Archive for the 'friends' Category
December 2nd, 2010 by nkatz22
My friend Jason is trying to get a velodrome built in Brooklyn, the vote is today! if you are in NY show up and support his Fitzcarraldo! Here’s his message:
If you dont know, i’ve been working on a proposal to build a velodrome and cycling center in Greenpoint Brooklyn! The Newtown Creek Water treatment plant in Greenpoint is giving 6 million dollars in restitution for the crappy polution they’ve been spreading around greenpoint. My velodrome is a finalist and could possibly get the funding if you come out and vote!! Please forward this to as many people as you can! Your turn out can help make this project a reality!!
Check out my blog:
I’ve also tweeted it:
Tomorrow is the big day! The city has set the voting date for the selected project finalists to decide who will receive the 6 million dollars of funding which the Newtown Creek Water treatment plant has to pay out for damages its caused to the Greenpoint area. The Velodrome is one of these projects and we need your support.
Please show your support for the Velodrome and vote tomorrow December 2nd from 3 – 8pm, at PS 34, 131 Norman Ave. (near McGuinness Blvd.), Greenpoint Brooklyn.
The proposed Velodrome and Cycling center project will hopefully be in Greenpoint Brooklyn at the MTA lot on 65 Commercial Street. We are working on the proposals now and there’s been press about the project in the Brooklyn Paper and the Greenpoint Gazzette. Our goal is to create a world class Velodrome and a cycling center for NYC with a crit coarse and BMX park.
Again its Thursday December 2nd from 3 – 8pm, at PS 34, 131 Norman Ave. (near McGuinness Blvd.), Greenpoint Brooklyn.
Come rally tomorrow in support for this promising opportunity for all cyclists!!
November 17th, 2010 by nkatz22
christopher robbins and i had a nice conversation today. one topic we discussed was not having the daily time to develop a daily practice, and whether or not that was desirable for two project based artists, or whether project based art is an outcome of not having a daily practice. we decided to bring over to our blog platforms to continue the conversation.
after our conversation i thought to put into practice a daily practice by doing something that is not project based and can become, or inform a daily practice. so this is for you chris robbins.
April 18th, 2010 by nkatz22
We spent a busy week in Pesaro working on relocating Giovanni’s bookstore (see earlier post). What was meant to be a big creative collaborative fun project turned a bit (originally Giovanni presented the idea as a joining of his creative friends to re-imagine his bookstore in new space). There was a point in the process a couple of months ago when Giovanni became very anxious about surviving as a business, and redirected his original plan to re-conceive his bookstore, into focusing on a functional bookstore. He did this by entrusting the bulk of the work to a local store designer. Once the store designer went from being a helpful advisor to a hired worker, he assumed the control and began to relegate our ideas to mere conceptual fantasy. We had one very frustrating meeting where he suggested that all of our ideas should be concentrated on the children’s book section. This was about a month ago, and at that point we returned to Milan and decided to focus on autonomous contributions and interventions into the bookstore without inserting ourselves into the overall layout and design. An unfortunate decision, since we were very keen on an involvement in that part of the work.
Then we arrived for a week in Pesaro to work on our contribution and to help Giovanni and Ale with the relocation. We arrived to find the two of them very sad and bitter with the work of the store designer. They felt that he did not make any consideration for their desires, wants, or even needs in a bookstore and instead proceeded to design a space as he wanted it. Many essential elements to a bookstore and to the personality of Giovanni were discarded.
The space however is very beautiful, and the shelves from the old bookstore found a home in the space very nicely with the addition of just a few new shelving units built by drug-rehabilitating carpenters.
For our contribution we focused on creating a new system of signage for the bookstore. We decided to make small colorful flags with symbolic representation on them to signify the categories and to counteract some of the omnipresent wood of the shelving. Together with Giovanni we came up with a list of image representations for the sections and then V drew and cut the images while I was sewing them on the flags. I was using the sewing machine to applique the shapes, since I am just learning how to use it, and have never made an applique before I had a bit of a learning curve. The first four days in Pesaro we had a production line on the machine running late into the night.
When we did enter the bookstore, V was finishing up painting the section names while I was stretching fishing lines across the ceiling beams to suspend the flags from.
Giovanni and Ale and some helpers were running books in a wheelbarrow from the old store down the street and busily shelving them in the new store.
The store designer stayed true to his commitment and didn’t touch the children’s book section. So V and I decided to have some fun with it. Giovanni’s clientele has always been an older intellectual crowd and not so many families and kids shopping in the store, so children’s books have always been an afterthought for him. We hoped that we could give a new direction to this neglected part of the store. V went through the catalog and made a nice list of recommendations for books that he should stock up on. For the space, we painted two of the walls a bright green and salvaged some old crooked misshaped shelves from the old store. We hung them in odd arrangements, working with the limited space and materials and trying to give the sense of being inside a tree in the crookedness of the branches.
When we left on Sunday everything was almost complete and ready for the opening. Next weekend we’ll go back down to Pesaro for the opening celebration.
April 2nd, 2010 by nkatz22
V and I were getting a bit frustrated with our attempts to realize some 1 hour art projects. Sure, we had one really nice experience with Enrico Bressan. But after that it seemed that all of these proposals to democratize and make available an art experience were actually completely impractical and unavailable to just about anyone with an interest. Regardless of the amount of effort that the curator was putting into the project, the many participating artists were just not available when there was an interest. We even had the absurd situation where we had scheduled a project with a particular artist, Rebecca Agnes, whose proposal was
“Reading a tale in the host’s house in a sunday afternoon. Rebecca Agnes project consists in transforming the narration code, the word, into an improper one, drawing. During the lecture of a book chosen by the host, the artist will extrapolate words which can be drawn. So people who will take part to the art hour (it may be individual or collective) will have a drawing pen to draw on two walls of the house.”
We got in touch with her a week before the appointment to let her know that since we are moving out of this apartment in two months we will stretch paper on the walls for the drawing. She replied that unfortunately due to this circumstance she could no longer realize the project even though she thought hard about an alternative, instead she suggested that if we were really interested we could repaint our walls after her visit… Now I am all about artistic integrity and respecting the wishes of the artist when it comes to realizing a work, but the complete inflexibility in realizing a project that is meant to occur in another person’s home just re-enforced to v and i the remoteness of any of these projects or artists from an appreciation of participation or interaction.
And then, Stefano Lupatini came along. Stefano is working in a variety of media and approaches on the subject of media control and manipulation with an emphasis on the concept of white noise. The project he proposed for 1 hour art is meant to provide information for his larger research. The proposal is:
“_Whitenoise chocolates_is a part of _Whitenoiseprojekt_, a project dealing with the word Information and that means to develop in an interdisciplinary way in the public and in the private sphere. 1 h art provides the artist the chance to know how people react in front of an artwork that call into question the usability of information. Whitenoise chocolates_ make the artist go to the host house with a chocolate candies and his camcorder. The idea is to gather the family around the chocolate candies, making them discuss about what the chocs raise and recording everything happens. Chocs are made of press clippings, and, focusing attention, you can see that there are some hidden messages. The artist is pushed by the desire to survey and document different reactions and discussions, thus filing new stuff to be used for other occasions. This operation is also a way to try to understand if it exists or not a direct relationship between art and information and to reflect on what is the art’s role in the topical debate on the expression freedom.”
So Sunday night Stefano arrived at our apartment with his partner Daniela and a big box of chocolates. After setting up his camera, V and I sat at our dining room table and unwrapped the box of chocolates to find meticulously created newspaper covered styrofoam chocolates. The styrofoam chocolates contained just a little bit of actual text and so was quite difficult to approach the actual content, but V and I spent the next hour or so engaging with the chocolates and practicing our abilities to build conversation, content and meaning from something that wasn’t giving very much. We looked for meaning in the text, noticed the over abundance of mentions of Berlusconi and started to separate the chocolates by “good” and “bad”. We then composed some dada poems from the chocolates with the larger text from headlines, where there were just a couple of letters of each word legible. We approached the chocolates with a discussion of current events, applied a formal critique to the objects, tasted (and chewed on) the styrofoam pieces to test their similarity to chocolate, we used them as madelines to instigate memory. We played for a while, and at the end Stefano seemed genuinely surprised, and happy, at how much we were able to generate from his little newspaper chocolates.
After the recording we spent some time conversing with Stefano and Daniela and hearing about his experience in Milan. He told us that his only valuable conversations about art come from meeting with curators, that we were the first artists in Milan that he has actually had a conversation about art with (!!!)
Before they left we agreed to meet again, and continue a conversation.
April 1st, 2010 by nkatz22
This weekend V and I head down to Pesaro for the week to work on Giovanni’s bookstore. I wrote something about Giovi to post here a couple of months ago and never got around to it. So I include it here to explain the project, though our contribution to the bookstore has since changed a bit. You’ll read about Giovi’s vision in my earlier post as driving his new bookstore, in fact, he succumbed to the pressure of survival and hired a store designer to put together most of the place. Our role remains focused on the visual signage, for which we have developed a symbol language to refer to categories and machine embroidered about 40 colorful flags to hang around the store like prayer flags. pictures of these will follow this week. For now, here is that earlier explanatory post…
(from a couple of months ago)
This past weekend we went to Pesaro, Valentina’s home town. A big reason for our trip was to visit with Valentina’s friend Giovanni, whose story I want to recount to you. Pesaro is a small town, and although pre-dominantely a seaside resort, it is also known as the Rose of the Sea, for its leftist leanings. Its proximity to Urbino (the walled renaissance hilltop city), and the university that now-a-days occupies a major part of the city has provided for a vibrant student movement in the area. Some relatively famous Italian authors and designers came out of the Pesaro of the sixties and seventies. More recently, a successful movement of illustrators emerged from the area. One of the legacies of this past is a surprising amount of small bookstores in the old town. A locus of the book culture for the past fifteen years has been Giovanni. He owns a book shop in the old Jewish quarter of Pesaro, and his store for years acted as the place where book lovers congregated. A large collection of new titles and an excellent selection of rare and out of print books. It is the kind of place that you browse for the pleasure of browsing and discovering. But the main reason that people make their way to Giovanni’s bookstore is to visit and speak with the man. He is a bookseller of old, in that you may or may not know what you are looking for, but when engaging in conversation with him, topics open up, ideas are pursued and books are brought out. Efficiency and the final sale are not as important as building relationships and engaging in stimulating conversation. When Valentina was just a teenager she discovered the store and after a while started working for Giovanni. She stayed working there for many years and still returns occasionally during the busy seasons to help out. Whenever we are visiting Pesaro we will often stop by there directly from the train station, before going Valentina’s parents house to drop off the bags. At any moment there is some interesting congregation of regulars at the bookstore, or just outside smoking cigarettes and discussing with Giovi and Alessandra, his employee, a book or the latest events. The regulars include the Communist (a hard line communist activist), the Philosopher (a J.L. Nancy expert completing his Ph. D at the university in Urbino), the Neurosurgeon (a neurosurgeon… ), the Anarchist (though he is now studying in Paris), and I suppose now also the American… We will often stay well after closing time, the doors shut, the lights dimmed, and the space filling with cigarette smoke. Then conversations will continue without worry of offending or ignoring customers. Often listening to leftist Italian music from the sixties, or to Giovi recounting in his well honed storytelling style some misadventure. The bookstore, without presumption, or intention is a space of encounter, a space of performance, a space of community, and a space of the romantic actualized.
A couple of months ago it was announced that Librerie Coop, an Italian equivalent of Barnes & Noble, will be opening in Pesaro, just around the corner from Giovanni. Immediately a couple of the smaller bookshops announced that they will be closing down. Librerie Coop, understanding the importance of Giovanni in the book culture of the city, approached him with the proposal for him to become the manager of the new store. They then proceeded to offer him an insulting salary proposal and terms for the immediate closing of his store. When he refused, they began threatening him with his inevitable demise in the face of the all powerful chain store. While this is nothing new for us in the United States, it is a trend that is just emerging in Italian cities, especially in the historic centers, where small independent shops are still valued as essential elements of a community. For example, While Germany and France have been invaded with Starbucks there are none in Italy, where a culture of consuming coffee is directly related to the small coffee bar where for less than a Euro you grab an espresso at the bar. (I actually also just read in my history of contemporary italian that for many years the government encouraged small shop ownership over large chain through government subsidies).
In the aftermath of the announcement came much soul searching and figuring out how to continue, and whether it will be possible to perservere the invasion of the chain store. When we arrived this weekend Giovi surprised us by taking us each individually on a walk, just a little further down the street and into a home furnishings shop that occupies a vast and beautiful space with two levels, small nooks, exposed brick walls, arched doorways, and abundant windows. He told us that the store will be vacant in two months and that the landlord, aware of Giovi’s situation, offered this space to him for the equivalent of what he now pays for his very small store. And with that, Giovi asked Valentina and I if we would make ourselves available for a week in April and conceive of and design a vision for his new bookshop along with some other local creatives. While it must remain above all a place to sell books, with all of his new found space he is fantasizing about opening up the space in a way that will somehow formalize and accommodate the types of activities that are already happening within his existing location. Instead of trying to survive in the face of the chain store, and with the knowledge that trying to compete with them will be impossible, he has decided he wants to re-envision the role of his store in the community. He has asked us to utilize the creative strategies that we employ in artistic practice toward the conceptualization of this new space.
hmmm… reading this again, i feel sad that some of the early inspiration was lost, but v and i are looking forward to some other space transforming collaborations with Giovi, one of which we hope, will be the launch of our new publishing house.
March 3rd, 2010 by nkatz22
A couple of months ago v and i were asked to participate in 1 hour art, an Italian/international project based in Bologna from the curators Viviana Checchia and Anna Santomauro. The project proposes the question “Have you ever thought about one hour of contemporary art at home?” and offers an index of proposals by Italian artists all over the world of a one hour art project that they will enact in your home if interested.
Looking through the website and proposals we realized just how distant they are from any actual person inviting them to their house. At the same time, since arriving in Milan we have felt quite isolated from any art community and wondering if one even exists in an Italian contemporary art scene that values commodity over exchange. In fact many of the artists listed are no longer even based in Italy, choosing instead the more fertile contemporary art grounds of New York, Berlin, London.
So, we decided as our proposal to create the conditions possible for the realization of the other 1 hour art projects by taking the role of the “ordinary” individuals being sought, and requesting the realization of a project for us. Through this we hope to get in touch with some artists and start a conversation about the potential for contemporary art practices in Italy.
While you would think that Milan would be a good starting place for having a project realized, we still have not been able to schedule a time when one of the artists are present and available. Possibly next week we will host a visit in our apartment.
However, while we were in Berlin we were presented with an option of three different available artists. Since we didn’t have a home to host the art in Berlin, we asked for an alternative proposal. Enrico Bressan proposed the following project for us:
“…a very short performance inside the Tacheles building.
The Kunsthaus Tacheles, constructed in 1907, is a former department store which now houses a self-organized collective of artists on Oranienburgerstr. 54-56a in Berlin-Mitte.
Though today Tacheles is a popular art center with a nightclub, the lease with the property owner expired with the end of 2008 and the future of the art house is uncertain.
After the many insistent voices about a probable demolition of the building I’d like to improvise a little tribute to this original art space.
The impression when you are inside the entrance hall is strange because you find yourself arounded by multi-colours graffiti, posters and writings.
But instead of joining to the writers and let my personal sign, I’d like to simulate a cleaning hour trying to dust and brush the stairs and the painted walls.
In this way I’m trying to increase the graffiti value of those who pass there and in that way to prepare Tacheles to an other (maybe the last) challenge.”
We enjoyed meeting Enrico and spending the morning together cleaning Tacheles. It was funny cleaning while people that worked there passed us without thinking twice about why or who was cleaning the space (though this is a phenomenon i appreciated in general about berlin, the ability to enter and move in spaces that straddle the public/private line without being questioned or asked to leave). Tourists that entered the building asked us questions, which we tried to answer as best we could. While the act of cleaning may have been a symbolic one, what i appreciated most was the absurdity of the gesture. there was really no point to pick up cigarette butts or broken bottles from a space that is defined by its irreverence. and it felt silly to sweep the dust from a floor that has years of dirtiness caked into its surface. but it felt nice to care for the space a bit. to think of the walls as needing some caressing, and the floor of some agitation. now, writing about it, i am thinking about shel silverstein’s book the giving tree. the tacheles has been that for a couple of generations of german and foreign occupiers, and maybe it needed a little bit of love in return.
After the performance we presented Enrico with a certificate that we created for the actualization of a 1 hour art project. It is the way we hoped to insert our intervention, to acknowledge the mutual exchange necessary for any shared artistic experience.
Enrico documented the project here.
Since then we have e-mailed a bit, most recently I explained to him why v and i were interested in getting in touch with other artists, and that it was unfortunate that he wasn’t actually in Italy anymore. Enrico responded thoughtfully that “As you know, artists need to be in movement trying new experiences and collaborations. The geographical area where I come from (Veneto) is economically very rich but, about art, remains a desert (with only few exceptions). So I decided to move away trying to make a step longer, so I went outside Italy.”
So after the first 1 hour art, our question is still open, whether there is a potential for art community in italy that is engaging with challenging (social) issues in creative (artistic) modes from within.
February 26th, 2010 by nkatz22
in berlin v and i met up with ana and andres of helena producciones with whom i collaborated in cali on la vida es un teatro.
the day before we met daria (sorry no link). we worked with her at manifesta. we went for a walk whilst she recorded me for possibly maybe a romanian radio broadcast on art with bicycles. will post here when it is aired.
seems like everyone is in berlin at this moment.
February 25th, 2010 by nkatz22
sibylle took us to visit dada post where she invited us to collaborate on a project this summer.
dada post is an old fish smoking factory turned art space two years ago by an american sculptor howard mccalebb.
July 18th, 2009 by nkatz22
my friend nick has a hilariously tragic and tragically heartfelt blog
April 26th, 2009 by nkatz22
i’m not usually one to romanticize (manual) work (labor) in my art practice, but the process of building the clay oven for fare il pane a bologna has been really enjoyable. you can see some photos of the work here. not that i am opposed to doing the work necessary to realize a project, but it hadn’t been a defining feature of my work for some time. i am just as happy focusing on idea, and/or collaborating with others in the realization of an idea, but not needing to get my hands “dirty” to feel that i have “made” something.
i remember spending some time in graduate school joking with a friend in the ceramics department about how unfortunate it must be to be in a material based program. and now, the two major post grad school projects that i have worked on have involved hard work, construction, and surprisingly both involved a fair amount of clay. not sure if there is a thesis to this post, other then that perhaps after graduate school and without major institutional support (college loans) one finds that in order to get anything done, you have to do it yourself… so thanks again to chris robbins for reminding me that it’s okay to make stuff.