INTERVIEW WITH DEVON KEENE – Insensitive to the traumatic

Insensitive to the traumatic or seemingly romantic, each piece uses the symbols of drama to falsely suggest an honest experience. The stages that are set assist in establishing a distance between the viewer and the vaudevillian.
How do you relate the different art expressions you use (video, installations, photographs) with each other? 

Originally I began using photographic mediums, and the two dimensional image is still a primary factor in my work. The mediums used are chosen to appropriately convey the content of each piece. The images are highly influenced by popular designs in the fashion industry, and the films are exploring specific themes, re-contextualized. The installations are setting a stage for these themes or ideas. I found that constructing environments three-dimensionally addresses a sensory experience, which is something you lose in a flat image.

 If you have to choose between one of these mediums, which one would more relate to your personality?

There is a greater sense of control in the installations, an allotted amount of information is given to the viewer, and multiple factors play a primary role (visual, auditory, olfactory). Creating an environment that is a false and foreign experience for myself is something that interests me, and is constantly being pushed. The aggressive quality in the installations is a response to a specific material, and what role this material is playing.

I’ve given a personal context to the re-occurring materials in the work (wax, concrete, velvet). Each is representative or translated into a religious or hierarchical display, and this is a common thread throughout the work. The way I handle process in the installations is probably the most relatable to my thought-process, each piece slowly develops with constant adjustments until each detail is an appropriate, intended decision.

Can you tell me a bit more of the technique you use to make your artworks? Where does your inspiration come from?

A particular theme acts at the foundation, and slowly more information is added to create a specific event. The placement and handling of material is a gradual and specific process. Each component informs the next, and I attempt to create a completed experience versus a focal point on a specific object. The process is similar to building a set, and this reference to melodrama stems from my childhood background in theatre.
The physical experience for the viewer is a vital concern in the work, however there is an intended distance between the pieces and the spectator. The pieces are a witnessing of a previous event, one where the viewer is excluded from participation.

Do you plan to organize an exhibition soon? If so, where?

I’m currently a co-director of the student-run Crossley Gallery, in Sarasota FL. Through this I am organizing a three person group exhibition in the fall, which includes two of my peers and myself, as well as various other exhibitions for alumni and current students.

Edited by Matilde Casaglia 
Artworks by Devon Keen

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