MASS: Close Encounters presents artist/historian Leah DeVun and writer/historian Chelsea Weathers in conversation about DeVun’s work, on view in Friendship and Freedom, MASS’s first exhibition of 2015.
The work on view represents some of DeVun’s recent work on punk, featuring photographs documenting the artist’s personal collection of “friendship books”, little handmade books mailed between friends that “functioned as an analog form of social networking, allowing teen punks to share interests and build communities.” The photographs are presented alongside an installation of letters and ephemera sent to the artist between the years of 1987-1991, as well as an accompanying sound piece. While in recent years much attention has been paid to the punk scene, for DeVun, the collection addresses an often overlooked theme of “the friendships and epistolary traditions that were at the heart of the scene.”
This conversation is presented in conjunction with the exhibition Friendship and Freedom, on view January 23rd – February 28th, 2015.
ABOUT THE PARTICIPANTS
Leah DeVun is an artist and historian living in Brooklyn, New York. Her photographs and installations explore the legacies of feminism — the landscapes of rural lesbian communes, the drag-like costumes of pre-teen obsessive Hannah Montana fans, the contents of a historic gay and lesbian archive — with a special interest in queer and gendered communities, fashion and fandom, memory, politics, and identity. DeVun received her Ph.D. from Columbia University and is currently an associate professor at Rutgers University, where she teaches women’s and gender history.
Chelsea Weathers, PhD, is a writer and art historian based in Austin. She is a research associate in the art and performing arts collections at the Harry Ransom Center, a special collections library and archive at the University of Texas. She is also an editor of online content for the publishing collective Pastelegram. Her research interests include amphetamine use in the 1960s and Andy Warhol’s cinema.
ABOUT CLOSE ENCOUNTERS
With each exhibition, MASS solicits participating artists to devise a program designed to provide new methods of engaging the public’s curiosity, inviting them to participate intellectually or physically with the exhibition space, as well as the artist’s work and concepts. Open and broad, this prompt can be approached in a multitude of ways: performance based, passive, or completely radical in execution or thought. Close Encounters is a challenge to the artist, as well as the audience, and is designed to provide a new way of encountering and understanding the creative process.