We had the good fortune of connecting with Marval A Rex and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Marval A, how do you think about risk?
The idea of “risk” to me is interesting, what qualifies it. Now if you had asked me five years ago what I feel about risk I would have had a certain level of pride and perhaps arrogance in responding to risk-taking as a worthy endeavor. Now that I have 5 years of performance work behind me– a body of work that is essentially and primarily about risk-taking as a gender terrorist+ contrasexual, work that aggressively challenges modern conceptions of white manhood or male-hood– I realize in 2021 that “risk” can be far more subtle and surprising. I think it is currently more of a risk to be an expanding self-aware and spiritualized person in the midst of an attention economy, to use Herbert A. Simon’s term; an attention economy being a social media dominated interface where each player or avatar is seeking the most attention and thus competitively taking it from others and vice versa. I now find it more of a risk to be patient, loving and radically honest, to accept myself in a parallaxical way (from all angles)– to love others as an extension of myself and my journey to self-acceptance. I am laughing as I say all of this out loud to a computer which is transferring my speech-to-text, as I realize that in these last years that we in the West are all primarily speaking into devices moreso than to other human beings. And I laugh because I know that this answer to your question of “risk” has the potential to make me sound messianic or holier-than-thou. And yet, and perhaps, the best way to speak about risk is to take one.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My artistic practice is constantly changing and I am grateful for that. In many ways I am a situationist , which means that I am artistically and creatively responding to my situation– which is always changing. I began my work as a sculptor and painter , and shifted from ceramic object-making to performance art several years ago. I still paint although I am not sure you can call what I do “painting”. It is more like “flat sculpture” (see I am perverse even when it comes to the definition of artistic medium). I made a more public debut as a performance artist in Los Angeles in 2018 , performing at queer underground spaces as well as established galleries and foundations. My performance work is at its core an eccentric celebration of my body and of queer bodies, and any body that has been made to feel as “Other”. In a performance I tend to: get naked, wrestle pounds of clay, pierce my skin, play the cello, skateboard in public naked, act like a gender clown, throw pink dildos around and build “sound walls” through electronic sound looping equipment. I am always challenging modes of masculinity, and making a farce of what society calls “being a man”. In many ways my performances are like “mini-plays”, and that process has evolved further into screen-writing and acting on-screen. I am currently working on several projects for the silver screen/ streaming services and I am very excited for all y’all to peep them soon!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I love Los Angeles. If I could live anywhere in the world…oh wait! I already live there: Los Angeles. In the midst of a pandemic it is a bit more tenuous to navigate the city or any city really, But still there’s a lot to enjoy in LA. I am a very adventurous person and would take you to the Angeles National Forest, on a steep hike to a peak called “Mt. Disappointment” (fun fact: it isn’t disappointing). I I would take you on a taco tasting adventure, including my favorite shop on the east side, Tierra Caliente. I would also teach you to surf in Manhattan Beach!! The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I love this question. Yes! I want to begin by thanking Amelia Jones and Nao Bustamante at USC Roski for magnetizing me to Los Angeles and embracing my strangeness. I am thankful for NAVEL performance space, for inviting me to perform for the first time in Los Angeles on the same bill as John Waters. Little did I know that the queer film freaks and the cooky performance artists all know each other in this city! Which reminds me… I must give a major and endless shoutout to Zackary Drucker, for introducing me to so many talented artists and gender-expansive beings. I am so grateful for each and every trans and queer trailblazer in the art and entertainment industries, who paved the way for me to make the work I truly desire to make. A huge shoutout to the wildly exuberant queer underground that exists in every city– and in Los Angeles this includes the Tom of Finland Foundation , NAVEL, LAST Projects , the Queer Biennial , Ron Athey, Sheree Rose and Black Charmed. Thank you to every performance artist in Los Angeles for making the work that you do, I see you! And, I love you mom and dad.
Dom Loba, Amanda Majors, Zackary Drucker, Dulce Ibarra