FRONT DESK APPARATUS
‘La Collectionneuse’ ft. in Numéro
What’s your background? Where did you study and what did you study?
Born and raised in downtown New York City in the 1970s. Attended university at Eugene Lang College within The New School for Social Research. Completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in Comparative Literature, which was essentially a mixed bag of literature, post-structuralism, gender studies and cultural studies, with a Marxist slant. It was a scattered education. After years of freelance jobs and art- related projects I attended the Independent Study Program at the Whitney Museum.
How did your background, family and the culture you were raised in shape your identity and taste?
Both my parents migrated from the Philippines to New York City in their 20s, my father to attend graduate school and my mother to take a job at the United Nations; they met in New York. By Philippine standards they were privileged which enabled them migrate comfortably and earn the same status in the US. They seemed to embrace and be embraced by what was believed to be a “classless” society in the US at the time, relatively speaking, and they identify as New Yorkers to the core. As a native born American, I am more skeptical of the un-traumatic assimilation into the “American dream”. I definitely experienced our “otherness”, something my parents perhaps could not psychically afford to acknowledge in pursuit of ‘fitting in’. I was drawn to more marginalized subject positions for their political potential– “F.O.B.”, the racial slur for fresh off the boat. Obviously I had the luxury to explore this without living the harsh realities of an actual refugee but it has been part of how I am perceived by Anglo-Americans and Europeans who do not know better; who see a brown person adopting ‘their’ codes, amazed at my ability to pass the test. To them I will always be trespassing which is something I have fun with on many levels.
Who are your references, in art?
At the moment I am reading Sturtevant and Adrian Piper. I would not call them references. My work does not refer to theirs. They my examples or motivating forces.
Before art, my biggest inspiration was cinema, discovering these auteurs in my youth– Godard, Varda, Marker, Rouch, Rohmer, Rivette, Ackermann, and later Weerasethakul who hails from Thailand. Blissfully Yours was a defining moment in showing how the task of art, especially cinematographic art is the “invention of a people” in the Deleuzian sense of becoming. Although my work is in part object-based, my inclination is towards narrative. If you spend time with my work, the layers are there.
Who are you talking too? Who is your public?
Too soon to say who my public is, public under construction.
Could you elaborate on why and how you make transitions from art and fashion?
The economy of cultural goods and the conditions in which they are consumed, appropriated or fetishized interests me, as well as how taste mutates cross- culturally.
What do you think of desire and erotism (that’s the theme of the issue) (the anus, the tongue etc, if you can talk about the show at front desk would be good)
In my work desire and eroticism can be seen as having been reduced to detached social transactions that are then projected back as desire and eroticism. I’m curious about the tension in the work when you subtract romance from desire to end up with power, which of course gets recuperated as desire. It is on the viewer to locate where in the artwork this dynamic starts and ends.
In my show La Collectioneuse at Front Desk Apparatus I created walls to trap the overhead lighting to make a bright, void-like space that I likened to a bleached anus. In the show I toyed with positions such as top and bottom, as termed in the gay world, to talk about the middle man in the art market – the art advisor or gallerist as the mediator between artist and collector.
In exhibitions, is the notion of display important and why?
In my work conditions of display are often inseparable from the work itself.
Is your work site specific and related to exhibitions?
It is site-specific in as much as the context provokes, it is more interesting to intervene than to treat the space as neutral.
What are you working on at the moment? What is your next project?
A solo show at Gaga Mexico City in 2014.