Oral History Initiative

A living archive of conversations with artists, curators, critics and notable art world figures. Pairing unedited audio interviews with full transcripts.

Dennis Cooper — This month’s Oral History Initiative features Matthew Steinbrecher’s conversation with novelist and performance artist Dennis Cooper. Cooper discusses the impact of his life on his work, his long standing fascination with music, and the importance of supporting emerging artists. Audio + transcript here.

Hermes Knauer, Part III — In the third and final part of Michelle Jubin’s conversation with Hermes Knauer, the Met armorer discusses the “respect and reverence to the object” that must accompany the privilege “to handle and touch history.” To end, he shares “the Aladdin’s lamp moment,” one of the great revelations of his career. Audio + transcript here.

Hermes Knauer, Part II — In Part II of our conversation with Hermes Knauer, the master restorer discusses his forty-year history with the Met and the importance of remembering “to do no harm.” Audio + transcript here.

Hermes Knauer, Part I — This month our Oral History Initiative features Hermes Knauer, armorer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In Part I, Knauer talks to Michelle Jubin about growing up in New York City, the comfort provided by the familiarity of a museum and the importance of Armistice Day in his own career. Audio + transcript here.

Jon Kessler, Part II — In this month’s Oral History Initiative, we pick up where we left off with Jon Kessler. In Part II, Kessler discusses his decision to opt out of grad school, the collision of opposites in his work and the way he finds balance in making art and music. Audio + transcript here.

Jon Kessler, Part I —This month our Oral History Initiative features Jon Kessler, artist and professor at Columbia University. In Part I, Kessler discusses the impact of new technology, on society and individual, as well as the unexpected results of reconnecting with old friends. Audio + transcript here.

Ian Swanson, painter, sculptor and sound artist — Artwrit sat down with Ian Swanson, recent New York transplant, to discuss his move to the big apple, space to create and his work spanning several mediums. Audio + transcript here.

Peter Brock, Part II — In Part II, we continue our conversation with Peter Brock, in which the artist describes his unique relationship to materials, the architectural influences on his practice and the splendor of a Brooklyn sunset. Audio + transcript here.

Peter Brock, Part I — “… I started to seek out greater objecthood in what I was making…” In Part I, Peter Brock discusses his move away from traditional painting and how the preparation of his New York gallery debut has impacted his studio practice. Audio + transcript here.

Rachel Schragis, Artist and Activist, Part III — In the third and final part of our interview with Rachel Schragis, she discusses Occupy Museums, the connection between education and activism, and her attempts to occupy her own practice. Audio + transcript here.

Rachel Schragis, Artist and Activist, Part II — In Part II, Rachel Schragis examines the ramifications of class vis-à-vis art and the conflicts that arise when one offers an individual perspective to serve the group. Audio + transcript here.

Rachel Schragis, Artist and Activist, Part I — Thursday, December 5, 2011. 9am. Part I of our conversation with Rachel Schragis, in which she discusses her work with Occupy Wall St., the developments of her practice leading up to her activism and the struggles of negotiating an artistic career with wider political concerns. Audio + transcript here.

Benjamin Liu, Part III: The ’80s and ’90s — The last installment of our conversation with Benjamin Liu, where he discusses the ’80s and ’90s, and his desire that “…with the age of the Internet, with this rich archive, I do hope people, in digging that archive, would recognize those [forgotten] talents.” Audio + transcript here.

Benjamin Liu, Part II: On Warhol — “There are certain things he does care about. I know it’s not artistic to talk about that, but it’s true.” In Part II, Benjamin Liu discusses the Warhol years, his time as the pop artist’s last assistant before his death in 1987. Audio + transcript below.

Benjamin Liu, Part I — Thursday, September 1, 2011. 5:30pm. Artwrit‘s Michelle Jubin sat down with Benjamin Liu, an oral history archive unto himself, in his New York apartment. “I think everything that happened to me is an accident,” Liu says. In Part I, they discuss his arrival in the city and the fortuitous early connections he made with Hugo, Halston and Warhol, personal and working relationships that would shape his own course as a creative force in his own right. Audio + transcript here.

Zefrey Throwell, “Large-Scale Troublemaker” — Wednesday, August 10, 2011. 3pm. The art world enfant terrible spoke to us following buzz-generating and widely covered Wall Street happening-performance, where 60+ disrobed to expose one of America’s most nebulous thoroughfares. Throwell sat down with us at an unsuspecting sushi restaurant in Midtown and staged a delightful private performance where he discussed the evolution of his artistic practice, finally baring all about Occularpation: Wall Street. Audio + transcript here.

Nick van Woert, Sculptor — Friday, July 8, 2011. 1pm. Nick van Woert sat down with Artwrit, in the midst of preparing shows in New York and Paris, to discuss his process, literary influences and “earnestness” in art. Audio + transcript here.

Speaking with Ryan McNamara — Thursday, June 9, 2011. 2pm: Artwrit met with Ryan McNamara at Elizabeth Dee Gallery in New York to relate the ins and outs of performance art, the delicate matter of documenting live work and his fool-proof technique for overcoming stage fright. Audio + transcript here.

In the Studio With Angel Otero — Friday, April 22, 2011. 2pm: Artwrit sat down with Angel Otero to discuss his recent show of paintings at Lehmann Maupin, his influences, process, thoughts on the art world, and the brave new direction he is paving with his work. Audio + transcript here.