City/Neighborhood: Manhattan (below Central Park)
Your most recent album, “Cut the World,” is named for a song that was composed for “The Life and Death of Marina Abramovic,” and the title of your current exhibition of drawing, collage, and sculpture at Sikkema Jenkins is “The Cut.” What is the relationship between the works in these two very different projects? How does the motif of the “Cut” function in each of them?
In Marina’s earlier work, she often seemed to be the one who was carrying the burden of pain. Even when she and Ulay were slapping each other, Ulay seemed to slap harder. She was the one towards whom the arrow was pointed. This position seems archetypically feminine in its stance. In the song “Cut the World” I ask the question “When will I turn and cut the world?” I envision an uprising, not just of women, but of Nature itself. I also think of The Cut as a portal through which all of creation pours. Typically the earth or the ocean is considered the primordial feminine source. I also imagine God’s Vagina in the sky.
You’ve described the music scene as “just a wanting, self-congratulatory boys’ club” and said “it’s just so fucking boring and not useful. It’s such a waste of our time. More than that, it’s catastrophic in a way. It’s another reflection of how astray we are, as a civilization.” Do you see the same problems in the art world?
I feel that the subjugation of women and the subjugation of the ecology are one and the same. I think that artists, cultural institutions and media outlets must seek to dismantle male chauvinist superstructures, root out sublimated or overt misogyny, and transform the roles of men and women within our systems. Otherwise we are an active part of the problem, not just societally or politically, but environmentally.
You came to New York to study theater, and began performing as a musician in the 1990s. How did your practice as a visual artist evolve in conjunction with your work in other media?
I always had several plates spinning. Drawing is quite a solitary pursuit for me. I was encouraged by William Basinski to share more of my visual work about five years ago.
You have spoken in the past about Future Feminism. What does this term represent? What are some of the foundational ideas of Future Feminism?
Future Feminism is a set of ideas being developed by an artist collective that includes Johanna Constantine, Kembra Pfahler, myself, and Bianca and Sierra Casady. We are composing a list of tenets that outline our position. Primarily, Future Feminism advocates for a shift to feminine systems in all areas of civic, national, corporate and religious governance; we believe that such a shift is necessary if we wish for our species and for biodiversity to survive. Recently I have been thinking that Future Feminism envisions a conceptual shift in the way we perceive the sexes; rather than perceiving women and men as opposites, or as separate but equal, let’s start to visualize men as a biological subset of women.
How does feminism inform your practice as an artist?
To me, being a feminist is about being aware of reality. I try to open my eyes and my heart as wide as possible, to take it all in.
What is the last show you saw?
The last show I saw that I really loved was Terence Koh crawling on his knees around a mountain of salt.
What image has recently surprised you?
I love Peter Hujar’s photo of Paul Thek in the Palermo catacombs. I discovered the two artists many years apart. To find out how close they were was a revelation.
Do you make a living off your art?
How has late stage virulent capitalism affected your art practice/s? would be a better question.
What’s the most indispensable item in your studio?
Where are you finding ideas for your work these days?
Do you collect anything?
What is your karaoke song?
“Golden Showers” by SAVOY.
What’s the last artwork you purchased?
A print by Mathias Goeritz of Torres de la Ciudad Satélite. I bought it at a street fair in Mexico City.
What’s the first artwork you ever sold?
What’s the weirdest thing you ever saw happen in a museum or gallery?
As a seven-year-old in Amsterdam I saw a painting of a human-sized rat with genitals of both sexes and six rows of what I thought resembled human breasts. I had the postcard for years and it horrified me. I wonder who did that painting? It had pinks and oranges and was hyper-realistic and detailed.
What is your pet peeve about the art world?
What’s your favorite post-gallery watering hole or restaurant?
I like Cafe Mogador on Saint Marks.
Do you have a gallery/museum-going routine?
Go to “The Earth Room” on Wooster Street. Go home.
What’s the last great book you read?
I mostly just read newspapers. I used to think “The Scarlet Letter” was quite hysterical.
What work of art do you wish you owned?
After John Balance from COIL died, his boyfriend inherited his collection of artifacts. This included a priceless beaded headpiece by Leigh Bowery, which the boyfriend proceeded to pawn on eBay for 500 pounds.
What would you do to get it?
What international art destination do you most want to visit?
The caves of Papua New Guinea.
What under-appreciated artist do you think people should know about?
James Elaine. I also like Gillian Jagger.
Who’s your favorite living artist?
It was Kazuo Ohno but now he’s gone, so I don’t know anymore.
What are your hobbies?
Lying down. Laughing.