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AE: I’m looking up the definition of ‘modern’ … which is: ‘Relating to the present or recent times as opposed to the remote past’. Okay. ‘A person who advocates or participates in a departure from traditional values.’ Just so we know what the parameters are [laughs].

UF: Well if you think of modern art, modern art is now an old thing.

AE: Yes, yeah! Modern art is actually vintage art now [laughs].

UF: Exactly [laughs].

AE: Like … that’s kind of how I think of my own practice in the studio. You thrift on the internet now. You know what I mean? Even museums! You almost go thrifting for images that have been made in the past and you’re like oh yeah, I like this guy smoking a pipe but no one really smokes pipe like this so maybe this guy’s, like, smoking a joint … You know what I mean? I think for me, that’s the way I think of modernism or modern art.

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UF: Like a bong on a La-Z- Boy?

AE: I mean yeah … because ultimately they’re only making those images or communicating those ideas because that was their lived experience. I think, maybe this is going on a tangent but maybe I’ll bring it back home: because of history, because of books … you know now we have so many other perspectives and places to source from, the internet, social media, all these places, it’s hard to say one thing is fixed forever. Right? Whereas, I think when I was sort of coming up … you had books, maybe you had a little bit of the internet. Like somebody read a book, they put it on the internet – like a xXerox copy – there was no interpretation. Whereas nowadays, not only are you dealing with let’s say the Mona Lisa, you have so many perspectives on the Mona Lisa. You have so many ways of looking at … what’s her face? The Warhol?

UF: Monroe?

AE: Marilyn Monroe, yes!

UF: My kids don’t even know who she is anymore.

AE: Yeah, exactly! You’re dealing with … it’s like a simulacra of a simulacra. It’s like a copy of a copy of a copy. So to me modernism, or modern, is an artefact.

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UF: In some way the image becomes just a concept.

AE: Yes.

Both: The image is a concept!

UF: And the concept is just shelved, displayed for everybody.Say you show me a photograph of an advertisement that’s shot now, that’s based on a work you did, but they didn’t ask you to make that photo for the ad.

AE: It’s like they’re thrifting.

UF: But what I always associate with modern is a sense of utopia. In a way that you think there will be progress. There is a promise in the word modern. That the world will be a great place. That humanity moves in one direction. Everything builds and finds solutions. I think the time we’re in seems more of a disintegration of utopia and some kind of reality is creeping in on one end and some delusion on the other end. Simultaneously, as cross-currents that kind of wash over this perspective.

Excerpt from Middle Plane Issue No.8 (Winter/Spring 2024). Read the full interview in the magazine by ordering your copy here.

Photographer: Colin Dodgson