Ryder Ripps

Surveillance Portraiture


Ryder Ripps is a conceptual artist who uses the internet like a painter uses paint. He takes web based technologies and manipulates them in ways that often reveal hidden natures of our complex relationship with the internet. His new project, Surveillance Portraiture, captures subjects from an unannounced, unseen eye. The result raises more questions about the ubiquity of surveillance than it does offer answers, but therein lies much of the power of Ripps’ work. Instead of simply interviewing Ripps, we decided to collaborate with him, presenting Surveillance Portraiture alongside his take on the piece, and his motivations in creating it.


Film Short: NeueHouse Media for NeueJournal

Neville Wakefield
& Piero Golia

Survival Necessities

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Piero Golia is a conceptual artist, but don’t mistake him for someone who spends all his time contemplating ideas and abstractions. He likes to work, to do. Neville Wakefield is a creative jack-of-all-trades and has cemented himself as an influential tastemaker, one of the art world’s go-to curators and writers. The two friends recently hosted a dinner at NeueHouse Hollywood, discussing everything from Golia’s upbringing in Italy to his philosophies about survival.


Neville Wakefield: So you grew up in Naples?


Piero Golia: The other day I looked at my resume on Wikipedia and I read that my first show was in Naples, Florida. So, I guess I also come from Florida. Unfortunately the cuisine in Naples, Florida is nothing like the cuisine in Naples, Italy.


NW: What did you grow up eating?


PG: Pasta, meat, fish — we have a second dishes but pasta always comes first.


NW: Do you cook?


PG: Yes I love to cook.


NW: What’s your favorite dish?


PG: I cook for survival.


NW: What are your survival necessities?


PG: This is a weird thing. In reality, I never talked about survival necessities in the sense that I always assume that you have to survive. There are no survival necessities because you build your survival according to what you have around you. I always think that the biggest key to survive is people — once you have a good clan of people around then thriving becomes very easy. The reason why I will never leave LA is that it became so easy for me. Going somewhere else would be like starting for zero. Moving to Hollywood, I pay the same I would if I were to live in Jamaica, Queens.


NW: But you didn’t come to LA for real estate value?


PG: No, I don’t believe in real estate. I think that it is a lie that has fucked up things for years. There is still a little bit of a gold rush. People who head west are the ones who are ready to risk the most to get the gold. Unfortunately, it is really like “manifest destiny”


NW: So LA — a light comes on when you are here in LA?


PG: Yeah but I have to put the light there myself. That is part of the paradox. I was once at dinner and this guy who was extremely cultured was sitting next to me and he told me that he was originally from Amsterdam but now he lives in Brussels. I said “Man, why the fuck do you live in Brussels? It’s the most boring place in the universe.” And he said “Yeah, but Amsterdam is a tiny place and everybody knows my face” Sometimes it’s the scale that you use to measure things…I think unfortunately I am not very functional in evaluating scales.


NW: People talk about you as a conceptual artist. Is there any of your work that isn’t conceptual?


PG: This is funny because I would say all art is conceptual. I work like a fucking dog, so I don’t want people to think I’m this conceptual artist just sitting here taking books off my bookshelf. I’m more interested in the opposite, in art that is so scientifically perfect that it’s real. Then, if it is better than real, you can call it art again.


NW: So where does the line end?


PG: This is a funny thing because in theater there is always a line: Theater is fake. But art is not fake. So the line is not a boundary. It is a path.


Photography: Shane McCauley for NeueJournal 

The Haas Brothers

Freaks & Fearlessness
with Nikolai & Simon Haas

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The Haas Brothers function with a freedom, enthusiasm and fearlessness that socialization often degrades. This quality comes across the moment they walk into a room, and is, of course, evident in their art, where they hold back nothing back and shirk cynicism. Their refreshing mentality has made them two of the most sought after design minds in the world — recent collaborators include the likes of Lady Gaga, Versace and Peter Marino. With their new project “Afreaks” out this fall, NeueJournal caught up the Haas Brothers after their talk at NeueHouse Madison Square and they gave us some insight into their work, and the thinking that births it. 


NeueJournal: Where did the title “Afreaks” come from?


Nikolai Haas: It was was a 70s Prog Rock record made by this band “Demon Fuzz.” I always loved the cover — it had an African wrestler on the front. It was just beautiful, and we were going to Africa, listening to this record, and then we were just thinking about the idea of a “freak” and what it means to be a “freak.” What you realize is that’s like 90% of people.


Simon Haas: I’m not sure there is a statistic, but most people can say that they have been a freak at some point, or felt like one. We like to advocate for outsiders, and reclaiming words is a great way to take control of them, so using “freak” proudly is a cool way to do that. Our project also has some social meaning: It has a lot to do with women’s rights and racial rights, so we really wanted to title it something that reclaims the identity of “freak-hood.” Also, we wanted these things to be completely unbounded by any design constraints so being freakish means that it can be whatever.


NH: You probably identify as a freak


NJ: For sure! But what first attracted you to the beadwork of the women you met in South Africa, and how did you establish such intimacy with your collaborators, who now call themselves the ‘Haas Sisters’?


SH: We first stumbled across their booth at a craft fair while we were there, and their work it was so expressive. They made really beautifully done animals and we are really attracted to animals in our own work.


NH: We were attracted to the aesthetic too. We got their card and started to email back and forth, and I then I think eventually we were like, yeah, let’s do a project together.  We were in Africa again for work, so we decided to stay for an extra two weeks to try and make a little bit of a collection. We got really close with them super quickly. We started learning all these stories, gaining a tremendous amount of respect for these people. It’s a pretty racist place, and it’s hard for them to be taken seriously, even just as humans, so no way could they ever be taken seriously as artists.


SH: They expected to be told what to do, but it was really important to the project that they were expressing themselves and not just fabricating. It took them a while to come out of their shell, but then they were actually competitive with each other, because each person had different techniques and but also because they are all very economically depressed. They didn’t trust us either because we are white. So we just worked with them, treated them like we would treat anyone else, put them on salary and asked them to experiment. They actually started calling themselves the “Haas Sisters” because we got so close.


Artwork: Haas Brothers – Monkeybiz, Tail-or Swift and Tail-or Splif, John Lith-Cow


NJ: Sex is a theme that seems to penetrate almost all of your work. How has your sexual identities as people informed your creations?


SH: I think that because I’m gay and he’s straight, and we’re really open with each other, we have both experienced the other one’s reality. Also knowing each other as children, like pre-sexuality, and then watching what sexuality does to your personality. Being straight actually requires a certain amount of theatrics, and so does being gay. So, I think we can see that layer added to the original personality.


NH: I feel like I experience Simon’s sexual reality as much as I do my own. I would consider myself queer as well, and I feel like it’s such a gift to understand Simon’s side of the coin because what you start to understand is that there is no side.


SH: It’s a bummer that straight guys are shamed for being emotional because a lot of them want to be emotional. I don’t get it — it is very restricting. People don’t talk about that a lot because men, in general, have it easy, but they do have a restricted reality.


NH: And women are not really allowed to be very sexual, and if they are, they have a pretty good chance of being shamed. I make a conscious effort to call my dude friends  who have a lot of sex “sluts” and my girlfriends who have a lot of sex “players.” I think the engagement of our sexual identity is also like an effort to negate it. I’ve been in a monogamous relationship with my fiancee for eleven years, but if she wasn’t in the picture and I wasn’t in love with her, I would be totally open to having a relationship with a guy if I felt like it.


SH: I’m unlikely to have a relationship with a girl, but it might happen.


NH: I think that would be unlikely, but there are certain people that I could see you being with.


SH: Oh my god, there was this Lebanese girl that I met in Cape Town who I was actually extremely attracted. That was cool.


NH: But, by the way, the sexuality of relationship is really just 10% or something. I mean, it’s important that it is a healthy 10%, but there a lot of relationship that are not gay or straight — they are just not sexual. It seems so stupid to try and define what a relationship is just by those 20 minutes you have once in a while.


NJ: If you could live within the reality of any TV show, which would it be?


NH: I would want to live in “Adventure Time.” That’s an incredible universe. If I could be Fin or Jake, I would be so stoked.


SH: I would probably live in a nature show like with David Attenborough. If I could be narrated by David Attenborough I would be really excited.


NH: How about ‘“The Kardashians”?


SH: I wouldn’t want to live in that reality.


NJ: How would you explain reproduction to a six-year-old?


SH: I would be frank about it. I think that a lot of problems come when you try to simplify the world for a young person.


NH: My goddaughter is six. She’s been in our studio a million times and has seen all the sexual work we make. It’s not a big deal.


SH: Also, if you explain it to a kid birds-and-bees style, you’re implying that there is something vulgar. But it’s such a natural part of life.


NH: Obviously, they shouldn’t be watching something too explicit, but there is nothing wrong with the naked body.


NJ: Simon, what is something people don’t know about Niki?


SH: I think everyone knows that he’s a really good guy, but I think they don’t know that he’s such a doer, and people don’t immediately what a deep thinker he is. He surprises me all the time with his ideas, and the shapes he makes. He’s a genius with expression.


NJ: Niki, what is something people don’t know about Simon?


NH: Simon never, never, never lies to anyone. Sometimes he’ll get flack for being too frank, but what you realize is that he just doesn’t lie to people. Sometimes I’ll make up white lies, but Simon will never, and so I know that anything he says is the truth.


SH: I want people to like me for who I am, so I don’t present something else.


Photography: Manolo Campion for NeueJournal



DAVID ADJAYE's flexibility with style

Artwork by David Adjaye | NeueJournal Issue 1

David Adjaye is one of the most sought after architects in the world. Maybe most known for projects like the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver and the Nobel Peace Centre in Oslo, he’s also designed private homes for the likes of Alexander McQueen, Juergen Teller and Ewan McGregor. But part of what makes Adjaye such a celebrated architect is his flexibility with style and his chameleonic design sense. It seems that agenda never informs his work, and that allows him to adapt to any task, designing by reacting. For NeueJournal, Adjaye sat down with Danielle J. Powell to discuss his creative mentality and the ambitions behind his newest dream project.


DANIELLE J. POWELL: When speaking, writing, or debating David Adjaye, without fail, people point out that you do not have a design signature. Was this a purposeful choice?


DAVID ADJAYE: I think for my generation the idea of a signature feels a bit outdated, only because we believe in an architecture that is responsive. I believe that regional specificity can more effectively negotiate the contemporary needs of society. Every place is unique in its social, historical, and geographic forces. My designs start with these factors as inspiration in an effort to articulate a compelling sense of place and, above all, to have stronger social relevance by finding qualities that will resonate with the user.


DJP: What is the driving emotion behind your work?


DA: I would say the idea of emotional connection drives my work rather than any particular emotion. My favorite architectural works move me, but not necessarily in one direction. I may feel sad, or elated, or contemplative. All of these reactions equally signal a design’s success to me, because it means it has resonated deeply. I believe that architecture should fundamentally contribute to a social change agenda, and to do so it must connect with people and communities; it must provide for, or encourage, agency. Buildings can do nothing without the people who inhabit and respond to them. I believe this connection happens on the emotional level. If a design has captured something nuanced and powerful, it will evoke an emotional response.


DJP: In addition to major projects, you’ve also worked on smaller, community-based projects such as the Sugar Hill Development in Harlem, New York. What commitment do you have to these urban spaces and to the larger community?


DA: I certainly believe that architecture can be an emancipatory form, and with that comes a certain responsibility to politics that have to do with bringing people up; the politics of progression, of the progression of people. That is really the core of my work. When it doesn’t have that, I don’t really do it, or I’m just not interested. So, in the particular case of Sugar Hill, it was about rethinking the way we design social housing so we can move past the limitations of modernist typologies that largely proved isolating and damaging for communities. It was about empowering a community by responding to their actual needs and providing the types of spaces they wanted, rather than following an outdated and prescriptive template.


DJP: You’ve described the design choice to have the MAAHC covered in a bronze mesh in terms of narrative, being based on the story of African-Americans being ironworkers in the South during the 1800s. Does narrative often seep into your design process?


DA: Narrative is essential to my design process. This is part of a building’s relevance and emotional resonance. My materiality and programmatic choices are distinct; they are efforts to layer multiple histories together to emerge something significant about a place or to project the narrative of place into the future. In the case of the MAAHC, this was about showing how a migration of a people has infused American culture with an African sensibility, and that one needs this conceptual lens to fully understand that context. Drawing these connections is about combining different access to paint a full portrait. So the bronze references the ironworkers, while the form of the building references West African art.


DJP: You’ve described the MAAHC commission as your “dream” opportunity—why?


DA: For one, it’s an enormous honor to work on a monumental site and a monumental project; it has taken nearly 200 years to get to this place. This project is also about a history that’s very close to me and very dear to me. But also, it is a building that is able to express very directly a deep emotional and intellectual idea about making a century museum that is dedicated to African-American people and people of African descent. And we are able to build my dream and it will be built on the Mall, and that is still something that I pinch myself over.


Illustration: David Adjaye for NeueJournal 


Creative Channel:

Meaningful & Specific

Creative Channel: Annabelle Selldorf | Artwork by: Brigitte Lacombe w/ guest photo editor Janet Johnson | NeueJournal Issue 1

Annabelle Selldorf’s design style — ambitious yet controlled, grand yet utterly precise — has made her one of the most sought after working architects in the world today. She is currently designing an expansion of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, but is probably most known for creating Neue Galerie New York, housed in the William Starr Miller House on Manhattan’s upper east side. Selldorf takes on a diverse range of projects, but she’s probably at her best when working on spaces that serve as arenas for the arts. Most recently, she collaborated with Gagosian’s Madison Avenue Gallery in presenting “Francis Bacon: Late Paintings”, an exhibition that it up this week and will remain on view until December 12th. Earlier this year, Selldorf contributed to the inaugural print publication of NeueJournal, revealing some of what drives her decision-making when she encounters a new challenge. 


My father was an architect and my mother was a designer, but when I started thinking about what I wanted to pursue professionally, architecture was the last thing that came to mind. I knew there would be many obstacles to surmount. But I think it was always in my blood and I’ve never regretted the decision. In fact, I’ve always felt extremely lucky that I found my passion at a young age.


I am not motivated by making big gestures just for the sake of making big gestures. That doesn’t mean that I don’t want my buildings to make powerful impacts on the urban condition or other landscapes, but that impact has to grow from something that is meaningful and specific. If a project doesn’t work at the human scale then it’s going to fail—there is much more to the success of a building than what you can see. I’m not suggesting that gestural architecture is always superficial, but solid reasoning has its place.


I start my design process from the inside out, whether it’s an art gallery or a private residence. By being attuned to the uniqueness of each client and location, I’m able to distill the essence of the place. I begin by taking stock of all of the key elements of the client’s needs and site context.


Many times I grapple with the question of what to build new versus what to renovate, how to navigate these two options. It always needs to be fully studied. For instance, when David Zwirner first purchased the property on West 20th Street where the new gallery now sits, there was an existing three-story garage. My initial instinct was to work with it. I don’t believe in tearing down good buildings that can be intelligently repurposed. But when we fully evaluated all of the gallery’s needs and the site conditions, it became clear that keeping the garage would be impractical and would never properly satisfy the requirements. In the Neue Galerie for German and Austrian Art, we refurbished as much historic detail as we could, but not in an arbitrary way. The second floor maintains much of the original character and detail, with subtle modern insertions, such as the lay light in the main painting gallery. The third floor, where all of the historic details were already removed, we completed in a more contemporary language, giving the museum greater flexibility for installing temporary exhibitions.


I hope that the legacy of my work is the contribution it has made to the quality of life in the public realm. I strive to create buildings and spaces that inspire and elevate.


Photography: Brigitte Lacombe for NeueJournal
Guest Photo Editor: Janet Johnson