Oct. 17, 2012 | Post-cards | Comments Off on « Farewell from the Big Apple! » by Shelley Rice

« Farewell from the Big Apple! » by Shelley Rice


« Shelley and David at the Meat Market » by Carlos de Jesus, September 2012. Courtesy and Copyright Carlos de Jesus 2012.

Summer is over, and the weather in New York is getting colder…Even David is wearing long underwear (designed by Missoni!) as he hangs out among the crowds in the Meat Packing District of Greenwich Village.

So it is time for my Blog to come to an end.

For me, this assignment has been a terrific opportunity and a great privilege. Many thanks to Marta Gili, Adrien, Marta P. and Maurice at the Jeu de Paume, the wonderful friends and colleagues who have contributed so much to the success of the series, and to all of you who’ve been reading and commenting on what I’ve been writing for the past six months. May we meet again!

An Homage to Classic Sculpture by dEmo and Missoni was on view in New York, at the intersection of 9th Avenue and 14th Street, throughout the summer of 2012. The artists’ 24-foot tall rendition of Michelangelo’s David was previously exhibited in Madrid, Barcelona and Milan.

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Oct. 9, 2012 | Commentaries | 2

« Life Worlds » by Shelley Rice


Unidentified Photographer, [Part of the crowd near the Drill Hall on the opening day of the Treason Trial], December 19, 1956. Times Media Collection, Museum Africa, Johannesburg.

We must return to the point from which we started: not a return to the longing for origins, to some immutable state of Being, but a return to the point of entanglement…

                                                          Edouard Glissant, “The Known, the Uncertain”


This Glissant quote makes an appearance in Sarah Nuttall’s superb book Entanglements, an examination of contemporary art and literature in South Africa. The blurb on the book jacket fittingly describes Nuttall’s text as an “exploration of post-apartheid South African life worlds.” Committed to illuminating the complex strands of difference and sameness, violence, victimhood and resistance entangling all of her fellow citizens in their web, the author explores a rocky terrain of communication, misunderstanding and mutuality that reveals itself even to transient visitors of this intensely creative nation. My own 2009 visit to South Africa – thanks to an invitation from the Roger Ballen Foundation – was, I must admit, one of the high points of my intellectual life. While participating in a two-day seminar at Wits University with artists, curators, critics and intellectuals from Jo’burg and Cape Town, I was privileged to enter into a profound exchange about the nature and responsibilities of culture. Engaging in an open-ended, dynamic and rich dialogue committed to “returning to the point of entanglement,” the participants were intent on forging an artistic and political future not framed by what Nuttall calls a “persistent apartheid optic.”

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Oct. 1, 2012 | Interviews | 1

Domestic Tension: An Interview with Wafaa Bilal by Shelley Rice


Wafaa Bilal, « Domestic Tension (Shoot an Iraqi) », FlatFile Galleries, Chicago, 2007. Courtesy and copyright the artist.


The Iraqi artist Wafaa Bilal is one of my colleagues in the Photography and Imaging Department at New York University. Though his studies were originally in photography, Wafaa has an open and flexible attitude toward media, and it is not only the politically charged content but also the form of his works – which are becoming increasingly well known internationally – that will interest readers of this blog. This interview took place over lunch in Greenwich Village on September 19, 2012.

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Sep. 20, 2012 | Reviews | Comments Off on « Home Again » by Shelley Rice

« Home Again » by Shelley Rice


Frank Moore « Hospital », 1992. Oil and silkscreen on wood, in artist’s frame (painted wood and resin). Private collection, Houston. Image: Courtesy Sperone Westwater, New York.

I knew, for sure, that I was home again a few days after my plane landed in New York. Riding the crowded, sweaty subway, beleaguered passengers were suddenly confronted with yet another beggar, a young, strung out white guy in jeans who moaned about the indignity of his situation and then proceeded to tell us (in way too much detail, and way too loudly) why he and his young family were in such dire straits and what we could do to help them. This is, of course, a familiar occurrence in the Big Apple; none of us thought much about it until another passenger, a black woman who obviously rides this particular subway line regularly, began disputing the facts of the beggar’s story by pointing how much he’d embellished or altered it since she heard it the week before. Calmly, the two of them negotiated the details and authenticity of his public “performances,” while the rest of us howled with laughter (and of course, offered him some cash). Only in New York…

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Sep. 6, 2012 | Commentaries | 1

« The View from Left Field »


An exhibition curated by Shelley Rice and Mike Nash with Jonno Rattman and students in both the Art History and Photography and Imaging Departments of New York University.

Paul Robeson Rutgers Football Team c. 1917. Daily Worker/Daily World Photographs Collection, Tamiment Library, New York University. May not be republished without the consent of the Communist Party of the United States of America (CPUSA).

« The View From Left Field »
on view in the Department of Photography & Imaging
New York University
721 Broadway, 8th floor
New York, USA
September 4 – November 17, 2012
Opening Reception – September 14, 5 – 7 PM

This Blog Post is an adaptation of the wall text and a sampling of photographs from an exhibition on view in the New York University Department of Photography and Imaging Galleries from September 4 through November 17. All photographs are from the Daily Worker/Daily World Photographs Collection, part of the archives of the Communist Party of the United States of America (CPUSA) at New York University’s Tamiment Library.

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Aug. 30, 2012 | Post-cards | 1

“On Meaning, Chris Killip and a Girl Chewing Gum” By Shelley Rice


© Chris Killip, Le mur du grand amour, centre-ville de Gateshead, Tyneside, 1975

The British photographer Chris Killip made the decision to begin both his exhibition What Happened: Great Britain 1970-1990 at Le Bal in Paris (organized with the Folkwang Museum in Essen, Germany by curator Ute Eskildsen) and his book Arbeit/Work (Steidl, 2012) with the following statement:

One night in 1994 my friend John Clifford, who owned the best bar in Cambridge, took me into the middle of Boston to where the civic center and other administrative buildings now stand. These buildings were built in the 1960s on top of the tough working class district of Scully Square, where John and his brothers were born and raised. John pointed out to me streets that no longer existed, telling me who had lived where and in which house. Who had died in Vietnam, who had worked for the mob, who had gone to prison or ended up in politics. When I interrupted his narrative to tell him how great it was that he was telling me the history of this place, he spun round, gripped me by the throat and pushed me against the wall. With his raised fist clenched he said, “I don’t know nothing about no fucking history, I’m just telling you what happened.”

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Aug. 22, 2012 | Post-cards | Comments Off on “Gerhard Richter: Through a Glass, Darkly” By Shelley Rice

“Gerhard Richter: Through a Glass, Darkly” By Shelley Rice


Strip, 2011 © Gerhard Richter

Up front, I want to say that I decided to write about Gerhard Richter because I am in love with Motifs, the artist’s book he conceived to accompany the retrospective “Panorama”, now on view in Paris. Organized by the Tate Modern (London), the Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen (Berlin) and the Centre Pompidou, the show is intended to celebrate the 80th birthday of this German master by exploring the complexity of his oeuvre both chronologically and thematically. While I’m wearing my heart on my sleeve, I should also confess that I love the exhibition – and not because I am a die-hard fan of Richter’s, a “groupie” like some people I know.

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Aug. 13, 2012 | Commentaries | 1

“Anne Sinclair, Diane Arbus and Me” By Shelley Rice


All rights reserved: Grasset

This is a Post-Card from Paris. I’m sitting in an apartment rented from a friend on the Left Bank and reading yet another book purchased at La Hune. (The French publishing industry anticipates an economic upturn the minute I arrive in town.) This time the book is Anne Sinclair’s 21, rue La Boétie (Bernard Grasset, Paris, 2012), a memoir chronicling her research into the history of her family and especially her grandfather, the famous art dealer Paul Rosenberg. Interweaving family stories with political atrocities and deceptions, Sinclair describes the lives and relationships of gallery artists and the fate of their works under (and after) the Nazi occupation. Rosenberg’s fight to preserve his family, his collection and his business interests under impossible circumstances is set against personal stories of war, exile, disappointment and love. Sinclair is a clear, impassioned writer and an experienced journalist, so her cautionary tales of prejudice, cruelty and deceit keep wiggling out of the past tense and surfacing into the murky political waters of the present.

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Jul. 24, 2012 | Interviews | 1

People in Glass Houses… By Shelley Rice and Pepe Karmel


Image courtesy of The Glass House, photo by Eirik Johnson

Since this blog began, I have been harassing my friend and New York University colleague Pepe Karmel, well known art historian, curator and critic of contemporary art, to make a contribution to the ongoing discussion. Happily, The Philip Johnson Glass House staff decided to enlist him too, so we have all joined forces. The Glass House, completed in 1949, was Johnson’s private residence, and it is considered to be one of his greatest architectural achievements. Inspired by Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House, the building has exterior walls of glass and no interior walls. It sits on 47 acres of land in New Canaan, Connecticut (which are home to supplementary buildings and works created by the artist over a period of 50 years), and the entire campus has been named a National Trust Historic Site by the U.S. Government.

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| Interviews | Comments Off on Stories Played on the Same Keyboard: An Interview with Emmanuel Guibert by Shelley Rice

Stories Played on the Same Keyboard: An Interview with Emmanuel Guibert by Shelley Rice


Well known for his drawings, cartoons, storytelling and animated characters like Ariol (the small gray donkey created in collaboration with Marc Boutavant in 2000), Emmanuel Guibert is the author of a number of books, among them The Photographer (with Didier Lefèvre) and Alan’s War. Emmanuel fascinates me because he explores the boundaries between photography and drawing, memoir and fiction, using elements from different sources in order to tell tales about love and war, childhood and friendship. His intense interest in the stories of others, and his uncanny capacity to highlight and empathize with universal human experiences – whether profound or mundane, traumatic or serene – are hallmarks of a body of work that might chronicle centuries and continents but that always communicates through the tiny details of everyday life. I met with Emmanuel on Sunday, July 16 in his studio in Paris, to discuss his new book La Jeunnesse d’Alan (Alan’s Childhood), which will be published in France by L’Association on September 14, 2012.


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