Hazelmyer is definitely outspoken and opinionated, a couple of the reasons why I would ask artists I’d run across on social media these questions… I’ve also had the pleasure to talk shit and the rare occasion of being schooled by him. A very smart person and someone who inspires me often, his lino cuts blow my mind and possessed me to start trying to lino cut myself.
Hazelmyer also founded Amphetamine Reptile Records a very successful and respected record label and something of the underground that I have long known of. He’s not from the underground of the 60′s, but the DIY scene started by artists like Ian Mackaye… Hazelmyer is also founder of the “Retardist” art movement.
What is underground art?
The simple answer is anything pushed by an avant guard that isn’t accepted by the establishment. Life always complicates simple answers though. There’s many example in art, music, literature where an “underground” movement grew so large as to supplant the “establishment” which in turn then withered into obscurity, or was over run by members of the “underground”.
Are there rules or a set of ethics to the underground?
That implies one unified underground, which if anything is further from reality than ever. The past decades has seen the expansion of the niche culture. Micro underground movements that tend to have a more unified and hive like lock step mentality. In those instances there are seemingly strict rules and conduct of behavior. I see a pattern in that the moments in underground culture that I am most interested in are those points where varied mindsets and influences and types of thought converge to create something new, and as a rule those moments in time for a given “movement” tend to be rule free (lol). Human nature usually kicks in at some point and acceptable standards/rules/ethics/norms are laid down. That usually marks the end of the creative part of any movement in music/art.
What is selling out?
The act of denying your true aesthetic vision in order to obtain rewards (monetary/acceptance/status). I differ from many folks definition of “selling out” as I see nothing wrong with exploiting pure art for gain. As long as intent wasn’t altered to appeal to a market place or conformity. To my mind after that moment of purist creation, there is no wrong in then pimping purity in any way possible as the art is already created and will go unaltered by crass commercialism. Some take the definition of “sell out” a step further and believe any degree of financial gain sullies their art and is selling out. They are called starving artists.
Can underground go above ground and still be underground?
Sure. I think various artists/musicians/writers have gained mass acceptence, or entrance into the establishment and not comprimised their vision in any way after this “success”. These folks usually become hugely successful as they are considered hugely influential as they change the paradigm/perception of establishment.
Have you ever sold out?
I sell out every day I temper and restrain the hideous shit that broils behind my eyes. I’ve held it at bay this long, so I manage I’ll make it the end maintaining the needed restraint to have a successful marriage, business, etc. I ever wind up in a trailer out in the woods, with nothing to lose, then you best all stay out of my range of fire. lol.
Is it possible to steal an idea?
No. But it is possible to steal the methodology in which you approach an idea. These two things are often confused. I think we all instinctually accept and deny this possibility when assessing an artists validity.
Your biggest artistic regret?
Everything I’ve ever done, but more so all the things I didn’t do.
Your biggest artistic inspiration?
These are usually temporary and impossible to quantify in impact, and for me they are legion. Usually the bigger inspirations could be quantified slightly by the level in which they inspired me to act. Hendrix making me want to pick up a guitar as a kid. Jack Kirby or Otto Dix making me pick up a pencil, pen, carver in the past few years.
What is dangerous art?
To me that can in large only be defined by the time and place of it’s creation and is as dangerous to it’s creator as it is to norms it challenges. That artist leaving a blemish on his State sanctioned painting of Stalin, and risking death in a gulag, well he’s created an idea far more dangerous than folks I know attempting to push barriers with no real risk. Me doing a piece that represents the horrors of lynching in the here and now isn’t shit. Doing that piece publicly in a 1930′s south is planting a dangerous idea to the status quo.
Bonus question… nature or nurture?
Most assuredly both.To what extent the mix is, is usually not consistent and varies wildly from individual to individual.