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Artist Carly Mark on butt plugs, gummy bears, and Donald Trump

Her work almost feels akin to Ron English’s Abject Expressionism. But when it comes to Mark’s wonderful weirdness, comparison seems kind of lazy. Her pieces across mediums, like in her recent debut solo show, Good Buy Human, feel like a trip to a bodega on PCP, mixed with early tumblr. It’s both migraine-inducing and brilliant.


We caught up with Mark over the weekend of Miami Basel (she ended up skipping the art fair for some extremely justifiable reasons) to talk about Trump, her butt plug sculptures, and her inevitable Haribo partnership.

Considering the theme of the magazine, we always ask: what is your ideal office?


Something big and well lit. As long as my assistant, Leah James, is in the room, I'm set.


How was Art Basel?


I skipped Basel. Between Trump, Standing Rock, etc. I wasn't up for participating in the debauchery this year.


As someone whose art examines consumer culture, what are your thoughts on Miami Basel? Is it fun? Worthwhile? Gross? A combination?


I go back and forth. It's such a concentrated example of consumer culture that I end up learning something— I love a bacchanal. It also feels like digression, which can be very fun, but I'm a little too bummed about America at the moment to get the best of it.

I know you have to answer this in every interview, but can you tell me about your fascination with Haribo? Has anyone from the company ever reached out to you?


Haribo's packaging is well executed, and they've succeeded in terms of consumer branded globalization. They are German/Kawaii/Fetishistic, which is my thing. It's in every airport. The company has yet to reach out to me, but I can feel it coming.

Can you describe the characters behind the Flight Attendant, Fat Shaming Birthday Cake, and Gold-Bear, and Candy mannequins? I love their makeup. Was contouring a specific reference?


I'm interested in hyperreality and the concept of the Social Self. I was watching The Wiz the other night, and it got me really excited. I've also always loved Club Kids, Claude Cahun, and Paul Thek's Tomb (Death of a Hippie). It’s all of that, combined with outsourcing really talented assistants who help me actualize my end result.


Contour is synonymous with outline, shape, form— in terms of using make-up in art practice it relates to figure drawing and exploring ideas of sculpture within video and photography. Also, RuPaul's Drag Race, of course.

How would you describe your working relationship with Eric Wareheim, who stars in your Good Buy Human video piece? He’s frequently called you one of his wives, ex-wives, etc. Will you be collaborating on more in the future?


Eric is family— he's a best friend, a mentor, inspiration, etc. We're constantly sharing insane stories, ideas, and life experiences. He's so open and free. Definitely future collaborations to come.

You reworked some of the visuals from your video piece into debate-specific gifs. What do you think Donald Trump would think of your art?


I can't imagine a misogynistic racist, one who places climate deniers in the White House and backs conversion therapy, would appreciate the conviction of Good Buy Human or the nuance of my gifs.


Can your butt plugs actually be used?


With true determination, anything can be accomplished.

Text by Jocelyn Silver


Photographs by Mitchell Connell. Carly wears Eric Schlosberg.


All works by Carly Mark. From the top: Fat Shaming Birthday Cake, 2016. Gold-Bear, 2016. Gold-Bears (Doom), 2016. Gold-Bears (Alien and Adolf Loos), 2016. Candy, 2016. Does This Make You Feel Primal (Bear 3), 2016. DoesThis Make You Feel Primal (Bear 7), 2016. 

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