January 2009, Noah Becker in Conversation with Kofi Fosu Forson Part I


 Note: All images in this article are from Kofi Forson's ongoing "Muses" project

Noah Becker
January 28 at 1:41pm

You are a supporter of female artists on a number of levels. You refer to them as muses but what aspect of this is reverence? Does it become a way of finding interesting girls to hang out with or are you dedicated to female energy as an important area of art? How does this series of muses manifest itself?

Kofi Fosu Forson
January 28 at 2:45pm

I've always been known as the kid who got his hands caught in the cookie jar. The female ideal as represented in my life took its turn with the caretakers I had as a child. They were maids more or less. This not only interfered with my upbringing sexually it interrupted the influence my mother had on me which was great.

Sex and religion...that Catholicism ideal played a heavy part in my discovery of women. Cable television in the 80's featured a heavy slew of sex programming which followed premium channels like HBO. Ugly George and Al Goldstein were pre internet porn hustlers. Unfortunately I grew up watching these shows which reflected the sexual community in New York, especially places like Times Square. Much of this has since been removed from the conscience which now can be found on the internet.

I always wanted to direct. And so I would come on to girls and seemingly seduce them into a theatrical play or have them model for me. Indeed it was a form of reverence but it did develop into a pattern which ironically formed as my love life.

Professionally my first venture with the female as muse was the production of my play Black Birds in Leather Pants. I went on to direct, mentor and shape the lives of these women who later followed.

I made a conscientious effort not to confuse my role as artist with that of lover. In my last theatrical production History of Flesh I dialogued with a muse exclusively on love, sex and art. In doing so I wrote her a one woman show which defined her individuality and established my future as a writer on sexual philosophy.

Doesn't the female idiom manifest itself in art? Isn't what we do a dialogue between genders? That the theme of art is female and borrows from the language shared between male and female. How would you define the muse? Is it pertinent as subject for art only or could it be source of inspiration as in dialogue and language?

You singularly edit and promote one of the more prominent contemporary art magazines on-line and now in print... what roles do you play over all... is this much the spirit of either a corporation or more modestly a young boy and a dream? What is the origin and initial purpose of Whitehot Magazine?

Noah Becker
January 28 at 5:58pm

At the beginning I singularly edited and promoted Whitehot but now I have people. The writers are paid so really it's over 130 people working with me as the founder. It has turned into one of the more prominent contemporary art magazines quickly. The role I play is as a curator of information. The actual magazine is also a project in the sense of an assembly of people and information. But it has also taken on a life of its own much bigger than my project. The life of a major art magazine is what I'm pointing towards. Then it's something with an internal pulse and I'm not in control of that. I'm happy to let it be your mirror to reflect what the art scene is.

But let's get back to Kofi for a minute...You made a "conscientious effort not to confuse your role as artist with that of lover." that sounds like the real challenge considering the themes presented here. The history of male artists and muses has never been the same since Picasso and the stereotypes surrounding his interactions with women. Personally I'm a gigantic lifelong fan of Picasso, so really there is a lot of bullshit written about Picasso but I love Picasso, try to fuck with Picasso, just try it. Picasso is like Biggie Smalls or Tupac or Jean Michel Basquiat or something. I'm still a huge fan of this level of glamour and power in the art world so it makes it difficult for me to condemn this history.

Warhol was a lover of women and had muses of all sexes. So it's in this area that I see your work. This pattern of interactions that formed into your love life has yielded some very interesting photos not really porn but quite erotic to the lover of women as sexual beings. I would put you in the category of the Terry Richardson's of the world. There will be a giant coffee table book about your muses published by Phaidon, Taschen or Whitehot Press. That's why I mentioned Picasso as an example. If you watch that film about Picasso starring Sir Anthony Hopkins, "Surviving Picasso" I think it's called this name. Anyway what I'm getting at is that it's impossible to watch shitty movies like "Surviving Picasso" without laughing your ass off at a certain point. Surviving Picasso was actually a really great movie but you know what I mean. Are you aware of how fucking ridiculous the process of seducing women with art is viewed as in this society?

It's disgusting really and many artists are guilty of it. But remember, people fuck each other for all sorts of stupid reasons at the office or Kentucky Fried Chicken they work at or in Hollywood casting rooms.

It's somehow better to think that some great art will come out of it instead of the hollow promise of a role in the new Tom Cruise Nazi movie as an extra. In reality I don't see you as being guilty of manipulating innocent young women. Your photos show strong women with determination in their eyes. They seem happy to be sharing this moment with you. You being this grand Afro American Picasso-like figure. Am I totally fucked up here? Or am I shedding light on your scene the way you see it going down for Kofi?


Kofi Fosu Forson
January 28 at 6:03pm

Perhaps the theme of art as SUBTEXT is female etc etc etc...

Noah Becker
January 28 at 6:10pm

That's possible. What will your next project be?

Kofi Fosu Forson
January 28 at 6:55pm

I guess my reaction to that is the artist is guilty of role as pimp, hustler and gansta. These are prototypes found in hip hop culture but they have played a part since time immemorial. The black male indefinitively is cast as predator. He is featured as mammal on the search for prey. Somehow he is type casted as lover or murderer. This pathology may have links to the jungles of Africa or urban culture. However the black artist is at first to survive as man in my case anyways before he ventures off as artist, writer, whatever... That is a crucial element defining how most black artists find their way into art and how they maintain a lifestyle within. I come from a middle class upbringing, educated parents the whole nine yards... My father is a retired journalist and my mother owns a business. They saw it fit that I got my education starting with summer classes at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The museum was basically my home away from home and thus has led to my ongoing commitment to art and philosophy. Most black artists are at a disadvantage. This potentially can explain the division between the graffiti artist and the trained painter. What art education did for me was bring me to a vast culture outside of what I knew as an African. Circumstantially I devoured the white female but it was mostly due to the backlash from the black community. The white female has been the module for beauty. I have found guilt in this. It is fair to say I am not evaluated in terms of race. Not bordering a mystique but over the years people have been drawn to my persona. Whereas the black artist as gigolo is forced to be hustler, pimp and gangsta, I have settled for an innocence which allows me into the psyche of these muses and they are neither sex objects or fantasies but the disclosure concerning my role as lover and artist has certainly reached moments of difficulty, immorality and regret.

I was interviewed for and featured in a documentary working title The Raw and The Cooked which comes out later this year. I've been a contributor to a cultural initiative in Liverpool, England called Transvoyeur. There's talk of a forum on gender in London which I may be partaking as a guest speaker. Other than that life is calling. I've had to make some drastic changes.

Where do you see the future of Whitehot? Does it become more than just an informing of and on the subject of art? Intriguingly are you securing the balance of dialogue that which is the promotion of Whitehot videos, documentaries, Press, the magazine both online and in print? I see what you do as a means of elevating what has been pronouncedly secured in libraries and archives. That intuitively what we have here is a notion, a principle guided by knowledge...Call it art or whatever. You in turn hire some of the most talented international writers to cover the game of man vs. female, beast, torture, stardom. You mentioned Surviving Picasso. I thought it was truly tame knowing the discipline and nature of the artist and muse or of the artist overall. Hopkins may have been Hannibal Lector (sic) but his role as Picasso could have used some of that madness.

Noah Becker
January 29 at 4:41pm

Whitehot continues to get bigger and bigger, so it's a question of how to manage it as it grows. This week we have magazines going to every Chapters and Indigo book store. So it's expanding into all sectors of the public, not just art world readers. We will be doing some large scale projects in Europe and
North America again. The new project will take place in Zurich Switzerland. How this project manifests itself will be the next step. Is there a future for your muse project or is it all in your past?

Kofi Fosu Forson
January 29 at 7:59pm

It's not so much a matter of past present future as it is a means of culmination, coming to terms with the identity of the muse, who he or she is, do I continue to apply this as surface in my life or do I play it as closure. What has to be done by all means neccessary is to record what I have achieved in dialogue, paintings, poetry, philosophies and photographs that in fact express who and what the muse is. As you have imagined the purpose both the muse in the modern day sense is to inspire the artist but more so for the artist to do a favor in return for sex, outrightly so no if ands or buts. A potential muse comes to my pad and the first words out of her mouth is are we going to have sex or not? I can certainly conclude that my muses were definitive of my love life but they were not sex objects. I identified with them as women but the more my neurosis for sexual activity grew the more I wanted to refrain in order to capture the language between us as artist to muse. What this was had more to do with the language between me and my muse. If male then we contributed musical texts to a rock and roll band. I sought out his youth in a young James Dean kind of way where I as the artist was able to acquire a sense of masculine energy from a male muse to write a song, contribute to a band in a performance. If female, then I use as an example her female energy, that symbol of love which inspires me to fuck but most importantly create. In this circumstance love and creativity is the labor, works of art are the result. Sex is par for the course. What I want to become of this muse project is to set as an example to all male and female lovers, artists to muses, husbands and wives what the ideology behind the male to female dialogue is all about. With the Neo-expressionistic paintings, poetry, philosophies and photographs of my muses I hope to record in a book to show to the immediate world the true meaning of gender, love, sex and art. Much like what Baudelaire did with Flowers of Evil and Rimbaud did with Season in Hell, I want to document the death of love and how I have rekindled the charm, dignity and allure of male female dialogue. In postmodern terms love and sex is a physical thing it lacks the conscientiousness in what one would find in reading a book by Roland Barthes. I fell in love with Beaudrillard's Seduction. The type of activity is missing in today's society. Sexual philosophy could certainly be a gateway into balancing sex and art, pornography and love. The bigger picture would be to open the minds of those who are willing to ascribe to an understanding that we as creatures are intellectual... That "shagging" is a means to no end. Language and love is eternally our destiny.

What Whitehot magazine does for me is encapsulate the language of art but more so dialogue on what is modern culture from music to art, to fashion and pop culture. You and I come from the same generation. I don't no how far back you go where art seemed to resonate and made an impression. You talk of Picasso. Would you say the Pop Art movement was a starting point for you. It certainly was for me. American art at its best for me was the Abstract Expressionist movement, The Beats, names like Rauschenberg, Rosenquist, Rothko, Diebenkorn seemed to matter... Far to say I came of age in the 80's with artists like David Salle, Eric Fischl and of course Basquiat. How do you represent our generation with Whitehot Magazine. I think of Vincent Gallo and Damien Hirst in terms of your level and ambition. How do you hope to keep the magazine current? Do you plan on redefining the topic of art by including subject matter as fashion, music and sex?


Noah Becker
Today at 1:12am

We need to do a part two of this discussion Kofi, right now we are going on at length. Thanks for taking this time to speak with us. To answer your last question, yes, we would like as much sex as possible in the magazine. For now we need to retain a few secrets so our readers and fans continue to be surprised. From my perspective it's humbling to see how much great art is out there. We will continue this discussion as time permits over the next few months. For the readers of Whitehot...please stay tuned for more articles from Kofi Forson in our
New York section. Thanks again Kofi, talk to you soon...






Editor-in-Chief: Noah Becker

Noah Becker is founder and editor-in-chief of Whitehot Magazine of Contemporary Art, a visual artist, jazz musician and writer.
Web: www.noahbeckerart.com       
email: noah@whitehotmagazine.com



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