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March 07/ WM issue #1: Noah Becker in conversation with Mombert

March 07/ WM issue #1: Noah Becker in conversation with Mombert
Mombert, Barkus: One hit, 2006, Video Still


“My thoughts were that I don't want to come out as a prefabricated American artist. Back in the 50's and 60's art school wasn't as popular as it today. The entertainment, fashion, music and art world is saturated with thousands of young hip artists every year. I wanted a European like education as well as a school that is known for it's conceptual history in art making.”



Noah Becker Interviews MOMBERT In NYC

JANUARY 2007

Noah Becker: Where did you grow up and when did you first realize you were an artist?

Mombert: I grew up in upstate N.Y. in a small town called Hornell a couple miles away from Alfred University. Back in the day it was a town of wealth and growth due to the traveling industry of the train and tourism. Now it's a small college town with primarily an industry of customer service. My genetic outlook I became aware of at the early age of four or five years old. I remember using my father's office tape recorder to tape noises of the television and fart into. Then I would go behind my parent's bright orange couch to play with my star wars action figures while listening to the tape that I recorded. Even At that time I had an ability to consume media culture and mock it. I had a hell of an imagination and it wasn't any sort of escapism. I enjoyed taking in all the media technology of the 80's and I felt I had to add to it. I used to get real excited and obsessed about media culture, to the point that I became what I watched and consumed. I was completely obsessed with the movie Ghostbusters. I remember watching that movie at least 30 times on my father's new VCR. It was a hell of a trip to be able to watch something over and over. I dressed up like a Ghostbuster for Halloween and my room was covered in images and advertisements from the movie. As well on a daily basis I did crayon drawings of characters of the movie. That kind of obsessive thinking has become my art. Not just object based art for the Gallery, but art of the every day life. The best example of this is Robert Deniro in Taxi Driver. He was a taxi driver that hated the scum of the earth and wanted to destroy the culture he was in. So, in order to destroy it he became it, fit into it. Then never came back but I on the other hand have mocked it and now I'm back to the future.

NB: I know you spent time in Halifax. What was the story of how your early art education came together? Why did you go to instead of seeking out art schools in Manhattan?

Mombert: Previous to Moving to for my four year tenure I studied with Media theorist Tom Sherman at Syracuse University. I received by B.F.A. in the Dept. of Transmedia. I wanted to get my M.F.A. as well extend my time to make art. I applied to grad school at N.S.C.A.D., Chicago Art Institute and R.I.S.D. I received acceptance to all of the schools. I visited all of the schools and something just didn't seem right about the art schools. Too much structure to think in the box about the art world I guess. My thoughts were that I don't want to come out as a prefabricated American artist. Back in the 50's and 60's art school wasn't as popular as it today. The entertainment, fashion, music and art world is saturated with thousands of young hip artists every year. I wanted a European like education as well a school that is known for it's conceptual history in art making.


“I was completely obsessed with the movie Ghostbusters. I
remember watching that movie at least 30 times on my father's new VCR.”


NB: It's interesting that you were into Star Wars action figures. My bedroom was full of Star Wars action figures as a child. Ghostbusters was amazing to me as kid especially the realism of the ghosts. Star Wars was really influential to our generation. The special effects have changed so much since then. Sometimes I wish the special effects never went so far into the galaxy of the digital. I'm not sure that the illusions are really being presented in a more effective way. There is a website out there with some home spun group of geeks who create star wars scenes out of materials purchased at role-playing game supply stores. What is your feeling about the level of craftsmanship needed in the production of your work?

MOMBERT: The multi-media installations that I designed and implemented were about creating a host environment for emotional escalations as well information bombardment. I've always been interested in environments that due this kind of thing.  Architectural spaces (Amusement parks, Sports stadiums, Churches, Street Protests, Etc.) that influence the release of Dopamine and Norepinepherin in the brain. I'm obsessed with the fanatical mimicry that audiences inherent in these kinds of environments due to the hierarchy that is put between the audience and the entertainer. Barkus is a space where I could embrace and criticize the mass audience using similar tactics that large stadiums and mass media employ upon mass culture in the western hemisphere. As it goes for the final product of my installations, most of my work is designed by me and I outsource it to scenic and set shops. A lot of this has to do with the want and need to preserve my concept from my mind to the delivery of the product to my studio or Gallery. High production always lends itself to becoming jaded to the original concept due to trial and error. My more recent work has very little production and is more interested in giving the audience a punch line and a one liner.


“I remember using my father's office tape recorder to tape noises of the television and fart into. Then I would go behind my parent's bright orange couch to play with my star wars action figures while listening to the tape that I recorded.”



 NB: Suddenly the party atmosphere in your videos become violent. This is the opposite of one liner presentation. There is a nausea broken by slapstick then broken by a variety of horrors. One feels the terror of a chain of events taking place beyond our control. This state of irrationality is then heightened by elements of humor. To describe a piece like Barkus as a one liner would be thinking of it in a manner that takes it into the area of shallow comedy. There are many other levels that this work can be experienced beyond the banal. There is a sense that we have been thrown into a purgatory of sorts. Also we sense a need to suspend the given information in a manner that keeps it moving perpetually. The one liner is an idea that has a beginning with a sharp ending. This ending is designed to induce a quick response, then on to the next "punch line." The party never ends as the line becomes blurred between heaven or hell, good or evil. Are you making statements about the poison of the crowd while simultaneously reminding us of the interplay of characters? Are mascots gone wild symptoms of society's need for violent spectacle transformed into entertainment? It seems as though you are almost deconstructing the notion of entertainment.

 MOMBERT: You are a 100% correct.
My most recent work on the other had is moving itself away from violence and into comedy.

http://www.mombert.com

whitehot gallery images, click a thumbnail.
       

Editor-in-Chief: Noah Becker


Noah Becker is founder and editor-in-chief of Whitehot Magazine of Contemporary Art, a visual artist, jazz musician and writer.
Web: www.noahbeckerart.com       
email: noah@whitehotmagazine.com

 


 

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