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For over 20 years, Sid Lee Collective has been a creative incubator that helps fund, produce and exhibit the passion projects of Sid Lee employees and their collaborators. No matter the day job, we believe that everyone benefits when we empower people to create what matters. 

 

Sid Lee Collective Blog is devoted to sharing our collaborations, creative projects, interesting profiles and invitations to exclusive events. Content and creative direction comes from the Sid Lee offices in Montreal, Toronto, Paris, LA and NYC.

 

If you have a collaboration in mind or a story that should be told, drop us a line.

Sid Lee Collective is also an active member of C2 Montréal, the largest innovation conference in the world.

Profiles
Refuge artist profile: RYAN DUFFIN
March 15, 2017
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Ryan Duffin is an artist based in Brooklyn whose work has been featured in Vice, Bloomberg Businessweek and FT Magazine. Alongside editorial content, Ryan’s projects think about the influence of queerness and screen-based technology on contemporary worldviews.

After our profile of Mogollon, we had a chat with Ryan Duffin, who's contributing a very spontaneous project of pictures of people taking pictures to the SLC exhibit, Refuge. These photographs are more than just selfies, but a social commentary. From creating socially engaged art to being inspired daily by a fake Keith Haring, Duffin gives us a glimpse into his world.

Q:

How do you describe yourself and the work that you do?

A:

I’m a gay technocrat who’s unashamed to be obsessed with pop music and my cat, Cindy Sherman. If I were a Keith Haring symbol I suppose I would be the television man, Haring’s metaphor for pop culture, technology, and human body— three areas of study that heavily influence my work. As a whole, the work that I produce often relates to queer history and how i feel it manifesting in my everyday experience. From there, how screen-based technology mediates my expanding understanding of my identity. This identity being defined as an image-maker but now more importantly, as an activist in the apparently post-fact America.

Q:

What are you exhibiting at this show? What are you trying to accomplish with it?

A:

Pinch Tap America is a project that I spontaneously produced on Presidents Day 2017. The name comes from the gestures of creating a photograph on a smartphone, all of these pictures were made on the heavily police patrolled sidewalks outside of Trump Tower. The role of information distribution on social media has had a profound effect on the ways which people of the world interact with and understand politics. So thinking of this, I infiltrated the screens of people taking pictures of the black and gold building. The work finalizes itself on three long panels of canvas that reference the infinite scroll in which their pictures digitally exist.

Q:

For you, how is creativity used as a weapon to protect civil liberties?

A:

During my undergrad, I interned at a non-profit called Visual AIDS (I still volunteer there whenever I can), and during that time I was exposed to socially engaged art in a way that I hadn’t thought about before. I learned about art making as a form of radical and active protest. In the face of real social injustice, painting a canvas or taking a picture can feel incredibly futile at times, but I got to see how the articulation of experience through visual language is in fact extremely powerful and policy changing. Going forward there needs to be a greater effort on behalf of curators and institutions to develop balanced exhibition rosters that give space to more diverse perspectives— because that’s where art gets radical, and that’s where art becomes effective in protecting the civil liberties of minorities. 

Q:

How do you see your role as an artist in these increasingly fucked up times?

A:

Never being afraid to speak up through art is the most crucial role an artist plays right now. However, as a cisgendered white man, it’s also crucial to know when it's time to shut up and pass the mic to a fellow artist, primarily artists of color. 

Q:

Who are you looking to these days for inspiration?

A:

I have a fake Keith Haring hanging across the room from my bed that I stare at every night, somehow I feel like his energy permeates each day for me. Photographically, I can’t not mention my boy, Roe Ethridge. Also, Collier Schorr and my friend Pacifico Silano fuck me right up. I’ve been reading as much Andrew Durbin as I can find, I’m currently obsessed with Mature Themes. Then finally, pop music. I’m talking Britney, *NSYNC, and Cher. When things get too heavy, I’ve found that a little meaningless and surface deep pop music provide the perfect amount of temporary therapeutic escapism. 

 


Written by Diane Paik

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