Saturday 19 July 2008

Phoebe Gloeckner interview

Phoebe Gloeckner

* Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan. Northern United States.

* How would you describe your art? What art?

* Currently working on: Don't want to talk about it. Not because I'm coy but because it's frustrating me and I wouldn't know what to say other than to begin upon a long and painful description of my "process," which is no process at all. I fling myself into confusion and search the ground on my hands and knees looking for letters on the ground that might fit together to form words. I've never managed to work with any sort of “plan." Each and every project requires me to die each and everyday, and by the end I have no ego, no self esteem, no hope.... I'm round about that point right now.

* Day job: Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan School of Art and Design.

* 3 Likes: Animal Crossing on my Nintendo DS, very long aimless walks, trying to speak foreign languages whether I have much knowledge of them or not.

* 3 Dislikes: committee responsibilities, gum-chewing human mouths, fathers-in-law when they're feeling cranky at me.

* Daily Inspirations: PipSqueak my three-legged cat, clever children, people like Anna Nicole Smith who look so beautiful that I just can't understand it.

* People & artists you admire: Paquita la del Barrio, Janis Joplin, Jiri Trinka, Frank Geeslin, Lori Lubeski, Bruce Botts, Milena Lamarova, Jiri Kalousek, Louise Suits, Jane Adams Clarke, Mary Louise Carpenter, Carlos, Levon, Richie Hazen, Sabrina Pickford, Guy Robichaud, Elizabeth Bianca, Jonathan Frid and Redd Foxx. And many many many many more so very many more, really it would take much too long to name them all.

* Favourite album(s) to listen to when working: honestly, at times I can tell you in certain terms that each and every sound distracts the hell out of me.

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This interview took place between March and April 2007. All images reproduced, with permission, from Phoebe ©

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I first became aware of your work via the piece ‘Minnie’s 3rd Love’ which featured in Diane Noomin’s 1995 collection, ‘Twisted Sisters 2.’ I must have read that strip hundreds of times since first getting it and every time it does something to my insides - still to this day.
I remember you once saying of your love and connection with Janis Joplin that ‘her performances seem to equalize the amplitude of my brain waves, her music makes me feel loved and understood’
In reflection of this, do you appreciate the ability that your art work has to connect with your audience?

Melanie, if you are hereby telling me that my work has made you feel loved and understood, I suddenly feel that I must deserve the space I occupy on this earth (oddly, this space moves with me wherever I go). I could hope for no better result.
However, if you're NOT suggesting such a thing, well, I wish my work had that effect- but it's difficult to achieve such sublimity.
Excuse me, I'm going to shut up and go work for a little- the story I’m struggling with now doesn't respond when I punch it in the face. It’s either dead or too mighty for me to take on. I can't tell. But it’s driving me crazy.

I read a lot of collections and anthologies of comics art, and a question that often crops up in the biographical index is that of the materials with which artists use to create their work. I’ll always remember the answers that GB Jones and Renee French gave in separate collections; GB Jones stated ‘a pencil and paper’, and Renee claimed ‘a black pencil.’
In looking at your work, it appears that you ascribe to similar basic requirements: allowing your talents and exquisite artwork a voice of its own, uncluttered by extraneous marks or techniques. Would you agree with this observation of your artistic process?

OF COURSE I would hardly flatter myself as you flatter me so I’ll leave out terms such as "exquisite artwork," and simply say that I try to use a tool as a means to an end. I've used tools that are quite simple and other tools that are more complex- although I must admit no tool is easy to master. By mastery of a tool, I suppose I mean that in the work, the tool is subordinate, of no consequence, really-- because it is just a tool-- it's the creator that supplies the song, the meaning, the beauty-- not to imply that learning to use the tool well is not essential, but that the "better" it is used ("better" will have a different meaning for every artist within the context of his or her own work), the less significant it becomes. I don’t limit myself to ink and pencils, although I love them. I also love cameras and computers and all sorts of recording devices.

You have had a wide range of artistic experience and practice over the years, presumably all of which have contributed to honing your individual ‘style’ of artwork today.
Which specific experience and techniques have you found most influential over your current ‘artistic style’?

I'm sorry. I forget what my current style is! I don't really mean that flippantly. Right now I'm in the middle of a project (finishing up one, and continuing on another- one is about the murders of women in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, and will be a chapter in a set of books to be called I Live Here. The other project is a novel-length book, and for both works I'm initially working 3-dimensionally)
Over the last few years, I've been re-tooling my studio, teaching myself new techniques applied to doll-making, furniture-making, photography.... I'm satisfying, in part, my fantasies of making stories that recall (for me, at least) the work of Ladislas Starevich (aka Władysław Starewicz), Jiri Trinka, and others--- eastern European stop-motion animators of yesterday.

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