COMA recently sat down with Jordan Azcune to discuss his studio life and literary, audio and visual inspiration during his time in isolation.
COMA: What have you been reading? Have any of these books or writers inspired your latest collection or had a broader influence on your artistic practice?
Jordan Azcune: Living with artists I’m not short on books to borrow or flip, somehow, they all accumulate libraries – but I’m not sure if they directly inspired the works – they inform and confirm ideas for sure. I’m interested more in non-fiction, ones on artists, history, gardening and contemporary discourse. The latest to keep me awake at night was Complaint as counteraction: Disputing the Archibald Prize by Eugene Yiu Nam Cheung and Soo-Min Shim. It’s succinct, emotive and a powerful ownership of opinion that reaches beyond the topic. I think I might contradict myself now because I going through my pile of books, I have found Fra Angelico – Heaven on Earth which is the title of a work from earlier this year. And again, now remembering Golden Book of Gifts – more of an antiquity object than a read – found in the Wolfsonian Library Miami originally published by Queensland Art Gallery.
- Art, Faith and Modernity by Sacha Llewellyn gifted by artist Ian Friend
- Bromeliads by Andrew Steens
- Complaint as counteraction: Disputing the Archibald Prize by Eugene Yiu Nam Cheung and Soo-Min Shim
- The Mysterious Fayum Portraits Faces from Ancient Egypt By Euphrosyne Doxiadis
- Fra Angelico -Heaven on Earth by Alexa Beller
- The Journal of Decorative and Propaganda Arts Previously published by the Wolfson Foundation in Miami FL 1986-2008
- Sottsass Phaidon
- The Art of Arranging Flowers – A Complete Guide to Japanese Ikebana
- The Art of Sculptor Inge King by Sasha Grishin
- Zizz! The life and art of Len Lye by Len Lye
COMA: What have you been listening to? Have there been particular songs on repeat, lyrics that have lingered on the mind? Are these your routine songs that you go to to concentrate on when in the studio, or do you change dependant on situation and mood?
JA: Mariah Carey was no.1 the day I was born so I like to think that means something as much as my star sign. My music taste is trash practice for karaoke. I always sign up at ‘Sporties’ for something poorly sung but well performed. The bi-nightly courtyard performances at home iso have peaked at Damn it Janet, Nails, Hair, Hips, Heels, The boy is mine, It’s not right but it’s okay and Dancing on my own. I have also been listening to the Kyoto Kabuki Orchestra through the day and music of Byzantium. In the studio The Goon Saxs, Peter Allen and Paula Abdul top the charts. Give the video clip for Sports by Viagra Boys a go too – I warned you, TRASHY!
- I’m gay and broke Spotify playlist is by my housemate Darcy Boyd
- Education by Ramesh Mario
- Sex, Drugs and Rod Stewart by Adrienne Harvey
COMA: Are you listening to any podcasts lately?
JA: It’s one of my great sins, I just don’t get podcasts, but I’m ready for someone to change my world.
COMA: What have you been watching? This can include: tv shows, movies, youtube series. Have any of these been source material for your work?
JA: I know my weaknesses and one is watching episodic series – I hate them because I have to see them through to the finish. It’s the reason I shouldn’t have started with the X-Files.
The Colour Purple, But I’m a Cheerleader, Film stars don’t die in Liverpool, An Angel at my Table and I watched Titanic for the 108th anniversary on April 15 which is a bit of a tradition and I cry every time.
I’m also a sucker for gymnastic and ballet videos on Instagram, I save and re-watch them over and over. I think I could be responsible for the amount of views Nadia Comaneci 1976 Gymnastics all seven perfect 10’s has on YouTube – like when she bounces of the lower uneven bar on her hips… breathtaking.
COMA: How are you keeping sane in our current state of isolation, any routines, foods or friends helping you get through?
JA: I have been really lucky to quarantine as a family with Lincoln Austin and Leonard Brown, they have been my great community, mentors, and friends, what I do I wouldn’t have done it without them. At the beginning of this, I was working on my first Solo in Melbourne at the Ipswich studio I share with Lincoln. It’s now planned to be the first exhibition at Seventh to open after restrictions. Me and Lincoln have been scheming a collaborative video and sculptural costume work based around the story Icarus and Daedalus that parallels us in many ways. Lincoln with his mathematical illusionist sculptures, me melting wax and our imprisoned in the island of isolation.
Since I felt the most productive and useful at LA’s and LB’s I continued there, helping and prompting the building of a new native fish pond, rock wall seat, veggie patch, garden edits, and guerrilla gardening. I have a habit where I find empty council areas around home and studio and have been planting and attending to acacias, pines, grevilleas and eremophilas. The garden hasn’t looked better than it does now and its open to guests after this.
In about mid 2019 I started studying Sogetsu Ikebana practicing in Jindalee (a western Brisbane suburb) with Master Pat Mackie. This Zen practice is probably my biggest mental savour. I just earnt my first certificate that is to be graded in the Tokyo Sogetsu Headquarters soon. The small classes are comprised of mainly middle-aged asymmetric haircuts who have now created a Whatsapp class where we do our graded class exercise as well as an advanced weekly challenge. I am trying to embrace ikebana that I wouldn’t be able to get away with in the studio – this one earnt me the ancient great student honour of ‘gold star’. Competitive Zen.