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 Poole is an organizer of many things. Counting arts administrator, media facilitator, and activist among the many titles he has held over the years, Poole currently brings all these capacities to bear as the executive director of the Pittsburgh Community Television (PCTV) station. In his contribution to the On Art and Artists series, Poole discusses his early foray into media activism as a member of the video art collective Black Planet Productions.
Milton Resnick was born in Bratslav, Russia in 1917, and immigrated to the United States in 1922. Resnick was one of the few survivors of the second generation Abstract Expressionists, and is known for his large, thickly painted abstract canvases. Like other painters of the time, Resnick was striving for an overall quality to his paintings, a way to unite the foreground and background. While others moved toward throwing or dragging quantities of paint across the face of the canvas, Resnick retained a particularly personal and impassioned relation to brush painting.
In this interview with Melika Bass, a Chicago-based filmmaker and installation artist, Camilo Restrepo discusses how he became a filmmaker and how he chooses to document his native home of Colombia. After pursuing a degree in painting, Restrepo got a “regular job” but found himself pulled back towards creative pursuits. Equipped with a Super 8 camera, he set out to document his home honestly, and without an excess of materials.
In this interview painter Robert Ryman (b. 1930) describes his artistic influences, recounts his work process, and assesses the use and meaning of painting, both in the 1960s and the 1990s. For Ryman, the focus of his work is not politics or society, but the “problem of painting.” This interview sheds light not only on his method, which he calls an “intuitive approach,” but also on the artist’s ongoing investment in the physicality of scale, surface and materiality.
Joe Sacco is a cartoonist who has contributed to a wide range of comic magazines including Drawn and Quarterly, Prime Cuts, Real Stuff, Buzzard, and R. Crumb’s Weirdo; he continues to illustrate the semi-regular Painfully Portland cartoon strip for the Willamette Week. He was a recipient of the prestigious American Book Award in 1996 for his work Palestine (1996), which combines techniques of eyewitness reportage with comic strip storytelling.
Juan Sanchez explores his Puerto Rican heritage and the issue of Puerto Rican independence through his work as an artist and writer. Combining painting, photography, collage, and printmaking techniques, Sanchez’s art joins images of contemporary barrio life with memories of Puerto Rico, and addresses a fragmented Latino community fraught with political resistance and cultural alienation.
Interview by Bibiana Suarez.
A historical interview originally recorded in 1990.
Dan Sandin designed the Image Processor that, partly because of his decision to give away the building plans, has effected an energetic and aesthetic investigation of the technological structures of electronic media. He sees the Image Processor as both an event and an environment for artists to explore and experience. During the interview, Sandin spontaneously synthesizes his own image.
Interview by John Manning. Shot by Christine DeLignieres.
A historical interview originally recorded in 1980.
This interview depicts American writer, activist, and AIDS historian Sarah Schulman (b. 1958), discussing becoming a writer, her novels, and her long-term collaboration with filmmaker James Hubbard on projects devoted to gay liberation and AIDS activism. Born in New York to a Holocaust-surviving family, Schulman grew up in an era where women were not considered important.
Richard Schechner is Professor of Performance Studies at New York University, author of numerous books including Performance Theory (1988) and The Future of Ritual (1993), and editor of The Drama Review. This interview with Nancy Forest Brown was conducted during an event at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
In this interview, Indian artist Shuddhabrata Sengupta (b. 1968) discusses his role in the initiation of the Raqs Media Collective, a Delhi-based artist collective, active since the 1990s. At the time of this interview, Raqs had been creating documentaries, art installations, and educational programs for eighteen years. Sengupta likens the driving force of Raqs to that of a game of catch, a process generated by a back-and-forth dialogue mobilized through writing and in-person meetings. As children of the late sixties, Sengupta explains how and why the members of Raqs, (himself, Jeebesh Bagchi and Monica Narula) share an interest in investigating mass communication, technologies of visibility, and the significance of memory and travel. It is also for this reason, Sengjupta explains, that the Collective’s work is committed to fostering rigorous research in addition to art-making endeavors.
In this interview with Carl Bogner, Sky Hopinka (b. 1984) discusses his process of becoming a video artist and his personal approach to documenting Indigenous landscapes and cultures. Hopinka is a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin, and he is also an educator in Chinuk Wawa, a language indigenous to the Lower Columbia River Basin.
John Smith, throughout his 40-year career, has approached the moving image from film, video and installations, generating a tremendous body of work that’s as diverse in its topics as it is in its methods. Weaving between early structuralist film and more personal, diaristic, documentary approaches to the places in which he lived, most notably London, his output is both broad and varied.
Bob Snyder is a Chicago-based composer, video artist, and author who has been experimenting with sound and video synthesis since the 1960s. As a musician, his interest has always been in the relationship between music and visual imagery. In Snyder’s work, music is the central generative source of meaning, although he also creates a dialogue between the sound and images of nature and architecture.
Interview by Rafael Franca.
Art Spiegelman was born and raised in New York, and began working as a cartoonist while still in High School. He attended the State University of New York in Binghamton, where he studied Philosophy. Spiegelman, who continued to work as a cartoonist, mainly in underground publications, throughout his schooling, has long been acknowledged as one of our era's foremost comic book artists. However, it was Maus, published in two volumes in 1986, that first brought his work to a mass audience. Maus tells the stories of a Jewish survivor of Nazi Germany and his son.
Pat Steir is an American painter and printmaker whose work has resisted artworld currents and factions for decades, while expanding its reach and maintaining enthusiastic critical support. She graduated from Pratt in 1962, and in 1964 was included in the show Drawing at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and had her first solo exhibition at the Terry Dintenfass Gallery, New York.