Purple Magazine
— S/S 2015 issue 23

Kaari Upson

portrait by Sandy Kim

MAURIZIO CATTELAN’s women artists interview series
in collaboration with MARTA PAPINI

portrait by SANDY KIM

All artworks Courtesy of Kaari Upson Studio


MAURIZIO CATTELAN — When did you start thinking of yourself as an artist? Is it something you can desire when you’re a child, such as being an astronaut or a dancer?
KAARI UPSON — I remember when I was in seventh grade, I had this mandatory typing class. I knew then I didn’t want to learn to type or ever have a job than required typing.

MAURIZIO CATTELAN — How would you describe your practice?

<img class="wp-image-153366 size-medium" src="https://static.purple.fr/2015/07/KU_0091-200×300.jpg", 2014, Urethane and pigment

MAURIZIO CATTELAN — How do you start a work? Opening a new tab, opening a new book, opening a new Skype conversation, or…?
KAARI UPSON — It’s a convergence of several things that happen at once. A drawing I made quickly overlaps with a reading I happened to pick up, and then I see something on the street or on TV. I spend long amounts of time with these images or ideas, and it becomes as real as any memory that I have. Then I draw it again as if it’s there.

MAURIZIO CATTELAN — How do you decide a work is finished?
KAARI UPSON — This is a very contrary space for me. On one hand, I make work for which the question, “When is it done?” is taken out of my control. Many of my sculptures work with a material that can’t be reapplied, and the marks that are made in the first steps are the marks that remain on the surface in the end. So my first marks or even mistakes are contained in the final product. On the other hand, I have this deep connection to work that is never finished and have made several large-scale installations that are modular and can be transformed endlessly. Or with material that degrades or changes throughout its life as an object. So in both spaces, I am avoiding that question and handling it directly.

MAURIZIO CATTELAN — Is there a piece you regret having created? What is the biggest mistake you could make in your work?
KAARI UPSON — Whenever you leave behind failure, it means you are doing better. The biggest mistake I could make is fearing regret or even feeling it. That moment when I look back at an old work and get that shudder of embarrassment, like when you look back at an old relationship and say, “Ugh, I can’t believe I fucked that guy,” is a great place and should be embraced. “Yeah, I fucked that guy!”

<img class="wp-image-153369 size-medium" src="https://static.purple.fr/2015/07/RCKU-003_a1-200×300.jpg", 2014, Silicone, spandex and fiber glass

MAURIZIO CATTELAN — Do you worry about audience reaction while thinking through a new work?

MAURIZIO CATTELAN — Is fear involved in your work?
KAARI UPSON — My shrink told me that if a man holding a knife covered in blood was running toward me, I would stop and ask him, “What’s going on?” She said a healthy person would run the fuck away.

MAURIZIO CATTELAN — Is there any space left for humor?
KAARI UPSON — Humor and fear are the same, right?

MAURIZIO CATTELAN — What do you think is lacking at the art world’s table? And what is in surplus?
KAARI UPSON — Being less apatetic.

MAURIZIO CATTELAN — Do you think the art world is still a masculine world? If yes, what do you think is the right antidote?
KAARI UPSON — Let’s see… I love men. I have a lot of male friends! Fire some, I don’t know…

MAURIZIO CATTELAN — Would you define your work as gender-related?
KAARI UPSON — Is your work gender-related?

<img class="wp-image-153370 size-medium" src="https://static.purple.fr/2015/07/RCKU-009_a1-200×300.jpg", 2014, Aluminum

MAURIZIO CATTELAN — Does art need any explanation? Isn’t it all about the attention people bring to it?
KAARI UPSON — It’s really aggravating when I am walking around a museum or gallery with someone’s family, and they ask me to explain the art. When I hear my voice and my art school education “unpack” the work, it makes me hate art. All docents should be fired.

MAURIZIO CATTELAN — Is making art an urgent matter for you?
KAARI UPSON — Yes. A steady urgency.

MAURIZIO CATTELAN — Is there a work by another artist that you wish you had made?

MAURIZIO CATTELAN — Are you interested in fashion? Is being an artist in the ’10s like being a top model in the ’90s?
KAARI UPSON — Absolutely.

MAURIZIO CATTELAN — How would you define yourself today?

MAURIZIO CATTELAN — Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
KAARI UPSON — Still alive.

MAURIZIO CATTELAN — Have you ever considered quitting?
KAARI UPSON — Is that a rhetorical question, Maurizio?

[Table of contents]

S/S 2015 issue 23

Table of contents

purple EDITO

purple NEWS






purple BEAUTY

purple LOVE

purple TRAVEL

purple SEX


purple TRAVEL

purple NIGHT

purple STORY


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