Artist Statement

To create the works in the recent series ‘Comedy Surveillance Paintings,’ I have spent two years performing at comedy open mics around New York. I became interested in capturing a fleeting moment, or series of moments, from the point of view of the performer: freezing the swirling nervous chaos of performing standup into a painting. I wrote out a series of two-minute sets comprised of inane jokes and told these jokes to various crowds while wearing a helmet with a camera attached to it.

The camera recorded video footage of each performance, and this footage became the base material for the work. I combed through the footage to find moments—compositions—of visual interest that synced with the language of painting: color, gesture, line, shape, texture, value contrast, etc., while also capturing a unique moment within the performance. I then printed the selected stills onto canvas, in order to reexamine the product as an artwork existing on its own physical terms. The pieces are formalist in their aesthetic considerations, but are inherently imbedded into a larger conceptual practice. Divorced from its original live-moment source, each painting alludes to performance yet retains an abstract quality that opens more questions. These holes within the narrative seem worthy of investigation and inquiry by a secondary audience, i.e. an art audience. 

My recent experimentations in the world of alternative stand up comedy aim to create a collapse of mediums. In this work, I’m exploring ways in which live performance, visual representation, and the digital all find an unexpected meeting point, wherein the terms “painting,” “photography,” “printing,” and “performance” might become more difficult to separate. Similar to Harmony Korine’s Trashhumpers, my work seeks to mash-up abject outsider performance with VHS-era deterioration to investigate lowbrow comedy as social phenomena. In addition to Korine, experimental filmmakers finding recent crossover into the art world with painterly still frames has been an influence on my current practice: the Nathaniel Dorsky and Chris Marker exhibitions at NYC’s Peter Blum gallery were an inspiration while creating this body of work.

-December 2017