What has been your ultimate journey?
Creativity is such a primal force; it is the force that powers all of life in the universe and beyond. It is not only the infinite force that lives inside a single cell in the human body, but also the force that causes civilizations.
As artists I believe we are always channeling this force to create— this idea is not new. Although channeling makes it sound as if the force comes through us, I actually think it’s our heartbeat. I think as a species, and as a culture, we are very cut off from our own hearts— that is, our own power source and potential. When I say we, I really do mean we— I include myself.
My ultimate journey is to fully access my own heartbeat in order to create in the most primal, powerful way possible. I am still very cut-off from myself, very fearful and insecure. It’s hard not to be, when you are a woman in this culture. And yet I am tired of blaming culture too— it’s starting to feel like a cop-out. I think we are interconnected in ways we cannot even possibly imagine right now. I think the more we are accountable to ourselves and to each other, the better, the more power.
Every time I start a new creative project, it is without a map, and my emphasis on things like innovation (Gaga Stigmata), changing mediums (my performance projects like Prices Upon Request or films such as Tumblr is the Only Place I Don’t Pretend I’m Okay), exploring dark terrains (The Ravenous Audience), new technologies (Gaga Stigmata, my tumblr project Women as Objects, my iPad living text poetry book with Amaranth Borsuk, Abra), popular culture (Gaga Stigmata, E Entertainment, Women as Objects, Fashionwhore, Bad Disney Princesses), and collaboration all stem from my desire to excavate the layers of culture, to see down into the primal force within even the most supposedly shallow of things, a force that holds everyone and everything and all cultures, a force with the power to heal and make beyond my wildest dreams. And then to push forward, to make the world.
Where do you start? Where do you end?
I am infinite. You are infinite. Have you looked down into yourself lately?
Do you worry about the politics of classification? How do you classify yourself?
I worry that our cultural desire to classify is what turns us into monsters that must defy classification. The art and culture work that has always seemed not only most interesting, but also most vital and necessary to me— the work that will save us as a species— is work that intentionally shifts categories. That’s why I was so drawn to Lady Gaga, her pop cultural performance art on that grand scale that no one could wrap their minds around, this self-and-culture critiquing and reforming, meta pop star.
It’s hard for work like this to gain traction if all we want is something familiar. By gaining traction I mean it’s hard for people to really “see” what is before them, just like Jesus said they have eyes but see not. We see what we want to see, what fits into our already-made-up minds, and then we complain about it. I now see this happening again with tumblr. My friend Ben Fama (editor of the press Wonder and the now defunct Supermachine) was telling me the other day that he met the people who run tumblr and that they have no idea what’s really going on, this incredible culture shift and lightning-quick techno-aesthetic movement— all spearheaded by teenagers— that is happening on tumblr. They’re just these corporate people running it. And these teenagers have taken it and make something so incredible and vulnerable and so culturally-shifting and honest and dangerous and violent and funny and beautiful. Stuff that’s shifting culture at large, fucking with branding and the previously untouchable annals of high fashion. And I worry that people are missing that, because they cannot categorize it. A lot of my art stems from nothing more than a sort of pop cultural, reverse-archeology, intended to draw attention to the uncategorizable. Not in order to categorize it, but in order to encourage more free play. That’s why I have to do it in a creative way, not with the distance of a critic–otherwise I’m just slotting it in its genre. Also, I want to play, too!
If I must categorize Kate Durbin, I will call her alien, mermaid, unicorn, bad princess.
When do you leave the wall intact, when do you knock it down?
The greatest wall is always within.