London-based writer, DJ, and music critic Kodwo Eshun thinks of his science fiction work as “theory on fast forward.” His debut book More Brilliant than the Sun: Adventures in Sonic Fiction (1999) is a manifesto that espouses alien-ation via technology and machine culture. For Eshun “the key thing to do now is to move into a new field. I’ve stopped calling myself a writer, for the book I’m just going to call myself a concept engineer.
Karen Finley is well known for her confrontational monologues, often performed in clubs and bars, which exploit the stereotype of the hysterical woman to address the sexual and political taboos associated with femininity. Using a variety of unusual props, such as Jello, chocolate syrup, stuffed animals, and glitter, Finley provokes her audience into thinking about a range of repressions and contradictions in contemporary society. She gained mainstream attention when Congress questioned her NEA funding in the early 1990s.
Kaucyila Brooke makes what she describes as ‘wall size photographic sequences in comic-strip format that consider lesbian relationships within American popular culture.’ Produced over the past five years, Brooke’s large-scale photo-text installations look at aspects of lesbian culture and alternative communities. Wry and often quite critical, they probe some of the ways lesbian relationships both challenge and reproduce the power relations and narratives of the wider culture.”
Julie Ault is an artist, curator, and founding member of the artist collective Group Material, which has organized exhibitions on themes such as the U.S.’s involvement in Central America, AIDS, education, and mass consumerism. Her exhibitions question traditional gallery and museum systems by asking “how is culture made and for whom?”
Judy Chicago’s large-scale, collaborative artwork has brought greater prominence to feminist themes and craft arts such as needlework and ceramics. Her most famous work, The Dinner Party (1979), was an enormous collaboration with hundreds of volunteers including ceramicists, china painters and needleworkers. The monumental finished piece has place settings for 39 mythical and historical famous women, writing them back into the heroic history usually reserved for men. Earlier in her career, Chicago was part of the Finish Fetish movement within Minimalism.
Judy Chicago is an artist, author, feminist, educator, and intellectual whose career now spans four decades. In 1974, Chicago turned her attention to the subject of women’s history to create her best known work, The Dinner Party, which was executed between 1974 and 1979 with the participation of hundreds of volunteers. This monumental multimedia project, a symbolic history of women in western civilization, has been seen by more than one million viewers during its 16 exhibitions held at venues spanning six countries.
Southern California visual artist Jud Fine seeks to promote democracy in art—the idea that anyone can be an artist. This video presents the artist and his work in a style that reflects the multi-layered dimensions of his artwork.
Only available on the Fellows of Contemporary Art compilation.
Juan Sanchez explores his Puerto Rican heritage and the issue of Puerto Rican independence through his work as an artist and writer. Combining painting, photography, collage, and printmaking techniques, Sanchez’s art joins images of contemporary barrio life with memories of Puerto Rico and addresses a fragmented Latino community fraught with political resistance and cultural alienation. Interview by Bibiana Suarez.
A historical interview originally recorded in 1990.
Joyce Kozloff was at the forefront of the 1970s pattern and decoration movement—a feminist effort to incorporate typically “feminine” and popular decorative arts into the fine arts. She has been involved with public art and murals for more than two decades. In this video, Kozloff prepares and installs her mural Around the World on the 44th Parallel, which features sections of maps from 12 cities around the world on the same latitude. The work was constructed at the Tile Guild in Los Angeles and installed at the library at Minnesota State University-Mankato.
Joseph Beuys was born in Kleve, Germany in 1921. After serving as a volunteer in the German military, Beuys attended the Dusseldorf Academy of Art to study sculpture, where in 1959 he became a professor. Much of his artwork reflects his attempt to come to terms with his involvement in the war. During the ’60s, Beuys became acquainted with the group Fluxus and artists such as Nam June Paik.
John Tagg is a writer, educator, and a leading contributor to the development of art-historical and photographic theory, focusing on political analysis of institutionalized culture and interventions within it. He is a professor of art history at State University of New York-Binghamton and author of Grounds of Dispute: Art History, Cultural Politics and the Discursive Field (1992) and The Burden of Representation: Essays on Photographies and Histories (1988). Interview by James Hugunin.
A historical interview originally recorded in 1988.
Jonas Dos Santos is a performance and installation artist from Brazil who came to the U.S. in 1968. His early work consisted of sculptural pieces in atypical spaces—caves and parks. His work remains informed by Brazilian iconography and rituals such as Carnival while also integrating responses to American culture’s tendency toward waste. His work, in particular his performance art, comes out of improvisation and intuition. This video incorporates still images of Dos Santos’s sculptures and footage of his performances.
John Cage’s compositions and performances have had a profound influence on generations of musicians and artists. In this tape, he initiates For the Third Time as author Richard Kostelanetz interviews him. “I’ve left the punctuation out, but I’ve distributed it by chance operations on the page, like an explosion,” Cage says. “You can replace the punctuation where you wish.”
John Malpede is a performance artist and Director of the Los Angeles Poverty Department (LAPD), a performance art and theater group whose members include the city’s homeless. Through LAPD, Malpede provides an opportunity for homeless people to articulate the reality of their lives for themselves and audiences. Malpede was well known for his collaboration with performer Gill Gordh as Dead Dog and Lonely Horse. In one performance he took on the role of a street person, contrasting the wealth and excess of the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles with the city’s struggle against homelessness.
British painter John Clark describes his youth experiences in Northern England, finding escape in the library stacks in art books and at the milk bars where he could hear American rock’n’roll. Clark not only discusses the evolution of his work but also his geographical history, living and painting away from the urban art scenes in London, Toronto, and New York.
Interview by Kate Horsfield.
A historical interview originally recorded in 1988.