INTERVIEW // Clark Mclean Graham


Clark Mclean Graham works primarily as a collagist, fabricating physical and digital montages in an attempt to create modern day relics with nods to American pop culture and consumerism. His current body of work draws heavily from Freud’s idea of “repetition compulsion”. Revisiting imagery he was involuntarily subjected to as a child, Graham creates time based minimalist video collages utilizing mundane, easily forgettable moments to create a subjective, and subversive world that feels familiar and safe. On the surface these pieces serve as time based wall decor or video vignettes that are suited to the average attention span of the MTV generation.

GRIN- How does repetition exist in your work?

CLARK MCLEAN GRAHAM- Repetitive Neurosis. In my work, repetition exists as repeated actions that in context of their normal timeline are rather brief but by looping these minuscule moments they become something more in tune with the psychological phenomenon of repetition compulsion. In my eyes the repetition also serves as a time-based brush stroke, or an instrument of conveyance.

GRIN- Your color palette is somewhere between Easter and industrial waste. Could you tell us how you arrived at this palette and how it ties into the greater concept of your work?

CLM- My color palette is heavily influenced by the color schemes of the interior shots of A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. The soft pastels and strikingly bold oranges and yellows counterbalance the often, colorless scenes that I appropriate. Aside from the work of Charles M. Schulz my color palette is directly informed by the colors of holidays, most specifically EASTER! Growing up the grandson of a southern Baptist minister I have both horrid and fond memories of said holiday. Easter like most holidays is in itself all about repetition.

The color pink for me, aside from its ties to Easter, is important in its sense of "femininity". I know it may not be PC to assign gender to a color, but I do. I am not ashamed to admit that in the days of my angsty youth I used quite a great deal of highly pornographic material in my work. The female form is a beautiful work of art in itself and I exploited it on the 2d plane. In my current artistic practice the color pink is a stand-in for that imagery that I so blatantly over used.

GRIN- Your work employs some heavy image appropriation. Where and how do you find these images? Is there a personal association with this imagery?

CLM- My image appropriation comes in part from my own personal film library. When I watch movies I take notes. I watch and collect films and videos the way most traditional collage artists look through time printed periodicals or old dusty books. The media that was appropriated for this body of work all comes from movies that I was exposed to as a child. From an early age I was presented with movies as gifts.  Many of the clips appropriated I re-photographed from the old vhs tapes and 16mm reels that I pulled out of my parents basement.

GRIN- Describe the process of switching between 'film/video' and 'printmaking'?

CLM- My fascination with printmaking comes from the desire for the tangible. I love working with time-based material but until technology comes a little farther along it is hard to create a time based work that exists without electricity (not counting kinetic sculpture.) Until it does I will always divert back to practices that allow me to create work of a tactile nature.  Digital media has come a long way but it still has a stigma and, a sour aura about it. When people here "video artist" or "digital media" they seem to get a look in their eyes like you exposed yourself to their family pet. At the end of the day art is art, it is something rich people hang on their walls but in the eyes of some artists it is a therapeutic act.

A wise woman woman once said to me "people who make silly looking things shouldn't take themselves too seriously." I will be the first to admit that I make a lot of silly work, but I make it very seriously.