Glenn Lutz: Questions and Deconstructs Preconceived Notions and Societal Norms

Photograph by Devin Timothy Nelson & Artwork by Joe Cruz

Artist Glenn Lutz’s practice exemplifies a mastery of observation and analysis as he depicts the concerns regarding the contentious nature of identity, spirituality, mental health and the injustices faced by the Black community.

Employing art as a vessel for questioning, Lutz deconstructs preconceived notions and societal norms through contemporary imagery and cultural references, with storytelling at the essence of his work.

Glenn Lutz

I’m interested in allowing air within my work for inspiration and inner truths to breathe

Glenn Lutz

A multifaceted artist, Lutz’s articulation spans diverse mediums, from sculpture and installations to performance and photography. He is also a published author, releasing his first book in 2018 with Simon & Schuster titled Go F*ck, I Mean, Find Yourself”, praised for its raw honesty and entertaining style. The book inspires individuals to be their best possible selves. It also acts as a journal allowing readers to document their journey.

Go F*ck, I Mean, Find Yourself – Glenn Lutz

Lutz’s creative vitality does not stop there. Under the moniker, Zenn Lu speaks his truth over melodic beats honing in on life experiences, grief, suicide, the traps of fame and pop culture in empathic honesty. A testament to a burgeoning practice that is continuously evolving.

He has also just launched his own publishing company, LIORAFFE, which will be publishing books on relevant conversations within society. The first release under LIORAFFE is There’s Light: Artworks & Conversations Examining Black Masculinity, Identity and Mental Wellbeing.

There’s Light includes contributions from the late Virgil Abloh, Tunji Adeniyi-Jones, Mark Bradford, Wyatt Cenac, Barkley Hendricks, Rashid Johnson, Glenn Ligon, Steve McQueen, Jordan “Watts” Watson curator of Love Watts.

Lutz’s work confront the chaos and carnage of pain, race and identity through evocative storytelling that prompts thought and reflection of the Black experience in society, a crucial contribution to the contemporary discourse.

We managed to catch up with Glenn to learn more about his practice, LIORAFFE and his new book, “There’s Light.

July 2022 | $69.99, £45.99 | Hardback | 290 pages | 333 limited, 333 Edition copies and unlimited print-on-demand copies of the For Us Edition Pre-order

Q: Hi Glenn, can you please introduce yourself for those who do not know you?

A: My name is Glenn Lutz, and I’m a conceptual artist working in performance, sculpture, installation, music, photography, and publications, among other things.

Loud Zoo EP – Listen Here
Q: Can you tell us how you got started in arts and why you decided to become an artist?

A: I didn’t have a choice. I was destructing at a fast pace, and if I were to have deprived myself of this work much longer, I would have died—artists like Pope. L, David Hammons, Ana Mendieta, Vito Acconci, Chris Burden, Barbara Kruger, Bruce Nauman, Simone Leigh, and Theaster Gates inspired me to employ art as a means for exploration and understanding, and they’re a big reason I’m working today.

Unknown White Target, 2021
Pen on paper 8.5 x 11 in
21.59 x 27.94 cm
© Glenn Lutz Studio.
Q: Your practice discusses the significance of identity, spirituality, and mental health within the Black community and analyses the causes and effects of injustices they encountered through compelling storytelling. Can you tell us some more about your practice and the direction in which your work is going?

A: The key factor that informs my practice is examining through questions and deconstructing preconceived notions and societal norms. I’m interested in psychology, mysticism, and how programming, culture, inherited identity, the stories we tell ourselves, and the stories we’ve been told about ourselves shape us.

A Readymade Discourse on Equilibrium, the Greatness of Michael Jordan, Black Exploitation, White Supremacy, Art World Politics, and the Price of Jeff Koons’ Framed Nike Posters., 2022
Framed Nike Poster
48 x 69 in 121 x 175 cm
© Glenn Lutz Studio.

I’m not interested in where my work is going per se, but more so where it isn’t going. We’re inundated with imagery, ideas, and opinions, and I’m interested in allowing air within my work for inspiration and inner truths to breathe.

There’s Light available for pre-order
Q: The identity of the Black male has been romanticized and vilified within society. Since slavery after its abolition, the civil rights movement. In the decades after, it faced a turning point that developed into commodifying of identity and culture. Fuelling more perplexing questions about the Black male identity, what it means to be a Black male, and the notions of Black masculinity.
Your upcoming book “There’s Light” examines multifaceted themes of the contemporary Black male identity through art and conversation from some of the world’s leading luminaries across literary and artistic disciplines. Can you tell us why you decided to publish the book and the importance of these conversations and their contribution to the Black male identity in today’s culture?

A: These conversations are important because so often, the most dangerous adversaries are the ones that you don’t know you have.

I decided to publish this book for a lot of reasons. The main reason was that I wanted to create a tool that one could use for personal exploration and introspection. I wished there was a book like this. I wanted to create a Bible of sorts, showcasing the stories and art of Black men. How did these men overcome societal hurdles to become who they are today?

What specific steps did they take to go from poverty to wealth? How did they learn to accept themselves fully when coming from dogmatic, religious backgrounds? How do they generate peace in a racist society? How do you unlearn toxic behaviours? How do you practice self-care? What does masculinity mean to you? How do you navigate depression, anxiety, suicidal ideations, addiction, and other mental hurdles?

BLACK COP (Video Still #12), 2017
Silver lambda black and white photograph
29 x 21.6 in 73.66 x 54.86 cm
Edition of 3
© Glenn Lutz Studio.
Q: The book showcases intimate artworks and insightful conversations about the Black male identity from a spectrum of renowned creatives. Can you tell us a little about the selection process and why these creatives and their conversations were the ones to express the book’s message?

A: I’m inspired by all of the contributors in this book, and each and every one is an architect, creating the lives they want to live. They are contemplative and haven’t allowed adversity in their lives to define them.

With that said, I didn’t set out for the book to have a message. I approached it with questions rather than any small idea of what I thought people needed to hear. I think that would have limited the book. When I began conceptualizing the idea for There’s Light, I was intentional in not trying to mould it but to assist in cracking it open into what it would inherently become by asking open-ended questions and creating a safe space for vulnerability. If there’s a message to the book, it’s that we can learn by listening and that we have more in common than we often think. The beauty of this book is in the gap between the pages and the reader. What’s in that gap is different for each individual.

A Readymade Discourse on Being That Nigga, 2021
Chromogenic print
11.29 x 14.96 in 28.68 x 38 cm
Edition of 120
© Glenn Lutz Studio.
Q: What do you think the idea of the Black male and its identity in contemporary society is, and how does it differ from past representations?

A: It isn’t monolithic, even when the powers that be strategically creative narratives that seek to program, hypnotize and control. Instead, we break down those structures by existing, even when the concept of male doesn’t assist in one’s unfolding.

Q: “There’s Light” is the first book released under your publishing company LIORAFFE, which utilizes books as a vessel for relevant conversations within society. Can you tell us some more about LIORAFFE and the type of books it will be publishing?

A: I created LIORAFFE because I refused to wait any longer, knocking at the door of publishing companies, hoping for an answer. I released my first book with Simon and Schuster and found a resounding silence and lack of interest when I proposed the concept of this book to publishers. I realized if I wanted to facilitate a space for these conversations, I’d have to do just that. Thankfully, the contributors saw my vision and were generous enough to trust me with their work. My intention with LIORAFFE is to publish books that utilize art as a vehicle for personal growth and illumination.

Untitled (THE MACHINE THAT MAKES #11), 2020
Mixed materials (Aluminum, digital print, acrylic and LED)
18 x 17 in 45.72 x 43.18 cm
© Glenn Lutz Studio.
Photo credit: Jason Grubb
Q: They say the studio is the sacred template of creativity. What are the three things you cannot live without in your studio?

A: I always keep a copy of Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, a chair for meditation and my iPhone.

Q: What’s next for you as an artist and an author?

A: Right now, I’m being as present for this moment as I possibly can, and I’m actively figuring out ways to share this book with as many people as possible in the months to come. I’m also currently finishing a series of sculptures that will be shown in London later this year.

Q: Lastly, what does art mean to you?

A: At its best, art is alchemical. It’s an encounter that can’t be touched. It’s a vehicle that assists in making sense of the human experience.

July 2022 | $69.99, £45.99 | Hardback | 290 pages | 333 limited, 333 Edition copies and unlimited print-on-demand copies of the For Us Edition Pre-order

©2022 Glenn Lutz, LIORAFFE