Lucy McKenzie, Quodlibet XL, 2014
Why did you overpaint them with text from lyers for the Depeche Mode nights that you had been to? At the time it was like two sides of the same coin: discovering this discourse about painting, especially gestural painting in Germany, and then also inding out that you could actually go to something like three different Depeche Mode nights a week in Berlin. I saw a kind of con luence between those two things and I thought I could combine the immediacy of music and pop culture with the slowness of the discourse about painting and then make posters that were painting. And you combined these with other paintings in a salon hang that was also similar to the way that teenagers put up posters in their bedrooms. I was immersed in music at the time, but also design groups like, say, Hipgnosis, who did cover art for Pink Floyd, and one of the people who worked for Hipgnosis was Peter Christopherson of Throbbing Gristle. It is a way of combining contrasting elements through graphic design, music or posters. I wanted to have all these paintings that could have been made by different people. It’s important that they were about history, not my own history but rather notions of history. They’re shown together with Top of the Will from 1998–99 and pages from the fanzine that you made between 1991 and 1995, which predates your artwork. As a teenager I was involved in the 1990s DIY punk subculture Riot Grrrl scene, which was an explosion of girl bands. Maybe you can even consider it a counterpoint to the kind of vacuousness of the Spice Girls’ ‘girl power’. There was a record department in a bookshop in Glasgow where the musician Stephen Pastel worked and he stocked so many great fanzines like Rollerderby from the US by Lisa Suckdog. I produced this little fanzine which featured gossip, comics and just whatever irreverent nonsense that you do when you’re 14 or 15, but it meant this incredible low of communication with people from all over. I was on the cover of a magazine as an example of a young feminist Riot Grrrl and I was in a band at the time that played with The
Raincoats and Lungleg. It was a really, really great introduction to a social scene and how combinations of ideas and the interpersonal are woven together. Why did you include it in the exhibition? I like to make that connection with how I started very young and have always stayed quite true to the spirit of the fanzine, and the idea that you can almost colonise yourself and use yourself as a resource. Maybe it was a response to Jeremy Deller using all the Manic Street Preachers fan art, which I had issues with. It seemed to be more ethical to show your own stuff rather than cannibalising the teenage emotions of some fans, if it’s your own idiocy you’re exploiting. It works really well formally as a kind of entry point into your work. What was the band you mentioned that you were playing with at the time? I was in a few different bands but the one that I performed with the most was called Ganger. We were like a krautrock band with two drummers and two bassists and I played either the clarinet, the keyboard or a lap steel guitar. As far as I’m concerned, our claim to fame is that we got remixed by Andrew Weatherall, but we played some great gigs – we played at the Wag in Soho and Spitz at Spital ields Market in London. But I just didn’t have the commitment that some of the others did and realised pretty soon that I wanted to be a painter. Yet being in bands when I was younger was a good primer for collaboration, and for understanding how fruitful it can be to give up something of yourself or to see what you can do in combination with other people and not to have tight control over things. Would you say that has continued into your other collaborations – your fashion label Atelier E.B with Beca Lipscombe, for instance? I sometimes compare Atelier E.B to being in a very boring band when we take the showroom around. Beca likes to compare us to the Pet Shop Boys. She, of course, is a very cool Chris Lowe standing at the back in a puffer jacket, and I’m Neil Tennant with all the patter.
Art Monthly no. 442, December 2020 – January 2021
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