Hello Ben Cuevas, can you introduce yourself?
I’d be happy to. I’m a mixed media installation artist, currently living and working in Los Angeles, CA.
Can you describe your work?
Right now I see my art-practice as being dominated by complexities. From my installations to my business-art endeavors, the work I create can seem a little bit all over the place at times…lol. However, I think that reflects where we are right now as a global society. The world seems to be at a moment of flux and change, and whenever those times come around shit gets complicated.
I like to incorporate as many mediums as possible into every piece I make in order to help people draw connections between seemingly disparate things. It’s my hope that my work serves as both entertainment and education, something to uplift and enlighten, something that anyone can walk away from and feel changed for the better.
Why do you use yarn to express yourself?
Yarn is one of my current obsessions. It’s such a tactile medium and I’m really drawn to that quality of the material. The way it feels in your hands, the way it helps you mark the passing of time…all of these qualities seem very meditative to me. A few years ago I started seeing knitting as meditation, quite literally, and decided to incorporate that into my work. It helps me make sense of things (conceptually, physically, spiritually). There are (and will be) many other mediums that make their way into my work, but knitting is where I’m at right now.
Can you explain your relationship with the body?
Plato, Descartes, and Foucault largely influenced my relationship to the body, along with a healthy dose of pop-culture and an interest in Ethical Hedonism. All of this is tempered by my fascinations with Zen Buddhist philosophy and radical politics.
I believe that if I’m only going to live once, then I may as well enjoy it. Pleasure is central to my enjoyment of life and I revel in the many pleasures that the body has to offer. At the same time, I believe that more (potentially deeper) pleasures lie within the mind. I don’t really see the mind, body, and soul as being separate, however, so much as I like to see them as parts of an integrated whole.
In other words, the body, to me, is a fleeting thing that’s here to bring joy to others: be it through work, sex, or as a vehicle for more conventionally cerebral and spiritual pursuits. On a more personal level (i.e. my relationship to my own body) this translates into a rather fluid expression of my identity; but I revel in that sort of fluidity (be it along the lines of gender, race, sexuality, etc.)
And what about gender?
Gender is fluid and relative. I think much of it is culturally dictated; though I’m not denying the fact there are biological imperatives.
Do contemporary artists have to be naked to show their truth?
No, but it’s more fun if they are!
I hate 3 ideas always related to knitting: it’s for women/ it’s for grandmas OR for fashionistas who want to make knitting fashionable/ it’s craft, and calling it art is exagerated. Do you agree with me?
Totally! I hate those ideas because they feel stuck in the past…but don’t you think it’s fun to deconstruct them in order to take the piss out of our culture? [Oh yes!]
When are you coming to France? Have you ever tasted “cassoulet“?
I’ll come to France as soon as I’m able! I’ve been a huge Francophile since I was 7 years old and have been lucky enough to visit Paris twice in my life thus far! It’s a beautiful city with a beautiful culture. I haven’t gotten around to trying cassoulet yet, so it might be time to start thinking about a trip! N’est-ce pas? Where’s the best place to try some? [You should go to the South West of France].
Thanks! To visit Ben Cuevas’ website, just click here!
Interview: Solène Couturier
Pictures: Ben Cuevas, http://bencuevas.wordpress.com/