David Horvitz is a Brooklyn based artist who’s diverse practice includes photography, curating, performance, text, social experiments, and publishing. Often described as a prolific artist, David’s unconventional and inspirational works range from downloadable group art exhibitions, a daily instructional text mailing list, curated art exhibitions contained within post office boxes, daily mail outs of a photograph of the New York sky, and stamping every dollar bill that crosses his path with the phrase “A small distraction interrupting you from your everyday routine”. David took the time to answer some questions for 01.
“Do something everyday, regardless. Nothing will happen unless you first initiate a process of cause and effect. This starts with an action. Reawaken the possibility of possibility. Reawaken it with play.” – David Horvitz
Did you do something today?
Yes, I did many things today. But the funny thing is, I started to answer this yesterday, but then went to sleep. So, no, I haven’t done anything yet.
Can you give us a little background information about yourself and your work for those who are not familiar with it?
I live in NY now, but I grew up in LA. I always tell people, “I’m from LA but I live in NY.” I’ve always taken photographs, and that is probably the foundation of what I do. But I’m not really a “photographer,” even though, yes I am. I don’t even know where to start. I will just describe the last project that happened, and that could give people a sense of things. Yesterday, ASDF, a website I do with my friend Mylinh Trieu Nguyen, launched our most recent project. It’s called S.A.S.E. and consists of ten “exhibitions” which exist within the structure of an e-mail. 11 people were asked to curate/organize an email (there was one collaboration). The lineage that has built up to this project works with ideas of distribution, viewer activation, collaboration, community, art/design, curating/organizing, etc… They are projects that are digital, and work with other artists to produce the content that is placed within the system we construct. But I do my own personal work as well.
What is the motivation behind your 2009 blog?
In 2008 I had a mailing list where I photographed the sky everyday and sent it out to the email list with the location it was shot. When that year ended I thought I should do another yearly mailing list project. I decided to make simple instructional texts that I would try to write everyday. I decided to make a blog to document the writing of these. That is where the blog came out of. The idea of the yearly mailing list work came first.
Much of your work has a consistant theme of bridging the gap between two people or objects. Why are you drawn to that?
It’s a nice thing.
On your website, you give people the opportunity to fund trips and experiences in “Things for Sale That I Will Mail To You”, in exchange for some kind of documentation or souvenir of that experience. Can recall one strange or unexpected experience?
The strangest thing to me is that so many people saw that site. That was very unexpected. I wrote it one evening in my kitchen and thought it was funny. Then it kind of exploded.
Do you think that there is a kind of romanticism in mail or the act of mailing something?
There can be. But obviously, there is room for other things too (like mailing anthrax or a bomb). Thinking purely about mail, you can think about a system that can be used for whatever purpose. But thinking about two individuals separated by distance, and using the possibilities of this system, then yes, a kind of romanticism is possible.
He told me the days I needed to shave.
Did you enjoy visiting Vancouver?
I loved it.
What is one of your favorite projects that you have worked on in your ASDF collaboration with Mylinh?
When Mylinh and I go out and eat to talk about a project. White fish on rice noodle with turmeric, dill, and roasted garlic slivers. A little bit of hot sauce. The project of eating to discuss the project.
How important do you think it is to make art free or affordable?
Honestly, I don’t know. If you talk about the importance of affordable art, you first are already assuming an importance in owning art. Is owning art important? Or, is buying/selling art important? The concept of “free” could maybe be placed into a different category than “affordable.” Something affordable still uses money, when something that is free is beyond that (a gift). Though, there is also the idea of what you want to communicate, and that doesn’t always have to come with owning something. And that, I would think, is always free. Another problem I think about is the that of excess and waste and how easy it is to produce something. We live in a time where almost anyone can mass produce something, and these can be given away for free, or sold cheaply. That sounds great, but then it is so easy to just print something mediocre. And, I think there is a problem there, because it becomes a pile of trash and a waste of resources, and just more stuff. Whenever I make something in mass quantities, I always ask myself, am I just wasting a bunch of paper that will end up in a trashcan in less than a year? Or, is there something more here? I don’t think you can just say, this is “art,” and that justifies it. It’s a tricky question.
What are three things you would do if you won the lottery?
I don’t know. I tell myself that I would probably just give it away. But would I really do that?
What is one song that everyone should listen to and one book that everyone should read?
Lou Reed, “Street Hassle.” John Berger, “And our Faces, My Heart, Brief as Photos.”
What is your favorite photograph that someone else has taken?
The vantage point is looking down towards the floor. A cat is looking up towards the camera. Whenever I look at it I imagine the photographer looking straight down, while the cat looks up. This moment of recognition where one head looks down and one head looks up, I find amusing.
What is your favorite photograph that you have taken?
A photograph looking out at sea at the southern most point of Japan. A small Okinawan island called Hateruma.
How is Astral projection coming along?
I need to finish reading the book I took from this DIY collective library at a UCSB punk house 5 years ago. I will read it one day.
What do you do when you feel a need to be inspired?
1. David Horvitz and Mylinh Trieu Nguyen at the Filip Review, Vancouver
2. In Real Time (ASDF)
3. Entry in the 2009 blog
4. The Box Game
5. S.A.S.E. and For a Brief Time Only at a Location Near You (ASDF)
6. Everything That Can Happen In A Day
7. How To Exit a Photograph
8. For a Brief Time Only at a Location Near You and In Real Life (ASDF)
9. The Wikipedia Reader (ASDF)
10. Take A Walk Into The Sun
11. It’s Easy to Find