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.

 

1983
Warrington Hudlin: An Interview

Documentarian and independent film producer Warrington Hudlin co-founded the Black Filmmaker Foundation in the late-1970s to help develop and promote emerging artists. More recently, he has been involved in DV Republic, a web-based alternative media site that is “socially concerned, entertainment driven,” and the screening series World Cinema Showcase, hosted by the American Museum of the Moving Image. 

Interview by Shelley Shepard.

A historical interview originally recorded in 1983. 

1982
Diane Itter: An Interview

The 1970s witnessed unprecedented artistic development of non-traditional media – chief among them were textiles and fabrics. Diane Itter was at the forefront of this boom in craft-oriented art making, designing colorful, geometric and exceedingly intricate fiber works that demanded near countless hours of time to execute. In this interview she discusses her practice, as well as the pitfalls that are encountered while working in what was – at the time of the interview – a still largely marginalized art form.

1990
Alfredo Jaar: An Interview

Alfredo Jaar is a politically motivated artist whose work includes installation, photography and film.  Born in Chile and now living in the U.S., Jaar’s socio-critical installations explore global political issues, frequently focusing on the Third World and the relationship between consumption and power.  A 1988 installation in a subway station in New York involved dramatic photographs of impoverished gold miners n Brazil interspersed with quotations of current gold prices, drawing an unexpected parallel between the material desires that motivate people in both poverty-stricken Br

1993
Art Jones

In this 1993 contribution to the On Art and Artists series, artist Art Jones describes his entry into the world of activist media, and the genesis of his belief in the potential for a democratized street-level media. Hailing from the Bronx, Jones recalls his personal dislocation during college, when he began studying film and video at SUNY Purchase. At that time, Jones experienced a cultural isolation, which he mobilized to fuel his practice. This willingness to confront issues of representation and absence, asserting the validity of his own subjecthood, would become a defining characteristic of his work.

2002
Miranda July: An Interview

Miranda July (b.1974) makes performances, movies, and recordings—often in combination. Her videos (The Amateurist, Nest of Tens, Getting Stronger Every Day) present complicated parallel narratives with characters who experience loneliness, exploitation, unexpected phobias, and often inexplicable relationships. July has also recorded several performance albums released by Kill Rock Stars and K Records. In 1995 she founded Joanie 4 Jackie, an on-going movie distribution network for independent women movie makers.

2016
Tom Kalin: An Interview

Tom Kalin is a screenwriter, film director, producer, and educator. As a key figure in New Queer Cinema, his work focuses on the portrayal of gay sexuality both in the age of AIDS and historically. Informed by his work with two AIDS activist collectives, ACT UP and Gran Fury, Kalin’s video work is characterized by appropriated images, original portraits, and performances.

1989
Mary Kelly: An Interview

Since the 1970s Mary Kelly (b.1941) has worked at the fore of feminist art and theory. She has continued to address issues and methods of activist politics, psychoanalysis, political science, literature, and the history of women and gender. Kelly received recognition in the early ’80s for her epic six-year project, The Post Partum Document, a mixed-media work chronicling her and her son’s development. Kelly says her work revolves “around the recurring themes of body, money, history, and power” in this interview with Judith Russi Kirschner.

2001
Ben Knapp and Andy Diaz Hope: An Interview

The interstice of art and technology has proved to one of the most generative locations in contemporary transdisciplinarity. As media of all kinds become more electronically integrated and digitized across multiple platforms, current technologies approach a condition of complete imbrication with art practices, and vice versa. Ben Knapp and Andy Diaz Hope have been at the forefront of these techno-aesthetic interactions, and their career experience as hard-science engineers brings a level of practical competence to this interview that is truly enlightening.

2001
Kodwo Eshun: An Interview

British-Ghanaian, writer, theorist and filmmaker Kodwo Eshun (b.1967) is known for his interest in the electronic mythology of sound. In this interview, Eshun discusses his desire to challenge the predominance of sociological inquiries into the historical and stylistic development of music.  Eshun seeks to establish a model of inquiry that is much more concerned with the materiality of sound.

2002
Phyllis Kornfeld: An Interview

In this interview, Phyllis Kornfeld, author of Cellblock Visions: Prison Art in America, describes her initial interest in working with prisoners in her native Oklahoma City, stemmed from an exploration of outsider artists. Detailing her first visit to a high security prison as a ‘mind blowing and breathtaking’ experience, Kornfeld discusses how she came to her realization that prisons are fertile environments for free form experimentation with the teaching process. She learned that through personalized art education, inmates could teach themselves to make positive contributions to society. - Kyle Riley

1983
Shigeko Kubota: An Interview

For Shigeko Kubota the video image-making process is a cultural and personal experience. She has explored cross-cultural relationships in her video diaries, transient images captured by portable equipment while traveling—Kubota’s “comparative videology.” She has also combined fleeting video images with the “objecthood” of sculptural form in her series of video sculptures inspired by Duchamp.

2005
George Kuchar: An Interview

Beloved by filmmakers such as John Waters and Todd Solondz, George Kuchar has been working with the moving image for nearly half a century. In the 1950s, Kuchar and his twin brother Mike began producing ultra-low-budget underground versions of Hollywood genre films, with names like I Was a Teenage Rumpot and The Devil's Cleavage.

1999
Steve Kurtz: An Interview

Steve Kurtz is a founding member of the Critical Art Ensemble and Associate Professor of Art at University of Buffalo. His areas of focus are contemporary art history and theory as well as post-studio practices. As a student Kurtz collaborated with Steve Barnes on low-tech videos, which they developed into a broad-based artist and activist collective known as the Critical Art Ensemble.

Interview by Gregg Bordowitz.

A historical interview originally recorded in 1999 and re-edited in 2005.

1990

Elizabeth LeCompte is the director of the Wooster Group, an experimental theater company that operates out of its own theater, the Performing Garage, in New York City. The group’s working process begins with "source" texts which are quoted, reworked, and juxtaposed with fragments of popular, cultural and social history, and combined with personal and collective experiences of the group. The resulting productions reflect a continuing refinement of a non-linear, abstract aesthetic that at once subverts and pays homage to modern theatrical "realism."

Interview by Lin Hixson.

1993
Carol Leigh: An Interview

During a conference in the late 1970s, Carol Leigh (also known as the Scarlot Harlot) coined the term “sex worker.” Now, it is a fundamental part of the lexicon regarding all worker’s rights and this is owed in large part to Leigh’s artistic and activist career. Working primarily through the medium of performance and video – her work attempts to educate and broaden audiences’ understanding of sex work and the fundamental rights sex workers deserve. This interview is a distillation of those aims.