1136 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Interview by Matthew Jernigan, December 2012
Matthew Jernigan: I guess to begin, could you just tell me a bit about the space? I know you opened in 2010 and really this is the only dedicated performance space in Chicago and was for I mean there was a gap of what 10, 12 years where there wasn’t a spot at all. That’s a lot to take on. How did it come about?
Joseph Ravens: Thank you. You know also in Pilsen, if you’re interested, there is a gallery called Rooms gallery that presents time-based work. It’s a different formula -it’s sort of their workspace and they primarily present their own work and that stands in strong contrast to this space where I rarely, if ever, present my work. I just don’t want my curatorial and administrative endeavors to be misconstrued as hubris or egotistical or whatever, which sort of relates to the beginning of the gallery because there was a subject of controversy – if you’ve looked online at all you probably noticed – in 2010 the penis controversy…I’ve been working internationally a lot and nudity is pretty much passé in performance, it’s just a choice like any other costume or whatever and I’d just returned from seeing Marina’s exhibition at the MOMA and I had a storefront – a pop-up boot gallery – and I presented the project very clearly including the nudity, yet when it happened it caused a hoopla and ultimately at the end they removed the work from the wall during the exhibition so I went to the paper and (I did, I initiated it . I wanted to cause a bit of a stink because censorship is wrong, ultimately, basically, but I had no idea that that was the sort of beginning in a way that choice to like call The Reader and say “I was censored in an exhibition. Do you think anyone would want to write about this?” and they called me right away and said, “can we have exclusivity on this article?” and then it was quite a big article and they printed all the work – all the nudity in a free publication sort of vindicated the project a little bit. Anyway, I decided to leave the city as a result of the scandal because people were just basically hating on me online really badly. Did you read any of the comments? I think, I don’t know how to describe this, but I’m a generous person. I love Chicago. I made a choice to make it my city that I live in and I try to live gracefully and kindly and lightly and so I was really injured by all these comments about my work about my personality from people who don’t know me. And so I got an apartment in Brooklyn and I was moving away and I didn’t want to do that because I hate “coastal flight,” which is what I refer to when anyone comes to Chicago to go to SAIC or Northwestern or USC or whatever and they move on, but I was succumbing to it and I went to get coffee at Lovely next door. The space was a retail shop, like just cluttered with stuff and it was empty like just suddenly and I looked in the window and I basically just had an epiphany like that I could run away or I could stay and make a difference. The whole time during the controversy I just kept thinking of how closed-minded of Chicago like why is Chicago getting in such a stink about this? Now I do I just did a butt-plug performance —
M: I read about that – with the laser.
J: Yeah, I mean I’m not afraid of controversial work in context but the things that was doing down there I considered just bland I guess I was a little naïve of me, but I basically deduced that Chicago didn’t have any exposure, and either the artists or audiences didn’t have access to this style of work that’s yeah and I thought it was a bit of a pity so – the epiphany was quite strong and quite clear because so many things went through my head in a such a short period of time that basically there needed to be exhibitions and a venue of this sort in order to sort of educate the public…that’s a little too direct way to say it but also that all the ingredients were here for it to be a great city for performance art and this goes back a little while…So I was just thinking in that epiphany like “why…” the medium waned. It was fueled in the 80s and the 90s, sort of the high point
M: Yeah, there was a huge divot after that.
J: A huge divot, primarily because of the cultural wars, but it was also fueled by AIDS activism, gender activism, and AIDS became manageable…I was just like, “why aren’t people doing this?” There are all the ingredients, going back to having a space, like it has all the ingredients for it to happen–
M: But there’s no actual venue for it to take place.
J: Yeah, there’s no one doing it here. The artists are coming here training at the Art Institute and going off somewhere else and it all narrowed down to one thing – there was no venue. And then I, when I first decided to take the space, (I was using) I was thinking of the Rooms gallery idea. I just thought I’d have a studio, we’d have performance art parties every once in a while to pay rent, buy a platform, but immediately programming began, it just began.
M: It just happened.
J: there was a void and I thought entrepreneurial. I don’t know. I knew that those ingredients were there and that it probably would be a popular destination, but I underestimated that. It took off immediately. I think that was also partly due to the opening event called Spark. Between, in the 10 or 12 – about 10 years in between grad school and the opening the gallery – I was working primarily abroad, rarely performing in Chicago at that point (because there was no place to perform) but I also was looking into funding from The Illinois Arts Council who were supporting my travels. I was representing the U.S. and Chicago in a lot of festivals and exhibitions and this factored into the epiphany. I was like, “I know people all over the world, literally, great people, friends and accomplished artists.”
M: Did that eventually play into the Rapid Pulse event that you’re doing?
M: That’s a huge international thing, as well, right?
J: I came to talk at SAIC…I was giving a lecture through arts admin to grad students and someone came up afterwards, Giana Gambino, and said – because I mentioned in the thing I’d love to do international festivals – and she came up afterwards and said “I think we should make that international festival” and I’m like “okay, yeah, I’ll invite some friends” and the way it works using performance art in these festivals is you receive an application and most countries in the world you can take that invitation and turn it into money and that’s how it worked for me for many years as well…That doesn’t happen in America. The Literary Arts Council is broke, but in other countries it’s still very possible, so generally for an international festival you receive a letter of invitation, you work out the travel arrangements with your own cultural organizations. When you arrive you are given a soft landing, a place to stay and some food, you present your work. Usually there are no stipends involved. It’s just also sort of the mechanics of the industry because you have to get your body there. Nothing’s being sold, nothing’s com-modifiable, so you’re also not necessarily getting reimbursed for anything.
M: Right, they can’t send something to have it installed.
J: I knew basically all we had to do was reserve the time, invite a bunch of artists and have them do it. So I invited basically friends, artists work who I admired, and then it was starting to sort of get out of control or get bigger…I think an organization needs a focus of one person and it gets muddied by sort of traditional organizational structure so I’m very protective and focused in regard to the gallery, but with a festival in particular, I wanted to make sure that it wasn’t necessarily an extension of my own tastes and styles, because again sort of homogeny and so I brought on Julie Laffin, who has a strong reputation as a performance artist. She lives and works in Chicago but she has environmental illness so she’s allergic to everything and can’t leave her home so she exists as a virtual entity now still presenting her work. She’s a very interesting character. [I also brought in] Steven Bridges, who’s a curator at the MCA. I met both of them just as artists presenting along side them or working with them in other venues and they just happened to both be in Chicago and they were on board and we got together and start talking, our ideas were big, we all have done a lot of work and then it just started growing and multiplying into this unyielding thing…We put out a call for proposals, got over 150 applications, much more than we thought. So again there was this void that we didn’t realize and there was also a strong interest that wanted to come to Chicago. A lot of people – international artists come to New York, LA, Miami in December, but they’re all very interested and curious about the Midwest about Chicago in particular I think because it’s considered the most American of cities and has that perception abroad, and whatever reputation – one never really understands their own reputation, I think – but whatever reputation I was building as well. Like, the gallery is an extension of me and of course my career as well and so perhaps that held a little weight, I don’t know, but the response was tremendous and so it turned into a big deal and it was really successful. I say that with glee because it’s like anything else you make. Curating is a lot like sculpting or performance, I mean you make it.
M: It’s still creation and putting it out there. I think Rapid Pulse is really fantastic and I know that you’ve done this in your own work a lot. It takes it out of this venue as a physical space and kind of engages and forces people, normal public people, to stop and reevaluate their day and reevaluate what’s going on around them. And I’m interested to know how you feel about performance kind of because performance I feel like can be very esoteric and uppity form.
J: Elitist, insular – for sure.
M: Exactly, in a lot of ways. So there’s this idea of using performance as kind of a pure experience and do you think that that can push those boundaries, like destroying that esotericism that may turn the world off to it and kind of harken more of a pure experience?
J: Yes in general I guess. Right from the get go one of the missions was to sort of expose the world to performance art, and it is important that they have a positive experience, right? Like I don’t want to turn people off from the form. So it’s just about paying careful attention because work that maybe isn’t as palatable to the public happens in the gallery and I can be more critical about work that happens in the public sphere, like on the street and I’m a big aficionado of interventionist or public performance that I’m just careful about it and I think it can be done…There just has to be a good balance and the right spices, whatever. But it’s funny because we have some work coming up we were going to present. We invited an artist who was going to drain himself of blood as he wroth on the floor until he passed out. We were talking about how to present this work. It’s a little bit also about discourse. We arranged a panel that was going to deal specifically with body modification art, to lend some validity to the more inaccessible or difficult aspects. I guess in a way I’m talking about finesse. I’m hyper aware of the fact that I don’t want to turn people off performance art. I want them to embrace it, but I also want to be fearless in presenting work of all styles and forms. It’s about a balance and I’m very aware of it and how – my day job is in advertising, so I’m really aware of like branding, public perception…I’m a stylist so I arrange objects and backgrounds and things for photography – so if I have my way and I’m shooting this [points to cup of tea on table], I might have some cool idea for it, but I know this has to appeal to middle America, who’s going to buy this crap from Kohl’s or JC Penney or whatever so I have to modify my ideas and hopefully maybe have a little innovation and freshness and maybe something unique about it but it still has to appeal to the general public, so I utilize those skills I guess.
M: That’s quite a line to walk.
J: Yes, but you also want to push buttons. I mean you do want people to stop and wonder…I think there is a place though for bolder intervention.
M: I feel like it has to be a slow build to that as far as public consciousness goes. You can’t just jump in there completely —
J: — or I wouldn’t associate it with a gallery just to create a little distance between.
M: Right. Something you said made me think of your America’s Got Talent performance. And I thought that was fantastic. The performance, I mean you were booed off stage, you left stage, but you were booed and the crowd was full angry people.
J: You have no idea what it’s like to have 2000 people booing at you. It’s a roller coaster, emotionally and every other way.
M: So it struck me as like this wonderful Futurist theater experience that these people had no idea that they were being thrown into. And…was there something that came beyond that? Because the clip that I saw cuts off when you walk off-stage. And I’m interested – there had to be with that much emotion and that much confusion from the people, what followed that?
J: It’s funny because some of it was very orchestrated by me, but a lot of it I didn’t have control with. The reality television is very very interesting and especially how much control you have to give away. You sign all these papers, they own it. For instance, they changed the soundtrack. I had an artist create a soundtrack that were electronic sounds that were designed to sound organic – like a stomach digesting – it sounded organic but it was mechanical, synthetic and which I probably could have picked a music choice so that the audience would have thought of it more as a comedy work or something like that, but I also didn’t really want to compromise my vision. It was a unique situation because they approached me. They courted me and I kept saying no because I knew from the first moment I didn’t even know the show really but I knew that they were probably wanting to make fun of me and I said that to the agents who called me. I’m like I’m not going to be the brunt of your joke, I’m sorry i’m just not interested in that. And i’m a very busy guy, so I don’t have —
M: — you can’t take this time to get berated.
J: Right. I have a friend in Minneapolis where the first auditions were and I called them and I’m like “this TV show wants me to come up and audition.” They said, “why don’t you come up and do it. It’ll be fun and then we’ll go to the Walker”…so I called him back. There were also some other negotiations…When I was at that audition and I literally was just doing it kind of for fun, even as I walked to the audition space in the costume, people started flocking towards me and the type of people who want to be on reality TV – I don’t want to sound insulting to an entire population of people – but they’re people with all these hopes and aspirations, and for the most part probably very little skill or talent, they just want to be famous or want to be on TV. So it’s this very like not a community that I’m in contact with very often and very diverse in terms of race and economic status and everything else, and this was just a micro-epiphany, because I present my work in this insular environment so I’m like wow people are really engaged they’re really interested in this and then they liked my audition and they said “can you stick around and do some filming today,” and I said “oh okay.” So, I went around the corner and it turns out that the cattle call room is this massive thing, and they put a chair in the middle of the room and they had the camera up on a boom, and they’re like can you go sit on a chair in the middle of that space? And I say, “No, I can’t see or breathe,” and they’re like “We know”. I’m like “oh… okay.” that’s the point. So I was going along trying to find paths, people start talking to me, they’re whispering “Hey, can you see? Are you okay? A little to your right, no to your left” — people started guiding me through. It was a really almost touching thing and I remember one little girl was like “Hey what are you?” and I said “nothing, it’s abstract” and I go a little bit further, and I go a little bit further and someone goes “what is he?” and the other girl goes “he’s an abstract” and I’m like… this is really, really great. And so my interest was reignited to actually be on the show because I didn’t consider it earlier, I thought. Oh my god this fits into the interventionist work that I’m already interested in, but on a massive scale. And they called me back and they said yeah we want you in the first preliminary auditions, televised, all that stuff, and I couldn’t do it so I was still saying no. I was too busy…It’s funny, a lot of these decisions were very practical and but again I knew I was in a position of power, so I’m tell them “okay here’s the deal – I’ve watched this show. It starts with a talk with the judges, I can’t do that. I’m not doing that.” And they said “okay.” I said the costume’s too complex, it’s just too difficult and I said afterwards I have to leave the space and get out of the costume too because they insisted that I have to come back for the judging because that’s kind of the meat of the TV show. I said okay but I need to go backstage and at least loosen the zipper in the back. I need to breathe and see. I also made other demands. I said my mom has to be backstage with me…and I had to be notified, I needed a private area and all this stuff and they gave it to me. So I left stage and I unzipped my costume and I came back out and I got in a big fight with Howie Mandel and which of course was not televised. That was scary because several months later and its coming on the air and I’m thinking, “oh no.. What are you going to show? How are they going to frame me?” Like, how are they going to pick on me? I have to say that I was extremely pleased at how they presented it as an intervention or some weird cosmic thing that came out. I thought that was very interesting. I came back out people weren’t booing now anymore, but being in front of people is very easy for me so I came out and I’m naked down to my waist basically and I sit on my stool and Howie goes, “oh by all means, sit.” and I was like “I didn’t mean…No disrespect.” and he says, “so tell me, what was that?” and I’m say, “Uh, well, can you be more specific? What do you wanna know? What was the performance? What was the costume?” “Just what was it?” and he’s just being like that, right? And I’m like “Well I’m a performance artist and I make abstract images and it’s really not a tendency of mine to describe those images to you, I mean I work in abstract form so the viewer can…” and I start talking essentially academically but I think I’m dumbing it down, but apparently I’m not dumbing it down enough and he’s sort of getting a little hostile with me and I start getting a little hostile back. Not too bad, just like “Howie what did you see? What’s the first thing that came to your mind? What did you think when you looked at this?” He’s like “we ask the questions here” or something like that —
M: So wouldn’t even engage with the conversation?
J: No and I’m trying to enlighten and people are booing again now and I’m like “well lets think just in terms of fitness because there’s a bike-like-structure and some tennis shoes on my feet. I’m like “let’s just take some of the elements…” and I’m talking like that and he’s like “fitness? Where and how is that fitness?” and I’m like “you could interpret fitness.” …So it basically just went on like that until Sharron [Osbourne] was like “just go” and Piers [Morgan] said “you’re the most annoying man I’ve ever met” and I think I said I’m sorry. I can’t remember. I was trying to remain humble. I know I sunk my head. I couldn’t look up anymore. I just looked down and I walked offstage and that was the interaction so I’m like nervous as all get out. But the nicest thing happened. One of my parameters was that someone had to remove myself from the stage and these two P.A.s come back around and my mom is there and I’m really embarrassed – I’m embarrassed for them – and it went back…I came out in the 80s in high school in the deep south in Georgia and this was a really intense thing.
M: It’s still an intense thing in the South.
J: This idea of embarrassing my family is still tricky to me. My penis is all over Internet. You write “Joseph Ravens” on the Internet and you basically see my penis. So I was a little injured for my family, not for me – I have thick skin. So my mom’s there and she’s kind of consoling me and I don’t need consolation and I’m doing my shoes or something and these two P.A.s come with the stuff and they put it down in front of me and they’re like “We get it. It’s performance art.” They were from L.A. – no big deal for them – but it was really sweet and I was really glad they said it for my mom’s sake. I don’t even know if she ever learned or if my family still understands what I do. It’s easier to just frame it as theater or dance, which I do. So it was a nice moment in a way for my mom to see that there are people out there who respect public performance.
M: Even if Howie Mandel doesn’t.
M: that is nice. I feel like a moment like that is a very important good moment after that experience.
J: It is and then the fact that they presented it on the show in such a nice way.
M: It was.
J: I thought it was somewhat respectful even though they did change the music to the Benny Hill theme song.
M: Yeah it is nice that they cut out the mean part.
J: I still think back. Like maybe the editor was familiar with performance art. They were listening probably to my spiel and me bumbling on stage with Howie and someone at some point either took pity on me or just like I effected them and understood on that level…that layer is also very interesting to me. It’s funny I don’t think about that performance very much. I don’t consider it – it’s not even on my resume.
M: It’s not and I actually dug around and found it. It’s not up front at all.
J: [There have been] other instances too where people have said “Are you that guy from America’s Got Talent?” and it’s funny. That’s not one of my aspirations although I’m thinking about trying to get on another reality TV show as something.
M: Hmm what – because of the positivity of that experience? Or what’s your draw to that within that culture?
J: A little bit, or just the reach – television portrayed reach, and a lot of it’s about the gallery, actually. That happened soon after I started the gallery and it generated a lot of traffic and attention this way, so yeah I accept gigs now as a face or an ambassador for the gallery…I’m using my work to promote the space because I just believe in the space so much.
M: Well, I think a lot of the stuff that you’re doing in your work and the interests you have, it makes a lot of sense to mediate through this venue and do that larger stretch.
J: I think so too. I also love pop culture. I watch TV, I like Lady Gaga. Whatever, I’m into pop culture, and trends. Most of my day-job is like this as well. I have to stay current, so I have to look at magazines and television, but also for many years, especially when I first got out of grad school, I didn’t have TV I didn’t really pay attention to pop culture. I’ve always loved movies, but… and I was starting to get day-jobs and I felt left out at the water cooler conversation. Everyone the next day is talking about something that apparently everybody in the country knows about except for artists. What is that disconnect and why is that true? If an artist is – it depends on that artists’ motivations and inspirations for their work – but if an artist were a barometer of a cultural landscape, wouldn’t it make sense that they would have an idea of what the culture is? I think it’s more palatable now. I knew a lot of faculty at SAIC who I went to school with who don’t own televisions, and you’d make a reference to anything and they wouldn’t know what you were talking about. I don’t want that. I want to feel connected to my world.
M: It’s a base way, but it’s such a large, like you’re saying, such a long reaching way and something that connects everyone really, except us, except artists.
J: TV does connect everyone. Already I’ve sort of endured otherness throughout my life as a gay person as an effeminate person, as whatever and as an artist as well. So I’m marginalized in several different ways and TV is a way for me to feel connected to a community, a world, and a country that shuns me.
M: Let’s shift gears really quickly. I wanted to talk to you about the commodity of performance art and there’s the difficulty and maybe impossibility of owning that performance but then there’s also the issue of when that experience ends and if something can be maybe given that life of the performance that lives on as another object?
J: I’m thinking of two things. Did you read my piece in HyperAllergic?
J: I talked about it a little there. It’s interesting – I knew I was working in a noncom-modifiable form and an ephemeral form that can’t be bought and sold and I liked that, especially because I’m anti-capitalism, anti-America, not that I’m pro… I don’t know I guess I’m a socialist to some degree. I don’t know, but I know that capitalism sucks ass and I know that a motivation for doing things in this country is about like compensation and it’s really difficult for me. So as an anti-capitalist more or less, I never considered myself that way, I knew that I’d have to have an income of some kind on my own, but now I’m in a different position. With the Internet intellectual property is such a big thing, but I’ve written up plans for an initiative that I’m calling “Resuscitate” right now and it’s specifically about this. It’s really about preciousness or value is strongly equated to availability or whatever – a diamond is rare, it’s precious – so it’s a lot about restricting access to the images, video, or whatever, in order to create value. It’s sort of lined up. I don’t know when or if I’ll ever be able to implement it, but hopefully will for select events, particularly like higher caliber artists, but it would involve – say, if photos are made of the performance, first of all I’m interested in film and real film and actually having them print it, but a system where it would be a tri-ownership. The authorship/ownership would be all super strictly contractual with the performance artist, the gallery, and the documenter having equal ownership of that material, each one would select a single image – we’re talking photography right now, there are four prongs to this system – each one would select a favorite and each of those, so there would be three images from a performance, and those would have editions, very limited, possibly three or four each, each of the parties would receive one edition and the other editions would be sold. And when they’re sold the money is split evenly between the performance artist, the gallery, and the person who documented it. Same structure for video, but the video would be done as a video shoot in the same space either immediately before or right after the actual performance, but definitely done for the camera. You may be aware or not, but there’s this idea of video documentation of a performance which is not being an accurate translation of that event. I don’t want to see backs of heads. I’m a performance artist so I look at other performance artwork that is documentation, but somehow I can kind of translate it because I have some insight but other people wouldn’t. I think photos need to be of the live performance; video needs to be geared towards the camera. Same environment, same everything, no stops and starts, multi-camera shoots, limited edition jump drives, physically designed by the performance artist, that’s an interest of mine as well, so that the object – you could even use [a clementine] or something if you wanted to or glue shit to it or whatever you want. The performance artist would design it so it becomes
M: an extension of —
J: and a sculptural object that you can display but it contains the performance. The third-prong is object-based. We’ve already assembled an object archive from all the performances here. I’m one person, I have a lot of volunteers but I can’t manage everything, but I think for Rapid Pulse I think we have something from every performance. I was interested in a more sort of investment or museum interest, but now I’m thinking them more as commodifiable interests, but I am also very interested in a way that performance art can be translated to visual art or have another life. The windows [referring to the front windows of the gallery curated separated from the space—Electrodes], their original idea was sort of a fugitive installation or performance in the space, then afterwards you would take your objects or whatever and make the physical installation, and does an object from a performance need text? How does one display an object that was used in performance? As a simple object. If I’m just showing that bowl as artwork, as Duchampian or whatever that might be, there’s no meaning or value, and then so how do I then reflect or represent the event of the thing that happened. So how does one represent performance after the fact? We do it for grants, we do it for other artists, but how do we do it for the general public? I don’t have an answer to that, I’m curious about it. This is an interest an investigation of mine, and something you may see in the next year or so happen. There’s a woman I’m working with now who wants to catalog and photograph all the objects. I’m thinking about a yearly fundraiser – I have no money; I pay for everything out of my pocket – A yearly fundraiser where we auction the objects. And then what, do they also get a performance? Is it just written about? I was naïve when I opened the gallery. I understood how art grants worked as an independent artist. I didn’t really understand how it worked with organizational things so I just assumed that I could open the doors and then start applying for grants. I open a gallery and I start looking at applications and they all want about two years of documentation in programing, fiscal responsibility, organizational structure, so I took on this massive financial burden, and realized “Oh my god, it’s going to be over two years before I can start applying,” and then grants come about a year after you apply, and so I have like 2-3 years where I have to make this work. I didn’t build in or plan sustainability from an individual perspective, but that was also really important because I realized very early on – when that two years comes, I’ve got to be in a better position where I’m getting that shit, and I looked at all the applications, I know all the data – tons and tons and tons of data. I was burntout almost immediately, because my day-job is really demanding and I’m freelance, so when you’re freelance you’ve got to be on all the time or you won’t get called back. People hate their nine to fives, but if you have a contract, people can’t really just fire you for no reason, but if you’re a freelancer, if you don’t do good work, you’re just not there anymore, so my day-job needs to get priority, but the time priority, and my weekends were hellish, because there were exhibitions. Maintaining a space is terribly burdensome. I clean this floor constantly. The floor is a whole other thing. The white floor is sort of conceptual for me, but now it’s an albatross but one that I welcome, and the basement is also another albatross. Maintaining the space is extremely difficult physically. So about six or eight months in I was like this isn’t sustainable, I’ve got to slow it down, I’m going to be more selective about the work that I present, and maybe do a show or two a month. OR I could turn up the volume so that when this period comes in two years – and I already kinda knew I was grooming for it, but it was definitely a thought and a decision and a choice that I’m gonna go into overdrive. I led a very bourgeois life before I opened the gallery, I’m embarrassed to admit and I think this feeds into my anti-capitalism because you don’t really know it when you’re doing it. I didn’t realize – incrementally, my lifestyle started getting more expensive. Sit was a massive life change for me as well because I now have really no luxuries and no – I don’t want to sound whiney or complaining in any way – so now I call it the Monastic endeavor and I’m doing a project, sort of based on it, but it’s not a public project, but in Vietnam last year I had three suits and I wear the same three, I wear the same clothes every day
M: I guess there’s really no other way to do it. If this was going to happen, that had to be the case.
J: I was part of an organization that was actually really well-respected in Chicago that was called The Spare Room some years back and it was a collective, a co-op of sorts, and it was extremely frustrating. Nothing ever got done because people always say they’ll do something and they never will. But the vision just got muddied and I knew that it couldn’t get muddied; it had to have a focus. I’m trying to build the Defibrillator to be an institution that runs without me. I mourn my own art practice, and my own normalcy in life. I just do. So I’m hoping that I can build the structure and give the foundational support and grants and basically lay the foundation for something that can go on without me. I’d probably still remain president of the board and probably curate and maintain Rapid Pulse.
M: Obviously there’d be continued performance and events and things like that but I noticed on your website there’s a workshop tab. Is that part of that vision to build into to space?
J: Discourse just feeds into kind of the conversation we had earlier about building sort of an appreciation for the form is a strong a primary interest. We just don’t have the workforce to make that happen. A lot of the artists who have come in have done workshops, mostly movement based artists, there have been other artist talks, stuff like that.
J: I think it should be more like discourse, but is a workshop a form of discourse? Certainly. It should be more like “discourse” because we do still have artist talks or panels, things like that from time to time.
M: So a broader discourse.
J: Broader discourse, and the workshops or artist interaction is a big part of it, but I just haven’t been able to make that happen. Same with catalog printed matter, like I’m really into this: we’re doing a catalog for Rapid Pulse 2012 and it’s just like too much. At night, I’m like okay now time to work on the catalog, and it’s like oh fuck.
M: Dread of your day.
J: Yeah, but I want them to exist, and I’m sort of being anti-mediated for that. I think that everything’s going online, everyone’s doing some sort of a blog, catalog, whatever, and virtually you’re in PDF style. I kind of want to like come back to the —
J: Yeah I tend to rebel a little bit. I mean I embrace it and I rebel a little bit.
M: I think you have to do both.
J: A little bit of both.
M: There’s something really nice about X the smell of printed catalogs. It’s an entire experience in itself, having that instead of looking at it on a screen.
J: Yeah flipping through…but we don’t do any printed material, or very little. We don’t do postcards. Every once in a while we’ll put something on the door like you probably saw.
M: Right. Well, Thank you so much for taking time to talk to me. I really appreciate it.