Zine of the Endowed Chair

DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSIONS IS MARCH 1, 2016! to what? to the Tepper zine, produced at the behest of Kara Walker, Tepper Chair in Visual Arts.

The purpose of this magazine is to expand on the myriad ways you, as artists, inappropriately  occupy, repurpose and call in to question the societal norms of our built environment.

We talk about architecture knowing that Ghettos exist, official black spots in the social landscape, occupied by the elderly or poor, managed by the state, designed by committee according to a common template. Often, in major cities like New York we think of unpretty tower blocks whose footprint bends the ordinary street grid, diverting the flow of traffic.  We tend to recognize hazard prevention design solutions such as bullet proof glass or steel grids over windows, safety officers in corridors and lately a program called “Omnipresence”  a round the clock police presence featuring giant mercury-vapor work lamps rendering near daylight conditions all night.  This is not architecture in the pure modernist sense, although many of todays housing solutions were borne out of early modern experiments with mass production and repetition.  Instead NY housing authorities design solutions are crime prevention writ large- which to my mind serve as a reminder to all city dwellers, especially in the ‘projects’, that our bodies are not safe and our homes are not our own.  This is the architecture for bodies under siege. 

Cut to Antoine Yates, who in 2003 was discovered to have been raising a 500 lb. tiger in a tiny NYCHA tower block-the Drew Hamilton Houses in Harlem.  What a wonderful undermining of a purely functional, highly oppressive space! What a bold endeavor, born out of Antoine’s stated love of animals, his desire to express care toward his fellow beings and to build his own nature preserve as it were, within his own confines. What happened to Antoine and to Ming is the stuff of tabloid fascination. I consider Antoine Yates to be an architect, a changer of space.

Way back at the start of the school year I put out an ambitious prompt on the Tepper Chair Blog to the Rutgers MFA’s and Thesis students. http://art.rutgers.edu/tepper/index.php/2015/10/14/the-anti-architecture/

I wanted each of you to consider the problem of architectural resistance.  What I mean by that is perhaps up to you, but the idea embraces locations and structures  and actions that actively misuse, undermine and draw attention to oppressive structures in civic space.   Resisters to spacial organization have taken the form of cults, militias, religious separatists, political activists, gangs, hippie communes, drug cartels, secret societies, land artists and the like. In myriad ways outlaw groups have devised deviant spaces to perform their illegal activities.  Likewise, land art projects like Michael Heizer’s unfinished “City”  draw our attention to monumental interventions on the land, to the intersection between sculpture and architecture, to work thats functional, magical, privileged and impoverished. Whereas destroyed structures like the bunker constructed by the Philadelphia Black militant group MOVE, highlight a combustible relationship between political self-determination and civic order.

At a casual November tea some of the students and faculty discussed the Western construction of Nature as a Wilderness meant to be conquered, and openly wondered who has access to that idea of the land, and who actively participates in this myth, who is allowed (and by extension, who is prevented) by society to bend the land to one’s will?

We also discussed the lack of cultural diversity within the practice and theory of architecture-  which to me opens up the playing field, instead of focusing on the lack of richness, lets consider this an opportunity for us to consider who and how ordinary people practice architecture in daily life.

Our Magazine, as yet untitled, is yours to bend as far as it will go, in response to this prompt.  It will exist in two forms, first as a loosely boxed original for the Mason Gross School of Art collection, and as a printed edition (number to be determined) for the broader community including Rutgers and beyond. With special focus on schools of architecture, civic planning and environmental studies. The Tepper Magazine will feature an essay by me and will be presented alongside my school wide lecture this spring on April 19th.

We are accepting one page submissions- open to Visual Arts MFA’s and the BFA thesis students and Faculty.

The format of the final publication will be tabloid: 8.5″ x 11″ pages that opens into 11″ x 17″ spreads.

Submission guidelines:

• Image, text, or object which can be photographed and formatted on a single 8.5″ x 11″ sheet.

• Color or black and white.

• Must be physically dropped off in the Tepper Zine Box by the mailboxes in the Visual Arts Office at 33 Livingston Avenue.

• Must be accompanied by submission form:

Your Full Name:

Class Year or Position:

Title of Work:

Year Produced:


Also please notate the correct orientation.

Your work will not be returned to you, consider this before submitting a precious family heirloom.


If you have any questions please contact Senior Administrative Assistant Cassandra Oliveras: coliveras@masongross.rutgers.edu

NYPD officer repelling down the side of the Drew Hamilton Houses in Harlem, to tranquilize a 500lb tiger that was living there.
NYPD officer rappelling down the side of the Drew Hamilton Houses in Harlem, in order to tranquilize a 500 lb tiger that was living there.
Antoine Yates and Ming, the Harlem tiger
Antoine Yates and Ming, his Harlem raised tiger

zine thing!

Hi all! was very good to meet the bulk of the MFA’s the other week at your show, thanks for leading me on a brief tour despite having just completed a long day of crits. I was happy to just put a name and face with the work.

Many of you were present back in early November when we discussed, among other things architecture, infrastructure, political and religious cults, the culture of nature and on and on. It was a wide ranging discussion but I think what became clear was that when it comes to space we all have a personal stake in it. There is nothing more rewarding to me than knowing people (artists) who feel passionately about an idea, think critically about problems that have social as well as aesthetic meaning and then endeavor to make or do something to address that problem. We spoke about the idea of creating a radical intervention somewhere around campus in late Spring, where each of us, collectively- or as individuals- can push forward concepts and challenges and use spaces in and around Rutgers University as our extended gallery.

We will discuss the project again in January but I wanted to paste up a message from your colleague Ali Osborn about putting together a zine:

Alexander Osborn

Submitted on 2015/12/01 at 3:07 am
Hi people,

There has been some talk of publishing a newspaper/zine in conjunction with whatever collaborative project we make/do in the spring. Personally, I like the idea of this being a larger, perhaps tabloid format book/paper. This shape and size could accommodate a hefty variety of graphics/information/writings and still be foldable and easy to distribute. It could blend in with other publications on the “newsstand”. Attached is an image of one such tabloid paper that a friend of mine printed. I have copies of this paper at my studio in CSB. Not sure how we’d go about gathering content for this type of thing. I’m open to suggestions. Let’s mull it over for now.

January Meeting.

Hey just a brief note from my studio. Take heart Grads. Tuesday’s coffee chat wasn’t meant to be an exclusion zone, for folks who missed it, it was really a chance to get to know one another. There will be other chances to be sure. I am looking at my calendar now to figure out a time (probably January at this point) to gather all and continue rapping about space, race, equity and infrastructure, and to plan an event/show/lecture or series for the spring.


I’ve left some of my books out on a table in the communal/office/studio space at the LAB.  Kind of a honor system library. Feel free to borrow, please make a note on the craft paper who you are/ what book you borrowed/ the date.  I just want to make sure everything is back before the semester ends in Dec.


thanks  K

Horror in Architecture

get this book!!
get this book!!
smart Rutgers students.
smart Rutgers students.

An informal coffee chat with Rutgers MFA’s on Tuesday unearthed a collective concern about space. For two hours we talked Architecture, infrastructure, sustainability, power, privatization of the land, life on the Moon and Yertle the Turtle. I raised a few questions here and there, about race and access, about perceptions of self relative to nature and/or the urban built environment. We all have something at stake when it comes to self-determination and our living environment.

Fred Moten and Stefano Harney’s
“the Undercommons, Black Study and Urban Planning” has become the densely worded spirit guidebook for many of us, Aki, Marc and I are plugging along in its poetics.

Another book I meant to bring to the forefront is a very amazing little read by Joshua Comaroff and Ong Ker-Shing called “Horror in Architecture” which looks at the underlying anxiety of disorder and destruction in the heart of the modernist enterprise, using the horror genre and the human body as a departure point.

The feeling toward the end of our meet-up was that we should work toward a Spring project, similar to last years’ performance event , perhaps embracing more of the Rutgers campus, examining its “corporate” architecture and landscaping. All this can be discussed and thought about further at a January meeting, date to be determined. Meantime, wouldn’t it be nice to put together a newspaper or ‘zine that can contain the various articles and theories everyone put into play yesterday? We talked about separatist idealist communes, nature and romanticism, pragmatic nuclear waste storage issues and reuse, purchasing air rights, the demolition of the Pruitt-Igoe housing project… we spoke about citizenship, immigration, choice, and Non-participation in the systems that bind us to the modern, built world.


Its Tuesday now, but I snuck in Monday October 26 to see what life at Rutgers as the Tepper Chair feels like.  Its an informal arrangement at the moment, no seminars or lectures scheduled save a class visit this coming Friday with the BFA seminar class.  I think I will share some more thoughts about “Ruffneck Constructivists” and the Blog prompts about architecture.  The class topic is revolution, and that term dovetails nicely with Ruffnecks, insofar as some of the sites I call Ruff, are really revolutionary idealism gone messy or “this time its personal”.  Take for instance the MOVE organization in Philadelphia, whose compound, from the early 70’s until the government bombing in 1985 was under siege.  The architecture of the group fascinates me; a barricaded row house in West Philadelphia, seemed to express a siege mentality, the outgrowth of a collective rejection of anti-black racism and racist systems of control. To wit, the founder of the group, John Africa, embraced nature, [which we can debate about whether “Nature”  is not also an outgrowth of racist systems of control – later] rejected clothing (for the children whose parents joined the organization) and also advocated a fruit only diet for the kids. The group was under constant scrutiny from the police and had a number of violent altercations.   According to testimony, however,  MOVE’s  leader further divided the group from its black working -class neighbors by haranguing the neighborhood over a loudspeaker. A divide that would result in a cruel reinforcement of the blind disregard law enforcement has had for Black communities as a whole.   It is a true parable about architecture, home, safety, class, power, agency and legal/illegal aspects of the occupation of space.





Brought in some reading material too, and I think I will make some drawings, go for a walk and scope out the new digs.  Occupying space….

The Anti Architecture

Prompt 1


I am interested in the attendant problems of each type of space below, and what of the possibility for making? I have a 2-d, figurative art practice that wishes to extend itself and consider problematic spaces and non spaces.  I am deeply concerned about the racial, gendered aspects of  the built environment like who builds it, who occupies it and how. But as you will see in the list below I am powerfully moved by social architecture as a tool for self or group empowerment. When I curated the 2014 show “Ruffneck Constructivists” at the ICA Philadelphia it was my first attempt to grasp at an idea I had of anti-social space.  I want to find ways to shape a space/build a monument to actively address my interests below.



  1. home/homelessness “Eternally Displaced Persons”  What impact has architecture on the nomad, refugee, migrant, stateless actor?



  1. Confederate monuments, collectibles and Memorial Plaques.
  2. Mammy monument, unbuilt or unbuildable dreams.
  3. Taliban and Isis destruction of world hertitage sites
  4. Controversial monuments
  5. Dramatic upheaval of monumental sculptures


Ideological sites and Architectural resistance:

  1. Branch Davidian compound
  2. Nuwaubian Nation of Moors
  3. People’s Temple (Jim Jones)
  4. Hancock Shaker Village http://hancockshakervillage.org/
  5. Amish villages
  6. Hassidic neighborhoods/ architecturehttp://deadstuy.blogspot.com/
  7. MOVE compound/ bombing of west Philly https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8eHpRjxk7N4
  8. Ruffneck Constructivists
  9. LDS compound
  10. The United Nations http://visit.un.org/
  11. Washington DC Mall
  12. City of glass.

Underground organizations/ architectural absence. Black Sites

  1. mafia sites
  2. gang hangouts
  3. secret societies aka KKK, white supremacists etc.
  4. conspiracy/ fantasy sites
  5. CIA black sites


  1. rules of spatial organization, what are they? Order/ disorder
  2. who has entre? Women? Men? Black? White? Gay?  what kind of club is this? all comers?
  3. Intitiation rites. How does one gain entry? (secret word? Secret knock? Hazing, Arrest. Permission from whom?)
  4. Structure of society as “Anti” What’s the difference between a religion and a cult? A social club and a gang and how do they conceive of art and architecture?
  5. What do buildings and spaces look like in each case? How are power or powerlessness conveyed in structure, in form? Does ego or vanity or love or pride or lust or imbalance present itself in space? Can it?
  6. are spaces necessarily confining? do modern spaces always crush the soul?





Hello Rutgers!


Dear Students, MFA’s, Faculty and staff. I’m excited, trepidatious, curious, as I am sure many of you are, about what my role as Tepper Chair will be. The first order of business, the very fun BBQ, meet n’ greet that happened on Sept. 14 gave me a partial sense of what you might be hungry for and what I may be able to provide. As an artist and professional I have learned that I cannot please everyone, can’t be all things to all people, and I’m loath to try. However, I thought I would set up a blog to begin to delineate some areas of interest to me and to begin a remote interaction with you-all when I am not on campus.

Part of the luxury of being an endowed chair is that I get to prioritize my career outside of the school. I don’t see it as a teaching assignment per se- I won’t have classes and such. As many of you know firsthand, academia eats up a lot of time. I have a bunch of projects and exhibits and work I have already committed to, well into 2018, and seemingly no time to really think about what it is I am working on. I view this position at Rutgers as an extension of my practice, but with something new, an opportunity for discursive interactions with emerging peers in the field.

Writing has always been a part of my practice yet I never took the time to extend that writing into digital space. It may be a little bit 2003-ish of me, crafting blog entries, working remotely, (in my studio, not in pajamas) but I’d like use this space to throw out a few prompts to the MFA students and begin working through ideas, mine and yours. The blog is not the only space to do this, however. I’ve also been given a little studio/office in the LAB where I will come in from time to time (I believe the first week I can make it is the week of Oct 26). Still trying to figure out if that room will hold a seminar or just serve as an informal space to meet, discuss and draw out further discussion with you, salon style. I’ll bring in some books and set it up as a place to work a little. I’ll also come to a few of your shows, the first on my calendar is the BFA show that the thesis class curated.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote up a list of prompts and areas of interest of mine with the intention of sharing them with the 2nd year MFA’s.  I have a few books I want to read or am reading related to topics ranging from monuments and architecture to nature and race . Sometimes, you know, an idea just doesn’t quite form and needs a catalyst, and maybe the idea results in an artwork, or an essay or a revolutionary position, sometimes not. The next Blog entry I’ll post one of my topics for you- its kind of a prompt for me, but I’m not going to be territorial about it.

I imagine that we could then proceed in the LAB to talk, draw, read and write and share our most “out there” interests, in a relaxed atmosphere, continuing the discussion here, of course, in a more limited fashion.  At the end of the year I’d hope to amass a group of sketches, photos, writings by you and me, and produce a little zine or perhaps concoct a very big gesture.



London Calling (with corrections)

I haven’t had a dedicated exhibit in Atlanta since 1994, a group show at Nexus Contemporary Art Center. Outside of a couple of recent offers I haven’t seen fit to show my work there since.


I suppose off hand it has something to do with the closeness of the myths I’m trying to expose, exorcise, and engage with. Somehow the irony and darkness in my work is directly engaged with my memory and experience of the place in a way that leaves me vulnerable to bitterness -and my feeling is the work tends to be read as biography rather than critique.

I’m part of a continuum there, my dad has an artistic and family legacy there. When art folks want to engage with me professionally they (sometimes) call him first.  It’s problematic, familial, innocently sexist, I have run away from it and run still.

I say all this to clarify some misquotes in a recent Guardian article about my current London show at Victoria Miro Gallery. What I intended to say is that I felt I needed to run all the way to London to speak directly to my foster hometown.

“The South” is too broad a swath of America to really grasp. And I only really mean Georgia when I use the term. I have had a major survey of my work in Texas (where I also spoke to a wildly diverse audience), and have shown in Tennessee and North Carolina and Missouri (is that the South?) to name a few states.

Maybe I am being defensive for no reason, I feel it’s important to make myself clear and I hate being in a muddle, although if you have taken a look at my work you might think otherwise.

Muddles, quagmires, conundrums, puns, riddles and rage figure prominently in the new work.