The brainstorming process for Juliano-Villani’s recent work involved a lot of circuitous, labor-intensive research and development. Barely any of it ended up affecting the finished paintings, but the artist doesn’t seem to regret having wasted time. Through her friend Nathan Fielder of Nathan for You fame—himself a sort of maestro of circuitous time-wasting—Juliano-Villani commissioned an L.A.-based comedy writer to generate dozens of short scenarios that she could then paint. The goal was to challenge notions of authorship, she says. “I thought it’d be interesting if someone else dictated what to paint, and I just did it,” the artist explains. “And if they sucked, I wasn’t responsible.”
Unfortunately, the ideas themselves proved unusable—too many specific brand references, for one thing. “A house made of Altoids tins belonging to Channing Tatum (we know this because the mailbox says ‘C. Tatum’ on it.) The house is nothing fancy, he’s a modest man!” read one. And another: “A person using a neti pot with spaghetti coming out of it OR a snake or SOMETHING other than snot and water, perhaps into a wine glass or into the mouth of a yelling person.”
Equally fruitless was an experiment in which Juliano-Villani and an artist friend visited a local bar, pretending to be affiliated with the ABC reality show Wife Swap, and asked strangers to fill out a Mad Libs-style form that could be used to generate future paintings. (Apparently everyone involved was drunk enough that this nonsensical cover story made sense.) “All these bros,” Juliano-Villani laments, recalling some typical answers, from equity to jell-o shot.