One of the DJs at the station, Jonathan Gean, host of Cloud Doctrine on Tuesday nights, told me when I said I was interviewing Lyle Ashton Harris that he spoke “very intensely.” Jonathan is one Lyle’s students here at NYU. I didn’t really know what he meant by that description then, and now, I’m not sure we define “intensity” the same way but I still think that depiction is pretty accurate.
I’ve not yet met anyone who approached an interview the way Lyle did. Like many who have come to Citywide, he had a few notes with him in order to prevent any blanks but he’s the only person who has ever asked how he did and what he needed to improve. I always expect to be the one judged for my interview skills but turning the question around put me off. In retrospect, it makes sense that Lyle would turn the process around. After all, Excessive Exposure, with its 200 hundred chocolate Polaroid portraits, its essays by Okwui Enwezor and Henry Louis Gates Jr and an interview between Lyle and Chuck Close, is all about exploring identity and the self as well as confronting yourself with your own raw image.
For more information on Lyle and samples of his work, you can visit his website, www.lyleashtonharris.com. You can find Excessive Exposure online and in your local bookstores.
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