'more than a muse': larry clark, ryan mcginley, and the late dash snow star in new group show
We talk to the exhibition’s curator Aiden Tuite about what it means to be a muse.
Aiden Tuite has been interested in art ever since he was just a kid. While his childhood days of drawing all over everything have passed, he's certainly immersed himself within New York's art scene as one of the coolest young curators on the block. His latest endeavor, More Than a Muse, is a scintillating show that explores the powerful relationship between artist and muse. Conceiving of both photographer and muse as artist, the exhibition moves beyond the superficial; it unpacks the incredibly emotional and visceral bond between lovers, siblings, parents, children, and friends. It includes work from some of the art world's finest photographers from Larry Clark and Sandy Kim to Ryan McGinley and the late Dash Snow.
How did More Than a Muse come about?
I had been discussing with a friend how little credit the muse often gets as opposed to the photographer and I thought it would be nice to celebrate the muse as an artist as well. Then I started thinking about the connection between the photographer and muse and how important the muse is to the production of solid work. I kept thinking about how an intense and familiar relationship between muse and photographer can make the work more deeply emotional and the viewer can often feel that. One day I was sitting at O'Hare airport and read this article on NPR about Lee Miller and Man Ray's relationship and the work he created around her during and after the relationship. I had been playing with the name More Than a Muse and the article was titled Much More Than a Muse and so the theme of their relationship was so in line with my idea of the show that it seemed perfect.
Why was it significant to ensure that both photographer and muse were artists?
I believe it adds an incredibly unique dynamism. In this show the muse not only inspires the photographer, but the photographer has also inspired the muse. The exchange between the two is pure and engaging.
What can we expect to see in the exhibition?
You can expect to see something honest. A personal documentation of intimate relationships; where private truths between two artists translate to something universal, relatable, and moving to the viewer.
What is it you're trying to convey?
I think that the main idea is clear, but you could come to understand the more general truth that no person exists in a vacuum. We are all nothing more than the sum of what we have touched and what has touched us throughout our lives.
Who is your greatest muse?
My girlfriend Hirschy. She inspires me always, even when she is trying to distract me on the train while I attempt to finish this interview.
What work stands out?
It is a small show and every piece is strong. Personally, Dash Snow's Polaroid photographs of his grandmother, Christophe de Menil, I find to be particularly powerful. When you are in front of these works you can see how close their bond was.
What's the biggest misconception about muses?
The biggest misconception is that the muse is something simple and flat, something to be objectified. Muses in reality are complex. They must be. It is only someone with their own personal greatness that could inspire someone else to achieve something great.
What does it mean to be a muse in 2016?
A muse has, and will always have, a unique relationship with the artist they connect to. What it means to be a muse has not changed in 3,000 years, in that the inspiration they provide to the artist wouldn't be translatable to any other person.
How have things like social media and our celebrity obsessed culture affected how we think about muses?
I know people put a serious importance on status and fame when deciding who they would like to be creatively inspired by. I find it really obnoxious, but I still would like to think even in 2016 someone who creates honest and good work still finds themselves compelled to shoot someone they have a close personal relationship with.
What's the bravest thing you can do as a young person?
Learn, care, value intellectualism over materialism, inform yourself and others about the world both locally and globally, become both politically informed and active, don't be afraid to challenge the status quo, invest time and resources into your community, and don't take yourself so seriously.
What are your hopes and dreams for the future?
I hope there is no one "making America great again."
I would like to give a special thanks to a few people that made this show really possible: my dear friend Heathermary Jackson, Jade Berreau, Hirschy Grace, Meghan Mardon, Kathleen Cullen, Alex Kapsidelis, and of course Larry Clark, Sandy Kim, Ryan McGinley, and the late Dash Snow x
More Than a Muse runs until September 18, at 65 Ludlow St.
Text Tish Weinstock
Images courtesy of the gallery