"There's nothing like a funny formalist. Aaron Young's flag is rife with historical reference, conjuring that whole history of the American flag in art from Norman Rockwell to Jasper Johns and all the work that, like Young's piece, follows in tribute to Johns. When Aaron showed some work like this in his exhibit at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, some of them were on the floor, which made you think of all that flag protest-work as well. Folded in deference to the mortality of war, it's like a wonderfully abbreviated citation – a partial quote that allows you to remember all the sad song's lyrics on your own, a corner that implies the loss of life and suggests the longer story of the life itself that was also cut short. A delicate bit of origami, this is a perfectly distilled momento mori for a nation that still does not allow the media to show images of the coffins our fallen troops return in. "
The 8: Carlo McCormick
What is your line of work?
Curator, critic, stay-at-home dad.
If you could own any work of art, which one would you choose?
Perhaps it is a condition of writing about art for so long, but I've never looked at any work and thought I'd like to own it. I'm more likely to see some cool T- shirt image on a kid and want that far more than anything I see on a gallery or museum wall. I have a lot of books and records in my life, but I suspect that's more about compulsive accumulation rather than the true discernment of a collector. Owning art seems to be such a commitment, keeping it for posterity in a way that can help usher it on through history, and my life is far too chaotic to take charge of anything that precious.
What is your earliest memory of art?
I like to smoke pot so I'm not too good at this early memory stuff. I do recall that I was a weird kid who cared way too much about fine art from a damn early age. I kind of faintly remember my childhood favorites ran to stuff like Bronzino, Ensor, Turner, Cezanne, Goya and Dubuffet, but what I can conjure with better clarity is when my parents got tired of me dragging them to museums all the time and let me go on my own. That's not really a memory of art so much as the space around it, how museums were still intimidating to most people back then, stuffy relics before the age of populism, devoid of crowds and the most idyllic sanctuary a misfit kid could ever hope for. Also around then I began to define my tastes in opposition to my parents, so I ended up going crazy for all this awful stuff like Fragonard paintings and Baroque kitsch, which of course I still can't help but love today.
Which museum or foundation would you like to be locked in one night?
Because I always wanted to be the last one out (and the first one in) to any museum, I actually used to be terrified of getting locked in for the night. A couple of years ago, however, my son did this modeling gig for a Japanese magazine that was based on this classic children's book called From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basel E. Frankweiler. That was this story of a brother and sister who run away from home and end up living in the Metropolitan Museum for a couple of weeks, so my kid Tristan had to go there over two consecutive Mondays, when the museum was closed to the public, and run around like he owned the place while these nice people took his picture. It was just a fashion shoot, and I know as usual he only did them for the money, but in the end we both kind of thought it wouldn't be such a bad place to live for a while.
How do images have an impact on global politics?
I grew up during the Vietnam War, far too young to really fear the draft but apparently not so young that my mom didn't mind dragging me to lots of anti-war rallies. There were two placards I alternately carried around, one was the poster "Q: And Babies?" and the other was this famous photograph of a young naked girl running down the road covered in napalm. That image in particular deeply affected me and informed the politics I have today. The girl was about the same age as I was so the empathy was automatic, and when I met her decades later (after she wrote a book about her life) I cried when I told her this story. Back then, pictures like this, or of the Mai Lai massacre and the absurd Dada antics of the protest movement, completely impacted the political discourse in America and helped end the war. I'm still certain that images can change the world, but now I suppose I care more about how we may try to change ourselves rather than the world.