“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” begins Charles Dickens’ epic A Tale of Two Cities. Dickens goes on to describe the novel’s period, set against the French Revolution, as an age of “wisdom” and “foolishness.” The context may have changed since those words were written, but the sentiment remains true. Here we are in 2017, arguably more conscious than ever to the plights of the dispossessed, yet somehow still stuck in the mires of narrow mindedness. Why do we seem doomed to repeat the errors of our ways? How can we better draw on lessons from history? In November, at New York’s Performa Biennial, these were questions at the heart of at least two South African artists’ commissioned performances. [Read more…]
Inspired by true events, The Divine Order tells the story of a housewife’s servitude and her quest for emancipation in a remote part of Switzerland. She rallies other women to fight for the right to vote, shifting the scales of power politically and domestically, while awakening to her own sexual potential. [Read more…]
On view at Matthew Marks, Los Angeles, are a selection of photographs from Nan Goldin’s hypnotic and haunting series, The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, which in its original format is a 48 minute slideshow documenting Goldin’s life in over 700 photographs and 30 songs, the text of which, those songs, acting as the narrative for the “film.”
In her introduction to the book, The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, Goldin writes:
I was eleven when my sister committed suicide. This was in 1965, when teenage suicide was a taboo subject. I was very close to my sister and aware of some of the forces that led her to choose suicide. I saw the role that her sexuality and its repression played in her destruction. [Read more…]
This is a sort of Cinderella story, if Cinderella was a 74 year-old man with a penchant for drawing fantastical landscapes, imaginary cars, trains and figures. William Hall may look like a character actor with Santa Claus on his resume, but he harbors an interior life that is far more unique than his appearance suggests. Outwardly there are no clues to imply the fullness of his imagination, nor his impressive talents, yet like the kernel of truth buried within any fable, his story reveals the strength of the human spirit in the face of adversity. [Read more…]
Rat Film, a riveting new feature by Theo Anthony, plunges into the dark recesses of Baltimore’s rat-infested streets; in doing so, it takes its viewers into the gaping breach of socio-economic segregation.
Once upon a time – because all tales innocuously anchor their footprints in reality – Anthony notices a rat desperately trying to jump out of the confinement of a trashcan. This momentary experience soon leads the director into the chaos of the human condition, which the film masterfully begins to explore while an eerily autocratic voice over (Maureen Jones) ushers us into behavioral neuroscience with references to Curt Richter’s experiments compiled into his book: “Rats, Man and the Welfare State”. [Read more…]
Guillermo Bert’s Encoded Textiles Project, a series of exquisitely wrought tapestries that embed the stories of indigenous communities through QR codes woven into the textiles themselves, brings together traditional weaving techniques, digital technologies and stories of identity. The QR codes within the weavings launch additional content and documentary video Bert shot while working with weavers in Chile and Oaxaca, Mexico. His tapestries are currently on view in two Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA exhibitions in Los Angeles—The U.S.-Mexico: Place, Imagination, and Possibility at the Craft and Folk Art Museum, and Mundos Alternos: Art and Science Fiction in the Americas at the UCR Arts Block. They also may be seen in two museum exhibitions: Unsettled, at the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno, reframes human migration within the context of a vast super-region that encompasses the western edge of the Americas from Alaska to Patagonia and much of the Pacific; and Tied, Died, and Woven: Ikat Textiles from Latin America, at the Textile Museum of Canada, juxtaposes textiles from the museum’s permanent collection with contemporary objects by Bert and other artists. [Read more…]
Molly Larkey’s recent exhibition at Ochi Projects, a shape made through its unraveling, reflects her interest in the invisible conceptual structures that shape society and structure ways of thinking. Her sculpture alludes to the ideals of utopian concepts as novel possibilities on a distant horizon, but with this exhibit Larkey also focused on identifying and adopting practices that solve seemingly intractable societal problems. [Read more…]
An extract from “China Is Laughing About This Situation,” The Global Politico/Susan Glasser interview with Ai Weiwei.
Ai Weiwei is making a strong case for himself as America’s leading dissident of the Trump era.
Never mind that he’s Chinese, or that he lives in Berlin in de facto exile these days.
The legendary artist, who has long embraced political themes in his work, has gone full-out activist in a new feature-length documentary film about the global refugee crisis, called Human Flow and released in theaters across the U.S. Friday, and in a new, New York City-wide public art exhibit of 300 works in dozens of locations called “Good Walls Make Good Neighbors.”
Both are explicit rebuttals of the nationalistic, America-First-fueled policies espoused by Trump, from his proposed Mexican border wall to his curbs on immigration that include admitting the smallest number of refugees to the U.S. in decades. [Read more…]
With England is Mine, director Mark Gill explores the emergence of the creative mindset of an icon of alternative rock music: Morrissey.
Named after the Smiths’ lyrics, “England is mine and it owes me a living,” the biopic focuses on the former Smiths frontman’s adolescence, from his boredom while working menial jobs at the Inland Revenue and at a local hospital, to his creative spurts of inspiration mixed with his private torments. Depression and ambition go hand in hand to provide the fuel that will either sink him or propel him to greatness, and his career finally jumps into gear when he meets Johnny Marr and steps into the threshold of his destiny. [Read more…]
To mark the 50th anniversary of his October 8, 1967 death by assassination, Alci Rengifo looks at the figure of Che as enduring myth, media icon and indomitable commodity here in the capitalist, revolutionless West. Below is a 1964 interview with the actual man:
David Lynch chats with Harry Dean Stanton:
Elle Reeve’s excellent reportage for HBO’s Vice News. Below is her interview with Christopher Cantwell, a self-described white nationalist, and her coverage of the events in Charlottesville as they tragically unfolded. Plus, a little sweet to help suck down the sour: Christopher Cantwell buckles, sheds tears (for himself) and, praise Jesus, prattles out his own private phone number (third clip), should anyone want to speak with him personally: [Read more…]
In a somewhat combative 1957 interview, a flinty and surprisingly conventional Mike Wallace interrogates an unwavering yet ever-thoughtful Frank Lloyd Wright.
Don’t call Victor Gastelum a stencil artist. Yes he wields an X-Acto blade like the Master of the Flying Guillotine, but long before Bansky was spraying 2-D cliches onto London walls, Victor was creating images that resonated like stills from an unknown film noir. It’s hard to remember now that there was a time when low riders and Mexican wrestlers were not in rap videos and beer commercials, but it was during those late 80’s and 90’s that Victor took the stuff of his childhood visual culture and created images that contain both literal and figurative depth. We sat in his studio in Long Beach and talked about his journey from making Punk flyers to working at SST Records and navigating the art world like Mr. Magoo. [Read more…]
Interviews with Jay-Z, Kendrick Lamar, Common, Chris Rock, Mahershala Ali and others as they discuss issues such as systemic racism, troubles with honesty in relationships, the readiness to love, mentorship and much more.
Cracked Actor (Live, Los Angeles ’74)
Sweet Thing/Candidate (Live, Los Angeles ’74)
In honor and in celebration of Cracked Actor, the new live release from David Bowie’s infamously depraved yet musically stellar ’74 tour (the new album narrows in on one evening, his September 5th show at Los Angeles’ Universal Amphitheater, which I had the blearied pleasure of attending!), Riot Material scratched up a BBC documentary from that same tour, titled Cracked Actor: A Film About David Bowie. The 1975 film, viewable below, is directed by Alan Yentob.
It would be easy to say that the alternative histories portrayed in the works of Umar Rashid are perfectly timed to reflect the era of “alternative facts” taking place in this historical moment. But the truth is, if you are going to make art intended to talk, both directly and indirectly, about the oppression of people of color and the suppression of their history, there is no time in the modern era when the work would not seem timely.
As Frohawk Two Feathers, and now Umar Rashid, the artist re-imagines 18th century history in images that recall traditional portraiture, folk art and Native American art but updated with details from the contemporary world. The mash-up allows him to speak simultaneously about the past and the present, accompanied by a complicated written narrative that must be read to fully understand the work. [Read more…]
On Saturday, January 21st of this year, Tony welcomed me into he and Erin’s warm home. Greeting me at the door with a big hug and smile, Tony, despite his ongoing lengthy battle with cancer, was his usual self: cracking gallows humour jokes about his health, about the newly inaugurated President Trump, the cop-rotten planet, and so much more. [Read more…]
Justin Lyons is a mixed media artist living in the Florida panhandle. We spoke with him on the eve of his solo exhibition at the Bruce Lurie Gallery in Los Angeles.
CHRISTOPHER HASSETT: Before addressing your most recent work, I wanted to briefly touch on a few signature elements in what is considered to be pivotal career pieces, elements which not only define but help flesh out your global visual language. This language, by the way, initially and superficially registers as being quite primitive, even crude, but upon spending time with these pieces it becomes apparent that something more thoughtful and sophisticated is taking place. [Read more…]
Neville Wakefield is the Curator and Artistic Director of Desert X, a site-specific contemporary art exhibition ongoing throughout the Coachella Valley from February 25 to April 30, 2017. RIOT MATERIAL spoke with Neville on the eve of Desert X’s launch.
CHRISTOPHER HASSETT: What is it about these artists you’ve selected for Desert X that speak to you personally, or speak to a greater vision you’re trying to articulate through the exhibition, and I refer to them more as an inter-connective group as opposed to distinct individuals? [Read more…]
Desert X, a site-specific contemporary art exhibition in the Coachella Valley, curated by Artistic Director Neville Wakefield, will become the sweeping canvas for work by established and emerging artists, whose projects will amplify and articulate global and local issues ranging from climate change to Tribal culture, immigration to tourism, gaming to golf. The exhibition, which opens to the public this weekend, 25 February, will focus attention on, and create a conversation about, environmental, social and cultural conditions of the 21st century as reflected in the greater Palm Springs area.
In an online roundtable discussion, RIOT MATERIAL spoke with Desert X artists Jennifer Bolande, Glenn Kaino, Phillip K. Smith III, Tavares Strachan about the desert, their driving visions, and their particular installations. [Read more…]