Tuesday, January 17, 2012

destruction & creation: an interview with aaron krach

Aaron Krach is an artist and writer living in New York.  I asked him a few questions about his work and creative process.

You work with so many different types of textures and materials. What is your studio space like?

AK: My studio is…a mess. Well, yes. But it changes. It’s a total mess while I’m deep into a project. Then, as it nears completion I have to go crazy and clean so that I can see what I am really making. Then I usually hate what I’ve made and so I make a smaller mess fixing whatever it is I am working on that time. But then I clean it up super-super clean to show and see what I’ve finished. I think it’s some kind of tortured cycle of destruction and creation, and hopefully the byproduct is something interesting.

Sweet Smell of Success, 2011

When did you first fall in love with photography? Do you remember the very first camera you used?

AK: I was about 5 and it was a small Kodak Instamatic—though it wasn’t “instant” in any way. Film had to be exposed, developed and then the pictures could be printed. But it was small and I was dumbstruck by how what I could see through the little glass box-shaped viewfinder would end up on a small piece of paper. Unfortunately, my father was a photographer and also terrible cheap, so experimentation was kept secret and to a minimum. Thank god for digital!

from 100 New York Mysteries, 2006

You curated a show for Visual AIDS. Can you tell us more about the project and the artists involved?

AK: Visual AIDS is a fantastic organization. What started as a way to keep, protect and archive the work of so many artists dying of AIDS has turned into a clearing house and massive storage center/library of images by artists with HIV. When you visit the office in Chelsea, they have old slides in cardboard sleeves that would belong in a Carousel that goes click-click-click and then they have digital images. So many images! It’s amazing how quickly the AIDS-issues can either come front-and-center in the work or slip away. For me, the most interesting pieces went intensely in either direction. One example: Bob Burnside is an San Francisco artist who makes incredible wall art for office buildings and also sexy structures about masculine virility.

I met you as the author of the novel Half-Life. Are you still working on writing these days?

AK: Writing is a strange beast. I wrestled a second novel to the finish line only to have the economy tank and leave my book homeless. Then, my first publisher went bankrupt. Not that they would have published the second one, but… just another sign of the times. I am thinking of putting a few vampires in the opening pages and maybe tricking someone into publishing a gay-straight relationship novel about two weeks in NYC. It’s got sex and snow and infidelity. It’s just lacking vampires!

Do you go through phases in terms of what kind art you're doing? Like do you write a lot or paint or photograph a lot in the same period of time or is it more scattered, broken up?

AK: Completely. See previous answer about cycles of creative mess-making. Last month I was really focused on this text-based public art installation in Macedonia. The words EVERYTHING TAKES TIME were printed on billboards around the town of Ohrid, but in Macedonian not English. This week I am building a 20-foot-tall tower and a 50-foot-long ramp out that will be an interactive workshop-classroom. I’m making it with Chris Robbins, a great artist who I went to Kosovo with last summer.

Longer Periods of Happiness, 2006

Are there ways you find these forms of artistic expression intersect?

AK: I like to say that I’m an Emotional Conceptualist. Everything I care about involves feelings—sometimes intensely happy, sometimes sad, and then there are all the good and bad and messy emotions in between. That’s life. That’s what I want my art to be about. So whether it’s a photo of some magic found on the sidewalk (www.thingstotellyourlover.com) or a Balkan-inspired architectural installation or a novel—it’s about the feelings I can inspired in the viewer, that I can represent.

Longer Periods of Happiness, 2006

On a scale from one to four stars, how many stars do you give your day so far?

AK: Today: 2 stars. I took this self-assessment exam. I’m obsessed with these kinds of things. And one of my “strengths” is achieving things. And these can be small things. And if I do not achieve even small things, my mood goes south, dark, ugly. Right now, I’m only achieving at a moderate pace. I may go do something simple like laundry so I can feel more productive. God that’s embarrassing.

Beer + Bird = Beerd, 2011

Madrid, Spain, 2009

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