Lewisohn describes himself as an Artist, curator and writer and works in various institutions. Because Lewisohn feels like he inhabits many roles in his practice he finds it difficult to define his profession when asked. He introduced us to his work in Norway called “The cult of Ramm_Ell_Zee” renegade workshop which was a performance art piece surrounding break-dancing and spray painting. The premise was that people from the future come back to earth find trash and they don’t know how to use it, so they use it in their own way. Curating this street art transported the work to a different realm.
During college Lewisohn said that he was obsessed with the art world and wanted to be Jeff Koons but it didn’t really happen that way. He was also interested in Art Magazines and he believed that if you were in an art magazine you had made it. For his Final Degree Show he took out an ad in Frieze Magazine with an image of his mum with no other content with the caption: “Isn’t my mum the greatest”. He stated that he had never seen a black woman in magazine but he also realised that this ad was also perhaps a dumb statement this magazine is all that he displayed in his degree show. His dissertation subject was a 10 step guide to success art world and this process of writing.
In the late 1990’s Lewisohn took part in lots of shows. He discovered that you don’t need to be artist to also be a writer. A man he was interviewing at the time that was working ona project called “Lost in Space” gave him this idea and that he should start writing in art magazines.
a magazine he started writing for was called ‘Flash Art’. He didn’t want to just do straight writing, but to respond or subvert to art pieces or things he found interesting. He was especially interested in inserting fiction or lies into his writing in order for this to come across. Someone dubbed this ‘Gonzo Art Criticism’.
His first cover feature was an interview with Tim and Sue Webster in 1999/2000 he used fiction as way to explain the artwork better. He stated that he got into fight in the interview so that people may or may not have believed him creating an ambiguity.
Around the same time, Lewisohn got involved with a project where music and sound was involved from various artists from hanging around artist spaces. He said that a lot of curators currently are very precious as to who and what is included in a show, but the project he was involved in was very relaxed. This ‘Open House’ method was very interesting to him. 2001 he used his previous interest in graffiti as a teenager as a driver for his work. After graduating he saw how a new hybrid form graffiti was surafcing in east London street art at time and that fine art galleries were working with various forms of graffitism. He later met an editor for a graffiti magazine and began writng for them for a brief while.
Eventually Lewisohn got a call from the Tate Liverpool who asked him to write a text on an exhibition called “Remix” about Contemporary Art and Pop (2002) . He wrote the standard piece about the exhibition and also created a fictional interview with Puff Daddy. This was a particular turning point for him as he was asked to write something for a highly regarded art institution. Lewisohn said that he quickly became broke and due to the fact he wasn’t making enough money, he moved to Glasgow working crappy jobs at a theatre and multiple bars. At the same time he was writing for magazines and looking at articles as exhibitions in themselves. He found that writing articles were very much like curating. Lewisohn was interested in bridging the gap between London and Glasgow and organised half a show called “Old Money”. Additionally, he edited a section of the third edition of “Frozen Tears”. In 2005 with little hope, he had a interview at the Tate for a curatorial training scheme for minorities, although he didn’t initially like it as a concept he nonetheless applied. During the interview he proposed a graffiti project for their Turbine Hall, though he didn’t think he would be offered the job he received as call the same day.
For Lewisohn, this new job was a completely different curatorial experience for him as he was working with two other people. This show was called “Irritable Force” and centered around the economy. He couldn’t agree with his collaborators so he asked instead to be given his share of the money so he could produce publication which could be given out as part of the show. With the job at the Tate it was difficult to continue making his own art. He produced a self published book but he was unhappy with the quality of the print. Only ten copies were made of this publication.
As part of his job Lewisohn had to “author” his own project which meant he had to organise his own exhibition. Due to his love of writing and publishing he decided to create a book. One of his main ideas was creating a book about graffiti and street art. In total, the word count reached between 60/70,000. The main concept behind the book was to situate it within a historical art context. Whilst there are publication produced exploring these topics, there seemed to be little to none that spoke about them in a historical setting. He focused on artists that made and produced their art illegally. In total it took 18 months to compile and write. As part of the graffiti project at the Tate, Lewisohn suggested that the exhibition take place on the outside of the building itself meaning that the usual 3-5 waiting period for the exhibition wouldn’t matter. So many people within the art world are opposed to street art and graffiti Lewisohn finds this internal opposition interesting. A large portion of his career revolves around organising street art in various ways. This work ethos carries on after the exhibition. After his curatorial training fellowship ended he stayed on six months as he was offered a job within the department. He consequently moved to Tate Britain but they didn’t know what to do with him. He noted how working within this institution was sometimes really political as at the time the current director had just left leaving a void that needed to be filled.
Lewisohn mentioned that he is dyslexic so he is particularly proud that writing is a major part of his practice. His career now focuses on organising and curating street art and graffiti projects. Throughout his career he has published many books and other pieces based on text, curating others work and conducting interviews.
Artist Site: http://www.cedarlewisohn.com/