18 October 2010
MoMA - PS1: Debo Eilers
Debo Eilers Live at PS1
It's amazing how much you learn from talking to an artist. At PS1 I spoke with Debo Eilers about his sculpture work, which he recasts as recycled prop until someone decides to purchase it. From rebuilding Kanye West's sunglasses after a performance in which they were being handed out to children in Union Square in Manhattan, to hiring a 13-year-old to go shopping on Canal St. and then perform alongside him at a PS1 performance involving his work, Debo creatively reuses his pieces and reanimates them in various contexts. The canvas-size palette, on which he mixes his oils and resins, doubles as a wall hanging and a picture frame showcasing a photograph from the performance Secret Faggot, which was performed by a band of his friends.
In speaking to Debo, it is easy to see how malleable the vision of the artist can be. He nods and listens carefully and responds with new details related to the migratory nature of his work. On August 8th, during the well-attended PS1 performance, all the pieces he had set up in the space he shared with Tamar Halpern were moved or altered. The stage he had built for Secret Faggot was split into its constituent pieces and turned upside down. The broken mirror floor covering from his studio, which he had transposed onto the floor of the exhibit space, was stacked against a wall in pieces, and three of his mixed-media paintings had new plastic figurines of animals and fish stuck to them. The 13-year-old had made all the changes: she was empowered to alter the artist's vision as part of the performance.
Debo's work bears references to the aesthetic of Richard Hamilton, Cy Twombly and Gerhard Richter. He questions power dynamics in constructed interior environments, works with sculptural cutouts that are relatively two-dimensional and superimposes photography on painted cast plastic.