Tag Archives: The Product Division

LARA NICKEL [on] JOANNE LEFRAK

Joanne Lefrak.  Photo by Eric Swanson.

Joanne Lefrak. Photo by Eric Swanson.

Lara Nickel: Briefly describe your artwork.

Joanne Lefrak: I have been drawing places that are loaded with a history or a connotation and imbuing the drawing with the energy of the place.  For example, I’ve explored landscapes such as the Trinity Site, spiritual and healing pilgrimage sites, ghost towns, or sites where treasure can be found. These drawings are etched into Plexiglas. Only when the piece is illuminated can a viewer see the drawing, which is cast on the wall as a shadow. In the same way that the shadow is connected to the drawing, the scenes that are represented are inseparable from their past.

Cabezon Butte. scratched plexiglas and shadow, 36 x 48 inches, collection of Karen Rodgers and Marc Still. Joanne Lefrak.

Cabezon Butte. scratched plexiglas and shadow, 36 x 48 inches, collection of Karen Rodgers and Marc Still. Joanne Lefrak.

LN: Do you see your work as being connected more to the genre of landscape painting or to historical painting?

JL: My work is both connected to the genre of landscape painting and historical painting.  I think perhaps I am trying to push the boundaries of landscape painting as well as tell a different kind of narrative than has been told through historical painting before.

Pilgrimage to Chimayo. scratched plexiglas and shadow, 34 x 26 inches, collection of Chuck and Barbara Moore. Joanne Lefrak.

Pilgrimage to Chimayo. scratched plexiglas and shadow, 34 x 26 inches, collection of Chuck and Barbara Moore. Joanne Lefrak.

LN: What types of historical narratives are you attracted to? How important is the viewer’s knowledge and understanding of a landscape’s background story?

JL: At first I was attracted to the historical narrative of the Trinity Site because of the fact that the resulting landscape after the atomic bomb was detonated is a kind of a physically “empty” landscape yet completely not empty at the same time when considered within the context of our historical and current  collective ideas of war. I also liked the comparisons I was drawing between the ghostly shadows within the drawing and our nuclear history. Shadows can be both being secretive and also ghostly like the silhouettes left after the bombings in Japan during WWII. However, I actively sought other landscapes that had entirely different energies and I began looking at places where different kinds of treasure could be found. I liked the idea of a mythology or possibly fictional story informing a landscape just as much as an actual historical event. This then led me to the pilgrimage to Chimayo–the “holy dirt” there is a kind of treasure to be found. After that I began exploring places that give something to a person who travels to those locations (ie. healing, spirituality etc.). It is a continued investigation and I am following lots of different threads related to these central themes.

Trinity Site, Ground. scratched plexiglas and shadow, 3 x 5 feet. Joanne Lefrak.

Trinity Site, Ground. scratched plexiglas and shadow, 3 x 5 feet. Joanne Lefrak.

Context is always important when viewing any work of art. If you come to a piece with more knowledge of the subject, you are going to have a different experience with the work of art than otherwise. Similarly, one can have a different experience with the same work of art at different times in one’s life. So, yes, of course a viewer is going to have a different experience depending on their understanding of a landscape’s background story but that is across the board for viewing all artwork. What is important to me is that a viewer might be drawn to the piece visually and have an experience of the work viscerally, emotionally, intellectually or otherwise.

He Will Come Again. scratched plexiglas and shadow, 4 x 8 feet. Joanne Lefrak. // Xia Gui, Remote View of Mountains and Streams (detail). ink on paper, 1195-1224, 18.3 x 350 in. Joanne Lefrak.

He Will Come Again. scratched plexiglas and shadow, 4 x 8 feet. Joanne Lefrak. // Xia Gui, Remote View of Mountains and Streams (detail). ink on paper, 1195-1224, 18.3 x 350 in.

LN: There are many visual similarities between your landscapes and traditional Chinese ink landscapes – discuss your use of emptiness, factual naturalism, monochrome and fiction.

JL: In terms of factual naturalism, I think the factual elements in the landscapes I depict are essential. The fact that a viewer could go to the same locations and see the actual elements in the places I am drawing adds to a certain level of authenticity.  If I draw an insect in the resulting drawing, it is an insect that would exist in that location. I relate the composition to the feeling of being in the space. For example, a large open and empty sky can create the feeling of desolation and the open sky does exist in the landscape and I simply am choosing to include it. I think the monochromatic emptiness creates a an opportunity for a type of an inward looking even though the imagery is of looking out onto the landscape.

Pilgrimage, Nambe to Chimayo. scratched plexiglas and shadow, 3 x 5 feet, collection of Bill and Alicia Miller. Joanne Lefrak.

Pilgrimage, Nambe to Chimayo. scratched plexiglas and shadow, 3 x 5 ft, collection of Bill and Alicia Miller. Joanne Lefrak.

LN: What was the purpose of your recent trip to Nepal?

JL: After completing the work on the pilgrimage to the Santuario de Chimayo, I was researching spiritual and healing landscapes. After communicating online with people who have experienced a variety of different landscapes that have this effect, the people who had gone to the Himalayas and completed pilgrimages all described their experiences similarly; they all said that the Divine moved to the foreground of their experience while they were there and that normal life experiences were in the background whereas typically in our daily existence this is reversed.  Their descriptions of their experiences were so compelling that I thought it would be meaningful to experience it myself and perhaps create some work around the Himalayan landscapes and related pilgrimages. I traveled with poet Hakim Bellamy and we plan to collaborate on a project together now that we are back.

Trinity Site Ground Zero. scratched plexiglas and shadow, 34 x 26 in. Joanne Lefrak.

Trinity Site Ground Zero. scratched plexiglas and shadow, 34 x 26 in. Joanne Lefrak.

LN: What role does Art and Nature play in Nepalese culture? Did this experience change the way you interact with Art and Nature?

JL: On my trek through Nepal I was surprised by how much art I experienced. I was anticipating the magnificence of the landscape but not the infusion of art and spirituality in daily practice. I found that as opposed to the western art world, the art that I witnessed in Nepal was not about the ego of the artist but for the purpose of creating something more spiritual, for a larger purpose. For example, on one of the pilgrimages to Muktinath, at the top of the pass, there were 108 carved stone fountains filled with Himalayan glacial ice melt. While not intending to be an art project (these fountains were meant to be a part of the spiritual ritual of the pilgrimage) these fountains were clearly works of art to my western eyes. I found this to be true everywhere in that area of the world, which was very inspiring. This experience infused my art practice with an altered intentionality and my creative mind was filled with images of prayer flags, mani walls, intricately painted murals, etc.

Holy Dirt. scratched plexiglas and shadow, 3 x 5 ft. Joanne Lefrak.

Holy Dirt. scratched plexiglas and shadow, 3 x 5 ft. Joanne Lefrak.

LN: Using light and shadow as a medium gives your pieces a theatrical quality (the ability to appear and disappear), as if your work is more of an event than a straightforward pictorial documentation. How does this tie in with the themes of your work?

JL: The theatricality of the light and shadowplay in my work creates a visceral feeling for the viewer. It is also a bit of an exercise in perception. A viewer has to look through or past the actual drawing to see the shadow of the drawing.  This is similar to the landscapes that I choose to depict as the places are filled with memory and these memories, fictions, or histories cannot be separated from the landscape itself.

Cabezon Road. scratched plexiglas and shadow, 42 x 54 in. Joanne Lefrak.

Cabezon Road. scratched plexiglas and shadow, 42 x 54 in. Joanne Lefrak.

LN: In a way, you are deconstructing the picture-plane by making the viewer look through the surface of the plexi-glass to the wall behind in order to view the drawing. What are your ideas concerning perception and physical space?

JL: We can perceive much more than we can see which is why I try to imbue my work with more of the feeling and history of place than what we can just absorb visually.  In the pilgrimage at Muktinath, it is said that the water that flows from the fountains is sacred because it carries with it the memory of its journey from the top of the Himalayas and one’s sins will be washed away with the water there. Reflecting back on this, in the same way that the water contains its history, the landscapes I’m drawing do too. My intention in my drawings is to add this level of perception beyond just the visual imagery depicted.

ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTORS

JOANNE LEFRAK: Joanne Lefrak is a visual artist, museum educator and teacher. She is passionate about arts education and she works as the Director of Education and Outreach at SITE Santa Fe, in Santa Fe, NM. In addition, Lefrak teaches as a visiting artist in the classroom with the El Otro Lado Program through the Academy for the Love of Learning.

LARA NICKEL: When she is not traveling, Lara lives and works in Santa Fe, New Mexico (USA). She received her BFA from College of Santa Fe, NM, USA in 2007. She has previously been featured as a Flash Fiction contributor in this publication.

THE PRODUCT DIVISION [on] LARA NICKEL

QUARTER HORSE. 78 x 110”, oil on canvas, IN PROGRESS. Lara Nickel.

QUARTER HORSE. 78 x 110”, oil on canvas, IN PROGRESS. Lara Nickel.

The Product Division wrote to Lara Nickel while she was traveling across Europe and asked her a few questions about her and her unusual approach to artistic practice. These are her responses.

LN: First, I think it is important to explain that I paint life-size oil paintings of an entire plant, animal or object on stretched canvas. They are all realistic, have white backgrounds and are displayed much the way the subject of the painting would be in reality (standing on the ground, up high, behind something, etc.).

As a result of these tactics, the subject of the painting is pushed forward into the room, making the room itself the setting of the painting and making the painted image of the subject appear as if it is actually in the room with the viewer. This makes the painting object-like. This idea of painting-as-object is in some ways similar to works by Ellsworth Kelly, Frank Stella, or Jo Baer. However, I am interested in how a painting can act like an object yet still have a representational subject matter.

tPD: Why are you drawn to the natural world (plants, animals) to explore painting-as-object?

LN: Painting-as-object is a complicated and layered idea and I do not want to distract from that idea by using a too loaded subject (such as anything that has to do with humans: politics, race, gender, religion, emotions).

I often paint plants and animals because they are more anonymous and, therefore, more versatile and playful than other subjects. This is not to say that we do not have certain connotations about plants and animals – some are exotic, endangered, ugly, domestic, or majestic; some have their own history within an art context. However these things either add to or are flexible enough to allow room for my other interests in art which revolve around how to make painting behave more like an object.

CANDELABRA CACTUS. 84 x 30”, oil on canvas & GIANT WHITE BIRD OF PARADISE. 96 x 82”, oil on canvas {3013-2014} Lara Nickel.

CANDELABRA CACTUS. 84 x 30”, oil on canvas & GIANT WHITE BIRD OF PARADISE. 96 x 82”, oil on canvas {3013-2014} Lara Nickel.

An example is my recent series of Plant paintings. As plants are naturally very sculptural I decided to emphasize that quality by displaying the paintings in a more three Dimensional way – jutting out from the wall, obliterating a corner, one painting too close to another – the way plants behave in real outdoor/indoor spaces.

GIANT PRICKLY PEAR. 79 x 50”, oil on canvas & BLUE MYRTLE CACTUS. 92 x 64”, oil on canvas & GIANT PRICKLY PEAR. 87 x 75”, oil on canvas {2013} Lara Nickel.

GIANT PRICKLY PEAR. 79 x 50”, oil on canvas & BLUE MYRTLE CACTUS. 92 x 64”, oil on canvas & GIANT PRICKLY PEAR.
87 x 75”, oil on canvas {2013} Lara Nickel.

Or,  Zebra + Straw which involves three separate paintings: the zebra is hung on the floor, flat against the wall, with two paintings of straw displayed flat on the ground in front of the zebra’s face. The three paintings interact with each other on various viewing surfaces and viewing angles. The way these paintings are displayed affects where and what the actual focal point of a “traditional” painting is (“traditional” meaning stretched canvas, rather than murals/cutouts).

ZEBRA + STRAW, (Zebra) 56 x 80”; (Straw #1) 20 x 11.5”; (Straw #2) 9 x 16”, oil on canvas {2012} Lara Nickel.

ZEBRA + STRAW, (Zebra) 56 x 80”; (Straw #1) 20 x 11.5”; (Straw #2) 9 x 16”, oil on canvas {2012} Lara Nickel.

tPD: Are the subjects in your paintings always to-scale?

LN: Yes, my paintings and drawings are always to-scale and anatomically correct. I am very careful about measuring and researching my subject before I start painting it. This is an important aspect to my work as I am working between the traditions of illusionistic painting and painting-as-object. The fact that my paintings are realistic and life-size enhances the idea of illusion (pictorial space) and at the same time enhances the idea that this is a real thing which exists in real space and time (physical space).

tPD: Do you consider yourself first and foremost a painter?

LN: I consider myself a painter, though I would use the phrase “installation-based painter.” Half of the meaning of my paintings comes from the way they are installed and interact with a space. Without this installation side to my work my paintings would be boring – they would become simply portraits of animals and plants. I do not consider myself an installation artist however, as I am working to change the way people interact specifically with painting. I want people to bend over a painting, to search for it, to look around a space, to perhaps not find a painting but to know it is there somewhere. Even if it is subtle, I want my paintings to activate the spaces they are in – to make the walls and floor and ceiling play an active role in the viewer’s experience. I am trying to keep painting from becoming simply decoration and the wall simply a place to decorate.

FISH. various sizes, watercolor on paper inside plastic pet store bags {2010-ongoing} Lara Nickel.

FISH. various sizes, watercolor on paper inside plastic pet store bags {2010-ongoing} Lara Nickel.

tPD: Why did you choose painting as a medium vs. photography or sculpture?

LN: I am not drawn to the process of painting. Painting is slow and tedious and I am just like anybody else – I want instant gratification. In this sense photography seems like heaven (product-wise as least)! But the more I learned about Art History and Art Theory the more I wanted to be a painter. Painting has a lengthy and established history, full of expectations about how and where and what a painting should display. Rather than contradict these inherited rules, I am interested in the ways in which I can play with these rules and highlight the aspects of painting which are largely overlooked and yet have existed for hundreds of years.

So why am I trying to make painting object-like, why don’t I just make a sculpture?

A painting can be both an object and a window into another world; a sculpture can only be an object. When painting addresses the fact that it is three Dimensional - when it addresses its own materiality - it has the ability to exist in our world while existing in its own. This is a powerful and awkward quality which I still do not fully understand. Painting has so much unexplored potential and that alone makes the tediousness of creating it worth it!

DUST IN A CORNER (various locations). 2 x 2”, oil on canvas {2008-ongoing} Lara Nickel.

DUST IN A CORNER (various locations). 2 x 2”, oil on canvas {2008-ongoing} Lara Nickel.

tPD: As a culture of materialism we seem to be obsessed with representation and authenticity, would you agree?

LN: We are obsessed with creating art, whatever form/style it may be, to represent our ideas and emotions. One of the reasons we even make art is in an attempt to make our abstract ideas and emotions into something tangible – to try to make a way for ourselves to be conceptually and physically closer to them. In this sense all art is representational and is very important to us as a culture.

I think we are obsessed with wanting things to be authentic and believing something is authentic when it may not be. We are trying to make things more interesting than they actually are, especially in the art world. Most “true” and “original” ideas take a lot of time to find and then take a lot of time to develop and refine – and then it takes a lot of time to articulate this authentic idea in an authentic and relevant way. Most of us are not willing to wait, to do the work, to spend the time, we are lazy and ultimately afraid to fail. But the real interesting artists have taken their whole lifetime building and rebuilding off of just a couple core, authentic ideas. “Rome wasn’t built in a day.”

As far as my own art is concerned, I hope I am allowed the time to build something authentic and which represents my ideas accurately. I hope I can build a place for myself in the history of art – something that will survive history. I hope I can look back on what I’ve made and say, “I built that pyramid”, “that is my Rome” – and I hope that feeling will beat any kind of feeling of instant gratification. I hope I won’t be afraid to work like a dog for this.

LUSITANO. 80 x 99”, oil on canvas, IN PROGRESS. Lara Nickel.

LUSITANO. 80 x 99”, oil on canvas, IN PROGRESS. Lara Nickel.

tPD: Have you faced any challenges in presenting the work in the unconventional way you’d like to? Does painting still carry a lot of traditional expectations?

LN: There have been several artists in the last 150 years who have offered powerful alternatives to the way we understand and interact with painting, but these artists were/are breaking away from the tradition, not trying to destroy it. Briefly, this tradition is that painting should be hung flat on the wall at eye-level, be well lit, framed, act as a window into another world or have some sort of transcendent/transportive quality, and should be preserved because it is precious. Yes, these expectations are alive and well and live in a fortress!

Many people like my paintings on a basic level – they are seduced by their realism, by their accuracy. They may not understand immediately why I insist on presenting them in an unconventional way (flat on the ground, partially or completely hidden, perpendicular to a wall), and therefore they resist that mode of display. If something is well made why would I want to complicate the way you view it? Isn’t the point of visual art to see it and to see it clearly? Many people want my work to be decorative, they want my work to be hung over a couch, to be lifted up off the ground, to be framed, to be better protected from the daily things in life (such as sweeping, children, and pets).

JEWELRY. various sizes, watercolor + ink on paper with metal studs {2012-ongoing} Lara Nickel.

JEWELRY. various sizes, watercolor + ink on paper with metal studs {2012-ongoing} Lara Nickel.

But my work is not decorative, it may be beautiful, but it is not decorative – and that is where people get confused.

COYOTE. 35 x 47”, oil on canvas {2011} Lara Nickel.

COYOTE. 35 x 47”, oil on canvas {2011} Lara Nickel.

I am making paintings which reference how we have interacted with art throughout history, and that is largely through the setting of the museum. The museum has taught us how to look at art, how to display, preserve and explain art. This is the historical “home” of art and it is this type of setting where my painting works at its best (as this is where the tradition of painting thrives and that is what my painting references). The gallery is a misleading place, its facade is the image of a museum (a clean, neutral space), but ultimately the point is to sell the work and the buyer will take the work home (which is often not a a clean and neutral space). This makes my work difficult from a sales point of view but I’m not willing to compromise my concepts. You have to take responsibility for your work, for what you put out into the world, and that means following through with an idea even if you are met with doubt and resistance from others.

TIGER + WEEDS. (Bengal Tiger). 41 x 64”; (Yellow Alfalfa Sprout) 2 x 2”, oil on canvas  {2007} Lara Nickel.

TIGER + WEEDS. (Bengal Tiger). 41 x 64”; (Yellow Alfalfa Sprout) 2 x 2”, oil on canvas {2007} Lara Nickel.

ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTORS

THE PRODUCT DIVISION: is a working collaborative of conceptual artists Red Cell & JC Gonzo, creating multidisciplinary works in Video Art, Performance Art, New Media, Music, Installation, Site Specific, Futuristic/Primitive Arts, Writing and Photography. They are currently living and working abroad.

LARA NICKEL: When she is not traveling, Lara lives and works in Santa Fe, New Mexico (USA). She received her BFA from College of Santa Fe, NM, USA in 2007. She has previously been featured as a Flash Fiction contributor in this publication.

 

J. CHRISTOPHER DUPUY [on] THE PRODUCT DIVISION

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The Product Division logo

J. CHRISTOPHER DUPUY (intro): On February 25th 2014 I sat down with artists Red Cell and JC Gonzo, collectively known as The Product Division. They were living and stationed in Santa Fe, New Mexico and were planning to relocate to Tangier. I wanted to get down some words before they left, and take the bulk of the interview after they arrived.

My questions are in ORANGE. Their answers are, obviously, not.

J. CHRISTOPHER DUPUY: Who?

THE PRODUCT DIVISION: The Product Division (JC Gonzo and Red Cell)

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PD 5×7 portraits, Santa Fe, NM {2013} The Product Division

JCD: What?

TPD: The Product Division is a Third Mind effort from conceptual artists JC Gonzo and Red Cell, who operate as a provider of portals past or through the control systems we all must navigate in society.

The Product Division develop works in many fields including Video Art, Performance Art, Music, New Media, Installation, Site Specific, Sculpture, Writing, Futuristic/Primitive Arts and Photography.

The Product Division believe in heart before mastery and guidance without dogmas. They are agents for the emerging Technomad culture being formed in our rapidly evolving post-human society.

JCD: When?

TPD: The Future / Now

JCD: Where?

TPD: The Product Division is currently selling everything they own and moving to Tangier, Morocco. But, first we will be on the small volcanic Portuguese island of Faial in the Azores for three months at Angie Reed’s (Stereo Total, Barbara Brockhaus) cottage, working on ‘The Future.’

 JCD: Wear?

TPD: With abandon and distinction.

JCD: Why?

TPD: Because there is more than fighting the system. There are other portals one may take.

JCD: One word, one sentence or fifty:

TPD: Be anything forbidden.

JCD: I feel like so many labels describe what you do, what do you think is sufficient and accurate right now?

TPD: We’re the New Expatriate, the Technomad. Next in the lineage of those in search of minds without constraint. Life is the function, byproducts are not vital. Assassins. Agents. Armed with whatever is in front of us.

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Idiot Future: Teaching Stones to Sing. Performance and multi-media video installation, Spirit Abuse Project Space, Albuquerque, NM {2013} The Product Division

JCD: What do you want it to be eventually?

TPD: A touchstone for future expatriate artists, culture shifters and criminal intellectuals.

On July 21st 2014 The Product Division were firmly stationed in Tangier. We chatted for a bit about their plans, identity, art, music, books and their new project “RePoRTal.”

JCD: Last we talked you were in Santa Fe, NM. But do you see yourself as a collective “out of New Mexico?”

TPD: We are Nomadic in principle and occasionally in action. Right now our home is Tangier, then Berlin, then…who knows?

On the point of “collective”: we are not a collective. Rather, we are a third mind effort of two people in the vein of William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin. Two minds, personalities, ideologies coming together to form a third mind from which the conceptual works flow.

JCD: So it’s almost Hegelian: combining thesis and antithesis to form synthesis…interesting.. okay, so you were in New Mexico, now you’re in Tangier, but this wasn’t a direct transition…what was the exact connection?

TPD: We made friends with the musician Angie Reed (Stereo Total, Barbara Brockhaus) and we were invited to do a three month residency at her cottage in the Azores Islands.

BEE PINUP TRIO

Bee Girls. Graphic Design, Santa Fe, NM {2011} The Product Division

JCD: Can you explain the Burroughs/Gysin thing a bit more?

TPD: Burroughs and Gysin wrote a book titled The Third Mind in which they explained the idea fully and they presented the efforts of such ideals. For us, it is a way to get past the ego found in most working relationships, particularly those in so-called democratic art making situations. Tangier has always been our eventual Mecca, being a Burroughs / Gysin lover.

JCD: Okay, but Burroughs lived everywhere. He was born in Saint Louis, so why go to Tangier? You could have just come to Saint Louis; I’m in Saint Louis…are you avoiding me?

TPD: You are one to be avoided, surely.

JCD: But Tangier has some particular pull I assume?

TPD: Putting the allure of Tangier into a few sentences is challenging. Let’s just say it maintains a point of energy in time and space that calls to a certain type of artist.

JCD: Can we go back a bit? I knew you from earlier projects, like The Process and End of Being, do you see these as a continuation that lead to The Product Division or separate projects? Can you talk about those two earlier works, especially for anyone who doesn’t know about your trajectory?\(full disclosure: I read from my own work during one of The Process’ events: Word Virus)

TPD: Our cultural website, The End of Being, which deals with difficult art, film, music, people, and ideas is still going strong. It could be considered in some ways to be one of our predecessors because it deals with challenging cultural norms. Aside from that, it is a different entity entirely.

The Process was a 6 or 7 year long project aimed at bringing diverse acts to Santa Fe that would otherwise skip the southwest. I did it with the good will and help of many amazing friends.

My work with The Product Division is much more about JC Gonzo and my work, not facilitating others’ work, although, we do collaborate quite a bit with other artists.

JCD: Do you each play a particular role? Serve parts of the whole or is everything interchangeable?

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666 (with Jon Moritsugu & Amy Davis). Video, installation, AHA Festival of Progressive Arts, Santa Fe, NM {2011} The Product Division

TPD: As I illustrated earlier, the idea is to have a singular “third mind” create all works and concepts. This IS the entity that is The Product Division. So, no one has any particular role, no.

JCD: I figured as much– and I have to say it’s such a fascinating project. Can you tell us where the name comes from? Do you even want to?

TPD: Sure. Being conceptual artists, much of what we do centers around ideas and not necessarily the end result, or the “product.” The idea that the process is the product is one of our guiding principles. This is not to say we do not produce tangible works–we do. But, the emphasis in the art world on the production of art seems misguided at best to us. So, the name of, “The Product Division,” is bringing attention to these issues.

JCD: I can’t believe I didn’t ask…when exactly did you form?

TPD: We formed in 2009/10

JCD: So this is an emphasis on the means rather than the end?

TPD: Often, yes. Or paying equal attention to the ideas/concepts in the journey of the product, as much as the product itself.

JCD: So what would you say if I told you that Josh Groban’s mother was Crispin Glover’s high school art teacher?

TPD: I would say that evil is everywhere.

JCD: Nice. Well played…. and we’re back…You’ve done some performances as The Product Division in Santa Fe that I’ve heard amazing things about, can you talk a bit about what you’ve done so far together and what you’re working on?

TPD: We have been lucky to be asked to participate in some outstanding events. For the first three years of our collaboration, we did very little publicly. We were instead focusing on building a language between us with which to build a universe from. The first real efforts of this universe were publicly shown in 2013. We have performed at events ranging from the writer Bett Williams’ (The Wrestling Party) house salons to High Mayhem Emerging Arts’ Fall Festival, and to gracing the same stage as the experimental visionary  JA “Dino” Deane. We’ve played with Low on High (Jon Moritsugu and Amy Davis) for their album release party. We have gotten around considering it was our first year in public. And these are just the music specific type performances we did.

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Rites (1 of 5, with Sacha Lindsay). Photography, Albuquerque, NM {2011} The Product Division

We also were one of the acts who opened Raven Chacon’s and Post Commodity’s new space, Spirit Abuse, in Albuquerque, NM. We shared the bill with curator Candice Hopkins, who just unveiled a new game changing show she has been collaborating on for SITE Santa Fe that re-invents the entire concept of biennials.

JCD: What I think I’m getting from you is that everything is primary, is that right?

Can you talk about what other projects/ mediums you’re looking to get into?

I anticipate that there’s nothing you won’t attempt to try, that everything could be attempted in the process of expression.

TPD: Yes! As conceptual artists, the medium for us is determined by the idea. We put heart before mastery, not that we are against mastery, but I would rather listen to Half Japanese spill their heart out any day over listening to a perfectly skilled studio musician with no heart.

Or Rush.

JCD: Well we just lost all of our Rush fans…

The most important fascinating thing going on right now is the RePoRTal project. What can you say about RePoRTal that’s not in the press release? (specific details about RePoRTal can be found HERE.

reportal development circles

RePoRTal logo

TPD: Only that we have done a ton of research on the idea of fan clubs, subscriptions formats, sharing your life and works and platforms to do it, and we think we may have a unique idea. We do not think anyone has done just what we are proposing previously in the art world. There are things that may incorporate portions of our idea, but not all. And in the art world, something that no one else has done is a big deal. So, we’re pretty proud of it.

JCD: I have to say it reminds me of a being a kid and sending away for things from the back of comics or when we could buy cassettes and join a band’s fan club and mix that with 80s artists and all the artists mailing each other work, and the factory, and Jack White’s current subscription service–the excitement of sending away and receiving, and the nostalgia…and and? what else am I missing?

TPD: Well, those are all about the end product, aren’t they? Also, on one specific thing, like a band giving you an unreleased song, etc. Ours is unique in the way it focuses on all of our various exploits and productions over a one period of time. Look at it this way: it is a singular work of art that exposes everything an artists does over the course of a year. And for us, that incorporates a LOT of various things.

JCD: Oh, I like that, so it’s participatory in a way.

TPD: Yes! You discover what we discover. Who the hell knows what that may be? It mechanizes the artists’ process as the final product, see? We have shifted the focus and are delivering it to your inbox and mailbox.

JCD: So it will be both traditional and electronic, so every person is guaranteed to get some physical and ephemeral products from The Product Division?

TPD: Yes, the mail art is the physical dispatch, the rest is transmitted via the interwebs. This is the only way to make it sustainable.

JCD: This is an incredibly exciting project.

TPD: One last thing about our Art/Life project RePoRTal is that we are not the only ones who are a part of it. We are collaborating everywhere we end up, with emerging artists as well as a few famous ones. There are interviews and even works contributed from these people every month, as well as our own work.

JCD: So before I edit this to make my questions look much more interesting and exciting than they were… you’ve spent a good part of your life completely immersed in art and artists of all mediums, are you willing to give out some recommendations?

TPD: For what in particular?

JCD: Whatever you’re comfortable with…how about for starters…who do you think we should be listening to right now that we’re probably not? past or present

TPD: Ok, the three contemporary things currently in my continuous playlist and in no particular order are:

1 - OOIOO – Gamel

2 – Eno & Hyde – High Life

3 – Yasmine Hamdan – Ya Nass

JCD: Thanks. As usual I haven’t heard any of these. I think the last recommendation you gave me was Zola Jesus and she should be on everyone’s playlist.

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Trianglehead (with Micaela Butts and Monessa Bacon). Video, Photography, Performance, Santa Fe, NM {2010} The Product Division

Alright, almost done– what two to five films have affected you most as an artist?

TPD: 

1 – Naked Lunch, David Cronenberg, 1991

2 – Wax or the Discovery of Television Among the Bees, David Blair, 1991

3 – The Limits of Control, Jim Jarmusch, 2009

4 – Kafka, Steven Soderbergh, 1991

5 – Alien, Ridley Scott, 1979

6 – The Third Man, Carol Reed, 1949

7 – The Cremaster Cycle, Matthew Barney

JCD: And to go back to the RePoRTal thread…this won’t merely take place in Tangier… you are heading to Berlin next and I assume some projects began in the Azores Islands, right?

TPD: Yes, we did. And after Berlin, who knows?

JCD: What about artists?

TPD: Instead of specific artists, howzabout this?

1 – Fluxus

2 – Video Art

3 – Performance Art

JCD: Of course if anyone wants to listen to some of your thoughts on music you have a podcast on MixCloud HERE (for anyone interested the 80s Sex Cult podcast is a great starting point)

TPD: You can also find the podcast where we play things we currently like on our website, The End of Being.

JCD: Did I leave anything out? Anything else you want to share?

TPD: Authors

1 – William S. Burroughs

2 – Kathy Acker

3 – Brion Gysin

4 – Ray Bradbury

5 – William Gibson

One last thing

JCD: Yes?

TPD: If you are going to share what I’m currently listening to, and our inspirations in other categories, could you also include a list of bands?

JCD: Yeah, I’d love to see that list.

TPD: Bands

1 – COIL

2 – Tom Waits

3 – Laurie Anderson

4 – PJ Harvey

5 – Depeche Mode

JCD: Very interesting list… are those the top five? Or top-ish five? Or top five-ish?

TPD: Top five-ish. The real list is more like 500 bands long.

JCD: I think that’s it. I need a final line like, “Boomer Lives!” do you have any suggestions?

TPD: Two, please.

The Process is the Product.

Be Anything Forbidden. – Hakim Bey

processproduct negative copy

The Process is the Product. Mixed media, Graphic Design, Santa Fe, NM {2012} The Product Division

:::Follow up later that day:::

JCD: I’m going to see Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds in Detroit. Thoughts on Nicole Atkins, the opening act?

TPD: Love her

JCD: Really!? Oh that’s great! Tell me more.

TPD: What’s to tell? Just go listen.

ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTORS

THE PRODUCT DIVISION is a working collaborative of conceptual artists Red Cell & JC Gonzo, creating multidisciplinary works in Video Art, Performance Art, New Media, Music, Installation, Site Specific, Futuristic/Primitive Arts, Writing and Photography.

J. CHRISTOPHER DUPUY is a graduate of the MFA in fiction at Washington University in St. Louis. Upon graduation he was invited to continue on as a lecturer.  He is currently working on a novel.

THE PRODUCT DIVISION #flashfiction

I flicker/Never bold as my surroundings/If you blink at exactly the right moments/I may disappear altogether

–The Product Division