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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

April Artist Profile: Michelle Nagai

Brooklyn, NY composer, artist, and mother Michelle Nagai (forefront) is the focus of this month's Artist Profile. Michelle's most recent installation, Imagescape:Soundscape:Landscape, created in collaboration with Ursula Scherrer, was performed in March at the New Genre XV Festival.

What do you like to make?


Michelle Nagai: Sounds, performances with my body, images, environments, experiences, openings for actions.

Who/what/where currently inspire/s your work?

MN: Space – listening and perceiving. My collaborator, video artist Ursula Scherrer. My child. The desire to find expansiveness, or freedom from the material struggles of human being-ness. Mongolia, Tibet, Nepal – high mountains, yaks, snow, quiet, solitude. The idea of Being and Not Being as opposite ends of a road, along which I can travel in two directions, and on many planes.

What theme/s occupy your work?


MN: OK, well certainly perception. And death, or near-death-ness. Our attachment to ideas, or people or things, and what happens when we let go of those attachments. Site specificity, as in work that is connected to the environment in which it exists.

What are you listening to/watching/reading lately?


MN: Toting around a book on biology and mechanics – Cat’s Paw’s and Catapults, by Steven Vogel. Not sure if I will get through it right now though. Been watching some Yuri Norstein movies on YouTube. Especially loving Hedgehog in the Fog. So lovely.

Do you keep a journal/sketchbook/blog?


MN: Yep.

What have you learned from your work?


MN: Er….not sure I can answer that right now. Perhaps later in the month I’ll have more thoughts. It’s hard to say. Probably a lot of technical and practical stuff. Also some other “deepy” stuff that I just can’t get my head around right now while I’m thinking about it.

Who is and what question would you ask of the artist who has most inspired you?

MN: Gosh. This is a tough one. I am so cranky tonight it’s hard to imagine being inspired by anyone. Lots of living artists have inspired me and encouraged me and been dear friends (and continue to be) but this question sort of suggests an artist who is no longer with us on this plane. One of my college teachers, my pal Tony Carruthers, has been a big inspiration to me. He was a video artist and I used to also clean his house, so our friendship was centered mostly around dusting and vacuuming and coffee. He died a few years ago of a heart attack, on an Amtrak train somewhere just outside Penn Station. I would like to ask him what he felt in the moment when he knew was going to die? Was he sad? Was he scared? Did he know he was going to die? Of anyone I know, I think he would have some great stories to tell about that moment and would be very happy to talk about it. We shared much in the way of thematic interests. So I’d like to interview him about his death.

Michelle's Work:


Image taken from Untitled Sit: Snow Is Falling Quietly. Courtesy of Michelle Nagai.


Image taken from Untitled Sit: Snow Is Falling Quietly. Courtesy of Michelle Nagai.


Image taken from Imagescape:Soundscape:Landscape. Courtesy of Ursula Scherrer and Michelle Nagai.


Image taken from Imagescape:Soundscape:Landscape. Courtesy of Ursula Scherrer and Michelle Nagai.


Image taken from Imagescape:Soundscape:Landscape. Courtesy of Ursula Scherrer and Michelle Nagai.

Tulips