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.
John Tagg is a writer, educator, and a leading contributor to the development of art-historical and photographic theory, focusing on political analysis of institutionalized culture and interventions within it. He is a professor of art history at State University of New York-Binghamton and author of Grounds of Dispute: Art History, Cultural Politics and the Discursive Field (1992) and The Burden of Representation: Essays on Photographies and Histories (1988). Interview by James Hugunin.
A historical interview originally recorded in 1988.
Kidlat Tahimik is a Filipino filmmaker, writer and actor who takes his name from the Tagalog translation of “silent lightning.” Known as the “Father of Philippine Independent Cinema,” his contemplative films are associated with the Third Cinema movement for their examination of neocolonialism and the Hollywood business-model of filmmaking.
Parry Teasdale is one of the founding members of the video art collective Videofreex, which was active in the 1960s and 70s. In this extensive two-part interview Teasdale explores the collective’s motivations and endeavors, which embodied the social and political concerns of the period.
At the age of twenty-four, Taiwanese artist Tehching Hsieh (b.1950), moved to New York, where he has created and documented time-specific, conceptual art performances since the 1970s. In this interview, Hsieh discusses his formative years and philosophical moorings. This dialogue includes description of the artist’s early period of painting, his military service in Taiwan, and the cultural atmosphere of a country then undergoing massive political change. Much of the discussion focuses specifically on Hsieh’s understanding of the relationship of art and life, his investment in “free thinking,” and the politics of documentation. For Hsieh, the ability to think freely is art’s bottom line—he believes the essence of his work lies in human communication. To this end, Hsieh insists that his work, though incredibly personal, is not autobiographical, but philosophical.
VDB is proud to present Linda Montano's The Death Tapes. Originally trained as a sculptor, Linda Montano began using video in the 1970s. She is a seminal figure in contemporary feminist performance art and her work has been critical in the development of video by, for, and about women. Attempting to obliterate the distinction between art and life, Montano's artwork is starkly autobiographical and often concerned with personal and spiritual discipline.
Rirkrit Tiravanija’s work explores the social role of the artist, and that role’s ability to create interactive spaces for people to come together. Focusing less on the construction of discrete objects, he maintains a practice predicated on diffuse forms of installation that facilitate the activities like cooking, reading, and general collectivity. The particularly conceptual nature of his work is a central theme in this interview. While in art school, a teacher Tiravanija greatly admired told him to “stop making art” and this was something he took very seriously.
Danny Tisdale is a performance artist from New York City. His performances challenge prevailing ideas of race, assimilation, appropriation and success by offering passers-by the chance to racially change their appearance as a means to achieve greater financial success. The mimicry of museological practices of cataloguing and preservation, display and presentation provides one of a range of rhetorical frameworks upon which Danny Tisdale hangs his practice of social critique.
Fred Tomaselli’s mosaics and collages compose patterns and images that suggest ancient global influences. His materials, however, are products of modern consumption, addiction, bodily abuse, and pleasure: pills, nicotine patches, bandages, and the like. The surfaces are coated with a lacquered veneer, making these mundane sources of highs or healing gleam. Interview by James Rondeau. A historical interview originally recorded in 1999 and re-edited in 2007.
Allan Trachtenberg is one of the most esteemed figures in contemporary photographic history and cultural studies. He received an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Emeritus Fellowship for his continuing work on Wright Morris. Other honors include fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Guggenheim Foundation. Trachtenberg is the Neil Gray, Jr. Professor Emeritus of English and American studies at Yale University, where he taught for thirty-five years.
In this interview, Los Angeles-based artist and filmmaker Ryan Trecartin (b. 1981) discusses his personal interests and motivations, as well as the larger cultural and philosophical concerns that shape his videos and their reception. Trecartin is known for his construction of non-linear narratives, campy costumes, and excessively visceral characters and environments. One of the most compelling aspects of this interview is his insistence that language and its verbal articulation, rather than the visual, anchor his process. Trecartin identifies the influences of 1990s retro-rave culture, hip-hop videos, and editing software tools on his work. He notes that the accelerated disintegration of high and low culture has played a major part in his growth as an artist.
Originally trained as a musical composer, receiving her MFA and Ph.D. from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, Trinh T. Minh-ha (b. 1952) is a world-renowned documentary feminist filmmaker and expert on avant-garde and third world post-colonial film theory. In 1970, Minh-ha came to the United States from Vietnam at the age of seventeen. Since then she has been involved in film, musical composition, social theory, and critical writing.
“Collaboration is competitive” – this is the tag line for the artist collective Type A, composed of Adam Ames and Andrew Bordwin. Their projects stretch across the mediums of video, photography, sculpture, and installation – using different formats less for their own sake and more for their appropriateness in relation to a given idea. This malleability allows them to stage installations that are more like interventions in various non-art spaces such as the city streets or a high school gym.
Since 1977, Mierle Laderman Ukeles has been a volunteer artist-in-residence at the New York City Department of Sanitation, allowing her to introduce radical art into a public system. Since she wrote the Manifesto for Main-tenance Art (1969), virtually all of Ukeles’s work has been public. Recent permanent commissions include Percent for Art Fresh Kills Landfill Project, New York City, the world’s largest landfill; Schuylkill River Park, Philadelphia; Creative Time, New York City; and Ayalon Park, Israel.
Electronic musician and sound artist Stephen Vitiello (b.1964) creates sonic installations that function to give a physical form or space to audio. In this interview, Vitiello discusses his beginnings as a film student, and his transition from music to fine art through his investment in storytelling aspects of soundtracks. As a teacher, artist, and long-time curator at Electronic Arts Intermix, Vitiello’s insights and anecdotes offer up sentimental reflection and hard-learned life lessons, as well as perspective on the historic landscape of music and art in the 1980s and 90s. By discussing his partnerships with Tony Oursler, Jem Cohen, and Nam June Paik, Vitello provides entry into the myriad influences and collaborations that have shaped his working process and artistic career.
Danh Vo is a Vietnamese-born Danish conceptual artist, currently living and working between Berlin and Mexico City. His large installations often deal with issues of personal identity and belonging. In conversation with Norah Taylor, an art historian specializing in South and Southeast Asian art, Vo discusses his upbringing, career, and what led him to become an artist.