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Exclusive Interview with writer, filmmaker, artist, fanzine publisher and founder of Antagonist Movement Ethan Minsker!
Photo by Simon Harsent
Carpazine: What was your relationship like with Arturo Vega?
Ethan Minsker: Arturo was a part of the Antagonist Movement. He curated many shows with us, mentored our members and myself, he created designs for our clothing and was also an artists in many of our shows. He can be seen in our films, The Dolls Of Lisbon and This Is Berlin Not New York. To me personally he was my creative father, and friend. I miss him terribly. I still cry sometimes when I think about him passing. When we had artists from out of town visiting I would bring them by the loft and no matter what, Arty would take the time to talk them and take photos, it would make a huge impact. He taught me the value of introducing other artists to each other, to collect other artists’ works, to always try something that makes you a little uncomfortable.
Carpazine: Can you give the readers your Website and Facebook addresses so they can check you out...
Ethan Minsker: You can find the full film of Self Medicated here.
You can find me on IMDB.
You can see some of my short videos on vimeo under Ethan Minsker.
Really I am everywhere and nowhere.
Anything you’d like to add?
If you see me on the street and say hi I might hand you a zine or a sticker.
Carpazine: Can you tell us about Dwelling: art project?
Ethan Minsker: We asked artists to make a building. Send it to Sydney. We showed it for about 2 weeks. Then destroy it at the closing. The show was October 29th- November 7th at 107 Projects Gallery in Sydney.When we think of our home, we think of how we live, work, play, and the comfort we experience in our humble safe haven. But what happens when the delicate balance becomes interrupted? Citizens for the Arts (CFA a none prophet) and the Antagonist Art Movement’s latest project examines the hardships and the emotional ramifications of losing one’s home. Disasters, in mother nature such as the typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, devastating earthquakes from around the world, economic strains such as foreclosures, and even areas wrought by the sieges of war and protest are all too familiar in the news. This project aims to strengthen awareness, and in turn discover alternative ways individuals can help one another in times of distress. I will post a short film about the project soon. That way people can see all the craziness of these projects. As well as we hope to use it the short film of Dwelling to help launch our next overseas show, Thailand maybe? Vietnam?
Carpazine: What role does the artist have in society?
Ethan Minsker: It’s the artist who challenges the community to think. They present their soul and hope it affects the viewer to change. The bible was a work of art to some. Fiction or truth. It’s the best way to express the soul. Life would be boring without it. It can't be defined, its value is subjective. It's necessary.
Carpazine: What do you dislike about the art world?
Ethan Minsker: I think the art world as a market only sees the work for the value that can be exploited with no regard for the artists. That the artists it highlights are already rich and famous. That it’s a dying bloated pig rotting, with gaseous fumes seeping out. If you are lucky it will explode but there is always some asshole ready to keep that from happening. And I mean the auction houses and high-end dealers. But I would be happy to sell out. I would then just keep my thoughts to myself.
Carpazine: Tell us the brief history of Antagonist Movement.
Ethan Minsker: The Antagonist Art Movement is a cultural movement formed in New York, New York in 2000. The group grew out of desperation and in reaction to the New York art market. The movement primarily involves visual arts, literature, film, art manifestos and graphic design. It articulates its anti-commercial politics through a rejection of the prevailing standards in the art market and focuses its efforts on creating non-commercial cultural works and venues. Its purpose is to ridicule the meaninglessness, superficiality and artificiality of the commercial art world. The Antagonists foster emerging talent by providing opportunities for the exhibition of works, networking with other artists, mentoring and resources. The Antagonist Movement has worked with more than 3,500 artists from around the world over the past 14 years. Ethan H. Minsker, Sergio Vega and Anders Olson first conceived of the Antagonist Movement while working in bars in the Lower East Side. They wanted to create an event that would also incorporate their individual passions: art, film, music and writing. The first art show was held in the basement of Niagara Bar in January 2000. It featured art by Minsker, Olson and Dima Drjuchin. The owners of the bar asked the group to do this pop-up art event every Thursday for one year. They would end up doing these one-night art shows for over 11 years, showcasing the works of more than 3,000 up-and-coming artists. The Antagonists added live performances to the events, such as Schocholautte, Lisa Jaeggi, Carla Rhodes, Champions of Sound, and Vic Ruggiero. Minsker used film to document the larger events of the group and events held in other US cities and abroad. In 2002, the Antagonists began a writer's night on Sunday nights at Black & White Bar, just a few blocks away. The actor and comedian Jonah Hill was discovered performing at one of these events. Past hosts of the writer's night have included Bryan Middleton, Richard Allen and Brother Mike Cohen. Minsker took the helm of the Antagonist Movement in 2003 when Vega and Olson began spending more time on other projects. Around this time, the group appointed its first art directors who would guide the artistic direction of the movement. Gabriel Coutu-Dumont and Anders Olson served in this capacity from 2000-2005. Ted Riederer has been the artistic director from 2005- 2010. Riederer's other major projects include Never Records.
Carpazine: Give the readers some background information about yourself?
Ethan Minsker: My descriptors include writer, filmmaker, artist, fanzine publisher and creator and editor-in-chief of Psycho Moto Zine, which has been in publication since 1988. I am a founding member of the Antagonist Movement, an East Village/LES-based group of artists, writers and musicians that promotes lesser-known works by up-and-coming talent. This group was recently featured in my newest film, Self Medicated, a documentary on the struggles artists face to stay happy. Self Medicated: A Film About Art won the DIY award at the 2014 RxSM Film Festival. Recipient of the ACKER AWARD for visual arts 2016. I live on planet Earth.
Carpazine: How long have you been painting/drawing/etc?
Ethan Minsker: I have been making artwork since I was 6 years old. Making Psycho Moto Zine since 1988 when I was 18. First feature film, Anything Boys Can Do, a documentary on the subject of women from the Lower East Sides punk rock scene. I made that film at 23 in 1993. It played in over 50 film fest.
Carpazine: Can you tell me what some of your influences are?
Ethan Minsker: Mostly punk rock. I grew up in Washington DC in the late ’80s and ’90s and the punk scene was a big part of my life. It showed me how artists can work together and effect change around them. In fact, I wrote a book, Rich Boy Cries For Momma, all about that time of my life. It wasn't easy but I am glad I survived it.
Carpazine: What medium do you prefer to work in and how would you describe your artistic style?
Ethan Minsker: I work in anything that catches my interest. Write books, put out fanzines, make films, do performance art, paint, sculptural works. I would call it brat art, punk art. The films I might title them Cinema Frantic. I think things that make you laugh then cry and those peaks and valleys, seem deeper, seem higher if the audience and artist go through them together. I would hope that my work feels a little threatening, a little dangerous and a touch criminal.
Carpazine: What inspired you (in general)?
Ethan Minsker: People’s stories, working to overcome great odds. I am dyslexic so writing has never been easy for me. Making art in general and creating is never easy. And if it is, I doubt I would find that work compelling.
Carpazine: What are you currently working on?
Ethan Minsker: A few things:
1- A documentary about myself called the Man In Camo. It’s somewhat based on the phrase “My life flashed before my eyes.” and if you could a fanzine in film form mashed together.
2- A book that is done, but trying to find an agent or publisher for now, titled “Antagonist.” Any publishers out there? Find me! PLEASE!
3- More issues of my own zine, Psycho Moto Zine.
4- I am hoping I get accepted in the art fair on Governors Island in September. Here is a little about the project I hope to do there.
#GhostGun memorializing the victims of mass shootings in America. According to the Tracker’s data, which defines a mass shooting as an incident in which at least four people are killed or wounded, there were 372 mass shootings in the U.S. in 2015, killing 475 and wounding 1,870. I am working on creating 372 guns made of paper that dangle from fishing line. These guns move with the whim of a slight breeze, pointing in all directions reflecting the randomness of being targeted and killed. The guns hang from the ceiling. I will place a mark on the floor where people can take a photo selfie and ask them to hashtag #Ghostgun and tag antagonistmovement on Instagram and @antagonistart on twitter. My hope is that this starts a conversation. That this project can be more then a momentary thought and reflect on those lives lost, that we can make changes to create a safer place for all of us. Gun lovers and haters alike. Its no longer enough to claim that the right to unfettered access to guns is more important then the right to a life. Something has to change but lets not lock out those who own guns. Its time we admit there is something wrong and what as citizens we can do to rectify it. I have personally lost friends and with mass murders and killings in the news looping over and over I am sick of the lack of change, I am tired of those with a voice not speaking up, that includes myself, their for my act of resistance lies within this project #Ghostgun.
The title Ghost Gun is a term used in the criminal world for untraceable gun mostly manufactured overseas and smuggled into the USA. Street value ranges between $800 and $2,000
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