Johnny Ryan & Tony Millionaire Book Release

More info on the EVENTS page.

posted by sammy at 8:51 PM


Some old and newer stuff from London's Hyphen Press arrived today:

posted by kramer at 3:56 PM

posted by kramer at 2:08 PM

posted by sammy at 10:58 PM

PT Barnum

posted by kramer at 10:40 PM

summer vacation

posted by sammy at 10:40 PM

Chantal Akerman Collection

We have a great Akerman box set presenting early films made in the 1970s strongly influenced by the New York experimental film scene, like Stan Brakhage, Jonas Mekas, and Warhol

Here's Saute ma ville (short film)

posted by kramer at 10:16 PM

Los Angeles Delis

posted by kramer at 4:49 PM

Ken Jacobs and Art Spiegelman in Conversation

We are in the process of finally making a little catalogue of the King Kong exhibition of art from LA. It'll include trascriptions of a bunch of the artists in conversation we hosted in NY. Here's an abridged version of Ken Jacobs and Art Spiegelman.

(Photos by Bryan Derballa)

Ken Jacobs and Art Spiegelman both grew up in dysfunctional Jewish households in New York City, and attended the same technical high school, though Jacobs finished 10 years earlier. They became friends in the mid 1960s, when Spiegelman sat-in on Jacobs’ film lectures at SUNY Binghamton. Jacobs’ abandonment of conventional narrative in early films like Little Stabs at Happiness (1960) and Tom, Tom, The Piper’s Son (1969), became a major influence on Spiegelman’s early non-narrative Breakdowns comics.

Dropping out of college, Spiegelman went on to invent the Garbage Pail Kids bubblegum card series, and found the avant-garde comics anthology, RAW (1980 - 91) which serialized his graphic novel Maus –a retelling of his parents’ holocaust experiences that earned him a Pulitzer-prize in 1992. Spiegelman has also created many iconic covers for the New Yorker, like the image of a Hasidic man making out with a black woman, and Bill Clinton having his groin interviewed.
Lately Jacobs has been developing his Nervous System performances, a live show incorporating two film projectors, a propeller, and individual filters through which audience members view the double image. It's a return to cinema’s most essential roots: light in a dark room, without actual film or electronics.

Jacobs and Spiegelman have been meeting in Soho for coffee every week for the last 10 years. The following are excerpts from their conversation at Family NYC. It lasted over two hours, continuing among themselves after the lights were turned on, and microphones turned off.

Ken Jacobs: We went to see this movie Exit Through the Gift Store last night. The theatre was empty except for three people.

Art Spiegelman: Not quite the best movie in town.

KJ: We suffered it from beginning to end.

AS: I know you wanted to talk about the economy of attention and the way it plays out in the art world, and that’s what the movie is about. I actually enjoyed it. (To audience) Do you all know this film? It’s about this guy, Baxie, or Bansky, or someone. (Audience correct his pronunciation of Banksy)

KJ: What do you think of the work that is shown? The ‘street art’?

AS: I like Banksy’s work, having stumbled on it on the street. I’m not so interested in it though.

KJ: But it doesn’t offend you?

AS: I’ve gotten used to it as part of my urban landscape.

KJ: I suffer this stuff. My wife and I pass through this urban landscape and we can’t contain ourselves. It’s just horrific, brutal. We feel assaulted almost all the time. And now I actually went and paid money to see this movie that was also an assault from beginning to end: The music. The visuals. The ‘art’. And the truth that it reveals is also horrific, that the galleries go for this stuff, and now are selling this shit that other people are producing for this nitwit. His work is junk. I appreciate that it is more or less attacking the regime and power. I like that about it. But the art?

AS: I got stopped by it on the street, not knowing what it was. I thought it was interesting in that I couldn’t understand how it was made.

KJ: He is communicating, but that communication is not enough for me. That communication didn’t make up for it being one more fucking ugly thing that I’ve got to see.

AS: But, get used to it.

KJ: I refuse to get used to it.

AS: I like this four-story gestural drawing I saw of his. I can’t understand how it was made. It was a giant rat on its hind legs probably wearing some capitalist hat or something, but what I liked was that it was like a sketch, marks that’d be used to find a form. It looked like a very large person had sketched on a building. The marks were very nice to look at. My son showed me Banksy’s book and I liked the works where he’d sneak his own paintings into museums.

KJ: His grotesque comic parodies of paintings. I like the Marx Brothers gesture of putting paintings in museums, but the work itself is awful. It’s funny in the context of a lampoon, but the work itself, I don’t want to see. It’s one more thing - I have to live in a country that is murderously insane!

AS: It’s funny because when we meet for coffee each week, you’re brimming over with anger at the stuff that’s assaulting you.

KJ: That’s why I make a lot of work. I escape into the work.

AS: the other day you indicated that it was taking you over. You described film work as baleful.

KJ: Yes, and I regret that. I wish that the work was delicious. I want the workto to feel miraculous.
AS: I find the graffiti stuff no worse than Cy Twombly, frankly.

KJ: We are plagued with advertising and the graffiti stuff is supposed to be counter to it. Yet it invades you and your serenity.

AS: Like antibodies, invaded by the same thing.

KJ: Street art is just another horrible advertisement. A big rat! The same picture over and over and over again! And there’s that stupid wrestler!

AS: Andre the Giant.

KJ: Yes! This guy over and over! Who’s the guy who sticks him everywhere? (Audience member says Shephard Fairey)

KJ: Yes. To do it he defies death, so that when you see it, you think, how the heck did he get it up there? He had to risk his life! This picture everywhere, over and over. He’s a fucking idiot, man!

AS: He did the Obama thing.

KJ: He sucks.

AS: When I was in Poland doing research for Maus, when it was still a commie country, it began to drive me nuts that there was no signage. I grew up with it. I remember seeing a neon light and being hypnotized, so grateful for it being there. It’s taken me years to be happy in the countryside. We have a cabin in the wilds of Connecticut, and what I like about it as that when I’m conceptualizing a project I like to walk. It’s the muscular activity of walking that helps thought. But in the city you can’t think because you’re assaulted by interesting things, and horrible things. I love the country because I’m so bored by trees. I have no names for them and I have no interest in looking at them. They’re like white noise.

KJ: I see the space in between the trees as volume and I have an ecstatic experience in the world of space. I don’t have to see things all the time. I just want space. ‘Things’ are only of interest to me because they limit space.

AS: I feel like (proto-graphic novelist) Lynn Ward dealt with these in-between spaces in making woodcuts, in chopping into something to make it happen.

KJ: No. Cezanne sees volume. He worked with these proximities and intense spaces. Ward’s work is blind. It’s subject matter. You can only see with one eye.

AS: True. That’s fine for painting.

KJ: But you don’t see depth. You understand it, but you don’t see a three dimensional world.

AS: That’s why I became a cartoonist. I’m amblyopic, which means I have a lazy eye. Actually, I believe the only time I’ve ever experienced 3D was a shadow play you put on that utilized people silhouetted behind a screen with two lenses and a light filter. No story, but chairs were involved and your kids were involved. Your very young son was playing with a bolo ball behind the screen and because of the phenomenon you’d set up, I had to duck when the shadow of the ball came up. It was totally visceral. It’s because the degree of resolution of a shadow is so much greater than a pink ball surrounded by colors. At least it let me see what you do that I can’t see.

KJ: Seeing 2D has been useful for you, like it was for Stan Brakhage. He was making movies that had a depth consistent with the world around him. He had an operation when he was 50 so that his eyes would be parallel, but I don’t think he ever understood the 3D world until then. He couldn’t comprehend it.

AS: When you see a painting, do you see it in 3D?

KJ: Yes. It’s not that I see it in 3D, but I bring my understanding of the 3D world to it.

AS: I do that. I’m aware there’s something I should watch out for. Maybe it’s paintings that move like later [Phillip] Guston work that are easier for me because I understand dimensional tricks. I never had trouble with a painter like [Georges] Seurat, because depending on how far you stand from the canvas, you’re either looking at diffused dots or visual composition, which I understand very clearly as a picture of a park or whatever. I’m seeing it as something and what that something is made up of. I’ve learned to be able to appreciate Cy Twombly but I still don’t like his stuff. I prefer when work resolves into an image and then I can look at the marks that made up that image.

AS: We went to the same high school, though Ken’s 10 years older than me.

KJ: High school of Industrial Arts.

AS: And for me it was Art and Design. Which wasn’t to be confused with music and art.

KJ: No, that’s where the smart kids went.

AS: This was a vocational school similar in the sense of studying automotive repair. I went to MOMA for the first time as a student there.

KJ: I did have a broke sculpture teacher there who was really an artist. Mr Cavallito. He offended everybody.

AS: He offended me. He failed me for talking when I was out of school , sick with the mumps.

KJ: He was a drunk.

AS: I made an ashtray in his class. The school was useful to me if only for the fact that I actually worked on something for a few hours a day.

KJ: I had to quit school to go out and earn money.

AS: You didn’t go to school much anyway.

KJ: There was a pass at school for the MOMA and I was the only one who used it, so the teacher just gave it to me, and I went there everyday and followed around the talking lectures on all those mysterious paintings and films. The bathroom was a gay pick-up place and in the basement was the theatre where they showed movies. I just went to the Marina Abramovic retrospective. She sits there all day, and you can sit in front of her, and she stares at you like you’re not there.

AS: All I know is one of the guys who stands there naked by the door got fired for getting an erection.

KJ: I think it’s very effective as the art of getting attention. People are actually getting hurt doing this. I read about it the New York Times. They are suffering having to stand all day for their naked shift, everyday. Stand around not getting erections.

AS: It goes back to the Banksy movie. Attention is valued in the art world. It becomes a commodity. This is the Duchamp world. The non-retinal world. I thought we could talk about what happens when you get too much attention.

KJ: It’s a mixed blessing.

AJ: You’re not allowed to complain about it because you’re getting what everybody’s after. I sought it when I did Maus. The work I was doing early on was made without any expectation of people reading it, but soon I found myself having to decide whether to become a gallery artist or tell stories, because comics without stories weren’t what people were after. After Breakdowns sold around 4000 copies in 15 years, I knew this wasn’t going to work for me because I was trying to make published work. I like print.

KJ: You like numbers. You like being picked up by a lot of people.

AS: I like the whole dynamic of comics.

KJ: For you it’s not enough to just be making work.

AS: I didn’t want to make 20 copies and hope for the best. I wanted the work in the world. I’m aware of my obligations as a communicator. The problem with communication is that people can’t hear anything they don’t already know.

KJ: It’s difficult not to work in clichés to say something. In order to say something you have to position your clichés in a way so they can produce new thought.

AS: That’s exactly my business as a cartoonist. Cartooning is the art of moving clichés around. The pugnacious type has a big jaw. The wimp has hunched shoulders.

KJ: Sometimes one makes things just because it’s something you should do. People didn’t pick up your early work because of all the noise directed at them. That’s the economy of attention.

AS: Now I feel like I’ve worked on misunderstood work, not by everybody, but like when I occasionally see the high school papers that are being written up about Maus. It’s in schools strictly because of its content. People assume it’s crudely drawn, but that was because I didn’t want people to get lost in my hand gesture. I wanted it to seem like a typeface I’d designed, but a handwritten typeface. I sketched and prepared the entire thing before I began.

KJ: I always liked art preparations. The sketches. I used to have a very hard time with the finished work. Franz Kline was huge for me. I don’t know if I transitioned from painting. The same thinking is taking place. I’m not using paints but I’m still a painter. I start working because something has an allure for me. It could be something I see, an idea and I begin to toy with it. I’m not trying to reproduce the world that we live in. I’m more interested in making things that are impossible in the world.

posted by kramer at 8:24 PM

Brian Roettinger + No Age Collab Book/10"

You can pick it up on the webstore, or stop by the old fashioned way.


posted by kramer at 4:08 PM

Tara Tavi on Mad Men

Tara Tavi - kindergarten teacher, ethnographer, and member of bands such as Auto De fe, Amps for Christ and Soddamn Inssein, has made it into the final rounds of open casting calls for Mad Men. To get her onto the show that Bret Easton Ellis alleges is 'better than any book of the last ten years.' just click below and then click again on her Vote button.


posted by kramer at 11:58 AM

New Stuff

Left-Handed Blows by Bruce Russell of The Dead C

Dave Potes zine - The Genesis

Tove Jansson

Misha Hollenbach

Huge Magazine with Nieves Supplement

posted by kramer at 6:12 PM

American Patchwork fieldwork

“Neighborhood investigation shows him to be a very peculiar individual in that he is only interested in folk lore music, being very temperamental and ornery. …. He has no sense of money values, handling his own and Government property in a neglectful manner, and paying practically no attention to his personal appearance" (from the FBI file on Alan Lomax, 1940–1980)

Othar Turner's Rising Star Fife & Drum band (Turner, fife; G.D. Young, bass drum; E.P. Burton, snare; Eddie Ware, snare) playing a picnic night at Othar's farm in Gravel Springs, Mississippi, August 1978:

Coal miner, union activist, and singer Nimrod Workman performs one of his original topical compositions, "42 Years."

"Hallelujah" (#146), sung by the 1982 Holly Springs Sacred Harp Convention; led by Lucy Marie Heidorn. Shot by Alan Lomax and crew using four quad-split cameras, Holly Springs, Georgia, June 1982:

Sam Chatmon performs the minstrel song "The Preacher and the Bear" at home in Hollandale, Mississippi. Shot by Alan Lomax, Worth Long, and John Bishop, August 1978:

For more videos from the American Patchwork fieldwork and information about Alan Lomax and his collections click RIGHT HERE

posted by kramer at 9:48 PM

Full Color Early America

Color Photos taken for the Farm Security Administration and the Office of War Information. Some here and the full huge set here on flickr.
I found these on Richard Brody's blog, and he has some smart, insightful words on the difference between color and b/w and why looking at these is such a flip out here.

posted by sammy at 2:54 PM

Spike Jonze & Dave Eggers at Family This Saturday

go to the events page on the left for more info.

posted by sammy at 11:17 AM

William Lemon III's Window Installation

Will is playing music tonight for the First Person Mag launch party. Will did the installation in our window which is in its final days, so come round and see it if you haven't. We also have a new monograph by Will, published by Eighth Veil.

Will also does this body screen printing. Here is his work:


posted by kramer at 2:19 PM

First Person #4 Launch Party Monday

We're having a launch party for First Person Magazine's Issue #4 "The Discomfort of Sculpture"!

Monday, August 9, 7pm

This issue is a special limited edition letterpress on newsprint featuring Will Oldham, Ryan McGinley, Daniel Arsham, Yoko Ono, Maya Deren, Lynda Benglis, Lee Bontecou and more, including a hand silkscreened poster back by Louise Bourgeiose

Editioned posters by Karl Haendel, Ara Peterson and Jim Drain will be for sale with 100% of of the proceeds going directly towards funding Living Arts Fund’s first film documentary on the arts community in Joshua Tree as well as a Living Library, with artist handmade books on reference to the public.

Performance by Will Lemon III. Lemon is a multidisciplinary artist whose solo exhibition 'Parcival vs. the Sun' is currently showing at Eighth Veil Gallery in Hollywood. A window installation by Lemon is currently up at Family. Lemon's rock opera, Moon & Moon's VII Acts of an Iron King, can be heard when you click HERE

About First Person and Living Arts:

First Person magazine began in 2006 to give artists and curators a platform to vocalize their personal views about how life influences their work, the inner pinnings of the art world, and their creative process. Founder and Curator, Betty Nguyen took the focus away from art criticism to explore art as an experience

Living Arts Fund is a newly formed non-profit in progress whose main mission is to keep artists and art interests thriving in California. Through commissioned projects, community-based activities and exhibitions at Living Arts Fund space opening in Winter 2010, Living Arts Fund will collaborate with multidisciplinary artists, designers, animators, cooks, writers and craftspeople toward expanding the umbrella of Art

posted by kramer at 10:45 PM

It's OK to tell police officers to 'fuck off' (in Australia)

From the Daily Telegraph

Officers pour out woman's drink
Boyfriend tells cop to "f*ck off"
Cops "quite immune to the words"
A QUEENSLAND magistrate has ruled that it is acceptable for people to tell police officers to "f*ck off".

Magistrate Peter Smid yesterday threw out the court case against Mundingburra man Bardon Kaitira, 28, who swore at a female officer outside the Consortium night club on December 20, last year at 2.40am, The Townsville Bulletin reports.

Constable Belinda Young gave evidence that Mr Kaitira used the swear word twice towards her after a group of officers patrolling Flinders St East poured out his girlfriend's drink.

"The defendant said 'f*ck off' and starting walking away and I asked: 'What did you say?'," she said.

"He said 'f*ck off" again and then said: 'I don't like the police you think you are all heroes'.

"I told him it was an offence to swear at an officer and gave him two choices - a fine or be arrested."

Mr Kaitira opted to be put in handcuffs and taken to the watch house.

After winning the landmark case he explained outside court why he pleaded not guilty - despite admitting to swearing at Constable Young.

"On the night it was completely over the top and I didn't think it was fair," Mr Kaitira said.

"Most people just cop a fine but I didn't want to do that."

The defendant instead read through hundreds of similar legal cases before employing a leading criminal barrister and a solicitor to take on his public nuisance case at a cost of $4622.11.

It was worth it for the horticulturist as Magistrate Smid said he was not satisfied Mr Kaitira committed an offence and police could be liable for his legal bills.

"The defendant spoke normally, he had his hands in his pockets and walked away," Magistrate Smid said.

"It's not the most polite way of speaking but those who walk the beat would be quiet immune to the words."

The magistrate said overall the conduct of the defendant was not a nuisance to the public because it didn't interfere with fellow night club goers.

"It was overkill by the officer who was not offended anyway," Mr Smid said.

"But she pursued him clearly annoyed he hadn't shown remorse."

Defence barrister Justin Greggery said the case was "doomed to fail" from the start, arguing that saying the f-word to police was "not an offence".

"It was simply f*ck off - a common enough expression which wasn't descriptive like f*ck you or you f*ck," he said.

"Really the word has lost its affect due to its use in books, films, and general speech."

Mr Greggery added that police were trying to criminalise language, which set a dangerous precedent.

"When they try to set the bar this low they are saying the word f*ck is criminal conduct," he said.

"This is language they use themselves on the job (while arresting offenders and to other officers)."

However, police prosecutor Sergeant Richard Scholl argued Mr Kaitira's code of conduct was offensive and stinging towards the policewoman.

"He displayed behaviour and made jibes with the intention to insult. Police should be shielded from this type of language and the community cannot accept it's OK for a private citizen to tell police to f*** off," he said.

Queensland Police Union President Ian Leavers agreed and called for an urgent appeal of the case, which could set a precedent in Queensland law.

"It is a sad day when the courts and government say it is OK to use four letter words at police," he said.

"To say it's OK to use offensive language at police in the street, who are just doing their job makes, no sense at all."

Mr Smid will decide today whether the Queensland Police Service will cover Mr Kaitira's legal bills, which legal counsel later reduced to $2527.50 after a successful outcome.

By law the maximum amount that can be reimbursed is $1500.

The case follows that of Sydney student Henry Grech, who was cleared in May of an offensive language charge against police after a local court magistrate ruled the word "prick" was part of every-day speech.

posted by kramer at 1:34 PM