VUCAVU.com (February 2017)
Interview with Jeremy Laing
Shauna Jean Doherty (SJD): Rehearsal by Kim Kielhofner is a collection of found images paired with an appropriated voice over by Meryl Streep and a series of chaotic phrases and instructions that appear on screen. Does the use of found images play into your own creative process?
Jeremy Laing (JL): Found images less so than found material - images of course being a kind of material, but I mean literally material, stuff, fabric. I certainly always resisted, and continue to resist, mood board culture in favour of material experimentation.
SJD: Are you ever surprised by your own sources of inspiration?
JL: Not surprised by the sources, but often surprised by the result of their synthesis through my practice.
SJD: In Rehearsal, Memory Foam, Sweaters, and You Live and Do Me No Harm – the artists place themselves in front of the camera. What do you think these personal performances bring to this curated program?
JL: Which part is personal, which performance? Are they one and the same?
SJD: Midi Onodera’s A Performance by Jack Smith presents time-lapsed documentation of a performance from 1984. This work centralizes process rather than the finished product. What are the artistic implications of embracing a certain incompleteness in art-making?
JL: The implication of embracing incompleteness is simply that one is more likely being honest.
SJD: The energy of each of these works seems to embrace the journey of their creation–they are exploratory. What do you think the element of chance or improvisation adds to the creative process?
JL: I think chance and improvisation are foundational aspects of the creative process, perhaps even the whole thing. Work that reflects the process of its own creation is inherently more interesting to me than work that seeks to hide it, and I prefer work that is aware it has a ways to go instead of assuming to have arrived somewhere.
SJD: There’s a quality of absurdity in each of these works; the non-functional clothing in Chantel Mierau’s Sweaters, the nonsensical instructions decreed in Kim Kielhofner’s Rehearsal, the textual interlude that appears halfway through A Performance by Jack Smith “Jack missed his flight from New York because he was eliminating all the angles in his apartment”, the satirical esotericism of Bridget Moser’s Memory Foam, and the bizarre embodiment of cranes depicted by Emma Waltraud Howes in You Live and Do Me No Harm–what drew you to these works that seem to create their own realities?
JL: Absurdity is tied to self-awareness, but not the strict, rigid kind of self-awareness that leaves no room for play or deviation. Sometimes it’s fun to be what one is not, or at least to see what might work about being someone else. When you try on a dress you don’t become it, but maybe it becomes you.
SJD: Bridget Moser’s work in this program is the only video with dialogue directly related to the action in the work. For me, Memory Foam introduces the viewer to a mindset that influences the way I viewed the rest of the videos you selected. Can you talk about how you see Moser’s video in relation to the others?
JL: Bridget’s piece is a cornerstone of sorts, or perhaps that makes it too foundational? Let’s call it a legend to the map of my selections.
SJD: This program begins with a very high energy, fast-paced performance and ends with one that is more minimalistic in sound and action. Can you talk about this arrangement?
JL: The arrangement as it stand now is purely by chance, with things added in sequence, followed but a round of deletions, and perhaps also subject to the algorithms of the site.
SJD: All of these works are by women. Was this a conscious choice?
JL: Initially no, but halfway through the selection process I realized it was heading in an all-woman direction and kept going deliberately.
SJD: Many of these works hinge on the costuming chosen by the artists – Bridget Moser’s glittery platforms, Emma Waltraud Howes’ crane disguise, Chantel Mierau’s impossible apparel, and the outfits worn in Jack Smith’s theatrical performance. Can you comment on this from your perspective in the fashion industry?
JL: I’ll comment on this from my perspective as someone interested in the potential for costume to aid in the creation of narrative, characterization and the elucidation of an aesthetic point-of-view, both in a real-world historical context as well as in representations…
SJD: This video program is united by the theme of rehearsal. Can you talk a little bit about your intentions going into curating this project, and the program as a final product?
JL: My approach was very open-ended and improvisational, selecting things as they interested me, noting my tendencies, following them through, editing and shaping the result; perhaps a workshopping approach and certainly one that relates to the selection and its themes. I’m trying this out. This too is a rehearsal.