Looks like Judith Supine is probably having a helluva week. He unmasked himself publicly for all, opened a new gallery show, climbed a NYC bridge over the East River to install a sculpture, and released a video of it that inadvertently sparked a mini media/bridge security frenzy.
Also, he created twin "hermaphrodites" with cigarette penises.
Last week during an open press interview at Mecka Gallery he only talked about the new "Golden Child" show and the fact that he had decided to stop hiding his face -- which itself was sufficient news. Most fans of his art never had seen him and many thought Judith was an actual woman because he took his mom's name as a prank.
The stunt-loving street artist has always had a penchant for light trouble, whether it was dangling big freakish images off bridges, floating them down the river (reportedly nearly drowning himself), or simply smacking them up in doorways; these twisted fluorescent hallucinations he creates have more personalities than a Sunday talk show with LSD in the candy dish. And we're not even mentioning his career-long examination of the he/she continuum that could inspire a syllabus in gender studies.
One of Supine's new ladies puffing away and staring blankly while nursing a cocktail above the traffic streaming on the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge into Manhattan. (photo © Steve Duncan/Undercity.org)
The video of him on the Ed Koch Queensboro bridge looks like it was coordinated to promote the show, and he has said as much in interviews since then, but now it probably seems ill-timed. He had done bridge art installations at least twice in the past (on the Manhattan Bridge in '07 and the Williamsburg Bridge in '09) but recent news items about thrill-seekers trespassing at the new World Trade Center put this video in a new light and caused concern about bridge security.
A still from a live interview with Greg Kelley and Rosanna Scotto on Fox 5 "Good Day New York" (© Fox5)
The video brought sudden interest and even live televised interview time for the newly unmasked Supine as well as the news that police were reviewing the video and would probably like to interview him as well.
And yet for all his exotic subject matter and the media hubbub swirling around him right now, last week he was perplexed about how to supercharge his creative process -- the same mundane challenge to stay fresh that most artists have.
"Sometimes I get 'art block', or I feel like I start to make repetitive images. It's frustrating. I try to break that by playing little tricks on myself by saying, 'Alright I'm going to make like ten collages in an hour' and they are all going to be shitty. But I'm forcing myself to work quickly, so I'm not over-thinking things and I'm trying to break through because its easy for me to get into a pattern," he explained at Mecka where his new sculptures laid across benches and a couple of assistants helped to finished their construction.
For this show Supine began assembling collages 12 weeks earlier, and through a process of elimination he saw the few images that emerged above the others.
"I began by making 50 or more collages -- going through multiple extremes, edits, trying to cut things and edit things down to the core goodness, get rid of the shit"
In kind of a stream of consciousness process, a pulling-together that attracts him?
"Yeah, it varies from day to day. When I do try to make a more narrative set image, I have difficulty doing that, and I feel like it comes off kind of stilted. So I try to keep it loose, and do lots, and then edit and try to find that little kind of gem amongst the crap."
With more attention and friendly sorts around than before, who does he look to now that the proverbial road to stardom is getting crammed with yes-men? He points to his brother, a writer of prose with whom he has collaborated creative projects continuously since they were kids.
"I kind of like to make things with my brother as the audience, so I make things that I think he would enjoy. So I have one person that it is directed towards," he explains as he recalls one of their childhood collaborations, a zine that he illustrated and his brother provided the text for.
"He would also draw and we would staple it all together. Like we kept it in a huge thing we called 'The Picture Book'. It was almost like a series of them and for a few years we did that. He continued on with that and I think that's when I started making collages, actually, around that time."
"I would say that I wasn't directly trying to illustrate. He wouldn't want me to illustrate. It was more a feel for it. I was more inspired by our visual, written conversation that we had. It was like this ongoing thing where we would like bounce. It was this thing where I was kind of this creative obsessive, and I was living with another creative obsessive. And we were just constantly bouncing things off of each other and being comfortable saying 'Oh, that looks like shit'."
"Most people are not comfortable telling you that, even when they think it and they wait and tell someone else afterwards. So it was good to have a true honest critic and a true sounding board and we still do that with each other. When he writes or finishes a chapter he sends me a chapter. When I'm working on stuff I show it to him and ask his opinion and he'll be like, "no it's boring" or "that's good". I know when he says 'it's good' that it is genuine, you know, sincere. Like creatively we have this sincere honest relationship with each other.
And what would be the best reaction to an artwork that he could get from his brother?
"I like that one", "That one's great".
A new piece with the collage that inspired it at Judith Supine's "Golden Child" show. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Presumably Judith's brother would approve of the pair of dual gender darlings hanging in the main gallery space, a white washed former industrial spot in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn. But the artist thought the average visitor might want to have a cocktail first.
Brooklyn Street Art: So when an individual walks into this space and sees this piece, what is their reaction going to be?
Judith Supine: Probably, "Where's the bar"?
Can you describe these twin greeters that are going to be hanging from the ceiling?
Yeah they are kind of, you know I'm very interested in the kind of the hermaphrodite* thing, so these are kind of hermaphroditic -- is that a word?
Yeah that's a word.
So these are kind of hermaphrodites with these cigarette penises smoking vaginas with mouths. When you see the front image they form what I would consider a beautiful image and in the back is -- a kind of Apollonian/Dionysian sort of thing. The back is a woman getting choked out. It's sort of an optical illusion thing -- like the one face with the two wine glasses inside. So when you walk around back it forms another image.
Is it another aspect of that person's character, the dual nature?
I mean I know it's a very well trod path to talk about the duality of man, or personalities. To me I think I would be bullshitting if I didn't just say I thought it looked cool and it was interesting. It's not like 'the duality of man' or some -- there is like a grey area of trying to be honest and sincere and then... it's not that when I work on these I don't have these 'deeper thoughts' about art but saying them out loud kind of takes the power out of them, trying to articulate them just kind of sounds like bullshit.
So I try to just describe things at face value. But also maybe I have difficulty articulating, translating the thoughts in my head into words and I'm better at translating them into images.
Maybe you are just concerned about sounding trivial.
Maybe. It might be anxiety.
What's it feel like to be more public with your face?
On the one hand I think it shouldn't matter, because I do try to live my life according to the law of God and not the law of man -- that type of thing. And I do what I feel is right. But I don't know, it's probably fucking stupid.
It's probably stupid?
I mean it's probably ill-advised, for obvious reasons. But who knows, I've done dumber things.
Judith Supine "Golden Child" is currently on view at Mecka Gallery in Brooklyn. Click HERE for further information.
*Editor's Note: HuffPost and BSA acknowledge that the more appropriate terms here would be intersex and intersex individuals.
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