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HF: We came up with the name for Truck Yeah and the idea for Truck Yeah later on. I think the way I envisioned Art Cart was that I wanted to take certain steps to grow it, and Truck Yeah was step 2 or step 3. My first goal: put on an art show in a truck—successfully install it, have people come, see what happens. If that worked, I always had in mind a sort of truck fest.
THE L: Truck fest!
HF: I remember I used to call it a mobile army—we would all just show up. That’s why we call it a mobile meet up; we want everyone to come together. Instead of having a club house, we would be making it.
So I did always have Truck Yeah in mind, but I knew I wasn’t going to go from 0 to 60 immediately. We would have had to have a couple shows where I was managing one truck, one artist before I could take on everybody. What I hope to do next is have Truck Yeah in other cities, then ultimately have a day where we have these events going on at the same time, and some kind of system is set up where the events are being recorded and people in one city can see what’s going on in the other city, who can see another city on another screen, so it’s like a Truck Yeah day.
THE L: Which is in line with the social media approach.
HF: Absolutely, and also—I know this is cheesy—art, that is a language that everybody understands and that everybody can connect to. It doesn’t matter where you are, because all the events will have something people in another city can relate to, even if they don’t speak the same language. I’ve been talking to Barbara Low, an Argentinian painter, about having her set up an Art Cart in Buenos Aires. It would be her art or she could oversee it. How great would it be if the art scene in Bushwick could be connected to the art scene in Buenos Aires through a video screen, each seeing what they would do with an art truck. It’s just another way to have a conversation. You don’t need to have some fancy curator fly to the Guggenheim to stage a show, all you need is a video camera and people who want to show up.
THE L: When you talked about it being 2009 as you started and the economic issue being a big factor, I wonder, is it the biggest factor? If this project has potential in places that are totally different with all sorts of artistic interests and styles, places that may have been in economic crisis long before this problem, or in different kinds of crises altogether, is it due more to a development in art rather than a reaction to developments in external factors?
HF: A little bit of both. What I’m doing or people are starting to do, is more a reaction to a development in technology and simply being the millennial generation. This is what we expect these days, that everything can be brought to you. But sure, it could be a development in art itself. There are still many artists who are making art in what I’m calling a “traditional” way, plenty of artists who make installations in museums and galleries. I think, no pun intended, the vehicle is what’s evolving. The economic downturn helped, because it reminded people that we might need to get creative about how we make our art, how we distribute it, how we want to go experience it. Does some twenty-something just out of college want to pay $25 every time he or she wants to go to MoMA? Or do you want to check twitter and see that this art truck is here, and all they have to do is get on the subway or walk? I think art evolves depending on what it’s being made for; if some artist is still making work for a gallery or auctions, that isn’t changing. But if the artists decide they need a different method of distribution, then they do their work that way.
THE L: If we talk about social media and technology putting its footprint on art, we should talk about Defaced. Could you describe how you met Allie Pohl and why you went this direction?
HF: I met Allie Pohl in a very unexpected way. I first met her mother in line for coffee.
THE L: How great art relationships are born.
HF: Yes! I saw her while visiting California, she was wearing an Ideal Woman necklace, Allie’s most well-known image. I commented on how cool the necklace was, and she told me she was in town visiting her daughter who was an artist and made these pieces.
THE L: Did you recognize it as hers?
HF: No, it was the first time I’d ever seen it before. She directed me down the street, where one of Allie’s neons were up. I blindly reached out to her after meeting her mother, introduced myself, and said “I’m very fascinated by your work and would love to talk about doing a show together.” She wrote me back immediately, saying she looked up the projects I’d done and loved them, and that even though she lived in LA, she wanted to come to New York to do this with me.
Defaced evolved out of our initial plans for our show. We were originally thinking about doing something which involved the Ideal Woman directly, but at a certain point we realized, because Allie had an intense fascination with media and how—for women primarily, but it can go either way—the media shapes the way we define ourselves. She had spent so much time looking at traditional media with airbrushed models in magazines and pop culture, TV shows, celebrities, and what that does to us. She said that the game has totally changed now that we have social media like Facebook and Instagram, because we have the ability to curate our entire persona. Your online persona can be completely different from who you are in person. That’s were Defaced came in; we were asking who is the ideal woman now? It could be anyone, or whomever you decide. Defaced basically confronts the ideal woman of the social media age. Allie wanted to survey as many people as possible and ask how you curate your online persona. What influences you to curate it a certain way? Do you read certain people’s blogs, follow certain people’s tweets, and do you take that onto yourself and do the same thing for yours? How do you pick your profile picture? What do you put on your profile, what makes something facebook-worthy? These are things we think about all the time, whether we address it or not.
THE L: I thought Defaced was a particularly appropriate and relevant choice for Art Cart, insofar as it was very careful about talking about social media—you get the hint that it’s suggesting we be wary, but not so naïve that it rejects it completely.
HF: The project would be impossible without it. Allie’s goal was just to make people aware of what they’re doing, positive or negative. But the point is to recognize that something’s changing.