|Kara Maria, Voluptuous Deconstruction, 2010; photo: courtesy the artist|
Kara Maria talks with Sarah Burke at the SFMOMA Artists Gallery
SB: You use a lot of recognizable imagery in your work such as political portraits and brand logos. Would you say that today, those icons are comparable to the religious icons that were so prominent earlier in history when art was mainly religious?
Kara Maria: It seems to me that the political images, logos etc. of today are sort of layered on top of older icons such as religious symbols from the past. Many of the older images have not disappeared. If anything, we have more and more imagery to work with as time passes - especially now that we have the Internet where we can see lots of it in one sitting. That art was mainly religious in the past has more to do with financing than anything else. In that sense, today's advertising might be a better analogy - contemporary artwork (unless commissioned by a corporation, I suppose) seems to serve a different function.
SB: Some of the imagery that you use is "sexually explicit," and would make many people feel ashamed to be looking at it. What's your purpose for employing imagery commonly thought of as taboo?
KM: I have used a lot of pornographic source material in my work because I find it interesting to work with. It is so loaded and yet so easy to access that I consider it to be part of pop culture. The nude human figure has a long history in art, and for better or worse pornography is one of the easiest places to find images of nude bodies in our society. For me it is a great source of "free" models to work from. I also find that the friction those images create when combined with other elements is not easily to replicate in other ways. It makes the work seems strangely "of the moment" to me.
SB: For your piece "Voluptuous Deconstruction" you manipulate a pornographic image until it is almost unrecognizable. Would you say that in doing so you are pointing out the fluidity of the "sinful" image?
KM: I'm not sure what you mean by the "fluidity" of the "sinful" image. I don't find the original image, or any other pornographic image, to be "sinful". I do find them, especially the more low budget photographs, to be strangely human, tactile, almost too much information. Once you really start to look at them, after any excitement, or revulsion wares off, you realize what is actually going on. The absolute openness, allowing such sexual acts to be made public, but for a profit - it's a very complicated thing. I enjoyed subverting all that into a more abstract image in "Voluptuous Deconstruction" - the complex issues are there, but beneath the surface.
|Kara Maria, Canonball, 2010; photo: courtesy the artist|