Thomas Lawson is editor-in-chief of East of Borneo, and an artist, educator, and writer. His essays have appeared in such journals as Artforum, Art in America, Flash Art, frieze and October, as well as numerous exhibition catalogues. From 1979 until 1992 he, along with writer Susan Morgan, published and edited REALLIFE Magazine, an irregular publication by and about younger artists interested in the relationship between art and life. From 2002 until 2009 he was US editor of Afterall, an international art journal then co-published by Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design, London, and the Art School at the California Institute of the Arts, Los Angeles. A book of his selected writings, Mining for Gold, was published by JRP-Ringier, Zurich in 2004, and an anthology of work from REALLIFE Magazine was published by Primary Information, New York, in 2007.
Michael Asher: There is Never Enough Time to Get Everything Said by Thomas Lawson
In 1983 The Press of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design published Michael Asher’s Writings 1973 – 1983 on Works 1969 – 1979. The book was edited by Benjamin H.D. Buchloh, and in his preface he notes that the motive he and Asher shared was to make accessible an artistic project that was by its nature transient. As is typical for a small college press, the book was published in a small edition, and has long been out of print. For years students and fans have shared tattered PDFs, but now Primary Information has republished it, giving Thomas Lawson an opportunity to reconsider a number of projects that Asher completed in art school contexts, just as he was beginning a long career as a transformative teacher at CalArts.
Luciano Perna (1958 – 2021) by Thomas Lawson
Luciano Perna described himself as “an international folkloric artist,” and went on to refine the definition by underlining his “anxieties to be contemporary.” He always took photographs, but also sometimes painted, and often made constructed sculptures using found materials scavenged from flea markets and food stores, old Weber grills and cheap spaghetti. Through these materials he composed elaborate visual puns and creaking jokes about modern art and culture – imagine Mario Merz with a sense of humor.
A CalArts Story by Thomas Lawson
To outsiders the place looked like a hippie colony, a place full of longhairs and dogs, children running free, and hand-held video cameras recording it all. Inside, it was a place of possibility. Although there were recognizable classes, the motivating idea was to create more informal spaces where artist teachers and their students discussed ideas and developed projects, most outside the traditional frameworks of art-making, projects that aimed to question the very institutional construction of art itself.
Printed Matter Virtual Art Book Fair: Tom Lawson in conversation with Fiona Connor & Emma Kemp by Thomas Lawson
On the occasion of Printed Matter’s 2021 Virtual Art Book Fair, East of Borneo Editor-in-Chief Tom Lawson joined artists Emma Kemp and Fiona Connor to discuss the role, function, and value of arts education during the sudden transition to remote learning spawned by the global pandemic. As artists and as educators, what do we do when institutional legacy—and memory—is out of sync with reality? The following is an edited transcript of the discussion held on Zoom on February 27, 2021.
Remembering John Baldessari by Thomas Lawson
John Baldessari at the opening of his exhibition at Molly Barnes Gallery in Los Angeles, 1968. Photo by Phillip T. Jones and courtesy of Baldessari Estate. In the days following John Baldessari’s death in early January this year, I dug into my archives looking for something to re-post on…
Artists at Work: Fiona Connor by Thomas Lawson
Artist Fiona Connor ran Laurel Doody, an experimental exhibition space, out of her apartment-studio on Cloverdale Avenue from April 2015 to 2016. This interview, in which Thomas Lawson and Connor discuss the Laurel Doody project, was conducted in another Silver Lake apartment in early September 2016.
Rhapsody in Pink: Stephen Prina Paints by Thomas Lawson
Artists and writers carry ideas around with them all day. These half-formed thoughts and random pieces of information jostle against each other, mostly making no sense. This is the quandary of the creative mind, full of inspiration but staring at a blank page, into an empty room. Then a pathway appears, an opening suggests itself. I suspect that Stephen Prina carries around more ideas than most, ideas about art and architecture and music and the relationship between high culture and pop, and a lot else besides.
Second Life: 4 Taxis Magazine by Thomas Lawson
Magazine of the international boondocks: In 1978, Bordeaux-based artists Michel Aphesboro and Danielle Colomine embarked on their on-going itinerant project 4 Taxis. Establishing temporary studios in different cities— from Berlin to Los Angeles—they’ve produced a nomadic publication that focuses on distinct places and a wide-ranging world of cultural activities.
Artists at Work: Liz Glynn by Thomas Lawson
I met with Liz Glynn on July 17 in her Chinatown studio to discuss the work she created for the “Made in LA” 2012 biennial at the Hammer Museum this summer. The three-part installation—with multilayered references to Egyptian pyramids, smuggling tunnels into Gaza, and other spiritual and material trade routes, legitimate and not—continues an investigation of the intersection of antiquity and the present that began with her 2008 performance, The 24 Hour Roman Reconstruction Project, in which she invited people to help her build and then destroy a cardboard model of ancient Rome.
Every Picture Tells a Story Don’t It? by Thomas Lawson
Throughout the 1970s, William Leavitt composed a series of concisely staged works—16mm films, live performances, suites of photographs, and tableaux—that eliminated conventional narrative. Employing a narrow selection of isolated objects, gestures, and text, the bigger picture dramatically plays out through evocation, variation, and repetition.