Sam Pulitzer"Imagine you’re in class trying to understand why painting is coming back on the market in 2005. Then you go to this performance and you get really high and think: why do I care about all that other shit?"
Interview by Asher Penn
Self Portrait by Sam Pulitzer
Self Portrait by Sam Pulitzer
You once told me Brokencyde was an influence.
I remember first seeing that band online and thinking: is this what these fucking kids are doing these days? It was just disgusting, horrible. It wasn’t even well-crafted. It seemed imbecilic. It also had this rough quality that was completely unpolished, completely unsophisticated. It lacked everything that you’d expect from someone that had, say, gone to college. Its affinity with Magoo should be obvious.
Your first show at Real Fine Arts. It was about Hogg. Can you tell me about that?
I based that show on what I was seeing people we went to school with doing online at the time—people had these blogs and they would just spend hours posting images on myspace and facebook. It was utterly pathetic.
Now that I think about it, the show was kind of laid out like a blog scroll.
Yeah. The narrative of the show was Hogg—the story of this little child who just gets fucked by this group of people. The first image in the show is an angelic boy, and the last image is a sculpture of an angelic boy in a cemetery.
I’ve read Hogg. It’s a really fucked up book.
At the end of the book it’s just this boy and Hogg at the end of their adventure. Hogg is going to take this boy to the middle of nowhere and just turn him into a dog, a sex slave—so the boy walks away. Aside from maybe this anti-coupling message, There’s no real moral. It's just porn.
Why did you decide to illustrate it with these photo collages?
I wanted to use art as a way to think about narrative and subjectivity without such a formal bearing on the custodial traditions of painting or sculpture.
I was seeing all these fucking goody-two-shoes artists around me. Like preppy, post-Krebber, what-the-fuck painters with some sort of intellectual vibe. I had no patience for that. I wanted to be a different type of artist. Since my teen years, I spent a lot of my time looking at conceptual art and thinking "blah blah blah" the remaining possibilities. I wanted to make a show that had something more rooted in what I always understood about that work, about conceptual art. But really what they got was something like if Mike Kelley had died a sad blogger.
What about your second show at Real Fine Arts?
For that I was trying to install a very problematized discothèque, or something like that. A broken discothèque.
Is that why you used lasers?
Yeah. These were lasers that don’t move, that die all the time, that just point to these ear gauges on the floor.
Wait, why ear gauges?
I position these Gauges to prevent one from looking into a space outside from its gallery setting. And the disco experience is about producing an inside. You go out to discothèques and you get caressed in a bathtub of lasers—it’s great. It’s a communal situation. The art world has these similar environments that produce an inside—a very exempt, specialized inside, where a particular social economy of touch is brokered. The one thing about the laser works which I’m most proud of is the way they touch the viewer. How many artworks out there actually touch people that come to see them?
I don’t know.
The lasers do, you can put your hand in the way and they’re touching you. It’s also about looking: how do you look at a laser? You can see a shine emitted from the laser device, and the laser point where the beam meets some solid surface. You don’t really see a laser beam until it’s interrupted. So a laser can define an inside space. How do you look from a particular inside to an outside? Maybe these terms are confused nowadays.
You’ve been doing a lot of work with decals lately. Those touch the gallery walls. Is there a connection?
No doubt. But I landed on that material largely thanks to its convenience.
Let’s talk about your most recent show in Brussels. It looked like a boutique record store. You buy a lot of vinyl right?
Yeah, I do. It’s an Achilles’ heel. I can love a record as much as I love art, which is cheesy. I hate a lot of shit. I’m pretty despondent about some things. For example I hate shopping. When I do it, I like to buy things that are like a uniform I can put on. But when it comes to buying records, that’s different. I get immense pleasure listening to particular moods that some people are capable of producing.
Were the records in the show ones you’d already bought?
I owned most of them, I was looking to sell them. Then I thought I could sell these for $10 a piece online, or I could make them into a show. I wanted to make an installation that was a record store, but barely a record store at that—a broken one like the discothèque. Yeah. I took all the seriousness of these musicians who made these records that I really cared about, and the art and packaging of it all—and I used it to problematize my work, specifically these drawings where my actual hand is present. I was inflating their value, in a way, but it was intended as a comment on the way "less serious" cultural interests aid the marketability of contemporary art like a happy parasite.
And your drawings were inserted in the record sleeves?
Yeah, they’re just slipped in the plastic sleeves. When I graduated college I was working on drawings. You’ve seen them. And the drawings in Brussels are basically made the same way, with the same material.
I wanted to ask you about something recent. You did a text piece at this rave, Lixxxtapussy, using that Dickface font Bill Hayden and Nicolas Guagnini made.
A thousands dicks in that pussy.
It reminded me how there has been this thread of poetry in your work for a while.
I love poetry, yeah. It’s beautiful. I’m a bit of a philistine with poetry now. I read it when I was a teenager. I wanted to study writing, so I’ve always given a little bit of interest to it. I never studied it in an academic sense, and feel sorry for those that have.
I feel like in the last decade a lot of artists explored poetry. It felt like an open field.
So is art. So is everything.
Yeah, you’re right.
You have to economize what you’re doing to make it work. You have to bring it to life, bring it in to being. You have to offer it presence, you know what I mean? Plumb it from absence to presence.
1 2From Sex Magazine #3 Spring 2013