Interview: Brion Nuda Rosch

San Francisco-based artist and curator Brion Nuda Rosch creates subtle, yet powerful collages, paintings, sculptures and conceptual projects, which often pair disparate but poetic associations. This ability to provide insightful connections shines through Rosch’s playful but pensive collaborative and curatorial projects as well. Rosch often partners with other artists on creative exchanges through a one-day residency program in his own home called Hallway Projects, while curating more extensive exhibitions in other venues. Earlier this month, Rosch closed a solo show at Baer Ridgway Exhibitions, simply titled New Work by Brion Nuda Rosch, featuring work which investigates the value of materials and the idea of the non-monumental. The artist recently sat down with founder Seth Curcio to discuss his recent Artadia Award, the next installment of his curated exhibition series, Paper! Awesome!, and his recent solo exhibition in San Francisco.

Seth Curcio: So Brion, you were notified a few weeks ago that you are one of the recipients of the Artadia award for San Francisco this year. Congratulations on your award. Tell me a little about the works that were included in your application and about the process that led to the selection.

Brion Nuda Rosch: I included a selection of collages and documentation of several assemblages. At the time I was also in the process of selecting work for my first solo exhibition and for an upcoming book project. Ultimately, the works included in my application were the starting points for the work shown at Baer Ridgway Exhibitions in San Francisco, CA from November 18 – January 2, 2010. I was short-listed as a finalist while preparing for this exhibition. The process was rather swift. First, a social with the jurors and other finalists, then a studio visit, then an announcement.

SC: Your creative practice is very diverse and includes curatorial projects as well as impromptu galleries and online projects, such as your blog Something home Something. Do you feel that your decentralized practice made your work more attractive to the panel at Artadia as they reviewed hundreds of artist applications? How do you feel that each of these different modes of working help to inform your greater practice?

BNR: The focus for my application was primarily centered on my art making. My curatorial efforts were only represented in my Curriculum Vitae and were discussed only briefly during my studio visit. In any discussion about my work, conversation will not remain on one topic, such as painting, or collage. I feel I could easily assert different categories for various works, however doing so would prove to be a shortcoming. I balance the roles of both art making and curating — both practices relate to one another, each sharing similar starting points. Somewhere the boundaries fade and a project initiated from a curatorial standpoint becomes a work of art, and vice versa.  It is not a priority to identify each action with defined labels. Most of my work simply involves a selection of material and then a relationship to that material within a new situation.

SC: Thinking about your recent show with Baer Ridgway Exhibitions and the statement that ‘most of your work simply involves a selection of material and then a relationship to that material’, I am curious about both your humbly-constructed images and sculptures. Talk a little about the concepts that play out in that exhibition, both through your image and object construction.

BNR: The images and the collages are both humble and monumental. Minimal adjustments have been made, a waterfall placed over a waterfall, a new ridge placed over a mountain range, a vague monument placed over a field. These ideas are monumental in scale, almost impossible, while also positioning room for our own reflection into the world around us. The monuments I create are non-monuments; they lack distinct meaning. The materials lack value, found book pages, recycled dump stock paint, wood and drywall. The assemblage works are a direct reaction to accumulated materials within my studio. The assemblage titled, Contents of Studio, Gathered, Painted Brown is just that, the contents of my studio gathered, painted brown and placed in a pile. I accumulated a collection of unsuccessful and unfinished works, and painting them all the same neutral color resolved the conflict I was having with them, placing them in a pile offered a solution for their arrangement and physicality.

SC: In addition to your studio practice, I am also interested in your other more social and collaborative projects. I know that you have produced the ‘Fluxus Coloring Book’, you are now conducting day-long artist residencies out of your home, and you are in the process of curating the third installment of Paper! Awesome!, a show that features an impressive line-up of artists that work with or on paper.

BNR: The Fluxus Coloring Book was produced while in residence at Southern Exposure. During my residency, I worked with a group of artists to build The Portable Ice Cream Stand, part art object, part functioning ice cream stand, part social happening. Visiting artists and guests initiated the direction of the project. A worktable was built to make handmade fliers, later the table functioned as a place for conversation and art making. A few artists made coloring book pages, and guests colored in them. All of the work created at the table was left behind. As a reaction I wanted to develop something that could be taken away from the project. I have an interest in Fluxus art, and felt there was a relationship between the childlike tendencies of a coloring book and the humor of Fluxus art. The coloring book consisted of blank pages and non-representation lines. There was nothing to color in or around; the coloring book was failure, a document for it’s own joke.

One-Day Artist Residencies will take place within the context of Hallway Projects, which exists in my home. During these residencies, an interaction will take place in private, and then later be shared with the public via on-line documentation and distribution of printed materials. During each residency the contributor is offered both a physical venue and a reasonable timeline to execute direct actions in art making. Within the modest time frame and hospitable environment, I hope to interview each contributor and produce either collaborative works or investigate shared sensibilities in our interests as makers. For example, in a conversation many years ago, Amy Rathbone and I discovered we both dislike the colors yellow and blue. For her residency, we plan to explore the colors, and our reaction to them now. We plan to evaluate various tones of each color and rank our tolerance. In addition, we plan to directly tackle our fears by submersing ourselves in the colors and sharing our experience with the public in efforts to gain a better understanding of why we dislike the color yellow and the color blue.

And, Paper! Awesome! was first produced out of necessity for an exhibit within a short timeline. It took place at the now closed Mimi Barr Gallery in 2003. I put out a call to artists to submit work on a letter size piece of paper. I figured with the upcoming deadline, a letter size piece of paper was the most approachable form for both the artists, and my vision for installing the work in a cohesive manner. The works were hung on two walls in a quilt-like fashion. The second installment took place two years later, and involved an open call and a jury process. The range of artists selected added an important element to the exhibit. Artist who were established within the art world and artists who have not shown their work before were hung alongside one another and the proximity of the works offered a slightly anonymous experience for the viewer. For the third installment at Baer Ridgway this spring, I have invited an interesting range of artists who have shown extensively in the international art world, and I am in the process of working with members of other organizations to provide another element to the exhibit. Again, the timeline here is important, I invited the artists to participate nearly six weeks prior to the deadline of submissions. Like the One-Day Artist Residencies, I am interested in what can be produced within a limited time frame and limited space.

SC: So what can we look forward to from you in 2010? Do you have any exciting new projects that you have been wanting to tackle?

BNR: 2010 is shaping up to be very productive. I will be a curator in residence for a short period of time with Baer Ridgway Exhibitions. Little Paper Planes is publishing a book of my collages and assemblages. The book will be released in February. The Andy Warhol Foundation has funded the catalog for Artadia Awardees. I’m looking forward to returning to the studio, and having a lot of conversations about the potential to do larger projects. A very ambitious year to come!