Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Irwin Toys With Punk Nostalgia...

and the stuff of young girls' dreams.
This is an interview I did with Mari Sasano of The Edmonton Journal about my exhibition at Latitude53. enjoy.
"If the text on Jane Irwin's light boxes seems familiar, think back to your old mix tapes. There they are. Hole. Nirvana. Breeders. The Velvet Underground. The Cure. The Smiths. R.E.M. Embroidered in pink curly script, accompanied by translucent dolls. It's the 40-year-old's version of scribbling lyrics into a diary, and, as it turns out, it's universal! This is kind of a girly thing to do!
JI: I guess so. I imagine men have the same experience, if not marking them in the same way. I used to write letters to my friends or write in my diary - I still do - 'I met this guy last night and it's Sweet Emotion.' That kind of thing. And the little resin dolls are cast from dolls in the '60s and '70s. Inside them, there are little objects related to what the song says. That to me is very girly, to create these shrines to our experiences or relationships. We've all done that.
It's true.
JI: I've always been into music. When I was younger, I was involved with the alternative music scene; my friends were musicians. We'd go out and see bands we heard on the University radio station or read about in magazines, but the local music stations would be playing Boston and Led Zeppelin. And it's harder now, you have to work to find music. But every band has a website and they link to other bands. I end up spending five hours on the computer! Definitely, for this show, I spent a lot of time researching.
How do you pick the songs?
JI: I use a lot of narrative in my work, storytelling. And I'm very interested in music, its ability to convey emotions we sometimes find difficult to express ourselves.
I went through my favourite songs and looked at the lyrics and I was amazed how banal and uninteresting they were. So I picked out sections from lyrics that stand on their own. If you know the song, you might have a personal memory of that, or it can just have meaning on its own. It was quite difficult actually. I did 22 of these and I had 60 songs and eliminated most of them.
Will there be music playing?
JI: Actually, I'm gonna play some songs as "Janie Jones," from the song by The Clash. I'm creating an installation, Janie Jones' room, but she's always had a dream of being a musician. Well, my brother has a recording studio so I recorded five songs, covers by iconic female artists like Kim Gordon, X-Ray Spex, Kim Deal and The Runaways. Five songs, and they're quite...pathetic! But that's part of the charm.
And now you have music to fall back on if this art thing doesn't work for you!
JI: Yeah, it's not much to fall back on! But it's a lot easier for young women now. I dated a lot of guys in bands, but it never occurred to me to play in one."

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