Back in August, actor and New York artist Leo Fitzpatrick curated a show with his friends that paid homage to the work of Ray Johnson; collagist, correspondence artist and forefather of pre-Pop and Fluxus sensibilities. The spirit of that fun continues in 'Not Garbage', a book project with OHWOW Gallery that serves as an extension or annexation of the exhibit.
Dazed Digital: Can you explain the title?
Leo Fitzpatrick: I just thought it made sense to call a book Not Garbage, even though the majority of it was going to be the scraps from people's studios; like newspaper clippings, weird drawings and stuff they might not necessarily show as artists. Stuff they were more likely put on their refrigerator, that's the kind of work I really like - unfinished pieces and things that make people smile that they wouldn't put out in the world as "serious artists." The book was also supposed to be a play off of zine culture. Originally I wanted the book to be a zine but slightly more tangible, like a nicer project than a photocopied zine.
DD: I was going to ask about the aesthetic, it's done really facsimile style...
Leo Fitzpatrick: Yeah, it's supposed to be kind of fun and not taken too seriously. Ray Johnson was a great innovator of mail art and photocopying and sending people photocopies. I didn't necessarily want to keep it low brow, but I wanted something that you could throw in your back pocket and bring around. If it gets damaged that's better, you can write phone numbers in it, do whatever you want. The last thing I'd want you to do is take it seriously.
DD: This gallery seems like a good setting for it?
Leo Fitzpatrick: This book is very much about community. What OHWOW and Aaron try to represent is about community and no matter how successful people get or how big the community actually grows there is still these weird little home bases and I think OHWOW is definitely one of them. This bookstore is obviously a labour of love, I don't know how they even pay their rent. So for my book to be in this store and produced by them is great. I probably could have made it with other people and I might have even made a dollar from it but I'd rather do it with Aaron and OHWOW and Al and Mills and know that it's coming from a genuine place.
DD: Do you have any favorite additions that popped up while putting this together?
Leo Fitzpatrick: Yes and no. Basically I'm a fan of everyone in the book, I already know their work, so them giving me a piece of paper that they've scribbled on is so exciting. It's not meticulous, it's not over thought, it's just them in the studio being dorks and having fun. I feel like the older you get the harder that is to do, you start trying to rise to other people's expectations. It's harder to just have fun the older you get.
I was a very close friend of Dash Snow's so whenever I get a chance to revisit his work that's always amazing for me. It's super inspiring, as are most of these artists. You know, running around today getting all these guys to sign the book and sitting with this incredible group of artists, that's kind of the most inspiring thing about it for me, just the fact that I'm blessed enough to know these people. If they like it that's all I care about. Everyone else can throw it in the garbage but if the artists like it then I'm happy.