giovedì 16 dicembre 2010

Jaimie Warren - Interview

I like to imagine Jaimie as that big talented girl from Kansas City, Missouri with the word “fun” carved in her heart. The first time I’ve seen her photographs I started smiling, because she’s making art from pictures that people just take of themselves when they want to have fun, but most of the time they don’t show them to anyone, but Jaimie shows them to us. In her pictures and in what she does, as a performer we can see her extraordinary human comedy of the world she plays in or where she and her friends prefer to live. Never serious is her point of view of the world she stalks, having the rare ability to walk the thin line between gross and beautiful but always being real and impulsively unique.

How are things in Kansas City?
Things are just the way I like them – Slow! Ha ha. Slow and boring!! It’s quiet, there is tons of space, I can go to the free pool on top of the grocery store and drink a mai tai while Lil Jon is blasting, I can make garbage outfits with my roommate (who is an amazing fashion designer- Peggy Noland (, or I can tip cows and make mudpies in my spare time.
Why do you love Kansas City?
I think I love it because it is super cheap, I have amazing friends to make super fun projects with all the time, and I have the support to do pretty much anything I want. Plus, I have been working with the same friends for so long that we have developed this very weird sense of humor that really helps my work. And we aren’t bombarded with insignificant things like parties and art and fashion!! Hee hee
The instinctive part is the great thing about making art. The surprises you find are what's interesting. Do you think you're an intuitive artist?
It’s hard for me to tell! Often times, I think the things that I find funny are not funny to other people at all. I have this very strong desire to always have this awkward, “wtf??” sort of aspect to my work. Like the more awkward or embarrassing it is, the more successful it is. But I think people often walk away with a very confused and maybe even ashamed sort of feeling with what I do – at least with my performance work. I find that to be when the work is the most successful, but I think I’m the only one that feels that way.
Do you think your work has more humour than it gets credit for?
I’d like to think my work is funny… I know I think it’s funny! I’m really not into serious stuff. It makes me want to barf.
If you could animate one of your photographs and turn it into a movie, which one would you choose, and why?
This new one of the Garbage Heap from Fraggle Rock. It’s super inspired by Peggy’s garbage clothes, but also by a show that I grew up watching as a kid. This is a new piece I finished very recently for a show at Steven Kasher Gallery in New York called “Inspired”, curated by Beth Rudin DeWoody. It’s paired with a Lady GaGa image where she is wearing the frog outfit by Jean Charles de Castelbajac. The two images were paired up on because some weirdo thought they looked the same – which I loved! So I re-made it for the show. I would turn the two images into a movie about Lady GaGa and the Trash Heap’s awkward and sexual relationship.
Is there some kind of message you hope will come through your work?
Not really a message, I think I would just like people to be happy looking at my images, and to be able to relate to them, and maybe have the images inspire them to do something weird or silly or fun of their own. That would be rad.
You are a performance artist, when did you decide to be an actress in your photographs? Do you consider it acting?
I don’t really consider it acting, I guess, because I’m just being my silly ol’ self. It’s just spontaneous bursts of acting like a child, which I know is maybe both funny and disgusting.
How did Whoop Dee Doo get its start?
Whoop Dee Doo ( started as a traveling art exhibition from Kansas City to a gallery in Miami called Rocket Projects, and so many performers came out from KC to Miami for the opening, that the performances ended up being the best part of the show! There is such a super weirdo range of performers in Kansas City, that it sort of inspired what the show came to be. Plus, it was mega-inspired by a public access television show in Chicago called Chic-a-go-go, a show where anyone from the public can come on the show and dance. It is so amazing! So we started our own, and added a bunch of twists. It’s sort of like a kids show for adults. Kids help make costumes, sets, props, etc., and the acts are an amazing range – from Celtic Bagpipers and Christian Mimes and Civil War Re-enactors to punk bands and drag queens and tons of other amazing people. It’s so much fun! Now we have about 22 volunteers. Matt Roche and I are the Co-Directors, and other big bosses are Leone Anne Reeves, Natalie Myers, Megan Mantia, Flannery Cashill, Chris Beer, Roger Link, Peggy Noland, Stuart Smith, Lee Heinemann, and others. Our crew is totally amazing. And we have traveled the show to lots of amazing places like the Bemis Center in Omaha, Deitch Projects in New York, the Smart Museum in Chicago, Loyal Gallery in Malmo, Sweden, and other rad places!
I think that you are perfect to act in a John Waters’ movie, would like to be part of?
Oh My Gosh Duh! I love John Waters! But I think maybe I’m hoping to be a little more David Lynch? Maybe not. I might not be smart enough for that. I would die to be in a John Waters film, or to hang out next to him and stare at him or something. But I think I’m also a little too innocent for his films. I can’t handle any gross sex stuff – it freaks me out. I’m always collaborating with the Ssion, and on lots of their videos. The Ssion is the brainchild of Cody Critcheloe, an amazing artist and one of my bestest buddies who is also based in Kansas City. Here are some videos I’m in if you haven’t seen them:
How important is in your work the balance between gross and beautiful at the same time. How can you manage it?
The balance is super important to me. I try to make all of the photos super harmless, but at the same time always reference something gross or sexual. Also, any photos of people are always of people I know well. I hate exploiting people because I think that’s dorky.
Shamlessly exhibit yourself while revealing nothing, or shamlessly exhibit yourself while revealing most of it?
I think I’m revealing a lot. There’s not much more than what’s being revealed. I’m not going to act like there is much more to me than what you see.
In your images your life seems chaotic, impetuous, fast are those snapshots of that life or are they a recration of moments you had in mind?
They are all totally real moments. I never really set anything up. I simply am someone who gets bored easily and I like to find weird ways to entertain myself – like dressing up goth and going to the local cowboy bar, or crashing a wedding dressed like a fish, etc. But it’s all real – real fun!
There’s a democratic sense in your pics they are all similar in the size and format all horizontal, why this decision?
I know this is a boring answer, but it’s just because I like to stick with what I’m comfortable with. Maybe this is my OCD side? It’s weird! I can’t handle a vertical photo! What is wrong with me?!
Can you tell me the story behind your book Don’t you feel better?
Of course. About six years ago Tim Barber, the ex-photo director of Vice Magazine, asked me to submit images for an article called “An Ode to the Fat Friend”. I ended up submitting an image of myself for the article. Tim started asking me to submit more self-portraits, and I told him I didn’t take self-portraits. But when I looked through all of my old images, I realized I actually had hundreds, and was taking them all the time for fun. So Tim pretty much took me under his wing, like he does for a ton of photographers, and featured me on his amazing website and I was flooded with interviews and opportunities, and through a show he curated I gained representation with Higher Pictures in New York I owe Tim so much! Don’t You Feel Better is a book Tim made of my work as part of a series of 5 artist books in the Tiny Vices series published by Aperture Press.
Usually your pictures are the kind of one you do when you are surrounded by good friends, that can see the real funny part of yourself when you’re together, is it almost like that when you are shooting?
Yes, it is totally always like that. I think that’s the real reason I love being in Kansas City so much. I have the best community of friends here that collaborate all of the time, and everyone helps each other with their amazing and fun projects. Everyone is up for anything, and they have the best sense of humor. It’s perfect for the work I do.
I love the way you show yourself it’s like if you really comfortable with your face, body and who you are, do you love yourself?
Actually no, I’m totally grossed out by myself. But I’m also totally comfortable with the fact that I’m grossed out by myself, so therefore I never really care what people think, and I’m able to do whatever I want. Plus it’s more fun to be disgusting than to look good.
I know your world is 100% in colour, can you describe me Jaimie’s world?
Yes! Jaimie’s world starts off with me going to the gym (if you can believe it), then getting a giant Diet Dr. Pepper, then working on the computer while watching VH1 reality shows on the internet, then working at the Whoop Dee Doo space with kids, then dressing up like a moron with my roommates and making plans to go out, but instead choosing to run around the neighborhood to continually scare the neighbors.
Who’s your biggest influence?
Well, Tons of cool stuff!! Let’s see… Roseanne Barr is my #1 inspiration, and yes, mostly because of who she was on the show “Roseanne,” and her infamous singing of the national anthem at the San Diego Padres game in 1990! And my dream would be to be famous enough one day so that people followed my weight loss and gain like they do with Roseanne and Oprah Winfrey. But also—John Waters, Diet Dr. Pepper, Halloween pranks, Professional eaters, watching the video for “we are the world”, and the video for “man in the mirror”, actually anything Michael Jackson has done, random goth youtube videos like the “stay” video by Shakespears Sister, this incredible public access tv show in Chicago called CHIC-A-GO-GO, Metallica, the “It’s Raining Men” video by the Weather Girls, all the VH1 reality shows, in particular- Rock of Love and Rock of Love Bus, Flavor of Love, and I Love New York, Stevie Wonder, Dolly Parton’s book: My Life and Other Unfinished Business, Roseanne Barr’s book: My Life as a Woman, Joan Rivers, Carol Channing, Carol Burnett in the movie Annie, the Circle of Life video from the “Lion King”, the movie “Aladdin”, Grace Jones, Tim Curry, Bobcat Goldthwait, Leigh Bowery, Klaus Nomi, ravers, Bollywood, Dollywood, Gallagher, Pink Floyd, Elvira, and Elvira’s new show “The Search for the Next Elvira“, and the Nightmare on Elm Street movies (I have the 8 disc series with the original 3D glasses) .
How does it feel to be related to photographers like Cindy Sherman, Wolfgang Tillmans and Juergen Teller?
Well, I totally and completely respect their work and can understand why I am compared to them or noted as being influenced by them, but I have always admitted that I am totally awful at and unknowledgeable of art history and my main influences are really what I just listed. I hope people can really see the Roseanne influence in my work. But Wolfgang Tillmans’ photographic installations are incredible, Cindy Sherman’s work is so original and has such an amazing range, and Juergen Teller’s photos are absolutely phenomenal – the color and the way he gets models and actors to pose is so fantastic.
Did you like clowns as a kid?
Yes and no – I know I was thrilled by and scared to death of Killer Clowns from Outer Space, but there is also this new “drag queen” at the drag show I go to on sunday nights – but he is sooooo not a drag queen! He is a boy dressed in tiny outfits and roller skates and a red nose and he goes by “Astro the Clown” and lip synchs to songs like “Fireflies” by Owl City, and it is the absolute freakiest, most disgusting thing I’ve ever seen. It gives me nightmares!!
What keeps you up at night?
This insane bartender lady who owns a bar where I throw dance parties. She is so insane. Oh My Gosh! She is totally on crack and repeats everything about 50 times and she is always angry and has a whole new staff every time I go there. Every time we have a party she fixates on the most insignificant thing you could possibly think of and yells at you for it 50 times in a slightly different way. I know that is not a very exciting story, but I am totally serious when I say she gives me nightmares – I dream of her repeating herself for hours and hours. Aaahhhh!!!
Do you collect something?
Friendship bracelets, clothes from thrift stores I never wear, autographs from death metal bands, fancy antique plates, plastic colored containers, Styrofoam blocks, and cool sunglasses that I also never wear.
Thinking about an old Hole’s song there’s a sentence that makes me think about you: “ I wanna be the girl with the most cake...” Do you like it?
Why because I'm Fat?!?!? Ughh!!! But I think that’s a compliment because I’m proud of being greedy and I love Courtney Love.

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