1883 Magazine

It is said that sometimes reality surpasses fiction; but is it just a saying? Not when the least likely candidate to ever run for the United States’ highest office – the very same person who goes on a twitter rampage on a daily basis, calls global warming a hoax, and pretty much alienates everyone around him – sits in the White House.

When reality surpasses even our wildest and most dystopian nightmares, how should art respond? With wit, cheek and a good splash of sexiness, according to New York based visual artist Androxx. True to his signature mix of pop culture and overflowing sensuality, the artist who came into prominence in 2012 for his provocative shots is taking the art world by storm again with his latest endeavour, Brave New World, a series that draws on such authors as George Orwell and Aldous Huxley to reflect on America in the Trump era.

Along with works from previous series, some of the photos from Brave New Wold will be featured in Night Fever, a group show devoted to the disco era and its aesthetics at Future Tenant, Pittsburgh, from 7th July-13th August.

Hello Androxx, it’s hard to believe it’s been almost five years since our first interview – and the release of your first series.

I know! Five years. Boom. Blink of an eye.

I have heard you’re working on a new series, Brave New World. Please tell us about it.

George Orwell and Aldous Huxley had been on my mind for several years. Long before Donald Trump became president. So many themes they touched upon – often as satire – have become reality. And I wanted to explore the tension between the controlling, claustrophobic feel of their imagined worlds and the freedom we’ve worked so hard for in America.

Speaking of president Trump: as an insider, how would you say the art world is coping with him?

First of all, let’s face it. Most of us – artists or otherwise – with a functioning brain are still in shock over the outcome. Seeing this country placed in the hands of Trump and his cronies is grotesque. I think it’s hard to know how to “make art” that addresses Trump directly. I don’t want to see his face in every gallery I go to, you know? But when I see a piece of bad Trump art, I have to at least appreciate the sentiment. I may not want to own it, but whoever did it is working out feelings that many of us are experiencing.

A hint of irony has always been present in your work; how do you manage to keep your sense of humour when times get tough?

I try to look at the news only twice a day. But man – that can be a challenge right now. I also make an effort to watch comedy. Veep and old Preston Sturges movies can help you turn that frown upside down (laughs).

In July you will be taking part in a group exhibition, Night Fever, reflecting on the aesthetic legacy of the disco years. How did you come to be involved in the show? And what does the disco era and its imagery mean to you as an artist?

Well, the curator, Emily Colucci, basically made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. Cue the Godfather theme (laughs). She’s an amazing gal – a gifted writer/curator who’s witty, wise and really fun to be around. When she explained that she envisioned a show that channelled the energy and freedom of the ‘70s, I said, “Where do I sign?” And I also really like the other artists involved. Devan Shimoyama’s showing some amazing photographs. Suzie Silver’s doing a video collaboration with Hilary Harp. Gabriel Martinez is contributing a massive piece that’s out of this world.

As far as what that era means to me, I guess it’s about the promise of the ‘60s fulfilled in spades. Disco helped liberate a lot of people. Individuals of different races, classes and sexual orientations lost their inhibitions together in places like Studio 54 and on dance-floors all over the country. Of course, the nonstop party led to tragedy for many. But it’s still a beguiling era to look at. And it’s probably safer this way – at a 40-year distance (laughs).

Future Tenant gallery – where Night Fever is taking place – appears to have a very authentic feel.

It really does. They try to make sure emerging artists – as well as established ones – have a place to show their work exactly as they envision it. Pittsburgh is the homeland of Warhol, who’s always been so important to me, and you can feel the connection. On top of that, Emily is a Warhol Foundation grant recipient. So even though I’d intended to show only new work for this, we are including Call Me, from my first solo show. It incorporates elements of Warhol and disco and we all decided it was just too spot-on.

Tell us a bit about Pop Muzik, another of the pieces that will be on display at Future Tenant.

I knew I wanted to make a piece for Night Fever using the “New York, London, Paris, Munich” line from Pop Muzik. It captured the decadent disco/jet-set feel I was going for. I also thought it would be fitting to work in Fiorucci, the long-gone glittery New York City clothing store where all things disco (and new wave) could be found. I’ve heard amazing stories from older New Yorkers about that place. The object in the photo is an actual vintage Fiorucci window decal from 1979 – the same year Pop Muzik came out. And Max Jablonsky, the model in the piece, managed to strike just the right balance between serious and cheeky for this one. His facial expression is perfect.

Don’t Leave Me This Way – also in the Night Fever show – is lovely and haunting. How did it come about?

I shot it months ago with a model named Ryan Winter. It was the very end of the shoot. The picture of the girl in the piece is actually the inner sleeve of the first Vaccines LP. I asked him to start interacting with “her” and I really liked the way it looked. A few weeks later I started adding words to other images from that shoot and quickly finished two pieces – Home and Boulevard Of Broken Dreams – for Brave New World. I couldn’t find a phrase to work with the third one, so I put it aside and went to work on other things. I’m glad I did. When I started thinking about Night Fever, I took a fresh look at it. This one is message-free – I simply wanted a strong image with the classic disco lyric and great-looking Ryan pining for the girl.

We’re also previewing She Bop – another piece from Brave New World, which features Jordy Murray, a star of today’s fashion scene. What was the impetus for this one?

I was given one of the Skate Moss skateboard decks by Nick Thomm – which had become sort of a fetish item in the fashion/art world. I loved it and wanted to incorporate it in a piece somehow. The line “Ain’t no law against it yet” from Cyndi Lauper’s She Bop refers to masturbation – but in these dystopian times, it could be about any number of rights in danger of disappearing. And Jordy really delivered. It’s not easy to take attention away from an image of Kate Moss – but she owned it.

Thanks for sharing the new work, Androxx. What’s next for you?

After Night Fever closes in August, I’m back to work on Brave New World, which may become a show towards the end of the year. And like a lot of people, I’m trying to figure out how to use any spare time I have to address the current political situation. We’re 18 months away from our next big national election. How can each of us in the United States work to turn the tide? It’s not an easy question to answer. But seeing so many people motivated and making their voices heard on local and national levels gives me hope. I think it’s possible to claw our way out of this nightmare. Fingers crossed.

Night Fever runs from 7th July-13th August at Future Tenant Art Space, 819 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh PA 15222

www.androxx.com @androxxny 


Words by Jacopo Nuvolari @jacopo982

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