Interview: Artist Merry Alpern with Associate Curator Pauline Vermare

Pauline Vermare: Your Dirty Windows series (1995) is currently on view at the ICP Museum. Would you tell us more about the story behind the photographs?

Merry Alpern: The project began one night, in 1993, when a friend led me to a back room in his loft in New York City’s Wall Street district. From his window, one flight down, maybe fifteen feet away, I saw a bathroom window and felt the vibrations of a pulsing bass track. Suddenly, a body in a sparkling harness appeared, then disappeared. It turned out that a private lap-dance club had newly opened and been secreted away in the building. 

I was transfixed and spent the next six months sitting in the dark, dressed in black, camera on tripod, watching the goings-on of perfect strangers.

Interview: Artist John Houck with Associate Curator Pauline Vermare

Pauline Vermare: Your stunning piece Portrait Landscape (2015) is currently on view at the International Center for Photography (ICP). Would you describe it to us, and tell us more about its title?

John Houck: I wrote software that uses computer vision to find faces in Michelangelo Antonioni's movie “Blow-Up” (1966). The software often misrecognizes faces and finds them in a field of grass or in the folds of someone’s clothes, for example. The film is cut down to about ten minutes and only features scenes with the misrecognized faces.

Essay: Photography in the Age of Communicative Capitalism by Ben Burbridge

The culture of online photographic showing/sharing answers the socioeconomic imperatives of neoliberalism in at least two ways. For sociologists Luc Boltanski and Eve Chiapello, networked capitalism is a response to the “artistic critique” leveled against mid-twentieth-century Fordism. This demanded greater autonomy, authentic experience, freedom from the monotony of mass-produced consumer culture and the drudgery of nine-to-five working. Capitalism responded by “liberating” the workforce; fragmenting cultural and commodity production to meet the minutiae of personal preference; creating a flexi-time world where success is gauged not through movement up definable hierarchies but by a capacity to move between projects and across global networks. So this is what it feels like to be free?

Interview: Live Events Curator Lucas Wrench from Machine Project, with Curator-in-Residence Charlotte Cotton

Charlotte Cotton: It’s a real pleasure to have a few minutes with you before you head to New York for the first of the workshops that you have organized in response to Public, Private, Secret. You’ve curated the program in your role as Associate Curator at Machine Project in Los Angeles, and I'd like to start by asking you about Machine Project and your work there.

Lucas Wrench: Machine Project is a non-profit arts space in Echo Park, and we focus mainly on performances, workshops, lectures, and also curate projects with the public, in the public sphere. Above all, the program is about letting artists experiment with the public in ways that are generous and engaging. I work as the Associate Curator and the Operations Manager at our 1200 N. Alvarado Street storefront gallery. I work primarily on the weekly events program, and help out with the larger off-site projects that Machine Project undertakes.

CC: And how did you approach the invitation to curate events at the ICP Museum for Public, Private, Secret?

Interview: Graphic Designer Geoff Han with Curator-in-Residence Charlotte Cotton

Charlotte Cotton: I wanted to start with asking you to recap how you got involved with the ICP Museum project and your brief to design the graphic identity of both the space and the opening exhibition, Public, Private, Secret.

Geoff Han: I was introduced to the project through Common Room, who were selected to be the spatial designers of the ICP Museum’s front space and the first exhibition. I’ve collaborated with Common Room for eight years now. Our collaboration started off with making publications together and grew to include a larger scope of work, including visual identity, website, and exhibition-design work. Common Room asked me to submit together with them for the ICP Museum.

CC: I obviously remember your first proposal document and how strong it was in terms not only of showing your and Common Room’s demonstrated capacities but also in your understanding of ICP’s project. I think that one of the defining features of this kind of complex design project is to stay focused on the core concept developed in its first stages. Can you remember the core brief for the ICP Museum?

Interview: Mossless Publisher Romke Hoogwaerts with Curator-in-Residence Charlotte Cotton

Charlotte Cotton: I can see, in a way, that Mossless operates as a discursive publication, and it shares similar strategies to the way ICP works in terms of bringing together things that were never intended to be together...it’s an inherently radical act to do that.

Romke Hoogwaerts: Yes! And you know, from a publisher’s standpoint, it’s almost bad business to keep changing the kind of genre that you’re working with [laughs]...but I feel like that’s where the most fun is had, and I’m interested in photography in general, so instead of sticking to one concept or one style, I want to try to hatch everything together and see where there’s convergence. I think that’s where we sometimes find some of the most interesting ideas.

Interview: Artist Natalie Bookchin with Editor Paula Kupfer

Paula Kupfer: Do you see many connections between traditional photography and your video work?

Natalie Bookchin: I think my video work makes lots of sense in a photo show. I come out of photography, although I haven’t worked in photography very much or even for many, many years.

I took a few photography classes as an undergraduate and continued as a graduate student at the School of Art Institute of Chicago. For my entire twenty-five-year teaching career, until I moved to Rutgers two years ago, I have been situated within photography departments. Although I don’t make photographs anymore, the photographic is an essential element in my work, as I work with lens-based recordings of actuality that I find on social-media sites. I search in the video documents for poses, stances, and gestures.

Audio recordings are equally important—I listen, as much as I look, for tone, language, and word selections. I collect documents in which people perform for the camera, in both rehearsed and seemingly spontaneous ways. I look to these documents for what they might reveal something about who we, as a culture, think we are, how present ourselves outwards to the world as we perform in front of real and imagined viewers.

Interview: Artist and Software Designer David Reinfurt with Curator-in-Residence Charlotte Cotton

Charlotte Cotton: I do want to start by saying how profoundly grateful I am that you came on board with this project. As you know, you are my person of choice when I have a project where design is at its conceptual core.

David Reinfurt: Thank you also, for such a perfect invitation for me. I took the invitation at face value—to design a clock for the front space. I think when we first started to talk through the ideas, it was a much more straightforward design job, in a way: how you could take the pieces and ideas that already existed and turn them into a clock. And then, as we went deeper into the ideas, the design became more fundamental to the concept and meaning of the clock.