As for the current work/practice shifting or connections to what is going on…the works stapled on the walls are mostly all paintings. I started using cosmetic pigments/CBD/drugs/alcohol/coffee etc as mediums a few years after doing the still alive series with Aiala—I wanted to renegotiate contemporary portraiture using atypical means—and specifically make pieces of friends/myself/women/peers/queers who are in my social networks and peer groups. How do we show someone without directly painting them in a literal way?—by their vices and Rx and late-night binges or cravings…”the medium is the message.”
But then COVID hit Europe in February and somehow these works started to make sense or rather complicate all of this. It became how clear that our peers/social networks are often tied explicitly to our economic survival– instead of 401ks, health insurance or paid/sick leave—we depend on the internet to fund and support us if we lose our jobs, get in an accident, want to start a project. Very few of my peers have the luxury of healthcare from an employer, instead, most are artists and freelancers. We have a huge selection of privatized bottomless placebo bottled as hope: these $185 face oils, (one of my favs) Moon Juice (beauty, sex, brain dust) which seems to be a mix of misc things—none of which are proven to do anything but sell for $50 a jar. Healing crystals and other capitalist kumbaya solutions that often feel a lot like the equivalent of Thoughts and Prayers—so these works have started to shift their meaning from paintings of individuals to how we cope and survive as a generation who has grown up constantly without a plan b. The flags painted by Roombas you can see on the floor in some shots are still very much in a study phase, I wanted to play with replication and reproduction.. what it means to automate things, etc.
As for thoughts of being in studio, it’s been hard to focus. I lost my grandmother right as the COVID started to show up in NYC, she was like my mom.. and then as a result of the state of emergencies, my trip and all my lectures and conferences there were canceled… and it paralleled her death– so in a way, it’s felt like when she died, a lot of the world went with her. At the same time, this experience of COVID is a reminder for much of the West about how the majority of the world has lived and continue to live, for many of my friends who grew up in Iran or Lebanon or Mozambique– curfews and sanctions about who gets what or why have been part of their everyday lives… so it has allowed me to see how incredibly privileged so much of our lives and freedoms are.
Are there online resources that have been particularly useful for you during this time?
No, not really. I have been attending a few zoom raves– like @discwomannyc and @clubquarantine as a way to just decompress from all the deaths and illness in my immediate circles…they are usually in the middle of the night, but as I haven’t been sleeping much, it’s a nice break from reality.