Authorization Sessions

With

Amalle Dublon & Constantina Zavitsanos
Emma Hedditch
Devin Kenny
John Neff

and the Staff of Artists Space

November 2016 – March 2017




Dear ███████,

As you may have heard, Artists Space is in search of a new Executive Director following the announcement that Stefan Kalmár will leave his post in November 2016. Upon appointment, the new Director will be given executive authority over the operations and artistic direction of Artists Space.

In the meantime, we, as members of the staff of Artists Space, plan to collectively examine a number of aspects of the organization, and question how they might be improved. In lieu of stepping back and awaiting guidance, we would like to embrace this period of transition, in which authority roles are contested. We would like to do this by establishing internal exchanges and collaborations, which we plan to record and document. In order to sustain Artists Space’s position as a dynamic and relevant force in New York, it feels necessary to evaluate how we function as an institution. We would like to invite artists to mediate and lead this critical work, and for this to begin as soon as possible. We have provisionally titled this project Authorization Sessions.

We would like to extend an invitation to you to oversee a session with the staff of Artists Space. This session should take place between November 2016 and February 2017. We can offer a fee of $████ for participating in this project, along with any necessary associated costs such as travel and other related expenses. You are welcome to interpret the nature and scope of this project however you see fit. The terms and details of this session (duration, budget, documentation, authorship) are open to negotiation with the staff. We hope that these sessions will encourage each other, the artist included, to reach positions and proposals that can have far-reaching consequences for the future of the organization. We intend to introduce this work to our new Executive Director when they start at Artists Space in early 2017.

You are one of four artists invited to lead these sessions. We thought of you because of the breadth of your approach in distinct circumstances: schools, neighborhoods, art institutions, project spaces, higher education, activism, etc. The staff discussed your commitment to education and curatorial work and are interested in how you seem to adamantly hold on to your identity and methodology as an artist even in tackling these new roles. We encourage you to devote your attention to the quality and vigor of the collaborative work that might be possible in this endeavor, over and above anticipating the public display or distribution of resulting records and materials. That said, we envisage this work having a public life in some form and, once again, this should be determined in conversation with the staff.

We would be delighted if you accepted our invitation and are all excited at the prospect of working with you. We are certain that you will have questions for us and we invite you to propose a time for a preliminary meeting with all of us.

Looking forward to your thoughts.

Sent 11/03/2016


Amalle Dublon is a PhD candidate in the Program in Literature at Duke, where her dissertation deals with aesthetics and sexual difference. She has taught courses on sound, media, film, art, and gender at the New School, New York University, Temple University, and the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College. She is on the editorial board of Women & Performance: a journal of feminist theory.

Emma Hedditch is an artist and writer based in New York. Her work focuses on daily practice, materiality, and distribution of knowledge as political action. She often works collaboratively with other artists and groups, for example The Copenhagen Free University (2001–2008), Cinenova, a feminist film and video distributor (1999–present), and No Total (2012–present). Influenced by politicized conceptual art practices and feminist politics, her work has taken on flexible forms as performances, collectively produced films, fanzines, as well as workshops, screenings, and events.

Devin Kenny is an interdisciplinary artist, writer, musician, and independent curator. He has collaborated with various art and music venues in New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, and elsewhere, including Recess, Het Roode Bioscoop, REDCAT, MoMa PS1, Freak City, and Santos Party House. A graduate of Cooper Union, he received his MFA in 2013 from the New Genres department at UCLA and is an alum of the Whitney Independent Study Program.

John Neff makes artworks, organizes exhibitions, and works as a teaching artist. He serves as a curatorial board member at Chicago’s Iceberg Projects and as co-director of the Ravenswood Elementary School Curatorial Practice Program. Over the past year, Neff has screened his Tony Greene Movie (2014-2016) nationwide.

Constantina Zavitsanos is an artist who works in sculpture, performance, text, and sound and on issues of dependency, debt, and means beyond measure. Zavitsanos has recently exhibited works at the New Museum in New York; in Arika’s Episode 7 at the Tramway in Glasgow, Scotland; at Roots & Culture Contemporary Art Center in Chicago, Illinois, and at Art Space in New Haven, Connecticut. Zavitsanos lives in New York and teaches at the New School.

Founded in 1972 in Downtown New York, Artists Space has for four decades successfully contributed to changing the landscape for contemporary art—lending support to emerging artists and emerging ideas alike. Artists Space has been the site of provocative discussion within contemporary debate, from the postmodern image (Douglas Crimp’s Pictures, 1977) to identity politics (Adrian Piper’s It’s Just Art, 1981), to institutional critique (Michael Asher’s Untitled, 1988) to the AIDS crisis (Nan Goldin’s Witnesses: Against our Vanishing, 1989). Artists Space has introduced a number of artists to a wider public, among them Sherrie Levine, Louise Lawler, Laurie Anderson, Barbara Bloom, John Baldessari, Jack Smith, Andrea Fraser, Haim Steinbach, Tim Rollins, Lari Pittman, Group Material, Barbara Kruger, Laurie Simmons, Fred Wilson, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Mike Kelley, Judith Barry, Jenny Holzer, Danh Vo, Laura Poitras, Hito Steyerl, and Cameron Rowland.