Spinning Yarns

30.11.2011 | Art , Blog | BY:

After meeting artist Leslie Kulesh at our recent Twin Speaks salon, we fell in love with her can do attitude. From coloured yarns to acting out Nineties classic flick Clueless with friends, anything goes. Originally from San Francisco but now living in London, we thought we’d share her with the rest of you…

Do you remember the moment when you decide to be an artist?
Vividly! I was in Hawaii with my grandmother and my father, who’s an art conservator. I was about 11 years old and we went to a museum show of Hockney’s opera sets.

The interior of the museum was entirely dark, save for the lights on the sets, as they would have been in use. Recordings of the opera music played loud from room to room, and as is custom over there – the air conditioning was blasting. The whole experience was multi-sensory and emotional to the point of almost being frightening. I knew I wanted to make things like that – environments that transported people that had their own history, but perhaps a future potential as well.

Your work involves both performance and hand crafted structures – how would you define your own work?
My practice is definitely process oriented. It’s important to work with the material and understand what goes into production. In works such as No Fear, I spent about six hours a day for the best part of a month measuring, cutting and tying each piece onto the grid I had designed.

That work becomes very meditative and wouldn’t have the same energy had it been made by another person. Decisions get made throughout the creation and I see what is developing. With performance work, it’s the same in a lot of ways. There is an idea, multiple ways to approach it, script writing, or improv, work-shopping, then re-working – always guiding back toward the original idea. By taking full ownership of the work there is room for it to start mutating.

When performing with others, I have always called upon friends. Unlike actors, I know their qualities, or suspect there is something that will come out once placed in a specific environment. That open-plan style work also allows for excessive collaboration that proves for a much stronger performance.

How important is popular culture in your artistic practice – are there any elements you find yourself consistently retuning to and why?

Pop culture is great – it mutates in that same way as I see my work. Someone puts forth an idea, others riff on that, it gets co-opted, becomes a meme and by then there’s a whole new story happening. I do consistently return to the digital/analogue exchange- both literal and symbolic. I’m sure it’s generational, having to do with growing up in Silicon Valley – learning DOS instead of Dewey Decimal.

Nonetheless, it continues to be relevant. As technology trudges forward, those same senses that were so stunned back in the Hockney exhibit in Hawaii become stunted when I try to take in a 500px X 340px Katharina Grosse image. I know I am not experiencing it – it’s a point of reference; and I often wonder if there will be a movement away from this half baked form of research.

What drives you to create?
Different things, different days. To prove something to myself, to scare myself. You always hear that new age-y talk about internalizing instead of externalizing, living in the moment – divorced from the future and the past. I feel that way when I am making something. That time becomes like a line, one dimensional.

If you weren’t an artist what would you be?
A musician – god knows I travel enough. At the least I should have the reward of a crowd acknowledging me for my travel every couple of days!

What’s up next for you?
I have a video in a group show at French Riviera opening tonight 6-9pm and I’ll be DJing with Twin’s Art Editor Francesa Gavin afterwards!

I’m also speaking at Camden Arts Centre with Kate Cooper (co-director of Auto Italia) on December 7th and I’ll be in performance during Bodies Assembling at Auto Italia on Saturday, December 10th.


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