Karen Ashton Interview – Vauxhall Art Car Boot Fair

Ahead of this weekend’s Vauxhall Art Car Boot Fair in Margate, Art Matter spoke to Karen Ashton about the popular art fair. Read the interview below whilst there’s more on this year’s fair in our feature here.

Art Matter: Hi Karen, the Art Car Boot Fair has gone from strength to strength since the inaugural event in 2004, how did it all begin?

Karen Ashton: It actually began with an Art Car Rally to promote the first ever Brighton Photo Biennial in 2003 with about eight cars driving from outside the Serpentine Gallery to the end of Brighton’s old pier, windows covered with images by Martin Parr, Elaine Constantine, Jeremy Deller and Alan Kane and boots full of art including a mystery box given to us by Jake & Dinos Chapman which we auctioned unopened at the end of the day. The winning bidder opened the box to find a mouldy tangerine, a copy of The Beano and a few cast-off small casts from their Turner Prize show that year! We enjoyed the car boot sale part of the day so much that we approached Vauxhall, who’d sponsored the trip, and they agreed to support a standalone London event. The great thing about this model, working with our sponsor in the way that we do, means that the event has always been completely free to invited artists to take part in and they take what they make – so we have a nice clean relationship with them, no financial involvement at all.

AM: What was your own background before founding the Art Car Boot Fair?

KA: I began my working life working in advertising and PR for JWT and Mathew Freud, but after a couple of years I left to do a fine art MA in photography and after a spell curating photographic exhibitions and working on projects like the Shoreditch Photo Biennial I realised that there was a role for me in brokering successful arts sponsorships and I worked on various projects with clients including the RCA, Beaconsfield, the Finnish Insititute in London, The Lisson Gallery, Nat West Bank, Matches and Bloomberg and of course have had a long working relationship with Vauxhall for the Art Car Boot Fair.

AM: The fair will be in Margate this year; home to Tracey Emin, the Turner Contemporary and not to mention, the mysterious Shell Grotto. How did this opportunity in Margate come about?

KA: We’d successfully taken the event on the road last year, joining in with the opening weekends of both the Folkestone Triennial and the Liverpool Biennial – and were planning to do it again this year, when we had a timely call from Sam Lloyd at Turner Contemporary (who’d come along to our Folkestone event) inviting us to hold it at Turner Contemporary. We visited a few days later and realised what a great place Margate has become again – there’s so much going on creatively and it’s turned out to be a perfect place to hold the event.

AM: What can fair-goers expect this year down by the sea?

KA: Hopefully a clear calm day with light white clouds and a gentle breeze…but whatever the weather there are some serious art bargains to be had in an atmosphere of frivolity – eclectic performances, a full three hour cabaret presided over Richard Strange (Cabaret Futura), opportunities to make your own custom screen prints for free at Ian Dawson’s COPY SHOP – plus the chance to barter and do business with over a hundred artists including Tracey Emin, Sir Peter Blake, Keith Coventry, Matt Collishaw, Polly Morgan, Rachel Howard, Vic Reeves and fabulous installations from Margate based studios Resort, Crate, Limbo and new kids on the block Bonvolk – and wonderful promenade performances including Dan Chilcott’s knitted swimsuit posse and Francis Thorburn’s wonderful vehicle powered by men in socks and underpants – members of the public are encouraged to don the outfit and join in! Oh, and a dog show.

AM: The fair is characterized by it’s lively, relaxed and friendly atmosphere; is this a draw to the big names in art that take part in the fair?

KA: Yes, most definitely – plus the opportunity to do the business of selling art directly to buyers and the chance to make work especially for the day which gives artists the chance to let their hair down a bit, without the expectations of their galleries!

AM: Finally, what’s in store in the future, will the fair venture further afield in years to come?

KA: We love holding the London event once a year, to retain the energy and fun of it, we’d also like to hold one or two boot fairs elsewhere in the UK in 2016, perhaps heading north to Yorkshire and/or Scotland. We’re also in early stage planning to take the event to New York, to see how it goes down Stateside. It’s a very personal project so we can’t franchise it out or anything like that as we see it almost as a curatorial project.

More information: www.artcarbootfair.com

Wilma - Cleopatra and Lassie

Jeremy Deller & Fraser Muggeridge English Magic Remix raveposter

Intrinsically Bound Kate Knight



The Vauxhall Art Car Boot Fair Liverpool Edition  Saturday July 5 2014,  Wolstenholme Square, Liverpool L1 Joining the London convoy is a new crew of booters from Liverpool’s finest  Astro Love Hotels,  Candyfloss Haircuts, Hook-a brain stress relief, stunningly bright paper pulp sculptures, a cake stand Firenza, Homebaked baked goods, the Hunt & Darton café which is a live art installation that serves fabulous food too. The Liverpool Art Car Boot Fair marks the maiden voyage of Mummy  artwork from Gavin Turk made out of cotton duck canvas and a Vauxhall Ampera . As she takes off on her first major journey, nature will take its toll as the canvas covered car picks up marks from the weather, exhaust fumes, mud, dust particles and accidental stains and becomes the artwork.

The Vauxhall Art Car Boot Fair Liverpool Edition Saturday July 5 2014,
Wolstenholme Square, Liverpool L1 

Botanical Mischief Heidi Plant

Soul Food Fast - Vanera Obscura

Nadine Talallla - Personal God

Mark Collishaw BLOWBACK


Nicholas Mangan Interview | Katie Guggenheim

Interview with Nicholas Mangan

Katie Guggenheim: The first of the two films that form your new work, Ancient Lights, is a loop of a coin spinning in perpetual motion. Further cycles and cyclical systems occur in the second film and in the way that you’ve conceived of the installation as a kind of closed circuit, powered by an off-grid system. What interests you in these different kinds of systems and cycles?

Nicholas Mangan: I’ve been thinking about the cycles in terms of transformations of the sun’s energy and how that operates on two levels. One is transformation of the suns’ energy through the weather, photosynthesis and the production of fossil fuels. Then there is this other transformation that I’ve been interested in, which is the idea that the sun’s radiant energy somehow directly affects the human psyche, so when there is more activity on the sun humans synchronise with that, causing certain events to happen.

There is a constant flow of energy that is produced by the sun in the same way that there is always a constant flow in economy. There is a theory that increased solar radiation activity might affect people’s behaviour and cause them to make different choices, in, for example, the way that they anticipate the stock market. And then, of course, changes in the weather cycle affect levels of food production leading to fluctuations in the wholesale price of commodities. There are these two different types of cycles that are somehow synchronised but also pulsing and flowing in different rhythms. KG: It’s interesting that you talk about this flow of energy in terms of economy. We’ve been thinking a lot about economy in terms of efficiency in the way that the energy is circulating in the exhibition and balancing input and output very carefully. But the motif of the spinning coin is literally currency. There is this constant shifting between macro and micro: the solar system to the off-grid system at Chisenhale that powers the projectors, the spinning coin to the global circulation of capital.

NM: Yes, totally. I don’t know if I have found the right word, but I was thinking that the spinning coin piece is almost like a metronome, like the sun’s heartbeat, setting the rhythm for the show. It’s not like the coin is just spinning in one spot. It dances around… in a cyclical, a rhythmical, predictable way, but there are also contingencies in that.

KG: The coin in the film is a Mexican ten-peso piece. You travelled to Mexico City during your research for this work. What did you do there?

NM: I was really interested in the idea of trying to film the sun moving across the city, to play on this idea of the sun’s perpetual movement and then it rained everyday I was there. But then I realised that everything that I wanted to talk about in that was already bound up in the Mexican ten-peso coin.

KG: It’s illustrating thermodynamic equilibrium…

NM: It is, but it’s also unnatural because what the coin is doing is negating heat death, which is inevitable in a thermodynamic understanding of energy. The first law is that energy cannot be created or destroyed, but in the second law energy can become unavailable and therefore it can lead to entropy, which is the element of disorder in the system. So it’s almost like the coin is stuck between those two laws.

KG: The coin depicts the Aztec sunstone, which governed the cycles of the Aztec calendar.

Nicholas Mangan, Ancient Lights (2015). Installation view, Chisenhale Gallery, 2015. Co-commissioned by Chisenhale Gallery, London and Artspace, Sydney. Courtesy the artist; Labor Mexico; Sutton Gallery, Melbourne; and Hopkinson Mossman, Auckland. Photo: Andy Keate.

Nicholas Mangan, Ancient Lights (2015). Installation view, Chisenhale Gallery, 2015. Co-commissioned by Chisenhale Gallery, London and Artspace, Sydney. Courtesy the artist; Labor Mexico; Sutton Gallery, Melbourne; and Hopkinson Mossman, Auckland. Photo: Andy Keate.

NM: The sunstone was also central to the Aztec’s belief that sacrifice was necessary for human life to continue; that without sacrifice the world would stop. I guess I was trying to think about how this related to a very contemporary idea of energy, which is that although energy is always flowing it’s not perpetual. If you want energy you have to pay for it: there has to be a loss. At the moment we have the batteries full of sun, but those batteries are going to drain out, there’s not an infinite bank. And I like that it’s a calculated risk, it’s like a gamble with the weather. This idea of surplus and loss is something that Georges Bataille talks a lot about in his idea of a ‘general economy’; that the sun gives without ever receiving but then once that has been distributed over the surface of the earth it turns into excess and surplus and the equation becomes very complicated. Thermodynamics is also interesting because it was first articulated and understood around the time of the first industrial revolution, so it was really important for the modern world because it meant they were able to understand how to make the most use out of work and force. And so, it’s interesting because now we are entering another period of revolution, that is, by necessity, because of the fact that we need to change the way that we use the world’s resources.

A while ago, I asked myself, does the world weigh more or less after all the things that have been made were made and all the things that have been destroyed were destroyed? It is the same situation with energy, it has to go somewhere, it has to be spent or lost, and I guess that’s how I come back to this relationship between economics and energy. They both flow, but they are both subject to certain interferences or oscillations.

KG: They’re both exchanged and so subject to negotiation?

NM: Yes, like currency and current.

KG: Is there a relation here to your use of moving image and the language
of film?

NM: It’s a way to explore thermodynamics and entropy through cinematic time, which flows forward. And even without the material of film itself, using digital video, this idea is still located in that logic of understanding chronological time. That’s why I used moving image to explore the coin as a kind of sculptural idea. There’s this beautiful film by Yoko Ono called One (1966) where she strikes a match, and it’s filmed in slow motion until the match burns out. If this match already burned out and then it came alight again and returned to being a match we would know that’s not the way that energy flows because energy goes from hot bodies to cold bodies. It was an important decision at the very beginning to use moving image for this work because it was dealing with energy and light. I am really interested in the history of Structuralist and Materialist cinema but I want to make that kind of enquiry now, with the technology available now.

KG: The work uses contemporary technology then but it still addresses the relationship between the two fundamental elements of cinema: movement and light.

NM: Yes, exactly. I mean, even though it’s recorded on a digital sensor it’s still light. The beautiful thing about film is that it somehow records light. That’s also why I was interested in the tree rings, which feature in the second film. It was about looking at tree readings to find evidence of solar cycles, but what also fascinated me is the idea that those trees are also a physical recording of the sun’s presence and energy.

KG: You’ve really played on the resemblance of the tree rings to a vinyl record, which gives this feeling of being able to replay time in the same way you do with a record or a film.

NM: Yes, that’s essentially what the researchers in the dendrochronology lab do. Dendrochronology is the study of tree rings and they’re look at tree readings and correlate them with historical events because they record time. When making this work I was also thinking about the films Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958) and La Jetée (Chris Marker, 1962), which both explore these ideas. There’s this other film that I’ve used a section from, The End of August at the Hotel Ozone (Jan Schmidt, 1966), where this women points on the tree and says ‘This is where the apocalypse happened’. But we’re receiving an event of the sun sitting here talking in the park right now and I am interested in these micro events as well.

KG: While you were making this work you travelled to a centre for studying tree rings in Arizona…

NM: I was interested in filming the actual trees that were used to try and identify the 11-year solar cycle. It was like trying to find a specific record in an archive. Trees absorb carbon and that’s how you can do carbon dating. That’s what Dendrochronology ended up being used for, but it came about because A. E. Douglass was really obsessed with trying to find solar cycles. A lot of people disagree about whether he actually found any evidence or not, but if he hadn’t had this obsession we wouldn’t have Dendrochronology. It’s all about the energy from the sun that’s stored in that wood.

KG: The second film seems to me to be about different ways of looking at the sun, through these records and material traces. Looking at the sun is the one thing we never do directly. The sun is impossible to see and, at the same time, the only way that we can see at all.

NM: Looking at the sun is a sacrifice of vision. But then there have always been people who have attempted it, like this guy Heinrich Schwabe who was a German atronomer in the 1840s who actually started counting every sunspot. Since then every one has been counted, now there are satellites that are out in space monitoring the sun’s every movement.

KG: Could you explain a bit more about sunspots and their significance?

NM: They’re electromagnetic storms on the surface of the sun that appear as a dark spot, where you get a colder patch. As a result of that you get these coronal ejections of plasma that shoot out and send out radiant light, which is what heats the earth’s atmosphere. That’s why they monitor it everyday, because they’re strong enough to knock out entire electricity grids and telecommunications systems.

KG: How does this happen? Are the solar spots a concentration of energy or the opposite, therefore causing a displacement of energy?

NM: Sunspots are black because they’re colder. And then around the edge of the sunspot, you get this intensified energy that triggers solar flares. Within the 11-year cycle there’s an increase in activity going in one direction on the sun, and then for the next 11 years it happens in the opposite direction. It’s amazing that something so amorphous actually has a very logical behaviour.

KG: I guess it’s a kind of ecosystem, so it’s in equilibrium. Could you explain a bit more about the 11-year solar cycle and when people first started tracking this through recording sunspots?

NM: Galileo was the first person to see one through a telescope, but the Chinese used to look at them through pieces of jade, so that they didn’t hurt their eyes. I’m particularly interested in Alexander Chizhevsky who was a Russian biophysicist who was looking at correlating the sunspot maximums with periods of revolution, mass migration, and war. He believed that solar radiation was capable of affecting the psyche of the masses; that the sun was triggering something in the human population. But then there was a flipside of that, and there have been other people who have related solar maximums to periods of recession and decline.

KG: We’ve talked a bit about the sculptural quality of film as a record of light and the movement of time but I wanted to ask you about how you’ve made the energy, the electricity that’s powering the show, into something sculptural. How every piece of equipment, every length of cable, every part of the system that supports the projected image has become a sculptural element in the work.

NM: The most important aspect to me is that we are taking this energy from the sun, turning light into energy, and then turning that energy back into light again through the projectors. So it’s like spending light, like burning the daylight. It’s important to show that functioning. The work is about a particular type of transformation that the viewer participates in, or is privy to, even if you can’t see the solar panels you know that batteries are in there and that lights are on, so you are experiencing the transformation taking place, it’s not that you are being told about this thing that happened, it’s there. That’s also why I felt that I didn’t need a narration to explain the context in the second film. I felt that would describe a transformation rather than producing a transformative effect on the viewer.

KG: The soundtrack that you’ve made is a really important element in the work. It makes it a very physical experience for the viewer and enables the installation to occupy the space in an interesting way.

NM: Only one of the films has sound but when I was making the other film I had to think about how the sound would come in over the top at certainpoints. At first I was thinking of the coin film, which is the silent one, as the main part of the work and the second film as a way to contextualise it but now the relationship is much more fluid. The ideas and the sounds loop into the rhythm.

KG: Several of your previous works have occupied this intersection of film and sculpture.

NM: This work follows on quite directly from a previous project, Progress in Action (2013), which dealt with a very specific historical situation on the Pacific Island of Bougainville. The international mining company, Rio Tinto, put a huge copper mine in their back yard, essentially without asking. Eventually the islanders got fed up, and they closed down the mine and as a result the mainland, in cahoots with Rio Tinto, forced them into exile on the island. There was no fuel or food coming to the island, so they started using coconuts as a form of energy. I was interested in the idea of human agency directing the flow of energy and matter in a way to cause a kind of social transformation. I used 100% coconut to run a diesel generator that powered the film I made, so the very material at the centre of this social situation was what enabled the moving images.

KG: But there’s something really interesting in this appropriation of this exotic symbol as a form of power, in terms of energy, and therefore political power.

NM: Yes, coconuts are always seen as a kind of Pacific Islander joke but they were used as a weapon. And I also guess that’s why, in a very logical
way, I came to thinking about the sun. We need to expend a huge amount of resources and energy to extract the energy from coconuts, which is less efficient than drawing it directly from the sun. I haven’t really quite worked out how to verbalise it, but I’m into this idea of systems of balance and equilibrium between certain forces… like the idea that solar energy is free but to make the batteries you need to mine certain materials, and so on. I sometimes wonder if there will always be this impossible equation. I’m sure that a physicist would be able to answer that straight away but I think, as a sculptural problem, it’s really interesting

KG: You’ve called the work Ancient Lights. What does that refer to?

NM: It comes from an 18th century law, which is based upon this idea of the right to light. Simply, if you have had natural sunlight coming through your window for more than 20 years no one is allowed to construct a building that will block it. I like the way that somehow that’s what we are doing at Chisenhale: bringing ancient light into the space. All sunlight is essentially part of a continual, ancient light. The sun doesn’t get turned off at the end of the day.

I’m really interested in the idea of a right to light in the sense of a right to the sun as a resource. People are choosing to go off the grid because it’s their right to have that light. Especially in Australia, where people are trying to go off the grid, and the government is trying to stop them because they own all the coal stations plants and they want to make money out of burning coal. The prime minister of Australia, Tony Abbott, said that coal was good for humanity last year.

KG: The right to light becomes a right to energy and a right to power.

NM: Exactly, and agency. In the UK, there is this idea that the sun is a very rare commodity. So to establish a law to allow the right to that is a more poetic way of talking to the bigger issues of the project, or to give it some kind of site-specific anchoring. There is also, of course, the humorous idea of trying to make a solar powered show in London. But the fact is that you can do it.

Nicholas Mangan interviewd by Katie Guggenheim, Exhibitions and Events
Curator, Chisenhale Gallery, June 2015.

Nicholas Mangan, Ancient Lights (2015). Installation view, Chisenhale Gallery, 2015. Co-commissioned by Chisenhale Gallery, London and Artspace, Sydney. Courtesy the artist; Labor Mexico; Sutton Gallery, Melbourne; and Hopkinson Mossman, Auckland. Photo: Andy Keate.

Nicholas Mangan, Ancient Lights (2015). Installation view, Chisenhale Gallery, 2015. Co-commissioned by Chisenhale Gallery, London and Artspace, Sydney. Courtesy the artist; Labor Mexico; Sutton Gallery, Melbourne; and Hopkinson Mossman, Auckland. Photo: Andy Keate.

Elastic FLYER P

Ditte Ejlerskov interview by Terry R. Myers

Interview between Terry R. Myers and Ditte Ejlerskov ahead of the artist’s solo show at Sommer & Kohl gallery in Berlin.

Terry R. Myers: I can imagine a complicated list of reasons behind the use of weaving in the making of
some of your paintings. Do you have such a list for yourself, and, if so, what are the most important reasons
for you?

Ditte Ejlerskov: Just a few years back my work was centered on a decision to involve myself entirely in ‘the
contemporary’; I chose fashion as my motor and Rihanna as my protagonist. After a while I found myself
absorbed somewhat in modernist painting as my format. I followed Rihanna’s profoundly documented life
and then translated the patterns and designs of the clothes she was wearing into paintings. It became a
lot about fashion. Perhaps the weaving comes from there. I wanted to convert her wardrobe into painting.
It was a relief to surrender myself into being charmed and absorbed by her contemporaneity especially
because in the beginning I had felt sorry for both Rihanna and shallow modernist painting in general.
The work with these canvases marked a new beginning in my practice and brought me back to an authentic
experience of painting being both painful and surprising. I titled the exhibition of this body of work “We
Found Love in a Hopeless Place” after one of Rihanna’s radio hits but also because I truly found love in a
hopeless place. The hopeless place was the superstar’s wardrobe – and modernist painting. This portrait
of a contemporaneity’ and the portrait of the cult surrounding Rihanna both became central features in the
project. However, the context of the works emerged through the encounter with the spectator. How does
one receive such smooth contemporary-looking images?

The works were in fact manipulating images taken from a calculating media culture! And the main question
for me when working with the paintings was: “Can people in general allow themselves to be flattered and
manipulated so directly when looking at art?” I myself was truly flattered and manipulated by the cult of
the contemporary and radically changed my opinion about Rihanna, modernistic painting and fashion all
together. After the Rihanna works I wanted to dive deeper into the decoration and mechanisms of fashion
and the weaving became a part of that.

TRM: Tell me more about the actual practice and function of the weaving.

DE: I wanted to get closer to the fabrics I guess. The more I worked with it, the more I became interested
in seeing how two canvases would merge together and create a new tactile property. I became interested
in the craftsmanship and the different textures and patterns the weaving would form. It still surprises me
how one painting can disappear completely. At the moment I am cutting up the huge Anaconda-inspired
painting I showed you. I wonder if that too will disappear in the pattern of the weaving. I am weaving it into
a text painting.

As to the possible list. There are, of course, practical aspects to mention too: I lived and worked at Cité des
Art in Paris in a tiny studio last year, and for me to paint, eat and sleep (with my sweet boy friend Johan)
in one square meter was not really an option. So I took some canvases I had rolled up from my studio in
Sweden and began cutting and testing weaving techniques whilst I was there. When I came back I could
begin planning new weaves more deliberately, having already experienced what worked and what didn’t.
However a weave as large as the Anaconda-weave will take on its own life. None of my previous rules will
apply to it. And I am not looking forward that!

TRM: In 1993, I organized a group exhibition inspired by Annie Lennox that included works by, for example,
Felix Gonzalez-Torres and Lari Pittman. In my text I quoted the music critic Timothy White: “… no matter
how exotic Lennox’s stage pose has become, her vocals have never felt performed. Rather, they’ve been
potent for their gut vulnerability. It’s this curious combination of visual artifice and complete emotional
authenticity [emphasis mine] that has made Lennox a singularly compelling artist.” I’m curious how such
a claim that resonated for me in relation to contemporary art of the early 1990s (particularly in terms of
a re-politicization of the “decorative”) strikes you in relation to Nicki Minaj, your work, and (if you want to
answer) contemporary art today?

DE: I don’t really know much about contemporary art in this contemporaneity! I am a lot more interested in
contemporary culture in general and its ties to theory, philosophy and the past rather than in contemporary
art as such.

For years I have seen my work as a test of the idea that pop culture not only alters the present and
contemporary culture but also predicts the future by contributing to its shape. Well, hopefully my work can
be understood as “a re-politicization of the ‘decorative’.” In my case ‘the decorative’ can perhaps be read
as the pleasing mainstream media I work with. I think pop music— in its lyrics, imagery and everything
else surrounding it— challenges expectations and is an important historical oral communication form—a
never-ending dialogue where no one has the last word.

I see how the fields of theory, philosophy and history interpenetrate present mainstream production and
I want to lift these links and show my viewers that pop amounts to more than just accidental phenomena.
For instance, when Beyoncé skates into the future on the backs of alligators in the promotional material for
her first solo album, she injects hope into her listeners (as her album was released just after the Hurricane
Katrina disaster). Minaj does something similar.

Even though I understand you were using his words to say something else, in trying to answer your
question in relation to the quote by Timothy White: I think there is an
authenticity to Minaj that is far from Lennox’s emotional vulnerability. Minaj is angry and calculative while at the same time having fun. In fact,
she is ‘cakewalking’!
TRM: How do you see her Cakewalking?

DE: A part of my research for this body of work has focused on the unraveling of her lyrics, since oftentimes
her references are totally overlooked or misunderstood. I use them in different ways through paintings
and engravings on the framing of some of the found historical images I showed you. In the song “Boss
Ass Bitch,” she raps this in a speedy delivery: “Pussy this, pussy that, pussy caking, Pussy ‘bout to
get a standing ovation.” What is she talking about one might ask? Caking is slang for flirting, right? So
in Minaj’s lyrical logic, the ‘pussy’ is sweet on someone—flirting with someone. But music and culture
critics, historians and linguists have overlooked, as far as I know, her use of ‘caking’ as a reference to
‘cakewalking:’ a surprisingly easy task. A piece of cake!

TRM: The actual physical ‘cakewalk’ was created under slavery in the United States, invented and
performed by the ancestors of African slaves, right?

DE: Yes, it was a comical march imitating European ballroom dancing where black ‘cakewalkers’ made fun
of the prestigious white power class of that era. Although it was exaggerated and humorous, ‘cakewalkers’
were always sober and precise in a social situation that created an opportunity for challenge and
development. In general I am interested in Minaj’s viable historic references to this dance’s perceptions
and possibilities as a means for political revolution.

My objective is that this rapper (often laughed at when dressing up in blonde wigs and white-Barbie
accessories!) might be ‘cakewalking’ in front of our eyes. As I understand it when reading about it, two
kinds of laughing were attested to these 19th century ‘cakewalk’ events: first; the slaves’ laughter which
was a liberating, self-reflexive laughter but also a stupefying of the ruling class; and secondly the masters’
laughter, which was a racist laughter due to an interpretation of the performance as a failure to copy the
original dance. So my question is, “Is Minaj laughed at because we think she fails to choose flattering
makeup or haircuts?” And historically, did the white establishment not understand that they were being mocked?

TRM: They must have.

DE: Yeah. Probably. Who knows? But did the white Americans laugh simply because they thought blacks
were terrible dancers? Do people laugh at Minaj now for the same reason? Also, while African-Americans—
through ‘cakewalking’—mocked the idea of the white supremacy, did white Americans during that era use
this African-American performance to distance themselves from European culture? If so, was it a win/win
for both parties?

TRM: Perhaps it was.

DE: Minaj ends the song in question with, “Pussy ‘bout to get a standing ovation.” In stating this, I believe
she contextualizes herself—and she is asking for applause for her mockery. I’ll give her that applause
anytime. However, it appears that no one understands her messages. My work in general aims to analyze
how Minaj has mastered complex historical survival methods and subjects and delivered them to the fast,
surface-minded territory of pop. She is a hero!

DE: Now that I have read your text about Annie Lennox for the show “Legend in my living room” I found
certain references you made in terms of performance, sexuality, race and ‘decoration’ quite interesting in
relation to my Nicki Minaj focus. Just as Annie Lennox was worthwhile but perhaps largely overlooked (or
devalued) back then as you say, in context of the contemporary culture of the 1980’s and 1990’s, I see
how Minaj is completely overlooked now. Not on the pop charts and tabloids of course, but in intellectual

TRM: How so?

DE: You wrote that Lennox somewhat avoided labeling and that this might be the reason for the lack of
theoretical thinking about her persona at that time. In my view Minaj does the opposite. She forces the
gaze on her into a particular box. She forces it so that when we (her audience) realize what we have done
(gazed upon her with a white Eurocentric male gaze) we feel really shitty. She makes us feel uncomfortable
in general. She is too much.

In my work I want to pull out and highlight this dramatic ‘performance’ she is practicing— where she
emphasizes and even contributes to the exploitation and view that the black female body is always and
again lustful, accessible and almost a device for the white male gaze. I don’t think people see this in her
work. She is always so easily categorized and always pre-judged. Nobody expects anything clever from

TRM: Why do you think that is?

DE: I guess people just see her as overtly sexualized. Cartoonish. Foolish.

TRM: Yes.

DE: This over-load and the foolishness is something I have tried to carry with me as I work into the studio
– especially with my recent weavings. They have a lot of anti-aesthetic information in them. They are overly
decorated and the colors are not in harmony. Just like a Minaj outfit! This aesthetic was something I had
longed for – coming from a very different process and a show in Copenhagen called “Bow Down Bitches”
in which I largely showed minimalistic paintings. It is a show I am still very proud of; large canvases
with renderings of thick solid monochromatic oil color. It was more Beyoncé-classy and Beyoncé-perfect
actually. Now however, I need chaos and foolishness again. I even made a painting of my own ass!
But there is a serious undertone hidden in the candy. This labeling where Minaj contributes to the
exploitation of her body is part of her mission, I believe. She forces us to gaze at her black body – like a
performance ambush! This way, if you want, you can argue that Minaj now does what Lennox did in the
videos, putting on a ‘highly coded ornamentation’; a drag queen look to illustrate the caricatured role of
women (the housewife for example as described in your text).

Even more illustrative perhaps, I think it is interesting to compare Minaj (and Beyoncé) to American
performance artist Adrian Piper who, in the seventies, dressed up as a persona she called “Mythic Being”—
a character who strode the streets of New York in a mustache, an Afro wig and mirrored sunglasses with
a cigar in the corner of her mouth. These performances engaged with popular representations of race,
gender, sexuality and class. As do Minaj and Beyoncé, Piper challenged the viewer to accept personal
responsibility for xenophobia, discrimination and the conditions that allowed them to persist. Her work
forced the viewer to reconsider assumptions about the social construction of identity. Both Beyoncé and
Minaj in this case are most often depicted as extremely seductive, draped in all kinds of ‘ornamentation’
to further illustrate the caricature of their sexualized role. In return, we are complicit in making a fetish of
their black bodies.

I hope my Nicki-works transmit that notion, because I think these women ask us to reevaluate our
understanding of the tradition of the gaze at the black woman’s body.
TRM: I see how Beyoncé is literally spelling out her newfound feminism. She is quoting theorists and
performing in front of a large sign saying “FEMINIST” for example. Do you have examples of Minaj doing
the same?

DE: No not like that. But in “Lookin’ Ass Nigga” from last year, Minaj is deliberately explaining this demand
for a reevaluation of our understanding of the gaze, I think. Yet again, nobody listened. They just saw a
sexy woman in a desert rapping something that sounded provocative. Watching the video, I too became
the male gaze—lingered and enjoyed her black body. But what I understood after a while was that she was
trying to subvert the male gaze. The video for the song depicts Minaj alone in a desert with a pair of male
eyes staring at her body; she stares right back.

With her lyrics, she destroys the arguments men use when they attempt to get near her and exploit her. After
aggressively delivering a line of arguments, eventually, the male eyes divert and wince in shock. By the
end of the video, Minaj shoots the ‘Looking Ass Nigga’ with two large guns. I think the principal message
of this single is that Minaj is tired of the assumption that she is constantly so ‘sexed up’ in preparation to
accept all flirtation. Still she is very sexy in video. She does
not surrender her sexuality.

Perhaps, in light of hip-hop’s tradition, where men rap about the rape and abuse of women, Minaj cannot
be soft talking and politically correct when she is criticizing the stereotyped role of the abusive man. If
so and in this case, I agree with her understanding that softness is unsuitable when trying to solve the
problem of inequality and misogyny. The people who need to change, I will argue, would never listen if a
social worker or feminist theorist asked them to stop being offensive towards women.

TRM: But they might listen to a rapper.

DE: Yes, a rapper who speaks their language and who is simultaneously sexy. Haha. In the video she is in
fact so sexualized that I suspect that she is cartooning the objectified woman and thereby decomposing
men’s expectations of the woman ‘s body. But, who knows.
Through Jacques Lacan’s thinking, it might be possible to hypothesize if Minaj—in this video and others—
has lost a degree of autonomy upon realizing that she is an observed object. In my work I am trying to
understand what she is doing with this realization. Has her understanding of ‘self’ changed? Minaj may
not spend her entire spare time plotting this game, but I truly believe she through her acts and aesthetics
paves the way for a reshaping of standards.

Not only as an artist but as a fan and a consumer of her material, I feel it is my task to unfold her work.
She is often labeled as an anti-feminist trapped in a sexist patriarchal system, but I wonder if her female
fan base—through the rapper’s aggression—is in fact more equipped than others to demand justice?
Exemplified by “Lookin’ Ass Nigga,” she appears to see reversion as the only solution to the problems and
she uses persistence and repetition as her method. These are methods I have taken with me into the studio
these past months for what is now the ‘house-of-cards’-installation.

DE: In your text from the show you quoted Lennox saying that “If I make a statement about my own experience
and it ends up being symbolic of other women, that’s coincidental. It may have a place in the grander
scheme of things, but I don’t want to start being a spokesperson. That’s too much of a responsibility.”

TRM: Yes.

DE: I am quite sure Minaj is trying to be a spokesperson for black woman in America and that she is in
fact deliberately reforming the past’s slave narratives in her work. Since the slave experience is a defining
component in American history, it proves to be a significant trope in African American music as well. I
think she (as well as Beyoncé in particular) pushes for a revision of the past’s perception of the black
body and the slave experience. Both are, through their lyrics and visuals, creating alternative histories
based on subjective, fantastic and often non-realistic representations of the black woman and slavery.
In this way they negotiate history and reform future views on history, right? I hope that I, in this body of
work, will highlight and historically contextualize for the viewer (or fan of Minaj) how the rapper challenges
these traditional conceptions of history, identity and aesthetic form. I hope to be able to make accessible
her political agency, which harks back to pictures of stereotyped black women both during and following
colonial history, and unfold how she re-invests in and re-forms the genre.

While she is super-labeled and extremely stereotyped, it is my opinion that she is at the same time
mocking, cakewalking and under the surface rejecting mainstream media’s traditional historiography and
representation of black women.

To my ears many writers and academics have a sound in their arguments that make us – the third wavers
– hear our mothers. Annie Lennox is one of those voices, sadly. I believe this is exactly where second
and third wave feminism intersect. A very proper and very white middle class of second-wavers form
the base of arguments addressing and victimizing younger performers—demanding from them a level of
respectability so as to not let themselves be objectified. Lennox does that on Facebook and in open letters
to her young colleagues. Through my work I seek to understand this demand placed upon women pop-
stars (African Americans in particular this time) to perform the role of ‘the survivor.’

TRM: You see a gap between the academic feminist theory you read and contemporary mainstream pop,

DE: Yes. There is a large gap and a substantial lack of recognition between second wave feminism (or
academic feminism in general perhaps) and the feministic efforts of contemporary mainstream pop stars. I
am convinced that creating a bridge between these two spheres will further progress the fight for equality.
This would perhaps unite all feminists too! Wouldn’t that be great! True sisterhood!
In order to convey a deeper understanding of feminist methods
Outside of academia, my work goes through cross-historical explorations but is always rooted in the contemporary mainstream and not in feminist theory. In short, my overall project at the moment is to investigate the relationship between the gendered body and the public’s quest for the back woman who ‘overcomes’ and ‘survives’.

TRM: So Minaj is a feminist in your eyes.

DE: Yes. She possesses a concealed and outlandish but deliberately practical model for the implementation
of feminism. By unlocking how Minaj is processing and deconstructing the ways in which black women have
historically had their sexuality displayed, I hope to be able to expand the public’s limited comprehension
of her. By developing a new understanding of how she works with the traumatic history of America and by
searching for new shifts in pop cultural views on gender and sexuality, my goal is to challenge academic
feminism and through my art practice create a new approach to this survivor narrative— one that she is
constantly asked to play out (by other feminists).
Minaj represents a branch of feminism that has never been really accepted by academic feminism: ‘the
go-getter feminism’. She also appeals to a transnational ‘survivor-inspired’ womanhood that is unfixed
to a black experience—even though she has roots within the African American context. I am especially
interested in discovering how Scandinavian pop consumers experience this relationship since the specific
history does not directly belong to us.

Fundamentally I guess my work is asking: Are the key revolutionary feminist acts that we have yearned for
(which would dismantle society’s patriarchal structures) in fact hidden within today’s blazing pop culture?
Furthermore, how can we access these tools and implement them in politics so as to bridge the gap
between academia and pop? This has become the main focus, my main project and the inspiration for this
new body of work.

TRM: Recently the art critic Barry Schwabsky has discussed the ways in which painting itself has become
a “project” rather than an activity that takes place from painting to painting. Such projects don’t require
that painting itself be expanded, deconstructed, or so on—take, for example, the ongoing project of Luc
Tuymans, whose work, I imagine, has been important to you. How does your work relate to this notion?
DE: I always work through a system of rules or thematics, so in that way the different bodies of works that
I have made are ‘projects’, I guess. However, when working in the studio the methods are completely
empirical and practical. I will never force work into a framing I have chosen before hand as my ‘project’.
Therefore painting for me is in fact an activity that takes place from painting to painting. Still I cannot deny
that there might be an overall ‘project’ collecting the threads for daily painting too.
Let me give you an example. Based on the ideas revolving around Minaj, I wanted to sift through an
additional toolbox to connect my interests with my artistic production. Inspired by Walter Benjamin’s 1936
essay “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” I pre-formulated a working mode that I call
‘repetitious painting’. His essay theorized revolutionary demands in the politics of art; he argued that in the
absence of any traditional or ritualistic value, art in the age of mechanical reproduction would inherently
be based on the practice of politics.

In today’s world brimming with images, the practice of painting is—in my opinion—the only effective way
to make any image truly visible. I therefore devoted a long period of time to painting the same portrait of
Minaj. Now it is the paintings that form the ‘house of cards’-installation, but that I hadn’t planned before
hand. However, I first chose an image that did not hold my interest for long, but I knew the problem was
rooted in my pictorial choice and not in my method. So in this case I defended the pre-formulated ‘project’
and gave up a lot of paintings temporarily.
After trial and error, I found the ‘right’ image to paint—one which provided me with new information every
day (the one where Minaj is sort of holding and presenting her ass to the viewer). This image holds ideas
of the rapper’s agency, as well as her sexuality, and plays with the stereotypical view of the black woman’s
body. I liked it. I wasn’t bored.

TRM: So this is how you are fusing your ideas with your studio work and concretely tapping into Minaj’s

DE: Yes, my objective is to assist the rapper in her mission of spelling out, enhancing, superimposing, and
perhaps even discharging the loaded image of the black woman’s body (her ass, in this case). Through a
new guardianship, via the act of painterly repetition, I re-used her method of challenging racial stereotypes.
Furthermore, on a practical level, I am interested in exploring if and how selection and repetition of an image
can stimulate concentration and even change the initial meaning of an image. I have always indulged in
a multitude of images in my work, so this new way of approaching painting was an important step for me.
Less stressful!

Even though the studio task may seem monotonous to others, I wake up every morning eager to resume
studio work. I unleash new knowledge from it daily. By not searching for, nor working with other input, I
am experiencing that it is possible to create a poetic alliance with the image. I embrace this position from
a traditionalist defense of the unique ‘now-ness’ of a painting in process— the activity of working from
‘painting to painting’, if you prefer.

TRM: And how does Benjamin fit in to this?

DE: I am interested in Benjamin because he discusses authenticity as it applies to reproduction. But in
contrast to his ideas, I move from the mediated picture towards painting and while my strengths do not
lie in any magical uniqueness of painterly manifestation, this particular work is an attempt to confront the
tension between changeability and a re-inscription of a theme into the medium of its dissipation: repetition.
So, when it is suggested that ‘painting projects’ don’t require that a painting be expanded, deconstructed,
and so on, I am not sure that applies to me. For me, the ‘project’ is merely the frame. This frame itself can
be expanded and deconstructed of course, and all fragments within this frame are open too.

For the particular process ‘repetitious painting’, the steps in my studio allowed and even welcomed
modifications, flaws, displacements and new rules. In this way I explored how subtle changes in posture
or gesture can create radical shifts in the atmosphere of the painting.

TRM: How do you guarantee that there is variety in and between the paintings?

DE: I used classical painterly implementations to produce the different pictorial solutions: I paint upside-
down, use a monochrome palette, invert colors, invert subject matter or gaze at the original Minaj picture
through a mirror while painting. In doing this, details differ from painting to painting and my main anticipation
here was to discover new components and sensitivities in Minaj’s picture. As well as exploring elements
of her imagery, I explored my own work. In doing so, I also experienced shifts of my own gaze on both the
image and Minaj’s body.

I have a photo hanging in my studio where I myself have re-enacted Minaj’s pose. It’s a really sad photo.
No fierceness at all! I really fall short. I took it with the Photo Booth app on my computer because I needed
a better photo of Minaj’s hands, which I couldn’t really see in the original. Much later I felt it would make
sense to accept the poor print as a piece in itself, even though it was made for a different purpose. I want
to show my failure: I can never make up for my gaze of Minaj. Not even with my own ass on display. I like
the sadness of that. The print looks like a sad excuse and an attempt to justify my actions. I enjoy problems
like this.

In my fandom too I wonder if I can ever mirror myself in her. I clearly cannot represent her. Still, she is a
large part of European culture, topping charts and filling tabloids. I used this print a lot as I painted her
picture. Though really I was painting myself sometimes, you know. Still, the paintings read
as her ass. Yes. Confusing, I know.

Not to mention, even if I had truly represented my own ass as many times as I have painted hers, I would
still remain “the white person gazing at and using a black person as ‘my project’.” There is no way around
it. It is politically incorrect. I’ve accepted that. The problem is the work. I cannot be afraid when the whole
theme is so problematic and when Minaj herself dares to hint at the topic. Lets bring it out of its closet!
No doubt some people will claim it unwise of me to comment loosely on, for example, Baartman’s extremely
tragic and painful story. But I am out to draw a bigger picture of what Minaj is trying to do, and I cannot
leave Baartman or Minaj’s ass out of this equation. This is not something I enjoy really, but it is how the
ideas developed.

TRM: Have you looked at other artists that have used repetition as a tool?

DE: Yes. Others have previously tested elements of this method so I am not claiming that I am inventing
anything. Warhol used the anonymity inherent in mechanical painterly reproduction too. In my repetition,
I aim however to dissolve sameness and make way for difference. Therefore, my approach corresponds
more perhaps to the ways of the Swedish artist Cecilia Edefalk’s repetitious painting series “Another
As I changed this mainstream photograph in detail through the act of painting, small shifts in tone and tiny
variations in color and shape occurred. I also ordered a painting by Jianyin Liu at Amazing Custom Art
(an affiliate of Paint It For Me Inc.) in China. I am looking forward to knowing what his eyes are seeing and
how he interprets the image. He paints very photo-realistically. I hope the interrelated paintings will silently
communicate with one another in the ‘house of cards’-installation— and with the viewer as listener.

TRM: Given that you are actively incorporating photography, video, and installation (as well as a particular
type of readymade with the provocative 1920s mosaic) into your work, do you see yourself as a painter or
an artist who uses painting as a device? (I’m also thinking here about Howard Halle’s claim, in a review
of an Andreas Gursky exhibition, that “’Painting’ is a philosophical enterprise that doesn’t always involve
paint. Above all, it’s a way of organizing the world that represents neither truth nor fiction exclusively but
rather a little of both.”)

DE: Normally I prefer painting and this time I am adding a few other methods as I have shown you. But
who knows, perhaps I am going in that direction? Perhaps I don’t need paint!? For this particular body of
work I have used painting only when it made sense, and not as a standard solution. Painting worked for
some ideas– but not all. The 1920’s mosaic for example will just remain a ready-made, but it became an
idea-starter for me and still functions as a ‘work’ I believe, whoever made it. It is a strange little picture
of a dressed white woman who is standing gazing at a naked black woman who is seemingly performing
somehow. It is titled “Two women on a beach.”

Firstly, I though this pictures on some level summed up my relationship with Nicki Minaj, as well as it would
problematize the entire idea of the show. I have kept it for a while and I am wondering how Minaj would
respond to such an image. How does she feel the white middle-class gazes on her naked black skin? Does
she really never feel exploited? Or is she just in it for the money?

Well, much like the black woman in the pictures, Minaj is strongly waving her hand, being in charge—
facing the white woman who touches herself while gazing at the black body (?!). What is going on here? I
mean here, in the picture, but in Minaj’s world too.

When I saw the still from a video of Cassie and Minaj however, I stopped asking such un-dimensional
questions. This topic is not black and white (pun intended). Yes, history puts the naked black woman in
front of clothed white folk who enjoy themselves. Ok. We know that. No point in repeating this. But times
might finally be changing. In the pink video-still Nicki Minaj is “going down” on her colleague Cassie who
holds up her arm – not as if she is dancing – but holding up her first. And roaring. I made a little painting
of that video-still.

I cannot explain the connection, but the visual similarities of the images as well as the layers of social
agency, racial stereotypes, power structures and playfulness keeps these two images somehow in sync,
strangely. Whereas the white woman exists within the borders of the mosaic, the white woman is (or I am)
very much outside of the frame on the latter. Still, I am directly approached by Minaj and Cassie. They
perform for my gaze still, but not as subordinates, because, unlike other rap music videos, the black
bodies of Minaj’s videos are not props but equals. The rapper herself is as naked, sexy, and black as her
dancers, like in “Anaconda” or “Beez in The Trap,” or in this case as naked as her colleague, Cassie. She
often wears the same outfit as the other women next to her. I am interested in these situations where Minaj
subverts the male gaze, not by taking the place of a man, but by engaging in and enjoying, alongside the
‘other’ women, their own and each other’s sexuality.
Normally in rap videos the black woman’s sexuality is exploited for the satisfaction of a third party…
Nelly’s “Tip Drill” from 2003 is probably the best example. Black women’s bodies have always been at the
centre of sexual abuse, so for Minaj to illustrate an alternative is an important historical event and not only
superficiality, I believe.

My white gaze is upon African-American women now and I am aware that I am “exotifying” and “othering”
them…but I am nonetheless still gazing. Active “othering” and the moral problem associated with it is
of course a concern in my work in general, but I wonder if it is in fact a persistent and poignant human
experience too— this sensation of longing, I mean. I sort of test the mainstream “exotification” of Minaj (and
women like her) to see if this “exotification” represents an unspoken (and truly embarrassing) yet restless
conviction that something is missing from our lives—something that these women can perhaps provide?
Using my own gaze as a focus I try to know more about this longing by looking at the (European)
consumerism of African-American pop and in this case of Minaj – since she, in particular, is asking for it.
No one can argue against that! But to answer you: No I probably do not need to paint to do that. I could
just collect old pictures and music videos, I suppose.

Still I really believe painting is a very useful device sometimes, as you write. Nevertheless, it’s still ‘a
device,’ a device for gazing. Hmmm. Scary. Although finding, contextualizing and freely appropriating
material from different poles has been my approach for ‘the Nicki-works’, and finding a method for the
communication of an idea is actually very much like searching for a device that can do the job.

TRM: Is it worth at all discussing the idea of ‘atemporality’ as it has been introduced (via William Gibson)
in the current “Forever Now” exhibition at MoMA? I’m not sure it is the right word, but I do think there is
something going on in a lot of current work in terms of presenting histories (and all of their complexities)

DE: I don’t know about placing myself into a group of artist working in a certain way— and I don’t mind
either. I think less about contemporary art and the boxing up of artists, but you might be right about the
word ‘atemporality’ and the presenting of histories; since as a white middle class pop consumer, I find it
essential to recall the suppressed histories that lie under the surface of the African-American pop-culture
that I consume. I find it important because I want to unlock methods for the implementation of a feminist
vision for myself as well as for anyone else listening. Perhaps contemporary art fans do not care about this.
I don’t know. But I truly want us to move on with equality and fix all the problems— fast as hell.

And while consuming this neoliberal commercialized sex-positive pop-culture, I want to question it so as
to determine who is asking for it. Am I asking for it? Women are habitually held in contempt and treated as
objects by both the media as well as in real life around the world. Is it then acceptable to indulge in this
material as playful entertainment? That is what concerns me. Not art really.
In an attempt to answer your question however, I have observed the fictional narratives of my protagonists
Minaj, Rihanna and Beyoncé over a longer period of time to see if a feminist political fiction stands. If so,
what is this feminism’s function and possible embodiment and implementation into action in real life?
I find it extremely necessary to take pop-feminism’s fictional universe in earnest and treat it as an object
of intellectual curiosity. Sometimes I use painting to dig deeper and sometimes I find other means, but my
motivation stems from an urge to find out if it is possible to embody, reflect and comment on contemporary
culture as it currently occurs, versus looking at it in retrospect as history. This very moment will be history
too at some point but I find it interesting to try to examine it while it is in motion.

TRM: So the idea of presenting different histories simultaneously must apply to you somehow, right?

DE: Yes, you could say so, since I aim to force out the historical representations of the black woman whom
I believe Minaj to be interested in us knowing about. Within this complex system of appropriation I believe
Minaj’s entire persona can be understood. In my work I link her acts to those of Josephine Baker, who in
the 1920’s strutted onto the Parisian stages with a comical yet sensual appeal. Like Baker, Minaj seizes the
Eurocentric West; almost a hundred years ago, Baker wore as sexually suggestive outfits as Minaj does

Baker’s humble beginnings made her success story fairytale-like; her animated and self-fetishizing way
of performing a constructed African savage woman allowed her access into the white establishment.
Minaj comes from a similar background; her implementation into the Western mainstream mimics Baker’s
agenda in many ways.

In the video for “Anaconda,” Minaj even seems to reenact one of Baker’s signature roles— that of the
caricatured wild African woman. In the video, Minaj too channels comic book superhero Wonder Woman
who belongs to the all-female jungle warrior tribe: the Amazons. Here Minaj portrays herself as a fierce,
sexy and exotic warrior princess surrounded by strong women and jungle steam. In Anaconda, as in
other videos and photos, the rapper portrays herself with her ass as her main accessory. The Anaconda-
scenery is so similar to that of Josephine Baker’s “La Revue Nègre” (1925) in Paris that I have made use
of in several other related works. To illustrate an ongoing American “othering,” “exoticization,” and racism
towards black people, I believe Minaj has embodied Baker in many ways.

TRM: How do you plan to use the old photographs of freak show attraction Sarah Baartman—“the Hottentot
Venus”2 you showed me before.

DE: As with my white gaze on black bodies, it is certainly a historical complexity when some of Minaj’s
pictures seem to resample old photographs Sarah Baartman. I find that strange and intriguing and super
politically incorrect of course, especially for me to highlight. I mean, it is not my body that is stereotyped.
I represent the gaze here too. But there is a world of difference between Minaj and Baartman as well. The
latter being completely without any power over her body, but the tragic and sad history of Baartman still
applies to certain stereotyping of today, and Minaj tries to reclaim and discharge these images.
The pictures I bought on auction will be framed as found objects. In the framing of the glass I will engrave
some of Minaj’s lyrics… I still wonder if Minaj taps into issues of exploitation, colonialism, sexuality, race
and class in order to discuss the desensitized theme—or simply just to stun us all. Like Baartman, Minaj
was not born with an ‘average’ European body; so my initial question was “why does she emphasize and
even contribute to the exploitation and view that the black female body is lustful, accessible and almost a
device for the white male gaze?”

TRM: Did you find out then?

DE: Hmm. As I tested with ‘repetitious painting’ as my method, Minaj seems to reclaim certain images of
womanhood. She reprocesses and challenges racial-stereotyping. She and I want to bring these images
back into people’s minds. We should stop overlooking them if we are to move on.
I am interested in knowing if Minaj’s mission can be read as an attempt to discharge these images so that
they can no longer be used as tools for the abuse of power—similar to how the offensive word ‘nigga’ has
been reclaimed and converted into a friendly term amongst African-Americans. In my work, I have looked for
answers to these dilemmas in Minaj’s material and linked her to the historical material of the ‘cakewalkers,’
Josephine Baker, Princess Jezebel, the Venus Hottentot and black women’s hip-hop feminism. Yet I am not
sure I have an answer. Again, this is not at all black and white. It is a tangled issue.

TRM: Have you seen any clips of Katy Perry’s half-time show from the most recent Super Bowl in the United
States? If so do you have any thoughts on the triumphant return of Missy Elliott? There has been a lot of
interesting conversation about it over here! (And, of course, I’d love to know what Nicky Minaj thought!)

DE: Oh I haven’t yet! Tell me about the gossip!

This interview took place in February 2015.

Feature: Sunday Painter | Bob Law

Feature: Sunday Painter | Bob Law

One of the founding artists of British Minimalism, Bob Law, this week’s #SundayPainter


English painter and sculptor. He was taught drawing and watercolour painting as a child by his maternal grandmother but otherwise received no formal artistic training. In 1957 he moved to St Ives, Cornwall, where he painted and made pots. In 1959 he made his first ‘field’ images (see 1978 exh. cat., figs B, C and D), mystically minimalist records of his response to the natural environment, which set the pattern for all his subsequent work. Between 1961 and 1964 he extended these into Metaphysical Field Paintings (see 1978 exh. cat., fig. L) incorporating hieroglyphic symbols. The paintings of Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman were to prove a particular inspiration to him, as was his exploration of both Eastern and Western philosophy, psychology, palaeontology, poetry and alchemy. In the mid 1960s he instituted a long series of ‘black’ paintings, which were his best-known contribution to Minimalism. Although they might at first appear to be dark monochromes, they in fact consist of a subtle layering of different colours in a particular sequence as indicated in titles such as No. 88 Black Black Blue Violet (1974; Amsterdam, Stedel. Mus.). From 1978 he concentrated primarily on sculpture, with which he had experimented briefly in the early 1960s.

( http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/bob-law-1476 )

Feature: Sunday Painter | Georg Baselitz

Georg Baselitz

German Neo-Expressionist painting, Georg Baselitz (zʇᴉlǝsɐq ƃɹoǝפ) is this week’s #SundayPainter.


In the 1960s, Georg Baselitz emerged as a pioneer of German Neo-Expressionist painting. His work evokes disquieting subjects rendered feverishly as a means of confronting the realities of the
modern age and explores what it is to be German and a German artist in a
postwar world. In the late 1970s his iconic “upside-down” paintings, in
which bodies, landscapes, and buildings are inverted within the picture
plane, ignoring the realities of the physical world, make obvious the
artifice of painting. Drawing upon a dynamic and myriad pool of
influences, including art of the Mannerist period, African sculptures,
and Soviet era illustration art, Baselitz developed a distinct painting

Georg Baselitz (b. 1938, Deutschbaselitz, Saxony) lives and works near
Munich, Germany and in Imperia, Italy. Public collections include Museum
Ludwig, Cologne; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Metropolitan Museum of
Art, New York; and Tate Modern, London. Major museum exhibitions
include Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (1995, traveled to Los
Angeles County Museum of Art, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden,
Washington, D.C., and Nationalgalerie, Berlin); “Aquarelles
Monumentales,” Albertina, Vienna (2003); Royal Academy of Arts, London
(2007, traveled to MADRE, Naples, through 2008); “Prints: 1964 to 1983,”
Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich (2008); Galleria Borghese, Rome (2011);
Pinacoteca, São Paulo, Brazil (2011); “Baselitz as Sculptor,” Musée
d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (2011–12); Essl Museum, Vienna
(2013); Victoria and Albert Museum, London (2013); Guggenheim Museum
Bilbao, Spain (2013); and “Georg Baselitz: Remix,” Albertina, Vienna
(2014). A major survey of Baselitz’s paintings and sculpture is on view
at Haus der Kunst, Munich through February 1, 2015.


( http://www.gagosian.com/artists/georg-baselitz  )

Feature: Sunday Painter | Amy Sillman

Powerful, chaotic absraction from this week’s #SundayPainter, American artist Amy Sillman.


Amy Sillman’s work foregrounds the materiality of painting and its formal, psychological, and conceptual dimensions. She constructs her work in a physical way—through gesture, color, and drawing-based procedures—and imbues it with questions of feminism, performativity, and humor. Sillman earned her BFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York and her MFA from Bard College in 1995. She has received numerous awards and grants, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Louise Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award, the Guna S. Mundheim Fellowship at the American Academy in Berlin in 2009. Her work has been widely exhibited and is included in numerous public collections, including The Museum of Modern Art in New York, The Art Institute of Chicago, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. The first large scale survey of her work, curated by Helen Molesworth, will premier at the ICA Boston in October 2013. The exhibition will also travel to the Aspen Art Museum and the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College.

Feature: Sunday Painter | Jasper Johns

Never mind the Great-Big-British-Painting-Bake-Off-X-Factor-Talent-Challenge; Jasper Johns is this week’s #SundayPainter.


American painter and printmaker, forerunner of Pop art, who uses
commonplace emblematic images such as flags or numbers as the
starting-point for works of great richness and complexity. Born in
Augusta, Georgia, and grew up in South Carolina. Studied at the
University of South Carolina for about 1 1/2 years when he
received his first formal training in art, then moved in 1949 to New
York. Two years military service, part of the time in Japan. From 1952
lived in New York, supporting himself until 1958 mainly by working in a
bookstore. Friendship from the mid 1950s
with Rauschenberg, the dancer Merce Cunningham and John Cage. Made his
first ‘Flag’, ‘Target’ and ‘Number’ paintings
in 1954 and 1955 his first one-man exhibition at the Leo Castelli
Gallery, New York, in 1958 won him immediate recognition. Since
1960 has also made nearly 300 lithographs, etchings, screenprints, and embossed paper and lead reliefs. Director of the Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts since 1963 and Artistic Adviser to Merce Cunningham and Dance Company. Lives in New


( American painter and printmaker, forerunner of Pop art, who uses
commonplace emblematic images such as flags or numbers as the
starting-point for works of great richness and complexity. Born in
Augusta, Georgia, and grew up in South Carolina. Studied at the
University of South Carolina for about 1 1/2 years when he
received his first formal training in art, then moved in 1949 to New
York. Two years military service, part of the time in Japan. From 1952
lived in New York, supporting himself until 1958 mainly by working in a
bookstore. Friendship from the mid 1950s
with Rauschenberg, the dancer Merce Cunningham and John Cage. Made his
first ‘Flag’, ‘Target’ and ‘Number’ paintings
in 1954 and 1955 his first one-man exhibition at the Leo Castelli
Gallery, New York, in 1958 won him immediate recognition. Since
1960 has also made nearly 300 lithographs, etchings, screenprints, and embossed paper and lead reliefs. Director of the Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts since 1963 and Artistic Adviser to Merce Cunningham and Dance Company. Lives in New
York. )

Feature: Sunday Painter | Marlene Dumas

South African born artist and painter Marlene Dumas is this week’s #SundayPainter

Marlene Dumas (1953) grew up with her two older brothers in Jacobsdal, her father’s winery in Kuilsrivier, South Africa. With Afrikaans as her mother tongue she went to the English-language University of Cape Town in 1972. There she obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts in 1975. With a two-year scholarship, she opted to come to Europe and more specifically to the Netherlands because of the language kinship. As well as visual art, language is an important means of expression for Dumas. She gives her exhibitions and individual works striking titles, writes texts about her paintings and makes commentaries on her own pieces. These texts are collected in the publication, Sweet Nothings (1998).

In the Netherlands she worked at Ateliers ‘63 in Haarlem from 1976 to 1978. Twenty years later, in 1998, she returned to art school De Ateliers, now based in Amsterdam, as a permanent staff member. In addition, Marlene Dumas has taught at several other Dutch art institutes.

In 1978, she exhibited her work for the first time, at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. Work by René Daniels and Ansuya Blom also featured in this exhibition, called Atelier 15 (10 Young Artists). In 1982, her work was shown in Basel, in the exhibition Junge kunst aus die Niederlanden. In the same year, Rudi Fuchs asked her to take part in Documenta 7. In 1983, she got her first solo show, Unsatisfied Desire, at Gallery Helen van der Meij / Paul Th. Andriesse in Amsterdam. In 1984, the Centraal Museum Utrecht became the first museum to invite her to do a solo exhibition. Dumas responded with a collection of collages, texts and works on paper under the title Ons Land Licht Lager dan de Zee. In 1985, The Eyes of the Night Creatureswas her first exhibition devoted solely to painting.

Since the late eighties, her work has been featured in European group exhibitions in museums such as the Tate Gallery in London, under the title Art from Europe (1987) and in Bilderstreit in Cologne (1989). Her first major solo exhibition opened abroad three months after the birth of her daughter in the Kunsthalle in Berne: The Question of Human Pink (1989). In 1992, all the halls of the Van Abbe Museum in Eindhoven were dedicated to her exhibition Miss Interpreted. This solo show was followed by a tour of Europe and then America. In 1992 her work was also shown at Documenta IX, at the invitation of Jan Hoet. Her first solo gallery show in New York at Jack Tilton received the appropriate title Not from Here. That was in 1994, the year of the first free democratic elections in South Africa. It was also the year in which she exhibited at the Frith Street Gallery in London, along with her contemporaries Juan Muñoz and Thomas Schütte. In 1995, Chris Dercon made the selection for the Dutch contribution to the Venice Biennale, choosing three women: Marlene Dumas, Marijke van Warmerdam and Mary Roossen.

From the mid-nineties, Dumas’ work featured in exhibitions of art from the Netherlands, such as Du concept à l’image (Paris, 1994). She also participated in international, interdisciplinary projects including The 21st Century (Basel, 1993), with Damien Hirst, Roni Horn and others, and the Carnegie International (Pittsburgh, 1995). In 1996, her sparring partners at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington DC included Mike Kelley, Thomas Schütte, Robert Gober and Rachel Whiteread. The exhibition was entitled, Distemper: Dissonant Themes in the Art of the 1990s. In 1993, Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp, staged Dumas’ show, Give the People What They Want. The works in this exhibition then went on to become part of the ‘Der Spiegel zerbrochene’, Positionen zur Malerei (1993), curated by Kaspar König and H.U. Obrist. Other participating artists included Luc Tuymans and Gerhard Richter. Other important exhibitions devoted to painting in which Dumas was represented included Trouble Spot: Painting (1999), Painting at the Edge of the World (2001) and The Painting of Modern Life (2007). Her work has also featured in exhibitions with a focus on Africa, such as the Africus Biennale in Johannesburg (1995) and in Africa Remix (2004-2006).

Although Marlene Dumas has had Dutch nationality since 1989, she has said:

Someone once remarked that I could not be a South African artist and a Dutch artist,
that I could not have it both ways.
I don’t want it both ways.
I want it more ways.

Dumas’ work spans over thirty years. In 2001, Jonas Storsve of the Centre Pompidou staged the first retrospective of her works on paper under the title Nom de Personne. This exhibition was subsequently featured in the New Museum, New York, and in the De Pont Museum in Tilburg, under the title, Name no Names. Between 2007 and 2009 a retrospective of her entire oeuvre, in varying combinations, toured three continents. Starting in Japan under the name Broken White, the overview travelled to South Africa with the title, Intimate Relations. It was the first time that so much of Dumas’ work could be seen on her native soil. The retrospective concluded its tour at the Museum for Contemporary Arts in Los Angeles, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and The Menil in Houston, where it was called, Measuring Your Own Grave.

( http://www.marlenedumas.nl/biography/biography-johannes-vermeer-prize/ )

Discuss: Creative Authorship | Will Gompertz

“Good artists copy, great artists steal” – Picasso

asks an ever pertinent question about creative authorship http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-31064320

Sunday Painter | Ian McKeever

This week, the English artist Ian McKeever is featured in our weekly #SundayPainter series.  Huge, abstract paintings often inspired by natural forms, the artist once said:

“Light in a painting intrigues me enormously: how to imbue a painting with light so that one is not actually depicting it, but somehow its
quality is implicitly within the painting— […] emanating from it.”


English painter and printmaker. Self-taught as an artist, he began to paint in 1969. Influenced by land art and especially by the writings of Robert Smithson, he first exhibited installations of large paintings that envelop the viewer, and that incorporate material taken from the
wild. In the mid 1970s he also realised a number of projects in the
countryside around London. In the late 1970s he changed direction when
he began to make more gestural abstract paintings; these were still the result of research on site, in the form of drawings and photographs (which were often attached to canvas to form a ground for the paint), but they marked a decisive move towards more subjective and Romantic interests. Typically at this time he worked with diptych formats, pairing a large photographic image with a painted surface. Beside the Bramble Ditch
(1983; Preston, Harris Mus. & A.G.) is typical of his violent,
choppy and gestural abstraction of the early 1980s, the strong contrast
of white against darker colours suggesting a pattern which would
continue over the next two decades. In the early 1990s he evolved a
softer style of billowing veils and dramatic spatial effects. Hartgrove Painting No. 2
(1992–3; see 1994 exh. cat., p. 13), a large black and white canvas
from a series made at his rural Dorset home, exemplifies McKeever’s use
of grid structures in this period, and further demonstrates his interest
in colour contrasts.

( http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/ian-mckeever-2335 )

Feature: Sunday Painer | Josef Albers

Following on from the abstraction of last week’s Sunday Painter Carol Robertson, this week we have a master of the art and pioneer of the Bauhaus and the Black Mountain College; Josef Albers.


Josef Albers, who played a leading role in transmitting the modern design principles of the Bauhaus to the United States, was born in Germany in 1888. As a young man he was a teacher, but also spent much time visiting museums in Hagen and Munich, where he was first exposed to the paintings of Cézanne, Matisse, van Gogh, and Gauguin. In 1915 he earned a diploma from the Royal Art School in Berlin and later attended the School of Applied Arts in Essen. He moved to Munich in 1920 to study at the academy, and one year later enrolled at the Bauhaus in Weimar, where he met leaders of avant-garde art: Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, Walter Gropius, and Mies van der Rohe. He began to work in stained glass and printmaking and in 1923 became the first Bauhaus student promoted to the role of instructor, teaching the introductory course. When the Nazis closed the school in 1933, Albers and his wife Anni, a textile artist at the Bauhaus, were invited to Black Mountain College in North Carolina. This important school of art attracted leading artists and talented students, many of whom forged notable careers in later years.

Albers is well known for his compositions that explore the relationships of color through a single, simple form, usually the square. In choosing the square, Albers revealed his knowledge of the work of Kasimir Malevich and Piet Mondrian, both of whom had explored the form’s spiritual and formal possibilities. Albers was also aware of the Neo-Platonic significance of the square as a pure form. His main interest, though, was in color and understanding the rules guiding visual experience, an interest that had been sparked at the Bauhaus by Paul Klee’s introductory courses, where superimposed squares demonstrated compositional and spatial effects. Albers developed his own theories regarding spatial effects, contrasts, and harmonies of colors and in 1963 published an influential book Interaction of Color, which elucidated his color theories. He was a key faculty member at Black Mountain College until 1949, though he also taught at times at Harvard University and lectured in Latin America. In 1950 Albers became the head of the Department of Design at Yale University. A venerated teacher and theorist, Albers died in New Haven in 1976.

( http://www.phillipscollection.org/research/american_art/bios/albers-bio.htm )

Feature: Sunday Painter | Carol Robertson

Featured in our #SundayPainter series this week, the abstract paintings of Carol Robertson.


Carol Robertson’s paintings are firmly rooted within reductive abstract conventions. Although she doesn’t seek to confirm or record the way the world looks, her work is never disconnected from it. In earlier work Robertson choose to use the square, rectangle and circle for their ideal power and aesthetic beauty. Recent work has moved towards a more informal relationship with landscape, architecture, nature and the environment, encompassing notions of transience and change.

Multi-coloured arcs or circles now loosely traverse her canvases, with collisions and crossovers registering flashes of chance and coincidence, reminiscent of small arcane details that fleetingly curve across one’s vision. Every painting is prepared with poured and stained grounds, unstructured atmospheric colour fields that deliberately highlight and complement carefully over-painted arcs as they collide and cross in their individual orbits. The expression of flux and impermanence in this work reflects her changing response to the world.

Carol Robertson lives and works in London. She was Research Fellow in Painting at Cardiff School of Art & Design from 2003 – 2008. Her work has been exhibited internationally, most recently in Japan, USA and Austria.

( http://www.flowersgallery.com)