Interview with Lex Vaughn

by | Jan 14, 2010 | Interviews | 0 comments

This week at my day job at Canadian Art, I got the opportunity to interview artist and performer Lex Vaughn about her residency and installation at Saskatoon’s AKA Gallery as the “geriatric dandy” character Peanut Brittle. Vaughn has performed with The Second City improv company and several Toronto bands (like Hank and The Hidden Cameras) and also worked in a two-person craft collective with artist Allyson Mitchell. For her “Peanut Brittle” exhibition, Vaughn has re-created the elderly gent’s apartment in the gallery, complete with ham radio, vinyl record collection and hot plate, and will perform as Peanut this weekend for the first few days of the show. Most importantly, though, Vaughn has an earnest appreciation for the anachronistic, outmoded and forgotten and was willing to share her enthusiasm with me by email. The whole interview is available on Canadian Art online, but here is one of my favourite exchanges:

Gabby Moser: Your WEZY installation and performance incorporates several anachronistic cultural forms (such as copies of LIFE magazine, or your dandy-inspired wardrobe) and technologies (like vinyl LPs, ham radios or a hot plate) and you mention in your artist statement that nostalgia plays a key role in the viewer’s experience of the project. Why do you think we respond so strongly to these older forms?

Lex Vaughn: While installing today, I was tacking up about 400 of these QSL cards (handmade postcards that confirm contact between radio operators) that make up Peanut’s station, and every single one of them is so beautiful! These cards are such a lost art form. I cannot think of anything like this that is made today, by hand, that gives out such personalized information. The operators sent these things by mail, religiously! And why? To make contact with people in other places that they had no idea even existed and could only dream about, or had to go to the library to look up in books. These cards symbolized the freedom of a world outside of their own. How liberating! I miss the mail system because of that sense of freedom. I don’t think it is necessarily “progress” to stop making things with your hands, or to forget how it feels to run to the mailbox. I think I was born an old man.

Thanks especially to Lex for being willing to answer my questions in the midst of an ambitious installation schedule. “Peanut Brittle” continues at AKA Gallery until February 19.