Photographer and dear friend of OC Ryan McGinley is opening dual shows at the two NYC Team Gallery
locations tomorrow. Animals
comprises a series of full-color nudes involving live animals, and Grids
includes three huge grids of portraits of enraptured concert-goers (building on Irregular Regulars
, his 2007 series of Morrissey fans). We can't wait for the openings, and we hope you'll all come out and support Ryan for the first big block party of the season. Ryan took a quick break from installing to answer a few questions about the upcoming shows.
You are the first artist to show at both spaces of the Team Gallery simultaneously, with Animals and Grids. Why two shows at once?
Team Gallery opened a second space on Wooster Street last year. It's right around the corner from its Grand Street space in Soho. When my gallerist José told me he was opening a second space my first question was "When do I get to do a double show?" I'm always working on a few projects at once and this was an exciting opportunity to show two completely different bodies of work at the same time.
Animals picks up where Anybody Knows this is Nowhere, your series of classic studio nudes, left off. This time, live animals are photographed with humans. How did the idea of shooting nudes with animals come about?
I can't direct animals and that's what I love about them, they are out of control, wild, and they do what they want. Shooting with studio lighting and on colored paper you have control over how everything looks, it's completely artificial and usually feels staged. I wanted an element that created disruption and sponteneity. I wanted a little organized chaos.
Have you ever photographed animals before?
The first animal I photographed was a black bear in Minnesota in 2007. It got on its legs and ate a gummy bear out of my mouth and gave me a big sloppy kiss for a photo and I fell in love.
What were some of the unpredictable situations you found yourself in, shooting such uncontrollable subjects?
Everything was unpredictable, that's what made this body of work so fun and silly. The ibex was uncontrollable, it walked on the coral colored paper and immediately shredded it with its long horns and I made an awesome image of it happening.
How did you pair animals with people?
I let my models decide what animals they wanted to shoot with, it was always obvious who was attached to a certain animal.
What is your spirit animal?
A spider monkey. I like that they are highly agile, they communicate their intentions and observations using postures and stances and their diets consists primarily of ripe fruit and nuts. Kinda the way I lead my own life. They also have dispropertionately long limbs and their tail functions as a fifth arm.
Grids compiles portraits of concertgoers in states of transcendence or rapture. What about the collectivity of the concert experience is so interesting to you?
Musical performances let you lose control. They let you scream, jump, and wild out. The subjects in my photographs are a representation of my spirit. I love their soul, it's a meaning that I understand. In my photographs I'm trying to capture a feeling that speaks to me.
Where were the photos for Grids taken?
Across America and Europe at different music festivals over the last four years.
What was the last great concert you went to?
I went both nights to see The Magnetic Fields at The Beacon Theatre, it was heaven.
Is an art opening kind of like a concert? Do you ever take pictures of people at your openings? Do you ever feel like a rock star?
When my opening gets announced people frequently call the gallery and ask how much admission is, or if there a dress code. I love that, it lets me know my work is reaching the general public. People who normally don't go to galleries will come to my show and maybe that might turn them onto art and get them to go to more galleries and museums. At my last opening 3,000 people showed and the police shut it down—I guess that's like a concert? This time we got the police to close down the street and we're having an old school Soho block party. I don't consider myself a rock star but I take advice from them. Mick Jagger once told me "Anything worth doing is worth overdoing."
What are you going to wear to Wednesday's opening?
Hmm not sure yet, I never plan it until the day of the opening. I've gotta wake up and feel my mood that morning. Maybe one of my friend Italo Zucchelli's Calvin Klein suits? I buy most of my clothes from a store called DL Cerney on 7th Street in the East Villlage. They just made me a nice sea foam green spring jacket that might work.
Which is your most treasured image from either show? Where do you hope it will end up?
Marmoset (Horizon Blue)
would be my most treasured image, look out for it in the exhibition, it's surreal. I always hope that my photos will end up on a record cover, that's the way I set the bar when deciding on a final image, if it would be a successful LP cover.
The Frieze Fair opens this week. Are you planning on going?
Yes! I have a bright golden-yellow room within the Team Gallery booth. I'll be showing 7 new collages that I've been making over the last year. Think high school yearbook collage but nude.
Both shows open May 2nd through June 2nd, 2012
47 Wooster St
New York, NY
83 Grand St
New York, NY