Josyph and Larkin Speak About LIVES OF THE SAINTS

Nov 27, 2018 2:42PM

Josyph & Larkin (Peter Josyph & Kevin Larkin) have collaborated on their series of found-object assemblages, LIVES OF THE SAINTS, since 1991.

St. Jack, an assemblage by Josyph and Larkin

JOSYPH: “LIVES OF THE SAINTS is three things at once. It’s a secular tribute to a great tradition in art history. It’s a way for us to canonize our own secular saints, such as Jack Kerouac or John Coltrane. And it’s autobiography. Career artists, like the historical saints, do what they do because they can’t do otherwise. Art chooses you, not the other way around. Of my life as an artist, I’ve often said that I wouldn’t trade it for the world—and, I wouldn’t wish it on anybody.

“The work ethic for the SAINTS is that neither party respects the other’s work to a degree that he won’t destroy it completely. All that matters is the finished SAINT, not who did what or how many weeks or months of work might be demolished by the other.”

LARKIN: “Apart from the SAINTS, we lead independent lives as artists. Peter’s a well-published author, an award-winning filmmaker, an actor-director, and he’s had solo shows of his paintings around the world. I’ve also exhibited for decades, I’m a poet, I’m the president of the B.J. Spoke Gallery in Huntington, I teach Expressionist painting, and I act in some of Peter’s plays and films—in fact together we helped found Victory Rep back in the 80’s. That’s a wealth of artistic experience brought to bear on making the SAINTS.”

JOSYPH: “And because of the tough-minded rules of engagement, we do some of our best work on them.”

LARKIN: “Each takes the other a step beyond where we’d stop on our own.”

JOSYPH: “The diversity of materials employed in some of the SAINTS—often buried invisibly in their history—is impossible to list—or to remember. There might be metal signs, toys, archival magazines and newspapers, wood, plastic, posters, postcards, cardboard, canvases, cloth, ceramics, books, photos, heirlooms, cigar boxes, hardware, wire, bamboo, rope, twine, tools, electronics—not to mention layers of paint and collage. The answer to what media they are is: everything. The SAINTS are often edgy and difficult—even for us—but that’s to be expected from the title, no?”