Unedited conversations between artist in a productive critique discovering thesis and processes behind the work.
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RAMOS: hi Austin,
thank you for joining me
Glad to be here
RAMOS: are you currently in Detroit?
BRADY: I am currently in South Bend Indiana for my Masters, but do most of my business in Detroit
RAMOS: tell me a little about your work, I am looking at this piece that has a dystopia feel with the snake and the man with a tail and a few naked women
BRADY: the black and white one or the color one?
RAMOS: it is black and white with a dab of light green paint on it
BRADY: Ah, yea
so with my work, I am interested in negotiating the boundaries around identity, gender, and class
i was really interested in how I could be involved with the conversation around LGBTQ+ struggles, civil rights issues, all that stuff
but being a straight white cis-gendered guy, those groups don't need another guy like me telling them what they need through art hahaha
so I wanted to turn the lens to myself and my own identity politics
RAMOS: I think i understand ... I mean
your portraits have sense of lost identity or hybrid identity
this can be both for LGBTQ as well as straight white guys
in your opinion, what is the biggest difference between the two?
BRADY: yeah, I want to really examine middle class white guy politics through the lens of feminist, materialist, and queer theory. kill the patriarchy, kill all those "dads".
I think where the duality happens is in the way that I kinda love these images.
I grew up on them. But the narrative of the super muscular white dude killing everything in sight to rescue the bikini princesses is so ridiculous and problematic.
i have so much nostalgia for these images but they are so fucked up too
I think the queering of the bodies in these paintings also talks a bit about what I think you are asking
these dudes bodies are totally on display, simultaneously vulnerable and powerful in their near-nudeness
RAMOS: not sure if this is what you mean - but it reminds me of a book i can't remember dealing with the homo-eroticism in male supremacy
are you bending the lines of the white guy image to declare something within?
not within you.. i mean... within the image of strength and power
BRADY: yeah, that strange play with homo-eroticism is totally in the work for me, looking at stuff like the sword and sorcery genre as a whole, in the jackass films, Kenneth Anger, all that.
I am totally into screwing with those white male working-class power structures, disrupting them while trying to figure out how our actual lived bodies make sense in it
RAMOS: why do you think this power structure is continued? is it fear of loosing something, or fear of being one in the same with everyone around, or is the white male truly different?
BRADY: I don't think its something inherent, I think we are in a time of negotiating boundaries. I think that the auto-patriarchal monster has a type of immune response to these shifting boundaries.
As we move to remove social and cultural barriers, even national barriers, white maleness swells and tightens up to try to maintain the power structure, preserve its identity in some weird way.
BRADY: i think that on the surface, there might be a fear of losing
but its just not real
RAMOS: yes a mentality of scarcity
there isn't enough for everyone so we must suppress others in order to have something... whatever that is
BRADY: thats the kind of mentality that i want to break
its oppressive and terrifying
at the same time, I am a kinda "masculine" dude.
I have a big beard, I love working in the woodshop, I drink shitty beer and piss out campfires
RAMOS: there is a difference between masculine and supremacy
RAMOS: there is nothing wrong with being masculine or feminine for that matter - it is feeling that it makes you superior that is the problem
not sure if problem is the right word
it is unfortunate
i am now looking at the piece with the five baseball bats - and after this conversation i think i get it
BRADY: and a weird part of it is confusion, trying to figure out where masculinity starts and oppressor begins, since they have been so tied together through history. not for me, but we have seen it with the people who cant discern the two and go over the edge
oh yeah, the bats
they are objects of violence, of play and sport. they are bodies, both traumatized figurations and weird dick jokes
RAMOS: ha - yes i got all that
and it speaks to your last comment - where does this end/begin
in some cultures, it is simply law
divine law, that there be a distinction and unbalance in power
BRADY: yeah, and so many guys will come up to me and misunderstand the work, thinking that masculinity is some divine law and must be striven for...
"men are in crisis" "where are the real men"
its such bullshit hahahaha
RAMOS: well i can see how they would not want to believe you are making fun of them
BRADY: its that autoimmune response. power doesn't like to be challenged and thats all I want to do.
I don't even think that I am making fun of them personally, just poking at the weakness of this castle our dads built.
RAMOS: can you tell me a bit about how you would have things be? some will say it is easy to poke holes, but what is the solution...
BRADY: I think right now, I am trying to use what privilege I have to cut the ladder that I am standing on.... if that makes sense.
I thing the way we teach masculinity needs a lot of work. I think that my specific life experience helped me avoid growing into something toxic in order to fix this incredible hurt.
Too often that hurt manifests in school shootings, suicide, alcoholism, racism, all these terrible things...all more prevalent in men. Lets fix that. Lets point at what is really hurting, lets point at the fact that its flawed.
lets do something about it
not just from the outside, but from the inside too
RAMOS: it is hard to convince people "in power" to let go of their perks
BRADY: Yeah it is, hahaha