A Small Sense of Community

December 30th, 2010 § 0 comments

Most artists are trespassers at heart, and most of us want to explore the places we are unable to see, to go inside, or to photograph at all. If I could somehow break into strange houses and apartments to photograph the interiors without going to jail afterward, I would. Having spent a great deal of my childhood in the backseat of various cars, watching images pass by the car window almost like I was inside the camera frame of Lee Friedlander, I dream of one day being able to shut down portions of the Los Angeles freeway system in order to capture those fleeting images. I’ve tried to use the camera as a means of time travel, and I’ve tried to photograph ways of life that no longer exist, or that might never have existed at all. It seems photographs can be about our denied fantasies as much as they can be a documentation of our immediate reality.

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Published—Interviewing Roxy Paine

December 2nd, 2010 § 0 comments

I’m almost glad that my first interview was with an artist who was unfamiliar to me as it made interviewing Roxy Paine seem almost easy. I spent weeks researching Viola, reading his book and anything else I could get my hands on, trying to commit to memory his extensive body of work. Roxy, in his early forties, is a familiar artist with a familiar story. Still young by art world standards, there has not been too much written about his work, and having written about him before I had already read most of what has been published. Gregory Volk wrote with a new article on Paine in last months Art in America, where Roxy seemed be to the flavor of the month. Being familiar with the artist’s work makes you less reliant on what other people have said about it in the past. Paine was easygoing and easy to talk to, sipping a cappuccino as we spoke. Learning from npr I know now to let my subjects simply talk, to let them answer my questions in their own way and at their own pace, which oddly gives you more control of the conversation instead of less. I have also found out that you don’t have to affirm everything they might say. This interview was less planned, but I still knew what I wanted to ask, and what I hoped to sneak in before the end. I think it went well, and I know I felt much better about it afterward.

A Crisis in Making

November 23rd, 2010 § 2 comments

“No one said you were an artist, you said you were an artist. You chose this, so no whining!”

I never know when it is productive to begin looking back on something, usually an event specific to myself (a death, a move, or a change as big as a death or move), to analyze it. In the past I never gave these events a chance to settle in before I started cracking away at them, trying to understand what they meant and how they had changed me even before they had; my own curiosity, especially about myself, often gets the best of me. I have since learned to let things rest, and to give myself the time needed to reconsider the recent past. Two years out of grad school and I’m slowly gearing up to embark on my analysis of education, institutions, and what role institutions should play in education. I’m planning to edit a book on the subject, but I’m not there yet. Instead, I am stuck in a no mans land between the world of academia that I somewhat recently left, and the art world (the commodification of art) that I apparently hope to enter. It’s a zone filled by recent grads, fresh new players, and hopeful gamers. There should be a term for your first few years out of school, for the crisis of faith we go through while floundering in deep waters, a term that gives you the sense that you are not alone. I’m going to call it the “post-grad school crisis.”

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Published—Just Kids

September 9th, 2010 § 0 comments

Patti Smith

While it was a wonderfully warm summer, perfect for lazy beach days and long bike rides around the city, it was a dull summer for art. The usual museum blockbusters were not interesting, and the gallery scene was even worse. Judging from the number of guest hosts we were subjected to this summer on NPR, everyone either left the city or stayed home and deliberately forgot about their daily obligations. I certainly didn’t feel obligated to do much in the way of research, which opened up a lot of time for recreation, but left my writing in the lurch. Whitehot began publishing book reviews this year around the same time I began working my way through Patti Smith’s Just Kids, one train trip at a time. Impressed by the book, enamored with Patti Smith, and unable to find any gallery show worth writing about, I undertook my first book review. Books, I found out, are hard to summarize while elaborating on and analyzing their content. It’s easy to get lost in them, as there is so much you could say, so many different directions you could go in. With the new gallery season revving up, with openings beginning this week and going into the next, and with the first glimmer of interest returning to the museums—Lee Friedlander’s America by Car opening at the Whitney and Fred Tomaselli’s paintings opening at the Brooklyn Museum—I am glad I took the opportunity to write about an artist rather than art.

Robert Mapplethorpe

New Notes on Nostalgia

May 22nd, 2010 § 0 comments

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New York City is a place that inspires a great deal of nostalgic sentiment, so passionate and opinionated that it often feels exclusive, like how we sometimes feel when talking to our grandparents. While the elderly tend to remember their past with exciting fondness, their dismissal of the present is always a little unnerving. Growing up with one great-grandmother born in 1905 instead of two younger grandmothers, I was always captivated by her quaint stories. At the same time I felt a bit wary of them, like the children in a Ray Bradbury novel who simply can’t believe that the elderly were once young. Just as we all feel a little like the first children to ever roam grassy backyards, it’s hard to accept that there ever was a time before our vivid present.

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