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Back Talk with Michael Mararian

Juxtapoz // Sunday, 10 Jan 2010
Attention new parents and those of you deathly afraid of Children of the Corn-esque situations. Michael Mararian’s work may disturb you.


Michael Mararian focuses on children as the last bastion of innocence to explore the dark humor behind social and psychological issues. What can on one level be construed as melancholy and cruel, can alternately be viewed as amusing, even charming. He enjoys letting his viewers decide. Get to know Mararian through his responses to our Back Talk questions.

Today, I feel:


Toasty warm.  It’s snowing outside.

If you had three wishes, what would they be?


1. I wish I had a higher metabolism
2. I wish I had some kind of futuristic head gear where I could put it on, pick a date in the past and be able to walk around and virtually re-experience different times of my life.
3. And I guess, yeah - world peace…


Do you consider yourself a funny person?

I think that’s pretty much my strongest trait – at least that’s what got me through my school years as a kid.  On the playground, being funny is like having diplomatic immunity.
If you had one magic power, what would it be?


Teleportation could be really convenient at times.


Something that makes you happy?


I like when I walk into a movie theater and I’m the first person there and I can sit anywhere I want.


Something that makes you mad?


When people don’t thank you when you hold the door for them or let them cut in ahead of you while driving.
What was your favorite subject in elementary school?


Man, I don’t even remember Elementary school – that’s why I wish I had that futuristic headgear thing...


If you feel a creative block, what do you do to jumpstart inspiration?


Since a lot of my work has some social relevance to it – I find listen to news radio, or call in shows will sometimes help me unearth different angles on my art.  It makes sense to me that the daily news making feeds artists’ appetites, which in turn get recycled back into the machine.


When someone is taking a photo, do you smile for the camera or turn your head?


I usually make a silly face because I have always hated the way I look in pictures.  So I figure I might as well just make it goofy from the get-go.  Unless my wife is in the picture with me…and then I try to be normal.   
Are you a social network enthusiast? (eg Do you post photos on Facebook; listen to music on MySpace; post to YouTube, etc?)


Yeah I enjoy it.  I think it helps me stay young, keeping up with it all.    Although Twitter I feel silly doing – I have hardly any followers.  You ever see the movie “Contact”?  I feel like I’m just sending statements into space that will arrive at some alternate planet light years from now.


What is a quality you don’t like about yourself?


I obsess about everything.  Even this question, I had four different answers and finally I had to call my wife to ask her which one she thought was best.  She said to use obsession, which was not one of the choices.


Last good book you read?


I just read some short stories by German writer Hanns Heinz Ewers.  His book “Nacht Mahr Strange Tales”.  There’s a story in there called “The Spider” which is great.
Who has had the most impact on your life?


My wife Elizabeth.  Seems I could not remotely function without her support.  I drive her crazy.


Are you spiritual?


Yes, I definitely feel there is something out there—I sense it on occasion.


One word to describe your artwork?



What’s missing in your life?


If I had to say anything it would probably be children (and just for those out there wondering, my wife and I actually can’t have kids- people always ask me if I have kids of my own in regards to the artwork) but even that, I don’t see it as lacking in my life, however I do recognize that it would definitely change the way I do and see things.
Are you a pet person?


Yes.  We have four cats.


Is your artwork understood?


I think it’s pretty self-explanatory.  If anything, I’m guilty of pounding viewers over the head.  But it’s not that I’m trying to get a message across – it’s more that I’m trying to get the irony or absurdity of a situation across.


The most trouble you’ve ever gotten into:


On a bet, I went streaking in high school during a track meet.  I ran out naked, wearing just a ski mask that was a little too big for my head.  I couldn’t see too well through the eyeholes and I got confused and went under the bleachers and got trapped by a fence and couldn’t find my way out.  I got caught (well, I gave up actually) and got suspended- all that stuff.  My parents were humiliated and wanted to move.


Where do you imagine yourself in five years?


It’s so hard to predict, but here goes…I can see myself galloping on a horse somewhere – all worked out and buff with my long hair blowing in the hot wind.  And, yes, I still do art.


Michael Mararian has a solo show opening at Corey Helford Gallery in LA on January 16, 2010.


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