Dave McKenzie – Visual & Performance Artist

Dave McKenzie – Visual & Performance Artist


– It gives me great pleasure tonight to introduce Dave McKenzie. I first saw Dave’s work, it might have been October 2013. He did a performance
associated with Performa, this biennial of performance art, at Third Streaming, a space in Soho in one of
these historic Soho lofts. It was a walkup, ancient wooden floors that were creaky and dusty. The room was packed. I remember I sat on the floor in the front and Dave came out from behind
a white wall and performed in a really it was a very
compelling performance that combined movement,
he was performing himself. I remember kind of like
these sort of hopping motions and spoken word and some
objects, involved chalk. I got chalk dust all over me. Yeah. And it was just amazing. And it was a really memorable event and I remember thinking,
on my way home that night, that this is why I love being in New York and being an artist and… And Dave started teaching here that year. Dave’s a conceptual artist and he does work, in
addition to performance, in video, photography, and sculpture. You might have seen his work
in the last Whitney Biennial. It was a couple of different videos. His work often investigates
representations of self through the framework of popular culture. He’s originally from Kingston, Jamaica. He’s had solo exhibitions
at the Aspen Art Museum, at the Institute of
Contemporary Art Boston, Atlantic Contemporary Art Center, Wien Lukatsch in Berlin,
REDCAT in Los Angeles, and, as I mentioned, his work was included in the Whitney Biennial in 2014, in the Biel Biennial, same year, the New Museum Triennial in 2012, and it’s been exhibited at
the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston, the Museum of
Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, The Studio Museum in Harlem, the Walker Art Center in Minnesota, these are all group shows, the Brooklyn Museum of
Art, Queens Museum of Art, PS1, Sculpture Center here
in New York, The Kitchen, Lehmann Maupin, White
Columns, and Art in General, just to name a few. He’s represented by Suzanne
Veilmetter in Los Angeles. He was an artist in residence
in PS1’s Studio Program in 2001 and at The Studio
Museum in Harlem in 2003. He’s received grants from the LMCC, that’s the Lower Manhattan
Cultural Council, and Art Matters, and he was the Guna S.
Mundheim Visual Arts Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin in 2011, and he recently returned
from a year, or 11 months, at the American Academy in Rome, where he was a recipient
of the Rome Prize. He got a BFA in printmaking
from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, and he attended Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 2000. Please join me in welcoming Dave McKenzie. (applause) – Wow, so thank you all for being here. Thank you, Mark, for that introduction. So, before I decided sort of how I wanted this evening to go, which maybe is, unfortunately I think, for me, maybe for you,
sort of always in flux. So, for me, when I’m invited to speak, or have a sort of opportunity, and even obligation sometimes to speak, for me, that kind of invitation is really a moment to think out loud. So, I do, there are
things that I will say, if you’ve heard me speak,
I will say again and again because they’re kind of important to me, or things I thought a lot about and I feel like I’ve
found the way to say them. But I think talking about
your work, or one’s work, or anyone’s work really, it’s not just a kind of
exercise in self-promotion. For me, it’s, as I say, it’s really a moment, not
only to think out loud, but to kind of draw
connections between things that I didn’t think were connected. So, a lot of my work, as you will see, it’s often broken up through
medium, through time. I tend to arrange things in an order that in the moment, I think
is really meaningful to me, and what I hope to do
always when I talk about it, or think about it, is to
draw certain through lines to connect them because they
may or may not seem connected. So, I wanted, initially, when I was thinking about doing this talk, to really kind of start
with thinking about like who I am as an artist, or a little bit where I’ve been, not a kind of complete history, I certainly won’t do that by any means, but really thinking
about some of the things and some of the artists and ideas that have influenced who I am as an artist and there are too many actually to mention in sort of full detail, at least two that I won’t
go into depth on tonight. One is, as Mark mentioned, the Skowhegan School of
Painting and Sculpture, which for me was really an unbelievably transformative moment and one that I would say changed my life and it was really, for me, was
my graduate school, honestly. The things that I thought I wanted to get out of graduate school, I was
lucky enough, in some ways, to get in those nine weeks
in the sort of woods of Maine at this art residency. Another strange one would be, although I didn’t know it at the time, would be the work of David Hammons. So, when I was first shown
the work of David Hammons, I was 18 or 19 years old
and I did not like it. I did not get it. I didn’t understand why
it was being shown to me. I felt really uncomfortable
and this is really different than the way I feel now about
David Hammons and his work. But I think what was really striking, one of the reasons I want to touch on it, I just don’t think I was ready for it and in some ways I think
that’s really, really, not only a kind of, I
hope, kind of compliment to David Hammons and
his work and his ideas, but also it sort of reminds me, when I’m working with
say freshman and things, that the things that I show them, maybe later on they’ll be more
interested in or ready for and it’s always sort of a
nice kind of push and pull with myself and some of my
sort of undergrad students trying to kind of figure
out what kinds of things may be important to them. This is a work by an artist I really don’t know anything about. His name was Claude Mellan, or Mellan. And this is actually the
only work that I know by him. It’s an engraving and it’s
an engraving of the face of Jesus, made essentially
from a single spiraling line. And so those of you who
are taking printmaking, or know anything about printmaking, and even if you don’t,
even if you just make it sort of pen and paper,
or pencil and paper, you, I think, can appreciate
the kind of technical skill that would be required to achieve this. So, in my Print Studies Seminar class, which is a class that was held at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, I went to see a lot of different prints, but this is actually the
only one that I remember. And one of the things that I always think, thinking back on school, is there’s sort of like very few moments that I really remember. And that’s no kind of
slight to my teachers. But this is one of those
moments, as a printmaker myself, where I think I was both taken
with the actual object itself and also realizing that this
printmaking, this print, this object, this drawing,
had nothing to do with me, and at the same time being
totally taken with it and maybe not fully knowing what to do with that kind of disagreement, let’s say, of my own technical skills
and this previous work that thematically had
really nothing to do with me and I was only really
taken with its technique. This is a very different face, but I’m sure many of you
recognize this artist. This is Vito Acconci. And Vito Acconci is an artist that I can’t say I think
a lot about per se, like he’s not an artist
that when I’m struggling in the studio I go back and sort of read the Acconci catalogs, or watch
the Acconci films, let’s say, but he, by far, he was
maybe the first artist who said something to me directly in a way that sticks with me to this day. So, when I was a student, he came to school to give a lecture, I suppose much like I’m doing, and I didn’t know anything
really about Acconci and so his way of lecturing at the time was super performative, a lot of kind of like yelps
and sort of stuttering. And the thing that I remembered about Acconci coming to speak is really just sort of one sentence, which I’m gonna paraphrase. He said something like I realized
I could be an artist when, he said I realized I could be an artist because I knew I could think and this was, I mean for me, as someone who was a printmaking major, who had kind of fled from painting because I realized really early on that I would be a terrible painter, and someone who was kind of just exploring a bunch of different subjects, or mediums, that this like simple statement was probably the most important thing that I ever heard anyone
say in my time in art school and probably like a lot of you, you probably attend a
lot of talks and things. I don’t remember anyone else who spoke. And again, that’s no
sort of slight to them. Many of you won’t remember me. That’s okay. But I remember Acconci
and that one statement and that’s the kind of thing
that I’ve tried to carry with me through my life
and through the kind of way that I think about making art, less the material and more the kind of why and the sort of sense that what I am as a person, hopefully,
or what I’m trying to be, is a thoughtful person
and the kind of person who wants to be critical and critical of my
criticality, so to speak. Another piece that just
sort of didn’t really have, I didn’t draw the easy line then, but this is a piece by Acconci
called Trademarks in 1970. Essentially, he bites himself and then proceeds to make a
print from the bite marks. And so I probably didn’t
think of it at the time, but this is like, I mean for me, this is the kind of perfect
marriage of printmaking and not only performance,
but just thinking about the body and an idea as a tool, right, like how does an idea
that needs to be executed, how does that become a
tool for making something? Usually when I start my talks, I almost always start with this work, which has been performed and presented in a couple of different versions. So, this is a piece called Babble that was initially made as a
single-channel video in 2000. And in that early piece, I
just sat in front of a camera, stuck a microphone in my mouth, wrapped the cord around my neck, and proceeded to perform
a kind of sign language over and over again as I
choked on the microphone. And I often show it
first is because I think it was sort of like the
first thing that I made that I felt, in many
ways, was not only my own, but I felt like I put together,
at the time, for myself, an interesting marriage
of the way I was feeling and thinking and the artwork. And I often say, about the piece, that what I’m, not so much what I’m doing, but one of the things
that I’ve hoped with it, that the difficulty of speaking is also linked to the
difficulty of listening. I think, so often, when
we are communicating a kind of back and forth, you are thinking about what
you’re going to say next. That’s the way a kind of dialogue works, that even as you’re listening, you are anticipating speech and I wanted to make
this other type of speech by misappropriating something I didn’t know very much
about, sign language, and by making the kind of
physical breathing and heaving, I wanted to make that apparent. For a lot of people, it’s a
really difficult piece to watch for a lot of reasons. One, it’s just the audio
and the kind of gag reflex of someone stuffing a
microphone into their mouth and beginning to gag and choke, so that’s sort of uncomfortable. As I perform the piece,
or reform the piece, in 2006 initially, another thing happened, that I realized that I had
gone from that initial video, where I was just sort of
seated in front of a camera, performing for the camera, very Acconci style in
some of his early works, to now doing the piece sort
of live in front of people. And so I say a couple
of thing about the work. One is that the kind of
physical exertion was doubled. So walking around the space, with this microphone in my mouth, again, with the cord of the microphone wrapped around my neck fairly tightly, I began to asphyxiate and fall down. But the piece really, for me, even doing it six years later, it became, I think, really this sort of time machine, right. So the person that I was
in 2000 making this work is, in some ways, very different
than the person I am now, was very different from
the person I am in 2006. And so, while this piece is
sort of difficult for me to do, it’s sort of taxing, I don’t
really like passing out, it is like a time machine, like I can go back to the
person that I was in 2000, not only as a kind of memory, but as a totally physically
embodied experience. So, again, my work takes
a lot of different forms, which can sometimes be really confusing. For me, it’s not so much of a problem because I’m not aiming for style. I think what I’m trying to aim for is to offer up, for myself
and for others, hopefully, is a series of kind of platforms, right. So, artworks, for me, have
really been platforms. An artist I didn’t mention, but I think I probably really should pay a kind of homage to is
Felix Gonzalez-Torres, who was an artist that died,
and I never met certainly, and is one of the few artists
that I can say I miss, like I honestly miss
Felix Gonzalez-Torres, having never met him and having only encountered these works in galleries and museums, which to my mind are incredibly
generous and complicated and we think we know
them and I’m not so sure that actually fully do. So, he’s an artist that
has definitely been not only a kind of inspiration, but someone who I thought
there were many ideas that extended far beyond the work itself, even when it was just really simple kind of pieces of paper, or
candy spills on the floor. So, I moved to New York to
attend the PS1 Studio Program, which Mark mentioned, and I moved in August of 2001. And so, it was a really great
time for me, in many ways. I was moving to New York,
I’d never lived in the city, and I was moving in with my brother and even beyond that, I was getting this free studio space in Lower Manhattan at the Clock Tower, and I don’t know, I felt really,
really excited about that. The only thing I didn’t
have, I guess, was the job, but you know, sometimes
you can’t have everything when you move to the city. So, I realize what I’m about to say should be taken in no way to think of the hardship wasn’t mine. But as you probably could guess from the dates that I just
mentioned, of August 2001, that within a couple of
weeks of moving to the city, the September 11th attacks happened. And there are a lot of people who were dealing with
much, much worse things than I certainly was. But one of the things that
I started to think about, as I was trying to deal
with living in a new city, a city that had just been attacked, was like why am I gonna go to my studio? Like why am I gonna go
downtown, go to my studio, and make sculptures, or
drawings, or whatever? Like how am I gonna do that? And like what does that mean even? And I don’t know that I ever
really answered that question, but the first thing I made
was this really small object, which is just a brown paper bag. It says “Stay Calm” on it. And I can’t really tell you why, other than it sort of helped me deal with some of the kind of issues that I was having just sleeping and kind of hyperventilating and things. But it was sort of the first thing that I just needed to do, that, again, didn’t
solve any problem per se, but made me feel a certain way. And for me, I’m always
hopeful that the works can offer that possibility up. (chattering) – [Woman] We swooped in, got a drink. – [Man] You guys are smart. (chattering) (“I Wanna Dance With
Somebody” by Whitney Houston) ♪ Yeah ♪ ♪ Now get with this ♪ (laughs) ♪ Whoa ♪ ♪ Don’tcha wanna dance with me, baby ♪ ♪ Dontcha wanna dance with me, boy ♪ ♪ Hey, don’tcha wanna
dance with me, baby ♪ ♪ With somebody who loves me ♪ ♪ Don’tcha wanna dance,
say you wanna dance ♪ ♪ Don’tcha wanna dance ♪ ♪ Don’tcha wanna dance,
say you wanna dance ♪ ♪ Don’tcha wanna dance ♪ ♪ Don’tcha wanna dance,
say you wanna dance ♪ ♪ With somebody who loves me ♪ – So, in around 2004, I was in residence at The
Studio Museum in Harlem and that was a really great moment for me, one, again, working with an institution and getting some space,
which is, as you know, is really difficult in the city. I’m a really, though, sort
of strange studio artist in that I like to have a studio space, but I’m often really bad in one, that because the ideas kind of
come from all over the place, that I’m not always so able to take, I don’t know, maybe the
kind of full advantage that I’d like to with the
kind of physical space. They’re always a challenge for
me and I’m sure many of you, just to kind of get going in them, right, especially when you haven’t
been in one for awhile, to kind of start a new space is, like it just takes awhile
to kind of make it your own. And I was working in
Harlem and figuring out kind of going back and forth
from Brooklyn to Harlem and what that was, you
know, how to use a space and always feeling really guilty for not sort of being there
more hours, or what have you. And one day I was reading The Times and there was a kind
of interesting article, which the title was something
like Dear Mr. Clinton, Your Harlem Neighbors Need
To See You More Often. And so this was, it wasn’t a kind of parallel
situation by any means, but I thought it was really
interesting that Bill Clinton and the kind of joke of
the first Black president of a man who moves his
offices, at the time, to Harlem and that kind of sense of
excitement around Bill Clinton as a figure in the culture and you should know that
Bill Clinton even arrives with some sort of, he arrives to Harlem
with like a band playing, they’re playing We Shall Overcome. And so all these sort of
ideas kind of circulating between the joke of Clinton
as the first Black president and also, I think, the sense of Clinton as a kind of specter, or
figure, that needed to be seen, and seeing was a sort of power
that he had at the moment. So, I took it upon myself that throughout the course of the year, while I was in residence
at The Studio Museum, I would periodically walk 125th Street dressed as Bill Clinton. And by dressed as, I mean
simply wearing a suit and a Bill Clinton mask
that I bought online. And I realized really quickly that the piece could be sort of understood in a lot of different ways and the first time I walked out, I was walking for a couple of minutes and some guy came up to me and he said, “Do you want to really
be white that badly?” And I thought oh wait, that’s not what the kind of
conversation I want to have. Or maybe it is, I don’t know. But I didn’t know how to
address it in this moment and then the mask comes off and there all these sort of like issues, which maybe would have been
actually the way to handle it, now that I think about it. But at the time, what
I sort of thought was I want the piece,
whatever it is in the end, I want it to function on a
couple of different levels. And so, I just started taking
a copy of the article with me and I just handed it out. And I don’t know if people read it, but I just thought from
the kind of title alone, it got to the space where moments where I felt there
was a sort of tension, or people thought they
were being made fun of, could become moments where
the work became funny again, which is, for me, it was funny, like the kind of stereotypical joke of Bill Clinton as a
first Black president, which now, of course, seems really old, this sort of joke of a white president being thought of as Black
because he plays sax and is from the South and
these sort of like stereotypes gets somehow turned in on itself through a kind of white
face walking around. I re-performed the piece
several years later, sort of on the cusp of
Obama becoming president, and I can say, for sure, that it was really, really different, that I felt, when I first walked out, people looked at me a lot, and as I walked out, sort of, again, on the cusp of Obama being elected, I felt like people didn’t see me. (feet tapping) (panting) (panting) (tapping) (stomping) (grunting) (fingers snapping) (gasping) (clanging) (panting) (groans) (yells) So that’s a fairly old video
from 2000 called Edward and Me and it’s really the first
sort of performance on video, following Babble, that I made, really trying to think, I think, about what it meant to
put something on video. Part of my education,
I like to say in a way, was not only really
the classes that I had, but kind of the hours
spent in the library, flipping through catalogs and things, and discovering the work of
someone like Marina Abramovic, and realizing that that
work was 30 years old and being totally floored by it and feeling like it was
kind of from the future and then having to go back
upstairs in the building, back to like class, and not being able to reconcile
my feelings with that, but also thinking that
once you’ve kind of like stabbed yourself, been
shot, et cetera, et cetera, like in terms of sort of like one-upping, there’s like nowhere to go
really, other than maybe death. So not wanting to do that, I
began to kind of try to think about where else some of the ideas for the works could come from and where, essentially,
like literally where the kind of medium of
video would play into that and how the performance
could double up on itself, both as myself doing the
performance in real time and then the kind of
act of creating a video. So, there’s some sort
of like early kind of me really learning video, but that’s sort of where a
work like that comes from. This is a project called
Self-Portrait Pinata. And it’s sort of part of a group of works that bear like a really
passing resemblance to me. And so, I asked someone to make a pinata, giving them a couple of
photographs of myself, just, like you see, just
sort of like blue shirt and kind of gray pants. And this became like a really
interesting piece, for me, really through kind of conversation and realizing like the limits of what is sort of
possible and acceptable. So, again, I initially made this piece while I was residence at PS1 and I realized that as I began to talk with the curators about the show, that as they would explain
it to other people, they would really kind of like, some of them would like mis-explain it. So I said oh yeah, it’s a
pinata, kind of looks like me, and it’s gonna be hoisted up and it’s gonna be filled with candy and it’s gonna be beaten open and candy will come out
and it’s like a pinata. And they said oh, okay. And then I realized, again,
through conversation, that one of the curators
had told the other curator that maybe we had a problem with the inclusion of the work in the show because I had made this thing and it was gonna have
a noose around its neck and even though I sort of
knew that there was an obvious kind of association between lynching, a black body in space being beaten open, I thought it was really striking that even though I had, I thought, explained it kind of correctly
and straightforwardly, the assumption was that it
was very much a lynching, and thinking that where do I have space within that to operate. (chattering) – [Man] All right. Now. – [Woman] Swing! (thudding)
(cheering) – [Man] Harder! (yelling) (thudding) (chattering) – [Man] That a boy! – [Man] Harder! (thudding) (cheering) – [Man] That was awesome. – So, the piece was not shown at PS1 for a number of reasons. And I was sort of lucky
enough to get this opportunity to show the work at the
Queens Museum of Art. And so, if you’ve ever been
to the Queens Museum of Art, I guess post, or pre-renovation rather, you realize that the museum
is one, that in particular, has to do a lot of outreach. So, they’re always having
various kind of community days and always bringing in sort of, trying to bring in the greater kind of population in
Queens and further field, but really trying to draw
people into the museum through their programming, but making it really
available and accessible to a large sort of demographic. And I was like super fortunate
that when I did this project, there were all these kids there. And I always say this and I always really
believe this to be true. It’s probably the one
performance that I know I have really no desire to redo. Like when I say like to think out loud, when I re-perform something,
when I re-present something, again, it’s like a moment to reimagine, rethink what it is, keep
it alive in some ways. But this one seems so kind of… For me, it was like so
perfect to have the kids because there is this
really interesting space that maybe didn’t quite understand when I was describing
the kind of curatorial decision-making or storytelling, but for the kids it’s
just a pinata, right. And at some point in time, through the act of education and coming to terms with this
thing that we call history, it won’t be that, and I think that’s true
regardless, though, of my body. That’d be true hopefully
of any woman’s body, right, that they would begin to read
all sorts of possibilities onto the body, onto the image. But right now it’s just filled with candy and that’s it, it’s a pinata, the same way it’d be a pinata
of their favorite character, like SpongeBob or something, like it doesn’t matter that it’s me. It only matters that it’s me for other. And it’s not even me. It doesn’t look really like
me, other than we’re both bald and like 5’5″. But it doesn’t really look like me, so it’s generic, it’s
just the kind of figure, which I think is really
important and interesting. This is a project, again,
like sort of like me, but not really and sometimes like me. This is a project called
While Supplies Last, performed a couple of times, where I wear this sort of
paper-mache head of myself and hand out these white boxes and inside the box is
another version of myself. And much like the Kissinger video, which I didn’t talk about,
but much like that piece, I think the relationship
created by the gesture of touch is one that I have, for a long time, been really interested in. Like what does it mean, essentially, to be in close proximity
and communication? And so for me to hand out
this weird sort of figure of myself, it has all these
kind of historical readings, right, to walk into someone’s, I’ve had friends who’ve told me like people come into their
house and see this thing and they’re like who’s Dave? Like what is this, right? So it plays into a kind of
history of figures like this, but at the same time, it’s me, it’s a kind of, I mean, I
don’t want to say everyman, but there is this way where
the normal kind of person you would expect one of these
tchotchkes to be made of would be someone of value, right, and sort of instantly
understandable value, like a sports athlete, right, like a well, a really
talented basketball player, like a Michael Jordan, or a pop star. And to make it myself is
always leading to the question of like who, right, who is this, which is a question that I
can’t really answer so easily, but is always what the work is, I think. This is a good example of I was invited, as I was having this show
at the Aspen Art Museum, they asked me to participate in their 4th of July parade in Aspen and I had already made this previous work where I drew, again, a
sort of caricature of this, of myself, over top of a
character called Little Bill, which is a Bill Cosby character
and also, weirdly enough, the first African American parade float in the Macy’s Day Parade. It’s like a weird,
meaningless kind of fact, but it’s a fact nonetheless. And so, when I was asked to
participate in the parade, I thought, oh, why
don’t I take that video, that short video that I made, and why don’t we bring
it into the real world. And so, through the streets of Aspen, we walked with this
inflated kind of marriage of myself and the Little Bill figure. And it was really crazy
and complex to do that, one, because you can see some of the other like floats and things, but it was the largest
thing in the parade, like by far, like not even close. And I don’t know if any
of you have been to Aspen, but Aspen is not like a really
racially diverse community. And the thing was, of course, much like when I say like the bobbleheads, like people come into someone’s
house and like who is that? All right, you float a giant
Black guy down the street in Aspen, Colorado and people
want to know who that is. And not only that, but
they will start guessing. And so, this was a moment where like it doesn’t really ring any bells, so they just start projecting. So, it’s like LeBron James, like, oh, we want him to come to Colo, and it was just like anything and constantly we sort of had to say, well, it’s like this
guy, it’s this project, and it was always like tried to, like we’re always trying to explain it and I always felt super uncomfortable like trying to make a kind of, ’cause I had to justify it in some way, like I had just sort of inserted
myself into their community and made myself the most
visible kind of thing. But I love the moment where they had to try to figure
out what this thing is and they really couldn’t. And so that, for me, was sort of like… Again, the kind of question that the work is often trying to, like how to deal with a kind of situation, and how to present the kind of platform. So, this is a work called Preamble in which I sort of made a kind
of doubling of this really, at this point I don’t know
if it’s famous anymore, but in the initial
episode of The Cosby Show, there’s a moment in the
first episode where Cosby comes to his son Theo and it’s
sort of a well-known joke, but he says to him, “I
brought you into this world “and I can take you out.” And it’s like uproarious. And it was the kind of thing
that I think a lot of parents, including my mother, would say to me. And so, I did a couple
of different things, but this is part of the
project called Preamble in which I sort of, I had this sort of stage set up where you could enter
a kind of fictionalized version of that set. And so, periodically, standing
in front of this camera, Bill Cosby would sort of pop up and say, “I brought you into this
world and I can take you out.” This is a piece called Fear and Trembling. So, it’s a lone garment
bag on a drying rack, or garment rack, which slowly
and periodically rotates and it says, “Love me, Jesus.” Sort of companion piece where
Jesus does, in fact, love me. So, again, the works take
kind of various forms. Often, I think, some of the early work, and I’m not giving dates and things, but often dealing with
a kind of multiplicity, or thinking about how do I extend what’s important for me. So, I made this piece that
is called It’s A Date, and the way it works, it just sort of keeps
extending, keeps showing it. The way it works it in I stick
it in the gallery or museum and people come in and they put their name and some form of contact information and I choose a name, or two, or three, and I pick that out and I
take them to dinner on me. And I always thought that like the thing that I’m really interested in and sort of excited by the work is that it plays on the possibility
of the space, right. I mean, one way of thinking
about institutions, an important way, is the kind
of critique of institutions, right, to always be keeping
institutions on their toes about what it means to be displaying and presenting and collecting
and archiving works of art and I think with that strategy, an additional way of
thinking about the museum, the gallery, et cetera, et cetera, is that it can also be a space that one steps over a threshold and believes in something,
or is ready for something, and I thought why do these people want to go to dinner with me? They don’t know me. Other than the kind of free invite, I don’t know that I offer up much more. Some of these works, I always feel like I’m using the platform to take, right, to do a thing that I don’t know that I’m capable of doing otherwise, which is to walk up to someone
on the street and say hey, would you like to go to dinner? And not have that be a weird interaction. And so I let the work of art do that. Similarly, I did this
piece called I’ll Be There. And I made, for a talk
that I gave at the Whitney, I made this multiple, or was
asked to make a multiple, and they said it could be anything, so it could be like a T-shirt,
or sticker, or whatever. They were like whatever
it is, that’s fine. And so I made these day planners, which I, throughout the year, I just hand stamped in 200 of them six or seven dates of places that I’d be. And when I think about this work and when I, often I talk about it, I try to sort of stress
that the important thing is not really whether or
not people meet me, right. The important thing is that
when I say I’m gonna be at Moma in front of Jeff Wall’s Milk at 1:00, I’m there at like 12:30,
I’m there at noon maybe, that I find myself
running for an appointment that doesn’t really exist,
or only exists on my end. And the way I think about the work is that having given out
these 200 day planners, I don’t remember who gets them. So much like this group of people, I’m not gonna be able
to remember all of you. Some of you I know already. I’m not gonna remember all of you. And so if I were to give it to this group, if I was at Jeff Wall’s Moma,
or front of car of A-train, I just start looking at people
as potential meetings, right, and what’s actually, I think,
really difficult about that is to not judge, right, to see the old guy pushing a
shopping cart full of cans. I know he wasn’t at the Whitney. I get it, he was not at the Whitney. But how to overcome that kind of bias, how to believe that maybe he was, and that is like really difficult and the thing that I struggle with, but for me it’s like that’s
where I put the work, like I place my emphasis there, as opposed to elsewhere,
or who actually meets me. And often, it’s just my friends
show up, just so you know. I’m gonna go, I think we’re
probably getting close to sort of time. So I’m just gonna like go
through things kind of quickly or just talk about one
or two more projects. The piece has taken a
couple of different forms. Similarly, there’s a
piece called Proposal, or Proposal Painting, where
I’ve made about 10 of them and the painting is exactly what it says. It says, “This painting is a proposal. “And I propose we meet
once a year every year “until one of us can’t or won’t.” So again, thinking often
about where the work is, and often the work, so to speak, is outside the object and I’m interested in the possibility of a platform of relationship
that could be created through this thing that
we call the work of art. So I’m just gonna flash
through a couple images and I think probably talk
about one more piece. These are a series of letter
written to anonymous drives. I could explain, but. Yeah, so, I could explain, but
it’ll just take a minute, so. You can ask me in the Q&A. So, this is the last project
I’m gonna talk about. It’s a project for New Orleans. It’s called I’ll Be Back. And so, I was invited
to be in an exhibition called Prospect One and Prospect One is a biennial
that happens in New Orleans and was started post-Katrina as a way to engage the arts community and help revitalize the city and I was really excited
to be asked to participate, but I also was overwhelmed. So, anyone who saw the first Prospect One probably realize that there were kind of two general strategies about making work. One was to address Katrina, to very purposefully address
Katrina and the aftermath and the failure of government, and the other was to sort
of just make something, anything that you would normally make, and I didn’t know what to do,
like I couldn’t figure out what was the appropriate response, given the kind of
gravity of the situation. And I realized, in my sort of site visits and talking with the curators and kind of their desire and excitement about doing something really
big and kind of out there and really just going for it, I realized that what I
wanted to do was make a piece that could deal with all of those things, and really, again, like my
relationship with things. So in some ways, it’s like super selfish, which is, I’m not sort of
advocating one way or the other, but I think it’s
important to realize that, as makers of things, often
like we’re the first viewer. And even sometimes
there’s no viewer but us. So, I decided that instead of making a sculpture or painting, I would just make a kind of
commitment to New Orleans, to keep New Orleans,
essentially, in my thoughts, and what I do is every year,
at some point during the year, I just go to New Orleans. I go, I spend money, I hang out, I see things, I eat a boatload of food, ’cause food in New Orleans is incredible, I take my girlfriend, I’ve
taken my parents, and that’s it. Sometimes I go for a couple of days. I’ve gone as short as a few hours and like that’s the work, to essentially make a project that is about a kind of commitment, right, to make a project that
doesn’t have a sort of end based on your invitation to participate in a really big exhibition
with a nice catalog, et cetera, to make something that forces me to relate to a place and a space and an
idea about place and space. And so, I’ve committed to
going until at least 2018, but it could easily go
on and on beyond that. What’s important about the
piece, in the very end, beyond the going and
thinking about a place, is just the fact that the piece works as a kind of dialogue, right. When I was in New Orleans
and people would ask me what did you do, I said, well, it’s actually like I’m
gonna come back every year. And they go, what? And then you’d have to explain it to them and I have friends who, like
they just tell other people, oh, he does this. Like the piece is very much
based on a kind of dialogue. There’s nothing really to see, other than to know it’s
called I’ll Be Back. It’s just about going, right. And so when people go do
you like make a piece, do you like go, like, I’m
like I just go, right. You know, like I’ve
already told what I, I go. I go, that’s what I do. I decided to go. I go and I think about this place and I keep it on my mind and that might not seem
really kind of meaningful, but I can tell you that
I had an experience a couple years ago when
my father passed away, he passed away in November, and thinking, ’cause I
usually go to New Orleans sort of at the end of the year, thinking that at some
point I was gonna have to break this grieving
period to go take a trip based on this other project. And I can’t tell you that
that was like a great feeling, but for me, also, that’s
what the piece is, right. I’ve made this, I’ve said
I’m gonna do this thing. The Proposal Painting is a proposition. It could happen or not happen. I’ll Be There is I’m going to be there and I’m going to race to get there. I’ll Be Back, again, is a commitment. I said I’m gonna do this thing. I don’t need to keep
daily records or anything. I’m not gonna like
submit my flight to you. You just have to believe. And that’s, for me, that kind of sense of wanting to do something, not because it guarantees anything, but because I think it’s valuable, that’s, for me, the reason to do. So, thank you. (applause) – [Woman] Can you just explain
that piece with the car? – Yeah, so I’ll try to be very brief, ’cause I know I can, like I say, I like to think out loud. So, the piece. So, there are two letters. So, I’ll just describe the experience. So one day, like many of you,
I was crossing the street and I was almost hit by a car and I was crossing on
green, I wasn’t jaywalking, I felt like I am totally in the right here and I thought I gotta make work, like just somehow I’m like really upset. I was just really ticked
off, I don’t know why, ’cause it happens all
the time, unfortunately. And so anyway, I get on the subway and I’m going from Manhattan to Brooklyn and I get off in Brooklyn and then I started jaywalking this time and I had to dash in front
of a car, I had to speed up, and I realized like, (groans)
well now I’ve done it, right, I’ve done the opposite. And so I decided whatever
this piece is going to be, it has to deal with my position both as, you could say,
victim and as participant. And so, I wrote two letters, one to this anonymous
driver, or anonymous drivers, who almost hit me, so I
describe myself, what happened, I forgive him, or her, and I also write a letter to the person that I dashed in front of, apologizing that I wasn’t really
responsible for my actions, acknowledging that it will
probably happen again, but I am sorry, I am sorry as well, and to try and think through
the consequences of that action and also not to leave it in the realm of this kind of small
interpersonal street crossing. That’s it in a nutshell. – [Woman] Cool, thanks. I’ll ask another. Can I? I’ll go later. – [Woman] I just, oh, I
don’t want to hold the mic. (mumbles) Okay, fine. No, it’s okay. I just want to say thank
you for your presentation ’cause it was, yeah, really so inspiring. I just have a couple of questions. The first one is like maybe, I don’t know if you feel
comfortable talking about it, but like the differences
in what was going on in 2000 and 2006. That’s my first question. And then the other question
is your piece Edward and Me, like did you sort of have an idea of how you wanted the viewer to respond to that particular piece, or was that something that
was sort of in your mind while you were making the piece? – Yeah, so I’ll take the second one first. So, in terms of Edward and Me, I think at the time I
was just really young and, again, I think I just
needed to do something. So, I wanted to make this piece and it was really strange ’cause I… So, people probably don’t know Skowhegan, but it’s in the middle of
Maine basically, in the woods, it’s super dark at night, and I just was, I don’t
know, sort of freaking out about my time there in some ways because I was really young and I was with a lot of grad
students and sort of older and trying to figure out like, oh my god, I can’t
believe I’m in this place with people who were like
having conversations. I’m just like, I’m like
trying to keep up with, I’m just like don’t say
anything really stupid, and wanting to make things
and make different things and use really limited sort of tools, mostly in my body and a
camera that I could check out. And so, I just sort of
rode my bike down the hill late at night to this convenience store and I think I just wanted to act out. I mean, there were kind
of other things going on about thinking about dance, and thinking about movies as
a kind of genesis of an idea, and a scene in a movie, and using an actor’s kind
of rehearsed body language to make something that was
both sort of spontaneous and then would be edited down to something that was
totally unspontaneous. So I think that’s
probably where it started, of wanting to really
kind of, I don’t know, just express, I think, in a strange way, just use my body in a way
that I hadn’t yet used it. As opposed to the 2000, 2006, it was mostly, I think,
that I was struggling as a young art student,
again, just to find, like I think it takes a really long time to figure out what you want to do, right, like we all have the
facility to make things, but it takes a really long
time to figure out like so what, like everyone can make things, and like well, who are you,
like what do you want to do? And I think I couldn’t
express that, in some ways, and I couldn’t express a lot
of other things in my life. In personal relationships, I
found myself choking on words and I thought my head, like
Vito Acconci says, I can think, so my head is full of a lot of things and I need another way to process them. And then by 2006, I didn’t know that I’d made radical leaps, but I had language, yeah, I had language, I had language through
objects and through situations and through other things. So, yeah, I had language by 2006, I guess. – [Woman] Cool, thank you. Who wants… – [Woman] I was wondering, some of your pieces have to
do with making commitment and a lot of your work seems
to come from the premise that like as the artist, you
have to be the generous one. I’m just wondering like
how you got to that place where you were thinking
so much about commitment and that was so important
to have in your work. – Yeah, so, commitment,
I mean, as you say, like it shows up from time to time, that in some ways, part of
it comes from a frustration that I, and I think many
of you, probably have with the things that we’re making, right, that they, as an artist, we make things that maybe go out to museums,
galleries, collectors, and like that’s the set of relationships, like produce and push, right. You produce and you can never, I guess, well, that’s not really true, but for many people, you can
never produce fast enough and everything is just an object. Like my iPhone, like I already
know that in a couple years it’ll be obsolete and I’ll get
the next one and the next one and people will be standing
in line for the next one. It’s like never enough. And so the works don’t have so much time to be anything, right. It’s just like more, more, new, new, new. What have you done lately? Tell me what you’re doing recently. And so, with a piece like the painting, I just thought what I
really want, or hope, ’cause there’s always like an ideal for me with a work like that. What I want is like it’s
sitting on your wall, or in storage even, and it’s
like knocking. (knocking) Right, and this thing, you
think it’s a painting, right. I know it says it’s a painting,
it’s called a painting. You think it’s a painting. That’s not what it is though, right. I mean, you can make it a painting, ’cause it’s propositional. You can make it a painting,
but it could be more and we don’t know the
limits of what it can be until we explore that. I’ll give you a quick example. Like in the dinner date, I thought, oh, I understand this work. People come and they put their name in, I pick someone, we go to dinner. It’s often really boring. I always try to be like
really entertaining for them. I try to choose a restaurant
that they’ll really like. It’s like a first date, right, that like we’re never gonna
call each other again, but we’ve had a good time. Well, sometimes. But one time I showed the work in Miami and I was like listen, I’m only
gonna be in town for a day, so dinner has to happen on this day. And I called a bunch of
people, couldn’t get through, and eventually I called someone and the woman was like
yes, great, really excited. She’s like I knew it was gonna be me. I thought, oh my god, okay, whatever. And then I got a call back and it’s like this person is
like I think you called me and they were like it’s about this dinner and I was like you know,
I’ve chosen someone else. I’m really sorry, I tried. There was like no answering machine. And the person is crying. And then I realized it’s like a kid. And the kid is crying. And I’m like sorry and I hang up. I’m like I’m really, really sorry, I hope you understand, click. And they called back. And they’re like my mom
doesn’t pay for voicemail, or whatever it was. And they are sobbing. And I realize that the work, yeah, that all sorts of
things that I’m missing out and I didn’t perceive, or think. I didn’t think to put
like 18 and older on it, or it’s not that kind of document, but like yeah, I don’t know, I don’t know that I
handled it the right way. I mean, I think if I had more
time and I were to do it now, I would take the kid out, the kid and his parent out for dinner. I think that’s the way. – [Woman] You didn’t take him out? – No, I had like hours before a plane. I had to go at this time, so. You know, but disappointment
is also healthy. But it’s like that kind of thing, so yeah. – [Woman] You can still fix it. – Next time, yeah. Sorry, and then I think there’s
like one question back there after you. – [Woman] You said something
about David Hammon, when you were 19, you
weren’t ready for him, but maybe now, or whenever you were. Could you explain that, please? – Yeah, so, well one, I think probably for a lot
of really young art students, your sense of what art
is is pretty limited to whatever you’ve seen, right. And for me, I hadn’t seen that much. And so I think I was trying to, at 19, I wasn’t even in
college yet actually, I was in this like prep class. To see a guy using bottle
caps and chicken bones and pressing his flesh onto paper to make body prints and things like that, I think I was just like what? You know, like show me
a really great painting. You know, show me a really
great drawing or something. And then the reason that I sort of, it didn’t take super long, but the thing that I began
to love about Hammons is he walks a line really well. I mean, there are things
that he does in his work that I’m like this shouldn’t work. I mean, like there are
just like puns and things, like a piece like Cold Shoulder,
I’m like this is so funny. Like to me, it’s like hilarious and I’m like this shouldn’t really work and also, he doesn’t seem to care. Like he seems to take these things and some of it’s myth probably, or kind of mythology, let’s say, but he seems to turn things inward, right, like don’t call me, I’ll call you, and that’s not a position
that we can all adopt by any means, but I really like that, I really like that he seems to
take ownership of the ideas, but also, I don’t know, his sort of sense in the world, right? Like he has plenty of
exhibitions and things in that kind of sphere of
art making and art life, but I always get the sense, and I don’t know if it’s true or not, but I want to believe it, that yeah, he’s in charge of
himself to a certain degree and a degree that I’m
often really jealous of and impressed by and I
think, yeah, I figured out that he’s doing something
not just for others, but also largely for himself, and when that works, when that’s not totally a
kind of selfish position, when it works, it can be really beautiful, and that’s the thing that I figured out and sort of learned later on, yeah. Thanks. – [Woman] You spoke
about having a language. So, when viewing artworks in the context of the new aesthetic, because we’re focusing on reduction and are heavily dependent on technology, would you say that there are limitations to having a style in your artwork? And if so, what are they? – Yeah, limitations of style. I think that’s a really good question. So… Well, one thing that I
might say about style is that style’s really great as
a kind of signature, right, that you walk into a space and you go, oh, that’s
X, that’s by that person. And one of the limits and
problems of that kind of work is that you often don’t
meet the work, right, you don’t form a kind of
relationship with the work, or you think you know the work. This isn’t a perfect example, but one that I’ve been
thinking about a lot and sort of pops up for me is that for a long time
I hadn’t seen the work of Caspar David Friedrich, that I just I’d seen
things in reproduction, and then I had the opportunity,
while I was in Berlin, to see a bunch of them. And I realized that I don’t like them and they make me really anxious. I really couldn’t stand being in a room of so many of them. And maybe if I’d just seen two or three, but I felt like I saw so many and I don’t mean that as a kind of insult. In a sense, I think it’s
like super powerful, right. But I realize that sometimes, I’m not accusing him of style, having a particular style necessarily, but what I mean is like sometimes you think you know the artwork, right, and a certain style, or
uniformity, or what have you, makes you actually not look at a thing. And so, it’s not always great for me, but I think if I’m in an exhibition, especially in like a
large group exhibition, and someone goes in and goes, hey, we didn’t see your work. Is it a performance? Is it a blah, blah, blah? I’m like oh, no, it’s this thing. It’s like a table with
things on it, right. Like go look. You know, I mean like go look. It’s mine, of course it’s mine, like it comes from the way I think. And it seems to me what
is important in the end is for people to hopefully understand, and for myself to understand, that a thing looking like another thing doesn’t make them the same
thing, or even related, right. This is why, I think, you can make an all-black
painting today, maybe. I don’t know that you
can, but this would be why one could make an all-black
painting in 2015, right. You don’t have to be making
a Reinhardt, or whatever, like they’re not
necessarily the same thing because they look similar, right. And so, I think style can
sometimes confuse the issue. But sometimes I love artist style. So, hopefully that was partial answer. – [Woman] Hi. I had a studio visit earlier today with Ken Landwehr and Noelle Fitzsimmons and we were talking about how when you make work that’s
sort of about trauma, that it’s sort of maybe
impossible to sort of talk about, or if you get to a point
where you can talk about it or share with it, it
then like becomes pain and it’s something else. And I know you opened up
your talk with saying that you focus more on like an idea than style, but then you got to the
work, the paper bag, after stuff happened with
September 11th, things like that, and you also talked about
later, the last piece, that you found it really
difficult to explain to people and I’m wondering like how you feel about trying to express those types
of things in a work of art, like how much responsibility
do you feel like you have, or that you have to sort
of explain those things, that way of working. – Yeah, so, I mean it’s
always stuff because I think, and you could probably
see from me speaking, there’s actually like a real reason that things are kind of
laid out the way you are. So, as I flashed through certain images, part of it’s like I
just don’t actually know how to talk about all the work. And so I have a kind of emphasis on some work that I really
know how to talk about, or I think I do. I think, though, in
terms of kind of trauma and pain and things like that, and maybe not knowing
quite how to express it, or wondering about the form meeting the kind of intense subject matter, I mean I found that the
thing for me is like works live in all sorts of places and so they can do really different things at really different moments. Like the paper bag piece is not a piece that I’ve shown a lot and it’s like I don’t
even know if it’s any good and I don’t actually really care. I mean, I’m not like
that interested in that. I’m interested in the fact
that it needed to be made and that I needed to make it
and I’m happy that it’s made and so, at the end, like well, what can, just I’m interested in getting to a place with some of the work where, and I may have talked about this in some places before, I think, like the kind of standard
ways of critiquing are like not that interesting. Instead, how do we produce
a kind of back and forth? Right, like how do we
produce a conversation where you listen, I
listen, you speak, I speak? And sometimes we have
to be really critical about form and aesthetics
because they get in the way of the discussion. But I’m interested in having thoughts about the things that
are produced in the world that I go to see in galleries, museums, et cetera, on the street. Like how do we produce
a kind of conversation and possibility for conversing? Yeah, that’s what I’m interested in. Like I, I think I’ve
actually forgotten her name, so my apologies, but in my performance class, we talked about this
work by Emma Sulkowicz. Sulkowicz, that’s right, yeah? Carry That Weight. But we talked about this other
piece that she has online, and people can look it up, but I hadn’t thought
about that piece before, other than trying to
think about talking about this piece for class. And what I realized, for
me, and I don’t know her, but I felt like, oh,
the students and myself, we’re like we give a lot to her, like we not only kind of use the work as a platform to talk
about various things, but I felt like we really looked at it, even though we didn’t watch the video. So, there’s this video online that it’s sort of hard to
explain, having not seen it, but we didn’t watch it,
we just read the text that introduces the video and I actually felt like that
was the kind of thing that, as someone who makes things, I would be like super excited to know someone had done for me, you know. So, we just like looked
at this webpage basically and talked about whether
or not we should watch it and then did some other things. But, I don’t know, I feel like
that’s a lot to have given and so that’s a work that
comes out of trauma, I think. I mean, I don’t want to
speak for her in any way. (mumbling) Thanks. – [Woman] Hi. At least in the work
that you showed today, it seems like your initial intent was perceived different because you are like an
artist, like a Black man. So, like the Bill Clinton thing and someone saying you’re
trying to be white, your pinata and it being
referred to lynching, even me, I associated, like I see a paper bag
as a loaded material. So, how do you play with
like what your intent is and how people will automatically
perceive as your intent because you are a Black artist? – Yeah. So, I mean sometimes as I’m trying to say, it’s like sometimes I think that, again, the work of art exists in multiple places. So, I think this moment is,
maybe I’m not making a work, but I think this moment exists
as part of the work, right. This is why we get really didactic labels, why we have catalogs, why people teach classes,
et cetera, et cetera. It’s like the work… The work so often isn’t on the wall or in the floor of a space. Sometimes, of course, it is. I mean, this is a difficulty
that we often have with performances where we can’t really
approach them so well because they haven’t
been properly documented, or the documentation
isn’t really the thing. But for me, in terms of like my intentions and what’s being read or understood, I’m also okay with misunderstandings. Like the young boy or girl calling up and wanting to go to dinner with me and me not being able to do that, like that’s part of the work, you know. Me having a certain body in this world, I’m not trying to get rid of
it, so that’s part of the work and we can talk about it
and I’m happy to do that and sometimes my intentions
are just ignored, right, like the way anyone’s intentions would be in making and doing anything. But the thing for me to do, and I think, I don’t want
to speak for anyone else, but one of the things I
think is really important to try out is to keep a work alive, right. Like next time I see Caspar
David Friedrich paintings, I may love them. It may just be them being
next to another painter that I really admire and the
kind of tension between the two will make me understand something about the Friedrich that I didn’t before. And so, part of the like where is the work is how to like breathe life into things and keep a discussion and
the fact that my intentions aren’t always known or understood, or the work might be,
quote unquote, problematic, as we sometimes say,
or any of these things, is like, okay, it’s okay. As long as the work leads
to something, right. So often, we see things in the world and we walk by them and we
note that they’re there, but we don’t care, right. And so I’d much rather messy than like, again, like oh,
that’s, yeah, yeah, yeah. That guy, that thing. So, yeah, it’s okay if it fails,
is really the short answer. It’s okay to be failing, yeah. I think there was a question here. – [Man] Thanks. I had a question. You mentioned before a little bit, maybe the challenges of
having a studio space and maybe some kind of
a artificiality to it, or maybe my read, maybe you
can talk a little bit about, I don’t know, in between pieces, or maybe how you do your studies, or? – So, this current semester
I’m teaching a lot. I’m at Bard and I had a
class at NYA and here at SVA. And so this question has sort of come up with some of the students and I had a student at Bard ask me about how to manage time, his time. He was sort of struggling with time. And I said I think one way to approach it, and this is the way I often
will try to in my best moments, is to think that I am
in the studio, right, the studio is like,
again, like the artwork, the studio is multi-place. And so, I often find that I have my best sort of thoughts
on the train, right. Like I love the subway, the subways are a super
important space for me to think. And so I said to him like, listen, when you have an idea of
this thing you want to do, you want to like come up with
specific text for something, like between you class here
and the dorm, like just walk, instead of taking the
campus shuttle, walk, and by the end, you should
come up with like two ideas. Like so for me, it’s really,
like when I say space, it’s the problem with space is sometimes really the gift of really generous space, like a studio, let’s
say, that’s this size. Like don’t get me wrong, I
would love to have a studio this size, right, the size of this room. But sometimes it’s also
really intimidating and it’s important for me to, because I don’t have,
generally, a studio this big, by any means. I don’t have anything like this. So, how do I keep working? How do I keep productive? How do I think of space? How do I think of the studio as something that’s like moving with me? I mean, think for some people, it’s like the computer
becomes like your studio. But I mean, just in terms of thinking, like how do I keep active? And teaching has been
really helpful in that way. It’s tired me out a lot. But I’ve found in this semester, the text that I assign,
I’m reading much deeper than I would if I just read them normally. So, that’s really exciting, ’cause I read them like, even when we don’t talk
about them very much, I’m like I’ve read this thing
like three or four times, just so I think I understand,
not the text itself, ’cause I don’t really care
to understand the text, I care to have ideas from the text, but I’ve read this thing like three times so I can talk about it, or so that I can think
about it later even, even beyond the class. So, that’s how I, lately, I’m trying to sort of structure things. – [Man] Thank you. Can I get a followup on that? – What’s that? – [Man] Can I get a followup on that? Maybe to also… To try to be like concrete
and I’m really curious. Tell me if I’m really off. Like ’cause your pieces are cerebral, or at least have this
strong aspect to them, did they work as you’re trying
to make a painting piece and trying to work on
it and see what’s up, are you trying to make
some kind of intervention and then it develops into
something, or these… I’m curious what’s going on. – It works differently and over the years, it’s
functioned really differently. Sometimes, I would be… I have this piece called
Yesterday’s Newspaper, which I flashed by. It’s just a small walnut plinth and every day, the previous
day’s newspaper is put on it. So you’re always looking
at the day before, through the lens of the newspaper. And that was a piece that I thought of one afternoon, one night, and I probably didn’t make it for weeks, or a month, or something, but I knew it was done. So there are ideas that I have where, as the kind of conceptual
engine, so to speak, like the idea makes itself, right, and then there are other things,
like the Kissinger video, which I had this really, I mean, I mean what I say in the piece, like I had this film from being
in this room with Kissinger and wanting the camera to be a buffer between him and myself and I struggled with it for
like a really, really long time and it was through a really great series, that I don’t think is ongoing anymore, that was at the New Museum
called Propositions, where you would sort of talk about things, information, or things
that haven’t happened yet, just really propositional things, that I really took the text from that talk and was able to fashion
something else out of it. It took a lot of work, a lot
of mental energy on my part, for myself anyway, just to like pull it around to something that felt like something for me. It was really frustrating. But things come and then sometimes, yes, I just sort of like move
a thing left and right on the screen and it’s sort
of done, sometimes too. So… Are we okay? Okay. (applause)

local_offerevent_note September 23, 2019

account_box Matthew Anderson


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