Marcel Dzama: A Conversation on MOCAtv + Upcoming David Zwirner London ExhibitionJuxtapoz // Friday, 01 Mar 2013
We were able to speak with Marcel Dzama about his episode of Artist Talk with Alia Shawkat and Lance Bangs, a new six-part MOCAtv series hosted by American actor, producer, and artist Alia Shawkat and directed by American filmmaker Lance Bangs. Marcel's upcoming exhibition Puppets, Pawns, and Prophets opens April 6 at David Zwrner Gallery in London.
Marcel Dzama Puppets, Pawns, and Prophets opens April 6 at David Zwrner Gallery in London. Dzama‘s work is characterized by an immediately recognizable visual language that draws from a diverse range of references and artistic influences, including Dada and Marcel Duchamp. While he has become known for his prolific drawings with their distinctive palette of muted colors, in recent years, the artist has expanded his practice to encompass sculpture, painting, film, and dioramas. On view in London will be a range of recent works, including films, sculptures, and drawings. All images courtesty the artist and David Zwirner, New York/London Juxtapoz: In the video you discuss shooting a movie in Mexico and another one with your grandfather. You have made several films, contributed to music videos and also did a top 10 for the Criterion Collection. What aspects of a film's story or characters influence your work the most? Is there something in particular about a character or story that will inspire your own drawings and art?
Marcel Dzama: I like watching old movies before I am about to start working on a film just to get inspired by stories and narrative. I don't work with narrative in my drawings but prefer it in film as otherwise my films could end up becoming too surreal. I like them to have that element but with a working story. Even if the story only makes sense to me. I'm drawn to certain characters, usually small time villains from seedy underworld's, lately women with babies, impressarios, enigmatic gypsies, thugs and people wearing costumes to conceal their identities. I feel like I grew up with a lot of these characters in Winnipeg and they tend to pop up in old film noir too, so I'm right at home there. I'll be interested in certain characters for awhile and they'll show up in whatever medium I'm working in, either drawings, film or sculpture.
We see in the video that you recently had a very cute baby! You also mentioned that you would probably like to do a children's book at some point. Has having a baby around had a noticeable influence on what you are inspired to create?
Thank you very much! He's just the best and I'm glad to see him in playing keyboards in the video. He's influenced my work so much. Even before he was born I found myself drawing a lot of pregnant women and fetuses. Now there are nursing babies, usually boys wearing striped shirts which is his style. He just loves music so we're all really getting into Ella Jenkins around here and she's an amazing person. I think of new children's books everyday. I will make something for him very soon, yes.
You mention how working with many different mediums help to prevent you from getting too bored with one. In the video you show us Player Piano paper rolls you are starting to draw on and some tin art you were inspired to create in Mexico. Do you enjoying working with found and recycled materials? Do they help make the creative process more interesting and challenging?
Yes, definitely. I've always collected other people's garbage when walking around whatever neighborhood I'm living in. My Dad did it growing up so maybe that's where it comes from. It's amazing what you can find from mannequins to discarded paper to great chairs. I've had to cut down since filling up my home too much. I'm getting into hoarder territory.
Thank you. I actually don't look back at my older work too much. I'm always trying to look forward. I feel like that can be a rabbit hole to get lost in when you do it. With ideas pursued and abandoned I guess what gets worked on is the one I'm most connected to at the time. Though maybe collage is an exception to that. I feel like images I've connected to in magazines always sit in my head for a while waiting to meet up with another image so I keep them around forever always revisiting. Maybe I can sit on film ideas a bit longer too only because they are so hard to get made. But at least I can consistently think about a few main idea's for the year in planning to make it. But like anything, it can be hard to look at older stuff. Maybe it can also be instructive but for me I'm always working, always trying to get it done before it is old to me.
Puppets, Pawns, and Prophets
April 6—May 11, 2013
David Zwirner, London