Libby Pratt, Griffith Telescope, 34″ x 42,” 2011.
First year Kate Levy sat down with second year Libby Pratt to discuss Libby’s thesis show, open this Thursday, February 23rd until Sunday, February 26th.
Kate Levy: Libby, can you tell me a bit about what you’d hope the viewer to get from this interview and by attending your show?
Libby Pratt: The work is really pulled from a lot of different ideas and projects I’ve been interested in. I am making a lot of internal connections in my brain.
I think what I’m finding for myself is that this exhibition a test of faith; I have to trust my decisions in what I’m choosing to make people look at, which is daunting. You are asking to create a reality which is understandable. A reality and a language. You have trust that your language is a global language. Everyone reads work so differently, and they bring a lot of personal information, biases and experiences to the work. I would like viewer to have their own experience with the work. If we can find the common thread, and they can jump on my boat and sail with me for a while, that would be really exciting.
KL: Can you talk a bit about any external influences on your work for this show?
LP: I saw Carlos Motta and Andrea Geyer in conversation at this year’s Symposium/UnConference. Watching their videos hugely informed how I am editing my video, in particular, the series entitled Six Acts, and Experiment in Narrative Justice. In Carlos’s work, he hires an actor to reenact political speeches that were made years and years ago. There’s this dislocation of time. The actors are giving the speech in public spaces. People approach the speaker as someone who can help them. They believe the person is a political candidate.There’s this interesting thing that happens when Carlos has to come into the video, and explain what’s happening, so you see the machinations of the video, its structure. In my edit of my video, I paid a lot of attention to the structure, the moments where we are starting and stopping and waiting for things to begin.
KL: It seems like looking at form in a non-visual way, as the narration and parameters around your content is an integral part of your process.
LP: Yes. I was really dissatisfied with the content of my footage. I videotaped myself and my siblings telling stories.We were speaking off the cuff, but it felt flat and contrived. The edit became about demonstrating my discontent, and showing the failure of the footage.
KL: So you are repurposing the footage to explore structure and failure?
LP: In some ways, I feel like I’m sucking the bone dry, I’m squeezing the lemon until I get all the juice.
KL: Are you stripping it down in a way that reveals something else, or are you struggling with it until there is nothing left, until you get to that point when we just say, fuck it.
LP: I don’t know if there will be a reveal.
KL: Lets talk about the Skype video you showed at this past open studios .
LP: The Skype video was really about how we can or can’t transcend distance and retain intimacy. It was about familial relationships and the closeness I have with my siblings. But it was also about the breakdowns that happen within these relationships via the internet. And yet we are acting intimate and talking about things that are intimate. My siblings didn’t know I was recording them. I know what’s happening, that at some point I will listen to the recording, so I am automatically self conscious. But they aren’t.
KL: How has all of this evolved into the new video you are showing in your exhibition?
LP: There’s also this component of distance in the installation of my new video. The viewer will view the video is from a physical distance in the space. There will also be a distance in how you will hear the video. I was thinking a lot about this article that David Deitcher assigned about Felix Gonzales Torres by Miwon Kwon. She wrote this beautiful thing about intimacy and distance, and how they work in FGT’s work. That’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot. When you have these intimate relationships, what is the experience for the viewer. What’s it like for someone watching on the outside, how do you enter that?
KL: I think that’s the same question of whether or not people are going to see the connections in the world you’ve created for the viewer. How you enter intimacy within a piece is perhaps the same as how you enter a piece. Can you talk briefly about the images in the show?
LP: These images are really about paying attention to seeing. About where we touch down in the journey of our lives, and how we continue through to the next life. The show is titled “Round and Around.”
KL: As in death, and rebirth?
LP: The work is not just about death, but about moving.