Eric’s Stubble.



Paul Mpagi Sepuya
Eric, at Wayne’s writing desk, January 25 (2012)

ERIC’S STUBBLE (excerpt).
By Wayne Koestenbaum
January 6, 2012

Originally published in STUDIO WORK (2012), currently in My 1980’s & Other Essays by Wayne Koestenbaum.

I live with Eric. No, I live with a photograph of Eric, taken by Paul Mpagi Sepuya, whose work is easy to love and difficult to theorize. I bought Eric’s image at Envoy Gallery in 2007 because I felt sexual desire for what the photograph seemed to represent. Eric has conspicuous stubble; his gray-green eyes refute the stubble or establish a dialectical relation with it. Eric’s eyebrows are thick, dark; his hairstyle — bangs? — recalls a Roman or Sicilian wall painting. His skin tone is pale, call it olive. His stubble is verdigris. Compared to the stubble, the skin retreats into pallor, hunger, vagueness. Eric is the type of guy I tend to classify as “Levantine,” which means, in my anachronistic imagination, a crypto-Jewish amalgam of Egyptian, Turkish, Greek, Italian, and a few other tinctures. We shouldn’t classify guys; typology is a cruel exercise. Paul’s photographs refuse to classify the men he captures. And yet the ghost of categorization (August Sander and his ilk) hovers over any photograph that isolates its human object.

Still lifes for GARMENTO

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I will hosting an interactive performance this Friday night at 1am (Saturday) at Recess as part of the 24 HR BALLAD, a project by my friends Alex Segade and Malik Gaines aka Courtesy the Artists.

Courtesy the Artists (Malik Gaines and Alexandro Segade) with Niv Acosta, Morgan Bassichis, Gregg Bordowitz, Quincy Flowers, Charles Gaines, Miguel Guttierez, Nick Hallett, Vishal Jugdeo, Zach Layton, Sara Magenheimer, Zavé Martohardjono, Sam Greenleaf Miller, Hiroshi McDonald Mori, Tavia Nyong’o, Jeanine Oleson, Jessica Posner, Katy Pyle, Matana Roberts, Marina Rosenfeld, Joshua Seidner, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Christine Sun Kim, and Saya Woolfalk. Presented in conjunction with Performa13.

Extending the narrative form past its own logical conclusion, the 24-Hour Ballad performance draws out one folk song for a full sun-cycle. Courtesy the Artists and collaborators will take a full day to explore “Black is the Color (Of My True Love’s Hair),” an Appalachian folk song with Scottish roots often associated with the Civil War, and later Civil Rights, through memorable interpretations by Nina Simone and Patty Waters. Meditating on the refrain, which suggests an array of affective positions and relations, the artists re-consider the text as an evocation of the non-blond.

Each artist and/or cultural producer will make a work responding to the folk song, scheduled for a different hour of the day, from noon Friday to noon Saturday. Improvisations, recitals, critiques and spectacles!

Seduction and Its Immediate Consequences


I contributed a new image to my friend Alex Dimitrov’s poetry, with three new poems featured on BOMB magazine’s Bombsite poetry series. The first is below, read the whole set here.

Seduction and Its Immediate Consequences by Alex Dimitrov

One April in autumn you were my story for hours.
The silence of those days became like a shirt.
“His screaming fits were nothing other than
attempts at seduction,” writes Freud in The Wolfman.
How many accounts for how many things and what did we own?
In the movie of their lives there were people
they saw like notes in the margins
and in the vials a bright mess they carried inside.
Michael, Michael, Michael.
If a name is said enough times in a poem
something will happen. But that isn’t your name
and it isn’t a city, so where do you live?
Winter taught me to wear a very thin nothing those evenings.
When the car sped through the tunnel, when the cemetery
filled with the living, when the drink was named
for what they couldn’t quite taste.
And you didn’t decide on the friends or the lovers,
the shoes or the card that was sent and said
come—it’s a party for all of our questions.
And why shouldn’t we have it.
Why not invite what no one can have.
Immediately, he could tell. Even in the middle of the water.
Soon it will all close without warning or lights.
And between the acts, where we live,
after a while you’re wearing too much
no matter what you take off.
But you, filling the room with smoke,
trying hard to be human—
I love you and it’s cinema just to keep looking.
Listen, I would say in my messages…
on a page or a screen, through a window.
I’d follow you home but it’s a very brief night.

intuition is preceding over my understanding.

I made a photo piece in collaboration with Chase Granoff that will be installed during his performance at The Chocolate Factory, in Long Island City, Queens this next week.

intuition is preceding over my understanding.

November 16-19, 2011 / 8 o’clock pm at The Chocolate Factory in LIC / Tickets $15

Chase Granoff’s intuition is preceding over my understanding. is a solo performance of a landscape exploring an expression of time and place, present and past. Interested in the movements of sustainability, slow and local and how they can be applicable to choreographic thought as expressed through improvisation and score, this choreographic exhibition will unfold through a multitude of expressions in hopes of offering various perspectives of the questions that created it – grounded in the honesty and transparency of the bread that will be offered.

Considering the Steve Paxton quote “researched the fiction of cultured dance and the ‘truth’ of improvisation” – is choreography an aesthetics of change? How is my interest in bread making part of a dance (life) practice? Is dance a politics? This solo has something to do with becoming a father. Re-becoming a dancer.

For tickets, please visit


item idem and Peter Mountain Works.


I shot some photos for my friend Cyril (item idem) and his design collaboration for Peter Mountain Works, on a limited edition backpack. Look for them in select stores soon! Item Idem blog here.

SHABD SS12 Lookbook.

I’m very excited to have collaborated with my friend Shabd on her SS12 lookbook, inspired by my project from the Studio Museum residency and featuring still lifes from her studio and working process. Here are a few shots I liked, more coming soon!

Hey Berlin! Autobiography of a Search opens this Thursday.


Hey Berliners! Tim Hull and TM Davy and I made a special project for ninety-five at 95 Torstrasse opening this Thursday night. Here are a couple of images below.

Timothy Hull, TM Davy and Paul Mpagi Sepuya, "Untitled' 2011 C-print, 2011, Ed 5/5

Hull, Davy and Sepuya, "Untitled' 2011, C-print, 16 x 20 in,2011, Ed 5/5

Hull, Davy and Sepuya, "Untitled' 2011, C-print, 8 x 10 inches, Ed 5/5


I’ve been working with artist Chase Granoff on some imagery for a work-in-progress dance-movement piece. I love this photo, just one of many many to work with.

AEOA and Jean Genet.

Excerpts from AEOA were featured in PREF Magazine’s November – December issue celebrating the 100th anniversary of Genet’s birth, to accompany an article/conversation on Genet’s involvement in Arab and Palestinian causes. I’m not very familiar with the magazine, but if you know French, it’s a good read!

Exile: Berlin with Item Idem.

The collaborative piece I created last year with Item Idem, as a gift to AA Bronson, 30 Years of Nazi Milk, will be in the group exhibition Lost Horizon / Head Shop at Exile: Berlin, which opens on the 17th of July. For my original post on the piece, click here.
This July and August Exile presents its second annual Summer Camp curated by New York based artist, writer, editor and independent publisher Billy Miller. For this year’s SummerCamp Miller curated two simultaneous exhibitions entitled Head Shop and Lost Horizon: 
Head Shop is both a nod to legendary ‘60s bohemian boutiques like Granny Takes A Trip, and an evocation of the idea of the mind as a storehouse of images and potentialities.

Artists: Dan Acton, The Agitators, Assume Vivid Astro Focus, Brian Belott, Nina Bovasso, Matt Borruso, Larry Carlson, Ryan Cummings, TM Davy, Michael Economy, Krista Figacz, Janie Geiser, Fritz Haeg, Christian Holstad, Brian Kenny, Paul Kopkau, Steve LaFreniere, Justin Lowe, Noah Lyon, Michael Magnan, Rachel Mason, Glynnis McDaris, Ashleigh Nankivell, Mary Nicholson, Darinka Novitovic, Genesis P. Orridge, Jason Peters, Kevin Regan, Alex Rose, Desi Santiago, Barbara Sullivan, Jan Wandrag, David West, Justin Yockel

Lost Horizon takes its title from the book and film of the same name, and suggests aspects of American Western mythology and “lost” possibilities – ecological, cultural, personal and otherwise.

Artists: D-L Alvarez, Rachel Beach, Michael Bilsborough, Colby Bird, Matthew Burcaw, Kathe Burkhart, Luke Butler, Brendan Carroll, Walt Cassidy, Wayne Coe, Reuben Cox, Pia Dehne, Peter Eide, Carl Ferrero, Jonah Freeman, Janine Gordon, Jonah Groeneboer, Marcus Gruendel, Tina Hejtmanek, Scott Hug, Stephen Irwin, Pat Keesey, Lisa Kirk, Lewis Klahr, Martin Kohout, Kristian Kozul, Paul Lee, Peter Maloney, Glynnis McDaris, Dean Sameshima, Paul Sepuya, Florent Tillon, Frank Webster, Ken Warneke

Collab with Timothy Hull for TOKION.

Timothy Hull + Paul Mpagi Sepuya = Colossus of Memnon #2
Scan of collaged laser prints on paper. 2009

My friend Tim was asked to pick another artist to collaborate with for TOKION’s February issue and he asked me to work with him. The idea was each artist taking a work of theirs and mashing them up into a new piece. We used Tim’s photographs of the Costa Rican rainforest and Colossus of Memnon in Egypt along with my portrait, Avi (2005) to make this really fun collage!

We spent an afternoon back in December at my studio cutting up and arranging and scanning so many things that we decided we had enough to make a zine or a small book out of them all. So watch out for something special coming soon. But for now pick up the current issue of TOKION for this and a bunch of other great work.

More photos from Ryan McNamara’s Sacred Band…

Sacred Band photos with Ryan McNamara.

For years I have had in my mind to do a collaboration with a choreographer, dancer, or performance artist to do a series to be photographed. When my friend Ryan asked me to participate in his piece for Performa 09 (Ryan McNamara Presents The Sacred Band of Thebes AKA In Memory of Robert Isabell AKA Any Fag Could Do That, Friday November 13th at X Initiative), first thing I thought was, Let’s do a photo project from it. More to come! And do come out Friday night for the performance at 8pm.

Below are all photographs created in collaboration with Ryan and a few of his 30+ performing “Band of Thebes”:

Dancers Bradley Ellis and Luke Gutgsell, performance artist Jack Ferver, and artists Sam Roeck and Myles Ashby.

Myles and Sam.


Bradley and Luke.

And if anyone is interested in doing any performance/photography collaborations, let’s chat.


I will be participating in my friend and fellow artist Ryan McNamara’s performance piece at PERFORMA on November 13th, and making a collaborative photography-video piece with Ryan based on the one-night performance.

In 375 BC, the Sacred Band of Thebes, an elite force composed entirely of homosexual lovers, annihilated the Spartan army, a brigade three times their size, at Teygra. 2352 years later, party planner Robert Isabell triumphed as well, becoming an instant sensation when he filled Studio 54 with four tons of glitter.

Ryan McNamara is an artist working in New York City. In spring 2009, he worked on “Bernie, The Magic Lady,” a performance and installation at APF Lab. This summer, his video and performance work was included in the 2nd Athens Biennale and “Stars!” at Salon 94 Freemans. In August, McNamara wrote, directed, and starred in “Ryan McNamara presents Klaus von Nichtssagend: The Musical” at Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery. McNamara has also performed as a dancer at numerous New York venues, including Dance Theater Workshop, P.S. 122, and The Kitchen.

Presented by X Initiative.
548 W. 22nd Street

Friday, November 13 8:00pm