Collaboration with writer & poet, Ben Pleasants for his piece ‘My Blue Sweater’. See it & read it in the back pages of his work Visceral Bukowski
I love film. Shot in 2003 my dear friend’s custom guitar fashion show at the Red Devil Lounge in San Francisco. Nikon n90s. FILM.
A brief respite from the landscapes, and living in the city calls for a human in the shot… a young man whose timeless image reminds me of classic North Beach, San Francisco. The cafes, hills, fog, poets…. all images shot on 35mm film with a Nikon D90s.
Here is a small collection, more will be done with these images to reflect these thoughts soon.
After winning the London Calling 2009 Competition, I was interviewed by MyArtSpace:
Link to the online gallery submitted: MyArtSpace
Q. Marcy, you have been selected as one of the top winners of the MyArtSpace London Calling competition. The juror panel for London Calling included Vanessa DesClaux (The TATE Modern), Tom Morton (The Hayward Gallery), and Francesco Manacorda (The Barbican Gallery). What interested you about the London Calling competition? Why did you decide to enter?
London is a place near and dear to my heart. At age twenty-one I tended bar at the famous Bentley’s Restaurant & Oyster Bar and fell in love with the city… In the winter of ’95 I worked as a photojournalist for The Times and went on to document The Damned on their tour of England shortly after.
The art scene is groundbreaking, and the energy and style of London is so unique. I showed my photography at The Brick Lane Gallery last April, returning to my beloved city after a ten-year hiatus.
When I saw your competition for London Calling, I jumped at the chance to put my work in front of such a prestigious panel in the hopes of contributing to the city’s thriving arts community.
I always had a camera in my hand, however I began to take things seriously when, as a jewelry and metals student in Florence, Italy (my sophomore college semester abroad), I was caught up in a Communist Party (now called the Green Party of the Left?) rally in Rome. I had my camera, 5 rolls of b/w film, and my heart-rate shot through the roof. I looked to my friends who were trying to beat the clock on a train strike to return to Florence, then I looked at the thousands of people in the streets. Knowing I could be stranded, I said goodbye to my friends and jumped into the fray. The images I took on that day changed my life.
Photography verses sculpture / studio arts: I get to be IN the world and while the camera might be a barrier at moments, most times I am very engaged in life. I guess I was always too antsy for the studio and am more interested in the challenges of communicating a three dimensional form into two dimensions.
I’ve gone from studio portraits and hand printing, to being as far from cell phone range as possible to go inside myself and show a palpable emptiness. I’m doing my best, constantly learning, and keeping a sense of humor in the face of the surreal. And I’ve seen some real, honest-to-god weird shit ‘out there’.
Q. What about influences? Are you influenced by any specific theme, individual, or event?
I am influenced by the deserts that I make such a massive effort to visit every year, and the feeling of expansiveness I get when I step off the highway and onto the land.
Still with sculptural roots, my current influences include the Land Art Movement, Michael Heizer, Richard Long, Donald Judd and the Californian artists working on large-scale kinetic sculpture who are part of my close circle of friends. I am also influenced by the Flemish Primitives when I shoot people, having them take on poses seen in various paintings.
Q. Can you tell us about the social implications of your work? For example, do you embrace a specific philosophy as to what you strive to convey within the context of your art?
I want the viewer to place her/himself within the frame, to feel what its like to be there, witnessing the image.
I’m looking forward to the social implications unfolding and revealing themselves as more people are exposed to the work…
Q. Tell us about your artistic process…
Well, I drive real far, then I pull out my camera. Sometimes there are people around. Most times not.
Q. Are there any specific images of your work that you would like to discuss in detail?
Most images were shot in extremely isolated locations, and some as a record of an event that has recently ended, with people either in the process of leaving, or gone altogether with nothing but a slight mark on the land.
The internet is the most powerful tool for communication there is, hands down. All artists need to get over their fear and use it. Sites like MyArtSpace.com serve the artist and the collector with its unique interface and multiple galleries. My only gripe might be that the images tend to exist only a screen, and I prefer it to be a vehicle to viewing the work in real life, for which there is no comparison.
Q. Finally, is there anything else you would like to say about your art?
In reference to the London Calling competition, I am very pleased that my personal favorites – images close to my heart – were chosen.
About the Jurors & Gallery:
Located in the heart of the West London art district, Scream London is just a moment away from Sotheby’s, Cork St and the Royal Academy, and rubs shoulders with some of London’s most established art galleries in the traditional hub of the capital’s art market. Scream is run by Tyrone Wood as curator. Scream is focused on contemporary art and has quickly developed a reputation as being an innovative gallery.
Scream London has exhibited works by Robert Indiana, Matty Small, Ingrid Baars, Rene Ricard, David Montgomery, among other artists. Notable guests and patrons have included Tracey Emin, Claire Danes, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Beverly Knight, Meg Mathews, and Ronnie Wood of The Rolling Stones.
The jurors for myartspace.com London Calling:
Vanessa DesClaux Assistant Curator of Performance, The Tate Modern, London. Vanessa DesClaux is currently assistant curator of performance at Tate Modern, recent projects include Actions and Interruptions and USB Openings: Saturday Live. Vanessa has recently collaborated with artist Benoit Maire, to produce an artist book which will be published by Revolver Books this summer. Vanessa contributes to a variety of magazines and art publications, including Untitled, Art-News, Contemporary and Art_Press. The Tate Modern in London is Britain’s national museum of international modern art and is, with Tate Britain, Tate Liverpool, Tate St Ives, and Tate Online, part of the group now known simply as Tate.
Tom Morton Curator at the Hayward Gallery, London and contributing editor at Frieze.Tom Morton is a curator at the Hayward Gallery and contributing editor at Frieze. The Hayward is an art gallery within the Southbank Centre, part of an area of major arts venues on the South Bank of the River Thames, in central London, England. It is sited adjacent to the other Southbank Centre buildings (the Royal Festival Hall and the Queen Elizabeth Hall/Purcell Room) and also the Royal National Theatre and British Film Institute. Prior to a rebranding of the South Bank Centre to Southbank Centre in early 2007, the Hayward was known as the Hayward Gallery.
Francesco Manacorda Curator, the Barbican Art Gallery, London. Rancesco Manacorda is Curator at the Barbican Art Gallery in London. Born in 1974 in Turin, Italy, Manacorda undertook a Degree in Humanities at the University of Torino and completed a MA in Curating Contemporary Art at the Royal College of Art, London in 2003. He is an experienced art writer, publishing extensive articles and reviews in publications such as Domus, Flash Art Italia and Flash Art International, Frieze, Metropolis M and Art Review.
In the fall of ’93, I was studying in Florence, Italy as a metalsmithing & jewelry major. I lived with an Italian woman on a narrow winding street between the Basilica of Santa Croce and the Uffizi Gallery.
A benefit of studying in Florence were field trips to Rome for art history class. While this sounds glamorous and exciting, being dragged through the streets of Rome with a bunch of undergrads to stare at your millionth church gets old quickly.
A handful of us decided to break away and catch one of the last trains back to Florence. A train strike was about to go down and, like the bunch of 20 year olds we were, we just wanted to bail on class. The cabbie took a long route as a main street was flooded with a sea of red flags and glimpses of riot police. Asking what that was, he expressed non-challance at the poliltical demonstration and more annoyance at the impending sciopero (strike). Dropping us off at the train station, I looked at my fellow students, who were already getting on my last nerve, and the sea of people across the street. Taking the chance on being stranded in Rome, I broke off from the group and crossed the street. Making that decision, crossing that street from one known, tiresome situation to an unknown, chaotic and possibly unsafe one, completely on my own, made me into a photographer.
Cliche to say ‘heart pounding in chest’ but it was, I had five rolls of film, not much in the way of speaking Italian at that point, and shaking hands as I got my camera ready. I wandered into the rally and photographed everything I could, weaving in and out the crowds, at one point marching with the flag bearers as it was the only space I could move within to get my shots.
The demonstration was the last days of the PCI, Partito Comunisto Italiano. Although officially disbanded in 1991, all the flags and banners I saw had the PCI hammer and sickle and emblem. In fall of 1993, Italy was in the throes of the Tangentopoli (Bribesville) scandals. The entire government system was caught up in a massive corruption scandal leading to the Mani Puliti (Clean Hands) investigations. I recall flowers in a gate at the Uffizi for the deaths from bombings at the museum in 1992, and an unusually high presence of armed guards at the court houses.
Red flags as far as the eye could see, the rally went on for blocks, just a sea of thousands filling the streets, all ages, all participating. The line of riot police turned out to be more bored than on guard. While I didn’t understand at that very second what the politics were, I understood the meaning behind the presence of families; fathers with their young daughters, idealistic students with banners, workers in the streets, etc… and a few skinheads but there were always a few around at that time, lingering near any kerfuffle they could find (thankfully I haven’t seen a skin since that year).
After a few hours of adrenaline and exhaustive pigeon Italian exchanged with some of the rally-goers, I made my way back to the train station. It was dusk, the strike hadn’t begun yet and I caught the wrong train, a slow, local commuter train that took nearly 4 hours. I settled into the seat and returned to Florence well after sunset.
At the top of this post is one of the frames taken on that day.
The climate in Italy in the 90s :
Yes, CHEETAH…. A summary of the project:
Once widespread across arid Africa, into the Middle East and east to India, the cheetah has suffered dramatic declines over the last century. It now lives in Africa, and a few survive in Iran. Hunted for their spotted coats and because they sometimes attack livestock, they disappeared from many areas. More recently, widespread habitat destruction has fragmented the cheetah’s range, isolating many populations. In many areas, the cheetah’s prey has been overhunted by people. Also, conflict between cheetahs and humans needs to be moderated. For example, in Namibia, ranchers may legally shoot cheetah that are believed to have preyed on livestock. The problem continues to grow and according to some ecologists, within 20 years the cheetah population could be extinct.
New methodologies for predator-safe farming are underway and showing progress in areas such as Namibia where populations are beginning to stabilize; however, without more aggressive global intervention the loss of this species may occur within our lifetime.
Cheetah: On the Losing End of a 100-Year Land Battle is a ten year project undertaken by visual artist/photographer, Marcy Mendelson. Mendelson travels to remaining cheetah strongholds in Namibia, Botswana and Kenya to expose the human/wildlife conflict through contrasting visual profiles of rural communities protecting their livelihoods and the conservationist whose mission it is to preserve and protect the last of the cheetah populations.