3 Questions

3 Questions with Sina Najafi


Writer, editor, and curator Sina Najafi on exaggeration, decorum, and transformative encounters with art.

3 QUESTIONS is series of brief, three-question interviews with PNCA’s visiting artists and lecturers. Each year, PNCA attracts innovative, thoughtful, and creative makers and thinkers who share our belief in the transformative power of creativity. In three short answers to three short questions, these artists offer perspectives on career, motivation, and transformation. When available, we include links to audio recordings, transcripts, slideshows, or video.

The MA in Critical Theory and Creative Research welcomes Sina Najafi as part of the 2012-2013 Graduate Visiting Artist Lecture Series. Najafi also traveled with CT+CR students to Caldera for a weekend retreat.

“Know that only exaggerations
can ever approach the truth.”


Photo by Marshall Astor, MA CTCR ’13.

What advice would you offer current students about to embark on a career in the arts?

Do not be encouraged by good reviews and do not be discouraged by bad reviews.

Know that only exaggerations can ever approach the truth. Don’t do anything in moderation.

Do not worry about decorum, but never engage in polemics.

How do you maintain your creative practice? What keeps you motivated and engaged?

The fact that we know very little, almost nothing.

Could you describe a moment or experience that profoundly changed the nature of your work?

In 1987, I was walking by the New Museum (when it was at the corner of Broadway and Houston) and saw a very enigmatic photograph in the window. I had no interest in art whatsoever at the time, but I walked in to find out more. It turned out to be an artwork by John Baldessari. If it weren’t for that moment of window art, I’d probably be a lawyer now.

Sina Najafi is Editor-in-Chief of Cabinet, an award-winning quarterly of art and culture. Known for its inimitable sensibility, quirky humor, and insistent linking of curiosity and ethics, the magazine was dubbed “the secret best art magazine” by critic Jerry Saltz. Najafi has curated several exhibitions, including Odd Lots: Revisiting Gordon Matta-Clark’s Fake Estates at White Columns and Queens Museum of Art, and has taught at The Cooper Union, Yale, and Rhode Island School of Design.

— Posted on 10/09 at 02:12 PM

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