The Roof Is On Fire


By Derek de Koff

Why are there American Spirit cigarettes smashed out all over the floor? Is this a nod to our Native American brothers?
I love voodoo. In that religion, everything is adopted and transformed. I used the American Spirit cigarettes for the name, and also because they're allegedly natural.

The tanning bed?
The tanning bed is being used to practice an odd form of sun worship. I bought it online. It was originally meant for weight-lifters: it's a lot wider than the average booth. It's been through a great deal, and while remaking it, I cracked the plexi-glass. I used duct tape to fix it. I decided to do this for two reasons. One: In Japan, they fill cracked ceramics with gold ' the results are quite beautiful. And two: it reminds me of friends who 'fix' fancy cell phones. The tanning bed is now a huge version of this.

You've used 2(x)ist briefs in several different pieces. What's with this particular personal fetish?
The 2(x)ist underwear is a constant for me now. First of all, I like the name. It makes me think of people who go to survival camps. Also, this brand was originally targeted to gay men and was soon co-opted by straight buyers. I heard that the cut of the design was to make your package seem bigger. 2(x)ist' I think about what we actually need in order to exist. I am certain this brand of underwear isn't featured on the survivalist guide website.

The materials you've put on the wall make the room feel like a fall-out bunker. There are sandbags from an Army Surplus store -- some sandbags are made to look like monstrous chamomile tea bags. Is this a comment on the commercialization of what 'organic' means? A satire of the New Age?
I was thinking about how militaristic the healthy-minded can be. I have learned to laugh at the commercial aspects of our culture as a defense mechanism. Otherwise, I would be angry all the time. The New Age movement has great beauty. The New Wage movement will rationalize our unnecessary demise.

Tell me about creating the handmade colonic machine. How did that come about?
I dreamt that I made a colonic irrigation system as an art work. When I woke up, I thought about it, and it seemed to make a lot of sense. At one point in time, we would have all worshiped the sun, land, water. I believe the longing for this never goes away, no matter how disconnected we become from those instincts. In psychology, I've been told that if an emotion doesn't come out in its original form, it mutates until it finds a way out. As I said before, I'm interested in the mutations. I see my colonic system as a place where people can reconnect with the foods they eat. I thought of the tubes as a filmstrip of your insides. In alchemy, feces and gold are often seen as one. In Jungian terms, you have to dig through a lot of your own shit to find the gold.

How did you create the piss and feces, if you'd be willing to say?
Depends on which piece.

Why did you choose the Alicia Bay Laurel Song? It definitely adds a haunting, vampiric vibe to the proceedings.
I really like that song, actually; I think it's sincere and sweet. Once in a while, you'll hear one of the singer's laugh. It's very subtle' but it speaks volumes to me. They didn't take life too seriously. I think it's possible to create something with all your heart, and still make fun of yourself.

Light Chamber (Part 2) runs through the end of May at X Initiative, 548 West 22nd Street, 917-697-4886,

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