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LAist Interview: Fette
This is my last LAist Interview. I have appreciated all your feedback, but I'm especially grateful to all the interviewees who graciously gave me their time and knowledge. Writing this feature validates my belief that everyone in LA has a fascinating story to tell and an interesting opinion to share.
I'm confident that Tony will lead LAist on to bigger and better things, including more riveting interview features. It's been a fun ride and I wish all of you the best. Now, on with the interview:
If Caryn Coleman of art.blogging.la, Fumiko Amano, publisher of the AtelierZero events list, and Shana Nys Dambrot, LA-based managing editor of Artkrush/Flavorpill are mouthpieces for the LA online art community, then Fette, owner of LA art photo-blog: The Flog, is its eyes.
A recent transplant from France, Fette is a visual artist who has established her studio, called The Filth, in Venice, California. When she's not creating surreal hand rendered images, she's visiting art galleries and studios all over Los Angeles in order to document the region's exploding art scene on her multi-media website, which she's named The Flog. She regularly posts striking images of works on display at various galleries and studios as well as interviews with artists themselves.
Fette has just landed a gig as LA editor of NYArts Magazine. We look forward to reading more of her reviews and interviews in print as well as online.
Age and Occupation:
I am 25. I am a freelance illustrator, a visual artist and the editor of The Flog. I started this website as an ode to my new permanent resident status. Since then I have been involved in more and more projects. So I also write for magazines and I am now the editor of the new LA section of NYArts Magazine. I have recently started curating shows and I am also presently insanely busy working on a new project for October!
How long have you lived in Los Angeles, and which neighborhood do you live in?
I have been living here for a year and a half as a permanent resident, and prior to that I was making love trips back and forth between France and LA. I'm currently living in Venice, a neighborhood I've stayed in most of my time here. I will be moving soon to Culver City, in the belly of the beast.
Can you tell me why you started the Flog? Why the visual blog medium? What can it do that text cannot?
When I was finally able to stay in LA continuously, and not by blocks of 90 days, I could start paying attention to what was taking place in the city in advance. Knowing that I could go see all these shows, I thought that I should keep track. Although I posted a public website, the intent was more personal and was simply to remind me of the shows I would see. In this way, I never felt like writing anything because the images were there to help remind me the overall experience. I wanted to keep the site very simple, the photographs of the pieces, the name of the artists and in which galleries they appeared. I see the website as a curatorial practice. What I post is what I find relevant. I don't take photographs from all the exhibitions I attend. I only post the shows, and the pieces from a show, that I found compelling.
Why do you live in Los Angeles?
Well, it's not for the genius mass transit, nor for the clean air, so it's really the city's raging art scene that is keeping me here for now.
What is uniquely "LA" about the arts scene now?
Something about its fresh optimism. It seems to me that it is mostly saying fuck off to all the good thinkers - follow my eyes to the East - and is simply growing fat, kind of like the whole city itself in a way. But with a better side.
How does Los Angeles inform your work as an artist?
When I first arrived here I felt constantly hammered by the city's signs, colors and textures. I would spend a day walking anywhere and taking photos of neighborhoods, the houses, details from the gardens, the walls. I have so many photos of these pastel walls. I used to see the whole city in shades of pink and orange. Now that I have grown deeper roots I feel inspired by other things, less by the city's bodies, but more by its stories and characters. Meeting people always add a great deal of depth to a place.
How many gallery openings do you attend a week?
Perhaps an average number of 10. But I try to go see shows outside of their opening frenzy as much as possible. So, in the end I would say that I actually see 8 shows a week and 4 openings.
Do you ever get hassled about taking pictures of the art? What's your best strategy for getting away with it?
I very rarely get hassled for taking pictures, in LA at least. Since I first started The Flog, gallery owners and artists have been really receptive. And while they've been curious as to why I was taking photos, almost all of them have been letting me do so. The only places I've been asked not to take photos were at Museums. I used to bring a really tiny stealth camera for these institutions, but I don't take these illegal shots any longer. I'm pretty sure that if I was presenting myself and my motives, I could obtain the permission, but I don't want to use any sort of magic card in order to take my shots. I think that people should be allowed to take photographs, as much as they are respectful of the pieces and don't flash everything around. And besides, fat museums don't need more attention. I'd rather look for all the crazy and underrepresented spaces.
What's the best art opening reception you've attended all year?
One of the best openings I went to was at Roberts & Tilton for Kehinde Wiley's show. Caviar and champagne in the glass were served and violinists were playing for the crowd in a completely transformed gallery. There were carpets and rich curtains, gold silk-screened wallpapers and crown molding. It was so exaggerated that it was perfect.
Which is a better way to absorb the artists work on gallery walls: at the opening reception in a crowd or alone in a gallery on a weekday?
Definitely alone, no question about it. Opening receptions don't usually strike me as an opportunity to absorb the art fully, but rather a celebration and a good excuse to down some rancid Charles Shaw estate. What's interesting is that for each specific opening you will get a specific sort of crowd, made by groups of friends. It's very rare to see one or two persons who seem to have no relation with the artist(s) shown or the people in the room. Unfortunately, people are not as adventurous as I wish they would be to enter unfamiliar settings on their own.
What's your favorite movie(s) or TV show(s) that are based in LA?
Blade Runner, Chinatown, Mulholland Drive and every weather report from Monsieur Lynch.
Best LA-themed book(s)?
Everything by Brett Easton Ellis.
If you could live in LA during any era, when would it be?
1920's, when the trains were covering the city. I could have lived Downtown and take the train to the beach for a fancy weekend.
What is the "center" of LA to you?
I definitely don't have a center in this city. Every time I find a new neighborhood and I wander around its streets and blocks, it becomes a center of its own as I learn to know them better, ultimately, I'd like to connect all of these centers I visit, but I might be gone before it's achieved.
If you could live in any neighborhood or specific house in LA, where/which would you choose?
I would live in Venice, yes, by the ocean for sure. In a place with space for art and books, a place with a yard to plant my tomatoes in real earth. And where I could install some solar panels on its roof.
Outsiders stereotype Los Angeles as a hard place to find personal connections and make friends. Do you agree with that assessment? Do find it challenging to make new friends here?
I certainly found it difficult when I first arrived because the whole process of making connections was different. People I would meet could live hours away - according to the traffic rating - and months could pass before I see them again, even though we were technically in the same city. I was used to people dropping by for tea or dinner without making specific appointments so I found it difficult at first to have to set real times, and mostly in restaurants to see one another.
What is the city's greatest secret?
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