Aurel Schmidt | Art Talk | VICE

Uploaded by vice on Sep 1, 2011


AUREL SCHMIDT: My name's Aurel Schmidt.
I'm from Kamloops, BC, British Columbia, Canada.
INTERVIEWER: How long have you lived in New York now?

AUREL SCHMIDT: Three years in April.
INTERVIEWER: How do you think that this city has
affected your work?
AUREL SCHMIDT: So the work changed with the city,
Like, all of the garbage rat, decay stuff started coming in
when I moved here.
Everyone's fighting for space.
There's like--
there's no room for emptiness.
There's always noise or background noise, you know?
So I think the pieces started getting filled with the
clutter of a city in a way.
I moved here.
I was extremely lonely and paranoid.
And doing, like, a lot of drugs for some reason as well
as those things, so it was like this really intense,
like, paranoid, lonely state, which I think then I put a lot
of it into the work.
Because it was a way to deal with those paranoias and
feelings and the things you see out of the corner of your
eye, you know?
When you're paranoid, you're like, oh my god,
is that a dead body?
Oh, it's a pile of garbage.
Like, don't worry, calm down.
Everything's OK.
The world's not out to kill you.
INTERVIEWER: I mean, it's very beautiful.
But it's definitely shocking when you get up close and see
all the different bodies and decay.
AUREL SCHMIDT: The rats, the maggots, the cigarette butts,
the flies are all the same symbol, basically.
And it's like old Dutch [INAUDIBLE] painting would use
the same thing or a Vanitas painting.
But it's also just a metaphor for the real world.
It's just that everything beautiful dies.
There is decay.
There's renewal.
But there are symbols of death and decay, which is also in a
way a symbol of inner--
like for me, I have a lot of anxiety and bad thoughts.
And I think that it's also a symbol of that.
Like the underlying says things are good.
But no, things are bad.
There's this badness to everything, or
like a sense of--
yeah, like a doom and a badness
to all things sometimes.
And those are just symbols that symbolize that without
having to draw Iraqis getting their heads blown off.
I mean, that's like a way to kind of just for me to think
about those ideas, and they become just symbols for me.
They're the tools to make a drawing now.
I think only 12 drawings in it.
But they're full page.
The drawings came first, and Tim Barber at Tiny Vices
wanted to do a book.
And I think the burnout project's kind of over now.
They're like, I think that I'm done with the burnouts.
INTERVIEWER: Because you're self-taught, do you ever come
up with problems that you encounter, where you think of
an idea and you just have to figure out how to make it, or
you're not sure how you want to make it?
Or how do you get over those barriers?
AUREL SCHMIDT: I feel like it's a huge barrier, and I
feel like I'm dealing with it every day.
If I looked at what I would want to be as an artist, I
don't want to be a drawer.
I don't want to be a drawer.
I want to be an artist.
I want to be someone who has ideas and figures out, yeah,
how to make the idea of the show.
Yeah, I want to make a bunch of things right now.
I have no idea how to do it, how to even experiment.
I have no idea what medium to use.
And how I'm learning is just going to other people's art
shows, going up to Chelsea and be like, wow, this culture is
made of bronze and wax, or blah, blah, blah, blah.
OK, That's materials, like I can use those materials maybe.
I think most good work I've ever made comes from not
knowing what I'm doing, figuring it out, and then the
kind of surprises that come from that
becoming the real work.
I think the new things I'm going to start making, like
with sculptures, say, is going to be crazy.
It's probably going to be crying and freaking out, and
being really happy, and throwing tons of stuff away,
and figuring it out, but that's fine.
INTERVIEWER: What do you think about people
collecting the work?
Your work was bought by some really big collectors, by
Sachi and other people when you first
started showing, right?
Do you feel like that has influenced your work at all?
AUREL SCHMIDT: I think that it's probably--
I think actually it's a really amazing thing.
Those big collectors, they put it into a collection where it
will go into other exhibitions.
It's for galleries.
Those kind of collectors, they don't put it above their
couch, which I think is really important
for me to think freely.
It frees me to make work as gross as I want, as
self-revealing as I want.
I'm not like, oh, people like buying colors.
I should add more colors.
Or how am I going to pay the rent?
I know people love those animal drawings, you know?
It's like I can now do whatever I want.
And if they do or don't like it, doesn't matter.
INTERVIEWER: I would think that it would kind of make you
feel more secure about making the decision to be an artist.
AUREL SCHMIDT: I feel like it was less of a decision and
more of just something that happened.
And the fact that right away those collectors did buy the
work, it was like, wow, this stuff I make anyway is just
sold to someone good.
And wow.
So it's almost like that, those things define the fact
that I'm an artist as a career, whatever, now.
AUREL SCHMIDT: Before I would have just been making art, but
not necessarily like this is my career choice or something.