Kalan Sherrard Interview

  • Posted on: 7 November 2014
  • By: worker

From Sea Weed Special

Kalan Sherrard, called “NYC’s Most Avant-Garde Nihilist Subway Performer” by NYMag is a multidisciplinary artist living in New York City. His performance-based work involves arrangements of found objects, loaded text, hybrid sound, and offbeat costumes. His puppet shows, which have been described as “better than Tim Burton,” utilize the deformed creations of combined objects. He also draws, collages, creates installations, and directs photography projects.


SM: Are you in love with anybody?

KS: Yesterday I got so sad about this. What is beyond suicide when suicide is not enough, she asked herself.

SM: Do you believe in anarchy?

KS: Not really. Or not in That Way. I am fascinated with and cosmically inspired by anarchist ideology and historiography and “ethics” and a lot of that is tacit and de facto in the socius. The word literally means Against Archons. She used to call herself a Philosophical Anarchist. That could mean anything. So-called “Chaos” is so obviously an impossible tautology, and in actuality just different kinds of order - and insofar as anarchism suggests a rhizomatic social or semiotic model outside of pyramidal hierarchy, yes of course. It’s funny to call myself an anarchist because when other people introduce themselves to me as anarchists my internal response is usually ‘hah that’s stupid and naive, you must be a very dogmatic puppy.’

I could talk about this for a long time. There’s actually a Anarchism 101 Syllabus on my website. (enormousface.com/syllabi.html) I have been planning a series of interviews with ex-anarchist for some time now, so if you know anybody who fits the bill send them my way.


SM: What is your work about?

KS: Am I supposed to say it’s De centering, A-Centrifugal, Borrowing Onto A Milieu Of Otherness, Valorizing Communities Of Difference? I am against this question. Yesterday a good friend told me what she valued in the work was the inscrutability or its mapping, the way I weave together Cosmic Nihilism and Dental Hygiene and Object Oriented Non-Philosophy. I do what I would want to see, largely because I’ve been looking for a long time and haven’t seen it. I do write a lot about it. This is a secret page about the Cart: http://enormousface.com/performancecart/pressrelease.html - which is an homage to William Pope L and Deleuze. It’s an urban blip, an anomaly of being. I like to loose the references of the work in it’s About-Ness, to offer it as an open map, so usually I have a list or itinerary of conceptual possibilities people can bounce around, off of, in between…


SM: Why do you perform underground?

KS: Isn’t it ironic, or actualized, or fitting? Weather. Jeffrey Lewis’ song “Cult Boyfriend”… New York’s public transit system is the perfect situation for my work in every respect. Street work doesn’t oblige anyone anything, it loosens the rules of engagement and is a much more permeable sphere of “producer-consumer” relationships.


SM: Do you ever get depressed down there performing underground in the subway station?

KS: All the time. I hardly know of a more complete emotional roller coaster. It’s so easy to feel really used and objectified in the worst way. Something about reciprocation… It’s so regular that I get a huge crowd of people who are loving what I’m doing, even moved and surprised and touched, and then everyone takes pictures and cold-shoulders me. I make a pittance on the subway and live on maybe two or three hundred dollars a month that I make from doing those puppet shows, and money isn’t the only way to show appreciation for somebody, but I am perpetually floored by the callousness of, actually especially just young white people. This is largely where my distaste of photography came from viscerally, so many people take a picture and use it as a way to avoid interaction or encapsulate an Other walled away from themselves and then take that person or thing for granted. I am so affected by the way people look at me after they take photos.


SM: What kind of music do you like?

KS: Ostensibly, my favorite band is Les Georges Leningrad. Pop music is getting really good now though. My favorite song right now is OG Bobby Johnson. I like a lot of no wave. Crollo Nervoso. Michael Jackson. Public Enemy. I only like the best music. I mean I have incredible taste in music. Actually I don’t like music at all. I grew up going to hardcore shows every day at second avenue pizza in Seattle, and people used to get really into it, and I think because what I do is pretty multi-sensory, I need that kind of stimulation too and I get often get really bored and disaffected at normal concerts - there has to be a visual element or some kind of bodily violence or else I’d prefer to just have music as a background thing. Caroliner and Sleepytime Gorrilla Musuem do good live sets. Recently I’ve been slowing down music a lot. Riot Grrrl (Huggy Bear), Queer Rap (Le1f), Contemporary Classical (David Tudor)… Grauzome, Crass, Windir…

SM: Where do you get the ideas for all your weird puppets and stuff?

KS: “Thoughts are like smells that come off of your feelings” // A lot of them do actually come from literary theory and philosophy. I’ve been trying to make a field of anuses/penises/vaginas for a while. Also I think my tactility is such that I can sort of see objects extending and retracting through time. I work with what I have, with what I find, and try to stay open to possibilities, so I’ll envision something morphing or changing and then create that. Also actualizing drawings.


SM: You recently said that you believe in violence. Why? Is that in line with some nihilistic, punk philosophy or something? I’ve seen you throw a chair across the room because somebody whispered about God in your ear during a performance. Have you ever been in a fight? Are there any limits for you when you are performing, or in life? It seems you often take things to the extreme.

KS: Ha hah extreme violence, huh. Sure, i guess/I hope. That chair…. came up in another interview about chauvinist norms. I’m not sure if that guy deserved it or not, I think I was actually a guest in someone else’s bit that night. I definitely eschew moderation. I used to organize fight clubs. Apparently there’s queer fight club somewhere in NYC. I wonder if it’s able-ist though. I’ve learned so much more about oppression and exclusion in this society since breaking my leg.

"Are there any limits"? Historiographically, philosophically? In terms of Nietzsche-an norms? We owe so much to the futurists too. I think my interest in violence has to do with liberalism. This kind of gentle alienation that it seems like people are socialized into approaching the world through. In Spanish there’s a word, "choquar," which basically means, "impact," and I think it’s important to do that with the world, to assert life, vitality, etc. There’s a difference graceful nuance and suave indifference…Also I’m really against almost everything in society (and maybe thermodynamics?) and politically, I’m much more Malcolm thank martin… #thickness #messiness

SM: Have you ever hurt anybody during a performance, has anybody ever hurt you?

KS: Yes. It used to happen more. Often people destroy my things. I don’t think anyone other than me as ever gotten really hurt in a ‘performance.’ Once a person broke their thumb in one of those fight clubs I organized, and i got weird in a mosh pit once with these porcelain dolls that shattered by accident and a few people and I got cut and I felt really bad about it. But I try to be actually very careful and gentle with people, and I think am usually pretty good with consent things. I try my best anyways.


SM: What is your favorite performance by you?

KS: In Florida we did this thing a couple years ago at a dump.fm show where we tried to Make The Internet Understand Itself: we put an only TV on top of an old typewriter to make a kind of analog computer and tied strings from its brain to all the audience, and distributed the printed text of the HTML text of the Wikipedia article describing the internet, and had everyone type it into the chat room and the typewriter and yell it out while we projected it onto ourselves naked in strange costumes and did penitential obeisance by rubbing wet dirt we later found out to be dog shit on ourselves while all these little totemic fetishist props and balloons flopped around everywhere. Everyone got really into it and it got really Dionysian, and there was a synergistic moment where it actually did seems like the internet was beginning to come into some kind of demonic life self-awareness of huge evil power despite our couching and aiming of the piece as a failure. There’s a decent video of it somewhere.

KS: Speaking of Florida, I’ve been invited to do a big art show with James Concannon in Miami during Basel this December at Space Mountain Gallery in Little Haiti. Here’s a foretaste:

AOS International presents “Fold The Black Flag,” an entre into Revolutionary Nihilist Pataphysics. The exposition features an historical ‘Folding’ of Dadaist, Anarchist, and Post-Deconstructionist Non-Philosophies. Bodies in varying states of medical dissonance and decay (More Dead White Men) stand as analog reflections of capitalist collapse paradigms, a series of Death Marches through the organs of the beast, the construction and installation of hypertextualized totems throughout the urban landscape, a serialized Noise Opera. The paintings, intervened items, text assemblages and combines of the polycephalous AOS body simultaneously desacralize and reify the crumbling detritus of self-cannibalizing refuse-culture into a phoenix of asocial third gender euphoria. Anti-Object, Anti-Art, Anti-AOS.


SM: Do you consider yourself a performance artist?

KS: There’s some kind of balancing act that has to happen between gravitas and humor that can be hard to strike. I think that’s what keeps me interested and engaged, it navigating this space between the horrifying and the absurd, and what’s successful when it is successful. People are constantly describing me as a performance artist and while I understand it as an explanatory genre word, or a communicative means, it’s a term I really deeply reject. For me, it’s similar to screaming “faggot” as a derogatory, but less direct… I actually really disdain most “performance art” and want nothing to do with it. Maybe I’m an anti-performance artist. That sounds too stupid too. Part of the reason why I describe what I do as not-happenings. I’m working on this page about it, with a sort of itinerized poem and all this amazing footage my friend Sergio put together. He’s a genius: http://enormousface.com/Not-Happenings.html (the Ebola video is there too)


SM: Why are you singing about Ebola? Do you think it’s funny or annoying that everyone is talking about Ebola? Everyone in such fear about Ebola…

KS: I am so interested in Ebola. We have drawn a mystical/anti-semiotic holy trinity between Ebola-Isis-Ferguson. We did a huge Ebola performance in Times Square Saturday. I was terrified Thursday after that man died vomiting on the flight from Lagos to JFK and they let the 150 other people on the flight go out into the city. Totally terrified. It’s probably a racist disease, or a fear that abets racism and settler-colonialism at best. A lot of people in Times Square were terrified. A lot of people thought it was hilarious. It seems like most of society behaves in this kind of perpetual suspended disbelief and it’s strange to force people to make up their minds about something - if this thing happens, how do you behave, do you laugh and keep living, or become terrified. Or what is terrorism… I decided after that that if a huge plague does erupt here, I’m going to stay in the thick of it and get really weird.


Here is a link to a still-secret page about Kalan Sherrards not-happenings: http://enormousface.com/Not-Happenings.html



I don't care about this. At all.

this is fucking lovely.

Hipster bullshit.

Fuck the above posters. This is great. Moar pleez.


why not?

Great like every damn hipster in NYC. Yes.

Go get kissed by a cop. You will suddenly transform in a citizen. Oh wait...

I will always love Kalan because Kalan used to scare the shit out of tourists at Pike Place Market, until the Market asked him to leave because of it.

My favorite part of this kid's life was when he left Seattle.

Or the part where he talked his special talk at an identity politician trying to accuse him of "cultural appropriation" for wearing facepaint at a Seattle bookfair. That was actually an outsanding performance.

or when you gave him that patch

I don't remember giving him a patch. What kind of patch was it? I mostly avoided/ignored him because he was such a pain to talk to. He sounds like someone on a permanent drug trip perpetually doing a Thousand Plateaus impromptu imitation, no matter what you're talking about, and even though his understanding of anarchism is seriously on a Chomsky On Anarchism level.

if someone had no understanding of chomskys anarchism (state history) but some other form of anarchism, wouldnt it be just as bad because both are missing some aspect of anarchism?

What? Could you please think a little bit more about how a reader might understand the sentences you write before you post them? What the fuck is this? "Chomskys anarchism" is (state history)? What the fuck does that mean? "But some other form of anarchism"? But WHAT ABOUT some other form of anarchism? They DO have an understanding of some other form? They don't? What are you trying to say here?

Anyway, if what you mean is "isn't it always equally as bad if someone has knowledge of only one type of anarchism and ignorance of other types," then no, it isn't always equally as bad, because some forms are interesting and exciting and others are not, and the point is to find ideas that produce interesting and exciting results, not to simply collect as much ideological knowledge as we can.

The possibilities of anarchism are pretty boring; the possibilities of anarchy... Limitless. From this point of view one will always have one's own position co-opted into the rhetoric of the idiot a-leftists that wish to revive the working class whatever. Good riddance. No need to prove shit. They bathe in their own uselessness; and someday, they will take a good bath and dispense with the water and whatnot.

This fucking kalan guy makes me want to carry out cosmic dada-esque creativity. That which cannot be ab(sore)bed will always be a sore spot for the state. Is this not what de Acosta was repeating concerning the unimaginable weirdness of Desert's mention, a post civ world where capitalism has receded? Fucking weirdos fucking explode my desires and I fucking love it.

It was really cool the time he left my city too.

moira scar?

What happened to the good ol' days when REAL artists imploded whilst fighting their internal social rev?

" It’s so easy to feel really used and objectified in the worst way. Something about reciprocation…"
The old argument, 'reciprocity vs reciprocation', external/internal, Jung's "Art is the manifestation of the masse's unrequited love for freedom" or Nietzsche's "Art is dead"?

No, just intellectual masturbation by liberal artists with a hot-air balloon self-esteem.

"It seems like most of society behaves in this kind of perpetual suspended disbelief and it’s strange to force people to make up their minds about something"

"found out later was dogshit..."

all of the identitarian allies who just want to know what they can do could learn a lesson from kalan. the vulnerability is amazing... and the antithesis of hipsterism.

More hipster bullshit.

"SM: Are you in love with anybody?

KS: Yesterday I got so sad about this. What is beyond suicide when suicide is not enough, she asked herself."

Two self-absorbed idiots talking to each other.

Artists are the worst. What a waste of space.

anarchy is monotony
slavery is freedom

orwell was liberal

What about the 200,000 other shopping-cart-pushing wingnuts in NYC and their performance art?
One time i saw a homeless man shit on the street in front of like 20 yuppies. I would say his work far exceeds this stuff.

*Artistic use of potential trigger, bigoted or otherwise hurtful language has been cleared by the morals and decency bureau following thorough review by the committee for public mental health and violent censorship.

I don't like these hollow bankrolled impersonations of me. They bear no resemblance and are barely adequate for the court jester. Please, entertain us, don't disgust us...oh wait.

That's right. This shit, it's disgusting. It makes me nauseous. It makes me ill. I don't like it. It's like getting malaria, cancer and aids at the same time.

I also am reminded of a game I used to play back in the day, we called it, anarchist or hipster. Basically, we walked around downtown and looked at all the tall skinny tight pant wearing white dudes looking down on everyone and tried to guess if they were anarchists or hipsters.

Things were simpler back then.

dis whory bell

"hipsters" and "anarchists" wearing "skinny tight pant"s "downtown" "bank in the day" or "bank then" = 2011

lol it must be like so hard to be an old, bitter 25 year old remembering the good old days of anarchy, three years ago.


Warren Buffet personally told me that instead of c notes to use several 20 dollar bills and to take him out of my schtick or he's gonna sue or something. Specifically, how many 20's, he never said.

"Pay attention to me!!!!!"
Cool art white bro.

thanks everybody! wow i never thought i'd make it to an.or!
i should take my friend's advice though and do a reddit AMA. everyone seems to have so many questions! and so many opinions! and nobody knows what's going on!
for example, let's parse hipsterism! how can we relate to this word! i'm tired now.
sorry, i am not trying to be glib, i often encounter the problem where my excitement reads ironically. when in fact, i am just above-normal-excitement-level. well! maybe i can start the mini ego-trip AMA here? seems like a bad idea. let's take a vote! who cares?! life is death! :D
can someone please translate my small words into bigger words! email me! (!) at riseup! haha! a crescendo of text!

Ok, let's start your AMA. First question: You're like a brain-damaged version of the host of Blue's Clues doing a performance art representation of what people who have never done drugs think drugs are like. Why is that?

Oh! also, i'd love to read all the super-contemporary anarchist literature to bring me out of my pre-chomskian syndicalist stupor! please link or email me all relevant informations!

recently we have been working on non-goal oriented street fighting praxes etc. well! i am all eyes and ears and orifaces! the clamour of being! sorry i am so peppy and keep yelling everything i say! #radicalanarchistpreppies :D ways of styling....

It's interesting you deploy the triple discourses of mental able-ism, performativity-representation, and drugs. All definitely things that have been cited before by other white bros doing reading. But ultimately a trinity I am going to reject. The equation to Blues Clues is kind of cool. To begin I do what I do because my analysis leads me to it, because it's what I would want to see, and because it seems good in the plural to approach this (even pseudo or faux) otherness metaphor. I can go on. I'm not sure how glib to be in my response. I suppose gauging irony and authenticity is the perpetual bugbear of online forums. "How vulnerable or open should I be"??

Is this the place? I'll get to Qs eventually. Might take me a few weeks though, I'm busy now.

Where's my money?

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