Summer Session

Summer Session – ART THOUGHTZ: How To Be A Successful Artist

For this Summer Session topic of celebrity, we bring you a video from Hennessy Youngman, creator of the satirical YouTube series ART THOUGHTZ. In this clip, Youngman outlines the core criteria for becoming a commercially successful artist—a short list of requirements that might be funnier if they were not so true. This video was originally uploaded on May 2, 2010.

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Summer Session

Summer Session – Art and Film

This Summer Session we’re thinking about celebrity, and today we bring you a piece by celebrity James Franco from our sister publication Art Practical on his role in various art films, especially Spring Breakers (2013)Here, Franco attempts to tease out the intersections of commercial and art film projects from the inside, simultaneously offering a meta-narrative on the self-referentiality of his collaborations while enacting it himself. This article was originally published on July 9, 2014. 

Harmony Korine. Spring Breakers, 2013 (film still); 01:34:00. Courtesy of Spring Breakers LLC and A24 Films.

Harmony Korine. Spring Breakers, 2013 (film still); 01:34:00. Courtesy of Spring Breakers LLC and A24 Films.

Part 1: Alien

What’s in a name, homegirl? What’s in a name?
Everything and nothing that you thought,
When y’all’s mothers and fathers named you
Sarah, or Eve; or yo’ brothers Cain, and Abel.

These be ancient names, like Moses, and Jesus,
And Mohamed, and Pharaoh; but all these names
Be of the earth, be of man; and homegirl,
I be anything but of this earth. I am in it,

But not of it; I’m deep in it, relish it, like vagina;
Like an alligator deep within the swamp water
Who gets to lie about and eat the fishes passing,
Sweet pods of Mother Nature’s love I accept.

But I’m Alien, girl, an alien. The sheikh gathers treasure,
Not because he needs the glitter, but because
That sumofabitch can. I’m a racist, girl, a racist
Against the human race. I’m not of this world.

Read the full article here.

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Summer Session

Summer Session – The Artist Using Meat to Deform and Deconstruct Celebrity

For this Summer Session were thinking about celebrity, and today were considering the divide between the promise and the reality of celebrity influence. Over at Dazed, Thomas Gorton has penned a review of artist James Ostrers series The Ego System, a set of portraits of famous figures made out of meat and viscera. Ostrer’s work is an attempt to refuse the glamor of celebrity, and to remind himself that there is a real difference between “what we are being sold and what we are actually getting.” The article was originally published on March 22, 2016.

James Ostrer. Emotion Download 213M, 2016, from The Ego System series; photograph; 101 x 67cm. Courtesy of the Artist.

James Ostrer. Emotion Download 213M, 2016, from The Ego System series; photograph; 101 x 67 cm. Courtesy of the Artist.

We love celebrities. Seemingly, even if we hate them. Despite invoking endless torrents of “I fucking hate her!” each time she appears on a website, Kim Kardashian was the most Google-searched person in 2015 across 26 countries and heavily clicked on. Similarly, Donald Trump might make mind-blowingly awful, heavily criticized remarks on a daily basis, but he’s by far and away the most searched for U.S. presidential candidate. Like it or not, we’re hooked.

In his latest body of work, The Ego System, artist James Ostrer is seeking to challenge the idea that our modern icons and the very concept of celebrity isn’t what it seems to be. “I am responding to the vast divide between what we are being sold and what we are actually getting. I’ve labeled them “Emotional Downloads,” as in the process of making them I am trying to remove the information in my head that I realize won’t represent value systems that will lead towards my own happiness.”

Read the full article here.

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Summer Session

Summer Session – Exposed: Voyeurism, Surveillance, and the Camera Since 1870

For today’s Summer Session topic of celebrity, we bring you Genevieve Quicks review from our sister publication Art Practical of the 2010 SFMOMA exhibition Exposed, a show on the history of photography and the camera. Our contemporary fascination with celebrities is heavily shaped by the photographic medium, and Exposed explored some of the earliest iterations of the iconic paparazzi shot that is a quintessential celebrity experience. This review was originally published on December 10, 2010. 

Alison Jackson. The Queen plays with her Corgies, from the series Confidential, 2007; chromogenic print; 16 x 12 in. Courtesy the Artist and M+B Gallery, Los Angeles. © Alison Jackson.

Alison Jackson. The Queen plays with her Corgies, from the series Confidential, 2007; chromogenic print; 16 x 12 in. Courtesy the Artist and M+B Gallery, Los Angeles. © Alison Jackson.

Exposed: Voyeurism, Surveillance, and the Camera Since 1870, at SFMOMA, is an ambitious exhibition that examines 140 years of photography through five categories: “The Unseen Photographer,” “Voyeurism and Desire,” “Celebrity and the Public Gaze,” “Witnessing Violence,” and “Surveillance.” The exhibition cites 1871, the year the gelatin dry plate was invented, as the onset of the modern photographic era. This development was shortly followed by the emergence of micro cameras small enough to be concealed in unassuming objects of everyday life, such as a shoe or cane. In addition to exploring the power dynamics and privacy issues of voyeurism and surveillance, the exhibition raises questions about a visitor’s relationships to the photograph, viewing, and the socio-historic context in which the images were made and the ways they are viewed today.

Read the full review here.

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Summer Session

Summer Session – Art & Vexation: Interview with William Powhida

For this Summer Session were thinking about celebrity, and that also means thinking about what it means to both loathe and desire its effects for oneself. There is no denying that the art world is often driven by the forces of celebrity, and William Powhida makes the core of his practice a thorough critique of this system. His work responds to the ambivalent desire for status within an art market where status itself simultaneously legitimizes and undermines critical art. This interview by Bean Gilsdorf was originally published November 7, 2012.

William Powhida, Cynical Advice, 2012. Graphite, colored pencil, and watercolor on paper, Cynical Advice, 15” x 20”, Graphite, colored pencil, and watercolor on paper, 15 x 20 inches

William Powhida, Cynical Advice, 2012; graphite, colored pencil, and watercolor on paper; 15 x 20 in.

Bean Gilsdorf: How does your work start? Where do you begin?

William Powhida: All the drawings are very specific to a theme, often something that is irking me. The hysterical voice that provides the narrative is a way to amplify things that I’m responding to. A lot of the drawings tie into a bigger narrative, and the smaller “list” drawings are more episodic, they start with some aspect of my own practice or my own engagement with the art world. They are a way to think through all of this, it’s like having a character that speaks through the work.

BG: And how much do you script before you draw the final version? Do you have it totally written out or do you play with it as you go?

WP: I do start with a draft, and I also play as I go. I find there’s an arc to the drawings: the drafts are a basic outline, but then as I’m drawing and spending time with each sentence, it morphs and changes from the original draft.

BG: I’m interested in the play that you have with the voices that come out in the lists, where there’s a lot of sarcasm, on the one hand, and then there’s also optimism. The piece called Less is so negative—not that it’s untrue—but then Hope talks about collaboration and engagement…

WP: It’s been changing over the years. The drawings have started to split, like What’s Right with the Art Worldand What’s Wrong with the Art World. Despite all the ranting and raving, there’s always been this vulnerable part of the voice. I meet people who are terribly optimistic about how the art world works—they’re realistic as well, they don’t deny that a lot of it is crazy—but they still see it as an amazing place to work.

The narrative voice in the list drawings is not objective, because I want the drawings to be the experience of being in somebody’s head and listening to them think about the art world. That also gets articulated in works like the faux magazine covers, as a vehicle to insert myself into this upper echelon of the art world and to critique it. But as the lists have developed, they’ve become a little more rooted in reality. I don’t have to invent as much because it’s actually happening to me. Now it’s a question of trying to find some balance between what I’m actually experiencing in the art world and the things I think are still worth discussing. Whether it’s an effective critique or not I don’t know, but I’m speaking these things out loud so we can talk about them.

Read the full interview here.

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Summer Session

Summer Session – Judy Chicago Prepares for a Dinner Party with Female Heroes

The theme of this months Summer Session is celebrity, and today were thinking about how celebrity narratives can offer different possibilities for contextualizing our current moment. In a video from our friends at SFMOMA, artist Judy Chicago talks about her installation The Dinner Party (1974–79), in which she creates a banquet both to honor female heroes throughout Western history and to provide an alternative historical record that acknowledges the impact these women have had in shaping the contemporary world.

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Summer Session

Summer Session – U.S. Department of Illegal Superheroes (ICE DISH) at Galería de la Raza

This Summer Session we’re thinking about celebrity, and today there are perhaps no celebrities more popular than fictional superheroes. Their popularity can serve as a valuable social tool, as Callie Humphreys review of artist Neil Rivas installation at Galería de la Raza shows, where the familiarity of superhero personae is used as a humanizing entry point into difficult conversations about illegal immigration. This review was originally published January 05, 2014. 

Neil Rivas (Clavo). Interior view (with Supergirl), ICE DISH SF Field Office & Detention Facility, 2013-2014. Courtesy of ICE DISH. Photo by Alanna Haight.

Neil Rivas (Clavo). Interior view (with Supergirl), ICE DISH SF Field Office & Detention Facility, 2013-2014. Courtesy of ICE DISH. Photo by Alanna Haight.

Galería de la Raza is currently hosting its very first resident artist, Neil Rivas. The San Francisco-based artist has converted the back half of La Raza into the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Illegal Superheroes, or ICE DISH. The agency deals with the capture and deportation of undocumented superheroes. Superman, Wonder Woman, Spider-Man, and the whole iconic lineup are at high risk for deportation, their immigration status unregistered with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The ICE DISH headquarters is replete with a physical training station, lockup cells, surveillance monitors, a most-wanted bulletin board, cabinets filled with presumably top-secret files, authoritative black desks, swivel chairs, and other austere institutional furniture. Populating the ICE DISH facilities are its six local agents, who carry out all departmental proceedings both on- and off-site.

High-stakes immigration debates are occurring across the country, but what actually constitutes the conversation appears to be little more than empty political banter. Through ICE DISH, Rivas has created an artistic platform for social intervention, though I hesitate to call it outright activism. The agency conveniently positions familiar, culturally beloved characters at the face of a critical discourse that the project hopes to engage, and as such functions equally well as both an educational outreach tool and as art. The reality of the immigration discussion is one increasingly devoid of empathy; it is a faceless battle driven by rhetoric rather than humanization. By aestheticizing the conversation through established iconography, Rivas makes the entry point more accessible for those who may otherwise not actively seek to participate in such a dialogue. The discussion ICE DISH generates does not forefront race, specifically, but rather highlights general ideas of difference, belonging, and the quintessential role of the other.

Read the full article here.

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