KIM HOLLEMAN: 20 Questions
I had the opportunity to speak with Kim about her piece in a cafe in Williamsburg Brooklyn on Friday February 24th. The final piece, which will be a fully functioning Trailer which houses a mobile natural environment or "park" complete with stone benches and a working fountain, is due to be finished in the spring of 2006. The piece will be on view at the Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York in an exhibition called "Portable," from 5/06 - 7/06. The piece will also be shown at The John Michael Kohler Art Institute, WI, in a show called "Utopian Architecture," from 7/06 - 10/06. Kim also plans to take Trailer Park on a gallery tour across the Northeast, as well as schools throughout the five boroughs of New York to work with children and young adults. She would like to expose them to not only art, but nature, the need for responsible environmentalism, science and mechanics, and to spark conceptual thinking about the world.
A representation of Kim Holleman's piece Trailer Park has been included in the Unambiguous exhibition.
AWD: How did you first Conceive of Trailer Park?
KIM HOLLEMAN:I was thinking about trailers. I spent the first three years of my life in one. Those were my happiest memories of my childhood. But then I began to think how about how trashy living in a trailer is. Then I thought of the word Trailer Park and it came to me. Putting nature inside of a trailer instead of outside. The trailer is also generic, it's the lowest common denominator. It's the idea of the portable environment. When I was in Holland I was making portable suitcase environments. In Holland they really didn't understand this work much, because for the most part they don't destroy their environment. It was living in Holland for four years that made me realize what it was to be an American.
AWD: How does Trailer Park relate to your body of work as a whole?
KIM HOLLEMAN: I wanted to create a piece that would give you a transcendent experience even if you don't relate to the other associations. I think the problem with some critical work is that it excludes people. When I explained the piece to my grandfather with out him even seeing it he understood immediately what I was trying to say, and he laughed. I don't think I created a greater environmentalist out of my grandfather but he got it.
AWD: How do you relate to the obviousness of Trailer Park? In other words does it bother you that it's obvious?
KIM HOLLEMAN: I wanted to create a piece that would give you a transcendent experience even if you don’t relate to the other associations. I think the problem with some critical work is that it excludes people. When I explained the piece to my grandfather without him even seeing it he understood immediately what I was trying to say, and he laughed. I don’t think I created a greater environmentalist out of my grandfather but he got it.
AWD: Would you like all your work to be more obvious?
KIM HOLLEMAN: No, there's a time and place for everything. You need control over your own work. For some people certain works are obvious and for others the same works are mysterious.
AWD: What inspires you to create more art?
KIM HOLLEMAN: I can't not do it. I don't think I get inspired. I find inspiration in the moment of making it but the actual ideas scream at me from living.
AWD: How do you imagine your art affects the world?
KIM HOLLEMAN: I'm showing you what the problem is and through irony I'm showing a resolution and a way out. I use all recycled stuff. Nothing is destroyed in making my work. I'm using stuff people throw out anyway. Also, I'm a big fan of using the tricks that lull us into awe and distraction and flip it back at the viewer. I'm using the language of propaganda. I'm using propaganda to make art, I'm drawing the power back. Trailer park is actually a solution. It's a ludicrous solution, unless there is no nature left. There will come a point when there is no nature left. Nature will have to become portable.
AWD: Do you have a dream as an artist?
KIM HOLLEMAN: I want to be a renaissance person in the true sense of the word. That's why I went into applied engineering. Like Da Vinci, I believe that artists have to be inventors. One day I want to be recognized for different disciplines. I tell people that it's all a function of being an artist. Artists can do seemingly impossible things. Without that I couldn't do any of it. It's also to be able to leave all of those things as well. I want to master all the things that relate to art. I want to raise what an artist is. I want to have the correct definition. Back to Da Vinci and Michelangelo. Artists are not dumb. Most people think they are, but they're not. If I have to single-handedly prove this point I will.
AWD: What are some of your major transitions as an artist?
KIM HOLLEMAN: I started as a figurative painter, all psychologically based. My first sculpture class forced me to do sculpture and it opened everything up. My painting imagery transformed into feminist sculpture. This early work was about myself. It was the language with which I created my foundation. Faith Wilding, one of the Godmothers of feminist art was my drawing teacher at Cooper Union. She helped me learn the language correctly. Now there's no gender in my work, I was able to move away from it. It freed me to move away from myself and talk about society as a whole. To be a more pure artist I had to move away from myself. Then I let my work morph into socially aware sculpture. Moving away from the US gave me a completely different perspective and allowed me to do the work I'm doing now. I brought drawing back into the work about three years ago.
AWD: What does the future hold for you?
KIM HOLLEMAN: I was inspired by the Safe show at MOMA. I want my art to be fully functional. I want to use my science and art to solve actual problems. There were these shoes for walking on land mine fields in the Safe exhibition, they were the most fantastic objects as well. I'm not there yet though, I have to get through this phase first. I'm inspired by Utopian architecture from the 60s and 70s. That's what Trailer Park is, Utopian sculpture.
AWD: You know the French invented the shopping mall..
KIM HOLLEMAN: Is that so?
AWD: Yes, and the Americans perfected it.
AWD: Your work seems like externalized maps of yourself. Are you first externalizing yourself before you can take on larger problems of the world?
KIM HOLLEMAN: What do you mean externalizing yourself?
AWD: Your sculptures seem more like your commentary on the world than actual solutions to problems.
KIM HOLLEMAN: They are absurd solutions but they are real solutions. Maybe the solutions are more like commentaries, maybe you're right. At the end of that I want to create legitimate solutions.
AWD: Can you describe a watershed moment in your career as an artist?
KIM HOLLEMAN: Installing the show called Research Architecture at Thread Waxing Space. Handling this work was a watershed moment.
AWD: What do you think about Duchamp?
KIM HOLLEMAN: Is this a trick question?
AWD: What does the title of this exhibition Unambiguous mean to you?
KIM HOLLEMAN: I think it's brilliant. We need unambiguousness. Being ambiguous in this world is bullshit. Things are really dire in the world and being ambiguous is the worst thing we can do.
AWD: How do you feel about the idea of collaboration?
KIM HOLLEMAN: I long to collaborate.
KIM HOLLEMAN: Probably for the same reasons why I long to find my soulmate.
AWD: What would you do if you weren’t an artist?
KIM HOLLEMAN: I would be a scientist.
AWD: Is there a difference between being a scientist and an artist?
KIM HOLLEMAN: (Laughs) In the upper eschelons, no.