The Art of Culture - An interview with Alfredo Salazar-Caro : "No Burgers, No Snookies"

Posted 2/18/2011 by 8Track Honey in Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Last week I sat down for an interview with Chicago/Dallas based visual artist Alfredo Salazar-Caro. I initially became intrigued with his work after viewing his blog and a video of his interactive piece "Sensory Deprivation Suit". I never thought I would find an artist who's collections are so in tune with some of the biggest cultural phenomena of my generation, after discovering the inspiration of Alfredo's work and the message he conveys to society, I was sure I had found my artistic soul mate. A true Art Star.

Mexico City
Art Star: Do you practice meditation? Religion?
Alfredo Salazar: I meditate. I try to do it every day; I think it's important especially living in a place like Chicago, but I am not religious at all. I believe that morality can be achieved without divinity or organized religion.
Art Star: So you draw your inspiration from your environment and meditation...any major experiences in life? Life changing?
Alfredo Salazar: I'd say that my work streams from my experiences in society mostly. I grew up in Mexico City which is very different from America, Dallas or Chicago. So a lot of my work from last year was about my experiences in Dallas as a foreigner...Home is a very interesting place for me. Mexico City is like a beautiful woman that is clutching a knife behind her back, you have to approach it very carefully to truly enjoy it. It's a very stressful place, there is always movement...I love it, even if I know it may shorten my life expectancy to live in the city, I always need that place.

 The colors in [Mexico City] are bright...pinks, yellows, greens. The food is amazing, the streets always smell like food or smog...whatever. My favorite part is the culture, there is a place I used to love to go to called Plaza De Las Tres Culturas. It's this spot in Mexico City where you can see a pyramid, next to a colonial church, next to a modern building and it really showcases that richness of the culture. I'd say that all my work ultimately has a base on culture. 

 Pop Art                                         
Stormalong Album Cover
Art Star:  Tell me about the album cover you just did.
Alfredo Salazar: Well this cover is for my buddies solo project, Stormalong, he is from dallas. He's got this surf/tribal/tropical style.
Art Star: So did you draw some inspiration from his music or just his personality?
Alfredo Salazar: Well, I definitely drew inspiration from his music, it really makes me want to go out and sail around. Also, the name stormalong comes from the show flapjack. It's a show about this kid that wants to be an adventuring pirate, Captain Knuckles.
Art Star: Do you work from both ends of the spectrum, creating from more modern culture art or experimenting with heavier elements?
Alfredo Salazar: Yeah, I like pop because it's easy, and it's immortal. Pop will never die. No matter how far we go in the future, culture will continue and hence pop will continue. It's also an escape from the more cerebral work that I do. I put a ton of thought into my main body of work and it can get exhausting, so I vent by making silly album covers, prints, and street art.

100% Machine Separated from Alfredo Salazar-Caro on Vimeo.

As Fake as it gets
Art Star: You also make models of processed food.
Alfredo Salazar: They are casts actually, Big Macs.
Art Star: What message are you trying to send to the people about what we ingest?
Alfredo Salazar: Well, to say that processed is bad for you is kind of an overstatement, so I wanted to take it a step further…silicone hamburgers. It's as fake as it gets.
Alfredo Salazar: It's really about superficiality, when we eat at McDonalds the experience is extremely superficial there is no intimate relationship with our food anymore, you just get in line, get your food, eat your food, and walk out. The patties have been frozen for months, packed with chemicals and stuff, and we don't even think about it.
Art Star: So do you try to stay away from stuff like this? Processed foods, Jersey Shore, things that basically microwave deep experiences?
Alfredo Salazar: Absolutley, I hate the Jersey Shore, I don't understand how people can find that entertaining, I'm also a vegetarian so no burgers for me. No burgers and No Snookies.

The Shock Doctrine
Alfredo Salazar: The Sensory Depravation Suit was more rooted in my interest for psychology
Art Star: Have you worn the suit yourself?
Alfredo Salazar: Never actually, wouldn't want to go through that.
Art Star: Why? Are you afraid of the experience?
Alfredo Salazar: Not afraid, I just prefer the observer role for this kind of work, it's really an extremely experimental piece for me in a very literal sense.
Art Star: What are the typical reactions made after wearing it?
Alfredo Salazar: It's very constrictive; the way it works is that your touch becomes translated into sound which in turn substitutes your vision, so it's a very frustrating experience…from what I’ve heard. The suit is also padded, so it's dark and warm and there is no way of unzipping it from within, so once you are in, you are in.
Art Star: That's deep, were there any particular psychological studies you turned to, experiences or stories that prompted you to create this suit?
Alfredo Salazar: yes, I've always been interested in 'mind altering' experiences so I focused on the study of perception for about a year and then about 3 months ago I came across a book called The Shock Doctrine. It talks about the experiments that the CIA conducted [still conducts] during the 60's and 70's to try to erase a person's mind. Sensory deprivation chambers were used, the idea is that after a period of 72 hours of sleep/sensory deprivation, the subject experiences vivid hallucinations. At this point the experimenter would be able to introduce thoughts that would become embedded in the subjects mind, some inception shit.

Sensory Depravation/ Synesthesia Suit 1 from Alfredo Salazar-Caro on Vimeo.

Future Projects
Art Star: What projects are you working on now? Any artists you admire that you'd like to work with? Any mediums you'd like to experiment with in the future?
Alfredo Salazar: I'm working with my friend David Cox ( a grad student at SAIC) on a little project about white trash, it's going to be a robotic kiddie pool basically. He grew up in Kansas; I lived in Dallas so venting about the south's trash culture was bound to happen. The pool will be mounted on a robotic base and it will react to people's presence in the gallery, you'll see it later this year.
Alfredo Salazar: I admire…Olafur Elliason who offers a residency program in Berlin, I'm going to apply to it after school, and also Luis Gispert. Luis Gispert is a guy that I'm keeping track of right now; he's based out of NY. I met him earlier last year and I might be working for him this summer.

 See it for yourself
Art Star: Where are you showing right now? Where can we find you and your past collections?
Alfredo Salazar: I have a couple of shows lined up here in Chicago, one at a gallery called Cat Cave and one at Happy Dog…that will be later this year, march-april. I have some stuff at Maxwell-Collette gallery here in Chicago also, some burgers, I showed them alongside Banksy's and Shepard Fairey. It was rad.
My collections are mostly in Dallas, there's a piece of mine at Brookhaven College and there is a piece on Commerce street at a town home across from 500X.

To learn more about Alfredo Salazar and view his entire body of work visit his website and his blog.

8<3Track Honey

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