A Conversation with Brooke Davis Anderson, P.3 Executive Director

BDA interview-The EP

This interview was originally published in The Excellent People: The Artist Issue, Winter 2014-15

 

We also talked with Brooke Davis Anderson, P.3 Executive Director…

HZ: What are some highlights for this year’s Prospect 3 Biennial?

BDA: The theme of this year’s biennial is Notes for Now, curated by Artistic Director Franklin Sirmans, who is also the Head Curator at LACMA. From my vantage point, the position that Franklin is taking for P3 is both beautiful and challenging, and provocative and inviting. It has this wonderful capacity to do a lot of things for a variety of audiences. I feel like Franklin has put together a really gorgeous project. P3 will feature 58 artists from around the world. Works by biennial artists will be interspersed throughout the whole city of New Orleans in 18 different venues, including museums, galleries, hotels and public parks. Headlining this contemporary art project are two marquee artists—Paul Gauguin and Jean-Michel Basquiat—whose presence I think will greatly encourage audiences to come visit New Orleans and explore some amazing art on view courtesy of P3. Contemporary art is one of the harder sectors to engage today’s audience, so I have to say our P3 team felt very fortunate when Franklin’s intellectual premise guided us; we realized that intellectually, he was onto something that would really help us with the public.

 

HZ: How will Basquiat be represented at P3?

BDA: I liken the exhibition format for Basquiat to “a show within the show,” because there will be a small, yet beautiful exhibition of nine large paintings on view at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art. Franklin has been thinking about Basquiat since the 90’s, and he has been part of almost all of the artists’ exhibitions since then. He realized that within Basquiat’s body of scholarly work, the projects that most of us have seen still remain rather retrospective and all consuming of his oeuvre. Therefore, Franklin put together “Basquiat and the Bayou” which was a way for him to look more closely at Basquiat and unpack specific aspects, concepts and themes within his work. This “mini exhibition” will look at how the South was central to Basquiat’s thinking, and will also tease out many Southern scenes found in the artist’s work.

Curiously, Basquiat was a New Yorker of Caribbean heritage who had no desire to travel to the South…his idea of the South was one that was inflected with racism of the region. One way that the South became real for Basquiat was through painting the food of the South, the language of the South (particularly Gullah Creole), the jazz musicians from the South, and the Mississippi River. The P3 team is particularly thrilled to be presenting Basquiat in such a formative and specific way to New Orleans when the biennial opens in a few weeks. Additionally, the city is thrilled because they found out that Basquiat traveled down to New Orleans in 1988—the year he died—to see Jazz Fest, the primary festival that takes place every year in the Big Easy. During his brief stay, Basquiat became smitten with New Orleans, and apparently he expressed intentions to paint his experiences. Unfortunately, this project was not realized due to his untimely death nearly five months later.

Jean Michel-Basquiat, Natchez, 1985

Jean Michel-Basquiat, Natchez, 1985

 

HZ: What kind of press coverage is scheduled/has occurred for P3 so far?

BDA: The organization is planning a major conference, which is fantastic! We are so grateful to have received major funding from The Luce Foundation, and a sponsorship from Hyatt Regency, which will allow us to make the conference free to the public. The conference will examine 30 years of influence and impact that the seminal book Flash of the Spirit by Robert Parrish Thompson has had on American art and culture, and our understanding of art history. (Meanwhile, I found it to be quite serendipitous when Franklin shared that Basquiat kept a dog-eared copy of this very book on his bedside table!) The conference will take place for two days in the middle of our 13-week run, and the author Parrish Thompson will give a keynote address. It was very important for me to have a major public program realized during the crux of the biennial. Subsequently, the timing is fantastic because the conference will start a few days after Art Basel Miami. Therefore the P3 team is marketing it as an opportunity for art fair goers to stay in the South: First visit Miami, and then come to New Orleans to see the biennial and participate in the conference. We also just had a wonderful feature in The New York Times Magazine.

 

“I feel that comfort and curiosity are the two tools for making art accessible.”-Brooke Davis Anderson

 

HZ: It seems like you have involved the New Orleans community in P3 in many ways. How are you gaining global recognition?

BDA: I currently run P3 operations from New York. A benefit of being offsite is that operating on the executive director level gives us access to national and international funders in a way that being in New Orleans might not provide. So it is useful from the funding point of view. From the biennial’s inception, there has always been the desire that the funding come from everywhere. It also helps that Franklin is based in Los Angeles, another art-friendly city. We have put together a great staff of ten, very energetic people in New Orleans and they are as just as ignited by Franklin’s proposal as I am. On that note, the biennial feels more like a proposal than an exhibition in a lot of ways.

The conference in December is just one of the programs with international outreach. We have a programming calendar that is very active, and everything we are doing is free and open to the public. Since we do not have our own hub in New Orleans, our programming is reliant upon all of our partners, so we have to coordinate with every single venue to put anything on in the city. So this project is one of partnership. It requires a lot of discussions and coordination but it has been a very rewarding way of working. It helps knowing that every venue works differently, and how to anticipate their needs.

Glenn Kaino, Studies for Tank, 2013-14

Glenn Kaino, Studies for Tank, 2013-14

 

HZ: Congratulations on the two new partnerships with Hyatt Regency and The New Orleans Advocate!

BDA: We are so excited about our partners in New Orleans and beyond! A lot of them are newly established, but they have allowed us to offer almost everything that we want, and we are actually ahead of our fundraising goals! We were really thrilled when Hyatt Regency came on board, and we have another partnership with Independent Curator’s International (ICI) at the close of the biennial. The Hyatt is our sponsorship hotel–it’s a rather conventional partnership as one might expect in art world travel–but a wonderful new development is that the Hyatt is letting P3 exhibit art in the hotel. As a venue, they wanted to be a site for both art and artists, which includes a designated space where the artists can be together or be on their own. This partnership is one that involves a sponsorship, so the hotel is being very generous of our organization’s financial situation.

The New Orleans Advocate partnership came about in a really great way. They are a new newspaper in town and their readership is one that supports the arts. Our team at P3 has had the long-term goal of creating a free mapping guide for the biennial. The Advocate thought it was an equally good idea, and so in the spirit of serving a need that we have had from the beginning, the newspaper donated the design, the printing, and the distribution of the mapping guide. I am happy to share that there will also be a digital app for the mapping guide, thanks to a sponsorship from the design team Culture Connect.

Another new supporter for P3 is Regents Bank. They are going to sponsor our visitor center on wheels. Part of the beauty of this project is that it is citywide, which is definitely part of the attraction for Franklin and part of the joy for me. So we came up with the idea that rather than be a static, stationary hub, we should really be a mobile hub. We will paint a 1969 Citroën truck our identity color of hot pink and add our P3 logo and Regents Banks logo. It will travel around town for the run of the show. It will be located at our 18 venues, and we will have on social media where the truck will be parked for the day. Then visitors can get their mapping guide, buy their exhibition catalogue, and sip free water and coffee.

Our position with P3–particularly with the New Orleans audience–is to illustrate that artists are thinking about the very same things that you and I are thinking about when we are out in the world and when we are at home. The mobile hub, the mapping guide and the fact that we are free and open to the public this time (we have not been in the past) expresses that a contemporary art biennial experience is open to one and all. We think it has value to one and all, even the people who don’t typically go to museums. We hope the city and all its constituents feel comfortable and curious about the biennial, as I feel that comfort and curiosity are the two tools for making art accessible.

P.3 merchandise

HZ: its so thrilling to hear how many partnerships and sponsorships you have garnered for the biennial under your leadership. Regarding the community at large, has Governor Jindal embraced the biennial and local arts scene as well?

BDA: Actually, the mayor–Mitch Landrieu–and his staff have been supportive in a couple of different ways. We have published two catalogues (one digital, one print) and two books (Basquiat and P3). The mayor has issued a welcome statement in both books and so we are thrilled to have him a friend and a partner.

 

HZ: Could you talk a little bit about P3’s recent partnership with The Watermill Center and how the artist residency experience has been for P3 artist Entang Wiharso?

BDA: As an international biennial, one of our commitments is to contribute to the economy and wealth of New Orleans. One of the ways we can do that is by creating an art project that brings tourists to the city. In order to establish a footprint and create visibility in New York art world, I felt it was essential to build relationships with The Watermill Center and ICI. The partnership with The Watermill Center has been a great success so far. Entang Wiharso is a really interesting artist and he had a great residency experience at Watermill. It is a very special spot! I was able to visit Entang during his residency and he put together a fantastic exhibition of the work he made during his stay. He was very fortunate to have had more or less the run of the whole place.

 

Entang Wiharso, Temple of Hope, 2014

Entang Wiharso, Temple of Hope, 2014

HZ: Will Dan Cameron—acknowledged “Nolaphile” and brainchild behind the Prospect biennials—be in attendance this year?

BDA: Yes! What I love saying about Dan is that it took three people to replace him :-) He was the founder and brainchild of the whole biennial, and it’s amazing to what he has given birth. He was also the executive director, the artistic director, and the president. Meanwhile, those roles are now shared between Franklin, myself, and our president Susan Brennan. I don’t fully understand how Dan did it all! He will definitely be at P3 and he is bringing a group of Orange County Museum of Art board members for the opening festivities. I have felt supported by Dan, which is really nice. I should add that Dan was the one who recommended Franklin for the role of Artistic Director for P3. And then Franklin nominated me for this position as Executive Director. I feel very lucky. Franklin and I have known each other for a long time, and it’s been a real thrill to try and make his dreams come true, which is what I feel this biennial is, in many respects. I have felt very moved and very ignited and very inspired by the propositions that he is making to us because they are thoughtful and kind, and challenging and critical, all at the same time. That is not an easy tightrope for people to walk across, and he has managed to do that with this exhibition.

 

HZ: What are the major differences between P1, P1.5, P2, and P3?

BDA: P1 was amazing and people still talk about it. P2 was equally interesting to a lot of people in New Orleans. After P1 closed, there was a feeling from the local art community that it really wasn’t for the local art community. And so P1.5 was an idea that maybe what Prospect could do is have a local biennial in between the international biennials. However, I am less interested in creating a dichotomy of local versus international. 1.5 was a worthwhile experiment, but it’s not the direction that we will take in the future. We have different strategies for working with the local community during the in between time. We are calling them our “bridge years” and we have already started fundraising for them. In the meantime, we have a lot of local and international artists in P3, and we will be activating and partnering with the local community in other ways that are not equivalent to a “mini biennial” or a local biennial. Furthermore, P3 has a different exhibition team, so inevitably it’s going to be a different project than the others. I am eager to share it with everyone and I am eager to see how it goes! So far, we are all feeling very good—everyone from the board to the staff to the supporters. I hope that the artists are feeling very excited about a couple of weeks from now, too.

A Conversation with Franklin Sirmans, Prospect 3 Artistic Director

The EP Cover

This interview was originally published in The Excellent People: The Artist Issue, Winter 2014-15

 

Franklin Sirmans is the Terri and Michael Smooke Department Head and Curator of Contemporary Art at LACMA. He is also the Artistic Director of Prospect New Orleans: Notes for Now, the thirdish installment of the international biennial, currently on view in the Crescent City. We got Sirmans on the phone to discuss his vision for P.3, his discovery of Walker Percy’s The Moviegoer, and the meaning of cultural imagination.

The EP-Interview with Franklin Sirmans

 

HZ: How did you become involved with P.3?

 FS: It was a process of Dan Cameron and the board, so I was invited when the second one (P.2) opened. But I had seen the first one (P.1) a lot so I’m sure that might have played some role as well because I was in Houston.

 

HZ: Had you visited NOLA before, or was this a new city for you?

FS: Well its new, but I’ve known it and had been there as a tourist. I did an exhibition in 2008 that had a strong reference point to NOLA, So I don’t know if that played a role in the selection process or not, but its certainly a place that I had thought about in terms of a “cultural imagination” way.

 

HZ: I like that term “cultural imagination,” it conjures up some curious elements in my head. What do you mean by that, exactly?

FS: Well as a space, it is such a specific context (the city of New Orleans). I did a show called NeoHooDoo which was very much about the syncretic religions of the Americas, so New Orleans would be just as important in that constellation as any, in thinking about it in that sense. It was a show that tried to talk about spirituality but in a very American, kind of post colonialist sense. It was so long ago that I don’t even know if I like to think about how it should look now!

Tavares Strachan, You Belong Here, neon river barge

Tavares Strachan, You Belong Here, neon river barge

 

HZ: Have you been appointed as an Artistic Director for a biennial before, or is this your first experience in this role?

FS: As far as an exhibition this size, nothing similar. There are other shows that we call biennials, but nothing this big. It’s been insane, but great at the same time. And for me, it’s also a nice balance between working on the exhibitions that I am working on here in Los Angeles, with a little bit more long term aspects to them, and then, something like this which has an amazing sense of urgency. It’s been interesting in that sense, it’s been completely different.

 

HZ: What sort of differences have you seen already and do you anticipate in the role of Artistic Director for P.3 compared with your ongoing role as Head Curator for LACMA?

FS: I wish I would have anticipated all of the differences, but I didn’t…so much of it is about surprise too…There are things you just cannot anticipate working with artists who are making work in the moment and making work in spaces that you don’t even know super well. The element of chance at the biennial is just amazingly greater than anything that happens in the space of the museum.

 

HZ: Is that because you are outside, or because you are unfamiliar with the city structure or perhaps a combination of the two?

FS: It’s because you don’t know it. For one, you don’t have the same infrastructure—LACMA is not super old by any means in terms of encyclopedic museums, but its been up and running in Los Angeles since 1965. So you have a certain infrastructure that is a well oiled machine, whereas in New Orleans, for something like P.3, its only the third one, people are still trying to figure it out, and the element of chance is so much greater. And that is what makes it interesting, and what I think gives it so much energy as well. You don’t know how everything is going to look or how it’s going to play out.

Ed Clark, New Orleans Series #4, 2012

Ed Clark, New Orleans Series #4, 2012

 

HZ: How long was the selection process for participating artists in P.3?

FS: I gave myself a year and a half to look and not make any hard and fast decisions. Then I gave myself another year in which to really work with artists, and ask them to consider being in the biennial. There were probably twenty of those kind of situations where you are really having a conversation that is about the process of what will eventually happen, as opposed to the artists who made work where I knew the piece, so I was coming at it from that angle too.

 

HZ: For artists that are represented by a gallery, how are the dealers involved in the biennial, if at all?

FS: We can’t do anything without dealers. When we have an artist where you just want to get the work, it often involves the gallery. There are also situations where we have artists who are making completely new work and it is a huge financial commitment and so we correspond with galleries about how to make that happen, i.e. perhaps they have collectors that would support the project, because there is a lot of fundraising that goes into the site specific works. It’s all interconnected in some way.

 

“The element of chance at the biennial is just amazingly greater than anything that happens in the space of the museum.” -Franklin Sirmans

 

HZ: Can you talk a little about this biennial’s theme Notes for Now and perhaps a few program highlights?

FS: I think Notes for Now is a blanket way of talking about what I think a good biennial should do at this point in time, which is on one hand it should be timely, in regards to talking about the last 2-3 years, and then on the other hand, you try and make sense of things. So it’s not like printing a book—actually, we printed 2 books! (a P.3 exhibition catalogue and a book on Basquiat)—but to me, the exhibition is an exercise in that you are taking notes for the duration of two and a half years and fact finding by talking to artists, curators, and people about what is important, or what you believe to be important about showing in an international exhibition of contemporary art at this point in time. I think those are notes that are constantly changing which is why the title Notes for Now is a good way of encapsulating what is a really big project and it is not only the exhibition that I have curated but it is also P.3+ which is the hundreds of galleries and nonprofits that are going to be putting on art exhibitions during the run of Prospect 3. Its also P.3 Reads which is an ongoing, year round series of conversations that happen in libraries in NOLA so it entails a lot of different moving parts.

I think Notes for Now is the umbrella statement. My essays in the exhibition catalogue are called Somewhere and Not Anywhere which is a more specific reference to Walker Percy’s book The Moviegoer which has been a real structural device for me in terms of thinking abut the exhibition thematically. The book does a couple of things, and both are in line with that idea of what I hope the exhibition does, which is, in order for these kinds of things to be successful, they need to be very much about the place in which they take place: so context was everything. The Moviegoer was written in 1961 and is based in New Orleans. It is a story of someone who is trying to find himself, if you will. In regards to P.3, I think the exhibition is an exercise in finding oneself and trying to understand people, and that ties back to references in the book. The protagonist is able to see people more clearly by the end of the book because they are more open to seeing people. This notion is where the “artist oracle” equivalent comes from as well, which is why we will be exhibiting a work from Paul Gauguin at NOMA. I think this work is somewhat representative of his search for himself, which precedes an idea that he posited a bit later, concerning who are we, what are we, and where are we going. These themes were important for Gauguin, especially as a postimpressionist European painter who goes to the “exotic place”. Similarly, the Brazilian painter Tarsila do Amaral (whose works are also in P.3) looks at the construction of identity and of the self and from a different point of view, one in which she is talking about the construction of an identity that is a representation of a whole country and this idea of eating “the other” along the lines of a cannibalistic manifesto.

 

Paul Gauguin, Under the Pandanus (I Raro te Oviri), 1891

Paul Gauguin, Under the Pandanus (I Raro te Oviri), 1891

HZ: I really like the premise of P.3 Reads—an ongoing series of public talks held at the New Orleans Library—because it offers a perspective on the relationship between literature and art. Since the program launched in January, do you feel that the talks have been well attended and generated stimulating dialogues? Have you been moderating them?

FS: Ylva Rouse, Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs, conceived of P.3 Reads, and Caroline Kerrigan, Deputy Director for the Public Experience, has administered the program. These talks have been occuring in New Orleans while I have been in Los Angeles, but I look forward to being present and moderating the panel in October. I’ll be speaking with Sophie Lvoff to discuss Walker Percy’s The Moviegoer. And yes indeed, the talks have been well attended and have generated some very stimulating dialogues. The library has been packed! So it’s been really nice to have a great turn out, but it is also about having a meaningful presence, which is something we have strived hard to keep in mind.

 

HZ: Do you think the presence has changed since the first biennial back in 2008?

FS: I think with a different director it will just keep getting stronger and stronger. From my observation, Executive Director Brooke Davis Anderson has been an incredible force in terms of getting people excited about P.3, not only in New Orleans but everywhere else, which is important for an international biennial.

Inside peek at Interview with Franklin Sirmans

HZ: Along those lines, how does P.3 fit into the dynamic culture of the Big Easy? Do you foresee any challenges?

FS: A lot of it is about taking cues and keeping them in mind. There are references to music, which is a culture and a history that is specific to New Orleans, and there are references to performance, which is such a part of the city’s pulse. In turn, I hope that all of those things are part of the fabric of the upcoming biennial. At the same time, I know that there is no substitute for the real thing. Therefore, so much of the exhibition will be about people experiencing the city, just as much as it will be about people experiencing the art in the show.

 

HZ: It’s wonderful to be able to have both of those components in sync. You mentioned performance; are there many performance artists that are going to be participating in the upcoming biennial?

FS: No…it’s not heavily on the performance side. The references are there, but in subtler ways. For example, Lisa Sigal has been working on an extended performance but it’s a private performance and she will come away with this project that is about painting and as much as it is about the city. Additionally, there are performances scheduled by Andrea Fraser, Liu Ding and Gary Simmons that will happen on opening weekend. But there will be others that will happen in pockets—some around the opening, some half way and at different events in between. Performance will be more of a constant reference point in most works on view. A more static work, like drawings by The Propeller Group and Christopher Myers, are about instruments and musicality as it relates to funerals, and not only funerals in New Orleans but also in Vietnam. Funerals are very performative in both places.

Lisa Sigal, Home Court Crawl, I Can't Help the Mood I'm In, But Right Now I'm Thinking That The Narcissism of White America Knows No Bounds, 2014

Lisa Sigal, Home Court Crawl, I Can’t Help the Mood I’m In, But Right Now I’m Thinking That The Narcissism of White America Knows No Bounds, 2014

 

HZ: The last two biennials P.1 and P.2 inspired the creation of some the most iconic works in recent memory, like Mark Bradford’s Mithra and William Pope.L’s Blink. Do you have a sense of what might resonate in the artistic canon from this year’s selection?

FS: That is a tough question! With Mark’s pieces, there are no comparisons as that is a big, important piece, and what you point to there is also that there were reference points to the Lower 9th in that piece. Leandro Erlich did a really memorable piece over there as well…For me, all of the work that I have selected for the biennial sticks out in a big way, but it’s hard for me to say what other people will be attracted to and what stands out in a more public imagination. It’s definitely hard for me to break the works up into preferential categories. I would recommend watching video works by Zarina Bhimji, or seeing new works by younger artists like Firelei Baez or Hugette Caland—who most people probably don’t know of—or watching the way that William Cordova treats the city in his video work and how Los Jaichakerers treat the city in their work. I’m excited about the way that Lucia Koch is going to create a kaleidoscope of color around the contemporary art center windows where Andrea Fraser will be performing actual conversations that happened in New Orleans. It’s a definite mix, and hopefully some things really stick with people. I would never compare P.3 to any of the art fairs…perhaps a more comparable space would be the Venice Biennial. Right now Gwangju is going on in Korea, Sao Paolo is up in Brazil, and Taipei just opened. I will close by stating that the energy around P.3 has been fantastic. We have received phenomenal press and the whole city seems to be buzzing. It’s going to be a biennial you won’t want to miss!

 

 

 

 

 

 

SNEAK PREVIEW! The Station: A Live Installation Premieres at Whitebox

The Station Promo
On December 9th, InnerCity Projects will perform a one night only performance called The Station at Whitebox Art Center.  Led by dancer Miriam Parker and visual artist Jo Wood Brown, the multidisciplinary live installation will feature painting, video, and performance.   Please read below for an exclusive interview with Miriam Parker about the upcoming project.
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Miriam Parker working on The Station in her Manhattan based studio.

Miriam Parker working on The Station in her Manhattan based studio.

RANY: You and visual artist Jo Wood-Brown have created multidisciplinary performances for your collaborative InnerCity Projects since 2007.  Please tell me a little bit about your current multimedia project, The Station.
MP: My collaborator Jo and I originally come from very different backgrounds. I’m a trained dancer, and Jo has been working largely as a visual artist. We began collaborating with an interest in creating hybrids between visual art and dance. Since then, our work has expanded into many other medias and disciplines, both informed by our interests as well as that of friends and colleagues who collaborate and work with us in each project. We take one discipline and see what it’s going to look like when it translates or influenced by another discipline. Jo usually begins this process as a painter, and I as a dancer, with a kind of associative consciousness. We are interacting with the world around us, and so the creation and “dreaming” stage is incredibly invigorating. In The Station, we hope to create a space where the lines between dance and movement, sculpture and environment, music and sound, art and ordinary, and performer and participant are blurred. The space is altered by the individuals walking through it, invited into the space as active participants, rather than bystanders. There is a sense of exchange between the participants and the work, but also between the various elements we have used to create the environment. Our hope is that those interacting with the space feel as though they are stepping into a dream, into someone else’s imagination, free to explore within. In this iteration of InnerCity Projects, we wanted to invite the audience inside the space, as part of the space. There is no stage, and so the audience’s presence plays a vital role in the work. This removes any sense of hierarchy between performer and participant, and the presence of the performers is one of understanding rather than knowing. The activity is constantly trying to touch, or put light on, or grasp what slips from our eyes, from our attention. We are providing a unique opportunity for people to think and be.
RANY: The idea of “stepping into a dream, into someone else’s imagination” is an intriguing thread that the viewer/audience member can follow throughout the duration of The Station. It almost sounds like a collective guided meditation. That said, knowing that the project draws from improvisational instances, would you describe it as a tangential piece? Building upon that, in your opinion, what are the benefits of creating a live installation?
MP: Tangential implies that it is in some way off center – but here we are creating a place where the center exists in more than one place at the same time. A live installation is always changing. The elements in our work are reflective of life, and art is in life. What each person brings into the space is equally as important. Each person creates a new center. One of the main benefits of a live installation is that you get see the process of creation. Full disclosure, everything laid bare and happening in the now, and that’s what I’m all about. Ideally my work is talking about this process itself. I hope that the work acts to help others become aware of how their mind works. The idea of a live installation is exhilarating to me. It’s freedom. I feel this vision is supported by the elements inhabiting the gallery space which are living, breathing entities. The sound, for example, is being mixed live in the space by Ross Meneuz. Ross’ decisions will be directly affected by the ways in which the participants navigate the space, as well as the choreography of the dancers, the lighting and its effect upon the sculptures, the visuals appearing in the projections, and so on. These elements also create relationships with one another. Each moment will be vastly different from the next, due to a unique cycle that is never the same from moment to moment, and is never to be replicated again. The elements in the installation also pull from life and all of its intensity and movement outside of the space. Subsequently, the choreography was created using pedestrian vocabulary; the video projections document movement across New York City; and the sound is reflective of a constant state of flux we are in while navigating this large city. Through our work, we attempt to slow all of this down, providing moments of reflection and exchange.
Jo Wood Brown, painted still shot.

Jo Wood Brown, painted still

RANY: How did you and Wood-Brown decide upon the duration of The Station?

MP: We decided on the duration based upon an understanding of how long people tend to view work in a traditional gallery setting, and how long we may be able to capture our audience before minds wander. There’s also something really beautiful about daydreaming, and we felt it appropriate to keep the installation ongoing to allow for that inevitable infiltration of thought to fill the space should they choose to stay. Again, the installation is as much about the individuals inhabiting the space as it is about the purposefulness of the elements we’ve selected, and so the duration was intentional based upon presumptions of how people may want to encounter and experience the work. All of our assumptions may be proved wrong during the moment, but that’s where the excitement of a live installation comes in; and also, where the improvisation of the dancers and the sound will play an important role: as a guiding mechanism.

RANY: Are there any artists and/or collectives that serve as an inspiration to you and your creative process?

MP: Jo inspired me! She has a wild and expansive career. I love her paintings. I remember looking at them before our collaboration truly began, and thinking how incredible it would be to live inside of one of them. I think that with The Station, we are going to achieve that sensibility for the participants. I have also studied quite a bit of architecture. Richard Serra played a huge role in sparking my interest to work this way. His site-specific structures created pathways of movement that have altered people’s perceptions of space and time. His work is quite performative, and I saw a huge potential to expand on this idea.

Jo Wood Brown, video still

Jo Wood Brown, video still

RANY: The Station project created an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for the participating dancers, but also to support the invention of a structural component that will allow the installation to function on an improvisational level. Could you elaborate more on the function of this structure?  For example, did the engineer use core materials from New York City to underscore the dialogue between a fixed structure within an interactive space?

MP: Jo and myself chose the materials and design. The engineer, Robert Duteil, helped us to actualize the design utilizing common building materials. What is really exciting for us is that Robert created a sort of erector set with ball bearings at the end of the triangles. This allows us to shift and move the sculpture, making it adaptable for different spaces and situations. I would like to continue to work on creating a type of “Lego” set that would allow us to build up different topographies for the audiences as well. Cinder blocks are part of our material vocabulary to create this landscape, but I’m dreaming of finding a lighter, more fluid alternative.
RANY: What new projects are on the horizon for InnerCity after your upcoming performance at White Box?
MP: We are in dialogue with a few venues in Europe and the US, all of which is to be determined. One thing is for sure; we plan to utilize this one night only event to inform future projects. We are constantly recycling material, so for example, video we take inside the space of the audience will likely be abstracted and utilized in future InnerCity works.
RANY: As we make our way through the dawn of the Digital Age, do you think that multidisciplinary projects are the shape of the future or just a new way of examining and processing art, or perhaps both?

MP: Yes! I believe it is a new way of examining. For me it allows for an opportunity to study the phenomenology of perception and have a way of applying these studies, incorporating them into the work.

Lowline conceptual rendering for NYC's first underground park

Lowline conceptual rendering for NYC’s first underground park

RANY: Speaking of projects that are forward thinking, I noticed that you are a member of the Lowline Advisory Board.  How did you become involved with the board and what are your thoughts on building an indoor park in NYC? Sounds intriguing.
MP: I had worked with Dan Barash, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Lowline on other community building projects – mostly involving art and the Lower East Side – so when he started this project, he asked for my help in finding intelligent ways to work with the arts community in this area. I am fully passionate about this project. I am very interested in new ways of having shared space. I believe an important element for a healthy life is to have places that are open and available to the public where one can connect. This also reflects back to my work with Jo; we have this immense and incredible opportunity to provide a brief and yet completely distinct moment in time for as many individuals who choose walk inside the gallery on Tuesday night. There’s something incredibly magical about that.
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ABOUT INNERCITY PROJECTS: InnerCity Projects was created in the collaborative dialogue between visual artist Jo Wood-Brown and dancer Miriam Parker over a period of several years. It is built on dialogues between the nature of the fixed or painted image and the time-based nature of movement and has led to the development of mixed media works: installation, film, and performance.

ABOUT WHITEBOX ART CENTER: Whitebox is a non-profit art space that serves as a platform for contemporary artists to develop and showcase new site-specific work, and is a laboratory for unique commissions, exhibitions, special events, salon series, and arts education programs. Through site-specific exhibitions, performances, screenings, readings, lectures, and panel discussions, Whitebox provides the opportunity to experience an artist’s practice in a meaningful way to the surrounding communities of Chinatown, the Lower East Side, and cultural tourism.

Hymn of the Big Wheel: Reuven Israel Takes His Art for a Spin

 

Multipolarity- Reuven Israel-Installation shot 2-HZ

This review was published in Fjords Review on December 4, 2014.

Known for his conceptual sculptures that resist categorization, multimedia artist Reuven Israel creates unique, brightly colored modular artworks that are embedded with paradoxes and layers of meaning. Each work explores metaphysical tropes that span sophisticated notions of divinity, sanctity, the uncanny, and science fiction, while embodying vaguely symbolical forms. All of Israel’s sculptures are unique, and involve components that turn, spin, lean, drill or surrender. They are designed with a metaphysical bent, becoming objects that represent the intangible—quite possibly they possess invisible energies, an innerlife, or even talismanic power. Born in Jerusalem and raised in Tel Aviv, Israel earned both his BFA and MFA from Bezalel Academy of Art and Design. The artist has exhibited worldwide, and currently lives and works in Brooklyn.

Multipolarity- Reuven Israel-The Artist with his work

Currently on view at Fridman Gallery is MULTIPOLARITY, a playful survey of robust, three-dimensional objects that resemble curious syringes ready to inject the viewer with a cosmic cocktail of art and science. Comprised of geometric forms of varying shapes, sizes, and colors that are skewered onto thin copper poles, the sculptures command attention with their machine made look and keen likeness to familiar, everyday objects. Upon closer examination, the viewer realizes Israel’s sculptures are meticulously man made, and curry favor to form over function. If you look long enough, one begins to discover slight imperfections and flaws amongst the objects, which humanizes them. Subsequently, many of Israel’s sculptures seem to hum with an invisible energy that stem from the spine of their copper core. It is as if at any moment the works could levitate and hover like a UFO or spacecraft. Complex yet elemental, scientific yet domestic, futuristic yet historical, each sculpture revels in differences and juxtapositions, while striving to unite antithetical forces into a harmonious continuum.

Multipolarity- Reuven Israel-Installation shot 1-HZ

Similar to 1960s Minimalist sculpture, Israel’s works are material and process-based, yet they are created within headier contexts in mind. The modular components of each of sculpture are fashioned out of MDF (medium density fiberboard), cut into shapes, sanded and polished, and then painted with a spray gun to avoid any traces of the artist’s hand. The artist explains that each shape determines the color of the object, therefore he culls from a broad palette of car paint in retro hues like cornflower blue, mint, bubblegum pink, lemon yellow or metallic lilac. In turn, the colors function as a trompe l’oeil device, and objects become activated by signifying a multitude of “familiar” things like barbells, DNA components, particle accelerators, or flying saucers. This color play—both seductive and puzzling—pushes the viewer into a perpetual space of confused intrigue. Similarly, the sculpture titles—such as SBMD1 or LBH—are coded and do not explain the work, but are deliberately lettered like particles. Like Duchamp, who presented titles to be an inherent part of the work, the names Israel selects for his works function as significant satellites.

RI_Fridman_Installation2-resized

Israel describes his practice as an organic process. While the sculptures maintain a material uniformity, his ideas for their complete form are constantly changing and shifting. A lot of chance elements are at play during their assembly, therefore finding the “right” combination is more like balancing act—an idea that conjures a humorous image of the artist walking across a high wire, using one of his objects as a counterbalance pole. Nonetheless, he enjoys the freedom that the realm of sculpture grants his objects. Unlike painting where the object is instantly recognizable and unmistakable in any context, “A painting is always a painting,” Israel notes, sculpture tends to resist a direct representational aspect, therefore the intention (apart from the physical object) has its own autonomy. Ultimately, the works dictate their final objecthood, therefore the artist is not locked into them; rather they take on what Israel calls “a second life.”

ARTWALK NY 20th Anniversary Gala, 10.30.14!

Artwalk-heroARTWALK NY 20th Anniversary Gala
Benefitting Coalition for the Homeless
Honorees: Jennifer Connelly & Paul Bettany
Metropolitan Pavilion
Sponsored by Dolce & Gabbana
6:30pm Silent Auction | 8:30pm Live Auction
Auctioneer: Aileen Agopian, Sotheby’s
Music: Chelsea Leyland

READart is looking forward to attending the twentieth anniversary gala for ARTWALK NY tonight, October 30th for New York’s premier annual charity art auction.  The benefit brings together hundreds of artists, art-lovers and other compassionate New Yorkers at this landmark event to celebrate the role of “artist-as-activist” and raise awareness about the issues of homelessness, poverty and social justice. Sponsors include Dolce & Gabbana, Paddle8, Chelsea Frames, Mana Contemporary, Acme and Peroni. Approximately 100 leading and emerging artists such as Chuck Close, Tracey Emin, FriendsWithYou, Shepard FaireyPeter Gerakaris, Kate Gilmore, Andrea Mary MarshallEd RuschaShelter Serra, and Swoon, have generously donated works for both live and silent auctions.

ABOUT COALITION FOR THE HOMELESS Coalition for the Homeless provides emergency food and clothing, eviction prevention, crisis services, permanent housing, job training and special programs for kids to over 3,500 New Yorkers each day. For more than three decades, we’ve been helping homeless men, women and children find their way to a safe, stable home.

 

 

Upcoming: It’s Not You, Solo Exhibition by Allison L. Wade at RWFA

 Congrats to Allison L. Wade on her upcoming solo show, “It’s Not You” at Rick Wester Fine Art! The exhibition will feature recent additions to the artist’s highly followed Break-Up Texts series. Make sure to visit the show on view from November 6, 2014-January 10, 2015.

allison wade-rwfa

 

 

Press Release from Rick Wester Fine Art

NEW YORK, NY, October 22, 2014– Rick Wester Fine Art is pleased to announce It’s Not You, the first solo exhibition in New York by painter and photographer Allison L. Wade. The exhibition will feature recent additions to the artist’s highly followed series on social networks, Break-Up Texts. The paintings and photographs feature all or portions of text messages sent and received by the artist during dissolving personal relationships, exploring the fundamental issues of personal communication in this age of instant messaging and 140 character diaries. Decidedly anti-romantic, sardonic and virtually tragic, the painted messages float above backgrounds of intense color, either garish or plain, or against a backdrop of psychedelic swirls in an implied messiness of psychological complexity. The photographic works combine text message excerpts with color print test patterns, creating tension between the deeply personal words and the clearly empirical nature of the backgrounds. Where text messages, in their dissociated candor, distill the written word’s emotional value, the color test patterns equally strip away the evocative nature of color. The emotional range of the work stretches from boredom and technology induced ennui to mockery and appalled surprise: Sorry I have been out of touch this week. There was a snow storm and I have been watching movies; Thanks for your consideration in wasting my time; and YOU HAVE SABOTAGED US are a few examples of the missives portrayed. Wade’s installations address the dichotomy inherent in technology that allows for human contact but can also negate it.

Break-Up Texts had its premiere at PULSE Miami in 2013 and immediately, images of the work became the most posted from the fair on Tumblr, Twitter and Instagram. Other blog posts have garnered tens of thousands of views and shares – and for good reason. Wade has taken the most unexceptional form of communication and made art that allows one element of the content to represent her own impulses and reactions while using forms and colors to contrast the intimacy of the literal meaning of her words. She creates conflict in a mirror for her audience to find themselves in.

The paintings are displayed individually and in configurations of three to six works each. While Wade may use the same text in different paintings, they are never duplicated in size and color scheme so each is unique. The photographs are released in 30 x 40 inch chromogenic prints in editions of five each.

The paintings are displayed individually and in configurations of three to six works each. While Wade may use the same text in different paintings, they are never duplicated in size and color scheme so each is unique. The photographs are released in 30 x 40 inch chromogenic prints in editions of five each.

Allison L. Wade has been an Assistant Professor of Photography at the Fashion Institute of Technology since 2008 and previously taught at Parsons School of Design and the Austin Museum of Art. She holds an MFA in Photography from Cornell University. She has been the recipient of grants from the Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, VT; F.I.T./SUNY, NY; and the Cornell Council for the Arts.

Do Ho Suh: There’s No Place Like Home

Do Ho Suh-Lehmann Maupin Gallery

Known for his elegant sculptural installations that are volumetric shells of his past homes, Korean artist Do Ho Suh creates exquisitely detailed portraits of spaces in a variety of media. Born in 1962 in Seoul, the artist moved to the United States in 1991 to earn his BFA in painting at the Rhode Island School of Design, and an MFA in sculpture from Yale University. Suh settled in New York in 1997, where he lived and worked until relocating to London in 2010.

Currently showing at Lehmann Maupin is an extensive, two part show of new artwork by Suh (on view Sept 11 – Oct 25, 2014). The exhibition features a dense range of works on paper in various scales, including drawings rendered in pencil, pen, ink, and watercolor, the artist’s signature “thread” drawings, and a large compendium of labor-intensive rubbings that create full-scale impressions of architectural spaces. Suh’s multifaceted practice—which includes fabric installations, figurative sculptures, a vast array of drawings and one-to-one scale rubbings—explores notions of home, physical space, displacement, identity and memory.

LM gallery-DHS showDHS-Rubbing Loving Project, 348 W22nd St, deconstructed TV set detail, Chelsea gallery

In his recent rubbing series, Suh takes the tools and techniques of drawing into an expanded field. For the three different works on view, Rubbing/Loving Project: 348 West 22nd Street, Apt. A, New York, NY 10011; Rubbing/Loving Project: Company Housing of Gwangju Theater; and Rubbing/Loving Project: Gwangju Catholic University Lifelong Institute; Suh made massive, architectural drawings first by covering walls and three dimensional fixtures of the interior and exterior of select spaces with large sheets of tracing paper, and then rubbing the surfaces with graphite or colored pencils. After carefully removing the handmade imprints, Suh reassembled the drawings to recreate versions of spaces that hold great personal, cultural or historic significance to him. This meditative process—which could be regarded as a form of “skinning”—generates works that are in constant tension between sculpture and form. While realistic in scale and proportion, Suh’s rubbings are materially ghostly, based upon potent tactile memories that transcend and embody physical parameters of space.

 

Do Ho Suh in conversation about Rubbing/Loving Project

Do Ho Suh in conversation about Rubbing/Loving Project

Installed at the Chelsea location is an elaborate, large-scale recreation of Suh’s former New York apartment (Rubbing/Loving Project: 348 West 22nd Street, Apt. A, New York, NY 10011). At the entrance of the gallery stands a white, life-scale model of the brick and mortar exterior of the artist’s former dwelling. Like a gateway to the artist’s memory bank, the structure leads viewers into the main gallery space where hundreds of individual rubbings of floors, walls, and appliances have been meticulously documented and fastened to blank canvases with pushpins. Rendered in blue pencil on vellum, many three-dimensional objects from the interior—such as a television or a sink—have been deconstructed and reconfigured like diagrammatic renderings that hover between the empirical and the expressive.

DHS-Rubbing Loving Project, film still from Company Housing of Gwangju Theater

On view at the back of the Chelsea gallery are a series of video documentaries that accompany Suh’s extensive, multi-city Rubbing/Loving Project. The most compelling video shows the artist and his studio team making rubbings of the Company Housing of Gwangju Theater while blindfolded. Created in response to the city of Gwangju and the 1980 “Gwangju Uprising”, the piece conveys Suh’s sense of “blindness” due to the blatant media censorship about the political conditions available at the time. By rubbing dark charcoal on interiors of abandoned spaces once inhabited by people who survived the massacre, Suh activates a multi-sensorial way of seeing that allows one to read beyond the surface. Interestingly, in Korean, there are no distinguishing sounds between the letters L and R or between the letters B and V; therefore the pronunciation of the English word “rubbing” sounds uncannily similar to that of “loving”. This curious confusion of mispronunciation creates a connection that is important for Suh, such that “rubbing” becomes an act of “loving”, an act he employs to excavate spaces by gently stroking surfaces to unveil meaning.

DHS-Rubbing Loving Project, interior of Company Housing of Gwangju Theater, LES gallery

Originally commissioned by the 2012 Gwangju Biennial, Rubbing/Loving Project: Company Housing of Gwangju Theater and Rubbing/Loving Project: Gwangju Catholic University Lifelong Institute are two works on view at the Lower East Side gallery space. The two freestanding structures resemble oversized, displaced tree houses that are wallpapered with memories (more rubbings) and function as emotional blueprints (a modest speaker system streams the irregular sounds of pencils rubbing against paper). By turning private spaces into public ones, Suh continually explores the importance of one’s home or dwelling as a physical and emotional anchor point, as well as the concept of placelessness.

Nir Hod: Creating Light Amidst the Dark

NH-I Always Want to Be Remebered In Your Heart-detail

Israeli artist Nir Hod is known for creating artworks that explore relationships between glamour and loneliness, and beauty and death. As a painter, Hod’s palette ranges from the Old Master portraits of Peter Paul Rubens to the photo-realist technique of Gerhard Richter. His signature portraits feature figures set against inky backgrounds that seem to emerge from darkness and rise like flames. A master of color with subtle variations in tone and shade, Hod delivers sumptuous compositions that are imbued with a shadowy allure. The artist received his BFA from the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem. His works, which consist of paintings, sculptures and videos, have been exhibited at top institutions and artfairs worldwide. Hod currently lives and works in New York.

Installation shot courtesy of Paul Kasmin

Installation shot courtesy of Paul Kasmin

Once Everything Was Much Better Even the Future, marks Hod’s third solo exhibition at Paul Kasmin (on view Sept 11-Oct 25th, 2014). Similar to his previous two shows Genius (in 2011) and Mother (in 2012), the new works on view continue to inhabit a world of paradox. Perched on a tall plinth in the center of the gallery is a monumental snow globe (whose namesake is also the show title) containing a moving scale model of a pumpjack encased in amber oil and swirling gold flakes. Like a crystal ball from the Byzantine Empire, the sculptural work reflects an absurdist portrait of an isolated landscape of oil extraction in which production and consumption peacefully coexist. This untouchable, illusory world encapsulates Hod’s practice—one that pushes boundaries by creating slippery juxtapositions between truth and the hyperreal.

Installation shot courtesy of Paul Kasmin

Installation shot courtesy of Paul Kasmin

The painting series I Always Want to be Remembered in Your Heart is presented as a sweeping triptych that depict haunting compositions of flowers being consumed by flames. Purple petals and perky pistils smolder and burn, alluding to the notions of life and death, and beauty and destruction. Thematically, the idea of painting things on fire appeals to Hod because of its implications toward vandalism. However, upon deeper examination, the viewer begins to unpack a myriad of harrowing historical influences that waft in between paint layers. While calamities like the Holocaust, Arab Spring, and September 11 have each left devastating wakes of destruction; Hod’s series connotes that compassion is the soft light that is inevitably borne out of darkness. Thoughtful actions like placing flowers upon memorials and lighting candles in remembrance remind the viewer that the flames in I Always Want to be Remembered in Your Heart do not overwhelm the flowers; rather they live in balance.

All We Wish For, Let it Be

All We Wish For, Let it Be

The Back Room

The Back Room

The Back Room and All We Wish For, Let It Be further explore the dichotomy of light shining through darkness. Hod conveys this narrative through a series of abstract canvases that have undergone a chroming process, which are then painted with a layer of matte black acrylic. Collectively, these works make a departure from the representational by activating the space outside of the picture plane through reflective, mirrored surfaces. The Back Room is a 16-panel work (each panel is square shaped) with contrasting black and white scratches upon chrome surfaces that emanate light. The title of this series derives from Hod’s idea that all of us have a dark “back room” in our minds, towards which we are drawn. As viewers peer into their fragmented reflections that flicker amongst the shiny panels, they are confronted with truths—perhaps inner demons—and must choose to address them or look away. In this new register, Hod ultimately transforms the viewer into the subject matter by reminding them that an inner light is always accessible amidst dark patches. Interestingly, for the current exhibition, The Back Room was reduced to 12 panels, therefore not all of the pieces fit together perfectly. Like broken bones that have healed, the disjointed panel seams reinforce the notion that light and growth continue to exist amongst destruction.

Nir-Hod_The-Most-Problematic-Place-in-the-World-2014_PK-19017

In All We Wish For, Let It Be the artist renders ethereal clouds in the colors of melted brass and shattered glass panels in mystic silver tones, which alludes to the Dionysian cycle of destruction and rebirth. Hod deliberately paired the clouds together with the broken window panels to underscore their contrast with the rest of the darker, more disturbed works within the show. After surveying several monochromatic canvases juxtaposed with compositions of floral flames, it felt as if the gallery had created an enchanting remix of a Frankenthaler-Motherwell modernist narrative with a film noir twist. Overall, the works highlight Hod’s pursuit of the sublime as a place of pleasurable fear, forbidden desire, and optical illusion.

 

 

Exclusive Interview with Marilyn Nonken, recipient of NCP 2014 Visionary Award

Marilyn Nonken, recipient of The Nouveau Classical Project's Visionary Award 2014

Marilyn Nonken, recipient of The Nouveau Classical Project’s 2014 Visionary Award

“The music I’ve been fascinated with for the past few years is known as spectral music, which came out of Paris in the early 1970s and reached New York just around 2000.  In my own artistic life, I feel like I came of age with this music in my ears and in my hands.”–Marilyn Nonken

On October 8th, The Nouveau Classical Project will honor pianist Marilyn Nonken with the 2014 NCP Visionary Award at their Annual Benefit in New York City. This award recognizes innovative leaders whose work has made a significant impact on the new music community. In addition to being an incredible musician, Ms. Nonken is the Director of Piano Studies at New York University and recently wrote the book “The Spectral Piano: From Liszt, Debussy and Scriabin to the Digital Age,” published by Cambridge University Press. Please read below for an exclusive interview with Ms. Nonken and READart.

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Interview with Marilyn Nonken: Thoughts on New Music and Exploring the World Beyond Pitch and Harmony

RANY: For those who might not be familiar with the genre of “new music”, how would you define it?

MN: It seems strange to me that people ask for definitions of “new music,” as the word “new” usually doesn’t seem to pose challenges. Is a book from 1926 new? Are clothes from the fifties new? Of course they’re not. Music from the 1920s or 1950s is not new, either.  Some listeners assume that certain kinds of music they haven’t heard before must be “new” — when really it is just new to them. So I try to make this distinction. The term “new” is useless to describe music in any meaningful way. Simply put, “new music” means recent music that is made during our lifetime – either by composers who are still living, or from the recent past. For popular music, there are many ways to describe specific styles–Death Metal, Emo, Afropunk, K-pop, Classic Rock. Similarly, there are just as many categories within classical music like Contemporary Classical or Composed Music, and they are just as different from one another. Chance music. New Complexity. Minimalism.  Terms like this can be a place to start. We should be like the Germans and create new words to describe new experiences! The music I’ve been fascinated with for the past few years is known as spectral music, which came out of Paris in the early 1970s and reached New York just around 2000.  In my own artistic life, I feel like I came of age with this music in my ears and in my hands.

 

RANY: At what point in your artistic career did you become interested in new music?  

MN: I was 17 years old and studying classical piano at the Eastman School of Music. I had a close friend whose name was Alton Howe Clingan, and he was a composition major. He wrote fabulous music, inspired by composers of the New Complexity Brian Ferneyhough and Michael Finnissy. It was edgy, colorful, and virtuoso. He had a brilliant cycle of pieces inspired by Yukio Mishima. And he couldn’t get any of our friends–gifted kids our own age destined for careers in music–to play his scores. In that conservative environment,  “new” music was not a priority. It was not valued as part of our training. Most of the teachers seemed to think that music history tanked around the time of World War I, and they conveyed this attitude to their students. To them, playing anything written after that point was optional, and most likely a waste of time.

 

RANY: What are some first repertoire pieces you would recommend for a pianist who is interested in new music? What about first pieces to develop an understanding of extended technique?   

MN: There is no simple answer to this question – the repertoire is so vast! Each pianist must find the composers for whom s/he feels an affinity, and finding these mysterious bridges takes a willingness to explore.For pianists interested in modern music, there are groundbreaking works to study by Olivier Messiaen, Arnold Schoenberg, Karlheinz Stockhausen, or Pierre Boulez.  There was a whole line of composers who moved through Darmstadt in the mid-century–Luciano Berio, Luigi Dallapiccola, and Gyorgy Ligeti, for example — whose piano etudes have become close to “standard” repertoire. Additionally, there is also a wonderful trove of American music that relates back to Charles Ives, Carl Ruggles, and Ruth Crawford, and leads up to Elliott Carter, Donald Martino and a subgenre informally known as “Uptown” in New York. Equally germane to this short list is the music of John Cage and the New York School, Morton Feldman, Christian Wolff, and all of the people they influenced as well, like the Bang-on-a-Can composers. There is a whole world of Minimalist and Post-Minimalist, New Complexity and New Simplicity composers to explore. I always recommend that pianists talk to composers their own age, and find out what they are listening to, and what makes them tick. I still work this way myself. I ask the composers I admire: What do you listen to? What do you want to hear?

Extended techniques are unusual ways of playing an instrument. For example, on the piano, there are ways of making sound apart from the hands on the keyboard, and the feet on the pedals.  One always has to ask if these techniques are effective. As an artist, you want to make certain, if you’re going to do something radical, that you are doing it for a profound musical reason. The works of George Crumb, such as his Makrokosmos I & II, are a good way to get a feel for what extended technique is all about. There is no way to learn how to do this but to roll up your sleeves and get inside! These works are ideal for learning different techniques for playing on the strings (like the harp), and for using simple tools (glasses, chains, thimbles) to create unearthly effects.  For bowing inside the piano–which can be a little treacherous–C. Curtis-Smith’s Rhapsodies piece (1973) is a terrific way to learn this technique. Whenever I’ve had to learn new techniques, I’ve found it invaluable to reach out to other players and get their perspectives on what works, and what doesn’t work. Bowing in the piano is a great example, as the scores for the earliest bowed works required that the pianist create bows out of fishing line, which is a complete nightmare! Thankfully, today there are many good synthetic alternatives that achieve a better tone and adapt well to a range of instruments. Furthermore, there are many pieces that experiment with different ways to use the piano without actually playing on the keyboard. For example, Gerard Pesson’s La lumière n’a pas de bras pour nous porter is a piece I’ve enjoyed touring with this season, which is known for its ingenious use of the keyboard.  Aaron Cassidy’s Ten Monophonic Miniatures and Helmut Lachenmann’s Guero similarly explore this world beyond pitch and harmony.

 

RANY: What is the gender ratio in new music field? Have you come across many notable female composers? 

MN: I’ve been fortunate to work with some extremely talented women composers such as Kaija Saairaho, Liza Lim, Elizabeth Hoffman, Tania Leon, Julia Wolfe, Ursula Mamlok, Augusta Read Thomas, Yu-Hui Chang, Laurie San Martin, and there are more out there! I’ve always been inspired by Chaya Czernowin and Katharina Rosenberger (with whom I haven’t had the chance to work with…yet) :-).  There is a very exciting generation of younger voices, and then there are striking historical examples, like Fanny Mendelssohn, Ruth Crawford Seeger, and Ursula Mamlok — who was born in 1923 and is still writing music!  Nonetheless, it has always been, and continues to be a difficult world for industrious women doing serious, challenging work.  Unfortunately, this discourse is not limited to the field music. Women today are still in the minority; particularly those women who are trying to do something seismic or challenging. The notion of “female power” and its unconventional and unbridled expression can often be too much for some people to handle. Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho aptly stated in an interview with the Guardian in 2012 that femininity is “so apparent, so unavoidable” that it inevitably colors the way our work and our contributions are perceived.

 

RANY: You are a very accomplished musician!  You have written a comprehensive book “The Spectral Piano”, performed worldwide in top concert halls, and have been named a Steinway Artist alongside musical greats like Bruce Hornsby, Billy Joel, Diana Krall and Rufus Wainwright. What is next for you?

MN: I would love to learn Hugues Dufourt’s complete Schubert cycle, a set of pieces written over a period of ten years at the turn of the new Millennium, which find their inspiration in Schubert’s settings of Goethe. I have already toured with and recorded one of these pieces; it’s something of a fantasy to do the whole cycle.  I would like to revisit Tristan Murail’s Les travail et les jours, which he wrote for me and I recorded as well. I haven’t had the chance to play it for a few years, and I know I would have a very rich experience, spending more time with this work … it’s like a great book you want to re-read every few years! Furthermore, I would like to expose Murail’s piece to more audiences, as I think the world is ready for it. I am always curious to discover new works, and composers I don’t yet know – I enjoy looking for those mysterious bridges.

 

RANY: What do you have coming up this season, concert-wise? 

MN: I have some exciting concerts coming up. On October 12th at (le) Poisson Rouge, I’m sharing a program with the British pianist Peter Hill. We will play the music of Olivier Messiaen, who died in 1992 and also with whom Peter was very close. The program will feature the fantastic two-piano Visions de l’Amen and the New York premiere of the recently discovered work La fauvette passinerette.  These works are good examples of music that is not “new”: although Visions is from 1943 and La fauvette is from 1961, they will present themselves as “new” to many listeners. I’m playing a solo program in Montreal on October 16th, featuring a work written for me by Boston composer Joshua Fineberg and spectral pieces by Dominique Troncin, Tristan Murail, and Claude Vivier.  In December, I’m especially happy to be returning to Spectrum in New York for a portrait of composer Drew Baker — something of a belated release party for Stress Position, our recording that is now out on New Focus.

Fjords Review to Publish All Women’s Edition with Guest Editors from The Riveter and READart

Fjords Masthead

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 
CONTACT: Fjords Review
John Gosslee, Editor
(708) 320-9807
www.fjordsreview.com

 

Joanna Demkiewicz, Kaylen Ralph and Heather Zises to Guest Edit Women’s Edition of Fjords, Summer 2015

(NEW YORK, NY) October 2, 2014- Fjords Review announces guest editors Joanna Demkiewicz, Kaylen Ralph and curator Heather Zises to edit the upcoming women’s edition of Fjords to premiere on Fjords new app editions in Summer 2015. Demkiewicz and Ralph, founding editors of The Riveter, will select poetry, short stories, and other liteary items. Zises, (READ)art founder, will select artwork for Fjords. The special edition of Fjords will feature authors and artists who identify themselves as women. Submissions open on October 2, 2014 and close on February 1, 2015.

Women writers and artists may submit 3-5 poems, short stories, essays and other literary work. Up to 5 pieces of artwork and single videos of spoken word or other performance arts are accepted for inclusion in Fjords new app editions in Summer 2015. Please include all work in one document with a cover letter as the first page and include cover letter in the provided space for art and video.

Guidelines are available at www.fjordsreview.com