Q&A with artist Marissa Blood
(originally published in Bootleg magazine, August 2007)
By Josh Spilker and Brian Tucker
Marissa Blood is from Toronto, making her way as a feisty young artist in a town known for its “cold and hockey” as she put it. Basically a self-taught artist, Blood has demonstrated productive output in the acrylic and charcoal mediums. Concerned with people first and foremost, her work has grown from dark sequences of black and white charcoal into thick grays hued by color fades, into bright and spunky portraits.
Her work is concerned with the body, its parts and states of age and decay. Her intellectual curiosity is deep, and she never lacks for an opinion on the state of materialism, the state of mass art, or the state of love.
Have long have you been in Toronto?
I moved to Toronto two years ago because I fell in love with a man, so I dropped out of school, and left my family in southern California for the cold and hockey.
Why do you call your husband “master”?
Have you ever read the book Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov? I call him “master” for the same reason Margarita calls her lover “master.” He is a brilliant chess player who continues to appall me. There are some people who can only reach a certain stage with their game and will never surpass their current level, while he is on the other hand utterly exceptional in every execution, becoming a greater player with every game.
I don’t consider my art as a child, or a form of life, so there really is no sense of me to try to support it. Painting is actually more or less a need to ejaculate memory, it’s a descriptive orgasm I slowly extrapolate from myself. My husband provides the material, just like any man will provide their girlfriend lingerie.
How did you come across the book Master and Margarita?
If you’re asking me whether I read books for certain classes or what not, I will tell you that no, I do not read because I have to. I read because books are far more interesting than television shows and films. Most great films are usually based on mediocre novels. It is harder to create a film based on an exceptionally written novel. As for the actual question, I don’t remember how I came by it. I have a library card and right now I have 32 items checked out.
Is charcoal your primary medium? What do you find in charcoal compared to some other tools?
Charcoal used to be my primary medium, until my hands began to look like I’ve been in the coal mines digging fourteen hours a day, so I switched to the brush. At first, I thought it was bourgeois, but came to the realization that one cannot use their bodies as tools, it is horrible punishment to do so. I switched to acrylic as soon as I finished two boxes of charcoals.
I learned the existence of using charcoal as a form of art from my drawing class freshman year in high school. At the age of 20 I met the stranger of my dreams and decided to pick up the dirty chalk to sketch him and coincidentally made a great impression as a rarity. I moved in with him a couple of months later.
So technically, I’ve only been making mass productions of charcoal paintings for a total of one month, perhaps less, three weeks, when my fingers became caked with black dust and I could no longer accept my eventual fate of being a woman with such hard and ugly hands. Imagine being with a woman with hard hands. How horrible! The three wish dream is discontinued. You are only left with cooking, cleaning and the last wish becomes unappetizing.
That’s when I switched to the brush. It’s nice to feel to the paper against your skin, but after awhile, too much of something will make your sensations numb to it, and there is no point to see your suffering flesh and not being able to feel its suffering.
There is emotional honesty in your pieces, using dark colors or washed out brighter ones.
My style is changing at a rapid pace. [My art from a year ago] is completely different in color, texture, juxtaposition, and every other technical term you can think of. I have no idol in the art world. Especially if they are all dead. It doesn’t make sense to adore a dead man, it’s almost necrophilic in a fetishistic way.
Is that coincidental or do you have a particular interest in a subject’s eyes?
Hardly anything I do is coincidental. To me, the eyes are the most beautiful pair contained in the human body, and I am not talking about a certain eye shape or a particular color of the retina. The ball of the eye itself and how the flesh cradles it is unique in its make compared to the rest of the body. The way it is filled luster and shine almost as if it is a jewel and its ability to scan information at a rapid pace is incredible.
Do you feel you express yourself fully as a female artist in your work – as a woman, as a sexual being, as someone who can create not just with her hands but with her body?
It is impossible to fully express myself, unless I become a drone. Then that will be quite easy, and then soon after I shall give up art altogether. But back to your question, I like… well, it is more of an obsession, I need to extract ideas out of my body placing them onto something concrete like linen or paper, like sex and baking cakes, but motherhood. Well, that is not a need, it’s normal to have an offspring. The moment a woman turns a baby into a necessity to say, help her failing marriage, or another item to decorate her boredom, well, she is not a woman in any sense of the word. She is just another consumer with the hopes of finding happiness out of her dwindling ovaries.
I paint because I have to, not because I can. Bearing children is the norm for womankind. So in that sense, I am able to fully express myself as a woman… but only if I breastfeed. You cannot be a creator if you are just a producer; you have to keep the creation alive.
This is an interesting quote from your MySpace profile – “Going back into reclusion. I tend to isolate myself from people, it is not because I have a fear, it is more of an anxiety. They remind me of time and the potentiality that is loosening itself from my grip.” How have friends or acquaintances affected your work and outlook on the world?
I think that if a person needs another person for a sense of inspiration, they are more or less mimicking them or participating in the act of plagiarism. Creativity, originality is created by the person alone, and the person versus himself, which is the person versus the world, because your world is your life. Without your world, you wouldn’t exist. To need to be dragged around and inspired and cheered on means that your life is at the hands of some other thing, or some other person turning you into a complete masochist. I know that most artists are masochists, I however, am not masochistic in any sense of the word.
I will try to be honest with you as much as I can. I think that a lot of people have become numbed by the senses they can buy – television, clothes, pussy, expensive cars, manufactured dreams, the list goes on and on. Now, why would a productive human being, and I mean productive as in delving deep into ones being, why would I waste my time? The clock is ticking, everyone is getting older, and everyone will die sooner or later. What do I care what Susie wore on Friday evening when Jack bought her a 1500 dollar purse.
What do you think you’ll leave behind for others regarding artwork or writing?
What shall I leave behind for others including writing and painting? Sounds very fucking morbid. Well, I will leave this question to itself. It sounds almost like an insurance policy and before I know it I will be dead by tomorrow morning so the others can collect their damned rewards.