Josh Franklin – Artist Interview

Please describe your artistic process as it spans a day and/or week and/or month.

Well up until quite recently I had a studio at UVIC but because of facilities shutting down due to COVID-19,  I no longer have access to it. What I do now have though is a refurbished 3 foot high by 15 foot by 14 foot crawl space below my house. So what my artistic process looks like has drastically changed ! But one thing that does overlap is my artistic practise being a studio driven one. I need space and material to play with to find ways to make the art that I envision. There is a ton of experimentation and discovery of unintended occurrences that develop in the studio.

Please describe your artworks included in the exhibition.

The artwork that is included in this show is titled 48 Hour (Walk-In Structure). Since 2017, I have been making these rectangular structures that allow viewers to enter and upon entry they find themselves fully enveloped and surrounded by art. As an evolution in that stream of thought, for this project I made a see-through structure by stretching a sheer fabric on specifically designed stretchers and with them then constructed a 14 foot by 14 foot structure. Then, for two days straight I stayed inside of the structure – never left. While inside of the structure I painted the entire inside of it. 

It took a while, but I have mastered this strange way of painting on the sheer fabric where you paint from one side and slowly the paint seeps and bleeds through to the other side eventually creating a picture on the far side of the fabric. And so with that, as I was inside of the structure painting away, I am painting a composition on the inside and simultaneously there is another picture forming on the outside that the viewer is aware of.

In past structures that I’ve made,I have found myself more interested in the process of making them rather than the “final product” (I have a lot to say about “final product” making, another time though). With that, this time I wanted to engage in a project that had the ability to show all steps and stages of execution and give it as much context as possible. So with that, I planned a 2 day performance where I had security cameras inside watching me at all times, wearing a full face respirator due to the off gassing of paint, undergoing cognitive tests by studio assistants, and a bunch of other far out sounding things!

In the end, the outcomes that I took away from the project are different than expected and have opened new doors to concepts and questions that I want to delve further into which will require more similar performances. I look forward to them. 

What artists/artworks inform your practice?

Here is a list of artists whose work I like and concept intrigue me: Jenny Odell, Chris Burden, Alexander McQueen, Austin Willis (homie plug, @austinclaywillis), Shozo Shimamoto, Allan Kaprow, Robert Motherwell, Jukka Virkkunen, Florence Hutchings, Ibrahim Mahama, Katherina Grosse, Rick Leong, Daniel Arsham, Brendan Fernandes, Donna Huanca

What artists/artworks inform the work included in the exhibition?

When I was first formulating the conceptual backing of this work I was super new to anything performance art, specifically endurance performance art, so I was looking back to the giants such as Burden, Beuys, Abramović, Kaprow, Cunningham, and Hsieh to attempt to contextualize the interests that I had with it. Looking into those artists gave me a pretty good understanding as to different thoughts and practises of performance art. And then pretty much the artists I mentioned in the above question definitely influenced the work. 

What other outside sources inform your thinking (e.g. books, music, nature, etc.)?

Music – always being played: loud, repetitive and on repeat. 

Reading – love it but find myself not reading a lot when I am in my studio mindset, it’s more linked to when I am taking a break from the studio and researching. 

I am in the mindset that there are no divisional lines to separate art and life and so with that there is a constant filtering of what will be utilized and what will not be used in my art practice.

What do you think are necessary agents for change in society?

The informed youth – out with the old, in with the new. I think the up and coming generations have the ability to see what did and what did not work in the past to be able to positively impact the present to make lasting change into the future. 

Do you include social justice and/or activism in your work? 

A recent stem of my work is concerned about transforming, making in relation too and breaking down the modern western architectural form – the rectangle. I attempt to break down and understand my own familial contribution to the racist creation of manifest destiny while relearning and situating myself in the place I call home. I believe that it is imperative that there is not just an integration or tolerance but a total transformative acceptance of inclusive equity and diversity for all. And this starts through being asked questions, asking questions, unlearning the ideologies that the colonial groups brought to North America, becoming informed about where you live and who lived there before you.

What is the last book/thing/article/poem you read?

I tend to read a few books at once to try and balance things out. I am currently reading:

The Collected Writings of Robert Motherwell – One of my favourite artists, picked up at Powell’s Book.

Lust Unearthed: Vintage Gay Graphics from the DuBek Collection by Thomas Waugh – Interesting niche collection of works unknown to me, picked up at the LACMA bookstore

How to Do Nothing by Jenny Odell – One of my favourite books to date and seemed timely to reread.

The Impossible First by Colin O’Brady – I am in awe of expeditioners and especially Colin O’Brady’s expeditions.

The Palestinian-Isreali Conflict (A Very Short Introduction) by Martin Bunton – I love the A Very Short Introduction series and thought this would be an important and educational read, picked up at the UVIC book store.

Queer Phenomenology by Sara Ahmed – Totally new topic that interested me, picked up at Massy Books in Vancouver.

The Berlin Stories by Christopher Isherwood – Found in a trash bin and has been a fun fictional read

What online browser tab(s) do you have open right now?

Currently have 11 tabs open which consist of Gmail, Google Docs, and the rest are links to submissions and applications. Always on the grind to submitting proposals. 

What is the last song you listened to?

Of late, I have been on the house train… It’s the repetition that hooks me. Been listening to a playlist I made called top of the house. 

What is the last film/tv show you watched?

Just finished Season 4 of Casa De Papel. So good. 

What song would be the first on your kitchen dance party playlist?

Check out the playlist 80s Italo Dance on Spotify, hit shuffle, there’s your answer.

How are you dealing with social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic?

It has been key to imagine that you have it and act accordingly while also imagining that you do not have it and act accordingly. I had a week of feeling completely saddened by the end of my last year at UVIC being cut short, no BFA Grad show, no graduation, no research stint in Italy during the summer, everything cancelled but that’s the siren’s call for everyone right now.

I let myself work through the disappointment, took another week to watch the Resident Evil movies to scare myself and then hopped back on the train and figured out a routine during these uncertain times. It has been key to ground myself by understanding the privileges in the security of a first world country that I am allowed. 

What are your future aspirations?

I had a pretty concrete 3 year plan that has now been thrown out the window. Back to the drawing board but that’s somewhat exciting. Roughly, I am wishing to move overseas or out East. Exactly where, I am unsure but I plan to do some small trips to places I am interested in to figure if it’d be a place to relocate to. I have also been waiting to do the ‘young 20s travel stint’ post graduation, so once travel restrictions are lifted and the world is in a better place I plan on doing that but I’ll get to that whenever I can. I wanted to take 3-5 years away from the academic world before going back to do an MFA. Create some work outside of the institutions structure and then go for the MFA but with things being so uncertain I am unsure as to when these things will happen and in what order but I’ll keep rolling with the flow and see where things end up.