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Conversation through Comics: Two New York Aritsts Bond Over Art and Their Shared Grief

In ART21's 'New York Close Up,' artists turn their lives into a comic about their mothers, New York City, and Philip Roth.

United by humor, a love of drawing, and the recent loss of both their mothers, artists Bryan Zanisnik and Eric Winkler meet in a café to catch up and make comics. Zanisnik, who creates photographic tableaus, performance art pieces, and sculptures, tells Winkler about being sued by Philip Roth, his latest installations, and how he is dealing with the recent loss of his mother. Winkler's stories are illustrated in comics.

These conversations, as well as some of both artists’ work, are documented in ART21’s most recent New York Close Up video. Zanisnik, who is playing with iconic images of New York, considers his current project, photographed outside the Queens Museum, to be a kind of “goodbye to New York.” In this project, he creates photographic sets and then makes holes in them so that New York monuments can be seen through them. 

Production still from the New York Close Up film.Bryan Zanisnik ​& Eric Winkler's Animated Conversation. © ART​21, Inc. 201​6. Cinematography by Rafael Salazar & Ava Wiland

In 2012, Zanisnik posed in one of his installations, reading a Philip Roth book. Roth then attempted to sue Zanisnik, which is the inspiration for his latest piece. He has purchased 550 Roth novels to create the Philip Roth Presidential Library.  He also has a 3D-printed bust of Roth.

“Do you think he’s going to sue you again?” Winkler asks. “I’m hoping,” says Zanisnik, “don’t tell the gallery in Miami.”

Bryan Zanisnik. When I Was a Child I Caught a Fleeting Glimpse, 2009. Performance, Hunter College, New York. Courtesy the artist and Aspect/Ratio. © Bryan Zanisnik

In the past seven years Zanisnik estimates that he has done around 30 performances with his parents. Additionally, Winkler has cataloged Zanisnik’s mother extensively in their comics. Last year, Zanisnik’s mother passed away from cancer. He feels that experiencing this loss has brought him closer to Winkler, who lost his mother to the same disease two years earlier. In their most recent café-chat-inspired comic, Winkler depicts Zanisnik entering another world in which he finds his mother standing on a doorstep and embraces her. Zanisnik says he thinks she would like being included in Winkler’s comics again.

Production still from the New York Close Up film.Bryan Zanisnik ​& Eric Winkler's Animated Conversation. © ART​21, Inc. 201​6. Cinematography by Rafael Salazar & Ava Wiland

Watch the entire conversation in the video below.

More videos from ART21’s New York Close Up series can be found, here. Check out more creative and educational films and content on ART21’s homepage, here

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