Lafayette Anticipation associate curator Anna Colin talks to artist Tyler Coburn about Ergonomic Futures, a speculative project engaged with art, design, science, anthropology and writing. In this interview, Coburn discusses the research, production process and network of collaborators of a multilayered project ultimately concerned with the futures of humankind. Anna Colin: When one comes across your museum seats Ergonomic Futures (2016—) in contemporary art exhibitions—and soon in natural history, fine art, and anthropology museums—they look… [read more »]
Okay so I meant no disrespect with the mouse, it was just a friend and no disrespect to mouses or anything. I’ve been doing a lot more visual stuff lately, because I recently have been going through a very difficult break up and I needed to share this feeling with my homie. So in order to commence my moving on, and pulling myself up, I expressed myself through a tattoo. The press sees the tattoo as a sign of ignorance and that’s not what I’m trying to put out in the world. If you are a Belieber, like, you don’t have to put ink on your body. You can if you want to. It’s just not up to me? I think at this point, people can do what they want if they like to. It’s just important to me, and for my fans, that I explain what the mouse tattoo means. Also, the word “Swaggy” on the side. For a piece to be understood, it is necessary to explain visual motivations. I need to provide societal context for a “skin-work” that has failed to gain traction in the art world.
So yeah, just allow me to imbibe the mouse head with a rudimentary perceptual framework. Like many would say, it looks like some balloons or a bunch of asses squished together, haha. It doesn’t really look like a mouse head to be real. Instead it looks like our ideal of a mouse head (given to us by the likes of Disney [go see Princess and the Frog. Cute!] Warner Brothers, and other influential animators of the mid-twentieth century). And by placing this nationally conceived head, itself a culmination of years of collective visual redefinition, atop a highly buff-ass body, I was saying something. Basically, this tattoo is meant to give back to the Beliebers. It comes from a deep place inside my heart-brain, which is a term I like to use for the combination of my heart and brain.
The mouse head on the buff body is a juxtaposition of two American ideals: That of subservience, conformity for the worth of the greater good (represented by the mouse, a biologically submissive animal) and tapping into our inner strength (represented by the buff body). While on tour in Minneapolis, which is a beautiful city and thank you so so much for having me there I love you all, I received a call from my girlfriend. She said some words that I disagree with. And she broke my heart. I need to share this feeling with my fans. But do I need to share that right away? Tears staining my shining purple sneakers that have eight velcro straps? I was being asked to stand for six hours in front of twenty thousand girls each of whom I love so much. And this is not something, even with my great staff which is very supportive and always there for me, that I can do. Day in day out? Being asked to perform, to give and give and become, for you all, a singing mouse? Maybe this is not something I want to do. Maybe I want to be a buff-guy instead. So that is what I live with, to be fully honest. I have the mouse-head, shaped by producers and the ever changing desires of the masses, and the buff body. For real, I workout very much. But it is also inner strength. Sometimes, as you can tell by how big the mouse head is, by the fact that it would literally crush any human frame supporting it, even a buff one… It is hard to live like this. So that is where the tattoo comes from. It is a statement; a physical manifestation of the clawing pain within me, Justin Bieber.
Oh and as for the word Swaggy… I don’t know what it means. I do not know why I am here, whispering the lyrics to “Baby” alone, on a darkened bluff off the Hollywood coast. The turgid moon hangs low here.
Check out my new movie “Believe” in theaters Christmas day! <3