Mark H.C. Bessire

Mark H. C. Bessire is Director of the Bates College Museum of Art in Lewiston, Maine.

  • Wenda Gu

    Wenda Gu

    Art from Middle Kingdom to Biological Millennium

    Mark H.C. Bessire

    The first visual and critical guide to the work of Wenda Gu, a major contemporary Chinese-American artist.

    Wenda Gu is one of the leading contemporary Chinese artists of his generation. Known by some as "the hair artist" and remembered by others as the artist whose monumental installation was violently destroyed by a Russian artist at the infamous "Interpol" exhibition (Stockholm, 1996), he is part of the diaspora that has sent many Chinese artists to the West over the past twenty years. He has built his reputation on reinvigorating ancient Chinese symbols and practices—the seal, calligraphy, ink painting—with contemporary vision and meaning.Wenda Gu often uses genetic material—hair and blood—as his medium. His most ambitious, ongoing project, the United Nations series, consists of installations at sites around the world in which hair is used to create works of art emblematic of a future not ruled by racial or national boundaries. To mark the British handover of Hong Kong to China, for example, he created "United Nations: Hong Kong Monument: The Historical Clash," which consisted of a Chinese flag made of Chinese hair, a Union Jack made of British hair, and hair cuttings from Hong Kong scattered on the floor. These "united nations" monuments have been installed so far in Australia, Canada, China, France, Great Britain, Holland, Hong Kong, Japan, Italy, Poland, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Taiwan, and the United States. Wenda Gu: Art from Middle Kingdom to Biological Millennium is the most comprehensive presentation of Wenda Gu�s work to date. Two generous sections of plates document the United Nations series and other projects, many of which are presented in the exhibition this book accompanies. The book also includes previously unpublished writings by Gu, an interview with the artist by David Cateforis, and essays by Mark Bessire, the co-curator of the exhibit, and Gao Minglu and Gan Xu, both leading authorities on the new Chinese avant-garde.

    • Hardcover $29.95
  • William Pope.L

    William Pope.L

    The Friendliest Black Artist in America

    Mark H.C. Bessire

    An introduction to the work of the controversial visual and performance artist William Pope.L.

    The artist William Pope.L, who teaches at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, has been producing some of the most original visual and performing art in America for many years. But it was not until the Acting Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts overturned the recommendations of the NEA's own advisory panel to support this publication and the exhibition it accompanies that Pope.L became the subject of feature articles in the nation's major newspapers. Pope.L became a cause celebre as a result of the scandal, but he deserved to be known long before that. His work is humane, accessible, profound, and humorous; it is also deeply challenging and self-aware. It is neither an accident nor a joke that his business card reads "Friendliest Black Artist in America."

    Many of Pope.L's pieces take place on the street. He has eaten and regurgitated copies of The Wall Street Journal, tied himself to a bank door and handed out money (a sort of reverse panhandler), crawled up the Bowery wearing a business suit, and walked down 125th Street in Harlem wearing a 12-foot white cardboard phallus. Although he frequently deals with racial issues, his work confounds preconceptions of what "black art" should be.

    This book, which accompanies a nationally touring exhibition of Pope.L's work, explores his impact on American art and culture. It contains sections on practices, body, performance, dialogue, consumption, and a selection of the artist's writings and a chronology. The essays are by Mark H. C. Bessire, Suzanne Preston Blier, C. Carr, Geoffrey Hendricks, Stuart Horodner, Lowery Stokes Sims, Kristine Stiles, and Martha Wilson.

    • Hardcover $31.00
  • Beyond Decorum

    Beyond Decorum

    The Photography of Iké Udé

    Mark H.C. Bessire and Lauri Firstenberg

    From his provocative Cover Girl series featuring photographic portraits of himself on the covers of popular magazines, to his writings on sexuality and identity, the work of Nigerian-born Iké Udé explores a world of dualities: African/postnationalist, photographer/performance artist, artist/spectator, male/female, mainstream/marginal, seduction/narcissism, and fashion/art. As an artist from Nigeria working in New York City, connected to the world of fashion and celebrity, Udé gives the political aspects of performance and representation a new vitality, melding his own theatrical selves and multiple personae with his art. Like Andy Warhol, Udé plays with the ambiguities of the marketplace and art world, particularly in his notorious art, culture, and fashion magazine, aRUDE. This book, which accompanies a traveling exhibition organized by the Institute of Contemporary Art at the Maine College of Art, in Portland, Maine, is the first comprehensive publication on Udé's photography. The book contains photographs of the installations "Beyond Decorum", "Uses of Evidence", and "Project Rear"; several series, including Cover Girls, Uli, and Celluloid; and photographs from his magazine aRUDE. The book also includes essays by Lauri Firstenberg, Kobena Mercer, Olu Oguibe, Valerie Steele, Octavio Zaya, and Iké Udé himself, as well as an interview with Udé conducted by Okwui Enwezor. The reader meets Udé the artist, editor, dandy, and aesthete. In his writing, Udé speaks of the futility of stereotypes, and in his photography, he brings to life the image of the artist in a plenitude of guises.

    EXHIBITION SCHEDULE: Institute of Contemporary Art Portland, Maine 24 February-13 April 2000 OBORO Montreal, Canada Autumn 2000 Sert Gallery, Carpenter Center Harvard University Art Museums Cambridge, Massachusetts Summer 2001

    • Paperback $7.75