This Visual Artist Explains How To Work Around The Hollywood System
Have you ever met someone, and it feels like you’ve known them forever? That’s how I felt when I first met multimedia artist Marc Horowitz. He’s smart, quick with his words, and has a contagious, charismatic personality. He has fun with his work, and makes absolutely sure that you’re having fun with him. On a typically sunny day in LA, Marc meets me at Depart Foundation on Sunset Boulevard to give me a private tour of his most current exhibit, Interior, Day (A Door Opens).
It instantly feels like we’ve been longtime friends. We immediately, and without any initial hesitation, start a dialogue. We discussed his past video and performance work, and how he has grown up, both in his personal life and in his art practice, while questioning if there even is a distinction between the two.
I read that you actually started out by studying painting…
Well, originally I studied marketing and microeconomics. After, I went on to study painting. Fifteen years later I came back to this shit.
Oh my god. I think I got tired of the video, performance, and photography. I got tired of representation, to just put it pretty bluntly, I was just over it.
You have to give so much of your time, life and energy to that sort of work.
Yeah, it involves pretty legitimate serious production shit. When I drove my signature around, I had a budget of $350,000 dollars. It’s no joke. It’s not something you just pop off in your living room. I think the infrastructure for me in making videos got a little too intense.
I had an agent in Hollywood, at one point, to explore this crossover between art and entertainment, and fully go into it. It was just hard. I got a little lost. I was pitching projects I wanted to do as my artistic practice. But then, I had to make all these concessions with these companies–although not too many, because I was William Morris [Endeavor]’s (WME) first digital client. Which is crazy. They really had no idea what to do with me, and I had no idea what to do with them either. We pitched this to a lot of people, but Sony picked it up and funded it. It was cool, but then I had to make all these weird adjustments.
But that’s Hollywood right?
I, for some reason, thought I was gonna waltz right in there and be like the “subversive artist guy.” No, no, no, no. There is a big system and machine in place.
They are powerful; you think you will bend the system…
But, they’ll bend you. Anyway, I eventually fired them and went on with my life.
You were nevertheless probably left with really good memories from that time.
It was cool as fuck. I did many great projects.
Tell me about Interior, Day (A Door Opens).
The gist of it is: Getting back to painting, for me, is getting rid of all that shit. I mean, plenty of people can make videos with no money and things that are DIY, and allocate funds and figure it out. So, it’s not about the money or the art world. For me, it was about [me] feeling more and more dishonest with myself, especially [after] getting intertwined with Hollywood. I felt like I was a character of myself, and when the camera turned on it was an automatic thing. It was so fucking strange in exploring that limited boundary.
So for this I was like, Look, I am going to put a mark down on the canvas and then I am going to react to it. Then, I am going to do another mark. It’s really primordial or basic for me. It’s a basic call and response, a basic improvisation. I don’t rely on other people, a camera, or editing. It’s just me and this surface. It’s playing out movies, videos, ideas and propositions all at once onto a canvas.
A lot of my work plays with serendipity, with mistake as a final product. I embrace mistake and failure fully, so the more that the mistakes becomes the work or builds a product, then that is good. There is a visible history.
In this work you mix classical figures with titles from modern films.
Yeah, from Tarkovsky‘s Solaris and The Matrix.
Why those two movies?
I ask myself the same question, I mean why not like Sleepless in Seattle? I mean, first of all, Solaris’ screenplay is a masterpiece. He sets up a mood; the whole screenplay feels like you’re reading about him setting up a mood.
A direct reference to your exhibition title: Interior, Day (A Door Opens).
Exactly. On the sci-fi scale, The Matrix is kind of the opposite, but it had such an influence on me and so many people. It’s a huge movie. It’s pivotal, at least in my generation.
In mine too…
It’s about simulacra, avatar, and what’s reality. It’s fucking heavy as shit. I took my mom to [see it], and she was like, “This is it. Everything happens for a reason, and nothing is real.” So, I think those two movies have been very influential on me.
How do they connect to the paintings?
The connection is so deeply within. They felt right. I read a ton of screenplays as I was making these works and those two were the ones that really stuck out. They were the ones with the language that were the best descriptors of the energy, moments, and space that I was creating.
I was looking at the paintings as moments in film or whole films played out. There’s a [Hiroshi] Sugimoto photograph series, where there are theaters with a white screen. He had captured an entire movie in the empty theater, which leaves the screen white at the end because of the exposure. [It] has something to do with why my sculptures are white.
The camera doesn’t have a memory like the canvas does, its kind of opposite, ’cause you are burning an image into film. The more you burn it, the more light you let in, but for painting, the more that goes on, the more you’re gonna have; its a direct relationship. Some of these paintings took a full year where I kept layering on stuff.
Why are there so many eyes in the paintings?
I felt like in making video and making public interventions there are these eyes that are watching you, and they are supposed to have the same effect, as if you are being watched. It’s supposed to give you an awkward feel, and also myself feeling unsure and awkward.
With your work or your life?
With both. I don’t know if there is a distinction.
This work represents the furthest side of the spectrum. Now, after seeing the show and hanging it, I want to come back towards the middle more. Not saying that it will be video. To some degree I feel these paintings are…too tight. At least in this next body of work, I want to leave a little bit more room, make them a little bit more uncomfortable and impregnate them with a more awkward feeling. The stuff that I am making in the studio now you can see the breakdown.
You are going to continue making paintings and sculptures.
Yeah. This next show is sort of a combination between painting, sculpting, and display. Weird. [That] is all I can say about it so far. It’s treating painting as a prop. I am always talking to entertainment and advertising, and I want to operate around and in the language of cinema.
The title of the [upcoming] show is very autobiographical. A door is opening for me into a whole new passage of paintings, and it sort of implies that another one closes. For me, it’s indicative of a new space in which I am going to be operating [in]. This is a very exciting venture. I am invigorated again. I am excited about the art process again.
Check out Marc Horowitz: Interior, Day (A Door Opens) on view at the Depart Foundation through January 30th
Photos courtesy of Jeff McLane.