Dee Dee Halleck is a media activist, one of the founders of Paper Tiger Television and the Deep Dish Satellite Network, and was a professor in the Department of Communication at the University of California-San Diego. Her first film, Children Make Movies (1961), was about a filmmaking project at the Lillian Wald Settlement in Lower Manhattan. She has led media workshops with elementary school children, reform school youth, and migrant farmers.
Newton Harrison, born 1932, is one of the earliest and best known social practice and environmental artists. He and Helen Mayer Harrison collaborated under the name Harrison Studio for most of their lives, working in a variety of mediums in collaboration with scientists, political activists, and many others to start dialogues about community development and engagement. In conversation with Claire Pentecost, a writer and professor of photography at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Harrison discusses his expansive career, and offers advice for younger artists working today.
Louis Henderson’s work focuses on anti-colonialism and criticizing the neocolonialisation of cyberspace. Born in England in 1983, he graduated from London College of Communication and Le Fresnoy - Studio national des arts contemporains. He recently finished a post-diplôme at the European School of Visual Arts.
In this interview, Brian Holmes, an influential art critic, activist and translator, discusses social forms of alienation, human ecologies of power, and the impact of technology on geopolitical social networks. Holmes reflects on his ongoing study of the ways in which the rhetoric of revolution has been institutionalized, as well as artists’ resistance to such cooption. For him, artists working in collectives have the potential to create a new artistic milieu that is not aligned with the dominant model of production. This argument is born out in his published collection of essays, Hieroglyphics of the Future (2003).
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.
Juliana Huxtable was born in Texas and studied at Bard College, NY. An artist working across video, photography, poetry, and music, her practice demands a reexamination of the canon of art history in order to break the cycle of misrepresentation and under-representation in the contemporary art world.
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.
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 Brazil and a
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Thai conceptual performance video artist Kamin Lertchaiprasert (b.1964) anchors his work through a commitment to the core principles of Buddhism and his definitive goal to create “life-specific” rather than “site-specific” art. For Lertchaiprasert, the purpose of art is to reclaim the meaningfulness of human activities and collaboration. The artist describes how his techniques of production and his choice of medium ranges from environmental works, to formal sculptures made from recycled materials, to the use of relational aesthetics in the creation of collaborative workshops. With reference to cultural and religious differences between East and West, Lertchaiprasert also posits how the philosophy of art under Buddhist ideals can be a matter of survival, helping us to better understand the essence of being alive. -Faye Gleisser
Linda Montano is interviewed by Janet Dees, Curator at the Mary and Leigh Block Museum, Northwestern University.
Since the 1960s, Linda Montano has aimed to blur the distinction between art and life with her performance and video work. Delving deep into subjects like death, spirituality and personal trauma, she is seen as an influential figure in feminist performance art.
Sharon Lockhart is a photographer and filmmaker. Her photographic and filmic works interrogate the inversion of the static image as cinematic and the manipulation of the moving image into a static/stop-motion frame. Her work also contemplates how we perceive our own real-time realities.
Awarded a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship in 2014, Rick Lowe is a leading practitioner of social practice art. His Row Houses project is a highly lauded example of relational aesthetics successfully deployed. This interview focuses particularly on that work and the artist’s entrance into social practice.
In this 2013 interview, experimental animator and School of the Art Institute of Chicago alumna Jodie Mack discusses the developments that have taken her from an interest in musical theater and playwriting to organizing microcinemas and DIY filmmaking.
Mack describes her interest in early cinema history and the relationship between its technologies and spectacle, particularly the manner in which video production incorporates planned obsolescence. Referring to the “scavenger nature” of her work, Mack discusses her interest in waste and her desire to use reclaimed materials in her work. Using fabric and paper to create shifting fields of color, Mack references corroded and glitched digital media in her work. Her use of quotidian materials reflects upon the role of abstract animation in everyday life, and serves to draw audience awareness to the spectacle of televisual technology.
– Kyle Riley