On Saturday, May 17, I attended the 5th Annual Creativity Now Conference hosted by Tokion Magazine in New York. This conference touched upon art, film, comedy, curation, audience participation and so much more. Here’s the round up!
Pop artist David Shrigley gave a presentation entitled "Who He Is and What He Wants," based upon the title of his book by the same name. Shrigley’s artwork is difficult to classify, as it isn’t just illustration, comics, humor or fine art: Shrigley actually stated that his work is the stuff that is usually sold as an impulse buy by the register at museum shops. (Which is actually where I first saw his work.)
Shrigley talked about his beginnings in the art world and his attempts at making it as a cartoonist. After his initial efforts didn’t turn out as he’d hoped, he stated that "if I was going to be a total failure, I was going to do it on my own terms." He showed a highly entertaining series of slides that showed his artwork, some examples of his fascination with signage (which was hilarious!) and found objects and maps. An examples of his signage is shown below.
[Photo by Laura S, KCUR on flickr]
The next presentation was entitled "The Empty Gallery: Curating the Contemporary Art Space," with input from representatives from the Museum of Modern Art, Whitney Museum, Deitch Projects, Team Gallery and the New Museum. They spoke about the difference between being a curator vs. a gallerist and the editorial qualities necessary to curating a successful show. Jose Freire of Team Gallery compared curation to being a chef: "as a curator, you combine different elements to make a delicious meal, but you never get to eat it."
"What Makes Us Laugh: Contemporary Comedy" was not so much a panel as an improv session, with comedians David Cross, Maria Bamford and Zach Galifianakis. It was funny: hard to summarize, but good! It got interesting once questions were opened up to the audience, and talk turned to whether or not anger or a demeaning attitude is necessary to comedy, which lead to some entertaining conversation, as no one wanted to admit that making fun of others was necessary to their humor.
"Audience Participation: The Viewer as Producer In Art Practices" was a discussion about interactive artwork with Harrell Fletcher, Lucky Dragons and Eduardo Sarabia. The discussion began by the artists inviting the audience to join them on stage. Fletcher’s work is varied and fascinating: lawn sculptures (kind of like gnomes) that look like members of a neighborhood, large scale signs of faces on the side of the highway, a film involving the residents of a nursing home, and so much more. Lucky Dragons (featured in the video above) work with the public in many ways: their ongoing art piece "Make a Baby" is a music project where strangers make sounds by attaching electroes to their bodies and touching others’ skin. Sarabia’s endeavors include a fascination with all things tequila (including a tequila bar he opened in Berlin and ceramics detailing the tequila making process). These interactive artists discussed their involvement with the public, and the necessity of these interactions for the success of their work.
All in all, it was an informative and inspiring conference, touching upon the many aspects of creativity and its expression. If you’re in the New York area, it’s still going on today, May 18th! Check out Tokion for more information.