All notes with the topic Interviews and Conversations | Notes on Looking

An interview with Asher Hartman in the afterglow of The Silver, the Black, the Wicked Dance performed in the Bing Theater at LACMA on Friday May 13th and Saturday May 14th, 2016.

Asher: Do you want me to get a little table for you? laub: Sure. Ok, good. This formalizes it a little… Let’s see.  I got to see The Silver, the Black, the Wicked Dance twice, which was really fun. Why did you choose that space? Asher: We were looking for different spaces in the museum. When I went into the Bing Theater, it had a particular sensation in it that was attractive to me. It has a kind of energy from all the old performances over the years and film series ongoing at LACMA in the Bing Theatre.  It’s full, that particular space- with a lot of energy and history. laub: What kind of history? Asher: It has a history of great musical and film performances and if you look at the architecture, it’s this beautiful 60’s architecture reminiscent of 1970s film and theatre, which, to my recollection, having been very young at the time, is very psychological, very intense, very character driven, very emotionally driven, and has a somewhat experimental sensibility, and so, immediately you walk into that theatre and you feel it.  People talk about that theatre as being haunted by the feeling of John Cassavetes. I understand that, there’s intensity about the space that I felt really akin too. laub: How important is it that people know about theater to view your work? Asher: I don’t think it’s important at all. Artists don’t seem to have a connection to theater, which I completely understand, because theater- American conservative contemporary theater- is not very interesting to me either. I think the more you know about it, the...

EYE-DEE- QUE (Something like an Asclepeion): A conversation with Matt Wardell

David Bell: It’s funny—these new discoveries in modern medicine. It seems every month there is a new super food that suddenly nobody has ever heard of such as broccoli or kale; or some fresh scientific evidence is revealed that shows exercise is good for you, and you shouldn’t drink every night, or smoke cigarettes in bed. It’s interesting though how some of the older remedies for good health stick around over the ages, like eating broccoli and kale, exercising and not smoking in bed. Bodies have specificity to them in terms of what they need and what they don’t. One man’s daily diet could kill another. Some individuals go into anaphylactic shock at the mere sight of a crustacean, while others drag their tongues along the bottom of the ocean without consequence. Los Angeles is diverse in its healing and health practices. Among many other options you can get a massage in Thai Town, head to the WI Spa in Korea town, avoid the Westside, get your tarot reading in the Valley, or live comfortable and stress free off your family’s trust in a new loft in Downtown. A few weeks ago I met you at your show EYE-DEE-QUE (Something like an Asclepeion) at Baik Art in Culver City. We walked across the street to get lunch at Subway, but after I ordered my sandwich (Black Forest Ham on Honey Oat) you decided you weren’t going to eat anything. Do you know something I don’t? Matt Wardell: I felt a little bad about that. There is the whole Jared SNAFU, but no. Actually, during all of installation I was...

Phoenix Rising, Part 3: laub, me, and The Revolution (The Theory of Everything) A conversation with Emi Kuriyama, Jennifer Moon and laub

  11/22/2015 3:22PM in Culver City Emi Kuriyama: We can talk about whatever, but . . . hmm . . . how did you two meet? I heard you met at laub’s opening (click here). Who made the first move? laub: I did! Jennifer Moon: You did?! l: because I was like, “I’m in The Revolution (click here)” JM: Oh, yeah yeah, but you didn’t ask Young [Chung] to introduce us. l: No no, what happened is the night before when I was installing, Young had this sit down with me and said, “You know, you’re part of the family now and that means you have to know the other artists that are here,” so that night I looked up everybody on the list of Commonwealth and Jennifer was the one I remembered. Jennifer. The Revolution. I had that in my head. JM: The water thing. l: Yeah. Jennifer was bartending and I went to get water, but then— JM: We both reached for the glass at the same time. l: Yeah yeah yeah. EK: Wait, for real? JM: Yeah yeah yeah. [LAUGHTER] JM: So that was funny, and I poured some water and smiled and— l: And then I came back and we had that conversation. JM: And Young was like, “Oh, you haven’t met yet. laub, Jennifer. Jennifer, laub,” and he ran away, and laub said he was into The Revolution. EK: That’s a really good pick up line. JM: Yeah yeah. I know, right! And then he messaged me the next day saying something short like, “Your life force and energy has impacted me. Would like more.” And...

Anisotropic: If The Nuance Looks Moot Its Effects Are Radical, Or: The Sequoia National Forest Is Mind-Blowingly Big and Old and It’s For You To Look At: Chris Adler Interviews Brody Albert

B: There are basically three works that I’m thinking of doing – some happening inside the space and some actually happening outside the space. The first is actually based on this tunnel, which is this tunnel that leads off of the 105 to LAX. Everyone who lives in LA has been through this 100 times. The tunnel has this fascinating thing to me where the sidewalk is really, really skinny, so it forces people, when they’re walking, because of the ongoing traffic, to rub their shoulders and their hips against the wall. C: And those are the drag marks? B: And those are the drag marks. It’s kind of beautiful, so there are these drag marks that go throughout the entire thing. C: Wow, and then- are there marks from vehicles as well, from bang-ups? B: I don’t think so, I think that would do something else entirely. Because that’s soot, right? So it’s just soot getting lightly removed. So that’s it, but there are moments – the internet’s being slow – where people are tagging and writing their names, but for the most part it’s shoulder and hips. And I’ve been going there and pulling over and trying to photograph it, just trying to figure out what’s going on, and I’m super, super fascinated by that. That there’s this drawing, this kind of mural that’s being made by people passing through this area, that’s just forced to happen because of the specifics of the architecture. It’s kind of this strange thing to me, you actually can’t walk this. There’s no sidewalk leading to there. I don’t quite understand...

Record. Collect. Compose. A series of human decisions

When making art with machines and technical processes, no matter what technique we use, every work begins with human need and desire. There 
is a tendency to believe that machines distance us, make us less ourselves, that they alienate us, but what we forget is that all machines are made by humans. Every object used in the process of making art is forged from human culture. You could go so far as to say that there is nothing more human than the machines we use to deepen our understanding of the world. With photography as my point of departure, my goal here is consider many forms of technical media in the most human of terms. What are the human actions involved that underpin the desire to create an indexical representation of the world? The actions I’ve chosen are RECORD, COLLECT and COMPOSE. RECORD is a surrogate for memory. It’s the impulse to keep track and our awareness of time’s passage. COLLECT is the human need to gather and categorize, to see similarities and differences. COMPOSE is seeing a slice of the world. It is choosing what to put in and what to leave out. These actions unite a diverse group of artists working in different media, whose pieces reveal a desire to create transformed representations of real world places and things. On the following pages I’ve asked each artist two questions. These questions are intentionally conversational and many of them are the result of our studio visits. MK. Is there a succinct way you might explain how a photograph transforms the world it depicts? How does that affect how...

— a conversation between Pip Wallis and Adelle Mills, West Hollywood, Los Angeles, August 13th, 2015.

Do you think people understand what is happening? No, I don’t think people ever understand what is happening, I’m often inclined to explain, and explain in a really presumptuous way that they didn’t get it already, so that’s a problem. Do you think people understand what is happening? No, I don’t think people ever understand what is happening, I’m often inclined to explain, and explain in a really presumptuous way that they didn’t get it already, so that’s a problem. Is that because you feel it’s really important for them to understand the process of making it? Yeah I think so… but I don’t think the work is flawed because it’s not obvious, because maybe it’s open for that conversation each time, it’s ready for it. You explaining the work? Yes. Because within the work there’s so much about this role of interpretation, not misinterpretation but differently perceiving; it occurs in the work, in the actors that are performing the work, but then also in the audience’s understanding of the work. So maybe it’s appropriate that there’s also… These gaps? Most definitely, I mean perhaps I wouldn’t be making work about interpretation and cognition if there weren’t those questions already. So the ambiguity is really important? Yes, it is subject matter that is already everywhere so… is this recording? Yeah. Yep. [LAUGHTER] When we spoke last time you mentioned Simone Forti, and it reminded me about the last time I was here in Los Angeles; I did a writing exercise with Simone where we went to the zoo and she asked us to observe the movement of the animals...

A conversation: Chris Adler & Ali Edmark with David Bell

DB. When we live behind, in or between the exhibition space, we are putting our life on display alongside the art exhibited. Home, which is uniquely located from person to person but often rooted in some form of solid or safely identifiable location, becomes malleable; allowing for a violent breakdown of identity, your comfort becomes a representation of those around you, constantly penetrated. When I walked into Vacancy for the first time, the show Casual Friday had a cohesiveness that stood out immediately. Not only did the work go together, there was an obvious relinquishment of space from each artist, each person giving up a little self, and in the end benefiting tremendously. I find this deliciously satisfying, as it forces the artists to hone in on each of their strengths, simulating perhaps the experience you have living with it, sharing your home or allowing your home to be less about you (two). C&A. Yesterday, a visitor walked into our space while we were sharing some sandwiches. One of us had recently spilled aioli on his shirt (not naming names). No time to change, he went out to greet the guest, gesturing a little too much with his hands, unconsciously signaling the mid-belly stain. The ironic proximity to our own wardrobe in that moment is perhaps the reflection of a choice to have a more chance-based privacy. It’s a funny thing that our bedroom almost transforms into our office during open hours, but with the constant lull of, say, working while sitting in bed with your shoes nearby. There is a more than slight confusion of the front-stage and back-stage. In...

Rafa Esparza / Elizabeth Sonenberg Interview

(Note this interview was intended for publication on August 19th but was delayed due to unforeseen technical difficulties on Notes’ end. Nevertheless, we liked what was happening here and wanted to see it through.) Artist and curator Elizabeth Sonenberg talks with Rafa Esparza in the weeks leading up to his new work with Elysian Valley based Clockshop entitled building: a simulacrum of power on the site of Michael Parker’s The Unfinished. For nearly a month Esparza has been holding a collaborative, labor intensive residency with his parents and 5 siblings making hundreds of handmade adobe bricks on site, at the post-industrial Bowtie Project, just feet from the LA River. Once completed the bricks will be laid atop The Unfinished, where Esparza and artist Rebeca Hernandez will stage movement-based performances engaging the bricked surface, the LA River and the sun. This conversation has been held throughout the last few weeks over site visits, bike rides and email.   Elizabeth Sonenberg: I’ve been thinking about what form writing about your work should take and I thought it would be nice to have an ongoing back and forth. Here are some questions and digging followed by more questions and more digging. dirt dirt dirt GOLD is dirt. Rafa Esparza: Haha, yes. Gold is shiny dirt. ES: We’ve spoken about ritual and approaching objects with intentionality. In your work, you are in dialogue with certain rituals, and also produce your own. What sanctifies an object for you? What is this idea of the sacred for you, and what type of attention or focus does it require? I’ve talked to you about alchemical shifts...

Native Strategies and Notes on Looking: A conversation

June 13, 2013 Geoff Tuck: I’d like to find a way to begin our conversation. I often find myself in a state of wondering when these projects are inaugurated with a person… It seems that no matter how much homework I’ve done on a subject – no matter how much preparation we’ve done – I begin in doubt: that I may leave something out, that we offer too little background for people to understand, that I’m insufficient to the task of exploring our subject. Brian Getnick: I totally understand that feeling. I find the beginning of any writing project unnerving in that I am afraid that I’ll never cover all the bases. Ultimately I think writing is about surrendering to the fact that you will never cover all the bases, and you will never engage all of the relevant discourse that floats around your subject, nor be as good as the writers you adore and who crowd your head. In the end, you have to just start something, anything. Geoff: I’m curious about your approach to defining the terms of Native Strategies. You are offering the experience of performance to people, you are engaging artists and writers to consider the practices you showcase in a series of publications, and – which I find terribly important – you are seeking to include performance practices that are not immediately recognizable as art, or that are not considered by the gatekeepers of the art community(ies) as art. Such practices range from queer theater to ethnic dance to…well – you tell me. At dinner we talked about a few territories you’d like to...

Karl Haendel and Geoff Tuck, thinking about fatherhood

Geoff Tuck: Hi Karl. I had lunch with a friend recently, Michael Powell, and he is a new father, too. He and his wife, Natilee Harren, had their baby several months before you and Emily had Hazel. Michael was telling me about the experience of childbirth for him, and that during the experience he got a sense of mortality that he hadn’t expected, or maybe one that surprised him. Thinking about it, I guess in the moment of new life one would naturally become aware also of the fact of death, but it is not something I’ve heard people talk about. Karl Haendel: I had a similar feeling. Although I’m not sure I would call it an awareness of mortality – that’s too cerebral. It was the terrifying fear of death. Of losing somebody you love. At one point when labor was going pretty good – Emily was in the bed and the contractions were coming every two minutes – I left the room to go down the hall to the bathroom, and when I returned she was wearing an oxygen mask and had an IV in – the baby needed more oxygen, it was nothing serious and rather routine – but this medicalized situation that Emily was in really freaked me out. I had a flashback to when my mother was in the hospital; my mother had cancer much of the time when I was growing up, and she died when I was 19. So I spent a lot of time in hospitals with a woman I loved who was wearing a mask and hooked up to an...

Written for speaking – John Pearson and Geoff Tuck before Commonwealth and Council

August 01, 2013, 9:22 AM Hi Geoff, I haven’t heard any feedback about the questions I sent, so here’s one more you can answer at Commonwealth and Council. Is there a role for critical writing that is not encouraging, not in agreement/alignment with the art – what would be called negative criticism. Would this improve the public dialogue, and an artist’s argument? Politeness seems to make artists submissive with the market, perhaps when there is one rich collector defining value – monetary value. This goes on while aesthetics and ideas languish un-articulated. August 01, 2013, 10:31 AM Hello John, Yes. I like this question because it makes me uncomfortable. I think I read two questions, although I’m not sure. (in response to your later email, when you questioned the appropriateness of this question, I find this an appropriate area of inquiry for the event Commonwealth and Council.) I do think negative criticism can be helpful – to the artist, and to the public conversation – if the writer is committed to the task and honest about her or his motives. And if the reading audience has a commitment to exploring ideas. Having said this, I would say that valuable criticisms will be those aimed at helping an artist reach a perceived goal, and also refutations by the critic of that perceived goal, perhaps where the critic disagrees with the artist’s ideas. The first critique is best conducted in private, with the artist, in my opinion. The second, the critique of ideas, is to be public, and is the purpose of criticism. Such a conversation about ideas is essential to...