Tuesday, February 26th, 2008
I was first introduced to Stuart Snoddy’s work when a friend of mine excitedly told me about a post-it note portrait of one of Matthew Barney’s Cremaster persona he had seen at a gallery opening in the Indianapolis neighborhood of Fountain Square. Now Indianapolis is a great art city, but it leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to work that is simultaneously progressive and strategically humorous. Progressive risk taking work often falls into the trap of having to put on airs of self-importance, perhaps because it doesn’t take much to be considered progressive in a rather safe art environment and this tone of seriousness is an attempt to reassure the viewer that this is still art. It is not the art community that isn’t progressive, but the art buying community. The other often misstep is the inverse; work that overstates the humor resorting to silliness as an escape clause in the event that someone hurl an accusation that the work is taking itself too seriously. You can’t win. So when I heard about a post-it note portrait referencing the Crememaster cycle, I needed tomeet the artist.
Further insight into the character of Stuart Snoddy was made evident when I requested an artist statement from him for the currentexhibition in the Unusual Animals Project Space. The artist statement started with an Oscar Wilde quote: "It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances. The mystery of the world is the visible,not the invisible." Immediately two seemingly unrelated theories of art came to mind. The attitude of this statement calls to mind the bold color and beauty aesthetic of the work discussed in Dave Hickey’s book Air Guitar , while the execution in Snoddy’s work reminds me of a fluxus/conceptual art inspired minimalism. These two schools are now cordially commingling.
Other phrases and words jumped out at me in Snoddy’s artist statement:wonderment, amusement, daily, malleability and investigation. His work makes me think of captured movement, reflection, and a dialog between viewer and viewed object that leaves an ever mutating residueof natural phenomena. The materials are imprinted with a memory and history of movement through the room. This is art that with the barest of means is a reminder to our interaction with the world outside of the gallery. This isn’t really art about form or function,yet the forms are functions and the functions are forms.
Michael Kaufmann: If I could be so bold as to label your artwork I would use some of the same words I used to describe Cindy Hinant’s work though you two areworking in total different areas. I called Cindy’s work Post-minimalist whimsy. I think I would refer to your work aswhimsical kinetic post-minimalism. How does that title fit on for size?
Stuart Snoddy: That seems pretty accurate when describing my recent works. The problem is that I rarely operate in the same manner for too long. So next month that description might fail to properly describe what I am doing.
MK: Is the economy of materials important to your work (i.e. thread and tinfoil)?
SS: Yes. I just can’t imagine a situation where this would not be the case. I bring a big box of materials into the studio and go from there. Today I might work with foil and string, but tomorrow I might work with LCD screens or paint. In every instance the economy of the materials I choose will effect my decision making process.
MK: What artists or traditions inspire you? What non-art world things inspire you?
SS: I am inspired in a very broad way by contemporary art surveys. I feel a tremendous pressure to conform aesthetically to the work represented in these volumes. These books are my connection to art. It’s difficult for me to identify any non-art influences on my work, other than simple phenomena. I usually catch myself trying to imitate or emulate art in an attempt to cultivate a sense of authority or sincerity.
MK: Has Indianapolis had an effect on your work and if so how?
SS: Definitely. Here in the Midwest, the (Art)world comes to me in the form of reproductions. If I want to “experience” a Peter Doig painting or a Gabriel Orozco sculpture, I open a book. Looking at art inevitably becomes a two-dimensional experience regardless of the medium. But this is the way I experience art in Indianapolis, and I can’t help but think that this paper-thin perspective seasons my work in some way.
MK: Would you consider yourself a part of any tradition or movement?
SS: I really can’t say that I think about it too often. If you would have asked me last year I would have identified myself as a kitsch maker.
MK: How would you respond if someone accused you of laziness?
SS: Perhaps I am lazy. Should I regiment or qualify the success of something by the amount of time or “effort” that I put into it? I don’t know how that works. Is there a scale?
MK: In your artists statement you say "My goal as an "artist" is to discover and share this amusement."? First I want to ask you aboutyour use of quotations around the word artist. Do you have anaversion to the word? Do you question its validity or superiority?
SS: I operate in the realm of imitation. I copy the look of art. I think this would traditionally be defined as kitsch. I wouldn’t be totally adverse to someone labeling me an artist, it’s just not something I can honestly self apply. I don’t feel it’s absolutely necessary to know what I am.
MK: Secondly, in regards to this statement, your goal to discover and share amusement reminds me of Alan Kaprow who was very interested inart as non-competitive gaming as a means to engage himself and others with each other and their surroundings. What amuses you about the world? And another loaded question, what is to be gained by sharing this amusement?
SS: I always chuckle at the little pieces of phenomena that are dancing all around. Sometimes it takes a good friend to point them out though. Other than pure amusement, the benefit from sharing would come in the form of experiential knowledge.
MK: Your work seems to exist outside of the usual gallery measurements of value, yet you are selling prints. How does the purchase and sale of artwork challenge or support your art?
SS: Capitalism will always be an immovable boulder that one must climb. The real challenge is figuring out how to scale it. I must find a way of operating in a manner that makes sense financially, without sacrificing content for commerce.
MK: Thanks for your time and thoughts. Hopefully these were thought evoking. Feel free to add any non-related comments.
SS: Thank you. I just want to add that more info can be found here; www.stuartsnoddy.blogspot.com