Uniquely cool. Shop our new patterned styles.

Episode 64
Artist Tavares Strachan

  • 26 min read

Episode Description

A discussion with artist Tavares Strachan. The Bahamian-born Strachan creates ambitious projects that intersect technology, politics and untold history. His work takes on many forms, but always challenges the viewer to question the validity of predetermined limits and narratives about accomplishments from the past. Working at the nexus of art and technology has led to his art being launched into orbit, as well as board seats at both the Rhode Island School of Design and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


Craig: [00:00:08] This is Art Sense, a podcast focused on educating and informing listeners about the past, present and future of art. I'm Craig Gould. On today's episode, I speak with artist Tavares Strachan. The Bahamian-born Strachan creates ambitious projects that intersect technology, politics and untold history. His work takes on many forms, but always challenges the viewer to question the validity of predetermined limits and narratives about accomplishments from the past. Working at the nexus of art and technology has led to his art being launched into orbit, as well as board seats at both the Rhode Island School of Design and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. And now discussion about the generational effects of invisibility with Tavares Strachan.

Craig: [00:01:08] Tavares Strachan, thank you so much for joining me this week on the Art Sense podcast. Tavares, normally whenever I speak with an artist, I like to start with a hypothetical, which is if you were at a dinner party seated next to somebody who has no idea who you are or what you do, how do you explain to them who Tavares Strachan is and what your work is all about?

Tavares: [00:01:31] I guess I would start by saying that I'm someone who is driven by curiosity, and I think that that curiosity is what drives me to explore as I've spent time in various kinds of exploration, from space training to deep sea diving to North Pole expeditions. And that same curiosity has led me to my artistic practice and my curiosity and my interest in research. But I also think that curiosity has led me to think about limitations differently. And I think that's kind of how I would maybe begin.

Craig: [00:02:08] Well, you know, you mentioned limitations, and it makes me think about the fact that you grew up in the Bahamas. And when you grow up in island, I imagine your reality, your identity is kind of confined. It's a limited space in lots of ways. I see your work kind of exploring kind of the limitlessness beyond where you grew up. Would you agree?

Tavares: [00:02:35] Yeah. I mean, I think a boundary for me at least is defined as a place that your mind can't travel. Right. That's the outline of what you what your the distance, the furthest distance your mind can travel as a boundary.

Craig: [00:02:52] Mm hmm.

Tavares: [00:02:53] And so I think I think one of the things you learn living on an island is once you leave, how much of it is perceived limitation and not real?

Craig: [00:03:03] That's, uh, that's really interesting. And it reminds me of this story. They used to tell it in cells. I don't even know if it's true, but the story that if you put a handful of fleas in a jar with the lid on, the fleas will try to jump out and they'll keep bouncing off the lid of the jar. And after a couple of days, you can take the lid off in the fleas, even though they're capable, will only jump as high as the lid of the jar.

Tavares: [00:03:30] Yeah.

Craig: [00:03:31] There's just something about what you're saying there in terms of the limitations being in your mind instead of physical limitations. It's kind of interesting.

Tavares: [00:03:41] Yeah. I mean, I think I think that the flea analogy, I think in some ways is maybe the basis of the human principle of colonialism.

Craig: [00:03:49] Mm hmm.

Tavares: [00:03:49] That you if you're. If you're in a position of power, you. You get to invent. The problem and the solution all at once and take credit for both of them.

Craig: [00:03:58] The topics of anti coloniality and you know, even just, you know, I had one guest one time who was talking about Benin bronzes and we kind of went into the history of the British Empire showing up and basically creating a problem for themselves to solve. You know, I know that your work touches on colonialism. I think I see it a little bit more in your paintings sometime. You know, growing up in the Bahamas, was that something that was kind of always in the back of your mind, you know, the relationship with the British Empire?

Tavares: [00:04:33] I don't I don't know if it was in the back. I mean, I think it was quite prevalent. I think it was and still is embedded in the style of government, the uniforms that the fire department and police department wear and the the general nature of how certain groups of people organize themselves and where certain groups of people of certain socioeconomic brackets live versus people who don't. So I think it's not only seen, I think it is implied and it vibrates in every aspect to that society. So so so I guess the question is, is there is there a space on an island somewhere where there's not a colonial existence?

Craig: [00:05:21] So at what point in your journey did you realize that you were going to leave the Bahamas and that the world was going to be a bigger place with more possibilities for you?

Tavares: [00:05:32] Yeah, I think I think I was always gone. I think I think one of the beauties of being an artist and there's lots of crazy potentially negative things about being an artist or at least existing in the contemporary art world. But I think what's beautiful about being an artist is I think once you. Once you kind of sign the contract, the social contract, I think you you the the good parts of you acknowledge that that enterprise and that practice is about freedom and what do you. So then the question becomes, what do you need to do to retain your freedom? And how do you how do you just not become trapped by the thing that you are inspired by or driven by or love? And so not practice for me is just like one that completely acknowledges that the at least the principle of it is about freedom. And although we fall short of that principle on a daily basis, the practice is about trying to at least achieve that freedom. And I think that was just. Something that. I was inspired by when I was just young.

Craig: [00:06:45] I think it's really hard to put put your work in a box because it takes lots of different forms. And your undergraduate was in glass. You paint, there's neon. Would you consider yourself more of a conceptual artist in terms that your work explores deeply certain concepts or themes? Or how do you think of yourself?

Tavares: [00:07:08] I think the idea of a box as a condition of Babylon system and I think Babylon can't put something in a box that Babylon didn't create. Right? So I think that I'm on a quest to find, you know, the voice of the people, really. And to make work for. A bunch of folks who've been ignored. And I think that. The brutality of being ignored, I think comes in many languages. So I think the multi-language approach only makes sense. In a place that has just been fundamentally ignored. And so I think the language that I'm speaking is the language of the ignored. And that comes in various forms.

Craig: [00:08:04] I hate to sound like a poet here, but, you know, I feel like there are some things kind of hanging on on that word of the one who's ignored. And I feel like the subject of your work are people who have been overlooked many times. And the exploration of who those people were is for the benefit of folks who have been denied the history of those people. So the one who's ignored is both the subject of the history in the one the history is written for. Right?

Tavares: [00:08:41] Yeah, I guess so. Yeah, I think I think there's this fundamental principle about how the West is decided to. To claim history as only. Things that have been written or recorded in particular ways that are comfortable to the West and everything else. Any kind of knowledge base or indigenous technology or way of thinking or making that hasn't been recorded in those particular ways don't necessarily enter the confines of historical practice. And I think that that is one way of invalidating multiplicity. But these multiple, multiple ways of making and being. And I think I think that that practice is a pretty brutal practice, if you think about it. Right. Like if you say that if I have a particular dance technique and the story of my family's been captured in this dance technique, and we pass this on generation by generation. No, it doesn't exist within a book. Or is not on camera. But this is the way we pass on. This is what we make meaning, right? And if the West decides in general that or at least academia decides that this is...these principles are unworthy. So they don't they don't get to be passed on to to the next and the next and the next. And I think. You see. You see the harshness of of the gesture of deciding that if something's not written word, then it doesn't it doesn't enter the lexicon of language or history.

Craig: [00:10:19] I mean, part of that is just the fragility of oral histories, but part of that just keeps on occurring. When you look at the appropriation that Elvis Presley took on in the late '50s, or a TikTok star like Charli D'amelio claiming dance steps and not crediting where they came from. Right? I mean, it's kind of pervasive and ongoing, right?

Tavares: [00:10:44] Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I think I think to me, I think it's just a question of of how what's the power of creative practice and how far can it go to to raise the vibration, really?

Craig: [00:11:02] Sure.

Tavares: [00:11:02] A lot of these issues.

Craig: [00:11:03] When did you first realize that you had a passion for identifying these lost figures in history, in building work around that?

Tavares: [00:11:12] I think it happened when I was in I guess in the Bahamas in college. And I realized that like a lot of what I what I care a lot about wasn't really being covered in any way that was represented in mass or popular culture. Right? And so I think music was a good was a good kind of vehicle for that. And in the Bahamas, you had all the Caribbean music, Marange, where you can scrape calypso, reggae, and that music was the story of the people. And it was just... I think as the certain periods in history moved forward, like the Industrial Revolution, for example, I think we associated quality with volume and so popular music or popular literature or popular film or had a way of saying it was popular. So this is the most important thing that we needed to pass on to the next generation. But anyway, it was in college where I was just like, you know. Maybe this this material needs some attention. Sure. What about it? What about the journey of looking into these. These ways of thinking and making? Maybe. Maybe it was just a way of. Of of thinking about it as a practice of human dignity. How do you how do you identify these practices that are that are are not being held up? And how do you maybe hold them up?

Craig: [00:12:39] This is kind of opened up a whole world of of exploration for you. Right. I mean, it seems like in many ways, as you dive into the past of these figures, it's allowing you to open a dialog into some of the worlds of technology and exploration that these figures were working within, right?

Tavares: [00:13:04] Yeah. I read a headline yesterday. I think there were like a bunch of counties in America, I think on the on the West Coast that were going to be, I think, hitting 125 degrees by the year 2050. Wow. And it was just like a really it's like a chilling piece of information. But I think the craziest thing now is we felt like we all feel like we're in this kind of moment of Armageddon. And I think related to your question, I think for me, the question is, how do we get off the treadmill in a way? Because I feel like one of the hardest things to do is to just get off that treadmill of life and and like the feeling of of what can I do if the if the general world is heading in a particular direction? What stakes? What stakes do I have? What sticks can I put in the fire or take out of the fire? What position should I play? Right? And I think that's one of the massive questions about these histories like. So much, so much of what we're experiencing has been experienced before in some level. And so how do we how do we hit that vibration where we're connecting and feeling like we have a place and a voice and can impact the way the world is going. It's almost like we've a to a certain extent, it's almost as if we we've accepted. The finality of Armageddon, right? And we'll go somewhere later, I hope, before this podcast is done. But I think I think no, I think I think I think I think artists for me, I think art is the thing that's saying, hey, maybe we could do some stuff.

Craig: [00:14:52] So I feel like you've introduced me to some names that I should have known. For example, Mathew Henson for for listeners, who was Mathew Henson?

Tavares: [00:15:03] I think Mathew Henson is probably the one of the most important explorers in maybe the past 150 years. He discovered the North Pole with Robert Perry, and in the early stages of that exploration, Matthew Henson's story was. Written out of that history. And in the latter half of the century, the story became start to become more in focus. And the significance of discovering North Pole to me is massive because I think the North Pole. Back then in 1909, when it was discovered, was like going to space in a way, and it was just radical that this amount of color was just out out there. He was an out there guy. And I think I think this accumulated, accumulated impact of knowing these stories for young people, I think is profound. Right? And so he really was a someone who, when I discovered his story, was just blown away by it, like you are. And if you put it into context in terms of what the feat was, but who was doing it and when they were doing it, I think it tells its own story.

Craig: [00:16:23] It seems like a lot of the work that you've created around Matthew Henson, you utilize a lot of neon to create a depiction of a person in different forms. That is, you know, the neon takes on the role of the interior of the body. It's almost like the skin's been pulled back in. The inside is depicted in in these different neon forms. And I'm just wondering, is it just me that I'm reading into it, that there's sort of an invisible man sort of analogy there or. Or is that something that that you intended and hope for me to to glean on to?

Tavares: [00:17:04] Yeah. Ralph Ellison famously, famously said that invisibility is is when a society chooses to not look at something. Right. I think it goes something like that. And I just I think I think that what's what's really amazing about artistic practice and like being able to to spend time looking at work is that it's really it can it has the potential to be super inspiring. It was inspiring to me. And having access to information and having access to these stories inspired my own desire to put these into the world and maybe motivate people to act and do. And so, yeah, I think the neon work was, was a kind of a thought about. About electricity. A thought about electricity. Relationship. Invisibility. But electricity is actual, but also as a metaphor. And then what happens if you if you can? If you can if you can light up you can light up a figure. And what is light mean? What is the impact of being able to. To define space. Right? Because we know that light defined space. Right. Right. So. If you if you if you take all of the light away from a place, then it's it's difficult for us to visually define that space in a place. So it becomes this kind of beacon, this work. But I think I'm curious. I'm curious from from the from the other side of this. Like, what are you what vibrations are you getting when you're absorbing this work?

Craig: [00:18:51] I think one of the things is it's undeniably beautiful, right? I'm picking up on the invisibility. And if I were to think longer and harder about noble gases that are invisible, but when given a particular charge, provide that light source and that that gas was there. What was missing? It was the electricity. Right. And its ability to be seen. I don't know. You can we can drill down in all sorts of ways. Right. But. 

Tavares: [00:19:26] Yeah, for sure. For sure. I mean. Yeah, I think. I think so. So there's this whole conversation just makes me ask a different question about us having a conversation from the context of the contemporary art world, which we know speaks to such a small fragment of the population. Right? So I guess my question is like, how do you like what's your position on because I'm talking also through the work I'm speaking, I'm trying to have a voice in the space. But how is it for you working, acknowledging, knowing, being aware that you're talking to such a small segment of of the population? How be it important it sees itself? But like the folks that I grew up with back in the Bahamas on the block, the art world is not talking to them at all. And I have to acknowledge that as a part of being an artist in order for me to be successful to a certain extent. So for you, what's that like?

Craig: [00:20:29] You know, that's that's a really interesting question. You know, so the question is, do I do I ever feel like I'm talking in an echo chamber, right?

Tavares: [00:20:38] (Laughter)

Craig: [00:20:39] Like am I just talking to an audience that's not listening? And, you know, and I feel like, you know, you mentioned earlier brought popularity into the conversation. And I think it's interesting, even when we talk about the art world and we talk about what's popular in the art world versus what's significant. And I think sometimes people will put price tags on popularity that are bigger than price tags on the work that's significant. And I think in the end, the significant work is able to move people and it's able to connect, disperse people, groups in share ideas and philosophies and help people understand each other better and, you know, advance the ball and make changes and significant work, you know, lasts and it will be respected and understood a little bit better, you know? You know, I talk to people about work that was done 100 years ago, 500, you know, 1000 years ago. And some of the most compelling conversations are about context. Right? And my hope is that someday someone will have to explain to someone that sees your work that, you know, you have to understand the context that these people were were invisible. They'd have to know that that would have to be explained to them. Am I making any sense?

Tavares: [00:22:20] Yeah. Yeah, it's it's I think the game piece of life is interesting. It's like we're sitting we're sitting at a poker table, and you play and theres winners and losers, and then the winners get to walk away with the chips. Right? But but in life, in actual life, you have all the wealth, the folks that are wealthy that all those chips, when the game is over, they actually go back to the middle of the table. Right? All those chips for us to redistribute at the end of the day. Right?

Craig: [00:22:55] Right.

Tavares: [00:22:55] And so it just it I think that that your thought makes me think of the communication piece, like, who are we talking to? And it's not necessarily an echo chamber. It's just that like there's a certain value in self importance that sometimes put on this small space that we're working in. But I think in the process of putting this importance on it to so many people that are neglected, but ultimately, I think for me, how do we want to make that space. More inclusive and bigger. Do we want to talk to more people or are we comfortable just talking to the same five people that go to Chelsea every weekend?

Craig: [00:23:36] Right.

Tavares: [00:23:37] You know what I mean? And I mean that not just from the from the from the from the position of being an artist. It's just like there's so many fascinating ideas I find in creative processes that exist within the within the art world. I just think that for me, like it's just a question. It's like a fundamental question about where we're going. 

Craig: [00:23:55] In your work...I wouldn't say this about all contemporary artists work, but your work really makes me think about education, right? It makes me think about arts education. It makes me think about social studies, history, education. And I feel like I've heard you refer to your work as is almost being letters to a younger version of yourself. I guess my question is, when you think of your audience, do you think of your audience as being those folks on the Upper East Side, or do you think of your audience as being someone that looks a lot like a ten year old Tavares in the Bahamas?

Tavares: [00:24:35] I think definitely in order for us to have that that discussion, I think we have what audience how do we define? Audience Right. So I think one of the things that that academia in general gets wrong about audiences is that, again, this is there's this misunderstanding of scale. That audience means big volume large, and it's almost embedded in the definition of audience. When people say, for me, an audience is it can be super specific. You couldn't you could be talking to one person. And I think the rest of the world is free to watch that debate between you and the other person. And so much of the best art, I think, that was ever created was created for a small audience. It's just all of us are watching that. We we get to participate in that dialog between these two or three or four entities, but ultimately your audience. So that means that. So what does that mean? Right. That means that you can really make specific work. You can make work for the ten year old dude in the Bahamas or a kid in the Bahamas. And to me, that that that's about the human experience and about human dignity and about thinking about giving in a place that has been last seen as last time. But then, yeah, the lady on the Upper East Side or West Side can come see that dialog and find something enriching about watching that dialog occur. Right. But for me as an artist, me as the maker, I want to be specific about who I'm talking to.

Craig: [00:26:06] Mm hmm.

Tavares: [00:26:07] It's important, I think, to the quality of the work.

Craig: [00:26:10] You know, a lot of artists I've talked to talk about leaving an open door for the viewer to insert their share and find a personal connection. Where do you think that shows up in your work?

Tavares: [00:26:23] I think that...I think Bob Marley and the Wailers is a good example of that. You have this little band in the '70s, late '60s and '70s, just making this crushingly good music. But it's the most unlikely style of music. And it's the most unlikely location to make music from. It's not like a music center. And by the end of the '70s, going into the '80s is probably one of the most popular bands in the world. Right? That's some crazy when you think about that context. It's like an amazing phenomenon. Right? And when he's making when he and the Wailers are making this music, they're making it for the people living in Trench Town and Watertown and Kingston. And, you know, he's making that music. What... there's something about that music that just is about the human experience fundamentally. Right? And that's not like's more like a human rights issue than it is like a specific identity politics issue. It's not about's not about black people or white people or Asian people, it's about people. The music is about people ultimately. Right? And so that open door, I think, comes to the beat. Right? It comes to comes through falling in love with the esthetic, the practice of esthetics. Right? You ride the beat and everyone can drop their head to the beat regardless of where they're coming from. Right? And I think that's one of the beautiful things of artistic practice and art making. Right? Is that you could get to bob your head to the beat no matter where you're from. Right? And that's kind of the genius. That's like one of the genius things about Bob Marley and the Wailers. Right? They they make this music popular that wasn't even a genre of music ten years before it became popular. It wasn't even a thing. And not only was it not a thing, it wasn't happening in a major metropolis. It was happening on a small island. It's like radical to think about.

Craig: [00:28:29] That makes me think again about how your work is compelling on a number of different levels because I think you could be talking about the same things and it visually not be compelling. Your work is very compelling esthetically and in terms of what the substance is, you know, sometimes, you know, work is just visual. Sometimes it's just a lot more heavy on the substance. But I feel like your work is balanced in that. And so I feel like when something is beautiful, people will linger and ask questions longer. Would you agree?

Tavares: [00:29:07] I think as a tool man, I think it's...I was having a conversation with a friend about, you know, there are tons of people who do community service and some of them are high profile folks that you never know. They're doing this community work because they're so busy doing the work that they neglect to tell the story about the community work they're doing, right?

Craig: [00:29:30] Mm hmm.

Tavares: [00:29:31] And so, that kind of community service gets, like, a bad rap because people are like, it doesn't seem dope and cool to be to be conscious of what's going on in the communities that you're living in. Right? And so I think the storytelling surrounding a lot of this work is actually what has been the thing that I found to be the most challenging but yet the most potentially fulfilling. Right? Because I think we need to change the language surrounding how people understand certain kinds of practice. Right? And once we could once we could do that, then it becomes it just become it becomes it becomes esthetic in a way. It becomes beautiful. It doesn't become a side piece. It becomes the main dish in a way.

Craig: [00:30:24] You know, one of the pieces that you've created in the last several years is the Encyclopedia of Invisibility. First, maybe I could have you kind of describe that piece for for listeners, but also how do you find the stories of people that have been overlooked? Because you can't go to the traditional resources to because that's by nature of the definition, they're not going to be there. Right?

Tavares: [00:30:53] I think now it's like 13-14 years at this point. 14 year research project to maybe reinvent the encyclopedia with material that has been either excluded or not looked at in a way. And to just maybe shift the gaze. So it looks just like an encyclopedia that has entries. And it really was meant as a thought experiment. And I think your point about about the material is there. Right? It exists in the world. We're just maybe not looking at it. And how do we raise awareness around some of this material? I think esthetics is a good way to talk about some of this material, right?

Craig: [00:31:44] Sure. Let me ask you and this is this is a little tangential, but it had me thinking when I was looking at your work. And that is in 2022 with the prevalence of fake news and relative truth in the fact that as an artist, there are plenty of times when artists will create, say, like Matthew Barney will create characters and histories and narratives that didn't exist. Do you feel like you ever run up against the possibility that people will misinterpret some of these stories as being historical fiction versus being inspired by real people?

Tavares: [00:32:30] I don't know if that matters. I think what matters is the context and the content. I think if there was an explorer who looked like me when I was growing up, I don't know that I would care whether that person was real or not. What I would care more about was what it represented. And that's the way I look at it. I think it does matter. I'm not saying that it doesn't matter that it was real. But again, through the lens of me as a ten year old, so much of how you're learning exists within the realm and the confines of the edges of how far your imagination can go. And I think that imagination's really important. I think that that is the missing link. I think the feeling of not being empowered, I think, is due to historical precedence, but is also to do it like just the limitations of our ability to think beyond what we understand, what we know.

Craig: [00:33:41] Your artwork has gone to space. At some point you came alongside like a technical and science community, and it feels like there have been opportunities for you to kind of think big and be in dialog with science that has led to your work going to space. How did that opportunity come about? When did that dialog first open up?

Tavares: [00:34:07] Well, I don't...I've always been doing a lot of research regarding exploration. Like I said, the North Pole, deep sea diving and a lot of space work and I was having a conversation at the L.A. County Museum with with a curator named Christine Kim, who's a phenomenal, phenomenal mind. And then I think at the same time, the art and technology program at the L.A. County Museum was coming back on stream. And one of the people that it set me up with was a woman, Gwynne Shotwell, who is the head of Space X. And we had a meeting and we just...I had this project in mind for a while because I'd been done the research on Robert Henry Lawrence, and I thought it would be kind of incredible to be able to put some version of him into space, some story about him into space. And it was one way of maybe fixing history, right? Because I think so much of how we understand it is fixed, but it's not really fixed. And so it took maybe just like a four year process from the first conversation until the object ended up in space, maybe five. And I think, you know, I think that's like a testament to long thinking, just being able to work on things that. You know, sometimes manifest themselves over distances because I think. The solutions may not be human centric to a lot of the things that we're facing as a society. The solutions may be a little bit longer than our capacity to think of them outside of 85 year time stamp. So it's just good for me. Like it's a good way to exercise that principle of long thinking. Anyway, that's in a nutshell. That's a little bit about that particular piece and how it how it started and how it kind of came to fruition.

Craig: [00:36:11] And so the actual piece that was launched, it kind of resided in a satellite that circumnavigated the earth for a while. But the object, I believe I saw that it was kind of based on like a Canopic jar, Egypt, what canopic jars, you know, and I think they, you know, in the process of mummification, they would take organs out. And there were like four different of these jars tied to different gods and, and whatnot. And what, what was, what was inside of this vessel?

Tavares: [00:36:42] Yeah, it was, it was taken to Japan and it was blessed in a, in a Shinto temple. And the idea was that we try to challenge the spirits of Robert Henry Lawrence back into this jar and this jar would then go into space. Yeah. And it's this beautiful golden object. And so now it's a communication piece and it sends information about it's being back to earth.

Craig: [00:37:18] I believe I read that you're currently like on the board of MIT. It sounds like you have lots of opportunities to have conversations with people in the worlds of science and technology. And what is your sense of scientists and technologists' perception of who you are as an artist and our folks in the science world curious about the arts? Do they see something in your work that is interesting to them?

Tavares: [00:37:49] I think it's a little bit of both. But I think for just just for the sake of hazing, I have to say that I'm on the board of the Rhode Island School of  Design, also the Vice Chair. I just needed to say that. So when I show up to my next board meeting, they know that. They know that I'm representing. From this recent pandemic, I think one of the things that we're learning is that both art and science suffer from the same problem, which is they're both really bad at talking to the general public. Right? And I think that's super interesting. I think that's like a...we could bind together over that issue at that point. I think generally artists are excited about science, designers are excited about art. And I think...but I think it's just the language barrier. And I think in order to go into a favela in Brazil, you've got to speak Portuguese. Right? Like you can't go in there. And I think that's just the issue of human communication in general is like, how do you speak enough science, talk to a scientist, how do you speak enough music to have a conversation with a musician? You know, how do you speak enough culinary arts to talk to a chef like you could do it? We all listen to music. We're all involved in science in some way. And we all we all eat food. So why is it that we feel like we can't speak these multiple languages? That's the way I look at it.

Craig: [00:39:24] You know, I've read before that most Nobel-winning physicists have their their prize winning ideas when they're still in their twenties because it's back to the lid on the jar. Right? I mean, the older they get, the the more confined their thinking is. And I just feel like if I were a scientist, I would admire the artist's ability to maybe explore abstract thought and creativity, because sometimes it's hard to get out of that paradigm. Is that a conversation you've ever had with folks in this world of science?

Tavares: [00:40:04] Yeah, I think the best scientists are incredibly playful and they're quite interested in exploration. And then there's a bunch of scientists that are not so playful and not interested in innovation, and they're either just regurgitating material that they are familiar with or aware of. I think it runs the full gamut. You know? And so I think the piece that binds us all together is the human ability of innovation and creativity. Right? I mean, I think nothing...none of the innovations of the past hundred years have come from nothing but creativity. That's all creative thinking and human ingenuity. Right? So I think they're just operating on a certain wavelength. They're operating in that wavelength.

Craig: [00:41:04] What impact do you hope your work is able to have on the world?

Tavares: [00:41:10] I don't think about that, honestly. I don't think about that at all because I, you know, I'm just doing the thing right and we'll sort it out later. Right? I think that's for other people to decide for sure.

Craig: [00:41:24] So, Tavares, you recently had a show at Marian Goodman Gallery, The Awakening. Help me understand, there's now sort of like a like a second and third part that are going to be going on overseas. Can you kind of fill me in on that?

Tavares: [00:41:41] Yeah, I think it was over the pandemic a little bit before the pandemic, I started thinking about an episodic approach to an exhibition and what happens if an exhibition can exist as three parts. And I just thought I was thinking about the arc of a day and just thinking about also maybe realigning the cultural circadian rhythm. How do you get us realigned and The Awakening was the show that happened in New York. And it was about just basically this idea of awakening, waking up. And then in broad daylight is another the next chapter in these three chapters. And that was about just what could happen in during the day. The day seems like a very transparent and obvious kind of scape to be in artistically, but is it really what it is? Is it really what it's being announced as? And then in broad daylight was the night. That's the third chapter to the exhibition. And so yeah, like that that was that was kind of this one and three, three and one idea which oddly enough, know human beings have been fascinated by this one and three concept for a while. Right? Like we were pretty good at understanding the complexity of one thing with three meetings and three readings of one meaning. And I just thought I would play with that idea.

Craig: [00:43:17] Well Tavares, we're pretty much out of time. If folks wanted to keep track of your your work, where's the best place to to check out and stay on top of what you have going on?

Tavares: [00:43:30] Yeah. We have coming up is I'm doing a solo presentation at Carrington Gallery in Seoul coming up in the middle of September, September 16th, and then the two shows. Chapter two and three are being launched in October the 15th, both in Paris. One at Gallerie Marian Goodman and the other one at Gallerie Perrotin. So those are places where you would be able to go see work in the next couple of months.

Craig: [00:44:08] It's been a real pleasure talking to you, Tavares. And I have a lot of respect and admiration for your work, and I appreciate you carving out time to talk to me today, man.

Tavares: [00:44:18] Thank you. Appreciate it.

Craig: [00:44:26] That's all the time we have for this week. You've been listening to Art Sense. You can find the show on Apple Podcasts, iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher Radio, Spotify, or your favorite podcast app. If you've enjoyed this podcast, be sure to subscribe. And while you're there, please rate the show and leave a quick review. Your feedback is the key to other folks finding us. And if you'd like to see images related to the conversation, read the transcript and find other bonus features. You can go to and click on the podcast tab. If you'd like to reach out to me. You can email me at Thanks for listening.

Show More >