This is 5 Questions. Each week, we send five questions to an artist featured in Under the Radar, our weekly email highlighting the best art on the ArtSlant network. This week we seek answers from Kailum Graves.
What are you trying to communicate with your work?
I consider my work political, but I prefer the subtle process of reflection over the shoveling of an opinion down a viewer's throat. That's probably because I don't think art is a political or emancipatory force—rather, it is what Fredric Jameson labeled “just another ‘pop’ in an all-pervasive pop-culture.” Thus, I’m not interested in examining or establishing perceived truths; instead, I’m interested in exploring the Absurd—the fundamental disharmony between our search for meaning and the meaninglessness of the universe—so I enjoy examining lose-lose paradoxes and unsolvable problems.
I Don’t Understand Modern Art, 2015-ongoing, 32 ChromaLuxe transfers on aluminium sheet, Each 20.23cm x 25.4cm
What is an artist’s responsibility?
For me, art is a response to the world—an attempt to capture an aspect of life as experienced by us—and is a catalyst for an ongoing open discussion and inquiry about the world.
Show us the greatest thing you ever made (art or not)?
The more I reflect on things I have created the more self-critical I become, so I don’t have anything in mind I would proudly label “the greatest.” Besides, I hope I’m too young to have already created my magnum opus. It would be very disappointing if my current work was my peak (I’m joking… kind of).
Data Rock (Take Me Somewhere Nice), 2016, 6 pigment prints on Hahnemühle cotton rag, framed, museum glass, Each 121cm x 40cm
Tell us about a work you want to make but never will:
A project I have been working on for years but will probably never finish, because it is incredibly time-consuming, involves sourcing YouTube political speeches by world leaders, extracting the frames, and examining the data—hundreds of thousands of still frames—for moments when they blink and appear to be asleep. The aim is to create a series of portraits of world leaders sleeping on the job and/or blindly leading the blind. The work reflects my interest in the relationship between theory and practice and is inspired by the growing literature concerning voter discontent, which is due, in part, to rising inequity, real wage decline, and a sense of injustice that nothing changed after governments and central banks were forced to rescue investment bankers during the 2008 financial crisis. But, who knows, maybe one day it will turn out to be the greatest thing I ever made.
Who are three artists we should know but probably don’t?
—The ArtSlant Team
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(Image at top: #1, 2016–2017, 131 ceramic mugs, Each 12cm x 8cm, overall dimensions 204cm x 116cm; Edition of 6 + 2 AP)
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