the back room of an art gallery
where artists and art lovers hang
Deric Carner, If It Die,
2014, vinyl and flowers, 48" x 48"
Deric Carner, Stay, Just for a little while,
2014, installation view
Deric Carner, Wild Animals I Have Known,
2014, mounted c-print, 22" x 18"
© Courtesy of the Artist and Romer Young Gallery
Deric Carner, Sexual Outlaw,
2014, print on metal, 16" diameter
The Young Don't Cry (Sal Mineo),
2014, C-Print, 24x30"
© Courtesy of the Artist and Romer Young Gallery
Deric Carner, The Light that Failed (Dutch Hand),
2012, Acrylic on panel, 20” x 20”
© Courtesy of the Artist and Romer Young Gallery
Deric Carner, The Light that Failed,
2012, installation view
Deric Carner, Melancolia,
2012, fleece-backed tablecloth, tape, stretcher bars, 44" x 44"
Deric Carner (b. Arlington, Virginia, USA, 1975; lives in New York) received an MFA at the Piet Zwart Institute, Rotterdam, NL, 2005; with a concurrent MA from the University of Plymouth, UK, 2005, and a BFA in Studio Art from the University of California at Santa Cruz, 1998. He has participated in group and solo exhibitions including: Repetition Island, Centre Pompidou, Paris, 2010; Range Rover, Lo...[more]
Interview with Deric Carner
Deric Carner VS. Andy Ritchie - Artslant's Andy Ritchie met Deric Carner in early April at his local in the Mission to fumble over some word games. The rules were simple: Andy dropped a single answer in front of him, followed by three or four questions to bounce off that answer. Repeat X 8. Diverging from the given answer and questions was encouraged. Despite prodding him toward free association, his responses were very measured and wary. Deric was intent on listening to all questions and finding the most correct match. He is an editor, an organizer, and a creator of beautiful, slow-broken fragments of language, both verbal and visual.
Andy Ritchie: Here’s a question: Will you ever pay off your student loans? Another question: Are you loyal to sans serif fonts for some inexplicable reason? Another question: Is it better to search or to know? That’s where that “know” comes in. And the last one: Is the Netherlands a good place to live? That’s more for my own personal edification.
Deric Carner: I think it’s answer 3…question 3.
AR: Question 3: Is it better to search or to know?
AR: It’s better to know?
DC: It’s always better to be productive than to be having produced.
AR: So it’s better to…could you expound on that a bit? I’m curious to know why you would rather know than search.
DC: Oh, I’m sorry. I read it the other way.
AR: Oh, you’d rather search than know. That’s fine.
DC: All negative are positive though. Yes, because you gave me a question, and I inverted it to the opposite…but it’s the best question.
AR: That’s totally fair game. Sometimes I want you to think “I can’t answer any of these.”
Answer: That’s an excellent question. Thanks for asking that.
AR: And the first question is: Why is it important for your words and images to appear fractured? The second question: How many languages are at play in your work, and do you understand them? Third question: Why is Ping Pong Gallery so hard to get to? Last question: How does one land a show in Estonia, or Serbia for that matter?
DC: That’s an excellent question. Thanks for asking.
AR: You’re welcome.
DC: Fragment is one of my favorite words, which is near fracture, which is near shard.
AR: So you prefer fragment over fracture?
DC: Yes. There’s a violence to fracture. Where fragment is like…
AR: It’s more passive.
DC: It’s…I mean passive is not the opposite of violent. The time scale is different. Fracture is something that’s done to something, and you can almost hear the sound of it. Fragment is something like…a sidewalk fragments over time, you know, it’s like a city crumbles. Language slowly deteriorates. It isn’t broken. It isn’t my goal to break language. It’s my goal to look at how language fragments, whether natural or unnatural. So that’s a good question.
AR: I’m glad you liked it.
DC: I’m glad you asked it.
Answer: Flat, white, and simple is all I have to say.
DC: Oh dear.
AR: Now this one isn’t entirely serious. It’s more just to, like I said, provoke, and if you want to completely deviate, feel free. First question: What are your favorite properties of paper, and why do you like to work on it? Or…what are your favorite properties of working on paper? Second question: What drives you to show in galleries rather than more public venues? C: Describe your ideal woman. And D: Describe your ideal man. I don’t want to be biased here.
DC: Describe your ideal man.
AR: Flat, white, and simple? I’m satisfied. You care to elaborate on that?
DC: I actually don’t like having to answer that question, even though that’s the best question ‘cause I’m not one of those people that believes my biography is necessarily of interest, especially that sort of biography in terms of reading the artwork. Although…there are elements in terms of my experience with contemporary society that’s specific to that experience—travel especially. But I think it’s symptomatic as opposed to one of these things where you seek out some kind of specific personality trait or type of essentialist…so it’s kind of irrelevant.
AR: It’s definitely irrelevant to [my reading of] your work.
DC: No, but actually I’m glad you brought that up. I think the show we’re talking about actually has this kind of sub-line of disco-noir aesthetics and references that is actually not present in anything else I’ve done up to now.
AR: So in that way you’d consider it more personal?
DC: No, I would consider it more relevant to the question of whether I would date a man or a woman.
Answer: We all get together on the weekend, and one thing leads to another.
AR: You can imagine what was going through my head as I was thinking up these answers. I like to play with language. Anyway, How does your work with the collective Kunsole manifest itself? The second question: How do you and the rest of the San Francisco art community heroically save the Bay Area from cultural irrelevance? Last question—this one only has three: I’ve heard you’re quite a tomcat. Describe a typical night out with Deric & Co. By the way, that might just be hearsay.
DC: I sure hope it’s hearsay. I like question number one, although I would say that…you know we’re all artists so we don’t believe in weekends.
AR: So you don’t keep a regular Monday-to-Friday, 9-to-5 type of week?
DC: I work for myself. I’m always on and I’m always off.
AR: And the same for the rest of you?
DC: Well, the others teach and have odd jobs so they’re on strange schedules as well. We often get together on Mondays.
AR: And you get together and kind of intuitively brainstorm?
DC: Sure, we get together and we put things next to each other ‘cause we have our things. We often talk about Kunsole as being a place to put residual materials. We each have our own separate practices that are supposed to be primary. But there is a lot of excess material that doesn’t fit in with a more cohesive program that are our own practices. So these we put into the Kunsole. We put them next to each other and when they line up we find these interesting connections that are really serendipitous, and that’s what exciting about working with other people.
AR: So your individual work is more…maybe rigidly controlled than the Kunsole work?
DC: The public end of my individual work is very much controlled. And then the Kunsole is much more liberated in terms of its intention versus its result. But I’m always working on strange projects that don’t have an output necessarily.
AR: That was helpful because I don’t know how I would’ve asked a regular question and gotten that answer.
AR: And you know Europe is still on my mind, still kinda fresh with me. With your experiences, I thought I might see which questions would be answered with Europe. First question: Where did you find your ground as a professional artist? Second question: Where do your parents live? Third question: Where did your hard-edged, flat-shaded imagery first develop? Fourth question: Name the continent north of Africa.
DC: The most clear question would be Where do your parents live? Which is Europe…Paris.
AR: So everything else has just been a slowly developing process?
DC: It’s more nuanced, which might suggest that wasn’t a good test because I got away with the easiest answer.
AR: Well, you know it is the continent north of Africa as well.
DC: That’s true. But these things are relative.
Answer: Because color should be used carefully.
AR: The first question is Why is the American flag still red, white, and blue when there are so many colors we can now synthesize? The second question is Why do only four works on display at Ping Pong Gallery utilize color, and only blue and green at that? Third question: People tell me I shouldn’t leave my [Oakland] apartment wearing all red. Why is that? And the last question: Why are black, white, and grey technically referred to as shades rather than colors?
DC: I think the one about my work is probably a good question. I can definitely elaborate on that. When you use black and white you sort of reset the register, you bring everything down, and then when you add just a little bit of color it’s this bump that really makes that color work, whereas if it were all color in all spaces it no longer has value. So you give weight to that. And then it’s also a pleasure. You kind of have to earn the pleasure by going through the first…the first wall is all black and white. And then you get to this color, and then that’s the piece that’s the most amount of escape. You get to this point where you feel it instead of it being gratuitous.
AR: Do you try to treat color as more of a privilege that you should kind of ration in terms of how you compose a picture? Do you try to ration color and use it more just to complement and aid the black and white composition?
DC: Well, I mean color has meaning, and when you’re trying to deal with very reduced spaces’ meaning, you just want to be careful with whatever you add. It’s not just the color in the images that have that attitude. It’s like two or three elements on a white field, so it’s very much Element One: read it. Element Two: read it. So the color, it’s very important.
AR: I agree.
DC: It should be used carefully.
Answer: Yes, frighteningly so.
AR: First question: Does it bother you when I say I can see the pencil lines under your drawing, ya tracer? The second question: Did MC Escher serve as an early influence for your work? Third question: Are you surprised when people pick at your text like it’s Letraset letters? Because that’s the image I get from it. And the last question: Is scientific and technical jargon gaining credibility as a standalone language?
DC: I’d like to make a comment on the first question even though that’s not the right answer. I very purposefully leave pencil because you are supposed to know that it is the dumbest text that you put up. You know, it’s mechanical text. That’s what it is. It has no pretensions to be calligraphic text. So it’s carefully preserved in those amounts, and some of them obviously have a lot more so they’re going to see that. And I think because the black and white is so bold, when you walk in you do have this feeling that it’s perfect, but you have to get up to it and you’re like, “Oh, it’s not”. It’s been produced, it’s handmade, and that’s very much the point of doing them. Otherwise, I would just get them printed. So, ixne on the answer. But I also thought the last question was good. I’m very interested in this idea of language games, which is the Lyotard book about how you create areas of language that pulls you away from the greater language that’s specialized, and I’m totally into that. I don’t think it’s frightening; I think it’s fascinating. Another good question with another nuanced change of answer.
AR: That’s why I use pretty pointed language here also, because I wanted to…I was trying to be contrary [to what little I knew about you].
DC: You were trying to invade my language.
AR: Basically. I thought you’d appreciate it.
DC: I do, but it makes me really aware that even if the response is correct in intention, I have my words of which I’m very fond. I’m also really excited with the idea of generic life. It’s like you live a life where you can find your sensitivity within generic forms. And you’ve done that here with generic answers. I have to weasel my way in there.
AR: You need to “fragment” them a bit?
DC: Well, in a way it’s like I need to redraw your answers, and therefore they’re your language and my hand, the kind of space where I’ve embodied this generic form.
Answer: The understanding and misunderstanding of signs.
AR: And the first question: Can you distill your work into a few words? And I’m sure that if you did you would choose more carefully than the words that I have placed down. The second question: Why are California drivers so bad? Third question: What topics to art theorists continually botch? And the last question: As images gradually replace text, what will remain for communication in the 21st century?
DC: I like the last one best.
AR: Is that about as straightforward as you’d like to put it, or do you have anything to add to that?
DC: I think it’s pretty good. I mean, it’s not very exciting to have understanding and misunderstanding because they’re the same. Maybe the reading and invention.
AR: Oh, so you don’t like the repetition of understanding and misunderstanding.
DC: Well, you just tempted me to edit it.
AR: Exactly. See, if I just let you sit in front of it long enough, you’ll find some way to tinker with it.
ArtSlant would like to thank Deric Carner for his assistance in making this interview possible.