Relief Starts Here

Interview with Laura A. González

Laura’s thesis show, We Are Pleased to Announce, references placeholders for displays and announcements, flattens the space with fluorescent lights -akin to the ones in which we find ourselves when at office spaces and subway stations alike- and recreates an empty waiting room, filled with flyers for psychic readings. She combines these extreme situations to create a somber and beautiful space that simultaneously instills peace, moments of pause and desolation.

I had the opportunity to talk with Laura about her solo show at ICP studios in Long Island City.


Joseph Desler Costa: First off, where are you from?

 Laura A González: Excellent question! I’ve lived in New York for the past 7 years now. I came here after spending time in Paris studying photography and eating bread, and I got there because I left a program in Communications in Caracas, Venezuela, which is where I’m from. I lived in Seattle as a kid, and I still think of the green and blue crystal buildings downtown a lot, and the Space Needle, and a mall called “The Bon” which was just one big block of glass. At 17 I left Caracas again and studied in the UK for two years. I was left unsupervised. It was great! I still feel dumbstruck when I smell someone in New York that smells like one of my friends from school there. Now everyone is everywhere and nowhere at the same time. I personally can be found in Greenpoint, Brooklyn now. (156 Freeman. Are you listening Capital One?)


 JDC: How has living in NYC affected you, your process, and your work?

 LAG: Well, as mentioned above, I seem to be sniffing people a lot. Most of the times everyone’s cool about it.


 JDC: Your show is coinciding with the arrival of spring. I personally am feeling positive after a long, long winter. Is your process at all affected or complimented by the weather?

LAG: Funny that you ask this, on the day of my final critique I jumped on the subway and –not unlike any other day– I scouted my iPod for the right tune(s). I have a lot of music and I work off songs, lyrics, and repetition a great deal. When I find the song I want (I prefer it when it comes from The Shuffle Fate) I listen to it on repeat, sometimes replaying a part many times before the song ends and starts again. Anyway, the day of my final critique –funny that you ask – the shuffle spouted a song that goes warm in the winter, sunny on the inside warm in the winter, sunny on the inside. I kept repeating it until I got to the studio, and it worked. I did feel warm in the winter and sunny on the inside.


 JDC: What is your favorite color and why?

 LAG: Purple. I actually included the approximate wavelength of purple (380-420 nanometers) as a “phone number” in a flyer I made for my show; a flyer from the certified authenticated psychic Moira Harrison. Purple and I go way back. It was the color that most complimented my grandmother when she wore it, and somehow growing up, I was complimented every time I wore purple too. It relates to psychic practices and mysticism too, so it fits Moira Harrison well. I think of purple and I think of opals –my birthstone– and the number 5. I was born on October 5th, 1985 (10/05/85): all the numbers there are multiples of five. For some unreasonable reason, I have actually caught myself doing things, marking things, and choosing dates based on the number 5 or multiples of 5.


 JDC: Are you afraid of anything?

 LAG: Well. When I was young, I had this “trick” or “game” I would play. I’d sit on the edge of my bed, and put my hand on my lap, look at it, and repeat over and over again “you know that hand is not there, it’s not real. It’s not there. Laura that’s not a hand. It’s not made of anything. This is not real and beyond real there’s blank.” I am unsure about how to explain it, but both my hands and the world around them seemed –still do– really unbelievable, and kind of made out of nothing to me. Back then, I knew where my breaking point was: I knew how it felt to actually start losing control of the situation, and wonder “shit I’m gonna lose it, I’m gonna to go crazy, and crazy is blank and once I’m blank I won’t even know it’s blank so I will never come back.” Anyways, when I felt that –that specific fear– I would jump off my bed, straight to the bathroom to wash my hands, because the activity of washing my hands made me think of –precisely– an activity or an action, and not just BLANK. I don’t do that anymore, but I still wash my hands often (maybe too much, they’re always dry). And I carry moist hand towelettes everywhere I go. Actually scratch that, that’s not true. But my boyfriend does because he knows I’m gonna need them. It’s like keeping crackers in your pocket for the friend you know who gets hangry (hungry, and angry).

Please visit to see more of Laura A. González


LAGonzalezWhen we started working with Marvin Heiferman about the concepts for this year’s SlideFest presentation, I knew two things: a) it was a presentation of everyone’s work within a timed frame, i.e it lasts for about an hour and everyone gets approximately 5 minutes; and b) the work was gonna be put together based on what worked well with each other in a sequential manner, this first-then that-then this in the middle-then this closes. I also knew a third thing, I was solidly certain very soon after we were introduced to this about what I wanted to do. That is, at large. The details I worked out -and many changed- through the semester, but the main bit was: use the 5 minutes to provide an intermission, to give people that moment of respite, even though they actually didn’t get any because it wasn’t an intermission (they didn’t get up to go to the bathroom, and the lights were not turned on to give such indication, and refreshments did not include hot dogs. And my name popped on the screen before the “intermission” started.)

To stay firm in the idea that I wanted my intermission, in hindsight, is revealing of how that clarity of mind moment sustained, it actually seems right now even weird (in a good way) because moments of clarity did not come to me too often during this Spring semester.

Once the framework I was gonna work with was decided upon, then came details, details, details. And they sprung (the ideas that formalized them) rather fluidly. And they came to be in approximately the following order:

Intermission time is associated with drive-in movies, the atomic 50s, wieners and popcorn and it has that ubiquitous 50s atomic/Jetsons/Bewitched star design all over the place; the messages flashed on the screen are generally homogenous: intermission, we hope you are enjoying the show, have some refreshments, the show will be back in 4, 3, etc. minutes, sometimes the wiener hops into the bun; I don’t have the animation skills -YET- to make my own moving refreshments, and I did not want to appropriate an existing intermission clip, because I wanted to be able to personalize my own message. Ok, so I am going to make my own video. Design: font (I downloaded one actually called Bewitched), atomic star, colour palette (I gathered a selection of 1950s diners and eye dropped the pastel blues of the diner barstools, and the soft pink of the neon lights). Now, music, 294381234924 options. That’s where Monty Python and the Holy Grail came to save me. It was their blatant intermission organ tune included in the movie that I had forgotten about but once I heard it again I realized: (and my classmates had the same feeling as I saw them leave class humming it every time I showed it. It was like I was harassing them with this tune. Somehow, it is clear to me now, after I made the piece, there was also a level of harassment at passing a church basket along the audience and force them to take something. This last iteration of the piece came in conjunction with thinking and thinking and re-thinking about what intermission meant, how it’s represented in other time-based presentations/events/situations. This is how I got to feel alright thinking about the 2, 3, 4 sides of certain words, and certain meanings, and certain scenarios and push them forward. So thus, I thought of Catholic mass. I thought that the moment in mass when they collect money from the congregation was mass’ own version of intermission: except that I am prompted to a suggested donation. I wanted the opposite of that because David Deitcher had said that week in Critique something along the lines of “gifts are problematic; they put you in this position of having to give back.” From there I worked out the idea of producing my own scratch-off lottery tickets, and the message within would have been along the lines of “CONGRATULATIONS YOU’RE A WIENER. You may pick up my resumé at the end of the show” but after an entire weekend of arguing the pros and cons of that idea, as a concept within the piece, I realized two things: it has potential, it could create an infinite regress of giving, and taking, but it was also yet another layer of snark. I am still thinking about this and feel unresolved about it. Something to keep looking into.

Because I felt unresolved, I let it sit and did not use it for the piece, but instead -and serendipitously- came across with miniature fuzzy bear toys that were 0.29 cents each, and a 5 dollar tiny notebook of text slang, with a gazillion iterations of words, in slang, organized alphabetically (and it included a special section for seniors). All this stuff had monetary value, it could be taken away, it was a souvenir, it rewarded you for sitting through this not-so-intermission. From there it was easy to think about also giving candy as a way of having people actually eat something (hot dogs in a basket, no go). From all the memorabilia, the text slang lose sheets are still to me the most successful, they somehow mirror the process we used as a class to come to the cover design of the SlideFest publication, which was the use of anagrams, and processing “SlideFest” through an anagram generator online (DESIST! ELF). Stamping it with a stallion dipped in ochre ink was delightfully pleasant: I was a sign off, a giving it away, and a giving up of that pesky horse rummaging around the room aimless. The Elf, desist.

Laura G


Color TreeLast week Nayland Blake asked us the question “If you could choose any book from the ICP library that everyone hast to know about, which one would it be?”

First of all, the ICP library is a vast magical kingdom of all things photo, and is one of the most important resource for photographic research in New York City. I remember my Seminar Professor Sarah Hasted telling us, during our senior year at Parsons, that if there was ANY place where we should go, and sit down for hours to get our bibliography together for our Senior thesis paper, that place was the ICP library. And so I did.

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Paste Mix Tapes Mix Maps Exit Maxi Step


Two weeks ago, one of my co-years’ assignment to me for Graduate Seminar was to think about a specific event that had happened -rather accidentally- during the hanging of our past group show: while putting my pieces on the wall (five prints of various sizes), I used a metallic tape measure that I well, taped, to the wall in order to not depend on somebody else holding it for me. I needed the tape measure in order to have one straight vertical line that would visually guide me while hanging. I am not sure why I needed it, because ultimately I do not hang my work in straight lines or proportionally correct grids, but I felt and still feel a great sense of comfort in having that straight line there, the anchor, to begin with. My co-year suggested that I leave the tape measure on the wall for the show, as a sign of as something that may help me -and help the viewer- in seeing how these combinations come together, or maybe relate to that line to begin with.

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The Greatest Villain of the Art World

“Who is the art world’s greatest villain?” was Nayland Blake‘s question to the Class of 2014 during last week’s Graduate Seminar.

From challenging the existence of a villain at all, to psychological malaises and whale killing, click-through to see the responses of Kathy Akey, Laura A González, Kasia Gumpert, Marina Leybishkis, Xavier Luján, Emilie Lundstrøm, Nina Méndez-Martí, Juana Romero, Aline Shkurovich, Kory Trolio, and Kim Weston.

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I Personally Believe, And Such As And (for the children)

Miss Teen USA South CarolinaIf you are familiar with the gloriously infamous answer given by Miss South Carolina during the 2007 Miss Teen USA pageant, you may find London’s Lisson Gallery‘s description of Gerard Byrne’s video work as one that: “examines the slippage between time and the act of image creation” and looks at the “dialectic relationship that exists between individuals and the built environment that surrounds them,” bizarrely and equally chucklesome.

Christina Patterson at The Independent calls it out writing up a short article on Why it’s time for galleries to dump the jargon. SO STOP SAYING NONSENSE.

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The Purpose of This Tool Defeated Itself


For whoever is visiting the blog now: we, the 2014 MFAers are pondering what our most essential/powerful/totally indispensable tool is, when making work.

I meta-ly used my WordPress app to make a comment on this while talking about it, as a tool. My WordPress app posted it, erratically, then deleted it. IT’S OKAY. The purpose of this tool may have defeated itself but the comment remains:

I once read that one of the characteristics of adult ADHD is to always feel “on the go” (without actually having somewhere to be at). Another characteristic was for adults with ADHD to have lower salaries. I was pissed at the reality and possibilities of both these characteristics.

I WANT TO DESTROY MY PHONE. And I want to destroy the WhatsApp, Skype, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, and WordPress apps. I recently downloaded the StripMe app, which locates strip clubs near you. For the first time this past December I went to a strip club. It was fascinating. I asked my art partner (fancy for boyfriend) to take me to the seediest strip club in Massachusetts, and he did. It was a place called Anthony’s. I am fond of this app, and do not want to destroy it, yet.

THE PROBLEM IS that now, everything that I needed to use my laptop for in order to produce (limitation: GOOD) I can now do on my phone (no bueno).

HOWEVER, the amount of content and material that is coming out of this at the expense of one’s mental health is, suffice to say, substantial.

So this is my favourite love/hate tool. It is also great for weddings, graduations, and all kinds of occasions.

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