VALS Lecture—Sable Elyse Smith—Tuesday Oct 23, 6:30pm



Sable Elyse Smith

Tuesday, October 23

Prentis 101



Sable Elyse Smith is an interdisciplinary artist, writer, and educator based in New York & Richmond Virginia. Using video, sculpture, photography, and text, she points to the carceral, the personal, the political, and the quotidian to speak about a violence that is largely unseen, and potentially imperceptible.  Her work has been featured at the Museum of Modern Art,  MoMA Ps1, New Museum, The Studio Museum in Harlem,  SIGNAL Gallery, Rachel Uffner Gallery, and Recess Assembly, New York; Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and Artist Television Access, San Francisco, CA; Birkbeck Cinema in collaboration with the Serpentine Galleries, London. Her writing has been published in Radical Teacher, Studio Magazine and Affidavit and she is currently working on her first book. Smith has received awards from Creative Capital, Fine Arts Work Center, the Queens Museum, Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Rema Hort Mann Foundation, the Franklin Furnace Fund, and Art Matters. She is currently Assistant Professor of Sculpture & Extended Media at the University of Richmond.

VALS Lecture—Naama Tsabar—Tuesday Oct 16, 6:30pm


Naama Tsabar

Tuesday, October 16

Prentis 101




Naama Tsabar (b. 1982, Israel) Lives and works in NYC. received her MFA from Columbia University in 2010. Solo exhibitions and performances of Tsabar have been presented at Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, NY, Museum of Art and Design (New York), The High Line Art (New York), Kunsthuas Baselland, Switzerland, Palais De Tokyo (Paris), Prospect New Orleans, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, The Herziliya Museum for Contemporary Art in Israel, MARTE-C (El Salvador), Frieze Projects New York, Paul Kasmin Gallery (New York), Paramo Gallery (Guadalajara), Dvir Gallery (Israel), Spinello Projects (Miami). Selected group exhibitions featuring Tsabar’s work include TM Triennale, Hasselt Genk, Belgium, ‘Greater New York’ 2010 at MoMA PS1, Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens (Belgium), The Bucharest Biennale for Young Artists, Hessel Museum of Art at CCS Bard, Casino Luxembourg (Luxembourg), ExtraCity in Antwerp (Belgium).Tsabar’s work has been featured in publications including ArtForum, Art In America, ArtReview, ARTnews, The New York Times, New York Magazine, Frieze, Bomb Magazine, Art Asia Pacific, Wire, and Whitewall, among others.


Naama Tsabar in Bomb Magazine

Naama Tsabar at the Guggenheim (video)

Naama Tsabar in the Creative Independent

Naama Tsabar in Artforum

VALS Lecture—Justine Kurland—Thursday Oct 11, 6:30pm



Justine Kurland

Thursday, October 11

Prentis 101



Justine Kurland, known for her utopian photographs of American landscapes and their fringe communities, has spent the better part of the last twenty years on the road. Following in the photographic lineage of Robert Frank, Stephen Shore, and Joel Sternfeld, Kurland’s work examines the story of America—and the idea of the American dream juxtaposed against the reality. Since 2004, Kurland and her young son, Casper, have traveled in their customized van, going south in the winter and north in the summer, her life as an artist finely balanced between the demands of a parent and the demands of her work. Casper appears at different ages in the photographs, against open vistas and among the subcultures of train-hoppers and drifters around them. Kurland’s vision is in equal parts raw and romantic, idyllic and dystopian.

Recent work departs from the road trips she is known for and returns home: her apartment in New York City, her hometown of Fulton, New York, and her mother’s home in rural Virginia. Kurland invaginates fragments of this life (her cat, lovers, a bloodied tampon) with allusions to a matrilineage including Carolee Schneemann, Betty Tompkins, Judy Chicago, Hannah Wilke, and Emily Roysdon.

Justine Kurland (born in Warsaw, New York, 1969) received her BFA from the School of Visual Arts and her MFA from Yale University. Her work has been exhibited extensively at museums in the United States and internationally. Recent museum exhibitions include The Open Road at the Detroit Institute of Art, Detroit, Michigan; More American Photographs, Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio; and Off the Grid #1 and #2, Fotodok, the Netherlands. She was the focus of a solo exhibition at Mitchell-Innes and Nash this spring and a two-person exhibition at Higher Pictures this summer, both in New York City. Her work is in the public collections of institutions including the Whitney Museum of American Art, Guggenheim Museum, and International Center of Photography, New York, as well as the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, among others.

Justine Kurland in Conversation with Her Son, Casper (via Aperture)

Justine Kurland for the New York Times Magazine

Justine Kurland in the New Yorker



VALS Lecture—Jon Kessler—Tuesday, Oct 2, 6:30pm


Jon Kessler

Tuesday, October 2nd, 6:30pm

Prentis 101


With his chaotic kinetic installations, Jon Kessler (b. 1957, Yonkers, New York) critiques our image-obsessed, surveillance-dominated world. His machines are at once complex and lumbering, combining mechanical know-how with kitschy materials and images. Structurally complex and narratively engaging, Jon Kessler’s multimedia sculptures often deliver an emotional punch beyond their humble means. With his distinct vocabulary, Kessler taps into our all-too-real modern-day anxieties, but at the same time, spirits us away into an exciting wonderland that is ultimately uplifting.


VALS Lecture—Rafa Esparza—Tuesday, Sept 25, 6:30pm

Rafa Esparza
Tuesday, September 25th
Prentis 101

rafa esparza is a multidisciplinary artist who was born, raised, and is currently living in Los Angeles. Woven into esparza’s bodies of work are his interests in history, personal narratives, and kinship. He is inspired by his own relationship to colonization and the disrupted genealogies that come forth as a result. Using live performance as his main form of inquiry, esparza employs site-specificity, materiality, memory and (non)documentation as primary tools to interrogate and critique ideologies, power structures and binaries that problematize the “survival” process of historicized narratives and the environments wherein people are left to navigate and socialize. esparza’s recent projects have evolved through experimental collaborative projects grounded by laboring with land vis a vis adobe, a labor inherited by his father Ramon Esparza, where the artist shares institutional space and resources to invited Brown and Queer artists and cultural producers. esparza is invested in working in the local geographies that are the Southwest including Mexico and Latin-America.

He has performed in a variety of spaces, public and private, throughout Los Angeles including AIDS Project Los Angeles, Highways Performance Space, REDCAT, Human Resources, Vincent Price Museum, LACE, has shown around the U.S. in places that include The Whitney Museum of American Art, The Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, Ballroom Marfa, and internationally at Oficina de Procesos, Mexicali, El Museo del Chopo, Mexico city, was part of the 2018 spring cohort at Artpace Artist in Residence program in San Antonio, Texas, and recently led a guerrilla processional performance with over 25 artists through the historic fashion thoroughfare market The Santee Alley as part of his project de la Calle at the Institute of Contemporary Art Los Angeles summer of 2018.
press:     artforum / la times / bomb / frieze / x-tra

VALS Lecture—Kembra Pfahler—Tuesday, Sept 18, 6:30pm


please join us Tuesday for a lecture by the inimitable

Kembra Pfahler
Tuesday, September 18 / 6:30pm / Prentis Hall, Room 101


Kembra Pfahler is a New York City-based interdisciplinary artist, and is the current lead singer of her band The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black, along with her long-time partner in the arts, Samoa.

Pfahler grew up in Los Angeles amid the first wave of LA punk in the 1970s, on a surf goth diet that included Diamanda Galas, The Screamers, Johanna Wendt, Parliament Funkadelic, and surf filmmakers like Bruce Brown. After high school, Pfahler left for New York to attend the School of Visual Arts (SVA). Her films and performances were shown in New York throughout the 1980s. During this decade she lived through the AIDS epidemic, which would shift the course of her life forever. She gave up all harmful substances in the late 80s in honor of her friends who had died from AIDS, and started a band that combined what she had been articulating through an abyss of mediums for ten years. The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black was born: a theatrical rock band the likes of which none had experienced in some time. Over the course of a decade beginning in the 90s, she toured, made records and films, and cemented her footprint in the landscape of minor cultural icons. In 2006, The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black gave a conceptual concert, entitled Sound of Magic, at Deitch Projects. Recently, the Independent Film Channel produced a special film on the group called: I Believe in Halloween. She claimed popularity was an abscess that would pop, and is a self-claimed anhedoniac.

After 2000, she resumed a life in the art world, exhibiting all around the world. Major solo exhibitions include CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS, Emalin, (London, 2016); Fuck Island, Participant Inc. (New York, 2012); File Under ‘V’, Rove Gallery (London, 2005); Availabism and Anti-naturalism: A Feminine Experiment, American Fine Arts Company (New York, 2002); and Riddle of the Sphinx, Deitch Projects (New York, 2002). Selected group exhibitions include Future Feminism, The Hole (New York, 2014); New York Minute, Garage Center for Contemporary Art (Moscow, 2011) traveling to MACRO Museum (Rome, 2011); Dead Flowers, Vox Populi (Philadelphia, 2010); and the 2008 Whitney Biennial (New York). Pfahler also performed with Anohni during her tours Turning and Hopelessness.  She is currently represented by Emalin Gallery, and recently received a Golden award from Bust magazine.
She founded Availabism, a philosophy put into practice since the 80s, which means making the best use of what is available. She formed P.L.O.W. (Punk Ladies of Wrestling), a women’s wrestling team that performed with The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black. She practices Gothletics: a form of parcour and gymnastics.
Pfahler developed the 13 Tenets For Future Feminism with Anohni and Johanna Constantine and has done shows in New York and Denmark pushing the directives of the FF movement. She founded Performance Art 101 in 2010, with the encouragement of her friends, which she has taught in Chicago, Los Angeles, Berlin, and Aarhus, Denmark. Currently, Pfahler teaches a performance course at Columbia University called The Queen’s Necklace.
Photo by Christelle De Castro 

VALS Lecture – Tourmaline – Tuesday September 11, 6:30pm


Please join us!


Tuesday, September 11 / 6:30pm / Prentis Hall, Room 101


Tourmaline is a filmmaker whose work includes Atlantic is a Sea of BonesThe Personal ThingsLost in the Music and Happy Birthday, Marsha! She is also an editor of TRAP DOOR, an anthology on trans cultural production published by the New Museum & MIT Press.

Tourmaline makes film and installed video that highlights the capacity of black queer/trans social life to impact the world while living what is simultaneously an invisible—and hypervisible—existence. The throughline of her filmmaking focuses on everyday people and their mundane creative acts that blur the lines and liens of what constitutes public

She received a BA from Columbia University and is the recipient of the 2018 Publishing Triangle Award, 2017 HBO & Queer/Art Prize and 2016 Art Matters Foundation Grant.

Her work has been presented across the world including at the MOMA, Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Whitney Museum, MOCA LA, Brooklyn Museum, BAM Cinema and the New Museum and has appeared in Vogue Magazine, the New York Times, the New Yorker, Artforum, Culture Magazine, Art in America and Teen Vogue.

Sept 21-22 at The Kitchen Tourmaline and Sasha Wortzel will present
a live immersive screening of their film Happy Birthday, Marsha! 
& the film will be screening at BAM beginning Oct 12

VALS Lecture – Aki Sasamoto – Tuesday September 4, 6:30pm


Welcome back or welcome for the first time!

Our first VALS lecture of the 2018-2019 school year will be:

Aki Sasamoto

Tuesday, September 4th / 6:30pm / Prentis Hall, Room 101

Aki Sasamoto works in sculpture, performance, video, and whatever other medium it takes to get her ideas across. In her installation/performance works, Aki moves and talks inside the careful arrangements of sculpturally altered objects, activating bizarre emotions behind daily life. Her works appear in gallery spaces, theater spaces, as well as in odd sites. Shown at SculptureCenter, the Kitchen, Chocolate Factory Theater, Whitney Biennial 2010 at Whitney Museum, Greater New York 2010 at MOMA-PS1, New York; National Museum of Art-Osaka, Mori Museum, Take Ninagawa, Yokohama Triennale 2008, Japan; Gwangju Biennial 2012, South Korea; Shanghai Biennale 2016, China; Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2016, India; and numerous other international and domestic venues. She has collaborated with musicians, choreographers, mathematicians, and scholars. She teaches in the Sculpture Department at Yale School of Art. Aki likes food.

Aki’s website

& some press: frieze / art21 / artforum