Kanye West and Steve McQueen Debut Collaborative ‘All Day / I Feel Like That …

26 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Kanye West and Steve McQueen Debut Collaborative ‘All Day / I Feel Like That’ Video at LACMA Gathering.

Only 130 audience members attended the exlusive preview of West and McQueen’s video, and extreme security measures were put in place to combat any recording of the private event. “I don’t think we need any introductions,” said Los Angeles County Museum of Art director Michael Govan. “Since Kanye has sold about 32 million albums, and Steve won the Academy Award recently.” He was, of course, referring to Kanye West and Steve McQueen, who were at LACMA on Friday night to preview “All Day / I Feel Like That,” a nine-minute video that will be on view at the museum for just four days (July 25 – 28). After a screening of the video, Govan led an uninhibited discussion between West and McQueen that sometimes descended into madness, but always transcended a normal art talk. The gathering was almost completely unannounced, and Govan told me that the exhibition itself was hastily organized, having been brought to him by UTA art division’s Josh Roth a few weeks before. While many roll their eyes when West co-opts a Grammy mic to deliver some incoherent egomaniacal rant, just as many cannot wait to hear what he does next. I would trade all of”—a beat as he reconsidered—“no, two of my Grammys to be able to be permanently in the art context.” The pairing was no coincidence, however.

Several years back, West cold-called McQueen after “connecting on a high level” with a retrospective of the British filmmaker he had seen at the Schaulager exhibition space in Basel, Switzerland. Their second phone conversation lasted over two hours. “He came to our wedding,” West said, acknowledging how quickly the friendship accelerated, and also wife Kim Kardashian, who was sitting in the front row. West is known for collaborations with high-profile artists, notably Takashi Murakami on the animated Good Morning video and George Condo, who did the cover for My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. The social-media empress had spent a few moments proudly snapping iPhone photos of West before the conversation, which was presented by NeueHouse in association with UTA Fine Arts. The video had its world premiere in March, at Foundation Louis Vuitton during Paris Fashion Week, but it has not been shown since then – though a six-minute bootleg version is on YouTube.

Govan started by touching on the fact that McQueen’s career began as a fine artist, even winning the Turner Prize, a prestigious annual prize given to an English artist by the Tate Gallery, before going onto direct the Oscar-winning 12 Years A Slave. The second conversation was two hours and 15 minutes.” The conversations continued until a bit of serendipity found the both of them shopping at Rei Kawakubo’s London concept store Dover Street Market. Shot entirely in an empty loft space with a desaturated palette and natural soft lighting, the video features West in widescreen format, dancing, dodging and weaving through All Day, a song about going from the streets of Chicago’s South Side – West was raised in the suburbs – to the big time, and doing it his way. That would be the ultimate version of what they’re looking for.” Like the way he’s been boomeranging between mediums—expanding into clothing, footwear, and visual art—West also ricochets between conversation subjects and sentiments. As in a meeting between the bull and the matador, it remains uncertain who chases whom.” There is a spontaneous quality to the footage, which really documents a semi-energetic performance.

During the course of the panel, West was both self-aware and funny, apologizing for speaking in the third person, acknowledging his off-topic rants, and asking his wife permission to spit a rhyme he performed for her earlier to better express a point. (Kardashian, wary of reporters, vetoed this request.) He was idealistic and heartfelt. “I will die for the truth. . .truth is what comes closest to love and beauty,” he said during one tangent. “We have the means to create a human utopia but we keep bringing ourselves down. . .The hardest thing for me each day is when [his and Kardashian’s daughter] North discovers something about the world that is bad, or something she isn’t allowed to do.” He was blunt. And I am.” He championed conflict. “That’s why I embrace racism,” West proclaimed suddenly during a rant. “At least it means you have a fucking opinion.” He also voiced his support of the Taylor Swift and Nicki Minaj Twitter battle over MTV VMA nominations: “Oh, you actually have an opinion on your life’s work and are fighting for the truth? Good.” And he was philosophical: “There are very few artists left in actual music,” West said, reflecting on his first professional arena. . . [True artists like] “Kurt Cobain and Picasso were able to reach into your soul like the second Indiana Jones movie and pull your fucking heart out.” These days, though, West thinks most musicians are more concerned with sponsorships and image maintenance than artistic output. After a micro-beat, he added conclusively, “They will be forgotten.” Perhaps that haunting concept is part of the reason why West dove into other artistic arenas, the latest of which is officially museum-quality art.

When asked by Govan how he keeps the experimental spirit alive in his multifarious activities, West responded: “You have to bring your dreams into reality. I went to the Venice Biennale with [artist] Vanessa Beecroft, and I went to an exhibition at Palazzo Fortuny [the former home of early 20th century Italian artist Mariano Fortuny]. It’s cool.’ But right now, it’s super easy just to f— with people, because people are so closed-minded: ‘You’re a rapper, so you can’t possibly fathom the size of a dress.’” The talk turned to the collaboration itself.

And also, [West being] a Black man, it’s beautiful.” Govan asked West if he was trying to capture a range of emotions. “I think it’s just being a Gemini,” West quipped. “Just embrace being a hypocrite. I’m like, ‘I feel you.’” Govan tried to steer the conversation back to vulnerability. “I think the future is being more beautiful,” said West. “I think in the future people will understand color. Nike put a Swoosh on top of the darkest Black man jumping from the free throw line, and created the power of the Swoosh, but it was really inside of Jordan, and transferred that energy to Nike. Everything that hits the press is about taking some hero that you love and bringing them down, taking some dream that you thought of and bringing it down. Let’s start with truth, and let’s build a community upon it.” Finally, he made what amounts to as much of an explanation for West’s gift for steering conversations down strange paths as we may ever get: “I go onto these rants that don’t make any sense, but I think they’re way more beautiful, so I don’t give a f—,” he said.

Guests included Liz Goldwyn, rapper Theophilus London, Thao Nguyen of CAA (who reps Steve McQueen), and UTA’s Jim Berkus and Josh Roth, as well as art world notables Shaun Regen, Anne Ellgood, Christopher Williams, and Cole Sternberg.

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