I was pleased when Google told me there were a couple Lauren Marx video interviews posted online. Most visual artists don’t have communications handlers and aren’t super experienced at public speaking, so actually seeing artists talk about their work lends valuable insights.
I clicked on the first Lauren interview. Whoever filmed it, didn’t realize that capturing an interesting conversation, with a compelling artist, using a shitty android or some handheld bullshit might just produce bad audio. That isn’t surprising, art school kids and amateurs always struggle with sound. But this motherfucker decided to try and correct the ambient fishbowl quality, by adding a god-awful soundtrack that kept punctuating and overriding her voce every time she talked, it was unbearable.
So I tried another one, this one was recorded at a god damned opening, and the music and background noise from the party made me instinctively lean into my screen. Turning up the volume just made if feel even more like I was eavesdropping at a warehouse party.
My agitation was getting worse. We have to be super disciplined with taking down the trash during the summer because fruit flies will immediately appear in our loft. Beth had cut up a bunch of cantaloupe the other day, and as I was trying to make out Lauren’s answers, I noticed the little fuckers were dive-bombing my head. I had dropped the ball with the trash and we had been invaded.
I clicked on a third interview as a couple gnats buzzed around the screen. The uploader’s page was called something art blah blah blah TV. With “TV” in the title, I assumed this would a quality interview. It was another goddamned art school jawn, this time, conducted via a low bandwidth Skype connection that looked like a Videodrome signal and sounded like a fucking ham radio.
I grew more agitated. I began swatting at the tiny bugs like a gorilla hanging off a building while listening to the frustrating crackle of this third YouTube clip. This finally induced what Beth refers to as, “one of my Walter (Sobcheck) episodes.”
After I wore myself out from screaming at the screen, I decided to set aside Lauren Marx for a couple of hours so I could take out the trash and set up some fruit fly traps.
So what did I learn about Lauren Marx?
From the videos I learned that she is surprisingly young for her skill set and exudes the awkward body language of a self-conscious art-school girl. Nothing else.
Her bios and statements are what I would expect- She’s fascinated with biology, animals, decay. Really? No shit.
Critics think she’s important and they’re right.
She’s accessible but disturbing, compelling and emotional while still aesthetically pleasing. The intellectuals of the contemporary art scene can ignore the decorative nature of her work and wax poetic on her themes while her illustrations are still beautiful share-candy and click-bait ready for social media. There is something deeply disturbing about her work. It’s not as simple as decayed flesh and the inevitable coldness of nature.
There is a greater metaphor at play here. These illustrations have a visceral quality of antique holiday greeting cards, like they somehow retain a bright and innocent feel of patent leather buckles, rosy cheeks and peppermint candy; but like all things Victorian, all you have to do is lift up the lace and you’ll see the bruises and scars.
I don’t know this girl’s past, but I feel its weight.