Volume 75, Number 46 | April 5 - 11 2006

©2006 David Greg Harth

Catching up with Nolita artist David Greg Harth

By Rachel Fershleiser

Artist David Greg Harth is best known for making money. Specifically, the dollar bills he’s stamped with statements like I AM NOT TERRORIZED and I AM NOT AFRAID.

He says there are at least a million of these bills currently in circulation, which means some of you may have already received one of these messages of post-9/11, New York pride at the bank, bar, or bodega. More recently, he created a performance piece called Tumbling Thimbles on Trimble, wherein he threw a hundred thimbles on Trimble Place (between Thomas & Duane in Tribeca), and then mimicked their motion with his tumbling body. A fractured clavicle and several surgeries later, Harth is gearing up for a new performance work on April 8th.

When did you move to New York? Why did you choose Nolita?

I’ve always lived in New York State, but I moved to New York City when I went to school at Parsons in 1994. I knew I wanted to be Downtown and I liked this apartment. The neighborhood is alive all the time, and I like that I’m in the middle of everything, but my block is so quiet.

What kind of role does New York play in the art world?

Well, I still think it’s the center. I hear Berlin is happening, but I haven’t been there. There’s an immense amount of creativity in New York — but I’d still like to see some new artists shake it up.

What are some great things you’ve seen lately?

I saw the Robert Rauschenberg: Combines exhibit at the Met maybe four times. It’s really inspirational. And the Whitney Biennial really is worth checking out.

What are you planning to see next?

I need to see Matthew Barney’s new film “Drawing Restraint 9” at IFC. He also has a new exhibit opening soon. I need to go to Brooklyn to see the Wegman exhibit—not that I like the dogs so much. I like his earlier work; he’s done video and performance. And I’m planning a trip to Philadelphia to see Wyeth and the Bodies exhibit there.

Do you prefer working in performance or more traditional media?

I’m more involved in performance now, but really my concern is what media best conveys the concept. Whether it’s a dollar bill, a photo, a drawing, a painting, I’m more interested in getting my ideas across.

What are your favorite performance pieces?

I really liked Tumbling Thimbles on Trimble. I also liked Mr. Rabbitfuck: Preparing for an Evening at the Embalmer’s Estate — that happened a few years ago. I was nude on a stage except for fishnet stockings. Then I got dressed, and there was a woman involved, and a gun.

Who are your influences?

My grandfather, Opa. Way too many artists. Robert Ryman — he made white paintings. His work is nothing like mine. Matthew Barney, Vito Acconci, Bruce Nauman. And Erwin Wurm — he never gets enough press but he’s really great. And U2.

Where do you go for inspiration?

All the major art museums, Chelsea, Central Park, my studio. International Center of Photography. But that’s why I live in the city—just walk outside and you’ve got inspiration. I ride the subway, see all the people of different shapes and sizes and colors and languages; it’s great.

What are your next projects?

On Saturday April 8th I’m doing a performance at 3pm sharp in the park at 11th Avenue and 23rd Street. It’s called Fat Man Rolling, Single Man Jumping. Rain or shine. That’s all, I think you just have to see it. I’m doing another piece in May on the D train and I’m hoping to curate an exhibit called Suicide. I want to present artists dealing with that subject matter in different ways. Oh, and I’m working on Mr. Rabbitfuck: The Opera.

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