DUSTIN DENNIS [on] ERIC GARDUÑO

Dustin Dennis: Your work has taken a number of forms over the years, from a collaborative installation using reconstructed court case ephemera, to geometric charcoal drawings, to your most recent works of digital images that capture altered situations and found objects. What is the method you use to determine form and function when developing your work?

Eric Garduño: I guess I just get bored with things quickly. I’ve always wished that I could be the kind of artist who digs one really deep hole, but instead I dig lots of little shallow holes that don’t ever quite reach water. I have no particular method for determining what direction my work goes in. I just tag along.

DD: Is form or content delivery more important to you when making work? Are they mutually exclusive? Do they share equal importance?

EG: Sometimes I get really into the formal qualities of materials and that leads me to be super crafty. Then I start to feel that my work should have some deeper, smarter motive and I swing into a conceptual mode. I can’t quite seem to get my hands, eyes and brain working at the same time.

Generally speaking, I think people respond more easily to form, whereas content is far less universal. For example: You can have great music without stellar lyrics, but even the most amazing lyrics are not enough to make great music – which is why slam poetry sucks so hard.

EG-Image01-Improvisation

8.14 (improvisation) {2014} Eric Garduño.

DD: From your website, the following statement accompanies your most recent series of digital images:

{Who was the first person to stick gum under a table? How did that become something people do? Can such acts/objects be framed or titled, and what is their potential as art?}

Your collection of images operate as an index of actions, found items and situations. Do you consider these pictures a form of recording soft interventionalism? Is there a particular method you use when choosing what you record? What have you learned by starting this project?

EG: I prefer the term “flaccid interventionalism”.

Initially, I got the idea to hide my fuel gauge with a post-it note and force a little uncertainty into my life. I think that was a pretty good idea. I had a few other clever ideas that seemed to follow suit, like asking strangers for directions I didn’t need – because giving good directions always makes me feel like hot shit. But, in the end the work has become more observational. Rather than doing something I just wait til an odd thing catches my attention, then I snap a picture on my phone, upload to my website, give it a title and voila! – an art.

1.14 (uncertainty) {2014}

1.14 (uncertainty) {2014} Eric Garduño.

DD: You’re currently living and working in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  How is making art in the southwest different from your experience making art in other places you’ve lived?

EG: The only other place I’ve made work is in Connecticut which doesn’t really count cause I was in grad school (a myopic vortex). So, I don’t have many points of comparison, though I do think place, geography and culture have strong effects on an artist’s work. When I lived in New York and Chicago I was too broke and too busy surviving to worry about making art. Similarly, my current lack of time and studio has produced a lazy little practice.

9.14 (history) {2014}

9.14 (history) {2014} Eric Garduño.

DD: I come from a family who takes automotive culture very seriously and I know you’re a fan of classic cars. There have been a number of contemporary artists who have made work inspired by automobile culture, I’m thinking of Richard Prince’s Elvis {2007}, Jason Rhoades’s Garage Renovation {1993}, many works by John Chamberlain, even Tony Smith’s story of driving three Cooper Union students along a closed section of the New Jersey Turnpike in 1951. Driving across the large expanses of the southwest feels different than driving across other parts of the country. Do cars or the act of driving affect how you conceive of works in any way?

EG: I’ve fallen in love with working on old cars. Right now I’m working on a 1970 Datsun 240z and a 1969 Triumph GT6+. Like making art, it satiates every part of my impulse to work with my hands and is an endless learning experience. But unlike art, there’s a larger, less elitist community with less bullshitmarketanxietycareerismlameness (that’s German for “Art World”). With cars you either know stuff or you don’t – there’s no room for faking it. Plus at the end of the day you can drive your work out into the streets, hit the cruise line and get props from Chollos. At this stage in the game, a nod from a thug in a lowrider means more to me then the approval of a curator. Actually, they’re equal. Actually, I have no idea what either feels like.

1969 Triumph GT6+ Bonnet

1969 Triumph GT6+ Bonnet. Courtesy of Eric Garduño.

1969 Triumph GT6+

1969 Triumph GT6+. Courtesy of Eric Garduño.

1970 Datsun 240z

1970 Datsun 240z. Courtesy of Eric Garduño.

DD: You’ve been working with Julia Friedman on her artwork trading and bartering project, ExchangeWorks.co. Would you explain a bit about your involvement in this project? Do you feel this project attempts to circumvent any shared “bullshitmarketanxietycareerismlameness” concerns, pushing alternative market solutions? Or do you think the project is more about defining the limits of artworks’ values?

EG: ExchangeWorks.co is attempting to establish a web based hub for the exchange of art and resources (travel, materials, services, etc.). It could easily be viewed an alternative to the traditional gallery model, but Julia is thinking about helping artists, not flipping off the art world. The so called “sharing economy” is growing quickly–from kickstarter and airbnb to small bicycle, garden and daycare exchanges. One of the things the internet is really good at is building communities. If the site succeeds it might prompt a reconsideration of the valuation of art. Traditional supply and demand models change slightly when specific needs enter the equation. For example: You might sell a paintings for 25k, but you might also trade one for a 8k moving van if that’s what you really need at that moment.

DD: In 2011 you collaborated with Matthew Rana to create “People v. Bruce (parrhesia)” for the Site Santa Fe exhibition, Agitated Histories. Would you talk a little about this project? How did the idea for this work begin?

People v. Bruce (parrhesia). cardboard, theater lights, 16 x 5 x 6 ft., "Agitated Histories" at SITE Santa Fe (installation view). {2011}.

People v. Bruce (parrhesia). cardboard, theater lights, 16 x 5 x 6 ft., “Agitated Histories” at SITE Santa Fe (installation view). {2011}. Eric Garduño.

People v. Bruce (parrhesia). "Agitated Histories" at SITE Santa Fe (installation view) {2011}

People v. Bruce (parrhesia). “Agitated Histories” at SITE Santa Fe (installation view) {2011} Eric Garduño.

People v. Bruce (parrhesia) Exhibit A. 1/1 scale archival ink jet print, "Agitated Histories" at SITE Santa Fe. {2011}

People v. Bruce (parrhesia) Exhibit A. 1/1 scale archival ink jet print, “Agitated Histories” at SITE Santa Fe. {2011} Eric Garduño.

People v. Bruce (parrhesia) Exhibit B. 1/1 scale archival ink jet print, "Agitated Histories" at SITE Santa Fe. {2011}

People v. Bruce (parrhesia) Exhibit B. 1/1 scale archival ink jet print, “Agitated Histories” at SITE Santa Fe. {2011} Eric Garduño.

EG: Matthew and I have been collaborating since early undergrad (UNM), but this particular project started because Matthew was exploring intersections of Art and Law. He was looking at Lenny Bruce, an artist who has been heavily persecuted (legally) for obscenity. We started talking about free speech and the courtroom as a performative space. Consider the similarities of lawyers and stand up comedians – in terms of truth, rhetoric and what it takes to work an audience… Later we began condensing our ideas and research into short “bits” that we pressed to vinyl. Sadly, I don’t think the record was fully formed (at least not my parts), but it led to more work and eventually inclusion in Agitated Histories. The works that have come out of the collaboration (which is ongoing) are widely varied in materials and scale and far too dense in content to discuss here (because Matthew is really brilliant). The project is scheduled to surface again at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego in early 2015 for an exhibition called Laugh In that will explore comedy, politics and protest.

 ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTORS

DUSTIN DENNIS: Dennis was born and raised in a small town outside of Kansas City, Missouri. He holds a Bachelors of Fine Arts from the Kansas City Art Institute and in 2005 received an MFA in Sculpture from the Rhode Island School of Design. He has since exhibited digital, print, and sculpture work in New York, Rhode Island, New Mexico, California and Michigan. Dustin is a founding Director of Studio Fuse, an expanding art blog and studio community. He currently lives and works in New Mexico and New York.

ERIC GARDUÑO: Eric Amabe Garduño was born in Santa Fe, New Mexico the year that E.T. premiered. He completed an MFA at Yale around the time Justin Timberlake attempted to bring “Sexyback”. He was the storyboard artist for the pilot of Breaking Bad, and has exhibited artwork nationally and internationally. He’s taught at several colleges. He drinks Whiskey and Gin (not together) and is currently the director of the foremost Pre-Columbian antiquities gallery in the United States.

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