GET FAMILIAR: ARIA DEAN
Chapter 1NE - the group show at Het Hem, curated by Patta founders Edson & Guillaume - is now on view. Here on the Patta blog we will be presenting a few of the participating artists. Previously: Farida Sedoc
As a quick introduction to our readers, who are you and how would you describe your art?
My name is Aria Dean; I am an artist and writer. I work primarily in sculpture and video. Most generally, my work investigates how meaning accrues and circulates with a particular interest in blackness, subjectivity, and image technologies. Most of this work is informed by methodologies of conceptual art and the formal languages of minimalism.
How did your relationship with art begin?
I was always interested in art; as a kid, I painted, drew, and wrote a lot. If I had to name an "aha!" moment, it would be watching the documentary The Cool School about the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles when I was 14.
How would you place your art in our current social landscape?
I don't know for certain, but I think I offer material investigations into the problems that compel me and have long histories of entanglement in both art and politics, and to stay away from a reactive practice that tries to primarily visibly "respond to" an of-the-moment social or political concern. The work that I make incorporates contemporary culture and spits it back out in the context of a bricolage of ideas and forms ripped from various arenas that–philosophy, pop culture, music, experimental film, and so on.
What do you feel an artist needs to add on a cultural level?
Whatever she feels is useful; it's not the same for everyone.
What messages are you trying to convey to your audience through your art?
I don't view making art as hermeneutical or pedagogical process. Making work, for me, is a process of casing a territory or trying to figure out a problem that will never actually be solvable. If anything, I am most interested in making work without discoverable meaning, and instead making work that shows something about how things come to mean what they mean
How do you intend for viewers to interact with your work?
However they'd like. However is most natural for them, unless I've taken pains to create an unnatural and highly specific situation.
How do you relate to the motto of the exhibition “Can’t be greedy.. You gotta take some, and leave some?”
To me, it speaks to a necessary equilibrium. At the level of the idea of an "artistic practice" it speaks to an ethic of reciprocity, I think. Putting out as much as you've taken–in terms of knowledge and resources perhaps.
What was the inspiration for your piece, included in the show at Het Hem?
The work shown at Het Hem sits in the cross-section of my interest in blackness as its been produced and represented through hip-hop videos for the last 35 or so years and my interest in structural-materialist experimental film. The video is a study of crowd shots in hip-hop videos and the production of a black collective subject through the specific mechanisms of music videos. The very specific kinds of shots and editing. The video isolates and recontextualizes these moments with the aim of parsing through how they're constructed in the first place. It's also a study in the material of digital video–all of the files are ripped from youtube and many already very low resolution. So, the work is a bit about circulation as well.
What advice would you give to young artists who would like to get their work in galleries?
Make what excites you and not what you think you should be making. And try not to be afraid of emailing people who you think won't reply.
Could you share the names of some artists whose work you are enjoying at the moment?
I've been revisiting old favorites from the 60s and 70s–Robert Morris, Dan Graham, Vito Acconci. But younger artists working now: Cameron Rowland, Precious Okoyomon, Brandon Covington (N-Prolenta), Neil Beloufa, Sondra Perry.
What is the hardest part of being an artist? What part is the most rewarding?
The hardest part, to me, is pacing myself; often I'm moving too quickly to appreciate an idea or a process, or too slowly such that the primary feeling around making work becomes stress. The most rewarding part is thinking about something, an exhibition for instance, for months and then seeing it come together.