Bureau for Open Culture is a curatorial and pedagogic institution for the contemporary arts based in North Adams, Massachusetts, founded and directed by James Voorhies. We work intentionally to reimagine the art exhibition as a discursive form of education that creates a kind of new public sphere or new institution. Exhibitions take shape as installations, screenings, informal talks, and performances and occur in parking lots, storefronts, libraries, industrial sites, country roads, gardens, and galleries. They respond to the issues of these situations, operating in real time. In doing so they generate platforms for learning and knowledge production that make ideas accessible, relevant, and inviting for diverse audiences. This model encourages overlaps of art, science, ecology, the built environment, philosophy, and design. To realize this work, Bureau for Open Culture initiates and cultivates collaborations with institutions as well as produces projects independently whenever possible.
Kristina holding George in New York City around the time of this year’s New York Art Book Fair.
Kristina Lee Podesva is an artist, writer, curator, & editor based in Vancouver, Canada. She is editor of Fillip magazine (if you are unfamiliar with this publication, I highly recommend you look at it). This conversation was conducted via e-mail over the past month.
DH: Hi Kristina. You’ve been in New York for a week or so now, having come here for the NY Art Book Fair. I think we’ve eaten together almost every night! What has been your favorite or most memorable meal so far? (On a side note, completely by coincidence, right now I am listening to the Gang of Four record I received through your Ripping Library project).
KLP: Dear David. I’ve just missed my flight out of here, which leads me to believe that New York, after nearly two weeks, is not through with me yet. I guess there is still more I have to do here…For instance, I have to get this interview going. Moreover, I haven’t yet said goodbye to you, which is a shame especially since you’ve been tremendously hospitable and generous by sending out announcements for my talk at Art in General and by also cooking for me. Despite all the meals we’ve shared in restaurants, I’d say the one that you made and then brought to me in Williamsburg was primo not only because it was home-cooked but because you then cycled it over to where I was staying! I can still taste the savory sausages and leeks, refreshing beet salad with dill, and tangy soba ensemble. I guess if I think about it, the whole context of the meal made it more valuable and memorable. The meal was by itself tasty and nourishing, but what makes it really stand out is how it was made and how it came to be delivered and presented. It’s not too different from contemporary art making in that sense because it is never about the “thing” itself, but rather its framing and context that endows a work with significance and value.
Paul Branca is a painter living in Queens, New York. His most recent exhibition, Couch Crash, was exhibited at Golden Parachutes in Berlin. Paintings in the exhibition were made specifically for the handful of friends the artist has in Berlin, who were invited to the opening to take home their painting. Though Branca primarily focuses on a painting studio practice, I talked with him about some older projects that related to Couch Crash.
What was your favorite moment the day we drove Upstate to go apple picking?
If I remember clearly I attempted to read out loud from Emile Zola’s l’Oeuvre, the text where, upon publishing it, he severs his relationship with his childhood friend, Cezanne, by casting him as a misfit completely lost in his own high standards and fantasy. I think I barely got through the first page when we were distracted by a military Boeing 747 that was landing somewhere nearby. It was flying so slow, and extremely quiet. I don’t know if that answers your question, but it was quite impressive. Oh, and after being warned that there were no apples, we found lots, and even tomatoes to boot.
Jake Levin is an artist (and butcher) living in New York. He founded Sourced Material, who recently had an exhibition at flatbread affair in Brooklyn, New York. I talked with Jake about the ideas behind Sourced Material, and specifically, their exchange program.
Can you tell me about the lamb we had at Sourced Material’s recent exhibition at flatbread affair in Brooklyn?
Sure. The lamb that I cooked and served at the Sourced Material: Wool exhibition at flatbread affair was bought from Fleisher’s Grass-fed and Organic Meats in Kingston NY. We (I founded Sourced Material as an artist collaborative, we use the the royal we when writing to signify the plurality of Sourced Material) sourced the lamb from them for several reasons. The most important reason is that they are one of the only butcher shops that are sourcing their meat directly from local farmers and can ensure that the animals are organic (no antibiotics, no hormones) and pasture raised. The other concern was that the meat was sourced from from the same area as the wool that we used in the exhibition – Red Hook NY (about 10 miles away from Kingston). The third reason is that I am now apprenticing as a butcher at Fleisher’s and think their lamb is the best lamb I have ever had – anywhere. Many of the guests commented that they had never had lamb which tasted so lamby.