Curator Sade Coy sat down with Yogi Proctor to answer a few questions about his work and the Public Domaine project at La Gaite.
- Sade Coy: Firstly, can you tell me a little about your past with etnies?
Yogi Proctor: Several years ago I was fortunate enough to work with etnies as the art/creative director. I came up with the foundational brand identity of which some elements are still used today. I also developed several ad campaigns, which was really fun. Artistically, my favorite was the one that appropriated street signs and direction arrows and reoriented them graphically. To me it was a visual complement to the multiple new directions and ways of seeing that was being played out in skateboarding at the time as well as in the skate photos used in the ads.
- These themes of multiple ways of seeing are still central to your artwork?
Yes, very much so.
- Can you explain how your central piece in the exhibit, "Canon", came to be?
Making copies is a beautiful thing. Everyone makes copies in their own unique way.
- "Canon" is gold plated copy machine whose neon light is on and continuously moving back and forth—appearing to make copies, but the machine itself makes no copies at all. Is it an actual copy machine?
Perhaps at root yes, but really no. It is a sculpture that looks like a copy machine.
- And is it real gold?
I can let you check the insurance documents if you like.
- What possessed you to make such an elaborate construction?
Well, I happened to re-hear the famous JFK speech on the radio that was actually written by Ted Sorensen, who himself modified it from a Khalil Gibran speech. It goes "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country."
I knew exactly what I could do. I could make a golden photocopier that doesn't make any copies. Art is great like that. You make it to share with people.
- Tell me about the title.
"Canon" most immediately alludes to the company that produces copy machines on a global scale. However, it also speaks to the Canon of art history, particularly the canon of contemporary art history.
- Hanging on the wall behind the Canon, you included a photocopy on which was a knock knock joke, framed behind what you call "Art Deco Yellow Plexi."
- I have to ask, why did you include my name in the actual artwork?
Well, I thought it might be fun to bring attention to the curator as a sort of copy artist or copy machine. That is, the curator copies the experience of the artist's work. They take it from the studio and then from exhibition to exhibition. Hence in a strange way they reproduce it in close to identical form without actually making a duplicate. They copy the experience for the audience.
- But beyond the joke, you also included my name upstairs completely outside the context of the art exhibit itself.
Yes, you’re talking about "The Baguette Board" that is placed at the front of the building at the entry to the whole show.
- So let me get this straight, "The Baguette Board" is a skateboard that was found in a Paris junk shop, and was later realized to be over one hundred years old. Tell me about this piece.
Well, it's not for me to make historic claims, but the implications of "The Baguette Board" point to skateboarding being invented in Paris around fifty years before the historically recognized location of California. But rather than talk about it, I'd rather let the audience see that piece for themselves.
- Is there anything else you'd like to add?
I'd really like to thank the family at etnies, Pierre, Ashton, Brenda, Morgan, Pedro, Mike, Don and also Gilles and Manzoori. I really appreciate their supporting personally on this project as well as their vision and involvement with the Public Domaine project at La Gaite as a whole. It would not have been such a success without them.
Presented by La Gaîté lyrique
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