Peregrine Honig interviewed by Andrea de Saint Andrieu
MAVERICKS: What made you want to become an artist?
PEREGRINE HONIG: Peter Handke’s Song of Childhood is quoted in the movie Wings of Desire. There is a great line from Handke’s piece, “When the child was a child it didn’t know it was a child.” I knew I was an artist before I knew I was a child. Whatever made me an artist happened before I could point.
How does art make you feel? Why is it so essential to your life?
A) Alive B) see A
Living as you did in San Francisco, how was that like? How did that impact your life and work?
I grew up in San Francisco in an experimental environment. I learned in my late teens that my open- mindedness was somewhat restricted to open-minded ideas. My art explores gray areas and social structures, sexual vulnerability and trends in behavior. I am always on the hunt for new groupings and habits within the groups I’m exploring.
What made you open a gallery and a panty store?
I do not make my work in a vacuum and I am drawn to people who pull from unusual sources. I am inclined to wear different hats and be on both sides of walls. Curating helps me consider how to solve aesthetic conflicts within my studio, present my own art, and communicate with writers and documenters. Having access to other artists images and sculptures in a quiet and intimate environment is epic. I take pride in learning to speak about other artists work and honor their ideas and objects in time and space. I read art criticism with the knowledge that jargon comes and goes, but a great writer maintains their voice.
I opened Birdies on February 14th of 2003 in an 115 square four space as an idea. It was a good idea because a few years later I taught one semester at an incredible institution and I returned to my studio drained and annoyed. Lecturing and teaching workshops is wonderfully academic and I get to play favorites in my mind without the guilt or erosion of a daily position.
Birdies provides me a pink collar regiment with a window into a world most people are not even aware of. Birdies opens doors for me, teaches me about material, and reveals the endlessly interesting habits of love,desire, and attraction.
Does your work, store/fashion and gallery go hand in hand for you?
My projects cooperating ranges from hand in hand to foot in mouth. I need my time on Earth to be inspiring and I appreciate the difference between traveling for a solo show, sitting along a runway for Fashion Week, or considering ideas and images for an exhibition. There is business in all aspects of what I perpetuate to afford myself my expensive art making habit and navigating the worth of my creative identity.
I share a studio with the clothing designer Hadley Ann Johnson. We’ve worked on projects together for over seven years. Her garments temper the cloudy line between performance costumes and gallery objects. I can’t sew but I watch what she does- creating a line between two things. Hadley is a force for me.
You have a very unique style. What do you like about fashion and clothes? Do you think art and fashion are linked?
My art is narrative and what I wear on my body tells the story of where I have been, what I am up to, and my intensions. Every culture decorates themselves differently. The sentiments and reasonings behind scarification, physical modification, and endurance costuming are interesting to me, but I am just as curious about quieter nods to geographic identity. Why teenage girls in a small town choose sparkling back pockets jeans is as important to me as indigenous facial tattoos. We are driven and judged by how we present ourselves.
Environment is important for an artist: Why did you choose to stay in Kansas city rather than going back to San Francisco?
I am more interested in making art than being an artist. Kansas City is an epicenter for me ( reference to earthquakes intended ). I love big cities but I also love big open spaces that don’t cost a lot of money. There are pluses and minuses to anywhere. I need something to push against and I am surrounded by generative artists and musicians in all directions.
There’s a recurring theme of youth and innocence versus very serious problems, vices and adulthood: the watercolors are very light and colorful with an underlying serious message. Is that way of transcribing the issue a way of shocking or is it some kind of dark humor, or even a way of using irony to put into light these serious matters and make people think?
My work is delicate and disturbing- deceptively simple executions of complicated subjects. It documents early sexual awakenings, the visual manifestation of disease, and the social anxieties of realized and fictional characters. By illustrating stifled habits, residual adolescent vulnerability, and issues of beauty and popularity, my drawings document trends in fear, private and public, commercial and independent.
Rendering the progress of innocence into awareness, my work chronicles the beauty of awkward moments. We are captivated by the resilience of our own virgin selves and beguiled by the lure of shameless sensuality. My drawings are an ongoing dictionary of intimate scenarios, inviting viewers to observe without the fear of trespassing or offending.
You list Sally Mann as one of your influences. I find there’s a similarity in the theme of the young girl’s transition to adult, the lose of innocence and the exposure to the vices of this world. Why this recurring theme? Who else inspires you and why?
Sally Mann is second generation artist at least. Her father was a comfortable creative and he raised a brilliant and proud daughter. Mann’s work is all at once sensual, political, violent, tender, timeless, and contemporary.What she allows me to see of her life has made me cry, pull myself together, and walk into rooms with hope for myself. Mann dances that elegant line between exploit and exploit. I have living favorites: Petah Coyne, Kerry James Marshall, Cindy Sherman, Will Cotton, Rashaad Newsome, Marina Abramović.
I am inspired by dead artists and writers- Hans Belmer, Rainer Maria Rilke, Balthus, Gabriel García Márquez. Billy Holiday makes me cry. I seek out medical museums and costume reliquaries when I’m traveling because art is not always in art museums.
What interests you in pop culture and voyeurism?
I’m VIP in my studio so I choose the models, the palette, the gait, the season. I am the vulnerable row in front of the front row.
The world watches young people do what they do because they are a culture’s botany. My artwork flourishes in dirt rich ripe with the awkward stalks of early seductions and the garish flowers of green libidos. Pop culture is the very essence, the circulated seed of youth and wealthy childish behavior.
You say part of your work is to be documented: what does that bring to your work? Do you consider the whole “work of art” show as a piece in itself?
Best to see images of yourself more often than not so your brain can be tricked into thinking you’re aging slowly. I figured Work of Art would be a great way to be a part of pop culture and I was right.
People have a pretty clear sense of how reality television works. It’s like Tina Fey’s take on Photoshop- everyone has one relative that thinks that picture of Sarah Palin in an American Flag bikini holding a rifle is real. I didn’t audition for a reality show thinking I had any control over the editing process.
People think they know me because they recognize me. I get fan mail. It’s awkward and awesome. Having strangers scream and jump up and down in front of me because they watched me on television is a very unique experience.
In “work of art” you say “ it’s as much about the pony as it is about the people watching”, do you consider the viewers experience of your art in the process of making it? Do you consider the environment and the way it’s presented as part of the piece?
There is so much performance involved in the creative world. A “deflowering” exists- proclamations that the dealer or the buyer or the curator or choreographer was the FIRST to see an artist, take them, buy them, reveal them, own them. I had very early academic interest and patronage- I am the youngest living artist to be purchased for the Whitney Museum’s permanent collection. I’m talented, lucky, or a bit of both.
Being on a reality television show is about living in a green room and existing backstage twenty- four hours a day on a nightless, bookless, musicless road trip. The inside jokes are endless, you randomly stop to drink and eat, it’s exhausting and annoying, but something is always about to happen.
I made honest friends on my trip. I stood for countless hours in the same room with Jerry Saltz, a writer I’d followed for over a decade. I met small people with big names. I mastered quoting my television mentor, Simon de Pury, in the voice of Count Chocula to make the people behind
the camera and the other contestants laugh. I had a fine time as long as I remembered where I was and what I was doing.
The art making process is intimate, so even if you leave the space you make it in, that energy still stays with you. So there I was, exposed and expectant. Everything took more time and was consolidated. This is the nature of the reality show as a medium. I recruited myself, my identity. I signed endless paperwork and put a moment of my life in the hands of a team of talented strangers to edit and debut as a show about art.
Artists are the Anglerfish of the sea. We follow this funky little light and manage our lives. Artists rarely get picked first for conventional sports, so it was entertaining to be chosen early and take home silver.
I am most important to my work so where I place my work determines how it is received. I’m protective and considerate of the work that comes to me beautifully, tenderly. It is an honor when an idea comes to fruition naturally, without restrictions and painful courtship, unhinges itself without a lot of bullshit. These are the pieces I keep close or am very selective about showing.
You portray a harsh view of consumerism and lack of individualism in some of your pieces, with everything going on economically, politically, etc where do you think this will lead us?
Nowhere and everywhere.
You have a quirky and unique style, whether it’s your fashion or art, individualism is something important to you? Do you think it’s something the world is lacking?
Quality vs. quantity.
I saw you work with your husband and are inspired by his work: what inspires you in his music? How do you proceed together?
I’m married to someone I love to hang out with, eat with, and be intimate with. I’m inspired by his work because we like each other and we love each other. I would like the comfort of health insurance. I want to visit my friend in Buenos Aires in October so I hope a grant I’m working on goes through.
In general, how do you proceed when imagining and creating a piece? Is it a natural process or more of a structured routine?
I space out a lot.
What are the tools you work with the most? Why do you use these more than others? (do they transcribe something in particular?)
My daily grind is a Rapidiograph .30 ( same as R. Crumb- noted by the yellow stripe when I watched him draw in the movie, Crumb ) on hot press paper because it’s smooth. High pigment that I can dilute with water and gum arabic.
Art is the ability to turn material into thought so I’m always searching for sources imbued with rich evocations. Lace is the stuff of infants, brides, virgins, whores, pastries, and funerals. Same can be said of wax. I believe my work does it’s job when I choose the right fabric.
My Twin Fawns were intended to be under glass and exposed through millions of television screens. I waited for eight years and I didn’t know this until it happened. If there is a percentage to my art making process, at least 99.99% would be just working, waiting, and knowing.
What kind of advice would you give to a young artist? Do you think it’s harder to be an artist nowadays or has it become more accessible via pop culture and technology?
If you don’t have to do it, go do something else.
What are you currently working on? Tell us a bit about it and the inspiration behind it.
I just got home from a trip to Barranquilla funded by Proexporta. I’m working on drawings based on the deteriorating Queen of Carnivale costumes on the second floor of a crumby museum dedicated to Gabriel García Márquez. Random important objects in states of decay always get me.
Earlier this year I turned two golf carts into stunning Mardi Gras floats- a Gilded Cage and a Sweet Chariot- glass, steel, silk curtains, pâte-de-verre.
I just finished a show with Dan Savage. The “It Get’s Better Project” is brilliant.
What do you see for yourself in the future? Is there something you have never tried you would like to test out?
My intention is to live a long life in good health with a sound mind. There are so many things I have not tried or seen or read. I want to travel. I want to love more people and love the people I love already with more of my heart. I want to make the kind of money in my lifetime that allows me to generously fund the projects of people I believe in on a whim.
If you could do anything, if you could have any of your wildest dreams become reality, what would that be?
Photographer Christian Pitschl interviewed by Andrea de Saint Andrieu.
MAVERICKS: Where did you grow up?
CHRISTIAN PITSCHL: I grew up in Bolzano, Italy, a small town in the very North of Italy, surrounded by loads of mountains.
Did your environment, childhood or family influence you as far as photography or your interest in art goes?
Absolutely. I’m not sure what influenced me the most, but as far as environment goes, Bolzano is kinda differ- ent as it’s only been part of Italy for about a hundred years and it seems to get more natural for these two very different cultures to conglomerate, that’s always been a big source of input for me. So was my family as I started making music with my brother when he was 13 and our parents always supported everything we were doing, even if it might have seemed strange at times.
When did you start photography?
My father gave me his old Pentax Super A when I moved to Vienna, Austria ten years ago. I only took pictures rarely back then. My friend Tania went to a photogra- phy uni and started talking about photography a lot. She also had this funny easy to use Lomo Holga and
took pictures with it that had such different aesthetics. I got one too and that’s when I started taking pictures on a more regular basis. That was five or six years ago.
What interests you the most when composing a pic- ture?
I’m not sure. I like things that look mystical, beautiful or irritating. I like pictures that are weird and not com- posed and I love when a picture gives you more than just that one frame.
Do you immediately envision what your picture will look like, or do you capture a picture then discover things you didn’t notice (whether in the image or vibe that comes out of it)?
Usually I can envision what my photos gonna look like pretty well. Sometimes when I’m influenced by new art- ists strongly I try to approach taking pictures in a differ- ent way, so whenever I try new paths I’m not sure how well that’ll work out with my way of shooting and things get exciting.
I read you take pictures to document your adventures: are you adventurous by nature or has photography pushed you to become more adventurous? What would you say is your most memorable adventure yet?
Hmmm, that’s a nice question. I think it works both ways. I’m adventurous, but I’m lazy, too, so photogra- phy sometimes gives me the necessary kick to get off my lazy ass. The next thing is that I have a really bad memory and pictures make memories last, not just in the usual sense, I’m pretty sure I would have totally for- gotten about some things I have done, if there weren’t any pictures of those moments. And situations I have taken my own pictures of I usually remember extremely well.
I don’t really know what would be the most memorable adventure to you, as I probably didn’t have any of those classic extreme kinda adventures yet. I’ve witnessed some funny things, though, which are often referable to the fact that I’m lost in my head, don’t get planes, trains or whatever’s supposed to bring me to places and the fact that I forget stuff (all the time) that is necessary for what I need to do… I have one story in mind, but it just might take too much space, my stories are always kinda long, with many details and stuff, haha.
When you look back at your photography, what do you feel? Is it a sense of nostalgia or happiness? (or both?)
It’s so nostalgic… Doesn’t matter what it is, I always have a very intense feeling of nostalgia when I take a look at old photos, as I know that those were unique situations and moments that are gone forever.
What kind of camera(s) do you use most? Why?
I mostly use compact 35mm cameras, a Yashica T5, a Olympus Mju II and a Contax T3. Sometimes I use half- broken SLRs I find on eBay or second hand camera shops, just for the thrill of it and medium format cam- eras when I feel like carrying heavy stuff.
How do you choose which camera you will be using: is it random or does it depend on your mood/what you want to capture that day?
I usually just have one of my compacts in my pocket as I feel like I need to have a camera with me at all times. When I’m in a car or traveling with a trolly I might take a 35mm SLR or Polaroid or medium format camera with me.
You’ve been in a few bands; do you feel your music and photography are linked? Does it depict what you want to convey through your lyrics? Is one more im- portant than the other for you? Why?
Hmmm, I think that a general feeling of nostalgia and melancholy is transported in both, my music and my photography. Those might be the two strongest “themes” throughout the stuff I produce, otherwise I don’t know. I prefer photography at the moment as it’s so fast and quick, I just take my camera and use what’s there already to create something and it always takes me quite some time to be happy with a song, as it is a long way from the sketch to good lyrics, to a good re- cording with good producing and so on… I’ve started recording again which gives me an extremely good feel- ing, but it still feels like a lot of work to me and photog- raphy doesn’t.
Why are you so drawn to nostalgia and melancholy?
I don’t really know why that is so, I just realized that nostalgia and melancholy are “feelings” I’m very close to.
Which photographers inspire you?
So many photographers I discovered through Flickr and Tumblr and very few to none of “the big ones”. I love Jürgen Teller for his simplicity, Lina Scheynius for her dramaturgy and Lukasz Wierzbowski for his colorful- ness, just to name a few and hundreds more for differ- ent stuff, they are really good at. Just take a look at my Flickr and Tumblr favorites.
What makes a good photographer for you?
Their own style and uniqueness.
What are some good tips you can give us for taking good pictures?
I really don’t know. I know that my films are best, when I don’t shoot too much, but there are many photogra- phers I love for the fact that they don’t care while shoot- ing. Hmmm, I think it’s cool, when you only shoot, if your motif gives you something special. That can be the moment, the colors, the configuration of elements, the feeling… but it should probably be more than just a beautiful blue sky with sun. I like it when things are edgy, too.
“Goodnight Mrs Calabash, wherever you are…” : Fashion from the fifties.
Written by Andrea de Saint Andrieu
“Fashion is not just a story of trends and fads, but is also a mark of social and historical changes. Events that changed the world, how people lived - and dressed. One of the most world changing events is none other than the Second World War.”
If you’ve opened a fashion magazine or seen the shows, you know the fifties are a big summer trend. But do you know how that way of dressing came up in the first place back in the day? Read the article in the first issue of Mavericks!