Richard Peterson Interviews David Zimmer

Why did you become an artist? What were your motivations?
It was one of the only things I felt like I was good at.

What is your background, like where did you go to school, and what was your upbringing like?
I grew up in very rural Missouri (Vienna population 505).  My dad is a farmer and my mother was a bank teller.  I graduated from the University of Missouri in Columbia with a degree in Environmental Design.

Who are your biggest influences?
The Starn Twins, Christian Boltanski, David Ireland, My Grandmother.
When did you decide to become an artist, and what were your influences in making that decision?
I have made things for as long as I can remember.  My Grandmother and my mother were always sewing and quilting and making things.  My father is very mechanically inclined. He does metal and wood work.

Who are your favorite artists?
Rebecca Horn, Matthew Barney, Odd Nerdum, Afke Glosteijn, Louise Nevelson, Joseph Cornell, Robert ParkeHarrison, Christian Boltanski, Anne Arden McDonald, Louise Bourgeois, Doug & Mike Starn, Farnese de Andrade, David Ireland, Duchamp, Janine Janet, Pavel Banka, Nan Goldin, Man Ray, Joel-Peter Whitkin.

Do you think the kind of equipment you use is important in photography?
Absolutely not.  That’s the great thing about the photographic process, you can use almost anything for a camera and there endless ways to print or project the output.  On the other side,  I do love a nice camera.

Much of your work makes use of photography, but it’s more like assemblage work. What do you like about photography?
I was never great at drawing so started making photographs of my ideas.

Do you think there’s an ambiguous erotic undertone to your work, or is it darkly romantic?
I think it’s usually romantic on the surface but I like to imply erotic or threatening undertones.

Do you ever create political art?
I pay a great deal of attention to what’s happening politically but it doesn’t play into my work.  I consider my stuff to be sort of escapism.

There’s an ominous and dark quality to your work, yet it’s incredibly beautiful. What do you see in this dark world?
I’ve always seen beauty in the gritty randomness and destruction of nature I think growing up in Mid-Missouri shaped this a lot.  Everything just kind of looks that way there.

So what puts you in the mood do make art?
Guilt for not making more art.  And I think the rush you get when you finish something that turned out fantastic is like a drug.

And where do you find the materials to make your art?
Estate Sales, Junk stores,  Science supply catalogs,  anywhere there are funky old objects and parts.

Where is your favorite place to be?
I love Denver.  After moving away for a while I realized how much, and moved back.  I also like New York.

Where do your spend the most time and why?
I love to go out and be social but I’m also kind of a loner.  I spend a lot of time at home making stuff and working on projects.

So what’s your favorite quote?
I liked when Duchamp said “I have forced myself to contradict myself in order to avoid conforming to my own taste”

Who are your favorite musicians? Isn’t music a big part of your influences?
Music has always played a big part in, at least, the inspiration, of alot of the stuff I make.
Belle & Sabastian, Leonard Cohen, Junior Boys, Talk Talk, Arvo Paert, Cat Power, The Magnetic Fields, Angelo Bedalamenti, 16HP, Woven Hand, Patti Smith, Antony & the Johnsons, The Radio Dept., Prefab Sprout, The Ladybug Transistor, Ian Cooke, Lilium, Grandaddy, Cocteau Twins, Tarnation, Woven Hand, Allison Goldfrapp, Laurie Anderson, PJ Harvey, Midlake, Nick Cave, Nick Drake, The Smiths, Tindersticks, Wolfgang Press.

What’s the music video you were inspired by?
That was an old Peter Murphy video for “all night long”

How do you fend off all of the artist hungry groupies?
Unfortunately I usually don’t have that problem very often.

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March 2020


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