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Monday 09.05.11

« Into the Land, Out of Language | Main | 20 Years of Bonnie Bronson Fellows at L&C »

Interview with Kristan Kennedy

KK_2010.JPG
Kristan Kennedy, PICA's Visual Arts Curator

Kristan Kennedy is the visual art curator at Portland Institute for Contemporary Art. With this year's Time Based Art Festival just around the corner (the festivities kickoff this Thursday), I kidnapped her mid mad dash to talk about her insights into the city of Portland, its art scene, and the evolution and orchestration of the most exciting art event of the year, TBA.

A: Can you tell me a little bit first about the history of PICA and how the organization came about?

KK: Sure. So the story goes as follows, and there may be people that are better to tell it. I moved to town the year PICA was born, which was 1995. My experience of it was through the lens of a young artist who then became a part of it, whereas there are people who have been a part of it from the very beginning.

Kristy Edmunds was working at the Portland Art Museum at a program called "Art on The Edge" with a curator named John Weber, who I think now is at the Tang. Together they designed a kind of hybrid program that was about contemporary performance, installation, and visual art. I remember coming to town and seeing this great exhibition. It was the first time I had seen a video installation, and it was Gary Hill's tall ships piece which is incredible. After seeing it, I thought Portland was one of the coolest places I had ever been. I had moved from New York where I had seen tons of amazing art all the time, and I was really excited to see that kind of work represented in that museum. Unfortunately that program wasn't supported as much as I think Kristy would have liked, either financially or philosophically, and so she wanted to create an organization that would support emerging ideas. She wanted the organization to support artists that were working right now, that were alive, and that were producing work that existed on the boundaries of several genres. She came from a film making background and also wanted to represent performers and choreographers. She gathered a small group of people in a backyard, Joan Shipley's backyard I believe, and I think five or six people wrote a handful of checks for a small amount of money to start the organization.

One of Kristy's friends, Pat Harrington, a principal at Boora architects, lent her office space. She didn't have a desk or a chair but had a yellow legal pad and a pencil. People would come in and find her sitting there, writing out notes for this organization she wanted to start. That's really how it started. Then she got her first volunteer, and a couple of staff people came on, but it really was very tiny organization running out of this office in an architecture firm. The first programming included artists like Spalding Gray and Laurie Anderson and then included maybe a few performances and one or two exhibitions. Everything happened itinerantly, which is still very much the way we work now, which involved going into abandoned warehouses, other people's theaters, using conduit dance space. . .

In '96, I went to the second amazing show I saw in Portland, which was a show called, "Pushing Image Paradigm". It was in an old warehouse over in northwest industrial. It was a photography exhibit, and the thing I remember most about it was that there were more women in the show than I had ever seen. It was really strong photography, and most of the artists were from the Americas. Brad Cloepfil designed that exhibition, and he then went on to start Allied Works Architecture. Weiden + Kennedy people designed the catalogue. So Kristy was utilizing a whole group of young creatives in town who were all starting their own businesses and were friends of hers. Those beginning years were a lot of sweat equity from a lot of artists and herself and other people in the community. I've always held onto the quote: "PICA is about a community using its energy", and I think in the beginning that is really what she felt, as if we could really pull it off if that happened.

Eventually, the organization grew, and the performance and visual art programming developed into seasons, so we presented seasons of the work. In '99, she started talking to Dan Weiden, who was friend of hers, about being an anchor tenant in the Weiden + Kennedy building. So PICA made a big capital campaign to move into that space. We built out a gallery, got a grant from Warhol, hired Stuart Horodner as the curator, and developed the Resource Room. We became more formalized as an organization. It was both incredibly exciting and really problematic. Everything we had done in the past was a barn raising and so was that, but suddenly we were looked at as an institution, and I think we experienced some growing pains around that.

When you are starting an organization, it takes you a few years to get grants, and then when you finally do get the grants, you have to match that with community support. Then the economy dropped out. 9/11 happened, and we were one of the first organization in town to say, "It's not working". We weren't getting enough funding locally. We didn't have enough membership. There was a sort of shared blame everywhere. We were saying, "We need help." And the community was saying, "What have you done for us lately? Why haven't you shown more local artists?" It was a very tumultuous time. We made an incredibly painful decision to close the gallery and let go of Stuart. That was around 2003.

My own trajectory in the organization was as a young artist moving to town, not knowing what I wanted to do right after college. I was attending these events, and I thought PICA was this gigantic institution that I should rail against, even though I liked their programming.

They had their first DADA ball in that boathouse in North Portland, and I went with a bunch of friends, because they had a told an artist (who was a friend of mine) that they were going to scrim off his sculpture area outside. He took offense to it, and so did we, as if they were trying to censor his work. So we went and backlit this little scrim room, and he ground metal so that sparks were flying everywhere. I think I was standing on a chair fake yodeling. We thought we were making this big scene. But we were naive for a number of reasons. One, now that I work for the organization, they were probably sectioning off the sculpture so nobody sat on it or put their drinks on it, and two, it was the DADA ball so any interruption was part of the party. All of a sudden this little woman pulls back the scrim and says, "Who are you? This is amazing!" And I found out later it was Kristy. We were just completely deflated, because we thought that this gigantic act of protest was going to interrupt their party, and they just kept going. So we stole a case of juice and left.

Every subsequent interaction I had with PICA for years was basically being a thorn in their side. I was part of an artist collaborative, and we sent out these anonymous mailings. Eventually she found out who we were and invited us to participate in the DADA ball by making a piece. And it seemed that at every turn at which we tried to comment against the organization, we were welcomed in. It was incredibly confusing thing about what was going on with us as artists as we tried to understand where we belonged in the community and the ideas of possibly existing without institutions or are they necessary, that sort of thing. That was what was going on with me personally.

A: And you and your collaborators had basically figured that PICA was a threat to what you were doing and represented?

KK: Looking back on it now, it was really that I was terrified. After leaving the environment of art school, I didn't understand how to participate in a gallery structure or anything else. We created our own structure to present our work positioning ourselves against, but the people who were the most supportive were the people who were involved. We learned from just existing that we were part of the system we were railing against, and that we could behave in a certain way and still participate and not lose our ethics.

A: Is that how you moved into curating? from making work with this collaboration?

KK: We put on a lot of events and did our own shows and things like that, but I didn't think of it as curating, and it took me a long time to take on that title. The way that I got involved in the organization was as a volunteer. After the invitations to participate as an artist, I started showing up and sweeping floors and doing all of the stuff that I still do (laughing). Then I started to get involved in other organizations in town. I was on the board at the IPRC, and I started to know the PICA staff and understand what they were doing. I started attending events and going to dance performances and theater performances which was new to me, and I realized how interested I was in all of these other forms of expression. I became increasingly involved, and Kristy asked me to be on the board. We always have artists on the board. I was a very young artist. I didn't know what exactly I could contribute, but because I had been involved in these outdoor, temporary guerilla installations, I started to use those skills to help them get the word out to a younger artist community.

Then I got hired as their marketing PR person, which was completely strange to me. But from Vic's perspective (Victoria Frey, who was managing director at the time) and from Kristy's perspective (who was the artistic director), they knew that I was an artist who could talk about art. In my own collaborative, I had written press releases and organized events, but I wasn't doing that to market. I stepped into the organization right before the first TBA festival in 2003, and that was a huge shift. When I walked in the door in 2003, Kristy announced she was taking a position in Australia. We let go of Stuart, who we all still love, and we started the festival. Everything was new and in transition, and I really got the shit kicked out of me in those first couple of years.

The festival that year was a very new format that no one else was doing in the United States. Kristy had spent a lot of time traveling to Europe and Australia and Asia and attending these festivals and realizing that they were these incredibly engaging, civic activities. She would be in these smaller cities thinking, "This is what Portland feels like. What if we utilize the city in this way? What if we abandon the performance series thing, which is a model adopted by bigger organizations which we are not and have people walking around to different theaters and going around to different things and talking about art?" The one thing she wanted to change was that when she attended a festival, she was a V.I.P. Thus the access to the artists and the work was really for other curators and other producers, and she really wanted it to be about audience and artists communing together. That is when she came up with the idea of The Works, a place that wasn't just a curators lounge or an artist's lounge but where people could all hang out together and talk about what they had seen during the day.

When she presented the idea to the other people in the organization, everybody was completely freaked out. There was very deliberate conversation around it. But she was a true visionary leader, and it made sense for people to jump off the cliff with her. So we did. That first year I remember being really scared and completely exhilarated, and I watched the city change a little bit that day when everyone showed up.

Because the visual art program was closed, and I was a visual artist on staff, I continued to program resource room talks and slide jams with Jorg Jakoby and other great people. Then I brought in a friend who was working at the Wexner center in Ohio to organize a lecture series and a small residency program, and as that was moving along I was sort of doing both jobs. Vic pulled me into her office one day and said she thought we should put visual art on the festival in a deeper way. She said, "You know, you’ve been doing this job, and I think you should be the curator." And I said, "I can't be a curator. I don't have an art history degree." All of the curators I knew came from a very formal training, and it felt strange to take that title on without those credentials. So she asked me what I wanted my title to be. And I came up with "Visual Art Program Director", which was funny because I had no staff. Everybody at PICA is a director but nobody has any staff. It's hilarious. But that is what I started to do. I got charged with organizing a program to coincide with the festival and to keep some lectures and residency based activities going during the year. And I basically used my skills as an artist and followed Kristy's artistic leadership in terms of selecting artists and how we worked with them and what kind of projects they made.

A: Can you describe your creative process as a curator? I know you said that you began your career as an artist. Do those processes differ from each other much? I mean can you describe how ideas evolve into exhibitions? Have you tracked that at all, I mean it must be incredibly abstract. . .

KK: It is abstract, and it was an enormous identity shift for me to be someone who identified first as an artist, always as an artist, since I was very young, and then to suddenly be in this pseudo power position within an organization working with other artists and helping to facilitate their work. It felt natural in some ways because I've always been involved with organizing or volunteering. I understood how to do that. But in terms of putting the intellectual or conceptual framework around it, in the beginning, I really gravitated towards artists I was interested in, who I could have a conversation with and ask, "What do you want to do next?" I felt like PICA's role was to be an institution in the world and certainly in the country that said yes to artists for things that would not be presented in commercial venues and that may not garner the same kind of support from another institution like us at this point in their career.

And I just started paying attention. I was going to see art all the time, but I started to think about what things resonated to me in a different way, in a way that coalesced with the ideas the performance curator was talking about or that Kristy was talking about. I was familiar with the program, so I knew the kinds of artists that we would work with, and a lot of it came from residency based activities. So it wasn't like I was doing this cherry picking exhibition model, as in, I have a concept and I want these seven paintings to go along with it.

A: That curatorial process can be dangerous sometimes in terms of the curator's vision outweighing the the apparent and active voice of a community or a selected group of artists. . .

KK: It's definitely different. I count on those exhibitions being made, because I love them, and I want to learn from them. Because I knew PICA had come to a place in which a lot of work had been commissioned and developed in residency, what I wanted to offer as a curator was creative time and support in a very kind of scrappy and resourceful way. I wanted to say, "Here's what we can do and what do you want to do and let's make this happen." I think also, because the things I express in my own work are more abstract and more formal, working with PICA gave me the chance to exercise this other side of me which was more political and associative and really into pop culture and putting all of these artists side by side. This allowed me to make a comment on what was happening in the world through artists' eyes.

We always say it's not our idea, it's PICA's mission to trust the artists and to follow their lead. When I would talk to artists, naturally their thoughts and their projects would have something in common because they’re all reacting to the world. That is where the time based art festival originated. It wasn't time based art media projects. It was time based art: the art of our time. That term then began to be recognized as video, so it became more confusing, but for us it really is about representing work of our times.

When I decided to take on the curator title on, it was because there was sort of a misunderstanding that the festival was something that you apply for, that it wasn't curated. That was one reason. Another reason I took on the title was because the language of the art world is so specific that when you say you're a visual art program director, no one knows what the hell that means. When you say you're a curator, they know exactly what that means. It became easier for me to talk to other artists and gallerists and other institutions using their own language. To me that word has a lot of weight and none at all. But over the last couple of years, I found myself having more of a desire to contextualize the work of the artists to support them in a different way. That does feel like what curators do. I realize that artists also need the other side of that support, which is to decode their work, to demystify their work and put it into context for the world. Their job is to make the work, and our job is to do that. So I kind of straddle both lines all the time, and I'm definitely learning how to do my job all the time. I hope I never stop learning.

A: I'm sure that having both perspectives as both artist and curator allows your approach to be more fluid and not so academic as say, someone coming from a solely art historical background. It can allow you to see the work from a more experiential place.

KK: Exactly. I'm always teetering on the see-saw of insecurity which is that I truly believe in the artist as curator model, the untrained model. But I also really admire the curatorial mandate of the intellectual and the academic model. I'm often faced with my own fears that I'm not qualified for this position. And many people probably think that I'm not, but my communion with the artists has proven really fruitful and transformative for them, and that's really where it starts for me. Through learning from my colleagues and other people in other organizations, I've realized that this is how we do it. Even the most academic curators are still painting the walls and talking to artists about their ideas, and those are the curators I respond to. I have a harder time with people that are in love with objects only and feel that artists are not to be trusted. I think that is the scary side of curatorial practice, which is that artists are not to be trusted, that they don't know their own work, and we have to be the experts.

A: Do you think that is one of the biggest mistakes a curator can make?

KK: That is what I believe, yet I am sure there is a counter argument. I do hear curators talk about not trusting artists to talk about their own work, and I don't know where that comes from.

A: What is the hardest part of curating?

KK: Knowing when to stop and trying to create the strange balance between your own personal taste and what may need to be seen now. If I was putting a show together of what I love to look at or what I wanted in my own personal collection, it would be a bunch of De Kooning paintings.

A: Ooh, me too.

KK: But what I want to see in the world is a whole mix of things that includes experimental music and film and dance and video and slick objects. I often present work that isn't my own taste but that I feel has a place in the mix of ideas that I'm presenting.

It was great to put together that painting show at the Feldman because it was a time I did exercise those other muscles and say here is a show where it really is about the paintings first and an idea. That came about from looking over thousands and thousands of images I've taken over the years and seeing all of this figurative painting and realizing that there was this thing happening and how could I reveal that. That work didn't really feel like it had a place in the festival, which is really about the forms being in proximity to each other. It really needed a space on its own, and that was what was so thrilling about putting that together. It was so interesting talking to my friends and colleagues, like Stephanie Snyder, saying, "Do you realize I've never done this before?" I've never put together an exhibition of twelve paintings. The simplest things about arranging them in a room were completely foreign to me, although I've done it with my own work. I'm still learning. I almost have the backwards curatorial process experience, which is someone like Patrick Rock saying, "I would like to present a forty foot inflatable elephant." Oh yeah, sure, I know how to do that, or helping Claire Fontaine set a room on fire. That makes sense to me. But when someone says I want to hang four photographs in a room, I am not as familiar with how that is supposed to happen. So I rely on other people to do that, and I will step into it every once in a while.

A: I want to go back to something that you touched on earlier which is why PICA thinks that a time based art festival is pertinent to today's contemporary art condition? It is of course 'art of our time' as you mentioned, but what it is about the formal temporal qualities that the work shares which seem poignant enough to garner this festival?

KK: I think it's interesting, because there is some buzz around the legitimacy of having all of this happen at once, as if the activity level takes away from each individual artist's work. But for me, what happens during the festival is this really radical thing where all of the forms are presented side by side. The artists and audience are together in the room. People are seeing each other's work for the first time. They're talking about it, and the work takes on a living quality, like a lived experience quality that I feel is very different than walking through a museum. Which I also love and is also about a public and is also civic but in a very different way.

The community that develops around the work seems very important. As I had Claire Fontaine visiting in town and was taking them around I was thinking, I really wish they were here for the festival. There is one way they experience their work which is to have someone install it and sometimes they never see it or to be there with the curator and have this public come in. But what would it be like for them to be involved in this other kind of activity, that is less about the art industry and more about the community of Portland witnessing this work. I know that this sounds like this hokey, energy field thing, but in experiencing it, i really believe it. I've watched visual artists who never go to see performance suddenly fall in love with a particular performer and continue following their work or collaborating or changing their work because they've been in the landscape of Oregon. The experience for the artists and the audience is so holistic; it's not about us and the other, the viewer and the object, or the viewer and the artist. It's really about, in the best sense of the overused word, a community that develops around it.

A: And the festival really is curated around ephemeral, temporal work that engenders this experiential art encounter; there are a few object based pieces, but the bulk of the festival is really an orchestration of the fleeting and then how it leaves you and what you are left with. Do you think about these experiences next to one another? I mean, do you organize the days into the idea of an entire experience unto itself or the entire festival as such? Is there an intentional linear arc to the festival as a whole or is it more logistically organized?

KK: It's a combination of both, but we spend a lot of time thinking about the context of experience day by day hour by hour. So our first instinct is to say, what are we the most interested in? Who is working today that we want to work with? That's the first thing. Then we talk about all of the projects, performance and visual, side by side, and then you start seeing these connections come together, and you think about those connections and fill in other areas where there may be gaps. As it starts to get closer to the scheduling time, we're thinking about what the experience is as someone moving through their day at the festival, and that is something that we have only learned from putting on ten years of festivals. We talk about an "arc". I am not sure what that arc is; we've never done any scientific experiments, but we talk about that flow from beginning to end.

For myself, the first thing I am dealing with is a title. I don't know why, maybe it is because I am in love with the poetry of words. I remember last year's program, "Human Being", came out of my experience being in the (washington high)school for the first year and presenting a program that was really about dystopian ideas and the fall out from war and our political time and space. As I watched the public walk into this building that they somehow understood because it was of course designed for people, I observed them run through the hallways with utter joy. And I thought to myself, but this program is about anxiety. . .Why is everyone so happy? And I had to think about where the audience was pushing me, you know like, what is our individual experience and what does it mean to be human and how do we look at work and how do we interact with it. That is where the second program originated.

This year's programming came out of a very simple conversation I had with my brother. It rang in my ears over and over and over again, and as I started to look for work it started to center around those ideas. So I have something that is pushing me along. Sometimes I am operating with blinders on in terms of the performance program, but when I emerge, I'm sitting in Miguel Gutierrez's performance, and I feel like, "Oh my gosh, this is the piece that sums up everything that I have been thinking about all year." And it was a dance performance that was programmed by another curator; it wasn't something in my own program. That wouldn't have happened had we over thought the entire process. We need to leave room for these ideas to congeal over the two weeks that everyone is here. I also love that the visual art program has this whole other experience that happens after the festival is over which is more private, more of a traditional viewing space to have time to look and think about things.

A: And return to it.

KK: And return to it.

A: So how do you think the festival functions for the city?

KK: As an artist, and as a community member in Portland, I really believe that the festival has changed the way the art world looks at Portland. From the most obvious and legitimate place, this is the place the performance curators of the country commune every year to talk about issues of the field and what's going on: the Wexner, the Walker, the ICA, Yerba Buena. . . Very interesting curators with their own programs and their own agendas come to this format and really identify with the work here in Portland and love it and love the city because of it. They think of Portland as a place where great art is made by regional artists and to where great art travels, from all over the world.

In the visual art world, it is a counterpoint to the way art market driven cities operate. The artists I am bringing here from outside the city have a very unique experience here. They are not treated the same as they are in larger cities and by other institutions and sometimes by their own galleries (although most are very supportive). The festival allows them to be treated purely as artists. It's really a safe haven. And I feel that the community, for the most part (I hope), feels welcome to participate in that, to investigate and be as curious as the artists are. I feel as if a lot of other art viewing experiences are set up as those who are invited and those who are not, and TBA at least strives to be an open experience for everyone who comes.

A: Do you think this would be a different festival if it was in a different city?

KK: Yes, definitely. I feel like Portlanders, and I consider myself one of them because I've been here long enough, (even though maybe you shouldn't quote me on that because I hate losing my Brooklyn) are revolutionaries. This is the west. There is a great independence and a curiosity and an energy here. That is what Kristy saw in 1995 when she was starting PICA, and that is definitely what I see now. It is the reason why there are constant throngs of young people here who are trying to start things all the time, and it's why people hang out and do their own thing and make this their home. It's a very open, warm community, and the artists definitely feel that. They feel welcome and fall in love with the place and move here. It is a home.

A: Do you think you curate with a Portland audience in mind?

KK: Oh, definitely.

A: What does that audience look like?

KK: The first year I did the program I invited this artist, Matthew Day Jackson. He was born in the Pacific Northwest, and his work was dealing with this revisionist history of America but through the lens of the natural environment. I was thinking of all of the artists who were working in that way here and how they could be in conversation with his work and how artists from other cities might join into that conversation with a different perspective. He had an incredible work ethic and a sense of craft that I felt like other artists here would respond to and desired to see. So I definitely think about the audience here, but I really hesitate to pander to anyone. I don't allow myself to think about whether or not people will like the work; in fact I don't even allow myself to think about whether or not I 'like' it, per se. I often say that contemporary art is not about liking, it's about looking. There have been so many things over the years that I've absolutely detested; when I realize that I am still thinking about them, I know how good they actually were. I don't want to make my mind up about things right away. I think about a Portland audience in terms of its capacity and its energy and its desire to see and participate, but I don't think about it in terms of taste.

A: Where do you think Portland exists on the country's art map? And what do you think is its general direction, if it's moving in a certain way?

KK: I think it's a giant, vibrating question mark, or maybe like: asterisk, question mark, exclamation point. . . I don't know why I'm describing it that way, but I think that what is interesting to outsiders about Portland is that they sense that there is a great amount of activity here. There are a lot of artists here who are exhibiting nationally and internationally. This is not a podunk town. It is an art city. But our institutional framework is confusing to other cities, because they are used to having this ecosystem of organizations that have a very traditional ladder and support structure. We just don't have that. Visitors come to Portland, and they know us (PICA), and they know our programming, but there's not a building for them to walk into and an exhibition for them to see. They know there are a lot of young artists, but they don't necessarily know where to find them. The responsibility of the curators and the artists and other people in town is to constantly be talking about what's interesting. And we all do. Everybody in town is always pointing at someone else in town, saying you need to walk down the street to that place, or you need to go out to the Cooley Gallery at Reed. You need to go to Publication Studios, you need to go to Carr Hole. You need to go here and there, because it's not a city of major institutions. It's a city of minor institutions that form a much more interesting network of people.

When I moved here, no one knew what Portland was, and now it is written about in every paper nationally and internationally because of bike culture and our attitudes toward the environment and the coffee and the art. There is a kind of come hither vibe about coming out here and exploring. My desire and wish is for our own community to match the enthusiasm of the outside world and to start really investing in the artists here by collecting and buying their work, by supporting the institutions that support artists, and by attending and really showing the outside world how much this community actually supports the arts and artists.

A: Would that be your only critique for Portland in terms of the way in which it represents its arts community and its artists?

KK: I don't want to say it is a criticism necessarily, because we have something pretty good here. Yet, there is a thin network here of collectors that really support work in a significant way. I want to live in this idealistic world where art doesn't need to be traded, but in terms of history and preservation and a day to day level of survival, we need people investing in the arts all of the time. It's not something that is culturally valued. I feel like there are so many artists here that should be being collected locally that it pains me. It's hard to convince someone to take that piece that they love into their home, and I'm not sure what that's about. . .I don't want to just rest on the no collector thing, because it's too easy, but I do think that financial support for the arts in Oregon is an issue. And everyone who is fighting for it is giving all they can. We just need more investment.

A: What is your ideal experience for visitors seeing this year's festival after seeing everything? I know that is a huge question.

KK: Well first it's for them to see everything. I feel like I have a crazy stamina for this festival because I grew up inside of it. But I get it; it's hard business to give up your life to attend. But I want someone to come away with a new understanding of the world through the artists' eyes. That's really it. It's as simple as that.

I would also love our local artists to get out of their own studios and have a hunger for media that lives outside of their own practice.

A: My last question to ask you is what qualities you look for in the work that you choose for the festival, beyond the apparent notion of the theme of the festival?

KK: I'm sure someone from the outside can evaluate my choices over the last few years and see some very clear patterns, but for me it is a strange combination of instantaneous desire: seeing a piece and wanting it and wanting to continue looking at it.

The other thing is meeting with artists and talking with them about their work. It is a really generative, generous experience when artists take you into their studio and talk to you about what they want to do. The plausibility of their ideas happening is a huge impetus to work together. This year, in particular, I was very interested in representing this idea of revolution, either personal or political, so that became the lens through which I looked at everything. Sometimes things didn't necessarily fit into that idea literally, but I hope that, through the festival, the connection will manifest itself.

I got to go inside Oscar the pink elephant yesterday in a test run, and I feel as if that might be one of the pieces that may be hard for people to understand in terms of being included in an exhibition titled "Evidence of Bricks" concerning political revolution. But it's also about personal revolution, and experiencing that filled me with a kind of ecstatic joy that was similar to having my candidate win, or watching an evil dictator topple, or having a joyous moment in the studio. It was so powerful that it felt like the right thing to have in the festival. And its conception began as an email from the artist and a drawing. You have to envision the future potential of what these artists' ideas will be and hope that you both can get it there together. The missing quotient is the audience as in what will it be like when they show up.

A: Yes, it seems to me as I pour over this amazing lineup for this year's festival that the underlying intention of it all seems to be about a certain type of destruction that lends itself only to a wild unknown possible outcome, ultimately a contemporary revolution being witnessed from the inside, as it's happening.

KK: I kept focusing on this brick as a social sculpture, being the foundation of both buildings and violent protest. It is often the first thing people reach for to throw through a window and thus the symbol of a violent possibility of change. I feel like that is what an artist's job is; eroding that kind of experience in culture has caused a lot of damage, and I feel it. That kind of creative potential is missing. I want people to pay attention to what is going on; we are not in a good place. We can read about it. We can watch the news and attend a rally, but there is also a different way we can interpret the current state of things, and I feel like that is through looking at art and making art.

A: And destroying it.

KK: Yes, and destroying it. Starting over.

PICA's TBA:11 starts this Thursday, September 8, at Washington High School.


Posted by Amy Bernstein on September 05, 2011 at 15:32 | Comments (0)


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