This section comprises taped interviews with artists, architects, musicians, critics and other creative practitioners, recorded in conversation with Video Data Bank staff, colleagues from the School of the Art Institute faculty, and others knowledgeable about the particular interviewees work.
The first interview dates from 1976, the year of VDB’s official inauguration, and VDB continues to add to the collection to this day, recording and producing approximately ten new interviews a year. Many of the interviewees are guests of S AIC departments, such as the Visiting Artists program or Conversations at the Edge screening series, or invitees of the Society for Contemporary Art. The VDB interviews supplement these visits, allowing for an in-depth conversation that underlines the development of an artists’ practice.
Turner Prize winning conceptual artist Jeremy Deller works across many different mediums, creating highly political and frequently collaborative works. Defying conventionality, Deller often exhibits outside of traditional gallery spaces, such as his 1993 twist on artist open studios, Open Bedroom, a secret exhibition in Deller’s family home while his parents were on holiday.
Paul D. Miller (b. 1970) is a conceptual artist, writer, and musician better known as DJ Spooky. A popular and prolific recording artist, he has collaborated with Ryuichi Sakamoto, Butch Morris, Yoko Ono, Thurston Moore (of Sonic Youth), Kool Keith, and Killa Priest (of Wu Tang Clan). Miller’s work uses a wide variety of digitally created music as a form of postmodern sculpture.
Northern Irish artist Willie Doherty (b. 1959) works in photography and video installation. Since the late 1980s, his work has responded to the urban setting and rural outskirts of his hometown of Derry, Northern Ireland. Doherty’s artworks tend to begin as responses to specific terrains (most often mysterious isolated settings; places, we suspect, with a troubled past) and evolve as complex reflections on how we look at such locations — or on what stories might be told about their hidden histories.
Nathaniel Dorsky’s films are precise articulations of cinematic qualities: the surprise of an edit, the composition of framing, and the flash of the image. Dubbed the “filmmaker’s filmmaker”, Dorsky’s work captures the fleeting moments of everyday life in its poetic chaos in such films as Pneuma (1976-82), Triste (1974-96), Alaya (1976-87), and Variations (1992-98). Using a spring-wound Bolex and 16mm reversal stock film, Dorsky’s films operate in the realm of the purely visual.
In this interview, political and social theorist, Terry Eagleton (b. 1943), shares stories of his Irish upbringing and British education, and sums up his current engagement with art theory, leftist politics, and spirituality under capitalism. With reference to Henry James, Frederic Jameson, Christopher Hitchens, and Richard Dawkins, among others, this interview spans a vast landscape of literature and social theory.
Felipe Ehrenberg is a prominent Mexican artist who has been actively producing interactive political art, installations, and murals for more than 30 years. Also a writer, Ehrenberg has run a small press in Mexico City and has published numerous articles for art journals in the United States.
Interview by Carol Becker.
Berlin-based Danish artist Olafur Eliasson complicates and simulates perception through his installations, sculptures, and photographs. He has created disorienting artificial illuminations and reproduced natural phenomena such as clouds, glaciers and the sun through large-scale, high-tech installations.
In this interview, African American filmmaker and DJ Ephraim Asili (b. 1979) discusses his upbringing, education, and creative process. Born and raised around the city limit of Philadelphia, Asili’s childhood and adolescence were imbued with hip hop music, Hollywood movies and television. He studied film at Temple University where he finished his thesis project, the documentary Points on a Space Age (2007) with the Sun Ra Arkestra.
German curator Ute Eskildsen (b. 1947) was born in Itzehoe (Schleswig-Holstein). After studying photography and working as an assistant in a fashion and portrait studio, she went on to study photography and the history of photography at the Folkwang School of Portraiture in Essen. A fellow in Visual Communication at the Essen University, she served as assistant to Otto Steinert in the field of photo-history exhibitions.
Karen Finley is well known for her confrontational monologues, often performed in clubs and bars, which exploit the stereotype of the hysterical woman to address the sexual and political taboos associated with femininity. Using a variety of unusual props, such as Jello, chocolate syrup, stuffed animals, and glitter, Finley provokes her audience into thinking about a range of repressions and contradictions in contemporary society. She gained mainstream attention when Congress questioned her NEA funding in the early 1990s.
Interview by Tom Jaremba.
Joan Fontcuberta was born in Barcelona in 1955. His work has been widely exhibited internationally. Fontcuberta uses photography as a conceptual medium, often testing the limits of the image’s credibility. Fauna (1987) and Sputnik (1997) take advantage of photography’s documentary quality to pose elaborate hoaxes. In recent work, Fontcuberta explores and criticizes the image and its proliferating sources with works such as Orogensis/Landscapes Without Memory (2002) and Googlegrams (2005).
The later 1950s and early 1960s saw the development and proliferation of radically new forms of dance driven by a desire to understand the essentiality of movement divorced from traditional, balletic and modern syntaxes. At the forefront of this new wave of performance was Simone Forti, an artist with a hand in both improvisational techniques and choreographed task-maneuvers. This interview details her exploration of each – with a particular focus on her earliest investigations into movement, owing to time spent under the study of Anna Halprin.
Hal Foster is Professor of Modern Art at Princeton University, and has written and edited numerous influential books on postmodernism, art, and culture. His books include Recodings: Art, Spectacle, Cultural Politics (1985); The Return of the Real: The Avant-Garde at the End of the Century (1996); and, as editor, The Anti-Aesthetic: Essays on Postmodern Culture (1983); Vision and Visuality (1988); and Richard Serra (2000).
Interview by David Raskin.
A historical interview originally recorded in 2001 and re-edited in 2008.
Coco Fusco is a Cuban-American artist and author who investigates race, gender, politics, and identity through installations, performances, video work, and writing. In her second On Art and Artists interview, Fusco discusses her recent works with Romi Crawford — an art historian at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago — and describes how she has evolved as a storyteller over her career.