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Dash Snow at Annka Kultys gallery
"Polaroid Wall"Dash Snow, courtesy Annka Kultys gallery

Relive this bloody, raw and real account of downtown 00s NYC

In this archive interview, Dash Snow discusses his distaste for technology, the unbearable state of society and why art is like punching someone in the face

There is no myth surrounding Dash Snow – most of what you’ve read or heard is likely true. And if it isn’t, then – at least, when we were still graced with his presence – the artist probably wouldn’t (or couldn’t) argue with you. Many times Snow confessed to years of memories that he'd blacked out – mostly due to alcohol or drug use – noting it was the reason he began taking photos in the first place.

Never one to shy away from the blurred lines between work and life, for him, both were intrinsically linked, and he produced collages, took Polaroids, crafted installations and made films in an authentic documentation of his life in downtown New York – alongside contemporaries like Dan Colen, Ryan McGinley and Ryan Trecartin. In 2006, the Wall Street Journal flagged him as a rising star, which led to inclusion in that year’s Whitney Biennial, Day for Night, and the group exhibition USA Today at London’s RA. Tragically, but perhaps inevitable given his lifestyle, he died in 2009 at 28-years-old of a drug overdose. Ahead of the first solo London exhibition of the late artist’s work, which opens tonight at Hackney Road’s Annka Kultys gallery, we re-publish this interview from the September 2006 issue of Dazed & Confused, by then art visual art editor Jason Jules.

When did Dash Snow first appear in this current incarnation?

Dash Snow: I was born and raised in New York, and that’s where it all started. Basically, I was disowned and kicked out of the house when I was 14. I was homeless until I was 18 – that would be when I started wilding and figuring shit out.

What exhibitions and shows have you done?

Dash Snow: I did a show at the Rivington Arms called Moments Like This Never Last. I’m doing another in September called Silence is the Only True Friend that Shall Never Betray You. It’s about how unbearable society has been in the last three years.

In that time, you ran with the street scene. I’ve seen various pieces of art, photography, and even t-shirts like the Bin Laden Youth one. What was your inspiration?

Dash Snow: It was based on Hitler Youth, as well as a punk band called Reagan Youth. There’s a scene in Stand By Me in which the kids are walking on the railroad tracks, singing a song about ‘being without armour in a savage land’. That’s basically what the work is about. 

What is your main outlet for your expression?

Dash Snow: At the moment, collage. I’m doing community service in LA. I’m here for two months, working for the city, moving from shady motel to shady motel as you can’t get a lease here for less than six months.

Sounds pretty rough.

Dash Snow: It is, and I have to try to fly to New York in the middle of all this to a do a show with some friends. It’s going to be called American Concentration Camp, which is pretty self-explanatory.

“I’m an idealistic dreamer. I’d like to find a solution to all I see that’s problematic, but I’m not sure there is one. I feel there’s an inevitable apocalypse and I just want to have a good time until it’s over” – Dash Snow

It includes some pretty astonishing images. especially if you know some of the people you’ve photographed. What’s your motivation for those shots?

Dash Snow: To document the times, memories… We were kicking it pretty hard back then, and there are months, maybe years that I don’t remember. I’d have my camera with me all the time, and it became instinctive to snap a picture.

Is there a specific feel you were aiming for?

Dash Snow: I don’t really know much about technique, I just aim to ‘keep the moment’. I really don’t like photography because I’m quite anti-technology. I don’t have a cell phone, a computer or a car. I feel like technology is a fool’s game.

Many artists are pro-technology because it produces better results. Would you describe yourself as an artist?

Dash Snow: I consider myself to be a free spirit. I’m a modern man in search of a soul. I can write something down to capture the moment, that’s why I don’t need technology. A lot of it is a venting process, almost like punching someone in the face. This is my reaction towards frustration and living in a police state.

Are you an idealist or a dreamer?

Dash Snow: I’m an idealistic dreamer. I’d like to find a solution to all I see that’s problematic, but I’m not sure there is one. I feel there’s an inevitable apocalypse and I just want to have a good time until it’s over. I think my generation has embraced technology and music. There’s no real good punk anymore. The only two bands doing it right now, are Gang Gang Dance and High On Fire. This generation is lost, Iraq is Vietnam, but back then it was cool to protest and now it’s not – you can’t even congregate without getting arrested.

You seem to be pretty bitter at the world.

Dash Snow: I’m not bitter, I say ‘don’t be bitter, be better’. I do art, that’s what I do.

Hello, This is Dash is the artist’s first solo London show and will exhibit at Annka Kultys gallery on Hackney Road until 16 April 2016. Click here for event information