"Paranoia’s Midnight": Interview with Marvin Touré | Features | LIVING LIFE FEARLESS

“Paranoia’s Midnight”: Interview with Marvin Touré

Fresh from the debut of his second solo show titled “Paranoia’s Midnight”, artist Marvin Touré gave us some insight into the process of developing the show, black identity and mental health, and some of the deeper meanings behind the art.

Can you define the title “Paranoia’s Midnight”?

I named this show “Paranoia’s Midnight” as midnight is the transition from one day to the next, one year to the next, and night to morning. Midnight represents both the end and the beginning. The title is an affirmation for myself and those who also battle with mental illness. Paranoia defines your today but it doesn’t have to define your tomorrow.

How did your approach to black identity and mental health differ from your first show?

In “{Fig. 27} The {X} Mutation” I took a macro approach to these topics. I thought more about humans of color being mutated by their traumas. The approach was to create spaces to reflect and spark discussion among the viewers. This time I wanted silence. “Paranoia’s Midnight” is intimate and minimal. The show exists in the stillness of the micro and I approached these topics with more reverence. In the first show, I talked about the trauma without providing an alternative and this time I needed more nuance.

What is your relationship to figurines or action figures?

I use what I call “objects of innocence” (artifacts and stories from his childhood and adolescence) as a vehicle to interrogate complex subject matter. I find that the scale and types of figures can disarm people who otherwise wouldn’t open their hearts to difficult and challenging conversations. Toys and figurines play a very specific role in the imagination of children. As these kids grow up, the memory of those objects lingers. I use that space as a threshold to connect with that unfiltered vulnerability. Across many cultures and even those that date back to the earliest human civilizations, you can find toys.

"Paranoia’s Midnight": Interview with Marvin Touré | Features | LIVING LIFE FEARLESS

Why use plaster as the environment and use it for the figures themselves? Does this speak to the fragility of a paranoid mindstate?

The use of plaster in both the figures and their environment was to remove any barrier between the distressing nature of their construction and the surrounding chaos. As I characterize my own paranoia as a life without sure footing; constantly uneasy and forever unbalanced. I made an environment for them that isn’t whole but an amalgamation of broken pieces. This is fundamentally a metaphor for a mind made world that is fragmented by flawed perception.

Can you discuss the meaning behind how the figures were arranged? 

I can’t give y’all everything. I like folks to have room to place themselves in the work.

What was the most difficult step in the process of creating the new work?

All work contains two major meanings, one public and one private. The public is ultimately decided in the minds of the viewer regardless of the artist’s intent. The private meaning acts as a time capsule immortalizing various states of an ever-changing consciousness. The private meaning of this work was the most difficult part of this process. Processing while making.

James Baldwin is quoted as inspiration for this body of work. What other quotes or artists did you have in mind while creating this work?

Baldwin’s words were more to contextualize, rather than a central theme. The detailed look at my inspirations will be in an upcoming publication stay tuned y’all!

Is activism important for your work?

My work comes from me. Whatever I care about will come out in the work as a natural gesture. The pieces start to get formulaic when you start forcing subject matter that’s against the piece’s DNA.

What is your biggest takeaway from your second solo show experience?

Life happens out there not in here.

Can you tell us about any future plans or shows you have coming?

Follow me on IG @marvintoure. A couple of things next year that will be revealed soon then I hibernate.

What kind of legacy do you want to leave as an artist?

He showed us how to free ourselves as we watched him drop his chains.

"Paranoia’s Midnight": Interview with Marvin Touré | Features | LIVING LIFE FEARLESS
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