303 Gallery

4 Stories

Sarah Meyohas

Stock Performance & Financial Gambles


Buying art and buying stocks are not very different – both are financial gambles that rely on a combination of knowledge, taste, and gut instinct. However, Sarah Meyohas’ newest performance piece at 303 Gallery, Stock Performance Project, takes the relationship a step further by creating art based off of the financial market gamble. The 24-year-old Meyohas also manages the eponymous uptown apartment gallery, garnering inspiration for the project from her curriculum at Yale University, where she was studying finance before taking a decisive plunge to focus on being an artist. Meyohas sat down with us to discuss the genesis of her work, performing before an audience, and realizing she was an artist with the help of Alexander McQueen.


Ella Marder: How long had you been thinking about this project?


Sarah Meyohas: It’s been almost two years since I started trading stocks with the purpose of moving them. The first time, I remember, I was sitting in my room. I had found this stock called Golden Enterprises and I thought, “Okay! I’m about to put on a really big order.” And then the price jumped. From there, I did it a bunch of times, and that’s where the concept came up. At first I thought “I can move a stock and I can move a price pretty significantly if I pick something that has a low enough volume.” But then, “How do you turn that into a representation that has some teeth to it?” For a while I kept trying to build my ideas into the paintings, but that was not working, and then I realized my words, myself, and the gallery would all be part of it. I’m not a performance artist. I’m just a conceptual artist, but the performance is one of the ingredients of this work.


EM: And it wasn’t your first performance…


SM: It was in a way. January 8th was the first time that I performed it in front of 150 people.


EM: How did it feel?


SM: It felt great.


EM: Did you get an adrenaline rush, or stage fright?


SM: I was nervous that people wouldn’t understand what I was doing and where I was going, but I wasn’t nervous in delivering it.


EM: And so you feel like moving forward now, you actually like this performative aspect?


SM: The thing is, if you perform you’re in character, and I think I already kind of am a character. I’ve embraced that over the years, so it’s always just going to be me.


EM: Do you like the idea of being a renaissance woman?


SM: I do. The only thing that doesn’t appeal to me about that is if you do too many things at once, you’re never really good at one thing. So I  tend to focus on the same thing. The last three projects all had to do with conceptions of value and different systems. I think I try to implant value so that you can’t untangle it. My project BitchCoin is  a cryptic currency backed by photographs that only have value because they’re printed, which is another analogy to money being printed.


EM: Do you think learning from this performance is informing how you’re thinking about your next project?


SM: I think I’m starting to find a way of working that just feels right for me and is truthful, which doesn’t always fit so well into the art world. I think a next piece will have to do with land art and ownership of  land.  What if you sold a piece of land and on it there were two huge two-way mirrored dark rooms you would walk into and see whatever the artwork was. There’s an experiential beautiful artwork, but there’s also the land, which might have its own value. Right now oil is down, so what if I got a cheap piece of land that might have oil under it, and then I put a piece of artwork on the land? The piece of artwork would stay there for as long as the artwork is more valuable than the possibility of what’s under it.


EM: When did you realize you were an artist?


SM: I remember in high school watching an old Alexander McQueen fashion show where the model struts down the runway wearing a circular white dress, and then these robot arms try to see where she is before they start spraying her with yellow and black paint as she turns. It was accompanied by really emotional classical music, and I was enamored by it. For a long time I wanted to go into fashion, but it was that part of fashion that appealed to me – then I decided the fashion industry was not for me, and finance was the natural thing.


But then in the spring of junior year I made a firm decision. It was a pretty tough decision to make, especially because I had received offers in the finance sector, so I thought: “Okay I’m going to say no to this for something I have very little experience in.” It was a gut instinct. I had started getting encouragement from people other than my art professors, so that also helped me think I wasn’t crazy. You don’t become an artist unless you absolutely need to, because it’s not easy  at all.


EM: I love what you’re doing uptown, turning your family apartment into a sort of exhibition space.


SM: The last show, The Birds & The Bees, was shocking to me. The crowd was a different crowd, not the young artists that I usually show to. Roberto Longo came, Stanley Whitney came, Thierry de Duve came. Amazing people came. I’m not even sure of what Meyohas is just yet. It’s not a gallery, it’s a project space.


EM: You’ve had four shows there so far, how does it work: you curate, and invite other curators?


SM: Really just people I know. I’m curating two women artists for the next exhibition; one is from Chile, Constanza Alarcon, the other from Iran, Shahrzad Changalvaee. It’ll be based on a set of poems written by a Chilean author who got killed when Pinochet took power, somehow those poems made their way to Iran and were turned into songs over there.


EM: Are you the last child in the family? Because you are somebody who’s 24 and incredibly accomplished – you seem like a very old soul, the way you talk, and how you go about giving opportunities to other artists with the project space. It’s a very generous gesture that you’re putting out in the world.


SM: Ha ha ha! Old soul! I’m not doing it for myself. I don’t need to do it, but I love it.  I like to help my friends. I don’t even know if it’s really helping them. I like to be part of a group. I like to have my crew. I also lose money doing it, because I have to put up all the stuff and I show work that’s not very commercial. But we have freedom. Galleries are forced to be very commercial, whereas we don’t go on the schedule of an institution or have to plan a million years in advance. These shows can happen much more spontaneously.


EM: So this idea of the collective, the collaboration, the conversation is very important to you.


SM: Yeah, and especially when it’s so hard for an artist in New York to find a place. We all graduated from school, and it was like…”I have a big living room”.


EM: If you had one dream of something you would like to see happen, what would it be?


SM: The dream is Peggy Guggenheim meets George Soros meets Miuccia Prada.


Portrait Photography: Tyler Nevitt for NeueJournal

Sue Williams

Bluntness and the Power of Humor


Sue Williams and I are sitting in the basement of 303 Gallery discussing who we think is the best James Bond. “Sean Connery is the man,” Sue says, perfectly concluding the topic before moving on to show me the book of her work, which sits between us. Published by JRP | Ringier, this is the first monograph for Williams’ work, although her graphic, doodle-like art has been aptly causing a stir for years. Williams’ work is an important component of the cannon of feminist art, and coming from a background of abuse, she is a leading voice for the cause – approaching the subject with bluntness while retaining the power of humor.


NeueJournal: This is your first comprehensive monograph. What feelings arise from looking at your work curated and summarized?


Sue Williams: It’s interesting to see their choices; I think some of them are funny. They did a nice job with the colors, because some of the pieces are fluorescent and sometimes they come out as brown in print. In the end they picked the better ones.


NJ: Do you feel your entire body of work is part of an ongoing conversation, or is there autonomy to each piece you create?


SW: I think each piece is getting ready for the next one, and you are getting ideas when you finish one. They sort of evolve like doodles – that was my goal in the first place; how to make a painting out of doodles. Then I was doing a study about women and anti-violence, which was predicated from past. I used a lot of statistics; 75% of women who are murdered are murdered trying to leave their partner, so I brought it into the painting. I became interested in traditional painting and learning how to do it, but I always go back to drawing my little people. It’s a kind of combination of everything; I’m having fun doing them.


NJ: Your art is very autobiographical. Do you think that it’s become more reflective of your humanity throughout the years?


SW: Yes, the making of genitalia and abstract genitalia is more reflective of humanity. I was also involved in the anti-war movement and felt that it should be connected in some way. I want to be connected to my work, so that is how I got back into imagery.


NJ: Why do you think the general public finds female anatomy so daunting?


SW: That’s a good question. I guess you just don’t see it around so much. What goes on inside there is a mystery to people…maybe they never turned the light on? (laughs) I don’t know! When I was doing that I got so much criticism so I thought, “I’ll just do whatever I want and not put words on it so they won’t know what I’m doing.” And I got a reaction.


NJ: What is your first memory of painting?


SW: When I was little I was always into arts and crafts. I went to art camp and took classes in junior high, I always had an art thing going on. I went to CalArts in 1972 and back then there weren’t really painting classes. I wanted to learn the fundamentals of painting and how to use oil paintings. John Baldessari, who was the greatest person there, had burnt all his paintings so it was like paintings weren’t good or something.


NJ: What is your greatest fear?


SW: Being stuck in an elevator! And somehow elevators know you are afraid to get stuck.


NJ: If you had to describe your work in three words, which would they be?


SW: Funny, obnoxious, likable… that is what I feel about it. I try to find obnoxious color combinations; I would say things that clash seem to make something interesting, however I am really quiet nowadays.


NJ: It’s interesting you say you are quiet but your work is so loud and honest.


SW: That’s so nice, well you can do anything you want in the privacy of your studio. I used to do these obscene things. I remember I was at the Whitney Biennial and this docent tour came around and I would say, “Oh god don’t make me talk about my work to these nice old ladies.”


NJ: If you could only listen to the music of one artist/band for the rest of your life, who would it be?


SW: Bob Dylan. He just seems like he is from somewhere else. I saw him a long time ago with the band. His music is so important and when I was in high school I would listen to him, and now I still listen to the same songs. It really becomes part of your own brain.


NJ: What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?


SW: I dunno, I hear good advice all the time but I forget it. I can give you some AA slogans. Being isolated doesn’t make you happy. It’s the icky and the negative pole of the universe.


NJ: I used to really think that being isolated in strength and solitude made one brave.


SW: Solitude is being independent but open to others. Isolation is depending on yourself for everything and your thoughts, and humans just aren’t made that way. Our neurosis can go away with other people and I built my life around isolation because of fear. But I have a daughter now…life is ok. Even if sometimes it really seems to suck.


NJ: What’s the most valuable thing you know now that you didn’t know ten years ago?


SW: That you can do whatever you want.


Portrait Photography: Chris Luttrell for NeueJournal 

NeueLoves: Sue Williams

On Our Radar


A Microscopic Color Story

Artwork: Pentagon, 2012 by Sue Williams

Kim Gordon

The City Is A Garden


Best known for her role as the bassist, guitarist, and vocalist of alt-rock band Sonic Youth, Kim Gordon has long been something of an “it girl” in the music world and beyond. But it’s Gordon’s unconventional journey from fine art to music, and now, back to fine art, that piqued our curiosity, especially with the opening of her latest exhibition, The City Is A Garden, showing at 303 Gallery in NYC through July 24th, 2015.


“In this new body of work, Gordon’s primary concern is the radical change in the landscape of New York City over the past several years. Her work upends this notion of beauty, exploiting its inherent artifice. New condo developments are named with boardroom idealism – The Rushmore, Fortress of Glassitude, Greenwich Lane – bestowed to evoke a desirable and ineffable lifestyle. The garden is now controlled, a rendered design element in the slick blending of technology and luxury.”


Gordon popped by NeueHouse to discuss her latest projects and the inspirations behind them. We caught up with her for a hot minute on lifestyle and her current mindset.


NeueJournal: What’s your current state of mind?


Kim Gordon: Well I’m packing my house and moving so I’m packing and going through 30 years of my life so some days I’m super anxious and some days I’m really excited.


NJ: Who is your modern day hero?


KG: Seth Price, because I’m really into this book he just wrote called, Fuck Seth Price.


NJ: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?


KG: Don’t confuse lifestyle for a life.


NJ: Who said that to you?


KG: Some ex-boyfriend.


Photography: Manolo Campion for NeueJournal