Q&A: Mathieu Malouf

Artist Mathieu Malouf will lecture on Josephine Pryde’s ICA exhibition lapses in Thinking By the person i Am this Wednesday evening. ICA programming intern Lauren Graves spoke with Mathieu about his interest in digital culture, the links between artistic practice and critical writing, and the important of creative relationships.
Mathieu Malouf, Real Fine Arts installation view (2014)

Nicolas Ceccaldi and Mathieu Malouf, FIAC, Lafayette Sector, October 23–26, 2014. Courtesy Real Fine Arts, New York.

ICA: We know you and Josephine met at University of the Arts, Berlin in 2008. How does your relationship, as well as your relationships within a broader artistic community in Berlin and New York, present itself within your own creative endeavors.

Mathieu Malouf: My relationships with people have completely key in giving me the chance to get where I am professionally. The artist Sam Pulitzer convinced Carol Greene of the Manhattan gallery Greene Naftali to give a job and from there, I had the chance to meet Michael Krebber and the rest is history as we say. Relationships to people in the art world are important, sometimes even more important than the art itself.

Josephine Pryde: lapses in Thinking By the person i Am, installation view, Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania. Photo: Constance Mensh.

ICA: You have written multiple reviews for Texte Zur Kunst. How do you situate the link between your critical writing on contemporary cultural works and your own practice.

MM: They say the cheapest commodity out there is advice. Everyone will give you advice even if they don’t really know what they are talking about, and this is also something that happens with art exhibitions. However I think that when you see someone like me, someone who has shown artwork at several reputed institutions around the world for some time now, and I write an article about an art exhibition and I say “this is good” or “this is bad”, then I think my own track record as an artist gives that more credibility down the line. Something where people can say “that guy probably knows a thing or two about whether or not this is a good show and we should listen to him”. So in a way, I think that they complement each other and that one gives the other more depth.
Josephine Pryde, *Gift For Me, Simon Lee Gallery Christmas 2013 (1)* (2013)

Josephine Pryde, Gift For Me, Simon Lee Gallery Christmas 2013 (1), 2015, giclée print, 23 1/4 x 15 1/2 inches. Courtesy the artist; Reena Spaulings Fine Art, New York; Simon Lee Gallery, London; and Galerie Neu, Berlin.

ICA: Both you within your writing and Josephine within her photographs seem to contemplate our mind/body relationship to ubiquitous technology. What draws you to this question?

MM: 200 years ago, most people woke up in the morning and had to walk a couple miles to the next village to hear the news, and that is if they were lucky enough to live next to a village. Nowadays, so much of our information is consumed on a screen—friendships, news, bank accounts, even our mail—everything is digital. It’s just a question that’s hard to ignore when you write about art and culture because art is about bodies and those bodies live in culture—digital culture.

ICA: How do you think we can use Josephine Pryde’s photographs to better understand the language of the body?

MM: For me, especially given what I was saying about digital culture being everywhere and making everything so virtual, the body and hands in particular say a lot about how people feel. Some people are so jaded with society that they need drugs, guns or to run a marathon to feel some sense of connection with their physical of psychological environment. They forget that something as simple as a gesture of the hand can be an adventure. Josephine’s work has both: technology and bodies, and for me it proves that even if technology is a complicated thing that can numb our minds and make us forget about certain things that are important, our bodies are still there and have an emotional intelligence of their own.
Coffee & Conversation: The Everyday ProstheticLecture: Mathieu Malouf and Josephine PrydeJosephine Pryde: lapses in Thinking By the person i Am