ARTLURKER

A Miami based contemporary art newsletter / blog

Viking Funeral interviewed by Nicolas Lobo

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Image courtesy of Viking Funeral.

Nicolas Lobo, a Miami based artist, interviews Viking Funeral, a Miami based duo (Carlos Ascurra and Juan González), who have operated in various ways over the past 2 years, transecting the local cultural landscape with a variety of strategies. Their output includes live noise shows, sound installations, video and other more arcane products.

Nicolas Lobo: So why Viking funeral and not Juan and Carlos?

Carlos: First I think it’s a really ridiculous name like a high school band name…. You know you think of band names in high school looking for the best one

NL: So Viking Funeral is the ultimate high school band name?

C: I don’t know about that but it is definitely a band name.

Juan: And it has angst in it.

NL: But you guys are only %40 band right? Because the meat of it is the installations and the stages?

J: Well we play as a band also, we play at Churchill’s, we do noise shows, stuff like that…. I’d say its about 50/50

NL: So are you trying to make moves in the music world as well as the art world?

C: I don’t think we’re making any moves, I think we’re just playing and then we’re also making art. You know?

NL: So you guys are basically riding both sides of the fence.

J: Pretty much.

Alcuni_di_Morte

Image courtesy of Viking Funeral.

NL: OK. For me, on the surface, your work has this super goth dark veneer, but then there is other stuff that goes on afterward. I’m not going to bring up the Nirvana T-shirt thing at all…

C: Cool.

N: …but I’ve only seen maybe 4 things you guys have done…

J: Man we’ve only done like 6 things total so that’s pretty good!

C: You are one of our biggest fans probably!

J: The way it works is we send a proposal out and then it gets picked up and then we do a piece, site specific or something like that.

NL: So the first thing was at The Freedom Tower or was there something before that?

C: No, we made a piece before that where we tried to imitate different sounds and do it in surround sound.

J: It was called The Forest of Echoes, we did it really haphazard, like a traditional sound work, but with homemade speakers in a circle – really cheap looking. Not your usual 30 point speaker setup that you might see.

NL: So do you guys feel it worked out?

J: Well with a first piece you always feel you could have done better… once you get more experience. But we were pretty happy with it at the time.

C: I think it worked out for what it was. Later on you just want to rework everything.

J: But then you already did it so you have to move on; you can’t dwell on it.

BLK Widow

Image courtesy of Viking Funeral.

NL: So, coming back to the show at The Freedom Tower that Gean Moreno put together two years ago: I think very few people had heard of you at that time, but there you were smack bang in the middle of a show about making a scene…

J: That’s all thanks to Gean, I guess we were kind of like his little bomb to drop.

NL: That was good, but it was also different from the other things I’ve seen since. That first work was pretty Rock-ish, but now the newer stuff has nothing to do with Rock really.

C: When you say Rock you mean music?

NL: I mean it like Rock with the capital R, like the aesthetic.

J: Yeah like the rock band drum set, a bunch of guitars, the fliers.

NL: The next thing I saw was the Locust Projects installation…

Viking Funeral(2)

Image courtesy of Locust Projects.

J: Well everything we do is related to the idea of music.

NL: Sure, but the whole Rock thing is very separate.

J: Definitely, it changed from a rock band thing to a concrete thing with homemade instruments.

NL: It was also much more immersive and art oriented at Locust Projects, like a dark tropicalia.

C: Well when someone sees an acoustic guitar the may think Funk and when they see an electric guitar the may think Rock, but they can’t see it as an instrument, as an object that creates a certain type of tone.

NL: Fine, but you have to admit that the project for The Freedom Tower was an all out Rock aesthetic, the photocopied fliers the drum kit…

C: Yeah OK.

NL: And what about the Moore space project where I came in and you guys said “get out, we are busy!”

C: Well we were having internal problems at that point so it had noting to do with you. You just showed up at the wrong time when we were having issues with the Spanish people.

NL: I just saw drinks and thought I’d have one and then they didn’t have a mixing spoon so I went back to the studio and made a wooden spoon.

J: Nothing personal, really.

Myr Hind

Image courtesy of Viking Funeral.

NL: OK, is ibett yanez your manager, is she part of the group or what?

J: Well, you know there is always a fifth Beatle…

C: We can’t help but ask all our friends, people we know, what they think about things we are working on and Ibett is a close friend so how could she not play a part. Were always working on things.

NL: Do you think if you start to get successful-ish things will start to break apart? Like most collectives do?

J: It would be nice to become so successful that we become dickheads and we can’t talk to each other. Rich you know to the point were we can only communicate by E-mail.

C: Yes looking out over a beautiful view wishing we could still be in some stinky van together.

NL: The thing about Viking Funeral is the name sounds like a kind of music that’s already past, there is some nostalgia there, I don’t know what to call it, but that thing that happened in Sweden in the early 90’s.

J: When we came up with the name it was just funny that a Peruvian and a Puerto Rican would call themselves Vikings and go at the art aggressively.

C: Also I think if you think of yourself as a band instead of a collective then your approach changes too.

J: Yes artists always seem to have more of a stick in their ass than a musician would. So if you think like musicians maybe you’ll work out as artists.

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Image courtesy of Thomas Hollingworth.

NL: You guys play at Churchill’s and there is this glow around Churchill’s, this scene… formed around a single bar. Do you guys feel part of that scene? Or are you playing there because it’s the only place that will let you play?

C: When we’ve played there it’s because we were asked to play there, to us its just a venue really. But I think a lot of people really hold something to it because…

J: Well its one of the only places you can go here in Miami without seeing an Ed Hardy shirt so its refreshing that way. Nobody has a sweater over their shoulders you know?

NL: So what are some other places you’d like to play besides Churchill’s?

J: Churchill’s and if not there then get noisy at galleries.

NL: How about Shuckers on 79th street?

J: Yeah Shuckers or the Alehouse might be kind of fun…

NL: What about The Ukelele bar on Biscayne?

C: Is that by Secrets?

NL: Yeah not far from Secrets.

J: We’re Hams, we’ll play anywhere.

NL: But you are not trying to manage yourselves…

J: We try to manage as much as possible, but as people who’ve never managed anything really… We try to do the best we can.

NL: So would you want a manager who could see what you are trying to accomplish and help you do it?

J: It would be nice to have someone with a set direction.

C: I think also Viking Funeral comes from a direction where… well, you’ve been using this word “Scene”, we ask, what is a scene really? Are you part of a scene? Am I part of a scene? Is anyone part of anything really? And so Viking Funeral has to do with that also. Just making your own thing, if Churchill’s lets you play, cool, play there. And if another place happens then great, play there too, and if five more become available to us? Sweet! We’ll do that also.

J: Yeah Goo was around for a hot minute.

NL: Who?

J: Goo, it was up the block from Churchill’s, and it was a venue. But it was so quick… That by the time we heard about it, it was already closing down.

NL: Yeah…

SKULL FKR

Image courtesy of Viking Funeral.

J: But we’re much more prone to playing anywhere than showing artwork anywhere.

NL: You wouldn’t show artwork anywhere? It’s funny because there seems to be a trend here in town of showing anywhere on purpose, anywhere with a capital “A”. It might even be called a strategy.

J: Yes but we can’t do what we do just anywhere.

NL: So no ArtFusion for you guys?

J: What is that?

NL: ArtFusion is the gallery which is part of the Bang Bros. Conglomerate who are the inventors of the pornography phenomenon the Bang Bus.

J: OK I’ve heard of that.

NL: So Bang Bus was a huge success and it spawned Bang Bros. that is an entertainment company and they do adult entertainment, but other things as well such as ArtFusion Gallery.

C: You know a lot about it have you shown there?

NL: Yes I would like to.

J: What do you want to show there?

NL: Ha Ha. That is a perfect example of ‘anywhere’ though.

C: I think we’re more interested in making our own space, not so loaded… we like empty spaces with not so much history usually. Which is different than going somewhere were people are banging in buses for example.

J: Which does not sound bad by the way. So yeah, basically we like to work in a site specific way.

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Image courtesy of Locust Projects.

NL: OK noted. What about the underground issue? Its such a reactionary polarized thing, you have the choice of The Opium Groups’ clubs or you can opt for the “Underground Scene”.

C: Of course, but lets not forget that “Underground” is here to sell too.

J: And what is “Underground” anyway?

C: Yes, what do you mean by “Underground”?

NL: That which we just spoke of, the “Underground” created to sell…

C: You mean like ArtFusion?

NL: No, they seem closer to the original meaning of “Underground” than the perversion we are talking about.

C: So which “Underground” are we talking about?

NL: The one in which Paramount makes an Indy film for example. The seller’s “Underground,” a kind of simulated black market. Whereas ArtFusion is just “Underground” because no one knows about it. (Its on the corner of North Miami Ave. and NE 40th St.)

J: Yeah but you figure; nice space, decent budget, good lighting. And they may not be so stressed about selling.

NL: I heard some of their actors show there which is really interesting.

C: Like photography? Or video work?

NL: No… I think you need to go to one of the openings.

NL: And then there is Adamar…

J: Well we would not be interested in showing in a place like that. But then again they probably wouldn’t be interested in showing us either.

NL: Probably not.

J: Yes.

NL: You don’t have to tell me anything specific about what your working on, but whats the general idea for the future?

C: Were trying not to make objects. That’s what the installations are trying to get to.

J: We also want to get back to typical stuff like music and cheap little pamphlets. Maybe some CD’s, EP’s, because, yeah, it has been feeling a bit too artsy. Back to the fortress of solitude.

NL: Will you be pressing a record?

J: We would love to but it does cost money.

NL: Not that much…

J: About a thousand bucks, I think all of our projects together amount to about a $1000.

C: Yeah we have this old photocopy machine that’s how we made all the fliers for the show with Gean anyway. We also invested in pens and Sotheby’s catalogs[.]

For more information please visit: www.thevikingfuneral.com

This post was contributed by Nicolas Lobo.

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Viking Funeral interviewed by Nicolas Lobo