in the inbetween. Interview with Daniel Weddle. Part One.
Rosebud: Hola, What do you do?
Daniel: Make art mostly. And hola is pronounced without the h. Start with the o.
Thanks. Could you be more specific?
Daniel: With how to pronounce hola?
Rosebud: No. What kind of art do you do?
Oh sure. Some nice to look at and some ugly, too.Some to think at and others just to look at and smile, maybe. I used to paint flowers constantly. I wanted to see first-hand why people paint so many flowers. I know they are nice to look at, I love flowers but I didn´t understand. You say 'Van Gogh' and a lot of people think of either him cutting off his ear, which I heard might actually have been nicked off by Gauguin with a sword, and his yellow sunflowers. Anyways, I discovered that painting flowers does put me in a good mood. I can´t speak for Van Gogh but maybe it was therapeutic for him.
How do you define a good day in the studio?
I work mostly in a friends hallway or outside in the co-junto plaza. But with the normally constant rain right now its been the hallway. But any day in my hallway is a good day. An especially good day is when I surprise myself or discover something cool about a technique or the way a certain paint or ink dries on a certain type of paper after I do some other thing i never thought of doing before. You should come over to my friend´s hallway sometime and drink a tinto with me.
O.K. I also heard someone call you a "basurero", What is that?
Yeah, that is a person who...like likes or uses the trash. Basura is trash in Spanish and you put the e-r-o on the end if your a guy or e-r-a on the end if your a chick. People who smoke bazuco, which is this evil south american style crack, are called bazukeros.
Rosebud: How do you spell that?
Weddle: I think bazuco is with a c but bazukero is with a k. That could just be a gringo lie though. I use a lot of materials from the garbage for frames, surfaces, i use glass a bunch and people are always throwing out pieces that are broken a bit or chipped. If I can pull something out from the trash and turn it into something someone somewhere might want to hang or place somewhere for some time even if only for a little time then that´s something else which makes me happy.
Rosebud: What is it like living in Colombia?
It´s crazy everyday I step out the door. I have to stay inside sometimes for a day or two to hide and recover. I´m learning all the time. The language, customs. Being a long way from where home used to be makes everything different. I breathe and draw and walk and see and seem different here. its good for you i think though i always have a feeling of being inbetween things. Those differences and gaps inbetween forgotten, known and unknown, and unknowable can spark great ideas and moments which can be either very private or collectively shared with strangers. I just found out that like pizza, you are usually expected to cut a hamburger up and eat it with your fork. This doesn´t apply when you get the hamburger in a napkin from the lady on the corner but in restaurants yes. Hamburgers can be very fancy here.
in the inbetween part 2
Rosebud: So how do you think your art has changed since coming to South America?
Weddle: I have always been interested in the act of being singled out, involuntarily by others, and through acts performed specifically by the individual. Here, I am preceded by a dozen or more presumptions and what are here stereotypical character types whenever I walk out the door. Besides being a gringo and a bit taller, blonder and whiter I am also to many people: rich, cousin to George Bush, probably carrying a handgun “like all Americans “, and completely ignorant of customs, culture and language. While learning all those things is perhaps the most enjoyable part of being an alien visitor most of the time I can´t explain over fifty-percent of what is going on around me and that does something to the way you act, think, situate yourself in the environment and for me , create and write. Isolation. Attachment to familiarity while searching out strangeness and discomfort. When you speak of being inbetween places there is usually a connotation of moving from one set place to another set place but being temporarily nowhere or at least somewhere that isn´t valued enough to even name. I don´t believe this at all. Welcome to the inbetween, I live here.
Rosebud: I really like the Nested Cages you are working on. What can you tell me about those and your ideas about place?
Weddle: People are really into keeping cages of birds here. More than I have seen in other places. Little non-descript birds, unbelievably beautiful parrots from the jungles…kidnapped, wing clipped and sad behind bars staring out a grimy window at the grimy city. And then there is the kidnapping of political figures, government officials and wealthy who are taken to the jungle and put in cages to await their fate. Additionally, the stories I hear from the people living on the street and the way they live, how they ended up on the street , what has kept them there - all led me to an image of a weakening, rusty cage re-appropriated by freed captives and ornamented and ‘nested’ as it might be if it were the natural way of things. Making a home out of your prison. Whether the nest-builder’s intention is to actually claim the space in a personal way or just to pass time there is a visible and usually enjoyable element associated with the finished product.
Rosebud: And the red, white and blue fabric that you used in –
Weddle: That cage can be taken as literally as you like, drawing from every association you can delve up… I don´t live in the U.S. anymore but sometimes I get urges to go back. All that familiarity….all of it comes back to me when I see those colors. The good and the bad. But, it leaves me feeling sad when I think of everyone there who wants to leave but can´t for some reason. Woven up tight in attachments and payments and comfortable national habits. All those same things the home and place are made up of with comfort and pleasure in mind yet…just another knotted cord holding you in place. I need constant movement, momentum.
Rosebud: You paint on glass a good deal and use other materials I don´t commonly see being used a lot. I don´t see any canvas anywhere.
Weddle: Canvas is too expensive for me and though I prefer drawing and painting on glass it began as a necessity for surface. Glass is very cheap, it can be found in the garbage like I said, and if you completely hate what you have made you can wipe it away and start again. I love glass though. There is so much more to be done with it. It is a beautiful invisible surface and it demands the cultivation of new techniques and uses. Working with glass puts you in a constant state of experimentation and discovery. That is where I want to be, looking for what is new, what can be changed, modified. Like all artists I strive to do what no one else has. To make that one picture or object or performance that can stand alone if only for a minute.
M.Rosebud- Bogotá, Colombia May 4 2009
One of three founding members of The Collected, an international artist collective representing the United States, Colombia, South Africa and Japan and currently working in Colombia. Daniel was born in Charleston, South Carolina grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennslyvania and currently lives and works in Bogotá, Colombia. Several members of The Collected have gathered in Bogotá for the months of May and June to make art for the public.