Go West Young Man... to the Invisible Dog
Our favorite local neighborhood art space The Invisible Dog is hosting an awesome exhibit right now A Marriage: 2 (West-er)
. The show ends tomorrow (Sat 12th) so get moving!
We caught up with Jake at the exhibit, took some photos.
In Conversation With Jake
What are you curious about? Jake:
These days we’re really psyched about a whole host of recent scholarships that's been going back over historical documents and teasing out the queer narratives that have been overlooked. And we're excited to be figuring out how to lend imagery to those narratives. Our show at the Invisible Dog includes a multi-media installation in response to this great book “Men In Eden: William Drummond Stewart and Same Sex Desire in the Rocky Mountain Fur Trade” by William Benemann about this gay Scottish Lord who in 1843 organized a massive pleasure trip with his lover and 100 other men to a lake in Wyoming where they threw this bacchanal, tricked out with wagons of booze and a trunk of renaissance costumes. It’s so totally different than the super-straight narrative of the West that we were taught as kids.
Tell us a little about the exhibit and how it came to be? Jake:
So, A MARRIAGE: 2 (WEST-ER) is a sequel of sorts to A MARRIAGE: 1 (SUBURBIA) which took over the entire HERE Arts Center in SoHo last year with installations and performance that unpacked how our same-sex marriage fits into these iconographies of the “American Dream.” After making this huge thing about the Suburbs, we wanted to flip the whole thing on it's head. Trade in plots of land for boundryless frontier (too poetic?). So we started looking West and dealing with those icons of masculinity and that version of the American Dream. The show has a bunch of these really intricately cut paper road maps with different appropriated images laid over them; some queer, some altered to become queer. Also, I think a good deal of our interest in the subject matter comes from the fact that we both grew up in the West (Nick in Colorado, me in California) and this installation gets at the sort of deep, genetic connection we feel to those landscapes.
You use a lot of maps in your work - where do you find them? Jake:
We get them from all sorts of places. Some we pick up from truck stops and welcome centers along the interstate, and some we get from AAA (the receptionist at our local AAA branch thinks we travel a lot – I think she’s getting suspicious though . . .). Some of the maps are vintage National Geographic maps that we found on line, and some of them come from our parents who find them in garage sales and send them by the manila-envelope-full. Some of our friend’s mothers have started sending them too . . .
What is the best piece of advice you've been given and by whom? Jake:
That’s a great question. I think that one of the best pieces of advice we’ve been given that we followed (I’m sure we’ve been given plenty of great advice that we should have followed and didn’t) was when a friend of ours told us to go to Wendover, NV. We went out there and in the spectacular BLM land around there, started a series of video pieces of us walking into these vast mountain ranges, eventually disappearing. And that sort of led to a lot of our interest in scale and our bodies in landscape. I think even our cut maps that incorporate vintage male pinup models is somehow connected to this. But the best part of that advice was sort of realizing that you just have to go to the places you want to be. That you have to be in the desert if you’re making a piece about the desert.
You are a two person team. Do you ever have conflict over your vision or how to execute it? Jake:
Well, yes and no. We’re lucky in that we both implicitly trust that the other is going to make something that we’re going to like even if we don’t initially like the sound of it. That said, we're also pretty comfortable with vetoing each other’s ideas. We’re also extremely pragmatic, so there’s a lot of recognizing that in our dream world we would execute something one way, but in reality we’re going to do it another way. Similarly we tend to let things evolve over many iterations so we wind up trying a lot of different ideas.
Why the Invisible Dog? What's the best thing about the space? Jake:
The Invisible Dog had been one of our favorite spaces in New York for a while, and every time we'd see something there we'd start talking about all of the potential possibilities in the gallery, so when Lucien and Risa offered us a show it was really a dream come true. Aside from being a really beautiful building, we really like the way Lucien and Risa roll. It kind of feels like a throw back to a version of New York that we meant to move to but was already gone when we got here - open, eager, generous and adventuresome. There’s also all of these great artists with studios here who we get to meet.
What's next? Jake:
That Wyoming piece that I was talking about is the first in a massive project in which we’re going to each of the 50 States and making a multi-media installation for each one in response to some recently uncovered or underappreciated queer history that we find there. Ultimately, we're hoping to assemble the whole thing in some form or another (all 50 installation/sculptures, and a series of staged artist talks) into a sprawling visual archive of a sort-of subjective queer history of the United States. So in May we head to California, Colorado, Texas, Mississippi, and North Carolina to get those States started.
On a slightly different note, we’re also going to start building up the cut maps to make them more three dimensional. We're still testing out a few ideas/methods, one way may be to build up layers of multiple maps, though we're also starting to work with resin so that we can try to detach roads and waterways and pull them out from the plane of the map to achieve something closer to the three dimensionality of the human vascular system. Ongoing experiments. . . Thanks to Jake for answering our questions and letting us take photos! Check out their show on today and tomorrow only at the Invisible Dog!