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Back Talk with Rob Sato

Juxtapoz // Thursday, 03 Sep 2009

Artists Rob Sato and Joe To’s two-man show, curated by David Choe, is opening tomorrow at the Metropolis Gallery. The two are also featured in our September issue of Juxtapoz # 104, which is currently flying off of newsstands as you read this. The artists make such a hilarious duo that we felt inclined to give you an extra personal look at what goes through their twisted minds, starting with Rob Sato.

How do you feel right now?


Very good.


If you could wake up in a different place tomorrow morning, where would it be and what would you do?


I would wake up with my friend Ako in the woods near a lake.  We would do the wholesome things you do in those places.  Swim, hike, lie on grass, skip rocks.


If you lost your creative skill, how would you see yourself making a living?



If you could punch one living contemporary artist, who would it be?


I couldn't, unless I knew them more closely and was inspired to do so because they made me mad in a personal way.  No such person comes to mind.  I would enjoy punching some art though.  I could throw a few rocks at Jeff Koons sculptures of himself and his wife, though I think those are supposed to give you that urge.  Something about Yoshitomo Nara's stuff makes me want to slap it.  I want to gently staple those Keane kids eyes shut.  I want to force feed Audrey Kawasaki's waifs until they turn into Jenny Saville paintings.  I want to plunge my face and hands into Wayne Theibaud's cakes.  I want to paint backgrounds into Kent Williams paintings, set them in an airport or a mall.  I don't know if the sculptor is still alive, but I wanted to smash or otherwise improve this awful fountain by my work, but luckily the really ugly parts have been removed.

Was your first kiss worth writing a song about?


My first kiss was in pre-school, but I'm not sure if that really counts.  If a song were written about that kiss, it would be too hideously adorable to be anything but the filthiest audio kiddie porn on Radio Disney.  Skip ahead to junior high and there you have a hit number.  It was epic in its sloppiness.


At what point were you particularly happy?


This morning.  I was emphatically making a point during conversation, gesticulating all importantly, and as I reached the climax I involuntarily burped at exactly the same time I shouted the final word.  The word was "you" and the burp produced a deep, foul kind of harmony. It destroyed any possibility of being taken seriously.  We laughed for a long time.


No regrets allowed, but there must have been one?


There are so many I can't pick just one.  They are all very personal and kind of opaque, but here's a sampling.  I'm sorry for bullying Jason A. in sixth grade. I'm sorry for calling a junior high friend "Earth" because she was fat--everyone called her that, but I'm mostly sorry because I enjoyed it at the time.  I wish my sister and I hadn't drank the hot chocolate at a lousy outdoor music festival.  I wish I could take back what I said to a girl who bought my book in the shop I work at -- it wasn't what it sounded like!  I should have never smoked what some fool in dreads, a cowboy hat, sandals and shorts handed me at the Great American Music Hall in 1996.  I could have gone without seeing the musical, "Rent".  I really wish I hadn't done a certain video project in high school -- I hope with all my heart that the tape has been destroyed.  It goes on and on.

What trait do your friends have in common?


To me, not a single one.  Maybe to an outside observer we are all clones.


If you had to evacuate your home or studio, what's the one thing you would grab?


Ako.  If she's taken care of herself, then I'd grab the cat.  If the cat is safe then I'd go for the current work in progress along with the current notebooks.  Also, I should probably bring the half-assed emergency kit we keep stashed.


Greatest love of your life?



What is your favorite vice?


Obscene pre-marital whiskey fuck.


When you blow out birthday candles, what do you wish for?


The elimination of paperwork.


If you could play a character from a favorite film or TV show for a day, who would it be?


Bugs Bunny.  Never having had much guile, I would like to know how it feels to be that successfully mischievous.


Do you ever lie?



Do you think viewers understand the intent of your work?




What virtue can you do without?


If you mean one which I possess but which I'd like to rid myself of, then none.  Whatever they are, they're probably all pretty good things to have around.  In any case, are virtues still virtuous for oneself if they are expendable? However,  If you mean a quality perceived by many to be a virtue which I have no use for, then purity and innocence can go right in the trash.


Do you even notice when you're swearing?


Yes, in different ways.  If certain people are nearby, mostly members of my family or unfamiliar children accompanied by unfamiliar parents, I still take care not to run my dirty mouth. However, I am a ticking bomb.  I become filled with barely containable profanity in the presence of civilians and then explode when I am no longer among them.  In everyday life I still revel in the freedom and joy of cussing up a storm.  I cherish every syllable.

What has been your proudest moment?


Things in my life don't really culminate in singular moments of pride.  They spread out over time and soak in like butter well dispersed on toast.  For example, I am relieved and proud that in the past two years I have consistently been able to cook meals that don't make friends try to hide their sadness.


What would you like to be remembered for?


It's hard to say.


How would you prefer to die?


Suddenly but comfortably and with most of my wits.


For more on Rob Sato, check out his website.


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