Leslie Kulesh and Sarah Foster met in San Francisco and have been working together for 5 years now. Their work expresses in various forms of installation and sculpture, where approaching serious contemporary issues doesn’t exclude a certain sense of humour and lightness. Since they’re now based in different cities, Leslie tells us about their transcontinental collaborative work and global lifestyle.
Leslie: Sarah’s been doing a residency in Vienna and is now in a silent meditation, so with her silent nod of approval, I am going to speak through her.
Where did you meet? How did you start working together?
We met through a mutual ex-boyfriend, like all good girls should! I thought Sarah was the most beautiful girl in San Francisco, she told me later, that she was intimidated of me back then. Now I think she’s the most beautiful silent meditator in Hungary and I probably still intimidate her, but in a much more fun way now! We started working together when I showed Sarah pictures of art I was working on and she had so many ideas that proved their natural evolution, and really bumped them up a couple of notches. It would have been foolish not to!
How do you manage to work together when you’re living far apart?
We do and don’t. We meet up and see where were at to try to realize a show or project. Sometimes it’s something we’ve both been talking about for a long time, sometimes were totally not on the same page, but our aesthetic and thought order complements in a way that can be smarter then the pre-meditated. To say that we work together through long times of separation is a truth, but also an act of faith, in that we are both a-type personalities with incredibly strong opinions. We know that when we do finally talk, we are going to have a lot to hash out. We trade places, teacher to pupil every so often and really show each other something about ourselves or the world. There’s hard talk on the world, as well as each other.
Where do you get your inspiration from? (Things/person/place/…)
Less than directly pop cultural, the work is a vibe of pop cultural styling that speaks of subjects, but is generally watered down. Post post modern everything always. Itís hard to see things otherwise. Sarah and I are in a place where what we both see is so mutually agreed as ridiculous, that little needs to be didactic. Xeroxing a pirated Sponge Bob image sums up the intellectual property conundrum on a macro and micro level. By working with simple material we can make work that is visceral and simultaneously thoughtful, opening up the work to a broader audience. This is a continuation of the kind of on-going conversation that is our practice. Fostered from a mutual feeling of discomfort operating in an age old market, we search ways to internally and externally open up the very idea of artwork and artist. To put something out into the public realm is to make a statement deeming it worthy, and we want to respect our peers.
Is there a medium / technique you haven’t worked with yet that you’d like to experiment in the future?
Sets a la Hockney’s opera sets, and society interior deco, fall out shelters, public school architecture, sets for people to broadcast the news in front of.
What would be for you the ideal way of showing your work?
A way that favours experiencing the work over preserving it. If it’s a book, it’s made cheaply and distributed as widely as requested. If it’s an installation, it’s open to as many as possible as much of the time. We favour large and experiential over compartmental and archival.
Who are your favourite and most inspiring artists (of any kind) at present? Why?
Billy Mackenzie of the Associates, because he left a trail of musical chaos behind him. Deleuze and Guttari writing 1,000 plateaus together, because their work is an example of lines crossed through collaboration. Britney Spears because she’s back. Ram Dass and Laotzu because they truly understood sitting back and living LARGE.
What would be the best collaboration you could possibly think of?
Given we have a semi-perm practice of collaboration; I think we’ve found it. I am looking forward to collaborating with Rafa De Jota in Paris next year. Sarah and Frank have a strong practice together. Collaborations are so dependant on communication, both silent and spoken, so it would be hard to say unless I knew the person or group fantasized.
What do you like doing when you’re not working?
Following the Somali pirates, taking pictures… but I think that informs our work as well. Most things inform our work. I once bought a reader of essays analyzing ‘the everyday’. Trying to think that going to do my laundry didn’t inform my practice, but as it turned out, it does. We both think dynamically about space, how itís used and who is using it and why. I also think that finding out what you don’t want is as informative as finding out what you do. The pendulum just swings, in so the mean-time-in-between-time serves as investigation of future works.
What is the nicest place you ever visited / travelled to? Why?
The nicest place I ever travelled to is Silver Springs, Nevada. It’s an abandoned mining town in the middle of nowhere in the desert. There is a graveyard there from the 1800′s with curly-cue iron gates around each plot. Someone promised they’d bury me there, I wonder if they keep promises… You can buy a house on an acre there for 70,000 dollars if you want to meet me. Sarah is always in the nicest place she ever travelled to, because she makes it so!
What is the woman you’d like to see featured / interviewed here?
Paris-based photographer/model Raquel Nave, SF based painter/sculptor Rachel Corry, NY based multi-media artist Shawna Ferreira, NY based musician/illustrator Abigail [MS1] Portner, NY based painter/curator Kathy Grayson, SF based painter/sculptor Alicia McCarthy.
Is there anything in particular you would like us to mention?
The work that we do is less than art and more than installation collaboration in-separation. Its life approach practice before an art practice, in exploring where teachers and students can take us, and where we can take them, whether physically or symbolically. Taking dead seriously what it is to realistically be practicing as an artist and what that means in a post post modern globalized world. This lifestyle demands a tongue-in-cheek approach to issues very important and dear to us and the audience that interacts with our work. Dig?