INTERVIEW WITH OTINO CORSANO FOR FREE SAMPLE
Mount Saint Vincents University Art Gallery, Halifax, Nova Scotia


OTINO CORSANO: Your work travels beyond the neurotically meticulous, to a material-mindedness for each sculpture. Still, why the focus on refinement? Is the challenge of mastery alone (to duplicate form cross-materially) still an enticement?

KELLY RICHARDSON: The focus was never on the material as such, but the feeling associated with the futile repair, in this case. I set out to fail, in many ways – it’s obviously impossible to satisfactorily repair broken drumsticks with wine cork or cymbals with gold cigarette foil – but I had to give it an honest go to inspire the sensation that I was hoping to achieve. So the point wasn’t to duplicate form necessarily. With the clearly ineffective attempt at a true fix and any luck, I wanted to inspire somewhat of a heartswell, made palatable with a bit of humour.

OTINO CORSANO: Because of the fragility of your work Groupie (2001-2003) I understand you may have to travel from England to Halifax to personally install the piece. Can you describe the process involved in the sculpture’s creation?

KELLY RICHARDSON: The process is pretty simple. I’ve glued enough gold cigarette foil together to form a like thickness to the cymbals, pressed the sheets on the underside of each break to form its impression and trimmed as necessary. The ‘repairs’ are then fixed to the cymbals.

OTINO CORSANO: Your sculptures remind me of two early works by John Baldessari. The first consists of two photos of the same plate: the left one is broken and the right one is pictured perfectly repaired. A second work features a photograph of a man with one leg, paired with a restored photo showing the same, now two legged, man. I first viewed these works at a lecture by Baldessari, where he stressed the fact both works were authentic documents of restoration (as opposed to photographing the plate first, then breaking it for the second photo). This fact helped him to reinforce his belief in idealistic reconstruction as a fundamental impulse for art making. I think the works are more significant today given the economy of digital retouching. You are no stranger to digital processes, so I’m wondering about your views regarding the visual results of this integral performance of repair in your intriguing new media projects?

KELLY RICHARDSON: I am on the verge of completing a video of a minute-long tracking shot of a North American suburban street. The white-picket-fence housing comes and goes as we progress down the road, everything in its place – until we pass by a house that is spinning. I wouldn’t like to add up the hours that I’ve put into this project, but suffice it to say that I’ve been working on it fairly steadily for the better part of two years. While I’m fairly well versed with digital effects, to achieve a believable spin, I chose to animate it frame by frame, accounting for the time. I would guess that most people wouldn’t be able to tell I’ve put two years into creating the piece, but I’m not sure that I care. It was important for me to see this work as it will look upon completion. Similarly, I got the effect that I wanted out of Groupie – I’m not fussed about what I had to do to get it.

OTINO CORSANO: The material can be easily interpreted as ‘free’ given the relative accessibility of wine cork, bottle caps, cigarette foil and the like. Please explain your views of ‘sampling’ in this instance since it appears to be related to an ad hoc camouflage.

KELLY RICHARDSON: I was a bartender at the time that I was making these works, dreaming of making art instead of spending the majority of my time slinging beer. So I decided that I would do both – making use of the product of bars. I suppose I sample to make most of my work, both materially and conceptually – preferring to work in a fluid way, responding to things or scenarios that I find myself in. It’s an honest approach for me, appeasing my constantly shifting interest stirred by the stuff around me – including, most importantly, an effort to find/make things which somehow inspire affect. It allows for direct reference to the familiar, serving as a good entry point to the works, which then shifts into the unexpected.

OTINO CORSANO: Can you talk about your sculptural links to music scenes?

KELLY RICHARDSON: Again, previously I was spending a serious amount of time in the industry so was influenced by it. I’m quite jealous of the ease of music’s ability to provoke a reaction. At times, I hijack it.

OTINO CORSANO: Your work too has never been featured on samplesize.ca. Be honest: do you visit, view and read the site regularly? What are your thoughts of the online project from the point of view of a Canadian expatriate living in the United Kingdom?

KELLY RICHARDSON: Kelly Mark has asked me if I would be interested in having work featured on samplesize.ca and I am, though I’ve been busy with other exhibitions. I do visit the site every now and then, mostly to peruse the featured works. It’s quite important, in my opinion, to facilitate a project serving as a literal sampling of Canadian works (which lend themselves to the format, obviously), making them accessible to anyone online on the globe. In my experience, most people abroad know very little about the kind of work being produced in Canada. Hopefully, samplesize.ca will help to rectify that.