Art in Isolation: A Conversation with Cary Fagan

By Joel De La Rosa

Art in Isolation: A Conversation with Cary Fagan

JOEL DE LA ROSA: Tell us a little more about cf.filmstudios. It sounds like it's something similar to our culture project, in the sense that it's about learning and collaboration.

CARY FAGAN: Cffilmstudios is an enigma with identity, most recognize the name and what it can do - I am still working on the message. I see this being a kiosk of information for creatives and artists who want to stand on their feet in this crazy industry; preparing them for the business side of things. Cffilmstudios is also the name I do business under. I envision a building hosting different artistic journeys for me and other collaborators. Right now the website is utilized as a transparent resume highlighting professionals I've worked with and want to continue working with. This dream is still in development.

JD: You created a performance of stacking chairs alongside the Radical Italian Design Exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston. Did you gain any new insights by juxtaposing your performance with chairs against a chair produced by Gufram or Urano Palma? 

CF: I gained insight of course - actually I said to myself, “maybe in my past life I could’ve been a chair designer” and today I am recognizing my passion by taking the risk and moving forward. I think in this moment of irony I was meant to confess and own that I would associate my name with chairs. Today I am doing it - others in the world recognize my passion, they send me photos of chairs every day

JD: Have you designed chairs? If so, can you show us? 

CF: I have my first design however, I do not want to share it - I will when it is complete. Since we have been quarantined, I have put my mind and admirations to the test and utilized pipe cleaners to design my first chair. I am intrigued because I think this design is original and one of a kind. I want this design to offer the viewer a new perspective on chairs. I’ve tried to serve both functionality with minimal aesthetic. At the moment, I am investing in production to see how this chair will physically look. I am dissolving prototypes to reveal the final product so I'm not ready to show the world yet. I am also working on a toy set of chairs to stack, like a puzzle. I love the challenge of a puzzle. (Timeless Goods) 

JD: When working with Solange’s When I Get Home, was there a reason behind opting for VHS? Did it have to do with your personal aesthetic or was it a choice that served a message?

CF: There was no reason behind this, analog mediums and VHS is what I gravitate towards. Just like film, VHS provides an unusual element, an experience that happens only on occasion. You can never really read when your camera will add something you do not want or don't expect. There are qualities in VHS that I appreciate more than a standard digital video camera.

JD: How has your poetry evolved over the years? When did you realize this was a medium of expression for you? “Time doesn’t exist” is my favorite.

CF: Over the years… interesting - I started writing back in 2014, but I can admit I wasn’t familiar with the words I was putting on paper. I think I was just writing because it sounded good to me. I recently started journaling last year. I have put that energy into my first manuscript. Maybe a few weeks ago I cried at something I wrote and said to myself, “I will be a great writer one day.” Writing has an intimate connection like that, makes me believe new pathways exist.

JD: How has your time in Japan impacted you?

CF: Japan has blessed me with a new perspective on life, I became a deer in Nara. What I mean is that I embrace the delicate and fragile side of myself. I like explaining to people that I left my soul in Japan. As a result, I’ll have to return to it. In an odd future, I see myself establishing and working a ramen shop from the ground up. Maybe in a rural city of Japan, that to me depicts the word “nostalgia.”

JD: I see that you’ve found ways to keep creating while we are in isolation. You went from real chairs to toy chairs. What advice would you give other creatives during this time?

CF: An analogy is the best way to provide advice: Right now we are all in a waiting room with a clock on the wall and a door in front of us. As we sit and wait, we do not know what is behind this door. What we do understand is that we will soon walk through the door of uncertainty but we are here waiting. What will you do while you’re waiting? What are we going to do with that time? The idea is tangible now, we can focus on it. If you have a book in front of you, will you read it? Right now we are in a rare moment of existence. I always preach that time doesn’t exist but right now all we have is time, purely for us all to absorb and utilize it to the best of our ability. We may never get this “time” again once we enter that door. For the people reading this right now, what will you do with the time that you have?

 JD: Do you lean more towards photography than sculpture or performance?

CF: Funny you ask, ever since we have been on lock down - just last week I picked up a camera and laughed out loud confessing, “I do photography?” I’ve been reflecting on that statement and understanding that I am more than just a photographer. I do other things that I want to explore or what I’m already good at. Now is the “time” - I am a multidisciplinary artist. As of now, I am learning more towards sculpting and live performances. But to add, all of my mediums supplement each other.

JD: Can you tell us about your most challenging project?

CF: My most challenging project does not have to do with things I create. I think the most challenging “project” has been figuring out my identity and future in this great era of uncertainty. “What’s next in my career? What am I doing?” I don’t think much on past projects, I’m doing my best to live in the present. 

All images are courtesy of https://cary-fagan.com/

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