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~ I love you because you make me feel like an artist

I love you because you make me feel like an artist

by Ben Werther

The project began when I found a how-to manual in a used bookstore about how to build and modify radios so that they can be used to contact ghosts. I began modifying radios I found in thrift stores or on Ebay in accordance with the book. I have an entire collection of these radios in my house. The one I used for this project is made from a police scanner that I started working on earlier this year.

I decided upon its completion that I wanted to try to use it to start contacting art historical figures that I like. I would ask them for guidance about being an artist. I have always been a huge fan of William Burroughs as he was also interested in the occult – so he was the first person that came to mind. His book Naked Lunch changed my life along with his idea that language is a virus from outer space that infects us with meaning… which he meant literally and as opposed to semiotics.

Through a friend I was given the opportunity to visit William Burroughs’ New York apartment. It has been kept in pristine condition since his passing. I wrote a kind of long winded question asking about becoming possessed by artistic genius which I read aloud in his bedroom while running the scanner.

In the days that followed, my sense of reality became warped. I had created a condition in which I was constantly hyper vigilante. My experience of my surroundings had become directly linked to a form of artistic production. I am always looking at everything around me extra close now, just in case I miss a signal.

hand written letter, modified police scanner
28:20 audio recording
2022

~ Richard prince Instagram paintings

I was thinking today that richard princes instagram paintings would have been better if they were printed on the lowest quality paper like printer paper from kinkos instead of being big shiny finished paintings. i never really thought about them in terms of their material concern cuz theyre so socially loaded but i think they would be better if they were printed on printer paper or something like it because that would be more offensive to the people that are getting their work appropriated and also is more materially interesting.

~ All My Friends (Music Video and Interview)

Ben Werther: For people who haven’t watched your new music video, what is it about? 

Brion Starr: I think people have been lonely lately, and they want to feel good; to be with others. It’s about people trying to love one another. All my friends really love each other. Since it’s such a small group of people always hanging out, everybody seems to have slept with each other.

BW: Do you think you can platonically be someone’s Valentine?

BS: Yeah, totally. I really love this group of friends that I wrote this song about. The whole idea is that I love when people love each other, and I have platonic relationships that I enjoy just as much as my non-platonic ones.

BW: Is your valentine going to be a member of your friend group?

BS: I haven’t asked anyone yet.

BW: What were you doing in Paris?

BS: I was working at a studio there where I recorded my last album, and I recorded All My Friends there as well. It’s an old castle that was a recording studio from the sixties. It closed in the eighties. A lot of people recorded there, like David Bowie and Iggy Pop, The Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd.We’re the first band to record a full length album there since it’s reopened. We got to use the piano that Elton John wrote Candle In the Wind on. The room was at the very top of the castle, and it has a  pyramid shaped ceiling with these huge wooden beams running through it. It was kind of like an instrument itself. The sounds in there were crazy.

We have an album we recorded there that’s coming out at the end of this year called A Night to Remember. That’s what I was doing when I was in Europe, mastering that album and setting up the year’s plans with my record label. 

BW: How much time do you spend listening to your own music? 

BS: After I release an album, I pretty much never listen to it again. Before I release it I’m obsessive about it. I’ve probably listened to A Night to Remember at least 150 times by now. 

BW: Do you ever listen to (your music) and think, it’s unfair how good this is?

BS: Yeah,  as soon as something’s done, I want to share it and start asking the band and my friends for opinions. I’m bad with that. I get really excited. I do believe that it’s a very good record and I’m really excited to make the music videos for it.  I want to make a little movie that’s four or five of the songs all linked into one narrative. There’s a character in the album who’s weaving their way through a weird night in New York, or some city that I made up in my mind.

BW: Do you think people set up unnecessary boundaries in friendships?

BS: I’ve definitely set boundaries that were unnecessary. I’ve done the work to grow and open myself up more to people, which has been a conscious effort. I used to be super introverted and pretty much agoraphobic. I didn’t want to go outside half the time, I was in my own world. I did a lot of inner growing, then,   now I’m a much more extroverted person.

BW: What advice would you have for someone who is trying to evade a friend zone situation?

BS: Just be really honest and open and say, “Hey, I like you.” Make sure the friendship is the thing leading your desire to be with them.

BW: What’s your DM game like?

BS: I’ll definitely hit someone up if I think they’re cool. 

BW: Do you have a pick up line or something that you use for dms?

BS: No.

BW: So you’re just like what’s up?

BS: Hi.

BW: Nice. Because “hey” is for horses, right?

BS: Yeah. “You look cool” is nice.  Because what do you judge people off of on Instagram? It’s just images, really. Sometimes i’ll compliment someone’s artwork or something if I really like it, just to talk to people about their work and about what they do. I’m extremely fascinated by people generally. 

BW: So what would be a compliment you’d like to get?

BS: I am blown away when people write considerate messages to me about music. There’s this 10 year old kid in Germany, who’s obsessed with the music. He writes to me all the time. He speaks mostly German, so his English is a little funny in the messages. He sent me a message like, “I really want to have an autograph from you, I have autographs from my favorite musicians, but I don’t have one from you. I just got one from Benny Andersson from Abba and My parents got me Michael Jackson for Christmas.”  So I sent him a signed record.

BW: So he’s your biggest fan?

BS: I mean, he’s like our littlest fan, I think.

BW: Can we shout him out in this article?

BS: Yeah, Etienne!

BW: Shout out to Etienne!

BS: Do you want to ask anyone to be your Valentine? 

BS: I wonder if you guys could get me a date with Tracey Emin? That’d be pretty wild. Set me up with Tracey Emin!

BW: That’s a good one. Have you ever been like set up with someone like that before?

BS: I’ve been set up on a few dates. It’s weird. 

BW: What don’t you like about it? 

BS: I just like when relationships are born naturally and come from the people I already feel a great ease around. I was recently telling  a friend of mine that the reason I love her so much is because she gives me this great sense of calm. When I’m with her, it’s like when you’re really far out in the ocean and a big wave comes, but you’re way past the point where it’s breaking, and you the whole thing just moves up and down. That’s what it feels like; just laying out in the ocean on your back. It’s like this giant calm. I really love that feeling. I love to just be with someone where we feel calm around each other and can just talk and talk and talk. It’s really beautiful. 

BW: Do you have anything else that you want to add?

BS: I would love it if people shared their ideas about love with me as well. That’d be cool. DM me.

BW: Drop your @.

BS: @brionstarr.

~ Curatorial Instigation with Now Curation 

Curatorial Instigation with Now Curation

Ben Werther: Where are you guys from, and how did you meet?

Sieun Lee: I’m from Korea, but I grew up in living Japan, China and Singapore.

Thea Voyles: I’m from New York originally. I lived in Paris, then Berlin. So I’m American, but I grew up in France. We met at uni, we both study History of Art at The Courtauld Institute of Art in London. 

Sieun and Thea sitting below works by Cybele Troyan from The Penis Parade (London, June 2019)
Sieun and Thea sitting below works by Cybele Troyan from The Penis Parade (London, June 2019)

BW: Can you talk a little bit about your curatorial collective, Now Curation?

TV: We’ve been working on Now Curation for almost two years, and we’ve done shows completely grounded in curating a physical space. We’ve had five shows; three in London, one in Seoul and one in Leeds. Three of those shows had substantial catalogs with creative writing. That writing aspect seems to transition into our recent project, “The Anatomy of the Body Electric,” but other than that, we’ve always done straight-forward curation.

Tall Tales of Transparent Things (London, April 2019)
Tall Tales of Transparent Things (London, April 2019)

SL: After about the third or fourth show, we wanted to push the boundaries of what’s possible within those spaces. For one of our shows, we had life drawing in the gallery. We try not to define exactly what we do because we are always trying new things. In trying to put on shows, we met other people who are also at this early stage of their career.

 We’re bringing together a community of people that can grow and support each other. That was the main aim, and we’re excited to explore different realms. We’d try to find writers and begin a publication to keep the project interdisciplinary; both academically and artistically focused. 

BW: How did you arrive at the structure for “The Anatomy of the Body Electric?”

SL: I was in Seoul and Thea was in Berlin, so we knew our next project would be online. We wanted to utilize the digital space in a more creative way than just putting artworks on a webpage.

TV: Anytime we’re in a gallery space, we visualize every possibility. We’ll try wall treatments and put up different textiles; we’re always kind of thinking about tangible space and studying the history of architecture. Being aware of physical architecture made us very aware of digital architecture. We didn’t want a direct translation from physical to digital. We started thinking of all the interesting ways that we could analyze the digital and push people to interact with it in even weirder ways than they do already. 

SL: It (conceptualizing the show) was a lot of just broad reading at first.

BW: What were you guys reading?

SL: I was reading “The Medium is the Message” by Marshall McLuhan, as well as Walter Benjamin, which we had to read as part of our course. Also Hito Steyerl. 

TV: I love her (Hito Steryerl). I was reading more fiction, a lot of David Foster Wallace. That was useful in being so American; there’s a certain American-ness to the digital space. 

SL: We also talked a lot about the different reality TV shows and dating shows and how they operate in online space. 

BW: How did the various creative practices of the artists you selected for the exhibition influence the pairings you guys came up with?

TV:  Before, we had looked their work up and looked at their statements and just random things that they were doing. We tried to pay attention to how their practices are changing rather than all of the things they’d been doing in the past. For example, Yage. She’s paired with Zack. When I spoke to her about her BFA and pursuing her Masters in painting, she talked about her interest in translating her craft to a digital space as classes move online. I thought, there’s definitely a tie between her and Zach. He’s a sound artist  and he’s also interested in this translation of analog to digital. 

SL: Even though they operate using different mediums, we kind of saw that they were focused on the process of translating something from one state to another state. Though their work seems very different,  we thought that difference would give them something interesting to talk about because they do have a common ground process-wise. It was like that for the others as well, where we tried to look at what would be different enough for them to keep each other interested.

BW: What are some works of art, shows, or curatorial moments that you’ve seen where you feel like sociality was effectively showcased?

TV: For me, the classic example would be Claes Oldenburg’s store. I think it’s interesting to think about the difference between performance and social engagement for a work of art, because they’re so close together. When you look at the 1960s action paintings, there’s a whole performance involved with someone like Jackson Pollock; a performance around producing that work of art. We get really fascinated by the artist’s production; this idea of the performance of production that we’re aware of without seeing it. It’s just assumed that there’s this whole hair pulling process that requires loads of drugs, and staying up for 24 hours, and pushing your body to its limits, to produce a good work of art. At least right now, I’m interested in looking at how we start to kind of dissect the difference between what we consider to be art that addresses social relations, or performance art, or any art that’s considered to be interacting with the viewer. A lot of interactive art isn’t like actually engaging the viewer at all. If you look at somebody like Olafur Eliasson, it’s not interactive. It’s projecting an action onto the viewer, which is not social. 

Zoe Schneidereit in Uncanny Alley (Leeds, June 2019)
Zoe Scheidereit in Uncanny Alley (Leeds, June 2019)

BW: I like that you brought up Claes Oldenburg. He’s one of my favorite artists. 

The Anatomy of the Body Electric has a kind of tiered system of collaboration where the artist pairs text or DM to generate correspondence, and then that correspondence is shown as it is generated alongside a few conversations. You guys have essentially created this living thing as the show continues to exist and change. I would love it if you guys could speak about the spirit of collaboration in relation to this show, as well as the internet as an institution for showing art.

TV: At the time we were looking at a lot of  1960s and 70s feminist art collective building mechanisms and a lot of those had really forced primary school-esque ‘pass the baton’ kind  of structures. You get to say your bit when you have the baton. We were interested in fusing that sort of collective building with today’s rapid fire internet. It’s about bridging the gap between the older and more modern collaboration format.

BW: Why did you guys decide to do it in installments instead of just collecting everything for a month and then just putting it all out there?

SL: We liked the concept of following people, so it’s not something that has happened and then you’re seeing it later. You’re able to keep up with the duo, and have the illusion that you are with them along the journey. It’s also that you want to come back every week as if you were watching a TV show. We just thought that pattern in itself was unique to the internet. Then the plan is just to see what happens. Like, how are people going to respond? 

TV: A  lot of the show is just about being critical of the methods of communication that we’re using on a daily basis. I like that the internet is continual and there’s always something new, something specific to that experience. Going into it, we kept asking, what is specific to being on the internet? The episodic format, definitely. We want it to be instantly accessible but also for there to actually be a relationship. To create any kind of intimacy with people, it can’t be completely public. Secrecy is super, super important to developing relationships. 

BW: How did you guys decide that you wanted to start Now Curation and how did you make it happen? 

TV: We were willing to put in the hours. Beyond that, I wouldn’t say that there’s a huge barrier to entry. Usually people are happy to show their work, especially if you’re talking to people who are your own age.

SL: A big part of it is going in being confident in what you want to do. Being able to say, okay, we want to put this show together. Then, maximizing the digital platform. Nothing we did could have been possible without Instagram. You have to be social and sometimes ask for help, “Oh, do you know someone that could introduce us to venues? Do you know someone who could introduce us to this person?” It’s just about getting yourself out there. Do your best and have that journey be public.

TV:  I think the biggest thing probably is money. Our first show, we spent 150 pounds on the venue and we only had it for two days, which in retrospect was not a great deal. It was a white cube space and people thought it so legit, even though it was only like 150 pounds. Which is definitely a significant sum of money. We were willing to do it. We both worked as waitresses last year and you know, you pull it together. 

SL: There’s ways of making it more affordable. And then if you’re willing to accept that you will lose a bit of money, it’s doable. You just kind of have to see it through. 

~ “YOU ARE CHANGING THE WORLD EVERY DAY” by Ben Werther

The opening reception for “YOU ARE CHANGING THE WORLD EVERY DAY” will take place Thursday, February 20th, 2020 from 6-9pm at Procell NYC, 5 Delancey St. New York, NY 10002

Think, 2020 - Serving the People
Think, 2020
Ben Werther
Crayon rubbing on Japanese paper
8 1/2 x 11
21.59 x 27.94 cm
Greedy, 2020 - Serving the People
Greedy, 2020
Ben Werther
Crayon rubbing on Japanese paper
8 1/2 x 11
21.59 x 27.94 cm
Humanity, 2020 - Serving the People
Humanity, 2020
Ben Werther
Crayon rubbing on Japanese paper
8 1/2 x 11
21.59 x 27.94 cm
Touch, 2020 - Serving the People
Touch, 2020
Ben Werther
Crayon rubbing on Japanese paper
8 1/2 x 11
21.59 x 27.94 cm
Hope, 2020 - Serving the People
Hope, 2020
Ben Werther
Crayon rubbing on Japanese paper
8 1/2 x 11
21.59 x 27.94 cm
F, 2020 - Serving the People
F, 2020
Ben Werther
Crayon rubbing on Japanese paper
8 1/2 x 11
21.59 x 27.94 cm
Autobots, 2020 - Serving the People
Autobots, 2020
Ben Werther
Crayon rubbing on Japanese paper
8 1/2 x 11
21.59 x 27.94 cm
Concerned, 2020 - Serving the People
Concerned, 2020
Ben Werther
Crayon rubbing on Japanese paper
8 1/2 x 11
21.59 x 27.94 cm
Trunk, 2020 - Serving the People
Trunk, 2020
Ben Werther
Crayon rubbing on Japanese paper
8 1/2 x 11
21.59 x 27.94 cm
Douchebag, 2020 - Serving the People
Douchebag, 2020
Ben Werther
Crayon rubbing on Japanese paper
8 1/2 x 11
21.59 x 27.94 cm
Reproduce, 2020 - Serving the People
Reproduce, 2020
Ben Werther
Crayon rubbing on Japanese paper
8 1/2 x 11
21.59 x 27.94 cm
Job, 2020 - Serving the People
Job, 2020
Ben Werther
Crayon rubbing on Japanese paper
8 1/2 x 11
21.59 x 27.94 cm
Assbag, 2020 - Serving the People
Assbag, 2020
Ben Werther
Crayon rubbing on Japanese paper
8 1/2 x 11
21.59 x 27.94 cm
Boss, 2020 - Serving the People
Boss, 2020
Ben Werther
Crayon rubbing on Japanese paper
8 1/2 x 11
21.59 x 27.94 cm
Don't, 2020 - Serving the People
Don’t, 2020
Ben Werther
Crayon rubbing on Japanese paper
8 1/2 x 11
21.59 x 27.94 cm
Kisses, 2020 - Serving the People
Kisses, 2020
Ben Werther
Crayon rubbing on Japanese paper
8 1/2 x 11
21.59 x 27.94 cm
Future, 2020 - Serving the People
Future, 2020
Ben Werther
Crayon rubbing on Japanese paper
8 1/2 x 11
21.59 x 27.94 cm
Learn, 2020 - Serving the People
Learn, 2020
Ben Werther
Crayon rubbing on Japanese paper
8 1/2 x 11
21.59 x 27.94 cm
Jack, 2020 - Serving the People
Jack, 2020
Ben Werther
Crayon rubbing on Japanese paper
8 1/2 x 11
21.59 x 27.94 cm
Time, 2020 - Serving the People
Time, 2020
Ben Werther
Crayon rubbing on Japanese paper
8 1/2 x 11
21.59 x 27.94 cm
Why, 2020 - Serving the People
Why, 2020
Ben Werther
Crayon rubbing on Japanese paper
8 1/2 x 11
21.59 x 27.94 cm
Ignorant, 2020 - Serving the People
Ignorant, 2020
Ben Werther
Crayon rubbing on Japanese paper
8 1/2 x 11
21.59 x 27.94 cm
Spider, 2020 - Serving the People
Spider, 2020
Ben Werther
Crayon rubbing on Japanese paper
8 1/2 x 11
21.59 x 27.94 cm
Brainless, 2020 - Serving the People
Brainless, 2020
Ben Werther
Crayon rubbing on Japanese paper
8 1/2 x 11
21.59 x 27.94 cm
Dickbag, 2020 - Serving the People
Dickbag, 2020
Ben Werther
Crayon rubbing on Japanese paper
8 1/2 x 11
21.59 x 27.94 cm
WiFi, 2020 - Serving the People
WiFi, 2020
Ben Werther
Crayon rubbing on Japanese paper
8 1/2 x 11
21.59 x 27.94 cm
Clowns, 2020 - Serving the People
Clowns, 2020
Ben Werther
Crayon rubbing on Japanese paper
8 1/2 x 11
21.59 x 27.94 cm
Idiot, 2020 - Serving the People
Idiot, 2020
Ben Werther
Crayon rubbing on Japanese paper
8 1/2 x 11
21.59 x 27.94 cm
Worst, 2020 - Serving the People
Worst, 2020
Ben Werther
Crayon rubbing on Japanese paper
8 1/2 x 11
21.59 x 27.94 cm
2, 2020
2, 2020
Ben Werther
Crayon rubbing on Japanese paper
8 1/2 x 11
21.59 x 27.94 cm
Fire, 2020
Fire, 2020
Ben Werther
Crayon rubbing on Japanese paper
8 1/2 x 11
21.59 x 27.94 cm
Fucko, 2020
Fucko, 2020
Ben Werther
Crayon rubbing on Japanese paper
8 1/2 x 11
21.59 x 27.94 cm
Pretend, 2020
Pretend, 2020
Ben Werther
Crayon rubbing on Japanese paper
8 1/2 x 11
21.59 x 27.94 cm
Revving, 2020
Revving, 2020
Ben Werther
Crayon rubbing on Japanese paper
8 1/2 x 11
21.59 x 27.94 cm