via NY Observer:
When La Monte Young performed with the Forever Blues Band at the Kitchen in 1993, he played a two-hour set without stopping. The song—more of a movement—was "Young's Dorian Blues in G," composed of the familiar 12-bar chord progression of the titular genre, beaten into nonrecognition through Young's strange tunings and the resonance of his Korg synthesizer playing against the electric guitars of Jon and Brad Catler. Reviews described the trancelike state of the audience after the monotony—eventually transcending to a hypnotic groove—of a chromatic scale played for so long with few, if any, changes to structure. Incense was burning. Young looked like some villainous biker from a postapocalyptic film, his stringy white beard hanging in knots past his chin, a black bandana covering the top of his head. He was seated and hunched over his keyboard wearing a torn black-denim vest. The room was lit pink.
Tim Griffin, the former editor-in-chief of Artforum magazine who will take over as director and chief curator of the Kitchen in September, was in the audience, awestruck. At the time he was working on his MFA in poetry at Bard, where he was receiving a more or less comprehensive education in the arts, studying not only with Lydia Davis, but also with Yvonne Rainer. He was on a self-proclaimed "La Monte Young tour." He takes the art world as seriously as he takes criticism and he does not see taste and discourse as mutually exclusive. Mr. Griffin left Artforum last summer and was replaced by senior editor Michele Kuo; his reason for leaving, he said at the time, was to "devote more energy to writing and teaching" (he told The Observer, in a reflection of his seriousness, he "was afraid [he] was going to start repeating himself"). There is talk, which he won't confirm, that he's at work on a book. At the magazine, Mr. Griffin focused on the intersection of art and politics during the Iraq war, while at the same time questioning the usefulness of such conversations. He once devoted nearly an entire issue to Slavoj Zizek. He sees becoming a curator for the first time, at a venue as celebrated as the Kitchen, as a logical extension of being an editor. People tend to agree that he is the shot in the arm the venue needs to reinstate its international reputation.
"I did really think about the editing of that publication in terms of curating," he said. "You wanted to assemble groups of essays and projects that would reflect on each other and begin to generate greater meaning than their individual parts. In fact, in the magazine, one of the questions I was always aware of was, how do you make certain that the issues around art have meaning for people? Almost in an existential way. How does it make you resee the world that you're in? That's a task for the arts as well."
The Observer met Mr. Griffin, who is 41 and married to Johanna Burton, the director of the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard, on a damp, gloomy day. He is a large, pale man, with a bald pate—his face is boyish nonetheless—and the kind of thick, plastic glasses one expects a magazine editor to wear. He was dressed predominantly in black. His face is stern, reflecting his shy and serious demeanor. He had a reputation at Artforum of shutting the door to his office, which was famously so filled with books that it was nearly impossible to sit inside of it, and drawing the blinds. He and his staff would work 10 to 12 hour days, sometimes more. He was editor-in-chief for seven years, which, as one of his fellow editors has said, "has a nice biblical ring to it." He often talks in the second person, slightly drawing attention away from himself, and asks rhetorical questions.
"The real question is, can you have a public sphere?" he said after The Observer asked him about the marked increase in political interest at Artforum during his time there. "Can you have a community that has meaningful dialogues about art and has some exchange thinking through the arts in counterpoint with developments of culture at large? My hope is: yes! So at an institution like the Kitchen, you're trying to create a place where there are dialogues among artists. Some of those already exist and you try to act as a catalyst, and you make connections. Because you have to ask questions that other people might not have asked."