MARCH 13TH | Alex Rauch & Kjell Hansen

On Sunday March 13th from 1-3pm Interstitial Theatre will be screening Sunburst by Seattle based artist Kjell Hansen and Wooden Horse by artist and writer Alex Rauch. Interstitial Theatre will be held at Form/Space Atelier in Belltown: 2407 1st Avenue, Seattle.

I recently sat down for dinner with Alex Rauch to talk about his piece Wooden Horse and hear his thoughts on art and life.

Kira Burge First off could you give me a brief synopsis of the piece Wooden Horse?

Alex Rauch The Wooden Horse is a very disquieting piece. It makes the viewer feel uncomfortable and displaced. I would say that the music makes it almost painful to watch at points and it’s just a little too long. I push the entertainment factor and just nudge it into an effort to watch. The seasoned viewer of “video art” probably subjects themselves to that shit all the time.

The most aesthetically pleasing part of the video for me is when my iris jiggles. I have never noticed before this video. A footnote: At that point in the video my eyelashes are touching the video lens.

KB The titling of this piece seems important to understanding the work, and leads me to assume that you chose the title Wooden Horse, because it both references a child’s play toy, as well as a stealth vehicle of war (Trojan Horse). Could you explain the significance of the wood horse in this piece and point out where those two concepts converge and potential diverge?

AR The title is a direct reference to Dadaism - an English translation of “Dada” or Hobby Horse. “1920, from Fr. dada "hobbyhorse," child's nonsense word, selected 1916 by Romanian poet Tristan Tzara (1896-1963), leader of the movement, for its resemblance to meaningless babble.”

KB What do you consider Fine Art?

AR What we (contemporary artists) consider Fine Art now, has it’s own vernacular and vocabulary. For me the primary concern of “fine art” is the experience. What that phenomenon is not necessary to confine or limit. Looking at the Turner Prize winners from the last 15 years is a good example of “Fine Art.”

KB Unlike the majority of the artists whose work is screened at Interstitial Theatre, video is not your primary medium, and it seems like many artists who regard themselves as sculptors, painter or just ‘other than’ video artists are working with video today. Do you have any thought on that in regards to your own practice and why you have chosen the medium?

AR My primary medium is thought. So I don’t really consider one medium primary over another. I try to work through ideas and ask big questions -without a fear of posing answers. The creation of objects, events or ephemera is only a byproduct. Working in video is a solution to a particular thought.
One of the reasons specifically that I have working knowledge of the video process is that the art-world today is a vicious beast. As an artist you have to document yourself.
It helps that there is a growing availability of technology. The accessibility of editing software allows people to play and create within the medium. Now editing software is pretty much built into your operating systems.
The trick in “video art” is doing it well, and I wouldn’t put myself in that category. I am no Guy Ben-Ner.

KB Do you think that there is value in making video that is not professionally produced?

AR I like quality editing and sound but my work is mostly raw do to budget constraints and lack of know-how. I find that a majority of art video is very fragmented and kind of raw. The only video artist that I’ve seen that makes me believe in art video is Guy Ben-Ner. Here is a link to one of his quintessential clip:

KB I’m not sure everyone knows that you write for the PORT, which gives you access to some pretty well established internationally known artists, curators and theorists. How do you think the conversations you have had with curator Robert Storr, artist Ai Weiwei and theorist Glen Adamson have influenced the way you approach your own practice?

AR The one thing I’ve perceived from my PORT writing is that are two approaches to thinking about art many people like Rob Storr, Ai Weiwei, and Marcel Duchamp, like to leave things very open ended. By open ended I really mean laying out a dialectic that creates a paradox/objectivity or creating conundrums that elucidate resolutions.
It is often that I feel that there are two parts of me arguing; the artist and the art critic – the critic is premised on clean communication and breaking down of quandaries and the artist is building problems for viewer and setting up a trail of obscure clues. When thinking about my work I constantly have a conversation going on in my head about if I should give obscure and random opened references without spelling everything out, or give a visual narrative with specific ideas as if I was writing a review about my piece.
I take myself deadly serious and I’m always joking. Inigo Manglano-Ovalle told me that I don’t have to account for every angle within a piece. One of my favorite parts [of being an artist] is getting to hear others peoples perspectives.

KB What are you up to today?

AR I’ve been making neck ties and getting into grad school. My last three years in Portland have educated me in the ways of the real world and I've realized that no matter what level of artist you are, you’ll always have a day job.