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Panelists: David Byrne, Jean Hanff Korelitz, Warren Zanes
Moderator: Carlo McCormick
We have long used the outsider to delineate the interior dimensions of the psychological, social and political space we occupy. “We” are what “they” are not; our place is that which excludes their otherness. When our cultural interior—domestic and institutional alike— becomes too polite and predictable, or a parlor game that begins to feel privileged and tired, our gaze returns to the outside, to the unruly pastures that grow beyond our manicured spaces. There we learn something we don’t know, and perhaps most vitally, unlearn what we think we know. To consider these circumstances which are often hard to put into words, a singer/songwriter/visual artist, a novelist, and a musician/author/film producer will look past the obvious and describe what they see there.
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David Byrne is a musician, singer, songwriter, visual artist, and filmmaker. A solo artist for over forty years, he was a founding member, principal songwriter, lead singer, and guitarist for the American band Talking Heads. For the last thirty-five years, his record label, Luaka Bop, has supported visionary musicians from around the world. More recently, he has conceptualized, written music and lyrics for two Broadway productions, Here Lies Love and American Utopia. Byrne’s history with Outsider Art goes back to his selection of an image by Reverend Howard Finster (1916-2001) for the cover of the Talking Heads’ 1985 album Little Creatures, and he continues his ongoing collecting in the field.
Jean Hanff Korelitz is an American novelist, playwright, theater producer and essayist. Much of her most recent novel, The Latecomer, takes place in New York City and includes two pivotal scenes that occur at the opening nights of art events—one at the Outsider Art Fair, the other at a Henry Darger exhibition at the American Folk Art Museum. In the New York Times review (May 25, 2022), Allegra Goodman wrote: This is a novel about collecting and assessing art, objects and experiences. It is therefore a novel about how to see — how to contemplate a painting, how to spot therare antique in a barn full of junk, how to uncover fraud. Korelitz shows how art reveals itself to viewers and how ownership illuminates character.
Warren Zanes is a writer, musician, and Grammy-nominated documentary producer currently teaching songwriting at New York University. As a teenager, he joined the renowned Boston band The Del Fuegos and made three records for Slash/Warner Bros. Later, Zanes earned his Ph.D in Visual and Cultural Studies at the University of Rochester. He was the Vice President of Education and Public Programs at The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for ten years, and Executive Director of the Rock and Roll Forever Foundation. His books include a celebrated biography of Tom Petty and most recently, Nebraska, Deliver Me from Nowhere, about Bruce Springsteen’s seminal 1982 album which he recorded on a rudimentary Teac 144 four-track cassette recorder.
Carlo McCormick is a critic and curator based in New York City. For over thirty years he was Senior Editor at Paper Magazine and has been a frequent contributor to numerous mainstream art and pop culture periodicals. His writing has been published in over a hundred books and in a dozen different languages. He has organized exhibitions at museums and galleries across the US, Europe and Asia, and taught at various universities and art schools.