Wednesday, December 6, 2023
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Of the People


“The human being is in the most literal sense a political animal, not merely a gregarious animal, but an animal which can individuate itself only in the midst of society.”
-Karl Marx

Art is, was, and forever will be of, by, and for the people. Whether or not a particular individual takes in or claims to understand art is of no consequence, the essence of the discipline is to express the intimate and the collective for all to see and share. Art lives and breathes the moment of its creation, crystallizing the instant of its birth. So too, art perishes within a vacuum. Through art, we seek to blow open the doors of truth and dive deep into the murky waters of humanity.

Phong Bui publishes the Brooklyn Rail. Most recently he opened an exhibition at Mana Contemporary. Occupy Mana consists of two parts; ARTISTS NEED TO CREATE ON THE SAME SCALE AS SOCIETY HAS THE CAPACITY TO DESTROY takes over the 50,000 square foot glass gallery and presents political and environmental issues of the day. 34 artists collaborate to create the content for this component of the exhibition. The second part of the exhibition is called Friends in Solidarity for which resident artists at Mana are matched with artists from elsewhere to create work that fills the rest of the space. The entire exhibition spans about 100,000 square feet and was created in about one month and installed in just five days. Bui stresses the theme of urgency within the exhibition, speaking to the current political climate in the United States. Expanding on this theme of urgency and coupled with a component of activism, Bui would like the exhibition to be taken up by curators elsewhere on any scale, using the same title creating a network of exhibitions addressing issues as they arise. Bui’s publication the Brooklyn Rail recently celebrated its 17th anniversary. Bui has held on to his founding philosophy that Brooklyn Rail and its sister publications should be independent and for the people, ensuring that the paper remains free of charge and without advertisements. Tell Me Something Good: Artist Interviews from the Brooklyn Rail compiles exactly what the title suggests into a volume that costs less than $30. Bui hopes the book will be accessible to artists at every stage of their careers. Lucas Zwirner and Jarrett Earnest edited the volume for which Bui provided the introduction and artist portraits.

Kirsten Justesen lives in and works in Copenhagen, Denmark. Justesen is currently involved in a group exhibition in Germany titled Feminist Avantgarde 1970s. The exhibition examines the role of stereotypes, cliche, and the issue of politics in the context of women’s rights. Justesen is also involved in an exhibition at the Women’s Museum in Aarhus, Denmark. For this exhibition, she created enormous geometric ceramic pieces. Around the same time, Justesen received a commission from Clay, a ceramic museum in Denmark. For this, as she has done often in her work, Justesen used her own body, creating a cast that she eventually rendered in stoneware. In her 60s, Justesen was the recipient of a lifetime artist grant from the Danish government. She is currently working with a publisher to compile her life’s work. In this interview, Justesen addresses the current climate of #MeToo offering her perspective as a woman who has reached the age of “invisibility” and discussing the implications of the current watershed moment from a unique and important angle.

A Few Words to Keep in your Pocket:

Without beholders, there can be no art. Without art, there can be no beholders. This symbiosis must always sit at the very foundation of every artistic intention.

Interviews are available on iTunes as podcasts, and for Android please click here. All weekly essay pieces in a shareable format are here. The full archive of interviews here.

Additional interviews include: Sophie Lapalu

Books to Read

What are you reading? Add your titles to our reading list here. Cheryl Gross has been reading My Favorite Thing is Monsters by Emil Ferris and Carla Rae Johnson is enjoying James Wright: A Life in Poetry by Jonathan Blunk

Opportunities / Open Calls

Sweden’s Nordic Art Association hosts the Studio Swap website. Here, artists can network internationally with the aim of arranging a temporary studio exchange.


Weekly Edited Grant and Residency Deadlines – review the list here.



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