Interview with Mariette Papic

July 25th 2010

Interview with Mariette Papic

From writing to photography to sound and installations, Mariette Papic’s work aims to expand ‘personal memoir into an ongoing conversation between conscious and subconscious experience.’

Through out my time here in New York our paths have sporadically crossed, with each encounter more enchanting than the one before, and filling the gaps between with musings and anecdotes shared via email and online chats.

On a relaxed Sunday evening on the roof of the Old Red Schoolhouse, I finally found a moment to interview Marriette. However we were surrounded by people at a busy barbeque.  In order not to disturb the festivities, we decided to do a silent interview. Passing a note pad back and forth writing and answering questions, we created a combination of our online and face-to-face interactions.

IS: You lead a ‘semi-nomadic lifestyle’.  What keeps you moving on and what keeps bringing you back to New York?

MP: The more I travel the more New York welcomes me home.  I was born in New Jersey and have been a New Yorker for a little while now. Giving up my studio was very difficult but also transformative.  I take less for granted.  My work benefits from rotating landscapes right now.  I feel I really want to see things with me own eyes.  The world is changing – quickly – and I like change.

IS: Keeping things moving and changing avoids things getting stagnant.  Yet sometimes these ‘stagnant’ periods cause a certain frustration that can be really productive.

MP: I find frustration in being a pseudo-traveler type, just as I did when I had a more standard life.  Eventually I’ll tire of not having a stable base.  Like a lot of people, some of my lifestyle started with an economic downturn. So this started with a less than positive feeling from me.

IS: Perhaps it’s all just a test of our resourcefulness. But yes I guess at some point we all want to have more control over our resources. And there are more and more resources available.  Do you think any of this is making it easier for us, or is it just over complicating the way we conduct our lives?

MP: I find life pretty complicated, just trying to take a subway to Brooklyn on the weekends … so yes…

IS: However I actually find the subway quite relaxing.  It’s a moment when you have to be still.  You can’t control anything about the pace at which you are moving.  Plus it’s a welcome air-conditioned break to the hot city days.

MP: Trains, airplanes, the subway all give me that feeling of suspension.  I can’t answer my phone. I love that feeling of being in a kind of pod.  When it’s really hot out I like to hide out most of the day.  But I agree with you A/C sis sooo amazing in doses.

IS: Speaking of public transport, you’ve been getting the train a lot recently and said that ‘Walt Whitman was helping to get you through New Jersey’.

MP: I’m mildly obsessed with his ‘Leaves of Grass’.  He was born in Long Island and died in New Jersey so on these train rides to and from I read the lines and think about what he would’ve been looking at through the window.

I enjoy the transcendence, the spirit of appreciation for being alive.  I could go on about it but I won’t bore you.  When I read certain passages, I feel his passion.  At least I think I do…I’ve never met the man, just his work.

IS: How do you feel about the fact that people have built these relationships with your work and have a sense of knowing you through your work?

MP: That’s the point for me, to create work that resonates with people, without me hovering in a corner nudging them along… which might actually be fun to try…

I’m open to challenging people but not in challenging their feelings.  The work is an aspect, a moment.  It can be a voice or a channel to something as intense and fleeting that I imagine that type of moment to be universal.

When I meet people through my work it’s very nice to connect.  I think some of those closer to me get more concerned that they didn’t really know me, all because of a line of poetry.  That’s funny, too.

IS: Who, what, when is Ruby Gold?

MP: I will fail at explaining this better than a friend did.  Ruby Gold is a spirit.

It started with photography and mixed up with memoir and so people are confused because sometimes I exhibit using the name Ruby. The clarity comes from the inspiration (maybe).  I wanted a name that played on words.  Rubies and gold are precious to us for adornment mostly but the colors themselves refer to blood, the universal feminine and my musings on value.  What is life, a stream or a memory worth? What is going on with Ruby is that she comes from my life, as I relate my life to the life of the planet…

It all started when I worked at a nightclub.  Having traded day for night, having worked and lived in so many different spheres I was hungry to explore the space between me and the cocktail waitress or the friend struggling with cancer.  Looking for a connection to the universal in a form I could relate to sparked Ms. Ruby’s appearance.

I think a lot of it has to do with an early love of commerce and pop culture too.

IS:  Speaking of commerce and value, what value do you place on art? How do you establish/measure this value? How do you feel about the artworks being themselves being used as the currency in this exchange?

MP: Well, I like trades and barter as well.  I’m not sure why people would want my pieces and I’ve noticed people pay different amounts based on the setting.  And I think that currencies are changing too, so that’s interesting.

- confusion

- clarity

Ok. Art is valuable in a way that we all feel and can’t often contextualize.  As a record and a reflection of a person and culture.  It’s beyond dollars and cents.

But that might not be what you’re asking. Art and art markets are a complex topic. See all I can say is…


that the art market is about as arbitrary as any other, and that doesn’t mean that I spend too much time considering these things.  It’s important but it’s not my focus, it’s a distraction.  Markets in general, are a distraction (and sometimes the result of slight of hand).