Monday, June 18, 2012

denial & generosity: an interview with alicia debrincat

I'm so excited to share this interview with Alicia DeBrincat and her amazing artwork.

To me, your paintings fuse imagery of animals and disembodied humans. Can you discuss some of the themes in your work?

AD: I'm interested in points of slippage between the human and the animal, and how and where we draw those boundary lines. I'm also interested in the tenuousness of representing a human form - how much of a body do we need for an image to read as human? How much can you take away from a body before the form dissolves into parts?

A lot of my process becomes a visual game of denial and generosity. In most of my work, I stitch together an image through photographic silkscreen and representational painting. The silkscreened photos offer the promise of clarity that we normally expect from a photo. But the photos I use frustrate this expectation - they're very pixelated, often approaching abstraction, or at best denying the viewer a clear read. Often the painted sections serve to clarify the photo. I like to disable the technological - the photographic - and let painting be the voice of authority for a change.

What kind of materials do you find yourself using often?

AD: My process draws on a variety of media and, for most of my work, has four distinct stages. In the first step of my process, I create wearable sculptures that often resemble armor or exoskeletons. To create these sculptural objects, I generally use plaster, polymers, or fabric. Next, I photograph performers wearing the sculptures and acting out loosely scripted interactions. Then I put these photos through a digital corruption process that leaves them scrambled and pixelated. Lastly, I silkscreen these photos onto canvas and paint into these images with oil paint.

Who are some visual artists who have informed what you do?

AD: I feel very lucky to live in New York, where we have so much art so close to us. Going to museums, galleries, and other artspaces is as important to my work as my time in the studio. Just as I make time for my work in the studio, I find it essential to make time to get out and see as much as I can of what is going on around me. My work is continually being rejuvenated, challenged, and informed by the art that I see, which I think is essential to keeping the work fresh and alive.

Have any films or literature informed your work as well?

AD: The art, literature, and films I love get woven into my work, albeit sometimes in subtle, coded ways that even I might not be aware of. I respond strongly to authors and filmmakers who have a strong, unique vision and who create immersive worlds that follow their own logic. Thankfully, there are so many gifted people who do this. Alejandro Jodorowsky's films consistently have this quality for me, as does most of the work of Wes Anderson. He's on my mind because I just saw Moonrise Kingdom last night, which I really enjoyed. His vision is so personal, stylized, idiosyncratic, and executed so flawlessly. I think it's that polish and attention to every detail that I most appreciate in his work. 

I also just finished re-reading The Seas by Samantha Hunt, which is definitely constructed along its own logic. That novel keeps pulling me back to it because its incredibly generous with its language - poetic, sensuous, beautifully written - but incredibly withholding about its own logic structure. As the book progresses, the narrative becomes increasingly destabilized - you have to struggle to orient yourself, even as you're being swept along by the language.

What have you been creating lately?

AD: I'm embarking on a new project which will utilize video, photography, and painting to give three different perspectives on a single constructed narrative. It builds on what I've been doing, but also represents a bit of a departure. It's still in its very early stages, so I will keep you posted as it develops!

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