Interview with Nick Taucher

March 8th 2010

Interview with Nick Taucher

A few weeks ago I met with artist/illustrator/all-rounder Valeriya Volkova.  After chatting about all things art and design for a good long while, she told me I had to speak with her friend Nick. So I did. She said she thought I would find him interesting. She was right.

Valeriya Volkova by Nick Taucher

IS: Can you tell me a bit about your work? What are the main ideas/ areas of enquiry that you work with?

NT: The work that is currently consuming my imagination can be loosely described as a photography-based critique of various social, cultural and political circumstances in the United States. The work also operates on a more personal level, giving me a public space to analyze and dissect the documents that act as a record of my life. Images of partying with my close friends are pieced together with pictures of an amusing sign or a Neo-

Classical sculpture. I take pictures of things that strike my fancy, and through a process of reflection (and cutting and pasting) hope to transform them into relatively accessible commentaries that lots of folks can relate to.

The idea for this project crystallized after I completed a small number of photo-collages in the fall of 2009, and now includes—along with a set of larger, more complex collages—a number of diptyches and triptychs, along with some single images. I have plans to construct a number of portfolio boxes, and to make a video as well. Knowing me, I’ll be working on this thing for a couple years.

IS: For your photo collages, it seems that you predominantly use images you have taken yourself. How do you feel about the difference between the use of your own images and the use of appropriated imagery?

NT: The main difference is the simple and obvious one: my photographs are mine, the appropriated imagery is, well, not. The act of going out into the world and making a photograph allows me to create work that is immediately personal in a way a picture found in a newspaper or magazine never could be.

There is also an historical residue of the photograph-as-document that I find extremely compelling. Photographs have lost the innate sense of veracity that was for so long an integral part of the medium, but I’ve found that most people still view most photographs as accurate records of real world experience. I’m one of those people, and the documents from my life are the most exciting records I can think to of working with.

Freedom Lights The Way, Nick Taucher

IS: I recently visited the Whitney Biennial and noticed a lot of the work was addressing US political issues. Your work is also very politically engaged. Do you think contemporary artists have a responsibility to be politically aware within there work?

NT: I tend to think that the only responsibilities an artist has are the ones they choose to accept. With that being said, I believe it is incredibly important and helpful to explore and understand the various ways in which my work can be perceived. The politic aspects of my work are one level of awareness, but I’m constantly striving to understand the different potential layers of my work. It’s a process one of my teachers, Eric Weeks, refers to quite succinctly as “owning your content.” By trying to be aware of every feasible interpretation, I learn about my art and myself.

IS: How important do you think it is for artists to have a platform for discussion and exchange of ideas? Do you think this is readily available in `New York?

NT: The process of discussion is vital to my work as an artist. It is great to have confidence in your work, but there comes a point when you have to see how other people react to it, how they engage it. One of my goals with my own work is to promote discussion and debate, so discovering how people react to certain arrangements of imagery allows me to refine my process and produce work that has the to potential to more forcefully steer the direction of these conversations.

I think these venues for information exchange are more readily available in New York City than most places. But it depends on the individual. The opportunities for dialogue are available, but it is up to each artist to take advantage of them.

red meat, Nick Taucher

IS: Do you see any recurring themes or concerns within the work of your contemporaries?

NT: Sure. There might not be ‘isms’ like their used to be, but there are certainly trends. The greatest trend, and I’m don’t think its new at all, is building on the work of previous artists. There’s a process of taking bits and pieces of other peoples ideas and making new, hybrid types of work. The mixing of mediums and blending of genres seems to be what a lot of people are pursuing today.

IS: Which New York based artists or spaces do you find particularly exciting at the moment?

NT: If I have any free time, the first place I’m going is the Met. I love walking around the sculpture galleries, and I can stare at Hudson River School paintings for hours. I’ve been getting really into architecture too, particularly huge glass skyscrapers (like the Bank of America building at Bryant Park), so I spend a lot of time looking up at those. Also, I just discovered Rashaad Newsome’s work a couple months ago when he showed a bunch of collages at Ramis Barquet. The show was called ‘Standards’ and he had made a bunch of contemporary, high gloss heraldic signs out of harvested images from glitzy, gaudy magazines. Probably the best stuff I’ve seen in the last year. I could go on about a bunch of other great stuff I’ve seen recently, but that would take forever. I’ll just leave you with a few names to check out: Michael Zansky, Sam Falls, Valeriya Volkova, Cory Gerard-Little, and Elliott De Cesare.

Stacked, Nick aucher