Artists consumer reports

Consumer Reports: Matthew Higgs

Matthew Higgs. AUBREY MAYER.

Matthew Higgs.


Matthew Higgs is an artist, curator and the director of White Columns, New York City’s oldest alternative non-profit space. He recently co-curated, with Catherine Morris, the Judith Scott retrospective “Bound & Unbound” at the Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum. This summer he will guest curate exhibitions at Tanya Leighton in Berlin and Wilkinson in London.

Although Higgs’s Consumer Report includes zero social media, he makes up for it with fervent consumption of a variety of analog materials, namely vinyl records and magazines. Obscure cosmic disco records are ordered online and trips to the legendary CASA magazines in the West Village are frequent. Read all about it below. Also, it is recommended that you listen to the YouTube embeds in this post, they are great. —John Chiaverina

Monday, April 27

7:00-10:00 a.m.

Most days: scan The New York Times and The Guardian (UK Edition) online.

Watched the Mount Everest base camp avalanche video on the Daily Mail Online.

The Daily Mail recently covered a White Columns exhibition – which was unexpected to say the least.

Read an article about CD/music piracy in The New Yorker [by] Stephen Witt called “The Man Who Broke The Music Business.” (The house is full of partially read back issues of The New Yorker.)

Listened to side one of Tapper Zukie’s mind-bending 1973 LP “Man Ah Warrior.” (I have the 1977 edition on Lenny Kaye’s Mer label. It has an amazing cover by Robert Mapplethorpe.)

I’m currently reading Andrea Camilleri’s Game of Mirrors, the 18th of his Inspector Montalbano novels to be translated into English. I only discovered these recently, but have read all of the previous 17 books since January. They are addictive. (I encourage everyone to read them, start with the first two or three in the order they were written.)

I buy a lot of vinyl records. Most of my new records I buy from, which is the best online record store I have come across (they are based in London). They have a “New Today” section, and I usually search every day in the following categories: Disco, House, Leftfield, Reggae, Techno. Today I bought a reissue of a rare 1970s Italian leftfield disco 12" by Miro (“Safari Of Love”). The original is a c. $200 record. I also got a 12" by Junior Fairplay (“How Do You Like Me Now”).

Buying new records in New York is oddly frustrating, as there are a) very few stores that sell new vinyl, and b) those that do don’t always carry what you want. (Vinyl is typically pressed in runs of c. 200-500 copies now – so things go out of print almost immediately.) Buying from Juno, even with the shipping charges, is also oddly cheaper than buying records locally. e.g. The Junior Fairplay 12" was $8.85 plus around $5 shipping.

Checked out a handful of art websites inc. Artforum, ARTnews and Contemporary Art Daily (who were featuring installation images from the Guggenheim’s amazing On Kawara show.)

Skimmed the new May 2015 issue of The Wire magazine which I bought this weekend.

Listened to side one of The Mothmen’s great 1981 LP “Pay Attention” on the On-U Sound label.

Watched Obama’s speech from the White House Correspondents Dinner online. He has amazing comedic timing.

Ended up re-watching Stephen Colbert’s astonishing “in character” speech at the same event in 2006.

10:15 a.m.

On the way to work stopped by CASA Magazines on the corner of 8th Avenue and West 12th Street near White Columns.

This is my favorite store in New York. For the past ten years I have probably visited the shop at least four times a week. I buy a lot of magazines and this is the best magazine store I have come across. It is worth visiting just to experience the owner’s miraculous use of their modest space. At CASA I read the art reviews in the new issue of The New Yorker (we subscribe to the magazine – so a copy will be delivered to our apartment on Tuesday). Three of the reviewed shows I actually saw on the weekend (Ari Marcopoulos at Marlborough, Richard Prince at Gagosian, and Jessica Easton at Higher Pictures.) I bought the May issue of Artforum. (I also have a subscription to Artforum, but somehow end up buying a second copy at CASA virtually every month, too, as they seem to get it early.)

Flicked through Artforum at work.

ARTnews published the list of the 10 finalists for the New York Artadia Awards that I was on the jury for with curator Amanda Hunt and artist Michele Abeles.

Some records arrived in the post at work (bought from Juno, Ebay and Discogs.) Inc. a new Holger Czukay double 10" EP; three recent single-sided 12" singles by the French pop band Paradis (whose “Parfait Tirage/Ballade De Jim” was one of the best records of 2011); and two Grace Jones albums that I used to have and acquired again (“Nightclubbing” and “Warm Leatherette.”)


Finished the Camilleri book. Started Amaldur Indridason’s Reykjavik Nights. Set in Iceland, Indridason’s novels are super gloomy. Indridason is among the best of the Nordic “noir” writers. This one goes back to the start of Detective Erlendur’s career in the 1970s (i.e. it is a prequel of sorts.) I’m not a fan of these “prequel” novels, so I’m not especially looking forward to reading this one – but having read all the other (excellent) Erlendur novels I feel I have no choice but to persevere.

I’m not on social media – so no Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc.

Tuesday, April 28

Early Morning

Skimmed some art-related websites. Via ARTnews Morning Links I ended up reading The Art Newspaper’s Glenn Lowry article.

Checked out The Long Century. Always something great to see, hear, read, discover etc.

7:00-10:00 a.m.

New York Times and The Guardian (UK) online.

Read an article at about Nick Broomfield’s new documentary Tales of the Grim Sleeper which debuts on HBO this week.

Read Sam Pulitzer’s review of the New Museum’s “Surround Audience” and Michelle Kuo’s pre-Venice interview with Okwui Enwezor in the May issue of Artforum.

Listened to the records that arrived yesterday in the mail. bought the new Psychemagik compilation “Magik Sunset Part 1” and a record I had no prior knowledge of by Darlut Dolat Shani, which sounds amazing.

Psychemagik have made some of the best compilations you will ever hear.

7:00-9:00 p.m.

Went to openings for Peter Schlesinger (Dia’s space on 22nd Street presented by ACNE Studios) and Spencer Sweeney (Gavin Brown’s enterprise.)

11:00 p.m.

New issues of The New Yorker and Entertainment Weekly in mail box at home. (Entertainment Weekly is probably my favorite magazine, their reviews – of just about everything – are spookily “accurate.”)

Read some more of Amaldur Indridason’s Reykjavik Nights.

Wednesday, April 29

7:00-10:00 a.m.

New York Times and The Guardian (UK) online.

Listed to some more of the records that arrived this (and last) week.

Read some reviews in the May issue of Artforum.

Read some more of Amaldur Indridason’s Reykjavik Nights.

From Juno: bought the Bee Gees “Saturday Night Fever”-era EP released on 12” for Record Store Day last week. Also bought the repress of the Idjut Boys sublime edit of Phil Collins’ “I’m Not Moving”–which I missed first time round.

10:00 a.m.

Visited CASA Magazines, didn’t buy anything but skimmed a few music-related magazines.

Skimmed some art-related websites at work.

At White Columns we are installing the annual benefit exhibition.

2:00-3:00 p.m.

While checking email at work: listened to side one of Neil Young’s Kraftwerk-inspired “Trans” on vinyl in my office. (My favorite Neil Young record.) It has a really interesting backstory.

Geffen–who were paying Young $1 million per album (in 1982/83)–sued him at the time for producing “deliberately uncommercial and unrepresentative” recordings!

Then I listened to side two of the Tom Tom Club’s debut LP on vinyl. I’d forgotten how great this side of the record is (i.e. the one without any hits on it.)

9:00 p.m.

Watched the Nick Broomfield documentary. Feel like I need to see it again to figure out what actually happened. Also made a note to watch his Kurt & Courtney documentary – which I oddly have no memory of seeing, but I know that I saw it at the time. (Will watch the new Kurt Cobain documentary on Monday.)

Read some more of Amaldur Indridason’s Reykjavik Nights.

Thursday, April 30

7:00-9:00 a.m.

New York Times and The Guardian (UK) online. – bought a 12" pressing of Thomas Leer’s “Private Plane” on the excellent reissue label Dark Entries. I have an original 7" of this, but it is nice to have it on a 12" with additional tracks. Also bought the Joe Crow 12" on the same label – a UK record from 1981 that I’d never heard of before. Robert Wyatt-esque and later covered by Martin Gore of Depeche Mode.

10:00 a.m.

Still installing at White Columns.

Skimmed art websites.

6:00 p.m.

Went to a launch party for the forthcoming Frieze art fair, picked up a copy of the new issue of the magazine Frieze, which I skimmed on the way downtown to the launch party for Christopher Bollen’s new novel Orient.

8:00 p.m.

By the time we got there they had sold out of books—so I will have to wait until next week to buy a copy. I’m excited to read this as it collides two of my favorite things: mystery novels and art. Apparently many of the characters in the book are based on the real residents of the North Fork town inc. artists T.J. Wilcox, Wade Guyton, and Elizabeth Peyton, among others.

10:00 p.m.

Read some more of Amaldur Indridason’s Reykjavik Nights.

Friday, May 1

9:00 a.m.

Discovered the very sad news that Jane Farver had died in Venice. Jane was a brilliant curator and a great advocate for artists. I talked to her Cornell class recently at White Columns. She will be greatly missed.

New York Times and The Guardian (UK) online.

10:00 a.m.

Installing again at White Columns–tonight is the launch party for our annual benefit auction exhibition. Not much time for anything else.

10:00 p.m.

Read some more of Amaldur Indridason’s Reykjavik Nights.

Saturday, 2 May

10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.

I went over to Brooklyn to visit the WFMU record fair. (Which opened on Friday night.) Wasn’t expecting to find too much (as I was a day late) – but ended up buying a lot of records. One seller was selling his brother’s (huge) collection of 1970s/1980s/1990s alternative/indie records–which were in astonishing condition (they looked unplayed. He had worked in the music industry, according to the brother.) They weren’t exactly ‘bargains’ but it is very unusual to find records in such perfect condition. Made me wonder what I’d missed out on the previous night, but I ended up buying the Marine Girls LP; Suns of Arqa’s “Vol IV: India?”; Annie Anxiety’s On-U Sound LP; the 8 Eyed Spy LP; the second Royal family & The Poor LP; two Jonathan Richman 80s LPs; and two Biting Tongues records on Factory, among others. I also bought some reggae 12’s from other sellers inc. the sublime Jah Shaka produced “Jah Children Cry” by African Princess – but otherwise the fair didn’t feel as good as previous years.


Still reading Amaldur Indridason’s Reykjavik Nights.

Sunday, May 3

Slow day.

10:00 a.m.

Listened to the records I bought at the record fair.

Read some of the Sunday New York Times online.

10:00 p.m.

In the evening I watched Silicon Valley and Veep on HBO. I don’t watch much television anymore, but these are two of the best programs I have seen in a long time.

Veep is at the next level in terms of the writing, acting and story arcs. Julia Louis-Drefuys is amazing as the (now) President. Creator Armando Ianucci will leave at the end of Season 4, so it will be interesting to see what happens going forward, but for the moment the show is near perfect.

I didn’t initially get Silicon Valley but now I’m hooked and have watched each episode several times over. Erlich Bachman (as played by T.J. Miller) is one of the greatest characters in TV comedy.

Still reading Amaldur Indridason’s Reykjavik Nights.

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