Phong Bui

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Phong Bui (born September 17, 1964, in Huế, Vietnam) is an artist, writer, independent curator, and Co-Founder and Artistic Director of The Brooklyn Rail, a free monthly arts, culture, and politics journal. Bui was named one of the "100 Most Influential People in Brooklyn Culture" by Brooklyn Magazine in 2014.[1] In 2015, The New York Observer called him a "ringmaster" of the "Kings County art world."[2] He lives with his wife, the painter Nathlie Provosty[3] in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

Publisher, writer, and editor[edit]

In addition to fostering the creative energy behind The Brooklyn Rail, Bui publishes Rail Editions, a venture that features experimental poetry, fiction, artist interviews, and art criticism, and has published titles on artist Ron Gorchov, art critic Irving Sandler, poet Luigi Ballerini, and a collection of poems by Florbela Espanca, the first collection of the Portuguese modernist poet to appear in English.[4]

Bui contributes essays, reviews, and interviews to the Brooklyn Rail, and creates portraits of each month's featured interviewees.[5][6] He has written articles for Matador Magazine, Art in America, and Riot of Perfume, among others,[7] as well as essays for exhibition catalogues and books on artists. In addition to his writing, he is the producer and host of the program Off The Rail, hosted by Clocktower Radio, where he interviews artists, art historians, writers, and other people of interest.[8]

In 2018, Bui launched the River Rail, a biannual publication devoted to the environment, climate change, and the "urgent subject of nature: its beauty, abuse, and changing climate that is gravely affecting every aspect of the planet’s ecosystem, and our lives."[9]


Phong Bui has curated over 50 monographic and group shows since 2000, including the first anniversary commemoration in 2013 of Hurricane Sandy: Come Together: Surviving Sandy, Year 1, "a sprawling, encompassing, inspiring exhibition of works by some 300 artists," according to Roberta Smith of the New York Times.[10] The show was ranked as New York's #1 exhibition in 2013 by Jerry Saltz of New York Magazine.[11] In 2013 he initiated the Rail Curatorial Projects which aims to curate exhibitions as social experiments. In 2014, Bui curated Bloodflames Revisited which featured the work of more than two dozen artists at Paul Kasmin Gallery[12][13] and Spaced Out: Migration to the Interior at Red Bull Studios, featuring nearly 40 artists.[14][15][16][17] In 2015, Bui organized a two-part exhibition entitled Intimacy in Discourse: Reasonable and Unreasonable Sized Paintings taking place at both Mana Contemporary[18] and SVA Chelsea Gallery.[19] His most recent curatorial project was a two-part exhibition with Mana Contemporary in 2017, titled Occupy Mana: Artists Need To Create On the Same Scale That Society Has the Capacity To Destroy & Friends In Solidarity, Year 1.[20] This exhibit included over 60 artists addressing social and political issues, including human rights and equality, immigration, foreign relations, the environment, and climate change, and continued Bui's curatorial activation of Peter Lamborn Wilson's concept of the Temporary Autonomous Zone, "a space wherein the fluctuation of artistic energy establishes the flow of information, and in so doing aligns—however fleetingly—a great collective imagination. Here one finds the potential for awakening one’s perception and agency of self-discovery."[20]

Bui served as curatorial advisor at MoMA PS1 from 2007 to 2010 where he organized monographic exhibitions of artists including Robert Bergman, Jonas Mekas,[21] Joanna Pousette-Dart,[22] Tony Fitzpatrick, Harriet Korman, and Jack Whitten,[23] and numerous group exhibitions including Irrational Profusion: Nicole Cherubini, Marc Leuthold, Joyce Robins, Peter Schlesinger[24] and Orpheus Selection: Nicola Lopez & Lisa Sigal.[25] Bui has curated other exhibitions at various galleries including recent work by Ron Gorchov at Cheim & Read[26] as well as Exquisite Fucking Boredom, a exhibition of Polaroid images by artist and writer Emma Bee Bernstein at Microscope Gallery.[27]


View of "Social Environment #2" at Mana Contemporary, a 2014 installation by Phong Bui. Photo by Zach Garlitos

A graduate of the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA,[28] Bui continued his postgraduate studies at the New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting, and Sculpture[28] and studied independently with Nicolas Carone. Bui is a multi-disciplinary artist whose work includes painting, sculpture, and site-specific installation.[7] Since 2012 he has been working on his on-going social sculpture/environment, which attempts to realize "art as social activity" and to reinforce the notion that "the process of art making is the art."[7] In 2006, Bui won the Award in Art from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Eric Isenbeurger Annual Prize for Installation from the National Academy Museum. His work has been included in group exhibitions at Pierogi, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, and the North Dakota Museum of Art. Bui has lectured at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Columbia University, Cooper Union, Bard College, and taught at Yale University, Rhode Island School of Design,[28] University of Pennsylvania, and the School of Visual Arts where he is currently giving graduate seminars in MFA Writing and Criticism and MFA Photography, Video, and Related Media.[29] He has won an Arcadia Traveling Fellowship, a Hohenberg Traveling Fellowship, and a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Fellowship, and in 2014 was the keynote speaker of The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, and was the Visionary Honoree at Art in General's Annual Benefit.[30] In 2017, Bui was awarded the Dorothea and Leo Rabkin Foundation Prize in Fine Arts Journalism.[31]


  1. ^ "The 100 Most Influential People in Brooklyn Culture". Retrieved 2016-11-01. 
  2. ^ "The New Machers". Observer. Retrieved 2016-11-01. 
  3. ^ "Nathlie Provosty". Nathlie Provosty. Retrieved 2016-11-01. 
  4. ^ "Brooklyn Rail : Store : Rail Editions". Retrieved 2018-04-19. 
  5. ^ "The Hustle of Publishing Art News in the Postscript Era". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016-11-01. 
  6. ^ Bui, Phong. "The Brooklyn Rail Contributor". Retrieved 2016-11-01. 
  7. ^ a b c "Phong Bui". Phong Bui. Retrieved 2016-11-01. 
  8. ^ "Off The Rail". Retrieved 2016-11-01. 
  9. ^ "Dear Friends and Readers,". The Brooklyn Rail. Retrieved 2018-04-19. 
  10. ^ Roberta Smith (2013-12-06). "'Come Together: Surviving Sandy' Samples 300 Artists". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016-11-01. 
  11. ^ Saltz, Jerry (2013-12-08). "The 2013 Culture Awards - Jerry Saltz on the 10 Best Art Shows". Retrieved 2016-11-01. 
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on August 7, 2014. Retrieved 2014-09-05. 
  13. ^ "Bloodflames Revisited Curated By Phong Bui". Paul Kasmin Gallery. Retrieved 2016-11-01. 
  14. ^ Daniel Maidman (2014-12-07). "The Psychodelic: Phong Bui Discusses What He Curated and How He Curated It". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2016-11-01. 
  15. ^ Noah Dillon. "Total Work of Art: "Spaced Out" at Red Bull Studios". Retrieved 2016-11-01. 
  16. ^ Schultz, Charlie. "ArtSlant". Retrieved 2016-11-01. 
  17. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on November 5, 2014. Retrieved 2014-11-07. 
  18. ^ "2015 Intimacy in discourse — Mana Contemporary". Retrieved 2016-11-01. 
  19. ^ "School of Visual Arts | SVA | New York City > Intimacy in Discourse: Unreasonable Sized Paintings". Retrieved 2016-11-01. 
  20. ^ a b "Occupy Mana | Brooklyn Rail Curatorial Projects". Retrieved 2018-04-19. 
  21. ^ "Exhibitions: Jonas Mekas: The Beauty of Friends Being Together Quartet". MoMA PS1. 2007-04-23. Retrieved 2016-11-01. 
  22. ^ "Exhibitions: Pip Chodorov, Harriet Korman, and Joanna Pousette-Dart". MoMA PS1. 2007-10-09. Retrieved 2016-11-01. 
  23. ^ "Exhibitions: Jack Whitten". MoMA PS1. 2007-10-15. Retrieved 2016-11-01. 
  24. ^ "Exhibitions: Irrational Profusion: Nicole Cherubini, Marc Leuthold, Joyce Robins, and Peter Schlesinger". MoMA PS1. Retrieved 2016-11-01. 
  25. ^ "Exhibitions: Orpheus Selection: Nicola López & Lisa Sigal". MoMA PS1. Retrieved 2016-11-01. 
  26. ^ "Ron Gorchov - Exhibitions". Retrieved 2016-11-01. 
  27. ^ "Micriscope Gallery". Retrieved 2016-11-01. 
  28. ^ a b c "Art Writing". Retrieved 2016-11-01. 
  29. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on March 25, 2015. Retrieved 2015-03-15. 
  30. ^ "Art in General". Art in General. Retrieved 2016-11-01. 
  31. ^ "GRANTS". THE DOROTHEA AND LEO RABKIN FOUNDATION. Retrieved 2018-04-19. 

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