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'rak'rüm (noun);
the back room of an art gallery
where artists and art lovers hang
Sameshima
Untitled (Numbers, Ode to Johnny Rio), Dean SameshimaDean Sameshima,
Untitled (Numbers, Ode to Johnny Rio),
2008, Painting - Acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas, 115 x 75 cm (42 x 29.5 inches)
© Courtesy the artist and Peres Projects
In Between Days (Without you), Dean SameshimaDean Sameshima, In Between Days (Without you),
15 C-type prints, Image size 3 1/2 x 5 1/4 inches (8 8/9 x 13 1/3 cm)
© Courtesy the artist and Peres Projects
Cop Head 69, Dean SameshimaDean Sameshima, Cop Head 69,
2006, Acrylic and silk screen ink on canvas, 93 x 152 cm (76 x 60 inches)
© Courtesy the artist and Peres Projects
Willing and not Able, Dean SameshimaDean Sameshima, Willing and not Able,
2006, Acrylic and silk screen on canvas, Diptych, each 193 x 152 cm (76 x 60 inches)
© Courtesy the artist and Peres Projects
Safe Flirtation #1, 2007, Dean SameshimaDean Sameshima, Safe Flirtation #1, 2007,
2007, Painting-Acrylic and silkscreen on canvas, 193 x 140 cm (76 x 55 inches)
© Courtesy the artist and Peres Projects
Beyond the Zero installation view, Dean SameshimaDean Sameshima,
Beyond the Zero installation view,
2007, Peres Projects, Athens (temporary space)
© Courtesy the artist and Peres Projects
Untitled (Griffith Park) (detail), Dean SameshimaDean Sameshima,
Untitled (Griffith Park) (detail),
2007, 36 inkjet prints on paper, Dimensions vary with installation
© Courtesy the artist and Peres Projects
Untitled (Numbers, Ode to Johnny Rio), Dean SameshimaDean Sameshima,
Untitled (Numbers, Ode to Johnny Rio),
2008, Acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas, 117 x 80 cm (46 x 31.5 inches)
© Courtesy the artist and Peres Projects
Untitled (Numbers, Ode to Johnny Rio), Dean SameshimaDean Sameshima,
Untitled (Numbers, Ode to Johnny Rio),
2008, Painting - Acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas, 69.5 x 83.5 cm (27.3 x 33 inches)
© Courtesy the artist and Peres Projects
Untitled (Numbers, Ode to Johnny Rio), Dean SameshimaDean Sameshima,
Untitled (Numbers, Ode to Johnny Rio),
2008, Painting - Acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas, 54 x 44 cm (21.25 x 17.3 inches)
© Courtesy the artist and Peres Projects
Untitled (Numbers, Ode to Johnny Rio), Dean SameshimaDean Sameshima,
Untitled (Numbers, Ode to Johnny Rio),
2008, Painting - Acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas, 50 x 45 cm (23.6 x 17.7 inches)
© Courtesy the artist and Peres Projects
Untitled (Numbers, Ode to Johnny Rio), Dean SameshimaDean Sameshima,
Untitled (Numbers, Ode to Johnny Rio),
2008, Painting - Acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas, 53 x 79 cm (21 x 31 inches)
© Courtesy the artist and Peres Projects
Dean Sameshima, an LA artist recently transplanted to Berlin, works in photographic media focusing on the contemporary state of gay men and the history of gay media. His work has a vintage fee; some of it, like ‘Men at Play,' reminiscent of the 50's, while other work, such as his John Rechy silk screens, summon Warhol in the 70's. Sameshima often works from found images, whether from magazines or...[more]


RackRoom
Interview with Dean Sameshima

Dean Sameshima; Work, Obsessions, Los Angeles and Berlin

Dean Sameshima, an LA artist recently transplanted to Berlin, works in photographic media focusing on the contemporary state of gay men and the history of gay media. His work has a vintage feel; some of it, like ‘Young Men at Play,' reminiscent of the 50's, while other work, such as his John Rechy silk screens, summon Warhol in the 70's. Sameshima often works from found images, whether from magazines or the internet, but it's his slight (or sometimes vast) manipulations and transformations from found media to digital prints, silk screens, paintings and books, that make the images all his own. Dean's photographic work mirrors the obsessive nature and style of his practice with appropriated imagery.

Dean's exhibition at Peres Projects, Los Angeles, which has traveled from the space in Berlin. Numbers II (Ode to Johnny Rio) opens on September 6, 2008, from 6-9pm and runs through November 15, 2008. Visit Peres Projects at 969 Chung King Rd, Los Angeles, for more information and images of Dean's work, or go to www.peresprojects.com.


Dean Sameshima,Untitled (Numbers, Ode to Johnny Rio), 2008, Painting - Acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas, 69.5 x 83.5 cm (27.3 x 33 inches); Courtesy the artist and Peres Projects


Sasha Bergstrom-Katz: First, can you explain the background of your show, Numbers II (Ode to Johnny Rio)? I know it is in reference to John Rechy's 1967 novel, Numbers, but what about the novel appealed to you?

Dean Sameshima: Well I liked the idea of this aging man, setting up a certain number of men to "conquer" at a place he once frequented when was much younger. Each had to be a different person and Johnny was the one to get a blowjob only...not give it, nor fuck, etc. I mean the novel is more complicated than that, for instance it deals with issues that gay men TODAY still deal with. "Types", self-esteem, affirmation, struggle with age, etc...these are things I can definitely relate to myself. Somewhat of an autobiographical nature.

SBK: You've worked in a variety of media. What about this body of work called for silk-screening instead of digital prints of John Rechy?

DS:
Well I have been working a lot with silk-screening lately and it is still a photographic process. Also few of the images came from the internet (low-res), but we were able to easier adjust it in photo-shop to burn onto the actual screens... Also I have done a body of work called "Figures of Lust Furtively Encountered in the Nights" and all those were printed straight from low-res internet images. The quality was really bad, but that was the part of the concept for that work.

SBK: The show was first exhibited in Berlin and now in Los Angeles. Do you think it may be received differently in LA?


DS: Conceptually I don't think of it being such an issue

Dean Sameshima, Willing and not Able, 2006, Acrylic and silk screen on canvas, Diptych, each 193 x 152 cm (76 x 60 inches); Courtesy the artist and Peres Projects

SBK: Will you describe what led you to the exhibition Numbers I (Dean's previous body of paintings/silkscreens, in the style of follow the number's drawings) and its connection to Numbers II? What do you think the relationship is between the two? Is the second at all reliant upon the first?

DS:
Well again, "Numbers I", was a sort of going back to the days when men used the various colored handkerchiefs while going out. I love the codification aspect and also remember the days when I was very promiscuous as well. Also the hanky code is not so popular anymore. Especially with the internet now...I liked the idea of men going to a club/bars, which in those days would be loud, and just look at a guys back pocket and already know whether you and they were sexually compatible. So I used these rare, connect the dots pages in 70's/80's Drummer magazines as a sort of hint about promiscuity and numbers, like the novel...how many men have you slept with? Can you remember? And the I idea of "connecting", promiscuity, etc..

SBK: Your work deals with obsession and seriality - have you had this interest since childhood? If so, how did it manifest when you were young?

DS:
I don't think so. I am quite obsessive, but not sure it started in childhood.

Dean Sameshima, Untitled (Numbers, Ode to Johnny Rio), 2008, Painting - Acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas, 53 x 79 cm (21 x 31 inches); Courtesy the artist and Peres Projects


SBK: One thing I'm always interested in is process. Where do you start? How much planning do you do for each body of work and how much comes along as you make it? Do you have assistants to help you?

DS: Various avenues. For the "Numbers I" show I was inspired while looking through my large collection of vintage gay publications, I was looking through stacks of Drummer Magazines and recognized this one particular page which read: "CREATE YOUR OWN WORK OF EROTIC ART WITH EROTIC DOTS". And that got me thinking about how to use this "ready-made" in some way without it being overtly erotic. I was also thinking, of course, of Warhol. So I thought of how to use these images via silk-screen, but how and what colors would I use: the out of date "hanky code".. So it took a while but then I got going on it with the help of an assistant in LA, Justin Michel.

Other times I read, look at catalogues from the past...sometimes I can just be walking or looking around and something just hits me. Other times I will look at my past work and see how I can elaborate on what I have already done. That's how I came up with "Numbers II". The "connection" with the actual novelist...


Dean Sameshima,YMAP (Sun #1), 2005, Light jet print in white frame, 30 x 23.4642 in. (76.2 x 59.588 cm); Courtesy of the artist


SBK: About your move to Berlin, what made you move there and how long do you think you will stay? Did it have something to do with Peres Projects being there?

DS:
I have been living in LA my whole life, and Javier sensed that I was in a very complacent routine in LA, and he suggested I live here (in Berlin) for 2 months to make work and finalize my first show at the gallery. Well needless to say I really liked it, the lifestyle is much different. I do still get home-sick, but it just all fell into place. I stayed an extra month, found an AMAZING assistant and a fantastic apartment. So I went back to LA for a week and packed up a few things...

SBK: What brought you to the Peres Projects in the first place? How has working with Javier Peres influenced you and how has it changed over the years? How about the other artists? What is your relationship like with them?


DS: It was organic. I had never really heard of Javier Peres as his first gallery was in SF and he only had 2 shows, and Paul Foss emailed us saying Javier and I should hang out when he's in LA as he thought we would really get along. I had no idea I would show with him. We just had such a great time hanging out, same sick sense of humor and just got along. At one point I was preparing to set a date to show with another gallery in L.A. and Javier said "What do you mean?" and I said "What do you mean, what do I mean?" and well, it didn't take much convincing as he was not only someone I got along with but strongly believed in him as he does in me. He is like a brother to me now!

The other artists and staff...we all get along. A lot of the time we are like one silly dysfunctional family!

Dean Sameshima, Safe Flirtation #1, 2007, Painting-Acrylic and silkscreen on canvas, 193 x 140 cm (76 x 55 inches), Courtesy the artist and Peres Projects


Quick answers:

Current obsession:
Cady Noland

Biggest change from LA to Berlin:
The weather and there is NO even slightly decent Mexican food here!

Top 3 places in LA:
Malo, on Sunset
Trader Joe's, Silverlake
The Eagle, Silverlake

Worst place you've ever been:

Basel, Switzerland....boring boring, boring!

Favorite TV show:
In Germany? "Das Perfekte Promi Dinner"
In America, Dateline's "To Catch a Predator"!!

Best friend:
In Berlin, Javier Peres
In Los Angeles, Lecia Dole Recio/Erin Cassidy

Last person you ever want to run into:
John McCain

Favorite fashion trend, current or otherwise:
I don't follow the trends. My uniform is usually a ¾ sleeve baseball shirt under a t-short-sleeved shirt, and lately I have been wearing a lot of tartan and plaid button-up shirts and jeans.

Most important movie/book/tv show...from your childhood:

When cable FIRST came out in America it was called ON TV. And one night, as my parents had their weekly poker night, I snuck upstairs into their room turned it on and it happened to be, of all things, Fassbinder's "Querelle", this was in1983/84? As a child it was like watching my first gay porn. Now its one of my favorite movies but for different reasons...

First memory:

Can't remember.

Your sign and what you think it means:

I'm a TRIPLE Gemini...I think it means im obsessive and just plain crazy!

Most dangerous thing ever attempted:

Falling in love

Favorite porn genre:
Oh, anything with a REAL narrative to it. Stuff from the 70's/early 80's before men started to shave all their body hair and looked like they took steroids. Also love amateur stuff.

Cutest boy:
Hidetoshi Nakata

Cutest girl:
Ai Tominaga

Thing you hated since you were a child and still hate:
RACISM

Worst famous artist:
I can't name names...

Best unknown artist:

I think Peter Roehr, a very young artist in the 60's who died at the age of 24 and only became widely exhibited here in Europe after his death. I think a wider group of artists need to remember his works...look him up.

Scientology or Kabbalah:
Kabbalah if I had to choose out of the 2

More influenced by art/artists or pop culture?

Both

What is fair game?
Me


ArtSlant would like to thank Dean Sameshima for his assistance in making this interview possible.

- Sasha Bergstrom-Katz

FORMER RACKROOMERS

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