Just over ten years ago, Ryan McGinley burst onto the New York art scene with his candid photographic series, The Kids Are Alright. The then 23-year-old had captured a generation through his lens, documenting the pastimes of the hedonistic youth in downtown Manhattan. McGinley went on to establish himself as one of the world's most celebrated photographers, a rare talent whose work appeases both artistic and commercial endeavors. Amy Kellner interviewed McGinley for Oyster eight years ago; in issue 91 she spoke with him about how his life has changed since then. Here is an excerpt from the interview.
Amy Kellner: I interviewed you for Oyster back in February 2003, a few months before you were to have your first solo show at the Whitney Museum. So let's look at what we talked about back then and see what's changed, cool?
Ryan McGinley: Yeah, eight years is a lot of time. A lot of adventures.
You and your adventures.
Every day is an adventure!
You love saying that, and it makes me want to murder you. Anyway, back in 2003 we talked about how you constantly used to take psychotic-looking notes on scraps of paper.
That was before I had a Blackberry. I only take notes on paper now when I go to the movies, because I don't want to bother people with the light from my phone. I always use notepads from the hotels that I stay at.
But why do you take notes during movies?
Just to write down thoughts; like if there's something in the movie that inspires me. My mind can settle during a movie. All day long my mind is racing, and I have a thousand projects going on at once. Being at the movies is like being on an airplane - I can actually slow down and think.
We saw the new Harry Potter movie the other day, and you were taking notes. What were you writing?
I have them right here: "Harry Potter Thoughts". I wrote: Do an art piece at Grand Central Station with animal; shoot a white owl; investigate glass eyes on eBay; need extra snow machines on my winter shoot; shoot a fountain in a snow storm; make a movie of little kids singing 'soul oldies'; track down the guy who walks around the East Village singing Madonna songs.
So, let's say we were going to do another interview with Oyster, eight years from now. What would we be talking about then?
Probably a movie. 2010 has been a year of experimentation with movies. I made an eleven minute short with Tilda Swinton this year . It was really exciting. I also made a weird art film with Caroline Murphy for Nowness. And then I made a little performance documentary film about two bands, Girls and the Smith Westerns.
You're always making little videos on your iPhone, wherever you go. That's your new thing.
Yeah, I love making movies on my iPhone because it's high definition quality. I think it's important to make something every day, to keep the machine well-oiled. For years I would take photographs every day, even just a Polaroid of somebody or a photo of a flower, just to keep the momentum going. And over the last year I've gotten more into making videos of my friends.
What are you going to do with them?
I don't know yet.
Maybe in the future there'll be a book that has digital pages, so [that] you turn the pages and each page will have a little 30-second video.
Uh, that's not the future; that's now. It's called an iPad.
Words: Amy Kellner
Photography: Ryan McGinley (all 2010)