Dazed's ultimate guide to US creativity
As part of our new summer US project States of Independence we've invited our favourite 30 American curators, magazines, creatives and institutions to takeover Dazed for a day.
Today, for new artist day, we've turned the site over to our favourite independent galleries to tell us their favourite, freshest American visual artists. From Antoine Catala's ET portraits to Devin Kenny's rap happenings, dig in and take note.
Over to LA for the next in our series of spotlights on America's next wave of artists, as LA Hammer Gallery recommends Devin Kkenny. The south-side Chicago born and raised artist-cum-musician-cum-rapper uses, in the words of Hammer Gallery "music, performance, video, writing, fashion design and almost any other means possible to explore and complicate ideas on contemporary culture." His works run the gambit from the studio visit film to the street rap video to the gallery drinks table, playing and poeticising digital culture, from captcha haikus to the heartwrenching performance of the Trayvon meme. He's a a really cool new voice, whose pop culture takedowns showcase a subversively political and philosophical hardline. He'll be bringing his show In The Cloud, On The Ground to the Hammer on the 5th August, but anyone outside of downtown Los Angeles can check him out on his networks.
When did you decide to become an artist?
Devin Kkenny: During my battery of standardized tests, I was told I had an aptitude for being a politician, a guidance counselor, and for packing and unpacking parcels... Also at some point making mini-comics became too disheartening.
What is inspiring you right now?
Devin Kkenny: I'm inspired by people doing the right thing, and people doing the wrong thing in ways that we can learn from it...oh and kits for making your own grills. I guess you could follow me on some social network for a constant feed of those things.
Can you tell us a bit about your practice?
Devin Kkenny: Practice makes permanent.
I came into art from downloading anime, listening to hiphop, bboying, reading zines and mini-comics, skateboarding, writing graffiti, doing my homework, studying for tests, doing extracurricular clubs, volunteering, and going to the library for fun, so my approach is one that has a pretty big purview for various types of cultural production. I make videos, performances, music, objects, images, and text, which live in physical spaces and online.
What's the work that you're proudest of?
Devin Kkenny: I'm most proud of the work that prompts rigorous conversations, and allows for seemingly disparate groups to draw connections between each other, also the work that contains an accurate portrayal in the simplest of means.
What's your favourite colour?
Devin Kkenny: My favorite would have to be whatever is the last color seen by my ideological enemies as they perish under the brunt of their own missteps. No. I used to really like pale greens, like seafoam...then warm greys. Or wait, no, my favorite color is the color that happens when you look at a pair of Yeezy Red Octobers for 30-45 seconds without blinking or moving your eyes too much, and then look at an evenly lit white wall. Chromatic blacks come at a close second though.
Or wait, no, my favorite color is the color that happens when you look at a pair of Yeezy Red Octobers for 30-45 seconds without blinking or moving your eyes too much, and then look at an evenly lit white wall.
Is there an individual who has helped you get to where you are as an artist today?
Devin Kkenny: Before an artist, I'm a person, so I'd have to say my grandmother helped me most in getting me where I am today. I would not have made it to this point without her. But that's not really an answer to the question is it? ...as an artist? No. Many people impacted me, not one individual. Here's an incomplete list of friends, family,professors, rappers, skaters, mentors, exes, inspirations, mentees, loves, classmates, roommates etc. there's no repeats, and no real logical grouping (neither temporal nor locational) and I also omitted the last names :
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