From the Archives

From the Archives: Interview with Nick Cave

“…Once the Rodney King incident happened, I realized at that moment that I was an artist with a social conscience. […] But you know, honey, we got a lot of work to do around the world,” says Nick Cave in conversation with Tori Bush. At a time when energies toward resistance might be flagging, we find inspiration in Cave’s work with the community in Shreveport and in his philosophy of enacting change through artistic practices. This interview was originally published on December 4, 2015.

Nick Cave, Soundsuit, 2015; Mixed media. Courtesy of Shreveport Regional Arts Council. Photo: Casey Jones.

Nick Cave. Soundsuit, 2015; mixed media. Courtesy of Shreveport Regional Arts Council. Photo: Casey Jones.

Shreveport is a border town at the crossroads of Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas. The city is known for its musical history—the term “Elvis has left the building” was coined there. But Shreveport also suffers from crippling issues of injustice. Shreveport prosecutors use peremptory challenges to bar people of color from juries, and juries in Caddo Parish “now sentence more people to death per capita than juries in any other county in America.” Beyond disparities in the justice system, Shreveport has the fourth-highest rate of persons living with HIV in Louisiana. In 2013, 22.8% of the residents lived below the poverty line. Poverty, health, and the justice system are all intertwined here, and this year visual artist Nick Cave is in residence at these crossroads, participating in a residency with the Shreveport Regional Arts Council. How does a visual artist address these problems? From October 2015 to March 2016, Cave is working on a multi-dimensional project that attempts to speak to the disparate realities of the citizenry.

Tori Bush: What led you to create this project in Shreveport? How does the history and context of each place inform your projects?

Nick Cave: The Shreveport Regional Arts Council contacted me when I was working in Detroit on a project titled Hear Here. They were interested in working with visual artists who practice within a social spectrum as well. And I was very interested in the project, to work with social organizations, which for me was a different outreach than I was familiar with. And I was even more interested in the fact that SRAC was using art as a kind of healing device. I was very interested in that, and really that is why I came on board with the project. It allowed me to go even further into the fieldwork. This project is the way I’m interested in working right now. I come to a city with an idea, and the city builds the project. And the thing that’s so fascinating here is that this is really Shreveport’s project. I’m acting as the director.

I said from the start, this project is not going to be a wow-wow, bang-bang performance, where everyone is going to have a good time. We are working with social-services organizations that aid citizens who are trying to reenter society. We are dealing with serious issues. How can I come to this project with compassion? How can I create a work that is reflective of the voices of the community? How can I leave with an imprint so that it is moving, and not just fluff? It’s allowing me to rethink the role of my work and the purpose of this project, and take myself out of the center of it.

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Shotgun Reviews

Evergreen, Searchlight, Rosebud at Jessica Silverman Gallery

Shotgun Reviews are an open forum where we invite the international art community to contribute timely, short-format responses to an exhibition or event. If you are interested in submitting a Shotgun Review, please click this link for more information. In this Shotgun Review, Becca Roy-O’Gorman reviews Evergreen, Searchlight, Rosebud at Jessica Silverman Gallery in San Francisco.

Margo Wolowiec. Evergreen, Searchlight, Rosebud, 2017; installation view. Courtesy of the Artist and Jessica Silverman Gallery.

Margo Wolowiec. Evergreen, Searchlight, Rosebud, 2017; installation view, Jessica Silverman Gallery, San Francisco. Courtesy of the Artist and Jessica Silverman Gallery.

Margo Wolowiec’s work intersects many planes: physical and virtual spaces, pleasure and danger, analog and conceptual practices, and the mediums of painting, sculpture, textile, and installation. Wolowiec’s exhibition Evergreen, Searchlight, Rosebud at Jessica Silverman Gallery, on view through May 27, explores these thresholds through her multidimensional practice.

Wolowiec sources her images with a digital program that captures photographs from social-media platforms like Instagram and Facebook using predetermined hashtags, such as #BlackAndWhite, or geolocations, like the Louvre or Dubai Mall. Additionally, she sources text from screenshots of established and fake online news sites. She prints the compiled images onto strands of thread with a sublimation dye printer, and manually weaves them with floor loom; the final textile is mounted on a frame or in a freestanding support.

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Fan Mail

Fan Mail: Lionel Cruet

Lionel Cruet is preoccupied by the idea of place. Much of his work explores how one can attempt to access the places in which one is not physically present, and questions if these attempts can ever be successful. Of particular concern to Cruet is how race and geopolitical status factor into these attempts—how one’s described and prescribed identities render access to, and denial from, a place, both literally and conceptually. His works speak of border crossings, real and imagined, successful and unsuccessful. His pieces describe an apparent collusion of sensory experiences that never quite make up for the real thing.

lionel_cruet_1-intangible_site_q2-copy

Lionel Cruet. Intangible Sites, 2016; audiovisual installation in shipping container; 96 x 120 x 98 in. Courtesy of the Artist.

Some of his works become portals to other sites, exploring the possibility for one to have a geographic experience in absentia. Yet the geographic cannot be separated from the sociopolitical. In his piece Intangible Sites (2016), Cruet projects a series of still images and video clips given to him by the immigrant community of Taos, New Mexico, onto the back wall of a shipping container, suffusing the small space with reflected light. The voices of Cruet’s interviewees, some in English and others in Spanish, are heard, speaking to the landscapes projected on the wall. For example, two English speakers relate the images to particular memories of their earlier lives in the Dominican Republic and Mexico—remembering other places through their current landscape.

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Tucson

Dennis Jeffy: From Antelope Springs at MOCA Tucson

In an age when internet presence grants visibility, the sparsity of digital images and articles of Dennis Jeffy’s work makes his solo exhibition, From Antelope Springs, at MOCA Tucson a significant and rare occurrence to be experienced. Born in Antelope Springs (Navajo for Jeddito, Arizona) in 1952, Jeffy has developed a fertile artistic practice that has journeyed through a wide range of experimentation in style, material, and form. The exhibition presents work spanning fifteen years and is divided into three sections: earlier round paintings with traces of realism, a complete shift into abstraction within painting, and finally, recent sculptural explorations using Plexiglas. Each piece is completely distinct in its character and conveys Jeffy’s impressive ability to provide visual joy while captivating viewers in realms that both compress and expand time, space, and matter.

Dennis Jeffy. Dooli Sings, 2000; oil on canvas; 80 in. diameter. Courtesy of the Artist and MOCA Tucson. Photo: Maya Heilman-Hall

Dennis Jeffy. Dooli Sings, 2000; oil on canvas; 80 in. diameter. Courtesy of the Artist and MOCA Tucson. Photo: Maya Heilman-Hall.

Made in the early 2000s, the earliest works on view are Jeffy’s large-scale paintings on circular canvases. While the curatorial statement positions these paintings as tondos (a term developed in the Renaissance for round paintings and sculptures, which were typically incorporated into archways), Jeffy’s use of the circular form has little to do with this Eurocentric tradition of portraiture connected to the church. Instead, Jeffy uses the round form as a way to establish a physical and conceptual connection to the body. He explains, “My paintings are round because of the natural roundness of the eye. Our vision is round. I was raised in a hogan, which is round and represents the cycle of life.”[1] Through the direction of his paint strokes, Jeffy creates visual movements within his work that pull and swirl viewers into and around his paintings. The circular form and large scale of the canvases further enhance this bodily experience in viewing his work.

Dooli Sings (2000) is an example of one such work. It combines a variety of painting styles. Partially rendered faces sit at the edge of the painting, and are distorted and lengthened, as if they have been dragged and slowed down through time. Slanted paint marks in dark blues, pinks, purples, and teals fill the canvas and create swirling fields of color that reflect the shades of the galaxy. On top of these strokes, Jeffy inserts hyperrealistically painted images: drops of water, a pile of sand, and a spherical planet-like shape with a shadow. Each element of the painting pulls and pushes viewers around the piece, into the Earth’s surface, and out to the universe.

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New York Shotgun Reviews

Louise Lawler: Why Pictures Now

Shotgun Reviews are an open forum where we invite the international art community to contribute timely, short-format responses to an exhibition or event. If you are interested in submitting a Shotgun Review, please click this link for more information. In this Shotgun Review, Hoi Lun Helen Wong reviews Louise Lawler: Why Pictures Now at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Louise Lawler. Pollyanna (adjusted to fit), distorted for the times, 2007/2008/2012. Dimensions variable. Courtesy the artist and Metro Pictures, New York. © 2017 Louise Lawler.

Louise Lawler. Pollyanna (Adjusted to Fit), Distorted for the Times, 2007/2008/2012; dimensions variable. Courtesy of the Artist and Metro Pictures, New York. © 2017 Louise Lawler.

Part of the “Pictures Generation” of the late 1970s, Louise Lawler receives far less recognition than her contemporaries—Richard Prince, Barbara Kruger, Cindy Sherman, and David Salle, to name a few. Known for her portraits of other artists’ work, Louise Lawler’s first major survey, which spans forty years of creative output, is at the Museum of Modern Art through July 30. As part of one of the first generations of artists raised with television, Lawler’s work anticipates mass media’s ability to inject particular meanings into its consumers, or in the case of art, its viewers. By rephotographing existing images outside of their original context, Lawler draws to our attention an essential question of the digital age: how meaning and reality is constructed through presentation.

Born in 1947 in postwar America and a volatile cultural moment, Lawler grew up with the influences of affluence, Hollywood movies, ad-packed magazines, and the rise of consumerism. While abundance pervaded, anxiety and tensions belied the seemingly placid age. Drawn to mass-media culture and the very idea of originality, Lawler employed the examining power of photography to scrutinize our relationship with a media-saturated society.

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Help Desk

Help Desk: The Penis Award

Help Desk is where I answer your queries about making, exhibiting, finding, marketing, buying, selling–or any other activity related to contemporary art. Submit your questions anonymously here. All submissions become the property of Daily Serving.

I am a midcareer (female) artist married to an established (male) artist. Throughout our relationship I have endured innumerable comments and actions that validate my husband and cast me into the shadows. At social events I will be standing by my husband as he is introduced as an artist, and I am introduced with only my first name (if introduced at all). In one particularly memorable/awful dinner after an opening, his gallerist at the time literally told me to get up from my seat because “artists sit at this table, wives and girlfriends are over there” (meaning another table). I get that he is more established than I am, but I also have an MFA, frequently show my work, am invited to give artist talks, and teach at a university. Recently we collaborated on a project—which overall was a good experience—but I am dismayed to see social-media posts that only credit him. On the night of the opening, one of the gallery staff said to me, “Isn’t [husband’s name]’s installation great?!” We had both attended meetings at the gallery (with this person in attendance), had both been included on logistical emails (with this person cc’ed), both responded to requests for information, and it was obvious that the two of us brought separate components to the installation. Yet I was erased. The times I have spoken up to correct these situations (saying, “I’m an artist too!”) have been awkward, and I know I come across as a bitch, petty, insecure, etc. The sexism of the art world astounds me…but I’m not sure what I can do.

Nancy Spero. Picasso and Frederick's of Hollywood, 1990; handprinted collage on paper; two parts, each 17.25 x 109.625 in.

Nancy Spero. Picasso and Frederick’s of Hollywood, 1990; handprinted collage on paper; two parts, each 17.25 x 109.625 in.

Thank you for this question, even though it gave me flashbacks. I, too, am a woman artist with a male-artist partner, and have experienced similar treatment. I remember being goggle-eyed with astonishment when a nonprofit director heartily thanked my husband for his contribution to their annual fundraising auction—a contribution of my artwork that I had donated! No doubt thousands of other women could provide comparable examples. A friend and I call the automatic credit that men seem to accrue merely by existing the penis award. And it’s atrocious.

Your plaintive, “I was erased,” breaks my heart. This is the fundamental charge of sexism—that women are not full human beings who deserve equal respect, attention, pay, healthcare, or credit for their accomplishments. The message is that you are less than your husband. This is gravely injurious, not only directly to you, but to your business partnerships, your potential friendships, your marriage, and your sanity.

Sexism must be tackled head-on, and women can’t be the only ones on the battlefield. Therefore, the first thing that has to happen is that your husband has to start speaking up on your behalf when these attacks occur in front of him. In introductions, if you are sidelined by, “…and this is his wife,” he must say, “Jane Lastname. My wife is also an artist, and we sometimes collaborate.” If someone barks at you to sit at the “wives’ table”—oh, how odious is this phrase!—he must step in and say, “There must be a misunderstanding. Jane is also an artist.” When articles and Instagram posts and tweets are published citing only your husband for work that is collaborative, he must split with you the labor of contacting the authors and requesting a correction. Men are responsible for patriarchy, and thus are at least 50 percent responsible for dismantling it.

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Our Bodies Our Selves at the Women’s March, January 21, 2017

Today, from our sister publication Art Practical, we bring you Betti-Sue Hertz’s article from issue 8.3: Art can’t do anything if we don’t. Hertz explores the protest signs wielded at the Women’s March on Washington. She states, “At a moment when the right is emboldened to threaten hard-won civil rights, it is important to steadfastly embrace diverse gender expressions as represented in march signs and slogans such as ‘Black Trans Lives Matter,’ ‘My Child’s Transgender Rights are Human Rights,’ ‘Support your Sisters Not Just your Cis-ters,’ ‘I am a…Black Queer First Gen American Woman and I Refuse to Be Ignored’ and ‘Experience Dyke Power,’ ‘Never Underestimate the Power of a Faggot with a Tambourine,’ and ‘Not Gay as in Happy Queer as in Fuck You.’” This article was originally published on March 23, 2017.

Screenshot, Kim Atom, Twitter Post, January 21, 2017, 5:48 p.m., https://twitter.com/tmhzjm/status/822938829430648832.

Screenshot, Kim Atom, Twitter Post, January 21, 2017, 5:48 p.m., https://twitter.com/tmhzjm/status/822938829430648832.

The official poster for the Women’s March on Washington on January 21, 2017, featured three women’s archetypal profiles lined up in a row, in a color scheme of red, dark blue, and cream above rounded, bold lettering. Other designs were available as downloadable posters, featuring generic phrases in black lettering on a white background: “Together, We Rise,” “We Honor the Legacy of the Movements Before Us,” and “We Who Believe in Freedom Cannot Rest.” The guide to the march encouraged participants to bring signs, and people actively embraced this directive at marches in 676 cities in the United States and 137 more around the world.

Read the full article here.

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