View Nialls work in BLACK IS A BLIND REMEMBERING
Interview by Christie Kim, Photographs courtesy Niall McClelland
Greenpoint Terminal Gallery: What is your favorite medium to work with and why? Photocopies, ink cartridges, spray paint, etc?
Niall McClelland: I don't have favorites, I just go from one thing to another depending on my circumstances; whether I’m broke or rollin’ in it, whether I have no space or in a luxurious studio. Right now, I can't get enough of fresh black sharpies.
GTG: In your "Stain" series, how did you come up with the patterns? Why did you use leaked printer cartridge for this particular piece?
NM: The patterns happened when I was folding the paper and leaking ink through it. I've learned how to control the leaked ink somewhat, so I applied that to how I fold up the paper and hope for the best. I started using the leaked cartridges by accident after noticing a pattern made on a paper towel in my pocket while I was walking around. I just took that accident and expanded upon it. I'll use anything to make work; once I saw what was possible with the cartridges, it seemed like a no-brainer to try it out.
GTG: It seems like you like to “beat up” or desecrate your materials. It appears to be repetitive, labor-intensive, and somewhat tedious. How did this develop?
NM: I can't make things that are precious, clean or precise and I'm inclined to let things get beat up and worn. I like the energy that comes with that sort of work, there's life to it. Some of my works are tedious, some are surprisingly simple. I made the tedious work to counter balance the guilt I have for making other less laborious work. Guilt issues.
GTG: Brian Willmont (Director at Greenpoint Terminal Gallery) and I are really intrigued by “Bats ’n Shit,” can you explain a little bit more about the piece?
NM: It was from a show I did, which was loosely based around perpetuated adolescence; i.e., pot leaf stencils, sabbath fan art, etc. I had been using an old white work tee as a rag, which I cut in half and attached to a flag pole out the back of my old place for about a year where it got nicely worn by the elements. When you cut a tee in half and stretch it out, it looks like a bat silhouette. So when I was working on that show I titled the piece "Bats 'n Shit" to match the dismissive, lazy slang of the subject matter I was working with. It was the unexpected highlight of that show.
GTG: You’ve collaborated with Jeremy Laing with his SS 2012 collection and worked with Cast of Vices on their Fall 2012 jewelry and accessories line, how do you think this has changed you as an artist? Do you think you would want to collaborate more with fashion designers and NASA scanners (which he used to print his folded photocopies on silk for Cast of Vices) in the future?
NM: Nothing has really changed, I've collaborated on projects with designers and companies for a long time. I like getting out of my comfort zone and giving up a bit of control to people to see where it can go. Jeremy and I have collaborated on a handful of projects since we worked on that initial line actually, including an exhibit at Design Exchange this past summer. I feel like if the collaboration works, you end up building great relationships and can open up your own process and thus generating a new audience for what you're doing.
GTG: Five years ago, you participated in a collaborative art book called “Apenest Vol. 2.” How was it working with so many different artists from different backgrounds? With so many artists collaborating on one book, coming together as one, did you feel that there was a shared expression of experimentation regarding the production of the book?
NM: As far as Apenest goes, the section I worked on was with my good friend, Lukas Geronimas. At the time, we were living and working in a house together in what felt like a bubble, without a hell of a lot of contact with other artists or much interest from anyone beyond our own small scene of nomadic peers in Toronto/Vancouver/NY. We were flattered to be asked to contribute by Brian Willmont and Cody Hoyt, but we trusted them that there would be some sense of cohesion within the book. It's interesting looking at it now, with a few years behind us, I feel like you can tell how disconnected we were to what the other artists involved were making at the time, for a better or for worse. It really felt like Lukas and I were on a different planet. Still, it's nice to look through it now and see so many names of artists I've gotten to know since then or just continued to watch develop and mature. It was cool to be involved.
GTG: Sorry, I stalked your tumblr. From your tumblr, I saw an interesting image of what seemed like a questionnaire filled out by Mike Kelley. I would like to ask you the same question.
“ Where would you like your body or its remains to spend the rest of eternity? If a monument or marker were to be placed to indicate the site of your remains what would it be, and what would it say? Is there anything in particular you’d like to wear or take with you?”
GTG: Ha, well I loved that he wrote he wanted his ashes scattered in Bryce Canyon, which is honestly one of my favorite places in the world. I'd probably hope to have someone bring what's left of me to Ireland. They can toss the ashes out over the Giants Causeway near Portrush, which is a special spot and there are lots of family history there, too.