New York state of minds.
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After a tour of Tokyo’s art scene and a short residency at The Wayward Gallery in East London, visual artist and hair stylist Gogy Esparza is bringing the party back to his Big Apple hometown. Together with his achingly ambitious, overly talented collaborators, Jacob Mellinger and Alan Paukman (of creative team Nikolai Rose) they’re opening the dazzlingly hypnotic art installation ‘El Vacío’ (Spanish for ‘The Void’) at New York’s MINY’s Gallery. Let loose in their largest gallery space yet, these young men created an alternate realm with their multimedia experience. The installation is formed of photos taken by Gogy on his ageing BlackBerry (which still sits in his back pocket today) that are then distorted via three projectors into a magical maze of meticulously mapped out fabric, orchestrated by Nikolai Rose. Accompanied by a remastered soundtrack and infused with the team’s original raw sour milk scented candles; El Vacío was designed to “create a monument to a feeling” by simultaneously stimulating your senses, as you make the journey through its paths.
So from The Wayward in London to the MINY in Soho, how does London compare?
Gogy: The London experience was amazing; we were actually staying with good friends in Dalston.
Jacob: And that’s the whole thing right there; it’s like in Tokyo, people put us up. In London, people put us up.
Gogy: This whole shit came out of love, just love. Everything is out of pocket.
You definitely get this intimate feeling when you step into the installation, as if the bond you three have as artists and as friends has shaped the atmosphere within this creative space. The installation depicts an ambiance of spirituality, meditation and focus, was that the goal?
Alan: There’s definitely a religious quality to the work and to the space that we had in mind. We even had the book made to look and feel like a bible.
It must be an elaborate process to create the same alternate dimension in a different physical space. Why New York and were there developments from the previous shows to this one?
Alan: Right after we did the Tokyo and London shows, we thought it would be really special to do one in New York; to kind of bring everything full circle as we’re based here. The process was a little different than finding spaces in the other cities, as here we had the luxury of time- in terms of getting the books ready, getting the candles ready. We had buttons made, flyers made and we produced a remastered soundtrack (with Physical Therapy). The New York debut was also the El Vacío book release. The book took over a year to design, as every page was meticulously assembled to ensure the depth of each spread was in sync with the layered images, which form in the installation.
How do you see the multimedia experience of El Vacío evolving, with the rise of technology and its migration into the visual arts?
Alan: The beauty of technology is that, from a creative aspect, it gives you different streams to get at people; like different avenues through which you can send your message and communicate. We actually worked with a digital agency called OK Focus to develop a website for this show; the goal for the website was to create an online presence for this physical space. So we worked with them to develop something that keeps the limitations of a computer screen in mind, but tries to achieve some of the effects that you see in the show. The site offers this three-dimensional zoom, to replicate the way the images double over five times going through this space here.
Now you’ve represented that darker stage of your life through this project, where’s your head at now?
Gogy: I have a few projects in the works, but my immediate project is titled VANILLA. I want to keep on collaborating with people I respect and admire, people like Nikolai Rose. I also aim to start delving into short films; I’ve been talking about videography for quite some time.
So do you feel that this homecoming show has been your best yet, the truest representation of El Vacío?
Jacob: That’s impossible to answer… that’s like asking a parent, who their favourite child is.
El Vacío runs from August 23rd – 29th 2012 at MINY Gallery, 29 Greene St, New York, NY 10013. Information regarding the El Vacío candle and book is available at el-vacio.com.
Text: Yety Akinola