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3 Questions with Gil Blank

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Photographer Gil Blank on anonymity, motivation, and why you should distrust epiphanies.

3 QUESTIONS is a 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 MFA in Visual Studies program welcomes Gil Blank as part of the 2013-2014 Graduate Visiting Artist Lecture Series.



“Horde your anonymity while you have it, and extend it as long as possible.”


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Photo by Stephanie Yu, MFA VS ’14.

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

Horde your anonymity while you have it, and extend it as long as possible. It affords you the advantages of unpressured work: to make mistakes, to find the why, to learn to be your own most rigorous editor. Bob Nickas, ever wiser, told it to me this way: “You don’t need to feed the meter until it’s started running.”


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

The question presumes expectations – of production, of success, of career – that you should refuse from the start. If you need to seek out motivation, you’re already lost. The reasons for making will not be compelled. Better to defer to James Ensor: rien faire et laisser rire.

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


Nothing in specific, but every experience in general. Like most big ideas, epiphanies are not to be trusted.






Gil Blank is a photographer and a frequent writer on social, political, and historical contexts of photographic practices. His photographs have been exhibited at PS1/MoMA Contemporary Art Center and White Columns, New York; Presentation House Gallery, Vancouver; CB Roppongi, Tokyo; and Ville D’Images, Vevey, Switzerland. Active in publishing, he has served in various editorial capacities for Art On Paper, Issue, and Whitewall, and was a founding editor of Influence, an independently published magazine devoted to contemporary image-making.

— Posted on 02/10 at 04:46 PM

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