A Buried Interview

April 20th, 2013 § 0 comments

Artists Space Books - Talks

Sitting down in the slightly damp, roomy space on 55 Walker Street with the soft-spoken, mild mannered, but extremely articulate curator of Artists Space and the new Books & Talks venue, we discussed the goals of the new program, and how it fits into the ongoing relationship between art and verbiage. 

Tell me a bit about yourself…

Richard Birkett- I am the curator of Artists Space and I’ve been in New York for a couple of years now. I moved from London a few years ago, and have a background as an artist. I had a studio practice in London for a while, but I gravitated more and more toward curating.

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The Subtle Highlights

March 21st, 2011 § 1 comment

Standing out against a garish background of colorful artwork, I did discover a few artists during the March art fairs that caught my eye because their work differed from everything else: it seemed to represent a kind of realism that was lacking from almost all the artwork shown. Though you’d think bright colors would be the eye catcher, these artists stood out visually with softer, more muted color palettes, and conceptually with their quotidian, almost mundane subjects. Overall I found them more compelling visually and conceptually, actually stopping my stroll to get a better look at their work. Researching the names I jotted down afterward, I found that most of them are in their early to mid 30s, and are all holders of MFA’s from somewhat pedigree schools. While I don’t see this as an indicator of quality, it’s interesting to see where our artists are coming from, and how, if at all, they were trained.

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March Madness—Art Fairs Galore

March 12th, 2010 § 0 comments

Who knew that going to art fairs could be fun? This past weekend nyc hosted the March madness of art fairs, openings, special events, and self-indulgent parties, all of which were crunched into the span of only four days. Each fair opened lazily at noon, and all were strewn carelessly around Manhattan. Trying to make an appearance during visiting hours at every event felt like the scavenger hunt from My Man Godfrey: completely absurd. Divvying up my weekend days, grouping the shows by like neighborhoods, organizing the fairs by importance, armed with my makeshift press pass, and resigned to the fact that one person can only see so much, I set out.

Without rushing or suffering from visual overload, I actually found that while I ruined my feet for the weekend, I enjoyed the whole spectacle. Not out to buy or to mingle either, I simply wandered the fairs with my camera and my curiosity. I ran into a few friends, saw Nick Cave at the Armory and Fred Wilson at The Art Show, talked with a good many gallery workers, and watched a tourist knock over a sculpture in his great hast to photograph a brightly painted naked woman. Though the champagne at the Armory cost sixteen dollars a glass, the people and even the shows themselves felt less ostentatious than last year.

(A William Kentridge collage from The Nose)

William Kentridge

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A Foot in Both Worlds

February 11th, 2010 § 0 comments

Paolo Ventura Winter Stories at Hasted Hunt

Paolo Ventura

A little over a year in New York City and I have learned a thing or two about the cities art scene, but not nearly as much as I need to know. Though it was not my intention when I moved here, I have started edging my way toward becoming an insider though an opportunity I happened to find in a profession I didn’t study—art criticism. While I originally thought about it as an extension of my blog/thesis, a way to continue practicing writing critically, it has become the dominant perspective from which I see art. At a meeting of Whitehot writers a few weeks ago, as we discussed ideas for the new Op-ed column the magazine is planning, I realized I was the only artist there. Though I know the magazine is a mix of artists, critics, and art historians, I didn’t suspect the artists were so greatly outnumbered. I also found that compared with those who have been art critics living in NYC for over a decade, I am obviously drastically less informed. As talk floated around the table about press lunches and advanced screenings, I felt that the knowledge I have so proudly gained in the past year is just the tip of the gossip iceberg. When asked for ideas for Op-ed subjects I drew a blank—suddenly I was being asked to formulate opinions about the aspects of the art world I try my best to write around in my reviews.

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Published-Interviewing Bill Viola

November 24th, 2009 § 0 comments

Learning to speak up happens in stages.

In undergrad I spent my time listening acutely during critiques to those professors and students who had already mastered the art of bullshit, articulation, and the clever dissection of ideas and artwork. In graduate school I became the conversation starter, enjoying how interesting conversations can be when you direct where they go. Teaching became another kind of public speaking stress, where you are expected to know in advance the correct answer to every unexpected problem. Presenting your work to an audience is a challenge as your voice is the only voice, and when it reaches a deadend there is nothing but your own desire to avoid embarrassment to redirect it. Interviewing an artist is stressful in a completely new way, being an odd combination of planned questions and improvised discussion. Avoiding the nervous trap that prevents from happening what should be an easy conversation about something both parties know a good deal about, seems key. It was a special kind of torture to slowly transcribe this 45-minute interview, as I heard every verbal blunder, stutter, and hesitation more times than I ever dreamed of having to. In the end it was a fantastic experience, and when whittled down to its core, a good interview.

Bill Viola

Viola Interview

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