|Edward Monovich, A Day With The Goats #8, 2013|
BR: You've got some fine collages of which I was privy to see in your studio, of which A Day For The Goats 8 was one. Why don't you start with telling me what the inspiration was for the series and the genesis of what got your mind into the particularity of this wild terrain?
EM: While in grad school, I had a chance to chat with Paul McCarthy who presented his “Heidi” film to us. At the time, his emotionally charged version of the Swiss classic made an indelible impression.
When the opportunity recently arose to take a mini-sabbatical in Switzerland, the Heidi story resurfaced. Combine this with an early childhood fascination with Switzerland, viewed through the lens of American pop-culture and “A Day With The Goats” was born. As a child I experienced the Alps via Disneyland’s Matterhorn ride, heroic tales of Saint Bernard rescues, James Bond’s “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” (I painted in Mürren, where this movie was filmed), and the original 1937 “Heidi” film, starring Shirley Temple. So, in anticipation of my trip to Switzerland, I picked up a copy of Johanna Spyri’s book and read it cover to cover.
At its core, “Heidi” is a story about humanity’s connectedness to and dependence on nature. At a time where climate change is tangible and millennia-old glaciers are melting in front of our eyes, (I witnessed this while hiking in the alps this summer), this theme seems particularly relevant. Goats are also a prevalent theme in “Heidi” and in my drawings. In the book, Heidi forms profound and metaphorical relationships with many of the village goats. In my collages, the goats are depicted as wild ibex, which were nearly extinct in the 18th century.
The form of this project arose for pragmatic reasons. I knew that I would be hiking to remote locations in the Alps. So I measured my pack and built the largest drawing board/easel that would fit inside. This allowed me to carry my materials and paint in plein air, in some amazing places. I also collected fragments of alpine Kitsch, that splice their way into works. In ADWTG #8, the foreground is a cardboard sliver taken from a local 12-pack.
BR: Its interesting to hear you explain the formation of this series in such detail, as it reflects the way the works are layered and loaded with a rich landscape of imagery. In terms of retaining the background of the Swiss heritage of the inspiration, I see you have integrated text from what I could guess is German phrases from your travels? In this collage it is as if the goat/man is calling to the Riccola helicopter almost UFO thing and to the rock of nature tattooed with the phrasing. One speaks to the other and to the other...and how is it you make a decision on the inclusion of your text?
EM: The inclusion of text usually happens intuitively in response to imagery in the collage. For example, while painting the heart-shaped flowers in the foreground, I learned that they are called: "Vergissmeinnicht," which means forget-me-not in German. For me, this phrase has poetic resonance with the imagery in the drawing. To add mystery, the phrase is whispered by a shadow-puppet cast on the rock. Meanwhile, the ibex calls to the Ricola-endorsed copter (which happens to be an Aeryon Scout: a drone currently used by Homeland Security). At that time, I was reading a "Filly Fairy" comic book to my daughter and found the phrase: "Darf ich deine Flugel anfassen und mir etwas wünschen?" which means: "May I touch your wings and make a wish?" The drawing already had a bit of fairy magic, and I felt that this text would enhance that quality.
For me, landscape has become a vessel for imagery, symbolism and cultural detritus. This is an idea that I've worked with in the past, but it has a larger role in this series. Maybe its because the Alpine landscapes have become important characters in their own right.
|Edward Monovich, A Day With The Goats #3, 2013|
BR: In addition to the conceptual parameters of the chosen imagery of your collages, I'd like to ask a question about the not-so-obvious part of these works, and yet an important quality to how they optically work: what is the role of your use of push and pull visually in these works?
EM: The Heidi series has given me the perfect form for investigating push-pull. Firstly, when I painted in the Alps, I was mesmerized and overwhelmed by naturally occurring spatial shifts. I would stop to appreciate a tiny blue wildflower, then glance upwards to find monumental peaks, then turn to see a deep, dark gorge at my left. Delicate and fuzzy meet jagged and rocky. Add to this mixture an infinite color palette of vivid greens, blues and yellows that morph quickly from warm to cool and light to dark. I find the alpine landscape to be a playground of tension. The inclusion of collaged elements and patterns allows me to engage the picture plane, immediately adjacent to vast panoramas. It is also important that the type of space in my works reinforces image content, so there's a union of form and function. In the case of "A Day With The Goats," spatial tension echoes a feeling that things may not be as they first appear, in this world.
|Edward Monovich, A Day With The Goats #10, 2013|