By NOAH BECKER January, 2019
I caught up with NYC art star David Henry Nobody Jr. who asked me questions about David Henry Nobody Jr's art. I dug deep to answer questions about his work and what I think of what he thinks of his work. David's solo show opens at Contra Galleries on January 31st 2019. I'm doing a talk with David at the gallery on February 9th at 6pm.
David Henry Nobody Jr: Noah, are you excited about my solo show at Contra gallery?
Noah Becker: Just between you and me - yes.
Nobody Jr: When did you first encounter my work? how long ago was it?
Becker: After the death of Christ and before the arrest of Roger Stone.
Nobody Jr: What do you make of the flow of bodies of work over the long term, the last 25 years. does it seem to be a splintered approach or is there consistent angle to all the different things that I have done. What is the essence of my work or is it still to early to tell.
Becker: You have a flair for the dramatic but there's always a thread of intelligent thought within the chaos.
Nobody Jr: Do you understand that my approach to art making differs to many artists because I’m interested in art not as a cerebral (pictorial) only phenomena but rather I’m looking at how images effects our behavior and perception of reality (in real life). What are some art historical or pop culture comparisons?
Becker: Paul McCarthy's Bossy Burger comes to mind. I'm not that into comparing artists to artists, I don't think that's an intelligent way to think about art.
Nobody Jr: What do you make of use of the grotesque in my current body of work? why do I do that in this particular social and political environment?
Becker: Your work is about clearing R. Kelly and Michael Jackson of all the charges and you won't rest until justice is served - I'm joking. You also are hoping for Donald Trump and Roger Stone to be vindicated. But seriously, your work is perfect reflection of our grotesque times.
Nobody Jr: What does Fantastic Nobody mean to you?
Becker: It was a group of artists at one point. The name reminds me that Ray Johnson was into "Nothings" and I feel a bit of that abstract conceptual trickster aspect in your work. You're a different animal than Ray Johnson - see I made a compairison to another artist and it was lame.
Nobody Jr: Can you really look me in the eye knowing full well that I supported as a performance a "Trump For President 2000" campaign? what do you make of the fact that I predicted the future with my Trump stalking project of 1999?
Becker: It's your funeral, so feel free to attach any number of associations to your grave - not really my business.
Nobody Jr: Do you think my current resemblage self portraits are also predicting the future of what we may look like, is it how we may look on the outside or is it describing what the future will feel like on he inside? Or is it describing what life feels like inside ourselves at present?
Becker: If you look at how face recognition it developing, yes. The future of human faces will be to hide or scramble the face scanners through makeup and disguise. I mean on the street, in public, like when some creep is walking around scanning faces and stalking people. What you do with faces reminds me of this process of futuristic security.
Nobody Jr: Do you think that the internet and social media have challenged art and society even more than photography once did? how so, what kind of changes do you see in the feel of art?
Becker: All that people really want is art that has mirrors on it so they can do selfies. It's dumb but instead of hating society for how it's killed art through social media, let's show them what being a virtuoso of social media really means. Other than the tools provided by social media, most people are not artists. The entire attraction of Instagram is that it gives the amateur the tools to appear competent at image making. If I can just pause my negative thinking for a second - it's possible that society is better at it now. I would imagine that a decade of people fucking around with presenting photos and writing texts or comments online has made them better at it. They got better and better at it, then someone like you comes along and opens up another side of things and kind of ruins it for everyone - in a good way. WM
Noah Becker is an artist and the publisher and founding editor of Whitehot Magazine. He shows his paintings internationally at museums and galleries. Becker also plays jazz saxophone. Becker's writing has appeared in The Guardian, VICE, Garage, Art in America, Interview Magazine, Canadian Art and the Huffington Post. He has written texts for major artist monographs published by Rizzoli and Hatje Cantz. Becker directed the New York art documentary New York is Now (2010). Becker's new album of original music "Mode For Noah" was released in 2023.
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