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PRINT April 2003

’80s THEN

Tim Rollins

DAVID DEITCHER: We met at the slide library at the School of Visual Arts in 1980. I remember you as an energetic, engaging young man with an idiosyncratic fashion sense. You wore only red and black, right?

TIM ROLLINS: [Laughs.] That’s right, for two reasons. First, economy. Second, I was infatuated with the Russian Constructivists and how they developed forms to serve revolutionary politics—abstract designs that projected enthusiasm, progress, affirmation, even joy, as opposed to the abject imagery of, say, the German Expressionists. The Russian avant-garde explored what a militant beauty might look like. I had red Dickies overalls similar to what my dad used to wear to work every day at the Ethan Allen factory in rural central Maine. So it was a way of keeping to my roots, but styling at the same time.

Tim Rollins and K.O.S. at the Longwood Community Center, Bronx, New York, 1986.


DD: What marked the beginning of the ’80s for you?

TR: The explosion of alternative

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