Since the artist Joe Gibbons was sentenced to one year in prison in July of 2015, there has been very little written about his activity. He became tabloid fodder six months earlier, when, reportedly as part of film project he was working on, he robbed a Capital One branch in the Chinatown neighborhood of Manhattan and filmed it—and was arrested eight days later. The New York Post and others jumped at the story, taking the opportunity to ridicule the artist, while others reported with slight bemusement at what seemed to be prank.
At the same time, others rallied in his defense. A Facebook group was created for fans, and an IndieGoGo campaign was created to raise money for his release. In the following months, there was a benefit for Gibbons at Light Industry in Brooklyn, where they screened his seminal film, “Confessions of a Sociopath” (2001), and a few of his shorts later screened at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in October.
But Gibbons hasn’t been quiet. It turns out that even without a camera, he has been keeping busy. Some of the resulting work will be on display in “Joe Gibbons: Recent Drawings,” at the Southfirst Gallery in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, which opens on January 24.
Maika Pollack, who curated the show, said in a recent phone conversation that she was first introduced to Gibbons through the artist Tony Conrad and has always wanted to work with him, and this moment provided the right opportunity. “I don’t know if he thought of this stuff as art on the level of a film when he was making it,” Pollack said. “But I think he’s been pleased how the work looks framed, and please that there’s some response to it.”
In a follow-up email, Pollack mentioned a “wry, documentary observational style” she noticed in some of the drawings, and the way they “seem to participate in some of the inner monologues Joe carried out in some of the films — like when he tells the dog he can’t understand death, or complains to the viewer that he doesn’t want to work.”
A book will accompany the exhibition, featuring work that Gibbons made over the last year and an interview, conducted by his friend, the artist Tony Oursler.
“I’ve always wanted to work with him, so to have the chance to help him reenter his practice, even if it’s low-budget, seemed important,” Pollack said. “My hope is that he’ll go back to making films.”
—Craig Hubert (@craighubert)
(Image: screenshot from “Confessions of a Sociopath”)