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Petra Cortright: Void Mastery / Blank Control

We discover how the unpredictable artist was censored by YouTube and chat about webcam videos, her fascination with Martha Stewart and why she was inspired by Photoshop to create her new prints

In her first London solo show, the Santa Barbara-based artist Petra Cortright, who has resided in USA, Japan and Germany, is showing a selection of dream-like videos and prints that embrace digital elements in a playful manner. Cortright works in a very intuitive way and likes to experiment, usually casting herself in her videos recorded with a webcam. When making a video, Cortright has to be alone and in a situation that's a combination of boredom, energy, non-judgemental stance and a wise mind.

A big inspiration was Photoshop CS5 in combination with me buying a wacom tablet

Comprising stock image, software effects and action that is wonderfully weird and poetic, the artist’s work does not attempt to “engage” the audience, but simply presents a world that exists independently from them. In this unique domain, Cortright’s mysterious and unpredictable character becomes more compelling with each view.

I really admire Martha Stewart. I feel like she is historical to me already

Dazed Digital: What was the inspiration for Void Mastery / Blank Control?
Petra Cortright:
For the series, a big inspiration was Photoshop CS5 in combination with me buying a Wacom tablet. I got some extra "art" pens for the tablet too. I was really into the new technology they had in CS5 for the realistic brushes that mimic real paintbrushes with bristles and strokes, so was making a lot of images that were really painterly. The videos that go along with the images are nice. I guess they illustrate the mood well.

DD: How is the exhibition different from your previous shows?
Petra Cortright:
I’m showing prints and, in general, producing physical work is still pretty new to me. The prints will be on canvas, which is something I never have printed on before. Last spring I had a show in Mexico City where I had shown some prints on satin. Those were very ethereal and delicate and draped. These prints are super pigmented and really... heavy.

DD: What was your first video?
Petra Cortright:
The first video I made was in 2007 called VVebcam, but YouTube deleted it like a month ago, because I had violated their terms because of my description on the video, not the content of the actual video. It had this huge list of words that are like "default" Internet spam words like tits, vagina, nude, Britney Spears, KFC, Taco Bell, etc. They said I was really bad to do that and they deleted the video. I was really surprised because I wasn't really paying attention that I had broken the rules, because the video was up for like five years. But I guess when Google bought YouTube their terms changed about spam or something. But thankfully the work is preserved and archived on Rhizome Artbase.

DD: Which historical figure fascinates you the most?
Petra Cortright:
I really admire Martha Stewart. I feel like she is historical to me already.

DD: What excites you about the contemporary art scene?
Petra Cortright:
It’s always great to meet people that I have known online, you meet them in person finally and it’s really interesting sometimes.

DD: What projects have you got planned for the future?
Petra Cortright:
On February 1, I'm participating on a panel for Transmediale in Berlin. Then, I've been in the process of working on a project with Badlands Unlimited and I will be releasing something with them this spring, which I’m so excited about. There’s been a lot of hard work put into that. Also, there is something in the works for the fall with a Berlin gallery called Club Midnight, which is also exciting, and surely something with my number one Preteen in Mexico City.

'Void Mastery / Blank Control’; The Composing Rooms; Rich Mix 35 - 47 Bethnal Green Road, London, E1 6LA, January 27 - March 4, 2012