Saturday, February 13, 2010

Kofi Forson in Conversation with Joan Jeanrenaud

Joan Jeanrenaud, born in Memphis, Tennessee, was cellist with the renowned Kronos Quartet. She left the group after twenty years to pursue improvisation and work as composer. Her recording Strange Toys received a Grammy nomination. Currently based in San Fransisco, Joan’s commissioned works include the string quartet Del Sol, the multi-media piece (In Between), AXIS Dance Company, Austin Ballet (Savoir Vivre)…Among her grants are a San Fransisco Art Commission grant and Peter S. Reed Foundation grant. She continues to perform with a variety of musicians in the Bay Area.

The following is a phone conversation.(Please Click On Link)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

always wondered why writers and painters weren't badmuthafookas:

Kofi Fosu Forson

Pablo Picasso was much known for his machismo as for his role in Cubism.

What becomes a badmotherfucker most? And why do artists orientate around this disciplined notion of homosexuality if not a quiet sensitivity. All through history artists of varying forms from poets to dancers to film directors have all showcased this mild gentlemanly disposition which would refrain them from a brawl of any kind.

The Charles Bukowski factor is clear. As one would surmise in the Marquis de Sade. Circumstances surrounding Hemingway would be based on masculinity. Whereas Bukowski was sensitive in his nature it was the syndrome concerning his refusal to subject himself to continuous abuse that led to his physical prowess and henceforth this vice of women, gambling and alcohol.

Arguably the writer/ artist is prone to vice of a certain kind. If drinking was Bukowski's handicap, Picasso was known for his taste in women. Then again what defined him was not an ability to engage in a physical fight but just as well as a Spanish male he would be supposedly able to defend himself. His combination of excellence and presence made him a dominant figure. And as one of the more established artists in history, people feared him. It can then be said the ego commands a certain respect if and only if it is not a cause for vanity but the will to use it as decoration to uphold one's character and success.

The nature of a painter is sensitivity to colors. His senses are rather pure. The ability to test the medium of paint gives him a natural sense of imagination. This awareness is made due by hybridity as painters and poets are known for the peculiarity of childhood. A reference can therefore be made to Alice Miller's Drama of the Gifted Child where she goes in depth into the upbringing of an artist.

Writer's on the other hand deal with ideas that are constructed from words. Semiotically a single word may have multiple definitions whereas paint need be mixed or manipulated on the surface with brushstrokes. Perhaps great writers are historically of the mind while great painters are more sensitive to the world around them. Artists are genuinely known for the city they inhabit. This can be cause for the disposition of the artist.

The reference to the sensitive or suggestively homosexual nature of artists can be found in William Burroughs, James Baldwin and Salvador Dali. These were beautiful men. Given the poetic nature of Baldwin, Burroughs and Dali were cultural threats. Burroughs for his novel Naked Lunch and Dali for his subject matter. They were very complex men. And indeed they were men. The beauty of Burroughs and Dali if applicable in this sense was more surrounding the polite madness found in their nature. That they were able to exhibit this madness outright made them special, unique and therefore beautiful.

Somehow the handling of the subject matter of sex would make an artist controversial and be viewed as a "bad boy". Writers and artists like Henry Miller, Robert Mapplethorpe and the aforementioned Charles Bukowski took pride in their handling of sexual themes. Even the writer, female, Kathy Acker, made a continuous use of sexual references in her work.

The so-called "badmotherfucker" in art would be someone who breaks ground as John Lucas, Martin Scorcese and Steven Spielberg did in the 1970's or Jay McIlnerny and Bret Easton Ellis did in the 80's.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

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Kofi Forson met with Lisa Eickholt at the Eickholt Gallery located in Soho, New York in 2003 as per the invitation of TAFA, an Eickholt Gallery artist. Lisa was fascinated by Kofi’s depictions of Euro-American women in the Na├»ve form of German Expressionism. His first show with the Eickholt Gallery came later that year in a group show with graduates from Pratt University.

After following up on requests from Lisa to visit the gallery, Kofi became a frequent visitor at the gallery. He went from exhibiting art in group shows to hosting art related events and officially writing for and serving as Eickholt Gallery’s Creative Director. His duties included writing press releases for art openings, articles about the gallery in art/business magazines and co-writing the gallery’s manifesto with Reto Bruseghini, all the while promoting the name of the gallery.

Michael Ricardo, a New York artist had previously met with Gaynor Sweeney and in doing so conferred on the subject of an artistic link between New York and Liverpool, where she was based. This was the origin of Transvoyeur. During a conference call at the gallery Kofi spoke to Gaynor for the first time. Their conversation was rather frank unlike the philosophical and scientific dimensions it developed into months later.

Plans were underway for the Liverpool Biennial. In preparing for it, Kofi and Gaynor dialogued on a variety of topics including hybridism, lineage and gender politics. Each morning when Kofi arrived at the gallery, he made a long distance call on the office phone to Gaynor. It began a dialogue between the two which has existed since.

The plans for the Eickholt Gallery artists to participate in the Liverpool Biennial fell through. Most of the work coordinated on both sides as in Gaynor and her team in Liverpool and Lisa Eickholt, Michael Ricardo and Kofi Forson at the Eickholt Gallery were left unrecognized.

All the while Kofi kept a dialogue with Gaynor Sweeney. It reached broader proportions when Kofi did a painting of Gaynor and proceeded to interact with Liverpool artists like George Lund and Tony Knox. Soon thereafter Kofi and Gaynor had their first collaboration called Enlightenment: Cushion Belles based on a poem written by Kofi. It was developed into a digital film and has been the base of Gaynor Sweeney’s performance and intervention of this subject.

Years passed and Kofi and Gaynor built a friendship on email exchanges, failed attempts at other collaborations, telephone calls from New York to Liverpool and the glorifying of this exchange between these two artists as they were endeared and recognized separate from where they practiced their art.

Another attempt was made at the establishing of the New York version of Transvoyeur. Michael Ricardo put together a collection of New York artists. They met officially at a lounge to discuss the matter at hand. Much as this was a wrong choice for a meeting place, not much was accomplished. Such was the tone that followed which led to an unofficial resignation from Kofi and his position at the Eickholt Gallery and Transvoyeur.

The biennial that year was dominated by rejections, deceit, disloyalty and mishandling of the entire project which was indeed a fiasco, not helping the cause of Gaynor Sweeney, who had put much of her time as humanly possible and then some to be denied the chance at encouraging and promoting the very title Liverpool was to receive as cultural center.

Since then Kofi has had a one-man show, Femmes du Futur in collaboration with Gaynor Sweeney and Jo Derbyshire, a Liverpool artist. Much of the previous summer was spent organizing the project Gender, Space, Art and Architecture; a program curated by Gaynor Sweeney, featuring Kofi Fosu and Daiva Gauryte. It received its premier in New York, sponsored by Judith Escalona and Media Noche.

What transcended the relationship between Kofi Fosu Forson and Gaynor Evelyn Sweeney was the innate ability to transfer science and philosophy into a common and human understanding of conversing along with the written word.

Kofi and Gaynor have collaborated on several philosophical projects bordering gender and sexual politics and variations of science and semiotics. What the Transvoyeur website fails to do is capture the human spirit that these two exceptional human beings exemplify. The worrisome direction and misdirection that they have expressed towards each other would only be best chronicled in an authorized biography.