Mixed Media. Courtesy (recently on view at) James Fuentes LLC, New York.
For her most recent show, artist and Gang Gang Dance singer Lizzi Bougatsos pulled posters from wheatpasted advertisements for contemporary films, and re-installed them in theatrical installations. Bougatsos pulled one promo for Cop Out, in which Tracey Morgan employs his classic caricature of the minstrel, but is appointed license to kill. She installed the image in a mirror with accoutrements glued-on, alluding to the moment before or after she hits the stage. "I'd like to think my works aren't just about race. They're about relationships," she says.
The vanity mirror and shelf was inspired by Rob Pruitt's RIP, Yves Saint Laurent, 2008 and RIP, Evel Knievel, 2008. The works appealed to me in a formal way, by their looks. I'm obsessed with YSL, and the logo. Over time, my persona developed in correlation to the vanity mirror. Jack Pierson's work at Cheim and Read [in 2008] inspired me greatly as well. You walked into the gallery and all of a sudden you were on stage and you would hear clapping. It had a melancholic feeling, because the show was always ending.
Good Hair, the title of this piece, is taken from the title of Chris Rock's documentary about the extremes that black Americans will go to, while straightening their hair. It's unclear whether the straightened hair is subconsciously aspiring to be white, or to be something other than black, or if it's created its own network of symbolism. Most performers, I think, create rather extreme rituals in their practice. I know my pre-stage ritual is similar. One has to be alone, get the look, keep their wits about them, and relate to the audience.
I work with images of celebrities a lot, and it's because of my critique or interaction with them on an everyday, banal, but also obsessive basis. For my first show at [James Fuentes LLC], I hung raw tongues from the head of the magician David Copperfield . His image just rubbed me the wrong way; I didn't like his face and felt like he was a bad person, and I didn't like the way that his personae had developed. It seemed to turn on some kind of underhanded sexual power. I put raw tongues by his face and played a soundtrack that was very twisted; the music emerged from a birdhouse.I am not fully a vegetarian but I think raw tongues are disgusting. I am fascinated by magicians like Houdini, but Copperfield had a certain alchemical fiendishness, especially after he was accused of raping a young woman [accusations dropped in April].
Tracy Morgan is a genius, because his approach to his alter-ego is so co-dependent, but also quite liberatory. The comedy is complete, to the extent that his performance is existential.Did you ever hear his interviews on NPR? I'd highly suggest looking them up. As a performer, I do see him as a mirror of myself lost in another world.
Jeff Koons described a good artist as not knowing how to explain what they release. Before a show, I have a glass of wine to loosen up. When Tracy got drunk in the past, he became his alter ego, which I relate to.
Ahlam Shibli's first major retrospective, "Phantom Home," featured nine series of her documentary-style photographs, dating from 2000 to 2012. Fo...