On Mon, Jan 14, 2013 at 10:59 PM, Linder <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
On Jan 14, 2013, at 8:00 PM, chris baird <email@example.com> wrote:
BAD COMPANY INTERVIEW 1/12/2013
Let’s start here?
Bob Linder- Since this is the beginning of the interview it seems fitting to talk about how this project came to light.
So…how do you approach the beginning of a project?
Christopher Baird- It changes for me, I can’t say I have a specific way of starting all the time. I often end up beginning something with no real reason other than I felt like it was a moderately good idea. Feeling like I need to make something and I’m not sure what, but I’m going to pick something and go with it seems to kind of run the beginning of the course. I guess trust is a big feeling in this process, along with decisiveness. I feel like I know how to make things and if I direct the energy about the thing I’m thinking about, in the right way, it can become something.
BL- Did the paintings in BAD COMPANY come from the same method of working?
CB- Definitely. Very directly. In this case I began with one large painting and went from there. This project came about from another project that I have been working on, collecting books, and making sculptures from them. It became about combining ideas. The ideas these book sculptures were about and the ideas of how I’ve been painting and how I could make another dialogue by combining the ideas within the two different ways of working.
BL- Tell me about the paperbacks?
CB- These books specifically, that the paintings are taken from, were chosen mostly for their graphic imagery and its connection to previous work that I had been making. They also were chosen for their content and what it says combined with that imagery. I like the way that the perceived content can change when changing the imagery that goes along with it. Like a religious book that becomes non-religious when its archetypes are removed. The book sculptures that I began with talk about self help and the ability to use that or not. I found that after living with these collections of books that they were talking about similar things that I was thinking about in earlier work. Books have that quality of knowledge that compels people to own them for their content, whether the owners digests the content and knowledge, which is so great. You always hear people discussing books based on their interpretation of this knowledge and how it has or hasn’t impacted them personally. So to think about them not giving you what you need but are sourcing so desperately can be heartbreaking and honest. Because thats what happens in so many cases I feel, or the opposite, which is equally moving.
BL- It is interesting that these works derive from discarded paperbacks, being we live in the age of the internet. It seems that a big part of your process is the physicality behind finding, holding on to and mulling over these objects until they make their way (again) physically into the thematics of the work i.e paintings.
CB- Yeah, I think that’s definitely true about them making their way back. And that they are actual objects that you need to actually posses in order to glean anything from. I think thats a thing that is largely lost in the internet world. The tactile and physical qualities that I feel we derive great pleasure and understanding from just don’t exist in that world.
BL- Not to mention appropriation right?
CB- Right. At some point it becomes all about its appropriation. Its really no longer what it was about to begin with but what you want to say with it. Which I feel is a tricky thing. I mean objects are so loaded with information that it seems very difficult to manage what they say when trying to appropriate them.
BL- And what about the shift in scale?
CB- The shifting scale of these works is really about the physicality of the interaction with the viewer. The pieces, being larger than most people, give them a feeling that just cant be felt if they were half the size or something. I feel like it also changes the interpretation of the original message, again, that the books began with. I like how the room feels when confronting them and how you feel after their confrontation. I want them to feel like some kind of letters or personal statements which are almost always small and intimate in their reception. Everything now is always super large and in your face and never has the feeling or sentiment that those personal statements have. And I’m super sick of that, a lot of nothing and a little of something.
BL- So, the paintings take another physical shift, that being human scale but on an intimate level? As if the way to view and/or understand their content is to experience them larger than life?
CB- Yeah, I feel like that’s true. The work does take on a human scale and it certainly is my intent to present that interaction on an intimate level. I’m not sure if I want you to experience them larger than life, just regular life. I feel like larger than life, that concept, is a way to make things feel like they are out of your reach or something, like they are so huge that you just cant possibly comprehend. I want these to be in reach and in a way that you can comprehend, while accepting their scale and feeling what that change can do to you.
BL- Would you rather we think about the paintings as objects?
CB- I think that they can be. They basically are just large versions of the books, so in that sense they become that object. Their size and their physical content changed but they are essentially still the same. Which is not a new thing. I think with these, the way in which they look, and by that I mean that they have a sort of obvious narrative and could be considered a classical way of interpreting a painting, the representation of three dimensions in two dimensional space, makes the viewer see them as paintings first and after realizing what they are, reinterpretations of books, which are three dimensional, then as objects.
BL- Do you consider these “pop” in any way?
CB- Yeah, sure. They relate to that movement in the same way that I have reappropriated imagery that comes from popular culture. I feel like pop art made it alright for anyone to take anything that they want and make it theirs, if that person changes it in some way that can relate back to their personal experience in the world. What I don’t find particularly compelling about pop art is when its reappropriated for its look and then becomes even more about its commodification however. The idea though that someone can take whatever it is that they feel connected to, which I feel is so universal, the things in your home, the things you look to for direction, the objects that define who you are, that those can become a different thing that can express how you feel when you look at them differently, that is interesting to me.
BL- Do you think of yourself as a Painter? Better yet a California Painter?
CB- Yeah I would identify with that. I feel like my backup interpretation of things visually is always from a painting perspective. I see things in that way, if that makes any sense, from a painter’s sensibility and tend to expand outward from there into a sculptural or conceptual understanding. A California painter, yeah. I live in and grew up in Oregon and California, so I guess I’d be one by default. I think what your getting at though are the differences in California painting as compared to everywhere else painting, right?
CB- I definitely identify with the way in which painting evolved in California in the seventies and eighties for sure. How painting materials changed from very traditional to industrial, causing not only surfaces to change but interpretations of their limits changed as well. Like we were talking about before, paintings as objects. I feel like people in California tried to go outside of a certain comfort level in painting, that maybe had to do with their disconnection from the rest of the painting world at that time. To their credit or not which is debatable. I don’t feel like that is really the case anymore though, it feels like everything has gotten smaller and closer together.
BL- Tell us about the exhibition title Bad Company?
CB- Bad Company sort of became a way for me to think about the work being in the world and what I was trying to talk about with it. I feel like the ideas presented to you are not very comfortable or reassuring, but in fact the opposite. Talking about things that were/are very important to me, that I felt like were being greased over largely. There seems to be so many things we could be addressing as a society and so much that could be brought into that discussion. It seems like everywhere I look I feel like I am led around those things. I guess I just wanted to talk about the things that I was dealing with and stop talking about things that distract me from them. So in a way they are that kind of company for me. I feel like art often tries to do the same thing as the radio, or television, or whatever and often doesn’t quite make it to the place it was trying to go, some revelatory idea, that is not easily attained. So why not talk about things that are going on and confront those things in a way that can become a discussion and not a way out.
BL- Thanks Chris, I think this is a good place to stop and I’m looking forward to experiencing Bad Company!