“What’s the difference between New York and LA? In New York, you cry in the street, but in LA, you cry in your car.”
I knew Casey Jane Ellison’s work, Touching the Art (2013), was good when I stayed to watch the entire second season twice on a screen in the New Museum’s lobby during “Surround Audience,” the 2015 Triennial; the video is a three-part series in which she interviews various art world luminaries, including Catherine Opie, K8 Hardy, Clarissa Dalrymple, and Kembra Pfahler. I also knew it was good when, at home later in the evening, I re-played it during a dinner party, and my best friends watched it with the same gusto usually reserved for Beyoncé music videos.
Embodying a persona that is, in turn, hilarious, childish, antagonistic, vulnerable, and chummy, Ellison asks female artists, curators, and collectors—males were pointedly excluded from the set—questions that they would generally be too polite or offended to answer, such as, “What is success? Like, should I hang myself?” By disarming her subjects, she allows them to open up. “It’s being rich and being well-loved by everyone you like to have loving you,” Dalrymple responded to the question.
If her career successes over the past year are any indication, she’s certainly loved by more than myself and my drunk BFFs—loved, across all kinds of disciplines. Along with doing a monthly stand-up comedy show at Otherwild in Los Angeles, she was also recently hired by B.B. Dakota, a clothing brand, to create The Right and Left Brains of Casey Jane’s, a six-part series that will air on the brand’s website this autumn.
I recently sat down with Ellison in a coffee shop in Venice, California. Offers of daytime drinking and/or getting stoned—“when in California...”—were politely ignored for a more sober experience.
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