In the Studio of Erin M. Riley

 
Location: Bushwick, Brooklyn
 
How long have you been in this studio?

Since October 2013.
 
Why did you pick the location?

I was in Philly and my building was being shut down by L&I and this space was opening up. It was my excuse to move to Brooklyn finally. I’m glad I did because the Philly studio was locked for months.
 
How does it rank in comparison to your previous studios?

My previous studio was twice as big and 4x less expensive. Haha. It ruled, huge windows, nice view. My studio before that was tiny in Chinatown in Philly so I shared it with lots of little mice, and before that I was in grad school. I’ve been to a bunch of residencies and nothing compares to those studios. Currently on the hunt for a new space.
 
What’s your favorite attribute of the space?

I like the location and it’s quiet.
 
How often are you in here?

I am here every day.
 
Can you explain the full capabilities of the studio? What kind of things do you make?

I have two floor looms here, I spend most days hand weaving tapestries on them. Other days I dye yarn, set up the warp, do hand sewing, drawing or a million other in-between tasks.
 
Do you have a refrigerator? If so, what’s in it?

In the summer I am all about ice, for ice coffee and water. So tons of ice, lunch for the day, fruit, some almond milk, tons of snacks.
 
What kind of sound system do you have?

I don’t have a sound system I just use my laptop with earbuds. My studio mate has one but I don’t use it. My looms make noise when I’m actively weaving but are quiet when I’m just sitting so having earphones helps the sounds get straight to my ears at the most appropriate volume.
 
Have you ever slept here?

Yep, if I am there late enough and have to be back early the next day.
 
 
Erin will be showing new work this Thursday (7/17) in the Summer Mixer 2014 at Joshua Liner Gallery. You can follow her on twitter and instagram at @erinmriley
 

Installation View: Eddie Martinez – Neanderthal Jeans

 
What are “Neanderthal Jeans” and how can I get a pair?

Probably baggy acid washed, or a dockers hybrid.
 
How did you come up with the title?

It just came in the air, poof. You can just reach out and grab these things. I let myself act as primal as I need to be in studio…
 
The show features a lot of sculpture, it’s a fairly new medium for you. What made you take the leap from painting to the third dimension?

I had a painting block that went from a normal amount of time to a depressing amount, so I started making small table top sculptures outta beach finds and other materials.
 
You’re incorporating a lot of found objects into the work, some seem nautically inspired while others seem to reference tennis. Am I completely out of my mind or is that a keen observation?

Both spot-on observations, it’s that #islandstyle.
 
How is your tennis game these days, btw?

Fine. I want it to be much better, but it’s such a great sport.
 
In the tradition of many greats before you, you’re spending the Summer working out East on Long Island. Do you notice any shifts in what you’re making out there as opposed to Brooklyn?

I don’t know. I think if I were to notice, it’ll happen once I am working in the city again in the fall. Things are really opening up in the images now though.
 

After this show closes, what’s next for you?

A show in LA and then one in London…
 

“Neanderthal Jeans” is on view at Half Gallery through July 15th, 2014.
 

Journeying Through NYC’s Subterranean Maze

 

Beneath The Streets: The Hidden Relics of New York’s Subway System is a new book out by JURNE and Matt Litwack that explores New York’s underground through the artistic lens of a graffiti writer. We caught a couple moments of the co-authors time to find out more about the book and life below the city that never sleeps.
 
 
How did the idea for Beneath the Streets come about?

Matt Litwack: During my high school days, I would explore the NYC subway tunnels. I became fascinated with the graffiti, the history, and the general danger of the underground. JURNE and I wanted to create a book that was able to examine the subway system from a sociological, historical, and artistic perspective. We wanted people to be able to see what it’s like for graffiti artists to explore these environments.

Jurne: We’ve been drawn to these hidden or tucked-away city environments for nearly 2 decades, exploring and painting them. The New York City subway tunnel system is one of the most expansive and oldest public transportation systems in the world. With that comes a lot of history, and a lot of potential stories to tell about experiences inside the subway tunnels. There’s a tradition of folklore or story telling that goes hand in hand with graffiti writing. Capturing this story of the New York city subway tunnels, exploration, and graffiti writing inside them was something that Matt and I talked about doing for a long time.
 
Can you describe your first journey underground into the subway tunnels?

Jurne: I remember stepping off the platform into the dark tunnel, and feeling like I was crossing a threshold into a dangerous place, with dim red light illuminating the 3rd rail, and the slow hiss of air coming from pipes over head. It was pretty terrifying. I was immediately fascinated.

Matt Litwack: The first time I ventured underground was with a much older, established and experienced individual. I was fortunate to have someone with such knowledge show me the ropes. Regardless, I was still terrified and didn’t know what to expect or what I might encounter.

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In the Studio of Faile

 
Location: Greenpoint, Brooklyn
 
How long have you been in this studio?

2 years.
 
Why did you pick the location?

The studio found us.
 
How does it rank in comparison to your previous studios?

We would give it a blue ribbon at the State Fair if there were a category for studio ranks.
 
What’s your favorite attribute of the space?

The openness of the space, its functionality and the ability to handle large-scale works.
 
How often are you in here?

Five days a week.
 
Can you explain the full capabilities of the studio? What kind of things do you make?

We handle everything in house with the exception of molten metals and toxic resins. Most of the work in studio is focussed on printmaking and painting. Many assemblage works and a variety of sculpture.
 
Do you have a refrigerator? If so, what’s in it?

Yes we do. A few random beers and some forgotten lunch items from the staff.
 
What kind of sound system do you have?

We have a nice little Decco amp in the main studio – forget the speakers offhand. In the smaller office/image making part of the studio we have a great set of Orb speakers that work well.
 
Have you ever slept here?

Yes on several occasions.
 
 
On July 2nd, Faile presents a new body of work titled Fuel, Fantasy, Freedom at Gallery Hilger NEXT in Vienna, Austria. The exhibition will continue through September 6th, 2014. Faile can be followed @faileart on twitter and instagram

Nu Liife

nu-liife

Our weekly comic by Andrew Jeffrey Wright / @ajw4ever

Signs of Mischief

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Roger Gastman is a great collector of things. Weird classifieds, rare graffiti propaganda, children’s toys, vintage spraypaint, art by serial killers… he’s got it all and more. For TOOLS OF CRIMINAL MISCHIEF, his most recent show which opens tonight at The Seventh Letter Flagship Store and Gallery in LA, Roger has placed on display a robust selection of these artifacts for viewing and consumption. Since his instagram is about the only way we can observe Roger’s daily collectings, we pulled images of some of our favorite digital ephemera, and asked Roger to explain. What follows is the result of our online conversation also known as “explain this picture.”

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The Art of Tuning Back In: An Interview with Daniel Arnold

Daniel Arnold tirelessly captures and catalogs the serendipity and the strange goings-on in and around New York City’s streets every day. Roaming the landscape so we don’t have to, Arnold presents these images to the world in a constant live stream of photographs from his brain to your eyes, via his website and popular Instagram account. He works so determinedly and creates so much great work that he’s become somewhat of a New York City fixture himself, not just documenting the fabric of the city, but becoming part of it. So, what happens when he’s dropped into the middle of another city for six short days and tasked with making the same magic happen there too? From the looks of Arnold’s new show, Six Days in San Francisco, now on view at Wolfe Contemporary, the same amazing things. Shot, processed, printed, framed, and hung all in less than a week, the show highlights the similar trappings of oddness, sadness, humor, and beauty that his New York work does, while exposing new ideas about the city and about documenting the unexpected and unknown. I hunted down Daniel for some insights into the whole process.

—Christian

 
 
Christian Storm: How did the whole show in San Francisco come about?

Daniel Arnold: I was in a group show at the Wolfe Contemporary Gallery about a year ago, which was kind of an anomaly for them. They usually show painters but the guy who runs it has an assistant who, because it’s a smaller operation, is more involved than most, and she was following me on Instagram and recommended me for the show. So, some time went by and they had an opening out of nowhere and they offered me a solo show. It was very short notice and I could have taken an easy route, but it happened that I was going be in LA around that time. I went out to San Francisco ten days before the show and I figured I’d make it interesting and try to shoot the whole thing there.
 
That’s crazy. What was that pressure like to shoot a whole show in such a short amount of time? It’s definitely different than the way you work normally, I assume.

It was really hard. I guess I didn’t really understand what high stakes I was setting for myself. I’ve been in a rhythm of producing so much work on a regular basis, basically every day, that I felt fairly confident that I could just show up and make it happen. But the combination of being a stranger in town and sleeping on assorted couches and going three days at a time without being able to change my clothes and just walking all day, every day- I have a pedometer on my phone and by the end, I had walked 100 miles- was tough. It was a huge physical exertion and a bit of a psychological trial too, but it ultimately ended up being so much more rewarding for that. I think my outsider take on such recent times made for a more interesting, engaging show. I’ve always been a big fan of San Francisco but I’ve never had a real proper look around and it was a great way to experience the city.
 
You talk about viewing San Francisco from a fresh viewpoint. When you’re photographing in a city, how much about the work is about the specific city itself, and how much of is it about humans in general?

For the most part, the differences between cities in my photos are pretty subtle. It didn’t feel like a gimmicky change of pace for me, like I was finding people in Giants hats or eating sourdough bread. A lot of the New York stuff, pretty much the whole past few years, has been a product of loneliness and walking around, feeling kind of bummed, tuning out my own life and getting tuned into my surroundings. San Francisco provided plenty of loneliness. That downtrodden feeling wasn’t hard to come by in a place where I was disoriented and walking uphill all day. I found San Francisco to be much wilder and more threatening than New York, and I think that came through in some of it. The spirit there is much closer to surface than in New York, where people are much more calculated and manicured. But for the most part, the experience was very similar. It was just fresher because it was new; I could see things a little more clearly.
 

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In the Studio of Hiro Kurata

 
How long have you been in this studio?

Since October last year (2013).
 
Why did you pick the location?

It’s sort of close from my apartment and the rent is quite cheap compared to other studios in the city. Red Hook still has the atmosphere of everything not being so gentrified, so I’m in love with this neighborhood. The down part is the convenience of transportation isn’t too good. It’s a problem when it rains or snows because I bike here.
 
How does it rank in comparison to your previous studios?

I’m still figuring that out. I like the fact that I’ve separated my studio and my apartment since I’ve always worked from my apartment. It was really convenient to live and work in the same spot because of many reasons, but I guess it was time for me to separate the two. The winter we had here in Brooklyn this year was pretty horrible and this studio here gets really cold because it’s an old concrete building. I was wearing layers of clothes while I was here, thinking how nice it was working from home. The spring is becoming much easier to work and I’m staring to like this place more.
 
What’s your favorite attribute of the space?

The lighting from the window is perfect. During the day, I usually don’t turn on the lights and work with natural light, which feels good.
 
How often are you in here?

3-4 days a week. I have a few part time jobs with some weird schedules so whenever I have time, I escape here.
 
Can you explain the full capabilities of the studio? What kind of things do you make?

Mainly a painting studio. Since I have three clean walls, I can work on three different paintings at once. The best part of having a studio is I can do messy things and not care about it.
 
Do you have a refrigerator? If so, what’s in it?

I don’t have one, so I keep few bottles of water and bring my own tea from home.
 
What kind of sound system do you have?

Headphones, or raw sound from computer speakers.
 
Have you ever slept here?

I’ve taken a nap here, but never a serious one… yet.
 
 
Hiro has a new book which will be released next month from Anteism, and in conjunction with the book release, he will be in Victoria, Canada to exhibit in their truck gallery and paint the exterior of the truck. For more information on Hiro’s artwork, visit his website www.shiloku.com/

Matt Groening, Mike Kelley, and Gary Panter Talk About Each Other

Invading pop culture and the origin of Bart Simpson’s hairline.

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Selfish Selfies: An Interview with Nick Sethi

The cool thing about Nick Sethi is that he’s not fucking around. He might trick you into thinking he is, as his photocopied zines full of gritty, funny snapshots employ the same visual language as the guy at the house party with a tall boy in one hand and a camera in the other. But there’s more there; He’s trying to make the drunk skater kids think. Whether he’s photographing poverty-stricken kids living under a freeway in New Delhi or himself posing for the camera at Hollister in the mall, he turns that vernacular aesthetic into a vehicle for deeper concepts about art, identity, and truth, using the style to break down the wall between artist and viewer while retaining all the fun that comes with it. His recent show at Ed. Varie continued these ideas, displaying found self-portraits of women in tanning beds, further blurring the distinctions of authorship and curated individuality. I caught up with Nick to see what was up.

—Christian

 
 

Christian Storm: Your recent show at Ed. Varie was all about “selfies” and your own work, especially your crazy instagram account and your zine, HCO, includes a ton of selfies of you own. What is it about selfies that interests you so much? You seem to both celebrate and also question the ideas they project.

Nick Sethi: Selfies are the highest form of art. Art is the most personal and selfish thing one can create, and selfies embody this to the fullest. Like art, they are put out for others to view, but they are created for the self. They are totally accessible to most people and constantly being created and they ride these lines between self-expression and self-reflection, exhibition and voyeurism, and the true self versus the ideal self, all carefully created yet made to look effortless. To me, they blur art and life and turn it into one constant performance. I love thinking about it because it’s so deep and crazy.
 
Yeah, a lot of your work seems to be about those ideas and the ways in which we choose to outwardly display ourselves and define who we are. Selfies of course, but also tattoos and patches on jackets, et cetera. Often, even your own identity as the artist is apparent, since most of your stuff includes a shot or two of yourself, further blurring the lines. Can you talk a little bit about the role that the concept of identity plays in your work?

I don’t believe there is any sort of objectivity in art. The same way people create and project an identity that they want the world to recognize, all artists inject their views into what they are creating. I am present in everything I create, and choosing to physically put myself in the work avoids any sort of confusion, and allows me to be super blatant about what I’m trying to convey. It’s the easiest and truest way for me to be honest with the fact that I’m commenting on myself, as well the world around me.
 
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In the Studio of Eric Elms

How long have you been in this studio?

I’ve been in this studio for about 2 years. When I first moved in it was a total mess so it took a couple months and a lot of DIY to get it whipped into a proper studio.
 
Why’d you pick the location?

I live in the area so it is important for me to be able to walk to work with my dog everyday. Plus it makes it easier to come back for night sessions.
 
How does it rank in comparison to your previous studios?

Best one so far. I’ve been pretty lucky with studio spaces in NY. I always try and find the hidden gems, but that is getting harder and harder these days.
 
What’s your favorite attribute of the space?

The tall ceilings and the fact that it is a building by itself. I got no one on top or below me telling me what to do. Ground level is always the best for a studio spot.
 
If you had to use one word to describe the studio, what would it be?

Fun
 
How often are you in here?

For sure everyday during the week. I try and avoid it at least for a day on the weekends but a lot of times I end up popping in and check things out.
 
Can you explain the full capabilities of the studio? What kind of things do you make?

I kind of make whatever I want in here. I have my desks upstairs where I take care of any computer/design work, photocopying or vinyl work. Downstairs I kind of divide it up between painting, woodshop and bookmaking spaces. Areas definitely get blurred depending on what I am working on. Usually I am just painting downstairs and making panels or stretchers in the woodshop.
 
Do you have a refrigerator? If so, what’s in it?

I have a fridge. Right now it is in party-mode. Mostly just dog-food in the freezer and beers in the fridge. I had people over a few months back and ended up with like a 100 beers after the night was over cause everyone brought tons of drinks. I’ve been trying to get rid of them slowly.
 
What kind of sound system do you have?

Nothing major. Just a regular receiver and a couple bose speakers. Also an appletv so I can play anything off my phone. A lot of times I will just throw on headphones so I can zone out though.
 
Have you ever slept here?

I’ve taken some naps in the hammock but no full on sleep seshes. Maybe if I lived further away I would be more tempted to crash here. Buster crashes out during the day all the time though.
 

Eric Elms is a New York-based artist. He can be followed on instagram at @elmselms

Forever in Character: An Interview With Jaimie Warren

For the uninitiated, walking into the current show at The Hole gallery might be shocking and confusing, but give it a second and you’ll start smiling. Jaimie Warren’s brightly painted and Papier-mâché’d world of self-portraits and recreated celebrity internet memes is, on the surface, bizarre and silly (and maybe a little gross), but behind the both literal and figural masks are real ideas about fame, pop culture, art, and social mores. Take for example, her recreation of Fra Angelico’s High Altarpiece of San Domenico in Fiesole, a massive religious Renaissance painting Jaimie remade on video in a Kansas City gymnasium with what seems like hundreds of her friends dressed as her, her mother’s, and her grandmother’s favorite celebrities, singing along to Dionne Warwick’s “That’s What Friends Are For” off-key (which makes it that much better). You gotta see it to believe it. Because she approaches art from such an interesting and new perspective, her work may sometimes have the feel of outsider art, yet it’s anything but. Jaimie takes this silliness seriously, working unrelentingly with a smile on her face, and her art is the most fun I’ve had in a gallery all year. It closes May 4th, so hurry!

 
Christian Storm: Hey Jaimie, the show looks amazing! I was blown away the full Fra Angelico piece. I remember seeing it when it was only one frame. How long did that take you? 
 
Jaimie Warren: Thanks, Christian! The first frame you saw in last year’s VICE Photo Issue, which you edited, and that’s where the whole thing started. I was so incredibly lucky to have VICE‘s support to help me make that piece. It was such an ambitious project, compared to all of my prior work, with over 200 characters in the end. We handmade almost all of the costumes and wigs, and we also shot it not only as photographs, but as a 5-channel music video where all of the characters come to life! I had so much help in making the work, including a lot of my collaborators from the variety show I co-direct, Whoop Dee Doo. Lee Heinemann, Lindsey Griffith, Sara Haug, and several others helped create all of the costumes and wigs, and Matt Roche created a 5-channel audio masterpiece. Where as when you guys got it, it was a static single frame, the full piece is shown as a music video at the Hole, which is a really crazy way to see it. 

In total, it was five shoots and took a little over four months to complete. It was crazy to orchestrate all of these people, but it was made in Kansas City, which has a truly fantastic and supportive arts community, and this piece is pretty reflective of that.
 
 
What was the impetus to place it in the construct of classical piece of art, like a Renaissance painting? I know you tend to look towards pop culture for inspiration and influence more than to pure highbrow fine art, yet this sits squarely within an art historical context.
 
Well, in 2012 I started re-making all of these found Photoshopped images and re-creating them as self-portraits without using Photoshop. I would find them in these strange online contests that are sort of aimed at people who are bored at work. The outcome is often disturbing and/or incredible. I did about a dozen remakes of images where people altered images from art history, like placing Santa Claus in an ancient Egyptian painting or Yoda in a Bouguereau, or painting sexy bikinis on abstract women in a Picasso, so it stemmed from that. This remake of a 15th Century Fra Angelico painting is the first time I tried my own hand at it and created a parody composition on my own instead of using one I found. In the middle panel is myself as Missy Elliot in her giant infamous inflated garbage bag costume replacing the Christ figure dressed in all white. The outer panels have all of my favorite male celebs (including seventeen Michael Jacksons), and the 2nd and 4th panel celebs were chosen by my Mom and Grandma.

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In The Studio of Sam Friedman

Sam Friedman is an artist whose work we’ve always been appreciative of. In anticipation of his show at Kinfolk’s new space tonight (4/18), we dipped inside his studio to get a look at where he creates and talked a little bit of art with him.

 
So… when did you move into this studio?

I moved into my studio in June 2012.
 
Let’s say you meet a person and tell them you’re an artist. They ask you “what kind of art do you make?” You say…?

I make paintings.
 
When did you first consider yourself an artist? Do you remember making things as a kid?

I was always drawing and making things as a kid, and have considered myself an artist for as long I was old enough to have an identity.
 
Your dad helps you make canvases, right?

Yeah, he has been making a lot of my panels for over a decade now.
 
All of these paintings are very tropical, which is a really cool thing these days. How long have you been making paintings incorporating this trendy theme? How’d you decide on it?

Hahahaha. I try not to make them tropical, but I do paint beaches. All of mine are based off the northeast, so your not going to find a palm tree or anything. I started painting beaches in August of 2008 after watching a storm roll in to the Rockaways at sunset on my wife’s birthday. In the moment, the scene reminded me of the abstract paintings I was doing at the time, so I just took the same language and made a landscape painting the next week.

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Picture Planes: An Interview with Charlie Rubin

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When you look at Charlie Rubin’s new book, Strange Paradise, you realize that the title is really perfect. While the images are striking and lush, full of interesting and beautiful visual flora and fauna, they have a sense of weirdness and unease. It’s the kind of imagery that requires time and pondering to notice all the nuances and cleverness going on behind the scenes. Charlie creates photographs and then takes them back to his studio, altering them in sometimes conspicuous, sometime subtle ways, giving the images an exciting and confounding physicality and confusing our assumptions about what a photograph is. The launching of Strange Paradise, which is out now on Conveyor Editions, will be celebrated tomorrow (4/10) at Printed Matter (complete with a custom window display by Charlie), and everyone should come.
 
Christian: Do you see yourself as a pure photographer in the classic sense, or something else? Your work, while very rooted in photography as a base, has obvious elements and layers of sculpture and painting.
 
Charlie Rubin: I guess I always start with a classic photograph and then build off of it if it feels right, so it’s a mixture of pure and something else. Recently though, I’ve been leaning toward the something else. Even though my work uses painting, collage and sculpture, I still see the final image as a photograph. I also include straight, unaltered, photographs in series and have side documentary or portrait projects. The medium is transforming fast, and it’s made me transform as an artist- a reaction to the utilitarian nature of it and how anyone can take a beautiful photograph these days. It happened naturally for me; I got bored with a lot of my own imagery because I didn’t find anything unique about it anymore, so I needed to find out how to bring meaning back in to my images.

My little sister showed me this app on her phone the other day where you can add light leaks and dust particles to your iPhone photos and I’m like, “Whoa, someone is turning in their grave.” My work is a reaction to these things, to the yearning for physicality, for something real and non-screen.
  
Tell me about how you came upon your process of moving the digital back into a physical realm. Did you have an “A Ha!” moment when you discovered a way to make something new with your photographs?
 
Like I said, it was a response to the feeling that my pictures were losing meaning. I could take the most awesome picture of a sunset with five rainbows and plants and beautiful people in front of it, but it just didn’t matter because I could open up my laptop and find five images just like it. I had to work with the medium and figure out how to convey my frustration and conceptualize this change in the visual cultural landscape surrounding me. It’s also a fantasy or escape from the monotony of imagery I was seeing and making.
 
At first I experimented with ink on my photos, influenced by graffiti and other mark-making techniques, and highlighting what I found important in the photo. I made a breakthrough some years later when I used inkjet ink on an inkjet print and everything came together.

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When You Read An Interview And You Imagine That The Guy Asking The Questions Sounds Like Johnny Utah

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Keanu Reeves talks to Robert Longo. “Fuck yeah.”

Pud Season: An Interview with Jason Nocito

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If you’re an idiot, you might look at Jason Nocito’s beautiful new book, designed by Ari Marcopolous and Camilla Venturini and premiering sixteen new photographs, and say, “It’s a bunch of pictures of puddles.” And you wouldn’t be totally wrong. Aptly titled PUD, Jason’s new book does heavily feature stunning large format images of iridescent pools filled with cigarettes and leaves, but it a lot more than that. It’s an ode to Charlie Brown, death, and American street photography, for starters. I called up Jason while he was working in Los Angeles so he could explain it to all the idiots.
 
CHRISTIAN: I got a look at the book. It’s beautiful. It’s shorter than what I’m used to but I think that really works well.

JASON: I guess it’s shorter but I don’t really see it as a one-off, done deal. I don’t think of it as a conscious project, it’s just a body of pictures that I put together.After making I Heart Transylvania, which was a larger body of work, this is like the beginning of something else for me. I Heart Transylvania was very personal, and so is this work, but in a different way. It’s personal without showing any humans, which is really different than I Heart, which showed a lot of close people in my life.
 
You shot the whole thing on an 8×10 view camera, correct?

Yeah, it started a few years ago when I as talking to a friend about Ten Swimming Pools and a Broken Glass, the Ed Ruscha book. I guess it started before that actually, when I moved back to New York from Vancouver. Every place I am, I want to make photographs. I’ve never been the person who says I’m going to go to this place and do this project and do it and be done. I’ve always kind of hated that, it’s not what I’m about. I was living in New York and I was burnt out professionally and emotionally. I would walk around the city all the time with my head down, like a lot of people do, and I would see all these things. That’s what I was looking at, so that’s what I photographed. A lot of that stuff is made right in my neighborhood in Chinatown. I tried it a few different ways with different kinds of cameras but at one point I met with my friend and photographer, Danny Gordon, and we talked about 8×10 large format camera. Its a different process and a different microscope to look at things. I started playing around with it.

I’m also really interested in the 8×10 process and the way that, in five or ten years, the process will probably be gone. It’s sort of a slowly-dying way to make images and the film will probably be impossible to get in the near future. I was really interested in using it as of an extension of thinking about death.

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Creativity in Revolutionary Times: An Interview with Sasha Kurmaz

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When I first met Sasha Kurmaz, I had never thought of his home base of Kiev, Ukraine, as a hotbed for civil unrest and upheaval. His photographs certainly didn’t change my mind. Sure, there was a certain air of Eastern European military industrial sadness, but the colors were too bright and the kids were too naked and drunk to be in any real danger. Sasha’s work is simultaneously funny and confusing, sexy and weird. He works with ideas of youth, sexuality, and how those things exist outside of our western world. When I heard about the turmoil in Kiev, I immediately thought of Sasha, my friend who signs every email with “Hugs!” and who is always eager to share his specific brand of oddness with the world. I emailed him to find out how he was coping and what it’s like to be an artist in the midst of a revolution.
 
Christian: First off, how are you? Are you safe?

Sasha: The situation in Ukraine is really tense. Kiev is calm right now, no shots fired or people dying, but the situation in Crimea and eastern Ukraine is very complicated. I find it difficult to talk about the “regime change,” mostly because the regime has not really changed. One gangster regime is gone, but this new one we have has gotten their hands dirty too.
 
Do you see yourself as more of a European or a Russian, or are those divides not as important as the news media makes them seem?

In my ideal view, I see a world without borders and states, where there is no distinction of race and nation.
 
What’s it like to be an artist in Kiev right now?

Being an artist is very difficult in Ukraine. No artist, myself included, can think about art when people are dying. But you have no choice; you either stand by and watch, or act in the protest. I’ve shifted my focus. I’ve painted political graffiti on the walls of the city and glued posters. At the same time, I’m trying to create a photo archive of the conflict. The situation here has a direct impact on everything. I think art acts as a mirror for what is happening in society. In Ukraine, after what’s happening in the Maidan, art will be more political and radical.
 
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Printables

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Christo by Barbara Rose

He wrapped monuments, government buildings, coastlines, islands. Now the artist is preparing for possibly his most ambitious projects to date, including what may be the biggest art structure in the world.

Just For Fun

early-kaws-painting

Early paintings and a 1996 interview with KAWS

“I would much rather have a piece sitting in a gallery, out on a wall or riding by on a freight than sitting in my studio where only I and a few other people can see it.”

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