In her provoking multimedia dioramas, containing sculptures, photographs and video projections, Tracey Snelling creates a world that can be described as a “3-dimensional scrapbook” of modern life. Featured here and in Hi-Fructose Vol. 35, though her sculptures represent familiar places- retail shops like Walmart, 7-Eleven, McDonald’s, motels, and border towns- they are not faithful depictions, but more like miniaturized fantasies or re-imaginings.
In our 2011 interview with the Oakland based artist, she explained: “The further away the “location” of the sculpture from the location and culture of where the work is exhibited, the more possibility there is that the viewer thinks of the generic idea of a place, the representations of that place they have seen in film, and their imagination of that place.”
Tracey Snelling is currently featured in our Turn the Page: The First Ten Years of Hi-Fructose exhibition at Virginia MOCA, Imagining Home at the Baltimore Museum of Art, and soon at Volta Basel, opening this week. We caught up with her to talk about her new works, which collectively offer psychedelic versions of places, as in her recreation of strip clubs, as well as her own criticisms, expressed in “Shoot It!”, a commentary on gun rights in America.
“Strip clubs are fascinating places. In the case of the female strip club, which is predominant, men, and sometimes women, go to watch nude or almost nude women gyrate and climb a pole, and possibly to get a lap dance. The best strippers have a good hustle–convince the customer that they want them, get more lap dances, more money, buy more alcohol, come back the next night. The play of power is interesting as both sides are working from an edge. In the end, it’s all a game. She pretends to want him. He tricks himself into thinking she really wants him, or on the other end of the spectrum, he gets off on the fact that he is paying to get what he wants.”
“Strip clubs with male dancers have louder crowds. The women scream and laugh with their girlfriends. and the male dancers seem to have their way with the women, dry-humping them on stage and seducing them. It feels like a different kind of power, the men more in control. But without the adoration of the women, the male dancers don’t succeed.”
“In the end, both are fantasies. Some look for intimacy or some kind of connection. Others want to impress their friends on cool they are to be at the club. And still others want a short escape from the drudgery of everyday life or maybe a long, stagnant marriage. It’s all a fantasy of music. bodies, eye contact and sometimes body contact. In the end, you leave the garishly-lit room with musty carpet and 80’s hairband music, breathe the fresh air of the night, and drive home to your real life.”
“My Clusterfuck installations are a combination of sculptures, video projections, lights, rugs, kitsch, images, and odd accessories. The installations are immersive experiences that place the viewers at the simultaneous conjunction of a multitude of different, sometimes opposing, cultures. Is it a view into the future world we will live in? A psychedelic version of a “Blade Runner” scene? Or perhaps the clutter in one’s own mind?”
“Video clips from Bollywood, rap musicians, Jamaican dance clubs, and a call to prayer, among other clips, overlap and compete in an aural and visual chaos with the soundtracks and videos from the jumble of sculptures in the space. The all-encompassing quality of the installation is designed to both over-stimulate the viewers and seduce/ensnare them. This version of Clusterfuck is my largest to date.”
“Shoot It! is a criticism on gun rights and the mass shootings that are such a huge issue here in the U.S. The sculpture is a small scale carnival shooting gallery, with a spinning platform with animals such as a buffalo, rabbit, moose and squirrel. There are other things to shoot at too, such as rubber duckies and a wall display. A rifle, a few handguns and an automatic are available to choose from as your weapon. An audio track plays with clips of Charlton Heston, Elmer Fudd, Scarface, Deliverance, and other sound clips.”