february 22, 2017
Adele: Are you a cat or a dog?
Naomi: Dog. Boom. Obviously.
Adele: You said that everyone at Cranbrook--
Naomi: Yeah, and I don’t fit in.
Adele: Oh yeah, you’re a dog. What kind of a dog?
Naomi: I don’t know what kind of dog, but I’m very attentive. I pay a lot of attention to how people react to me, and I think that when people ignore me, I come on stronger. I want people that don’t like me to like me, you know? I’m a little overly friendly sometimes, I think. And excited. I’m definitely a dog, there’s no question to me.
Adele: What have you been listening to in your studio?
Naomi: So the song that I’ve really been enjoying working to lately is “Cocaine” by Kiyo Cato. It’s from the movie White Girl, which I watched with my brother. I got really high and watched it with my brother. It’s a really intense, really interesting movie--but super problematic. Interesting, too, because it’s directed by a woman, but it’s like a woman using the way men sexualize women’s bodies to get people interested in the movie, but it’s definitely from a female perspective but it’s also sexualizing women’s bodies… in a stupid way, I think. Anyway, there’s a song from it that’s called Cocaine that’s very calming and creepy but it’s also kind of a cautionary tale about cocaine killing you. It’s like that classic cocaine song, it’s like, “cocaine will kill you but it won’t say when,” you know? A lot of bands play a version of it, but this one is very calming. I like to color when I listen to it.
Adele: What have you been listening to on your road trip?
Naomi: I listened to On The Road on tape, which I found very tedious and annoying and I hated the voice of the guy. He’s like, “yes, YES! Dean Moriarity!” [in an affected voice] It’s like, shut up. And then I listened to Amy Schumer’s memoir, The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, and I got really into it. It was poorly written, but it was pretty fun. It’s also always fun to hear the memoir of how somebody went from being normal to being famous, and the one thing I really gleaned was that she became obsessed with stand-up, she made it her obsession, and that’s how she made it, because it was all she ever wanted to do all the time. I need to figure out a way of making what I want to do an obsession. And then I listened to Handmaiden’s Tale and this other weird self-help book that’s called The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck. It’s cool, too.
Adele: What is your studio beverage of choice?
Naomi: There’s a pretty limited seltzer situation in Michigan, but frequently I’ll just have some San Pellegrino or a beer or a glass of wine. The thing is, I don’t really ever bring anything to the studio so it’s usually what people offer me. It’s usually a random glass of wine or a PBR that someone could spare.
Adele: Describe your studio practice as a party.
Naomi: It already is.
Adele: What music do you play, what does it look like, what time frame, who do you invite--
Naomi: Ok, so, my studio practice as a party would be in a basement in Soho in the 1960s, but not in a cool way. It would be a gross spot that is wet and dingy. I would stand on the street and entice weird men to come down in the space, but there would be all these other weird men there, and I’d be like, making them interact and do something and maybe we’d all take drugs together. Maybe I’d get all of them to take acid, and I’d convince them that they couldn’t leave and that was the only place in the world that existed or something like that. And I would play weird music and become their cult leader.
Adele: That’s amazing. What does it look like the day after?
Naomi: I think the day after, I’m trying to get rid of them, and they all love me. I’m peeling them off.
Adele: Great, sounds like some Heaven’s Gate shit, where they all committed mass suicide wearing purple capes and Nike Airs. Have you heard of that?
Adele: Yeah. Isn’t that nuts? The outfit’s so good though.
Adele: What’s your morning ritual?
Naomi: I am ashamed to say my morning ritual is like, wake up, go on Facebook, lay in bed for a while, maybe try and go back to sleep, then I realize I’m really awake. Then I maybe make some dumplings or pasta, because I usually don’t have breakfast food but I need some kind of sustenance to do things. Maybe I go to the gym, and then wind up at the studio some time in the early afternoon. That would be my morning routine. I do brush my teeth, also. I’m hygienic.
Adele: What is your idea of home, and what’s your relationship to home?
Naomi: I’ve been thinking a lot about that lately, because I feel like home has so much to do with people, and I feel like lately I’ve been in love with places where I have the highest concentration of people that I like spending time with. But, I don’t fucking know. Home used to be Maine. For a little while it was New York. I don’t really feel super at home in Detroit, but I have felt really calm and good being on the road, lately, and I think I always kind of have. Which I do think is definitely in part because the first few summers of my life my family was driving cross-country in a camper van, so my first memories are from the road. You know, eating mac n cheese dinners and camping and just driving all day and literally finding something to do, looking out the window, thinking, whatever. It’s such a calming thing, for me. It’s very peaceful. But yeah, home is where the good people are. Home is where the people who laugh and make you comfortable are.
Adele: [singing] “Home is wherever I’m with you…”
Naomi: Yeah, home is a song by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros!
Adele: What is your vision of romance?
Naomi: Suicide pact.
Adele: How does intimacy play into that?
Naomi: We blow each others’ brains out while fucking. I don’t know. Post-coital murder.
Adele: Ava wanted to quote this reading that argues the point that whenever the female body is put online it’s pornographic, and she wanted to ask if you agree or disagree.
Naomi: I guess it depends on who’s looking at it, because I think porn is in the eye of the beholder. I made this piece that was about interacting with the camera in a sexual way, but I didn’t think of it as pornography, I thought about it as cuckolding and controlling the camera and teasing and taunting the camera, something that usually has control over how a woman is portrayed, and me being like, “fuck you, I’m going to control you.” In a sense, sexually. I showed it to an ex-boyfriend, and he was like, “if you put that online, I have friends who would jerk off to that.” You know, he saw it as porn. I didn’t see it as porn. I think, yeah, in this case--I think a lot of things can be perceived as porn. But I do think it’s an issue of perception. To me, there’s not a hard line. A naked body--it’s not pornographic to me. I don’t view a naked woman’s body as pornographic, but I know that someone else might view the exact same thing as such. I guess I disagree.
Adele: How much of the mantra “do it for the memoir” or “do it for the story” informs your work and your life?
Naomi: A lot. Do I just give a straight percent?
Adele: I mean, you could talk a little more about it.
Naomi: I feel like having the story of an experience is so exciting and satisfying to me that it adds to the experience of the moment. It’s hard to say. I enjoy a moment better in a lot of cases if it will become a good story. But there’s also a lot of things that I don’t think of as a good story that I love, like hanging out with you and laughing with you is so lovely.
Adele: There’s no way that I could ever describe to any other person about how hard I laughed at the jazz flute butthole. Cuz you just can’t describe the jazz flute butthole…
Naomi: There are things that maybe I wouldn’t want to do, but I convince myself to do because of the story. But that’s something that I’m having a lot of trouble translating into my work lately. I have these experiences and I can tell the stories to people and people fucking love hearing the stories and I’m good at telling stories, but I don’t know how to translate that into actual work, or how to hold on to the magic of the actual story, or the moment, and have people get it, beyond just talking. I would say at least 50% of my life is lived for the story, maybe more. But that’s because I’m a good storyteller. Do I think my life is less worthwhile when it doesn’t have good stories in it? Yes.
Adele: So in your recent work you’ve been living and working on the road.
Naomi: Mmhmm, and I like this, but it’s still separate, in a sense. Like I still set up a camera and have a moment with somebody. And I have moments with people all the time, but it’s a captured moment of intensity, you know?
Adele: I’ve heard you talk about this meditative state that you feel being on the road, in the car for so long by yourself--
Naomi: I love it, I’ve been so happy. What I’d like to do is find a way to make my practice conducive to the life that I want to lead, and I don’t know if that’s the right order? But I also think that--sure, I mean I think that probably a lot of people share that, a lot of people probably love being on the road. But how many people actually choose to forgo the comforts of having one place to live. I think that I have a capacity to do that, so maybe I should explore that, you know?
Adele: What are the greatest challenges facing your artmaking in the next year?
Naomi: Probably just all the questioning I’m doing lately with everything. I feel like going to school has just taught me to question everything, and not necessarily doubt, but just examine everything I’m doing really intensely, and I have these moments where I think that maybe my artistic gift to the world should be not to create. I think sometimes I have to fight those instincts, those questions. I have to allow myself to ask the questions, but then to continue to work and push through them. I think that can be challenging. Realistically, I don’t see that many challenges, besides me just getting off my ass and doing shit. I just need to be bold, you know? And go after what I want.
Adele: Maybe somehow not getting arrested standing outside of Third Eye Blind shows.
Naomi: No, I don’t mind getting arrested. I think that I can do anything, I just think I have to be bold and stop making excuses to not do the things I want to do because they’re scary or difficult.
Adele: When was the last time you screamed?
Naomi: Oh, I do that all the time in the car.
Adele: Yes! Me too! You’re the first to answer that way.
Naomi: Yeah. I think yesterday or two days ago I was just driving and moaned loudly. When I first got to grad school I was working four days a week at Whole Foods, which did not last very long because I was like, this is hell. And I would yell a lot in my car, driving to and from work. I would play music and just yell over the music. It’s a good way of getting out stressful energy. Yeah, definitely cool with yelling. But if my windows are rolled down and I come to a stoplight, I always turn my music down. I’m really shy about that for some reason.
Adele: What are you scared people are going to think about you? What are you listening to?
Naomi: Probably like the Rent soundtrack, or something really horrifying.