May 1, 2011

Student Artist Spotlight: Representative Interviews, Portable Studios

Print More

On Saturday night, I caught the end of an art performance put on by art students Chase Wilson ’12 and Nick Faust ’12, to find out more about the parts I missed and the show overall — a staged séance for Final Destination characters. What followed, below, was a continuation of the show itself, the essence of the work captured in an interview. Our conversation started simple, became extraordinarily confusing, but oddly made sense in the end. As a journalist, I sought the facts, but it became clear soon after we began to chat that Faust and Wilson had less, or more, to offer. This transcript, then, is divided between a description of their artwork and influences, and an attempt to produce a work in itself. Contrary to most artist interviews that I’ve done, Faust and Wilson pounced on the opportunity to bring the spirit of their work to the Sun, and turn this page  into a space for a piece. We began our discussion with some thoughts on a common interest — Louis’ Lunch, a locale that also doubles as Faust and Wilson’s studio.

The Sun: You told me on the way here that you have a portable studio, which occurs around the neighborhood, on various sidewalks and oftentimes, at Louis’ Lunch. You go there and order a sandwich, and also call it your studio. Why?

C.W.: Well yeah, it’s the studio. There’s a red awning there, so if it’s raining, you just move under the awning. If it’s dry you might sit on the grass. If you are smoking you have to be a bit further away from the truck.

N.F.: Cigarettes are available there.

C.W.: A lot of important discussion happens there.

N.F.: I’d say that it’s the dominant side of cultural production.

C.W.: The artist is a cultural producer. Our responsibility is important. We want to appeal to every class structure.

N.F.: Louis’ Lunch does appeal to every class structure. Louis’ Lunch is one of the most abstract artists of our time, because Louis’ Lunch exploits itself all the time.

C.W.: Formalist painting — that’s not abstraction. Louis’ Lunch is real abstraction. That’s the ultimate vehicle for communication.

Sun: So it’s sort of like a point of reference, I guess, a place where you can get in touch with something you can’t necessarily get anywhere close by?

C.W.: Yeah we’re mostly just thinking of stuff there, whatever sort of material stuff that has to be done, usually day of, night before type stuff. Usually it’s about organizing some sort of group.

N.F.: We try to embrace everyone from all class structures.

C.W.: Embrace what they respond to.

N.F.: We’re trying to create a new aristocracy.

Sun: Oh yeah? What sort of aristocracy are you trying to create? Like an aristocracy of the mind?

C.W.: We’re just trying to communicate, because that is what artists are supposed to do; to give everyone what they want, or at least what they think we want.

N.F.: We don’t have a specific message that we’re trying to send. We may have one right now but that could totally change tomorrow.

C.W.: To go off that point, if we can’t get the viewer with sexuality, then we have to get them with spirituality. If we can’t get them through spirituality, then we really have to work with color, banality, material, subjectivity — if we can’t get them through a vocabulary that deals with entertainment, or with art, then we have to get them with something. We try to find the point at which the viewer will say —

N.F.: We gotta give it to them.

C.W.: They have to put down their hands and say — “I give it to them, it’s a great piece.”

Sun: And you were telling me before that the controversial artist, Jeff Koons, has had some influence on your thoughts. Are you quoting him right now?

C.W.: These are some quotes that he said, but these are foundational to his piece. This piece and others, but more just the way we are thinking about these pieces. Thinking about true liberation.

N.F.: It’s not a specific message that we’re sending. It’s really just about effective communication. We’re trying to take the tools of communication back.

Sun: From who?

N.F.: Advertising, entertainment.

C.W.: The culture industry.

Sun: Let’s talk about your actual performance on Saturday night at the Telluride house.

C.W.: Alright we’re in the side room off the porch.

N.F.: People are showing up, at this point we’ve pushed it back far enough. There are a substantial number of people there, people aren’t sure if it’s a party, or what the hell is going on.

C.W.: It’s about 11:30 p.m.

Sun: Did you plan it like that?

C.W.: Yes. We wanted that point at which people expected to dance, where there was some sort of expectation of some sort of event. Two rows, of three seats wide, with a four-foot wide space in between, leading up to a baroque style, Bernini-esque monument, gold trash-bag spray painted mountain form.

N.F.: Tied down with duct tape.

C.W.: Two mobile projection screens.

N.F.: Military style projection screens.

C.W.: We’re talking mobility here, we’re talking debriefing, we’re talking missions. One on each side, two projections, two laptops.

N.F.: Gaming computer speakers. “Canimon Vehia Tanabel,” “Oh Fortuna,” “Pomp and Circumstance,” “Circle of Life,” “Thus Sprach Zarathustra.”

Sun: And … that’s all somehow in the structure?

C.W.: Uploaded in videos on the laptop.

N.F.: Final Destination 3 death montage. Death credentials on a business card on a power point.

C.W.: Written in a flowery cursive font.

N.F.: We had a Marshall amp with a microphone, and various readings which were juxtaposed, as well as improvised statements. That’s pretty much the piece.

C.W.: How big was the audience?

N.F.: I would say it got up to about 25 or 30. Probably started less and got bigger. It was about 40 minutes in duration.

C.W.: About 40-45 minutes.

Sun: So who is this guy Jeff Koons?

N.F.: He was one of the most effective communicators of our time.

Sun: What time?

N.F.: Our lifetime, your lifetime.

C.W.: He made ceramics. Shrinking ceramics. Shrinking is sexual, and colors felt to the genitals.

N.F.: That’s why Koons is so important to us.

Sun: Is your work sexual?

C.W.: Absolutely

N.F.: Absolutely.

Sun: Let’s come back to Koons and talk more about your work for a second? Why did you decide to stage a seánce?

C.W.: Death is not a game.

N.F.: This is not elitist imagery.

C.W.: We want to appeal to all classes. True liberation for the artist is outside the art world.

N.F.: Only outside the world can the artist be effective. The only thing that matters outside of the art world is effectiveness.

C.W.: That direct line of communication.

Sun: Do you think you’re free right now?

N.F.: Right now we have not broken away from the art world.

C.W.: The artwork is post-modern while its being made, modern when it is finished. There is no semblance of innocence, no sentimentality.

N.F.: We are under the watchful eye of the plastic arts.

Sun: You want this transcript to appear as a work of art, right? What sort of work of art do you see this transcript becoming?

C.W.: Tragedy is such a difficult word, but the tragedy of this type of transcript in terms of representative function, is the same thing that you see happening with Koons. The form of the transcript needs to have something to do with the form of the performance.

Sun: Right so there’s this gulf between my transcript and between the actual experience of the piece, and the transcript isn’t an accurate representation, so you have to go for the same form by circumventing the actual piece. I’m still not seeing the parallel to Koons, though.

N.F.: Well the piece is about death, and I think that Koons is also very much about death, and the way Koons has been historicized is about death and longing and grief.

C.W.: People try to form a genealogy, and we’re trying to bust his work out of that.

Sun: Are you trying to bust yourselves out of that?

C.W.: Well hopefully we’ll never get into it. That’s what we’re trying to do right now, too.

N.F.: We’re not radical new figures. This should be the status quo.

C.W.: This is the status quo. We’re just trying to show that in our work.

Original Author: Joey Anderson