In conversation with Mark Flood

Mark Flood once said that every move he made was a career suicide. He is still alive, though.

The Edge of Fame, 2011 Mixed Media Installation - Posters, magazines and publicities with Lindsay Lohan

6000 tabloid clippings of Lindsay Lohan. 5000 stenciled paintings based on the Facebook LIKE. Questions like “Ask me about death,” and an immense amount of satire, prankster antics and comedy, all as a part of the “Gratest Hits” exhibition shown as a whole at Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, and in bits and pieces with two large-scale installations, as well as paintings from the artist’s “Text and Lace” series, at Art Basel – Peres Project booth, curated by Javier Peres and Nick Koenigsknecht.

We talked to the artist about Lindsay Lohan, fame and obsession.

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Mark, let’s start with a very basic question. How do you start working on a piece?

I think about art I could make all the time. I take notes but sometimes I make things. For instance the Google paintings – there’s a lot to read about Google, but nothing as interesting to look at. So I started evolving their logo. It doesn’t matter what my image looks like because it has the content “Google” in its DNA and that’s enough content for any painting. My image can become anything. I don’t even think it has to be legible as the word Google. I evolve it to the point where I like it, and then I keep going because I’m bored with me and what I like.

Then I stop and take pictures when it turns into something that makes me have feelings. Not necessarily good feelings. All this is me on a computer sitting anywhere, no normal studio involved. I’ve got different printers for different things, they make my printed art happen. I designed dozens of Google paintings, and I printed 10 of those, and I showed 5 of those.

 

How many times per week do you work at the studio, though? How many hours and then when you come home, what is the first thing you do?

There’s no pattern. It’s not like a 9-5 job. It’s sporadic. I go to the studio if I have to work. Like maybe there’s piles of lace I should go through, looking for something inspiring. Because I have a show or somebody wants some lace paintings. So I do chores. If I need to be extra-creative, I smoke some Talent-In-A-Baggie.

But I don’t usually go home. I drive around looking at stuff.

Are you one of those hyperactive people or you are one of the chill ones?

I don’t know. I feel like a frozen vegetable, but somehow I’m productive.

Do you think you are easy to work with?

I overpay to compensate for my alleged unpleasantness.

How many times per day do you open your Instagram feed?

I’ll look at the feed maybe once, but I search #markflood several times.

What, in your opinion, is the saddest and most worrying part about Instagram and what the best?

It’s like our civilization in general – everybody knows this is a crazy train, but no one wants to get off.

Do you ever stalk on people you don’t follow?

I don’t think so.

Let’s now talk more about your work that was recently exhibited at Basel as a part of Peres Project booth. One of the works “The Edge of Fame” was made in 2011, and it’s this wicked mural/collage of Lindsay Lohan’s photos from the magazines. Did you ever think, while making the piece, that all these years later the situation will still be so fucked? In regards to both, media and her?

For me, the “situation” is the one about people worshipping images of faces, and that’s been going on for thousands of years. I don’t see what’s “so fucked” about it, though.

For me, 6000 pictures of Lindsay’s face is a sensual display of an exotic and beautiful medium, for the viewer to wallow in. It’s like those beautiful displays of pollen by Wolfgang Laib. Look at the pretty faces and forget about “what’s fucked.” It’s an art activity with deep roots in our biology/psychology.

What is your favorite Lindsay Lohan movie?

Mean Girls.

Mark, what made you choose and exhibit this specific works at this time? I am still talking about the Art Basel.

Javier Peres and Nick Koenigsknecht curated the booth, so give them the credit. They know my work well and my shows are better when other people curate. I like that they put in the painting of the beautiful girl holding a special bottle, overwritten with a text that says “ASK ME ABOUT DEATH.” That’s one of my favorite paintings. It ties everything together. You have the staring face like with Lindsay Lohan, and you have an associated authoritative command. It should have been “BUY THIS PERFUME.” Only I’ve hijacked this perfume ad, with all its high-tech gorgeousness, and made it about my own morbid preoccupations. So this silly ad becomes deep. It’s like when a cowbird lays its egg in another birds nest, and the other bird feeds the hatchling. I really like this painting, and I wanted to keep it. But it was Basel, so I let it go.

Why do you think there is such an obsession with people who are only famous for being famous?

I’m not sure there is. Who cares if someone “deserves” their fame? Fame is a side effect of human biology interfacing with technology.

Which generation do you think is the most troublesome? Millenials, Generation X, Baby Boomers?

I prefer young people who still have stupid dreams.

Do you think we have lost our cultural bearings?

I think the academic world has been brainwashing generation after generation, and it’s reached a tragic crisis point.

What’s the dumbest thing you’ve ever done?

I went on a snipe hunt, and I believed there were snipe.

Mark’s latest exhibition Google Murder-Suicide is on view at Maccarone, New York until July 28.

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Interview: Katja Horvat

Photos: Courtesy of the artist, Peres Projects and Maccarone, NY/LA.