Jake Vogds – Chicago, Illinois

It's MeMic_Performance_2015

It’s MeMic_Performance_2015

Briefly describe the work you do. 

My mind, body, and work are overwhelmed with an anxious yet critical excitement toward the spectacle of consumption. As a queer white American male millennial split by the art, pop, and virtual worlds I exist within, I find it necessary to exhaust this mesmerizingly addictive media-driven environment using strategies of accelerationism and camp. My costume and installation work are riddled with hyperbole, exaggerating the camp that is placed onto the queer performing body through tent-suits, adorably and grotesquely mirroring myself through homemade product portraits of my own image as the American tourist, as the stereotypic retail worker. I fill these durational works with incessant pop-performer vocalizations; an archive of riffing that becomes a language I use to communicate with myself, my performers, and my audience. I exhaust the idea of the pop queer celebrity self through this never ending loop of energizers and vocals.

It's MeMic_Performance2_2015

It’s MeMic_Performance2_2015

Tell us about your background and how that has had an influence on your work and on you as an artist.

I grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan, middle class suburbia. A location like many others, where people are generally comfortable with the systems of consumption and work that they exist within. I was always involved in competitive theater, choir, as well as the visual arts, yet I hadn’t considered combining the two until I came to The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2011. As I began branching out from my initial focus in painting, I was heavily drawn to performance art. Here, I truly realized the interdisciplinary nature of my practice. I began looking at the histories of my own body through my interests in singing, image-making, and theater and working with them within time and space.

The concept of the artist studio has a broad range of meanings in contemporary practice. Artists may spend much of their time in the actual studio, or they may spend very little time in it. Tell us about your individual studio practice and how it differs from or is the same as traditional notions of “being in the studio.”

I have a small studio in my apartment that is primarily used for storage. I think that I work better when I am in a larger blank space, a non-studio that I can hijack and make a new mess in. This space is often my living room. It seems like the notion of “being in the studio” has changed immensely over the years. It’s not necessarily hunching over in a dark room late at night making. It’s also sitting on the couch obsessing over Youtube videos or meeting your friend for lunch to talk about collaborations. I believe that just witnessing culture in as many expected and unexpected places is the best research/studio practice that I engage in.

What roles do you find yourself playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?

I’ve had this conversation with many other artists over the past couple of years talking bout how the artist must play so many roles, wear so many hats to merely exist as an artist. We must be the photographer, the documenter, the videographer, the PR/social media associate, the performer, the organizer, the painter, the craftsman, the editor, the writer, etc. The list does not end. One could look at that list and go “Oh god, who has time?” But I find it pretty exciting to be able to cross so many disciplines, to be that cultural chameleon and really create the universe that surrounds you and your work. When I was in speech and debate, I was in an event called storytelling where I would tell a children’s story in no more than eight minutes. What I loved most was the challenge of literally playing every character in the book to fabricate a cohesive performance. The critiques I often got was that I had too much energy, speed, chaos, and camp. In time, I’ve learned to embrace all of those full-force.

When do you find is the best time to make art? Do you set aside a specific time everyday or do you have to work whenever time allows?

The process I have found to maintain my practice has been to find an event, exhibition, etc. and make whatever work you want to make for that presentation deadline. Everyone faces the fear of procrastination, the fear of having their practice be consumed by their work, their survival, their paying the bills, eating, and sleeping. Sometimes we have to force our bodies to do the things we want to be doing in order to make them happen. This is why deadlines help me. It’s important to always be applying to shows and to know something is on the horizon, and eventually, things come to you, often in waves, and you’re making like crazy without knowing it.

I Land_Performance_2014

I Land_Performance_2014

How has your work changed in the past five years? How is it the same?

Five years ago, I was primarily a painter making surreal, photo-realistic figurative situational imagery. What’s funny is that that description doesn’t sound far off from what I am doing now, though the work vastly different. I am an image-maker at heart, though the situations/conceptual grounds come from dissections of language, thought, and culture. However, the images have become four-dimensional, using my body, space, and time. Currently, I am interested in analyzing social capitalism, consumerism, and optimism and re-representing the amalgams of such within my faux-pop-cultural performances.

How have people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers, other artists or even pop icons had an impact on the work you do?

Different people/inspirations in my life range immensely in how they impact my practice. Watching my parents handle money or shop with polar opposite strategies is beautiful research. Both born in the 50’s, the dawn of mass-consumption, their habits often speak volumes to me. My older sister and I playing endless games of dollhouse and stuffed animals well into our teens has made it impossible to divorce myself from play. My boyfriend’s methodic precision and execution within his own artistic practice is something I constantly admire. However, these people influence me in more personal and often subconscious ways. Meanwhile, Mariah Carey takes up a lot of the bulk in my conscious research with her uncanny pop image melding and agitating with her past images. The surreal, exhausted, or uncanny within pop and pop media is obsession within my practice. In terms of philosophers, I’ve been digging in to a lot of Karl Marx and Herbert Marcuse, as well looing back to Susan Sontag’s Notes on Camp.

How have people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers, other artists or even pop icons had an impact on the work you do?

Yes, though I would never put both feet into a different field without constantly stepping back. A goal within my practice is to create a pop phenomenon that mirrors that of performing artist culture but actually acts as a Trojan Horse, disrupting complacency within pop trend and providing a hyper-awareness to mass-culture using strategies of camp. Thus, my work itself may disguise itself as a pop star, as a retail worker, as a musical act, but will never stay stable.


headshotJake Vogds is a multidisciplinary artist working in performance, visual media, installation, and costume. Through faux-pop performances, he creates queer celebrities out of his own image, challenging ideas of identity, commercial expectations, and trend. In June 2012, he was awarded the Buonanno Contemporary Practices Scholarship from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He has performed and exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Defibrillator, Links Hall, Chicago Artist Coalition, Zhou B Arts Center, Sullivan Galleries, and the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts (Kalamazoo, MI), among others. He received his BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2014) on a presidential merit scholarship. Currently, he is pursuing research with the Queer Mixed Realities Collective supported by the Shapiro Center’s EAGER Research Grant.



All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission. 





About 365Artists/365Days

The purpose of this project is to introduce its readership to a diverse collection of art that is being produced at the national and international level. Our goal is to engage the public with information regarding a wide array of creative processes, and present the successes and failures that artists face from day to day. The collaborators hope that this project will become a source for exploring and experiencing contemporary art in all its forms.
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