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The Future Slips Out

An Interview with Artist Christie Blizard

Texas-based artist Christie Blizard deploys painting, performance and conceptual art to examine the posthuman body vis-à-vis investigations of celebrity, sound and movement. I met Blizard in 2014 when she was a resident in the Painting and Mixed Media summer residency, and since that time, she has participated in residencies at Skowhegan, MacDowell and Artpace. Her work as been shown at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Black Mountain College, Good Morning America, the Roswell UFO Convention, and the Today show.

Eric Sutphin: Your work deals with a number of intersecting ideas; EDM (electronic dance music), performativity, media culture, celebrity. How did these things come to enter your work?

Christie Blizard: During the summer of 2015, I was reading Jean-Francois Lyotard’s The Inhuman (1992) and attended Burning Man for the first time. Both the book and event seemed to point to ways of thinking that could exist outside of the body. I was interested in how Burning Man and electronic music started with revolutionary impulses but have become mainstream and non-critical. Lyotard’s ideas of how a thought exists after the explosion of the sun and the virtual body that is created by a group of dancing people at a festival became an interesting phenomenon for me to explore. I had a puppet version of Lyotard made and we began to travel to different Burning Man and EDM events to interact with the crowd. In the performances, I have become an alien from the future wearing a 3D printed mask of Elle Fanning. The mask represents the silencing effects that media and celebrity have on an artist.

ES: While dialogue rarely exists in your work, text is incorporated on t-shirts, on signs, etc. Can you talk about your decision to omit the spoken word?

CB: In the performances, Lyotard the puppet does not speak. He is typically bewildered, stupefied, and “dumbed down.” In some of my videos and on t-shirts, I have incorporated text that has been cut-up from various sources. I am interested in William S. Burrough’s ideas that in a cut-up, that when you collage the past and the present together, the future slips out. In some of his cut-ups, he predicted specific future events. I am hoping that some of the texts I use will foreshadow the revolutionary potential of a different kind of bodily intelligence.

ES: I'll never forget when you held the mud wrestling performance Blizard vs. DeKooning (2014) in your studio at SVA during the Summer Residency Program. How did that piece contribute to your current work?

CB: At that time, I was trying to reconfigure painting outside the traditional context. This led directly to the Today show and the Good Morning America work, where I took the text paintings into the audiences to be viewed on the news broadcasts. The mud wrestling contributed to the current work primarily through my beginning to understand the abject and failure and trying to break with history.

ES: What are you currently looking at. Have you seen anything particularly interesting/challenging? Are there any artists who you've recently been excited about?

CB: The Contemporary Arts Museum Houston recently had a show of embroidery paintings by Nicolas Moufarrege that were really beautiful. One of my biggest heroes is Genesis Breyer P-Orridge and how far she goes with her ideas. She and Daniel Johnston are my two biggest art heroes, and Daniel lives fairly close to me in Waller, TX. Both are completely and fully dedicated to their work.

ES: Can you tell me about any upcoming projects?

CB: I have been studying music for the last 9 years and have been working with various electronic synthesizers to perform at EDM events and places like local Texas flea markets where people are not expecting me to be. I have transformed my partner’s Pontiac into a time traveler like the DeLorean, and will be doing more performances this spring and summer with sound and exorcistic movements in which I become a vessel for another kind of intelligence to enter. I will be soon making a noise album called Montopolis. I feel like music is a major part of my life’s work.

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