The work of Erica Eyres and David Ostrowski is on view from November 2 - December 22, 2007 in a joint solo exhibition at Fette’s Gallery in Culver City, CA. If you haven’t yet been to Fette’s Gallery, you should have a look. Even though it is in the gallery-heavy Culver City, Fette’s Gallery is certainly off the beaten path. It is located in a house in a residential neighborhood and the exhibitions are hung in what may or may not be Fette’s own living room. The gallery’s mission is self described as being a “laboratory for the arts that will allow you to participate in dialogues made between artists working outside of the city, and artists working in the realm of California.” Fette has even agreed to donate 10% of each sale to Doctors Without Borders.
Grouped under the title Shut Up Shut Up Shut Up, Erica Eyres presents a group of ballpoint pen drawings of women who look alternately glamorous and misguided although all are somehow deceptively deformed and misshapen. In addition Eyres has a video reel of ‘commercials’ in which the artist herself becomes different characters both imagined and parodied. In the short loop you will see characters that beckon your late night call, eat poop, have a dream to sing and have otherwise gone without much dental work. While her drawings are dark, privately obsessive and sexy, her performative videos are absurd and perversely funny.
Equally related and unrelated to Eyres’s and Ostrowski’s new work is the American artist Paul Thek, who while teaching undergraduates at the Cooper Union in the 1980’s, developed a survey questionnaire that is sometimes referred to as his ‘Teaching Notes’. Both Erica Eyres and David Ostrowski have here submitted to his questions.
Questions Presented to ERICA EYRES by PAUL THEK
Name: Erica Eyres
Birth Date, Place of Birth: I was born in Winnipeg, Canada in 1980
Position in family: Only child
Nationality: Canadian but I live in Glasgow, Scotland
Education: BFA, University of Manitoba; MFA, Glasgow School of Art
Parents: My parents are both from Winnipeg, my mom is a psychiatric nurse and my dad was a child psychologist and worked for the school division.
Where do you now live? With whom? For how long?
I have been living in a tenement flat in Glasgow with my flat mate and boyfriend for a couple of years. They are both Canadian.
What income do you have? From what source? What property do you own?
I mostly live off the sales of drawings, and grants. I don’t own any property.
What kind of art do you like?
I like a lot of things but I can never seem to remember them when asked. My favorite artists are Diane Arbus, Richard Prince, and Harmony Korine. I also really like Paul McCarthy, Mike Kelly and Raymond Pettibon. And Vanessa Beecroft, and…. I think there are others but I can’t remember.
I listen to pretty much everything. Right now I’m really into Gladys Knight and the Pips. My favorite song is Crying by Roy Orbison. When I was a kid my favorite singer was Buddy Holly, and I still really love him.
What do you read? How often?
I read fiction and art books sometimes. Right now I’m reading a book that’s about sorority girls in America. My favorite writer is Flannery O’Connor. I try to read all the time, but sometimes when I’m busy I can’t concentrate and have to just go to sleep.
Do you buy books? Records?
I buy books and records when I can afford them. I bought a record player about six months ago and went on a record buying binge, but have tried to cut down since then.
What is your favorite color?
Black. Is that considered a color?
What do you do on a date?
Get nervous and talk too much. Or if I don’t want to be there I just plan ways out.
What is the purpose of dating?
I don’t know.
Do you believe in premarital sex?
I guess so, since I’ve never tried to refrain from it.
What happens after death?
I haven’t found out yet. My dad always told me that nothing happens.
Tell us about a close friend.
My best friend is another artist in Glasgow named Sigga Bjorg. She’s from Iceland and we did our MFA together. We usually just drink coffee or alcohol and laugh really loud and call each other Bitch and Other Bitch. I’m not sure which one is which. Sometimes we drink Campari and orange juice.
Tell us about someone who inspires you.
TV. I don’t get to watch it much, but when I can watch something like Dr. Phil or a bad reality show I feel like I can’t take in everything fast enough.
Tell us about the most exciting thing you ever saw, did.
I don’t know if I can say what the most exciting thing ever was. I saw David Lynch talk in Glasgow a couple weeks ago and was pretty excited about that.
How many rooms are there in your home?
Uh… 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. 6 I think.
Do you have your own room? Do you share it? With whom?
I share my room with my boyfriend.
What does your room look like?
It’s pretty big and its kind of turquoise colored. I would like to paint it but I can’t be bothered cause we don’t own it. I also really hate this textured wallpaper that’s on it. But it’s a tenement building so it has really high ceilings and really nice moldings on around the edges… I think it’s cornicing. And the windows are really big.
On what do you sleep? In what? In what position?
On a bed, that’s in my room, and lying down.
Do you use perfumes or deodorants?
I’ve just started wearing that perfume called Insolence that Hillary Swank models for. I think my boyfriend hates it.
What style or look do you prefer?
I usually mostly wear black but I don’t think I’m Goth or anything like that. I try to wear other colors but I find it difficult.
Are you interested in sports? Which? How often?
I used to play field hockey when I was in high school. I jog but I actually hate team sports. I don’t watch them either, except sometimes I watch the rodeo when I go home for Christmas. I use to swim but the lifeguard there was too good-looking so I got too nervous and began to hate it.
Do you believe in abortion? Do your parents?
I’m not against it if that’s what you mean. I believe in pro choice, and my parents are too.
What is your worst physical feature? Your best?
My teeth. I’ve always hated my teeth. If I ever have lots of money I’m going to get fake and perfect teeth. I guess my eyes are my best feature but I don’t know.
What annoys you most in others?
When people have no empathy and are too self-absorbed.
What kind of teacher do you prefer?
One of my favorite teachers was my painting teacher in college because he just let us do whatever we wanted, and it was the first time that I was forced to think seriously about what kind of work I wanted to make. And he would talk to us about art in a really casual way so that it felt like it became more of a part of everyday life. We’re still good friends.
Who are your role models?
I wish I could be more like the character Sheila from the show Shameless. It’s about a housing estate in Manchester. Maybe it’s weird to wish you could be more like a character who isn’t real… she’s also very obsessive and agoraphobic.
What in life is your greatest source of pleasure?
Coffee, even though I’m always trying to give it up. And going to the movies.
How do you know you like someone?
I just usually know right away. Someone makes sense to me and I’ll feel normal around them. Or else I’ll like someone if they make me laugh a lot. If I don’t like someone I won’t be able to stop thinking about how weird I think they are, and planning how to get away.
How do you know that someone is interested in you?
They usually have to tell me, I’m always paranoid that people don’t like me.
What would it be like if you behaved with absolute power?
I don’t think anything would get done. I’m too self-absorbed to tell other people what to do.
Who is your favorite character in the bible?
I always like Mary, because she seems so calm and peaceful, but maybe she’s just pretending.
What is your favorite character in Gone With the Wind?
I like Clark Gable but I’ve heard he had bad breath. I suppose I wouldn’t hold that against him…
What is the most beautiful thing in the world?
I don’t know but I hope I see it really soon.
What is the purpose of art?
I don’t know because I try not to question it too much since I’m not good at doing anything else.
What is the most difficult thing in life for you?
When my dad died that was probably the most difficult thing that ever happened in my life. I hope I never feel that bad again.
Can art be useful in dealing with this difficulty? In what way?
I guess art helped me with it. I just worked all the time so I could ignore how I felt.
What is the surest way to happiness?
Finding a way to do what you want without having to compromise too much so you can get by.
What are the personality problems of being an artist?
Self-doubt. I think I have it and most of my friends who are artists have it too. We’re always doubting ourselves and trying to decide if we should just stop and do something else. It’s hard to be an artist and to accept the poverty that might never go away. I always go through periods of doubting the things I make, and even when I finish them I have to hide them for a while so I can get some objectivity about them and decide whether I think they’re good or not.
What do you do to make yourself more attractive?
I straighten my hair and try to have good posture.
How much time to spend making a piece of art?
It depends on what it is. I usually spend a day or two on a drawing, but a video takes me a couple months.
How much time do you spend thinking about it? Discussing it?
The drawings I just start without thinking too much, and mid way through I usually think they’re the worst things I’ve ever done and want to start over. The videos I have to think about more and plan ahead. I sometimes get attached to the characters and talk about them as if they are real people.
What do you think of money?
I’m not against it, but I hate it when I don’t have it or if it comes between myself and someone that’s important to me. I like it when I have it or don’t have to think about it.
Should art be useful? Useless?
I’m not sure, because someone once told me that my art is useless and too self-indulgent. But I thought her art was more useless so I guess it doesn’t matter. I don’t like it when people try too hard to make art useful and make it into some kind of community service so that artists become social workers in hospitals or schools. I suppose that stuff is useful, but I think sometimes people are too paranoid about making art useful. I don’t think people should be afraid of seemingly useless art.
What is waste?
Too many plastic bags. And people who talk about themselves too much.
Can we humanize the city?
I don’t think so because it gets more plastic all the time. Or maybe more like cardboard and newspaper since everyone is trying harder to recycle. Maybe we just have to redefine what it means to be human and learn to accept the fact that we’re not completely human anymore.
ArtSlant would like to thank Erica Eyres for her assistance in making this interview possible.