Archive for June, 2014

The Low Down on Warm Up!

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

Warm Up 2014 begins this Saturday at MoMA PS1!  This annual outdoor music series has become a landmark of New York summers and an essential bridge connecting the art world with experimental live music, sound, and DJs from New York and beyond.  Warm Up 2014 spans eleven weeks and features almost 60 performers.  If you can attend only one or two dates, which should they be?  I asked NYC-based DJs, producers, and promoters which performances they recommend.  Their responses are below, but first, a bit more about the Warm Up season.

Warm Up will feature Hy-Fi, an installation by The Living (David Benjamin), and rotating stage installations by local design talent—including CONFETTISYSTEM, Chen Chen and Kai Williams, Fort Makers, Fort Standard, Nightwood, and The Principals—organized by Jocelyn Miller.  ARTBOOK @ MoMA PS1 will feature design objects and music by Warm Up talent.  MoMA leaders Klaus Biesenbach, Margaret Knowles, and Eleanor McKinney selected this year’s Warm Up curatorial committee, which includes Dean Bein (True Panther Sounds), Jonathan Galkin (DFA Records), Brandon Stosuy (Pitchfork), Imogene Strauss (Cool Managers), Matt Werth (RVNG Intl), and Eliza Ryan.

Rendering of The Living’s Hy-Fi, winning design of the 2014 Young Architects Program. The Museum of Modern Art and MoMAPS1. Image courtesy of The Living.

Rendering of The Living’s Hy-Fi, winning design of the 2014 Young Architects Program. MoMA and MoMAPS1. Image courtesy of The Living.

I sought opinions about Warm Up from booty-moving and speaker-shaking experts, including James Friedman, Gavin Russom, Kim Ann Foxman, Alex Pasternak, DJ Scallywag, and Mr. Blacklauren.  Here they are, in no particular order.

-James Friedman is a DJ and co-founder of Throne of Blood Music.  He recently released Most Excellent Mixtape 007 with Most Excellent Unltd, while ToB talents Jokers of the Scene are collaborating with visual artist Sean Dack.  James picks A/Jus/Ted and Pantha du Prince on June 28th:

 “A/Jus/Ted are a super talented duo featuring Justin Strauss, who is a real legendary NY dance music character and one of the most humble dudes I’ve had the pleasure to become friends with over my years as a DJ.  Pantha du Prince is probably the single most achingly beautiful techno artist out there today. That label feels inadequate to describe his music, which over four or so albums has evolved from delicate minimalism into this harmonically rich, musically serious version of dance music. His live set with the Bell Laboratory during Red Bull Music Academy last year was my favorite show in recent memory.”

-Gavin Russom is a co-producer of The Crystal Ark and resident DJ of the monthly Drakkar Noir at Bossa Nova Civic Club. His new 12-inch, The Purge/Enthroned, is the first release by the new label Entropy Trax.  Gavin selects DJ Spoko on June 28th and Robert Hood on July 19th:

“DJ Spoko basically because I was already a big fan of the South African house sound and then his track Sound of our 4Fathers blew me away. Whenever I play it people ask me what it is. Really interested to hear what he’ll play.  Robert Hood is a living African American artist of the type anyone would be blessed to witness in person, like Miles Davis or James Baldwin. What he’s achieved in terms of a specific and clear personal style and a synthesis of radical politics, storytelling and technological innovation is really impressive. Plus, I saw him play at Berghain a couple years ago and hearing him weave disco and soul music into his set, on that sound system, is something I’ll never forget.”

Kim Ann Foxman at Warm Up 2013. © 2013 MoMA PS1; Photo: Charles Roussel

Kim Ann Foxman, Warm Up 2013. © 2013 MoMA PS1; Photo: Charles Roussel

-Kim Ann Foxman is a globe-trotting DJ and producer.  This month, she released two new singles, Be Mine and Let Me the One, with Heidi Presents Jackathon Jams.  She performed at Warm Up 2013.  Kim Ann recommends Kevin Saunderson on August 23rd:

“Kevin Saunderson will definitely be amazing to see at PS1 Warm up!  He is surely my all time fave electronic music producer ever. He is Detroit Techno and acid house heaven for me. He has made the best of dance music pop hits such as Big Fun and Good Life, as well the best underground gems like Just Another Chance, Feel the Mood, and so many more! He is sure to get you ‘Groovin Without A Doubt’. He is a huge inspiration for me.  Don’t miss him!”

-Alex Pasternak is a DJ and member of Lemonade.  The new Lemonade record comes out September 9th.  Alex writes:

“My faves are Pantha du Prince and DJ Spoko.  I went on tour with Pantha du Prince last month and he KILLS IT live.  Also, Total Freedom (Ashland Mines) is one of my favorite DJs; he’s the best in LA, as far as I’m concerned.  He doesn’t do straight dance.  Ashland has a more conceptual approach to DJing. I’ve heard him mix an R&B acapella over a drum solo from some metal band…I believe it was a Mayhem solo.  Regardless, Ashland kills it as a DJ.  Finally, Dubbel Dutch will be epic.  They are great producers.”

-DJ Scallywag and Mr. Blacklauren are DJs who co-host the monthly party The Long Count at Bossa Nova Civic Club.  Mr. Blacklauren writes:

“I am keen on the Robert Hood line-up because it’s the only one that caters to my interests in darker, conceptual and even philosophical techno & electronic music. That’s not to say that the music won’t be dance-able or alienating for people with little to no knowledge of these artists. I think it will be just as enjoyable for the novice and die-hard fan alike. I know as a producer and DJ that when I leave this event, the creative gears will be a churnin’.”

-DJ Scallywag has multiple picks, but with caveats and conditions:

“For me, Warm Up is kind of a mixed bag. I’ll definitely give it to ‘em for having the best ‘all around’ line-up in the city, but I don’t always enjoy the crowding, the drink ticket loophole hurdles, and the constraints of the acoustics as related to the space. -Not to be a jerk, though, haha! If you wanna climb up those steps and bob up and down all day like you’re on display, then more power to you! I guess I’m just usually not drunk enough at that hour to really enjoy being sardined in that little pit.;)”

“That stuff aside, the Robert Hood, Rrose, Objekt, Container date is a dream line-up of harder-edged sounds. Rrose was phenomenal the night she played with us at Bossa, and Container’s live show has made me go feral on multiple occasions. But if it’s a super hot day, then the sun might already be throwing down hard enough. Heaviness in the right context, you know? But I could see Robert Hood slipping in a couple tracks that are nice n’ breezy.”

“The real bucket-list show is Daniele Baldelli with Charanjit Singh. Both of them are early 80’s guys. Baldelli is a legendary Italian dude usually framed as the original Balearic / cosmic disco DJ and credited for ushering in what would become Italo Disco as well. I found out about him in the djhistory forums. I always imagined him as kind of a proto-DJ Harvey, but he was known for pitching down records a lot, so you might say he was more like the DJ Screw of the bougie Italian shore scene. He’s the same in that all I’ve ever known are his mixtapes. Anyhow, I know most people in the US have never seen him, so feel free to print that!  Charanjit Singh seems even more of anomaly. He was a Bollywood soundtrack composer who put out an album that took the intricacy of classic Indian ragas and rendered them using Roland’s most famous synths and drum machines (the ones even us non-gearheads hear referenced all the time: the TB-303, TB-808, Jupiter-8, etc). The ragas translated nicely because of the 303’s glissando function (the smooth pitch glide between notes that a lot of acid records have) and most of it had a 4/4 kick under it because of the 808. The record came out in India in 1982, when most of those machines had just hit the market. It’s kind of a big deal because it was rediscovered a few years ago; it actually predated the ‘acid house’ movement by about five years. I’m assuming he’s never played NY, either, but I’m hoping that that bill is obscure enough to avoid the whole ‘Kraftwerk effect’ so I can just sit somewhere comfy and vibe out. Check out his Ten Ragas to a Disco Beat if you’re a fan of vintage sounds or notable curios, and also check out the inside of PS1 because they have A/C in there. Plus, the bathroom lines are shorter. ;)”

Warm Up 2013. © 2013 MoMA PS1; Photo: Charles Roussel

Warm Up 2013. © 2013 MoMA PS1; Photo: Charles Roussel

A Worker’s Progress

Friday, June 6th, 2014

Recently, David Sandlin earned a 2014 Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship.  The mega-prestigious award is a career milestone for any artist, but especially for an artist who has worked so ably between printmaking, painting, artist book projects, and teaching.  In addition to his studio practice and SVACE courses, David Sandlin guides MFA Illustration students through their thesis projects, from selecting an advisor to making a proposal into a finished body of work.  In other words, he puts many young artists on their first steps toward making mature work.  I wanted to look deeper into the history that led Sandlin to this moment and beyond.

David Sandlin, "Ooooh My Son, All This Is Yours (Walpurgis Nachtmart)", 2004

David Sandlin, “Ooooh My Son, All This Is Yours (Walpurgis Nachtmart)”, 2004

MB: First, do you have any particular plans for the Fellowship award?  That is, do you have a specific project in mind to complete?

DS: I’ve started work on a new series of silkscreened books about U.S. history and the ghosts that haunt the American Dream. It’s called 76 Manifestations of American Destiny. The plan is for six volumes, each consisting of 12 to 13 prints. Each volume will be bound as an accordion book that folds out to be about 27 feet long. I’ve got volume one finished so far.

David Sandlin, "Ooooh My Son, All This Is Yours (Walpurgis Nachtmart)", 2004 (detail)

David Sandlin, “Ooooh My Son, All This Is Yours (Walpurgis Nachtmart)”, 2004 (detail)

MB: You have been making and exhibiting art in New York for over 30 years.  For the Guggenheim application, how did you select images from your numerous books, prints, drawings, paintings, and objects?

DS: Even though I’ve been making work for over 30 years, for the proposal I could only show work from the past 5 years. I felt it was crucial that I be able to show excerpts from Slumburbia, the final volume in my series A Sinner’s Progress, which I finished in 2009. I thought it was important to demonstrate that I had already completed an ambitious series and was therefore capable of doing this one. I also sent images of Mort-Gage, a more recent project, plus images from the first volume of 76 Manifestations, to show that I was working on this new series and would continue to do so with or without funding.

David Sandlin, "Slumburbia," 2009 (detail)

David Sandlin, “Slumburbia,” 2009 (detail)

MB: The art world is larger than ever, and increasingly global, with new audiences in Latin America, the Middle East, and China.  What causes do you see behind these changes

DS: I think it’s an more exciting, decentralized art environment now because of globalization: fast communication via the internet, social media, more international art fairs, and globalized finance—and even tools like PayPal—make seeing and accessing art easier than ever.

MB: Do these changes actually create more opportunities for emerging to midcareer artists?

DS: I think so. Over the past few years, I’ve been invited to be in shows all over the place—Turkey, China, Switzerland, Scotland—and I’m going to have a solo show in Luxembourg next year… One way or another, my work is getting seen by people in far-flung places.

MB: The Guggenheim Fellowship is known as a “midcareer” award.  To what resources, skills, or talents do you attribute your longevity as an artist with an enduring career and substantial exhibition record?

DS: Persistence. I enjoy making art, and even when I get frustrated or burned out, I keep at it. I work as much as I can. I also think being versatile is helpful…as well as painting, I make prints, books, drawings, and comics. I am never lacking in projects, and all those deadlines keep me busy.

David Sandlin, SVA subway poster, 2011

David Sandlin, SVA subway poster, 2011