m a g a z i n e
Public Art Squad Project
PUBLISHER: Scotto Mycklebust, Artist
MANAGING EDITOR: Katie Cercone
CREATIVE DIRECTOR: Scotto Mycklebust
ART & DESIGN: Joli Latini, Lauren Stec
ART PHOTOGRAPHER: Elisa de la Huerta
CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Dan Callahan,
Linda Digusta, David Hales, Richard Wyndbourne
Kline, Richard Leslie, Rob Reed,
Suzanne Schultz, Matthew Schultz,
West Chelsea Arts Building
526 West 26th Street, Suite 511
New York, New York 10001
ON THE WEB:
FOR EDITORIAL INQUIRIES:
JOIN OUR MAILING LIST:
Letter from the Publisher ...
I am very proud to announce the official release of
Revolt Magazine, Issue 2. Much has happened since
the premiere, and The Revolt staff has been hard at
work bringing you the latest news, humor, opinions
and fantasies at the juncture of Art and Social
In this volume you’ll find more on the latest
developments on the Occupy Wall Street front
including the Occupy Museum movement and
a selected poem from the official OWS Poetry
Anthology. We’ve expanded our Gallery View section,
which now boasts Rob Reed reviews of exhibitions
in four major Chelsea galleries in addition to
Dan Callahan’s new Cinema and Literary Review
We’re talking about Economy – Art & Economy (in
an exciting, unprecedented interview with Asher
IN THIS ISSUE:
volume 1 no. 2 • may/june 2012
Edelman), The Gift Economy (Richard Leslie’s
The Invisible Artist) and the Alternative Economy
(Pink Ghetto interview with Soho20 Director Jenn
Revolt Issue 2 brings you Gentrification Erotica,
thoughts about Urban Chic by new contributing
writer Lena Vazifdar and a sneak peak of a new
graphic novel by David Hales. We’ve expanded
our staff and our distribution so that Revolt
Magazine will now be available in Boston through a
partnership with Suzanne Schultz of Canvas FineArt.
So read away, read carefully and read critically. We’d
love to hear your thoughts about our content and as
always, urge you to help us keep creativity and free
speech thriving in and around New York City.
6 The Gallery Review
12 Urban Chic
14 Art Attack, The Occupy Museum Movement
20 The Hip Hop Feminist Manifesta
22 Biennial Clap Back
25 The Literary View
26 Cinema Review
28 Biting The Hand That Feeds You
35 The Pink Ghetto
38 The Invisible Artist
40 The Revolt Takes Boston
42 Make it Graphic
46 Art and Economics
48 The OWS Poetry Anthology
58 Françoise Gilot
Through a diverse array of journalistic styles - investigative, academic, interview,
opinion - and stunning visuals, REVOLT Magazine aims to ensure that art never loses
its profundity. We urge our readers to join our mission, generating positive social
change through creative production and informed cultural critique.
Copyright & Permissions Info: © copyright 2011 - 2012 Revolt Magazine. All Rights Reserved. For all
reprints, permissions and questions, please contact 212.242.1909 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
REVOLT Magazine May/June 2012 2
Chelsea New York
518 West 27 th Street, New York NY 10001
THIS LITTLE WORLD OF MINE
THIS LITTLE WORLD OF MINE
THIS LITTLE WORLD OF MINE, I'M GONNA LET IT SHINE,
LET IT SHINE EVERYWHERE I GO!
I LIVE IN MY OWN WORLD THAT I HAVE CREATED FOR MYSELF.
THEREFORE I'M NOT SURE IF I HAVE THE LIGHT OR THAT I AM THE LIGHT.
WHAT I CAN CONCRETELY SAY IS THAT THE WORLD I HAVE CREATED, I'M GONNA LET THAT SHINE....I
HAVE CONFIDENCE IN HUMANITY TO EMBRACE IT.......LINE BY LINE PARAGRAPH BY PARAGRAPH PAGE BY
THANKS AND GIVING
Thanksgiving means much more than a capitalist holiday for me!
Today I'm thankful for the native Americans
that had something to do with this holiday,
Before it became about black Friday
Thankful for the village that has raised me well...
and the giving part is not a duty or obligation but a recognition for HUMANITY.
SLIP BUT DON'T FALL
SOME SLIP WHILE OTHERS FALL EVEN WHEN THERE WERE A YIELD SIGN. SO SLIP BUT DON'T
FALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!GET UP BRUSH OFF, NOW U NOT THE SAME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ORIGINAL VERBAGE TO YIELD
THE CHARACTER, WAYNE YOUNG
SOUND OFF : REVOLT
ON FACEBOOK... SEARCH TERMS: REVOLT
"... time to revolt. We need to straight-away reject the
whatsoever demand in the first hand to stop the greed take
toll of our lives."
"Revolt, as Albert Camus reminded us, is the only acceptable
definition of the moral life. Revolt, he wrote, is “a constant
confrontation between man and his obscurity. It is not
aspiration, for it is devoid of hope. That revolt is the certainty
of a crushing fate, without the resignation that ought to
"petr cech hailed chelsea's champions league triumph as
'revolt' against their doubters followighispenality shootout
ON TWITTER... SEARCH TERMS: REVOLT
RESULT: "Revolt for your children and your children's
"The desire to revolt against oppression is the highest desire
there is." - Tupac
"Haiti's was the first, and the only, successful slave revolt in
the history of the world. Happy Haitian Flag Day!"
"A civilization which leaves so large a number of its
participants unsatisfied and drives them into revolt has no
future – Sigmund Freud"
REVOLT Magazine May/June 2012
"1 percenters Clooney & Obama cause massive L.A. traffic
jam; 99 percenters revolt on Twitter==>"
"Nothing in this world is more beautiful than revolution, no
shopping spree, no cruise can match the sheer brilliance of
"Rebel, fight, revolt, instigate, become!"
"When the rich revolt it's called a dialogue, when the poor
protest it's called treason."
"Europe is revolting against austerity"
"You can do whatever you want with your personal artistic
expressions, but with your public art, you must design revolt."
You want to revolt? Kick out Congress. In no uncertain terms,
tell them that we CAN and WILL elect officials that listen.
When the people are deadlocked against a government that
refuses to heed their call for fundamentals, they revolt. A
revolution is instinct
TOMORROW: Male synchronised swimmers revolt / An
eco-disco in your kitchen / Welsh scripted reality / teeth
BY ROB REED
Cricket Music, Tessellation Figures
February 4 - April 14, 2012
Matthew Marks Gallery
522 W 22 nd Street, 502 W 22 nd Street
The art of Terry Winters takes some time. His
recent show, “Cricket Music, Tessellation Figures
& Notebook,” hanging at two of Matthew Marks
Gallery’s locations on West 22 Street, presents two
separate and concurrent bodies of work - thirty small
intimacy and love for the facticity of paint itself, his
connectedness to the material make-up of his art.
While his preoccupations with scientifically-related
ideas may be an overriding compositional force in
his work, he also grants the oil and ground pigment
their own brief autonomies, able to attack any formal
structure with surprise. This pulsating restlessness
is built into the artist’s picture-making math.
Winters’ color pallet is saturated and energetic,
often relying on direct color complements (most
often red-and-green or blue-and-orange) to set
the octave of each piece. All the paintings in the
Cricket Music, 2010, oil on linen, 88 x 112 inches,
is deceptively simple in its form. Painted in blues
and purples with occasional sparks of orange, the
tessellation of four-sided patches spans most of the
canvas’ surface while receding in space at the sides
and top, making a pillow-like form. As the individual
patches float and the unifying constellation curves,
viewer perceptions of presence and absence oscillate
so intensely the effect is somewhat existential.
The network of shapes is fragile and precarious in
places. Smaller fragments in the middle and down
the left side are broken and un-joined, which poses
a question about the structure’s nature, whether it
is in a process of self-organizing or decomposing.
In the smaller exhibition space at 502 West 22
Street is a selection of the artist’s notebook collages
that bear no obvious relationship to the paintings.
Instead, they bear witness to the artist’s associative
intelligence and cognitive disinhibition, the
necessary conditions for creativity. Found imagery,
often digitally printed on regular-size sheets of
transparency paper, are overlapped and stapled at
the top to a solid off-white sheet of paper.
Notebook 188, 2003-2011, at 11.5 x 8 inches
(the same size as the rest of the works), overlaps
a photograph of the top half of a roller coaster loop
with a transparent blue rectangle containing a line
diagram plotting coordinates of some kind. The
bisected vertical ellipse echoes Robert Mangold’s
space-dividing methods, but that superficial
relationship isn’t what makes it interesting.
Movement through space in Notebook 188 is charted
graphically (literally in the graph), photographically
(in the roller coaster), and compositionally (in the
overall directional forces moving your eyes around
the page). This observation isn’t to decode the work
or suggest object lessons in space are in view; it is
© Terry Winters, Courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery
only to suggest that the time spent absorbing these
show are structured in some fundamental way
collage works at 502 and eleven large paintings at
works will be paid back in full.
around a tessellation, or surface plane created
522. It’s not the size of the show that challenges the
by repeating geometric shapes such as those
viewer; it’s the seductive complexity.
found in honeycombs or the black and white
The large, carefully and densely painted works offer
pentagonal patterns of a soccer ball. In the artist’s
both quick and slow reads. They have an immediate
March 15 - April 21, 2012
current process, the tessellations are rhythms of
striking force through bold colors and dominant
Lehmann Maupin Gallery
parallelograms that appear somewhat like the
shapes, yet also honor more meditative looking as negative spaces made between the rope grids of 540 West 26 Street
the arranged visual elements begin to reveal their a net. Flat, curving, or spinning in circles, these “The safest road to Hell is a gradual one – the gentle
networked relationships and individual character. tessellation planes operate pictorially as both figure slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings,
This vibrant complexity is partly due to Winters’ and ground, creating dynamic surface tensions that
both open up and resist the viewer’s optical entry.
without milestones, without signposts.” –Screwtape
REVOLT Magazine May/June 2012 6
ALBERT OEHLEN Untitled, 2009-2011. Oil and paper on canvas, 82 11/16 x 106 5/16 in.
© Albert Oehlen. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery.
This is the description of man’s spiritual descent the
mentor demon Screwtape gives his junior “tempter”
and disciple Wormwood in C.S. Lewis’ enlightening
novel “The Screwtape Letters.” Being a good devil
is hard work and mapping the terrain of human
temptation is central to it.
The paintings of Detroit-based artist Hernan Bas
in his solo exhibition “Occult Contemporary” at
Lehmann Maupin, explore such terrains with
exciting results. Danger is ever afoot in his largescale
landscapes –craggy cliffs, broken bridges, and
fallen trees. The works are sparsely populated with
a sole young man disconcertingly relaxed amongst
and within rocks and wooded thickets. On occasion
an ominous and threatening presence is seen, or at
least certainly felt: it’s just the Devil doing his nineto-five.
The title of the show is Bas’ wry riff on “Adult
Contemporary,” a musical genre that bears relations
in character similar to Screwtape’s hell-bound
trajectory –a “gentle slope, soft underfoot.” Also in
mind is the wave of superficial interest in the dark
arts (through movies such as Twilight) that is for Bas
not serious enough.
In A Satanist on a Tuesday (or, The Key Master),
2012, a mixed-media painting standing eight feet
tall by seven feet wide, Bas situates his young
protagonist in the middle of a creek that rushes past
a badly dilapidated (but judging from the chimney
smoke, inhabited) house, as rocks in the foreground
display scrawled color graffiti. These hieroglyphs
on stone perhaps reveal the content of our main
character’s mind, as he holds up a key that locks or
unlocks exactly what we are not sure.
The paintings are rich with haunting ambiguities
extending beyond their narrative content. Bas’ painthandling
ranges from energetic and broadly gestural
to obsessively detailed and naively clumsy, as large
chunks of his compositions scrape, bump, and
chafe against each other. His colors are intense and
Hernan Bas, A Satanist on a Tuesday (or, The Key Master), 2012
Acrylic, airbrush, silkscreen and block print on linen, 84 x 72 in.
Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin Gallery, New York
at times garish, though always fitting, heightening a
sense of the unexpected, ratcheting up suspense.
At a time when abstract painting is so popular in New
York, Bas’ work demonstrates that viscous invention
and verve need not be reined in just for the sake of
depiction and storytelling. In fact, it would appear
that for this artist cryptic narratives, informed by
myth and folklore, are exactly what unleash all these
startling and memorable painterly events.
March 3 - April 7, 2012
980 Madison Avenue
Standing in front of the paintings by Albert Oehlen
in his first exhibition with Gagosian Gallery, several
questions arise. The immediate questions are of the
artist’s intent. For example, what is it? The followup
questions are reflexive to art-making or painting
itself. How can representation and abstraction
work together, or painting fit with photography, or
hand-wrought mark-making be reconciled with
mechanical, computer graphics?
The ground on which the artist begins to paint is a
large canvas –six or seven feet high by seven or
ALBERT OEHLEN FM 53, 2008-2011.
© Albert Oehlen. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery.
Photo by Lothar Schnepf
eight feet wide– partially covered with enlarged
commercial photographs that are cropped, cut,
and arranged in such a way that allows limited
recognition of their subjects. Signage text or
stenciled words –”power” was one– also appear
as substrates underneath the energetic application
of paint, which is labeled as oil, but acrylic or latex
might be there too.
The paint colors and overall palettes take their cue
from the printed material beneath. This is the most
apparent and strongest connection between the
found imagery and painted passages; it isn’t in the
joining of shapes or directional lines. (In the recent
past, such as in his 2009 show at Luhring Augustine,
found imagery and text dominated the compositions
while paint was just a smudgy interlocutor.)
Oehlen’s way with paint in this exhibition indulges
full-on the sweeps and fitful gestures of Abstract
Expressionism, recreating its egotism and urgency,
while also being devoid of the personal or emotional
necessities that gave those distinctive gestures
their meaning. Several works in the show feature
strokes created with the artist’s own fingers (he’s
done this in the past), as if to up the ante on what
counts as painterly authenticity, or perhaps mock
the possibility of authenticity itself.
Allowing the paint more license gives these works an
expansiveness. The areas where he chooses to rub,
scrub, and wipe are not dead spaces. They have an
air to them. The mixing of hues creates an activated
gray, which is different from, say, a deadpan Gerhard
The artist describes himself as “post-nonfigurative”,
which seems more like art historical posturing
than explanation. There is no empirical evidence,
at least in this show, he is wrestling with pictorial
problems that would be unknown to a de Kooning or
Rauschenberg decades ago. What is to be relished
in is pure sensation.
Taken as pure sensation that hits the nervous
system without passing through the brain (as French
philosopher Gilles Deleuze might have put it),
these paintings are a real pleasure. The theoretical
rhetoric, and even the set of questions mentioned
above, can be set aside as gratuitous or post-hoc.
REVOLT Magazine May/June 2012
deep wood drive
March 7 - April 26
420 W 20th Street
It is unlikely that conceptual artist and sculptor Tom
Burr intends much psychological comfort for the
viewers of his show “deep wood drive” at Bortolami
Gallery. Although the most seductive works in the
show are called “Cloud Paintings”, there is little
airiness in the artist’s mournful, self-interrogating,
minimalist aesthetic to keep one’s spirits light.
Instead, an aching tension fills the exhibition rooms
in a dull but palpable way.
The exhibition’s title refers to a location where the
artist was raised and experienced instances of
“trauma and ecstasy”. These unnamed events are
recalled and symbolically recast into the several
Courtesy of Bortolami Gallery and Tom Burr
large floor and wall pieces, all created this year.
Center stage is Baited Like Beasts (a moon viewing
platform): a steel cage roughly eight feet cubed, with
four window openings and no door, a tipped-over
chair and low-hanging, illuminated spherical lamp.
In the rear room is another free-standing piece also
connoting entrapment. An Orange Echo consists of
two sets of three velvet theater seats facing each
Courtesy of Bortolami Gallery and Tom Burr
other. Each trio of seats is encased in mirrors below,
to both sides, and in the back. By projecting one’s self
into this seating arrangement, a confusion between
subject and viewer is instantly created, or perhaps a
category of the egocentric predicament: no person
can view the world or access reality outside of their
own perceptions or mental representations.
More provocative are the “Cloud Paintings”, which
are not paintings at all, but braced wood panels six
feet square, covered with wool blankets that are
folded, pleated, and thoroughly pinned down with
black upholstery tacks. All but one of the blankets
are dark, either black or blue, with the folds eliciting
a sense of discomfort and sleepless nights as the
meticulous tacking-down induces an unnerving
sense of permanence.
This psychic tension is acute in Untitled Pink
Piece because the wool is not only more soft and
sensuous in hue, but the silk edge (a bed blanket’s
most pacifying feature) is exposed and runs down
the entire left side. The upholstery pins securing the
fabric to the wooden structure allude to the pricking
or piercing of skin and the metal feels violent and
foreign, like steel rivets puncturing through a pillow.
The smallest works in the show—less than two feet
square each—are similar in construction to the
Cloud Paintings, now using t-shirts or sweatshirts in
lieu of bed-size blankets. The compactness of these
works intensify the metaphor of being bound, one
with a sweatshirt folded and stapled upside down,
allowing a sleeve to hang freely as the other is fixed
flatly across the front like a straitjacket.
Burr takes the austerity of Minimalism and gives
it a haunting, personal meaning. He extracts and
projects his own psychological states onto his
materials and challenges viewers to do the same.
Rob Reed is a freelance writer based in
New York City. He may be contacted at
Gustave Courbet, L'Atelier du Peintre, 1855
Break dancers clad in neon Adidas garb that frequent the city’s subway
stops conjure up imagery from eighties movies and graffiti artists from
NYC’s burgeoning street art scene. Some would see it as cliché; I see
it as quintessentially New York City. Urban Chic is loosely related to
city dwellers who live in urban expanses like New York and within its confines,
create a style that screams urbanity. Screams Soho, or The Village, or Chelsea’s
swellling art scene. This urban chic style can be viewed throughout Manhattan’s
convoluted grid in various forms. The Adidas wearing street-kids are no
exception in hoodies and bold jewelry, break dancing throughout underground
subway platforms. Their style, though sometimes overdone, is urban in its most
original form—created for city dwellers with artists like M.I.A emulating their
street culture style. However, with such an indescript terminology like urban
chic, does it simply create a series of overdone clichés and meaningless hype?
BLACK IS THE NEW BLACK
A walk through West Chelsea and its once barren streets are livened with gallery
openings, art studios and expensive high rises surrounding the High Line,
which intersects the city. With hoards of visitors, it brings a fresh modernity
to an area that was once strictly warehouses, strip and nightclubs. The area
is gentrifying and with it's transformation it has brought a hip, artsy crowd of
urbanites swarming gallery openings donned in black Alexander Wang dresses
and Phillip Lim leather. For this New York crowd, black has remained the tried
and tested formula to style. The look is modern, simple and very New York art
scene. With slim, simple lines, layering, lots of neutral blacks and greys, these
artsy Manhattanites are the epicenter of this iconic New York look. Though
well dressed in its most simple form, there’s something that screams loss of
individuality in this typically chic look and the prototypical neutral toned art goer
becomes just another one of the same. Perhaps the term is just about being
urban and being chic, but falls short on originality. Black on black may not
necessarily scream individuality but it does scream New York. If anything it’s a
genre of style that hasn’t budged.
A walk through the maze of alleyways that make up the Lower East Side and
colorful hipsters clad in vintage lace-up boots, black jeans, Ray Ban Wayfarers
and the same leather jackets, are another outline of urban chicness. As they
linger on street corners sipping on overpriced lattes, shop the independent
boutiques for one of a kind wares, and brunch on $20 French toast at New
REVOLT Magazine May/June 2012
York’s coolest restaurants—the graffiti and dirty streets that were once just
simply that, keep the area in check. It’s not all just dive bars with affected
youth discussing the latest unknown band—the Lower East Side represents a
subsection of Manhattan that amalgamates the individuality of New York City
combined with the grittiness of its graffitied alleys. Yet similar to their all-black
wearing friends, there is a well-known hipster uniform. Ray Bans are necessary,
plaid flannel is still the go-to, skinny jeans are a must. Add a few colorful vintage
dresses, a 6 pack of PBRs and a bad attitude and you're golden. This running
joke is nothing short of old and tired and they catch a lot of slack, from just
about everyone. But there is something to be said about their style. Ultimately,
the hipster syndrome might just be a bunch of ludicrous hype affecting our
nation, but the truth is they actually often, if not begrudgingly so, do look cool
NOT JUST NYC
BY LENA VAZIFDAR
New Yorkers portray style that is unparalleled to anywhere I’ve ever lived but
Tokyo’s urban chicness is on par to what New Yorker’s have to offer, in a way
that is quintessentially Japanese. Gorgeous women stroll through Harajuku
with perfectly coifed dos and high-fashion duds. Their men are clad in Commes
des Garcon and Y3 and sometimes represent a genre of asexuality with their
beautiful chiseled faces and long hair. The women are perpetually feminine and
soft. Tokyo, with its Japanese edge—the prints sometimes kimono-esque and
whimsical—has a feel of modernity and urban chicness that in a way sometimes
triumphs over New York. Though many women dress in similar garb and what
is thought to be unique and original is often overplayed, there is no denying
that their style is fashionable and unique in its own representation of Japan.
Though part westernized, there is also a distinctive part of their style that is
so essentially Japanese in dress and culture. It doesn’t seem to matter that
every 20-something girl has the same haircut or the same green army jacket,
the difference is they relish in the trend instead of pushing away from it like
many Westerners do in their quest for originality. Gritty London represents an
urban chic style that is very much it’s own. Quintessentially British, East London
hipsters wear plimsoles and tight jeans layered with Top Shop baggy jean shirts
and smoke hand-rolled cigarettes outside crowded pubs like it’s their job. Their
aesthetic often mirrors style icons, Alexa Chung ‘s classy tomboy looks and Amy
Winehouse’s rocker chic style that is just so … London. Both Tokyo and London
epitomize urban chicness in their own ways. Their style represents their own
cities, in all of its flawed perfection. They embody their own style that is a far cry
from Manhattan’s head to toe black and PBR swigging hipsters.
Photo by Elisa Garcia de la Huerta
the occupy: museum movement
Art for the 99 Percent
Occupy demonstration outside the Armory Show, Photos by Scotto Mycklebust
The peaceful, tree lined street that leads up
to New York’s iconic Museum of Modern
Art (MoMA) was sheltered with blooming
cherry blossoms on a warm March evening.
Passersby strolled in to view modern art marvels
from the likes of Pablo Picasso, Frida Kahlo and
Alexander Calder. One step inside the sweeping
structure and the resonance of protestors droned
the quiet solitude of the museum setting.
Museums are not synonymous with protesting, but
as of late with the ricochet of the Occupy Wall Street
(OWS) movement, well-known New York museums
have seemingly become the hub for protestors who
are trying to create a more accessible art world that
is not controlled by the “1 %.”
OWS has had an intense ripple effect across America.
The leaderless movement without an official set of
demands echoed the enthusiastic days of protests
in the 1960s and 70s that seemed long dissipated
in an era of present day apathy. The OWS movement
has been the catalyst in sparking an overwhelming
passion in this generation, dispelling the ideology
and myth that the youth of America are grounded in
apathy, while connecting a nation together towards
an idealistic goal. Starting in September 2011, Lower
Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park became OWS’s homebase
transforming the area into a tent city. Social
and economic inequality, corruption, the influence
of corporations on the government, greed and
importantly, the overwhelming wealth and income
disparity between America's richest 1% and the rest
of the population were some of the issues at protest.
The Movement’s slogan of “we are the 99 %” is one
that was heard across the American landscape and
REVOLT Magazine May/June 2012
BY LENA VAZIFDAR
has now become household terminology. Some
individuals, much like myself and my peers, who are
unemployed, underemployed or underpaid despite
massive school loans and graduate degrees,
protested this wealth and income disparity that is
taking over America and its confounded elitism.
The Occupy Museums movement is founded on
many of the same goals as OWS and is a direct
result of it. Unlike OWS, Occupy Museums is mainly
a group of artists and equality believers fighting
for an equal playing field in the art world. Their
main target—museums. On March 30, a number of
groups from various organizations were at MoMA
to protest its affiliation with Sotheby’s. Occupy
Museums was one of the main organizers at the
event and were joined by Sotheby’s art handlers—
who are part of the Union, Teamsters Local 814—to
protest MoMA making millions at Sotheby’s during
the art handler lockout. Since August, stemming
from a disagreement over their union contract, the
high-end auction house has locked out unionized
art handlers from their jobs.
Similarly, Occupy Museums was present at the
Whitney Biennial’s opening reception on February
28 and called on the Whitney Museum of American
Art to also cut ties with Sotheby’s, which is one of
the Biennial’s sponsors.
ART FOR THE 99 PERCENT
The protests at MoMA and the Whitney Biennial
are one of many that Occupy Museums has been
organizing as of late, with their manifesto claiming:
“We occupy museums to reclaim space for
meaningful culture by and for the 99 %. We believe
that art and culture are the soul of the commons.
Art is not a luxury!”
The group’s beliefs are founded on the idea that
art should be accessible to everyone and that
museums are controlled by the 1 %. As artists – that
traditionally belong to the 99 %, they refuse to allow
themselves to be “tricked into accepting a corrupt
hierarchical system based on false scarcity and
propaganda concerning absurd elevation of one
individual genius over another human being for the
monetary gain of the elitist of elite.” The movement
is an ongoing protest that calls out corruption and
injustice in institutions of art and culture, namely
From the original OWS movement, Occupy Museums
was initiated with the help of artist Noah Fischer
whom the media has seemingly painted as their
unofficial leader. The group now has over a dozen
active members from different walks of the art
Jolanta Gora-Wita, an artist and active member
of the group says, “The main goal is to stand in
solidarity to protest injustice to arts and culture.”
She continued, “We find that by doing those actions
we create a creative space for us and we open
pockets of space up to dialog with the public and
With these goals in mind, they have protested a
number of large art events in New York, including
The Whitney Biennial and the Armory Show amongst
museums like MoMA and The New Museum.
Upcoming protests include the Frieze Art Fair.
Occupy demonstration at MoMA
Though supported by some artists outside the
group, they have, if not equally so, received criticism,
from within their own niche art world. Independent
Toronto-based artist and writer, Lorette C. Luzajic
says, “The Occupy Movement in general is woefully
misled by people who want a better world and
believe that dismantling capitalism or holding the
rich to account will solve the problems we have.”
With a noble outlook on art and what they want
transformed, the group is lacking in solutions to
what they are so passionately fighting for. Rather
than actual concrete resolutions they seem more
founded on ideas and dialogue, with hopes to
propel activism and education to the public. Even
with education and dialogue, the group has a way
to go when it comes to being clear about goals and
solutions. The message is unclear to the museums
they are protesting. At a past protest when MoMA
asked Fischer what his demands were, he didn’t
give an answer.
He says, “At the beginning it seemed like the stroke of
genius not to have demands. A lot of it was because
it was impossible to agree on them because of our
consensus process. Not having demands keeps
the space of the protest open and inclusive, rather
than narrowing it down to a particular struggle or
Similar to OWS, the group has been the victim of
criticism because of their disjointed and unclear
position to what their demands are. Though it’s clear
that they are fighting for the 99 %, are museums
really the right target as members of the art world?
As a frequent museumgoer, art history fanatic and
daughter of an artist, museums have always been
an inspiration and escape for me. Though 25 dollars
may seem like a hefty fee to enter and undoubtedly
creates inaccessibility, I’m wholly willing to support
a place such as MoMA. If I can’t afford to go, their
once a week free days are always an option, creating
an accessible space for everyone. A part of me
believes that they are directing their anger towards
the wrong group of people. Wouldn’t focusing on
art galleries that are there for the sole purpose
of selling and purchasing art be a more poignant
statement? Though by protesting museums, the
group does create dialogue, which is fundamentally
important to any movement. The Sotheby’s protest
at MoMA is one that had a concrete goal that can
actually be realized. Their other protests, however,
are somewhat abstract and confusing. How can you
protest something without being able to actually
have concrete solutions to bring to the table?
Fischer notes that the recent MoMA protest with
the Teamsters is certainly an example of an action
where their group has actual demands in place.
He says, “That's a concrete demand that we can
hopefully win and will be the first of many wins.”
Despite criticisms, members passionately believe in
what it is they are protesting and think changes can
be made starting with the wealthy who financially
back these museums. “Big corporations and very
rich people have incredible influence to what’s in
the museum because they can give huge chunks of
money. That needs to be taken out of the equation,”
says Maria Byck, an Occupy Museum’s group
Photo of Jim Costanzo, active member of Occupy Museums
Without these big corporations and rich people
who have influence on these museums, would
they even exist? Could taxpayer’s money really be
enough to support the likes of expansive spaces
like MoMA and The Whitney and if you took that
option away, would it be detrimental to the quality
of these museums? Others in the art world believe
that Occupy Museums is hypocritical and ironic with
some cutting at Fischer himself, in part because of
the expensive art he sells. Karen Archey, a New York
based art critic and curator, said on artinfo.com,
“Noah Fischer, why create art that is tailor-made to
exist in a Chelsea gallery and sold to rich people? Is
YOUR art for everyone? I think not.”
Fischer believes however that it was his involvement
in the Chelsea gallery scene that was a catalyst for
his involvement in the movement. “I did my MFA in
Columbia in 2004 and got deeply into debt. The
market was booming so I had the idea to enter into
the public market and sell my work. My experiences
with the private market are not very impressive, but
I do have some experience none the less, and it has
actually informed my angle in the protest. ," he says.
"So through these experiences I’ve learned how
little power artists have in the private market and
how concentrated the economic and social power
is in a few galleries. I see my own experiences as
Though set up as a group, their beliefs are very
much individualistic and exemplify a mixture of
different viewpoints about how art should be looked
at and consumed. Byck has trouble with the idea
of commercializing art. She says, “I actually think
REVOLT Magazine May/June 2012
it’s problematic for it to be seen as a commercial
product. Art is a part of culture, a part of a history
of our ideas.”
Photo of Occupy Museum group member Jolanta Gora-Wita
Dissimilar to Byck, Gora-Wita stated that she
believes art is a source of income for many artists
and she believes they have the right to sell their
work and does not discredit artists for doing so.
Artists like Luzajic think that commercialization is a
necessary and important part of art and positive for
artists. “How on earth does de-commercialization
and de-individualizing of art help artists? Selling
more helps artists. Like it or not, the more people
buying twenty million dollar Van Goghs, the more
art for more museums, galleries, collectors and
associations,” she says. “Occupy Museums should
reassess their goals completely and come up with
alternative ways of promoting artists, outside of the
museum system, rather than dismantling.”
As a creative individual, the commercialization of
your craft is something that any professional has
to face in order to make a living. As a writer, it’s
something that I deal with all the time if I am writing
for anyone other than myself. My work gets edited
for mass appeal, I write about what people want to
read—there are occasions that I get to write about
what I want, when I want, but it’s not always the
case. I believe, the same goes for artists. Warhol is
a prime example of this commercialization and his
famous quote, “Making money is art and working is
art and good business is the best art,” hits to the
core of art as an income. Perhaps he has a point.
Other artists like Damien Hirst have been notoriously
criticized as being a sell-out and only creating for
mass appeal. Yet the reality is that he is successful.
He has created a business out of what he loves to
do. Isn’t that the ultimate goal for most creatives?
In an ideal world you could create whatever art you
wanted without thinking about the consumer, but
that’s not the reality of any craft. I don’t think it’s
about selling out, I think it’s about truly being able
to support yourself and making a living doing what
you love to do. In a sense the whole idea of buying
and consuming art is a luxury. Occupy Museum
doesn’t believe it should be, but when Noah Fischer,
or any other artist, sells at an expensive Chelsea art
gallery for thousands of dollars, it’s hard to believe
that he or anyone else would dispute that art, at
times, is absolutely a luxury item.
Photo, Ebi Kagbala, 2011
REVOLT Magazine May/June 2012
PHOTOS BY SCOTTO MYCKLEBUST
Hip Hop Feminism:
BY KATIE CERCONE
Lesbian Gangsta Rap Crew "Zebra Baby" Photo by Elisa Garcia de la Huerta
We are Hip Hop Feminists. In line with
the principles of Black Feminism
as defined by the Combahee River
Collective, we recognized that race,
class and sex oppression are intertwined. 1 And we
love Hip Hop.
We are Hip Hop Feminists embracing the vitality of
race, gender, class, urbanism and youth culture as
critical lenses we use to make sense of the world
and change power relations. 2
We speak out against blaxploitation and we still love
Hip Hop. We believe it is the most poignant form of
popular culture the world has ever experienced. 3
We are Black but not all Black. We are women
but not all women. We have butts of all sizes.
We are committed to men and women working
together in partnership but not all straight. We
are Houstatlantavegas. We are the Weezies, the
Drizzies, the Biggies, Eazys, Snoops, 50s, 2Pacs.
We are the Beyonces, the Ivy Blues, the Missys,
the Trinas, the Ciaras, the Lil Kims, the Lauryns,
the Willows, the Narcissisters, the Zebra Babys, the
flygirls, the bgirls, the Homo-Hoppers, the Homo-
Thugs and the Hoez Wid Attitude. The Thuggles.
REVOLT Magazine May/June 2012
We are mack divas rollin wit posses fifteen bitches
deep. 4 We are the Whitney Houstons and Tina
Turners. We are the Blackanese Barbies. We are
the Sara Baartmans and the Josephine Bakers.
The Contemporary Goddesses and Chickenheads.
We are unsheltered Black girls around the world,
learning to navigate space as sexually and racially
We are Hip Hop Feminists moving beyond a simple
critique of misogyny in Rap. We believe the misogyny
and homophobia of Hip Hop culture reflects our
collective anxiety about not being able to access the
fantasy of being a ‘real’ man, woman or whatever
else for which we are striving. 5
We connect the objectification and degradation of
Black women’s bodies within Hip Hop Culture to
their historical precedents. We are Sara Baartman,
the Khoisin woman renamed ‘Venus Hottentot’
whose body was exhibited freak-show style around
Britain by scientists interested in her large buttocks
and hypertrophy of the vagina due to tribal practices
of genital mutilation. We are her jarred genitalia,
put on public display at the Musee l’Homme in Paris
after her death and then stored in museum vaults for
twenty years while the French Government refused
to return her remains to Africa for a proper burial. 6
We are Josephine Baker, the African American
woman who joined a traveling circus at the age of
thirteen and became a millionaire shaking her ass
for paying white audiences of the mid twentieth
We are Hip Hop Feminists because we believe
the animalistic and hypersexual ‘loose’ image of
the Black woman developed during the past two
centuries still exists as a trope in Hip Hop and is an
image which contributes to the exploitation, abuse,
and objectification of the Black female body. 8 We are
Hip Hop Feminists and we are more than groupies,
video-hoes or vixens, eye candy, chickenheads,
hood rats, apple bottoms, baby’s mamas and ill
nanas with dreams of acquiring money, men and
material objects. 9
We connect the work of Contemporary female
rappers to the women who sang the blues, when
music was central to the meaning of a culture of
resistance during slavery and encouraged forms of
social consciousness. 10 We are Hip Hop Feminists.
We use Hip Hop as bait. We use Hip Hop culture as
a teaching tool, one which can help young people
recognize their collective and individual stakes
in civic society as they dissect paradigms of race,
class and gender. 11 We rebuke the pimp-ho dogeat-bitch
game because we have daughters that are
telling us Rap ‘hurts.’ 12
We are Hip Hop Feminist because we too are
seduced by the lyrics, the images, the beat we bow
our heads to affirming its sacredness. Sometimes
we even want what they promise ‘all the keys and
security codes…the cheese.’ Because we were born
knowing that successfully negotiating male space
– male space that’s paid – reaps great rewards. 13
We know the real roots of Hip Hop and we are proud
of them. We know that Hip Hop was born in the Bronx
following New York City’s structural redevelopment
that literally bulldozed through vibrant ethnic
communities. Hip Hop is the response of a young,
creative, piss poor Black ‘underclass’ faced with
jobless fathers, skyrocketing imprisonment rates
for non-violent drug-related crimes, dwindling
educational options, no affordable housing or
We are the African Roots of Hip Hop. We celebrate
the utilitarian nature of African Art: of dance that
initiates adulthood, of a mask that channels spirit,
of a cloth pattern that conveys status, of a drum that
talks. 14 A drum signifying territory, and belonging;
a drum that calls the community to battle. We are
Call and Response. We are boasting, toasting,
and bragging. We are rappin’, rhymin’, beat boxin’,
battlin’, breakin’ and drawin’. We are 18th Century
slaves emerging from our ships with half-moons
and stars we carved into our scalp by broken soap
bottle. 15 The tom-tom laughs, the tom-tom cries. 16t
We are the undeniable appeal of the communicability
of Transatlantic cultural memory. We are the visual
production of Black bodies as shiny commodities at
once hypervisible and disappeared, the meaning of
America as a global brand, which shines bright but
remains shadowed by its history of race relations at
home and abroad. 17
We are Hip Hop Feminists and we believe Black
female roles in Hip Hop must be understood in light
of the political economies that inform their cultural
practices. 18 We believe that ‘bitches do[ing] what
they have to do to get paid’ may be its own form of
Feminism, although we recognize that these Pussy
Power platforms glamorize and glorify the hard
core sex, drugs and rough street life that, in reality,
accounts for black women’s comparatively higher
rate of AIDS-related deaths, imprisonment, ‘forced’
single parenthood and domestic violence. 19 We
connect the sexual objectification of Black female
bodies to the fact that in 2001, HIV was the number
one cause of death for African-American women
between the age of 25-34. 20
We are Baby Mamas but not only Baby Mamas. We
are Hip Hop Feminists and we engage in critical
discussion around the effect of public policies
on the lives of young Black women whose bodies
have come to be viewed as active sites for the
reproduction of black poverty and the projection
of national anxieties at the hands of both Black
men and conservative politicians. We are Hip Hop
feminists committed to deconstructing Baby Mama
as a singular trope employed to obscure the role of
the state in the undercutting of love relationships
and removal of Black fathers. 21
We are Hip Hop Feminists and we know that when
Martin Luther King Jr. gave his ‘I Have a Dream’
speech, more than 70% of all Black families were
headed by married couples and that in 2002 that
statistic had dropped to 48 percent. 22
We know our declarations may not always be met
with praise and love. We know that acknowledging
the rampant sexism in our community, for example,
means relinquishing the comforting illusion that
Black men and women are a unified front. 23
We are committed to shedding light on the way
in which Hip Hop influences and informs racial
stereotypes that perpetuate a neo-slave existence.
We are Hip Hop Feminists because we know that
Black music exists in a neo-colonial relationship
with the $12 billion music industry whereby Black
inner cities act as ‘raw cites of cultural production’
where conditions (low per capita income, high birth
rate, economic dependence on external markets,
labor as major export) resemble a third world country
and produce a ‘product’ – Hip Hop – that is sold
back to the ‘motherland’ (in the case of American
suburbs teeming with bored white youth). 24
And we still love Hip Hop, and we can still back
it up and dunk it. We still love Hip Hop because
we are Hip Hop Feminists and we know that no
one can ever ‘own’ Hip Hop. We are Hip Hop Feminists
because those reformed nigga thugs make our
nipples hard. 25 Because Black-on-Black-love is
the backbone of Hip Hop Feminism and just phat
dope mack bitches ridin’ love-on-love-on-love cuz we
got it like dat in generals.
We are Hip Hop Feminists speaking up
about an industry produced image of Black
ghetto life which serves to buttress the Prison
Industrial Complex, a contemporary ‘leviathan’ of
racial inequality maintained through a ferocious
combination of government law, private corporations,
police terrorism and racist cultural attitudes. 26
We are Hip Hop Feminists and we rebuke
the constant turn to ’ghetto blackness’ as a model
of ‘authenticity’ and hipness in rap music 27
limiting ‘blackness’ to ‘a primal connection
to sex and violence, a big penis and
relief from the onus of upward mobility.’ 28
We are Hip Hop Feminists speaking up about
how you’re more likely to die living in the
American ghetto than if you were fighting in Iraq,
the leading cause of death for Black men ages 15-
24 is black on Black homicide, 29 and that for too
many black men there is no trust, no community,
no family. 30
We are Hip Hop Feminists committed to countering
mainstream journalistic discourse that relies on a darky
spectacle hook linking Hip Hop with ‘pathological’ black
behaviors. A hard-core feminist talking with a hardened mack
about the political, spiritual and emotional
self-determination of Black people does not good
copy make. 31 We are Hip Hop Feminists because
communication has to be the ‘dope’ thing in Black
liberation struggle – like you and me talking culture this
way down home and revolutionary-like. 32
We are Hip Hop Feminists because we believe
Hip Hop is healing, and that men and women
have been conditioned to express themselves in
problematic ways. We know that A nigga forgets
feelings, recognizing, instead, that affects are
communicable, particularly the hardcore ones
of anger, rage, intense pleasure. 33 We know that
many – white, queer, Asian, Latino/a, straight,
male, female, you name it – have adopted the nigga
trope in performative, exciting and safe ways.
And yet we also want to raise children, especially
young Black boys, who feel comfortable expressing
feelings and affects, especially love.
We are committed to Hip Hop as an expressive,
holistic, liberatory and extralinguistic mode of
multidirectional communication. We are our
vernacular, A language without a nation… a culture
whose condition is exile, wandering and resistance
to a dominant power. 34 We are Hip Hop Feminists
because Hip Hop satisfies our profound need to
have our territories acknowledged, recognized and
We are Hip Hop Feminists because we love
Hip Hop and we use Hip Hop to fight for social
change. We are Hip Hop Feminists and we
are brave enough to fuck with the grays. 36
*Hoopty Hoop Hip Hop Feminism: The Manifesta was originally
published online on the Native Shout Blog www.nativeshout.com/2012
1Sujatha Fernandes, Proven Presence, Home Girls Make Some Noise:
Hip Hop Feminism Anthology Gwendolyn D. Pough, Elaine Richardson,
Aisha Durham, Rachel Raimist, eds., 2007
2Michael Jeffries, The Name and Game of Hip Hop Feminism,
Home Girls ibid
3Jocelyn A. Wilson: Tip Drills, Strip Clubs and Representation in the
Media, Home Girls ibid
4Joan Morgan, When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost, 1999
5Paradigm of the queer rap group BQE, Eric Darnell Pritchard & Maria L.
Bibbs, Sista’ Outsider, Home Girls ibid
6Kaila Adia Story, Performing Venus – From Hottentot to Vixen,
Home Girls ibid
7Kaila Adia Story, ibid
8Alesha Dominek Washington, Not the Average Girl from the Videos,
Home Girls ibid
9Chyann L. Oliver, For Sepia “colored girls” who have considered self/
when hip hop is enuf, Home Girls ibid
10Angela Davis quoted in Heather Duerre Humann, Feminist and
Material Concerns, Home Girls ibid
11Michael Jeffries, ibid
12Dream Hampton quoted in Aisha Durham, That’s My World,
Home Girls ibid
13Eisa Nefertari Ulen: They’re Not Talking About Me, Home Girls ibid
14Eisa Nefertari Ulen, ibid
15Krista Thompson, A Sidelong Glance: The Practice of African
Diasporic Art History in the United States, Art Journal, California Art
Association, Fall 2011
16Langston Hughes, The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain, 1926
17 Krista Thompson, ibid
18 Fatimah N. Muhammad, How to Not be 21st Century Venus Hottentots,
Home Girls ibid
19Fatimah N. Muhammad, ibid
20Kates and Leggoe (2005) sited in Kimala Price, Hip Hop Feminism at
the Political Crossroads, Home Girls ibid
21Brittney Cooper, The State as Patron of the Baby Mama Drama and
Other Ghetto Hustles, Home Girls ibid
22Joy Bennet Kinnon, The Shocking State of Black Marriages, Ebony,
23Joan Morgan, ibid
24Norman Kelley, The Political Economy of Black Music, 1999
25 Joan Morgan, ibid
26M.K. Asante, Jr. It's Bigger Than Hip Hop: The Rise of the
Post-Hip-Hop Generation, 2008
27Tricia Rose, Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary
28John Leland Hip: The History, 2004
29Joan Morgan, Real Love, VIBE, 1996
30 Joan Morgan, ibid 4
31bell hooks, Gangsta Culture Sexism and Misogyny, Outlaw Culture,
32bell hooks, bell hooks and Ice Cube in Dialogue, Outlaw Culture, 1994
33R.A.T. Judy, On the Question of Nigga Authenticity in That’s the Joint:
Hip Hop Studies Reader M.Forman and M.A. Neal, eds. 2004
34Russel A. Potter, Spectacular Vernaculars: Hip Hop and the Politics of
35Tricia Rose, ibid
36 Joan Morgan, ibid 4
BY KATIE CERCONE
Nomadic studios, mobile homesteads,
inner-city gentrification, corporate
underbellies, queer fashion abstraction
and Detroit nostalgiai dominated the
Whitney Biennial this year, not that corporate
bohemia is lawfully chic any longer. In fact, nobody
even went this year because they were too busy
standing in line in the rain to see sweaty hipsters aka
“Bruces” chugging PBR and throbbing to Tina Turner
en masse beside an Art-Star bedazzled mosaic of
floor to ceiling artworks. Jerry Saltz was spotted
at the door of 159 Bleeker during the Brucennial
opening begging a lowly blogger to help him get
in. It’s “The single most important art exhibition in
the history of the world. Ever,” says the anonymous
troop of MFA-clad free-schoolers comprising the
Bruce High Quality Foundation.
Meanwhile, a sly hacker faction of Arts & Labor,
a “working group” of Occupy Wall Street, is
helping the Whitney get its act together. Through
their construction of a fake webpage, the group
announced to the art world that the recent actions
of the seventy-sixth Biennial’s corporate sponsors
Sotheby’s and Deutsche Bank had led the museum
to give back the donated funds and revoke their
fiscal partnership: “Regretfully, the Whitney entered
into a sponsor agreement with Sotheby’s before the
auction house locked out forty-three of its unionized
art handlers once their contract expired in July
2011. Last year saw record-breaking sales with
profits over $100 million for Sotheby’s; the pay of
the CEO alone doubled to $6 million. Yet Sotheby’s
has sought to break organized labor by starving
their workers into submission—locked out of their
jobs and without wages since August, these workers
and their families lost their health care benefits at
the end of 2011.”
The page goes on to say that “The Museum
understands the importance of providing working
people—including artists who must work second
jobs to support their careers—with the livable wages
and healthcare for which the Sotheby’s art handlers
are fighting. Sotheby’s actions are a direct attack on
the Museum’s mission to support and collect the
work of living artists.”
Coinciding with the prank Arts & Labor published
a letter demanding the end of the biennial show
altogether. Amongst a general call for the leveling of
the playing field and the tearing down of institutions
built to maintain the wealth of the 1%, the letter
REVOLT Magazine May/June 2012
The biennial perpetuates the myth that art functions
like other professional careers and that selection
and participation in the exhibition, for which artists
themselves are not compensated, will secure a
sustainable vocation. This fallacy encourages many
young artists to incur debt from which they will
never be free and supports a culture industry and
financial and cultural institutions that profit from
their labors and financial servitude.
Allan Kaprow once said, “The Hope is that Modern
museums will be converted into swimming pools
or night clubs” and yet, today it’s his work we see
monumentalized within their static space. It goes
without saying that none of the Arts & Labor group
artists were selected to be in the Biennial this year,
nor did any of the selected artists deny participation
due to political reasons. K8 Hardy, known for her
work with W.A.G.E. (Working Artists for a Greater
Economy) staged a queer fashion show and, well,
Mike Kelley committed suicide. Said the late artist
in 2009, who the curators have since dedicated the
Biennial to, “I chose to become an artist because
I wanted to be a failure. When I was young, if you
wanted to really ostracize yourself from society, you
became an artist.” ii Is suicide the ultimate failure? Is
failure the ultimate success?
It’s a confusing
time to have
so much raw
so much debt.
It’s a confusing time to have so much raw passion
and so much debt, when it seems like your options
are selling out or blacking out. If you can do both
before 27 you’re like the wet dream of the governing
elite. Rest assured, contradiction and hypocrisy
have always been the pump and flow of the avantgarde.
That said, the Brucennial opening seemed
like a better place for dranking and getting it in than
looking at art (I happened to miss it because I was
busy attempting to persuade another neo-Basquiat
to move to the ocean and put a baby in me, having
recently watched the late 90’s film Basquiat both
events appear to be supported more or less directly
by Schnabel money). SAME OLD SHIT.
The following night at the Whitney, looking at Latoya
Ruby Frasier’s photos of Braddock, Pennsylvania’s
emergency and health care free slums made me
feel guilty for even stepping foot in the Whitney, not
that I paid admission. It was enough to make me
want to scrub off my MFA and stop slumming for
laundered blue blood scrill. But let’s face it: no artist
in their right mind would reject a Biennial invitation
and no artist can survive in New York without a
healthy dose of megalomania and a warped overappreciation
of sex, money and power.
There must be other options – like that Lisa
Frankesque Pony Painting hung in the corner. Or
just moving to Detroit where it all goes down. Says
Leslie Thomas, former New Yorker and Detroit
native, “We had metal detectors in high school long
before they had them in Brooklyn. That’s why we’re
not impressed by this whole gangsta rap bullshit.
When Eazy E got on stage they shot at him. Niggas
was like wait wait wait. That’s why we’d rather hear
about titties and ass than guns.” iii Lucky for Biennial
curators and the rest of us, sex and death are
classic old wave arsenal. In times past, they have
even served as anti-institutional Bertolt Brechtianstyle
Enter blood, chickens, and slaughtered babies.
Because we’re not the first or the last generation
of artists to give a hoot about our slavish position
amongst the 99%, we’re just one of the first with
unfettered high-speed Internet access.
Back in the sixties, on the tail winds of the Civil
Rights movement emerged the Art Workers Coalition
(A.W.C.) and several off-shoot organizations. A.W.C.
used sixties’ era tactics like the picket, protest,
petition, march and sit-in to pressure the city’s
museums – especially MOMA – into implementing
various reforms. They also advocated for women’s
and civil rights and the end of the Vietnam War. Out
of A.W.C. came a subgroup called Women Artists
and Revolution and the Guerilla Art Action Group
(G.A.A.G.). A small group of non-fixed members,
G.A.A.G. was a reaction to the A.W.C. and the
perceived ineffectiveness of its tactics. G.A.A.G.
offered their structure as a model anyone could
use. Adopting the Happening as a form of ritualistic
destruction devoid of the illusionism of theater,
G.A.A.G.’s main aim was to solicit a response, of any
kind, from the museums.
G.A.A.G.’s ‘Bloodbath’ staged at MOMA Nov 18,
1969 was their most iconic work. The group tore
each other’s clothes and squirted tubes of concealed
fake blood as they deposited pamphlets calling for
the immediate resignation of the Rockefellers from
the MOMA board due to their corporate interest in
the mass manufacturing of weapons for Vietnam.
In a parodic statement about the elevation of
Dada into the museums, two members of G.A.A.G.
snuck chickens into the grand opening of the Dada
exhibition at Moma and made a quick exit after
the animals pooped in the center of the show.
Explains art historian Caroline Wallace, G.A.A.G.’s
work highlighted the museum as a classic form
of oppression; not an enlightening or educating
experience but merely a diversion from the realities
of war and social crisis. iv
In some instances G.A.A.G. and A.W.C. joined
forces, one instance being a memorial held in front
of Picasso’s Guernica at the Met satirizing museum
curator’s treatment of artists. Eventually, in the
wake of Bloodbath, a meeting was called between
the museum trustees, curators and various artists
of both groups. Recalls G.A.A.G.’s cofounder Jon
Hendricks, the meeting resulted in the Artists’ Poster
Committee action, a joint project of the Art Workers
Coalition and the Museum of Modern Art to create
awareness around the My Lei massacre in Vietnam.
The poster content was inspired by a television
interview in which Mike Wallace questions soldiers
that had taken part in the massacre. Hendricks
recalls the televised dialogue:
“And you killed men?”
“And babies” in Times font with a massacre image
from Life Magazine was the resulting poster, which
subsequently caused the MOMA board to renege
on the deal altogether, refusing to let the MOMA
name be included on it. Because the committee
had already found means to print 50,000 copies
of the poster for free and no one was getting paid
anyway, the Artists’ Poster Committee went ahead
and produced the print sans Moma with a new
stamp giving the history of the museum’s broken
Over forty years later, big players like the Whitney
and MOMA are still getting punk’d, but to what
effect? Where’s the beef? What are we willing to do
as artists and how much are we willing to sacrifice to
get there? Or have we already sacrificed too much?
The New York art world is the kind of joint that will
turn your poop to ribbons.
Don’t be the butt of the rich man’s riddle. The Whitney
will always be part of the corporate underbelly to
which artists turn to both scorn and beg. In fact, the
bloated waistline of the commercial black market
is protruding far out into the urban frontier causing
Marina Abramovic sightings in Bushwick as of late.
Are you content to let the rain tidy her celebrity heel
dust because the street sweepers rarely make it out
this far? What’s my advice as someone that’s never
participated in a Biennial of any stripe? Ground
yourself in the earth and worship the sky. Forgive
yourself and everyone else. Push the libido up into
the heart. Work for the greater good. Start small so
you can go hard when it counts. Give more than you
think you have to give.
This article was originally published online on the
Native Shout Blog www.nativeshout.com/ March
i. Kate Levant’s installation was built of scavenged
materials from a burned down inner city Detroit
home and Mike Kelley’s “Mobile Homestead” is a
replica of his childhood home located in the Detroit
suburb of Westland.
ii. Mike Kelley, Interview Magazine, Glenn O’Brien,
iii. Lesley Thomas, Confessions of a Super Groupie:
An Interview with Leslie Thomas in Bomb the
Suburbs, William Upski Wimsatt, 1994
iv. Caroline Wallace “Happenings As Institutional
Strategy” in Happenings: Transnation,
Transdisciplinary, panel at the CAA Conference
2012, Los Angeles
v. Jon Hendricks interviewed by Christina Linden,
Curatorial Fellow at the Center for Curatorial Studies,
Bard College March 24, 2010
Allegory With Cupid, Elisa Garcia de la Huerta, 2012
Consciousness Reborn as Book:
Susan Sontag's Second Journal, 1964-1980
BY DAN CALLAHAN
Reborn, the first volume of Susan Sontag’s
posthumously published journals, offered
new, albeit cryptic insights into the genesis
of her heavy-going artistic personality. That
first journal included fascinating scenes of Sontag’s
early immersion in 1940s lesbian bars, but when
she marries scholar Philip Rieff, the text of Reborn
abruptly cuts off personal reflection and buries itself
in lists and tormented justifications. This second
volume, with the awkward but appropriate title As
Consciousness Is Harnessed to Flesh, is much more
direct in its treatment of her life. These are her
heady years, the years when she became a famous
intellectual of the 1960s, the writer of “Notes on
Camp” and a dozen other influential essays.
The book begins provocatively: “The right hand=the
hand that is aggressive, the hand that masturbates.
Therefore, to prefer the left hand!...To romanticize
it, to sentimentalize it!” Throughout most of this
journal, Sontag bemoans her own neediness as a
lover: “Self respect. It would make me lovable. And
it’s the secret of good sex,” she writes. Her failed love
affair with playwright María Irene Fornés and a later
lover called Carlotta, a duchess and former heroin
addict, take up a good deal of space here, and they
are not so much Proustian as they are the expectedly
tortured musings of a closeted lesbian of the 1960s
who is in psychoanalysis. The surprise in this second
journal is how much Sontag’s mother meant to her,
and how she agonized over this relationship. In all
other books and articles on Sontag up to this point,
Sontag’s mother has always been minimized as
unimportant, a trite woman whom Sontag sought to
distance herself from, but this journal describes her
as a deeply negative force who determined much of
her daughter’s later behavior.
Since Sontag’s death in 2004, there has been a
flurry of small books and articles about her, everyone
weighing in and, in most cases, taking some kind
of revenge on her. Many of the male writers of her
time have written rather blunt catalogues of her
utterances at various parties through the years,
as if each glimpse of her was both a terror and a
(grudging) privilege. But the most interesting postmortem
by far, and the most deadly, has been Sigrid
Nunez’s slender 2011 memoir, Sempre Susan,
where she describes living with Sontag’s son David
Rieff and Sontag herself in the late seventies.
Nunez’s book strives to be fair, up to a point, but
she layers her narrative with cumulative insults and
insensitivities from Sontag and then lets loose on
her by the end with a mini-avalanche of described
bad behavior. Sempre Susan leaves you with the
residue of Nunez’s quiet anger and disappointment.
Thankfully, these two Sontag journals (with a third
on the way) bring us inside her head and provide
some context for the arrogant way she sometimes
acted in public. Underneath her gruffness, she
was often scared and self-loathing, but she worked
through these issues for her magisterial writing, and
even resorted to a reliable amphetamine, Dexamyl,
while working on her best essays of the ‘60s and
Only really dedicated Sontag-philes will be interested
in the pages on her lovers and her mother, but there
is much else of interest here, especially a dismaying
little snatch of dialogue between symbiotic writers
Paul and Jane Bowles where they discuss their
respective lovers in the most insulting of terms.
Throughout the journal, Sontag is attracted and
repelled by homosexuality, in herself and in her
friends. Writing about Greta Garbo, she says that as
a girl she wanted to be her, and then she wanted to
bed her: “The sequence of my homosexuality?” she
wonders. She also wonders if only W. H. Auden was
able to “transcend” his homosexuality through his
“spirituality.” She seems tickled but slightly horrified
when her film critic friend Elliott Stein, in the mid-
1960s, explains that a beautiful naked boy is more
beautiful when plastic clips are attached to his skin.
And by the time she gets to the late seventies, she’s
repulsed by the newly hyper-masculine gay male
culture and its ties to S/M, even though her own
lesbian love crises seem forever tied to emotional
masochism. But as with so many subjects, she
circles homosexuality until she hits it directly on the
head as “a kind of maximalism.”
Sontag’s supposed lack of humor, in life and in her
work, became legendary, but there’s a surprising
amount of dark humor in this second journal; she’s
able to refer to her speaking engagements for her
book Illness as Metaphor as “my cancer minstrel
show,” and she’s amusingly bewildered by the
prolific Joyce Carol Oates. She knew exactly what
her problems were as a writer; there is no criticism
you can make of Sontag that she doesn’t make
herself. She calls her writing “too architectural, too
discursive,” and calls out her 1960s trip to Hanoi as
“a piece of political theatre.”
Sontag was so deeply involved in and responsive
to Samuel Beckett and other literary modernists
that she internalized their last-stop-on-this-train
despair until she could not write fiction with any
ease or fluency, and in this journal, she knows it. As
Consciousness Is Harnessed to Flesh exposes her
vulnerabilities, but it also shows the liveliness of her
critical mind at work. She demolishes the bourgeois
concept of “common sense,” and she is capable,
sometimes, of a first-class aphorism like “A miracle
is just an accident, with fancy trappings.” Sontag
wonders, at one point, if she is keeping this journal
so that someone who loves her can read it later
and understand her better. She was thinking of one
person, a lover, but she also shyly had her eye on us,
her posthumous lovers, her readers, and for us this
book is a feast, a confession, a pledge, a scourge,
and, at its best, an example.
Werner Schroeter at The Museum of Modern Art
BY DAN CALLAHAN
═ ═ ═ ═ ═ ═ ═ ═ ═ ═ ═ ═ ═ ═ ═ ═ ═ ═ ═ ═ ═ ═
During May and June, The Museum of Modern Art
is presenting a near-complete retrospective of the
films of Werner Schroeter, the most underground
and perhaps the most influential of all the German
New Wave directors of the 1970s. Though he is still
largely unknown to film audiences in America, he
had a profound effect on certain artists in Europe,
especially his German compatriots Wim Wenders,
Hans-Jürgen Syberberg and Werner Herzog
(Schroeter staged the opera sequences in Herzog’s
In 1977, fellow German New Waver Rainer Werner
Fassbinder wrote about Schroeter’s status as “constrained,
repressed, and at the same time ruthlessly
exploited. His films received the quite useful ‘underground’
pedigree, which rendered them in a flash
as beautiful, but nonetheless exotic plants, ones
so far away which blossom in such a strange manner
that one in the end could not really deal with
them.” Fassbinder posited that Syberberg’s career,
in particular, was essentially a rip-off of Schroeter’s
work, but then he himself grabbed a project away
from Schroeter, a film version of Jean Genet’s Querelle
(1982), and he used many of the tropes of
Schroeter’s style in that movie, which turned out to
be his last.
At the age of five, Schroeter declared that he wanted
to be a film director, and when he was 13, he heard
Maria Callas sing on the radio, which engendered
a lifelong obsession with that diva and other operatic
examples. At 19, he worked as a male prostitute
and went to film school for only a few weeks
before starting to make his own highly idiosyncratic
movies. He died in 2010, and he has held his posi-
REVOLT Magazine May/June 2012
tion as a film director whose work has been little
seen and little discussed even though it radically
influenced many of the better-known artists working
around him. That may begin to change with this
MoMa retrospective, but surely his lush visuals and
his sometimes-obscure concerns are too defiantly
marginal, too rich, too unsettlingly eclectic to ever
admit him into any respectable pantheon. I’ve seen
some of his many shorts, most of them on YouTube,
including his poetically edited 8mm 1968 portrait
collage of his idol Callas, plus snippets of many of
his other films, and one whole feature, The Death
of Maria Malibran (1971), which stars Andy Warhol
superstar Candy Darling.
The Death of Maria Malibran is based loosely (very
loosely!) on the life and early death of the great
nineteenth century opera star Malibran, who is said
to have essentially sung herself to death by the age
of 28. Schroeter sets up profoundly luscious juxtapositions
of faces, usually two women side by side,
as opera and sometimes pop music plays on the
soundtrack. Some of the compositions suggest Renaissance
paintings, while others uncannily recreate
the look of films from the 1920s and 30s; we
see 1920s “vamps” in heavy make-up and then Darling,
with her flawlessly ‘30s look of platinum hair
and penciled eyebrows, posing in 1930s-like drawing
rooms shot in grey, pearly light. In the film’s most
startling sequence, Darling is done up in cocoa-light
blackface and sings “St. Louis Woman” in the exact,
slightly whining tones of Billie Holiday, and she gets
away with it due to her sheer intensity and her status
as another beautiful outcast, paying tribute to a
In Maria Malibran, Schroeter mixes tones and styles
wildly, and there’s a disconnect between his overwhelmingly
sophisticated and learned compositional
sense and the (deliberate?) amateurishness of
his jerky camera movements, yet the images themselves
exert such a hypnotic quality that it’s easy to
get lost in them without thoughts of what they might
mean. Maria Malibran also features Schroeter’s favorite
filmic muse, a staring lady named Magdalena
Montezuma, who would go on to star in most of his
movies, notably as the mother in his homoerotic
The Rose King (1986). After Montezuma’s death,
Schroeter found another muse in the adventurous
Isabelle Huppert, who starred in three of Schroeter’s
films, including Two (2002), where she played twin
sisters. Schroeter also worked extensively in the theater
and in opera, and in 2008, when he was honored
by the Venice Film Festival, he called his own
The Death of Maria Malibran “a work of genius.”
Perhaps he’s right, though it might be a genius that
only speaks to a select few, like French philosopher
Michel Foucault, who wrote that, “what Schroeter
does with a face, a cheekbone, the lips, the expression
of the eyes...is a multiplying and burgeoning of
the body, an exultation.”
WAITING FOR WHIT:
damsels in distress
BY DAN CALLAHAN
═ ═ ═ ═ ═ ═ ═ ═ ═ ═ ═ ═ ═ ═ ═ ═ ═ ═ ═ ═ ═ ═
Whit Stillman made three very unusual films in
the 1990s: Metropolitan (1990), an insider’s stylized
look at upper crust young people, Barcelona
(1994), a deceptively small, rigorously worked-out
rumination on love and friendship, and The Last
Days of Disco (1998), an analysis of early 1980s
club mores which cost a fair amount and wasn’t a financial
success. Stillman was inactive in movies for
fourteen years until Tiny Furniture (2010) wunderkind
Lena Dunham provided some crucial contacts
and encouragement so that he could make a new
film, Damsels in Distress, which stars the erstwhile
queen of the mid-aughts micro-budget mumblecore
movement, Greta Gerwig. After years of watching
Gerwig mutter the most brain-deadening chatter in
Joe Swanberg joints, it’s a truly restorative tonic to
see her wrap both her charm and her wits around
Stillman’s delightfully articulate verbal propriety.
Looking again at Metropolitan and Barcelona, it
seems a real shame to me that Stillman was unable
to make a steady stream of small moral comedies
in the manner of French auteur Eric Rohmer (Stillman
spent a good part of those lost fourteen years
in France), for his is a sensibility unlike any other
in American or world cinema. He is conservative, to
a degree, and his characters often espouse ideas
that seem to come from the 1950s, when being “ordinary”
was thought of as a natural inclination and
goal, yet in many ways there’s something wild about
Stillman, something almost freakish in the intellectual
dexterity of his characters. Metropolitan is very
much a freak film, unlike any other, and in the first
ten or so minutes, it takes a radical adjustment to
get used to the way his people talk in cool, precise,
yet often digressive full sentences. This dialogue
demands a specific kind of playing, and an actor
can solve the Stillman dialogue puzzle by hitting all
of the ideas with great urgency, which is what Stillman
muse Chris Eigeman did in the director’s first
three movies. Eigeman had a way of getting overly
wrought up over the pettiest points of etiquette, and
the effect was often ticklishly unpredictable. Gerwig
in Damsels takes the opposite approach, playing
her quietly domineering, often misguided but
good-hearted college girl Violet on a dreamy, almost
deadpan note of semi-demented serenity.
In a crucial piece of information that has not been
noted much in reviews so far, we learn that Violet as
a small girl had obsessive-compulsive tendencies;
she would set herself tasks to accomplish, and if
she did not accomplish them correctly, she felt that
there would be consequences. Her imperious friend
Rose (Megalyn Echikunwoke) imparts the fact that
Violet used to run her finger over her forehead a
certain number of times without ever touching her
hairline or eyebrows; she felt that if she touched her
hairline or eyebrows her parents would die. And the
thing is, Rose relates, Violet’s parents did both die,
not long after this game Violet used to play. Violet’s
name, we learn from Rose, isn’t even really Violet.
She has invented a persona, and she wants to try to
help people on campus; she has very specific ideas
about the proper ways of doing things, and these
ideas make up both the form and the content of the
film. The Stillman dialogue itself is entirely self-sufficient,
as a group sound, as a series of questionable
ideas, as wings to lift us out of our seats.
This is a very funny movie, and in some ways a dirty
movie, in the old Ernst Lubitsch sense of innuendoes
standing in for outright sex talk. But it is also
a movie about the ways we seek to ameliorate sadness
and aloneness. Violet wants to start an international
dance craze, The Sambola, and Damsels in
Distress ends with instructions on how to perform
this dance, which looks neither complicated nor
easy. Stillman uses dance to end his film because
he is seeking, in this fourth movie, to offer us a kind
of utopia, the utopia of Jacques Demy, of Josef Von
Sternberg, of Astaire and Rogers. It’s a cheering
goal, and Damsels in Distress is a cheering movie,
as off-kilter as a girl wearing a large and unexpected
hat, as ironic and winningly dry as Irene Dunne
touching the tip of her tongue to her palette.
As part of a series of public forums taking
place January-September at Artists Space
in Soho, on Monday January 9th I attended
W.A.G.E.: Feeling the Shape of the Arts
Economy. Billed as a “Think Tank Coalition/Agenda
Formation/Alliance Building Marathon” the event
was organized by W.A.G.E. (Working Artists and the
Greater Economy) and included a presentation by
artist economist Hans Abbing, audience Q&A, soup
social and open forum for alliance formation.
Hans Abbing (born Utrecht, 1946) is a visual artist,
economist, and Professor Emeritus in Art Sociology.
Much of his presentation came out of his book Why
Are Artists Poor (University of Amsterdam Press,
2002). At the outset, Abbing’s presentation seemed
to be a series of outdated statistics we all want to
disbelieve – a sort of hodgepodge of collective
thoughts about the art world that reinforce
problematic stereotypes and conditioned ways of
thinking. Bullet points like: Artist Parents are higher
educated. Artists are usually single and evade taxes.
40-60% of artists’ incomes are below the poverty
line. Artists come from wealth and privilege. Artists
prefer working in the studio to consumption. When
artists with second jobs begin to earn more income
than they need to live on they cut down on hours
worked. For artists the economic goal is to maximize
autonomy. Artists are reckless with money. Artists
deny the economy. Galleries go out of their way to
deny and/or evade the appearance of commerce.
Artists are individuals on a path of existential
self-actualization. Unionizing is associated with
At surface level, Hans Abbing’s ethos seemed to
be in direct opposition to the mission of W.A.G.E.
He seemed too white, too male and too prone to
generalization to appeal to what I understand as a
radical collective founded by prominent figures of
the LGBT community. Formed in 2008 by artists
K8 Hardy, A.L. Steiner, and A.K. Burns, W.A.G.E
advocates for a working wage for artists and curators
REVOLT Magazine May/June 2012
Images courtesy W.A.G.E. www.wageforwork.com
for a Greater Arts
Economy BY KATIE CERCONE
working within the art market in the aftermath of
the post-culture wars turn to allocating government
arts grants to institutions rather than individuals.
W.A.G.E. is a collective for the mandating that
artists be compensated for their work as ‘cultural
producers’ within arts institutions.
The catalyst for the evening was W.A.G.E.’s newly
formed partnership with Artists Space, expressed
as a cooperative series of public symposia about
payment practices in the arts open to artists,
activists, curators, grant makers, administrators,
economists, sociologists and the general public. Over
the course of nine months symposia, the criterion for
W.A.G.E. Certification will be collectively developed.
W.A.G.E. Certification, the collective’s latest
initiative recognizes and ‘certifies’ organizations
that voluntarily adhere to a best practices model
and pay artist fees in relation to the conditions
under which artists are involved in their programs.
Artists Space will become the first organization to
receive Institutional W.A.G.E. Certification at the
conclusion of the partnership in September 2012
if found compliant. W.A.G.E. will provide printed
and downloadable resources for artists including a
fee schedule template, best practices model, and
sample contracts once W.A.G.E. Certification has
gone into effect.
When grappling with the economic framework
proposed by Hans Abbing, the premier guest
speaker of W.A.G.E./Artists Space joint symposia,
it’s important to recognize how Abbing’s having
hailed from a small European country in which
artists receive government subsidies similar to what
we call welfare in the United States informs his work.
In fact, he’s against the subsidies and sees them
as a barrier for the collectivizing of artists around
demanding a living wage for their work. This is
where Abbing’s insight throws a fork in the utopian,
radically theoretical and unwieldy philosophies of
the quotidian arts event – the interjection of cold
hard economic facts. Yes, these ‘facts’ are based
on statistics that generalize and draw over arching
Images courtesy W.A.G.E. www.wageforwork.com
conclusions, some of which may be shaped by
cultural views and biases.
That said, what I ultimately gleaned from Abbing’s
analyses was that it’s not just the art institutions
that are our enemies (in fact, as W.A.G.E. will tell you,
they’re not). Artists are their own enemies because
we still somewhat or wholeheartedly subscribe
to the Modernist notion of singular genius. We
continuously reinvent a grammar that enforces our
peerlessness, meanwhile maintaining the abject
poverty of our peer group. It’s no surprise W.A.G.E.,
which began as a consciousness raising group, has
nearly four years after its inception only begun to
develop a working language to describe an economy
in which artists get paper.
Here I am a young, motivated, smart, talented free
spirit prone to magical thinking and risk taking,
over $100,000 in educational debt plus my credit
cards, sailing away on some dystopian dream of
my exponential feminist post-capitalist fame and
fortune. At W.A.G.E.’s prompt, I recalled my first
exhibition at a non-profit gallery for which I received
an artist fee. At the time, I was shocked and honored
to receive over a thousand dollars, what I basically
misconstrued as ‘passive income,’ for work I would
have done for free!! Needless to say, I had to take
off time at my day job, hire help, transport my art,
curate the show, write the press release as well as
organize and lead an educational workshop. Years
later, having received my MFA, my lingo suggests I
am large and in charge while my behavior indicates
that I’d still jump off a cliff, poison my hamster
and choke my best friend to show my work for no
payment. Especially, when I’m asked to increasingly
prestigious venues. I don’t have health insurance,
and although I’ll spare you the precancerous details,
when you start nearing thirty it actually matters. As
W.A.G.E. founding member K8 Hardy expressed in
her 2008 consecutive speech at Creative Time’s
LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT THE GLAMOR OF
BEING AN ARTIST IN THIS CITY. The glamour of
not being able to eat well. The glamour of not
being able to go to the museums. The glamour
of not even being able to make the work you
want to make because you can’t afford it. The
glamour of not being able to go to the doctor.
The glamour of not being able to get your teeth
cleaned. The glamour of moving every year
or two further and further away from the city.
The glamour of not having a home. The glamour
of being made to feel idiotic when you ask to
be paid. The glamour of not being able to get a
well paid part time job. The glamour of needing
surgery you can’t afford. The glamour of having
a landlord who won’t turn on the heat in the
winter. The glamour of sleeping in your coat
and hat. The glamour of spending your last
dollar every month. I FEEL LIKE A PROSTITUTE
WORKING IN THIS CITY, I REALLY DO.
And a clown.
My landlord doesn’t turn on the heater until Christmas
rolls around, over 2 months after the legal date.
I have a terminal degree in my field which makes
me a professional. With the professionalization of
the artist must come a living wage for all artists,
period. And yet not only do institution’s not account
for the labor of artists in their budget structure, as
expressed in a recent issue of The Guardian by Art
Group’s Kit Friend, “Right now the first criterion for
participation in the arts is an ability to work for free.”
Headed “The creative industries need to focus on
talent rather than free labor”, the article discusses
the extended period of unpaid work up ahead for
graduates of the arts working in any career related
And yet as Abbing’s presentation emphasized,
artists have a historically self-sabotaging, fickle
relationship to money hinging on the appeal of the
artist identity as anti-capitalist and bohemian. In
Abbing’s terms, some degree of commerce is good
and necessary (Wild West behavior, ala “Fuck y’all
I’m the next Julian Schnabel!!” or, perhaps, “Fuck
y’all I’ll live in a basement and eat lentils all year
long…and then make everyone in my life miserable
because of it!!”) behavior is bad. Refusal to work for
ridiculously low incomes is a less egocentric model
in which as individuals we serve the whole; we serve
the future well being of artists. What’s the downside?
Less money for the Schnabels. Less money for me,
the next Schnabel. As Abbing reminds us: If artists
successfully earn higher wages, the value of art
decreases. That’s economics.
After Abbing’s lecture and a break for soup, the group
reconvened for a roundtable discussion with prominent
professionals working on both sides of the fence.
23rd Street Subway - 3/18/12 3:06 pm, Scotto Mycklebust, 2012
Photo courtesy of Katerina Llanes
Over the courses of several hours, we drudged
through the art economy’s proverbial sewage. Is
the W.A.G.E. Certification a form of contemporary
unionizing? How can we change the fact that 1% of
Arts Institutions control 80% of the resources? Can
we use Canada as a model, a country in which artist
fees are mandated? Can we look to musicians,
who have historically been ahead of visual artists
in terms of demanding payment via royalties? How
can W.A.G.E. enter institutions to provide sensitivity
trainings for board members? How do we ensure
that ‘exposure’ no longer be the common currency
by which artists are compensated? How do we
reach young artists and raise consciousness so
there won’t always be an excess of privileged-poor
creatives whose freedom and naivete causes them
to beg to work for free?
Artists aren’t the only folks playing hardball with
their liver. W.A.G.E.’s website, the backdrop of which
is splattered with metallic tins of metaphorical pie
empty but for one seductive slice, suggests that
artists are just another weary faction of the 99%
of Americans suffering from overwork, compulsory
consumption, major debt and no access to
healthcare. So why limit the work of W.A.G.E. to
leveraging a piddly symbolic sum? In an interview
in ARTFORUM conducted by Creative Time’s chief
curator Nato Thompson, W.A.G.E. maintains that
though they applaud the broader agendas of some
of their predecessors like the Art Workers Coalition,
whose radical 1970’s agenda included pressuring
the city’s museums into more inclusive practices as
well as labor issues, protesting Vietnam and racial
inequality – W.A.G.E. is leveraging a battle with one
And although it may be slow, the group is making
progress. Leading up to their recent partnership
with Artists Space, W.A.G.E. was successfully able to
obtain artists' fees for the Free exhibition at the New
Museum curated by Lauren Cornell in late 2010.
States the group in ARTFORUM, “The commercial
art market operates through speculation, and
nonprofits should exist as a parallel system that can
provide income that’s not afforded by speculation,
but in general they don’t.” Although the New
Museum did not submit to W.A.G.E.’s demand that
the exhibition budget be made public, after the
group obtained their artists' fees there was a notice
posted at the entrance of the show stating that the
exhibition was ‘W.A.G.E. Certified,’ a precursor of
their current initiative.
We’ve always known as artists that there is a lot in
this world that needs fixing, and that art may not
be the remedy. It may be even the case that we
thrive on the cycle of guilt we perpetuate against
ourselves for choosing to engage in work that has
largely ‘symbolic’ rather than real time political,
social and economic consequences. But why on top
of that should we undervalue our contributions so
much we’re shooting ourselves and all of our artist
peers in the foot?
Through September 2012, the forums at Artists
Space will continue to look at a range of approaches
to organizing art workers around alternate economic
models. To a large degree W.A.G.E.’s success thus
far is based on the successful collection of data
through the W.A.G.E. survey they conducted asking
artists to report details of the payment practices
of non-profit art institutions they have worked with.
Now at the next level of negotiations, W.A.G.E.
needs you and I in their coalition building. Check out
the W.A.G.E. and Artists Space websites for a list of
This article was originally published online on the Native Shout
Blog www.nativeshout.com/ 2012
Zebra Bag , 2012
Photo by Elisa Garcia de la Huerta, Jenn Dierdorf of SOHO20 Gallery
INTERVIEW WITH JENN DIERDORF of SOHO20 GALLERY
This Spring REVOLT editor Katie Cercone
interviewed Jenn Dierdorf, the 34-year-old
Director of Soho20, a Chelsea-based artist-run
gallery that supports women in the arts.
KC: Jenn, can you talk a bit about the History
of Soho20 and the general state of the gallery
before you became director in 2008?
JD: Soho20 was founded in 1973 by twenty
women in the Soho arts district. There was
a big d.i.y. scene during that time, artists -
especially women artists - wanting to take
things into their own hands in terms of
exhibiting and setting up parameters for their
work. The neighborhood of Soho was perfect
because it was a focal point in the art world,
essentially the gallery has always been where
the action is, where the art community is
thriving. SOHO20 moved to Chelsea in the
early 2000’s. We represent more than forty
artists and have helped more than 200 women
have their first New York City solo exhibition.
KC: How much does membership cost?
JD: There are different levels of membership
one being national affiliate for $1000/
year, which affords one group show per year
and representation by the gallery. Regular
membership gives artists a solo exhibition and
a group exhibition and ranges from $130-290/
month. Many people take issue with paying for
exhibition space, however our goal here is to
provide a comprehensive learning experience
that empowers artists to have the professional
or alternative art
economy? BY KATIE CERCONE
abilities to execute their exhibition as well as
navigate the art world.
KC: What are some of the changes you’ve
made since you’ve been Director?
JD: Well, I’ve been at the gallery going on
five years. When I first came to the gallery I
was concerned about the organization being
viewed as a vanity gallery.
We had no programming or outreach to
support our mission and I wanted to change
that. I felt that when we started working
towards supporting our own goals other
aspects would fall into place, such as
broadening our audience and recognition from
the larger art community. Now we have an
annual performance art series, Savoir-Faire,
now in its fourth year. The series features
emerging women performance artists and
works with them to create new work. We also
have a Studio Residency program which grants
3-months of free studio space to men and
women artists living in the NYC area. That
program is also being developed and for 2013
will include studio visits from local critics and
writers for recipients. In addition to programs
that I create at the gallery members are also
encouraged to use the gallery for their own
interests. One of our members Diane Churchill
started a panel series on International
Women’s Issues, which includes issues like
sex trafficking, child soldiers and violence
against women. Things that are happening in
the U.S. and abroad. We invite guest speakers
and in some cases pair an expert in one field
with an artist exploring similar ideas. The
series continues but the topics change a bit
each season. Last year we were doing more
stuff about 1970’s Feminism and currently
we’re working with contemporary artists in
New York City. Each event contains art and
feminism in various degrees, whether it’s
political, cultural, mythological, and so on.
KC: Can you talk a bit about the Residency
JD: Our residency program is not open to
members because they jury it. It’s open to men
and women, typically emerging artists that are
living in or around New York City. The program
awards 1 artist three months of free studio
space and includes representation on our
website, a printed postcard featuring the artist
and multiple open studio events. This program
has been going on since 2009 and we’ve had
7 residents so far. It’s kind of a green program.
That’s actually what has been really fun about
my job here - Soho20 has the longevity and
the lineage of being a substantial 40-year-old
organization. There’s a lot of history behind it
and incredible stories about Louise Bourgeois
coming into the gallery when it was on
Broadway. It’s also still very green and there’s
a lot of leeway to create new programs and try
out new ideas, a lot of experimentation goes
KC: How do you pay the rent?
JD: Most of our expenses are paid for by the
members’ monthly dues. We are a 501 (c) 3
organization and are eligible for other types
of funding. My next big goal is to hire a grant
writer so we can start getting some of these
programs funded. We also seek donations
from public and private donors. Originally
members’ dues covered all the operational
costs and I think that’s one of the reasons why
during the most recent recession the gallery
wasn’t affected that much. We don’t rely on
sales, although we do sell things.
KC: Does the gallery take a commission?
REVOLT Magazine May/June 2012
JD: The artist gets 80% and the Director gets
20%, but that doesn’t go to the operational
costs of the gallery. In 2009 the gallery
relocated from 25 th street to 27 th street and
expanded our offices and exhibition space.
This was during the height of the recession,
not many arts organizations were doing that.
That move corresponded to the development
of our programs. We had more space which
allowed us to offer more to the artists we
serve. That expansion does of course have
expenses, and those programs need money.
We are seeking funding for them and working
daily to keep them going. The artists we work
with and the feedback we’re getting is that
they are valuable and helpful and create new
KC: I know you are also an artist, what was
that transition like for you, becoming a
gallery director at such a young age… can you
demystify your role a bit?
JD: My background is in studio work and I
never thought that I would be this involved
in arts administration. When I moved to New
York after graduating in 2008 I was connected
to Soho20 through a professor of mine who
was a member. I interviewed with no less
than 8 women to get the position. The thing
I was drawn to and what I think I thrive at
most is the program development because it
has a creative element and gets me working
with artists. I like to talk to artists about their
ideas and get into concepts and practices. If
anything I think that my experience as an artist
has really helped support the administrative
work that I do because I know everything about
the technical side of things. It gives me insight
into what our artists are doing and allows me
to be more helpful to them.
KC: What is the demographic as well as the
spirit of Soho20’s current membership?
Being that the gallery started as a renegade
project during a very sort of utopian time for
women in the arts, how far have we come so
JD: The demographic is pretty diverse! We
work with artists from 25 to 75 years old.
We represent artists from all of the world of
different races, backgrounds, interests and
art practices. In terms of the past thirty years
I really have to pick up bits and pieces from
members who have been here a long time or
rely on my own romantic notions about what
that must have been like. There must have
been a tremendous amount of energy and
enthusiasm going into starting a business like
that. Recently, we’ve finally started appealing
to a younger audience which was a goal of
mine because I always imagined that the
gallery would act as a catalyst for an artist,
ideally they would one day leave the gallery
and go on to have an amazing art career.
KC: You mean at a commercial gallery?
JD: Whatever their ambitions and goals may
be. There are artists we represent and all
they want in the world is to be picked up
by a commercial gallery and others who
want support for public projects, or to be in
museums. It’s interesting because we can
accommodate a range of pursuits and people
can be part of the gallery for all sorts of
different reasons. The common thread being
that they are all interested in sharing their
work with an audience.
KC: Was consensus based decision-making
part of the original mission statement?
JD: I’ve sort of made up my own rules because
really when I came here the current gallery
director was acting more as a kind of gallery
sitter. Originally the members sat for the
gallery. I feel like there’s pros and cons to
that because in a sense they have more of an
investment in the gallery when they have to
be here and talk to visitors and on the other
it’s more professional and more consistent to
have a director or someone that’s managing
and overseeing a little bit of everything. At
first I did ask for more permission. I just came
up with wild ideas like… let’s try this! I think
people didn’t know what to think and were
maybe excited with my enthusiasm so they
just let me try stuff. There weren’t rules to
accommodate what I was doing because no
one had done it before. I wasn’t turning the art
world on its head or anything, I just saw room
for improvement and tried to get it going.
KC: I enjoyed the Feminist mash-up you did
with Kat Griefen the former director of A.I.R.,
a gallery that has a similar model to Soho20;
can you talk about your work together?
JD: Soho20 and A.I.R. have almost the exact
same model and Kat Griefen was a huge help
when I came here just in terms of showing me
the ropes and offering support. She recently
invited me to be a coordinator for The Feminist
Art Project (TFAP) along with art historian
Kathleen Wentrack. The three of us are the
current New York chapter coordinators of
TFAP. The “mash-ups” are nice because it puts
all the right people in a room together and
gets them talking. Our last meeting included
gallery owner Jessica Porter and Kickstarter
art director Stephanie Pereira. Artists and art
professionals are invited to share their projects
and hopefully find support to keep things
going. It’s exciting!
KC: So if membership is only open to women,
is the residency open to men?
JD: It is. Also, we hold an annual juried show,
which is also open to men and women. I guess
the idea behind opening up some programs is
ecause the gallery’s purpose is neither to be
exclusive to men nor to isolate women. Having
men participate with the gallery is important
and allows us to foster relationships with
likeminded people. The residency being open
to men and women was an idea that everyone
agreed with for the reason that we want to
be accessible and have men be part of the
gallery. Unfortunately we have not yet
had any men participate, although several
have been finalists. The very first time that
we held interviews for the residency we had a
male finalist whose work was incredibly strong.
And yet it’s not always about whose work is
Photo by Elisa Garcia de la Huerta, Jenn Dierdorf of SOHO20 Gallery
the best or the strongest or who has the most
sparkling exhibition record. It has to do with
who can we help the most, who would benefit
the most. It’s always a group decision. Another
time we did select a male resident but he was
unable to do it having been offered another
residency. Basically our record doesn’t show
that we’ve ever had a male resident but we
are trying. The other thing is 90% of these
decisions are made from looking at someone’s
work. Same with gallery membership, the
work is the first thing that decisions are based
on, and all other material is supplementary.
Unless an artist is making work that is
extremely autobiographical, not much is known
about the artist at the time of the jurying.
KC: In terms of this notion of the collective…
how does that actually play out at Soho20 in
terms of interactions between members? Do
they come to one another’s shows? Do you all
JD: Yes! Of course it varies, but especially
the NYC members are incredible! As part
of their contract they take on a “job” at the
gallery, which ranges from committee work,
fundraising, jurying to accounting and web
design. Many of these artists work full time
jobs and still find the time and energy to assist
the gallery AND make art! They bring a lot
of energy and enthusiasm to the gallery. We
also have monthly meetings where members
discuss operational issues and also vote
on new applicants for membership. And
of course, each month we have opening
receptions, artist talks, panel discussions, etc.
and members do come out and support each
other. There are different levels of interaction
and some participate more than others. The
important thing is that there is incredible
potential here, I am working to build a gallery
that encourages creative thinking and self
empowerment in order to create change.
KC: Who writes the press release?
JD: The artist can write it if they want to or have
someone else write it. I write a lot of them.
It’s sort of open but all of that stuff is filtered
through me for consistency. I typically format
the press releases, assist with design and edit
press materials. Making sure everything holds
together and looks good is my job.
KC: Do you ever show artists that are not
JD: Yes. If the schedule permits we sometimes
rent space to women artists, though their work
must be approved by our executive board. We
do have our annual juried show which is open
to all men and women artists and is juried by
a well-known curator in NYC. We have worked
with Kate Gilmore, Phong Bui, Dean Daderko
and Chakia Booker to name a few. There are
people who participated in a juried show three
years ago that will stop in just to say hi or chat.
We’ve had people fly from Europe or across
the U.S. to see their work in the juried show.
It’s nice to see how important an exhibition
opportunity can be to someone.
We try to keep our application fees low, usually
$35, and offer perks to make it worth it for the
artists that are selected. We don’t take for
granted that these applications are sometimes
a difficult expense for artists. Being a nonprofit
organization we are always balancing our
search for funding with supporting our mission
statement. In the 90s and earlier the juried
show was a huge income generator which
helped to fund a significant portion of the
gallery’s expenses. Juried show applications
could draw upwards of $30,000 back then,
and now even commercial galleries offer open
calls with application fees. Nowadays there
is no shortage of places willing to take artist’s
KC: I agree. I started to feel like it was a big
scam preying on young artists who are very
poor and very much dreamers. You know
you’ll have these commercial galleries that do
these juried shows all the time.
JD: It’s an interesting new development
that I kind of saw happen. I blame it on the
recession, how you’d start to see commercial
galleries doing things that were usually
reserved for non-profits. I’m just like - you
can’t do that that’s for us to do we’re the
ones that need the money! It’s an interesting
development to see how badly they need
the money too. I’ve seen open calls where
three galleries might partner together and do
something where you can pay to have them
look at your work and they’ll pick one artist for
representation. People will go bananas for that
kind of stuff. On occasion there will be more
interesting things to occur because of lack of
money. I enjoy seeing changes that develop
out of necessity. The move of galleries out
of Chelsea and into the Lower East Side for
example is great. It spreads out the “center”
of the art world a bit and mixes galleries
with neighborhoods and commerce. And the
spaces in the LES are much different than the
cavernous warehouse galleries in Chelsea.
KC: How optimistic are you, do you think it’s a
good time to be a women artist?
JD: (Chuckle) Sure I think it is! If you’re asking
about the politics involved than I think yes,
people are paying more attention to art and
social change in areas of race, politics, gender
etc. Perhaps the fact that SOHO20 still exists,
still needs to exist, can be an eye opener
to some about the under-representation of
women in the art world. Like many issues, this
too has this way of silently being embedded
in our culture so that it may be unnoticed or
worse, benign. Women have always advanced
in affecting change through subversive means
and art is very conducive to working that way.
This may seem in opposition to my role as the
director of a Feminist gallery but I feel like it’s
too disruptive to do things in outright protest. I
very much support the Occupy movement and
find great value in solidarity and the resources
that the movement has created, though the
action of change is subtle. It’s about choices
and support and community. But there are
a lot of interesting things happening – the
first performance art exhibition by Marina
Abramovic at MoMA, critics and writers being
more vocal about women artists, commercial
art galleries that specifically support women
artists – and there are many more examples of
this kind of momentum.
KC: Hell yea.
Under Cover with “See Me Tell Me”
BY RICHARD LESLIE
Ephemeral encounters with small
curious objects gifted to the world. The
spark of a moment that unfolds all
too briefly, then the smile and maybe
a single syllable utterance: the ineffable and
inexpressible brought to you by the will-to-form
and re-form in the midst of the urban hustle.
Free! Or maybe not. Is there a free gift?
The French sociologist-anthropologist Marcel
Mauss (1872-1950)—he who influenced the
Surrealists via George Bataille, and the Paris
Situationists—seems to be the first to study
gifts and in turn gifted us with his book "The
Gift" (1923). Ironically he concluded there
was no such thing as a gift if you meant
(with apologies to "Dire Straits" and "Rush")
"something for nothing and the gift for free".
Mauss concluded that the societies that used
a 'gift economy" built up gift-debts and the
interactions developed over time while waiting
for you to return the gift was the way social
connections were established. Restated, a gift
carries a required reciprocity, the reciprocal
demands of return. But this is not so bad
when you compare it to a capitalist system
that alienates the object from its maker and
even from its owner when money is used, i.e. a
commodity culture where the exchange value
replaces the older ritual value. Gift economies
then are one way to overcome alienation with a
different (albeit required) social network while
at the same time preserving a special, even
magical, understanding of an object.
"See Me Tell Me" (SMTM) remains anonymous,
like a capitalist removed from the fray or
the pre-capitalist guild worker, but with the
antithetical move of offering works free with
the reciprocity required by Mauss’s schema
now optional. Whether you locate one of the
small gifts by accident as you drift through
the urban labyrinth or wait for the location to
be posted on the SMTM blog site, the social
connection is merely a request, like a note
in a bottle adrift, and the reciprocal move
is merely an utterance. No gifting police will
knock or even locate or, in some way, care.
It’s you who has to choose to care or not care,
either way without burden, merely delight.
REVOLT Magazine May/June 2012
In one sense this is a magical crux. Magic is
what is not understood. It is the irrational, as
understood in comparison to some system of
normalcy that has not yet sufficiently expanded
to incorporate the interruptions. The door to
the irrational has always been one of the major
tools of the avant-garde.
See Me Tell Me Shifts: 36 Views of the ruins of Zuccotti
Now the "anonymous" identity of the giverartist
is bound up with the object loaned/
given rather than depersonalized because
you owe them nothing and you paid nothing.
This flies in the face of the logic of a system
that has taught us that we must ask a price in
order to force other people to care; something
given for free is framed as valueless. Here I
have to stop and ask, a bit like the Dadaists
on the nature of a rationality that leads to
insane conduct, where then is the perversion
located? And formed by which standard of
existence? Are we even capable of such reformings?
I don’t think there’s an answer yet.
Social relations established along the lines
of social art and systems have not been in
play and of duration or sufficient strength to
know the consequences or options. We are,
thankfully and literally, feeling our way(s). One
certainty; these are not options provided by
the commercial art market no matter how
skilled the manipulators. (Yo, Damien, are
you listening?) But neither does it exclude
other street artists that have developed
their own private community networks which
now function in public relation to us, and/
or refused incorporation into commodityexchange
value. Despite the differences
SMTM’s project is closest in spirit to the Graf
SMTM’s property is BOTH private and public/
social. You now "own" it but you did not pay for
it and have a choice, are encouraged, to regift
in two different ways. In a recent exhibition in
New Jersey SMTM mounted magnetic, blinking
boxes and miniature shift dresses on the
wall and asked everyone to take two (with an
optional donation to the not-for-profit), one to
keep and one to give away, to regift. At other
times there have been similar encouragements
written on the works themselves. Give this to
someone else; do not own it, as it is merely
a moment that is precious. Secondly, you
are requested, not required, to regift the
anonymous creator by commenting on the
SMTM blog. It is your choice to dispel the
so-called gift-debt, which places our social
relations outside of the requirement inscribed
by Mauss, And even if the “gift” is not
acknowledged it exists through the knowing via
the comments of those who have voluntarily
commented and by your own sly smile at
having found "sumptin fer nuthin," your own(ed)
little precious; simultaneously unique and
private while owned by many others in a public
It is said the classic difference between a oneway
broadcast communication system (e.g.,
tweeting) and a social system or network is the
concept of having a truly acknowledged friend;
a two-way street. If you tweet (broadcast) and
have followers you do not have friends, are
not social…or so the theory goes. By classic
understanding the brief exclamations of
“found it” or “whoa” posted on the SMTM
log is NOT a social network. Or is it? Therein
lay one of the problems of this new form of
urban (note I do NOT say "public") art: indirect
communication is accepted as a true interactive
social act in a time when data/information is the
coin. Critical theorists bemoan this as another
form of alienation. You’ve heard it all before, the
embodied humanist argument. Sitting in front of a
screen communicating is not a social interaction.
However, those raised within the screen cult
system accept it as "natural"—one of the fourletter
words Marxist theorists have warned of for
years— and for whom it is social networking.
For them what is natural is the acceptance of
the fragment rather than an attempt to reach
beyond it, preferring to stay within it and to gift
the condition of SMTM’s part-objects with being
human. As with the archive, once understood to
be a totalizing affair, we now understand that
what is natural within capitalism is fragmentary
and rather than resist in traditional avant-gardist
ways, we nestle down into its soft and warm
contradictory folds. In that sense social urban
art has always failed by accepting exactly what
cultural critics have warned is the damaging part
of the modernist and more schizophrenic postmodernist
conditions—cultural fragmentation. But
the supposed failure in such tactic may well be
the magnificent trope, much like the rhizomics of
Perhaps we need to remind ourselves that the
much celebrated French Situationist International
came to the conclusion that no art work could
escape the cultural absorption of capitalism, thus
the only solution, after throwing the art object
makers out of their Republic, was not to make
objects but to locate situations and turn them.
It's not that resistance was futile but rather it was
temporary and temporal. Welcome to the turning
tactic central to gifting!
And yet perhaps the most attractive aspect
of SMTM’s work is the return—the gifting—of
the most traditional aspects of art, now made
radical due to the historical context of what has
away from art; delight, magic, creative
diversity and originality, community—ritual value
overturning exchange value. Why is this then at
the margins? What then is use-value and where
is it located? Perhaps in the subject matter of
monsters and saints, summer shift dresses,
miniature folding books that open, your picture,
Van Gogh’s chair, free Ai Wei Wei, numbers,
letters, artists' birthdays, Joseph Cornell, phases
of the moon, Fluxus, yesterday’s news, February
snowstorms, Walker Evans, windmills, parasols,
the five senses, Paris, blue skies, beaches not
visited, monarch butterflies not seen, London,
Yayoi Kusama, tiny blinking flashes of LED colors
in the darkness of the night, small sparkling
pieces of miniature and passing worlds…
copyright, the author
See Me Tell Me Shifts: Forty-second series: Subway Tokens
BY SUZANNE SCHULTZ
Nobody reads anymore because
everyone is a writer, a pearl
dropped on me that I can’t
stop pondering. We are living
in a world where self expression is at an
all time high. Blogging, posting tweeting
etc. We all vhave something to say and
now the forum in which to say it.
Never in history have we had so many
people painting professionally, mill
buildings that a century ago housed
industry are now full of artists.
What is art exactly? Marshall McCluhan
philosopher of media theory said “art
is whatever you can get away with.” So
what do we want to say and what do
we want to get away with, and how do
we deal with the struggles we have as
artists in the new world we live in.
Art Salons have been replaced with
first Fridays and the artist patron
relationship is almost non existent for
most artists. It is a relationship that is
not only necessary for the artist but
benefits the patron in so many ways
and could be a relationship that lasts for
decades. The word Patron could easily
be replaced as investor for the young
and hip collectors but I’m thinking the
term patron has more value.
So, as artists how do we get our voices
heard above the rest?
I will address the struggles, triumphs,
and share ideas in future columns.
Suzanne Schultz is founder/CEO of Canvas
Fine arts in Boston, and co-host of BNNS
ITS ALL ABOUT ARTS
REVOLT Magazine May/June 2012
"Guajeros: A document of Central American Trash Pickers"
- A new exhibition by Peter Baryshnikov BY MATTHEW SCHULTZ
Photo by Peter Baryshnikov
APeter Baryshnikov’s latest collection of
photographs, Guajeros, confronts viewers
with an intimate and surprising look at a
both vital and forgotten group of people,
the trash-pickers of Central America.
In Central American nations such as Mexico,
Guatemala and El Salvador, recyclable materials are
harvested by trash-pickers, or guajeros, and sold to
private businesses, which re-sell these materials to
China, where they become the products we use and
depend upon in the United States and around the
Baryshnikov spent five months volunteering with
Long Way Home, an NGO utilizing alternative
materials for the construction of “quality homes and
schools.” His latest work displays an overlooked
Central American landscape, strewn with trash,
looking alternatively primordial and post-apocalyptic.
Baryshnokov’s photographs, however, emphasize
In his Artist Statement, Baryshnikov describes the
origin and role of guajero communities. “When
coffee prices dropped in the 1960’s many farmers…
flocked to the cities to find work…. No matter
how few jobs, however, there was and always will
be trash which can be collected and sold for an
average income of five dollars a day. In observing
the poverty and struggle of these individuals, one is
forced to confront a dark truth; we are all enablers
of an increasingly exploitative globalized economy.”
Despite this, however, his aim is not to accuse, nor is
it solely political. Rather the work is about the people;
people who “live harder lives than [Baryshnikov had]
ever witnessed” and the “extraordinary resilience”
he saw in them. Still, he hopes his work will inspire
viewers to become involved with organizations such
as Long Way Home or Safe Passage, an NGO which
brings resources and education to children and
families living in poverty around the Guatemala City
The photographs can be seen at Gallery 601 at
126 Boylston St in Boston. 10% of proceeds go to
Safe Passages, providing support for impoverished
children and families in Guatemala. Opening
Reception is from 5-7pm on May 18th. 2012.
APRIL 5 - JUNE 28
curated by Jordana Zeldin
“Incontrovertible proof that an exhibition needn’t be
big to have a lasting impact. Don’t miss this one.”
- Doug McClermont’s Top Ten New York Shows,
Saatchi Online Magazine
“The ArtBridge Drawing Room is an amazing little
project room in Chelsea, the size of a coat closet
but with a program with the energy of an art barn”
- David Cohen, artcritical.com
The ArtBridge Drawing Room
526 W. 26th Street 502a, New York, NY
ArtBridge and The ArtBridge Drawing Room names are property of ArtBridge Installations, LLC. Copyright © 2012. All Rights Reserved.
A sneak peak at Double Trouble, the new graphic novel
by author and artist David Hales
Double Trouble, a graphic novel by artist
and author David Hales, is a developing
graphic novel full of mystery and intrigue.
According to Hales, the tale is a "real
life story about Mr. Fish, a New York art dealer and
artist, who is receiving anonymous phone calls from
a mysterious woman. He is also being mercilessly
sued by a dubious corporation for reasons that defy
understanding. Why is Fish being legally tortured
and who is behind it? Why is he being “stalked” by
an alluring riddle of a woman?" These questions
remain to be answered, but in the mean time Revolt
is proud to provide a sneak peek of chapter one,
"The Phone Call". More information is available on
Hales' website: http://dhauthor.wordpress.com/.
The website also provides free access to the first
five chapters, which are summarized below. Check
back on Hales' site for more chapters to come!
Original drawings courtesy of David Hales
REVOLT Magazine May/June 2012
CHAPTER SYNOPSIS OF DOUBLE TROUBLE
CHAPTER 1: The Phone Call. Fish receives his
first mysterious phone call from an alluring woman
who will not reveal her true identity, or her purpose
CHAPTER 2: The Lawsuit. Fish meets with his
lawyer to discuss his legal dilemma, a lawsuit that
seems to have no purpose other than to torture
him. The perplexed lawyer warns Fish not to become
infatuated with the good looking attorney that is
CHAPTER 3: The Pool Game. Fish plays pool
with a friend who advises him to forget about the
mysterious phone caller who haunts his thoughts.
He tries to get Fish interested in meeting a couple
of girls at the pool hall who seem eager to get met.
CHAPTER 4: Eye of the Storm. A probably hung-over
and distracted Mr. Fish dodges the advances of a
flirtatious waitress, only to bump into his hot new
neighbor outside in a rain storm. She almost seems
to have been waiting for him…Why?
CHAPTER 5: The Movie. A bored Mr. Fish goes to
see a silent film at an indie theater (a renovated
women’s prison). The strange film, which he watches
with (almost) no one else in the audience, disturbs
him. He returns home to find a mysterious package
at his door. Then the phone rings, but no one is
there. Is Fish losing it? What was in the package?
Was he being followed?
REVOLT Magazine May/June 2012
Photo courtesy of Davis Hales, David Hales's Studio, 2012
The Occupations of Asher Edelman
BY LINDA DIGUSTA
Photo by Ethan Hill
Asher Edelman can be described as standing,
prominently, between 2 worlds. His Wall
Street career, beginning in the 1960’s, in
investment banking, money management
and derivatives trading not only brought
renown but enabled him to build significant
collections of contemporary and Modern art
as well as antiquities. In the same year, 1988,
that he famously taught a course at Columbia
called “Corporate Raiding – the Art of War,”
(based upon the ancient Chinese military
treatise by Sun Tzu), Edelman relocated to
Switzerland and founded the FAE Musée d’Art
Contemporain in Pully, where he presented
the first major European retrospectives of
artists including Roy Lichtenstein, Jean-Michel
Basquiat, and Robert Mapplethorpe.
REVOLT Magazine May/June 2012
Currently in New York City, Edelman’s projects
include Edelman Arts, which deals in Old
Master through Post-War art in addition to
representing contemporary artists, the art
finance company ArtAssure Ltd., and the
website AsherEdelman.com, where he writes
about both finance and art from his unique
depth of experience, enthusiasm and insight,
which he also shared in conversation.
His first acquisitions, Asher told us, “Were art
books at Metropolitan Museum when I was
12, then some student work when I was 17. My
first painting, I was 19 or 20, was from a fellow
student whose name was, and is, Bill Tinker.”
Most recently, he added to his collection “A
painting by Nabil Nahas who in my opinion is
one of the 2 most interesting abstract painters
developing a new slant on abstraction today.
(Doug Argue is the other.)” What motivated his
purchases then vs. now? “The motivation is
the same, it’s a kind of drive that I really can’t
If he were to teach a class for artists about the
economic realties of the business, Edelman
told us, “I would certainly teach them how to
get a public market for their work.” With the
caveat, “This is talking money not art." He
continued, “Making sure to the extent that
they can that there are successful auction
records of their works. I would want them to be
certain that their work was original, referential
perhaps but still original, and suggest that they
in their persona develop something original.
I would focus on the commitment of a dealer
not only to sell but to place it properly with
collectors who will show and care about the
art, to obtain museum representation, and to
share with other dealers and not prevent the
art from circulating.”
In a twist on what we usually can expect
from the high-end art market and media, he
emphasizes that “It troubles me to talk about
art this way, it’s hard for me to mix actual
art and economic realities. My brain is very
divided. I am a collector and I adore art… when
I am dealing with one I try to divorce my brain
from the other.”
But Asher Edelman defies typecasting in any
role. Ubiquitously identified with Wall Street, in
his writings he weighs in positively on Occupy
“I am optimistic for the economic and social
outlook for the United States! During the next
four or five years we will, once again, shift into
gear. “Occupy Wall Street” will come to be
thought of as “Save the Nation(s).” 1
“I think in the short term it has focused Obama
on his need to at least appear that he is
interested in the common man," he told us.
“He gave that impression in his 1 st run -- I was
a very serious supporter. During his tenure in
office he has evidenced much less concern
for the common man, much more interest
in having arrived in the establishment and a
seeming wish to remain there. He has ignored
many of his promises including those related
to preserving what we think of as democracy in
“Occupy Wall Street and other grassroots
groups will certainly influence how he runs
for office. They will also influence those
Republicans who have longed for the right
once again to be moderate Republicans. It is
likely that a vote may become more important
than a dollar to those running for office… I
believe we are seeing the beginnings of an
important economic and sociopolitical change
Does this mean that Asher Edelman is no
longer a committed capitalist?
“The Occupy Wall Street crowd sees this
as a problem with capitalism. I believe that
they are correct in their target, but wrong
in their diagnosis. This is not a problem of
capitalism since Wall Street is a practitioner
of monetarism. A real capitalist system works
through real intermediation creating positive
opportunities for productive enterprises…” 2
“In a capitalist society, recoveries from
recession and depression can only be brought
about through a combination of fiscal and
monetary stimulation,” he explained. Fiscal
refers to government spending, for example on
projects such as schools or roads, to spur the
economy, monetary stimulation works through
control of interest rates. “It is not a problem
of capitalism that retards the recovery of the
system, it is the focus on monetary stimulation
and the lack of interest in fiscal stimulation
that will continue to deter a recovery. Both are
needed in times of stress.”
In other words, to build metaphorical bridges
our economy and society need in order to
recover, rather than tear down the existing
system, we should well, build bridges.
And what about the impact of the protest
movement on art… is the street the new salon?
“Maybe,” Edelman said, “It certainly was in the
60’s, in the 70’s, and to a very small extent
has been when addressing the torture [of
prisoners] issue in 2000’s. Whether the artists
are going to focus on social issues at this time,
when abstraction is such a strong movement
again, is doubtful.”
“The art world appears to be lost in the
funhouse, and the fun is losing its fizz,” reads
the press release for his recent exhibition at
Edelman Arts, “Abstraction: What is Real.”
It describe a “current shock-worn, étonnéby
numbers climate…” Anyone who has
attended a high-profile auction and watched
the numbers on the bid board next to the
mute object of the moment’s desire soar to
the stratosphere can testify to how it stuns the
senses and sensibilities of most mere mortals.
And in that climate “Abstract art takes us
totally by surprise.”
Elaborating, he explained that so many of
the works sold at these stunning prices,
“Warhol, Damien Hirst, Richter… are kind
of manufactured… Nothing is wrong with
manufactured art, but those who are really into
in art, as opposed to having what their friends
have, what some sharp dealer sold the group,
or what some museum curator was influenced
to buy, are going to have art that is above all
original in its execution and idea. This once
again includes abstraction, especially where
the artist is progressing the art of abstraction.”
When asked if abstraction was on its way
to the kind of dominance it attained in (and
brought to) America in the mid-20 th Century,
where it was embraced to the point that
many considered earlier American art to be
“provincial,” 3 Edelman stated firmly that
from his historical perspective, the public
popularity of the movement had little to do
with that attitude. “Americans at that time did
not grow up with the iconography necessary
to understand art before abstraction. It had
everything to do with the fact that they could
come to art, look at an image, and they did
not have to bring anything with them to enjoy
the image… sometimes you did not need
iconography or knowledge to look.”
The same does not apply today. “Now that we
have had 60-70 years of abstraction being
a force, it has its own iconography, its own
references, becoming complex in the way we
think of Modern (1906-45). There are quite
a few very good players, I only show some of
them, who have found ways to change the
face of abstraction, to be original again in
the world of abstraction, which is not easy.
If connoisseurs tended to be the winners in
an immediate way, then abstract art would
dominate again,” he concluded, but as far as
the public is concerned, “It is only in the long
term that we will understand the importance
of this present generation of abstract artists.”
“Abstraction: What is Real” was conceived
as “a very specific show, the idea was to put
together abstract work that has no reference
to any figurative or representational art… I just
wanted to do a ‘purified’ exhibition.” It also
features several generations of abstract artists
from the latest (Nahas, Argue, James Nares),
back through artists who emerged later such
as Frank Stella, Britt Boutros-Ghali, and Larry
Poons (all still active), and their late forebears,
Ashile Gorky, Fritz Bultman, and Michael
Also featured was an artist of that first wave
who still paints today, Mary Abbott, who Asher
first learned of while putting the show together.
Mary Abbott’s strong personal and
professional relationship with de Kooning
influenced his output to an astonishing
degree. Abbott had experimented with abstract
landscapes from her Southampton home
for nearly five years by the time de Kooning
began his own landscape series… As Abbott
and de Kooning’s lives were intertwined, so
too were their works which seem to share
subject, technique, and even color palette…
When it comes to Abstract Expressionism, the
same auspicious names dominate: Pollock,
de Kooning, Rothko, Motherwell, Gorky ...
Imagine a largely overlooked protagonist in
this narrative, a crucial figure in the New York
Post-war art scene whose story is only now
surfacing. This new story is emerging and with
it the understanding of the profound influence
Mary Abbott had on the Abstract Expressionist
movement and especially on her lover, Willem
de Kooning.” 4
Back to the present, would current events
influence Edelman’s own behavior as a dealer
or collector? “The sociopolitical climate does
not have anything to do with my acquisitions
or the gallery,” he said, “Though the artist
in our next exhibition, Chris Winter, is about
sociopolitical climates, sometimes past,
In the spirit of “the 99%,” we asked Asher
how he would advise a would-be collector with
$1500 or less to spend. He replied that he
would give the same advice to a collector with
a budget of $1500 or $15 Million: “Spend 2
days a week looking at art until he is confident
that he can identify what is original, which is
not possible without looking at art. Then come
back to me and I will tell him what I think he
1. “Optimistic” © Asher Edelman, 2011
2. “A less than equitable arrangement” © Asher
Edelman, 2011 http://asheredelman.com/?p=241
3. “Art Wars” by Linda DiGusta (c) Cognoscenti
4. “Mary Abbott: A Wake Up Call” © Asher Edelman,
BY RICHARD WYNDBOURNE KLINE
1 Dreams 3 Spires - 2 Winds 1 Fastness 11
Some of us heard.
Some of us met first.
Some of us went down.
Some of us are in some.
Some of us just came.
Some of us are all in.
Some of us get it.
Some of us don’t get it, but we’ll give it a shot anyway.
Some of us got hit.
Some of us got your back; and Legal’s on it.
Some of us got it on video and are streaming it live to
the human condition.
Some of us thrive on conflict, and even brought our
own---hey, where’d everybody go?
Some of us know too much of nothing is more than
enough and didn’t happen by accident.
Some of us empathize.
Some of us emphasize.
Some of us energize.
Some of us deodorize.
Some of us decolonize.
Some of us defragmentize.
Some of us re-organize our personal baggage.
Some of us recognize each other for the first time.
Some of us demagnetize the little strips on things which
keep us in inhuman bondage.
Some of us are in the picture; some of us aren’t.
Some of us are not enablers of the master criminals.
Some of us are.
Some of us want to talk to you about that.
Some of us are incredulous.
Some of us were meticulous; until we got here and
acquired a sense of the ridiculous.
Some of us get really, really nervous in crowds but
somebody’s got to do this.
Some of us hiss when stepped on.
Some of us are friendly.
REVOLT Magazine May/June 2012
Some of us were friendly.
Some of us have friends, and they’ll be here this
Some of us friend anyone in the 99% (and we really,
really mean it: this means you).
Some of us, too, are in search of something; it was lost;
or I think stolen, but that’s not
important; and we’re here to find it, at least I’m
here to look for it; and this guy/gal/
goy/geezer/gummybearcub on the mike at GA said
that we had it, here: it’s called
Some of us dare.
Some of us swear by it.
Some of us have a flair for this.
Some of us ooze savoir-faire.
Some of us wear flowers in our hair; they’re misty roses.
Some of us wear on others, but we try.
Some of us apply and apply and apply and we’re tired of
it, man, just tired.
Some of us have demands, we’ll get to ‘em; if you don’t
get to ‘em first.
Some of us had plans, which, as things happened were
taken down and out; not, as you may
have heard, by incompetence or blind
circumstance but by the connivance of the few;
of the 1% to be wholly frank. (Look up: They’re
looking down; frowning.)
Some of us try to get things right.
Some of us have a light and let it shine.
Some of us are a sight to see.
Some of us came to see the city sights; and stayed.
Some of us’ve been to school; learned a few things ‘bout
you and me and everyone we know.
Some of us have been to college, and all we got was this
lousy five-figure slave collar.
Some of us have been to hell and back, and even though
we got paid . . . it wasn’t worth it.
Some of us need time.
Some of us need a place to be.
Some of us just need some space to be at play.
Some of us have time and nothing but; we’ve been away.
Some of us have a base station, and we’re pretty darn
slick, or we think so.
Some of us are sick and are not going to make it and just
want somebody to know.
Some of us have holes in our wholes, and 1% of us are
pushing everybody else deeper therein,
and selling the soap that comes out the other end at
100% markup; ‘Soylent Dream.’
Some of us have it all, but we can’t get into heaven if we
break your heart.
Some of us want to end it all.
Some of us want to defend it all.
Some of us have all the gall; and plenty of gumption,
Some of us want an end to the beginning.
Some of us intuit.
Some of us intubate.
Some of us innovate.
Some of ventilate when we should filter first.
Some us like to listen.
Some of us like to talk: “Mike check.”
Some of us walk unchecked and unafraid.
Some of us would like to get laid; right about now.
Some of us like how we look doing this.
Some of us like that the pizza is free and keeps coming.
Some of us are just slumming until the Right thing
Some of us Left the building about the time that you
Some of us are a bridge over troubled water, all our
dreams are on their way.
Some of us don’t believe in guvmint; peppermint’s
another story; and as for wondermint---.
Some of us found love.
Some of us love this town.
Some of us would love to be here.
Some of us would love for you to be here.
Some of us would love to be there but the bars get in the
Some of us beherenow, and we’ve got plenty to share,
the library’s open.
Some of us feel guilty we can’t be here a little longer but
we’ve got to be home by 6:00 to feed
the kids and they won’t understand if we’re late or
get arrested or just miss a days work
and there’s nobody but me so I really have to go
now but Godbless.
Some of us shouldn’t be here---like you, for example,
you really shouldn’t beherenow because
[wabbbity-wab-wabbh-wab] but since you’re here
already can I borrow your sharpie?
my sign’s not done.
Some of us have hearings about our fines.
Some of us have lines to read in the pageant of history.
Some of us got it in the face and lay there screaming,
quite the best days work we ever did
though the hardest; nobody even knew our names.
Some of us came to take pictures but the white collars
broke our camera (just like Sonny at the
wedding) so we’re taking mental pictures for those
not here, and if they’re sorta fuzzy
at the edges, well at the center too, we haven’t
slept for four days you try it sometime.
Some of us have been there and done that, it’s your turn;
but I like your style, kid.
Some of us have been gone so far it looks like time to
Some of us care.
Some of us take care.
Some of us need care, but they cut back.
Some of us move verrrry carefully.
Some of us don’t care, but it’s been thirty years since
they put on this show, and it’s free.
Some of us have been here for 500 generations and we
still can’t figure out what you strawbrained
occupiers think you’re doing to the place;
can’t build a fire, catch a fish,
potlatch worth a shit; nuthin’.
Some of us think all you pissants outta be arrested . . .
they day after you throw the bums out.
Some of us are mad, quite, quite, mad, without a doubt.
Some of us look s-i-m-p-l-y mahvehlous.
Some of us are of good cheer.
Some of us fear for the rest.
Some of us appear a little . . . off. Or a lot. (Took it in
the head at one of these time was.)
Some of us mind the children; I mean that’s always
needed, isn’t it?
Some of us sell papers to make change: “Overhead on
apples is too high; I’ve got an MBA.”
Some of us do plein air, folks just hold that pose.
Some of us sit and spin before we let go.
Some of us layer.
Some of us are enthused.
Some of us are free spirits.
Some of us know what those once meant, and you’re
both right about it.
Some of us recite the work of dead white bushy-bearded
males out loud while we grow up;
some of us are such already, or nearly.
Some of us finally found the wine shop, “Friend, where
have you been all of our lives?”
Some of us want to know what you expect.
Some of us expect you’ll never know what you want.
Some of us expect you’ll never know if you’re not here.
Some of us reflect (it’s the duct tape, we’re getting
Some of us reject any destination.
Some of us deflect bullet points; banner headlines would
Some of us shall expectorate the quintessential mead of
the assembled after due masticulation.
Some of us would be down on that if we knew what it was.
Some of us have the answer, and would be happy to let
you have it.
Some of us brought our own, thanks.
Some of us brought our own thanks. For taking the
Some of us know it’s always the one on bass who knows
what time it is.
Some of us are on the bus.
Some of us were in the bust.
Some of us just drive the bus, but we’re going your way.
Some of us are under the bus, and you know the
sonnsofa-1-in-a-100 who threw us here.
Some of us do outreach, let me give you a hand.
Some of us brought PBNJ with the crust trimmed; for
500. (Thanks, Mom.)
Some of us are packin’ and fight fire with fire; and see,
the fuse took the match some time ago,
‘bout the time they pinched m’ brother’s head off,
Some of us wouldn’t do that if they were you.
Some of us would.
Some of us would understand, but don’t recommend it,
friend, cuz they’re the 99% too.
Some of us have a verse for that.
Some of us are averse to that---or were; now, we just
Some of us just learned the two-finger salute, they sure
know how to do these things flat out
Over There; they keep in practice.
Some of us knew what “Basta!” meant before the resta
yah, yah need some help.
Some of us face off.
Some of us scoff.
Some of us know the law; it’s not enough.
Some of us’ll write new laws, just tell us what you want.
(I mean these are for you, not for us.)
Some of us eat your food and walk away laughing; not
realizing that freedom is infectious.
Some of us fomite.
Some of us foment.
Some of us form up, but godlovem we think they’re
Some of us have been fermenting for so long that by now
we’re proof of something.
Some of us lament what urban renewal and
securitization have done to the City on the Hill.
Some of us shill for the Man the rest of the time (don’t
say we were here, He’s such a killjoy).
Some of us take notes.
Some of us take names. (There’ll be camps for your
kind, we’re working on it.)
Some of us gave at the office, and lemme tell yah it
wasn’t 99¢; that’s too much.
Some of us give a damn, or thought we did; or that’s
what we’ll say in court since we’re
kettled in tight and going down hard (don’t try this
REVOLT Magazine May/June 2012
at home, kids).
Some of us’ll give you the shirt off our backs; it’s got
antacid in it, anyway that mostly works.
Some of us came in full dress; there’s 1000 more behind
Some of us are gonna bunch up and shove if this thing
Some of us go all the way.
Some of us pray.
Some of us have fey smiles all the while.
Some of us let George do it. And boy was that a
Some of us shake our moneymaker; here’s today’s take
(*shh* just take it, I know you need it).
Some of us are really, really *an&ry* and wanna break
some heads/stuff inta bitty-witty pieces
but might possibly maybe talk to somebody first
about whatfororwhen or perhaps not
go that way right now but this way where they’re
all sittin’ down being very, very calm.
Some of us fight the power.
Some of us want the power.
Some of us had the power till a pink slip cut our throat .
. . what was it all about?
Some of us fought till we were all fought out; and
nothing changed. It was th’ good fight, tho’.
Some of us fold up when the shit comes down. Or the
rain; whichever’s first.
Some of us are cold.
Some of us are out in the cold; always.
Some of us got cold-cocked by Mr. Market, and when we
woke up somebody left us the bill.
Some us us are cold muthafukkas, real cold, and you’ll
never see it coming or even know until
we want yah tah know; and we work for ourselves,
what per cent of the action is that?
Some of us sold out---and they told us there was still
money owing; fees or something.
Some of us have something to prove; seeing as how
things aren’t improving.
Some of us remain unmoved; “Tried hope; like fertilizer,
sold by the ton.”
Some of us were red, white, and dead till we found out
they’re on the other side.
Some of us atomize; some of us automatize.
Some of us Peace, Love, Rope.
Some of us do horizontal.
Some of us try lambent buds.
Some of us have tatts and studs.
Some of us are in the Zone.
Some of us are mystified at that; but whatever.
Some of us took Mystery 101 already, we’re just here to
Some of us whistle; some of us sing; some of us drum
along. (And along; and along.)
Some of us don’t need no stinkin’ rules.
Some us us wear crystals.
Some of us sell crystal and that ain’t no crime; well, it is
a crime but they outta change the law,
and anyhow business is kinda slow what with the
down economy and all the heat
around now sooo what we really came over to find
out is, are you doin’ all right?
Some of us think you should come back when you’re off
Some of us spoof the market---but just in case we’ve got
some futures on your action cause our
position is always dynamically hedged; you know,
‘play both ends against the middle.’
Some of us smoked the opiate of the masses till we woke
up in Liberty one September day.
Some of us left our steady for 2000 lovers.
Some of us hover just barely off the ground.
Some of us crash things for fun and profit.
Some of us hope recovery is just around the corner,
‘cause the cops are sure as Hell around
Some of us keep on squawking when you wish we’d just
Some of us want a platform; others think a server would
Some of us know that brown rice solves any problem;
just have some more.
Some of us show up when it counts; we’ve got jobs, yah
Some of us have vendettas even if it’s the Dreamer who
joined the action.
Some of us want to do it; or to do you; whichever we
catch up to first.
Some of us like to watch.
Some of us might snatch sleep.
Some of us are creeped out by the Army of Night across
Some of us surprise, just surprise.
Some of us map the Zone; it’s one-to-one with a higher
plane, we’ve established that as fact.
Some of us work three groups and have forgotten who
we used to be outside the lines;
that pitiful schmuck.
Some of us took to it like ducks on a pond.
Some of us tossed our pills for despondency---don’t need
Some of us know how this is gonna end; they don’t talk
Some of us came to witness, there was a crime; we just
knew where to go, that’s all.
Some of us let it burn, let it burn, let it burn; but we
didn’t start this thing, no, it was already
Some of us like the pretty colors.
Some of us discover the space between.
Some of us are recovering one now at a time.
Some of us gaze back at the whole world watching in an
infinite loopy jest.
Some of us mask our fear; “For that, black
handkerchiefs work best.”
Some of us brought our wiggy fingers and left the rest.
Some of us preach up on the steps.
Some of us need a few more reps.
Some of us just want a chance.
Some of us dance; pretty good.
Some of us advance a notion; more of a proposition.
Some of us watch another earth begin.
Some of us are charging, all our bars went flat.
Some of us admin this thing; we’ll admit that.
Some of us hack (a little)---or did anon.
Some of us will move on.
Some of us are going home, but we’ll be back.
Some of us still are on song, me and Hikmet gonna read-
--”Nazim, we’re up?”
Some of us resound (silently).
Some of us ping.
Some of us bong.
Some of us just brought vegan chow fong.
Some of us are holding strong, enough to carry the load
Some of us got it wrong, but we’ll keep trying.
Some of us don’t mind dyin’; it’s livin’ on empty that’s
hard to take.
Some of us make it up as we go along . . . well, most of
Some of us are looking for something real; can we talk?
Some of us left our fake currency outside the park.
Some of us caught the rockin’ pneumonia; got to walk it
Some of us nurse a croaking cough.
Some of us knocked off the Maker’s Mark.
Some of us have that inner spark,
Some of us know ‘The Lark in the Morning.’
Some of us are drawn out but in long.
Some of us spoon.
Some of us tune in.
Some of us are huddled and wan.
Some of us begin to plan.
Some of us found flowery evangels, right there beside
the hot dog stand.
Some of us just lie back looking up s-m-i-l-i-n-g.
Some of us join the fun.
Some of us are on the run.
Some of us left to find a john.
Some of us some hours since commenced to scan.
Some of us will learn soon we got the one child born to
Some of us are ever the 99th in any line, but hey, who’s
counting, this thing ain’t over till
Some of us saw the dawn.
thing ain’t over till it’s over.
Some of us saw the dawn.
Love and Gentrification in Bushwick: A Metanarrative
Illustrations by Rochelle Fox
was at Angel’s perusing the fruit. The
strawberries looked white in places. I still
had two days until your actual birthday.
Chocolate on chocolate you said, and I
wanted to add strawberries because that
had been my nickname for you since
the beginning. That’s what I put in my phone
because your real name – Mark? Wasn’t
exotic, sexy or hood. At the time I had just met
a Dominican guy named Choco who I listed
as ‘Chocolate.’ Strawberry and Chocolate
on speed dial sandwiched between an
alphabetical list of rad feminists ladies.
I recalled the week of the hurricane when I ran
into you on Starr St. and asked you if you knew
my name. We had been sleeping together
casually for 5 months at that point and I had
even spent twenty minutes one afternoon
very carefully smoothing olive oil in between
the crevices of your zigzagging cornrows. You
couldn’t recall it. I said it was fine, at the time,
you hadn’t told me your other ‘real’ names
either. Mark was actually something you made
up the night I met you and had since forgotten
about. Sometimes we’d pass each other in
the park and you’d say something like ‘Call me
REVOLT Magazine May/June 2012
Johnson and Johnson,” without so much as
removing your headphones. One day you told
me the truth, ‘You can call me Slim, it’s how
they know me out here.’ You were a celebrity
on ‘the block,’ as you called it, this place I had
lived for 4 years but knew so little about.
Slim wasn’t your real name either. Your birth
name was tattooed in black letters across your
biceps, ‘SHIN’ on the right and ‘COSTA’ on the
left. But you didn’t reveal that until month 7 or
8 when I asked about the tatt one day tracing
over your torso with my eyes.
It had been a busy morning. I was caffeinated,
rushing around deliriously on Knickerbocker
Ave restocking the Epsom salt and buying a
box of cake mix and a bunt pan at the 99cent
store. I even found some Michael Jordan
wrapping paper to wrap your new pair of
Footlocker shorts in.
By Friday, your official Birthday, you had
jumped ship. You came in the middle of the
night, left me the money you owed and the
keys. You took your jar of cocoa butter, laundry
detergent, backpack and 2 boxes of shoes.
BY KATIE CERCONE
It took all of 5 minutes. You said you were
coming back but you didn’t and I cried all
night. I never even had the chance to borrow
your brand name detergent like you always
insisted. ‘Do you,’ you said.
It hadn’t always been this way. I used to
ride my bike through Bushwick, gangsta rap
blasting through my headphones, eyes darting
back and forth assessing the buffet of thugs
perched on street corners, hollering out of
bodegas and blasting by on BMX bikes and low
riders with base that made my junk tingle. Men
with wavy braids, bulging muscles and white
diamonds glinting from their milk chocolate
earlobes. I listened, I watched, I went home
to my lily white boyfriend and let dem thugs
control my every waking fantasy.
Until the night of the rapture that is. I was
walking home with Jazlyn, my homegirl with
smokey bedroom eyes and pouty lips. As usual,
our verbiage was veering toward sex and men.
It was Friday night. It was the end of the world.
I was sobering up to the fact that I was never
going to meet my Baby Daddy if I couldn’t stay
up past 9pm and my social life revolved around
Feminism and Art.
‘Strawberry Tush,’ your voice floated up
from behind us. We were on Starr St. and
we had just passed an unruly group of black
teenagers. I was wearing a pink onesy with
a skort that rode up in the back. Jazlyn and
I giggled and kept walking as you objectified
our backsides like sweet, plump summer fruit.
Something in me snapped by the time we had
walked the three blocks back to our place. It
was the last time a sexy black guy hollered at
me on the street and I let him get away with it.
You didn’t say ‘tush’ you said ‘kush,’ it’s a type
of designer weed. There was a drought then so
you didn’t have the regs you normally pushed.
It was Friday and you were wearing your studs.
‘I like your earrings.’
You came over and we smoked an L on my
roof. You didn’t have to say much. You told me
your friend had just died. He was selling stolen
guns out of his apartment nearby and got
shot and killed by an undercover cop. I asked
if you cried about it and you said never. You
never cried. You made bread and you balled.
You were nice. Nice means you played well.
Bread was money, also called cake because
you could stack bills in sheets like cake.
Communicating always took us several tries,
one slang term bleeding into the next, you
proudly ‘Burfing’ (that’s birthing, teaching me
for the first time) me to slango and I always
eager for more. ‘Everything is always double,’
you said, like when you told me ‘I never had a
Moms.’ You didn’t have anyone to spoil so you
‘I want to get in you,’ you said.
I liked black voices. You later told me ever
since white girls had started moving in to
the neighborhood you had been working on
getting one. You were shocked that none of
them had hollered before me. I wasn’t. I didn’t
know anybody that would meet a drug dealer
on the street and invite him over and sleep
with him all within the span of 2 hours. There
were programs for that. Afterward I saged the
place. It was a fantasy, the sex was abrupt and
like usual the mental frenzy outweighed the
physical pleasure. Little did I know, it would
only get better. Honestly, when you’ve built a
sexual relationship over time with a semi-Pro
basketball player that doesn’t drink or jerk off
you’ve cashed in on the best sex of your life
and you might live to regret it. In the months
following I’d come to learn Strawberry was a
rare breed next to Godliness.
Drowning myself in Drake during my daily
commute had new meaning. Strawberry
‘Gave me the business,’ as y’all said, and I
was Screaming out every time you deep in!! I
tweeted, emailed, texted to anyone that would
listen: STRAWBERRY GANGSTA RIPPED A NEW
HOLE IN ME DURING THE RAPTURE!!! Politically
incorrect slander, yes, but I had been fucked
backways and sideways into a neo-fruitopia.
And I wanted to tell this story without my usual
intellectual armor. You taught me the poetry of
rap – usually high, singing along to every word,
lying next to me in bed – and I taught you
about the Prison Industrial Complex. The term
that is, whatever good it was worth to someone
who was locked up on Rikers island before he
graduated high school and walked the streets
in fear of the police every day.
One day you asked me if I knew what ebonyx
was to which I replied very promptly and
proudly, ‘Black vernacular slang.’ You laughed
and replied, ‘Naw…it’s just SLANGO. Get right.’
Little did I know six months post-rapture I’d be
buttering you up oversize slabs of my organic
gluten free cornbread and walking on your
back in the middle of the night when you came
home injured from a game and caught me in
a submissive half-dream state. You’d be going
through a box of Yogi tea a week and burning
through bags of the lavender Epsom salt I liked
to use in my bath. You’d be having brunch with
my two best friends and I on my Birthday.
We went to Pies n’ Thighs in Williamsburg. I
wore pearls and you wore diamonds as you
always did on Fridays. You ate Mac n’ Cheese
because you said you ‘Didn’t trust white people
chicken.’ You knew the buser who you had
attended high school with and I imagined how
proud you felt, taking three beautiful, petite
girls out to breakfast while he scraped up
our leftovers. We hadn’t all spent the night
together but in June you had a ménage with
Jazlyn and I and in July with me and Sass.
Each was different. It was a first for all of us
and all my idea. That was the first time we
really talked. After the rapture we continued to
see each other but our affairs were limited to
sex. You’d show up, tell me I looked gorgeous,
we’d blast some hip hop and do the bizness.
Do it like whoa. Like nothing I had ever
experienced before. You were built. You were
brilliant. And you brave.
PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT TO THE
MALE ARTIST POPULATION:
More Exercise, less drugs boo!!! I want to come
3x (on the Dick!!!) while you finger my two
best friends, choke me, kiss me sweetly and
whisper words of encouragement in my ear.
FRONT YARD BROAD DAY, ya heard?
You’d high five me before and afterward you’d
often jump up and sing along to the radio
while admiring yourself in front of the mirror.
When you moved in, this would become longer
productions in the bathroom that involved
lots of cocoa butter and soap bubbles. Black
homeless men in their twenties with loads of
brand sneaks shower a lot, a heckuvvalot more
than privileged white feminists in swagspicious
drag. On one occasion, you approached my
collection of My Little Ponies and asked if they
were lucky. ‘Why yes’ I replied, as you picked
one up kissed the bridge of its nose and
tapped your chest 4 times in the shape of the
cross. One time I was having a bad day and you
said ‘Theys got you runnin around,’ to which I
replied ‘Who?’ and you listed off a number of
animate and inanimate objects, people, places
and things that somehow related to my life. I
liked that you always had faith. That no matter
what I was going through you reminded me
While most of my artsy friends ran around with
2 or 3 degrees, always on the brink of financial
peril and governed by a wildly fluctuating God/
inferiority complex, without a home or a high
school diploma you were one of the most well
adjusted, confident, peaceful and kind human
beings I had ever met.
Sometimes you came home with a fresh
tattoo or a new design in your hair. Once you
came with it all loose. It was the hottest day
of summer and you were glistening with sweat
and sporting an Afro that could have scraped
the heavens. In the beginning you didn’t ever
lay beside me after. For the first time in my
life I didn’t need you to. At the ripe age of 27
I was a hardened Mack. When we had the
threesome with Jazlyn we talked a bit first.
She asked you things like your middle name.
Making myself small was the role I chose with
you in the beginning.
Sass wanted more. Sass likes to take her
sweet ass time. She made you smoke another
joint with us on the roof at the neighbor’s
party. I realized after our second threesome
what fantastic therapy sex was. You burfed
me to the joy of sexin’. Sexual Healing. It still
hurt so bad I’d scream my head off like a
tantruming child. You let me climb up you as
you couched lovingly ‘Climb da tree.’ You could
fuck two girls at once. By August, the goal
was three girls at once and film it. We got our
hair done, did our make up, danced around
the bedroom in giddy anticipation (We were
making a lesbian gangsta erotica!!) and you
never came because you got arrested. So we
made a movie about waiting for Strawberry.
You came in the aftermath of Credwin and
weathered the storm of various other more
suitable, educated hip black fellows that made
art or music and fancied me for a while until
I got bored. Credwin broke my heart in five
places the minute I lay eyes on him. Credwin
was beta, the kind of G that crawled up out
of the ghetto into art school and had the
tatts and the white homies to prove it. This
made Credwin a safe first. When I smelled
the cocoa butter on Credwin I assumed it was
pheromonal and that black people just smelled
like candy to me. By the time you starting
living at my place I knew it was the Palmer’s.
And by the time you left and I payed a visit to
Credwin he confirmed – he doesn’t even wear
coco butter! As Josephine Baker, the Missouri
born ‘Créole Goddess’ that made millions of
dollars shaking her behind for white audiences
of the mid-twentieth century said, ‘the white
Imagination sure is something when it comes
to Blacks.’ 1
Drake, you, Strawberry II, Credwin, Dabtdrae…
everyone was bleeding together like some
bastard exquisite corpse of a melancholy hymn
drenched in squirt (that's female ejaculation.)
Credwin came in the wake of Dabtdrae, who
was born in the Caribbean third world but
learned the American way how to barf up
friend Chicken and test saliva for Candida
Before I knew it Dabtdrae would become your
‘custee’ and start calling himself ‘Strawberry
II,’ a weaker fruitier art-school you that fancied
he could one day play you basketball oneon-one
in the park. Dabtdrae that fancied
he could one day have a Black girlfriend.
Dabtdrae always said things like how he felt
like everyone thought he only dated white
girls because of some internalized hatred of
his own kind when really, he just didn’t know
very many Black girls. Especially Black girls
that were into cross-dressing and painting with
‘You know people don’t think that,’ I answered
‘I know, but it’s something I’m really sensitive
The next day it hit me that I do think that.
Not just about Dabtdrae but about most of
the Black male artists I know that date white
female artists. Strawberry was capital ‘B’
Black, in the pure imaginary sense. Black in
the sense that your strong arms led me in and
out of my illusions with fluid precision.
REVOLT Magazine May/June 2012
When you didn’t answer my calls I could
usually hunt you down where you were ballin'
in the park.
‘You want some pussy wid dat?’
I escaped all day long at work into fantastical
text messaging with my Strawberry. In October
you went to California to try out for the NBA
d-league and the topic du jour at work between
my boss's daughter and I became Basketball
Wives. After the tryout you got phone calls from
teams across the country and ever since I’ve
been making you Blackberry-sized hoop mix
tapes as a labor of lust.
‘I want to sleep next to you.’
You texted me suddenly one night. We didn’t
fuck, you came over and you held me. I
thought you didn’t know how. For the next
several nights we smoked together and you
told me where you came from. You were an
orphan, and you had been homeless since
your adopted father was instrumental in having
you arrested your last year of high school. Your
adopted father worked in finance and played
inappropriately with his adopted children. He
had 6. You learned to snatch purses and sell
drugs to survive. You spent a year on Rikers
Island. You’d been homeless this whole time
and I had had no idea.
In high school, you worked at McDonald’s for
a week until one day you were at the fryer and
you looked outside across the street into the
adjacent park and said aloud, ‘Fuck this, I’m a
baller.’ And as much as you craved, relished,
savored, elevated and celebrated the act of
coitus, the best sex noises you’ve ever made
occurred while you were watching basketball
highlights on my laptop.
Eventually, you were coming every night
bringing me blackberry seltzers and asking
me to sing you to sleep like a Mermaid. You
started calling my place ‘The Crib,’ or ‘Home,’
and it made me happy. You slipped so quickly
into the boyfriend zone, and just as quickly you
slipped out. You bought me fitted caps in all
different colors and taught me how to ‘Cook
Up,’ Lil B’s rare dance move about making
crack cocaine I began to incorporate into my
You’d always have a bedtime story that could
rip my privileged white paradigm to shreds.
Like the night you said you went to play ball at
a Latino club and a bunch of them ganged up
on you saying you were too good to play at their
club. You retaliated by hiring a hit man to go
to the club owner’s house and had your killer
wait a block back as you patiently asked for an
That’s when I learned what ‘beef’ meant. You
said you didn’t have any. You said the only way
to end beef was to end beef. A week later you
came back from a hood tournament saying
your team had lost by six points and then shot
your opponents. You said the whole team was
drunk and stoned. Another time you punched
a guy during a game and ran through half
the backyards of Queens as the other team
stalked you with guns.
I taught you about kale. You taught me all the
various pseudonyms for pseudonyms and all
the ways you could say you sliced through
someone’s face – like ‘eatin’ someone’s food’
(the whole face) or ‘Buck fifty’ (half the face).
Every slang expression revolved around money,
sex or food and had two or three meanings.
You examined my asshole for herpes.
You taught me about selling urine in drug
treatment centers and selling drugs in drug
I barely knew the names of any of my
neighbors and you knew the whole block. They
knew you. They worked for you, they called
your name and shook your hand in the park.
Even the ‘Community Service Stars,’ what you
called the women who cleaned the bathrooms
in Maria Hernandez park. I remember when
you first called me a ‘Star,’ and I had thought
it suited me so well – Me the artist! Me in the
singular. Me the pretty white girl that breezed
through the park with my headphones blocking
out the world looking for you.
Until the day Gigi – who claimed to be your
long term live in Girlfriend with a capital G!
– began stalking me online and calling at
all hours of the night to threaten me. And
it wasn’t just Gigi. Pretty soon angry Black
Mamas were hanging out of windows howling
my name to avenge their jealous chickenhead
daughters. All this peppered by sudden vague
pronouncements by you such as ‘Don’t tell
anyone you know me I don’t want you to get a
hot curling iron shoved up your ass because
someone’s trying to get at me.’ And in defense
of your multiple boos ‘I am the best. Nobody’s
getting all of me because nobody’s takin’ it in
all three holes.’
Sucking your dick that one time made me
gag and I cried afterward. I guess you were
homeless in the sense that you were a nomad
with Moms, Boos and Bs scattered across
Brooklyn. You were, as a good friend of mine
once said, ‘A key holder.’ You were welcome
everywhere you went.
I was golden, Gigi or not. And as you faded
back into NSA sex I found that I had a
remarkable ability to attract young, beautiful
Black men of all camps. They were coming
out of my ears. I could love them as long as
they cut me off first. At the end of the day,
the harder I ran into the arms of the next
Black man the more they reminded me of my
father-brother-sister-mother…Me! Early sexual
experimentation. Shame. Alienation was our
mother tongue. The generation that stopped
pooping. Stopped menstruating. Stopped
Then all of a sudden one day Gigi blitzed me.
Called me 100 times a day for a week and
made death threats. I was having paranoiac
fantasies about Gigi climbing through my
apartment window with an oozie and my yoga
teacher said their was radioactive cell phone
matter in my aura. She didn’t stop, and no
matter where I went I heard Gigi vibrating in my
handbag. Until finally I was biking somewhere
and realized her phone calls were vibrating
my handlebars. I stopped the flow of traffic,
answered and let her yell at me. I apologized.
She won. Officially, I came to the 212 six years
after I moved to New York when a jealous
(genius?) hood chick called me private so
many times I had to get a new phone number.
I did whatever I could to get your approval even
if it was granted in some demented form like a
one word text message. At the end of the day
what lay beneath the way I worshipped you,
and I did, was self-loathing. Familial loathing.
I’d go to the ends of the earth searching for
anyone that didn’t remind me of myself. I
developed a high-speed radar for any man that
had never washed down six rice crispy treats
with a trip to Disneyland. My explosive love for
you, Strawberry, masked a violent and utter
disgust at the way my having been born with
a golden spoon in my mouth only caused me
to dive head first into a bucket of ice cream
and swim out through rehab. When I should
have been saving the world, not climbing to the
shrillest pitches of pleasure with a dick singing
in my ass?
In the African folk tradition the spiritual self
revolves around a number of rotating centers
one among them sexuality and food. In the
African Diasporic tradition of boasting and
bragging we see today embodied in Rap, there
is no space for guilt, fear and shame around
food and the body. ‘Katie vanilla fudge Kakey’s
got the fatty,’ you said, and I’ve liked my body
ten times more ever since.
Eventually, you came back. You gave me
knicknames. I was ‘My Yoga,’ or should I say
Your Yoga, and also ‘Katie Kakey,’ named
after Kakey Long Tongue, our favorites. You
texted ‘What’s good?’ several days after I had
decided you were never coming back. You
texted ‘What’s good?’ several months and
several days after I had decided you were
never coming back the second time. Your
birthday cake was still waiting for you in the
fridge with candles. It was crusty hard and you
only ate one bite to be polite. You opened your
present and have been wearing your lucky
shorts ever since.
And then one day you actually did clear out.
Again. And then came back, again. Without
talking about it, just like when you moved in.
You left the cocoa butter and I slather myself
in it every time I know you’re coming around
for a visit or I miss you which is a lot of the
time. I call you and text you and often you
answer and say ‘What’s good?’ like nothing’s
changed. Saying ‘I want to see you. I’m going
to come through’ and then half the time I just
fall asleep and wake up in the middle of the
night to check my phone, take out my video ho
earrings and rub the cheapy Wet n’ Wild off my
1 Brenda Gottschild, The Black Dancing Body:
from Coon to Cool, 2003
When I set out to write about French painter
Francois Gilot I had a lot of make-up work to
do. Mostly because I have never given a hoot
about Picasso or any of the other straight
white patriarchs of the Western European
tradition. I never had to. Along my trajectory,
Art began with Judy Chicago’s Menstruation
Bathroom and earned its stripes when Ellen
Gallagher hit Pomp-Bang. As far as I was
concerned, we didn’t need anymore born
again Burdens shooting themselves because
all those dead white Fathers were just that,
dead. Unfortunately, what knowledge has been
circulated concerning Gilot still filters through
the lens of the piddly ten years she spent in
P-Town. Ten years during which she become
immortalized in the public imagination as a
flower, lobster, bowl of cherries, knight in armor
and in one singular painting…an Artist 1 sans
the objectification and domestic trappings
by which Picasso, 40 years her senior, was
helpless to abide.
The Picasso I can place is the Picasso I wash
my hands of everyday and wake up dirty
again. The Picasso of idolize and despise. The
Picasso of powerful sublimation and impotent
discord. The Picasso of fear, scarcity, shame,
conflict, refusal of intimacy and exponential
Exile. The Picasso that doesn’t let light into
his lower three chakras. The Picasso that
had “fetishistic addictions” and kept taking
younger women as his lovers went insane
or in the unique case of Gilot, matured into
womanhood and left him. The Picasso who
believed every interaction boiled down to an
REVOLT Magazine May/June 2012
equation of “victor and vanquished.” 2 I can’t
place the Picasso on the Gagosian website, the
one bracketing Gilot as if we really need the
myth of a spineless war-wrecked man-child to
decode this Artist’s work.
While we discussed writing this article at the
Revolt HQ, publisher Scotto Mycklebust flipped
through a Picasso book to show me an image
Françoise Gilot, Dark Moon, 2002
of Gilot with Picasso as reference. She was
pictured in a chic sun suit with another
notable male painter and another mistress.
The caption read: Picasso with Male Painter X
François Gilot and Pablo Picasso
BY KATIE CERCONE
as if the women weren’t even there. Much in
this vein Gagosian’s press for the upcoming
show Picasso and Françoise Gilot: Paris-
Vallauris 1943-1953, frames this mature
female artist as the seductive appendage of
male singular genius, “Picasso and Françoise
Gilot celebrates the full breadth and energy
of Picasso’s innovations during these postwar
years, as well as presenting Gilot’s
paintings alongside his marvelously innovative
depictions of her and their family life.” I read:
Gilot’s paintings v. Picasso’s marvelous
Conceived by curator John Richardson, a public
figure who in the heat of writing his multivolume
biography on Picasso attacked Gilot’s
best-selling novel Life With Picasso (which
sold over a million copies in its first year)
as “indiscretion masquerading as candor”
and “chip-on-shoulder malice.” Although he
eventually changed his mind and said it was
all true. Of the Paris-Vallauris 1943-1953 show
currently at Gagosian he told Vogue Magazine,
“One of the things we want to establish is how
she bounces off him, but how he bounces a
little bit off her, too. She drew very well, and
she was a serious and extremely professional
painter. . . I don't want to make this another
mistress show.” 3 I read: Pass-around-Arty-dick
loved by many bounces marvelous innovation
“a little” off Gilot.
Since Gilot declined to interview with Revolt,
I’m forced to begin where my cursory research
meets my wildly Feminist imaginary. As I read
Life With Picasso I was frankly more interested
in the work as a love story during a war era.
Whereby Picasso accused mistress Gilot of
not being jealous enough, “You should refuse
to admit another face into my painting. If
you knew how Marie-Thérèse suffered when
I began making portraits of Dora Maar and
how unhappy Dora was when I went back to
painting Marie-Thérèse. But you,” he told Gilot,
“You’re a monster of indifference.”
Whereby Picasso loathed dancing, tortured
his small social circle comprised of lovers and
servants and forced Gilot to bare his children
by putting her down, “You are developed
only on the intellectual level. Everywhere
else you’re retarded. You won’t know what it
means to be a woman until you have a child.”
Whereby Picasso’s first wife Olga stalked
Gilot and threatened her, sending daily letters
in which she wrote in French, Spanish and
Russian “horizontally, vertically and in the
margins.” 4 Until one day Gilot twisted Olga’s
ankle and face planted her at the beach.
The Feminist frame within a Gilot frame within
a Picasso frame within a break-the-frame
frame with which I choose to remark upon
Gilot’s work seems strangely at odds with her
artistic personage. Although she ran in circles
with Simone de Beauvoir, painted images of
Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, Art Directed
a California based Virginia Woolf Quarterly,
suffered much physical and psychological
abuse at the hands of men, painted her
daughter Paloma as the Sphinx and a work
titled Adam Forcing Eve to Eat an Apple
(1946), she’s certainly not an out Feminist.
She never had to be because she’s famous by
association. And sick of it.
She wrote the book damn it, expanded her
château in Vallauris for the kids with the
publishing advance and is frankly, tired of
talking about big P!! As she told Vogue, “Art is
not a communicable disease. It's not like TB.
You have it or you don't. And if you have it, you
have to develop it yourself. I was interested in
my work.” 5 She was drawn to Picasso during
the tragic live-every-day-like-it’s-your-last
climate of the German occupation in France
and notes that the work of Matisse, who also
served as her mentor, was far more influential
and inspiring to her as an artist than Picasso
Truth be told she has been on the front lines
for over seventy years now since the age of five
years old when she told her mother Madeleine
Renoult, an amateur watercolor painter and
ceramicist, “I want to become a painter.” 6
Before she met Picasso, she was already
showing and painting professionally, much
to his amusement, “That’s the funniest thing
I’ve heard all day. Girls who look like that can’t
be painters.” 7 At the time, she saw herself a
philosopher disguised as a girl and already
had a law degree, a career in fashion and a
day job giving horseback riding lessons. She
was identified as a French hostage and put
under city arrest by soldiers of the German
occupation after a student demonstration
she took part in at the age of 19. When she
announced to her father she was set on
painting professionally he threatened to have
her committed and she was forced to escape
to her Grandmother’s house where she lived
estranged from her Father for many years.
Although she recounts in Life With Picasso
how the verbal and mild physical abuse she
suffered from Picasso connects back to the
violent treatment she suffered at the hands
of her father and the shell she constructed
to not only withstand his blows but learn to
reap a sort of perverse pleasure from them,
she is very clear, “I did not want to become
[Picasso’s] victim or martyr.” 8 Eventually she
grew up and got out.
She went on to paint a life time of works -
lithographs, watercolor, oil, pen and ink
drawings, gouaches, works on paper and
original intaglio prints. She made work about
the Utopia of Greek mythology, what her
website explains is an interest in the cyclicality
of Goddesses, Gods, heroes and their legends
interwoven as a “golden thread in the fabric of
her life.” Gilot writes, “The oracle unravels its
ambiguities, the Sphinx asks its odd question,
the seer prophesizes and the painter borrows
all the masks and invents new ways to solve
the enigmas of the human predicaments.” I
read: Yea biatch I’m talking about Africa the
cradle of human civilization.
She explored Buddhism to participate in the “Here
and Now and an elaboration of the future.” 9
Françoise Gilot, New You Studio, 2000, Photo: Brunon Mouron
Françoise Gilot, Pablo Picasso, 1946
Françoise Gilot, The Waves, 1986. Oil on canvas (two-sided screen), 64 x 104in.
She was sued by Picasso three times over
her book and won every time. In 1972, she
shifted from a classic rectangular canvas to an
oval or stylized mandala format suggesting a
distinctly Feminine and Modernist sensibility.
During these years she also painted large
compositions illustrating perpetual motion
through the glamour of the circus, spectacle
Gilot’s lifetime muse was her childhood friend
Genevieve and this served as a leitmotif
in her work. Gilot painted Genevieve in full
glorious polyvalent and participatory humanity.
Meanwhile, Picasso’s depictions of his many
lovers celebrated illegitimate white male power
and failure. The time he’d rather spend on the
stairway looking out the window, waiting for
Gilot to arrive than with her in the flesh. 10 So
why do we have to keep relating back to it four
shows in a Blue-Chip gallery that throws Gilot
15 minutes in ten years in which she fucked
him like a raggedy gnarled bone?
Gilot sought to understand movement so
she studied dance with Marguerite Bougai,
a devotee of Isadora Duncan and Martha
Graham. While Picasso and Olga raised a son
that liked to throw women out of windows, Gilot
raised little Claude that told her things like,
“Mama I like your painting…it’s better than
Papas.” 11 She published books of poetry. In
the 1980’s she became interested in depicting
women’s bodies in action. She was tired of the
stereotyped “Nudes and Sofas.” 12 I read: I’ll
give you a black eye Fucker!!
She began to think about stillness and the
Universe. “From atoms to galaxies, everything
quivers, throbs, moves, unfolds, coils up,
ripples, expands, radiates, multiplies, eludes,
huddles up, branches off, augments, and
dwindles. All is part of a huge cosmic dance
where the only constant is change.” 13
This is Feminist too. Australian interdisciplinary
philosopher Elizabeth Grosz has addressed
a similar tenet in Time Travels: Feminism,
Nature, Power (2005). Grosz’s feminist
rereading of Darwin suggests that ‘Survival
REVOLT Magazine May/June 2012
of the Fittest’ is not the dog-eat-dog-eatbitch
game of victor and vanquished we
see embodied in Picasso’s work and artist
personae but a case in which the ‘fittest’ is
actually the being most open and amenable
to change. The being most receptive to the
unadulterated gifts of the present. Grosz
maintains that Darwin “outlined an ingenious
‘temporal machine for the production of the
new’” in which evolution is a “fundamentally
open system” with “no real promise of any
particular result, no guarantee of progress
or improvement” save “proliferation and
Whereas Picasso told Gilot painting was a
“matter of seizing the power” and “taking
over from nature not expecting you to supply
her with information and good advice,” 15 Gilot
plunged into nature’s unruly wake. Picasso’s
rhetoric maintained fealty to the bland
2-dimensionality of a dominant/subordinate
pair of terms even as he tried to fragment,
extend and abstract their axis. It’s no surprise
that his African or Black Period has been so
easily absorbed into the Western Cannon with
its source – let’s call them the ‘vanquished’ -
uprooted, white-washed and obscured.
Gilot lived through the war too. It became
one filter she incorporated into her worldview
before expanding beyond its adolescent
double-bind. If Picasso is our Anti-hero, Gilot
must be our unsung Heroine. Both are equally
necessary to understand where we’ve been
and where we’re headed. Gilot prevailed and
reinvented herself; found polyvalent cyclicality
and perpetual motion. She probed the deep
potentiality of Female subjectivity and her life’s
work reflects the way in which the subordinate
term – Female, Other, Africa, The Dark
Continent! - is always “the heart and center” 16
of the dominant one.
Dodie Kazanjian, “Life After Picasso: Françoise
Gilot” Vogue Magazine, April 27, 2012
Life With Picasso, Francois Gilot and Carlton
Lake, New York: Anchor Books, 1964
John Richardson quoted in Dodie Kazanjian,
Selections from Life With Picasso, Francois
Gilot and Carlton Lake
New York: Anchor Books, 1964
Francois Gilot quoted in Dodie Kazanjian,
Francois Gilot interview with Charlie Rose, Art
& Design, February 13, 1998
Pablo Picasso quoted in Life With Picasso, ibid
Life With Picasso, ibid
Francois Gilot, http://www.francoisegilot.com/
Life With Picasso, ibid
Claude quoted in Life With Picasso, ibid p. 247,
Francois Gilot, http://www.francoisegilot.com/
Francois Gilot, http://www.francoisegilot.com/
Elizabeth Grosz, Time Travel: Feminism,
Nature, Power London: Duke University Press,
2005 p. 21, 26
Picasso quoted in Life With Picasso, ibid p. 272
Grosz, ibid pg. 6
1 Dodie Kazanjian, “Life After Picasso:
Françoise Gilot” Vogue Magazine, April 27,
2 Life With Picasso, Francois Gilot and
Carlton Lake, New York: Anchor Books,
3 John Richardson quoted in Dodie
Kazanjian, Vogue ibid
4 Selections from Life With Picasso,
Francois Gilot and Carlton Lake
New York: Anchor Books, 1964
5 Francois Gilot quoted in Dodie Kazanjian,
6 Francois Gilot interview with Charlie Rose,
Art & Design, February 13, 1998
7 Pablo Picasso quoted in Life With
8 Life With Picasso, ibid
9 Francois Gilot, http://www.francoisegilot.
10 Life With Picasso, ibid
11 Claude quoted in Life With Picasso, ibid
p. 247, 259
12 Francois Gilot, http://www.francoisegilot.
13 Francois Gilot, http://www.francoisegilot.
14 Elizabeth Grosz, Time Travel: Feminism,
Nature, Power London: Duke University
Press, 2005 p. 21, 26
15 Picasso quoted in Life With Picasso, ibid
16 Grosz, ibid pg. 6
Sketchbook drawing, Rochelle Fox, 2012