Artist's Favourites by Anicka Yi

I’m terrible with these favorites’ lists, but I do have admiration for these artists and I’m sure one doesn’t have to look too far or too deep to see their traces on my thinking.

KATHRYN BIGELOW

Apart from making some of the most seminal films of the last two decades – Point Break  (1991), The Hurt Locker  (2009), Strange Days  (1995), she’s also the first woman to win an Academy Award for best director. I’m in awe of how she’s able to compress political, social, intellectual, esoteric values for a populist audience – it’s very diffi cult to do. For a visual artist, an intellectual, to transition into Hollywood the way she did will always be a contemporary benchmark for me as to what is possible as an artist.
*1951 in San Carlos, California, lives in Beverly Hills, California

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ELEANOR COPPOLA 

Eleanor Coppola codirected and narrated Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse , the 1991 documentary on Apocalypse Now . Married to Francis Ford Coppola and mother of the Coppola kids, in 2008 she published Notes on a Life , a memoir mostly chronicling the years spent in the Philippines during the making of Apocalypse Now . She is also a visual artist working with textiles and has exhibited in numerous institutions globally. I’ve always admired her quiet magic of being a wife/ mother and raising a family while developing her own interests in the shadow of her megalomaniac husband. For me she represents someone who has made conventional social choices in marriage and family but has managed to outstrip the sum of these roles in cultivating a voice that is not often heard in the din of the loudest monkeys in the cage.
*1936 in Los Angeles, lives in Napa Valley, California

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LAURA POITRAS 

Her films are a kind of political practice not often found in contemporary art. The way she is able to simultaneously become a subject in her films, put herself at risk by challenging the US government’s policies and illegal methods, and raise awareness of our deeply broken systems through her very engaging films has given me a sense of urgency with my own politics. Art can be a tool for social justice. It doesn’t have to be divorced from the realities surrounding us.
*1964 in Boston, lives in Berlin

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DAVID SIMON   

Almost everyone agrees that The Wire  – the television series  David Simon created – should be required viewing in schools  as a visceral depiction of the crumbling of American society in  the twenty-first century. “We’re getting the America we paid  for” is a quote of his that often rings in my head. I look to him  as an important cultural, political critic – more so than theorists  and philosophers who seem too embedded in their own  professional context to articulate the raw and unflinching  message that we are living in disastrous times and we have to  look no further than the class and race problems devouring us. 
*1960 in Washington, D.C., lives in Baltimore

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TRISTAN GARCIA

This French speculative realist philosopher is also a novelist. He was in his mid-twenties when Hate: A Romance  was published in France. It’s a book about the end of ideologies, the dissolution of the Left set in the gay communities of Paris in the 1980s and 90s. Especially as someone who didn’t experience this historical period firsthand, the way he feels his way into the morality and knowledge of the time is astonishing. Garcia is one of the few writers who is able to grasp the recent past to illuminate the present.
*1981 in Toulouse, lives in Paris

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Born in 1971 in Seoul, Anicka Yi makes work that thematises ecological and social systems of circulation. With materials including plants and bacteria, she translates invisible scientific phenomena into installations that often involve smell as well as sight. In 2014, her work was shown at the Taipei Biennale, at 47 Canal in New York (where she has gallery representation) and at Lars Friedrich in Berlin. Her most recent museum exhibition was at the Kunsthalle Basel earlier this year. She lives in New York.