01 September 2010

Jesse Boardman Kauppila

Jesse Kauppila has remastered Harry Smith's "Anthology of American Folk Music," so that it can be played on a record player or printed through a printing press.
1. Where and how would you display your work in an ideal situation?
I hate to say it, but a lot of my work really benefits from the white cube environment. My work often requires precise lighting conditions and little distraction to see subtle differences in the results of the often repetitive processes I use to create my work. Also, the white cube allows the viewer to see the subtlety of precise intentions.

Occasionally, I like to create work for abnormal locations and situations (bunkers, barns, fields, fountains). This allows me to build on what is already present, to riff on it, add to it, or spring from it. It's an interesting challenge and a lot of fun, however, I consider my more sophisticated projects to be better presented in the white cube because I like to build systems from the ground up and show everything I have done. The white cube provides the opportunity to see a stand alone project.

I also like to do performances in non-standard settings. I like to do conceptual work in these settings because I am able to show people that might not otherwise be interested in conceptual art what I am doing and win them over. This sort of "missionary" work is something that is really important to me, especially when done in rural settings.

2. If expository writing is good at elucidating and proving a point and
descriptive geometry gives us the tools by which to map objects in space
in relation to one another, what kind of an apparatus does art afford us?
What does art do best?
If there were a spectrum of apparati between expository writing (used to prove a point) and geometry (used to describe objects in space), I would say that modern art tends toward expository writing. An essayist (though not a novelist) establishes his/her thesis and sets out to prove it within a given piece of writing, the artist has no such luxury. I also don't believe that art is used to describe the world in the way that geometry is (at least modern art doesn't operate in that manner). What makes art unique is that artist establishes their own criteria, which they fulfill in the creation of their work. The viewers then use their own criteria for understanding the piece. It is this gap, the question of criteria for judging, which creates much of the confusion around contemporary art. I think most art is more interesting when you have some notion of what the artist is trying to do and then you can evaluate the artist against his or her criteria and against your own criteria.

3. What can you expect from your audience/fans/viewing public? What would you
like them to know about your work?
I really like to make work that is accessible, period. I like making work that is accessible to different people with different backgrounds. A lot of my work relies on my knowledge of printmaking. I like it when printmakers see my work and “get it;” they know the technique on which I am basing my work. Similarly, I like stories and like it when people know the story on which I am basing my work. I am also interested in science and math and appreciate it when people understand those aspects of my work.

I guess I like a curious audience best - an audience that is able to understand my work on its own terms.

4. Marcel Duchamp said - "Enough with retinal art!" What is your reaction as an artist to this statement?
I like retinal art - particularly retinal art that is conceptual. If I don't find work to be visually interesting, I rarely spend time to figure out the other aspects of the work.

That being said, different people react to different inputs. I like work that is interesting to the eye, the ear, the mind, etc... If an artwork provides more than just retinal points of entry, more people can open up to the work.

5. Do you think that there is still room for art movements in today's
pluralistic climate?
I don't think their is room for movements. The most recent sort of notion of a movement was probably "relational aesthetics," which I thought did a particularly poor job of encapsulating what that sort of work was all about. With studio movements such as surrealists, dadaists, etc... you can see a real core of people controlling what the "movement" meant from the inside (often by expelling dissidents). Perhaps this is what enabled those movements to retain their aesthetic coherency. I don't think anybody can really exert that sort of control these days. This might be due to mobility these days: artists can't really develop together for long periods of time, because people are all over the place all the time now. I've regretted that I haven't been able to continue to work, uninterrupted, with many artists I have collaborated with.

I am really interested in artists reworking and working within preexisting movements, riffing on them or whatever. I'm really interested in work like that, I find work that tries to do something new to be quite tedious often. It's the whole standing on top of giants thing. By basing your work in that of others you can go so much further.

6. What is one question you wished we had asked you about your art? Please
feel free to answer it.
Recently I have been interested in the role of the gimic in my work and art in general - the role of humor; but one of the most pertinent questions for me is the role of tradition and its meaning. For a long time tradition and traditional art forms were really important to me. There seemed to be something really authentic there that I didn't find anywhere else. I wrote my thesis on tradition in contemporary Haida and Yoruba art, and my pursuit of printmaking was rooted in an interest in traditional printmaking.

That being said, the stuff that I'm interested in doing now isn't really all that traditional, but there is still a certain rigor and it is of traditional methods (perhaps its craftsmanship) that is really interesting and important to me. I try to maintain this rigor in whatever work I do, whether my work be traditional or not.

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