Sunday, June 15, 2008

Q & A with Three LowEnd Theory Artists

Tory Wright asks Molly Schafer, Megan Sullivan and Catalina Torres about their work in relation to the exhibition on view at Lump Gallery until the end of June.


Tory Wright Question #1.
Is the connection between reality and fantasy bridged by your video work?

Molly Schafer, Answer #1
The two (reality and fantasy) are somewhat bridged. All of my fantasizing is actually grounded in reality. I subscribe to the notion of the plausible impossible. I learned about it as a kid watching a program about the Looney Tunes comics and it has stuck with me ever since. I'm against Narnia style fantasy where it is just an impossible jumble of everything. I'm less for suspending belief and more for wonderment. Sure it is a fine line, but there is also a big difference if you are paying attention.

I was just thinking about this while I ate breakfast. It's almost as if people need things to be totally fake to believe them. In the Assateague Island video project I'm working on I have some great footage of myself sneaking around the side of a sand dune with a big spear, ambush style. While you are watching this you can also see a car drive by in the background. It is a very important moment. It makes the project relevant. People have told me to get rid of these type of details before. They don't get it. No one will ever forget that there is a camera there, that it is a performance and I don't want the work to be divorced from culture in a separate fantasy world. The fact that it is happening in this world is at the heart of my work. It is about longing. Longing for the unattainable, for an ancient time, to be a different creature, for the course of humanity to have gone differently, for a different reality.

Oh, but can I add that my video "Centaurides" from 2006 is a good example of this. It bridges reality and fantasy by pairing sketches with audio of me recounting my longings, frustrations, and anxiety dreams. Pairing the two and altering the voice raises questions about who/what is speaking. It should be up on my website soon.

Tory Wright, Question #2.
How do you see the video stills of your Assateague project and your drawings connecting?

Molly Schafer, Answer #2.
Perhaps this is also a different answer to the previous question. In a way my stay on Assateague Island was a fulfillment of the drawings. The video and stills are a document of that. Standing in the dunes among horses, holding a giant spear/staff and facing into the wind; in effect mimicking the posture of "A Hunter and a Plains Dweller (Rebecca)" was a perfect experience. I didn't expect it to feel the way it did and it is difficult to describe. I'd say it resonated the same part of my brain that was resonating when I made the drawing, I was back in the same zone. I had this calming I-am-the-thing-and-the-maker-- Universal Being -feeling. Ha! Since then I am seeing myself as just another character in my mythology.

Tory Wright, Question #3
Now that you have started a blog have you had any enthusiasts of your work who come from unexpected places or points of view?

Molly Schafer, Answer #3
Ha! Not as much as I would like. And not so sure about "enthusiasts" but I did receive some comments from a man who collects CGI art of "warrior women." I've seen some of the work and it seems pretty generic and not great. Although, I admit I have no taste for things CGI. He told me I have good talent but I should try Photoshop or Poser to improve my art. For some reason it really set me off. I mean if people need to be posers cause they got no skills well...Let's just say I got skills, I'm not making video games I am making drawings, I mean pencils 4 life, ya heard me? Why does America want everything to be an over-the-top computer aesthetic, extreme, tv commercial? I'm all about considering subtleties and natural ability. Again, people love stuff that is super fake.

Also I posted a few video stills from my project and some guy thought that they were images from the movie "Hundra." So yeah, my art got mistaken for a b-movie,kinda great. The thing about a lot of this fantasy art, and b-movies about warrior women is that they are products of male fantasy. Fighting in some of these outfits is just not practical, a lot of the women just don't look strong. The films especially showcase rape. Google image search "women warrior" and its a T&A fest. I am interested in finding and creating images of these types characters that exist outside of hetero-male sexualized fantasy and are based on actual animal ability. I am also very interested in becoming the embodiment of this. Which is my interest in athletics, the martial arts, and fighting injustice.

Inspiration for a lot of work I have done comes from natural history or evolutionary theory. Although the inspiration was that I was alienated by patriarchal ideologies within the fields and wanted to image a possible reality for myself as opposed to dawn man or the mighty hunter. So it can be disheartening when more men are interested in my artwork and suggest references that are completely misogynist.
I was thrilled when I found theory and field work along these lines. The work of Elaine Morgan, Olga Stoffer and Jeannine Davis-Kimball. I am actively looking for artists or images and haven't found much. Yesterday I found a collaborative project between Ellen Lesperance and your last interviewee, Jeanine Oleson. I am very intrigued.


Tory Wright,Question #1
1.So how did you come to needlepoint as a medium?

Catalina Torres, Answer # 1
I've always been interested in the role of women in society and why beauty has such an important part in that role. I've always had mixed feelings about it because on one side I enjoy its rituals but on an other one I feel it is tremendously demanding, imposed and obligated wanted to use a complex medium that communicates in its process the contradiction and paradoxes of women's roles. At that point I was inspired by my mother and my aunts who are very into crafts and at the same time away of societies demands of beauty. They are more into doing the best crafts and have the most beautiful house decorated. I begging to ask myself how can women have many different interest but at the same time there is a common end to our wishes. We all have ideals, we all eager to be something else, to be outstanding, and some how all of those wishes are related to beauty.

Tory Wright, Question #2
I found the images in the "Spring" series seductive in the way it implicates the viewer with eye contact. How did this series come about in terms of intent and selecting images.

Catalina.Torres, Answer #2
The images that I chose for spring were part of an article in a fashion magazine that contrasted the fragility of underwear with the heaviness of wool sweaters. All the women in this photo shoot were white, young and blond. I was completely attracted to all of the beauty within the set up and all of the styling, but at the same time I felt very left out. In the first cross stitch series that I did, "All girls go to heaven", there were a lot of different races. On this one I couldn't identify myself with any of this girls. This left a very uncomfortable feeling. I could feel the desire of wanting to be like them but at the same time I was really disgusted by feeling that way and that I let myself be bothered by those images. I guess I chose this images because I was feeling angry and I kind of wanted to "face the demon", so I used its own elements to do it.

Tory Wright , Question #3
Has your new series "Mother" changed your process or approach to transcribing information threw cross stitching?

Catalina Torres, Answer #3
I'm trying to work with monochromes with this new series. With the first series I worked with Black and white, with the second one I used colors, and with this one I want to explore different shades of one color. Exploring with cross stitch is a very slow process because you cant not rely change anything once you started. All the decision making is based on suppositions. This is why I take risks with the prototypes which sometimes don't work. With mother I'm less eager to see the end result, so I'm playing with prototypes and with different kind of images to see which one works better. I'm not looking forward to compulsively stitch a whole series of my mothers portraits. I want to concentrate in the early stage and make a lot of tests to make more concussions decision


Tory Wright, Question #1.
How do you choose your source material , are these photos found or taken by you?

Megan Sulivan, Answer #1.
I haven't quilted a photo I have taken yet, but I plan to. If I could just remember to take my camera places.... that would be a good start. I quilt a lot of photos by Scott Jackson He and I are friends and I kind of have open permission to use any of his images for a quilt. The first quilt I made that was based on a photo was for him. It's still one of my favorites. When I feel guilty about using so many of his incredible images, I search for photos on flickr. I figure they're fair game.... let me know if you know any different!

Tory Wright, Question #2.
Would you ever show the original photograph or photo album with the quilts?

Megan Sulivan, Answer #2
I would love to show a quilt with one of Scott's photos. I think about that a lot. If I ever have a chance to get him into a show with me, I'll jump at it.

Tory Wright, Question #3.
Have you ever installed an environment around the work,or photographed it in your environment were it is made?

Megan Sulivan, Answer #3
No, never anything like this, but I have been thinking about some sort of sculptural quilt/video installation.... quilting an object of some sort to project onto? I haven't gotten any more specific than this, but I think that is because it should be a collaboration. So, the specifics won't come out until I find this person.