MARCEL DZAMA IN CONVERSATION WITH LAILA PEDRO
Marcel Dzama I have always enjoyed trickster characters throughout history and mythology, as a way to escape the hold of the logical. I do from time to time candy-coat what I’m projecting in my work. Like my anger and anxieties around our times. In some of the work, I try to explain it, but in other works I pass over it in silence. I like the viewer to decide what’s happening. I enjoy interpretations—especially misinterpretations. Relationships between the characters change from work to work and show to show, and so does any associated symbolism or meaning. It’s almost as if they have their own separate worlds or dimensions all within the same universe. I do imagine background stories for most of the characters, but those too can change from show to show. In the last few shows, the relationship between the colors blue and red has been one of warring factions. I saw it as a chess game of red pieces and blue pieces. Subconsciously, I’m sure it had something to do with the two-party political system in the United States. They are also my two favorite colors of the past few years, but right now I am definitely going through my blue period.
Laila Pedro A lot of familiar elements from your previous works are here in these new drawings—the clever insertions of text and of all kinds of creatures—but yes, there are also newer animals and scenes that change the flavor, though everything fits right in.
MD The text has been influenced by futurist and Dada works. And the Hong Kong show itself has been influenced by horse racing.
LP Had you thought about horse racing before beginning this work?
MD Not so much, though I may have drawn it a few times. I used to go to a racetrack in Winnipeg for something to do when I was growing up. It was just a run-down place, with these very sad old people on slot machines.
LP Did you draw the horses then?
MD I didn’t. Though I actually took down all the names of the horses that I liked because I was in a band at the time—I used them as song titles and lyrics. I don’t think I actually drew horses very much. The horses are present in this show because Raymond Pettibon and I were going to the horse races together every other weekend for a while. Then I went to Hong Kong and learned that horse racing plays a big role in the culture there. Also, for the Hong Kong works, I wanted to add dragons. In The female freedom fighters for our future [2018; pp. 8–9], a dragon is either coming or going—either he’s biting her or it’s
only a tongue lick. I haven’t decided.