Jessie Stead

Jessie Stead is a New York–based artist working in installation, cinema, music, collaboration, and other overlapping disciplines. She is the experimental percussionist in the art band #hariboner, currently recording their debut LP.


    The Fondazione Prada’s current “Art or Sound” exhibition illuminates the historical relationship between visual art and sound making, as well as the figure of the artist-musician. A future iteration of “Art or Sound” should include Chroma Color Organ, 2010, Cammisa Buerhaus’s hurricane-inspired pipe organ/sculpture made from white pine, locust wood, mousetraps, and Plexiglas and powered by two blowers from 1960s IBM copy machines. I met this organ on Buerhaus’s rooftop, where I shot video of a private performance she staged with saxophonist Tamio Shiraishi and butoh dancer Michiru Inoue. The elaborate construction required two hours to set up, and shortly after the music started, a thunderstorm hit hard. As fast as the wind, we broke down and sheltered the organ from the sudden downpour. The eventual performance was well worth the unforeseen labor and drama of starting over again.

    *Cammisa Buerhaus setting up her _Chroma Color Organ_, 2010, Brooklyn, NY, August 2012.* Photo: Cristina Razzano. Cammisa Buerhaus setting up her Chroma Color Organ, 2010, Brooklyn, NY, August 2012. Photo: Cristina Razzano.

    When you need more edge than the otherwise fabulous “Hawaiian Rainbow”iTunes stream can offer, turn on Radio Mulot. A clandestine frequency in France named for its stealth under the eagle eye of the Conseil Supérieur de L’Audiovisuel, the station has experimented directly with the unpredictability of local public airwaves since 1997. Their free-form sonic constellations are an inexhaustible game of cat and mouse, relayed online for remote listeners at


    For his recent exhibition at Microscope Gallery in Brooklyn, “eau de cinema: constellations & contradictions,” Bradley Eros distilled the poetic alchemy of the creative act with eau de cinema, 2014, a bottled perfume evoking the aura of film.Its genesis lay in the metaphysical essence of celluloid’s basic elements: silver, dust, and light. The scent was conjured from a number of aromatic experiments conducted by Eros and a perfumer, much as an image-ghost appears as the by-product of photochemical processing.

    *Bradley Eros, _eau de cinema_, 2014*, original fragrance in labeled glass bottle, 4 1/2 × 2 × 1". Bradley Eros, eau de cinema, 2014, original fragrance in labeled glass bottle, 4 1/2 × 2 × 1".

    Viewable in real time 24/7 on webcam video from its location in a high-security shipping container in Bushwick, Where’s projects are presented through both these portals and as print publications in a three-way cybernetic arena. This past April, “Brock Enright Is 14 Experts” involved a weekend of fourteen consecutive one-on-one appointments with Enright. Upon entering the container for the seventh meeting, I inhaled fumes left behind by the previous engagements—microcosmic echoes from amusingly dissonant combinations of spilled domestic fluid vapors and mild perspiration. I had never felt as much like one side of a wishbone.

    *Brock Enright, “Brock Enright Is 14 Experts,” 2014.* Performance view via digital live feed, Where, Brooklyn, NY, April 13, 2014. Brock Enright, “Brock Enright Is 14 Experts,” 2014. Performance view via digital live feed, Where, Brooklyn, NY, April 13, 2014.

    Light Show, the latest LP by the iconoclastic Los Angeles–based artist Jack Name, plays like a neo–glam rock novel. Laced with lyrical narrative cryptology and skyrocketing from penetrating melodic structures, the familiar sound of electric guitars can still overflow with innovation and transgression. The album’s sequel, Weird Moons, will be released on Castle Face Records later this year.


    I had a cave toad experience while working with Ramiken Crucible on the series of exhibitions “Cave Show,” in the remote Cueva Arcillas in Puerto Rico. Outnumbered by scores of bats, the cave toad’s uncanny likeness to sculpture could be attributed to its deceptively inanimate state and to the sublimely disorienting situation instigated by “Cave Show.” The series “reamends the rights of artists to make mistakes, currently, on the same order of magnitude as cave men.” During the third expedition, in February 2014, the cave toad’s hypnotic persona came to harmonize the group’s collective imagination. This transient god inspired an impromptu jamboree of attempts to manifest our projections in terra-cotta, guano, fire, and performance. None of this was contrived caveman posturing. Only in hindsight does this spontaneous communal activity seem linked to the animal preoccupations common in neo-Paleolithic art. The cave toad is so present it is future.

    *Cave toad found during Ramiken Crucible’s “Cave Show,” 2014, Cueva Arcillas, Puerto Rico.* Cave toad found during Ramiken Crucible’s “Cave Show,” 2014, Cueva Arcillas, Puerto Rico.

    Enlightenment Wines does not limit their fermentation methods to grapes. Revisiting low-tech ancient practices in New York’s Hudson Valley, the cult winery produces limited-edition wines, dry unfiltered meads, and potions with locally sourced botanicals—many of which come in bottles labeled with cryptic drawings and silk-screened snakes. Their esoteric allure extends to their intoxicating titles, which sound like, or make direct reference to, works of art—Ortrud, Night Eyes, Last Gift of My Daemon Lover, The Wild Melaides,etc.

    *Dandelions to be used in Enlightenment Wines’s “Memento Mori” dandelion wine production.* Dandelions to be used in Enlightenment Wines’s “Memento Mori” dandelion wine production.

    In May 2013, Tomato House art space in the Ocean Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn hosted a rare screening of four titles from the filmography of Carlos Gonzalez: Look In There (2012), Ticket to Hell (2012), Heaven’s Rope (2013), and Chinese Fog (2013).The videos are shot, edited, and screened using VHS tapes that, daringly, contain the only existing copy of the movie, or at least I heard that rumored in the audience. It felt very real as Gonzalez hit the play button and glowing rhythms of VHS artifacts willfully attacked the recorded images and sound. His alter egos include the prolific musician Russian Tsarlag and comic-book artist Slime Freak. The videos bring his enigmatic stage persona and damaged minimal narratives to the screen, and then take off into unforeseen dimensions distinctively their own.


    Located at 46 Delancey Street in New York, Pacific Aquarium is a commercial retailer of ornamental fish, acquatic plants, and related accoutrements. Visiting is like a quickie downtown scuba dive, if such a thing were an option.

    *Freshwater aquarium at Pacific Aquarium, New York, 2013.* Freshwater aquarium at Pacific Aquarium, New York, 2013.

    A small group of artists recently transformed the interior of an abandoned firehouse on Manhattan’s Lower East Side into a makeshift art castle. The built-in romance of trespassing aside, room after room of Hero House revealed miscellany, found on-site, impressively reassembled into a system of sculptural obstacles you had to climb, crawl through, or slide down to gain access to new areas. A rope and a pair of gloves placed where a fire pole had once been was the most dramatic instance; you could easily imagine falling from the considerable height. It provoked you to summon your inner stunt double, a worthy confrontation that left you smiling at your rusty superhero fantasies at the other end of the rope.

    *View of Hero House, New York.* View of Hero House, New York.