KubaParis/Amelie gr. Darrelmann
A skeleton sits on an open trash can, a figure made of rolled towels chills on the floor, dancing figures in the manner of Matisse on canvases under ultraviolet light, floral elements cut into curtains, Ready-Mades! Your work can’t be limited to one medium. What are the emphases in your work and with which installation you’re going to surprise us at the Swiss Art Awards in 2016?
For me it’s important to try to create new stuff for each presentation. I prefer to respond to the unique characteristics (timing, duration, space, theme, locale, etc.) of the different opportunities that come my way, as opposed to having a structured, long-term, singular project. With that said, there are certain ideas, materials, and forms that are recurring within my work, yet the materialization/ execution is fresh. I see art as one of the few paths that allows, and encourages, risk-taking. I want to take advantage of that.
The installation for the Swiss Art Awards 2016 is totally brand new, but I’ll only share some very general information for now. It will consist of sculptural and painterly gestures, while also incorporating elements inspired by surface-oriented qualities of cinema. There are formal aspects informed by my past work, and those decisions might be noticeable, but not overt. Then there are definitely thematic concerns that fit within my overall practice, such as leisure versus necessity, which can undoubtedly be associated with concepts of migration/ travel/ movement.
Tomorrow is the opening of the Swiss Art Awards. We are really looking forward to it. Until then it remains exiting.
This year’s graphic and thematic superstructure of the competition is „migration“. You were born in 1985 in Houston, Texas and came to Zurich in 2010. What does the term „migration“ mean to you and how did the topic affect your application?
I lived in Texas for the first 20 years of my life, it will always be home. The last 11 years have been spent in Kansas City (3 years), New York City (2 years), Paris (1 year), and Zurich (5 years) – this doesn’t even include any travel in between. Obviously I can relate to the notion of migration, due to moving around so much. It is something that kind of creeps into the work naturally, as a restlessness that I feed from. Maybe this is part of the reason I like to generate new things for each event. In any case, I still feel very American in Europe, yet I increasingly feel more European in America.
2014, Switzerland has chosen in a referendum in favour of a limitation of immigration with a narrow majority. How did you experience this time?
At that point I had been in Switzerland for 4 years, so I personally didn’t experience any tangible effects of the referendum.
At Swiss art competition, Swiss artists and architects as well as art and architectural agents can participate. The scene in Switzerland is exciting and varied. Do you know some of the candidates and with whom you would like to work with?
There are certainly plenty of people involved with Swiss Design Awards and Swiss Art Awards with whom I’m familiar, and for whom I have enormous respect. Some of these people I’ve already worked with previously in some capacity. Of course it would be a delight to collaborate with several of the other candidates, especially some I’ve not professionally crossed paths with. I just don’t know in what context or at what point in time it would be feasible.
Recently you exhibited in the gallery Joseph Tang in Paris. On the walls you could find painted slices of different fruits and vegetables and a still life. In the fridge have been in resin or gelatine casted tablets and memory cards in form of plates and yoghurt cups. The back wall have been decorated with a painting of flowers and wine glasses. Also at the group show OVER AND UNDER at Monchéri, Brussels you showed canvases with fruits and piercings. No matter how diverse your work is, this is a motif that recurs frequently. What’s it all about?
The still life genre has been a continuous influence on my practice since I first began making art. When I was 8 years old my mother enrolled me in private art lessons after noticing I could rather accurately draw from observation. In those private classes, I’d make still lifes and landscapes, I was also introduced to my first heroes – Cezanne and Monet. Ever since that period, I’ve been trying to challenge my traditional painting background. Although it has always been a source of inspiration, I’ve only recently circled back around to letting it enter the work in a direct and more ‘conventional’ way.
What I love about the still life subject is that it operates as documentation and expression, reflecting its own time. A piece can communicate the objects people consume and own, in addition to the (often domestic) context those items exist in, while the execution of the piece conveys a mood specific to the era/ culture. That sort of speaks to how I see the work in the exhibitions at MonCheri and Galerie Joseph Tang. Moving forward, I’d like for there to potentially be more overlap between the painterly approach and the more sculptural/ spatial approach.
What are current or upcoming projects you are working on?
Projects currently on are group shows: Beau Lauss at Last Resort Gallery, Copenhagen, DK – I installed a new, vertical configuration of the fruit slice paintings; Dear Betty: Run Fast, Bite Hard! at Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Bergamo, IT – for this I’m showing a video I did in 2009 after Jack Goldstein; and For Granted at Hole of the Fox, Antwerp, BE – I collaborated with Louisa Gagliardi on some landscape paintings inside of panties that hang on 3D printed busts of Nefertiti.
Off the top of my head, future projects will include a group show organized by New Scenario for the Berlin Biennale’s Fear of Content that makes use of bodily orifices as presentation contexts for artworks; a group show in Bucharest in late June at Suprainfinit based on Raymond Queneau’s Exercises in Style; a residency and exhibition with Louisa Gagliardi in Los Angeles this autumn; and hopefully a solo show in Vilnius sometime next spring to follow up on my recent residency at Rupert.
Thank you for your time and we wish you success and lots of fun in Basel!