The Operating System


Creator / Filmmaker Shanna Maurizi writes:

New York does not have a very good memory unless there is a lot of money and press involved, and the real history of the city is sometimes only preserved in the minds of people who are paying attention. Writer James Kalm has been paying attention to the art history of Williamsburg for over 15 years, and wrote a piece for the Brooklyn Rail titled “The Brooklyn Canon“, tracing the lineage of the Williamsburg art community.

Work Only sat down for coffee with him to discuss Williamsburg’s past, as its future is being defined by overdevelopment and luxury condos.

Editor’s note:

James Kalm just might be the “foremost art vlogger” in the world, having invented the spontaneous online video art review. His YouTube channel “The James Kalm Report”  has a worldwide cult following. His other channel, James Kalm Rough Cut, describes itself as “the freshest and most urgent art coverage on the internet,” providing near daily almost instantaneous reports at the rough cut stage, pre-editing. Much like our RE:CONVERSATIONS series, this allows the viewer/audience the opportunity to be on the ground (albeit with Kalm and his commentary) at a range of exhibits ranging from the well known to the obscure — creating sustained value/use and generating continued dialogue from one person’s visit whereas before the ephemeral experience might have ended there.

Perhaps even more interesting is that Kalm is a pseudonym/persona created in the mid nineties by the painter Loren Munk  (b. 1951, established in NYC in 1979) as a means of entering the critical and theoretical discourse. Publishing hundreds of essays and reviews under this pseudonym, most notably in the Brooklyn Rail, Munk became fascinated with the history and associations of the New York art world. According to Munk, these developments “led to a reassessment”: a shift in both materiality and process, and to his current series of works — including the “Kalm Report,” (which, given this new perspective, is more accurately understood as an ongoing piece of conceptual performance/art ) with the intent to both aestheticize art history and document the local art community. The “Kalm Report” exemplifies Munk’s blurring of criticism, historic documentation, journalism and performance art and in many ways can be seen to have begun a new mode of art reportage on the internet.

Kalm’s “Brooklyn Canon” is an essential, well detailed and rare glimpse of the 80’s-00’s in Williamsburg and surrounding neighborhoods, which offered much elucidation into a history I believed myself fairly versed in — a must read for anyone interested in the local, underground, less documented/academically-and-or-officially-and-or-major-media-recognized evolution of the creative scene in New York City.


This is Exit Strata’s fifth installment of WORK ONLY — filmmaker Shanna Maurizi‘s conversations with contemporary art/work/practice. Check out our previous installments below:

Rearranging the landscape with Carrie Walker
– In the studio with sculptor Kate Clark
– A dialogue with multimedia artist Barney Haynes
– Breakfast and chat on community change with Arts in Bushwick‘s Laura Braslow

While Maurizi toils away to bring you hot new episodes (coming SOON!), we’ll continue to raid her archive and share some of the early videos with you — transparent process dialogue never gets stale.

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