PRINT February 2004


Kori Newkirk

The work of Los Angeles–based artist Kori Newkirk can be seen in solo shows at the Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia (through mid-February) and the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland (opening February 27).

  1. SKID ROW ADJACENT I’ve inhabited the same old-school live/work space in downtown LA since 1997. The neighborhood feels like a real city: grandmotherly prostitutes, bustling drug trade, supersize homeless population, and long-forgotten beautiful buildings—all right in the shadow of cultural landmarks like the new Walt Disney Concert Hall and MoCA. Lately things are changing. Classic “artist lofts” are popping up all over the place, offering such traditional artist trappings as satellite TV, high-speed Internet connections, rooftop pools, and exposed brick! All priced way above and beyond the wallets of most artists I know. What a feeling to know that while what I do is of no great importance to the general population, how I live is. Kind of nice to be so invisible and so desired at the same time.

  2. DEMETER FRAGRANCES Sometimes smelling good is important to me. Demeter Fragrance Library—known for its “cutting edge” scents ranging from the normal, like Rose, to the more interesting Crust of Bread, Funeral Home, and Riding Crop—has come to my rescue more than once. My lifestyle choice has been addressed as well. I’m stocked up on Turpentine and Saw Dust, so now I can not only look like an artist but smell like one, too.

  3. CHANTAL AKERMAN I don’t see a lot of films, and when I do, I always feel there are better ways to spend time in a dark room. But I’m really looking forward to the upcoming Chantal Akerman retrospective put on by REDCAT and the UCLA Film and Television Archive next month. Her From the Other Side (2002), shown at Documenta 11, had me captivated as soon as I walked into the room.

    Chantal Akerman, From the Other Side (2002). Installation view, Documenta 11, Kassel, 2002. Photo: Thorsten Arendt/ Chantal Akerman, From the Other Side (2002). Installation view, Documenta 11, Kassel, 2002. Photo: Thorsten Arendt/
  4. “RUNNING (DYING TO LIVE)” Forget about milk shakes (sorry, Kelis) and such nonsense, this single from the Tupac: Resurrection sound track, which brings together my East Coast foundations with my West Coast adopted home, has me groovin’. A stroke of genius by the producer (Eminem) to bring two holy ghosts (Tupac and Notorious B.I.G.) together on one track. With the sped-up sample of “Dying to Live” by Edgar Winters (representing the father), Em steps up as the son in this almost (un)holy lineup.

  5. SCULPTURE OF THE PEOPLE I don’t always like the idea of People, but I sometimes like what they can do. For the past few years a friend and I have been taking informal tours of the local Big Box stores around holiday time. Our goal is to check out the aisles of seasonal merchandise, not to buy anything, of course, but to see the remnants of shoppers’ feeding frenzies and how they’re displayed, or rather exhibited: nothing on the shelves, everything on the floor. Formally and conceptually very strong, this is some of the best scatter art on earth.

  6. TR!O Who really has time to tape everything you want to see on TV, much less watch it? Thanks to the historical and hysterical cable channel TR!O (“Pop, Culture, TV”), I don’t have to regret missing a thing. Best recent rebroadcasts: the 1984 Miss America pageant, probably the last one I really watched—big hair, really bad musical numbers, Gary Collins singing, and, of course, the notorious advent of Vanessa Williams—and The PJ’s, the underrated and brilliant animated show that melds foam and poverty into a twenty-two-minute slice of government cheese. Well worth my monthly bill.

    Vanessa Williams and Gary Collins at the Miss America Pageant, Atlantic City, NJ, 1984. Vanessa Williams and Gary Collins at the Miss America Pageant, Atlantic City, NJ, 1984.
  7. BELT IT OUT Since my mouth seems to work faster than my brain at times, I’m a big fan of nonverbal communication. I often rely on my favorite accessory of the moment: a name belt buckle. I don’t have my name on there, but I am able to project what I’m thinking or feeling while keeping my pants up. (Imagination being limited only by the size of your waist.) Currently I wear one that simply states MEAN; that’s because the ANGRY one cracked. I also like to sport BROKE and PAID, dependent on the situation at hand.

    Belt buckles from the artist’s personal collection. Belt buckles from the artist’s personal collection.
  8. AMERICAN IDOL I’ve been tone-deaf since elementary school; there’s no shame in my game, but my singing is best left to the confines of home and car—with the windows rolled up tight. So as we gear up for the third season of American Idol on Fox, my weeknights are spoken for as I sit and watch others reach for their dreams. The best part is the audition, for the sheer bravado and audacity that these singing and dancing kids display. There are no Winter Olympics this year, and Michael Jackson is boring, so where else can we see bodies and ambitions so delectably betray their owners?

  9. AUGUSTO DI STEFANO The paintings of Augusto Di Stefano fill me with painting envy. His delicate AbEx moments floating on expansive fields of color are lonely, desolate, and stunning. Take a trip to his native Texas, outside of which his work is rarely seen, and see for yourself. They get me every time.

    Augusto Di Stefano, Untitled (Adaptation) (detail), 2002, oil on canvas, 108 x 84". Augusto Di Stefano, Untitled (Adaptation) (detail), 2002, oil on canvas, 108 x 84".