Jessica Williams, an American artist living in
Oslo, talks about cats and satisfaction.



Part 01.




Germany, Jessica Williams — 2007


Morning ...
Light

Noon ...  
Shadows

Night ...
Moon



Denmark, Jessica Williams — 2007


Perfect happiness ...
Intimacy, forever

Preposterous ...
Greed


Germany, Jessica Williams — 2007


Fear ... 
Doubt, disappointment


Love ...
Is real


Extravagance...
Rococo



Moroco, Jessica Williams — 2014


Comedy ...
Always, everywhere


Work ...
Is what it is


Our time ...
Now


The future ...
???


The past ...
Is a finite place


Part 02.






Most interesting thing in your wallet ...
A translation of my name in katakana written out by a friend, a photo (kind of a joke) of a recently planted peony bush to remind me to water it.


In another life, you’d be ... 
Probably a cat


Your lucky charm ...
Also probably a cat


Words to live by ...
Remember where you came from and where you are going




Massachusetts; New York City; Morocco, Jessica Williams — 2014


Prized possession ...
My camera


One wish ...
Patience


Your most marked characteristic ...
I am a small girl, sometimes quiet, but if you ask i will have a lot to say


A dream dinner party would be made up of who (dead or alive) ...
All my internet friends


Favorite shoes ...
Always that ones that are being broken in and slightly painful to wear


Favorite store ...
Acne


Favorite friend ...
Victoria (Oslo), Maya (NYC)



Norway, Jessica Williams — 2014


Favorite place ...
In a small cabin inside a big garden on the outskirts of Oslo


Favorite color ...
Grey



3 Tragedies, Federico García Lorca,


Favorite book ...
There are so many! Too many, maybe. For the cover: Federico García Lorca’s3 Tragedies (cover by Alvin Lustig)


Favorite website ...

Also a difficult question. Lately, sadly, I’m just not online as much.. An old favorite that I’m pleased is still going on strong: www.booksonline.fr.



Shadows, Jessica Williams — 2008


A favorite photo that you've taken ...
This photo was taken in 2008 hours after arriving by plane in San Francisco from NYC. Magic was all around, maybe something in the light or the jetlag or just the newness of being far away from home. Yet even now, years later, it still resonates with me and thus will always be a favorite.



Cats and Watermelons, Gabriel Orozco — 1992


A favorite photo that someone else has taken ...
Gabriel Orozco, Cats and Watermelons, 1992. This photo is a classic: full of humor, poetry, and stuck between the surreality and banality that is the world we live in.


Part 03.





Norway, Jessica Williams — 2011


You are an American living in Oslo. How has that informed your work ...

In August I will have been here in Oslo for three years. More than anything else, I think living here has helped me slow down and reevaluate priorities. In my work I find I am producing slower, but I am more satisfied with and dedicated to what I do spend my time on.


Talk about the importance of physical objects in an increasingly digital world ...

I love both worlds: the digital and the physical. But as the digital slowly takes over, it is only natural that the physical becomes even more precious. Yet, even the clacking of these smooth white plastic keys and the wooden desk underneath my wrists is a sensation. For me, more important than any specific physical object is to be aware of one’s own body and every sensation (or object) one comes in contact with.


 
Flowers, Assembly Line, Jessica Williams — 2011


Tell me about your Zine Subscription ...

In January of 2011 as I was preparing to leave the last office job I ever had, I gave myself a project. This was my Zine Subscription: each month I produced a new experimental publication (both in form and content) for a total of 12 zines and 365 total copies by the end of the year. When I first began, I offered 10 special subscriptions for $100 each. To all the people who purchased these, I am eternally grateful–they had no idea what they would receive and the collective $1000 helped jumpstart my (then) new small press.



Japan, Jessica Williams — 2013


And, your photo exhibition at Oslo’s only sake bar ...

For the last two years, I’ve been working my way through my MFA by bartending at a place called Izakaya. I’d never been a bartender before but my boss (now a friend) accepted my shaky resume that included opening beer bottles at art openings. Last fall a group of us went to Japan together and (of course) I took many photographs. My photo exhibition is of a selection of these images.



Notes on Building a Bow, Jessica Williams — 2012


You built a traditional elm longbow. Tell me about this ...

The longbow is both a long story and a long project that has been with me for almost five years now. For me, the bow could have been almost anything. But it wasn’t because it came from a dream. From the inside of a dark, windowless art gallery I wrote down what I remembered from the night before: the burning desire to shoot an arrow from a longbow through a pane of glass in a forest.

Such an exotic image in NYC, but totally possible in Norway. And from cutting down a tree to spending months practicing, I eventually ended up with a small book about my experience and a cryptic yet straight-forward video installation. They are both about what happens when a dream becomes an image and that image becomes a physical object that enables the original dream-act, the experience of which is then translated back into an image. Full circle.



Antwerp, 2013; China, 2011; Lithuania, 2012 © Jessica Williams


You work in a variety of mediums. Do you have a favorite ...

I do. Lately I’ve been really keen on writing and improving my voice when I write. I also love photography and can get really nerdy about why I love certain images technically or about qualities of physical prints. However, I guess I work conceptually because it’s always the ideas that come first before the form.


Describe a day in the life of Jessica. How would it begin? What would you do? Where would you go? What time would you be in bed ...

On weekdays the alarm goes off at 6am, but that is for my husband who is a chef. I’m lucky and usually get up two hours later around 8 or 8:30. Days are usually spent at my studio or at home, or even outside if the weather is beautiful. Yesterday I did a lot of errands around Oslo and saw some art here and here. Today I’m gardening, writing emails, and checking on my home-fermented ginger beer. Lately I’ve been going to bed early around 11 or even 10, but when I work at the bar I’m not usually in bed until 2am.


  


Tell me about NSEW.

NSEW (North, South, East, West) is a tiny publisher that produces postcards, artist books, and other unique items. I started it in 2011 in conjunction with my Zine Subscription and over the years I’ve had a lot of help, namely from Espen Friberg, Mylinh Nguyen, and Camilla Skibrek. The goal of the press is to pair great ideas + imagery with available and easily obtained materials to make objects that are quality and affordable. This year it’s been on a hiatus but some new publications are in the works to be released at the end of the summer.


And, the Self-Publishing Workshop you founded in Oslo ...

When I moved to Oslo in the fall of 2011, I started the MFA program at the Oslo Academy of Fine Art. For my study leader, self-publishing was an attractive yet remote land of mystery and wonder. When he was looking for people to help start something, I volunteered and after awhile ended up being the only one involved. Somehow I got the school to acquire two Risographs, a perfect binding machine, and eventually I got a contract to teach a once-a-week experimental yet practical workshop when I decided to take a year off.


Talk about future projects.

This fall I’ll have a table at the New York Art Book Festival under the title “Jessica Williams and Friends”. It’s in a room dedicated to publishing in Norway and supported by the consulate. I’m actually the only non-Norwegian represented so I feel kind of proud. I’ll be showing my own work plus NSEW, the Self-Publishing Workshop, and others. It should be a lot of fun.


Talk about a dream project.

My current dream project is to travel to the huge plastic island in the Pacific Ocean aka the Great Pacific garbage patch. It’s a place very few have ever seen but more and more have heard about. When I’m there I want to make a series of photographs of the massive amount of plastic that has photo-degraded into tiny bits of confetti.