Interview: Aaron Krach
Aaron Krach is an artist and writer in New York City. He questions the value of objects by using ephemeral materials and existing distribution methods to create projects that require participation and collaboration. His artwork has been exhibited in galleries, apartments, and public spaces in
cities large (Sao Paulo, NYC) and small (Ohrid, Macedonia). His “Insecurity” T-shirts was featured at the New Museum and his first book of photographs, 100 New York Mysteries, is in the library of the Museum of Modern Art and Yale University.
As a novelist, Aaron’s first book, Half-Life, was published to critical acclaim in 2006. He regularly contributes cultural criticism to magazines and online publications. Aaron is the recipient of a Lower Manhattan Cultural Grant for Public Art in 2006 and 2012.
What is the name on your passport?
KRACH AARON M
Where do you live and make work?
I work wherever I can or wherever the project requires. In between I have a studio on the Lower East Side that’s good for problem solving. For the last two years, I’ve been sleeping (mostly) in Midtown East. Yes, I’m still a Manhattan Man.
What medium/media do you work in?
Stones, tulip bulbs, library books, Egyptian breakfast recipes, people, text, photography, printmaking, collage, mail art, spam, Xerox, and colorful sugary beverages.
What is the subject matter or your work?
Feelings. I call my work “Emotional Conceptualism” and but so far that term hasn’t caught fire.
What's your favorite person, place, or thing right now?
Einstein on the Beach, which I saw at BAM (finally) after listening to the music…forever. Philip Glass, Robert Wilson, and Lucinda Childs created a masterpiece of music and dance and stagecraft and text and rhythm and song and image. I use the “M” word for works of art that I don’t believe can be improved. Einstein on the Beach is the best it can be. It’s mysterious and magical and it made me cry.
What do you listen to in the studio?
Pandora. I like to create ridiculously diverse “channels” and the hit Shuffle. I like hearing Ke$ha after Sufjan Stevens followed by Green Day followed by LCD Soundsystem or Aimee Mann.
How do you explain your career choice at family gatherings?
It usually goes something like this.
“I’m an artist.”
“Oh, what kind?”
“Oh, what’s your medium?”
“Well, I take a lot of photos.”
“So you’re a photographer, not a sculptor.”
So I’ve tried this.
“I’m a conceptual artist.”
“I work with ideas.”
“Do you make anything?”
“Do you sell things?”
But it’s not only family. Last week, a “hip” New Yorker asked me: “Wow, you’re an artist, eh? That must be incredibly difficult. I mean, ‘How do you get up in the morning and just not do nothing?’”
Who are your favorite artists?
Felix [González-Torres] and Yoko [Ono] are my north stars. When in doubt about execution, I ask what would Yoko do? How would she simplify this huge idea down to a gesture? When I’m confused about the value of making art I think of Felix and the millions of posters by him that now hang in dorm rooms and offices and bedrooms around the world. When I think the world is cold and unfair, I look at Nan Goldin and Thomas Hirschhorn. They’re incredibly important to me for their opposite methods but singular focus on emotion, relationships, violence and peace.
How do you see yourself in 40 years?
A lot older!
If you were creating a film and/or book syllabus what would be on your list?
Cinema is very important to me and has been crucial to my development as an artist. My Top 11 in alphabetical order...
After Life, by Hirokazu Kore-eda
Caravaggio, by Derek Jarman
Dancer in The Dark, Lars von Trier
A Perfect Word, by Clint Eastwood
The Hole, by Tsai Ming-Liang
Poison, by Todd Haynes
Steel Magnolias, by Herbert Ross
A Talking Picture, Manoel de Oliveira
Tropical Malady, by Apichatpong Weerasethakul
The Sheltering Sky, Bernardo Bertolucci
The Wind Will Carry, Us by Abbas Kiarostami
What was the last exhibition you saw that knocked your socks off?
John Neff at Golden gallery in the Lower East Side. This guy rigged up analogue and digital cameras to digital scanners in order to take photographs. A+ for innovation. A+ for melancholy-amazing images. There’s a bit of Edward Steichen soft poetry, drippy-sci-fi horror of David Cronenberg, and the Neo-Classic eroticism of Robert Mapplethorpe.
What do you hope people will think about looking at your work?
I hope they will think about themselves and their own lives. It starts as “my art” but is really about them, the audience. I hope my work inspires introspection. I like the word “perplex.” I hope people find my work perplexing.