Sarah Lehrer-Graiwer: You had a show at Kharms & Kraut in Vancouver earlier this year. Can you describe it?
Mag Earwhig: Kharms & Kraut has two adjacent spaces. For my show, “So Much Ink,” one room had works—about ten or so paintings, drawings, and sculptures—that I made realizing or taking cues from specific aesthetic, conceptual, and compositional passages of analysis I found in art criticism and reviews. It came out of aporia generating impetus out of thin air and I liked the idea of relocating a critic’s position being able to respond to something directly that already exists out there—a kind of reverse dynamic. Derivative and generative. First and second hand. I was having ethical, no, philosophical, no, attention problems or really just some inability, some block against making fiction and playing the contrivance game. It was the last in a chain of projects directly, baldly, and dumbly based on historical and current ekphrastic writings and descriptive or prescriptive art texts by “experts” in the field. I was thinking about the pandering impulse, the desire to please and flipping shades of failure.
A hammock was suspended across the entrance to the room. Everyday, speakers played stuff recorded the night before in the space. The lighting in the other room was quite dim, your eyes had to adjust to see that there was one painting that had been taken off the wall and propped on the floor with a yoga mat opposite. The floor was mirrored darkly and the room was sound proof and could be locked from the inside for privacy, for concentration or TM.
SLG: What direction did that show point your practice in? What are you working on now?
ME: My work has evolved/devolved/involved since that show into a severely atomized thing. I accepted the absence of a program. It doesn’t yet add up to anything like a new body of work and it may never, which would be fine too. I have begun a kind of sabbatical from art showing, if not art making, and I may not return, I’m not sure, and that uncertainty is actually the most exciting thing to consider in a while and makes it easier to do what I do, whatever that is... In other words, I’m drifting into a prolonged hiatus.
SLG: So you are refraining from art in a calculated way?
ME: Yes and no because I still have a daily practice—the idea of dailiness itself is what I am most interested in at the moment. I’m in a recoup, regroup period taking form around daily encounters with uncertainty and unsolicited doses of self-doubt. There’s this letter Salinger wrote to a friend where he says, as he does in other ways elsewhere, that “the trick is to use the disbeliefs in the work, not shy away from them,” and Barthes wrote to himself, “I’m trusting myself to the banality that is in me.” It turns out fifty-eight is ripe with perfect banalities.
SLG: So you’re working on a private dialogue.
ME: Yes—passing inner ramblings, static, and silence. And reading. It’s a fucking drag, a tedious bitch, this being-in-your-head-ness which feels like a slow-motion frenzy in quicksand and requires starting over again and again, every day I end up having to start from scratch and muster purpose and resolve and direction anew, over and over again, around the landmarks of my ineptness and cumulative inabilities and blanknesses.
I am trying to get fully in the frame of mind of writing and working “for the drawer.” I’m always working towards detachment. I’m making some progress. But I have been making some small watercolors—cause I heard somewhere that the best have to be willing to do the bad stuff too…
SLG: Will you show the bad stuff too?
ME: One way or another I always do.
Images: Mag Earwhig's Studio. Mag Earwhig, "one brushload and cut cucumber," 2010. "the second is "sculptural obscenity #7," 2010. Watercolor.