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(The following is a conversation between Ruby Sky Stiler and David Kennedy-Cutler.  After I interviewed Talia for this site, I demanded that she take on the role of interviewer and begin a series of Q and A sessions leading God knows where.  She interviewed Ruby.  Ruby performed exceptionally well.  She's been forced to conduct an interview of her own.  She had no choice.  I made her.  She chose David Kennedy-Cutler.)  

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No More Right Now Forever (1), 2009, Plexiglas, 91 x 41 x 13 inches

February 2010

Ruby Sky Stiler: In your recent solo show at Derek Eller Gallery, you made invisible sculptures. Are you currently bored by visible sculptures, are you prejudiced?

David Kennedy-Cutler: So you are saying that I am a Supremacist?  It is funny that you point that out, because that goes to the core of what the show attempted, or rather, didn't attempt, since it seemed barely there.  I am kind of a reactionary, with a residual stream of angst running through me, and I guess this show was my antidote to a world so full of stuff.  So much of the creative world seems to be focused on competitive attention gathering, spectacle, and so many people are metaphorically screaming to be heard.  Artists are mirroring every other facet of society, every other kind of career, and I just didn't want to be complicit.  I didn't want to depict anything, illustrate anything, or represent anything.  I just wanted to DO something, so that the show was evidence of something haven taken place, and this gallery was just like this haunted place, like filled with the spirits of sculptures that once existed.  So it was an invisible show, and it worked:  people just walked right on by the gallery thinking it was in between shows.

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No More Right Now Forever (Installation at Derek Eller Gallery) 2009

RSS: I sound super high when I say this, but these objects seem like they relate to, and alter, the existing reality that surrounds them. I can see that being connected to the economic approach you're describing through utilizing the qualities that are available and inherent to the space. But it can feel distinctly trippy peering through one. Are you interested in creating something experiential, do you think about that quality of movement in the recent sculptures? 

DKC: Part of that feeling -- you could call it trippy or even disorienting -- comes from the ability of the singular pieces to dematerialize into their surroundings.  Each piece had to be a separate experience within the gallery.  They had to stand on their own, as opposed to being fully reliant on the installation. They are hard to locate with your eyes, and the space, and the people around them start to become part of the piece, like a mirage.  That experiential situation means that the pieces can never be quite grasped in their entirety.  They can barely be photographed.  And that movement, that comes from my movements with the sculptures.  I was literally wrestling with these huge pieces of plexiglas, pushing and pulling, using my knees, hands, shoulders -- even my head -- sometimes, to twist the piece.  They were documents of a private performance, in my studio.  The process and the result are fused into solid form.  I wanted to have the process photographed, so that there was another kind of documentation that showed how these strange forms came to be, to make them less alien.  So Mellissa Huber took these incredible shots.  And when Derek Eller first saw the photos, he thought they looked like photographs of a musician performing, but instead of microphones and instruments, I've got a respirator and extension cords and heat guns.  And I guess, in a way that altered-state condition of the work comes full circle, because it seems to me that my first desires for altered-state experiences came from music, seeing music live, mashed up against the stage, bodies crashing everywhere, wanting this visceral full body experience with sound and vibration and vision.

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Making of No More Right Now Forever, Photograph: Mellissa Huber (CLICK IMAGE TO SEE ENTIRE SERIES)

RSS: I’m curious about your approach to materials, they are so specific and seem to hold significant meaning. Generally speaking, are you initially drawn to the inherent qualities of a material, or does the material serve to illustrate your idea?

DKC: You are talking about my use of dirt, bubble gum, ashes, compact discs and things like that?  I am obviously drawn to materials that have a symbolic place in our culture.  I think that I choose materials that have a quality where they can be manipulated, so that they can mimic things like gold leaf, clay, resin, or a more traditional material.  I'm an alchemist in my studio.  I think: what would heat do to this, what would a chemical do to this, how can I make motor oil into a solid, but have it retain its menace?  How can I recreate geological effects using Compact Discs?  The answer of course is to compress them with heat, just like the way rocks are created.  The conceptual associations with materials are there, in the material itself, but then I feel obligated to do something to the material, to give it autonomy, so it becomes kind of, I guess, transcendent.   Maybe, I even mean to make it alive? Reanimation?

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Geologies, Apologies, Phenomenologies, 2009, archival inkjet prints, Plexiglas, heat-fused CD

RSS: Adding on to that, it seems like most of the materials that you use are really low, if not distinctly, cartoonishly worthless. CD’s are basically trash. Chewed bubble gum. Dirt. Broken sticks. Even Plexiglas could be viewed as a trashy version of glass. You’ve always lived on as little means as possible in an effort to work less for “the man”, so that you can work in your studio more. Most months, you’re shoes are made almost entirely of duct tape–it’s pretty impressive. Is there something about the humble nature of these materials that you find compelling, perhaps as an extension of an ethic in the manner you live your life? Is there something just plain practical about using inexpensive and readily available materials?

DKC:I think that sometimes when artworks are really vital, you feel the personality of the maker in the object.  And I guess the way you are describing me, I come through the things I make, and there is a certain raggedness to my work.  In order to realize my ideas, I’ve often had to go beyond my means, which entails a lot of sacrifice of comfort.  And that determination, I think is reflected in the immediacy of my materials and the way I use them, in order to again portray the very immediate, the very visceral.  I’ve been pursuing this strategy of embodying an alternative vision, an undercurrent of the downtrodden, which is comprised of these broadly symbolic and ubiquitous objects.  But not every object is for me.  It has to have a certain quality that is elemental, or primal in a way, but is wholly unromantic.  Using the CD’s and the Plexiglas has been a way to use these ultra-synthetic petroleum products that are illuminating to the spirit of contemporary culture, but also used in ways that reference the natural, the organic, the stuff of the Earth’s geologic strata, all the way back to the messiness of our own bodies.

RSS:  And now for the question we’ve been waiting breathlessly for: You’re known for your abundant, curly coiffure, how do you keep your hair looking its very best?

DKC: My girlfriend sits me down once a week inspects my mop, and then she snips off any wispy hairs that are getting too ambitious.  She is the master of head harmony.

RSS: That’s What She Said.

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No More Right Now Forever (4), 2009, Plexiglas, 92 x 21 x 18 inches















CLICK TO VIEW PHOTOGRAPHS SHOT BY MELLISSA HUBER OF DAVID KENNEDY-CUTLER AT WORK
















Johnny Misheff