Rachel Lord vs Brad Troemel

Two 89plussers on their art, The Jogging and "The Rick Ross approach to reality"

bradrachel89plus

During the hecticness of day two of the 89plus Marathon, we collared one of the most arresting speakers, Brad Troemel, after he delivered his normally hour-long lecture "Athletic aesthetics"  in double time for a packed house. The artist-curator-writer has a rapid fire net-art project called The Jogging, which pumps tens of thousands of pieces of art out into the Tumblrsphere and beyond. It's a system to fight fire with fire, giving art a chance to compete with the contextless swirl of the internet. 

On the lawns of London's Serpentine Sackler Gallery, he pulled aside the artist Rachel Lord, in town from LA with friends, to chat with briefly while we let the dictaphone listen.

Dazed Digital: Can you tell me about your 89plus activities? 

Rachel Lord: My 89plus artist persona is Lathen Da Vinci, an unethical teenage bio artist whose medium is the use of animals. Part of my own practice as Rachel Lord is that I don’t harm animals so it was very important to me to hire somebody else to harm the animals for me. The final part of the proposal was for dog flipping. You pick up dogs from a pound, get them spa treatments and then sell them on. Now I’m really willing to see dogs as collaborators in my process. 

Brad Troemel: When we travelled to the moon, at least when the Russians tried it, didn’t they use dogs first? So there’s a rich tradition of dog-person collaboration right?

I feel like my muse over the last few years has actually been anger. I feel like my medium has been anger, so I do really feel appreciate that

DD: What conversations led to your friendship? 

Rachel Lord: This one we’re having right now! This is kind of the forming conversation, because actually until this point Brad has been a judgment position above me – we met when he was a judge on the panel of an art prize. We have mutual friends, which is how I know of him, and obviously art, writing and his academic work. You are actually witnessing the formation of a friendship.

Brad Troemel: Do you think I’m an academic writer? I always wonder. First off, people think I’m a Marxist, which I’m always confused about. 

Rachel Lord: There’s hostility in everything that you write. That’s like totally Marxist. 

Brad Troemel: Is Marxist just being mad though? Is that what we’ve come to? 

Rachel Lord: I feel like my muse over the last few years has actually been anger. I’m actually working on an Angry Birds screenplay now called Angry Birds Earth, which is the third of a three part series of scientologist movies. Battlefield Earth, After Earth and then comes Angry Birds Earth to be the Angry Birds movie that is due out in 2016. And also some really, really troll-y actions. I feel like my medium has been anger, so I do really appreciate that.

That’s like one of these Rick Ross approaches to reality. Where you're revealed to be the opposite to maybe what you proposed to be but nonetheless it doesn’t deter you in any way from living out that fantasy

DD: Brad, your talk was in part about encouraging a “WTF” from audiences by spreading images through Tumblr with your site The Jogging. Is there a troll-y side to The Jogging? 

Brad Troemel: I don’t think we’re trying to troll them in support of the work reaching audiences outside of the art world. It’s not like we’re laughing at them as they reblog. If anything they are laughing at our pretension in thinking that it could be only belong to a specific cultural sphere. 

Rachel Lord: It’s kind of reverse trolling. 

Brad Troemel: That’s like one of these Rick Ross approaches to reality. Where you're revealed to be the opposite to maybe what you proposed to be but nonetheless it doesn’t deter you in any way from living out that fantasy. Everyone comes to a common realization that your enactment of the fantasy is like a moving one – “Oh, it’s still a good character!”

DD: There's an amazing interview with Freeway Ricky Ross (the ex-crack mogul, now broke, who Rick Ross named himself after) in the new issue of Esquire and there’s a poignant mention of his cracked secondhand Blackberry screen his girlfriend got him off Gumtree. The ex-correctional facilities officer Rick Ross meanwhile is rapping about “crack dealers living like hoop stars / black marble all white floors”. I love how accepting we are of this. 

Brad Troemel: Yeah! You can insert a Baudrillard quote at this point and say I said it. 

For more head-to-head interview with the movers and shakers of 89plus, head here

More Arts+Culture