Recently, Julia Tingulstad, a student at London College of Communication, began writing her dissertaiton on the american artist Brad Downey. She sent us this excerpt from an interview she recently did with Brad. We liked it a lot so we thought we’d share it with you….
How would you define public space?
The space between Work and Home. Public space is irrelevant it does not exist. We could talk about space that functions for the public. I think that is what you mean.
To what extent do you think your work brings awareness to the public space, and how?
I hope it shows people that the city is theirs. They need to see and question the objects that they engage with everyday. Nothing is completely right. Everything must be questioned.
What is your attitude, reason for making art in the public space?
It’s not for sale. Everyone can see and think about it. Surprises. The gift of giving. You can touch it without feeling weird.
How does your surroundings influence/inspire you to make pieces of art? Do you see any big distinction between life and art? How do they connect, not connect?
For me, everything is inspirational, But, mostly the city. It is the place that humans dump all their vices and virtues. It is a completely human world. It tries to shut out all other forms of life. Art is about the human experience. But, Art lives on longer than one lifetime. It has the power to change things about the past, present and future. It can affect life that follows it. Art is not life it is the product of life. It is meant to teach and question the nature of the human experience.
What is your experience of the city/living in the city, in relation to making art?
For me, the city seems to be a perfect platform for showing art. I make work about people for people and in the end they are the ones who determine whether it’s meaningful for them. Whether that happens after I am dead or not. The audience is the motivation and validation. In the city the audience is vast and diverse.
What do you think the role of the artist is/should be?
The job of the artist is to question everything in the human reality. Never take anything as a truth. Rethink meaning and stereotypes. Art is the science of freedom according to Joseph Beuys.
What was your main reason for installing work outside as opposed to an inside space, like the gallery?
I feel the gallery is a non-space so it has no reference point. Except the ones the artists employ. I like to speak to a diversified audience. The gallery usually has a small percentage of the population involved. Outside can speak to everyone from all walks of life. It is also fun to work with no reference point or contexts the non-space is also interesting. I just don’t concern me as much.
You are obviously concerned with objects and (street)signs, and the discourse around that. What is the significance of objects, signs in your work?
I am concerned with the lack of discourse around rules in general. People are not saying or questioning or acting on any of these things that surround them. Surveillance is a major issue. There seems to be more popping up everyday.
You often use inanimate objects as metaphors for human emotions. Explain in relation to “Madonna and Child” How was it installed?
The Pieces about human emotions stem from the early comments about the audience being the motivation for everything done. If you want people to look at things and understand them you have relate them to experiences they are going through. Having children etc. And it is funny to see things that are not usually alive come to life. The city and the architecture suddenly becomes the people living in them.
Can you say something about the illegal aspect of your work?
The illegal attitude is a “Do It Yourself” kind of thing. It allows me to operate and do things without help or approval from the institution.
What is the significance of disguise in installing your work? You take on the role as a street-worker, who you say have become invisible and unquestioned as a result of forced overexposure in the public space? How do you relate work of the artist as opposed to the street worker?
I come from a blue collar working American family. I guess when dealing with issues of art so called “high culture,” I never forgets my roots. I always want my family or people like my family to understand what I am saying. The thing I noticed while doing this work is that people never expect or consider “common” people when doing art. I have heard people say “Why would you put art in that neighborhood their not gonna care about it.” But I believe everyone needs and benefits from creative acts. And everyone needs to question his or her surroundings and reality. Constructions workers are invisible because they are a diversion of the normal flow of traffic; they are not questioned because they are working for the city. I feel the same about the street objects and control devices, they are never questioned because they are the normal flow of traffic. They are not questioned because they are working for the city.