The following is an excerpt from an interview conducted by Graham Nightingale on 8/4/15 in Brooklyn, New York. It is hereby reprinted with permission.
While most artists typically display their work on 1 website, Andrew Carr has 6 (click photos above). For each website, Carr takes the role of a different artist selling today, from the cool hipster hanging in local coffee shops to the pretentious art star represented by blue chip New York galleries. While his name remains the same, his persona, photograph, site design, and creative output differ considerably to reflect the entire gamut of contemporary art. Carr’s body of work, combined with the context in which it is viewed, is a telling commentary on the art of his generation, as well as those who collect it.
Graham Nightingale: Does art bring you joy?
Andrew Carr: Not particularly, not like it use to. Why do you ask?
GN: Because judging from these websites, you don't seem too pleased with the art world.
AC: For the most part, that's true. More often than not, I'm dismayed by what thinks itself as art today. I suppose these websites and the work created for them is my reaction to all the rubbish I see around me.
GN: Why bother though? Why not just paint what you want?
AC: Because I wasn't born a Wyeth, unfortunately. Like most artists, I don't have the luxury to paint autobiographical paintings my entire life. In order to make a living off my work, I need to appeal to those paying for it. This is the art that sells today. I may not like it, but what can I do? In order to survive as an artist, I’m forced to give my generation what it wants.
GN: You may be giving them what they want, but you’re also saying what you think of it at the same time. Your attempts at catering to various collectors is done with an edge of satire. In fact, some of your series intentionally address the lack of quality inherent to the art, the motivation behind purchasing the art, or the way in which the art is consumed.
AC: That’s true, but only if looked at under their particular contexts.
GN: How do you mean?
AC: Well let's say my Game Show series was not displayed at dehnelandbecht.com. Its underlying message wouldn't be as pronounced.
GN: And that is?
AC: That the rich collect art as prizes. Viewing the series under Dehnel and Becht’s fabricated website really sharpens that point. Without it, I feel the series could only be appreciated for its technique and distinctive subject matter. The same is true for some of my other series, which I feel are more powerful when considered under the contexts I have designed for them. Displayed together on one website, they would be interesting, but disjointed. Considered as a whole and in this way, they become a cohesive thesis on the state of contemporary art.
GN: If this is the case, and these contexts are needed to unlock a greater significance to the work, do you feel as though the websites are part of the art?
AC: Absolutely. 99% of art is consumed over the internet today and I wanted to make this relatively new viewing platform part of the experience.
GN: You seem very interested in the range of branding that exists, from the shabby to the chic. Regardless of it's quality, do you think its possible to ignore an artist's package and just concentrate on his art?
AC: I doubt it. Whenever we visit an artists website, we all subconsciously assess its context. How sleek is the website? Does the artist look like an artist? How many solo exhibitions are listed on the resume? Who has reviewed their work? How much does it cost? It's silly, but all this stuff influences our perception of the art.
GN: Was it hard developing 6 distinct and believable brands?
AC: It was more time consuming than difficult. I'm a self taught coder, so getting these things to look the way I wanted was agony at times.
GN: Are you worried that some may find these persona's offensive?
AC: I'm trying to bring a little wit to a field that generally takes itself so seriously, so I hope people will have a sense of humor about it.
GN: Do you intend to add future work to these websites, or would that weaken the overall concept?
AC: I will if appropriate. I like that this is a living concept that I can add to when I please. One of the benefits of having six different personas is that I'm not pigeon holed to one type of work or budget. They allow me the freedom to explore a broad range of subjects without feeling random. I also intend to continue producing work outside these worlds. My Frat Series, Glowing Frames, and Weathermen, for example, were all created without any reactionary motivations in mind.