For this edition of Fan Mail, Dave Greber of New Orleans has been selected from our worthy reader submissions. Two artists are featured each month—the next one could be you! If you would like to be considered, please submit your website link to email@example.com with ‘Fan Mail’ in the subject line.
Being a fan of Tim and Eric, and ridiculous and annoying stuff in general, when I found Dave Greber’s The Eleuthromaniacs, I was thrilled. Dave was surprised when I inquired about it, describing the series as “universally disliked by everyone who ever saw it” and told me that it was rejected by almost every film festival except Indie Grits in Columbia, South Carolina. “It’s failures were the reason I became a visual artist.” In 2009, Dave shifted his focus away from the festival scene and commercial viability. He began seeking out spaces to exhibit his work as video installations.
I’m excited, 2010 was his first installation which he describes as “a reality show purgatory.” It’s looping and repetitious dialogue inspired more loops, presenting absurd philosophy as collaged ads in his Primer, a 3-channel installation. One of two installations this year, Interior Deterious, a collaboration with Andrea Ferguson, was written about by Doug MacCash of the Times-Picyune who saw the exhibit as part of our 21st century challenge to “reconcile our craving for digital magic and our nostalgia for old- fashioned tactile hand craft.” May’s Art Forum presents a review of Spaces at the Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans, featuring the work of rising artist collectives in the St. Claude Avenue area, and includes Greber’s parody of his own collective, The Front: on Display, 2012.
Is it a contradiction to poke fun at the art world, you know, being an artist?
No, I don’t think it is a contradiction, rather a responsibility of the artist to critique the art-world, as it is an extension of our corrupt societal and institutional structures in general. But, I actually feel extremely grateful that there is still a “vocation” (contemporary artist) in our society where it is acceptable to channel wild spirits and are encouraged think as free as possible, albeit, as long as you can keep your shit together enough to act like an intellectual some of the time.
What is your relationship to the commercial world? Is it okay to love tv?
I worked as a freelance video producer and made local commercials for advertising agencies for a few years after college. That world was so dark. I think when you are in advertising, [you] embrace hatred. Freelancers in advertising are like atheist mercenaries fighting psychic wars in the name of gods they don’t believe in, against unarmed civilians who don’t even know there is a war going on. I felt so much guilt when I made commercials. I had to totally change my paradigm of what I imagined life was about in order cope with my actions day-to-day. Needless to say, “it’s not for me.”
It’s okay to love TV as long as you can also love yourself, your neighbors, and [the] source which gives us life.
You are a graduate of Temple University in Philadelphia, and you were selected for the Oxford American’s 100 under 100 superstars of southern art in their latest issue. Could you tell me what it is to be a southerner, or to make southern art?
I didn’t start making art until I lived in the South. I felt entitled to start making and showing my work because there was a really cool visual arts scene already happening here in New Orleans. I joined The Front, my art collective, through an open call, which opened up my first opportunity to exhibit my own work in a gallery. From my shows at The Front I was invited to be in Prospect 1.5 New Orleans and high-end commercial galleries like Arthur Roger Gallery, all in the course of a few years. I have always been supported by the community here. I guess I’ll never know for sure, but I don’t feel like it couldn’t have happened anywhere else.