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.
Tom Kalin is a screenwriter, film director, producer, and educator. As a key figure in New Queer Cinema, his work focuses on the portrayal of gay sexuality both in the age of AIDS and historically. Informed by his work with two AIDS activist collectives, ACT UP and Gran Fury, Kalin’s video work is characterized by appropriated images, original portraits, and performances.
Since the 1970s Mary Kelly (b.1941) has worked at the fore of feminist art and theory. She has continued to address issues and methods of activist politics, psychoanalysis, political science, literature, and the history of women and gender. Kelly received recognition in the early ’80s for her epic six-year project, The Post Partum Document, a mixed-media work chronicling her and her son’s development. Kelly says her work revolves “around the recurring themes of body, money, history, and power” in this interview with Judith Russi Kirschner.
The interstice of art and technology has proved to one of the most generative locations in contemporary transdisciplinarity. As media of all kinds become more electronically integrated and digitized across multiple platforms, current technologies approach a condition of complete imbrication with art practices, and vice versa. Ben Knapp and Andy Diaz Hope have been at the forefront of these techno-aesthetic interactions, and their career experience as hard-science engineers brings a level of practical competence to this interview that is truly enlightening.
British-Ghanaian, writer, theorist and filmmaker Kodwo Eshun (b.1967) is known for his interest in the electronic mythology of sound. In this interview, Eshun discusses his desire to challenge the predominance of sociological inquiries into the historical and stylistic development of music. Eshun seeks to establish a model of inquiry that is much more concerned with the materiality of sound.
In this interview, Phyllis Kornfeld, author of Cellblock Visions: Prison Art in America, describes her initial interest in working with prisoners in her native Oklahoma City, stemmed from an exploration of outsider artists. Detailing her first visit to a high security prison as a ‘mind blowing and breathtaking’ experience, Kornfeld discusses how she came to her realization that prisons are fertile environments for free form experimentation with the teaching process. She learned that through personalized art education, inmates could teach themselves to make positive contributions to society. - Kyle Riley
For Shigeko Kubota the video image-making process is a cultural and personal experience. She has explored cross-cultural relationships in her video diaries, transient images captured by portable equipment while traveling—Kubota’s “comparative videology.” She has also combined fleeting video images with the “objecthood” of sculptural form in her series of video sculptures inspired by Duchamp.
Beloved by filmmakers such as John Waters and Todd Solondz, George Kuchar has been working with the moving image for nearly half a century. In the 1950s, Kuchar and his twin brother Mike began producing ultra-low-budget underground versions of Hollywood genre films, with names like I Was a Teenage Rumpot and The Devil's Cleavage.
Steve Kurtz is a founding member of the Critical Art Ensemble and Associate Professor of Art at University of Buffalo. His areas of focus are contemporary art history and theory as well as post-studio practices. As a student Kurtz collaborated with Steve Barnes on low-tech videos, which they developed into a broad-based artist and activist collective known as the Critical Art Ensemble.
Interview by Gregg Bordowitz.
A historical interview originally recorded in 1999 and re-edited in 2005.
Elizabeth LeCompte is the director of the Wooster Group, an experimental theater company that operates out of its own theater, the Performing Garage, in New York City. The group’s working process begins with "source" texts which are quoted, reworked, and juxtaposed with fragments of popular, cultural and social history, and combined with personal and collective experiences of the group. The resulting productions reflect a continuing refinement of a non-linear, abstract aesthetic that at once subverts and pays homage to modern theatrical "realism."
Interview by Lin Hixson.
During a conference in the late 1970s, Carol Leigh (also known as the Scarlot Harlot) coined the term “sex worker.” Now, it is a fundamental part of the lexicon regarding all worker’s rights and this is owed in large part to Leigh’s artistic and activist career. Working primarily through the medium of performance and video – her work attempts to educate and broaden audiences’ understanding of sex work and the fundamental rights sex workers deserve. This interview is a distillation of those aims.
Thai conceptual performance video artist Kamin Lertchaiprasert (b.1964) anchors his work through a commitment to the core principles of Buddhism and his definitive goal to create “life-specific” rather than “site-specific” art. For Lertchaiprasert, the purpose of art is to reclaim the meaningfulness of human activities and collaboration. The artist describes how his techniques of production and his choice of medium ranges from environmental works, to formal sculptures made from recycled materials, to the use of relational aesthetics in the creation of collaborative workshops. With reference to cultural and religious differences between East and West, Lertchaiprasert also posits how the philosophy of art under Buddhist ideals can be a matter of survival, helping us to better understand the essence of being alive. -Faye Gleisser
Linda Montano is interviewed by Janet Dees, Curator at the Mary and Leigh Block Museum, Northwestern University.
Since the 1960s, Linda Montano has aimed to blur the distinction between art and life with her performance and video work. Delving deep into subjects like death, spirituality and personal trauma, she is seen as an influential figure in feminist performance art.
Sharon Lockhart is a photographer and filmmaker. Her photographic and filmic works interrogate the inversion of the static image as cinematic and the manipulation of the moving image into a static/stop-motion frame. Her work also contemplates how we perceive our own real-time realities.
Awarded a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship in 2014, Rick Lowe is a leading practitioner of social practice art. His Row Houses project is a highly lauded example of relational aesthetics successfully deployed. This interview focuses particularly on that work and the artist’s entrance into social practice.
In this 2013 interview, experimental animator and School of the Art Institute of Chicago alumna Jodie Mack discusses the developments that have taken her from an interest in musical theater and playwriting to organizing microcinemas and DIY filmmaking.
Mack describes her interest in early cinema history and the relationship between its technologies and spectacle, particularly the manner in which video production incorporates planned obsolescence. Referring to the “scavenger nature” of her work, Mack discusses her interest in waste and her desire to use reclaimed materials in her work. Using fabric and paper to create shifting fields of color, Mack references corroded and glitched digital media in her work. Her use of quotidian materials reflects upon the role of abstract animation in everyday life, and serves to draw audience awareness to the spectacle of televisual technology.
– Kyle Riley