When first asked to do a video interview with Art in America for "No Soul For Sale: A Festival of Independents," a four-day celebration of independent collectives opening this evening at the X Initiative's Chelsea space, K48 founder Scott Hug agreed with the friendly caveat that the other contributors to the forthcoming issue of the magazine join him in front of the camera. We met one morning in early June at the gallery, where Hug and company -- including artists Fatima Al Qadiri, Hackworth Ashley, Ryan Compton, Tim Davy, Timothy Hull, Anne Koch, John Monteith, and Liam O'Malley -- arrived en masse after the reshuffling of more than one schedule to accomodate the shoot.
Save for Hug's bright blue pants, the group was turned out almost exclusively in black, white, and gray, their sartorial splendor complimenting the industrial space. It was politely suggested that folding chairs hustled up for the occasion be swapped out for a silver plastic tablecloth spread on the concrete floor; matching paper cups appeared, as did bottles of mango and orange juice. The group appeared relaxed and congenial huddled together on their ad hoc blanket, remaining enthusiastic despite the screeching echo of power tools overhead, the only evidence of an upcoming exhibition. While some logistical planning had gone into this picnic performance, one might imagine these artists convening coincidentally (dressed in monochromatic harmony, even) with some degree of frequency.
Though each member of K48 pursues their own practice -- one is a painter and studio assistant to Marilyn Minter, while another is a schoolteacher in Queens -- there is a strong, even familial bond between them. Hug is a force in his own right, having published the first issue of K48 magazine in 2001 while establishing a solo career as an artist and curator. (Projects curated at John Connolly Presents, "K48: Teenage Rebel: The Bedroom Show" (2003) and "Kamp K48" (2006), are high points in the gallery's exhibition history; his work is also currently on view at JCP through July 10th as part of a group exhibition.) Hug insists gently, but firmly that his personal work be considered separately from his collaborative practice. This spirit of generosity sets the tone for the larger group dynamic: In the months leading up to No Soul For Sale, K48 convened for weekly, salon-style dinners held in one another's homes where the project began to unfold organically. While installation plans were still under wraps when we met, tonight's opening will give us a hint at what to expect in the next issue. "I like to share the things that I love with the world," says Hug of K48. "Sometimes it's a hard place but worth all the effort. I really enjoy working collaboratively and making new friends."
[For more on No Soul for Sale, see Art in America's previous coverage. At Interview magazine, participating groups sent pictures of their headquarters' facades. (Check out their Q&A's with three of the groups, too.)]