For husband and wife visual artist team Stephan Hillerbrand and Mary Magsamen, buy cialis art is a family affair, where their work draws upon the rich Fluxus practice of incorporating humor, performance, video, and everyday objects.
“Fluxus was a movement where people could make the ordinary very extraordinary. Mary coined the term ‘Suburban Fluxus,” says Stephan Hillerbrand. This is an apt description of their current exhibition at Fort Worth’s Brand 10 and X Art Space. It includes video installations, sculpture and photography documenting contemporary suburban life and consumer culture. Hillerbrand and Magsamen live in Houston with their two children, who, with the couple, appear in the work.
A+C?writer Nancy Israel spoke with the couple about their work style.
A+C: Your home is your studio and canvas. Most gallery goers can relate to the stuff that fills your work. Do you worry that people will ask, “why is this art?”
Magsamen: We are staging things in a way that eliminates that question. We are trying to push the idea of the excesses of our lives. We are taking it past being a documentary of that. So far, we have been successful.
Hillerbrand: We are more knowledgeable about the history and about the contemporary discourses. We see House/hold as a Greek tragedy, where we have to carry our burdens. Our lights and tripods are in our den. We are knowledgeable that when something happens, we can stop it and slow it down and record that moment.
A+C: “House/hold” and “Stuffed” depict scenes very familiar to a big swath of American society. How do most audiences react to the work?
M: People have a different way of interpreting it. I think people can relate to it. It shows the burdens of your possessions. We are constantly striving to achieve more and then, having achieved more, we have to figure out what to do with everything.
H: At a concurrent exhibition at Portland’s Oregon’s Blue Sky Gallery, it was across the board. But everybody was laughing. We can see it makes them happy. So many people think art has to be ironic or something. You laugh at this but you realize its beauty and seriousness as well.
“D.I.Y. Loveseat” shows a couch being cut apart and then reassembled while Whole documents the family carving holes in the walls and then tunneling through them. People often comment that they hope you will not be selling your house any time soon. Can you comment on the destruction you create in your home?
H: The couch in “D.I.Y. Loveseat” was the first piece of furniture we bought as a married couple.
M: There is a great role reversal in it with Mary chain sawing it into thirds and then Stephan duct taping it back together. The couch is a family icon. It is where you are together watching TV but you are not really together. This is about finding romance after you’ve had kids. And the walls still aren’t fixed from “Whole.”
H: We had been thinking about video art. We are trying to blur the line between art and popular culture.
A+C: “Masking,” your newest series of photographs, features large images of your six-year old son, Emmett, wearing different masks. What is the message here and why aren’t there images of your daughter, Madeleine?
H: This work is more about outlook rather than place. It is perception and how you look at children and how they look at you. Madeleine dressed up and it just didn’t work as well.
M: These are twice as big as the other prints in the exhibition. We wanted them a little larger than life to be more confrontational. They are narrowed in focus, too. It is just about the covering. It questions the ideas of covering.
H: The “House/hold” series has a comfort level. They are like snapshots. We felt very connected to them and they are personal. With “Masking,” we both said these have to be big and confrontational. There are 15 in the series; we are showing four in Fort Worth. I see that strangeness in Emmett — of dressing up and looking mean and violent at six-years-old.
M: With the wallpapered background, we wanted something really pretty that would contrast this idea and also something domestic so that it had an aesthetic appeal. It referenced home without seeing home.
H: With the background, for a moment you are sucked in and it is central and rich and then you start to differentiate between background and figure. There is a reaction to the masks.
A+C: How has your work evolved since you have had children and what do you think the future of your work will be?
M: We know that at some point they will flat out refuse to do this.
H: It’s not the kids. Our working with them opened up this beautiful window. As they grow up, we will still look at consumerism, of having too much or too little. They just gave us a whack on the side of the head.
—NANCY COHEN ISRAEL