Interview: Amanda Curreri, “3 For 3” Residency at Royal NoneSuch Gallery

by admin on August 10, 2012

Amanda Curreri, the next artist invited to participate in Royal NoneSuch Gallery‘s 3 For 3 artist residency projects welcomed Oakland Art Enthusiast into her West Oakland studio on an overcast Sunday morning. “There are many different people here in these studios: from furniture makers to painters and sculptors” she says as we walk into the studio. “I moved back to San Francisco from New York, I’m originally from back East. Having studied Social Change and Justice in Massachusetts, that’s what I’m really looking towards in the world.”

Amanda Curreri’s Studio 

The first image we encounter in the studio is a beautifully crafted American flag: embroidered stars in a sea of blue, each stripe made of a thick canvas fabric double-stitched together, falling elegantly from the ceiling. This, Curreri tells us, is the impetus for her residency project. “I’m living with it right now to think about, get ideas,” she says “while also making sure there’s not too much of a sentimental attachment.” The flag, she tells us, was given to her family after her father’s death in recognition of his service in the Air Force. “[The flag’s] going be more sculptural in a sense that on the ceiling I’ll have it pulled up on each corner so it doesn’t touch floor as a nod of respect, but really aggressive at the same time,” she explains. “It will call into question and have a conversation of ‘you’re walking into an American space and what does that mean?’ And how we are all American, but what does that mean?”

The flag brings up another elegant motif found in Curreri’s work: her brilliant use of color, originating perhaps from her Painting and Drawing MFA from California College of the Arts. “That’s another shared platform that I can use that’s not singularly mine: using color as its own actor in the conversation. This is literally a flag but I’ve been using reduced color and shapes trying to create power dynamics within an image space. Great design can reduce symbols and color and really speak to how they’re used as symbols of power. This all belongs to a formal abstract language, but they’re so literal it’s ridiculous, they’re not abstract.” Curreri insists she would never go completely abstract, pulling images that threaten to fall into that genre with cheeky titles, like the two framed works hanging in the gallery of layered geometric shapes titled “Two Triangles Fucking.” Says Curreri, “In abstract paintings there’s often a lack of accountability; we don’t get to have conversations that deal directly with these symbols.” But Curreri is cognisant of the challenges of using symbols and codes. “You never know how ubiquitous shared symbols are.” she says. “The challenge is to get it to read so it’s personal, I’m implicating myself but also it’s not just my story… Through the presentation and the context of the other work within the space, it has to implicate you, too.”

Artist Amanda Curreri 

Curreri’s work critically engages with role of desire in the performance of American Democracy, whether played out in a courtroom as she eruditely examined in Occupy the Empty at Romer Young in 2010 or as a part voyeur, part investigator in Korea’s homosexual culture and politics with a synthesis of US Military in her project, DBSP on view during the 2011 International Incheon Women Artists Biennale, Incheon, Korea. Says Curreri, “I’m interested in conversations of the military in art: just by putting it in the conversation and seeing just how embedded or not it is in our history. Being in Berkeley and Oakland right now, there is a general liberalism and skepticism of the military. That can be healthy. But, it’s part of the nation, part of a large history, part of my own experience, and as an artist that never comes up in conversations with other artists.”

Tacked on the opposite side of the studio from the flag is a small black piece of paper upon which in neon letters reads AUNQUE/ VIOLENCIA ES TOTAL which is also providing an impetus. The work made during this residency at Royal NoneSuch will begin with an attempt to present conflict, and engender conversations about reflection, instigation, desire, and healing. Curreri will extend this work to her upcoming solo show at Romer Young Gallery in January, 2013. “I’m making a body of work acknowledging violence as an experience but then using that word Aunque to side step it, focusing on that word Aunque: “Even though” or “In spite of.” “I want to create a power shift, using that word as a threshold. Make a space within the work that is the Aunque,” she says. “Everyone has different conscious or unconscious ideas of violence and different experiences, so I’m trying to be aware of that. I have to ensure the space is respectful, but that it also can handle some real experiences of connection and sharing.”

Amanda Curreri’s Studio 

Curreri’s residency project at Royal NoneSuch intrigues her: not only what works she’ll make within the space, but the dynamics of creating works within a public, open gallery. “It’s curious– I’m more used to putting on a “show” in a gallery space; and the separation of private space, public space. So [at Royal NoneSuch] it’s an effort to try to be in progress, and have moments of a constructed public presentation.” But this is exactly what’s so exciting for her, and she’s looking forward to begin her residency project. “That’s the big difference between the gallery show and these residencies. The risk is when people walk in on a given Monday at 10 am, shit dripping from the wall, that’s it that’s their experience.” We’re looking forward to see how it all develops.


Amanda Curreri will be in residence at Royal NoneSuch through September 7th. Check the website for open hours and events.