A Good Run with Sal Scarpitta, 1983-1990
by Joan Bankemper
and Special Limited Edition:
Scarpitta / Bankemper: 5+10
by Sal Scarpitta and Joan Bankemper
Edgewise Press, Inc. is proud to announce the publication of Joan Bankemper, A Good Run with Sal Scarpitta, 1983-1990, and the special limited edition, SCARPITTA / BANKEMPER: 5 + 10 (containing 10 prints, 5 videos, and the book, A Good Run with Sal Scarpitta, 1983-1990).
The deluxe special limited edition, SCARPITTA / BANKEMPER: 5 + 10, contains the book, A GOOD RUN WITH SAL SCARPITTA: 1983-1990 (2016), by Joan Bankemper, covering the years of her collaborative artwork with Sal Scarpitta, from 1983 to 1990; the 5 videos Scarpitta and Bankemper created during this period; and a portfolio of 10 sepia-toned, archival prints by Scarpitta and Bankemper (1983/2015), entitled Dirt Rider, derived from the video, Sal is Racer (1983-84). The book also includes a never-before published text “This Race Is Mine” (pulled from the video, Sal is Racer). Bankemper writes in A Good Run: “During [those] seven years [1983-1990] Sal and I were together, we made art and videos and traveled to the fastest dirt tracks in the northeast, coast to coast in the U.S. and across the pond to Italy.”
“The DVD of the 5 videos, the 10 prints, and the book enclosed in this symbolic (hardly moribund) ‘black box,’ Scarpitta / Bankemper: 5 + 10, are documents of and a testament to those seven years I spent with Sal. At the deepest level, the 5 videos are psychodramas, love letters, confessions – as much as they are art. I hope this book, A Good Run with Sal Scarpitta, 1983-1990, along with the videos and prints, will provide a meaningful and intimate insight into an artist who was not yet an historical figure but rather a working artist when I knew him.
“In the end, I dedicate this posthumous collaboration with Sal, the contents of this book, A Good Run with Sal Scarpitta, 1983-1990, the 10 prints and this authoritative reissued edition of the 5 videos, which is to say the contents of this black box filled with light, to my daughter Sophie, and to all women who, without hesitation, fiercely and fearlessly, embark upon their own poignant and cosmic collaborations, with whomever they choose and however they may define them.”
Individual copies of the book, A Good Run with Sal Scarpitta, 1983-1990, are available at $34.95. The deluxe edition, Scarpitta / Bankemper: 5 + 10, which includes all three – the DVD of the 5 videos, the 10 prints, and the book – is Price Upon Request. A preview of the 5 videos will be available on You Tube. The book and the special limited edition are available through Amazon.com and edgewisepress.org. For further information, contact Joy L. Glass at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The deluxe edition is currently in the following museum collections:
The Addison Gallery of American Art (Phillips Academy in Andover, MA); The St. Louis Museum of Art; The Hirshhorn Museum (Washington, D.C.); Not Vital Foundation, Sent, Switzerland.
For more information, visit Joan Bankemper’s website at joan-bankemper.com.
MORE ABOUT THE VIDEOS (A), THE PRINTS (B), THE BOOK (C), AND THE ARTISTS (D):
A) The DVD of the 5 Videos by Scarpitta and Bankemper:
About the 5 videos, Joan Bankemper says: “I hope this first authoritative compilation of these five videos, now available on one DVD – Sal is Racer (1983-84), Racer’s Tattoo (1985), Potato Masher (1985), Message to Leo(1986), Crash (1990) – will provide an insight of sorts into Scarpitta’s work, in general. I made the videos together with Sal during those tempestuous years when he assembled his very first and infamous race car team, #59 Scarpitta/Castelli Race Team.”
“Sal Scarpitta (1919-2007) was a complex artist who created many bodies of work that were always in transition and in a constant state of flux. There were, of course, the Wrapped Paintings, the Cars, Sleds, then, more Cars. Sal loved racing. The five videos we did illustrate another form of art with which Sal was very comfortable. And, of course, most of them had to do with racing. He loved this medium because it involved an accelerated form of perception – like a logo painted in flamboyant colors across one of his cars! Video functioned as a way to thrust a physical persona into Scarpitta’s work. Although these particular videos were envisioned as independent works of art, they could be used in different ways, depending upon the context of where and how they were shown. So the videos, in effect, became multi-purpose works of art or ‘vehicles’ for making art.”
“Scarpitta’s work was of the earth, of the ‘low banks,’ as he stated in the video Sal is Racer (1983-84). For him, it was where the human spirit thrived. He liked riding the low banks, metaphorically speaking; it was messier, more real, and Sal liked getting dirty. ‘There are racers who like the dirt and there are racers who like the high banks, made out of asphalt or cement. It’s just like in the art world: there are those who run the dirt and there are those who run the high banks. The high banks are cleaner but the dirt is more truthful, more exciting, more dangerous’. Sal believed that ‘the clay comes to life at the track; it’s almost like walking across human flesh. I am the son of a sculptor [so all of this makes sense, this working with dirt, with clay]. The dirt is fascinating, especially if the wet clay is warm enough to become human’.”
1. Sal is Racer, 1983-84. Running time 18’30”. Shot by Joan Bankemper in color on 1/2 in. videotape in Sal Scarpitta’s studio, Guilford Ave., Baltimore, Maryland. Directed by Sal Scarpitta and Joan Bankemper. Photography by Joan Bankemper. Copyright © 1984 Sal Scarpitta / Joan Bankemper.
“In the video Sal is Racer, he binds himself completely, excessively, one might argue, protecting himself with a cotton scarf, goggles, a racing hat, and eventually even a neck brace. This is Sal fighting the good fight; he is the Raging Bull of the art world. We see him contemplating the struggle, which makes him vulnerable; we see him as a wreck, even a victim, flung against a wall; but we also see him, and this is the most salient point, and most unusual, UNWRAP HIMSELF! We see literally the lifting of the goggles and the removing of sweat and dust from his face, a kind of mask. In this unwrapping of himself, we see redemption, the phoenix rising from its ashes! One of the frames of the video seems to constitute itself as an abstraction of sorts; but, in reality, it is simply an image of Sal with his mouth open, which may be taken symbolically as a kind of tunnel, hole, or portal leading us to the last image of him with a big smile on his face proclaiming, ‘I Won!’”
“Sal’s life was, as perhaps life is for all of us, a compilation of a lot of races. Lots of trials and errors, defeats and perseverance, which he felt would ultimately win the day. If nothing else, Sal had grit and left a remarkable legacy that no one can deny. And we can see this not only in the objects he made, but also in the videos.”
“Sal is Racer is a psychodrama starring Sal Scarpitta playing himself longing to be a race car driver. He uses sprint car racing on a dirt track to create the analogy of an artist competing in a very competitive art world – living, making art, avoiding its pitfalls. This objective merged with his fantasy of what it would be like to actually be a race car driver. This work is a manifesto of sorts from an older artist (Scarpitta himself) to a young artist [Bankemper], his video-collaborator and studio assistant.”
2. Racers Tattoo, 1985. Running time 1’ 57”. Video images of super-eight stock cars shot by Joan Bankemper in color on 1/2 in. videotape at Dorsey racetrack, Dorsey, Maryland. Directed by Sal Scarpitta and Joan Bankemper. Photography by Joan Bankemper. Edited by Sal Scarpitta and Joan Bankemper. Copyright © 1985 Sal Scarpitta / Joan Bankemper.
“Scarpitta does a voice-over of a poem with images of stock cars running on a super-eight track. The poem, ‘Box Wrench the Moon...screw it into the universe’ is an homage to race car drivers.”
3. Potato Masher, 1985. Running time 15’ 42”. Shot by Joan Bankemper in color on 1/2 in. videotape at Salisbury, Maryland, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Aberdeen, Maryland, and in Scarpitta’s studio, Guilford Ave., Baltimore, Maryland. Directed by Sal Scarpitta and Joan Bankemper. Photography by Joan Bankemper. Copyright © 1985 Sal Scarpitta / Joan Bankemper.
“Potato Masher is a pacifist anti-war video. In it, Sal dresses up as several different soldiers, wearing a variety of uniforms being endlessly killed in a multitude of wars. As a doughboy, Sal in a cornfield breaks into the front line, where he finds a phone ringing. He picks up the phone and has a fictitious conversation with a stockbroker, instructing the broker to sell his shares of ‘Del Monte’ pineapple stock when the price increases in value! Then he hangs up and darts off into the mustard gas. The doughboy gets shot over and over again or gassed. In Potato Masher, we coded and decoded Nazi agendas and war-strategies in order to illustrate the absurdity of war.”
4. Message to Leo, 1986. Running time 15’ 32”. Shot by Joan Bankemper in color on 1/2 videotape on the occasion of Lincoln Speedway’s National Open Championship, Hanover, Pennsylvania, Sept. 27, 1986, and in Scarpitta and Bankemper’s studio on Clipper Heights Ave., Baltimore, Maryland. Directed by Sal Scarpitta and Joan Bankemper. Photography by Joan Bankemper. Copyright © 1986 Sal Scarpitta / Joan Bankemper.
“Message to Leo was literally that: ‘a message’ sent to Leo Castelli, his art dealer in New York, whom he felt had lost interest in him as an artist and wanted to inform him of his racing activities. It documents the #59 Scarpitta/Castelli Race Team in action. Specifically, it dealt with the second year of the team and the emotional trauma and transition surrounding Greg O’Neill, the first race car driver for the team, being replaced by Rick Schmelyun Jr., the second driver, and the introduction of a new pit crew. The video ends, rather symbolically, with the #59 Scarpitta/Castelli Race Team crashing.”
“Message to Leo was an attempt to playfully annoy Leo under the guise of it being a letter or a benign report on his investment, since Leo was, after all, financing the endeavor. On the surface, the racing was a reminder to Leo that he was an artist, one who was still very much alive. Sad, now and especially then, that Sal felt that he had to constantly remind Leo of this fact. At its deepest threshold, however, the racing raised many questions. Was this Sal playing the boy/son to his father Leo? Through racing, was Sal ultimately extending his adolescence and a Peter-Pan complex by refusing to grow up? Was that the ultimate sublimation? Was this a reenactment of Sal running away from his angry father and hiding in the pepper tree all those many years ago, and then transforming this incident into a record-breaking (avant-garde) action?”
5. Crash, 1990. Running time 32’ 4”. Shot by Joan Bankemper in color on 1/2 in. videotape. Photography by Joan Bankemper, edited by Andy Mann. Copyright © 1990 Sal Scarpitta / Joan Bankemper. It uses footage shot of Bobby Essick driving at Williams Grove Speedway in Pennsylvania. It was constructed as a loop so the viewer could essentially “rubber neck.”
“Crash is the last video. This loop is a psychedelic montage of the #59 Scarpitta/Castelli Race Team crashing over and over again. I think in Sal’s view he believed that we were destined to break everything and rebuild it, like in Jean Genet’s novel Querelle, which Fassbinder references in his film; man kills the thing he loves. The racing is not terribly different than the bandage or wrapped paintings: Sal pulled the ‘bandages’ around the paintings to heal the ‘wounds,’ and drivers invariably broke the cars in the course of racing them – after all, things break, especially if you push them to their extremes. And that is what Sal did with the paintings, too. This is the pattern in racing: the car is built to perfection, and then it inevitably gets wrecked or crashes, only to get rebuilt again. This process is repeated many times. Sometimes there is a victory, sometimes the yield is a fantastic painting. Another way to think of this is as a process or form of forced entropy. After all, every man kills the thing he loves. Sal is Racer ends with the assurance ‘We’ll be back!’ Sal always seemed to find redemption in all things – in painting, in racing, in life.”
“Scarpitta continued to race cars for several years after I left Baltimore, but those first seven years, when we were together, from 1983 to 1990, really defined a large part of the #59 Scarpitta/Castelli Race Team and of how I viewed and continue to view art. For me, it really defined how art functions, or how it can function, constantly defining and redefining the boundaries of it. This was the most exciting part of the Race Team, and it was a privilege and honor to be a small part of it. I am thankful to Sal for that. These 5 videos are documents of and a testament to those seven years I spent together with him.”
The 5 videos are presented on a DVD disk, in a black plastic case, 7.5 x 5.2 x .7 in. (19 x 13.2 x 17,7 cm.), with liner notes by Joan Bankemper.
Text fragments cited here are all from Joan Bankemper, A Good Run with Sal Scarpitta, 1983-1990, in Scarpitta / Bankemper: 5 + 10 (New York - Paris - Turin: Edgewise Press, 2015). Text copyright © 2016 Joan Bankemper.
All Rights Reserved. No part of this video may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including any and all recording, information and retrieval systems, without the written permission from the artist and the publisher. Presented on the occasion of the publication Scarpitta / Bankemper: 5 + 10. Project Copyright © 2016 Joan Bankemper Productions. Edgewise Press, Inc. New York - Paris - Turin, 2016.
B) The 10 Prints by Scarpitta and Bankemper:
The 10 prints, Dirt Rider, by Sal Scarpitta and Joan Bankemper (1983/2015), carrying the Roman numerals from I to X, are derived from the video, Sal is Racer (1983-84). The image size for each of the 10 prints is 20 x 14 in. (50,8 x 35,5 cm.); the paper size is 24 x 18 in. (60,9 x 45,7 cm.). They are off-set printed in two colors (black + sepia) on Fine Art Paper – Photo Rag 308g, by First Service, Turin, in an edition of 30 copies, signed and numbered in Arabic numerals from 1/30 through 30/30 by Joan Bankemper, with 5 artist’s proofs.
Accompanying the 10 prints, and 1 black and white image of the artists, Sal Scarpitta and Joan Bankemper, and printed on the same paper and in the same dimensions, and on 5 additional sheets of paper are 1) the portfolio/project title, Scarpitta / Bankemper: 5 + 10and the artists’ names, Sal Scarpitta and Joan Bankemper; 2) the table of contents; 3) the list of prints, Dirt Rider; 4) the text, “This Race is Mine” (1983-84) by Sal Scarpitta; 5) and the colophon, with the publisher and dates of publication, Edgewise Press, 2016, making for a total of 16 sheets of paper in the portfolio, Scarpitta / Bankemper: 5 + 10. Scarpitta’s text, “This Race is Mine,” transcribed from the video, Sal is Racer, is also reprinted in the book, A Good Run with Sal Scarpitta, 1983-1990.
Joan Bankemper writes: “This authoritative edition of the 5 videos and the 10 sepia-toned prints in Scarpitta / Bankemper: 5 + 10 permanently clarifies the facts of authorship and copyright borne equally by Sal Scarpitta and me. Furthermore, this edition is a corrective to the errors in the Catalogue Raisonné and to any other editions of the videos and video-derived materials produced by Spazio Mazzotta (who also published the Catalogue Raisonné), and specifically to the videograms or video-derived images from Potato Masher and Sal is Racer reproduced in the Catalogue Raisonné, with respect to the issues of co-authorship and the Scarpitta/Bankemper collaboration. This edition of Scarpitta / Bankemper: 5 + 10 should open the door to a clear vision of the videos, videograms and other video-derived work, including the prints contained herein.”
In addition, and for the sake of further clarity and authenticity, the 10 prints are illustrated in color (sepia) from 1-10 in the book, A Good Run with Sal Scarpitta, 1983-1990, by Joan Bankemper, which is included in this deluxe custodial edition of the portfolio, Scarpitta / Bankemper: 5 + 10. The 10 prints, along with the DVD of the 5 videos and the book, A Good Run with Sal Scarpitta, 1982-1990, in the special limited edition are available through Amazon.com and edgewisepress.org. For further information, contact Joy L. Glass at email@example.com.
C) The book, A Good Run with Sal Scarpitta, 1983-1990, by Joan Bankemper:
“It is about those seven great years of working and playing hard with Sal Scarpitta, the quintessential artist’s artist. It explains the collaboration between a young artist, myself, and an older seasoned one. The text provides a personal perspective on Scarpitta’s life and work – on the reality of racing and on racing as an art form.”
A Good Run WITH SAL SCARPITTA, 1983-1990 by Joan Bankemper is a first edition hardcover, 120 pages, 11.75 x 8.25 in. (29.7 x 21 cm.), printed on Fedrigoni / Old Mill White paper, and contains 20 color and 36 black and white reproductions, printed on opaque patinated paper, sewn and bound by Gaetano Dal Broi, Turin, Italy, with a two-color gatefold jacket (black and red). As part of the boxed deluxe edition, the first thirty copies of the book, A Good Run with Sal Scarpitta, 1983-1990, are signed and numbered by Joan Bankemper. The regular edition is limited to 500 copies. Each copy is $34.95.
The custodial, measuring 18.5 x 24.6 x 1.6 in. (47 x 62,5 x 4 cm.), is ermined on the outside with black fabric (Brillianta di Fontana Grafica) and on the inside with red fabric (Giardini 5222), and contains the 5 videos on a DVD disk in a black plastic case, and the book, A Good Run with Sal Scarpitta, 1983-1990, by Joan Bankemper. Red silk ribbons adjoin the die cut apertures to expedite the lifting of the book and DVD case out of the custodial, which is inscribed with black on black serigraphed lettering on the outside.
A Good Run with Sal Scarpitta, 1983-1990, by Joan Bankemper, and Scarpitta / Bankemper: 5 + 10 are published by Edgewise Press, Inc., 24 Fifth Ave., N? 224, New York, N.Y. 10011. They are available through Amazon.com and edgewisepress.org. For further information, contact Joy L. Glass at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All Rights Reserved. No part of this portfolio – book, videos, prints – or project may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including any and all recording, information and retrieval systems, without the written permission from the artist, Joan Bankemper, and the publisher, Edgewise Press, Inc.
JOAN BANKEMPER received her BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute in 1982 and her MFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 1985. Upon moving to New York City in 1990, she radically challenged her academic training, focusing on site-specific installations, using vegetation and the community as her primary medium. By 1993, her ‘social practice’ was fully incorporated into her art-making. Her work was shown with Creative Time, Inc. (NY), The New Museum (NY), Artpace (San Antonio, TX), the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston, MA), and Wave Hill (Riverdale, NY). She received grants from The George Sugarman Foundation in 2000, an NEA in 2001, and, in 2010, the McColl Center of Visual Arts granted her the Gabi Award.
Bankemper’s videos and videograms have been exhibited at the Leo Castelli Gallery (NY), the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, the Detroit Institute of the Arts, the Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea (Milan), the Marianne Boesky Gallery (NY) and the Hirshhorn Museum (Washington, DC). Her collaborative work with Sal Scarpitta will be included in the Contemporary Art Museum in St. Louis, Missouri, in 2016.
Out of her ‘social practice’, Bankemper makes ceramic ‘artifacts’. Initially the urns were produced for the Brent Sikkema Gallery (later Wooster Gardens) in response to the many friends who had died of AIDS. Each pot was made of broken dishes and filled with medicinal plants. In one of her signature series, she only used discarded teacup handles and coffee mugs. Her new ceramic work utilizes high-fired handmade porcelain buttons attached to canvases, incorporating such so-called prosaic skills as sewing while also addressing the issue of how things get held together.
In 2008, Bankemper founded the Black Meadow Barn, a 150-year-old farm located in the Hudson Valley, N.Y. ‘The Barn’ is a place where “horticulture and culture meet,” where sustainable farming is not only theorized but practiced. She continues to cultivate gardens, ceramics, and ‘conversations’ at ‘The Barn’, often including visual artists, farmers, culinary experts, and even cyclists.
Bankemper has exhibited environments and aspects of her social practice with Amy Lipton Fine Arts. Her objects have been exhibited with Nancy Hoffman Gallery and are included in numerous private collections. She lives and works in New York City and Warwick, New York.
SAL SCARPITTA (1919-2007) was considered one of Leo Castelli’s first and premiere artists. His early wrapped pieces were viewed as a precursor to the Arte de Povera movement. Upon moving back to America after WWII in search of his American roots, he began by making a facsimile race car. He exhibited dirt track sprint cars, wrapped sleds and more race cars until finally his work incorporated creating a fully functioning race team that raced in real time.