SIX OF ONE: RYAN V. BRENNAN
Six Quick Questions with One of My Favorite Artists
In the Field with Lori Zimmer
I first became friends with Ryan Brennan when he, along with Laura Pinello and Mollie White, showed his work at SCOPE New York Art Fair in March of 2010. We spent the days of the fair dancing to a ten minute history of hip-hop mash-up that blasted from two of Brennan’s custom boom boxes. All the while, visitors checked out his Cinemallage Series, which is part video, part sculpture, and features a story shot in stop animation on the sculpture. Pretty cool stuff.
He has since held impressive shows; one at the epic and beautiful National Arts Club in Gramercy Park, an installation and party on Gawker Media’s roof, and a giant choose-your-own-adventure installation in the seventeen feet high windows across from MoMA, put on by Chashama. That particular event was kicked off with an opening reception in a party bus. His street art has been ripped off by other artists–the most sincere, and most fucked up, form of flattery.
Ryan Brennan is one of those artists who is in a constant state of creating. His work encompasses all mediums–video, mixed media, painting, drawing, and even performance. And he seems to excel in each arena.
Lori Zimmer: What are you currently obsessed with?
Ryan Brennan: As an enlightened modern gentleman of the 21st century, I suppose my carnal hunter-gatherer instinct manifests itself in a sort of image hoarding obsession. For the longest time I used to spend several hours a week roaming various thrift stores and antique shops, scavenging outdated textbooks, photo books fabrics, and illustrated books. But recently, I’ve turned my hunt for imagery out into the everyday world. Armed with various cameras, I’m constantly capturing pictures and video that I later combine in my video and collage work.
LZ: Describe your work in three words:
RB: Non-linear perceptual riddles.
LZ: What are your favorite recent exhibitions?
RB: “Milstein Hall of Ocean Life” at the American Museum of Natural History is a constant wonder and favorite. It’s more captivating and otherworldly than any extraterrestrial show on Cable. My other recent favorites were Ryan Trecartin “Any Ever” at PS1, as well as this year’s ”Living as Form” by Creative Times Summit.
LZ: What is your favorite place and why?
RB: There is a large tree standing in the countryside of Shandon, Ohio. It once held my childhood tree house. Every couple of years, I make the long pilgrimage out to find it and although the wood and nails of the ramshackle structure have since faded away, the tree is as tall and proud as ever. This tree holds many of my fondest childhood memories and has evolved into a kind of symbol. It reminds me that the simple things in life are often the most wondrous and enchanting.
LZ: What is your go-to karaoke song?
RB: I like to hum along in the back of large groups as they scream their hearts out to karaoke staples like Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” or Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”.
LZ: What book has most influenced you?
RB: I was most inspired by the poetic and contagious passion found in Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer, which consequently lead me to become a big fan of Fyodor Dostoevsky because of Miller’s repeated references to the Russian author. I love Dostoevsky’s amazing ability to convey the many psychological complexities of human nature within his many wild characters. In non-fiction–or whatever you’d call it–Yoko Ono’s Grapefruit is a very sincere and gentle book.
LZ: By far, who is the most loveliest columnist in NYC?
RB: Well, forgive stating the obvious cause everybody knows it’s Lori Zimmer.
Ryan Brennan is a Brooklyn-based artist who has the coolest cat ever. He recently bought a cat for his cat.
Written by Lori Zimmer
Edited by Meaghan Coffey
Images Courtesy of Ryan Brennan
Design by Devon Pentz
Images Courtesy Ryan Brennan