Justin Lowe and Jonah Freeman

JL: We make extensive multi room environmental installations. They usually have to do with histories of counterculture and have the overarching themes of community, ritual, and psychosis.

JF: Or they're about countercultures and their relations to industrial society. The works are essentially rooms that we present as sculptures. In most cases you get a kind of incongruous juxtaposition of use and social context -- like putting a crystal meth lab next to an upper east side museum. We want the threshold of each room to be analagous to a cinematic cut.

JF: I think the body of work we've made over the past four years has taken a complex approach to mind alteration. Rather than taking a pro- or anti-drug stance, it seems to us like the need to alter consciousness is a central part of human life. This goes back to the hunter-gatherer societies in which taking psychedelic mushrooms or cacti was part of life. And, of course, fermented beverages are a part of almost all societies.

JL: We've been obsessed with the varieties of mind alteration, whether through New Age remedies or narcotics. People are constantly playing with their nervous systems. We've recently become interested in the pre-psychedelic era tests made by the US government that involved using hallucinogenic drugs as mind control agents.

Jerry Saltz

Since the birth of the avant-garde in the mid-nineteenth century, art history has been considered mainly in formal ways: What led to what, who begat whom. That approach has a way of shutting out a basic idea—namely, the visionary, shamanic inexplicability of most of what we see. Johnson’s idea brings such an escape from reason back into the discussion, and could relegate some major art to the margins and move marginal (and questionable) things to the center. Keeping psychedelia in mind as you look at art stops it from being just a building block or part of a stylistic family; it allows recent work to regain some of the value that art has had over its 50,000-year history.

Terry Wilson and Brion Gysin

Terry Wilson: The cut-up techniques made very explicit a preoccupation with exorcism—William's texts became spells, for instance. How effective are methods such as street playback of tapes for dispersing parasites?

Brion Gysin: We-e-ell, you'd have to ask William about that, but I do seem to remember at least two occasions on whyich he claimed success...

Uh, the first was in the Beat Hotel still, therefore about 1961 or '2, and William decided (laughing) to "take care" of an old lady who sold newspapers in a kiosk, and this kiosk was rather dramatically and strategically placed at the end of the street leading out of the rue Git le Coeur toward the Place Saint Michel, and, uh, you whent up a flight of steps and then under an archway and as you came out you were spang! in front of this little old French lady who looked as if she'd been there since-at least since the French Revolution-when she had been knitting at the foot of the guillotine, and she lived in a layer of thickly matted, padded newspapers hanging around her piled very sloppily, and, uh, she was of absolutely incredible malevolence, and the only kiosk around there at that time that sold the Herald-Tribune, so that William (chuckling) found that he was having to deal with her every day, and every day she would find some new way to aggravate him, some slight new improvement on her malevolent insolence and her disagreeable lack of
...uh (chuckling) collaboration with William in the buying of his newspaper (laughter)...

...one day the little old lady burnt up inside her kiosk. And we came out to find that there was just the pile of ashes on the ground. William was... slightly conscience-stricken, but nevertheless rather satisfied with the result (laughter) as it proved the efficacy of his methods, but a little taken aback, he didn't necessarily mean the old lady to burn up inside there...And we often talked about this as we sat in a cafe looking at the spot where the ashes still were, for many months later...and to our great surprise and chagrin one day we saw a very delighted Oriental boy-I think probably Vietnamese-digging in these ashes with his hands and pulling out a whole hatful of money, of slightly blackened coins but a considerable sum, and (laughing) we would have been very glad to have it too—just hadn't thought of digging in the thing, so I said: "William, I don't think your operation was a complete success." And he said: "I am very glad that that beautiful young Oriental boy made this happy find at the end of the rainbow..."




David Hammons America the Beautiful 1968


Paul Lee at Stuart Shave



David Smith

Guy de Cointet

Lynda Benglis

Nina Beier at Kunstal Charlottenborg


Tie dye


Marlie Mul


Color by Tom Sachs

Greg Bogin at Leo Koenig

Tauba Auerbach at Bergen Kunsthall


Naomi Fisher



Manfred Kuttner at Art Basel


Junky George