25 Questions for "Pedagogic Pimp" and YouTube Art Critic Hennessy Youngman

25 Questions for "Pedagogic Pimp" and YouTube Art Critic Hennessy Youngman
Hennessy Youngman
(Courtesy the Artist)

Name: Hennessy Youngman, aka Henrock Allah, Henrock Obama, Henrockalypse Now, The Plutarch, The Oligarch, The Time Travelling (expletive) who be bumping R. Kelly on Noah's Ark, The Rowhome Raconteur, Mr. Museums, The Pedagogic Pimp, and Mitt Romney’s Drug Dealer.

Occupation: Body Without Organs/Meme/Talking Head/Hologram/Ghost in the Machine.

City/Neighborhood: Brooklyn via Philadelphia.

What project are you working on now?

I’m writing a kid’s book for Badlands Unlimited that’s about 2 months behind schedule, editing a video version of my audio tour "The Grand Manner" which I did at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art this past winter. And as I’m writing this I’m burning my MFA on DVD DVDs.

Your Art Thoughtz videos bring together the language of hip-hop and art criticism to poke fun at the pretensions and hypocrisies of the art world. What do the contemporary art and hip-hop worlds have in common? What can they learn from each other?

The Art World and the World of Hip-Hop, at least from a music industry standpoint, are pretty similar actually. They’re both filled with delusional people who truly believe the things written about them in their press releases.

As the self-anointed "pedagogic pimp," enlighten us: Which artist — dead or alive — has the most swag?

Let’s see...most swag… probably Yves Klein because of that shit where he would sell gold leaf to collectors then take them to the Seine and toss the gold into the river and have the collectors burn their receipts for the gold. WTF Son. Yves definitely believed his press release.

If you could commission any artist (living or dead) to design a gold and diamond pendent for your chain, who would you pick, and what would you have her or him design?

I’d have the architect Le Corbusier design a pendant for me, something clean and oppressive that looked liked Philadelphia’s Municipal Services Building.

Your videos have addressed topics ranging from relational aesthetics to the art of the studio visit. What art world convention do you find most ridiculous?

“To pick one star in the sky and say ‘that one is most beautiful’, to comb a beach in search of the perfect grain of sand... This dear Chloe, is insanity.” I guess the convention that annoys me the most is the delusion I mentioned earlier. But it’s also the best thing too. Like that scene in "12 Monkeys" where Brad Pitt is showing Bruce Willis around the Psych Ward of that hospital, and all the patients are acting out their own specialized form of dementia? That’s like the art world and it’s fucking awesome.

Last April, Marilyn Minter invited you to curate an exhibition at the space Family Business, and you invited anyone to contribute. What did that experience teach you?

That I need to plan things better. I’ve never “curated” a normal exhibition before and "Its a Small, Small World" was far from normal. I was setting myself up for suicide but due to the help of some great friends we pulled it off and it seemed like a lot people had fun.

What's the last show that you saw?

Me and the boy Cory Arcangel (namedrop) went to go see this painting show in Chelsea, I can’t remember the name though… there was a Jeff Koons (namedrop) painting there I wanted to headbutt. 

What's the last show that surprised you? Why?

I was in Montreal in January hanging out with my boy Chuggo and I saw this exhibition at the DHC called "5000 Feet is the Best" which takes its name from an Omer Fast film. I was floored by how awesome the exhibition was, political, poignant, and dare I say it: stirring. And the DHC as a space was perfect, 4 floors and each floor just the right size to encourage a more intimate viewing of work.

What's your favorite place to see art?

The “Vox building” in Philly. It’s a warehouse that is home to a ton of art spaces that all have their openings on the same night so the shit is like a whirl-a-gig of arting. I know arting isn’t a word.

What's the most indispensable item in your studio?


Where are you finding ideas for your work these days?

Taking long walks.  Yes, I am serious.

Do you collect anything?

Nah brah, I like to uh, like stay untethered.

What's the last artwork you purchased?

A painting of two zebras cuddling. I bought it from this teenager on the street while I was Puerto Rico last year.  Do you know how embarrassing it is trying to fit a painting of two zebras cuddling into the overhead storage compartment of a plane?

What's the first artwork you ever sold?

A comic that I made for one of my highschool teachers when I was 15 or 16.

What's the weirdest thing you ever saw happen in a museum or gallery?

One time I was at the Whitney during the Paul Thek (namedrop) retrospective and this security guard was opening his paycheck and he whispered “God dammit!” disappointedly when he saw how much it was. It wasn’t really weird but I laughed my ass off.

What's your favorite post-gallery watering hole or restaurant?

After seeing a bunch of shows I just like to take a bottle of vino verde and sit behind the ice skating rink in Chelsea and a sing a hymn to my ancestors.

Do you have a museum/gallery going routine?

Nope. I just go where ever.

Know any good jokes?

Wutup Internet.

What's the last great book you read?

"What’s Not To Love" by Jonathan Ames.

What work of art do you wish you owned?

One of Santiago Sierra’s tattooed junkies. I would sing them a hymn to my ancestors.

What would you do to get it?

Have you ever seen “Menace 2 Society”? There’s a scene in it involving some cheeseburgers and an ill-thought transaction.

What international art destination do you most want to visit?

Documenta in Kassel.

What under-appreciated artist, gallery, or work do you think people should know about?

I think everyone should read the writings of Sean Joseph Patrick Carney from Portland, Oregon. I get angry at how funny his arts writings are.

Who's your favorite living artist?

Mike Smith.

What are your hobbies?

Believing my own press release, boo.