VDB Interviews

On Art and Artists: Video Data Bank Interviews

This section comprises taped interviews with artists, architects, musicians, critics and other creative practitioners, recorded in conversation with Video Data Bank staff, colleagues from the School of the Art Institute faculty, and others knowledgeable about the particular interviewees work.

The first interview dates from 1976, the year of VDB’s official inauguration, and VDB continues to add to the collection to this day, recording and producing approximately ten new interviews a year.  Many of the interviewees are guests of S AIC departments, such as the Visiting Artists program or Conversations at the Edge screening series, or invitees of the Society for Contemporary Art.  The VDB interviews supplement these visits, allowing for an in-depth conversation that underlines the development of an artists’ practice.

 

2019
Danh Vo: An Interview

Danh Vo is a Vietnamese-born Danish conceptual artist, currently living and working between Berlin and Mexico City. His large installations often deal with issues of personal identity and belonging. In conversation with Norah Taylor, an art historian specializing in South and Southeast Asian art, Vo discusses his upbringing, career, and what led him to become an artist.

2013
Vaginal Davis: An Interview

In this interview, American artist, independent curator, writer, and experimental filmmaker, Vaginal Davis reflects on her initiation into the punk rock and art scenes of Los Angeles during the 1980s and 90s, her stylistic influences, and her ongoing efforts to theorize queerness and visuality. Caught between the opposing poles of Hollywood classicism and the rawness of punk, Davis defines her unapologetically gender-bending, campy, and at times aggressively critical performances as scenarios, rather than spectacles or entertainment.

2001
DJ Spooky: An Interview

Paul D. Miller (b. 1970) is a conceptual artist, writer, and musician better known as DJ Spooky. A popular and prolific recording artist, he has collaborated with Ryuichi Sakamoto, Butch Morris, Yoko Ono, Thurston Moore (of Sonic Youth), Kool Keith, and Killa Priest (of Wu Tang Clan). Miller’s work uses a wide variety of digitally created music as a form of postmodern sculpture.

1999
Willie Doherty: An Interview

Northern Irish artist Willie Doherty (b. 1959) works in photography and video installation. Since the late 1980s, his work has responded to the urban setting and rural outskirts of his hometown of Derry, Northern Ireland. Doherty’s artworks tend to begin as responses to specific terrains (most often mysterious isolated settings; places, we suspect, with a troubled past) and evolve as complex reflections on how we look at such locations — or on what stories might be told about their hidden histories.

2000
Nathaniel Dorsky: An Interview

Nathaniel Dorsky’s films are precise articulations of cinematic qualities: the surprise of an edit, the composition of framing, and the flash of the image. Dubbed the “filmmaker’s filmmaker”, Dorsky’s work captures the fleeting moments of everyday life in its poetic chaos in such films as Pneuma (1976-82), Triste (1974-96), Alaya (1976-87), and Variations (1992-98). Using a spring-wound Bolex and 16mm reversal stock film, Dorsky’s films operate in the realm of the purely visual.

2009
Terry Eagleton: An Interview

In this interview, political and social theorist, Terry Eagleton (b. 1943), shares stories of his Irish upbringing and British education, and sums up his current engagement with art theory, leftist politics, and spirituality under capitalism. With reference to Henry James, Frederic Jameson, Christopher Hitchens, and Richard Dawkins, among others, this interview spans a vast landscape of literature and social theory.

1988
Felipe Ehrenberg: An Interview

Felipe Ehrenberg is a prominent Mexican artist who has been actively producing interactive political art, installations, and murals for more than 30 years. Also a writer, Ehrenberg has run a small press in Mexico City and has published numerous articles for art journals in the United States.

Interview by Carol Becker.

1998
Olafur Eliasson: An Interview

Berlin-based Danish artist Olafur Eliasson complicates and simulates perception through his installations, sculptures, and photographs. He has created disorienting artificial illuminations and reproduced natural phenomena such as clouds, glaciers and the sun through large-scale, high-tech installations.

2018
Ephraim Asili: An Interview

In this interview, African American filmmaker and DJ Ephraim Asili (b. 1979) discusses his upbringing, education, and creative process. Born and raised around the city limit of Philadelphia, Asili’s childhood and adolescence were imbued with hip hop music, Hollywood movies and television.

1987
Ute Eskildsen: An Interview

German curator Ute Eskildsen (b. 1947) was born in Itzehoe (Schleswig-Holstein). After studying photography and working as an assistant in a fashion and portrait studio, she went on to study photography and the history of photography at the Folkwang School of Portraiture in Essen. A fellow in Visual Communication at the Essen University, she served as assistant to Otto Steinert in the field of photo-history exhibitions.

2019
Eyal Weizman: An Interview

Eyal Weizman is a British-Israeli architect and academic. He’s the founder of Forensic Architecture, which uses architectural research to investigate violations of human rights around the world. In this interview, Weizman discusses his career and the importance of Forensic Architecture’s work with Jonathan Solomon, Director of the Department of Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Designed Objects at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

1990
Karen Finley: An Interview

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.

Interview by Tom Jaremba.

1987
Joan Fontcuberta: An Interview

Joan Fontcuberta was born in Barcelona in 1955. His work has been widely exhibited internationally. Fontcuberta uses photography as a conceptual medium, often testing the limits of the image’s credibility. Fauna (1987) and Sputnik (1997) take advantage of photography’s documentary quality to pose elaborate hoaxes. In recent work, Fontcuberta explores and criticizes the image and its proliferating sources with works such as Orogensis/Landscapes Without Memory (2002) and Googlegrams (2005).

2014
Simone Forti: An Interview

The later 1950s and early 1960s saw the development and proliferation of radically new forms of dance driven by a desire to understand the essentiality of movement divorced from traditional, balletic and modern syntaxes. At the forefront of this new wave of performance was Simone Forti, an artist with a hand in both improvisational techniques and choreographed task-maneuvers. This interview details her exploration of each – with a particular focus on her earliest investigations into movement, owing to time spent under the study of Anna Halprin.

2001
Hal Foster: An Interview

Hal Foster is Professor of Modern Art at Princeton University, and has written and edited numerous influential books on postmodernism, art, and culture. His books include Recodings: Art, Spectacle, Cultural Politics (1985); The Return of the Real: The Avant-Garde at the End of the Century (1996); and, as editor, The Anti-Aesthetic: Essays on Postmodern Culture (1983); Vision and Visuality (1988); and Richard Serra (2000).

Interview by David Raskin.

A historical interview originally recorded in 2001 and re-edited in 2008.