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Shalo P Interview

Written by Alex Braubach   
Friday, 30 July 2010 11:20
Shalo P is a SF based audio-visual artist who recently exhibited a selection of 14 drawings at Ever Gold Gallery coinciding with the recent release of his self-published “LOVE IS SUCH A DANGEROUS GAME”. The zine, containing work created in a two year period chronicles memories, longing and catastrophic situations in post-modern copy/past collage fashion. They're meticulously wild drawings and really deranged ones at that. The zine comes in two limited versions and are available at the Ever Gold as long as supplies last. It's an absolute gem, so make sure you get yourself a copy. It’s probably the best $8 I’ve ever invested. -Alex Braubach

AMB: I’ve known you since our school days at SFAI and had plenty of opportunities to see your work evolve in the past years. It’s really interesting to see how you have developed from "The Tormentors" paintings you exhibited at Meridian Gallery years ago to what your up to with your video-based performances at New Langton and elsewhere. Your current show at the Ever Gold is an exhibit of drawings. It’s like you’ve come full circle with “Love Is Such A Dangerous Game”. Please describe your current work, the drawings, and how they relate to your previous work.

SP: The work is a barrage of symbols and signs. It’s dense stuff that also seems fit to just be “in the moment”, not only as some mutilation of the bizarre nature of things but also embracing the ways of seeing to varying degrees. You know, as drawings, comics strip and other visual forms. My current works are like celebrations to living at the start of a very weird age.

My conceptual framework hurtles into these different directions and they always seem organic and mine. I’m producing floorshows and farewell concerts with the FRIENDSHIP FRIENDS FOREVER (rainbow band), making videos under the TELEVISION FOR GHOSTS / 2084 FLOORSHOW umbrella, and making images that relay the totemic themes behind all the other work. I shuffle around in formats but the big difference is how close they are to me, personally.

Before I moved to SF I was just a writer, and words just made so much sense to me. Then they seemed phony, manipulative and limited in a world with hypertext in it, a world with so much goddamn subtext to what was lurking under in it’s big storm of changes, in its unconscious birthing of memes. Words were meaningless in the face of the connections between them, in the changing face of how books were produced, in the questions concerning the changes in information retrieval itself. This was big to me - the new ways of experiencing “stuff”, from how we communicated these changes to the part that images play with culture and memory. So I went from writing dialogues to making data maps.

Then I got into imagery again, especially the Medusa, the representation of the incomprehensible. That’s what got me into The Tormentors – relationships - the walls between things breaking down. It was car crashes. Have you ever seen one? It's like that Raymond Carver story "Popular Mechanics", it's a raw moment of chance and horrible corrupted beauty. Things change irrevocably. Well, the drawings... They're my landscape of these feelings - the innate vile beauty of car crashes, the taste of sweat, the medusa's gaze, sexual fantasies, self representation, time and memory - that whole gag. What's the personal side of a good sinner?

AMB: Freddy Krueger.

SP: Hey man, are you going put some cool hyperlinks?

AMB: I can try. I don’t know.

SP: It’ll make it all so much clearer.

AMB: Well, maybe just that last paragraph.

SP: Cool.

AMB: Looking at your zine it becomes very clear that you are as much a storyteller as you are an artist. One of the most distinct characteristics of your drawings are the layers of narratives spreading out on the picture planes like colliding comic strips. There are also so many pop culture references that it's familiar at the same time. Yet, they appear constantly mashed up with violent faces and contorted bodies. Describe some of the motifs in your work. I’d also be curious if you could elaborate on the narrative that runs throughout “L.I.S.A.D.G”

SP: I'm really into stories and how things unfold. Stories involve us with the act of perception as things reveal themselves. The recurring motifs are partly based on the patterns of actions between personal experiences and their various guises or surrogates. To construct a visceral realness of emotions while interlacing them into my specific sort of narrative structure is part of the game. The overall narrative is embedded in its overlap and resurgences in the time frame. That’s my storytelling method. I take things quite literally and way too seriously but it’s fun to play because I also take fun seriously too. The characters usually change shape, destroy themselves, become dissimilar, entwine or explode. The layering comes from the ways I interpret them in their locked position on the plane. They're trapped, yet receding into some obscure chapter, blending fragments from other drawings while in violent stasis. I really care about time and how we remember things, how the past changes when we look at it and how the future does likewise. I'm the type that lives “in the moment”, most don't know how trapped you can feel following your own impetuous brash arrogant nature to its honest conclusion. You get thrown to the wolves of life and it's glorious. Can you put that in parentheses? (I like parentheses)

AMB: ok

SP: Can you write this in parentheses? (SP motions to AB, ruffles his hair, pushes the beer can off the table and kicks it into the wastebasket)

AMB: You missed.

SP: Yeah, but if the parenthesis says otherwise, who cares?

AMB: Your drawings also remind me a lot of dioramas or play-stages. You used to write plays and I remember your early video-based performances with Johnny Rogers being very theatrical, using multiple props and costumes and always seemed to slip from one personality to another. How much is the picture plane a performance space to you? Do you feel you are acting out certain situations on a 2 dimensional plane?

SP: Yeah, those were so fun! Good ole’ Johnny Rogers... He's a goddamn saint and I love him. Those performances were thrills because they were challenges. And also because the whole thing about being pupil-less Sonny and Cher stepping out a magic white door of light from the basement of black hotel sounded like a blast. Those performances were manic. It’s from stage fright. It’s the same case in the drawings. I’m going to make something coherent and cohesive to the whole, enriching it with another fragment while kicking myself if I’ve put too much of myself into it. I went as far as I could go with those shows for a bit, even singing the original 2084 Floorshow finale nude. Nowadays, I'd rather just throw smoke bombs into crowds while carrying an amp and a mike trying to sing Elton John's "Love Lies Bleeding" or the Bowie cover of "Sorrow" from Pin Ups. I want to capture true spiritual moments, or those cathartic moments you get from “making” that comes off in the work - like Goya's Caprichos. I value raw honesty.

AMB: Do you think of yourself as shy?

SP: Yep. I think of myself as a shy person.

AMB: You stated in a prior interview, that you had a phase when you read a lot of Last Gasp comics. I can see some Robert Crumb in your work. I also see some Art Spiegelman and definitely Matt Groening. Name some other artists, entertainers or storytellers that influence your art.

SP: Oh man, Last Gasp! I love that stuff. I met Ron Turner once. He thought I was on speed or something because I was nervous and sweaty. I was dragged to see him and clammed shut. While we talk about Last Gasp, I also mean the array of publishers and things that inspire me from that interconnected family of counter-culture. I mean… Rip Off Press, Moscoso, Skull Comics, Skip Williamson and the really obscure stuff too. I do a lot of research. Getting into that really opened possibilities. Every time I see bikers now I want to see them rumble. Luckily, I’m surrounded by so many interesting people, Peter Hurley, Mark Mulroney, Cortney Cassidy, Alex Heilbron, Andy Burkholder... I could talk about shit that blows my mind for hours. I’ll leave a list of “awesome” at the end.

AMB: What inspired the title: “Love Is Such A Dangerous Game”?

SP: The name came from the days of the Casserole Club, a fun drawing club I used to attend. One day I was just sick to my stomach. Tears were welling up inside me and I felt like stabbing myself when this pretty song came up and I thought "aww shucks". That was it. I used to be troubled. Now I'm just troubled squared.

AMB: Help me out with this one. In your artist statement for the show you stated “Who could have thought that one could learn so much about neurotic desire by seeing Bart Simpson wink at you while showing you his asshole?” Could you be a little more specific?

SP: It actually comes from remembering that that was me: Bart Simpson looking provocatively over my shoulder nude at a party. The act of looking deep and remembering who you are in separate phases: It feels heavy. Your self-image exists through the bits you leave around in people's unreliable memories.

AMB: What are you excited about these days?

SP: I'm super excited every day - all the time. But I’m also watching. Did you ever read Alan Moore’s Watchmen? There’s a scene near the end where Ozymandias stares at television monitors and tries to draw out the patterns of a dominant worldview emerging from the chaos of a thousand TV screens. It’s interesting... I'm excited what going on in the sound scenes. I’m excited by where videos are going. This age has got something real different than any of the rest of them. Who knows what’s in its sleeve? It isn't just glitter and smoke, man.

AMB: What kind of projects do you have in line for the future?

SP: I’m currently producing tracks for the new FRIENDSHIP FRIENDS FOREVER (rainbow club) LP off Queens Nails Records later this year. I’m also forming an Optronica label called THE WALL OF FIRE with musicians Shimomitsu and Softserve. I’m really amped about Alternative Digital Domains, a really rad collaborative effort between Other Cinema's Craig Baldwin and Cyrus Tabar (Yoshi Omori). The idea behind it is awesome. A festival you can attend and take home. I'm also super excited about zine fest later this year.

AMB: I remember you telling me how growing up in Miami involved a lot of crocodiles. What should a Californian know about crocs?

SP: Alligators. Alligators. Alligators everywhere. Alligators pulling you under the floorboards and through the window. Dragging your ass to hell. Dragging your ass to hell and whistling.

AMB: If you had a superpower - what would it be?

SP: No way, man... I may as well get something… like laser eyes. You give me shit, motherfucker, and I laser your ass. I'd get the sex perverts first, then the fornicators and sodomites, then the republicans, God and all of space. Wait! I want the power to be good and beautiful and love true (and every now and then warp reality when its stupid ass starts acting backwards). AB: Isn't that what artists do? SP: If they do it right.

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