Art & Literature Blog curated
by Richard Schemmerer
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Wednesday, May 2, 2012
PDX Art: Interview with Artist & photographer Marne Lucas
Go see Marne Lucas and her latest exhibit the 'Mandwich Redux' show in Las Vegas on May 3rd at Sin City art gallery. She invited the Nevada Gay Rodeo Association to have their kick-off party in tandem with her art reception. more info at www.mandwich.tumblr.com
------------------------------------------- The Pride Review INTERVIEW with Artist & Photographer Marne Lucas What is your background and why do you live where you do? I’m a photographer and multi-disciplinary artist living and working in NYC and sometimes my hometown of Portland, Oregon. I wanted to live in NYC since I was in my teens and as an artist it seems like a rite of passage to try to eek out a place among the many ridiculously talented artists here. I’m mostly known as a photographer and filmmaker, often using sexual metaphor and a witty sense of humor. But I’m also an installation artist; 'Eco-Baroque' ™ art and design is an invented genre that humorously expresses my own brand of 'nature-based mythology'. Eco-Baroque began as elaborate collaborative work made with Portland-based artist Bruce Conkle. My hope is that the work contributes a new approach to the current social concept of ‘eco’ where art is related.
Are you excited to be alive at this day and age? Yes! In terms of personal freedom, this is a great time to be alive. However, that being said, there is still a lot of work to be done in regards to equal access to health care, education, and gender and race equality. The intersection of technology and the human body is both exciting and daunting and something I really want to explore in future work. What attracted you to photography? Duck hunting and being painfully shy when I was younger, so this made hiding behind a tool a good option. Seriously, hunting uses the same steps- focusing on a subject within the crosshairs, anticipating the action moving into the sight, holding your breath and pulling the trigger- are all the same as taking a picture with a camera! I’d also have to say that after working for many years as a fashion model and later as a wardrobe stylist for photography and film; it was a natural progression to pursue portrait photography. My visual style is influenced by fashion, design and art direction to achieve my own sensual aesthetic.
What does gender mean to you and how do you perceive yourself in the contemporary world? I was sort of my dad’s first son (family of three daughters, no sons) although I was the extremely sensitive one; he got me Tonka trucks and Erector Sets, tools, he took all of us girls bird hunting, but then I hit puberty and became a bookworm/girly-girl, eventually evolving into a strong woman with a somewhat gay aesthetic. It all makes perfect sense to me now, and I love how fluid gender is becoming now. Have you ever seen the performer Christeene? She is a homeless, tranny rock-star persona who is so inexplicably hot, it’s baffling, played by a very handsome gay man named Paul Soileau. Christeene taps into the most elemental physical and sexual expression while blowing your mind with her witty take on social issues, wearing costumes of such brevity they just barely check the box of: “intentionally undressed, but with impeccable fashion”! She is my fame crush, along with Raquel Welch and Freddie Mercury. Does that offer any insight as to my ideas on gender?
Your art deals also with sexuality? Do you identify with an orientation and how does that inform your art practice? I identify as being both very sexually oriented and deeply visually oriented ; ) I suppose the reductive label of bi-sexual/bi-coastal/poly/eco-baroque/ multi-media artist covers orientation and creative practice. Sensuality seems to be a filter through which just about everything in my mind and life passes through.
What is your photography all about? I’m interested in exploring nature, pop-culture and sexuality in relationship to each other and as individual concepts with the intention of making humorous commentary on social perceptions about how we view nature and the self. Working within the subtle nuances of identity and persona allows me to observe and report on how our culture responds with oft-changing and conflicting social attitudes. My most recognized work is portraiture-based; sensuality fused with candor in pin-up style photos of men, the ‘Mandwich’ series and ‘Velour Girls’, a series of women. ‘Sitting City’ is an ongoing artist portraits series, and MLSP’ is the extensive self-portrait series in which I’m cast in an ever-evolving parade of characters that deal with gender, beauty and social issues. I’m able to gain the subject’s trust, I maintain long-term, close friendships with them and I don’t ask anyone to do what I haven’t already done myself. I’ve worked extensively both behind and in front of the camera as the muse and as an artist in celebrating the body. Most notably with Jacob Pander on our award winning, IR short film ‘The Operation’ (1995), I do take personal risks in my art.
Who is your targeted audience? My audience is folks who appreciate aesthetics and beauty in the human body and in nature and see value in such creative pursuits, and those who pursue and enjoy the sensual. What is your new show “Mandwich Redux” all about and where is it going to be? Mandwich’ is an ongoing series that celebrates the male physique and character as I see them through my fantasies and dreams. I have all new work, ‘Mandwich Redux’ a solo show premiering at Sin City Gallery in Las Vegas for the month of May. I invited the NGRA- Nevada Gay Rodeo Association to have their kick-off party at my reception, as the BigHorn Gay Rodeo opens the weekend after my show opens. I’ve always wanted to document gay rodeo! I try to portray all kinds of men with the same humor, warmth and intimacy of my female series, ‘Velour Girls’. I have photographed actor Kris Anderson, performers Chad Ferro and Paul Soileau a.k.a Christeene, BDSM film talent Master Avery and NYC artists Walt Cessna and Scooter LaForge are among those who appear in my work. I’m inspired by the early works of artists James Bidgood, Bob Mizer, and Jim French. I credit my peers who support and inspire me: photographers Michael Alago, Walt Cessna and artist Heyd Fontenot.
**What inspires you personally? I am jazzed by committed, passionate art that moves me and gives me goose-bumps. I love the works by artists Ernst Haeckl, Salvador Dali, William Blake and contemporary artists Gavin Wilson, Steve Diet Goedde, and Barnaby Whitfield. I am deeply moved by the energy and style of the late Klaus Nomi and the activism of Margaret Sanger. I’m seriously inspired by nature and am smitten by the beauty of materials such as moss, stone, sand, wood, minerals and crystals. Bodies of water, skinny-dipping, swimming and surfing; the texture of skin, dancing, wearing white leather, expensive lingerie, stiletto shoes that I can barely walk in. Weird humor. Losing my mind to live music by my favorite NYC psychedelic-doom metal band The Netherlands. Where do you feel at home? In the Pacific Northwest, in tropical island culture and big cities! I was born in Honolulu, but was raised and lived most of my life in Portland, Oregon. I really miss the moss-carpeted forests. I’ve been dividing my time between NYC and Portland for a few years now. In my future life, I hope to settle somewhere warm where I can surf, eat coconuts and paw at piles of driftwood. Do you believe in another dimension? Does a Bear shit in the woods, then take off his shirt and pose for me? Hell yes! I don’t believe that we are the only beings in the universe. I’ve had some special experiences that opened my heart to the possibility that we are experiencing only a small part of the hologram that is our perceived life.
What’s magical to you? Being underwater is my favorite magical dimension, and time and space are so entirely different underwater- buoyancy, the quality of light; it’s my natural habitat! I find magic in burls, moss, crystals, and the moon. Trying to and achieving the ability to transcend time and space in personal ways is a form of magic, as are two-way mental phone calls with special people in my life.
How much does your political conviction bleed into your photography? My secret agenda is that I’m all about community building, non-judgmental health-care services, gay rights, legalizing pot and prostitution, making end-of-life care more respectful and fulfilling, and preserving nature for future generations. I volunteered for Danzine for many years, a now defunct health agency and was co-curator with founder Teresa Dulce for both the 'Danzine Retrospective' as part of the exhibition 'At The Mercy Of Others: The Politics of Care' (NYC) and for the 'Sex By Sex Worker Film + Video Festivals' (1998, 2000) which were the first of their kind, created to provide exposure for sex-working artists, supported freedom of speech, and advocated female health and safety. So yes, art does imitate life for me. What is love in 2012 all about? For me, it’s about acceptance, fluidity, honest intention/action and creating your own lifelong family wherever you are. Culturally there seems to be a shift and folks are waking up to what is really important. Perhaps we’re entering the Age of Aqueerius…Gay Marriage ought to be legal everywhere, let’s love and accept humanity for once and for all. What do you remember about the last person you dated? I’ve never really “dated”, I tend to bump into the right people and then have long-term, committed relationships in non-traditional ways…so to answer your question, I’m still with them and they are solid as a rock, have integrity, are funny, handsome, sexy, weird, creative and encourage me to be even weirder. What happened to the last guy/girl you loved? My exes are my dearest friends. As I see it, I am the sum of all of the parts of my life and that includes my past lovers and partners.
What’s your ultimate sex test? Oooh! That really depends on chemistry… I love deep passionate kissing and roleplaying with either gender. I suppose if someone ordered me to drink champagne from a cat dish, while wearing a rhinestone collar, leash and stilettos; that might just be way up on the list. A person who embraces my wandering point of view on my self-identified gender and goofy sense humor passes the test!
What is your vision for the USA? Better healthcare for all, American’s learning to consume less of EVERYTHING, and compassionate end of life care. My hope is that the USA finally outgrows puberty, takes its head out of its ass and someone takes it’s credit card away until it can be a responsible adult and take care of its people. What is your vision for your own life personally and what’s in store for you artistically after this exhibit? I think I know why I am on the planet…I’m here to love, explore intimacy and make art and be an activist for the rest of my life. After ‘Mandwich Redux’ I’ll still be photographing guys until I have enough material to publish a book. I’ve been shooting pin-up for 13 years and have yet to put a book out, so maybe a coffee-table book that’s half ‘Mandwich’ and half ‘Velour Girls’ would be dreamy. I’ll be making films, editing my ‘Sodom, Gomorrah, Milk, Salt’ short film that I shot during my CentralTrak artist residency in Dallas and continue getting the ‘Eco-Baroque’ work out on tour, so to speak. All that and perfecting my “Broken-Robot-Sex Doll” dance moves.