Monday, June 18, 2007

Art Space Talk: Zachary Scholz

I recently discovered the art of Zachary Scholz on Mr. Scholz creates conceptual art that manipulates contingent objects- shifting their invisible boundaries. His aim is to unsettle the stability of these frameworks without completely destroying them. Zachary attended school at the California College of the Arts. He earned an MFA in 2006.

Brian Sherwin: Zachary, you attended the California College of the Arts where you obtained an MFA. Can you tell us about your old art department? Who were your mentors?

Zachary Scholz: Studying at CCA was a great experience, the program provided a unique flexibility between media that really enabled and fostered the diversity of my practice.
I entered the MFA program in Painting and Drawing with a portfolio focused generally somewhere between drawing and printmaking. By the end of the two years my practice had developed much of the more sculptural direction it has now. It was really great that, despite this shift, there was never a need for me to change departments. I could have, but I didn't need to because the program allowed me to work with such a wonderful diversity of makers and thinkers.
Beyond the broad faculty of the school, the program enabled me to draw on the San Francisco Bay Area's wealth of practicing artists and intellectuals, as well as various visiting lecturers to find the voices that I needed in my studio.
It was great to work with artist whose work shares some commonality with my own such as Anna von Mertens, Liam Gillick, Stepanie Suyjuco, and Maria Porges, but it was equally valuable working with makers whose work, at least physically, is dramatically different from my own, such as Larry Sultan, Lynn Kirby, Shaun O'Dell, and Roy Tomlinson. And it is this latter group which has curiously had the greater and more lasting effect on my practice. Additionally it was great to work with non making art professional such as Stephen Leiber.

BS: You have stated the following, "Asleep, I sometimes effortlessly return to an earlier part of my life, which except for in dream, I have forgotten. I am myself in these moments but never exactly the person I was. I return to these memories as I am now, colored by how I remember being then—the now-me poured into an ill-fitting younger container. Neither and nowhere, I grasp backward and inward in time—wearing my own face as a mask." Can you go into further detail about how your work is influenced by dreams?

ZS: My work is not dream based in any literal sense. I certainly don't make work based on my dreams. But the irrationally rational logic of dreaming is certain appealing to me. Also, the mechanics of dreaming --the recapitulation and recombination of inputs and experience in new, curious, and surprising resonant ways-- is a structural process that echoes in my process of working.
Rather than being influenced by dreams, I would say that my work is sympathetic to the process of dreaming and the instability of meaning, time, and material that it reveals.

BS: So would you say that exploring the subconscious is a major component of your work?

ZS: I wouldn't use the word subconscious which is too limited, and carries all sorts of Jungian and Freudian connotations opaqued by pop culture references. But, there is certainly something "sub" about what I am exploring; sub-present, sub-visible, sub-recognized sub-linguistic sub...

BS: Zachary, you have also stated that you, "digest and manipulate contingent objects shifting their invisible boundaries not to discover what they are, but to uncover that they are simultaneously everything and nothing.". Why did you decide for this to be a part of your artistic process?

ZS: I am drawn to these sorts of objects in part because of the way that their contingent nature overtly reveals a truth of all objects, which is that no object is an autonomous thing.
All objects have been shaped by other objects, formed by external systems, and produced to function in contextual situations. Rather than a static thing, each object is a shifting and negotiated space in perpetually flux.

BS: Can you go into further detail about your artistic philosophy?

ZS: Talking about an artistic philosophy is a tricky thing. If anything I think the most concrete philosophy that I have is a commitment to perpetually figure my philosophy out.
The situation I find my self in is one in which it isn't so much that art can be anything, but that anything can be art. The gap between such statements is as big as big and mapping it takes exactly as much time as it is given. The gap is as insurmountable as the distance between me and you and filling the space, with acts, objects, and images, shifts the boundaries as quickly as it fills it in.
Fundamentally I think art needs to seek the real. Not the known or the believed or the imagined, but the inexplicable realness of present existence. This 'real' is a most mysterious thing, existing in the dark space between what has past, which we can recognize, and what is ahead, which we can anticipate.
I don't want to show you my 'real' but make you find your own. I have little interest in teaching anybody what I know. I want people to discover what they know, and find it lacking.

BS: What about studio habits, ritual, or whatever you wish to call it? How do you start and finish a studio session? What inspires you while you work?

ZS: I find it helpful to treat working in the studio really as the job that it is. Ideally I like to do a 9-5 40h work week. I think showing up is a lot of it; making and making and making and making and somewhere in there art slips in.
At the same time, when I am working in the studio I try to stay fresh and really open and playful. I try to avoid doing things that I know and instead seek acts and actions too simple to have been noticed or named. I find that such unexpectedly obvious tactics tend to evade the traps which seem always to steer toward the same boring, unsatisfying, and stale ends. I believe that it requires being quite silly and humble to say something interesting.
As I am interacting with material I need to stay pretty alert and very present, so I hardly ever listen to music. I mostly let the material and my hands lead and keep my eyes out for interesting turns. This is not to say that I do not plan. It is important to be able to plan something, do it, and have the thing do what you planned it to do, but the discipline of this skill does not in and of itself make good work.

BS: Your conceptual art often deals with objects such as chairs. Do you ever feel limited by the objects you choose to use in your art? Or is your goal to push an object as far as it will go as far as having meaning is concerned? In other words, is your work about the challenge of using these objects that normally would not be consider a medium of choice?

ZS: I don't feel limited by the objects that I work with. My interactions with these objects, are not about investigating them in a rigidly material and analytic way to discover the boundaries and the limits of their meaning. My interventions instead aim to unsettle the stability of these frameworks without completely destroying them.
I am interested in making objects exist as neither what they were, nor entirely as something else, and in this states' inherent duplicity and shifting puniness. The perpetual flux of this state reveals the shifting uncertainty beneath all seemingly static meaning.
It can and has been argued that revealing this instability, this nothingness underlying presence, produces the kind of morbid desperation that fuels nihilism, but I think that there is great potential and agency in this space.
Rather than drowning ourselves in the inevitability that everything is nothing, we can buoy ourselves with the possibility that everything can be anything.

BS: Finally, what is next? What are your plans for the future... are you working on any projects at this time?

ZS: My plan for the future is to continue to work with the different threads of my practice and see where they lead. My work in upholstery foam, and with furniture continues, as does a more drawing and paper based practice.
I also have new projects brewing, some video work, some site specific interactions, some writing projects, and some curatorial activities. In addition, I am pursuing teaching opportunities and looking to more directly contribute to growing my local arts community.
I hope that you have enjoyed learning about Zachary and his artistic practice. Feel free to leave a comment.
Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have been to Zach's studio. Great artist and keen thinker.