Tiempo de lectura: 7 minutos



Cutting dulls the knife

Otras Obras, Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico
7 de septiembre de 2013 – 4 de octubre de 2013




Curator : Tiffany Smith

Otras Obras is pleased to announce its sixth exhibition, Cutting dulls the knife, an exhibition of works by Jack Heard, curated by Tiffany Smith, and with an exhibition catalog designed and assembled by Franklin Collao.

Tiffany Smith : Jack, what is your real name?
Jack Heard: John Matthew.
Ts: Where did Jack come from?
Jh: Jack was a character from a movie I was watching with my mom. I told her that was my favorite name and she said I could change it if I wanted to, and that Jack is short for John. I was going to a new school in a couple of weeks. When I enrolled I introduced myself as Jack and it’s been that way ever since.
Ts: Have you ever been interviewed before?
Jh: No, but I have interviewed other people a few times.
Ts: Have you shown any art outside of LA before?
Jh: I just had a piece in a show at the Edinburgh Arts Festival in Scotland. I gave them a suit I made out of a painting. I also did a couple of performances when I was on a travel grant in northern europe. I did one at sím gallery in iceland. I made a caftan and wore it in a wet t-shirt contest in which I was the only participant. I was screaming and running around outside in the freezing cold with warm water being poured all over me and steaming up off the ground. I haven’t done anything like that since then.
Ts: Was that your first international performance?
Jh: No. It was after another performance I did just north of Amsterdam in Hoorn. I had been in Louisiana right after the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. I had collected tar balls and oil slick from the gulf, and I lay on a mattress, in my underwear, totally covered in all of it. People who came to the show scrubbed it off with toothbrushes and olive oil.
Ts: A big part of your process seems to be finding a thing. What do you look for?
Jh: Evidence I guess. Evidence of activity, pieces of what is happening on the street, outside, in this room.
Ts: How do you know when you’ve found something worth keeping?
Jh: I think it’s based on my enthusiasm and eagerness to finish it, to get back to the studio, and do what I have to do with it.
Ts: I’m reminded of an older painting of yours. The focus is a figure that vaguely resembles you. He is standing and staring at something outside of the painting with this mouth hanging open. I think it’s a self-portrait of you but from the perspective of the object.
Jh: You the viewer is the object?
Ts: Yeah.
Jh: I like that.
Ts: Do you think your recent work is expanding on paintings you made when you started out?
Jh: Like most people I started with drawing and painting. When I was at CalArts I did performances with objects. I think the works in this show are more closely related to that performance work.
Ts: Can you give an example?
Jh: I camped and hiked for five days alone in the Mojave desert. I was keeping a dream journal and I was actively searching for my spirit animal. When I came back to los angeles I made a cast of my spirit animal which is an eastern grey squirrel and mounted it to the hood of my car.
Ts: Ok back up. Spirit animal?
Jh: Eastern grey squirrel. I tried to do some research on how to find a spirit animal, but all the books I found were kind of hokey or patronizing and nothing about what actually happens on a spirit quest. I realized that finding some authentic spirit guide to follow was not going to happen. I had to make it up based on the little information that I had, and spend some time alone. I realized that none of the animals in the mojave desert were going to be my animal. I liked it there, but I didn’t feel connected to the landscape at all. I realized my spirit animal is a domestic, wild creature that lives in urban and suburban areas.
Ts: How does that performance relate to your paintings?
Jh: The performance was both this action and the two and half years that I had that car with the hood ornament. I drove it across the country a couple of times and had conversations with people about the squirrel and having a new age identity wrapped up in my use of a car. That was all part of the work, so it started with an action that produced an object, and then that object incited further conversation and action. I think the paintings are similar in that way.
Ts: Say something about the title of the show, cutting dulls the knife.
Jh: I thought of it while cutting some paper at work. My mom always had special scissors for cutting fabric and she always told me not to use them for cutting paper – to keep them sharp. I guess I thought that if I did it even one time it could really screw them up. I also have a very tenuous relationship with producing imagery. I have this feeling that if the intent is to make something look good aesthetically then inevitably it will be mimetic of some style that is already pleasing and satisfying. If you let things be what they are then there is a possibility to have something authentic.
Ts: How does something left alone become art?
Jh: I see just about anything that happens as a result of technique and intuition or decision-making as art. I’m thinking of the mildew painting. The fabric got moldy and the mold created this pattern that is both a product of it propagating in a way that is defined biologically – necessarily for its survival. But the mold also found these parts of the fabric that had the right combination of moisture and light. It could grow in any direction but it chose this one way.
Ts: It didn’t choose though. It grew naturally in any direction it could.
Jh: I don’t want to anthropomorphise it, or make it into this conscious thing, but a different mold in the same conditions would have grown in a different way. I see the fabric as the product of something that had to happen, and something that found its own way of happening.
Ts: Do you prefer not to paint now?
Jh: No I like painting. The other day my studiomate offered me all this raw canvas, and I very gladly took it. I brought it into my studio and realized that it had been a long time since I had stretched raw canvas and put paint on it. I had somehow forgotten. I have an easel that I use all the time to rest stuff on, and this strange expectation that I’m going to sit down finally and start painting. I keep making work and it keeps not ending up that way, but I don’t necessarily have that intention.
Ts: Is it more direct to present something you found?
Jh: Yes it is more direct. I think you are making a statement more than asking a question. Everything is found. I never sat down to make a painting knowing what it was going to look like. I consider that process to be the same as finding something on the sidewalk, or in a second hand store, or under a tree. My hand in it is eventually forgotten and fairly quickly, and it ends up functioning very differently than something that was made to be shown.
Ts: Is that it?
Jh: Yeah.


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