All posts tagged: Interview

Winston Tseng: Street Provocateur Brings “Trash” Campaign to NYC

Winston Tseng: Street Provocateur Brings “Trash” Campaign to NYC

“At the end of the day when one is towing the line of being provocative,” says Street Artist Winston Tseng, “you may cross that line in some people’s mind but I think if one is not trying to find that line then the work is not going to make any impact.”


Winston Tseng has probably been crossing that line, pissing off some people and making others laugh for a few years now. He appears to consider it an honor, and possibly a responsibility. Relatively new on the Street Art scene the commercial artist and art director has also created his 2-D characters on canvasses and skate decks that depict the abridged characteristics of a typecast to play with the emotions and opinions of passersby.

Winston Tseng (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Perhaps it is all part of a tide of the reductivist cartoonish images that are flying at you from corporate cable and corporate mainstream and corporate candidates, but you may begin to wonder if simplifying and vilifying is the result or the cause of the polarization. And as Street Art continues to reflect us back to ourselves, the satirists are quick and blunt as well. Otherwise, how could they hope to get our attention?

The stand-up comedian Lenny Bruce outraged people in the 1960s with his provocations that melded satire, politics, religion, sex, and vulgarity – even earning him arrest for obscenity. Street Artist Ron English engorged Ronald McDonald on billboard takeovers to target obesity and fast food, Jon Feckner illustrated structural racism by labeling institutional neglect of certain neighborhoods in the 70s and 80s, and politicians are routinely turned into pigs and other animals on stencils, stickers and aerosol paintings for effect.

Satire, provocative or relatively benign, can be expressed as a caricature that exaggerates qualities as grotesque; a critique with a biting jab. You will see it played out in Tseng’s other works – an iPhone chatting, Starbucks swilling white Millennial plays into stereotypes of a privileged verbally-challenged belly-gazing consumer class. An Asian woman in traditional dress waves a hand fan of dollars that confirm her drive for wealth. A fake ad for “Christian Mingle” features an older priest reciting a Madonna lyric to a younger one with an excited gaze that calls to mind the multiple Catholic pedophile scandals in the news.

In one collection of canvasses that Tseng created for the gallery, simplified elements of typical archetypes of modern men are featured in profile – a Hasidic Jew with pais, an Arab with beard and keffiyeh, a US soldier with camo helmet, a bearded hipster wannabe with truckers cap – but each is coupled and holding one another’s face and looking into the eyes of the other. The series of pairings challenges preconceptions about masculinity, religion, societal roles, human costumery and what close physical proximity may imply.

Happily Ever After, 1-4 (2015) (© Winston Tseng)

Making fun has gotten many a Court Jester punched verbally and literally and yet everyone realizes that the truer elements of the roast are what had helped both the joke and the fist land.

Recently a poster from the street that we published on Instagram garnered praise and repudiation by commenters who didn’t like the depiction of newsreader/actor Sean Hannity extending his tongue in a fellated manner toward the waistline of a man with a long red tie.

Winston Tseng (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The responses ranged from anger that it appeared to demean homosexuals, to critiquing the artists skills at political activism.

“Stop making homosexuality a punchline,” said @mollykathleenv. “How is ‘sucking dick’ activism? It’s blatant #HOMOPHOBIA you are posting under the guise of activism,” wrote @kingsquirrel.
One commenter even questioned who should be allowed criticize the street work. “It would’ve been really chill if all the straight people tapped out of this discussion. This is not for you to weigh in on tbh,” said @sameshit.
But @jeffserenius simply couldn’t stomach the image. “This is in very poor taste. Regardless of your political views. I will be unscribing after this post and will now be looking for another vendor for my photography needs … very disappointed in this.”  We were, of course, devastated.

Winston Tseng (photo © Jaime Rojo)

His newest pieces on the street are pasted on garbage cans and feature people in red caps identified with the “Make America Great” slogan that Trump supporters are known to sport. In recent years using the word ‘trash’ has gone from campy to outright degradation and classicism, but the artist says he’s just venting his personal frustration at “thoughts and ideologies”, rather than actual people.

The male in a muscle t-shirt has a confederate flag tattooed in a heart shape on his bicep and is sipping from a Chic-fil-A cup, while the woman is holding a Bible under her arm. Both are stereotyped images of so-called “Trump Voters” that play dangerously into the urge to simplify or brand an entire group of people in a denigrating way. Then again, humor and insult are often found to coexist in satire. The new pieces instantly caught Manhattanite’s attention and cell phones popped out to capture the image.

Winston Tseng (photo © Jaime Rojo)

We asked Tseng about the Hannity poster and the new MAGA pieces and what his work on the street is about.

Brooklyn Street Art: Can you talk to us about the poster from a few weeks ago depicting Trump standing while TV personality Sean Hannity is on his knees in front of him with his face at Trump’s crotch level? It was controversial. Some people from the gay community saw it as a homophobic and other people from the gay community as well didn’t see it that way. What was your intention?
Winston Tseng: Certainly it wasn’t my intention to convey a homophobic message or ideas. But I do understand why some people would interpret it that way. For me the idea was to portray an inappropriate relationship between the subjects. On the street, with this medium, people only have a very short attention span so I was trying to make an impact and get that attention. I chose the act depicted in the poster as the most impactful. Some people saw it the way I meant it to be seen and some people saw it differently. At the end of the day when one is towing the line of being provocative, you may cross that line in some people’s mind but I think if one is not trying to find that line then the work is not going to make any impact.

Winston Tseng (photo © Jaime Rojo)

BSA: So that brings us to the new series you just created and installed: Your subjects are white people only and you are calling them ‘trash’.
WT: I wouldn’t say its meant to represent all caucasians but certainly they are meant to portray a certain demographic. In this case a segment of white people that I personally believe the posters accurately reflect. The statistics are there that a lot of Trump supporters who wear the MAGA hats come from red states, from the south, and are Christian Evangelicals. Those are the concepts that I included on these posters. I didn’t make that up. I’m just reflecting something that is a quantifiable fact.

BSA: Are these posters a direct critique on Trump’s policies and ideologies?
WT: Yes. But I feel like criticizing Trump, because he kind of doesn’t seem to really believe strongly in any ideologies or policy, is not the source of the issue in my mind. The source of the issue is the segment of America who supports him and authorizes him to make the decisions that he makes. I’m not sure if he believes strongly in them or if he is just pandering and just wants to win a popularity contest amongst certain demographics. I think that there’s a lot of anti-Trump art work out there, but taking a step back one realizes that he is not doing this on his own and the same goes with the policies he announces where he just tells people what they want to hear.

Winston Tseng (photo © Jaime Rojo)

BSA: Do you think that his aim is to distract the public from more serious issues?
WT: I don’t think he is distracting away from serious issues, but rather he brings into focus other serious issues that a certain segment of the population, myself included, don’t agree with him on. I think he’s reflecting a lot of hate and ideologies that exist in the population. That’s what I’m trying to get out with this series. Put the focus a little bit less on him being the creator of all of this but rather on his supporters who share the same beliefs and those beliefs that get reflected through him.

BSA: Do you think his supporters weren’t aware of how they felt or when he came out they felt that they had permission to air their beliefs in public?
WT: I think it’s probably the latter. I’m certainly not an expert on this. I know as much as any other American does in public. But yes, I don’t think he created these beliefs but people were harboring these thoughts and feelings. We are just in a time period now where is more acceptable to express those thoughts and ideologies more openly.

BSA: What was your goal when you were creating these series?
WT: It’s always just a personal expression. I’m not one to think that I’m going to change anyone’s mind by doing this. There’s a bit of humor in it and I’m hoping that people are entertained by it. I think that the majority of New Yorkers would probably agree with that just based on the statistics of liberals versus conservatives in New York. So it’s personal expression. It is the entertaining factor. It is sort of a stress relief for me, just to get it out there.

Winston Tseng (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Winston Tseng (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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The Outings Project, Bouguereau, and a Memphis Factory Facade

The Outings Project, Bouguereau, and a Memphis Factory Facade

Julien de Casabianca of the Outings Project was invited to the Brooks Museum in Memphis, Tennessee last month for an exhibition, workship, lecture, and a monumental installation that we have exclusive shots of today here for you. In accordance with the artists practice in this project, he selected artwork from inside the museum and brought it to the streets in very grand fashion to a part of town that typically would not have occasion to look at this kind of work.

Outings Project. William-Adolphe Bouguereau’s 1886 painting “Au pied de la falaise”. (photo courtesy of Outings Project)

His is a self-realized philosophically-rooted street practice that is intended to democratize the experience of appreciating art and to break past the inhibitions, and often the entrance fee, that the average person has to contend with when entering galleries, museums, or other institutions to see artworks. This seven story tall neoclasssical/realist girl sits on the fire escape of a dilapidated industrial building, geographically and historically far from the milieu of the 19th century French academic painter who created the original.

It is notable that Brooks Museum and other art institutions are somewhat beginning to embrace the Street Art practice in their programming – even as many graffiti and Street Artists have remained uninvited to be exhibited inside the doors or added to permanent collections despite a half century history of painting, sculpting, projecting, and creating installations in public space around the world. In the description for this project the museum webpage says that this project is part of “Brooks Outside, an innovative curatorial program that launched in conjunction with the museum’s centennial in 2016, consisting of an ongoing series of outdoor installations that, depending on each project’s scope, will enliven and invigorate Brooks Museum grounds, Overton Park, or our community at large.”

Outings Project. William-Adolphe Bouguereau’s 1886 painting “Au pied de la falaise”. (photo courtesy of Outings Project)

Mssr. de Casabianca tells us that this is only the first of 3 large wheat-pastes he is planning to do. The remaining two will be chosen in collaboration with the community and as part of a workshop he is planning. He says that he wants to consult with people who live in the area and that there will be a voting process.

We spoke with the artist about the project to find out more about his Memphis project.

Brooklyn Street Art: What is this original piece of art and where did you find it?
Julien de Casabianca: It’s William-Adolphe Bouguereau’s 1886 painting “Au pied de la falaise” (At the Foot of the Cliff). Its part of the Brooks Museum collection.

Brooklyn Street Art: Why does it resonate for you and how do you think she likes her new home?
Julien de Casabianca: She seems melancholic, I wanted to give her a second life in the real life, liberate her from the frame. I feel always guilty when I leave from a wall where I pasted a child, as in Nuart Aberdeen in Scotland, because even they are giants, I feel they are so fragile in this violent world and in this contemporary world. She’s a time traveller, she doesn’t know our new world and she’s probably surprise and moved.

Outings Project. William-Adolphe Bouguereau’s 1886 painting “Au pied de la falaise”. (photo courtesy of Outings Project)

Brooklyn Street Art: One of your underlying philosophies is to bring art that is hidden away to the public. Why is this important for you and society?

Julien de Casabianca: Museums are always in rich areas. I bring the art from the museum to paste in a poor area. Beauty has to be shared too. Classical beauty as well. There is lot of urban street art in poor areas which is of course amazing and beautiful, but where there is modern architecture and street art there and there is no place for the classical beauty. And the classical beauty has one power: to reunite all generations about a same taste. Old, young, teenagers, everybody loves what I paste, and that is not normal, not ordinary. It’s because we have all something in common; a long history of art and beauty that built the present. Nike is a brand and a goddess from Antiquity. Apple is a brand and an apple formed Adam & Eve. These two brand names this century have continuity 2000 year old stories that we still talk of!


Read more about the Outings Project at the Brooks Museum HERE.

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Monumenta: Large Scale Icon Celebrates “The Intelligence Of Many” in Leipzig

Monumenta: Large Scale Icon Celebrates “The Intelligence Of Many” in Leipzig

“Utopia is not dead!,” curator Denis Leo Hegic loves to exclaim. Maybe not, but it is elusive.

Monumenta Leipzig / The Intelligence Of Many. Viktor Frešo “Angry Boy”. Leipzig, Germany. September, 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

You may catch a flash of Utopia here among heady concepts he entertains regarding iconization, scale, the elimination of tastemakers and gatekeepers, urban planning and architecture, art in the streets juxtaposed with art in galleries, or at the thumping of electronic DJs and darting lazers at the sweaty bumping house parties every weekend inside a cozy ex-storehouse for equipment.

The bitter will simply call this reinvigoration of a former metal works factory by Berlin’s Wandelism collective a tool of gentrification for its new real estate owner, but that kind of reductive criticism overlooks the cultural evolution that often is spirited by large multi-tentacled environments such as these.

Monumenta Leipzig / The Intelligence Of Many. Viktor Frešo “Angry Boy”. Leipzig, Germany. September, 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Functioning as a large laboratory of experimentation that has entertained large crowds since late summer, Monumenta fosters thousands of conversations and strategies about art and culture and technology and the shifting geo-political future we will need to be prepared for it. It is almost as if the only preparation that we can hope to depend upon during increasing times of increasing complexity will be collective tribes like these, and ‘the intelligence of many’.

So here’s Jan Kuck melting wax and pouring it into light fixtures which, when turned on, will melt the wax again organically onto a pile of mirrors below – a curious kinectic sculptural installation you may call Wahnsinn, or madness. Kuck can easily mount his work at international art fairs, and he has – but this place affords an unquantifiable jolt of the D.I.Y. energy that powers artist spaces in big cities throughout Europe. Outside in the yard with his canvas leaning against the wall, Berlin’s Dino Richter is fastidious and attentive to detail with his sharp knife slicing through layers of tape, peeling off pieces to produce an intricately tight design evocative of circuit boards and ice cream pops.

Monumenta Leipzig / The Intelligence Of Many. The Monument-of-Many Installation. Detail. Leipzig, Germany. September, 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Hosted on the post-industrial grounds of Pittlerwerke, 36,000 square meters of former machinery factories presents one sixth of that for a wide-ranging exhibition of urban, contemporary, graffiti, installation art, music, performance, talks and workshops. The spaces are generous, even holy in their scale; a conceptual big tent that gives room to a seriously considered eclecticism of artists and artworks that all somehow capture this moment before the abyss.

Here you’ll find one of the original Cologne “Neue Wilde” (Young Wild Ones) who also became known as a painter of the “Mülheimer Freiheit“, Hans Peter Adamski, his large abstractions only meters away from a fire extinguisher triptych by a current united graffiti power on city streets across Europe, the 1UP Crew. You’ll also see Berlin public/street art duo Various & Gould with an empty skin sculpture of Marx and Engels while Berlin art trio Innerfields creates machine guns of papier-mâché.

Monumenta Leipzig / The Intelligence Of Many. Dr. Molrok. Leipzig, Germany. September, 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The Ghanaian born, Vienna based painter Amoako Boafo brings one of his elegant figures of masculinity to a large canvas while down the hall Señor Schnu reenacts a sculptured scene of police brutality with a teen in a hoody half-submerged underfoot in murky water. Don’t forget the one hundred artist suspended installation of monuments-of-many flanking Viktor Frešo’s naked giant “Angry Boy” who may unhappily remind you of a certain president.

How do you begin to connect the dots here? Perhaps it’s more about opening the spaces between them for yourself.

Monumenta Leipzig / The Intelligence Of Many. Dr. Molrok. Leipzig, Germany. September, 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Monumenta is part exhibition and cultural fair; a ‘happening’ of sorts; a surprisingly ego-free environment for making art that you can immediately put on display and have conversations about with an eclectic mix of art fans and peers. The multi-member team of artists and producers and writers and media makers have created a nether space in transition from its industrial past to an inconclusive future, creating the kind of environment where artists are rather liberated from presupposition. It feels like the result of a positively reductive process that strips away artifice and reminds us what the raw creative process is – and where it may go if given room and respect.

Curators Denis Leo Hegic and Jan Fielder created the environment in the moment, on the spot, and with some audacity. They also smartly partnered with a selection of sparkling seers including contemporary gallerist and manager Isabel Bernheimer, visionary ringmaster at Urban Spree Pasqual Feucher, the storied collector Marc Omar, and Berlin Art Society’s Michelle Houston.

Monumenta Leipzig / The Intelligence Of Many. WENU. Detail. “Divide et Impera”. Detail. Leipzig, Germany. September, 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Uneven and happily unfinished, the collection of experiences launches a sense of unified eclecticism; a multi-storied series of Lo and Hi, fine art paintings, installations, sculpture, photography and electronic media that create a collective chorus of possibilities on the cusp of the next crash. In a odd world of flattening hierarchies and spirited inclusionary programming the two principal architects of this future vision suggest a re-ordering that brings the street directly into the cathedral and ivy covered hall.

BSA spoke with Monumenta curators Denis Leo Hegic and Jan Fiedler about some of their preferred ways of seeing art and the thrill of mastering an enormous iconic industrial space for exhibiting artworks from so many disciplines and perspectives.

Monumenta Leipzig / The Intelligence Of Many. Various & Gould. Leipzig, Germany. September, 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: You spoke in your presentation during the Momenta Talks program about the concept of space and emotion when considering how to mount an exhibition. What part does emotion play in the experience of an art installation?

Jan Fiedler: Emotion is one of the central aspects while being confronted with art, and the perception of the artwork changes with the emotions you are going through while being in contact with said artwork. When you are sad, a painting or sculpture will trigger different feelings than when you are in a happy mood. Also the quality of an artwork really shows, and it may “force” you to feel a certain way.

It is interesting to observe how certain artworks can move people from different cultures, countries and backgrounds in the same way. It really shows that the language of art is universal. Especially the old masters can evoke these, mostly holy, emotions, even in faithless people. If we talk about these paintings, then we have to keep in mind that the eyes they were created for were the main source for evoking religious feeling. The ears were useless in Mass, since the sermon was held in Latin, a language most people did not understand, and the eyes went on a journey, trying to find a foundation for their faith in the art that was displayed in the churches. So they were painted in a certain way, to evoke exactly these feelings.

Monumenta Leipzig / The Intelligence Of Many. Rocco and his Brohters.“Dezernat 52”. Leipzig, Germany. September, 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

These paintings hang in museums today, robbed of their original context and surroundings, but still are powerful to trigger feelings. And that applies to every artwork you want to put on display in an art show. You have to dedicate a certain amount of time to every single piece, feeling the emotional impact it has on you and arrange it in a way that highlights its qualities in the best way. So an art exhibition is in the best case a carefully arranged Orchestra that takes the visitor on an emotional journey.

Brooklyn Street Art: “The Intelligence of Many” is a phrase that was central to the formation and execution of Monumenta. Is this a model for curation that we may see in the future?

Denis Leo Hegic: Yes. It is not only a model of curation, it is a model of cooperation in different fields in a successful modern society. The information, which we have to deal with in every aspect of life, has reached such a great level of complexity, that working TOGETHER in a selfless way and profiting from the intelligence of many individuals involved is the only concept that can bring a true (and important) change.

Even if the world does not appear like that in this moment, it is actually the case that the era of self-centered egomaniacs is over. And that´s the good news.

In terms of curating something which we call “Urban Art”, there is absolutely no other way of doing it. This form of art is rooted within and powered by (urban) communities and the spirit that arrives from them. One can fake this credibility just for a limited time. The intelligence of many is the counter concept to the stupidity of one.

Monumenta Leipzig / The Intelligence Of Many. Rocco and his Brohters.“Dezernat 52”. Leipzig, Germany. September, 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: Can you talk about the cathedral quality of the initial hall at Monumenta?
Jan Fiedler: The “Church”, as we call the entrance hall of Monumenta, is a nickname that has its origins in the unique architecture which resembles a Basilica – is a very special room, which from a curatorial point of view demands a large amount of attention. This is especially so because it resembles a church, a place where there is only room for one god. We decided to dedicate it to the Monument-of-Many, the visions of one hundred different artists.

But there is a reason why churches and cathedrals have such an effect on the spectator, because they play with scale and the tools of iconization. We used the exact same tools, but not to promote one singular idea, but to present a grumpy baby, the symbol of hope and future, where nobody can be certain how it will turn out if it grows up. This again is one of the aspects of Monumenta; To let go of total control and to give artists the freedom to unfold their creativity.

Monumenta Leipzig / The Intelligence Of Many. Señor Schnu. Leipzig, Germany. September, 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Monumenta Leipzig / The Intelligence Of Many. HNRX “Paradoxism”. Leipzig, Germany. September, 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Monumenta Leipzig / The Intelligence Of Many. Play with art. Guillermo S. Quintana on the floor with several artists on the boards. Leipzig, Germany. September, 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Monumenta Leipzig / The Intelligence Of Many. Play with art. Detail. Leipzig, Germany. September, 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Monumenta Leipzig / The Intelligence Of Many. Les Enfants Terribles. Detail. Leipzig, Germany. September, 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Monumenta Leipzig / The Intelligence Of Many. Les Enfants Terribles. Detail. Leipzig, Germany. September, 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Monumenta Leipzig / The Intelligence Of Many. Les Enfants Terribles. Detail. Leipzig, Germany. September, 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Monumenta Leipzig / The Intelligence Of Many. NASCA. “Cruz”. Leipzig, Germany. September, 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Monumenta Leipzig / The Intelligence Of Many. Jan Kuck. Leipzig, Germany. September, 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Monumenta Leipzig / The Intelligence Of Many. Jan Kuck. Leipzig, Germany. September, 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Monumenta Leipzig / The Intelligence Of Many. Ron Miller. “Gun-Geisha”. Leipzig, Germany. September, 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Monumenta Leipzig / The Intelligence Of Many. 1UP Crew. Leipzig, Germany. September, 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Monumenta Leipzig / The Intelligence Of Many. Marina Zumi. “View Insight”. Leipzig, Germany. September, 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Monumenta Leipzig / The Intelligence Of Many. NeSpoon. Leipzig, Germany. September, 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Monumenta Leipzig / The Intelligence Of Many. KNS. “Where Is The Scene?”. This piece wasn’t commissioned but rather illegally painted during the opening days of the exhibition. The organizers of the exhibition decided to keep it in place instead of buffing it. Leipzig, Germany. September, 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Monumenta Leipzig / The Intelligence Of Many. SNOW. Leipzig, Germany. September, 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Monumenta Leipzig / The Intelligence Of Many. The organizaers. Standing, from left to right: Niklas Jedowski, Sabrina Markutzyk, Jan Gustav Fiedler, Denis Leo Hegic and on the floor Dorian Mazurek. Leipzig, Germany. September, 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

 

Monumenta Leipzig / The Intelligence Of Many is currently open to the general public in Leipzig, Germany. Click HERE for general information, schedules of upcoming events, directions etc…

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