Catching Up With Katelan Foisy
Catching Up With Katelan Foisy
This is your second appearance in fIXE Magazine, what was the reaction the first time?
The reaction was great. I was really honored to be featured with amazing people like Margaret Cho, Stoya, Stark Arts, and Lux Berlin. The biggest response was from people who knew me growing up. I was really awkward looking as a kid. I had frizzy hair, braces, and a face full of freckles. It wasn't until I was in my mid twenties that I started to grow into my look. Now people that I grew up with read the interviews and are flabbergasted that it's the same girl.
Your first interview is the #1 most popular on the site, to what do you attribute your popularity?
It's more like to whom. Warren Ellis posted a link on his website. Warren is like the nexus of the internet. He's introduced me to half the people I know, and if I didn't meet them through him or through his personal site, then it was through his message board Whitechapel. He has a way of bringing creatives together. I can't say enough good things about him. Other than that, maybe it was the red lipstick.
You've recently released a memoir called Blood and Pudding, can you tell us a little about it?
Blood and Pudding chronicles my teenage years with my cousin Holly and boyfriend Brian. It takes you into a world of obsessive-compulsive relationships, drug addiction, first loves, and untimely death. It is based on journals and microcassettes of road trips Holly and I kept during our friendship. We were obsessive about documenting everything and had a pact that if anything happened to either of us we'd finish the book for the other. I think that frantic need to document came from an inner feeling that something would happen. Unfortunately she died and I felt I owed it to her to finish the book. The book is hard to read at times, as it was hard to write. When you're a teenager, you are so vulnerable and don't even know it. Your emotions are at an all time high, your desire for recognition, and individuality are soaring. It's awkward, it's invigorating. It's the most intense time of your life and you have no idea where you are going, so you just go, no matter where that road takes you, you just go. My favorite review is from Dan Holloway at Eight Cuts.
"Blood and Pudding is a celebration of life and all that means. It deals with tragedy and fragility, using little more than the words of Katelan and her teenage best friend Holly, which Katelan obsessively recorded on their adventures. One of THE great accounts of teenage life. Best release of 2010 so far."
-Dan Holloway Eight Cuts
I started my book tour in the UK and Dan was really amazing at putting it all together. The London and Oxford audience was wonderful, open, and receptive. It was really the perfect place to start the tour. It was also where it was described as "Sid and Nancy meets On the Road" it's the perfect description.
What was the experience of putting Blood and Pudding together like?
Putting the book together was probably one of the most difficult experiences of my life. Not only backtracking and finding all the journals again, which were scattered around from moving so much, but also reliving through words the most painful moments of my life. I was terrified that people would judge me. I was terrified that old friends would hate more for keeping such huge secrets from them. I was terrified that people would call me a liar because I had kept everything so hush hush. If it wasn't for Jess Tilley, the woman the book is dedicated to coming forth and saying, "I remember all this, you guys confided in me." I might not have put it out at all. The scariest thing you can do is to open yourself up, and I did that taking a leap of faith that I would be understood; and that both Holly and Brian could be heard and understood. Really the book is a love letter to them. They were the greatest loves of my life. But I also know by writing this and releasing it that I was letting go. You have to let go in order to let new wonderful people and things in. While it's nice to reminisce, you can't live with ghosts and say it's the future. I needed to move on.
Can we expect to see more writing from you in the future?
I was going to take a break but recently I have been called to write a book on guerrilla self-promotion. So I'm putting together a proposal for that. Other than that I'm always writing on my blog and I'm currently pitching a few articles to some incredible publications.
You've also embarked on a long term cross media project with poet Mike Lala, can you describe it for us?
Basically it's as simple as words on flesh. I wanted to create a series of beautiful images combining poetry and photography. I wanted to depict beautiful moments, like viewing an incredibly intimate interaction between two people. I'm about creating worlds within worlds through art. I'm going to pull Mike in on this as well as his perspective on the project is different than mine but flows together so well.
Mike: Oh, I was thinking a lot about the poem as object, one which, visually has a form on the page and cognitively takes up some space, whatever space that is. I think then that the body and the poem become sort of cross-metaphors for each other in the photographs, one being fetishized or objectified for the way it looks, its form, and the other held in some impossibly high regard for the way it escapes its own form and accomplishes something beyond physicality. Whatever post you assign the one, blurs or inverts when looking at the photographs of both. Then of course there's the act of photographing the process of getting the poem on the body, and the photographer thrown into the mix, so you've got three people in a room playing with a lot of ideas. I don't really know what'll come of it.
You can find it at: http://lieandindite.tumblr.com/
What inspired this collaboration?
It started with this idea I had. I've always thought a man writing on woman was incredibly sexy and an art form itself. I didn't have anyone in mind and then I met Mike. The first time I heard his poetry I knew he was the person, so one day in Union Square Park I asked to see his handwriting. It was the perfect boy handwriting. I have this obsession with handwriting and his fit in with exactly what I was looking for. It took us a while to find photographers. At first I only wanted one friend to shoot it but as Mike and I started talking more, we realized this should be an ongoing project. We both thought it would be interesting to have a bunch of different photographers photograph it, each with their own perspective.
Mike: I think the ways my poems look when they're handwritten is, well, better than when they're typed up. They're more nuanced, more visual, and formatting things like spacing and indentation aren't standardized like they are on a computer. That and there's a topographical aspect of writing on a body, so the form of the poem is really determined by where I am writing on Katelan, rather than where I want to put stresses or line breaks, or where I want there to be blank spaces on the page.
How do you choose the photographers involved?
Mostly they are friends. I know an amazing amount of photographers in the city as well as out of. Sometimes I see their work and it just clicks. So I email them. That's how we got Balthazar. He had commented on one of my images and I had just been looking through his portfolio, so I emailed Mike and said, "what do you think about him?" Mike emailed me right away with a definite yes. From there we started a dialogue over email. Balthazar was heading into NYC so we booked the date, I found a sleazy motel and we went. The photos came out beautiful and we are so happy with the results.
Mike: Balthazar was great to work with. The place was the Elk Hotel—one of the last hourlys in Times Sq. We had four people carrying a bunch of bags with lights and other photo equipment, so they made us rent two rooms, though we said we only needed one. The two guys looked kind of freaked-out, and then really surprised when they came to tell us our time was up. They were expecting something different than a photoshoot, I'm sure.
You're also house mates with one of my favorite photographers Lux Berlin, what's it like when the two of you are together?
Basically it's like living with Dr. Seuss's Thing 1 and Thing 2 but scantily clad. We have a blast all the time. We're constantly creating, even if it's just with an iphone. There is never a dull moment because there is so much to do and make. We laugh and laugh and laugh. It's all about the joie de vivre with us. We have 5 minute dance parties in the morning and paint and photograph all evening. We have underwear parties, drench ourselves in electrical tape and take photos in the bathtub. It's magic.
You and Lux have also started an artist collective, can you describe it and your goals for it?
It's called "The Desert" and it's a collective under the guise of a cult. Basically it will be a place for artists of all kinds to promote their work. Each person will take an "official" cult photo and their only mission is to create. My friend and mega talent Jasen Rolfe is creating a tattoo for the cult. Tattoos can be temporary, permanent, stick and poke or imaginary.
We eventually want to work with galleries promoting the artists in the group.
Dan Holloway writes:
The desert is a place of testing, of aloneness – with God, with the Devil, with the sound of the wind and the silence of the endless white noise inside our heads stretching out like a drowning pool leaking to the horizon. It is a place of cleansing and rebirth, of desiccation, preservation, mirage and fire. It is the place where we encounter the Other, and the Self, the new, the eternally old, the broken and the healed. It is the outside, the strange, the empty embracing familiar, a place we run from, a place we run to, an endless drum that echoes the pulsebeat of our blood, calling. Calling. Calling.
From Into the Desert by Eight Cuts
How do you find the time and energy for all these different projects?
I live off coffee and barely sleep. I try to take it one day at a time and do one thing each day. I hate to be bored so by doing so many projects I'm constantly in that state of excitement. The best way to get a lot done is to just organize projects into priorities and do one thing that will help you attain your goal every day.
What advise would you have for someone who aspires to be a prolific creative force like yourself?
Do everything you're not supposed to do. Use social networking, create a world that you want to live in. If you're not happy with your surroundings, work towards changing them. Really it all comes down to believing you can do something and then just going for it. Fortune favors the bold. I had a basic idea of what I wanted and I fine tune it every day. The more focus you have, the better the chance of those goals manifesting.
See more of Katelan Foisy:
Photos by Balthazar
Kitty Kitty Bang Bang
Veronika von Volkolva