Aaron Mulligan is a curator and artist from Colorado currently based in Brooklyn. His practice entails an investigation into the possibility of treating images as belonging to a commons, open to all viewers. He is particularly focused on exploring methods of appropriating images from consumer culture so as to develop tactics whereby consumers express cultural agency. Mulligan builds bridges between visual cultures outside those traditionally encompassed in the category of the fine arts, looking to explore the expressiveness of diverse visual products. His methods entail a subversion of notions of authorship and stylistic novelty and emphasize the incorporation of interdisciplinary praxis. Mulligan also advocates for the movement toward a post-work society, attempting to shift the value awarded to labor over to the process of education. He serves as an educator, following the approach of Joseph Albers and John Dewey.
From April 2018 – October 2019 Mulligan ran a gallery and educational space called Juicebox in Denver Colorado with his wife Lucía Rodríguez, devoted to providing a platform for underrepresented artists and for community.
I agree with Joseph Beuys that “everyone is an artist”. I like the idea that everyone has that freedom to experiment. More than any one thing, I like people who are passionate, who make themselves into artists.
I also very much enjoy going to the grocery store and looking at all the products on the shelf, at how beautiful they all are.
One way I respond to the culture I see being produced around me is to curate. I actually think a lot of people engage in practices similar to curating when they arrange playlists on Spotify or repost images on Instagram or Tumblr. The best part of curating is playing with others. I enjoy collaborating. I want to help people feel less anxious about sharing in a read/write culture.
John Berger is a thinker who inspires me, and his Ways of Seeing (the book and the tv series) is one of my favorite books. He’s a leading figure in the studies of Visual Culture. Visual culture studies interest me because I never saw “art” as a child. I didn’t go to museums or galleries but I did watch anime and played video games on the early internet.
Rather than saying what my practice is about, I think it’s best to say what my practice takes for granted. I take the extreme surplus of creativity of others for granted. I take the internet for granted and use it more or less as a tool, without much reflexivity. The same can be said about my use of Photoshop. I take globalism for granted.
I think it is also evident that my practice is post-work. I don’t celebrate work or labor. I’d rather like to describe what I do as lazy. I like to play Photoshop, for example, in a way that I think qualifies as leisure. To me, technology is designed to get rid of work. In a way, I’m trying to forge tactics of being lazy, in overcoming the guilt associated with laziness. This is because work is the thing that prevents people from being artists. It doesn’t make sense to me for a democratic society to celebrate “work” as a value because leisure is absolutely necessary for the culture in which democracy can flourish.
So yeah, there’s a lot of laziness in my “work”. But I hope you look at my laziness as being the type you experience when lying in bed with a loved one, just wasting hours talking nonsense.
Finally, I want to say that it’s important to me to serve as an educator. I think I should just call myself an educator because education is at the core of my practice. I mentioned Josef Albers and John Dewey in my art-talk bio above. Albers is a huge inspiration because he absolutely believed that expanding his students’ perceptual abilities could have positive political consequences. I share that naiveté. And I share with Dewey the belief that democracy is not just a political system, but a culture. The culture of democracy thrives on education (and education requires leisure). Education is the cultivation of that artists who exists in everyone. I’m into that.
So that’s pretty much it. I actually prefer talking in person, so I hope you reach out to me. Sending you love, whoever you are!❤️❤️❤️