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interview

CLAYTON PATTERSON: BITTE LÄCHELN, SIE SIND IM BILD
Report by Anne-Cécile Genre [in German] | video 6:34 min
published on arte TV | original air date February 13, 2016
 

PLOT: Clayton Patterson is an indispensable part of the Lower East Side as an artist, photographer, and historian of the subcultures his works deal with.

Tompkins Square Park, Manhattan, 1988: Violent riots break out when the police clear out the homeless encampment in the park. Clayton Patterson is arrested for filming the events. After his release, he models for his friend Ai Weiwei and demands the resignation of New York Mayor Ed Koch. With his amateur footage, Patterson was a forerunner of citizen journalism.

Before coming to New York in 1979, the Canadian-born artist had studied art in his hometown of Calgary and in Edmonton and Halifax. He first worked there as a lithographer and printer for various artists until he finally met his future partner Elsa Rensaa, with whom he left Canada for New York.

Since then, he has roamed his new home neighborhood, the Lower East Side, in search of motifs. He is particularly fascinated by his neighborhood - drug addicts, prostitutes and gang members - the very New York about which the classic media are nobly silent. He thus provides a deep insight into an urban parallel culture.

As an activist in the NO!art movement, he campaigned for artists who did not belong to the scene to be able to exhibit in museums, and fought for the re-legalization of tattooing in New York. Even though today there is not much of the counterculture of the 80s left in the Lower East Side, the 67-year-old Patterson still documents his neighborhood passionately.

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