The streets of Bushwick are grey in the depths of winter. They’re pretty grey in the summer too, but something about the cold really accentuates that pallet of city grind. If you take the infamous L train (when the track is not on fire) out to the neighborhood, you’ll get the chance to walk a length of Dekalb Avenue that gives you a feel for about three different stages of urban development all on one track: the burgeoning main strip of Wyckoff Ave., the epicenter of discount finds on Myrtle Ave., and the residential belt that extends beyond the other side of the elevated J train tracks. It is here that you’ll find a warehouse at 1115 Dekalb, which was at one point a hotbed of activity facilitated by the Bruce High Quality Foundation, and is now a cluster of artist’s studios.
We were lucky enough to get the full tour of Korakrit Arunanondchai’s (Krit) studio; located amongst the community based atmosphere of a shared space set-up where each artist’s work spills out into a shared corridor linking the enclaves. Krit’s constantly evolving art practice has taken him through music worlds, traditional mediums, fashion design and into sculpture and collaborative videos. He recently exhibited in a solo exhibition at CLEARING Gallery (NY, NY) and at a group show presented at The Sculpture Center (NY, NY).
Much of his energetic work is created in various locations – each stage of his process paintings are done where the action can be best facilitated. “I can’t bleach my works in this space, so I take that outside. And down in the basement is the wood shop. But I go to New Jersey to burn the holes in my work, and I use the subway as a place to sit and sketch – to construct compositions, draw these lines that you see here,” he explains this adventurous process while gesturing to a studio brimming full of finished denim paintings sporting burnt away sections where photographic flames show through. “Next I’m going to incorporate body painting to the canvas!”. This body painting was later brought into a collaborative performance with artists Donna Huanca and Melissa Ip at Court Square in New York called Breaking Point.
BREAKING POINT: KORAKRIT ARUNANONDCHAI (2013), Video documentation by Sex Magazine, courtesy of the artist
“2012-2555” (2012), video, courtesy of the artist
Alongside this mobilized practice of construction is a heavy emphasis on collaborative video creation. Inclusive performance has become an integral part of this work, and Krit described how this developed as we sat clustered around a computer watching snippets of a whimsical biographical series created while participating in a residency at Skowhegan. This idea of incorporating theatricality began in college at RISD, and eventually he felt a pull towards creating stages that were simultaneously reminiscent of altars. “In my sculptural installations I invited musicians to play, and there would often be some sort of performance. They became a theatre, that seemed like an ultimate for me, where the work could be the stage, and people could enter. My recent installation at The Sculpture Center was in the best way what a theatre can be. A thing to frame this experience – which is the video work.” Oh and the video work itself? It’s a combination of defining an author’s journey through a rebirth experience involving dialogue with Thai events and artists communities, humor and thought provocation – and swimming across a lake to attempt to high-five a baby bear.
Also an alumni of Columbia, Krit explained what it was like creating such vibrant deconstructed altars; environments shrouded in vines, and paintings as objects, while studying under Rirkrit Tiravanija in an environment that is, “pretty ideologically Marxist, and post-structuralist”. While looking at a digital timeline of successive works, he explained the particular thought process behind deconstructing an image and removing pictorial aspects. “Painting can be a combination of different moments. There’s a recognition of objecthood, there’s a performance element to these ‘denim fire’ paintings I’m making. I like the idea of flattening materials and moments together. The layers in Photoshop help me do that.” The depth of the image may be flattened so that all moments coincide, and because of the energy of each composition, this action becomes a bright celebratory gesture.
Video from “painting with history in a room filled with men with funny names” exhibition at CLEARING GALLERY, New York (2013), courtesy of the artist
Writer + Photographer Info
Lucia Love is an NYC based multi media artist with an eye for the whimsical. Be on the look out for her weather reportage, paintings, sculptures, and musings at www.lucialoveart.com
Anastasia Loginova is a NYC based artist who loves a good laugh, entertaining and the sun. Currently she is the US ambassador for Olafur Eliasson’s new project the Little Sun – together they aim to bring light to all in the world through solar power. Biologically from Russia, Anastasia was born in Cuba, raised in Cyprus, and lived in London and Berlin before setting sail west and settling in NYC. More on where to get your own little sun at: www.littlesun.com