Interview: Me Otch
Interview done a few months ago with Me Otch, which has been languishing in my hard drive. Please excuse the lame introduction. I'm back in California, by the way.
When the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the sillhouettes of some of the victims had been burned into the walls and the streets, an eternal photo-imprint of the last seconds of their lives. Though they are subtle, soft imprints, their presence communicates an absence, the space where love once was, where hope melted into the air. A lot of street art reminds me of this, particularly photo-realistic ones like the surreal tableuaxs of Me_otch: ghosts that accompany us on our travels through the city. Me_Otch’s ghosts spring out in random street corners in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. They are peeping toms, loving giants from a netherworld behind the bricks and mortar, flaring out into the toxic light of Brooklyn to make sure that we’re ok,ay or maybe just to play with our heads and our increasing wartime insecurity.
Where did you grow up, and how did it influence you artistically
Me Otch:I'm Cajun. I grew up in Lake Charles, Louisiana. It's a small town in
southwest Louisiana. Growing up there had a huge impact on me artistically.
I used to go to New Orleans all the time. Jazz, Zydeco and all sorts of
music are very important down there. I thought this was normal all over the
country when I was growing up but now I realize how lucky I am to come from
It's definately a heartbreaking time to be from Louisiana. You say
it had a "huge impact" on you: is there anything specific in the
architecture or the music or the people that altered your perspective?
It may be hard to just pick one or two things, but perhaps there are
themes you've noticed in your work that originated there.
The attitude of the people down there has really had an impact on me. Most of the people there are poor as dirt and deal with tough times constantly but they are the happiest people you could ever run into. They know how to celebrate and have an uplifting outlook on life. They can also appreciate expression and art.
Why are you working in the medium you are working in? What other cross-pollenation does it have with other art you have worked with?
I went to Savannah College of Art and Design and graduated with a BFA in
photography in 2001. I've always been into photography. My mother is a
photographer and I grew up using old cameras she would get rid of.
Photography worked well for me simply because I'm not very good at drawing
and could always get what I wanted through the lense. Today with the
digital technology and printers the possibilities are endless. I love
printing these images and pasting them everywhere I can.
When did you decide to translate your photography interests into
street art? Was there anything about traditional photography that
I had a friend from college move in with me and he is a graffiti painter. I used to go with him and lookout whenever I could. He really opened my eyes to the art that is on the streets of New York. I was and still am blown away. There is a freedom to it that isn't like traditional photography.
What do you see us the relationship between the characters in your art and your audience?
To tell you the truth, the worst part about street art is that you never
really know your audience. It's not like I have a gallery show anywhere
that I can get feedback from people who want to go and see the work. On the
street I don't know who wants to see it and who is forced to look at it
because they must walk by it every day. The fact that my work
rarely gets sprayed over or vandalized is positive reinforcement to me.
How does it make you feel, personally, when you see
photorealistic street art, yours or anyone else’s?
I love seeing the realistic values and having things larger than life. It really amplifies anything that is put in your face.