Archive for February, 2021


Monday, February 15th, 2021

This blouse was given to me 30 years ago from my Aunt Stella Talbert; my then 97 year old Great Aunt. She lived most of her life in Detroit. When visiting New York she’d go shopping at Sax Fifth Avenue. This multi -colored blouse had originally been bought for herself and also had been worn.

The day I visited her she opened up her meticulously packed and organized closet and said to pick anything I wanted. I chose a few items but this particular item still remains-occasionally I still wear this blouse. So this blouse is at least 40+ years old. When seeing it I’m reminded of the love she bestowed to me. I’ve worn it to a few important art events and somehow I feel her power, her sense of beauty and pride, the strength, her sophisticated style, her worldliness (going to New York to shop); quality was important and was a must.

Also on that trip Aunt Stella told me that her deceased husband( I never met) was a pianist and played in the band with Eubie Blake and Noble Sissle. While on the road,they lived in New York and would stay at the Theresa Hotel and shared the same kitchen. On that same trip she told me about her husband’s father who had taught literature at Wilberforce College in Ohio. Her husband’s name was Virgil and because Virgil was a twin, the father named the brother Homer. (Virgil and Homer)

While walking in Harlem with a friend I was casually introduced to Janet. My friend said this is Janet Talbert. I jokingly said you could be my cousin. I asked her where did she grow up? and she said Detroit. I then said oh you really could be my cousin! After chatting -more questions and answers- going back and forth we finally discovered we were family. The story of Virgil and Homer definitely was the defining moment. And to make a long story short my Aperture Book came from this per chance meeting- one of a million New Yorkers.

But was it a per-chance-meeting or was it a spiritual connection ? Hmm direction? from both of our favorite aunt; Aunt Stella Talbert.

Ming Smith was born in Detroit and raised in Columbus, Ohio. A self-taught artist and former model, in the 1970s, she published her early work in THE BLACK PHOTOGRAPHERS ANNUAL. Smith’s work has been collected by and presented in major museums, including the Museum of Modern Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, and Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York; Brooklyn Museum; National Museum of African American History and Culture, and National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC; and Serpentine Galleries, and Tate Modern, London. Beginning in 2017, her work was included in the celebrated traveling exhibitions WE WANTED A REVOLUTION: BLACK RADICAL WOMEN, 1965 – 85 and SOUL OF A NATION: ART IN THE AGE OF BLACK POWER, as well as in Arthur Jafa’s exhibition A SERIES OF UTTERLY IMPROBABLE, YET EXTRAORDINARY RENDITIONS, which traveled from London to Berlin, Prague, Stockholm, and Porto, Portugal. In 2019, Smith’s solo exhibition with Jenkins Johnson Gallery was awarded the Frieze Stand Prize at Frieze New York. Smith lives and works in New York. In 2020 MING SMITH: AN APERTURE MONOGRAPH was published by Aperture and Documentary Arts.


Monday, February 15th, 2021

When I started to collect objects around 1985, I would do it very subconsciously and without purpose. It would just be one part of an activity, and touching an object was the first reason I would have to pick something up. But then I began to notice that walking had also become very important, maybe even more than the picking up.

I used to carry a pedometer at that time, and would take note of every step I took. Each Avenue has a different length so I counted and found, for example, that crossing Second Avenue took about 23 steps. Remembering steps became a kind of ‘practice time.’ I would concentrate on the steps without thinking about picking up objects, or encountering an object, pushing them out of my mind and totally forgetting about picking them up. It was a kind of psychological experiment. But all of a sudden, an object would jump into my eye — the objects themselves are like a signal for me.

I made these drawings in 2003 when I lived in Midtown Manhattan. It is an area totally designed according to a grid structure, as we know, allowing us choose many different ways to walk around. I had been living at 308 East 53rd Street, but after fighting back against the developer that had bought the building, I was offered a settlement and a new apartment in one of his other buildings. Shortly after 9/11 I moved to 711 Second Avenue, between 38th and 39th Streets. Even though I was all the way on the east side of the island, I was able to walk west across Manhattan to Eleventh Avenue and extend my route, block by block.

In those days I was reading Samuel Beckett’s “Quad” performance (in a Japanese translation of L’Épuisé, Gilles Deleuze’s book on Beckett that I got in the 1990s). I’ve seen it performed two or three times. Four actors or actresses start to walk, and where they walk is already designed so that they never run into each other. Beckett’s idea was how to consume a square space through walking. This really inspired me to walk, and to make my own diagrams.

Because these walks were part of a monthly project, I would have already set up and made diagrams for the next month before it began. For example, I drew the October walks in September. These drawings then are like scripts, planning for the day. I memorized them each morning and would usually take my walk around 9am, before going to work. Because I was a freelance worker I had to be on time, either to the Judd Foundation, or Nam June Paik’s studio, otherwise it was going to be difficult to send the invoice. Life in the city means we have to take measurements, and I was able to calculate and note how many steps I took, how much time I spent, at what time I would start to walk, and at what time I would return to my apartment.

Because of the lawsuit against my former building owner, I had received a good deal on my 2nd Avenue apartment and was able to live rent-free for a while. I could afford to buy a film camera and put the extra money towards developing slide film, and in December 2003 I started taking photographs in Times Square and decided to stop doing these kinds of walking projects. Instead, I continued photographing all the way through 2004, before stopping and then starting again in 2007.

Yuji Agematsu was born in 1956, in Kanagawa, Japan, he lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. Agematsu studied with Tokio Hasegawa, a member of the band Taj Mahal Travellers, and the jazz drummer and choreographer Milford Graves. He has had solo exhibitions at Miguel Abreu Gallery (New York, 2017, 2019 & 2020), Contemporary Art Centre (Vilnius, 2019), Lulu (Mexico City, 2019), the Power Station (Dallas, 2018), Artspeak (Vancouver, 2014), Real Fine Arts (Brooklyn, 2012 & 2014), Anthology Film Archives (New York, 2004), and TZ’Art & Co. (New York, 1994). In 2014, Agematsu mounted a large scale exhibition at Yale Union (Portland, OR), which was accompanied by the monograph ZIP: 01–01–14…12–31–14, published by Yale Union, Thea Westreich Wagner/Ethan Wagner Publications, and Artspeak. Agematsu was prominently included in the 57th Carnegie International, Pittsburgh (2018), and was previously shown in SPEAK, LOKAL, Kunsthalle Zurich (2017), SERIALITIES, organized by Olivier Renaud-Clément, Hauser & Wirth (New York, 2017), THE KEEPER, curated by Massimiliano Gioni, New Museum (New York, 2016), and LOOKING BACK / THE 7TH WHITE COLUMNS ANNUAL, selected by Richard Birkett (2013). His performances have taken place at the Swiss Institute (New York, 2018), Artists Space (New York, 2017), and as part of the solo presentation WALK ON A, B, C, organized by Jay Sanders for the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York, 2016). His work is held in the permanent collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Walker Art Center, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, the Brooklyn Museum, The Israel Museum, The Columbus Museum of Art, the Loewe Foundation, and the Pinault Collection. In March he will have a solo exhibition at The Secession (Vienna, 2021).


Monday, February 15th, 2021

“It doesn’t matter to me what you do for a living, I want to know what you ache for, and it you dare to dream of meeting your hearts longing” – Oriah Mountain Dreamer

Tell me about your heart’s longing**

I love this as it speaks to what I yearn for, to be full trusting of myself and to love more deeply, more erotically without judgement and to live more fully in my authenticity and to trust my voice more.

I ache for my understanding of myself and to grow more deeply in my compassion for others.

I want to share more deeply, with my work, to share and heal more deeply. To use my vision to be more vulnerable and to practice boundaries and to trust this container, not to doubt as much and feel this is possible.

To trust these gifts of life and to speak and to amplify my vision to heal others.

I ache for a deeper connection with intimacy, an erotically charged and intellectual enriching experience that I can be present for and not mother, manage or run away from. An affair of the heart that respects the time, energy and life experiences we each bring to the union yet trusting to know a deeper, physical, erotic and emotional connection

My heart aches to be fully present with the fullness of my life. Letting go of the imagined fears and limitations and to rest deeply in the maturing of life, and to enjoy the magnificentness of this journey.

I long for a warm place. A second home where there are brown bodies with warm hearts, lush vegetation and ritual. A space that is safe where I can entertain friends, family and enjoy the solitude, as well as the intimacy of my lover, where I can enjoy the warmth of the sun, the healing nature of the sea, and I can give my abundant heart and be safe. Affirmed and loved.

I long for financial abundance that comes from the well spring of my creativity and the vision to execute a plan of longevity and legacy building for my estate to be shared with the next generation of BIPOC queer folks. An institute that would be a retreat, a library and a platform to heal the devastating violence of whiteness and the self-hatred within our community.

I yearn to get out of the way and to let my voice be heard. To write a memoir in simple yet deep language that is accessible, heartfelt, healing. A memoir of affirmation and community building.

**In late March my dear friend Tommy Gear invited me to join him for a weekend Writing intensive with Laura Davis called Writing Through The Pandemic. This led to me taking Laura’s weekly writing class, The Writer’s Journey which meets every Tuesday 1-4pm EST. This prompt was given by Laura the weekend before Christmas

Lyle Ashton Harris was born in The Bronx, New York in 1965 and raised in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. He received his BA from Wesleyan University, his MFA from the California Institute of the Arts, and attended the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Studies Program. His work has been exhibited worldwide, including most recently at LUMA Arles, France; the Cinéma Du Réel, 40th Edition, presented at the Centre Pompidou, Paris, France; the 2017 Whitney Biennial, New York; the 2016 São Paulo Biennial, Brazil; The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the 52nd Venice Biennial, Venice, Italy, among others. His work is represented in permanent collections including The Getty Museum, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and Museum of Contemporary Art, in Los Angeles; Guggenheim Museum, Museum of Modern Art, The Studio Museum in Harlem, and Whitney Museum of American Art, in New York City; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Pérez Art Museum Miami; and the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis. Harris received a 2016 fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, among other awards and honors. He currently lives and works in New York City and is an Associate Professor of Art at New York University.


Monday, February 15th, 2021

Part of my digital notebook diary.

Estelle Hanania was born 1980, in Paris, where she still lives and works. She is a graduate of the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris and winner of the Hyères Festival Photography Prize. In 2008 she began working with the director, choreographer and artist Gisèle Vienne, a collaboration that resulted in the book IT’S ALIVE! A TRAVERS L’ŒUVRE DE GISÈLE VIENNE published by Shelter Press, which presents a large number of photographs taken over a period of about ten years. With artist Christophe Brunnquell she realized a long-term photographic collaboration entitled LA GUERRE DU FEU, which will be published in book form in 2021 and presented in a series of exhibitions. Estelle’s work has been exhibited around the world and published in magazines including M le magazine du Monde, Another magazine, T: The New York Times Style Magazine, Mémoire Universelle. She has published several books including HAPPY PURIM and GLACIAL JUBILÉ (Shelter Press).


Monday, February 15th, 2021

Growing up, my father owned a travel agency in New York called Merillon Travel. Merillon coordinated all of the flights for Major League Baseball’s National League umpires. This provided my dad with special access to Mets games, which came in handy as a kid, as the Mets won the World Series in 1986, when I was ten and cared about baseball. More importantly, Merillon supplied my family with discounted airline tickets, which allowed me the luxury of visiting Europe for the first time at the age of eight.

In 1988, my father sold the travel agency to one of his employees and opened a bar-restaurant in up-and-coming Long Island City, Queens. Unlike Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Long Island City had a much slower process of gentrification. Coupled with the economic downtown of 1987, the bar closed after six years of business. My dad went bankrupt and was hired by a former regular as the trucker for a now-defunct art-moving company called Modern Art Services. My father was born in Brooklyn and raised in Queens, which helped in navigating the city, and he perfected the timing of what became known as his “no-lunch lunch”—his unrecorded lunch hour. I don’t remember what the connection was, but Modern Art Services often employed Irish and Scottish artists who were in New York for their studies or for art residencies. My dad worked on his truck with an Irish artist named Gerard Byrne. Gerry’s first significant video, from 1997, is called “Why it’s Time for Imperial, Again” and it costars my father as the former Chrysler CEO Lee Iacocca in conversation with an actor portraying Frank Sinatra. The script for the video came from an advertisement that ran in National Geographic. The intro text to this ad stated that Iacocca and Sinatra sat down for a conversation on July 18, 1980, to talk about Chrysler’s 1981 luxury car, the Imperial. Gerry’s video went on to be screened at various international venues and returned to New York for inclusion in a group show titled “The American Effect” held at the Whitney Museum in 2003. I was in grad school at Columbia University at the time, and was inspired by the way Gerry had used a seemingly inconsequential advertisement to perfectly frame the conservatism of 1980s America.

On July 3, 1981, a year after Frank and Lee talked about the perks of that year’s Chrysler Imperial, the New York Times ran its very first article about the “Rare Cancer seen in 41 homosexuals” that would later be known as AIDS. The article mentioned that most of the patients resided in New York or the San Francisco Bay Area. It quoted Dr. Alvin E. Friedman-Kien of New York University Medical Center describing the appearance of the outbreak as “rather devastating.” That same week, the Federal Centers for Disease Control, in Atlanta, published its first description of the outbreak. Dr. James Curran, a spokesman from the center, was quoted as saying that “there was no apparent danger to non-homosexuals from contagion.” As the death toll continued to grow over the following year, the crisis did not receive significant coverage. It met with utter disregard from the Food and Drug Administration and President Ronald Reagan, as was glaringly evidenced by an October 1982 interview with White House spokesman Larry Speakes:

    Q: Larry, does the president have any reaction to the announcement –– the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, that AIDS is now an epidemic and have over 600 cases?
    Mr. Speakes: What’s AIDS?
    Q: Over a third of them have died. It’s known as “gay plague.” [Laughter] No, it is. I mean, it’s a pretty serious thing that one in every three people that get this have died. And I wondered if the president is aware of it?
    Mr. Speakes: I don’t have it. Do you? [Laughter]

The first Times report on the emergence of AIDS appeared on page A20 to a near-full-page ad for Independence Bank that featured the lyrics to “The Star Spangled Banner” to be sung the following day to celebrate the Fourth of July. Independence was my bank at that time; I can remember the passbook my mother gave me as a child. Every time I would deposit birthday or holiday money, the bank teller would stamp it. This passbook is long gone, but I remember that it was close to the size of my passport and had the same pleather exterior. The correlation between income and literal mobility was made clear.

On August 3, 1981, exactly one month after the Times’ story, the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Association striked, leading to an unprecedented firing of federal employees by President Reagan. After they ignored his decree to return to work, Reagan fired 11,345 striking air-traffic controllers. This firing is regarded as the single most public and impactful attack by government on organized labor in this country. Thirty years later, on February 7, 2011, the Republican governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker, pulled out a picture of President Reagan and said to his advisers, “You know this may seem melodramatic, but thirty years ago, Ronald Reagan had one of the most defining moments of his political career, not just of his presidency, when he fired the air-traffic controllers.” Now it was time to follow his example. Walker went on to present a bill that would remove public workers’ right to participate in collective bargaining via their union representatives. This, as author Joseph A. McCartin points out, misrepresents Reagan’s full handling of the PATCO strike and also ignores his earlier stint as president of the Screen Actors Guild, where Reagan led a strike in 1952, and his signing of collective-bargaining legislation in California when he was governor in 1968. In his book Collision Course, McCartin writes about how the emergent social conservatives used PATCO as a sign of a broader cultural shift. Conservative columnist George Will wrote that “in a sense, the ’60s ended in August 1981.”

My first and only tattoo, on my right wrist, is of an airplane. It was a gift for my twenty-fourth birthday from my first love, Boris. The airplane came from a par avion stamp, and I got it because I felt like my life in New York was beginning and also as a physical reminder to always travel. In 2013, I had my first solo exhibition in Lisbon, Portugal. Email correspondence and intermittent phone calls with a friend’s mother, Helena Cardoso, helped to generate the content of the show. In 1968, Helena became a flight attendant for TAP, the national airline of Portugal. At that time, Portugal was under a dictatorship and few people were traveling, let alone a woman in her early twenties. Helena fell in love with Rio, Angola, which was then a Portuguese colony, and New York. She traveled to these cities over the next twenty years, before retiring in 1988. I keep returning to the thought of being in the air for that many years and seeing cities change both incrementally between each trip and significantly over decades. And I love thinking about how much time she had been in the air in total. Based on the travel time from New York to Lisbon, I guessed it to have been a full year—Helena says it was approximately 19,000 hours, or just over two years. Over two years, hovering between locations and their ever-changing population and political landscapes.

In 2007, I was commissioned to make an artist book by the New York nonprofit Printed Matter. At the same time, I was invited to have my first solo exhibition in Los Angeles. These two projects developed in tandem. I knew that I could not have a solo exhibition on the other side of the country, in the fall of 2008, without addressing the impact of the second Bush administration, the fractured state of this country, and the forthcoming presidential election. While thinking about the potential content for both book and exhibition, I remembered “Hands Across America.” A national event that occurred on May 25, 1986, in which people joined hands between Battery Park, Manhattan, and Long Beach, California, in support of America’s homeless population. Although it was a failure as a fund-raiser, millions of people participated, including President Reagan and First Lady Nancy. I found this event fascinating for a variety of reasons, foremost among them that Reagan and his administration worked meticulously to undo social programming for the impoverished of this country. Secondly, the AIDS crisis, by this point, had entered the public consciousness, but Reagan did not speak about AIDS until May of 1987 and American citizens were far from establishing countrywide support for AIDS advocacy. In fact, the same year Hands Across America took place, the Supreme Court held up Georgia’s sodomy law, “dismissing the notion of constitutional protection for gay sexuality.”

In the summer of 2007, I made a cross-country trip along a route loosely based on the original Hands Across America map, meeting with mayors between New York and New Mexico and making casts of their hands. I stopped in many small towns as well as larger cities, including Minneapolis, Oklahoma City, and Santa Fe. It was a fascinating way to see parts of the country I had never traveled to before and to get a sense of the local and civic levels of government in this country.

After completing this road trip, I realized I did not want to make a book or show that revolved around Hands Across America and became focused on the similarities I found between 1986 and the lead-up to the election of 2008, in which Reagan emerged as a totemic figure invoked by both Republicans and Democrats as a politician whose legacy we should uphold. I conducted interviews with artists Mark Dion, Daphne Fitzpatrick, Elizabeth Peyton, Collier Schorr, and T.J. Wilcox and reprinted writing by Gregg Bordowitz; all had graduated from School of Visual Arts in 1986 and 1987. Additionally, I photographed twenty-three arts-related students who were born in 1986 and about to finish college at New York–area schools in 2008. Generationally, I fall between these two groups, and I was interested to hear about the older artists’ earlier lives in New York and their activism. I was also interested to hear about the frustration they had with what they viewed as apolitical twentysomethings. I then asked these younger participants how they would respond to this portrayal of their generation.

Last fall, I released a book called 1996 that looks back on that year to assess the rightward shift of the Democratic party under the two-term presidency of Bill Clinton. AMERICAMERICA served as a template for this book, for which I interviewed Becca Albee, Malik Gaines, Chitra Ganesh, Pearl C. Hsiung, Jennifer Moon, Seth Price, Alex Segade, and Elisabeth Subrin, all of whom finished undergrad in 1996. Again, I photographed a group of people born that year. I’m closer in age to the ninety-six graduates, and like them, I also voted for Clinton when I first came of voting age.

Matt Keegan lives and works in New York. Keegan’s work has been widely exhibited in venues including the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts (Cambridge, Massachusetts), Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Grazer Kunstverein (Graz, Austria), The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim Museum (NY, Bilbao and Berlin), The Kitchen (NY), The Art Institute of Chicago, and the New Museum. In 2019, he presented a public sculpture commissioned by SculptureCenter (New York, 2019). His book ‘1996’ was published in 2020, by New York Consolidated and Inventory Press. He’s a Senior Critic in the Painting and Printmaking Department at Yale University.