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Artists in their own words: David Bear


Still image from the teaser video from 13; model: Ashley Curtis. (Photo: David Bear and Christian Hardy)

Who: David Bear

What: Party Curator, Musician, Filmmaker

Where: Bywater

Artist’s Chosen Place for Interview: The back room of an open-roofed warehouse with large mirrors about to be shattered for the newest curated party entitled 13.

Q: If you were presented with the choice of pushing a button that would have your life completely start over somewhere new (all of your memories would stay with you) or a button that would have you die, which would you choose?

A: I would definitely start over. Aside from not wanting to die, there’s a lot that I still want to do, which would require staying alive. It would also give me the opportunity to do the things that I love and do them even better. If I could, I’d like to keep all the best and the worst in my life, and all that stuff in the middle that’s boring would just be wiped out.

Q: So what “best” in your life would you want to keep?

A: It’s like this with every project I work on; the one I’m working on in that moment always feels like the best. Like this party, 13, that we’re curating. We have artists’ installations, a tattoo artist, giant hammocks that can hold around 20 people, projections, DJs, and lots of live bands.

There is one project that I’m really proud of. It was when I first started filmmaking professionally, and I worked with a group called Breakout that works with LGTBQ youth and aims to end the criminalization of LGTBQ youth. We made a video that’s now part of the LGTBQ curriculum, it’s used for training at the justice department, and it’s also part of the University of Maryland’s Gender and Women’s Studies program. It put a lot more light on the issues surrounding LGTBQ youth in New Orleans as well, and it’s great to see the effect that video has had.

I like to create art that has an effect, like the video I did with my partner called Bye Bye Bywater which is screening this weekend at the Patois Film Festival. That’s something I strive for — when people take something from your work, even if people take something that goes beyond the intent I had. Even though that’s scary in a lot of ways it’s also great because art can get to a place where you’re original intent doesn’t even matter any more. It’s bigger than that. It’s grown beyond you.

Although, I can’t say that anything really is the best. I’m not even sure it’s something I can quantify.

But those moments in life where everything stacks in a way that’s important to you (pause) feels like the best. Like when you’re with somebody and you fully understand their intent in every way — on a spiritual, emotional, artistic level — and you’re working on a project or piece together, like I’ve done with my partner Hannah.

It comes to this beautiful place that neither of you could have gotten to on your own. That’s a feeling a lot of us are constantly chasing. There’s very little I do in a singular way. This party is full of collaborative spirits, and when human beings can have a true understanding with each other, when they can look at each other and say, “I totally get you right now,” that’s the best. That’s what you want to keep.

Q: What do you think about when you see large spaces?

A: I’m obsessed with space and time. People thinking differently about space and time is huge to me. When I walk into a space it’s like that kid in the candy shop thing, and — yet — there’s this danger that if I eat it all I’ll get sick. Large spaces really open me up creatively. The bigger the better. All I see is possibilities. I feel like they’re inspiring (laughing) for the short answer.

Q: What do you feel people take away from your parties that you curate?

A: This party is a little bit different than the parties I curate and throw each month at the Voodoo Lounge because I won’t know many of the people coming to this party. I really like to see, though, people leave the parties with a sense of community.

There can be a competitive nervousness in the art community. New Orleans has this nucleus of the best and the brightest artistically and there’s a protective nature that comes with that. You want to protect your work, which makes sense but can also be isolating. So when I can throw a party where everyone is there and they have a sense that we’re all part of the same community — even if we have individual ambitions and ideas; it’s awesome.

Q: If there was a poem, and your name was referenced in that poem, what do you think your name would symbolize?

A: (Laughs) Restlessness

The collaborative party 13 is Friday, March 13, 2015 (tattoos, artist showcase, live music, projections, and large installations) at 2120 Port Street. It’s $7 if you bring a donation for Bridge House or $13 general entry. The doors open at 9 p.m.

David Bear is also a filmmaker for Foster Bear Films, he throws parties each month at Voodoo Lounge, he plays music under the name Ursa P., and he does video art under the name Diva D.


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