Interview: Albo Jeavons and gangsters in suits

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An anti-corporate guy like Albo Jeavons couldn’t possibly work with a gallery. He’s constitutionally indisposed to men and women in suits. So tomorrow night (Friday, Sept. 16th), he is mounting his own show in his own apartment. The digital prints are all based on the Sistine Chapel, with voluptuous figures of corporate godhead and equally voluptuous figures of the rest of us non-corporate shmoes.

Albo Jeavons, Creation, digitally created and printed print, ca. 4 feet wide

I asked him some questions via email:

You have said you make art to explore how corporations can be humans. How does that apply to your re-imaginings of the Sistine Chapel? And why the Sistine Chapel?

A simple thought-experiment has driven most of my art-making for the last 15 years.  In this fucked-up world we live in, it is a sad truth that each corporation is legally a person.  Crazy, right? My project started with an image that popped into my head – of a bunch of business suits all joined together into a monstrous, quasi-sexual multi-body.  I started to play with the idea sculpturally and quickly understood that what I was doing was imagining a body for this insane legal/social fiction of the Corporate Person.  My mission has been to pull back the curtains to expose the grotesque, invisible body of this creepy, psychopathic monster that is surely the dominant life-form on Earth, if we accept it’s Personhood.  Kind of like Dorothy and the Wizard, but I’m still waiting for my ruby slippers, goddamnit. Why the Sistine Chapel?  I started to think about the back-story of the corporate life-form and wondered what a corporate religion would look like (other than the obvious Worshiping of The Profit).  An image of the Corporate God passing the spark of life along to the Adam Corporation came to mind, and it followed from there.  Michelangelo’s hilarious, sublime, subversive Sistine Chapel frescoes are amazing source for material to explore and to reimagine and, you know – he wasn’t a half-bad painter and I only steal from the best.

 

Albo Jeavons, the Corporation

What is the personal story that triggered your ire with corporations?

It probably started with the Ritual Satanic Abuse in the tunnels underneath the Corporate Daycare Center… OK – maybe not.  All of us – human and non-human beings – are abused and exploited by the gangsters in suits who run the world.  They steal our lives and destroy the planet while giving us shiny toys and happy-pills to keep us quiet, just as their grandfathers did with the people who lived on this continent before the colonizers arrived in force.  I want the world back, so I’m an anarchist.  As an artist I do what I can to expose the rotten, devouring corpus of our rulers – it isn’t much, but I do what I can.

Are you working on the computer here or in the real world? Are the prints computer generated, or how? size?

Yep – the Sistine prints are mostly digital (with occasional hand-drawn emendations), and they’re made on some of those nasty, toxic toys I was just talking about.  We all have to live with our contradictions!  The source images are a mix of downloads from the Web – with the interesting visual damage from image compression – and scans from books.  I pull figures and details from the originals and recombine them in ever-ramifying ways, so it’s sort of a collage process.  It’s very improvisatory and incredibly fun! I was tremendously lucky to get a grant last year to buy a large-format professional inkjet printer, so the prints are BIG – almost 4 feet wide – and really luscious.  Every time a new one rolls out of the printer I just want to eat it, it looks so good.

Albo Jeavons, Flood

How long have you been working on this newest series of drawings? are they drawings?

I have some related drawings but this show is just the big prints.  I steal imagery from my own work, too – scanning drawings and photos and bringing them into the digital collages.

What was your previous most recent art project?

I organized an unauthorized  free-art-exchange in the Great Stair  Hall of the Philadelphia Art Museum last year and it was a blast.  I hope to do it again when I can find the time. Before that I had a huge project about the issues surrounding the moving of the Barnes Foundation to the Parkway that never went anywhere because I had some major health problems that sidelined me many months.  It’s still online if people want to take a look.

Can you tell me about how/why you came to Philadelphia and how long you’ve been here?

I was born in Swarthmore so Philly was my natural landing spot when I dropped out of art school.  I was lucky to end up in a city with a thriving anarchist community, lots of inspiring artists, and a thoroughly delightful radical queer scene; I’ve never seen any reason to leave.  I’m insanely lucky to live in one of the few remaining actual artists-loft-spaces in Center City – when the landlord finally decides to kick us out they’re going to have to come with a SWAT team (and about 30 dumpsters) to get my ass out of here.

What do you like to read?

Narrative has always been my drug-of-choice, so it’s mostly fiction,  Please don’t tell anyone, but I’m kind of a science-fiction nerd, since that’s where most of the really interesting speculation about utopian and dystopian social possibilities ends up.  Ursula Le Guin, Iain M. Banks, Marge Piercy, and Starhawk leap to mind.  Other than that – I read a good deal of science writing and that definitely informs the art I’m making right now, with it’s references to cloning and genetic engineering.

Here’s another way Albo is as good as his word on being anti-corporate: You can download print-quality smaller images at Com.Post.Modern.Art

ReSistine: New Prints by Albo Jeavons
September 16 to 18, 2011
Opening event Friday, 9/16 – 6 to 9pm
Gallery Hours 9/17 & 9/18 – 10am-4pm
1318 Walnut St. Philadelphia PA 19107
215.546.8556

Tags

albo jeavons, sistine chapel

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