it wasn’t for this exhibition that I’m planning. And also coming off of having 20 years of work being up at the Guggenheim, it gives me a different kind of permission to re-enter my work and look at things that are just part of what a voracious documenter I was. Often I decided not to show certain photos for different reasons, like following too closely on the heels of Mapplethorpe or wanting to get tenure as a teacher. [laughs] Kind of conservative reasons. Yet I’ll put Pervert out there, which doesn’t make any sense. That’s the dichotomy of me.
But how would these photos affect getting tenure?
Well, early on that was my fear, and then I realized that my fear wasn’t real. I thought, “Oh, great, they’re never going to give tenure to somebody as out and as radical as me.”
It probably turned out to be the opposite, right?
Yeah, but I didn’t know at the time. I thought, “Oh God, I’m going to shoot myself in the foot here.”
So you had all these cool photos that were sitting there, waiting.
Yeah, I have a ton of them!
They kind of remind me of the deck of cards you once made, with portraits of lesbians on each card.
Oh, Dyke Deck! That was around the same time, it’s true.
I loved that. I remember going through the deck and studying each card so closely. They were all such different, strange types of women.
I know, it was really fun to do that. I did an open call in San Francisco. A good portion of them were friends, but some were people I had never even met. They just came and performed for me, and it was so fun.
So these portraits are of friends of yours?
Yeah, they’re friends or lovers.
Who’s that one person with the crown of thorns?
That’s Pig Pen.
She’s got needles in her noodle.
Yeah, it was for a Ron Athey performance we did in Mexico City. That’s just a backstage photograph I snapped of Piggy.
You’re not involved in the SM scene at all anymore?
I still have a lot of friends involved in it, but between being a full-time professor and an artist and a mom and a partner, it’s not like I get to have that much time to go and explore and play. My partner’s definitely open to knowing that it’s a part of me, and I have carte blanche to go to San Francisco or play here in Los Angeles, but to tell you the truth, I just don’t have any time to be in that space. And also, all of a sudden when you’re taking care of a child, your brain doesn’t easily switch to “Oh, now I’m going to hurt somebody.”
I can see how those two states don’t quite fit in together.
For some people it does. I have other friends who are players, who are parents, and they don’t have a problem with it, but it was never completely a part of my everyday life in LA. It was mainly a San Francisco-based community that I would go visit.
You don’t hear that much about the SM scene anymore. It seems like it was popular in the 90s and then it disappeared again.
Well, it’s not fashionable anymore. There was a little moment when it became very much a part of popular culture. I remember when my friends in LA opened Club Fuck. We were finally making this really cool, alternative gay club for ourselves, where we could do performative pieces in relationship to SM, and all of a sudden all the hipster coolio heterosexuals were coming to it. Then it became this whole other crowd that was just coming to watch the “freaks,” which was what we were trying to get away from.
Do you think you had a hand in the popularization of SM? I think I recall you saying that you wanted to show the SM community in, was it, a “normal” sort of way?
With more humanity. I wanted them to be very humanistic. That’s probably why I haven’t printed the black-and-white work as much as the color portrait work or even the self-portraits. These are a little grittier, I suppose. They’re also very classical and beautiful, but some of them have an edge to them that I didn’t allow to come out before, because I was conscious of what those ideas of representation begin to do.
I don’t look at a lot of porn, but my boss sure does, and he says that SM has become an accepted norm for most straight porn. That’s your doing.
I think it wasn’t just me, it was a bunch of other people as well. What happens is things become mainstream when they become imaged over and over again. Something happens in relationship to ideas of representation that makes it more palatable or digestible. I guess to a certain extent it isn’t as taboo anymore.
And then it’s like, great, what do I do now that my taboo is all boring?
I’ve been thinking about that, and I think it’s just absolute extreme body modification. People are splitting their tongues and doing even more extreme things to their bodies. I think it’s so interesting, that idea of, like, what is transgressive? How can you truly be transgressive at this point within our culture?
Well, I think you going from the SM scene to being a mom, and all your new photos are these blissful domestic scenes—that’s shocking in a way, because people want to keep those kind of separate.
They do want to keep it separate. So basically, becoming homogenized and part of mainstream domesticity is transgressive for somebody like me. Ha. That’s a very funny idea.
It is, right?
I mean, I’m not living in suburbia yet, but there could be a moment. I got rid of the minivan. I did have a minivan for a long time.
From the photos, it seems suburban.
Well, it’s South Central, but we do have a house and a yard and a swing set in the back of our yard.
Three dogs, a cat, a turtle, and five chickens.
I know. It’s all good. I’m not complaining, that’s for sure.
When did you know you wanted to be a photographer?
At nine years old. My first self-portrait was in a summer show at Barbara Gladstone last year—it’s me at nine years old wearing these little flowered pants with the zipper half down and making muscles in front of my house. It’s really cute. I got my camera on my ninth birthday. I asked my parents for a camera because I did a book report on Lewis Hine and then just announced that I was going to be a social-documentary photographer.
What kind of teenager were you? Were you a wild kid?
I was a quiet, rebellious teenager, without them knowing about the rebellion part. I had an older brother who was pretty rebellious and caused a lot of rifts, and I realized that he could take all the attention and I could be doing exactly what he was doing but never bring attention to myself by doing it. [laughs] My parents weren’t very parental either. They weren’t the kind of parents who gave me a curfew or knew what was going on or where we were. At 13, every meal became fix-your-own, and we lived in a totally upper-middle-class suburban environment where they let us run wild, to a certain extent.
I know. I would be out with my friends till 3 AM, and what we’d be doing was just sitting in the car, like, talking. It was pretty safe. Our big idea of fun in the 70s was to get stoned and drive from Poway, which is North County San Diego, up to Los Angeles to look through the trash of stars. I mean, we weren’t very creative in terms of being bad whatsoever.
That sounds pretty fun.
I had a great group of high school friends who took care of each other and watched each other’s back. It was a nice group of people who mainly were interested in theatre and choir.
Were you guys all gay but not out yet?
I turned out to be the only one who ended up being a lesbian, which was interesting. All my friends turned out to be heterosexual. They’re all married with kids now.
Well, so are you, right?
[laughs] Right, but I mean, I remember my good friend Steve ended up being a big money guy after college, and I went and visited him one day and my head was shaved and I was completely pierced and wearing a leather jacket. All his colleagues were like, “That’s your best friend from high school?!” They were all straighter than I ended up being.
But you kept in touch with them?
Yeah, we like each other. They all came to my Guggenheim show, which was really sweet. And friends from my grade school in Ohio came too. I’m definitely one of these people who stays in touch.
Did your own high school experience influence the series of photos you did of high school football players?
It’s an interesting question. Not so much. I did photograph the football team from my old high school, but I think that the catalyst was that I have all these nephews in Louisiana who play football. I went home to my parents’ house for two weeks in this small town, Church Point, Louisiana. It was August, and I was like, “What am I going to do for two weeks in Louisiana?” I asked my nephew if I could go photograph his high school football team and it turned into a larger body of work. Now I’ve traveled to six states and I have three more states to go. For me, the portraits contain this amazing place before they’ve become fully endowed men in society. And a lot of these football players are going off to war. It’s intense to see these young men stand before me, and I get to bear witness to them. And it’s incredible to look at the range of their faces. Some of them are obviously only playing football because their dads are making them, versus the extreme real football player, who completely embodies everything about the sport’s masculinity.
You can tell that about them?
Yeah, you can tell from the pictures who’s hyper into it versus a boy who’s just like, “Yeah, here I am.”
Do you talk to them?
Yeah, but it’s very quick. I don’t have that much time and it’s odd because the portraits don’t reveal this, but when I’m making it, the whole team is lined up after practice and just waiting for their picture to be taken. So they’re all catcalling each other during the process of it. Like, “Hey, you look like a faggot!” and I’m like, “Oh, great. Do I address this or do I just leave it alone?”
What do you do?
I don’t address it. I just go, “Hey, come on, guys, that’s not cool,” or something like that. I don’t say, “By the way, I’m a lesbian and uh…”
I assume they’re not familiar with your work.
No, they don’t know who I am.
Have they shown up to any exhibits?
So far, no. I was a little nervous about that because my Wikipedia page had my self-portrait, Pervert, on there. So I did a little editing, and put a high school football player there instead. And now I have a warning on my Wikipedia page that I’ve changed the content and I’m a bad human being. I had a Wiki war with somebody who kept wanting to change it back to the way it was. Because that’s the thing, it’s the work that everybody goes to right away, but it’s really a very small representation of the work I’ve made.
Yeah, I guess it must get a little annoying to be pigeonholed like that.
It’s always the precursor of how I’m described. I’m like, well, actually, if you look at it, it’s really just a small portion of what I think about, and I’m not a singular identity, nor do I want to be.
You’re like, “What about the icehouses?”
When you had your Guggenheim show, there were a ton of ads in the subway for it. They had the sweet portrait of your son in a tutu and the title American Photographer. I kept thinking, man, I bet some Midwestern tourists are going to look at this and think, “Oh, what a cute show about children and America,” and then they’d go to the museum and totally freak out. Did you hear of anybody having any extreme reactions?
Well, it was a really popular show. They told me that probably 5,000 people went through it per day from September to January. There were lines around the block toward the end of the exhibition. I think the museum was kind of thrilled. They don’t usually give all four floors over to photography. So I anticipated, as I often do, a certain amount of letter writing and censorship possibility in relationship to some of the work. And there was none. There was not one negative letter to the museum. No “I can’t believe an American institution like the Guggenheim would show this kind of work,” nothing. And it’s always been interesting to me that I’ve been able to skip the whole censorship thing to a certain extent. I think it’s because the photographs end up being really quiet, that you get to contemplate with them. They’re in your face, but not, like, shoving it down your throat.
Right, I often see the word “regal” used to describe those portraits.
Beauty, I use beauty. Beauty is an easy thing to use. It’s a good thing that it’s there.
Interview conducted by Amy Kellner, Managing Editor at Vice magazine.
Catherine Opie is represented by Regen Projects, Los Angeles and Gladstone Gallery, New York.
Posted: November 10th, 2009 | Author: Adeline Wessang | Filed under: no blah blah: one artist | Tags: osamu kanemura, photography, Tokyo | No Comments »
Osamu Kanemura is often cited by Martin Parr as an influential photographer. His images of Tokyo in black and white are very graphic and show the city as a place of constant collisions, confusion and expansion.
Keihin Machine Soul, 20” x 24”, 1996, gelatin silver print
Street photography has widespread in the second half of the twentieth century mostly in Western countries. But Japanese photography is specific for its close relationship with the development of domestic camera companies like Nikon or Canon. This has lead in general to a strong interest in the technology of the medium rather than producing art.
Kanemura’s visual project is an urban portrait of Tokyo from within. We see endless narrow streets, a wide net of electric wires and street signs but also the fact that Tokyo is overcrowded. Some claustrophobic feeling emerges as the horizon line is not to be seen anywhere.
Tokyo, like most Asian cities, is a product of growth. After the Second World War, half of Tokyo was destroyed (equivalent to New York City area). However, pressing economic redevelopment and need of shelter didn’t allow central planners to create the new modern city that they had planned. Thus, the pre-war layout served as the basis for reconstruction: in other words, the city was rebuilt on its ruins. The government focused on infrastructure re-development to support the economy and the residential reconstruction was left to local actors. Slum-type housing, that evolved from village habitats, dominated most areas until 1960s.
Tokyo Swing, 20” x 24”, 1995, gelatin silver print
Remove a device called ‘Understanding‘ from this world. ‘Understanding‘ is only able to understand that it can. Try to capture the images of the unimaginable left behind from the absence of understanding. Photograph is not a device that understands and translates the world but is a device that corresponds to the world without having to understand at all. Capturing images is not an act of accurately reproducing. Even if seen one hundred times the outline becomes ambiguous, untraceable, misleading only to be indefinitely mistaken. Exploding the outline. Abandon this outline, abandon this division.
Osamu Kanemura, 2007
1964 Born in Tokyo, Japan
1993 Graduate from Tokyo College of Photography
Today’s Japan, 20” x 24”, 1995, gelatin silver print
Posted: November 9th, 2009 | Author: Adeline Wessang | Filed under: no blah blah: one artist | Tags: calligraphy, graphic design, illustration, si scott, typography | No Comments »
‘I like to be very hands on with my work‘
Si Scott founded his studio in early 2006. He established his personal style in design, typography and art direction and has worked with a wide range of clients, including Nike, Orange, UNICEF and the BBC.
He always starts by picking a font and then he plays around with different page layouts. The next phase includes the use of fineliners to create the illustration.
His work is extensively done by hand.
Si Scott interviewed by Format Magazine
Can you tell us about your background, please?
Si Scott: I am originally from Leeds, and first studied Graphic Design at Leeds College of Art and Design before going on to study at Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College. I have always drawn, for as long as I can remember, in one form or another! I didn’t really know what design was when I was at school as there was no such thing as design. It was just “art & design,” and that was pretty much it as far as studying anything creative went. There certainly weren’t any computers either! Leaving school and attending Art College (and discovering design) was like some kind of revelation to me–-it really opened my eyes to all the different possibilities and ways to apply creativity.
Is your work primarily done by hand or is it a mix of hand drawing and computer art?
I’d say my work is ninety percent hand and ten percent other methods – such as the computer for coloring, etc. I also use paint quite a lot.
You do a variety of graphic art, but it’s safe to assume that your passion is typography. What is it about typography that you love so much?
I really don’t know what it is about typography that I like so much – the obvious reasons are just typography’s forms: the endless possibilities regarding what you can do with it. I never wanted to emulate somebody else’s style; that doesn’t interest me at all. I was always striving to do my own thing! Whilst most people were using computers at college, I was in the print room playing around with letterpress, screen-printing etc.
Over the last few years there has certainly been a movement involving the sort of ornate typography you lean towards. Your work has even been credited with playing a part in why this movement initially happened, and I’m wondering–is it more flattering or frustrating to know that your style of work was adopted by hundreds of graphic designers?
It’s a bit of both I guess-–I can understand why some people choose to adopt other people’s style of work, but on the other hand, it also baffles me a little bit. I think design has become quite lazy of late. Especially with the computer playing such a dominant role, it can be quite easy to just bash something together. I really like looking at design and thinking: that attention to detail must have taken absolutely ages.
The difference between your work and the work that has resulted from it within the design community is that yours is incredibly complex and ornate. How long do you generally work on each piece?
It’s like…how long is a piece of string?
It totally depends on what it is: size, format, etc. I do find it really hard sometimes to estimate how long something will take. I’m getting better though.
You’ve mentioned how you are very inspired by music; what are some of your current favorite sounds?
Interpol, Bjork, Tycho, The Charlatans, Tom Waits, Yeah Yeah Yeahs. I could go on all day. I should just say that there are too many to mention, I guess!
Aside from music, where do you find inspiration for your art? Is it an internal reaction to your love of words, or a combination of that mixed with outside influences?
I think it is just a reaction to words-–most of my ideas come from words in one form or another! And due to the fact that I am constantly listening to music, I mostly just seem to be influenced by lyrics.
You recently opened up a studio with Kerry Roper called We Are Bitch. What are you hoping to achieve with this new company, and how’s it going so far?
It was just an idea we had in the pub one night (beer idea)! I’ve known Kerry for quite a long time now, but We Are Bitch isn’t really a studio, it’s just a drunken idea between friends. Neither of us have the time to really pursue it properly. Hopefully, we will be able to work together on something.
Si Scott lives and works in Manchester, UK.
Posted: September 21st, 2009 | Author: Adeline Wessang | Filed under: no blah blah: one artist | Tags: Genesis P-Orridge, Invisible Exports, Psychic TV, Throbbing Gristle | No Comments »
‘Destroy all stereotypes‘
Who is Genesis P-Orridge?
“Pushing the boundaries” could have been his motto. Artist, musician, performer and writer, born Neil Andrew Megson in Manchester, England in 1950.
He attended a private school where he immersed himself in literature, discovering the beatniks, Surrealism and particularly Dada. Then he studied Psychology, Sociology and Philosophy at the University of Hull. It was during these years that the character of Genesis P-Orridge appeared. He released his first pressed recording Early Worm in 1968 under the name Genesis P-Orridge.
E Crazy Genius, 1977, letter, Crane/Friedman Correspondence Art Collection
In the late 60s and early 70s he was involved with COUM Transmissions, a performance art group heavily influenced by Dada. Their actions were overly sexually based, dealing with taboos and transgressions. It often included masturbation and having sex. The other major figure was Cosey Fanni Tutti, stripper and model for pornographic films. She incorporated her own image into collages she made in this period, investigating self-image.
In 1971, Genesis was already corresponding with Beat Generation writer William S. Burroughs, who introduced him to artist Brion Gysin. Burroughs and Gysin had worked out the cut-up method which consists of cutting up and reassembling various fragments of sentences to give them a completely new and unexpected meaning. The cut-up has been a major influence for Genesis P-Orridge who has tried to deconstruct and reconstruct his own character, according to the cut-up method.
At some point, Genesis wanted to introduce sound in the performances and COUM morphed into Throbbing Gristle around 1975.
Throbbing Gristle, 1980, London, UK (photo: Industrial Records Ltd.)
The four members wanted the name ugly and having nothing to do with music: Throbbing Gristle is a slang term for erection. According to Genesis, the band was not about rock ‘n’ roll, but rather an empirical research he accomplished without reservation.
In 1976 the Prostitution show at the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) in London caused debate in Parliament. P-Orridge and Tutti were proclaimed as “Wreckers of Civilisation“. The show displayed Tutti’s pornographic images from magazines, used Tampax in glass and included a stripper, transvestite guards and various people such as punks, people in costumes who were hired to mingle with the gallery audience.
Psychic TV was formed in 1981 with Alex Fergusson and long-time partner Peter “Sleazy” Christopherson (he was involved in both COUM and Throbbing Gristle). Prior to his musical career, Christopherson was a designer and photographer. He later directed music videos for Marc Almond, Paul McCartney, Rage Against the Machine and Nine Inch Nails amongst many others.
Psychic TV performed electronic and experimental music. The band released many albums with a large amount of contributors (Coil, Soft Cell, Derek Jarman, Timothy Leary, The Cult…) and even earned an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records for most records released in one year. In 1992, Genesis and his family moved to California. The decision was taken after Genesis has been accused of “Satanic ritual abuse” for a video he created. It was time to leave England.
In 1993 he met and then married performance artist Jacqueline Breyer. She adopted the name Lady Jaye Breyer P-Orridge and the couple started to become mirror images of another. They applied the cut-up method to their own bodies to operate the mutation into a single pandrogynous being they called “Breyer P-Orridge“, with the help of plastic surgery and make up. Reverting the DNA of his own body could be seen as another act of rebellion from Genesis. Lady Jaye died in 2007 and Genesis chose to embrace the whole character on his own.
English Breakfast, 2002-2009, mixed media, Courtesy of Invisible Exports, NY
Genesis P-Orridge has exhibited in many art institutions around the world, including Centre Pompidou, Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, White Columns, Barbican Museum, Deitch Projects.
Genesis P-Orridge is currently exhibiting at INVISIBLE-EXPORTS gallery, NYC. 30 years of being cut-up, until October 18 2009.
INVISIBLE-EXPORTS 14A Orchard Street, New York NY 10002
Posted: September 12th, 2009 | Author: Adeline Wessang | Filed under: no blah blah: one artist | Tags: animation, film, magazine, painting, Simon Henwood | No Comments »
‘I paint my subjects as they are, as they choose to pose. There is no self-awareness; it is a very raw display of their own selves.’
Untitled, from the Cricklewood series
The launching of his retrospective book earlier that year is an occasion to focus on Simon Henwood, multi-disciplinary artist.
He lived in New York City between 1988 and 1992, where he released 11 books for adults and children, such as The Clock Shop, The King Who Sneezed and A Piece of Luck.
He launched Purr Magazine in 1993, which was the first magazine to attempt to combine art, comics, music and literature together. It featured artists’ painting and photography, as well as Henwood’s art. Each issue was accompanied by 10inch vinyl recordings. The magazine was distributed all over the world and become a small cult phenomena before stopping in 1995.
Soon after, he started a publishing company named Purr Books. He then involved himself with animation and started working on an animated series for British TV.
Alice was his second magazine venture. It focused on the representation of childhood in art and the media. It is very rare nowadays to find one issue of the magazine.
Simon Henwood has worked through a wide range of artistic media including painting, 3D animation, magazine production and film. He directed several music videos, for Apollo 440, Devendra Banhart, and Roisin Murphy, who is sexually assaulted in a funny way by a giant lobster in the Movie Star video.
Simon Henwood was born in Portsmouth, England in 1965. He lives in London.
Charlotte Mullins, Henwood: Paintings and Films 1998-2008, Stephane Simoens Editions, 2009
Posted: September 10th, 2009 | Author: Adeline Wessang | Filed under: no blah blah: one artist | Tags: Andrew Zuckerman, animals, photography, portrait | No Comments »
‘I am interested in singular themes that have universal interest, mainly relating to the human experience‘
‘I started making pictures as a teenager in Washington DC shooting bands, which gave me access to situations that 14 years old don’t always have. I came to New York for the summers and lived with my sister while working at the International Center of Photography cleaning the darkrooms in exchange for printing time- all the while shooting music people in NYC. At 18 I enrolled at SVA and made short films, sculptures and pictures. I took a break from film after art school and opened a studio focusing completely on photography. I did lots of magazine work and ads.’
‘My first job was working for Vogue. I would shoot still lifes of bags and shoes. The Vogue art directors were really specific. We had to have a perfectly white background and it had to be beautifully done. I worked out of an old pre-war apartment on 46th Street. A fantastic photographer I assisted gave me a set of lights to start with. They were really old Speedotron piggyback systems. I didn’t have enough power in my apartment so I had to run cords out of the windows into my neighbors’ apartments and pay their electric bills. I had a totally jerry rigged system. Thank god no one from Vogue ever actually came to my studio! I was shooting like 8 products a day for Vogue and other magazines. I basically spent a year doing still lifes, which I had never intended on doing. It taught me how to light and be efficient and work on my own. I never worked with an assistant. It was just me alone in my apartment‘.
about Puma – the Fairy Godcompany
‘Puma allowed me to experiment with film after I did a successful print campaign for them. I made some spec spots to show them that what we were doing could work well on TV. They liked them and commissioned three. Now two years later we have made 27 spots together‘.
‘The challenge of telling a story in such a short period of time sharpens one’s visual and narrative convictions. The commercial world is filled with immense talent and resources that are all looking to create something entirely new. Rigor is an ethic that making commercials requires and I like that‘.
about the Wisdom project shooting
‘By democratizing the space – shooting all on white – I was able to put all the subjects on a neutral field for the portraits – which served to strip away issues that come with environment and created a cohesive humanistic thread throughout. The white essentially transported them all to the same room. There was no variance in the setup or the equipment – aside from the Mandela shoot which we used kinos for due to an issue he has with excessive light. The shoot consisted of a two camera HD video setup as well as the still shoot so we developed a transformable set from still to motion. In the book I actually included a grid of the equipment used to illustrate the gift technology has provided us in modern times. 20 years ago it would have been nearly impossible to create this project with the same quality and efficiency‘.
about the expansion series
The featured image is an egg being pierced. It is part of a larger body of work exploring the Big Bang theory. Zuckerman used a piece of equipment often used in high-speed photography called The Time Machine to create an interface between his camera, strobe and a microphone mounted to the top of his pellet gun. The reason for the low power setting was to get the highest flash duration, in this case around 1/6000th of a second, in order to properly freeze the motion of the balloon bursting. He used a Hasselblad H2 with a Leaf Aptus 75S digital back and a 120mm lens. Once everything was in place he would pull the trigger of the gun and The Time Machine, hooked up to a microphone mounted on the gun and a pocket wizard connected to the camera and the single strobe, would then do all the work. The sound of the gun is actually what takes the image. The gun was 5 feet away from the balloon and the pellet was travelling at a 1000ft/sec so it was mostly just math and “a lot of trial and error“.
Andrew Zuckerman, Creature, Chronicle Books, 2007
a portrait series of animals
Andrew Zuckerman, Wisdom, Abrams; Har/DVD edition, 2008
an account of the portraits and thoughts of famous elders: Vanessa Redgrave, Clint Eastwood, Nelson Mandela…
Andrew Zuckerman, Birds, Chronicle Books, 2009
a visual study of birds from the rarest to the most common
Posted: June 1st, 2009 | Author: Adeline Wessang | Filed under: no blah blah: one artist | Tags: drawing, painting, tattoo, Wes Lang | No Comments »
In 2007 two pieces Wes Lang was supposed to exhibit in the group show “Mail Order Monsters” at Deitch Projects, NY, were pulled off because Jeffrey Deitch said (after the show opened) that they were not appropriate. The show, curated by Kathy Grayson, was supposed to explore “new trends in fucked-up figuration“, according to the gallery website. The original press release reads “Wes Lang’s monsters come from the cultural detritus of a very fucked-up America. He takes images pushed under the cultural carpet and forces them back into view to be countenanced. He often takes on Native American art, black Americana, the Civil War era, or pornography in his exploration of the deleted scenes of American history.”
What Is and What Never Should Be…, 2007, mixed media. Courtesy of the artist
The banned pieces of work included a pickaninny doll and a drawing. The term pickaninny (also picaninny or piccaninny) was used in the first place to caricature the children of African American slaves or African American citizens later. The pickaninny imagery included bulging eyes, messy hair, red lips and wide mouths. Although the term has largely fallen out of use and is now considered offensive and racist, it is still part of the American lexicon.
Walt Whitman’s 138th Dream…, 2008, mixed media on antique paper. Courtesy of ZieherSmith, NY
Wes Lang uses a lot of reference material in his work. He admits constantly buying books and looking at porn sites for pictures. He selects some images and draws them. There are a lot of skulls and naked girls involved, which are part of the biker’s traditional imagery. Text is also very important, he usually puts some song lyrics in his drawings. As Kate Wolf wrote in Dossier, “Lang’s work often contorts slogans of the late sixties and early seventies: bumper sticker-worthy irreverences, borrowed from recognizable political phrases from the 60s, are transformed into a grab-bag of advertising, drug culture, pornography, rock and roll lyrics and self-expression (“If it Feels Good Do it”). Lang couples these slogans with familiar imagery, much of it being reinterpretations of classic icons: a yellow happy face, Harley Davidson insignia, grim reaper, pot leaf, etc.”
The Well-Known Man (unframed), 2005, pencil on paper, engraved deer bone and unique frame.
Courtesy of ZieherSmith, NY
Wes Lang in conversation with David Coggins for Interview Magazine, December 2008
David Coggins: Have you turned to painting because you feel that you’ve gone as far as you could go with drawing?
Wes Lang: I go back and forth. Some of my drawings are pretty raw. There’s still an attention to detail in somehing that looks simple, but in fact is often harder than sitting there meticulously rendering something. I don’t think about it too much if something strikes me, I just do it.
DC: There’s a clear attraction to American history in your work. What interests you about America, and how does that come out in your work?
WL: I like to take American history and then completely ignore it. I come at it visually, taking images and telling my own story. It comes out of criticism and great love. There are problems (with America), and we all know that, but I’m attracted to the dark side of things. I did a bunch of blackface stuff a couple of years ago. That was a little touchy. I wasn’t doing it to piss people off. I was doing a work about Abraham Lincoln, and I came across these of little mammies. The images were striking and simple, and I was attracted to them.
DC: So you’re attracted to loaded imagery?
WL: I’m covered in it, personally. (indicates his tattoos of women, skulls, crosses, and Indians) I’ve always been a collector of weird imagery, even when I was little. There was no question what I wanted to do with myself, since I was very small.
DC: Do you think you’re challenging the audience when you raw a figure in blackface? Do you trust that they’ll know where you’re coming from?
WL: I’m taking it out of its context and putting it into my context and hoping that people can understand that I’m not glorifying this stuff.
DC: How do feel about being in the art world? Is it something that you enjoy or suffer through?
WL: I don’t hate it by any means. I get to do exactly what I want to do everyday day. I just try not to spend to much time in it. You have to be a part of it. You can’t just say “I’m the fucking shit”, and forget it. I definitely carry myself with an attitude though. I’m into bikes and that kind of shit. It helps me sometimes and hinders me other times. But I just want to work with people I trust.
DC: Do you have an official tattoo count?
WL: Just one, it’s easier that way.
The Taste of Life’s Sweet Wine…, 2008, mixed media on antique paper. Courtesy of ZieherSmith, NY
Born in 1972.
Lives and works in Brooklyn.
Began exhibiting in the late nineties.
favorite music: the Grateful Dead, old Snoop Dogg & Dr. Dre, Suicidal Tendencies, Wu-Tang, the Doors…
reading material of choice: Charles Bukowski
movies: Hells Angels Forever, The Departed, McCabe & Mrs. Miller
hobbies: motorcycle (he has a Harley Davidson chopper)
favorite tattoo: the skull on the palm of his left hand
watch Wes Lang in his studio:
ZieherSmith (New York)
Wes Lang & Donald Baechler, Skulls and Shit, Loyal, 2009
The Paradise Club, Artwork by Wes Lang, Eighth Veil, Los Angeles, 2009 (published at the occasion of the show “Carry On” teamed with Ryan Schneider at Eighth Veil gallery, on view from 15 May to 20 June 2009)
The Moonshiner’s Other Dream, 2005, pencil, colored pencil, ink, gouache on paper, engraved deer bone and unique frame.
Courtesy of ZieherSmith, NY
Posted: May 9th, 2009 | Author: Adeline Wessang | Filed under: no blah blah: one artist | Tags: Takato Yamamoto | 3 Comments »
Born in Akita, Japan in 1960. Akita is a prefecture located in the northern part of the main island of Japan.
He graduated from the painting department of the Tokyo Zokei University and he experimented with the Ukiyo-e Pop style. He further refined and developed that style to create his Heisei estheticism style (Heisei being the current era name in Japan. The Heisei era started on January 8, 1989, the first day after the death of the reigning Emperor, Hirohito).
His first exhibition was held in Tokyo in 1998.
He is working mostly with litho printing and Japanese ink on paper.
Ukiyo-e is a genre of Japanese woodblock prints and paintings produced between the 17th and the 20th centuries, featuring motifs and landscapes, tales from history, the theatre and pleasure quarters. It is the main artistic genre of woodblock printing in Japan. Ukiyo-e were affordable because they could be mass-produced. The original subject of ukiyo-e was city life, in particular activities and scenes from the entertainment district. Beautiful courtesans, bulky sumo wrestlers and popular actors would be portrayed while engaged in appealing activities. Sex was not a sanctioned subject as it continually appeared in ukiyo-e prints. But artists and publishers were sometimes punished for creating these sexually explicit pictures.
Takato Yamamoto is interested in portraying famous occidental myths, such as Salome or Saint Sebastian. His graphic depictions of sex and death remind the work of English illustrator Aubrey Beardsley, one of the most controversial artist of the Art Nouveau era.
Salome is mentioned in the New Testament as the daughter of Herodias, a Jewish princess. Christian traditions depict her as an icon of dangerous female seductiveness. Salome’s story has long been a favourite of artists such as Titian, Gustave Moreau, Aubrey Bearsley, Oscar Wilde, Gustave Flaubert.
Saint Sebastian was a Christian saint and martyr, who is said to have been killed during the Roman emperor Diocletian’s persecution of Christians. He is commonly depicted in art and literature tied to a post and shot with arrows. He is venerated in Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church and Oriental Orthodox Church. The image of the martyred Sebastian has proved a popular subject for artists from the Renaissance onward.
The Japanese junior -and senior- high school uniform traditionally consists of a military style uniform for boys and a sailor outfit for girls. The sailor outfit was modelled after the uniform used by the British Royal Navy when it was introduced to Japan in 1920. Sailor outfits play an undeniably large role in the Japanese sexual canon as evidenced by the large amount of anime and manga featuring characters in uniform.
Takato Yamamoto, Scarlet Maniera, ET, 2007
Takato Yamamoto, Divertimento for a Martyr, ET, 2006
Posted: March 29th, 2009 | Author: Adeline Wessang | Filed under: no blah blah: one artist | Tags: Elizabeth Peyton, portrait | No Comments »
“That’s what oil paint’s about. You know it’ll last forever.” Elizabeth Peyton in conversation with Rob Pruitt and Steve Lafreniere for Index Magazine, 2000.
Jarvis, 1996, oil on board. Courtesy of Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, NY
American painter born in 1965.
Studied fine arts at the School of Visual Arts in New York City.
Her second exhibition is famous because it took place in a room of the Chelsea Hotel. The place had always been a center of artistic life in New York; many writers and musicians have stayed there (and it is also where Sid Vicious’s girlfriend Nancy Spungen was found stabbed to death in 1978).
Her body of work includes portraits of musicians such as Kurt Cobain, Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker, and famous people from fashion, art and politics: Marc Jacobs, François Truffaut, Matthew Barney, Jonathan Horowitz, Abraham Lincoln, the Kennedys…
She bases her work on pictures from books, magazines or her own snapshots.
All paintings are usually small sized, with some strong graphic sense and the use of bright colours. She creates what we can call intimate portraits, depicting her subjects in a melancholic mood most of the time.
Peyton chooses to return to portrait, which has a long tradition in art history but is probably less common in contemporary art.
2008’s show Life Forever: Elizabeth Peyton, held at the New Museum, NYC, was the first retrospective of her work in an American institution.
Em, 2002, etching w/aquatint printed in purple ink. Courtesy of Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, NY
Extracts from a conversation with Elizabeth Peyton and Cheryl Kaplan for Deutsche Bank Artmag:
CK: How long do you work on individual paintings?
EP: It depends. A lot of times I’ll start and it’ll sit around for a month and I’ll pick it up. It’s always different.
CK: Before you start a painting, what do you know about the painting’s final version?
EP: Nothing. (laughter)
CK: Isn’t that scary…
EP: Yes. I’ll know I’m interested in a certain picture or person, then isolate a picture, but otherwise I have no idea what will happen.
CK: In what way do your paintings lean on your drawings?
EP: For me, drawing and painting have always been separate. If I can get it done in the drawing, it’s over. I don’t need to paint it. Lately I’ll draw, then I do a monotype, then I’ll like it so much I’ll want to make a painting of it, but there’ll be different problems. I never see drawing as less, it’s always another way to resolve. Drawings let you see the thought. That depends on whose drawings.
CK: Your paintings often have an androgynous quality.
EP: I’m interested in people who are androgynous. I like it when people aren’t stereotypically female or male, that their personalities are outside that and not defined or contained by being male or female. I like men who objectify themselves, which is a female trait.
Elizabeth Peyton is currently living and working in New York City.
Gavin Brown’s Enterprise (New York)
Sadie Coles HQ (London)
Live to Ride (E.P.), 2003, oil on board. Courtesy of Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, NY