WHEN WE SEE US—Sydney Vernon’s first solo exhibition, now at Thierry Goldberg—has been extended through July 10.
Family is at the forefront of Vernon’s solo debut, as scenes and characters in her works on paper are pulled from photographs of her immediate relatives. The familial artifacts span over forty years, extending back to before Vernon was born, and allow the artist to connect to specific moments in history and reflect on the context of the world at the time the images were created. The past never passes for Vernon, and its influences are shaped and reconsidered in current time.*
From my first night at The Other Side—the drag queen bar in Boston in the ’70s—I came to life. I fell in love with one of the queens and within a few months moved in with Ivy and another friend. I was eighteen and felt like I was a queen too. Completely devoted to my friends, they became my whole world. Part of my worship of them involved photographing them. I wanted to pay homage, to show them how beautiful they were. — Nan Goldin*
Following the 2019 Steidl* publication of an expanded and updated version of Goldin’s 1992 book The Other Side, LibrairieMarian Goodman presents a selection of the artist’s earliest photographic works.
Stephen Parr of Oddball Films, who passed away in 2017, enthusiastically recommended Nikolai Ursin’s BEHIND EVERY GOOD MAN (circa 1967), a short 16mm portrait of a transgender African American person. Mark Quigley at UCLA made it possible for us to view the film, which had been recently restored. We were moved by its sophisticated engagement with questions of gender, sexuality and race. Noah Tsika of Queens College wrote a thoughtful and deeply informed essay on the film’s representational politics as well as its subject’s self-presentation.
Rediscovering an important film in the archives like BEHIND EVERYGOOD MAN and helping bring more attention to it energized us—it’s one of the reasons we do what we do. — Allyson Nadia Field and Marsha Gordon, editors of Screening Race
I came upon the word transmissions while thinking about how the ethereal, corporeal, and technical dimensions of ballet resonate in the artworks and souvenirs it produces. Transmissions are subject to interference and interruption. Ballets are conveyed to us through mediations, anecdotes, and bodies. And often when I’m watching ballet in its contemporary manifestations, I wonder how these transmissions have occurred.
I started looking into the history of ballet in the twentieth century… Through a web of genealogies, I eventually arrived at the flamboyant intersection of ballet and art in New York, beginning in the 1930s. There the avant-garde experiments of the previous decades in Europe incited a particularly intense cross-contamination, an overt articulation of homosexual erotics long before the emergence of a public language around queerness. Looking at modern American art of this period through the prism of ballet reveals a tangle of interrelationships, collaborations, derivations, and hybrid aesthetic programs that still feel surprisingly contemporary. — Nick Mauss*
Two years after the close of TRANSMISSIONS—Nick Mauss’ multimedia installation at the Whitney Museum of American Art—the museum and Dancing Foxes Press have published an exhibition catalog that beautifully extends the show, combining performance and exhibition images from the Whitney with an extensive selection of new illustrative and textual documentation.
I drew multiple webs of interrelationships, elective affinities, and echo waves of influence, focusing as much on the social, professional, sexual, and collaborative points of contact as on transhistorical resonances that were in some cases perhaps fantasy—eschewing standard mappings of modern art… [embracing] anachrony and distortion over apparent objectivity…
My decision to insist on ballet as the fulcrum in TRANSMISSIONS was also a response to the ubiquity of postmodern dance derivations within the contemporary museum environment and the reductive version of modernity that these prequalified dance idioms signify and cement. Contemporaneity is reduced to a “look” of modernity. Modernist ballets make for engaging historical documents precisely because their own relationship to history is a kind of suspension of disbelief; they are intrinsically modernist, even if they don’t “signal” modernity to contemporary eyes.— Nick Mauss*
The world of the spectator, the receiver, was a primary lens through which I constructed TRANSMISSIONS, and the flux of the exhibition’s daily audience over the course of two months took on a central role within it. This book is similarly directed at the wholly different—private, rather than social—negotiations of the reader. — Nick Mauss*
Finding myself in an empty studio for the last three months, I resorted to an intimate work: drawing poems and brushing sunsets and moonrise paintings. This is a good time for me to work in silence—cocooning myself into my own time, these two pastimes I love most and tire of least.
The Mattituck paintings show the view from my studio window across the Long Island Sound. My first summer in Mattituck was a revelation, forcing me to examine my surroundings with the freshness of a friendly alien. Every day, just when the twilight started, John [Giorno] and I would set our chairs in position and experience a new sunset, a magical illumination of the ordinary—lucid and lyrical. Looking at the sunset makes one feel that the physical and the spiritual are not separate. Like a diarist, I record the living universe: this season, this day, this hour, this sound in the grass, this crashing wave, this sunset, this end of the day, this silence.
In the middle of the AIDS crisis in 1989, I turned away from grief and found in nature a spiritual road map for solace, regeneration, and inspiration. In nature, you enter a space where the sacred and profane, the mystical and the mundane, vibrate against one another.
There is not much to say about this new group of paintings. They exist to be looked at—to let go of words and look at what is in front of our eyes. An artist is, before anything else, a person who is passionately in love with the visual. — Ugo Rondinone, May 2020