Ty Cooperman is a first year Arts Administration graduate student from New York. He co-founded and manages Anti-Renaissance, a queer art collective. Ty earned his BA in Art History with high honors from NYU. Ty’s scholarship generally focuses on queer art and artists as well as the complexities of exhibiting controversial and/or previously censored works of art. His larger goal in graduate school is to learn how to make the digital age maximally profitable for visual artists.
Ty’s work is currently on view in The Violators, a group exhibition of queer artists whose works have been targeted by censorship on social media on view at Leslie-Lohman Project Space this weekend.
Congratulations on the exhibition—how have you continued your artistic practice and work with artists while starting grad school?
Thank you! Honestly it requires a lot of work and planning to do both. I’ve been fortunate to have a class schedule that is concentrated during the first half of the week, which makes managing my sort-of dual identities a bit more manageable. That being said, it’s definitely a balancing act.
The Violators is a group exhibition of queer artists whose works have been targeted for censorship on social media. Can you describe your work in the show? What do you hope visitors take away from the exhibition?
My work in the exhibition comes from my instant photographs (Polaroid and Instax film) many of which are of sexualized situations.
I hope people leave the show with an augmented understanding of – or at least willingness to consider – the ways in which art can involve sex and still, at the very least, be worthy of art object status.
How do you see social media impacting the arts and/or artists? Specifically for queer artists?
This show is about queer artists whose work has been censored on social media. Social media is an important part of how contemporary artists are becoming and remain financially viable. Censorship towards queer art can take many forms: homophobia from other users, implicit discrimination coded into computer programs responsible for policing content (as on Instagram), the inadvertent structural discrimination faced by organizations trying to buy targeted ads on Facebook’s advertising platform, etc. Hopefully these issues will become more readily discussed and the Silicon Valley tech overlords will become more open to engaging all the various communities that fall under the umbrella of queer.
You co-founded Anti-Renaissance, a queer arts collective—can you tell us more about the collective? What’s the backstory for the name?
The name comes from my co-founder’s (Desmond Sam) old photoblog called “you are the renaissance.” When we were brainstorming names I told him I liked the notion of talking about The Renaissance, and the nuances that come with the established connotations of “The Renaissance” in art history, but that it would be more fitting (and provocative) for us to be ‘against’ any claim made by cultural elites about the quality of our work: We are a queer art collective that represents a group excluded by elites from notions of ‘good’ art. We ran with it.
The name also is part of our house, Haus of Anti-. Houses are an important element of NYC queer culture (think Paris is Burning, except our house is an artist house, not a vogueing/ballroom scene house). As Anti-Renaissance, we work within the queer community to find opportunities to showcase world-class queer art and artists to the world at large. At our core we seek to empower queer artists with the skills, resources, and opportunities necessary to flourish and find financial viability.
How does your experience in the classroom relate to what you are experiencing in the field?
The reality is that the world of art is a business and we live in a late-stage capitalist society. If I want to be a maximally useful advocate for artists today, I need skillsets that enable me to think both through the lens of an art critic and historian and also from the perspective of a shrewd capitalist. To invoke Bourdieu, for me, it’s about trying to maximize artists’ economic and cultural capital.
What are your hopes for your next steps in your career?
I’d like to enter the business of art logistics. I know from my own experiences and those of my friends in the field that there is a lot of room for improvement in these areas. At the same time, I can also see myself becoming an artist agent or consultant to businesses involved in the art market.