10 Questions for Michele Carlson

Happy birthday, Daily Serving! This month marks our tenth year of bringing you some of the smartest art writing around. To celebrate this momentous anniversary, we’re looking at our past, our present, and our future. Today we bring you an excerpt from an interview with Daily Serving’s current executive director, Michele Carlson. Michele joined the team in May 2016, and brings her work as an artist, critic, board member, and professor of visual and critical studies at the California College of the Arts to her new role at DS. 

Michele Carlson in the classroom.

Michele Carlson in the classroom.

The difference between DS and some of the other publications you have worked with:

I love working for a team and org with heart and guts—those who aren’t afraid, don’t just hop on trends to follow the money, and are willing to take on the long hard road that is “making the world better.” This describes Daily Serving. The organization is run by a group of administrators who also happen to be artists and writers, thus the stakes are significant for us here at DS. It’s not just about putting out stellar content or hitting analytics and budgets, but the work we do at DS is also the work we do outside of it. It is the work we will do after. It means that our approach to facilitating art, artists, and arts writing is driven by something greater than the needs of the organization itself or “the field.” We have the rare opportunity to intervene into the system, even if a small one, and quite literally produce the changes we want to see. You don’t often get this chance.

In Daily Serving‘s future:

We’ve spent a lot of time considering the internal operations of DS and we’re excited to be turning our attention to the future and external-facing projects. That DS has been holding space for art and writing for ten years is an unbelievable accomplishment and we don’t plan on going anywhere! So much has changed in the arts but also in digital and internet culture since 2006. We want DS to continue to grow and change with the dynamic worlds it draws from, and think more expansively in how it operates as a platform for arts discourse. As an online media source, how do we create reciprocity with our audiences and how do we stay a resource without drowning in trends or clichéd ideas about innovation? How do we reconcile that while our work manifests online, our readers and the art we love are IRL and have IRL concerns? How do we do the best work we can with little resources and capacity? How do we be brave? These are the sorts of questions we are asking ourselves as we move into the future, while continuing to confront larger systemic inequities around who has access to creating the narratives of art and culture and disrupting which art, artists, writers, editors, and leaders are valued in the art world.

Read the full interview here.

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Shotgun Reviews

Teiji Furuhashi: Lovers at the Museum of Modern Art

Shotgun Reviews are an open forum where we invite the international art community to contribute timely, short-format responses to an exhibition or event. If you are interested in submitting a Shotgun Review, please click this link for more information. In this Shotgun Review, Yuting Bai reviews Teiji Furuhashi: Lovers at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Teiji Furuhashi. Lovers, 1994; computer controlled, five-channel laser disc/sound installation with five projectors, two sound systems, two slide projectors, and slides (color, sound). Courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art. © 2016 Dumb Type.

Teiji Furuhashi. Lovers, 1994; computer controlled, five-channel laser disc/sound installation with five projectors, two sound systems, two slide projectors, and slides (color, sound). Courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art. © 2016 Dumb Type.

Standing solemnly as an apocalyptic coda to Nan Goldin: The Ballad of Sexual Dependency (1985) at the Museum of Modern Art, Teiji Furuhashi: Lovers features an eponymous installation that invites viewers to interact with bare apparitions through multimedia technology. In contrast to the Goldin’s brutal details of sex, drugs, and violence during the 1980s in Lower Manhattan, Lovers (1994) displays nudity in an austere, almost asexual manner. Nonetheless, the Japanese artist addresses contemporary love from a similar standpoint as his intense New York neighbor: ars longa, vita brevis. This marks the first time Lovers has been exhibited since its inauguration at MoMA in 1995, one year before the artist’s death of AIDS-related complications at thirty-five. Reiterating the universality of alienation, especially the isolation of sexual minorities, the exhibition is particularly pertinent today, as discrimination has resurfaced since the recent presidential election.

The monumental entrance of Lovers starkly displays the artist’s name and the artwork title high above my head. Below, a sea of funereal blackness confronts my eyes. Such design seems to suggest that I should not enter if I am afraid. So I do.

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Tenth Anniversary

Things to Be Thankful For

Here at DS, we’re grateful for our many readers and supporters around the world. We thank our hard-working writers, editors, and admin staff. And we’re indebted to a fantastic community of our colleagues—among them the ten arts workers who today share their current sources of inspiration, energy, and hope.

Agnes Denes. Wheatfield - A Confrontation: Battery Park Landfill (view with Statue of Liberty across the Hudson), 1982.

Agnes Denes. Wheatfield – A Confrontation: Battery Park Landfill (view with Statue of Liberty across the Hudson), 1982.

Taylor Renee Aldridge
Co-founder of ARTS.BLACK, a journal for art criticism from Black perspectives

Writer adrienne maree brown recently shared with me the strength of the oak tree. The oak tree, which is a symbol of endurance and sustainability, is deeply rooted beneath the earth’s surface, and its roots spread horizontally four to seven times the width of the tree’s height. As oak tree roots spread within the soil, it connects with the roots of other oak trees, creating bound systems of support between oak trees that are side by side. As a result, in extreme storms, they may be moved but are never broken. I think of myself as an oak tree who is perpetually bound and held up by the support of my peers, colleagues, and loved ones. I can weather any storm; I am reminded of my resilience. During this season, I am most thankful for my communities that continue to hold me up and provide unconditional support.

Prem Krishnamurthy
Founding Principal of Project Projects, Founder and Curator of P!, Faculty at the Center for Curatorial Studies​ at Bard College

One word: honesty. Amidst all the hubbub, the hyperbole, the false enthusiasm, the bullshit, and the bald-faced lies, there are a core group of friends and colleagues whom I can usually count on to be direct and tell the whole truth, even when it hurts a little. In times like these (after we thought everyone agreed with us, but it turned out to be just self-delusion and narcissism), it seems more important than ever to be supportive of each other while still critical. This is the only way the world moves along a little and things can change.

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Paris

Francesc Ruiz: No Words, 3 Walls, 3D Porn at Florence Loewy

Francesc Ruiz’s solo exhibition at the Florence Loewy gallery in Paris, No Words, 3 Walls, 3D Porn is an exercise in media archeology, with the central subject Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. Images of Nazi book-burning campaigns combined with social anxieties concerning the increasing hegemony of media suspected of the 1950’s newest technological advancement, the television, inspired Bradbury’s 1953 novel. Bradbury presents a society in which firefighters no longer extinguish fires, but instead initiate them for all books to burn within. Fascinated by entertainment, the people living in this dystopian world consume the perpetual programming in public walls of television screens, pornographic 3D magazines, and comics. In the novel’s 1966 film adaptation, director François Truffaut doesn’t envision the pornography, but does give comics a key and disturbing role as the only official reading material of the tale’s alienated protagonist, Montag.

Francesc Ruiz. Exhibition view, No Words, 3 Walls, 3D Porn, 2016; Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Aurélien Mole.

Francesc Ruiz. Exhibition view, No Words, 3 Walls, 3D Porn, 2016; Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Aurélien Mole.

Montag’s wordless comic is an item that has been the object of study and speculation of media critics and comic scholars for decades. In creating Fahrenheit 451’s Comic, Ruiz followed the footsteps of the film’s production designer, and ultimately discovered a link between Truffaut’s production and James Bond films of the time. By mixing the visible frames of the comic in the film, strips from James Bond comics published in the 1960s, and his own drawings, Ruiz put together an eight-page broadsheet, published by Captures Éditions to coincide with the show and to be available to be read in the exhibition space.

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New York

Jennifer and Kevin McCoy: Broker at Postmasters Gallery

The Postmasters Gallery’s arched storefront entrance on Franklin Street in New York City’s Financial District conjures an era long gone, when artists inhabited the raw lofts of the area. High ceilings with brick and rustic Corinthian columns belie the sleek high-rise trend seeping into the city, which aptly form the setting of Jennifer and Kevin McCoy’s latest exhibition, BROKER.

Jennifer & Kevin McCoy. BROKER (still), 2016; video, 28 minutes. Courtesy of the Artists and Postmasters Gallery. Photo: Evan Schwartz

Jennifer & Kevin McCoy. BROKER (still), 2016; video, 28 minutes. Courtesy of the Artists and Postmasters Gallery. Photo: Evan Schwartz

Well-loved for their maquettes often featuring live video feeds, the McCoys bring viewers physically into the diorama with BROKER, a mediation on humanity and technology. The installation consists of three elements: a billboard-scaled projection looping, at turns, the hypnotic and suspenseful video BROKER (2016); a 5/7” scaled kitchen from the apartment in the video with motion-triggered live feed on monitors; and a radiant collection of cast glass sculptures. Exploring the semiotics of luxury cued from consumer-driven merchandising, BROKER discloses a suspicion towards the promises of perfection via technology.

The video BROKER opens with performance artist and theater actress, Gillian Chadsey, rehearsing her lines meticulously as a real estate broker, while subtly adjusting the furnishings in time for arriving buyers. She details its local milling and custom crafting with bespoke “design inspired by a vintage coffee machine.” As the film follows the broker’s constantly surveilled movement through the space, we enter a present that is the imagined future forewarned by science fiction films like Arthur C. Clark’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and Andrew Niccol’s Gattaca. She is a component of the luxury “sky-couture” apartment. Visual and audio glitches masterfully skid into a meditative spa soundtrack, mixed by Lori Scacco, and signify the suspicion of losing one’s humanity to reliance on Big Brother, homogeny, and robots, leading to the impeding break down of the machine. In an eerie auto-tuned voice, the broker begins The Mineral Water Song, explaining how to scientifically influence others directly to camera, which hovers through the open living room in a slow-float, tracking shot. Her enduring eye contact and unwavering slight smile are alarming and mesmerizing, perfectly blending an automatonic delivery with restrained responses of confusion and surprise. Chadsey’s android-like performance suggests an absence—the kind of distracted presence one might imagine of the people with the shells in their ears in Fahrenheit 451.

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Help Desk

Help Desk: Solo No No

Help Desk is where I answer your queries about making, exhibiting, finding, marketing, buying, selling–or any other activity related to contemporary art. Submit your questions anonymously here. All submissions become the property of Daily Serving.

I’m updating my CV and visited a friend’s website to clarify the details of a collaborative piece we worked on a few years ago. While looking for that project, I came across a different listing that we also shared, a two-person exhibition that he has billed as a solo exhibition. A gallery approached us wanting to do a two-person show. He and I both showed independent and collaborative pieces (I think we each had two pieces that were not collaborative, but which provided context for the collaborative pieces); but the project that the show was named for was completely collaborative (we devised the concept together, titled it, checked in with one another as the pieces developed, etc.). I have this billed on my CV as a two-person exhibition, he has it listed as a solo exhibition. He is someone I call a friend, someone whose work I respect very much. How do I deal with this?

Louise Lawler. Who Says, Who Shows, Who Counts, 1990; set of three Chablis glasses with glass shelf and brackets; 8.50 x 14.00 x 4.25 in.

Louise Lawler. Who Says, Who Shows, Who Counts, 1990; set of three Chablis glasses with glass shelf and brackets; 8.50 x 14.00 x 4.25 in.

I once read that “the world takes you at your own estimation,” and I think this is invariably true—otherwise, how else to account for all the charlatans and double-dealers in high office? This phenomenon is especially evident within the confines of the contemporary art world, where egos are fragile, artistic value is often reduced to perceptions of visibility, and there’s a free-floating notion that you’re only as interesting as the last show you did. By fudging the facts on his CV, your friend has committed a minor fraud in an attempt to raise his own value in the eyes of the art world. I imagine that there are two parts to your distress: The first is the sense of hurt involved in having your name and work erased by a friend; the second is the frustration we all feel when we see someone else breaking the rules in order to get ahead. Let’s address these in turn.

On the whole, artists are ambitious people; it’s a long slog in the studio, and all of us like to feel as though we are being recognized for our efforts. It’s fundamentally human to want to be seen as an important, accomplished member of a community, one whose work is appreciated. What’s more, in the art world, recognition tends to translate into more and better opportunities—residencies, awards, and exhibitions. Of course, there’s a very clear hierarchy to this system—a two-person show is perceived as a rung further down the ladder than a solo, and therefore less valuable in proving that your work is respected. So in order to shore up his own insecurities about his value in this system, your former collaborator told a little lie. To address the situation, you might simply email him and say, “I’m updating my CV and noticed that you have our two-person show at Gallery X listed as a solo. Is there a particular rationale for that?” The mere act of calling him on it might be enough to make him correct the record; but if not, you might follow up by saying that you find his decision troublesome, because it wipes out both your own efforts and the collaborative goodwill between you. Whatever way you decide to approach the situation, it’s important (for your own sake) to find a smidge of compassion for this person. He is so anxious about his standing that he was willing to jeopardize his integrity and your friendship just to add another solo show to his CV. To be clear: Your friend has behaved poorly, and the situation is a bit tragic, but no matter how he responds or what he does with his CV, his behavior doesn’t reflect on you.

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Tenth Anniversary

10 Questions for Patricia Maloney

Happy birthday, Daily Serving! This month marks our tenth year of bringing you some of the smartest art writing around. To celebrate this momentous anniversary, we’re looking at our history—and our future. Today we bring you an excerpt from an interview with Daily Serving’s second publisher, Patricia Maloney (now the Executive Director of Southern Exposure). After starting the Bay Area-based journal Art Practical in 2009, Patricia bought Daily Serving in 2013, creating a synergism between the two publications and their audiences.

Patricia Maloney at Southern Exposure in San Francisco.

Patricia Maloney at Southern Exposure in San Francisco.

Biggest challenge of owning one regional and one international arts site:

We tried to model the relationship between Daily Serving and Art Practical—which gave birth to DSAP­—by concentrating Art Practical’s coverage in the San Francisco Bay Area and feeding that to Daily Serving. But I overestimated how clearly or easily that relationship could be articulated by looking at the site. People knew that there was a partnership between the two publications, but its rationale wasn’t clearly legible. I was also inheriting a well-established publishing cycle, so it was harder to overlay a new concept over that—the hub I describe above—than I anticipated. I think the relationship is clearer now, with Daily Serving emphasizing the daily content and Art Practical focused on thematic content.

Best reward of owning two arts websites:

The subjectivity of art viewing, and what I always describe as the feeble ability of language to capture a visual encounter, opens up this beautiful space where a writer and reader can cohabitate. Criticism’s power is, to paraphrase James Elkin, its capacity to offer one idea within a multiplicity of ideas in a particular moment. We as readers must see the idea, we must see the moment, we must see the potential for other channels to exist and be explored. Criticism is not meant to be didactic or polarizing; it is meant to be generous and generative. That generosity makes for good reading; I was never starved for intellectual stimulation.

Read the full interview here.

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