Lights, Action, Plywood: Artist Jay Gard deconstructs in America

Berlin-based artist Jay Gard sits down with NYAB to talk about his first U.S. solo show DoubleGard running at Half Gallery through July 10, 2008.

poster for Jay Gard

Jay Gard "DoubleGard"

at Half Gallery
in the Upper East Side area
This event has ended - (2008-06-10 - 2008-07-10)

In Interviews by Samuel Holleran 2008-07-02 print

'Adjustable Wrench' (2007), Jay Gard. Foamcore and hot glue, 1200 x 35 x 8 cm. Image courtesy of the artist.

Your first U.S. show “DoubleGard” recently went up at Half Gallery on the Lower East Side. How was it presenting your work in the States for the first time?

It was the biggest effort I’ve ever had for an exhibition. I didn’t have money to ship the stuff, so I cut all the objects in half and gave the pieces to friends who visited me in Berlin. We brought everything in airplane luggage to New York City. It was totally worth it. At least I am really good at shipping stuff for free. Right now a friend of mine is on the way back to Germany with a shelf I built here in New York.

Your sculpture Plywood (2007) refers to the fact that most buildings in Los Angeles are constructed from stucco lopped on to wood frames. Do you see this as metaphor for topicality in American life at large?

Actually I didn’t mean it quite that way. I was three weeks in L.A. and I was really amused and shocked at the same time. I just never saw it before. You can build luxury houses out of crap. So I tried to build a similar piece, but instead of material, I concentrated on size. Plywood is 14 inches tall, but when you see it, you get a similar falsehood because it plays with the size of the 45-feet-tall Hollywood sign. It pretends to be what it is not. It gives me the possibility to build giant things without actually building giant things.

Unlike most commercial builders, you don’t make any attempt to hide your sculptures’ construction. Do you think there’s an inherent honesty in forms that show how they were created?
'FLEX' (2007), Jay Gard. Cardboard and hot glue, 30 x 15 x 15 cm. Image courtesy of the artist.
'OD-3' (2007), Jay Gard. Welded steel, 28 x 16 x 10 cm. Image courtesy of the artist.

Oh yeah. I think objects that have “mistakes” and show how they were built are way more honest and interesting than objects that are just “done.” If you don’t get rid of building marks people will connect the work with the builders. That gives more warmth to the objects. And another thing is, it’s a huge waste of time if I would try to work on my stuff until it gets “nice and clean.” It’s such a hold up when you deal with one thing and you can’t work on other things you have in mind.

You worked as an assistant for Tom Sachs. How did that experience inform your work?

I don’t know. The Half Gallery show was kind of all stuff I made so far before I worked for Tom, so it didn’t really change the topic. But the stuff that formed after Tom, is smaller and has twice as much detail as before.

Several of your sculptures take their form from equipment used in the music business (drum machines, inputs, guitar parts). Are you musically inclined?

I played in a punk rock band years ago. Our name was U.L.F., Unterste Lebens Form (Lowest Life Form). A lot of people played in bands, or at least played an instrument so it is a theme most people are interested in. It’s easy to understand. It’s very useful for making metaphors. With guitar parts, for example, you have this huge volume—and turn buttons. You start thinking immediately about what would happen if you turn up an amplifier whose size refers to the huge turn button. It would make so much noise it would be the only thing people would hear for miles.

Many of your pieces reproduce devices in chipboard with an exacting precision. Do the moving parts function?

Yes, sometimes they do. There is a big vice grip in Half Gallery that really works. But I think it’s senseless. The cardboard is not strong enough, it would get damaged, and you can’t touch it anyways.

Where can we catch more of your work?

Right now you can also see some pieces at Jack The Pelican Presents in Williamsburg. I think it’s up until the end of August.

MORE INFO
Artist’s site
Half Gallery

ALSO OF INTEREST
NYAB review of Tom Sachs 2008 Animals

Samuel Holleran

Samuel Holleran. Samuel Holleran is an illustrator, graphic artist, and cartoonist. He studied at the New School and the Universiteit van Amsterdam, and is currently at the Cooper Union. Having written on the history of the radical right in the Netherlands, reporting on the arts comes as a great pleasure. His interests include backgammon and (all varieties of) food. » See other writings

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