For those who are in New York, AJ Fosik is currently showing at Jonathan LeVine Gallery. For those who are not, he’s interview may help assuage your grief. The work of AJ Fosik is a commentary on religion and the human condition, our vices, our virtues. He himself is poignant, and intelligent and I highly suggest you read what he has to say:
Introduce yourself, what is your full name? When did you become ‘AJ’? Why do you identify with that nickname as opposed to a full name?
My parents always referred to me as AJ.
You’re bound for Jonathan LeVine Gallery. You were there in 2007 and again two years ago, in 2011. How have you changed since your 2007 show personally and ideologically? How was your work different then? How has your art changed? Where has your personal maturation paralleled your development as an artist? Where have the two diverged? Why do you think that is?
I think my work and my ideology have both been refined over the last few years. If anything they are more entwined then ever, they don’t exist independently of the other and they inform each other.
In your bio is a quote describing your work in part as ‘anti-religious commentary through the depiction of hyperbolized fictional gods’. This seems like a fitting commentary given the title of your show at Jonathan LeVine two years ago: ‘Time Kills All Gods’. Have you ever been religious? Were you raised religious? And more importantly, do you think when that has happened the Abrahamic religions will just be superseded by a new religion? Or do you think humanity will grow out of religion?
I was fortunate to be raised without any religion in particular, I was never taught to use god as a means to understanding. I did spend a brief stint in Catholic school as a kid but I always felt like a visitor in a foreign land. My time with the Catholics felt like an anthropological exploration, I watched the rituals and indoctrination but it never connected with me on any level. Then I was kicked out for fighting and I entered public school.
How long do you think it will be until the Abrahamic religions are referred to as ‘myths and stories’ like we do today when we talk about Ancient Greek or Egyptian gods?
They already are, depending on who you talk to.
If history is any indicator some creep will always find a way to manipulate humanity’s innate fear of death for gain, be it power or financial. I would like to think that at some point the old scam of faith as a virtue will lose it’s grip, but that truly is the greatest con ever conceived – ’embrace my bullshit and you will be delivered from this vail of tears into eternal bliss, question my bullshit and you will suffer a lake of fire for all eternity, oh and don’t forget the tithing’ .
Or do you think humanity will grow out of religion?
I certainly hope so.
Do you view monotheistic religions differently than polytheistic faiths? Not only can gods can resemble a better form of ourselves and possibly give us something more personal to aspire to but a diverse array of them can better represent that idealized version of ourselves.
I think shaping your world view by setting out with a preconceived belief and then dismissing or embracing evidence to support said belief, as opposed to shaping a world view based upon available evidence, is a ridiculous proposition whether you have a hundred gods or one.
Do you think there’s any validity to that statement? Or can humans, Malcolm X, Theodore Roosevelt, Haile Selassie, Kemal Atatürk, and other heroes serve as effectively as templates to model ourselves after?
I think the beauty of looking at any of those people you listed as aspirational figures is that they are actually human. They’re not perfect beings, they faced the same struggles that we all do, they lied, they hurt people, they probably sucked in numerous ways. But in spite of all of their flaws they still managed to elevate humanity and that’s worth aspiring to.
Who are your heroes? What have they done that has so greatly influenced you?
My heroes are anyone who chooses to embrace their existence in spite of the probable meaninglessness of it. Those who choose to love the people around them. Those who do the right thing not because they are motivated by a supposed supernatural threat but because the only route to true happiness is to help and love humanity, not an imaginary perfect being but our own flawed, stinking, beautiful selves. I sound like a hippy.
Most of your work portrays animals, what is your connection to animals? What is your connection to nature? Are you spiritual? The animals you have chosen to portray resembles wolves, bears, and though you’ve strayed from that, it seems you’ve predominantly chosen carnivorous.
The animals in my work are strictly metaphorical. There are several reasons I use carnivores in my work (I often don’t try to represent any specific species although that’s not true a %100 of the time) not the least of which is that the open maw of a predator is a great metaphor for the nature of existence and the inevitable end we all face. I often use the predator imagery as a metaphor for the physical self- the predator being the very embodiment of evolutionary pressures and the natural world- in contrast to the symbolic self – represented by the belief systems and the various immortality schemata that I utilize in my work.
Do you think this reflects yourself?
Do you see aggression and violence in your own work?
No, my work isn’t meant to be overtly violent or aggressive, although beauty and violence are two sides of the same coin.
What do you hope or expect your viewers to feel?
Tell us about the pieces you are bringing to Jonathan LeVine, which is your favorite and why?
Honestly by the time the work gets to the gallery I’ve been wrestling with it for so long that I’m just happy to see it go.
What’s the best food you’ve had while driving across the country?
I hate driving across the country, every exit now looks the same. Unless you are willing to drive a good distance from the Interstate it’s pretty much the ArbysWendysMcDonaldsBurgerKing drive thru. By the time I get to where I’m going, I’m usually sweating grease.
The Pacific Northwest.
What about it was so impressive to you?
Acutally, I take it back. It rains too much. No one move here.