Interview: Barry Despenza
Luca Curci talks with Barry Despenza during FUTURE LANDSCAPES, third appointment of BORDERS Art Fair 2020, at THE ROOM Contemporary Art Space.
Barry Olusegun – Noble Despenza is an experimental composer + interdisciplinary artist who builds experiential experiences that shift perspective from passive seeing to active looking, from passive hearing to active listening. Despenza uses musical thinking to illuminate the dynamic and unconscious rhythms of power structures that underlie the perception of time and space. His work involves diverse mediums that often include archive footage, sound design, music video, and experimental electronic music compositions. Despenza’s art investigates the notion of productivity and human presence in what we consider ‘thisness’ that exists within the sensory ecology.
Luca Curci – What are you currently working on?
Barry Despenza – I am currently working on a new Ep tilted Geofictions p2 which is an ambient/ experimental music piece centered around the creation of fictional geographical entities. I am also currently enrolled in an MFA at Simon Fraser University School of The Contemporary Arts in which I am excited about diving into sound art, video and sculpture.
LC – What’s your background? What is the experience that has influenced your work the most?
BD – My background in art goes back to my first love which was music composition and percussion. I would also say that experimental music has influenced my practice a ton. Especially artists such as John Cage, Kanye West. I studied music a bit back in Chicago and eventually dropped out due to financial studies and my ability to not focus on practice. Studying music can sometimes come off as rigid and I was always looking to break the rules + which led me to conceptual art. I began studying New Genres at SFAI and graduated with a BFA in film. I’ve to sound designed for stage, film, dance and recently been showing some video work in South Korea, London, and now Venice.
LC – What is your creative process like?
BD – My creative process is a little wonky. I don’t start with an idea usually. I began by escaping within the process itself. I usually start with montages, soundscapes, and build my idea once this is all completed if it ever is completed. This can however change depending on what mood I’m in or what theoretical text I’ve just read. I am forever inspired by everyday people.
LC – How is being an artist nowadays?
BD – Being an artist nowadays is funny. I think people expect us to have some sort of dramatic answer due to COVID19. Artists have always adapted to what was happening around us and I think you are seeing just that. I will say that being an artist today is even more exciting now since I’m sheltered inside because now I have no excuse to brush up on theory, learning a new language and or spending quality time with those who support me.
LC – Which art themes do you pursue? What is your preferred subject, if there is any?
BD – I am interested in a myriad of topics such as experimental aesthetics, affect theory + sonic architecture, and the ecology of listening/haptic and sound correlations. As far as the preferred subject goes – this changes daily or every hour.
LC – What do you think about the concept of this festival? How did it inspire you?
BD – The theme of “Future Landscapes” was interesting due to my affinity to fictional geography and experiential art. I think the festival inspired me to actually focus more on my ‘inner world’ and how one can rethink the everyday or mundane life. I saw a lot of work that allowed me to ponder what that feels like and how being sheltered for 8 months can really take control of your imagination and recenter yourself within the bigger picture of coexistence.
LC – What is the message linked to the artwork you have shown in this exhibition? How is it connected to the theme of the entire festival?
BD – My piece is a Panapoly of signature pieces that speak of the sensations that just so happen to fit the theme of the show. Funny how that works out, right? One of the main ideas behind my work is simply me wanting my audience to watch themselves watching these pieces of moving image. See how you can use your sensory ecology to really break down any borders you might have created for yourself due to a misinterpretation or a negative implication. Use art as a mirror. Which I think fits perfectly in the cohort with the theme of the show.
LC – Did you enjoy cooperating with us?
BD – I enjoyed working with ItsLiquid. It was a short trip due to COVID but I am looking to possibly collaborating again in the near future and hopefully on a larger scale.
LC – What are your suggestions about our services? Is there something more we can provide to artists?
BD – I would just say just try to really put the artist first. Go up and beyond what is expected of a typical curator. Let the artist’s voice continue to be heard. Great work!