Fall 2008 Talks
Last year artist Rob Pruitt (b.1964, Washington, D.C.) became fascinated by his iPhone and its ability to document aspects of everyday life, from the most mundane to the most revealing. Following in the footsteps of Andy Warhol, who intently chronicled his world through tape recordings and filled up numerous time capsules with items from his everyday life, Pruitt has documented a day-in-the-life-of-the-artist everyday of the year since purchasing the phone, which he refers to as "an extra brain in my pocket" as well as a "sketchbook for someone who doesn't draw."
Pruitt sees art all around him — as evidenced by 101 Art Ideas You Can Do at Home (1999), a set of instructions for transforming everything into art and demonstrating both his conceptual and pop roots. In the early 1990s, Pruitt collaborated with artist Jack Early before striking out on his own to create works that have ranged from paintings and sculptures to photographs and events. At least year's Frieze Art Fair in London, he turned the booth run by Gavin Brown's enterprise into a flea market, selling items consigned by artists and friends including records, clothes, brownies, books and artwork.
Sculptor Tom Friedman (b.1965, St. Louis, MO) makes the ordinary extraordinary. He often does this by playing with certain characteristics of a familiar object, turning something common and insignificant into something notable and arresting. Part-philosopher, part-craftsman with a sense of humor, Friedman also pays acute attention to how both everyday items and works of art are perceived. For viewers looking at Friedman's work, one of the first questions that often springs to mind is "How did he do that?" His well-known works include: a self-portrait of the artist carved out of an aspirin, a single piece of gum stretched from the ceiling to the floor, or a pill capsule filled with miniscule balls of Play-doh. Friedman likes to keep interpretations of his works open-ended, leaving us to ponder the nature of his materials and the methods he uses to transform them into witty, whimsical works of art.
Catherine Sullivan (b.1968, Los Angeles, CA) develops installations that combine theater, dance, film, music and visual art. The performers in her pieces often explore written texts, stylistic economies, gestural regimes, reenactments of history, and conceptual orthodoxies. Her work is usually shot or performed in locations that are richly layered with social functions, and the elements of character, action and setting play off one another to produce an anxious and unresolved political sensibility. The topics touched upon in Sullivan's 2007 piece, Triangle of Need, are numerous and varied, including Neanderthal orphans, Nigerian email scams and even time travel. To create this piece, the artist collaborated with noted music, dance and film professionals to create an ambitious and thought-provoking work. However, her true medium is the ensemble itself, and her works most often involve multiple collaborators. With The Chittendens (2005), for example, a six-channel sound and video piece produced in collaboration with composer Sean Griffin, Sullivan assigned sixteen actors different "attitudes" — each characterized by appointed movements and emotions that were performed according to a strict pattern. The name of the piece itself was derived from an insurance agency called "Chittenden Group" whose logo — a lighthouse — is a meaningful metaphor for self-possession.
Public Art Fund Talks are organized by the Public Art Fund in collaboration with the Vera List Center for Art and Politics at The New School.