Whitehot Magazine

Tammi Campbell: As Long As It Lasts at Anat Ebgi Gallery

As Long As It Lasts. Courtesy the artist and Anat Ebgi, Los Angeles / New York.

By CLARE GEMIMA June 4, 2024

Tammi Campbell’s latest exhibition, As Long As It Lasts, at Anat Ebgi Gallery, presents a collection of findings from the artist’s relentless explorations of archives and deep dives into modernist and conceptual art histories. On view through June 15, 2024, the exhibition showcases Campbell’s deep engagement with works by iconic figures such as Baldessari, Albers, and Warhol. Through meticulous emulation and satirical use of hand-made packing materials, Campbell reframes these works' legacies through fresh, thought-provoking, and humorous replicative methodologies.

Throughout our interview, Campbell shares insights into her forensic approach to collections, archives, and libraries around the country, which she actively relies on for sources and clues that help lay the foundation for her copies. She discusses unforgettable moments that have sparked new ideas and significant shifts during her countless visits to these institutions, and further elaborates on her fascination with On Kawara’s Today series, specifically concerning dates the artist himself never chronicled. 

Campbell also describes her innovative method of creating packing materials from scratch, inspired by Ed Ruscha painting Another Hollywood Dream Bubble Popped (1976), and the symbolic significance behind these fabrics' features. Campbell’s works, such as Pure Beauty with Packing Foam and Packing Tape and Double Elvis (Ferus Type) with Bubble Wrap and Packing Tape showcase her sophisticated commitment to technical precision. 

As Long As It Lasts not only pays homage to seminal works of art but also invites viewers to reconsider their historical and cultural contexts from a contemporary perspective. Campbell’s unique blend of meticulous reinterpretation offers compelling commentary on the evolving nature of art, and its enduring and sometimes painfully dusty historical resonance.  

Clare Gemima: Can you share one stand out experience during your time forensically deep diving into collections, archives, museums, libraries, estates (and beyond) that you depend on for your supportive research? I would love to hear about an unforgettable memory during these particular moments in your process that turned a lightbulb on for you, or made you make a total U-turn. 

Tammi Campbell: Each series of work involves a deep dive into an artist's practice. I try to find as much as possible about any given artist and their work, working processes, and materials. Usually I have a specific artwork or series in mind and during the research process I start to sort out what type of layer I might be able to insert into the work to make it my own. One example would be the work of Edward Ruscha. I was very interested in his paintings and had a few ideas of how I might approach his practice, but then I discovered a work called Another Hollywood Dream Bubble Popped from 1976, and immediately thought of the bubble wrap material I create out of acrylic paint medium. It was one of those moments where in that instance the idea was cemented. 

Clare Gemima: Your creations inspired by On Kawara’s Today series (1966) reimagine dates in which the artist never officially recorded with paint. By extracting archival research and newspaper findings, you made knowledgeable guesses as to where the artist could have been on that very day, as well as what was heralded in the New York Times. What made you interested in the particular dates you chose to imagine: Nov.1, 1969, July.4, 1970, March.31, 1977, Aug.14, 1977, and how did you learn to precisely emulate Kawara’s own unique processes?

Tammi Campbell: For the series, I've gathered data based on On Kawara's known whereabouts, utilizing his other works such as postcards, telegrams, and his archive records of where he went and who he met. I selected specific dates for a few reasons:


The dates I selected locate Kawara in New York, a fitting choice for an exhibition in the same city. Each date corresponds to an artwork that is connected to the broader art world in some way. For example:

On November 1, 1969, On Kawara sent an "I Got Up" postcard from NYC to art critic, activist, and curator Lucy R. Lippard. 
On July 4, 1970, On Kawara sent an "I Got Up" postcard from NYC to artist, writer, and curator Dan Graham.
On March 31, 1977, On Kawara sent an "I Am Still Alive" telegram from NYC to Pontus Hulten, the director of Moderna Museet.
On August 14, 1977, On Kawara sent an "I Got Up" postcard from NYC to art dealer and publisher Yvonne Lambert.


With this series, I was interested in the idea of sorting out what an artist does when they are not painting. Kawara's date paintings exemplify the network an artist collaborates with and communicates with on a regular basis. This too is as much a part of being an artist as having a studio practice. Regarding the process, it involved thorough research into Kawara's materials, including combing through books and archives for photographs of his studio and art materials to gain insight into his process. Additionally, I've had the opportunity to closely examine his works in person, including spending time in the Art Gallery of Ontario's collection vault to compare my many material tests against one of his to ensure I could create a close version.

Pure Beauty with packing foam and packing tape, 2024. Acrylic on canvas. 45.5 x 45.25 x 1.5 in. Photo courtesy of Anat Ebgi Gallery, Los Angeles / New York. 

Clare Gemima: In Pure Beauty with packing foam and packing tape, (2024), inspired by John Baldessari’s 1968 piece and larger body of work, you have wrapped a canvas in an extremely fine sheet of foam. Looking closely at the translucent and softly folded veil, one notices traces of air bubbles and streaks of what could be paint or a mix of low-viscosity liquids. This is clearly not a piece of foam one could purchase at a local hardware store. Could you walk us through your process of making packing material by hand, from scratch?  

Tammi Campbell: In previous works I have recreated many different packing materials including cardboard, poly-wrap, stretch-wrap, bubble wrap, and various tapes all out of acrylic paint. I made several attempts at creating packing foam in the past, and could get close to the texture, color, and translucency but, with the material being paint, it was too heavy and couldn’t achieve the airy-feel of the lightweight material.  

This year while preparing for the exhibition I had an issue with the paint sprayer I use to create my bubble wrap. The clear paint medium was getting air in it, and when sprayed was causing micro-bubbles that made the bubble wrap less transparent and solid. It took close to a month to sort out this issue – test after test, formula changes, a new spray gun, a new sprayer, etc. Finally I was able to resolve the issue with the bubble wrap. Incredibly, the microbubbles in the clear acrylic paint medium gave me the idea to return to attempting to recreate foam out of acrylic paint as the actual foam holds bubbles itself. I started testing the paint and figured out how to exploit the dreaded microbubble issue that had been causing me so much trouble. I ended up using an immersion blender to whip as much air as I could into the paint to achieve the same consistency and translucent look as the packing foam. In the end, after at least one hundred tests, I made a silicone mold of packing foam and spread the formula into the mold. The painting has a few layers of this paint-skin on top. 

Clare Gemima: Additionally, molds of bubble wrap drape around works like Double Elvis (Ferus Type) with Bubble Wrap and Packing Tape, and Flowers (6) with Bubble Wrap and Packing Tape, (both 2024). Your insane embellishments hide and conceal not only the historic significance of the original work your pieces insinuate, but also to your immensely dedicated technical skills operating to execute them. What else does your ‘original’ packing material symbolize and disrupt? 

Tammi Campbell: I would say my additives aren't meant to conceal the historical significance of these original works. The bubble wrap, tape, or packing foam are pointing to something else, perhaps something about their status as consumer goods, and also their ubiquity.  The works I select to replicate were once provocations to our understanding of the definition of art, over time they became canonical, and now are names most frequently seen at the top of the auctions each season. I think too, with this show specifically, my gestures and 'additives' are actually shifting into the realm of undoing, reversing, and unmaking – not erasing, but subtracting in some cases such as the Frank Stellas, Cy Twombly, Carl Andre bricks, and the shrunken Lawrence Weiner.

Homage to the Square with Bubble Wrap and Packing Tape, 2024. Acrylic on board with metal frame. 41.5 x 41.5 x 1.375 in. Photo courtesy of Anat Ebgi, Los Angeles / New York. 

Clare Gemima: The title of your show, As Long As It Lasts, is vinyl cut and adhered to the gallery’s front door, and humorously recalls the text works of Lawrence Weiner (1942-2021) in its uniform capitalization and shade. Can you provide insight and explain the foundation of this piece? 

Tammi Campbell: The piece is based off of a 1992 work of Weiner’s AS LONG AS IT LASTS, (Matte red vinyl. 228 inches long) which was presented in the show Who’s Afraid of Jasper Johns? conceived by Urs Fischer & Gavin Brown, shown at Tony Shafrazi Gallery in 2008. Lawrence Weiner is known for his large scale text based works, so I thought I would play with scale and shrink it to 5.35 inches long. Again, thinking of packaging… well… ‘packages’. Playing off the artist's last name… there is a sense of humor infused in the piece.

As Long As It Lasts is on view at Anat Ebgi Gallery between May 3 and June 15, 2024. WM  


Clare Gemima

Clare Gemima contributes art criticism to The Brooklyn Rail, Contemporary HUM, and other international art journals with a particular focus on immigrant painters and sculptors who have moved their practice to New York. She is currently a visual artist mentee in the New York Foundation of Art’s 2023 Immigrant mentorship program.

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