Featured Interview | Ziggy Sawdust (and his Chainsaws from Mars):
Creative Name: Ziggy Sawdust
Real Name: Glen Richardson
Playa Name: Zeugma Method
Brief Description of self: Misfits bridge society
Long Description of self: I was born in Montana we moved to Chesterfield County Virginia when I was in elementary school. I discovered I always a a Yankee and an atheist in a land of hostile Baptist Confederates. Reading dancing and independent thought were sins. I sin. It makes some folks uncomfortable.
I went to VCU. I discovered Fluxus, performance art and power tools. I also realized the importance of the three legs of the practice of art, the artist, the audience and that thing between them that we call art, be it visual, performance, audio, text, or some other human endeavor. I like doing things wrong in some way. Using a chainsaw to carve portraits while you sit there just seems so wrong, but the more I do it I keep discovering more subtleties and nuances.
Project Name & Details: Ziggy Sawdust is an ongoing project of live chainsaw portrait carving. That means someone sits in a chair and I try to carve as much about them as I can in a two-inch thick plank of pine in about 17 minutes.
Medium & why: I’d like to think I play the part of a born again faith healer who wields a chainsaw. It’s sort of like a faith healing ceremony. I’m doing so many things that are out of fashion and harken to some of our darkest times.
You could say I’m subjecting the person in the Chair of Death to a trial by chainsaw that leads to a trial by fire with the roles of prosecutor and accused switching mid performance. The audience is always the jury with the model becoming the final judge.
Every portrait, for me becomes a high wire balancing act without a net. My focus has to be on the model. They have to be comfortable and confident. I have to control this machine that eats through whatever it touches without it touching something precious.
If you had one piece of advice to give another aspiring artist, what would that advice be?:
Find the right wrong thing to make the wrong thing right.
Favorite part of the creation process: I love the bravery of the folks who sit for me and how emotionally accessible they are willing to become and the trust they share.
The most challenging part of the process: For my part it’s difficult not to show my own self doubt and critical judging of every little mistake. Too often I only see my imperfections more than the successes. It can leave me a bit stupified. Dealing with the pressure of performing in front of an audience doesn’t come naturally. I’m a pretty solitary person by nature.
Inspiration: I was asked if I would tow the trailer for Camp Contact to Loveburn 2016 in exchange for a ticket and meals. As an aside I was told I could bring whatever of my own art I wanted to show to this, my very first burn. No one in burnerworld knew me, no one in Florida knew me so if it didn’t work out who cares? Now I know friends in burnerworld and friends in Florida and elsewhere because of Loveburn.
How creativity betters my life: I’d like to think I’m creating experiences more than objects. The portrait is an artifact of the event. I get charged from the audience and I would like to think the model has a physical momento of that time they displayed amazing grace under fire.
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