Japanther’s Ian Vanek: “I don’t make art to be popular or seen, I make it because my hands have to, otherwise I’ll extinguish my own life”
Do you create art every day?
Certainly, I finished a painting this morning. I was working on a song very late last night and I mixed it this morning. I create something every day because it is a reaction. I don’t make art to be popular or seen, I make it because my hands have to, otherwise I’ll extinguish my own life. We’ve all had strange experiences in our lives; to deal with different things, many times, people make art and make music as a catharsis, as a therapy—that’s what I do. I have to do things with my hands or with my voice or with my brain so that I don’t get extremely depressed or extremely angry at the world.
I read in an interview with you once that you love old burnt out buildings and things like that and that you feel really at peace in places like that.
It’s my favourite place, a space that no one wants anymore. Architecture I love, I think architecture is so beautiful, especially abandoned architecture is really, really special to me because, at one point it is valued so highly. So much of America, maybe not so much in Australia, we’ve abandoned so much of our country. If you look at New Orleans or Detroit, they don’t give a shit about anything they built like more than 50 years ago. Those spaces we often reclaim as artists, we do a painting on the wall or bring in a little chair or something. I feel most at peace in those spaces, yes that is correct.
I once thought of doing a photography book or zine that would have pictures of old buildings with plants growing out of cracks, kind of taking back the structure.
Yes! Nature taking them back. That’s one of my favourite things.
Exactly! Before we were also talking about the feeling you get from drumming and you were saying that you believe that there are people that are put on this Earth that have ‘the gift’…
I think more than that, I think it’s a race. Where a lot of people want to talk about their race and pride in their race, I have very little pride left for America. I do know that I am a member of a strong race of drummers and that I have done this before in my life. I had a shaman tell me once that I walked out of Africa over fifteen hundred years ago and that I hadn’t chose to come back to the Earth until now. Ancient things make a great deal of sense to me and new things are very confusing to me, that I know to be true because, drumming is a snap to me, I can do it with my eyes closed. I’ve been doing it since I was 4 years old, even before that. I think it’s a race of people put here in order to lead people out of darkness, to use dance and to use rhythm as a healing tool.
(Taken from an in-depth interview in a forthcoming issue of Conversations With Punx)
Ian Vanek is one half of NYC-based art project Japanther. I love Japanther! They’re always involved in, and create, such awesomeness; collaborating with such a diverse range of musicians and artists such as Crass’ Penny Rimbaud, Spank Rock, Dan Graham and more!
Japnther in 3D:
For more Ian Vanek. All art featured by Ian! :)
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