Monday, October 18, 2010


Stephanie Barber makes films, writes poetry, co-curates Transmodern Festival, and teaches at MICA with whatever spare time she invents out of thin air. She currently resides in Baltimore where everyone is the better for it, as evidenced by her collusions with Theresa Columbus, Geodesic Gnome, Performance Thanatological Society, Dan Conrad & Jenny Graf and recent readings at recent literary events about town (WORMS!).

What do you do? What are you doing the most lately?

i make art.  film, poetry, music etc.  i talk about animals. 

mostly right now i am making videos and writing a lot. i'm interested in making a something in a certain medium which manages to sidestep the concerns of that medium--or like a plain cardboard box might begin to sprout wings and armadillo shells, prehensile tails and the goofy smiles of human children with down's syndromes--so a film can be considered as a poem and a song can be considered as a film and a poem can be considered a cross country ski competition and hopefully the best pieces can be considered just pieces of art.  

Lawn Poem installation by Stephanie Barber at The Poor Farm

How long have you done these things? How have the things changed?
i have always been writing and for half of my life i have been making films and very recently i have been making videos. my music making is sporadic and unfocused but like a miracle when i wind up inside of a musical project.  the most enjoyable.
things have changed in that i am working within myself right now in a very particular way.  i mean that i am pushing against my own ideas and my previous work in a way that was maybe not as possible to do when i didn't have such a large body of work.  it is a very subtle feeling.  like artistic proprioception.  an interoceptive awareness of where i am in my art.  this is a simultaneously abstract and specific feeling. 
i'm unsure of how i feel about this morally.  there is something about the hardcore individualist motivation in working like this--responding to previous work i have made--avoiding the tropes of previous stories--etc.--something about strident individualism which feels tawdry and propagandistic.  the alternative seems either like being tossed around in the giantest ocean slammed by rocks and unnamed sea creatures or being in harmony and eternal dialog with all art ever made and about to be made.  

stephanie barber's 'in the jungle' with dan conrad and jenny graf

Why do you do these things? What's it like when you are unable to do these things?
probably to make someone love me or hear me (same).  ideally everyone. a deep sort of love which has to do with being known--a childish unattainable eradication of the aloneness of a life.
also because maybe i feel like it is 'the good work'.  i am a religious fanatic without a religion.

it feels terrible when i am unable to make work.  sometimes i don't work for a little while as a way to make myself feel awful and worthless and unloveable.  then i realize i am doing it and quickly stop. i have tried to think about worth outside of the creation of something poetic, or moving or funny or lovely--then i imagine i could be a monk and this seems like it could possibly be fulfilling (or a jogger--sometimes i think about jogging) but i think, for me, it would not be (or would cease to be after a certain time).  art work is spiritual charity.  both internally and externally.  

When was That Moment in your life that told you you would become what you are? 

i don't think there was a moment.  i've always been what i am. 
Another still from "In The Jungle", this time courtesy Kelly Kuvo
How has your life changed to accommodate That Moment's effect on you?
my life is really hard.  probably a lot of lives are very hard and much harder but sometimes i think the way i live is a bit too uncomfortable.  the hairshirts of financial destitution and ascetic self flagelation of expectation.  
no, my life is super easy and like a soak in a never cleaned hot tub in the post swinger mountains of colorado.  it need not accommodate.

How has your work affected your life in return?
my work affects my life in that i wish for it to be as multifaceted as i try to make a film or poem or video.  how something can be crass and tender simultaneously or funny and sad, or academic and cheap joke..............i guess in life you have to pick something and i am not so good at doing that--i feel let down by the lack of dynamism in lives and jobs and towns and loves................or maybe i am terrified by the actual dynamism?  more moved by the architectural angles and armatures of contrast and collusion suggested by challenging art than the messy, cruel way that these sorts of dynamics play out in life and interpersonal relations.

What do you think of the future?
i think it is going to come and i think it is already here.  i am a self aware substructure and as such am (though pessimistic) a believer.  

What do you think of when you think of David Lee Roth? Why?
i think he is super.  i love the way he and eddie van halen play fast and loose and funny with their super-talents.  he is as brilliant a physical comedian and dancer as fred astaire and steppin fetchit.  his radio show in ny is ok too.  he's sharp.

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