Archive for September, 2011


Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

— A short while ago, my son-law Vhannes Koujanian and my daughter Sophie came to visit us on a too rare occasion. Early in their visit I was telling Vhannes about my habit over many years of getting up early to avoid the morning rush hour on my way to teach at Cooper Union in New York and about getting dressed in the dark to avoid waking up my wife Kate. I bragged that in fact, though long retired, I still do get dressed before sun-up!

He said “I KNOW!”

Surprised, I said “HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT?”


I looked down and saw that I was wearing two distinctly different shoes!

Robert Breer was born in Detroit in 1926. Having entered film through painting in the early 1950s, Breer was at the forefront of experimental animation for over sixty years. In 2005 Breer received the prestigious Stan Brakhage Vision Award in Denver, Colorado. More recently the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, held the most comprehensive exhibition to date of Breer’s work; ranging from early paintings, abstract films and kinetic sculptures. Robert Breer sadly died on Thursday August 11, 2011, aged 84. Anthology Film Archives continue to preserve the films of Robert Breer.

Thank you to Nathalie Boutin and gb agency without whom this entry would not be possible.


Wednesday, September 21st, 2011


— My grandmother, Vivienne Wooster Brewer, began taking her own photographs in 1906. That’s when the photo booth picture was made in Hartford, Connecticut. Vivienne studied to be a nurse in Philadelphia and traveled to Denver to intern. All along the way she took photographs of her friends, of her merry schoolmates and of landmarks. In 1912, my grandfather, Howard Brewer proposed to her in a Colorado Hotel and they were married a year later in Connecticut. Vivienne and Howard raised five children in Hartford: Louise, Norman, Mary, Harriet, Barbara. All but my mother are now deceased. My grandparents both died in 1968 and Vivienne’s scrapbooks and negatives made their way to my possession a few years ago.

I knew my grandmother as a stern, laconic woman who suffered from Parkinson’s Disease; I did not fully comprehend that she was the photographer of the family. Vivienne took great joy in photographing her husband, her friends and her family. She assembled beautiful scrapbooks with carefully inked captions. Although the pages are now disintergrating, the photographs are still extraordinarily fresh and alive. I scanned and printed about 250 of Vivienne’s pictures for my cousins this summer.

A lifetime in gelatin, here is a selection from her scrapbooks. From the first joyful image made at 18, to the last, a blurry picture of my Aunt Mary and her two children, made by Vivienne in 1964 at age 76.

James Welling was born in Hartford, Connecticut in 1951 and lives in Los Angeles. Welling works with a variety of photographic materials: large scale color photograms, Polaroid photographs, gelatin silver prints, tricolor prints, multiple impression inkjet prints. Welling has had over 50 solo and group exhibitions and his work is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Pompidou, Paris, The Whitney Museum, New York, MoCA, LOs Angeles and the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam. In 1995 Welling became a Professor and Area Head of Photography in the Department of Art at the University of California Los Angeles. He is currently working on a project about Andrew Wyeth that will be shown at Wako Works of Art, Tokyo, in January 2012.


Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

— During my teenage years in Southern California, I spent three summers at a “marine biology” camp on Catalina Island. It was a total dream, and in the midst of the scuba diving lessons, the shark identification exams, the golf cart rides into town (cars weren’t allowed), the meteor shower make-out sessions, and my awkward ascent out of adolesence came Boyz ‘n The Camp – not only the first video I ever made, but also the first collaborative underwater remake I was ever party to.

Loosely based on John Singleton’s Boyz n The Hood (1991), our Boyz features an embarassing array of butt jokes, (un)popular music synched to diving footage, unplaceable ‘hood accents, and a neverending credit sequence seemingly peopled by everybody in camp. Among the gems: underwater drive-bys and taggings, a genuine pot paranoiac, bat-ray licking, ocean floor gangster strutting, and a tear-inducing finale featuring the slo-motion death of yours truly. Edited on VHS using an analog tape system, I remember being especially proud of my synch edit of a yawning rockfish and the orchestral warm-up of R.E.M’s Nightswimming.

It’s worth noting that while I’m super-uncomfortable putting this work back into the world (and even went so far as to make an alternate 15:00 layered edit to get around it, a lá Michael Snow’s Wavelength For Those Who Don’t Have the Time), I decided a while ago that discomfort is worth confronting head-on – so here it is. There were three set of hands involved in Boyz, so at least I can’t take all of the credit. I should probably list Time as a fourth collaborator, or at least as some sort of analog plug-in – it’s added a remarkable gloss of drop-out and decay to the VHS object that has been newly preserved for your internet eyes. Special thanks to Jesse McLean for planting the seed and preparing the formaldehyde, and a shout-out to Burt and Kurt (and John Singleton) – wherever you are.

Ben Russell was born in 1976. He currently lives and works in Chicago. He is a media artist and curator whose films, installations, and performances foster a deep engagement with the history and semiotics of the moving image. He has had solo screenings and exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, the Rotterdam Film Festival, the Wexner Center for the Arts, threewalls and the Museum of Modern Art. A 2008 Guggenheim Fellowship and 2010 FIPRESCI award recipient, Ben began the Magic Lantern screening series in Providence, Rhode Island, was co-director of the artist-run space BEN RUSSELL in Chicago, IL and performs in a double-drum trio called BEAST.


Wednesday, September 21st, 2011


— I first heard Old Tige as a young child. My dad would come in from the pub on a Sunday afternoon and play his favourite Country and Western ballads on his record player and one of these songs was Old Tige by Jim Reeves and I’ve cried to this particular song ever since.

Our relationship with dogs is often very close and this song epitomises that bond.

I’m often saddened by the tragic stories in the news of people who have made the ultimate sacrifice in protecting their dogs. I’ve collected some stories from around the world that exemplify the strength of our relationship with our beloved dogs and how, when tested, that bond goes beyond any concerns for the self.

This song is dedicated to Snowy, Sheba and May.

Michael Landy was born in London in 1963. Recent solo exhibitions include National Portrait Gallery, London (2011); South London Gallery, London (2010); Nathalie Obadia, Paris (2009); Galerie Paul Andriesse, Amsterdam (2008); and Sabine Knust, Munich (2008).


Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

— The three most important tools in my studio are Improvisation, Spontaneity, and Intuition. If I can muster up the three at once when I am working there is a flow of honesty and creative union. The materials, the presence, and image of the work is unique and complete.

If they are not present or only partially there, the work shows it. All art works are pieces of evidence of an ongoing investigation of something. In my case it is the interface of light and surface. I work with a lot of different materials but it is the surface of those materials that intrigues me.

Life is made up of layers of things, in our body layers of tissue compose the structure of our physicality. In our personality layers of who we are and who we were and what we want to be determines our social presence. I use layers a lot in my works.

In paper I use them as collage to reflect and absorb the light differentials that determine the image. When I do glass sculptures the layering is thin films of metals and quartz that interfere with the light that transmits, reflects or absorbs in the interface with the glass. I think of my sculptures as tapestries of those inherent qualities of a piece of glass.

Larry Bell was born in Chicago in 1939. He lives and works in Taos, New Mexico and Venice, California. Bell is one of the most prominent and influential artists to have come out of the Los Angeles art scene of the 1960s, first showing at the Huysman Gallery, and then at Ferus. He has work in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, Musee d’Art Contemporain, Lyon, France, Whitney Museum of American Art, and Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, among many others. Bell was the recipient of the NM Governor’s Award for Excellence and Achievement in the Arts, 1990.