Comedy and Critique: An Interview with gilf!

gilf! is the type of person to engage you with her art, both visually and verbally. Though the messages are implicit in her imagery, she is quick to drop her paint can to discuss her pieces with anyone who catches her in progress. When entering into a curated mural project, I wondered how an area that was not known as a street art haven would greet these confrontational, but satirical, stencils. These issues as well as several others were discussed in an interview with gilf! for Vandalog as she prepares for her work with the New York Comedy Festival. – Rhiannon Platt

R: Could you talk a little about the overall message of your work?

G: It’s mostly social commentary about current issues and things that are affecting us a society, both globally and nationally. I feel like a lot of people don’t pay attention to shit. So, if I can put it on the street and get them to consider a different perspective about things concerning their everyday life that’s kind of why I do what I do.

gilf! for Welling Court

R: And you don’t restrict it to just politics?

G: It’s not always political. It can be environmental, social, government changes are I guess not what I would consider political always. I always focus on things that I’m passionate about and that I find to be unjust or problematic.

gilf! in Williamsburg

R: With working for the New York Comedy Festival, how do you think parody will play into this usual message of political or other contexts that you usually try to convey?

G: You can have something with a message that can also be entertaining. If you look at the Colonel Sanders piece I did it talks about things that are really nasty, like genetically modified situation going on in our fast food lifestyle, but it’s also kinda funny because the thing has six wings. Visually it’s not something you would expect. I think using parody in art can allow people to be more focused on the work because they are laughing at it, but then it maybe the message clicks a little afterwards. You’ve got to lure them a little bit, there’s got to be something appealing.

R: Will you be working with all new imagery for this event?

G: All but one I believe. For the most part it’s going to be all new and things based around the election and some political things that I find to be kind of entertaining and weird.

gilf! for the New York Comedy Festival

R: What does it mean for you to be working in a space like NoLita?

G: Well it’s funny because it’s not a neighborhood where I would usually put work up. Thinking about the type of people who walk through Little Italy. You get some native New Yorkers, but mainly my work will be interacting with tourists. It’s going to be the people from the middle of the country, or France, or wherever that go to Little Italy to see the character and novelty of it. That’s going to be cool because it’s not people that I usually talk to. The work is usually in Brooklyn or downtown. It’s usually in neighborhoods where I hang out versus neighborhoods where you get a lot of people who would never see street art. If you’re from Oklahoma or Virginia, there’s not a lot of wheatpaste or stencils or whatever going up. So it will be interesting to see how those people interact with what I’m doing.

gilf! and Veng in Baltimore

R: It’s probably an older demographic than your usual neighborhoods too.

G: Totally. It’s gonna be a lot of families I imagine. Kids and their parents and middle aged family of four kind of people. I was also excited to talk about the election because it will go up right before the vote, not that it’s going to influence anything because New York is going to go to Obama because it’s a Democratic state. Still, just commenting on it’s a weird façade and why our voter system is totally flawed will be interesting to see how people who are of the voting age would think about that.

Photos by Rhiannon Platt