Ben Dietz is head of US sales at VICE Media, the magazine-cum-media empire behind VBS.TV, The Creators Project and Noisey.com among (a great many) others. Hailing originally from the family seat in Syracuse NY, he lives today with his wife and two kids in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, a block from the subway station he first emerged into New York City from, during the fireworks, on the 4th of July, 1998.
What is Vice’s approach to covering the art world?
That’s a tricky one since I’m on the business side at VICE, but I think what our editors would say is that we cover things that fall outside the staid traditions of the art world and its commercial aspects, or criticize them as we see fit. And I think they’ve got a pretty amazing track record. It’s been really fun watching them go about it.
What’s your earliest memory of seeing/experiencing art?
My mom was a ceramicist when I was growing up (she works mainly in mosaic tile these days) – so my earliest memories experiencing art are centered around visits to her studio in downtown Syracuse, fooling around with clay. But growing up skateboarding in the late 80s was probably the biggest influence on what I like now. The whole visual culture was so wide and inclusive. My first board’s graphic was op art, the second was like Fangoria or Hieronymous Bosch. And so on…
Any upcoming art shows you’re looking forward to?
In light of what I just said, it’s predictable that I’m really looking forward to seeing Art in the Streets at MOCA in LA. I’ve been lucky enough to sit down with Aaron Rose a few times and I really admire his eye and especially his attitude about art, about DIY, just in general. And I really like a lot of the artists in the show too. Steve Powers in particular, I’m such a fan.
We bumped into each other at the TriBeCa Ball. What did you think of the students’ work?
I love what the NY Academy of Art does in terms of making figurative art a focus and I saw some stuff I really thought was interesting. Personally, I’m drawn to work that is less figurative most of the time – and I’ve got no art education at all - so I try to use things like the TriBeCa Ball to learn.
You bought a Terence Koh print from Exhibition A. Where is it hanging in your apartment and what was it about the piece that you were drawn to?
I love that piece because it’s funny and challenging but also so immediate. It’s hanging in our bedroom, so you can read into that whatever you want about me, ha.