As a bit of a Pop fiend, it was a pleasure to discuss New Blood with Morgan Spurlock; as a bit of a Pop theorist, it’s something of a marvel to ponder the nine-minute manifesto…
SxB: Why New Blood, why now?
“I don’t know if it was a question of now, or if I just felt like there was a need to show – I feel like there’s still this shifty new movement in the art space where the people who kind of launched this whole “low brow” art movement, this street art movement are now inspiring this whole new generation of artists; y’know these new kinds of Pop graffiti artists who are kind of coming up in their wake, and I find that to be really fascinating. You gotta think it wasn’t that long ago when low brow art and street art was being relegated to the lowest smallest of the fringe galleries, to now where these paintings are being put up in the cornerstones of the modern art movement. So I think to see where that ripple effect is continuing to affect, not only our generation, but the next generation of artists is really inspiring.” –Morgan Spurlock
sxb: Do you see characteristics of the “old blood” – not necessarily more conventional or traditional art, but even Warholian Pop Art – within the vein of this New Blood?
Mogan Spurlock: Definitely. Those artists, those people who kind of were at the cornerstone of that Street Art/Pop Art movement, these are people who came out of that Warhol school of thought; who are making and saying very bold statements about the current state of economy, and our society, our culture. I think there is a tremendous movement still, as art as citizen criticism where we can actually use access to make a statement beyond, you know it “just being art.” I think that’s what a lot of people do, and I think that’s fantastic.
sxb: Ron English put together your poster for the show. I think it definitely speaks to that aspect of art – which can’t be articulated through words necessarily – in showing the fused juxtapositions of commerce, religion, capitalism, patriotism, and the half-dollar at the foundation, with you at the center of it all. Do you have any thoughts on that or how it all came together?
MS: This is the piece that Ron actually put together for the show, and it came from a collaboration that he and I did on my last film, The Greatest Movie Ever Sold. In that film there was a conversation I had with the gentleman who created the Star Wars poster and the JAWS poster, and the JAWS trailer, and his whole thing is about how being offensive and to use the type of things that people most hold dear, that you use as creating conversation, are the things that get inked; and if you want to do that, there’s one thing that always gets inked – and that’s religion. And Ron is somebody who’s been using that to his benefit for years, and so when the poster I had suggested we use was “The Last Supper,” the first person I thought of for doing a poster for that was Ron. And I think the criticism that he draws and the way he puts the influence of popular movies on us – much like they are our apostles today – is pretty, I think, inspired.
sxb: I do see a very big omission from this, I kind of wish I saw Maggie Simpson somewhere at the table as a religious icon…
MS: (laughs) I know right – and I kind of feel like I should have been more Judas than Jesus at the table, but y’know…
sxb: So you’re from West Virginia, you went to Tisch School of the Arts, and the show is in Culver City [California] … Something that we talk about here at Art Nouveau is that “Stars are born in New York, and L.A. is where they go to die.” What do you think about the art scenes on the East Coast and West Coast, and coming from West Virginia as a bit of an outsider, how do you see the art scenes?
MS: (laughs) Well, it’s amazing because y’know if you’re an artist, or an actor, or a filmmaker, or a storyteller that’s where you end up going – to Los Angeles, to settle into your career; but if you are in the art world, what you want to do is to have your art suddenly accepted by the big galleries in New York City – you want to have someone in New York City, like The Gagosian, be carrying your art. You want to have – when Dietch had his big gallery in New York City – you wanted to have somebody like that give it their seal of approval, so you actually made that crossover into the big gallery world. You know, L.A. has really started to come into its own with the street art movement, but I still feel like the cultural capital of the art world lives and breathes in New York City.
sxb: What differences do you see between documentarian and curator; what limitations or freedoms does one have and not the other?
MS: For me, as a curator, it’s much easier when all I can do is come up with a theme and present it to artists and they get to run with it – it’s much different where I’m having so much control and influence. There may be another show in the future where it’s much more directed with what I want to have the artists create, but this was much more about the artists and their vision as opposed to what I want them to say.
sxb: So, elevator pitch for New Blood: in 15 or 30 seconds, you’re caught in an elevator – or between flights – and someone wants to know about New Blood, what would you tell them?
MS: I would say that in the art world everyone has helped someone along the way, and especially now, even myself, I find myself in a position where I try and give other people a break. I let everyone know: ‘This is a filmmaker you should know about. This is a writer you should know about. This is someone you need to be paying attention to, because they’re going to be after our jobs in a few years – that’s how good they are.’ So the same thing is in the art world, that there are plenty of people who have apprenticed under, whomever, for centuries, who – whether it be Rembrandt, whether it be Picasso – or whether it be these people who we’re having in the show, and what I want those artists to do is share those people that they believe are the next big thing with all the rest of us.
sxb: When was European interior design at its peak?