TAKING SOMETHING HORRIFIC AND TURNING IT INTO SOMETHING PEACEFUL

h: hi, stephen. thanks for letting me take a look into your studio. everything here is so exciting. let's start off with a little of your background. so, you're from cleveland ohio. where is your education background came from?

s: i went to syracuse unversity and then to ateliers 63 in holland for a 2 year residency. i stayed on another 6 years then i came to ny.

h: how did you get your background in slaughterhouse and medical...

s: the slaughterhouse was a job i took to understand more clearly some of the elements of my work...at the time i was using lots of animal parts, it was like instead of just asking the people who work there, i was curious about all kind of parts...from toes of animals to the heads of those who worked there. the medical my father's a gynecologist and coroner....

h: i noticed you've ended up in quite a few collections.

s: the dallas show was my first solo. the gallerist had me put in a bunch of prints because he was like, "you're never going to sell anything here". he was a new gallery, and i was completely unknown, and the town well its conservative right... but we sold half the work..

h: could you please describe the performance?

s: it's called clean puddle- i cleaned a toilet in a moscow communal apartment, russians seem to have a curious relationship with toilets this one was extreme, it took me two hours with a wood chisel to clean it inside and out. on the video the sound it made during was intense. it sounded like i was carving the toilet out of a block of stone.

h: let's move on to this chocolate work such as "unidentified". i'm dying to know how you did these pieces.

s: in 1993 i went to morgue in moscow of unidentified people and made impressions of the wounds that i cast in chocolate.

h: how did you get permission to do that?

s: at that time a bottle of vodka and dried fish could do it.

h: can you speak more about how you did the chocolates?

s: most of these wounds...(russian box) are from the autopsies after they stitched them up and took out the brain. etc..that's the stomach stitch, it's very beautiful. the stitches look like a loaf of bread. for the american morgue edition (evisceration of waited moments) access was well...i managed... my first day with the bodies, I was presented with this guys arm, it was a huge arm tattoos etc.. his hand later become the pointing hand in the box instead of the ceiling. he hand come before a train...they said there's some more over in the bag. so i unzipped it.

h: what type of train did he walk out in front of, a subway?

s: no, it's common with the double tracks. people will see one train going by and not see the other coming from the other way, and they cross. that's probably how it happened. i don't know really, i wasn't interested. on a personal level with the bodies. it wasn't about the people, it was about wounds.

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stephen shanabrook
 
"The Listener"- Private collection
 
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"Clean Puddle "