Matthew Higgs contributes a mixtape for Tom Burr’s edition for Dream The End.
TOM BURR’S EDITION ON DREAM THE END IS AN EXTENSION OF HIS REAL-WORLD GALLERY EXHIBITION AT BORTOLAMI IN NYC. NOW I AM QUIETLY WAITING FOR THE CATASTROPHE OF MY PERSONALITY TO SEEM BEAUTIFUL AGAIN, AND INTERESTING, AND MODERN IS ABOUT HIS CONNECTIONS TO OTHER ARTISTS AND THEIR CONNECTIONS WITH EACH OTHER. HOW ARE YOU CONNECTED TO TOM BURR? Tom is an artist whose work I have always followed. I appreciate his sensibility. Tom also showed early in his career at White Columns (before I became Director), so our respective histories have some common ground.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR MIXTAPE, YOU MENTIONED YOU DIDN’T WANT TO OVER THINK IT, WHAT MADE YOU CHOOSE THESE SONGS AND HOW DO THEY RELATE TO YOU AND TOM? I know from experience that you can over think making mixtapes! Tom’s work is often concerned with reference and citation, so I’m sure I took some of my leads from things that his work triggers or suggests. Overall I would say the selection errs towards the melancholic, and especially towards melancholic dance music (e.g. Iggy Pop, Coachouse Rhythm Section, Sylvester, Expansives etc.) Tom’s work often negotiates the push-pull we all feel towards the past, especially as we get older. I just turned 48 – and the majority of the music selected here is from my youth/early adulthood.
WE’VE HEARD ABOUT YOUR VINYL COLLECTION, IS THIS THE FORMAT YOU PREFER TO LISTEN TO MUSIC WITH? WHAT ABOUT YOUTUBE? I only collect vinyl records, and have several thousand, of which 90% is dance music of one kind or another. Mostly 12″ singles, I own very few albums. I still haven’t figured out how to transfer my vinyl collection into digital files (and to be honest even if I had the equipment necessary to do it well, I don’t think I would have the time or patience it requires.) So despite owning these records on vinyl, I sourced all these versions for Tom’s mixtape from YouTube simply because its an incredibly convenient way to listen to things.
WE WERE EXCITED TO BE ABLE TO FEATURE AN EXTENSION TO TOM’S SHOW ON OUR SITE, IT’S ONE OF THE ADVANTAGES OF THIS NEW DIGITAL WORLD. HOW DO YOU FEEL ART AND MUSIC HAVE CHANGED IN THE 21ST CENTURY? Both art and music seem to be struggling to figure out what to do next. Simon Reynold’s recent book ‘Retromania’ is a good account of this problem as it relates to music, and I think his argument could easily be applied to visual art. Basically he suggests that contemporary music is so consumed with its own past that it is unable to move forward, so that we find ourselves in a situation where all new music paradoxically sounds old. I think he’s basically right. Certainly all the new music that I buy self-consciously references the past: disco, house, techno etc.
WHITE COLUMNS IS ONE OF NEW YORK’S COOLEST ART SPACES, WHAT HAVE BEEN SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE EXHIBITIONS AND EVENTS SINCE YOU HAVE BEEN DIRECTOR, AND WHERE WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE IT GOING IN THE COMING YEARS? We’ve organized more than 150 exhibitions and projects in the past seven years, and to be honest I think they were all interesting. It was great to work with Vince Aletti on his exhibition ‘Male’ and the publication we made with him ‘The Disco Files’. It’s been an honor to work on several projects with Malcolm Mooney, the original signer with the German rock band CAN. We just released a new 12″ record by Malcolm on our label The Sound Of White Columns. We also collaborate extensively with Creative Growth, a community of mentally and developmentally disabled artist based in Oakland, CA, whose work is extraordinary. As for the future, we hope that we can be responsive to what artists are thinking about at any given time, and hopefully remain idiosyncratic and independent.
British born Matthew Higgs has been the Director and Chief Curator at White Columns, New York’s oldest alternative art space, since 2004. Before he started working on curatorial projects in the early 1990s, he trained as an artist in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England, where he occasionally made collaborative paintings with his friend and fellow art student Gavin Brown, whose eponymous gallery opened in New York in 1995. Higgs has organized more than 250 exhibitions and projects worldwide since then and also continues to show his own work: this coming January he will have a two-person exhibition with Margaret Lee at Murray Guy gallery, New York.