THE WEEK: APRIL 2-6.

EDITOR’S PICKS: 

Every Exit is an Entrance: 30 Years of Exit Art
http://www.viiphoto.com/news/exhibition-every-exit-is-an-entrance-30-years-of-exit-art/
04/01/2012-05/19/2012

Exit Art is pleased to announce their final exhibition EVERY EXIT IS AN ENTRANCE: 30 YEARS OF EXIT ART. Founded in 1982 by Executive Director Jeanette Ingberman and Artistic Director Papo Colo, Exit Art has grown from a pioneering alternative art space into an innovative cultural center.

 

 

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THE WEEKEND: Nov 4-6.

FRIDAY:

Editions|Artists’ Book Fair
The 2011 Editions|Artists’ Book Fair will take place Friday, 4 November to Sunday, 6 November.
Founded in 1998 by Susan Inglett of I.C. Editions and Brooke Alexander Editions, the Editions|Artists’ Book Fair has grown in size and stature to become the premier showcase for contemporary publishers and dealers, presenting the latest and greatest in prints, multiples and artists’ books. The Editions|Artists’ Book Fair is well known for its vibrant energy and innovation, thanks to over sixty exhibitors, presenting hundreds of artists representing New York, Johannesburg, Amsterdam, London, Paris and points in between. The Editions|Artists’ Book Fair was the first fair to offer FREE admission, initiated with the intent of introducing a broader public to the medium of prints, multiples, and artists’ books. Fourteen years later the Fair continues to do just that.


ZEN MONSTER LAUNCH PARTY
The launch event at the Brooklyn zen center, 505 Carroll Street, on friday night nov. 4 for zen monster magazine marks our 3rd issue– an unusually strong and clear statement of buddhist, non-buddhist, and trans-buddhist art, poetry, and subversive political statement — our strongest endorsement yet of gary snyder’s landmark essay “Buddhism and the Coming Revolution,” which we printed in ZM#1 back in 2008. our zen buddhist praxis here in Brooklyn and n.j. is edgy, overtly political, and aesthetically liberated from any particular form or artistic ideology. we back the Occupy Wall Street movement 100%; our art editor noah fischer has been in Zuccotti Park since day one, even demonstrating as an artist there on wall street before day one with a small group dressed up as currency, as money, and he is there today and every day.

(HESS IS MORE) GLASSLANDS, EARLY SHOW/LATE SHOW:Laser Sword, Mike Slott, Rl Grime:
Hess is More Record Release Partty! with Xenia Rubinos, and Bow Ribbons HESSTORY “If you think of a piece of music as a rubberband – I like to try and stretch it. Let’s say melancholy in one end, and humor in the other, and see how far you can take it. Bringing oppositions together. ” Welcome to the playfull world of Mikkel Hess aka HESS IS MORE.

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THE WEEK: NOV 1-4.

TUESDAY:

PERFORMA 11 (ONGOING)
Performa 11, the fourth edition of the internationally acclaimed biennial of new visual art performance presented by Performa, will be held in New York City from November 1–21, 2011. The three-week biennial will showcase new work by more than 100 of the most exciting artists working today, in an innovative program breaking down the boundaries between visual art, music, dance, poetry, fashion, architecture, graphic design, and the culinary arts. Presented in collaboration with a consortium of more than 50 arts institutions and over 50 curators, as well as a network of public spaces and private venues across the city, Performa 11 will ignite New York City with energy and ideas, acting as a vital “think tank” linking minds across the five boroughs and bringing audiences together for brilliant new performances in all disciplines.

Ben Gerstein (Jerome Foundation Commission) – FREEDOM CHOIR! A congregation for cathartic improvisational service
On November 1st, All Saints’ Day, The Day of the Dead — ancient holidays in honor of the saints, known or unknown; deceased friends and family — Ben Gerstein brings together for the first time a unique ensemble of enormous acoustic, experiential intensity to celebrate the powers of improvisation on this earth. FREEDOM CHOIR! A congregation for cathartic improvisational service. Inspired by the micro and macrocosms of nature, ecstatic spiritual and athletic experiences, dream, destiny, ritual, prayer, ancestry, and visions throughout Art and beyond… Dance floor, prairie, pow-wow, synagogue, church, mountain top, ocean, forest, desert, track and field, fighting ring, mosh pit … Ferocious love! A historic event for expansive sound and emotion; unnamable sound, unnamable emotion. We are the world! Communion between us all…

69°S. (Part of the 2011 Next Wave Festival)
“When I look back at those days, I have no doubt that divine providence guided us… it seemed to me often that we were not alone.” —Sir Ernest Henry ShackletonSixty-nine degrees south latitude, threshold of Antarctica, foreboding and cold. In an attempt to cross the continent, explorer Ernest Shackleton and crew have been shipwrecked, and now—through the work of Phantom Limb marionette maker and composer Erik Sanko and set designer Jessica Grindstaff (both at BAM with More Than Four, 2007 Next Wave)—they emerge before us in the snow.

CHAMBER MUSIC at INCUBATOR ARTS PROJECT
Robert Ashley’s music has long been recognized as some of the most radical, forward-thinking work produced today. The Incubator Arts Project’s MUSIC series, curated by Travis Just, focuses on his chamber and instrumental music, in addition to re-thinking one of his best-known vocal epics: Automatic Writing. A new generation of experimental composers and artists is looking to Ashley’s work for inspiration; this week will show why.(ONGOING)

PHARMA
The Herb Lubalin Study Center at The Cooper Union examines the influence and impact of graphic design on the pharmaceutical industry in PHARMA, a new exhibit featuring original and rarely seen works by luminaries including Andy Warhol, Lester Beall, Will Burtin and Herb Lubalin. PHARMA’s exploration begins with the avant-garde promotionals of the 1940’s, when a market need emerged to promote “miracle” drugs, such as Penicillin, to the medical industry. In a compelling and thought-provoking way, PHARMA presents the relationship graphic design has had with the pharmaceutical industry ranging from the federal government’s increased regulations to new marketing tactics where the everyday consumer, not the doctor, is considered the target audience. While the exhibition provides examples of past and present, the public is encouraged to reflect and question how graphic design is used to market drugs and design has transformed these commodities into objects of desire.

Spartacus Chetwynd: The Lion Tamer
7th Annual Alternative Processes Winners: Barbara Ciurej & Lindsay Lochman 
UMBERTO ECO in conversation with Paul
Tod Lippy: The Conception and Development of ESOPUS
Holdengraber
Migratory Media: A Film Event
Counterfactual: Muybridge’s Debt to Watkins
Tom Brokaw in Conversation with Paul Holdengräber
BROOKLYN REAL ESTATE ROUNDTABLE
OSCAR PEÑAS
Enid Ellen at Piano’s
Tomorrow Land/Collaspe
Barbara Siegel, Arboretum/Privacy Please! Jan Johnson
Influential Friends
Matthew Stone: Optimism as Cultural Rebellion
ARAB SPRINGS/ ATLANTIC WEALTH: TRADING ROOM
Serenity Now!
BRADFORD NORDEEN WITH GARY INDIANA
Playing with Form
CAP/ICP – Artist Lecture: Joni Sternbach – Surfland
365 Drawings
panel discussion | residency as refuge?
GLOBAL ISSUES IN DESIGN AND VISUALITY IN THE 21ST CENTURY: CULTURE – FASHION HACKING
ROXANE BUTTERFLY
Mur Murs

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NUIT BLANCHE, Paris, 2011 by Matt Mowatt.

Nuit Blanche, the tenth annual city-wide art exploration (“art walk” is a gross understatement when over 125 artists’ works are sprinkled all over the City of Light), was a personal success this year than the last (as I was stuck in an apartment with ex-pats waiting to leave for hours as they pre-gamed and played horrible music – see article: Waiting for Nuit Blanche). I took precautions not to invite too many friends and to plan an accurate itinerary of the exploration that began in northern Paris and ended in the center. The journey clocked in at about ten hours, shedding three or four people in the process, leaving me with three others at five in the morning.

Here’s a brief description of the pieces we encountered and where they were located:

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THE WEEK: OCT 17-21.

MONDAY:

SONIC: Sounds of a New Century (ONGOING)
SONiC – Sounds of a New Century – a brand new festival of 21st century music by more than 100 composers age 40 and under, will take over New York from Friday, October 14 through Saturday, October 22, 2011. Events will range from a daylong marathon to a DJ/VJ night, from a free symphony concert at the World Financial Center Winter Garden to collaborations between emerging choreographers and composers. SONiC concerts will take place at ten different venues throughout New York, and will include performances by 16 extraordinary ensembles featuring at least 18 world premieres, eight US premieres, and eight New York premieres. SONiC is co-curated by composer Derek Bermel and pianist Stephen Gosling, and is a production of American Composers Orchestra and The Alice M. Ditson Fund of Columbia University. SONiC is presented in partnership with Carnegie Hall and Miller Theatre at Columbia University. New York Public Radio’s online radio station, Q2, is the media partner and digital venue.

Secret Science Club “Controlled Experiment
SPECIAL EVENT: The Secret Science Club is teaming up with the Imagine Science Film Festival for “Controlled Experiment,” a night of science-inspired short films.


EYES WIDE SHUT: CONTEMPORARY DRAWINGS FROM GERMANY

Vogt Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of contemporary German drawing, “Eyes Wide Shut,” featuring work by Jonathan Meese, Andy Hope 1930, Ralf Ziervogel, Hansjoerg Dobliar, Marc Brandenburg, Ulla von Brandenburg, Claudia Wieser, Bo Christian Larsson, and Florian Meisenberg. The exhibition brings together some of the most well-known German artists working in drawing today and is guest curated by Birgit Sonna, a Berlin-based writer and curator.

Dario Azzellini, Immanuel Ness & Victor Wallis
Capitalism would have us believe we need our bosses. This volume, edited by Immanuel Ness and Dario Azzellini, reveals the history of workers who dare to disagree. From the dawning of the industrial epoch, wage earners have gone so far as to challenge the very premises of the system by creating institutions of democratic self-management aimed at controlling production without bosses. With specific examples drawn from every corner of the globe and every period of modern history, this new book comprehensively traces this often underappreciated historical tradition.

La MaMa 50 Gala
TAR SANDS ACTION: Manhattan Obama for America office
CHRISTOPHER LUECK AND GUESTS:THE DOWNTOWN CLOWN REVU
Collaborative Means
Life Hack: How to Live Rent-Free in NYC
Robert Fernandez & Jennifer Tamayo
Stargazing Party Finalé
APERTURE 2011 Benefit and Auction
Author Julia Alvarez
A Dead Animal Man: Screening and Q and A with Film Maker Lily Henderson
Dr. Queen’s Drag Academy: The Martin Worman Papers
Around the Campfire: A Night of Ghost Stories with Storychord.com
Real and Scary Historical Halloween
LARS FROM MARS

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THE (LONG) WEEKEND MAY 27-29.

FRIDAY: MAY 27th

(TOP video, Song: The Surface of the Ocean
Matt Lavelle: composition and alto clarinet
Jason Kao Hwang: viola
Lola Danza: vocals
Francois Grillot: bass
Recorded,mixed,and mastered by Francois Grillot
http://www.myspace.com/mattlavelle

(BOTTOM video:The Local 269)

Friday May 27th, 8pm: François Grillot Contraband
Catherine Sikora – reeds
Roy Campbell – trumpet
Anders Nilsson – guitar
Daniel Levin – cello
François Grillot – bass and compositions
Jay Rosen – drums
Rhythm in the Kitchen Music Festival @
The Church of All Nations 410 West 57th Street, $10

PAINT IT NOW @FOWLER ARTS COLLECTIVE.
MAY 27 – JULY 6, 2011

OPENING RECEPTION: FRIDAY, MAY 27 FROM 7 TO 10PM

Paint it Now curated by participating artists Thomas Buildmore and Scott Chasse

The ever-changing arena of contemporary art presents endless challenges for those who find themselves caught in its currents. From white cube gallery exhibits to brick wall paste-ups and graffiti, the push and pull of what is important, relevant, or dismissible can be both distracting and empowering. (READ MORE.)

READ OR LISTEN TO AN INTERVIEW WITH THE 22. 

SUPERCODA PRESENTS:
Show 1 (Friday, 5/27. 9-midnight) : Mamie Minch, Eliza Rickman (LA), Anomylos @CAFE ORWELL.

http://www.myspace.com/mamieminch –
As devilishly funny, irrepressible and irreverent as the former Roulette Sisters frontwoman is live, a lot of this album is rivetingly dark. Minch’s solo debut is a sparse, terse collection of both original and classic acoustic blues songs, several of them imbued with Minch’s signature wit, but it also shows off an altogether different side of her writing. As any good blueswoman knows, the blues can pack a mighty emotional wallop, and Minch sings with an unflinching honesty, even anguish in places. Minch’s soulful, passionate alto voice resounds over old-school instrumentation.

http://www.myspace.com/elizarickman = Toy Pianist Extraordinaire

http://anomylos.com/

Annual End-of-the-Season Poets’ Potluck

FRIDAY MAY 27 / 10PM

Come celebrate the end of another season at the Poetry Project!  The Poets’ Potluck is an opportunity for New York City’s poetry community(ies) to come together for an evening of readings, performances, and delicious food.  An array of writers from the Poetry Project series as well as other local reading series will read/perform their work.  Any one interested in bringing a dish for the potluck will contribute to an amazing feast.  If you’re interested in bringing food, please email Brett Price at fridaynightseriesp@gmail.com.

VIDEOROVER: Season II
Curated by: Rachel Steinberg
May 27 – Dec 17, 2011
Opening Reception: Friday, May 27, 7-9 PM
Screening begins at 8 PM
910 Grand St
Brooklyn, NY

NURTUREart Non-Profit is pleased to present VIDEOROVER: Season II, the second installment of its semi-annual video series. VIDEOROVER: Season II is curated by Rachel Steinberg and features artists: Fatima Al Qadiri and Lyndsy Welgos, Cecilia Bonilla, Juan Pablo Echeverri, Derek Larson, Dana Levy, Pernille With Madsen, Colin Snapp, and JULIACKS.

VIDEOROVER seeks to present a wide range of works from artists locally and internationally who are all working to expand the perceptual limitations of video. This season’s selection aims to disorient viewers by removing an essential reality context, only to redeposit them into seemingly familiar settings.

Dana Levy, Fatima Al Qadiri and Lyndsy Welgos explore the pluralism of eastern and western conventions by looking at traditions through a contemporary perspective. Cecilia Bonilla examines our relationships to the seductive nature of commercial images of women through minimal manipulation, while Juan Pablo Echeverri shows us a self-projected fantasy of mass-produced femininity. Colin Snapp acts as a ‘journalist’ of sorts, documenting moments of real-time, but relieving the viewer of imposed intentions. Pernille With Madsen dizzies and disorients us with a vision of how to imagine architectural surroundings. Derek Larson’s playful experimentations extend through other worldly humor while JULIACKS’ narrative pulls back and forth between a character’s inner psyche and external world. (READ MORE.)


Photo Courtesy of Paper Magazine

CLOSING PARTY! OLEK’s Knitting is for Pus****
Friday May 27 6-9pm

Christopher Henry Gallery

127 Elizabeth Street
New York, NY

See “Knitting is for Pus****” for the last time (in NYC) and like never before… with a **SPECIAL BLACK LIGHT PRESENTATION!**

On Friday May 27th, 2011 Christopher Henry Gallery NYC will host a Closing Party for Celebrity Artist OLEK. Olek’s acclaimed installation “Knitting is for Pus****” has created a total sensation since it 1st opened back in September 2010. It traveled to SCOPE MIAMI, and was extended repeatedly due to pop…ular demand and endless press requests… next it will be highlighted in a traveling museum show called “40 Under 40″ opening at The SMITHSONIAN Museum in 2012!

SHOW! 

Two terrific improvisers are on tour and will be performing one night in NYC , Joe Burgio and Andrew Eisenberg, two of Boston’s most creative and strongest performers.

Carol Liebowitz (pno)
Adam Caine (gtr)
Claire DeBrunner (bsn)
Ratzo Harris (bs)

Joe Burgio (movement/dance)
Andrew Eisenberg (percussion/found objects)
Chris Welcome (gtr)
Shayna Dulberger (b)

Elliot Levin (sx)
Tom Zlabinger (b)
John Wagner (dr)

Take the 61 bus to Ryerson from jay street the AC and F trains transfer at jay street. The 54 bus is also a good option. You would take it to the bus stop b/t ryerson and grand. the subways that transfer are the 2 and 3 at Hoyt St as Well as the BMQR at Dekalb ave. Also the L train takes you to the 61 bus at N 6 and Driggs. You Could also take the G Train to Classon.

We’ll have cheap beer! Shayna might make Baklava!

SATURDAY: MAY 28th


Return of the Mini Zine Fest @ PETE’S CANDY STORE

Join Marguerite Dabaie and tons of rad zinesters at Pete’s Candy Store for the upcoming Mini Zine Fest!
Saturday, May 28th
3PM – 7PM
More info

Pub(l)ic Identities: Reading Medical Representations of Sex

woman1

An illustrated lecture with medical artist Shelley Wall
Date: Saturday, May 28th
Time: 8:00 PM
Admission: $5
Presented by Morbid Anatomy

“It’s a girl!” “It’s a boy!”… The genitals, those body parts conventionally expected to remain most hidden, are also the first and most powerful shapers of our public identity. In this illustrated talk, medical artist Shelley Wall considers how sexual anatomy, gendered bodies, and dimorphic sex have been represented in the visual discourse of medicine. From early anatomical atlases through to present-day clinical illustrations and the Visible Human datasets, medical imagery has influenced ideas about sexual identity and what it means to be “normal”.

Ashley Bickerton
Through 25 June 2011

540 W. 26th Street, Chelsea
In Nocturnes, Bickerton’s third solo exhibition at Lehmann Maupin, the artist revisits mankind’s antithetical attraction and repulsion to the grotesque, exotic, and sexual. Whereas previous works depicted abundant worlds of health, happiness, family, and cohesion, Bickerton has become disillusioned with the brilliance and wholesomeness that colored these preceding works, now drawing inspiration from the phrase ‘twisting and flapping in the neon wilderness’. For more information and to view images from the the exhibition,Click here
Show 2 (Saturday, May 28th 9-midnight): Nick Lyons Trio, Yoni Kretzmer Double Bass Quartet (Yoni Kretzmer/Ruben Radding/Sean Conly/Mike Pride), Jessie Nelson Trio (Jessie Nelson/Todd Martino/Conner Martinez)

http://www.reverbnation.com/nicklyons
http://www.yonikretzmer.com/
http://jessiemnelson.com/

JIM GAYLORD: SPOILERS @JEFF BAILEY GALLERY.

May 25 – July 1, 2011
Opening Reception:
Thursday, May 26

THE FITTING ROOM
25 MAY – 25 JUNE, 2011

DAVID BRODYMERNET LARSENNICOLE WITTENBERG
CURATED BY DAVID COHEN

PRESS RELEASE download
PARTICIPANTS download

(READ MORE.)

OBSTACLE @INVISIBLE DOG ARTS CENTER

MAY 14 – JULY 10

Curated by Steven and William. This exhibition is part of PLUS ONE CURATION SERIES

Works by: Chris Astley, Carlton DeWoody, Ethan Long, Steven and William, Suzanne Sattler, Chris Dunbar, Antonia Wright, Ruben Millares, Wayne Adams, Paul Bloodgood, Sally French, Allyn Bromley, Stephen Freedman, Deborah Nehmad, Evan Ryer, Michael Joaquin Grey, Project Lab @ PS58, Aaron Padilla, John Silvis, Anne Pearce, Andrew Zuckerman, Jennifer Mills, Robin Kang, Ian Trask. Artists Bios here

OPENING PARTY SLIDESHOW HERE


Through The Warp @REGINA REX
5/28/2011 – 6/19/2011 

Through a variety of processes connected to the act of weaving, Through The Warp presents seven different approaches to the same overarching structure—material building upon material via linear repetition and overlap. From woven fibers and pigments to language and pixels, artistsJoell Baxter, Karl Erickson, John Houck, Beryl Korot, Jamisen Ogg, Mike Paré and Lawrence Weiner engage with this ancient framework in ways that warp prior perceptions of familiar structures, or even put forth a new language altogether. (READ MORE.)

SUNDAY: MAY 29th

Class: Mummification @OBSERVATORY
Date: Sunday, May 29th (sold out, but see newly added class info here)
Time: 1-4 PM
Admission: $60
*** Must RSVP to morbidanatomy [at] gmail.com in order to attend this class; Class size limited to 15 people
In today’s class, learn the mummification process as described in the “Egyptian Book of the Dead” (Book of Coming Forth By Day). Instructor Sorceress Cagliastro will guide students in the use of the traditional materials–such as natron salts, canopic jars, oils and herbs, dried flowers and linen or gauze wraps–and traditional ritual–such as ritual of the opening of the mouth–in the creation of an authentic and perfectly respected animal mummy. Each student will leave class with an animal mummy of their own making. (READ MORE.)

Super Coda Soundproofing Benefit Wonderful Show Time Vegetarian Potluck

Sunday, May 29th, from 6-1030, Papacookie Hosts a Special Super Coda Soundproofing Benefit Wonderful Show Time Vegetarian Potluck, Festively. Featuring:

The Red Light New Music Collective – http://www.redlightnewmusic.org/

Sxip Shirey – http://www.sxipshirey.com/

Dream Zoo (Valerie Kuehne/Lucio Menegon/Jeff Young/Sean Ali)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q8W01gC1Mik

Jonathan Wood Vincent – http://www.reverbnation.com/jonathanwoodvincent

Papacookie is a private residence apartment fantasy world atop the Upper West Side. Here’s the address:
201 W. 86th st. The Belnord
Apt. 806 (tell the doorman you are here to see Jonathan Vincent)
Non-flesh potluck at 6
Exquisite Music to begin at 7.
We will be asking everyone for donations. This show is a fundraiser to soundproof Cafe Orwell so the Super Coda may continue.
Here’s the Kickstarter campaign we’ve been running so you know what I am talking about –http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/827158541/keep-the-super-coda-living-through-creative-soundp

Jim Sullivan at Nancy Hoffman Gallery
May 26-July 1, 2011
The next exhibition at Nancy Hoffman Gallery will be new graphite drawings of trees by Jim Sullivan, opening on May 26th and continuing through July 1st.  This is the artist’s
first solo show in six years, and reveals a new vista onto nature. His last show included a series of horizontal landscapes, wide cinematic views into invented
detailed oriented oils.  The artist delighted in painting myriad details.  These were obsessive paintings,
and as the artist says: “The new drawings, the work of the past five years, present the same viewing issues
as the long landscapes, in that they have normal viewing distance but offer a close scrutinizing experience
(of infinite detail) on closer examination.”


An Interview with Deborah Simon.

Deborah in the studio with her sculptures. ©2011 The 22 Magazine

This past Friday, I paid a visit to Deborah Simon who has an upcoming show at NY Studio Gallery‘s LZ Project Space opening this Friday, May 20th. Deborah has been a painter and sculptor for several years now and will be part of the Sculpture Space residency  in Utica, this coming October and November. She has worked at the Bronx Zoo building habitats and “intellectual toys” for the animals, and her work reflects the understanding of the dual nature of man-made versus natural environments and the drawbacks and necessity of both. Her sculpture’s present a strange encounter and cause the viewer to approach the animal in an unusual and raw manner, suggesting a reevaluation of the nature of human and animal interaction.

We truly appreciate her taking the time to talk about her work and upcoming show.

LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW

The 22 Magazine: You worked at the Bronx Zoo correct? Can you tell us a little about what you did there?

Deborah Simon: Sure, I did some design work. It was everything from giving exhibits face lifts to mural work, to sometimes just flat out designing and building exhibits. [I also built] intellectual toys for the animals. With that you have to make everything look natural. So [you have to make a] tiger toy that looks [for example] like a rotten piece of wood. It was one of those oddball weird request situations, keepers would come and say we need hummingbird feeders made out of XY and Z and we’d have to figure how to make them look natural.

The 22: How did you get into that kind of work? Did you study design in school or elsewhere?

DS: No, I’ve got a fine arts background. [I studied at] San Francisco Art Institute, which prepares you for nothing but making conceptual art. I just happened to have a realistic bent to what I do, which was thoroughly discouraged but…
I started working as a muralist and then the zoo had an ad in the paper. I replied to it and got hired. It’s one of those jobs where the guy who runs the department is fantastic, and he just expects that you need a lot of on the job training. You need to be able to weld, you need to be able to fiberglass, you need to be able to do some basic carpentry. There are just so many skills that no one person is going to have them all. They do invest in teaching you quite a bit [so], I learned a lot, and it all goes back into what I do.

The 22: In regards to your artists statement, which talks a little about the animal confronting the viewer in an unrestricted environment, did working at the zoo conflict with ideas of how animals should be treated in any way?

DS: I think it’s a conflict a lot of the people who work at the zoo have, because everyone who works there more or less loves animals. We all have multiple animals, we are deeply concerned about animal welfare. Some of the holding areas are very old and not that great. Some of the animals are permanently on medications because [there is] not the best ventilation but, on the other hand, you can’t just let them go. [I believe] Finland ran into this problem. They decided it was cruel and inhumane to keep this baboon exhibit. They decided it was inhumane to keep more tropical animals in Finland, but they couldn’t get rid of them because they breed really well and every zoo has a ton of them. So, they were going to euthanize them but the public had a fit and they had to keep them. So, now they have these unhappy baboons; animals that are obviously not doing well, but there are no other options for them. [I think] a lot of the people [that work at the zoo] go through this. [They think] these animals didn’t ask for this, they didn’t want to become ambassadors of their species, but on the other hand sometimes when your standing and watching the public watch these animals and they suddenly make this connection to the human traits of the animals you really hope it does something. They are suddenly more aware of them and, you think, I hope this means that it will translate into something, maybe [that wouldn’t be there] if they hadn’t seen it. Then again, zoo animals they don’t behave like wild animals, they have three meals a day, they sleep all day. [In the end] it’s a lot of mixed emotions.

The 22: A lot of your animals actually are puppets or look a lot like traditional marionettes. Stylistically how did you decide this was how you were going to build?

DS: It’s weird because I have this totally anal goal to be as accurate as humanly possibly, but I’m always reminding myself it’s art, not taxidermy. I was living in India for a while and India is a very sculpture oriented place. I had been painting for years and years at that point, and maybe it was just being around so much sculpture. I was home in the states and one day I just thought, what would happen if I make sculpted animals with fake fur? The hyena was the first one. I found [the hyena’s fur] in the bargain bin and I thought, this looks just like spotted hyena fur, no wonder it’s on sale. I brought back Sculpy and fur and whatever else I thought I wouldn’t be able to get in India, and just started working. I was originally thinking of porcelain dolls-[with] the hard heads and the soft body. I was thinking more along the lines of what would it be like to make these things so they look like creeped out porcelain dolls, but they actually ended up a little but more like [weird] taxidermy.

Deborah working in her studio. photo ©2011 Ted Szczepanski

The 22: They seem to have this really human quality, a very aggressive straight on gaze…

DS:I feel even though animals are a really popular subject right now, it’s always animal as metaphor or animal as parable. They play the role of an odalisque and they don’t confront the viewer. They are a stand in for history, they’re a stand in for human behavior, but they are never just themselves, and when they are themselves it’s more kitschy animal art. I want it to be as if you were walking into their space. It’s kind of that feeling when you out in the woods or hiking, or even in Central Park [where] it tends to be a bird of prey, a hawk or something, and you have that instant where they look at you, and you look at them, and you have no idea what’s going to go on. Especially if it’s big enough to hurt you. Then it’s this totally different interaction than the zoo or anything else. Your walking into their space, and they are psychologically dominating it. The sculptures themselves are going to be hung so your going to have to walk around them. They force you to move around them instead of being on the walls or giving a pathway.

The 22: Can you tell me a little about Coyote Pursue’s puppet project?

DS: It was a pretty amazing experience. Collaborating was new to me but Matt Reeck is a good friend and amazing to work with. We shored up each others strengths and weaknesses really well. I would never have been able to direct something like that. I think in the future I may do more puppetry but do it so it’s video.

Coyote Pursues, 2010. photo courtesy of St. Ann's Warehouse

 The 22: Is there a difference between building the puppets versus building the sculptures? Is that something you had to learn?

DS: Yes. St. Ann’s puppet lab is a nine month program so they are a huge resource, but it took me forever just to figure how to walk them. It took me two months just to build one, to actually physically construct it so that it moved properly. Once I got the basic structure it took me weeks to figure out how to string it, and that’s one of the times the lab was great. I brought them in and said I don’t know what to do, and one of the guys [showed me], and it was done. It was wonderful.

The 22: The piece itself was about a world where humans are gone, and coyotes are the only ones left right?

DS: [Matt Reeck] is a wonderful poet and he gave me a book of his poetry and asked me to illustrate it. At the time I was just feeling like, I don’t want to paint anything, and I don’t want to sketch.
[But] I was thinking [the poetry] would be perfect to do a puppet show with, and so we said what the hell, we’ll write a puppet lab. We threw it together in two weeks, and we were really surprised we got in. Originally we had taken three of his poems, more short prose really, and the one we both had a very clear vision-that was the same vision-was [the coyote] one. We started building and time started ticking by, and we realized the other two we’re never going to make it, and that we wouldn’t have time [to perform more than one]. You only got twenty minutes tops to perform. So, we decided just to focus on the coyotes, and it was really based on his writing, and [the idea of] not using the animals as parables but to be really Darwinian about it. What would a coyote really be doing if they were wandering around in this world with nothing really left. We were thinking of it as The Road but with coyotes.

The 22: Did you do a cover for The Beastie Boys [Intergalatic]?

DS: I had actually done the paintings and they ended up on the cover. The paintings were actually in the small works show at NYU and Mike D’s wife  bought them. So, she came over to my studio and she’s chatting and we’re having this very nice conversation, and she keeps talking about her husband’s band and so I’m thinking….ok, band whatever and being polite, I ask oh what band is your husband in? And she’s says, The Beastie Boys, and at that point I’m immediately intimidated. So about six months later, they called to see if it was ok with me if they used it as an album cover and I just thought….ooook, twist my arm. It was just this little freak thing, they were just these little freak paintings, that I wasn’t planning to do as a body of work or anything.

Memento mori: Ocelot and ocelot skeleton, oil on wood, 68” w x 36” h, 2001

The 22: What about the memento mori series paintings? Can you talk a little about what this series means to you and why you decided to do it?

DS: I think in that series I’d been reading a lot about evolution. I was thinking about how death influences life. I was thinking about a Darwinian perspective, you have these animals with these constant pressures, and it’s survival of the fittest but also thinking about viewing what human’s do in the world [destruction and pollution] as unnatural, but it is natural because we are part of the world and this is part of what we do. Animals routinely destroy their environments, but they don’t do it in the same numbers that we do. Elephants constantly  trash environments and have to move on, but there are so few of them, they aren’t ruining Africa or Asia-we sort of beat them to it. I guess I was thinking about that simple pressure and interaction, and how some of your stiffest competition is from your species. You know species always have more children than your going to need. You really only need a one to one replacement and chances are that’s all your going to get if your lucky.