Audience Overload, by Brian Belott
What is the concept behind People Pie Pool, how did this all come about?
Dadaism is something I’ve liked since I was very young. My father was a commercial artist, and I got into dadaism through the photos of Man Ray, and my piecing together of that whole layer of 1920’s France, and artists like Duchamp. [Our] family enjoyed the absurd, the ridiculous. A subversion of that kind of just rubbed off on me. One of the first things I saw was the Marx Brothers, that group of comedic brothers making vaudeville movies. Each brother brings more collamati, so when all three of them are together things get insane. So, when Performa approached me, I was like, “Fuck yes! Things are starting to line up!”
I’m a visual artist as well, so and what I use a lot is collage. And if I was going to make something dada, it would be an event that encapsulated many performers— the model of the Marx brothers. It isn’t just one hilarious brother, it's all three of them in the room that makes that tidal wave of absurdity. So I decided that I wanted to bring in friends or people that could get on stage, easily be unhinged, and bring excitement. Going crazy has it's history, and I’m constantly thinking about the double crossing nature of dadaism.
Tristan Tzara, who wrote all these Dada manifestos, at one point, wrote something along the lines of, 'true Dada hates Dada'. I started to think why don't I involve people who would not necessarily consider themselves performers— like a math teacher, yoga instructor, or a gym class. These other people counterbalance everything, they beef up the polar opposites. The other thing, is that I don’t want each act to be clearly defined, I want everything to overlap. One person is finishing up their lecture, while the next thing is already going on.
Is this the first performance you’ve ever done? Also, I know you’re a painter as well how did you transition into doing performances?
Back in the 1990’s my ex-girlfriend and I would make these compositions— she actually taught me a lot. We would put on performances on stage, involving props and gags. This is similar.
I read that you said “At some point in an artist’s production, they should dig their heels and do the opposite of what’s expected of them” Is that what this show is?
That’s why I involved some of the more mundane performers because I felt like being some kind of punk has a history around it, it is a school in itself. Why don't we have someone come in here and talk about reality, or cryptocurrency. Their subject might be fantastic and far out like the necularphysis, or more of a mind fuck— someone just talking in tongues. When I’m making art I feel like you set up rules, but you also set up a foil within your sweet plans. I’m really suspect of when an artist gets too good at something. Inevitably, the audience is watching something transpire even if it's a frozen image, you’re still performing and if you don't cause yourself a problem and solve it in front of the audience then to me it becomes too crafty.
How do you usually come to a final idea? Is it by scraping your original 20 times?
It depends with the project, sometimes it is a daydream and then all of a sudden it happens. I definitely tend to get obsessed with stuff. At one point I had this idea, like what about all that time you’re in the shower? What if you made art while you were in the shower? So I glued all of these notebooks in shower and of course most of the drawings have to deal with water. It was something that I was doing all summer so now all of these things are leafing out. But the idea was that, you’re not supposed to be drawing in the shower so maybe that weird problem would get some more genuine mark making out of me.
That’s actually a really good idea, I’ve never really thought of that
I definitely love strange stuff, this one time I worked on another project. Since I did a lot of collage I asked myself why are you gluing from paper to paper why don't you just put all the paper in a tray of water and put it in the freezer. Then after a while I decided using paper is impractale and why don’t you use different materials other than water. Why not use cat food, hair gel, mustard, play doe. So I started making these things out of cat food and hair gel.
I really admire your unpretentious approach to art! Do you think comes from your upbringing?
Thanks! Yeah, but I also think an artist just needs to go into the world. The world is Polar and if you only exist on one side of the pole then the world is lopsided. There are people out there like Mozart and John Coltrane, masters, but there is also art out there made by everyday people. It is heartfelt, and isn’t being commodified or put in museums. Those poles are both really important.
What’s the story of you with your hair on fire?
I think an artist should play with fire, you know like a comedian does, by screwing around in a way they shouldn’t.
When I was in highschool, I was in this band where I used to dose my hands in rubbing alcohol and light them on fire. Somewhere around 2000, I got a big beard and someone told me I could light it on fire without screwing myself up. So I lit it on fire and took some photos, I just thought of making an image that you would just see and immediately be like “NO”.