An interview between
Ryan Gander, Adrià Julià & Rebecca May Marston, 25th
of June 2007.
RMM: This is different because all of the interviews we’ve done
so far have been recorded face-to-face and we wanted them to have that
conversational inflection. Nevertheless, we’ll start by email because
you live in LA… Adrià, when was the last time you were in
your studio and what were you doing?
AJ: It was yesterday night, Sunday night. The studio gets quiet during
the weekends, I like it. I had rented a deck for a couple of days and
I wanted to finish using it before returning it in the morning. That same
night, a friend came over at 11 to borrow some lighting equipment. I left
RMM: You’re the only artist who’s never been to the gallery
before the show. I don’t know how much you know of it? It’s
funny that you’ve never been with the show you proposed because
Associates is tiny and has no windows for air and it’s going to
be August, you’re blacking the place out so I have to sit in a dark
dingy sweat-pit for a month…
AJ: Ouch. Well then… now I can picture the gallery much better,
what with all the sweat and odours. Perfect for summer naps. The last
time I was in London was in ‘88. I stayed for a day or two and I
recall not much more than the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace.
According to the main picture on the Associates website, the gallery looks
like something similar: guards, horses, and a palace for napping.
RMM: That’s funny. Tenuous similarities. What’s the closest
thing to Associates in LA?
AJ: Here in Los Angeles there are also a few flourishing non-profit projects
and/or spaces catering for artists that would otherwise not have a voice…
A couple of examples come to mind: The Backroom, Art2102 and maybe the
no longer Champion Fine Art.
RMM: Why do you want to do a show here?
AJ: I have never shown my work in the UK before. I am looking forward
to seeing it in that context. I am drawn to the different aspects of translation
and to its ultimate failure. The translation in the film will dub British
English over American English…
RMM: Why do you dub it to local dialect? Hoxton Street dialect is quite
rough and Taylor is such a prim, white, middle class woman. Did you know
that about Hoxton Street? That gap in translation makes it a new work
from the original.
AJ: When I first showed this project in Barcelona I immediately decided
to dub it into Catalan. At the time this was motivated by my wanting the
footage to be “easy” to understand for the locals. I didn’t
want them to be reading subtitles and didn’t expect them to understand
English, much less any of the subtleties. I used the professional techniques
available for run-of-the-mill blockbuster movies: lip synchronization
and professional actors. The film becomes more accessible, direct and
contextualized for the audience. I am acutely aware of, as well as intrigued
by, the problems generated by translations, particularly when both the
source and target languages are exceedingly local. Precisely because something
in your own dialect would seem easier to watch, an uncomfortable relationship
is spontaneously and unavoidably generated between the old image and the
new sound. This new relationship becomes all the more exaggerated the
more local one tries to become. This would also be why I proposed to dub
the project into Hoxton Street dialect as opposed to, say, a more homogenous
and perhaps friendlier British accent. Every time the film is shown anywhere
in the world, it has to utilize the language and dialect of the locality.
RMM: In the films you’re showing at Associates who are Taylor and
Mike? How did you find them and how did the process of you finding something
to film –their collections– happen?
AJ: I started my work on “Anatomies for a Common House” by
researching representative housing developments around the Los Angeles
area. Several initial visits to model homes for sale in Valencia as well
as some very useful help from one of the real estate agents yielded a
video-installation. I remained curious of the eventual fate of the houses
for sale, which prompted me to return to those same homes for a follow-up
to find out who had eventually occupied them. It was then that I ran into
Taylor. She and her husband Mike had just moved into one of the homes.
She told me that she had come to Los Angeles to become an actress, and
had been trained professionally until she had married, which had halted
her career. I asked her to talk me through her most precious and personal
belongings exhibited in her house. And that would be exactly how her photo
albums and her husband’s collection of sports memorabilia came into
RMM: Ryan said that he thought your work had a slowness and wisdom older
RG: Not wisdom, maturity. I was trying to find the words to say that I
think your work will be pretty alien in this context. You know the way
artists’ practices that live in the same city can find a sort of
style? Like the faux-modernist Modern Institute aesthetic in Glasgow,
or the cowboy and cattle carcass aesthetic in LA. Your work won’t
fit that snug into what’s going on in London maybe… I like
that. And certainly the spatial dynamic of this show is the least like
any other at Associates.
AJ: Can you tell me a little about this ‘cattle carcass aesthetic’?
RG: You know, those Chinatown shows that all looked like a stage set for
a theatre adaptation of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
AJ: Ouff, I am here to get away from all that.
RG: It’s more about the work that is happening here in London being
about a use of devices or a manipulation of materials to produce something
preconceived, and the maturity I’m on about is a sort of simplicity
in what you do, a straight-forwardness.
AJ: I think there is a type of spontaneity and performance in my works,
like the fact the film of Taylor in her house showing her photo albums
is a single shot and only one take. We rehearsed a bit, but in the end
it was about that moment. I didn’t have a perfectly thought-out
idea of the camera movements and stuff; it was more about the relationship
between her and me with the camera. And that comes through in the work.
RMM: Why do you like 16mm?
AJ: I’m interested in its constraints, presence and economy. Filming
on 16mm forces you to reduce and economize image. You can’t shoot
for hours on end. You must consider its inevitable obsolescence, a resistance.
There is much involved in the construction of a scene or even a single
16mm shot. Then there is the presence of the bulky camera and its noise,
which establishes an altered relationship between the subject and the
RG: Is it that or is it to key the viewer into the idea of the weight
AJ: No, not at all, it’s film, there are lots of documentaries done
on video. I don’t see film being more documetaresque.
RG: Historically film is less prone to postproduction manipulation. The
camera never lies my friend. I see film making a lot of little photos,
video doesn’t do that.
AJ: Yes, but you are talking historically. Nowadays documentaries are
shot mostly on video. There are definitely constraints to film but it’s
because of the economy, it’s a ten minute reel… so you shoot
ten minutes, and every minute costs a lot of money. When I went to Vietnam
to make Truc Trang Walls I took one hours worth of film for a month. The
economics and constraints make the work what it is.
RMM: We always do these questions so… what was the last show you
saw and was it any good?
AJ: Charles Ray’s “Hinoki” at Regen Projects. It was
RMM: Where did you go to art school and why did you move to LA?
AJ: I went to Barcelona, Berlin then LA. In 2001 I moved to LA for a Masters
because I wanted to go to Cal Arts, which had a really good art and film
school. And for my work, I was working with a lot of wild west references.
RG: So why did you stay?
AJ: I like the place and when you finish your Masters you have an extra
year on your visa to stay. I wanted to use that time and I was tired of
moving around. I am still there because I guess it takes a long time to
get used to stuff. When you stay in a place longer, it starts to become
part of you, I didn’t want to start over again.
RG: When I was in LA with you, we spent a bit of time at the Mandrake
bar, it reminds me of Stuart Bailey’s place, Dexter Sinister, in
New York. Do you think those places are different to other artist led
initiatives… and if so why?
AJ: I have never been to Stuart’s place, but if you’re buying
I’m there. Mandrake and Associates don’t have much in common,
Mandrake is a bar with an exhibition project-space.
RG: I mean the culture and people that surround it?
AJ: I don’t know. I have only ever seen you two and Sara at Associates.
RG: Is it necessary that you borrow my chesterfield sofa for your show?
AJ: Absolutely, just to piss you off is a good enough reason.
RG: Cheers. You are a nice anomaly amongst the Associates that all live
here. Chin chin.
was born in Barcelona in 1974 and is based in Los Angeles. He gained his
BA Fine Art from Universitat de Barcelona, MA Fine Art from California
Institute of Arts and studied at the Universitat der Kunste, Berlin. He
has exhibited internationally in solo and group exhibitions since 2000.