Artists Adam Caillier and Michael Mott have been working collaboratively since May of 2010. They met on a blind referral, and they bonded over a love of a dog next door. Their artistic practice is grounded in writing and driving and focuses on activities which help to pass the middle part of the day. I sent the two artists some questions recently, about making art through collaboration, their day-to-day routines and negotiations. Below are their (frequently laugh-out-loud funny) responses.
Where do you live and work?
Michael Mott: South Minneapolis.
Adam Caillier: On a corner.
What is your studio space like?
AC: It’s a basement. There are some windows, a slop sink, and a small radio. There is a nice little yard in the back with a picnic table (fig 2) where we sometimes sit and have a smoke. We might have a drink if it’s been a particularly trying or exciting day.
MM: A cold beer or maybe some vodka and grapefruit juice.
AC: Right. We don’t just work in the studio though. We spend a lot of time out in the world.
What’s your preferred medium?
MM: Paper. We go through quite a bit of gasoline too.
Do you work separately or together?
MM: We work together.
AC: Yeah. Sometimes we’ll do a bit of writing separately but it just gets put back in.
What do you listen to in the studio?
MM: We listen to the radio.
AC: Yeah, it’s strange—it just plays and plays.
MM: We listen to it all the time—especially on Saturday and Sunday afternoons—and we enjoy just a small percentage of the programs.
AC: I would say that we dislike most of them.
MM: Yeah we dislike most of them, but it is always running. We love the radio but we hate what’s on it.
How do you two resolve your creative disagreements?
MM: We try to follow the path that is obviously the best. If that doesn’t work we use chance operations or acrostic poetry to settle things and move forward.
What are the most rewarding aspects of collaborative work?
AC: I like the talking—it’s good to have someone to talk to during the creative process. We really love our ideas and we love the work that it takes to turn them into quality ideas. So, we talk about them and we try to see the good ones through. It’s like, I can have an idea or Michael can have an idea, and then we spend a month or a year loving up on those ideas. We love up on them so much that, by the end, we have no idea where they came from—only that we love them.
MM: We can work on an idea so much that we become its only experts. I think that we haven’t yet figured out how to make mistakes—or how to call mistakes mistakes. So, the work might not be for everyone, but to us, it’s perfect.
Do you have any rituals for the studio?
AC: Definitely not.
MM: Yeah, no.
What are you working on now? Is there anything on the backburner?
MM: We’ve been working on cleaning up our image. And, our book of potato paintings, “You Make Me Wanna Smoke,” will finally be released in early 2012 by Die Erotische Hauser.
AC: Yeah—it’s 300 pages long. We’re also excited about our desire to show work in the Walker Art Center’s shop window—like they let Liz Miller do. We really think that we’re the right people for the job.
MM: We could be so professional.
AC: Totally. Other than that, we just have projects going. We are kind of in a purple period. We’re trying to teach the dog to walk itself.
Is there a local artist whose work has caught your eye lately?
MM: Justin Schlepp is great.
AC: Yeah, Justin Schlepp. Kate Farstad and David Frohlich have an MAEP show in April—that could be good.
MM: And Bruce Tapola is always up to something.
AC: Yes, Bruce. And there are others, of course.
Related exhibition details, additional information and links:
Finally, We Are All Young Again: Adam Caillier/Michael Mott will be on view, alongside Movie: Scott Nedrelow, in the Minnesota Artists Exhibition Program galleries of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts from July 22 – October 2.
Find more examples of the artists’ work and additional information on Caillier’s website, mnartists.org/michael_mott, and at the site for Location Books. Inquiries about specific work may be directed to the artists themselves.