Entertainment

Watch Two Friends Catch Up, Make Comics, and Explore Grief

In “New York Up Close”, artists turn their lives into a comic about their mothers, New York City, and Philip Roth.
June 7, 2016, 2:43pm
Production still from the New York Close Up film Bryan Zanisnik ​& Eric Winkler's Animated Conversation. © ART​21, Inc. 201​6. Cinematography by Rafael Salazar & Ava Wiland

United by humor, a love of drawing, and the recent loss of both their mothers, artists Bryan Zanisnik and Eric Winkler meet in a cafe to catch up and make comics. Zanisnik, who creates photographic tableaus, performance art pieces, and sculptures, tells Winkler about being sued by Philip Roth, his latest installations, and how he is dealing with the recent loss of his mother. Winkler turns his stories into comics.

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These conversations, as well as some of both artists’ work, are documented in a new video from Art21's New York Close Up series, which aims to document life and art in NYC. Zanisnik, who is playing with iconic images of New York, considers his current project, photographed outside the Queens Museum, to be a kind of “goodbye to New York.” In this project, he creates photographic sets and then makes holes in them so that New York monuments can be seen through them. The idea behind this, Zanisnik explains, is that “these places that are so much tied to the city or identified with the city are…almost becoming outside of our reach.”

Production still from the New York Close Up film. Bryan Zanisnik ​& Eric Winkler's Animated Conversation. © ART​21, Inc. 201​6. Cinematography by Rafael Salazar & Ava Wiland

In 2012, Zanisnik posed in one of his installations, reading a Philip Roth book. Roth then attempted to sue Zanisnik, which is the inspiration for his latest piece. He has purchased 550 Roth novels to create the “Philip Roth Presidential Library”. He also has a 3D printed bust of Roth. “Do you think he’s going to sue you again?” Winkler asks. “I’m hoping” says Zanisnik “don’t tell the gallery in Miami.”

In the past seven years Zanisnik estimates that he has done around thirty performances with his parents. Additionally, Winkler has catalogued Zanisnik’s mother extensively in their comics. Last year, Zanisnik’s mother passed away from cancer. He feels that experiencing this loss has brought him closer to Winkler, who lost his mother to the same disease two years earlier. In their most recent cafe-chat-inspired comic, Winkler depicts Zanisnik entering another world in which he finds his mother standing on a doorstep and embraces her. Zanisnik says he thinks she would like being included in Winkler’s comics again.

Production still from the New York Close Up film. Bryan Zanisnik ​& Eric Winkler's Animated Conversation. © ART​21, Inc. 201​6. Cinematography by Rafael Salazar & Ava Wiland

This video is part of Art21’s New York Up Close series. More videos from the series can be found here. You can also check out Art21’s homepage for more films, and more of Bryan Zanisnik's and Eric Winkler's work on their websites.

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