Friday, January 26, 2007

Art Space Talk: Ken Fandell

I recently interviewed artist Ken Fandell. Mr. Fandell resides in Chicago where he is an instructor at the Chicago Art Institute. He is well-known for his photography, installation, and video work. Ken often raises questions about frustration, art history, hobbies, high and low culture, perfection, failure, ambition, and alienation with his work.
Q. When did you first discover that art would be an important part of your adult life?

A. "Maybe freshman year in college, during philosophy class. But I crises after that where I decided it wouldn't."

Q. How has society influenced your art? Are there any social implications in your art?

A. "Many, definelty not all, but many come directly out of social interactions and interpretations of communication with people. It's more of a act locally version of social implications.."

Q. On average, how long does it take you to create a piece?

A. "Some pieces have taken 5 years ("The Planets" video cycle) and some have take 5 minutes from shooting to finishing ("This is Sort of Happening all the Time") "

Q. Can you share some of your philosophy about art and artistic creation?

A. "Art should be akin to conversation. It should come off in a way similar to how someone communicates throughout their lives."

Q. What was your most important exhibition? Care to share that experience?

A. "My first solo show in San Francisco. Just good vibes all around and I was really happy with the pieces."

Q. Do you have any 'studio rituals'? As in, do you listen to certain types of music while working? What helps to get you in the mood for working?

A. "I need to do every other thing imaginable for like a day before I can actually get to work in the studio. Read, download music, clean my space, go running, shop for groceries, write emails, look at porn, do email interviews, etc... before I actually get to work. Then I like to work for like a week straight."

Q. If you could pinpoint the characteristics of people who collect your art, what would they be?

A. "I don't know enough of them. They are usually interested in conceptual practice, but also have a strong aesthetic sensibility. They're also often large law firms or banks."

Q. Discuss one of your pieces. What were you thinking when you created it?

A. "A recent piece is a photograph of a woman that's displayed twice - one version is flipped or backwards. Her expression is impenetrable and it reminded me about the impossibility for us to truly know or understand things in general, but especially through images. I think this is sort of scary, a little sad, but also exciting and powerful."

Q. Where did you obtain your college degree?

A. "I have a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an MFA from the University of Illinois at Chicago."

Q. Why did you choose the medium(s) that you use?

A. "Each piece I make I think hard about what medium it should be in. The main question usually is should it be a sculpture or photograph/video (I think of them as the same). Usually it comes down to am I talking about the thing itself, its presence and your physical relation to it or am I talking about how things are represented and what issues that representation brings up."

Q.Where can we see more of your art?

A. "My website ( ). Also there will be a large piece of mine at the MCA in Chicago this spring."

Q. What galleries have you exhibited in? Can you provide links to their sites?

A. "Howard House in Seattle, Bodybuilder and Sportsman in Chicago, Traywick Contemporary in Berkeley, Suite 106 in NY, Donald Young in Chicago, Bronwyn Keenan in NY,... You can find links for each fairly easily through google. Some are linked to on my website."

Q. What trends do you see in the 'art world'?

A. "The art world is so pluralistic and inclusive at this point trends are sort of irrelevant."

Q. Any tips for emerging artists?

A. "Make up your own way of doing things, don't ever let up making your work and don't ever let up trying to get it out there."

Q. What was the toughest point in your career as an artist? Have you ever hit rock-bottom?

A. "When I lived in LA, hadn't had show in over a year, hated my day job, couldn't get a teaching job, and felt like all my friends a) hated me, b) were very successful themselves, and c) hated me even more because I wasn't succesuful."

Q. In one sentence... why do you create art?

A. "To see things that aren't already out there and to communicate complex feelings and thoughts about thing I have but am not confident in verbalizing."

Q. What can you tell our readers about the art scene in your area?

A. "Chicago. It's a supportive small art scene that looks outside of itself a lot."

Q. Is there anything else you would like to say about your art or the 'art world'?

A. "I love the art world. Especially when my work seems to be fitting in or at least part of the conversation. I hate the art world. Especilly when my work seems not to be fitting in or be part of the conversation."
I hope that you have enjoyed my interview with Ken Fandell. Feel free to critique or discuss his work.
Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin

1 comment:

lil' ol karebear said...

Thank you for this interview. It was honest.