Only a couple more days left to catch Chris Doyle's Bright Canyon in Times Square. Every night from 11:57 to midnight, Times Square becomes a “flourishing natural landscape.” Inspired by nature in the state of New York, Doyle brought his animation to the heart of the city.
"There’s no diploma in the world that declares you as an artist—it’s not like becoming a doctor. You can declare yourself an artist and then figure out how to be an artist." —Kara Walker
In a new episode from the ART21 Exclusive series, artist Kara Walker reflects on her early success and offers advice to the next generation of artists, shown again recent work at Sikkema Jenkins & Co. and the 2014 Frieze Art Fair.
“The artist was not present for the weeklong dismantling of her giant Baby and declined to be interviewed. Concerned about the emotions she’d suffer, her staff packed her off to a house in the woods. But rather than mourn the departure of her creation, Ms. Walker ought to take heart from her contribution to the grand tradition of ephemeral art. From Michelangelo to the Buddhist monks who make — and destroy — sand mandalas, artists have always been intrigued by impermanence.”
Rather than mourn the dismantling of Kara Walker’s marvelous installation, Blake Gopnik wants us to celebrate as part of the long history of ephemeral artworks, a history that includes Michelangelo and Buddhist monks. READ MORE.
“What we have here is a key contradiction of our economic system: on the one hand, we have empty buildings punctuating the city’s landscape, and on the other, we have droves of families who are day by day becoming homeless in spite of their best efforts to stay afloat.”
Creative Time Reports spoke with City Life/Vida Urbana, the Boston collective who set up a pirate radio station to combat foreclosures. Read it.
“I didn’t want a completely passive viewer. Art means too much to me. To be able to articulate something visually is really an important thing. I wanted to make work where the viewer wouldn’t walk away; he would either giggle nervously, get pulled into history, into fiction, into something totally demeaning and possibly very beautiful. I wanted to create something that looks like you. It looks like a cartoon character, it’s a shadow, it’s a piece of paper, but it’s out of scale. It refers to your shadow, to some extent to purity, to the mirror.” —Kara Walker
Thanks to Sikkema Jenkins for the mini retrospective of Kara’s career! An excellent reminder of all the incredible work that has led up to her Domino installation, and all the exciting work she will create in the future.
THE DAILY PIC: I shot this picture of the head of Kara Walker’s “sphinx” at the abandoned Domino factory in Brooklyn, while its body was still headless and its Styrofoam had yet to be sugar-coated. (Read all about the project in my feature in yesterday’s New York “Times”.) An image of a fragmented work begs for a fragmented text, so here are some bits from my Walker interviews that I didn’t find a place for in the “Times”.
– During her years in high school in Atlanta, Kara said she was expected to choose sides between blacks and whites, but instead chose to mix with a “New Wave-y, punkish” crowd of “dorks” that was “on the queerer end of the spectrum – and there was no table for that in the lunchroom.” Whatever our sexual preferences, many of us who haven’t fit into the mainstream have found a kind of refuge in the “otherness” that queer culture offers, despite the risks of associating with it.
– Kara cited a couple of interesting influences. When she was 11 or 12, she said, the family went to a Warhol show that impressed her: “I just remember my dad was sort of dismissive, he was like ‘Oh, he’s kind of a weird guy’, or something like that. And the combination of my dad not being all gung-ho about this very deadpan work, and the deadpan-ness of it, was kind of affecting.” She cited a more transformative moment that came as an undergrad in art school. On a trip to Washington, she saw the work of Mike Kelley, the California conceptualist who counted everything from sock monkeys to his high school as art. “It was just so deep, it was so dark, so funny, and it seemed not to answer to anybody,” she said. That strikes me as a decent description of what Kara herself went on to do.
– She poke of her days as an undergrad, and her vexed relationship with standard notions of racial identity: “The first time I made an image that had a recognizable black figure in it, everybody just went gaga. And I thought ‘Well, that was weird.’ And it was one of those things where my black colleagues at [art] school said, “So, you are with us.’ My colleagues at school and profs were, like, ‘See, now you understand yourself. Now we see who you really are.’ And I kind of got interested in that tension.”
– And she spoke of being confronted with the challenge of the Domino space: “Before I settled on an icon, if felt overwhelming. It felt like there’s this huge space, and this huge opportunity – am I up for it? And I felt again that tug between hubris and deep insecurity, bordering on suicide – and I chose the former, I guess, the hubristic…. It’s funny, because [now] I walk into the space and I think, ‘[The sphinx] is still really small; it’s not big enough.’ “
Read Hatian author Jean-Euphèle Milcé’s piece for Creative Time’s series of pieces related to Kara Walker’s “A Subtlety…” installation, then come see him this Sunday at the Queens Museum at 5PM.
"A cane laborer needs a hiding place. You have to outsmart this produce that grows while slicing through your skin with each wind gust. The furrows I wear on my body are like ramps onto the road of the sugar of sweetness and the rum of intoxication leading toward New York, London, Milan."