Questionnaire: Charles Atlas

Q: What should stay the same? A: Change.

1800_x1350.jpg

Charles Atlas, Untitled and undated image supplied by the artist. Courtesy: the artist

Charles Atlas, Untitled and undated image supplied by the artist. Courtesy: the artist

What images keep you company in the space where you work?

The images that fill my studio – hung on the walls, pinned to a bulletin board or resting on the mantelpiece above a fireplace – don’t change very often. They include posters for a Michael Clark performance from the 1990s, for a Bob Flanagan show with the motto ‘Fight sickness with sickness’, for a DANCENOISE performance in the 1980s, for one of my films, The Legend of Leigh Bowery (2002), and for my exhibition at Luhring Augustine Gallery in New York, ‘The Illusion of Democracy’ (2012), which features a map of the US in orange. There are also large photographs – a head shot of Edie Sedgwick; one of Merce Cunningham jumping – some artworks that were gifts from friends, including Josef Astor, Nicole Eisenman, Glen Fogel and Mimi Gross, and a couple of flea-market paintings.

What was the first piece of art that really mattered to you?

I grew up in St Louis, Missouri, so the first artworks that I encountered were at the St Louis Art Museum. The ones that have always stayed with me are paintings: a still life by Francisco de Zurbarán and a large figurative canvas by Max Beckmann. In terms of art that really inspired me and changed my thinking, however, that would have to be Andy Warhol’s film Chelsea Girls (1966), which I saw shortly after I first moved to New York.

If you could live with only one piece of art, what would it be?

Yellow Ranch (Rancho Amarillo) / ROCI CUBA (1988), a painting by Robert Rauschenberg, although Édouard Manet’s The Old Musician (1862) is a close second.

What is your favourite title of an artwork?

Shark Bait of Capitalism (1960–63), a performance piece by Jack Smith.

What do you wish you knew?

Whether numbers exist or are constructions of the human mind.

What should change?

The two-party political system in the US and the moral and legal entitlements of non-human animals.

What should stay the same?

Change.

What could you imagine doing if you didn’t do what you do?

Science, in particular astronomy or cosmology.

What music are you listening to?

Anohni, Hopelessness (2016); Fennesz, Mahler Remixed (2014); James Ferraro, Human Story 3 (2016); LCD Soundsystem, The Long GoodBye (2014); Sampha, Process (2017);
The Sediment Club, Psychosymplastic (2015); Solange, A Seat at the Table (2016).

What are you reading?

Ted Chiang, Stories of Your Life and Others (2002); Douglas Crimp, Before Pictures (2016); Chris Hedges, Unspeakable (2016);

Carlo Rovelli, Seven Brief Lessons on Physics (2014). I am also reading progressive blogs including Digby’s ‘Hullabaloo’ and ‘The Rude Pundit’.

What do you like the look of?

Disbelief.

What is art for?

What is life for?

Charles Atlas is an artist living in New York, USA. His 3D film and dance work TESSERACT, made in collaboration with choreographers Rashaun Mitchell and Silas Riener, premiered at EMPAC, Troy, USA, in January 2017. His solo exhibition ‘Here She Is … V.1’ is on display at the Memorial Art Gallery, University of Rochester, USA, until September.

Issue 187

First published in Issue 187

May 2017

Most Read

Ignoring its faux-dissident title, this year's edition at the New Museum displays a repertoire that is folky, angry,...
An insight into royal aesthetics's double nature: Charles I’s tastes and habits emerge as never before at London’s...
In other news: Artforum responds to #NotSurprised call for boycott of the magazine; Maria Balshaw apologizes for...
At transmediale in Berlin, contesting exclusionary language from the alt-right to offshore finance
From Shanghai to Dubai, a new history charts the frontiers where underground scenes battle big business for electronic...
Hauser & Wirth Somerset, Bruton, UK
Zihan Karim, Various Way of Departure, 2017, video still. Courtesy: Samdani Art Foundation
Can an alternative arts network, unmediated by the West's commercial capitals and burgeoning arts economies of China...
‘That moment, that smile’: collaborators of the filmmaker pay tribute to a force in California's film and music scenes...
In further news: We Are Not Surprised collective calls for boycott of Artforum, accuses it of 'empty politics'; Frida...
We Are Not Surprised group calls for the magazine to remove Knight Landesman as co-owner and withdraw move to dismiss...
Paul Thomas Anderson's latest film is both gorgeous and troubling in equal measure
With Zona Maco opening in the city today, a guide to the best exhibitions across the Mexican capital
The question at the heart of Manchester Art Gallery’s artwork removal: what are the risks when cultural programming...
In further news: Sonia Boyce explains removal of Manchester Art Gallery’s nude nymphs; Creative Scotland responds to...
Ahead of the India Art Fair running this weekend in the capital, a guide to the best shows to see around town
The gallery argues that the funding body is no longer supportive of institutions that maintain a principled refusal of...
The Dutch museum’s decision to remove a bust of its namesake is part of a wider reconsideration of colonial histories,...
At New York’s Metrograph, a diverse film programme addresses a ‘central problem’ of feminist filmmaking
Ronald Jones pays tribute to a rare critic, art historian, teacher and friend who coined the term Post-Minimalism
In further news: curators rally behind Laura Raicovich; Glasgow's Transmission Gallery responds to loss of Creative...
Nottingham Contemporary, UK
‘An artist in a proud and profound sense, whether he liked it or not’ – a tribute by Michael Bracewell
Ahead of a show at Amsterdam’s EYE Filmmuseum, how the documentarian’s wandering gaze takes in China’s landscapes of...
In further news: Stedelijk explains why it cancelled Ettore Sottsass retrospective; US National Gallery of Art cancels...
With 11 of her works on show at the Musée d'Orsay, one of the most underrated artists in modern European history is...
Reopening after a two-year hiatus, London’s brutalist landmark is more than a match for the photographer’s blockbuster...
What the Google Arts & Culture app tells us about our selfie obsession
At a time of #metoo fearlessness, a collection of female critics interrogate their own fandom for music’s most...
A rare, in-depth interview with fashion designer Jil Sander

Latest Magazines

frieze magazine

October 2017

frieze magazine

November - December 2017

frieze magazine

January - February 2018