Essentially, Black Sheep is a collection of photographs, stories, and reflections on family from the perspective of individuals involved in underground scenes, aiming to challenge the presumption that people involved in subcultures—be it hardcore, punk, graffiti, skate, tattoo culture, or whatever else–come from unstable homes or have poor family values.
There are over 100 contributors: everyone from Darryl Jenifer of the Bad Brains to Melissa Auf der Maur of Hole; Ian MacKaye and Henry Rollins to brothers Dave One and A-Trak. In some cases I really felt like a peeping tom looking into a window at the lives of some of the icons who molded my youth. The book is about family values: how these people were shaped as kids, and what values they’d like to instill in their own children.
A big part of this book also seems to be helping people not familiar with underground scenes to break the negative stereotypes surrounding people who are in some way against the grain. Yes, you can be a tattooed hardcore frontman who takes his kids to the park every day and has Sunday brunch with his grandmother each week. This is really “The Osbournes” meets Chicken Soup for the Soul.
Not only is Black Sheep a great book but it was also compiled by Karyn Gray, one of my all time favorite B/D interns. Karyn moved to LA from Canada to work with us for a few months and it’s so great to see that she’s started a career in publishing. Congrats Karyn!
As part of our ongoing partnership with In The Make, Beautiful/Decay is sharing a studio visit with artist Sandeep Mukherjee. See the full studio visit and interview with Sandeep and other West Coast artists at www.inthemake.com.
Klea and I visited Sandeep at Pomona College in Claremont, a small town about 30 miles east from downtown Los Angeles. Sandeep lives in LA, but as an Assistant Professor of Art he’s been provided with a studio on campus (lucky him!). After getting a bit lost and stopping for a quick lunch at a random Mexican family-style diner, where we feasted on tasty pozole and camarones del diablo, we finally made it to Sandeep’s studio. The space is big; it’s a wide, long room with a little office area at the front, and it’s extremely tidy and well organized— not one thing appeared to be out of place, and everything is color-coded and meticulously labeled. There was lots of work on the walls, and for the first few minutes Sandeep wildly darted about the room, enthusiastically gesturing, and breathlessly explaining this piece and that piece, and to be honest, I was having a hard time keeping up. But finally, we settled into his office area with cups of green tea and his high-octane energy mellowed a bit and we fell into easier conversation. Sandeep’s thoughts move quickly, and they don’t follow linear paths, instead they zig-zag, whizz, and dash about, but they circle back upon themselves, and are brought and held together by recurring themes. Much of Sandeep’s art is fueled by his curiosity about in-between spaces— when something is no longer what it was, but hasn’t quite yet become something else. His work explores the territory of collapsed tangibility and structure, when meaning and corporality become destabilized, allowing new understanding and perception to emerge. When discussing his current work, which incorporates painting and embossed drawing on Duralene, Sandeep said he was inspired by the idea of a landscape folding in upon itself, where the valleys, the mountains, and the horizon give way to abstraction, but the topography still manges to come through to the viewer. This mutability is enhanced by the film-like quality of Duralane, which creates a range of variation in the material— translucency, opacity, and dimensionality simultaneously exist within the striated colors and black spaces. Sandeep’s work reveals the nature of materials and the impression of the hand and body, as much as it emphasizes the amorphous quality of space and experience.
I was following the pack
all swallowed in their coats
with scarves of red tied ’round their throats
to keep their little heads
from fallin’ in the snow
And I turned ’round and there you go
And, Michael, you would fall
and turn the white snow red as strawberries
in the summertime…
When you think of fine art, one of the last places you’d probably consider finding it is in the laundromat. Photographer Yvette Meltzer, long fascinated with the transformation of soiled to clean clothes, first sought to explore her fascination by visiting many different laundromats in Chicago. During these visits, she documented various aspects of the laundromat experience, but it wasn’t until she saw the images of dryers tumbling clothes on her computer that she knew she had captured something beautiful – animal and human forms were revealed to her through the compositions of color and texture being tossed around in the machines. Thus, Meltzer’s “Revolution” series was born, a series that transforms an everyday, mundane image into an experience of abstract mystery. Meltzer says, “What I see is not what someone else does. But people do seem mesmerized by the images and attempt to discern what it is they are looking for. People seem to have such a need for definition and tend to be uncomfortable with the ambiguous.” (via slate)
Scott Carter creates site specific installations in which all of the objects are constructed from the surrounding walls and floors. “Scott Carter is influenced by the experience of living amongst mass produced materials, spaces and objects that are inherent in contemporary architecture and design. His work manifests as immersive installations and interactive objects that facilitate subtle shifts in value and attempt to redefine utility in relation to everyday experiences. His practice parallels contemporary discourse in art, design, architecture and sound. In short, Carter’s process is undoubtedly unique: upon entering the exhibition space, Carter’s methods are both performative and sculptural: he reshapes the contemporary gallery space by literally excavating sections of the gallery drywall (or floor) and reconstructing a new sculpture or installation from those pieces. Carter’s work is derived from a tactile sense for materials. Through the process of examining materials and their function, he attempts to assert alternate meaning in the built environment and through this act, reveals subtle idiosyncrasies that coincide with the physicality of domestic life. These interventions, ultimately, amount to concise, playful and creative critiques of the way we experience space and the items that inhabit them.” (via)
Rune Guneriussen is a Norway-based artist who photographs orchestrated installations. Household objects are granted an anthropomorphic quality — they appear to be captured in a natural setting. Guneriussen believes “that art itself should be questioning and bewildering…” and would rather “indicate a path to understanding a story” rather than limit a viewer’s experience by being too prescriptive.
Andrew Bannecker is an illustrator from Washington D.C. His style is a mix of clean, simple shapes, with textures giving it an aged look. But his work is far from simple: just looking at it work sparks your imagination. Traversing a variety of different subjects, his characters have a retro 60’s cartoon twist to them. I dig it!
Blood Mirror is a collection of various works of art composed of blood donations from gay, bisexual, and transgender men which have been rejected by the FDA. The mixed media exhibit is made up of a short film by Leo Herrera which traces the story of nine gay men who have chosen to “donate their blood for art” given the FDA ban on donations from MSM( men who have sex with men). Their donations have been placed in a large cube through which light reflects on a panel painted with blood. The exhibit will include a sculpture, “Untitled”, composed of the blood collection tubes and blood bags of the nine men from Herrera’s short film. A “Blood Flag” will also be a part of the exhibit.
Aside from the vastly controversial aspects of using human blood as an artform, Blood Mirror has a strong political stance and strives to generate a dialogue surrounding the FDA’s regulations on blood donations. The use of blood in such an aesthetic manner provides not only strong visuals but also underlines a situation present within the medical world. The merging of the science and art worlds displays the necessity and beauty of elements such as blood give us the chance to think about the importance of speaking about things such as the right to donate.
Blood Mirror will be on display at the American University Museum from September 12th to October 18th.