June 17, 2013

Spotlight: Cristine Brache

Artist Cristine Brache gives us some insight on her many projects and 
tells us why Rogue from X-Men was her idol growing up.  

Cristine Brache's art was first brought to my attention when she sent me the video she created to accompany Whorish Boorish's song "Float". I was captivated by not only the music but also by the purple-tinted hazy video of playing cats that Cristine matched to "Float". I decided to do some more research on her and discovered that Cristine wasn't just a videographer – she's an artist that works with digital collage and painting, she's curated a handful of exhibits, and she's a published poet. Her art has been exhibited in cities from Brooklyn to Estonia. I was shocked to see the extensive breadth of her work and I still don't think I've seen everything she's done. All of her art is fascinating and thought-provoking but some of my favorites include her Objects of Identity in Decay collages and her Totalitarian Nature project. Cristine is originally from Miami but has spent time all around the world and is currently based in China. Find out more about her work in our interview below. 

THE LE SIGH: You work with a wide variety of mediums, from video to collage to poetry. Is there one that you enjoy doing the most?

Cristine Brache: I suppose not.  Each medium I work with is of equal enjoyment and has its place in the cycle of my process.  I appreciate each medium for different reasons and prioritize one or the other at different stages.  Some are usually more immediate than others like collage, which can serve as an exercise.  Video and painting tend to take much more time to reach a sense of completion.  I consciously use collage in an attempt to distill visual elements or to create associative games that will eventually carry over to more essential video works in pre and post production.  Poetry occurs when certain experiences reach some sort of crescendo and there is a personal necessity to document my reaction, observation, or emotionality to it.

TLS: THE LE SIGH editors have just graduated college and it seems like you have accomplished so much since you graduated school. What was post-grad life like for you and what motivated you to keep creating art and poetry?

CB: It was definitely hard for me to continue with my process and sustain, it is a difficult balance to maintain.  Yet to never settle is easy when you realize all that settling really means.  It's important  to take certain risks and to be creative not only with your art but with your lifestyle approach.


TLS: I noticed you are currently living in China - what brought you there?

CB: Upon completing 576-ORGY,  I had saved up enough money to travel
 with the intention to roam.  It was a sort of challenge I'd posed to myself.  I left to England where some friends in Manchester offered to host me.  I wound up traveling to a lot of countries after meeting my partner in london.  Such extensive travel on such a low budget for such a long time really wouldn't have been possible for us without the internet.

Anyway, we decided to go to southeast Asia to produce a video based on one of his texts.  I saved money posing as a nude model for painters or photographers in London, which unintentionally served as long overdue research for me and also some sort of therapy for some body image issues that I had.  We also got really lucky later on and got hired as model-actors the weekend prior to our flight for a sort of high-brow sex-video which ended up debuting during Berlin fashion week.  I was really pushing myself to experience these sorts of situations especially since I tend to sexualize my work. Right now, we have an artist-in-residence program beginning on  July 1st in Guangzhou, China which is where the majority of our production will take place.  We have recorded several low-fi sketches along our trip, some of which have taken the form of advertisements for my blog Trash Tourism (12).

TLS: Women seem to be especially prevalent in your artwork, from your Objects of Identity in Decay project to your Universal Adults paintings. What influence does being women or women pose on your art? CB: The Woman addresses many investigative concerns of mine.  My work tends to gravitate towards objectification, desire, and consumption, in the most general sense.  I study objects, their context, the language they're spoken in, and what roles they play in our lives.  Any object -- everyday objects, the
unconscious object, objects of consumption, image-objects, objects of ritual, etc. How we use and engage these objects, how they occupy, accentuate, and define us. How their definitions change, and their utter nihilism.  With that said, there are many reasons why women should be prevalent in my work.  Naturally, I identify as female which is one very important thing.  But  more than anything else the Woman is probably the most powerful symbol for the object in general.  Woman was the original object, created prior to tools and fire.  So when I look at the overabundance of objects as they exist today and my relation to them, it is necessary for me to refer to them as her/me.  The way I see it, I am that waste.  I am that nihilism.

 TLS: You grew up in Miami which is a pretty interesting city. What was it like growing up there and did it play a part in you becoming an artist/your art at all? 

CB: Miami makes you grow up fast.  It has this wanton reputation which is incredibly easy to authenticate even at age 14.  You see a lot and you do a lot -- no matter how you understand it.  While I stray from most of the vacuums that dominate the image of Miami, it has a very specific character that I have not known elsewhere, which I am honored to be a part of. 

The art scene is active there but I wasn't necessarily inspired by it early on.  So when I was young, its influence on me becoming an artist was somewhat non-existent.  Needless to say, nowadays the art scene there and the experience of living there most of my life has greatly affected me and my practice.  I can never be away from the ocean for too long.

TLS: We love your new video for Whorish Boorish's 'Float' - what's it like to film a music video? Do you come up with concept yourself?

Rebecca Lima (Whorish Boorish) is a good friend of mine and I have always seen her as a person with significant inner power.  The first time I heard her sing, she slew me.  Her voice is so raw and communicates on so many levels.  I was very excited when she developed her music into what is now Whorish Boorish and other projects like Las Fritas. While I was in Malaysia last February I was listening to the 'You're Such a Jodi EP' pretty much on loop.  I found it so haunting.  It completely exposed me in some way.  We had already been discussing a music video so I studied her sound having some sort of visual outcome in mind.  A little later on, walking back from this rainforest I saw these two ill treated kittens imprisoned in a cage.  They looked so neglected and full of yearning.  I immediately connected it to 'Float.'

TLS: I also love your ongoing Trash Tourism project. What made you come up with that photography series and what has been the most fascinating city/country you've photographed?

CB: Thank you. Trash Tourism began as a sort of exercise in photographing people as little as possible while documenting my trip.  I focused my attention to the wasted object in the context of undefined space, waste in relation to cycles of consumption,  and the organic integration of it in urban planning.  I approached such found installations as a by-product of the stringent consumption models currently in place.

It's very difficult to find a nameless space.  With city planning and the globalization process everything becomes more and more defined.  Everything and every space has its set function which imposes a performative action on us.  If one wants to sit in the coffee shop one must buy a coffee.  If one wants to dance, one goes to a club or party.  It's very exciting to find spaces where its definition collapses or has been abandoned completely and to see how people create or deal with its redefinition.  Often times those who perform as dysfunctional members of society end up in derelict spaces out of necessity but every now and then you might find a really creative use of such a space.I found hidden messages revealing themselves, poems surfacing, evidence of unconscious ritual emerging — a chilling account of human experience.  The unconscious arrangement of objects, trash, and the overall collaborative manipulation of the nameless spaces they occupied is a never ending collaborative work of art.  An installation made by unknown contributors: a projection of our traumas and collective experience as a whole.
I have been taking pictures of derelict spaces in many different countries since 2010. Countries include: USA, England, Poland, France, Austria, Germany, Greece, Italy, Switzerland, Turkey, Thailand, Malaysia, China, and Hong Kong.


TLS: This one is a little less serious! Who was your idol growing up and why?

CB: My answer to this question is sort of a trope (it's so hard to avoid): I used to really love Rogue from the X-Men cartoon television series.  Mainly because she could never actually touch anyone and when she did, she'd hurt or kill them while taking their power and psychology.  I guess it's this thing about desire...wanting something so badly and never being able to have it.  It's really honest in a way.  Also, the the thought of consuming someone's psychology and gaining access to their inner person was very exciting for me.

Find out more about Cristine and her art here

Written by Emily Thompson