TateShots

Marcel Dzama: Studio visit

An extraordinary day in the life of Marcel Dzama

Canadian artist Marcel Dzama is known for producing small watercolour and pen and ink drawings, like those represented in Tate's collection. For this reason, TateShots was surprised to find him in a studio lot in Brooklyn, co-directing a big budget music video for the band Department of Eagles.

Later, to celebrate the release of his new book, Marcel and his friend, film director and Jackass creator Spike Jonze, signed copies for fans at the David Zwirner gallery. He also invited us back to his studio to reflect on his 'busy day', and we witnessed some of the weird and wonderful creations that inhabit his world.

This one I just made for a photo shoot that I wanted to make, like a kind of old-time looking photo. [Laughs] I’m Marcel Dzama, I was born in Winnipeg, Canada, and I moved to New York four years ago. I’m mostly known for kind of watercolour drawings that I’ve done. It’s not always watercolour, but inks and things. Sometimes painting, and now kind of mixed media of everything, like right now I’m working on this music video for this band called the Department of Eagles. [Music] This part is the giant blue screen for the background, because I’m actually going to do small background paintings, so they’ll replace what’s going on in the background. In the video there’s these two clashing armies of, one’s this kind of hooded terrorist kind of stereotypical terrorists with AK47s, but they’re very elegant ballerina dancers. Like the mask, I’ll have eyeholes here though, kind of a mouth hole over here. The other side’s kind of a clumsy old-time World War One soldier from kind of a mix of Russian and German. And the two battle each other, and in the end they end up killing each other, and they all become these ghost creatures. [Music] I usually don’t work this big. Usually it’s me with a camera, and made all the props and things like that. This is the first time I’ve done anything with this sort of budget. I was thinking that there was some sort of revolution that happened, and they had won over the country, and so it was like kind of a little victory parade. Oh, this is a poster I did for the film The Lotus Eaters, when I showed it at the Timothy Taylor Gallery in London. The book was based on a show I did with the David Zwirner Gallery in March of 2008, and most of the work was done in Mexico in Guadalajara. I’ve a friend who had a foundry, like a ceramics foundry, and he said I could just do what I wanted with a piece of [inaudible] . I started making these kind of creatures that I have been drawing for years into three-dimensional kind of form. Kind of loosely based on the Museum of Natural History’s dioramas. Just early tonight I just did a signing with a friend Spike Jonze who did the interview in the book. [Music] Hello. Greetings. Ladies! Thank you for showing them in. Beware of the bear. [Laughter] I wanted it to kind of feel more like a performance piece, like from the kind of Fluxus artists…like originally I thought we were going to cut each others’ hair and put it inside the book or something instead of a signature, which would have been good, but I guess we would maybe be bald [Laughter] instead. This isn’t really an example of my real day, like a day of my life. For some weird reason it’s a really busy day.

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