Artists are expected to participate in all sorts of conversations in a multimedia-interdisciplinary world but the shared language and historical highlights of specific media—even one as wild and wooly as video art—hauls out the funniest stories, the hottest arguments, and the sharpest insights. Recently, after watching Broadway Danny Rose for the 19th time, I was left fixated on the opening scene in which a group of comedians and writers are swapping stories over pastrami sandwiches at the Carnegie Deli. The scene inspired a flurry of emails that resulted in the first of what became a semiregular lunch date for a collection of NYC “video artists” (sounding as specific and dated as vaudeville artists with every passing year) to kvetch over ambitions, neuroses, hardware, and software related to our trade. The neighboring tables would never accuse Alix Pearlstein of being the loudest voice, but the serious eavesdropper would immediately notice the pattern: Alix says something quietly provocative and then the arguing starts.
When I meet Oscar Murillo for the first time, it is in Central London. Murillo lives and works in East London. Anyone familiar with this city knows that the distance between East and Central is nothing to scoff at. Yet Murillo shows up unfazed on his bike—neon yellow and neatly folded by the time he enters the café—and greets me with a quiet warmth and open ease.
I remember seeing Tony Feher’s first show and not being impressed by it. The work seemed to be about arranging stuff; some of it was detritus, the rest the type of things one would find at a garage sale—jelly jars and goldfish bowls. Though carefully composed—that is, ordered by size or color or shape—the work appeared to have no purposeful end. It all was too effortless and too slacker—Feher made making art look too easy.
Fanny Howe is the renowned author of over 40 books of poetry, fiction, and essays. Born to an illustrious Boston family of artists and scholars in 1940, Fanny Howe became involved in the civil rights movement and then married African American writer Carl Senna, with whom she had three children, including novelist Danzy Senna. After the breakup of her marriage, Howe moved to California where she taught literature and fiction writing at the University of California for many years.
Mark Z. Danielewski
I came to know and admire Mark Z. Danielewski’s work, initially, as with legions of others, through House of Leaves. I remember browsing at Barnes & Noble in Manhattan—the book’s dark, rune-embossed cover put me in mind of the Necronomicon, a favorite, though entirely imaginary, tome of Lovecraftiana. In the only time I’ve ever seen a bookstore clerk break impassive character, I was applauded and encouraged in my choice of this cult horror novel. My first traversal of House of Leaves hooked me. Luckily, by then, Only Revolutions had already come into the world, a prose poem–road novel with archetypal teen lovers accompanied on their journey by an epic, and epigrammatic, History of the World.
In 2005 Irina Cornici, a 23-year-old Romanian woman raised in an abusive orphanage, visited a childhood friend, now a novice at an off-the-grid, rural Moldovian monastery in Tanacu. Cornici was planning to immigrate to Germany. She died at the monastery a few weeks after her arrival, having been strapped to a plank, while the Saint Basil’s prayers, said to “banish the devil,” were read by a resident priest with alleged healing powers. Unable to conform to Orthodox conventions, Cornici’s behavior had become increasingly confrontational, provoking a succession of restraints. Medical authorities diagnosed her as schizophrenic; the monastery viewed her as “possessed.”
David Lang is one of the most thoughtful composers working today. His music is consistently probing, emotionally urgent, strange, and beautiful. It is also getting simpler as the years roll on—a sign that the mind behind it is undergoing a kind of ritualistic purification. I’ve been obsessed with David’s music since I bought a recording by mail order of his piece cheating lying stealing when I was in high school, and I have written a piano piece called David Lang Needs a Hug.
The first meeting between the Austin-based company Rude Mechanicals and NYC’s Radiohole was at the Orchard Project in Hunter, New York, in the summer of 2007. Both companies were in residency, developing new projects—the Rude Mechs (their common moniker) were beginning The Method Gun, which went on to premiere at Humana Festival in Louisville, Kentucky, in 2010, and Radiohole were beginning ANGER/NATION, which opened at The Kitchen in 2008. It was a beautiful summer romance.
If you spend an afternoon talking with Dasha Shishkin, as I recently did, or if you spend an afternoon looking at her drawings, as I did too, you will find an artist who prefers her abundant mysteries unsolved. And perhaps you would also see that kept secrets are sometimes the most benevolent of gifts. Dasha’s imagination wouldn’t want to interfere with your imagination.
In 1912, as legend has it, iconic perfumer Jacques Guerlain strolled alone along the Seine in Paris at twilight. He was so overcome by the beauty of the light and the depth of his own emotions that he could only express his experience through creation of a perfume. Thus, so the story goes, the infamous L’Heure Bleue fragrance was born.
First of all, I like Günther Uecker as a person. This is really important for me as an artist. Understanding his personality allows me to understand his work and to appreciate his honest and clear approach. I also appreciate that he is a person who has endured a lot of hardship in his life. Born at the beginning of the Great Depression, he lived through war and dictatorship and intensely difficult times. As an Iraqi, I relate to experiencing turbulent and extreme situations, having grown up in a war-torn country and under a brutal dictatorship and, more recently, being exiled. I am thousands of miles away from where most of my family still lives under dangerous and precarious circumstances.