Nine Lives: artist reflections


While organizing Nine Lives, a set of open-ended questions emerged, circling around considerations like storytelling, translation, rewriting history, and the personal, social, and political dimensions of narrative in our lives.† A number of the artists—or their collaborators—have chosen one or two of these questions that call out to them. Responding in their own ways, they have recorded brief audio clips, which also offer additional insights about their works.

For wider accessibility, transcripts are available here.


Raven Chacon on agency and listening intently…

Bethany Collins, The Odyssey: 2001 / 2017, 2020. Courtesy of the artist and PATRON, Chicago.

Bethany Collins on reshaping a story…

Hương Ngô, It was her handwriting that ultimately gave her away, 2020 (DETAIL). PHOTO: USEFUL ART SERVICES.

Hương Ngô on translation…

Aliza Nisenbaum, Kayhan Reading the New York Times (Resistance Begins at Home), 2017. Courtesy the artist and Anton Kern Gallery, New York.

Aliza Nisenbaum on the ties between public and private experience…

Kayhan Irani on the center and margins of narratives…

Kayhan Irani is an award-winning writer, performer, and leader of theater workshops. She is the sitter in Aliza Nisenbaum’s painting Kayhan Reading the New York Times (Resistance Begins at Home).

Alison O’Daniel, video still from The Tuba Thieves, 2013-ongoing. Courtesy of the artist.

Alison O’Daniel on rewriting history…

†As additional replies from the artists are posted throughout the duration of the exhibition, we invite you to think about these questions, too:

How do stories shape our lives? The way we see the world around us?

What does it mean to be at a narrative’s center? At its margins?

What forms can reading take? Or translating? And what’s at stake in each case?

What is an inner life? What is a social life? Where do they separate or converge?

What does it mean to share a story? What happens when stories overlap?

How do you understand your own agency? What are the bounds of your influence?

Where is history? Do you think about rewriting it?

When does everyday life become something else?

Are stories alive?