May 2007, WM Issue #3: William Powhida @ Schroeder Romero
By the time I got to the opening at seven, every single piece in this show was sold. The irony is thick. Most of William Powhida’s , “This Is a Work of Fiction……” is a fairly thorough skewering of the art world. The targets range from dealers to gallerists to individual artists and beyond.
The work is hilarious, and poignant, and scathing. A smattering of lists painted onto paper, one detailing possible show titles, “Read the Fuckin Times Review”, for example. Another describing what it takes to become a successful artist in which he decries the virtues of being derivative. Other pieces include drawings of individuals who show up on W. Powhidas radar along with text describing Williams great affection (ha) for them.
I met up with William a couple of days after the opening.
A Simmons: So you show up to the opening with a pretty tough black eye and a cut. It was kind of perfect. Part of the show?
W. Powhida: No… (Laughing)…The official story is that I took a digger off of my ten speed, but I may have just fallen outside of Kings County Bar. I probably did most of the damage myself.
I was thinking along the lines of you giving your assistant a free shot, getting into the performance aspect…
Nahh, but I do some performance.
I set up an Artist Confessional for three days, with whiskey in the booth. Something to get people talking…..
It was kind of like penance for my own art writing, criticism, and just to see what’s going on in people’s heads.
The opening was from six o’clock until eight o’clock, and when I got there at seven, every single piece had sold. ? Vindication?
(smiling) Not vindication….You know, before the show Larry Walczak (director of Eye Wash Gallery) says “Good luck tonight, lets see if this bad boy routine will get you into the country club.” I’m like, fuck the country club Larry, I need the money! .
I was wondering if I should expect to see a bunch of flowers and rainbows in the next show, in light of your success here…
Nooo…I’ll work it into the narrative. I’m really interested to see how far I can go before someone says “You can’t talk about that!,” to see how far I can push this.
How about some new toys with your new found riches?
Selling a bunch of this work won’t change my life radically, but it will let me work more in my studio.
But maybe a new suit,
(Here I mention my affinity for Paul Smith suits)
(laughing), No, but that is on one of my to do lists inside (the gallery). Something from the thrift store…spend some money on tailoring. Maybe some sunglasses.
Tell me something about the political work.
Well, the art world is like a microcosm of the real world, but there is a lot of other shit out there that is very serious. These are very serious people doing very serious things….
And I want to be able to talk about these things in the absurd, to make people chuckle, but also to think about it. Some of this shit is mind numbingly serious….
In your work, you call a lot of people out; you get pretty specific…Any interesting encounters with the subjects?
There are people who get it and I actually like some of them and their work. Jules De Balincourt for instance, I reviewed one of his shows pretty positively…I could meet most any of them. If they were mad, I would just ask them, what are you pissed about? Your work sells for like four hundred thousand!
Yet some I am legitimately pissed at, some of them are just gross…for instance, Ann Coulter, Bill O’Reilly, Rupert Murdoch. I try to throw some of their language back at them. If I could fit the whole religious right on there I would.
Is there an alter ego at play in your work?
More like a character…Like an alter ego of what I don’t want to become.
Any other creative projects?
I do a lot of writing, fiction. Right now I’m working on a collaboration with Jeff Parker. It’s a combination of drawings and writing, a lot like the work in the show, just two fucked up narrators (look it up under www.thebackoftheline.net)….
Noah Becker: Editor-in-Chief