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032c on Thomas Houseago

13 May 2013

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More coverage of Ballroom alumnus Thomas Houseago’s epic exhibition at Storm King from 032c. The excellent “Coming into Form” interview by Cornelius Tittel covers lots of ground, including Houseago’s youth spent brawling in pubs and listening to Joy Division and this excerpt about his landing in Los Angeles …

You say L.A. saved you.

Yes, to arrive in Los Angeles with nothing but a few friends – it either works or it doesn’t. And it worked. I mean it was tough. I was doing construction work and we had our daughter on Medi-Cal – all that American immigrant stuff!

What is that?

If you arrive in California and your wife is pregnant and you don’t have health insurance, they will help you have your baby, but the process is hyper-brutal. You are given a counselor, because normally if you have just arrived in America and don’t have insurance, you are an immigrant from El Salvador or wherever. I remember in our case they checked us for guns before we could meet our counselor. They told us, “We wanna make sure your baby doesn’t die and your wife doesn’t die, et cetera, et cetera.” You are humiliated and at the same time liberated in an absurd way. But, you know, as soon as we arrived it all started to make sense. I met other artists I could relate to. There was no dogma, you’re never gonna hear John Baldessari saying that one kind of art is better than another, or that a certain artist should not be shown. Like Paul McCarthy, I met him really early and he was always like: “Go for it!” Mike Kelly and Paul really set up a very free, strange, dynamic, exciting atmosphere for younger artists to enter. L.A. is a frontier town with a fantastic wealth of energy and that’s what really saved me.”

Keep reading at 032c.

Thomas Houseago on Marfa, Judd and Storm King

7 May 2013

Aaron Curry and Thomas Houseago, Two Face, 2009

As I Went Out One Morning at Storm King is “the first large-scale presentation” of Thomas Housesago’s work. As part of the documentation of this monumental undertaking, the Los Angeles-based sculptor took part in a wide-ranging Q&A with Nora Lawrence, including some interesting observations on his time in Marfa as artist-in-residence with Aaron Curry.

“I was included in a residency at the [Marfa] Ballroom. Me and Aaron Curry were doing a show together. Something about being out there in West Texas, and yet you’ve also got this massive figure of [Donald] Judd there. Anyone going to Marfa is either filming a movie or going to see Judd. And me and Aaron were processing a lot of weird stuff. I had met Aaron very early on in my life in L.A. We were removed from our life in L.A., put in this desert with Judd–so that kind of brought out this extreme behavior in both of us that was very, very alcoholic. We were drinking from morning ‘til night and in this weird room in Marfa. I think what I was doing was processing all these pieces that I had kind of hidden. I was making a series of felt works almost as this kind of degenerate behavior, almost like going back to being a kid. We were sort of acting out all these kind of weird arguments like we we’re kids, like getting mad at each other…it was an odd thing. That really was like a long, drawn-out performance. And the “felty”—I was making it with glue, just like when you’re a child you’re doing these crafts. The desire that both me and Aaron had was that we were going to do that show, then destroy a lot of that work—just light it up, boom, move on. You can almost say Judd is the end of something. And we were playing out this thing of being infantile, young artists messing with this whole idea of Judd, this shining example…”

Keep reading at Storm King.

Houseago’s joint residency with Curry took place here at Ballroom Marfa in the spring of 2009. Their time culminated in the Two Face exhibition, and the accompanying limited edition prints.