WB: Your stuff, particularly the art world works, are very specific to right now in the art world. How do you think about them aging? In ten or twenty years, do you see them as documents of the time? Or is that completely off to the side, and it's just a matter of your dissent? Is there something unfortunately timeless to this kind of dissent? Do you think these works will be better or worse in ten years?
WP: I think it's a mixture of both. Some of it will be useless, but that obsolescence, like when the names stop mattering, will prove the point in the pieces — like that post-boom odds piece, asking what the chances are of mattering in ten years. They could be like the mythic covers of Artforum. When I was in graduate school, they'd say, “Go look at the covers of Artforum from '70 to '80. You won't be able to find one motherfucker that's still known.” If that's true, then the people will look at the drawings and say, “Who the fuck is that guy? Who the fuck is Assume Vivid Astro Focus”? He's already almost submerged completely; he's probably showing in Italy or something, or he's doing really well in Sweden, I don't know. There is that kind of cycle, and I think some pieces with benefit from that.
But my hope is like, Ad Reinhardt's known for his paintings, and then this scathing letter writing campaign that he had going the whole time, where he was saying, “These dealers are shit hack fucks,” and then he has his cartoons, which are more about berating people for not understanding modernism, or trying to explain it, or even trying to figure it out for himself. They're instructive and interesting.
WB: Loren Munk just had a show, and it was all, say, maps of the Lower East Side, where people had their apartments, where people showed, and so on. It's a historical, research-based thing, but it's also very time-specific — in twenty years, it, too, might be an interesting historical document. Am I completely off my shit if I propose a relationship there?
WP: Actually, [earlier in my career] I hadn't seen the big map paintings that he was doing. We both had work in this big flatfile at [Dam Stuhltrager]. I was starting to do character-based work, and I was flipping through and saw his etchings where he was connecting art people. I thought they really well done, but they were dry, in a way. I wanted some critical edge to it, a story or something funny. At the same time I was seeing Guy Richards Smit's work. He was doing stand-up comedy about the art world, and that was formative for me. And then Jim Torok showing at Peirogi, cartoons about his life, bitching about the world like an angry dude in his chair screaming at his TV, “Fuck the world!” Some of it touched on the art world. I'd say that at that point, right when I got out of grad school, 2002, 2003, there were a lot of artists that had maps or systems, and it was really appealing in the sense that I was only drawing at that point, and sort of involved with storytelling.
WB: What was the work you were showing at that time?
WP: Character-based, personal experience work – Trompe-l’Å“il paintings of collections of things. But the first show didn't have lists or anything — there were approximations of Artforum pages with reviews and fake ads for shows that didn't exist. It was a six-channel narrative where there were different versions of myself arguing with myself. The second show started to have some of the notes and lists, but back then, it was straight personal narrative. There was no level of fictionalization, or stepping outside of my own experience.