Interview with Rebekka Guðleifsdóttir

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Austin has exhibited with Postmaster’s Gallery, New York as well as Carl Kostyal’s galleries in Stockholm and London. In terms of influences, he’s inspired by Pop artists like Philip Guston, Roy Lichtenstein, and Mary Heilmann as well as traditional influences like Leonardo da Vinci’s Ginevra de’ Benci. Not to mention Pablo Picasso, Alex Katz and Elizabeth Murray amongst others.

When it comes to New York museums, Austin visits the Whitney, the Metropolitan, the Studio Museum, the Met Breuer and of course his neighboring MoMA PS1. To escape the isolation of the studio at the end of the day, he socializes in Brooklyn. But by morning, he’s back in there surrounded by his paints and complex computer systems. Look out for exhibitions coming up in LA, Shanghai, and Japan @austinleee.

Was there a pivotal moment when you decided to follow your path as an artist?
Yes, when I quit my day job. I was supposed to fly somewhere for a meeting, but I woke up and realized that if I went on the trip I might not finish the paintings for my next show. I skipped the flight and never looked back.

Can you tell us about the process of making your work?
Stuff happens. I do a drawing in my sketchbook and then I work it out on a computer using lots of different software and make a painting based on that. The order sometimes changes. It’s basically lots of drawing.

What piece of your artwork would you like to be remembered for?
Am I dead? If I’m dead I don’t care. If I’m not dead it’s something I haven’t made yet.

If you could work within a past art movement, which would it be?
I’d rather be working towards a future art movement.

How would you define beauty in 140 characters or less?
An experience that was worth your time.

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It's completely normal

 Photo by Emma-Lee

Photo by Emma-Lee

"I'm going to send a mannequin head around the world and ask people to make art with it!" I exclaimed.

It was such a simple idea.  Who would have thought it would take more than a decade to bring my vision to life?

When I started this project I imagined an army of heads, free-ranging the globe, traveling from person to person, encounter to encounter.  No waiting list.  No time limits.  Their journeys would be documented through photos and videos and their locations updated by participants along the way, but the technology to track mannequin heads around the world just wasn't accessible in 2002.

A lot has changed in sixteen years.

Today, nearly everyone on the planet has a smartphone or mobile device with a camera and built-in geolocation function.  The idea of a person taking a picture, uploading it somewhere, and sharing their location is completely normal.

Welcome to The Head Project.  It's also completely normal.