“A Massive Force Like That of Miracles,” an Interview with Emily Chiavelli

Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Emily Chiavelli. I grew up in Boston, lived in Kentucky for a couple of years, then lived in California for a while, then went back to Kentucky before I came to New York for this program. I have a BFA in photography from Northern Kentucky University. Right out of undergrad I enrolled in grad school in Baltimore. Maybe a month before the program started, I decided I wasn’t ready for grad school, so I spent a couple years working at coffee shops and an auction house before I decided to go back to school, which is how I ultimately ended up here. When entering this program I was doing documentary work, now I’m not. I think if I’d gone to grad school when I first enrolled, I’d still be doing documentary work. 

What is your show about?

The title of my show is A Massive Force Like That of Miracles. It’s from a book by Gilles Châtelet called To Live and Think like Pigs. Basically to really oversimplify it, he’s talking about something emerging from a chaotic system. I think that’s true of my work and the way I work, but when I thought of this title I was also thinking about the fact that I have no idea how airplanes work. It literally feels like a miracle to me. It makes no sense. Why don’t they fall out of the sky? Probably a stupid question to ask, but I really don’t understand it. I don’t know how it works. I don’t know how many things work, really. It’s really amazing to me. Obviously we all just take all these things for granted; we don’t really understand what’s underlying everything.

Why Planes?

I’ve watched a lot of these low-view-count videos. I could give a more complicated answer to this, but the reality is, I really like looking at these ones most. For me, first of all, it felt like a very childlike happiness, watching them fly, kind of like when you’re a kid and try to make shapes out of the clouds. When I was initially watching them, it was a simple idea that I could be on that plane, I could go on vacation, and I could get out of my shitty apartment. However, the longer I watched them, the more it gave me this anxiety that they could crash at any second. It freaked me out. So it’s kind of soothing, kind of terrifying. 

Elaborate that?

Because they all have no definable start or end point, none of them were like, “here’s the plane taking off,” or, “here’s the plane landing.” The videos were all shot when the planes are already suspended in the sky. And most of them were filmed on cell phones or point and shoot digital cameras, handheld. The motion is very jerky and unsettling.

What’s on your mind during the process?

I have been doing a lot of work using appropriation. I was specifically searching for videos that no one had ever watched. All of the videos in the show were found on YouTube and I did screen recordings of them. They all had only under five views when I found them. It’s kind of sad and poignant, I think. I’ve muted all the videos, but some of them had the audio with the person filming would say like, “This is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.” And there’s something really sad and scary from a perspective of an artist, to make these images or videos that you think are really cool, and you put them out there, hoping other people think they’re really cool too, and then nobody cares at all. Furthermore, the process mirrors my reality. My parents are really into antique malls and thrift stores. All the decor we had growing up was someone else’s old stuff. In college I worked in a thrift store, after that I worked at an auction house for five years. And now I work at a thrift store again. So my whole life has been dealing with other people’s cast-offs. Last summer I really got into video appropriation because I was so broke and it was free, and a way to really pass the time. 

Your works remind me of the word Remnant.

Yeah. It’s like leftover stuff that nobody else was using that I scooped up. All this stuff online that everyone abandoned, you know? Earlier I was making work pulling photos from this old image hosting website called Photobucket, I think that both those and these videos are, like, visually very strong. I started thinking about this weird relationship I have with photography, and maybe in a cynical way. I started thinking that there’s no point taking any more pictures, because so many exist and there are so many good ones. Everything’s been photographed. And I think that like, it feels like sort of a weird privilege to call myself an “artist” or a “photographer” when everyone is doing it now, and everyone is making visually really strong works. What makes someone a “photographer” now? I really don’t know. 

bridge between music and art

Hello everyone! This is Jeff Yeh (instagram handle @Che.Yeh), first year ICP-Bard MFA student. I’ll be taking over EYE TO EYE blog for a week. Sharing things around me.

These are some records that I’ve been listening to.

Marieu & Mannella ‎– Tecnologia Robotica
Experimental Breakbeat
Harry Revel & Dr. Samuel J. Hoffman & Leslie Baxter* ‎– First Electronic Chillout Music
The Human League ‎– Dare
Haruomi Hosono ‎– Hochono House
Pet Shop Boys ‎– It’s A Sin
Faye Wong – Decadent Sound of Faye
Damon Wild ‎– Cosmic Path
Andrzej Nowak (6) ‎– Cocktail Paint
The Hangout Project ‎– Sword Of Light

“What We See,” an Interview with Beverly Logan

Opening Reception February 20th, 2020 6pm-9pm

At ICP-BARD MFA Studios 24-20 Jackson Avenue Long Island City 3rd Floor

Megan Mack: Tell us a little about yourself… 

Beverly Logan: I’m originally from Youngstown Ohio. I came to NY at the age of 18 to attend Columbia University. My first career was in publishing and after retiring I decided to apply to an MFA program. 

I was very comfortable with photography as I’ve always taken photo classes as a hobby.

MM: What work did you submit to the MFA programs with?

BL: I submitted a project on consumerism that I collaborated with Chris Giglio on. It pertained to documenting expensive items of clothing and objects sold, i.e.  $3,000 shoes. I made thousands of images about this subject.

MM: How did you come into the love of collaging?

BL: I’ve always photographed my travels and life, I have a lifetime of photographs and that makes for an extensive archive. Upon entering ICP I found myself more interested in making work involving my already made images, than making new work. Gerhard Richter said that boxes of stored images felt unfinished—to piece that idea together, for me, collage was the best way to do that. Overall I was finished with walking around the streets with a camera.

MM: So you use mainly personal photos in your collages?

BL: All images are personal except for two by William Eggleston and Martin Parr. Just for fun. Otherwise all the photos are taken by me.

MM: What is your process like? Do you have an idea and then source the images or do you see an image and think oh that’s perfect for this one piece?

BL: The project is called “What We See” – which takes a look back at my life and see where things connect. My husband has dementia and a symptom is hallucinations, so  it’s curious to me— are hallucinations different than memory or similar?

Memory vs Hallucinations. However when I make collages I try to make them as subconscious as possible— if I try to make a story it becomes preachy and trite. I don’t have a goal in mind, no politics or agenda. Nothing sequential. 

I love landscapes- I’ve traveled to 50 countries. Generally I start with a landscape and print it large, then I cut pieces out— Maybe a car, maybe a back, maybe a tree, any object. I sit on the bed and play with the cut-outs. I lined the studio with metallic boards so I can move it around. Like a puzzle. Work it until the pieces fit together or they don’t. For me everything is about feeling- art and feelings are so closely related. Collaging was healing and gave me something to relax with, it reminded me of cutting out paper dolls, meditative, comforting, like being a child again. It all came about accidentally. Initially I didn’t want to do a show about my husband but it is a form of connecting to him. I know his hallucinations, memories, and brain function in a way we don’t understand. 

Your work is playful but also has a serious side—How do you navigate balance in your work?

Playfulness comes from the idea that life can be very difficult, you gotta find some way to make light of it or humorous- that isn’t degrading. Pity leads to the worst kind of feeling and can be horribly detrimental. Caregiving is a difficult position and I’m lucky to have this outlet. 

These series of works seem to have a deep connection to NY. Can you talk about your connection to NY? 

I have a connection to NY, but the work is not NY centric. The show is a mix of places and landscapes from all over the world. Triptychs and quadruples working in terms of layering. I connect to the process— what we see is the backdrop or set/stage and then work on top of it. Everyone is bringing their own narrative to each piece. Eventually I would want to have people make their own. Using magnets to move the collage pieces around – so I can see how each participant’s mind works. 

What themes do you see in your work?

Mainly the idea of hallucinations and memory but even without my husband’s dementia I would still be doing this- looking back at my life and seeing what makes sense- I alway want to be combining pictures. A picture of my dog with a landscape of Japan is still fascinating to me. I just have to remind myself to stay messy and sloppy… don’t think, every time I over think it becomes trite. Cut out $3000 shoes put it on a landscape that’s not pedagogical. My story, my history, my memories and see how they go together. I guess I could say I use memory to create a hallucination. It’s fascinating, trippy, and so much fun. I have to have a sense of humor and laughing is very important— they make me laugh! 

On view by appointment: February 21st-23rd

Contact: beverlylogan@me.com