A Dozen : Mark Dilks

Pile On Looking

We are back with a new edition of A Dozen, this time with the man himself, Mark Dilks. Dilks has provided his artist statements which can be read below this piece entitled Take Out My Eyes. Following this portion, you will then find the interview that MNP conducted with the artist. Enjoy.


Stuff, piles up, gets lost in a pile.

Unknowingly, we point out the mass and not its parts.

The construction may not be the definition.

Why define?

What if the definitions we grow up learning are wrong?


form to make sense

out of what?

I want my art to be free of definitions.? But, I wonder if that is even possible.? Painting, for example, is bound to art history and has set parameters and biases for creation attached to it.? To paint with no expectations must be liberating.? I study art and art history but art with different origins than mine inspires me.

In art history, DADA excites me because it playfully accepts chance collisions and the equality of all forms of creation.? A painting holds as much artistic weight as a collage, table, fork or engine and vice versa.? Prior to DADA, being an artist meant being in control of a particular medium or skill.? As embodied through their usage of collage, the Dadaists rationalized the benefits of learning from a lack of control.? No single medium, application or style defined DADA.? They ignored previous definitions in order to create their own.?? For me, an object can be moving and still, surface and space, beautiful and ugly all at the same time.? What do you call an image object that consists of both paint and video?? It is all in one, without hierarchy.

Aesthetic democracy was directly related to serious political, social and ideological reevaluations.? The Dadaist were from all over the world, all classes and practiced all artistic forms.? They were not limited by place, society, politics, or material.? DADA said it was everything and nothing at the same time.? It was thought that fought against the history of thought.? Through an intellectual rationalization of non or anti-intellectual behavior, DADA inherently denies the rationality it uses to define itself.? Still, it accepts itself for what it is DADA.

DADA inspires my outlook on art and on life.? But, could I make a DADA painting now?? Would it even be one?? No.

To reference DADA, I set up a Still Life with a wooden horse, dada is french for hobby horse, but quickly painted it into a bird which I called DODO.? A Dodo is an extinct bird which could not fly.

It is also a poo.? In my painting, a wooden bird attempts to fly out, of congealed ooze.

Parameters for perception are useful when trying to define but can get in the way when trying to create.? I enjoy looking into the muck to discover new beginnings, but I honor my teachings by using traditional genres, Still Life, Landscape, Portraiture, as a starting point for my paintings, a staged reality as ground for a departure.? Through painting I try to capture my experience of observation through dissecting the parts of the observed.? There is an archeological mining that gets played out in the application of paint and the scraping away of surface.? Digging through paint to find an experience of looking.? Reality is destroyed, reassembled and animated into a new life.

In a Still Life, I assemble inanimate objects that depict real live things, a wooden horse, a hand sown doll, a foam eyeball, a figure made out of clay, and paint them into a world that they inhabit.? The Still Life objects are usually quaint toys or innocent objects found around the house.? The world I paint often tears these kitsch objects apart.? The painting embodies a collision between the innocent and the violent, the clean and the tarnished, the trained and the untrained.? PEACE in pieces.

Within a painting rules are off.? A form is made out of ooze.? A line rests in space and surface.? A chair becomes a talking hippopotamus mouth.? A shadow becomes a ghost.

DADA helps me liberate my own theories of painting, my process, my paint.? It allows me to breathe life into objects never thought to be alive and to keep options open.

But I paint,


The Couple and You

Are you in Boston?

No, I went to college in Western Mass, at Hampshire and moved back to my home town, Philly, after I graduated five years ago.

Please describe your professional background and aspirations.

Over the last few years I worked part time for a variety of art institutions in Philly doing whatever I could get work in. ?Then I got a job as the Arts Coordinator at Please Touch Museum, Philadelphia’s Childrens Museum. ?The job consisted of designing and implementing open ended process driven activities for our visitors. ?After doing a residency at Vermont Studio Center this past April,? I decided to focus more on art and get back to VSC as quickly as possible.? I left my job and went back to Vermont in September.

Now, unemployment is the rage and I am raging away.? Working on projects. Grad school apps. ?Looking for part time work. ?All that fun stuff. ?I have a studio with some buddies who are starting a website, A United Front, which intends to unite local creative communities from a variety of cities.? The website goes live mid January 2010,? www.aufphilladelphia.com, check it out!? We are in the process of working on a video documenting a large painting and some public readings of collage books, I’ll be doing.

I’m also in a band, Deep Possum.? If anyone wants a loud rock band for a show or party, holler.?? http://www.myspace.com/deeppossum

On the road to making it big or being happy, never forget to do you. ?Stay true.

Can you tell us a little about your relationship to Dadaism?

It fucked and birthed you, me and everyone. ?It is everything and nothing. ?It is political and it is full of shit. ?It is about never being right because it is impossible and you’re wrong. ?You need to except life for what it is, uncontrollable, lived. ?Besides that, I’m not really sure. ?I’m not a Dadaist and this is all wrong.

What categories do you mesh in your work?

I paint a lot and am trying to get better at it. ?I do collage and am trying to destroy it. ?Sometimes these two things overlap in the same piece. ?Collage books mesh a lot of elements; text, paint, printed matter, illustration. ?I want to do performances, public readings, of these books and document them. ?At Hampshire College, I projected live video streams of the studio, the painting, me and the audience onto my painting surface and painted on top of it.? This process has stopped because I don’t have the equipment any more. ?Bummer. ?I think it is very important to mesh categories, and I will continue to push possibilities.

Some other factors of my work… thoughts upon the original and the copy, texture, touch, image and object.


Which artists have influenced you the most?

Friends, strangers, plumbers, machinists, contractors, city planners, etc. ?Everything and everyone I encounter, it is hard to pick.? Here is a few: Tristan Tzara, Dana Schutz, James Castle, Dubuffet, Diebenkorn, Forrest Bess, David Hockney, Duchamp, CF, Jay DeFeo, Peter Doig, Lynda Barry and Ryan Trecartin.? The list goes on and I didn’t even include musicians.

Is the Dodo bird really extinct?

Yes.? It was last spotted in 1690.? The bird couldn’t fly.? The name Dodo comes from the Portuguese word for simpleton.

Where are you trying to travel through your chosen artistic mediums?

I’m not sure; although I know I’ve only scratched the service.? I once said I wanted to make paintings that engaged the viewer like video games do.? I don’t think my paintings do that, but it is an interesting idea to strive for.

How do you view collectives/operatives/groups in contrast to art non-profits/foundations?

I like them both.? It is important to have a group for support as well as pressure.? But, all groups can start to be insular or shut off.? It is good to be public and be seen by people who don’t go to galleries.

Dodo Head

Do you believe that once you reach a certain skill level in the arts, the chances of your "success" are seemingly random?

I think it is hard.? I don’t know what "skill" level means because it is subjective.? Of course "talent" has something to do with it but maybe drive is most important.? In the end it may come down to being in the right place at the right time.? So, make yourself visible and seize opportunities as they arise.

Where would you like to see new or emerging art to come out of next in the world?

Any place I’ve never heard of, or somewhere I’d never expect.

How do you think most artists have reacted to transitioning from the Bush era to the Obama doctrinocity?

Kept working.? I think the recession is important though.? There is less money for the arts but art quality is up.? Also, when people aren’t buying as much, artists feel more comfortable experimenting (Or, so I’ve heard).?? Times are tough all around though.

What makes memorable art stand out and why does some art reach out to more consumers than others (is pop art dead?)?

Dodo Grin Face

Pop art will never be dead in a consumer society (which? America certainly is).? This question is tough.? What’s memorable to me is different for you.? Do we like an image or do we like hype and how it snow balls?? We like both snow balls and art with ballz too.? For what it’s worth, a challenge is exciting.

How do you view the traditional roles that galleries, critics, agents and fairs have held in the past with the convergence of digital new media and commerce?

Galleries, critics, etc. are as strong as ever and they wont go away, just change slowly.? They are trying to catch up to the speed of digital media and commerce.? It is important to realize that although you can see tons of images on the internet, it is far from the experience of the event or object.? That is why galleries, fairs, etc. will always be around.? Go see art and music live!? But don’t forget to check in on My Ninja Please and be well.

::Images courtesy of Mark Dilks::


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Posted: January 12th, 2010
at 3:58pm by Koookiecrumbles

Categories: contemporary,a dozen

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