BIG RAT .STUDIO

BIG RAT. STUDIO INTERVIEW WITH BURLY BOSOMS

WHO ARE YOU?

I’M RUBY, RUBY BLOSSOM STREEK, AND I AM 22 YRS OLD. I’VE JUST GRADUATED CAMBERWELL COLLEGE OF THE ARTS DOING PAINTING, AND I MAKE FILMS ABOUT MY FEELINGS; SOMETIMES THEY’RE FUNNY AND SOMETIMES THEY’RE SAD, I GUESS. IT’S A BIT CATHARTIC – THERAPEUTIC.

YOUR WORK DEALS WITH SELF-OBSESSION AND AUTOBIOGRAPHY. WHY DO YOU TAKE YOURSELF AS YOUR SUBJECT?

I THINK THAT SELF-OBSESSION AND AUTOBIOGRAPHY ARE BOTH TERMS THAT FIT MY WORK; I DESCRIBE MY SELF AS BEING VERY NARCISSISTIC, AND MY PRACTICE DOES JUST REVOLVE AROUND MYSELF. I WOULDN’T SEE MY WORK AS SELF-PORTRAIT THOUGH. IT’S A WAY TO ARTICULATE THE WORLD; HOW I PROCESS IT AND ARTICULATE IT – IDEAS OF LONELINESS, LUST, LOSS, ALL OF THAT STUFF. THOSE FEELINGS ARE UNIVERSALLY SHARED, RATHER THAN JUST BEING SPECIFIC TO ME, EVEN THOUGH AT THE TIME IT FEELS LIKE ITS ALL ABOUT WHAT YOU’RE GOING THOUGH YOURSELF, IF THAT MAKES SENSE. SO IT’S ABOUT FINDING THAT UNIVERSAL CONNECTION THROUGH MY INTIMATE EMOTIONS. IT MAKES SENSE IN MY HEAD.

I FIND IT DIFFICULT- I DON’T THINK I COULD EVER MAKE WORK BY USING SOMEBODY ELSE’S WORK OR IDEAS. I TAKE STUFF FROM FICTION AND MUSIC AND POETRY BUT I THINK THAT’S DIFFERENT BECAUSE THAT’S STILL A WAY FOR ME TO GO THROUGH IT, RATHER THAN LOOKING AT SOMEBODY ELSE EMOTIONS AND MANIPULATING THEM – YOU LOSE ALL SENSE OF TRUENESS AND AUTHENTICITY BY DOING THAT.

YOU TALK ABOUT ‘THE MORTIFYING ORDEAL OF BEING KNOWN ONLINE’ – ARE THE VULNERABILITIES IN YOUR WORK BEING PRESENTED IN A MODE DESIGNED TO REFLECT THE ‘ONLINENESS’ OF FEELING EMOTIONS NOW?

YEAH I THINK SO. THAT QUOTE IS TAKEN FROM A NEW YORKER ARTICLE, OR AN EMAIL, I DON’T KNOW. A GUY SHARED AN EMAIL AFTER HIS COLLEAGUES RIPPED THE SHIT OUT OF HIM, OR SOMETHING, AND IT GOT SHARED AROUND LOADS. ITS ABOUT SOMETHING REALLY WEIRD: HE SAYS, “THE MORTIFYING ORDEAL OF BEING KNOWN IS THE ONLY WAY THAT YOU CAN GET LOVED”, OR WHATEVER, AND IT WAS REALLY POIGNANT BUT ABOUT HIS STAPLERS – WHICH I THINK IS BRILLIANT.

I WOULDN’T SEE MY SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE AS NECESSARILY BEING IN THE SAME REALM AS MY ARTWORK. ME CONSTANTLY CRYING ON MY INSTAGRAM STORIES, OR BEING REALLY OPEN ON TWITTER – JUST CONSTANT STREAMS OF MY INNER MONOLOGUE BEING DOCUMENTED ONLINE – I THINK HAS TAKEN MY ART TO A PLACE THAT IS JUST SO OPEN AND IS REALLY TRANSPARENT. IT MEANS I CAN FUCK ABOUT WITH IT [THE ART] AND I’M NOT WORRIED WHAT PEOPLE ARE GOING TO THINK ABOUT ME – IT’S ALREADY OUT THERE.

ALL MY WORK IS QUITE ANALOGUE; EVERYTHING IS SHOT ON MY DADS OLD MINI DV CAMERA AND I HAVE TO CONNECT IT TO FOUR LAPTOPS JUST TO BE ABLE TO EDIT IT PROPERLY, AND THEN EVERYTHING ELSE IS KIND OF DONE ON SOWING MACHINES BEFOREHAND – DONE REALLY HAPHAZARDLY. THEN I PUT IT UP ON SOCIAL MEDIA STRAIGHT AWAY. BUT ITS NOT VERY DIGITISED IN THE SAME WAY RACHEL MACLEAN’S, AMALIA ULMAN’S, AND MOLLY SODA’S WORKS ARE (WHO ARE ALL SIMILAR DIARISTIC, FEMALE FILMMAKERS). I THINK IT LOSES SO MUCH OF ITSELF WHEN ITS PUT THROUGH MORE AND MORE TECHNOLOGY. I LIKE THE WAY EVERYTHING LOOKS LIKE A HOME MOVIE. I DON’T EDIT ANYTHING PROPERLY, I DON’T REALLY CHANGE THE COLOURS OF ANYTHING, I JUST CUT CLIPS TOGETHER AND MAKE SURE THAT THE SOUND WORKS – I DON’T DIGITISE ANYTHING. IT’S VERY SIMPLE AND HANDS ON.

WOULD YOU SEE YOUR WORK AS CAMP, OR EVEN KITSCH?

SO KITSCH; SO CAMP. WHICH IS SO WEIRD BECAUSE I FEEL LIKE THE IDEA OF A MINI DV CAMERA IS SO MASCULINE NOW – YOU SEE SO MANY SOFTBOYS GOING BACK TO FILM CAMERAS, AND SKATERS ON THE ROAD. I HAVE TO MESSAGE THEM CONSTANTLY TO BE LIKE, “I HAVE NO IDEA HOW TO USE MY FILM CAMERA. PLEASE SHOW ME.” AND THEY, “ WAAA, YOUR JUST MAKING VIDEOS OF YOU CRYING.”. “YEAH, AND IT’S BETTER THAN ANYTHING YOU’LL EVER DO.” AS I’M FILMING REALLY GIRLY STUFF WITH LOADS OF GLITTERY BACKGROUNDS. ITS QUITE A JUXTAPOSITION, I THINK, BUT FUN – AND VERY CAMP.

WHY DO YOU USE CRYING IN THE VIDEOS?

FROM BEING ON TUMBLR AS A TEENAGER, WHENEVER I GET A NOSE BLEED OR IF I’M EVER CRYING LOADS I JUST INSTANTLY TAKE A PHOTO OF MYSELF. IT’S A NATURAL RESPONSE THAT I HAVE AS SOON AS ANY FLUID COMES OUT OF MY FACE – LIKE, “THIS IS HILARIOUS, I’VE GOT TO GET A PICTURE OF THIS”. WHEN I FIRST MOVED TO LONDON, EVERY TIME I WAS CRYING I HAD TO DOCUMENT MY BREAKDOWNS ON MY INSTAGRAM STORY, BEFORE INSTAGRAM STORIES WERE EVEN PROPERLY A THING. EVERYONE WAS LIKE, “OH MY GOD, HAVE YOU SEEN RUBY RECENTLY? SHE’S GONE INSANE. WE REALLY NEED TO KEEP AN EYE ON HER.”, BUT I WAS JUST VIBING LIKE A SUPER EMOTIONAL TEENAGER. THEN I STARTED PUTTING THESE MIXTURES OF DANCING VIDEOS AND CRYING VIDEOS INTO FUNNY LITTLE INSTALLATIONS, AND THEN PUTTING THEM ALL TOGETHER AND NEVER SHOWING THEM TO ANYONE. THEN THIS YEAR I STARTED MAKING THIS FILM ALL ABOUT THE SEA [THIS TIME AGAIN, 2020] AND PUTTING IN MORE AND MORE FOOTAGE OF MYSELF. I DON’T KNOW, I’M NOT CRYING ANYWHERE NEAR AS MUCH AS I USED TO NOW; WHENEVER I’M FEELING SAD, I’M LIKE, ”START THE CAMERA, I’VE GOT TO GET IT ALL OUT NOW WHILE I’VE STILL GOT IT!”.

CAN YOU TALK A BIT ABOUT THE SAD GIRL AESTHETIC AND THE POWER OF FEMALE VULNERABILITY? ALSO I’M INTERESTED IN THE REEVALUATION OF CRYING AND HOW IT RELATES TO YOUR INTEREST IN FREUDIAN CATHARSIS?

I’M REALLY IN TO THE PSYCHOLOGICAL AND PSYCHOANALYTICAL, AND I LIKE THE WAY THAT ARTISTS CAN PLAY AROUND WITH THAT STUFF – ESPECIALLY PEOPLE LIKE MARY KELLY AND SOPHIE CALLE. THEY REALLY GO INTO THAT IN THEIR WORK WHICH I THINK IS REALLY FUN.

THE WHOLE IDEA OF BEING A DAMSEL IN DISTRESS, AND WAITING FOR SOMEBODY TO COME AND SAVE YOU – MAYBE ITS BECAUSE I’M REALLY MANIPULATIVE, OR WHAT, BUT I LOVE THAT THE IDEA THAT I CAN EXPLOIT THE OPPRESSION, WHETHER THAT’S SEXUAL EXPLOITATION THROUGH CONSUMERISM OR WHATEVER, AND TRY AND FIND SOMEONE TO BUY MY WORK OR PAY ATTENTION TO ME. THROUGH BEING THIS FRAGILE, CRYING LITTLE BABY (WHICH I AM); I THINK YOU’RE SELLING A PART OF YOURSELF AND EXPLOITING THAT. THE WAY THAT I CAN USE MY TEARS IS CATHARTIC FOR ME AS AN INDIVIDUAL AS SOMEONE MAKING WORK – MOST PEOPLE WOULDN’T WANT ANYONE TO SEE THAT SIDE OF THEM IN A MILLION YEARS. I DON’T KNOW, I GUESS IT’S JUST A LAUGH.

      

YOUR FILMS IN THE SHOW TREAD A LINE BETWEEN BEING FUNNY AND DISTRESSING. THE SOUND OF YOU KISSING A MIRROR –

IT’S SO GROSS! I LOVE THAT VIDEO SO MUCH BECAUSE IT MAKES ME FEEL PHYSICALLY SICK. THE SOUND! I DON’T KNOW IF YOU’VE WATCHED “THE VIRGIN SUICIDES”, BUT THE SOUNDTRACK BY AIR DOES IT; IT’S SO TENSE WITH THE HEAVY BREATHING AND I TOOK A LOT OF INSPIRATION FROM THAT FILM TO GET THAT BACKGROUND KISSING SOUND – BUT IT IS REALLY REVOLTING. IT’S REALLY INTENSE, BUT I MANAGED TO WATCH IT ALL THE WAY THROUGH YESTERDAY, SOMEHOW, AND I WAS SUDDENLY SPELLBOUND WATCHING IT. I WAS LIKE, “OH MY GOD, I MADE THIS”, AND YOU CAN’T TAKE YOUR EYES OFF IT EVEN THOUGH THE SOUND IS DISGUSTING. IT MADE ME FEEL WARM AND HAPPY, YOU KNOW? BECAUSE YOU’VE GOT THE SUNSETTING – THERE’S SOMETHING CAPTIVATING ABOUT THAT PIECE.

WOULD YOU CONSIDER YOU WORK TO BE POLITICAL?

JUST BECAUSE I HAVE THESE VIEWS ON POLITICS, DOESN’T MEAN THAT MY WORK HAS TO. WHILST MY WORK IS PROBABLY QUITE LEFT-WING WITH THE IMAGES THAT IT CONJURES, I DON’T SEE IT AS BEING A POLITICAL STATEMENT. I HATE “POLITICAL ARTWORK” AND ART THAT’S TRYING TO BE FEMINIST OR ART THAT’S TRYING TO BE PROVOCATIVE. THERE’S A TIME AND A PLACE FOR POLITICS AND I DON’T THINK ITS… YOU KNOW. THERE’S POLITICS IN ART: THE SYSTEMS AND THE MARKETS AND THE MONEY, BUT IN TERMS OF A LEFT AND RIGHT THING I DON’T REALLY SEE MY WORK… MAYBE THAT’S BECAUSE I HAVE NO INTEREST IN HAVING ANY INVOLVEMENT IN ART THAT’S MADE BY NAZIS, OR WHATEVER. ITS COMPLICATED: I WOULDN’T SAY MY ART IS MAKING A STATEMENT, IT JUST EXISTS IN ITS OWN BUBBLE. APART FROM THE T-SHIRT [SUCK DICK FOR SOCIALISM, T-SHIRT, 2019], I GUESS.

IS THE T-SHIRT PART OF YOUR ART OR YOU BEING ‘KNOWN ONLINE’?

WELL I’M NOT SURE. THE ONLY REASON WHY I’VE GOT THIS ONLINE PRESENCE IS FROM THE T-SHIRT, REALLY. I DON’T REALLY CARE ABOUT IT. I HAVE 10,000 FOLLOWERS ON TWITTER, WHICH IS RIDICULOUS, AND I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO SAY TO 10,000 PEOPLE. I’M NOT THAT POLITICAL: I MADE ON FABULOUS T-SHIRT AND I’M CLEVER AND I KNOW HOW TO TALK ABOUT THINGS BUT EVERYONE IS EXPECTING ME TO HAVE AN OPINION ON EVERYTHING, AND I THINK THEY’RE EXPECTING MY WORK TO BE SIMILAR. IT’S NOT. WHILE THE ‘SUCK DICK FOR SOCIALISM’ IDEA WAS BORN FROM ME WRITING MY DISSERTATION, LOOKING AT EXPLOITATION AND SEX AND THE POWER PEOPLE CAN HAVE, AND IT WAS DONE AROUND THE ELECTION AND IT CAME FROM MY ARTWORK, I WOULD ERR OF IT NOT BEING MY ‘ART’. THE SAME WAY I WOULD THINK OF THE BAGS I MAKE; THEY’RE AN EXTENSION OF THE WORK BUT THEY’RE NOT THE WORK ITSELF.

      

HOW HAS COVID AFFECTED YOU AND YOUR ART?

THE TWO FILMS BEING SHOWN IN ‘DESCENT’ ARE BOTH FILMS THAT I MADE AT THE BEGINNING OF LOCKDOWN – AT THE HIGHT OF IT. A LOT OF THE CRYING WAS HAPPENING THEN. I THINK ALMOST ALL OF THE FOOTAGE FOR ‘SILVER LININGS’ WAS FROM ME HAVING CONSTANT BREAKDOWNS ABOUT HOW LONELY AND ABOUT HOW SCARED AND CONFUSED I FELT WITH THE LOCK DOWN HAPPENING, AND TRYING TO WORK THROUGH THAT. ‘FEVER DREAM’ WAS ALSO ABOUT FEELING LONELY AND FEELING LUST AND NOT BEING ABLE TO TOUCH OR CONNECT AND TRYING TO FIND A WAY TO DO THAT THROUGH MY WORK. LOCKDOWN’S BEEN INTENSE; I HAVEN’T MADE ANY PROPER WORK SINCE A FEW MONTHS AGO – HAVING A BIT OF A DRY SPELL NOW.

I WENT BACK TO MY PARENTS’ FOR WHAT WAS MEANT TO BE TWO WEEKS IN MAY TO FINISH MY DEGREE, AND ENDED UP STAYING FOR TWO MONTHS. NOW I’M BACK IN LONDON AND I’M STAYING HERE INDEFINITELY; UNIVERSAL CREDIT, FURLOUGH AND I’M PART TIME BACK AT WORK NOW SO I’M JUST GOING TO MAKE IT WORK UNTIL I’M REALLY BROKE. I DON’T WANT TO BE ANYWHERE ELSE APART FROM IN THE CITY.

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