Palestinian-American Artist Nic Courdy Questions What Makes Art Contemporary

Nov 24, 2016 1:58PM

Nicholas Courdy is a Palestinian-American artist currently based out of Salt Lake City. His recent works use multimedia to explore compilation aesthetics, combining great old master works with details by contemporary artists.

EMERGEAST: Your works are a visual feast to say the least! What is your inspiration behind your provocative and imaginative renditions?

Nic Courdy: I was spending time in art museums, and I loved the feeling of travelling through history, movements, and materials. I wanted to try and convey this feeling into a single image. I also became curious about what it meant to be "contemporary." Could something that only references historical material and imagery still be considered contemporary?

Koons // Panini, 2015

E: Your approach involves the appropriation of art. Can you tell the readers a little more about what this means?

NC: I am very inspired by internet culture and the collaboration it harbors. My work predominantly appropriates public domain imagery, meaning the content has been made available for use by its creators to everyone with internet access. I feel that my work is more of a compilation of appropriated artifacts rather than raw appropriation. 

Each appropriated image was created with a specific intent. Through my compilation, I hope to give it a role in an entirely new narrative. To me. it functions as a silent collaboration, where I may never meet the original creator, but through the internet I was able to make something (indirectly) with his or her help.

Baeilleur // Reigate, 2015

E: Your digital compilations address both past and present art movements. What is your message through these dynamic images?

NC: I think this goes back to my answer to the first question—what it means to be "contemporary." I think using past and present art movements maybe challenges notions of the "contemporary," especially in the art world where "contemporary" is a word that is generally used as a praise of high honor. 

Challenging the contemporary ideology is not a main direction of my work, but an idea that has appeared in certain works. I am more interested in exploring the question: could something that only references historical material and imagery still be considered contemporary?

E: Identity often plays an important role in the inspiration or subject matter in an artist’s work, especially in the Middle East. As an American of Palestinian descent, how (if at all) does identity influence your stance as an artist?

NC: I believe it does, although I believe it inspires the work from a different perspective. Conflicted notions of identity due to my American and Palestinian descent may contribute to the mixed use of imagery in my work. The artifacts generally span through time, culture, and material. It may be a digital collage or video work, but the elements that make it function are from all different parts of the world. I think the identity conflict between my two backgrounds was a catalyst for some of the conceptual questions and aesthetic decision-making in my work.

E: You have certainly made your mark as an artist with a large social media following eager to watch and take in your posts and latest work. What’s next for Nic Courdy?

NC: I have been taking some time to explore different outlets for my work. I am currently exploring implementing different ways to interact with the videos. I am also preparing for a show at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Salt Lake City. I have been exploring how I want to curate the show.

E: If you could describe Nic Courdy in three words…

NC: Rapid eye movement.

Making love to a memory, 2015