This week: Live on stage without a net from Art Expo Chicago 2013 (aka EXPO CHICAGO, The International Exposition of Contemporary and Modern Art) Duncan and Richard talk to Galleries Charlie James (Charlie James Gallery, Los Angeles) and artist William Powhida!
William Powhida (b. 1976, New York) is an artist and critic living and working in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. For several years Powhida worked as an art critic for the Brooklyn Rail while developing his own artistic practice. Powhida’s work, reflecting his critical background, displays a concentrated fascination with the politics of access and the powers that control the assignment of value in the artworld. All roles are fair game, from nouveau-hot artists and the market-setting collectors that buy them, to the branded dealers that sell the work and the critics paid to provide intellectual justification for the pricepoints.
To soften what might appear a direct editorial voice, Powhida projects his commentary through the lens of an alter-ego, one with whom he shares a name (William Powhida). This alter-ego closely resembles any number of freshly minted artworld ‘geniuses,’ though Powhida’s character happens to exhibit all of the worst traits imaginable in any coddled enfant-terrible art star. The fictional Powhida is petulant, narcissistic, and debauched. He has enormous feelings of entitlement, and a perspective so firmly rooted in solipsism that it seems an impossible exaggeration. This art star on the verge of self-immolation documents his misery and rage against the manifold injustices of the art world through a series of To Do Lists, Enemies Lists, and monomaniacal screeds that take on the look of disturbed 3am rants. However, not all of this work exists in the first person. In addition to the alter-ego’s jeremiads, Powhida adds the sycophantic voice of the press ¬ a vital part of the star-making process. Ostensibly a frequent subject of Man About Town profiles in fashion magazines and newspapers, the alter-ego’s more offensive conduct and outsized claims are documented in this way.
Which brings us to the startling visual power of Powhida’s work. All of the content above, from the character’s first-person attacks to press profiles by the New York Post, the LA Weekly, and 944 Magazine (examples) are all rendered in beautiful trompe l’oeil compositions that use various combinations of graphite, gouache, and colored pencil on either panel or paper. It is in fact the visual presentation of Powhida’s arguments, coupled with their humor, that makes Powhida’s sometimes scathing commentaries so much fun to digest.
William Powhida earned his BFA from Syracuse University, and took his MFA from Hunter College. He is represented by Platform Gallery in Seattle, and Charlie James Gallery in Los Angeles.
Established in Los Angeles in 2008, Charlie James Gallery represents work by emerging and mid-career artists.
969 Chung King Road
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Wednesday – Saturday
12 – 6 PM
August 30, 2013 · Print This Article
Stephanie Cristello published an interview with Richard Holland and Duncan MacKenzie on The Seen recently to talk about Bad at Sports’ plans for EXPO, including the upcoming print publication Dana Bassett is spearheading and the various interviews we will be conducting on site at the fair.
BAD AT SPORTS // INTERVIEW
Duncan MacKenzie and Richard Holland of Bad at Sports are two of the best in town to talk with about art. Known for their witty commentary and contemporary art talk platform Bad at Sports, they are most admired for their weekly podcasts and blog. The three of us sat down to discuss their involvement with EXPO/2013 – the recent venture of a newspaper that will be distributed throughout the fair spearheaded by What’s the T? columnist Dana Bassett entitled The EXPO Register, and the live interviews they will be fielding from their booth next to the /Dialogues stage. The lineup for this year’s panel is impressive, titled “One-on-One,” just one of many sports puns, MacKenzie and Holland will be in conversation with gallerists, directors, and curators, such as Solveig Øvstebø of the Renaissance Society, Elysia Borowy-Reeder of the MOCAD Detroit, and Director Charlie James, as well as artists William Powhida, José Lerma, and Sanford Biggers. While the details of these interviews are kept secret (you will just have to see them in person to find out), our conversation breaches the extent of Bad at Sports coverage at the fair, their plans for the paper, and MacKenzie and Holland’s bucket list – like an interview about interviews, or something along those lines.
Stephanie Cristello: Let’s start off by talking about some of the things you’re doing for the fair. You’re working with Dana Bassett to publish a newspaper reporting live?
Duncan MacKenzie: Yes, the newspaper is going to be called The EXPO Register and reflects our collective style – slightly goofy, a touch irreverent, yet fairly straight ahead. The great thing about working with Dana is that she has the same wry sense of humor as us, which will definitely be a part of it, but it will also be a sincere tool for the fair goers.
Richard Holland: At Bad at Sports we are slightly irreverent, but not extensively. We are respectful of our guests – we will make fun of them now and again, but at our core, we are the fan club newsletter. This newspaper will be a different side of that effort.
SC: So you will be reporting on trends, how much gossip is there going to be?
DM: 98% trash! No – there will be a chunk of it that’s gossip, but it’s light.
RH: We’re just trying not to get sued, that’s why we don’t have comments on our site anymore. After the fourth time we got threatened with a lawsuit…
You gotta read this. William Powhida on Bravo’s Work of Art. I’m no fawning Powhida fan, but reading this gave me a little faith (in what exactly, I don’t know). Made me feel glad I never watched an episode of that show, and stupid for having felt a little guilty about that fact. A small excerpt below; the entire lengthy diatribe found in full on the artist’s website.
“As the summer wore on I wished I could just say, “fuck it. It’s the Jersey Shore of the art world,” and watch the show. The problem is, I can’t. It’s not really the show I’m pissed about. I’m pissed off by it’s very existence and the promise it offers its contestants. I’m sure you all understand the basic fucking premise of the show; respond to an assignment, win, and get a 100k and a museum show. Sweet. All you have to do is crank out some art that is marginally less terrible than what everyone else is making. It’s not that you actually have to make anything good. My friend Letha used to explain that meeting the hottest guy in a bar is always a relative proposition. Sometimes, she would take home the hottest guy in the bar and still be making out with an ugly motherfucker. Despite this, and unlike the broader market where critics can ignore mediocre and bad work and collectors can chose not to buy it, someone had to win the show by default. It would have been way riskier and far more interesting if there was no guarantee anyone could win if the work wasn’t good enough. I think this one of the most obvious flaws in comparing the show to life. In fact, even the losers on the show are still winners if we count recognition as a form of payment.”
October 19, 2009 · Print This Article
An online catalogue is available for William Powhida’s upcoming show at Charlie James Gallery in Los Angeles (in Chinatown, this Friday, October 24th, to be exact). You can access it here (click “catalogue” under the artist’s name). Unfortunately, the images in the .pdf catalogue aren’t of high enough resolution to allow for full magnification, so you can’t really read a lot of the text…which kind of defeats the purpose…sigh…I’m just bummed because I won’t be in L.A. during the run of Powhida’s exhibition and I’m eager to see exactly how he’ll tease/toy with/skewer some of the art world biggies and Hollywood celebrities in my hometown–the press release offers “apologies” to Eli Broad, Michael Govan “(and everyone at LACMA)”, Jeff Koons, John Baldessari, Christopher Knight, Javier Peres, Steven Soderbergh, Mickey Rourke, New Line Cinema, The Sunset Marquis, Tony’s Restaurant, TMZ, 944 Magazine, the LA Weekly, and the City of Los Angeles–so you know this should be good.
And if you haven’t listened to Amanda and Tom’s interview of William Powhida on the Podcast, you should do that too – it’s definitely on my ever-lengthening list of ‘not to be missed’ Bad at Sports episodes.