ERIC RANDALL MARKUS
TIMOTHY JAMES BERGERON
XIAN MARIE AZU-BOLES
I draw inspiration from artists and writers who use their work as ways of processing the interpersonal with the political, the emotional with the therapeutically clinical. I am interested in the different ways the audience, both as the collective and the individual, respond to images and so I have found the rampant symbolism used by Surrealists helpful in this respect. By creating images that evoke certain moods rather than by recreating the specific contextual experiences in which such moods normally occur, I hope to generate responses that are simultaneously personal and universal.
Much of my work is inspired by my interest in the processes that govern our everyday lives, whether these processes be artistic, economic, scientific, or everything in between and otherwise. I am interested in how these macro, large scale, often extremely technical, attempts at breaking down behavior interact and shape individual behavior in particular; how I, as an individual, respond in meaningful and intimate ways to the systems that generate sweeping judgements from patterns of collective behavior. I have a lot of respect for contemporary practitioners of Investigative and New Journalism and the way writers within these genres take more personal approaches to the individual, who would otherwise have only existed as a statistic, in a way that is also personal to themselves, and the way they forego the barrier between objective and subjective documentation. The act of writing in this way becomes a practice in finding the balance between a writer’s technical and artistic abilities, as well as a kind of self-assuredness in oneself to execute the product effectively, creating a mutual trust in and respect for the abilities and scrutinous eye of the reader who will hold them accountable for the successes, and failures, of their work. I believe my artistic practice is similar to such works in the subjective and personal approach to objective stimuli, drawing from the processes of these literary genres though with, what I believe and hope to be, vastly different effects.
Where the work of such writers has very much been driven by the necessity for some semblance of direct political action or consequence, I continue to struggle between balancing the artwork and its politics. Though I do not believe in any creation of art as an apolitical act, I am constantly wary of how the ambiguities within my work could potentially contribute to the perpetuation of the injustices that such writers so vocally express and so I have found that my work often reflects the struggle of finding this balance. The Flight of Capital will Always Yield Positive Returns for example was born out of months of obsessing over the lucrative and allegedly legal business of private equity firms and venture capital that brought about WeWork’s ridiculous downfall, and that enables other debt-ridden business like Uber to continue operating despite never having really turned a profit. However, as interesting as the machinations of the world of finance probably are, I am more interested in the emotions that transpire from these issues rather than in directly advocating for the obvious economic reforms already advocated for by writers and policymakers much more qualified than myself, to little avail. Instead I use these very real, tangible concerns as a vessel through which I explore the general feeling of anxiety generated by these specific circumstances and the way such feelings, in this case anxiety, overlap with emotions generated by entirely different sources and stimuli. I am sure there are positives to venture capitalists beyond my understanding. To me, The Flight of Capital is as much an exploration of my own tangible economic uncertainties—of leaving college and entering the workforce, of fears of looming recession, the relationship between the arts and finance—as it is a more generally existential one much in the same way that the juxtaposition of functioning debt-ridden corporations inspires existential dread. I enjoy using these methods of technical distancing as means of processing the personal, as proxies, in much the same way that poetry sometimes does, and as such I have come to admire the way Magical Realist writers and poets create beautifully haunting and tender products from brutal tragedy, especially with regards to the South American Magical Realists. Though my personal experience of “tragedy” as it is most commonly understood in such works surely pales in comparison I nonetheless find the process, one which enables tremendous amounts of tolerance and the capacity for brutal reflection, incredibly fulfilling.
Though I came to Boston University with the intention of studying painting I became a printmaker because I found printmaking unlike painting, at least as I understood it at the time, to be unassuming in its almost pathological commitment to its own economics. Because the print is an art form that occurs in a multiple, any sense of exclusivity, or lack thereof, becomes the sole responsibility of the printmaker through the edition. I find that my own predisposition towards the search for the authentic has over time become an unrealistic damaging idealization, one that often finds itself antithetical to the print’s remarkable ability to exist in multiples. To me, the next logical progression would have been to move onto creating prints digitally, which would open the door for degrees of multiplicity that verge on the infinite. But I found myself unable to progress from analogue to digital printmaking. I became enamored with the subtleties of tone, the heightened sense of intentionality of mark-making, and the physicality and tactility of the lithographic process. Though I sometimes find myself at odds with the part of me that abhors anything that even comes close to resembling the reactionary or romanticized sentimentality I am still fascinated by computers, memes, and interstellar laser beams.
And I like that my work is inherently inauthentic insofar that authenticity is defined by scarcity. It is why I rarely make prints beyond those in an edition even if that edition is very ridiculously, criminally small. Modern economies of scale, free trade, and mass production have pretty much rendered authenticity obsolete; practically anyone is able to create, reproduce, share, and experience—and it can sometimes be alarming, and it is beautiful.