Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Todd Vladyka

You caught a big fish for this. Yeah, I hunted her down basically. I went out to Long Island this summer and [Taryn Simon] had a small show up in Guild Hall, which is a small museum out in East Hampton. I got a hotel room in the peak of the summer when I knew she was going to be talking. I went up to her. I gave her the book of the Mutter Museum, which has Joel Peter Witkin--William Wegman had come in and taken pictures years ago. But we hadn't really done anything new. And this woman is like...I love her...this woman is amazing. I thought, if I go up to her and give her the book, then I have a chance. So you just went up to her...blind? Yeah, just blind, and said please come. What was her reaction? Was she like, who are you? It was before she was about to speak. She was pretty nervous about speaking and I didn't want to interrupt her flow. So she just said, well, speak to me after. Yeah, that was bad timing. She gave me her email. She passed me off to her assistant, who is her sister. And she and I have been communicating ever since. And, you know, Taryn is out of the country and very difficult to really nail down to a date and we had only planned to do this in the spring anyway, but then everything started coming together. So what's your role in this operation? I'm the Chair of the Section of Medicine and the Arts. So I'm a doctor, who became a fellow at the College of Physicians, which is sort of the oldest medical society in the country--the history and birthplace of medicine, essentially, in this country--and I had done programming for years with them on their executive committee, which brought in a lot of luminaries, who were doctors, who were writers, doctors who were poets...that kind of thing. Now you're the chair. As the incoming chair, I wanted to do something a little bit different. I also wanted to bring photography back to the college. There's a great history in our book, having worked with artists, really accomplished artists, who have come in and worked with the collection. I mean, have you ever been to the Mutter Museum? Oh yeah, shrunken heads. Shrunken heads and--I like the lady with the horn, the French lady. It makes you recalibrate everything you know about everything. And also it feels very hermetic and sealed off in there, like it's a small, little place that not many people really know about. And a lot of Taryn's work is sort of dealing with the same kind of stuff. So I thought, it was a great marriage of the two. So she's excited to come. She'll be here Wednesday at 6:30 and there's free food.

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