Catching Up with CamLab: A Q&A by Hillary Jacobs
CamLab, a performance-based artist collaboration between Anna Mayer and Jemima Wyman, will stop by the Hammer Museum this Wednesday, April 18 for the annual UCLA Arts Party.
CamLab’s interactive performance works overtly engage the viewer to act and make choices, forcing them to think about their own agency. Not only do the performances reflect individual agency, they also highlight communal experiences and communal engagement. The pair also completed a three part series for the Museum of Contemporary Art’s Engagement Party earlier this year. I was lucky enough to ask them a few questions in preparation for the Hammer’s upcoming Arts Party.
CamLab, Studies for durational performances (Coyote Mountain), 2009 (Image courtesy of http://camlabia.blogspot.com/)
Hillary Jacobs: Can you tell us a little bit about how you came to work together?
CamLab: We met in grad school and started working together pretty quickly. We connected through a shared sense of humor, dagginess and an interested in the embodied eye. Basically one of us tried on the other’s clothes, and a houndstooth cameltoe was birthed.
HJ: What are the best and most challenging parts about working collaboratively?
CL: Best – we get to spend a lot of time together and share the parts of (studio) art-making that are usually fairly isolated and, possibly, isolating. Most challenging – we have to be extremely well organized. We try to keep the bureaucracy to a minimum, but it’s hard when every meeting we schedule requires at least one other meeting beforehand between the two of us.
HJ: Many of your performances are interactive, are there any overarching ideas you hope participants get out of the experience?
CL: We hope that people who experience our work will experience pleasure of some kind, while gaining embodied knowledge. That’s what we want for ourselves (from the work), too. We aim to think and be touched by collective moments.
HJ: Fabric and textiles seem to play an important role in your performances. Can you explain why that is and how you choose the specific fabrics?
CL: Fabric can materialize the space between bodies, making connection or disconnection not only visible but tangible. It’s possible to make architecture on a large scale out of fabric. Even on a monumental scale, fabric can be not only shelter and at the same time skin and garment. It is economical and comforting.
HJ: For the MOCA Engagement Party you created a relational garment. Do you see a second life for the garment in a museum or gallery setting or would that take away from the piece?
CL: We are often very happy to have our garments be reused or re-staged. We have made several ‘circulating suits’ that are designed to travel and be engaged with by different people in different contexts. One of the suits has been traveling for three years. We like the way that the garments provide a set of material conditions for its users. Those conditions exist beyond us. For another one of the (Engagement Party) events we modified five yurts, in which we programmed different workshops on topics ranging from political theory to Emotional Freedom Technique. Now we loan out the yurts so other people can program their own events in them. We loan the yurts because we always are thinking about the underlying economics of making art. We don’t want what we make to be dormant or redundant. We want things to keep moving and benefiting communities.
HJ: Can you give us some clues about what you will be doing at the Arts Party?
CL: Recently we’ve been writing performance scores based on instances of PDA (Public Displays of Affection) that we’ve see around Los Angeles. For the Arts Party we’re inviting visitors to the museum to choose a score they like and reenact it with one of us. There are scores from all different kinds of public displays – some are from parent-child relationships while others are from the hot and heavy couples action we’ve all witnessed at some point or another. We’re interested in how PDAs are a common way that human-scaled pleasure and connection are made visible in the landscape, on the street, in spaces that are often primarily geared towards consumption or spectacle.
Check out more projects from CamLab on their blog: http://camlabia.blogspot.com/
Hillary Jacobs ‘13
Eva Slusser Catches Up with Malaika Zweig
Malaika Zweig, Twin 2. 2011.Acrylic Ink on Polypropylene. (Image via malaikazweig.com).
Los Angeles-based artist Malaika Zweig radiates enthusiasm for creativity, both within her portfolio and within the curriculum of her drawing and painting classes. After taking Malaika’s unforgettable figure drawing class at Cal Arts in Summer ‘08, I was thrilled when she agreed to lead a workshop for this April’s Arts Party! Malaika took the time to answer some of my questions via email concerning her practice and important lessons she’s picked up along the way.
Eva Slusser: Was there a moment in time that you knew Visual Arts just had to be a part of your life’s work?
Malaika Zweig: I never wanted to do anything other than make art and teach art. I come from a family of artists who didn’t question my decision to continue what I had always done naturally as a child.
ES: Why do you create artwork?
MZ: I feel much happier in my life when I paint or draw. It’s so much fun and frees my mind.
ES: Have you had any especially influential art instructors? What did they teach you?
MZ: I have had many influential art instructors. Franklyn Liegel recently passed away and he influenced countless artists in Los Angeles. He taught me to take nothing for granted and to look at the making process from all directions.
ES: How would you describe your mark, your style? About when in your artistic career did you feel that you achieved this style?
MZ: I don’t feel that I have a style. I work with figuration and abstraction. I think that too much emphasis is put on style. Let designers work out style.
ES: When I studied under you at CSSSA, I remember how enthusiastic you were about us exploring our materials in new and spontaneous ways -like drawing with a vine of charcoal between our toes. What is the significance of using such unconventional approaches?
MZ: Drawings that are made with your feet can’t be made any other way, beautiful marks occur. It helps students relax and have fun.
ES: What are some of your favorite materials to use and why?
MZ: I love all kinds of paint, water colors, oils, acrylics, inks. I love materials that move even after you are done working. I like the material to surprise me.
ES: You have exhibited in both the Los Angeles and Paris areas. How do the two art scenes of these metropoles compare?
MZ: In my experience, people in Paris go see art regularly and enjoy discussing art. LA is a city full of great artists, with a much smaller population of people who go see art.
ES: Is there a particular work of art or artist who has moved you
MZ: I have tremendous respect for Louise Bourgeois because her work is emotionally beautiful and frightening.
ES: What is one of the most important lessons you strive to communicate in your art classes?
MZ: I give students tools to conquer doubt.
ES: What are your words of wisdom for the aspiring artist?
MZ: Keep making work. Give yourself plenty of time each week to focus on your art and take away all distractions.
ES: How do you tap into your creative energy?
MZ: There is no magic answer for feeling creative or even energetic. All I can do is turn my focus to the paint.
Eva Slusser ‘14