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India's Elements of Intimacy

Etching is a complicated process. It requires patience, time, and focus — foreign concepts to the modern, fast-paced, ADHD era. It recalls the astoundingly complex pieces of Albrecht Dürer and Rembrandt. India Salvör Menuez uses the medium with brash simplicity, giving new meaning to the term “clean lines.” Her subjects are casual, relaxed, easy in a contemporary incantation of cool, their mystery connected to the intimacy we’re invited to question.

office was able to tete-a-tete with the artist about collaboration, her fist solo show, and artistic weaponization. 

 

 

When did you start doing etching?

 

A friend of mine was taking some continuing ed. print making classes at SVA and handed me a plate to mess around with. that was when I was 18, and I didn’t get back into it till more recently, but remember it struck me right away as a medium I really enjoyed and wanted to do more with.

 

Why are you drawn to this medium?

 

I don’t do the printing myself, and perhaps one day that might change, but I actually really enjoy this kind of clear role collaboration of “artist” & printmaker (I put artist in quotes, because really the printer is just as much an artist). When this show opened at Picture Room, I didn’t feel like it was just my work on the wall, but also a show of Katsumi’s work. I have such a hard time believing in, or finding interest in ideas of the artist as this isolated maker. There is so much that is special about the process of etching, and the preciousness of the plates as my publisher, printer & I handle them. I also like how the different processes of each medium call for a different relationship to time, to slowness, patience.

 

You refer to the etching needle as a “weapon”— do you feel as though this is more of a weapon than other artistic tools? Do you think your tools and work is used as a weapon for destruction or protection?

 

I didn’t use that word metaphorically, although yes, all art can be weaponized either by the artist themselves or through the multi-tiered violence of capitalism etc… I think I was just referring to the poetry I found in making such delicate marks with such a potentially fatal object.

 

Why these subjects? Do you tend to use those close to you as subject matter in most of your work?

 

I’ve never made work like this before really, (having worked more in the past with fantasy or more abstract concepts) this work is almost embarrassingly sincere and straight forward. I simply asked the people I felt close enough with, to ask for their time and image in this way. Friends, family, however we define their relationship to me, they are just people in my proximity with whom some other kind of intimacy was possible/allowed. These days, we are all very used to having our photos taken, circulated etc, but the attention of eyes taking your image in, in this particular way, I think it’s quiet different and indeed very intimate.

 

 

With such an “intimate” context— what do you hope to deliver through your work to the viewer who does not necessarily know the subjects?

 

I don’t know, I guess I don’t have an intentional takeaway to prescribe. I didn’t make this work with a clear context or viewership in mind (quite contrary to how I used to make performance work…) I thank my publisher for encouraging me to keep making these, I mean I really enjoy making them, so I’m just trying to trust that if other people see some value in that, then maybe I should share these things.

 

How do you feel having your first solo show? What do you hope to do next?

 

I honestly felt pretty uncomfortable with the idea of having a “solo show” (as maybe one could tell by my focus on also highlighting the printer I worked with). I wasn’t sure what it meant for me to show this work, and in this focused way, it felt so serious somehow, the solo show is a pretty vulnerable container… But I really trust Sandeep, and so having Picture Room as a space, made it feel possible and more low-key.

 

How did you get involved with Picture Room?

 

I have been a fan of Picture Room and Sandeep’s work in the arts publishing and archiving worlds for a while. I had seen older friends of mine have shows there, would go to poetry readings there, admire the historic Carolee Schneeman posters there etc. I first, more directly, approached Sandeep last year with a Risograph Poster project I did with Repro Rights Zines (a publishing effort I do with two brilliant women). We were making limited runs of artist posters to raise money for the Center for Reproductive Rights (artists we worked with including Petra Collins, Ser Serpas, Aidan Koch, Alia Penner) which we released through Picture Room and had an event to go with. So we got to know each other more through that. Milah (who works with Sandeep) was also a friend of mine, and I had shown her one of my etchings in passing, which she then urged me to bring in more of to show Sandeep. As soon as I did, Sandeep was pushing for a show.