Dan Colen & Rtan Converation

R: I was trying to think about the first time we met. I met you in Leonia at—what was that park?

 

D: Wood Park

 

R: I remember our moment when we had our “life” talk in the parking lot, and I showed you my art portfolio that was in my trunk. The painting of the digital man with the computer head, and the nude life drawings, my self-portraits and drawings of Kate Moss.

 

D: You secretly confessed to me that you had traced some of the drawings by using an overhead projector.

 

R: Yeah I used the overhead projector for so much stuff and it was so scandalous because there were also all these architectural drawings. I just desperately wanted to get into art school, and get the fuck out of the suburbs. I needed to make sure my portfolio was really good. And it worked, you know, Parsons gave me a free ride. But yeah, a lot of it wasn't my naked eye and hand.

 

D: After you left for college we had two gaps where we didn’t see each other; there was your first year at Parsons, and at the end of that year you had moved into Bleecker Street with the dominatrix, Cindy. And there was another eight-month gap when I disappeared to my first year at RISD. When I came to visit you at Bleecker Street, there was this advancement in your life. You'd become a New Yorker. I remember thinking you had developed a real city lifestyle. There were new people, new connections, drugs, nightlife, a new routine, a comfortability, you know. I feel like, with your neighbor Cindy, it was such a huge learning experience for you. She had kind of fallen in love with you and adored you. I guess in retrospect, she allowed this advancement that was beyond anything any 18-year-old kid could've done on his own. But to have some high-class call girl who just adored you connect you to nightlife and drug life and…

 

R: Gay guys! When you came to visit me early on I was too embarrassed to tell you that I had come out of the closet. That was the worst part of initially coming out, it's not that you have to do it once, you have to do it with everybody, and then there's people you don't see for months, and you're like, "oh my god, how am I going to work this into the conversation with this person." And then we just partied and I didn't get to tell you, and it was probably another five months until I saw you. I had moved to the East Village and told you. We went down to Cherry Tavern, and we were drinking there, and you said "what's up with girls" to me, and I was, like, "what? I'm gay, man.”

 

D: Yeah you were like “You don't know that?" And I was, like, "no, I don't know that." You were, like, "everybody's kinda gay here; he's gay," you pointed at Kunle, and then to Jack and I was, like, "what?" And it blew my mind. I thought we were straight skateboarders from New Jersey. You were so smooth with girls in high school, you had so many hot girlfriends. Like, if you, were gay, what did it mean for me? It was a big question; I didn't have to deal with you being gay, I kind of had to deal with me being straight. Even if I didn't want to ask myself that question, I ‘had’ to ask myself that question. I didn't know what I wanted my art to be about yet, I remember that crisis of identity was what I was really able to tune into.

 

R: You went back to school and made those jewelry paintings, which were about this mixed up personality. The hip-hop Cartier jewelry with the feminine script over them, I really loved those. You know, the one inspired by Jack Walls that said “You knew me for years.” I don't remember you ever leaving and going back to school. I feel like my life then was just one long day. I think every opportunity you had, you were down at my apartment.

 

D: Your apartment was where I needed to be. At RISD I was a horrible student—I wasn't connected to the department at all. I just knew that you and everyone else were my people, and everyone at RISD were not. Do you still have the silkscreens you were doing around that time?

 

R: Yes of course, I keep everything. I was using that small silkscreening machine made in Japan called ‘printing with Gocco.’ It was small so I could make the silkscreens in my apartment. That’s how my polaroid series first started. I had to isolate the person on a white wall to make a clean silkscreen image of their picture.

 

D: I was wondering how your Polaroid series got started. I remember you photographing me on the roof against the white wall for that. That was still when you were a graphic designer. You were applying those silkscreens like graffiti.

 

R:  What was it like getting your Polaroid taken every day for, about five years?

 

D: It was an awesome project to get to be a part of. Sometimes, it was annoying, but that's only like when you dragged me up the roof right when I woke up. There were a lot of moments like that, when you saw an opportunity of someone vulnerable, and you really just forced it. In general, I just loved it, and I think that you can see that in these.

 

R: Do you remember when I took your photo on the roof when you were high on Angel Dust, what did that feel like then, and what does it feel like now? That photo was purchased by The Whitney and is now one of the main images to illustrate their new exhibition at their new space.

 

D: That photo really defines a period of time for me where you weren't a studio artist, you were kind of this lifestyle artist. In reality, you spent so much time in your apartment, but your apartment was also the clubhouse, so you were editing and scanning and printing in there, like a studio, but that's also where we chilled and you made a lot of your early work. And the same for Dash, where his house was his studio, but we all chilled there too. My studio at that time was isolated. I'd trek out on the subway to Coney Island every day, and I'd spend many hours there, and then at midnight, I'd come back to the East Village and meet up with you guys and we’d start partying.

 

R: That photo of you was one of those nights.

 

D: Yeah, I got in at 2:30am, I went to Agathe’s restaurant La Poeme. The jar of PCP had been floating around the East Village, it was like ‘an entity,’ it was moving between people. It was famous, somebody would have it, and they couldn't handle it, you know, it was like ‘the ring’ from the Lord of the Rings. It was bouncing around, and somebody else would pick it up and have it for a week, but nobody had burned through it because it made them too crazy.

 

R: Yeah, Dash said he was too burnt out from doing it.

 

D: I hadn’t tried it yet, and I started doing it at 5am. I don't remember a lot, I remember I woke up, and someone’s unconscious, laying on the floor, and I honestly don't know, like, are they dead? Where am I? What universe am I in? I went into the bathroom, to try to look at myself in the mirror, and I saw that I was completely covered in sharpie tags, totally covered by cocks & Swasitkas that Dash had drawn all over me.

 

R: He had also written Boy George and Puke Dick (laughs)

 

D: I was, like, "what the fuck am I going to do?" I started walking back home with my hand against every wall on every street trying to balance myself so I wouldn't fall on my face. I also felt like the sky was going to fall down on me. So one hand was on the buildings walls, and one hand over my head, trying to balance walking one step at a time. I couldn’t find my shirt and I couldn't physically zip up the jacket, so I just left the house like that and I was totally freaked out. It was a hot summer morning in the East Village. The Puerto Rican guys were starting to play dominos and eat pork rinds. Joggers had just started running on the street, and at the time I could barely walk, and it was the longest walk of shame, I was so fucking scared that I would never make it to home. I was scared of the cops, I was scared of getting in a fight, I was scared of death. I finally got there, and I was so relieved.

 

R: I remember you gently tapping on my door about 7am, all I heard were whispers of my name over and over again. “Ryan, Ryan, Ryan…” When I opened the door and saw you I was scared for you but then I realized you were fine and I kind of thought it was funny and got excited. You looked totally insane and amazing, kind of like a sculpture. You were pretty much naked and covered head to toe in Sharpie marker tags, even on your penis. Dash had really worked hard on fully covering you. I wrapped a yellow crocheted blanket around you and brought you up to the roof. It seemed like you needed some air and I also wanted to document you with the beautiful early morning magic hour light.

 

D: Yeah, you were, like, "come on, lets get some air,” and I was, like, "I'm going to fucking die." And you were, like, "we're going to the roof,” and I was, like, "no, no, no," but, I didn't want you to leave me.

 

R: After we shot some photos I remember I gave you some milk in the kitchen because I had read somewhere that calms people down from angel dust. Then I slept with you in your bed, I had to hold you, until you eventually passed out, and we woke up at 2pm. Then you went right back to your studio, like nothing had ever happened.

 

D: Then I came back at 3am the next night and we did the PCP again! We did it in a taxi cab, and we were like, we'll never do that again! We just started smoking the PCP in the cab, which is crazy to think about what that did to the cab driver, because any whiff of those fumes would fuck you up, we were hot boxing him.

 

R: Yes you told me the cab turned into this concert hall, like Lincoln Center in the back of the cab.

 

D: That portrait of me is representative of so many things that have become bookmarks in my life. It is so representative of what we were up to. And it's really one of the only photos that you printed of me that's, like, art.

 

R: Do you remember seeing it at my Whitney show in 2003?

 

D: Man, it's crazy how different it all is. Back then I was just some kid high on PCP in a photo and you were some fucking kid, who they gave a solo show to at the fucking Whitney.

 

R: Do you think we understood ourselves as a group of artists back then?

 

D: When Dike Blair was my teacher at RISD, the advice he had for me starting to live as an artist in New York, was “there's no way to do it unless you just get a good group of artist friends, that's the best chance you've got.” You get a group of friends, and together, you try to figure it out. It's not necessarily about the work, but about this collective energy, and whose attention you can draw on, and from there you can show people your work.”

 

R: I love that advice, Dike was the teacher that you really connected with. He was kind of an academic artist, which I felt none of us really were.

 

D: Well, I feel like you were a photo expert, but in terms of greater art history, as a group, we definitely weren’t academics. Much later on when we met Nate Lowman and Banks Violet and Gardar Eide Einarsson, they were all grad students. They really knew art history. Our cache was that we were local. We came from here, we were all downtown kids, who were more in the scene. We didn't even know about historical artistic movements.

 

R: We had street cred.

 

D: But then you went and got a fucking show at the Whitney; none of us had a gallerist, none of us knew what any of this shit meant, then you got a show at the Whitney, and that's art history, that's the art institution. So it made something realistic. Until you did that, so many things were never going to be possible, and then it was almost like anything was possible. It was really important for me. Your early ambition and ability to do it yourself, and ability to connect, meet, and seduce, were massive inspirations to me. Even before there was anyone saying, "yeah, let's give it to him," you were just taking it. You’re first DIY show at 420 Broadway was inspirational. You felt like your photos were art, and you felt that someone should hang it and people should see it. You didn't know enough to know that that's not how you do it. So you just did it.

 

R: I’ve never even thought about that. . .

 

D: It was crazy to see. It just helped me be, like, “Fuck, all I need to do is take this shit seriously and believe in it. So let me just double down and really believe in it.” You were so committed to what you were doing, and took it so seriously from such an early moment. I don't think I had it in me to bust through the doors that you busted through. I was able to pick up the pace at a certain point, but I just didn't have the same style or social charisma that you did. I don't think I could've ever made it without watching your whole approach. And you were really generous with your connections, and that's what Dike was saying, you meet a friend they meet a friend. That's literally what happened, and beyond an inspiration, you jump-started me.

 

R: That means so much, Dan.

 

D: I think Dash also saw the style in which you were working—the camera, and how you molded situations and people into being your models, your subjects, into being your compositions, into being everything. He also saw that you didn't need a studio practice, like how you were operating everything out of your room in the apartment of 7th street. And we all saw how, once you got into photography, you wanted to learn every single thing about it.

 

R: Do you remember me building up my personal library early on, I was such an insanely voracious collector (laughs)

 

D: It was amazing. Yeah. None of us had books back then, but you would spend your last dollar on them. You know, it had a major influence on Dash.

 

R: Dash and I spent a lot of time looking at photo books together.

 

D: I did it with him with art. I know we both sat with him and just showed him stuff.

 

R: I think he was just so perplexed that we were so into it. Our situations were very different because of our backgrounds. I really had to take it seriously, make a career happen because if I didn’t succeed I’d have to go back to New Jersey with my tail between my legs and work at Starbucks.

 

D: You and I had to go to college. My parents worked their asses off their whole lives to make sure all their kids went to college. There were no vacations, there was no extra cars, everything was very basic. Every cent was saved for our college tuitions. Dash dropped out of school, we couldn't do that.

 

R: True.

 

D: What we learned in college was we saw people create, and we understood what it meant to make art because we got to watch other artists do it. Dash was hostile to art because he didn't know what making art was, he only knew what collecting art was, and he hated that, and he went on to try to defy that. He tried not to sell things, he tried to give things away.

 

R: He tried to throw things out.

 

D: I think we both showed him, like, "I don't do anything different than you, just at the end of the night I just spend the time to file these negatives and Polaroids away." I think that was a huge revelation to him because he didn't know that a record of his escapades could be called “art.” He was making his art before he defined it as such.

 

R: When Bruce Labruce came into our lives he taught us something different. He really helped mythologize us as the wildest, insane group of young artists living in downtown New York at that time.

 

D: He didn’t have to do that much man, we were! (laughs)

 

R: Yes, and having a journalist in our crew was cool because he wrote a bunch of early articles about us too. He wrote the seminal article about IRAK in Vice around 2000.

 

D:  If we are talking about influences lets talk about Jack Walls, my man.

 

R: Yes, of course! You read my mind, I was saving the best for last. It was so important for my development to hear all the stories about Robert Mapplethorpe from him. Since Jack was his boyfriend and he actually modeled in so many of Robert’s photos, I got to hear first hand how the legend actually worked.

 

D: In terms of photography Jack and George Pitts probably taught you the most. Two black guys twenty years older than you gave you your photo education.

 

R: This is true. With Jack I remember going to his loft party in 1998. I arrived at 4am and there was a Robert Mapplethorpe book on his coffee table. I was flipping through it and mentioned that I was learning about ‘that dude,’ and he opened it up to a spread and there was a photo of Jack in his Navy uniform!

 

D: Was your mind blown?

 

R: I couldn’t believe it was the actual person standing right in front of me. The photo was so stylized I almost didn’t believe it but he did have a strong resemblance to the person who was in the book, it couldn’t have been anybody but him. I was, like, "holy shit! You're actually in that book! That's you!” He said, “Yeah you dumbass, look there’s a bunch of photos of me in it." I was like, "but that's Robert Mapplethorpe, the guy I'm learning about in college, how is this even possible?" That was such a major headfuck, and it just opened my eyes further.

 

D: You understood that Jack was just a kid then, he was part of this photographer’s world and vision, and now here’s the real person standing in front of you.

 

R: I guess I just stupidly assumed everyone in Mapplethorpe’s photographs was dead but then within seconds I was making all these connections. He’s like, a famous piece of art, and a real living human being standing in front of me. I left that party baffled but also with a new best friend and mentor.

 

D: Yeah, Jack is just such a radical dude, being gay, a teenage gang banger, once in the navy, a poet, and black. Like, you couldn't have checked more boxes of coolness, and just being down to drink with us every single night. He also opened our eyes about what it meant to be a living artist.

 

R: Do you remember when Larry Clark was at the apartment all the time in 2002, and when he brought me and Eric to our first 12 step meeting?

 

D: It was when I'd gotten beat up really bad and you had brought him over to see my wreckage, as one of the many things you'd brought him over for, and I told my story to his video camera.

 

R: Yes, he was coming over that summer because Showtime wanted to make the movie Kids into a weekly TV series, so he called me up to help him develop it. He was just, like, "Ryan, your whole crew is what I should be writing about." One night he sat Dash, Donald and me down in my room and he was like, "okay guys, I want to talk to you. After interviewing you all, I want to let you know you're all drug addicts.” I wasn’t really expecting that. He was like “I don't do drugs, and I'm going to go to a 12 step meeting right now, who wants to come with me?" And I shyly raised my hand, like in grade school, and was like, "I guess I'll go," and Donald was, like, "I'll go," and Dash was, like, “Nah, I don't wanna go." Literally from that moment on was my journey into trying to get sober. It definitely planted a seed in my mind that I needed to chill.

 

D: Yes, I remember that.

 

R: From the Summer of 2002 and onwards, I just had my own crazy versions of trying not to party and was constantly failing, but I kept trying.

 

D: Right, that was all from that, wow.

 

R: Are there any photos that stand out to you when you think about the early 2000’s?

 

D: When you brought Lizzy to jump on the mini trampoline at bar The Cock. The picture of Donald with the giant hard on, The photo of A-ron sitting on the train tracks, when you took your first trip upstate in 2002. 

 

R: I mean, that trip was an important moment for me.

 

D: A little beginning of the end.

 

R: From when I moved to Manhattan in September 1996 to the moment I went Upstate to visit you in August 2002 I rarely left New York City. I was on a mission to becoming a ‘real New Yorker.’  That trip unlocked something from my childhood and the magic of nature. 

 

D: It was kind of the birth of your roadtrips.

 

R: Yes, at that point I was kind of a documentary photographer shooting Manhattan’s downtown artistic scene. The way that A-ron rallied that group of people together, rented a 15 passenger van, and got a bunch of young artists that ‘never’ leave the city to leave Manhattan and go Upstate, like, that moment, I was like...

 

D: You're giving that to A-ron, huh? I never thought about that, that's amazing.

 

R: I mean, he's the one that connected so many different communities downtown. He was like the best camp counselor, you know. He rallied 15 people together and was like, we're gonna go visit Dan, because we really missed you. We got into the van, and three hours later we were in a whole other universe. We left the city in the dust and were running in grass fields like little kids and it was so fun, and we were just on ATVs, swimming in rivers, and climbing trees.

 

D: Don’t forget, running naked through fireworks.

 

R: Yeah, I remember I had A-Ron make a pit stop on the border in Pennsylvania first to buy lots of fireworks, Dash really wanted to get them too. Dakota ran through them naked first, and a little touchstone of my work was born, yup, that happened there.

 

D:  It was crazy that I decided to go paint upstate. I remember saying, I have to finish these paintings, I can’t do it in the city, and the fact that my decision brought you up there, that changed the whole direction of your work from that point on is really crazy. That’s what it takes, it takes a group, because even young kids don't have enough good ideas on their own. One person isn't going to make complex art, they have to react with their friends making other decisions that contradict their own logic, and defy their own assumptions and let them do bolder things. It’s important that artists break their own molds.

 

R: Do you want to talk about September 11th? Our crew was kind of born out of that tragedy.

 

D: We had this really diverse, eclectic group that came out of that. It wasn't about art, per say, it was about the city, it was about the streets. I think that the fact that you and I were just artists in this group of wild characters was important. I don't know if we were more so than others, but I think that defined us.

 

R: (flipping through photos) This photo of Sammy riding his bike downtown on 9-11 will be in the show. We were out the night before it until 5am.

 

D: I remember smoking dope with Kunle that night, in your bed.

 

R: I remember we went to sleep around 5:30am, the sun was coming up. Then the buzzer started ringing at around 8:30am, and it was that guy I was dating.

 

D: The librarian, man, the librarian.

 

R: He came upstairs, and was, like, "a plane hit the World Trade Center!” He was crying uncontrollably.

 

D: He was scared of all your friends. The two people in the universe the librarian didn't want to answer the door that morning were me and Kunle.

 

R: He was so hysterical, and he kept saying "a plane just hit the World Trade Center!” I was like “relax, you just moved to New York, stuff like this happens all the time, it's just a little airplane," and he was, like, "nooooo, you don't understand." And I went up to the roof with him, and we couldn't see the towers from our view, but I saw an insane amount of smoke, and I don't know if the second plane hadn't hit yet, or both towers had already been hit, so much smoke that I was like, "whoa, what the fuck is that, that's crazy,"

 

D: We just got our clothes on and ran outside and then downtown.

 

R: Yeah I just grabbed as much film as I could stuff into my pockets and started to walk through the streets and take photos.

 

D: I remember 1st Ave, and everybody coming up, I remember it super vividly, and we crossed over to 2nd Ave, and it was just crazy, everybody running Uptown covered in the soot.

 

R: It defined a new time.

 

D: It had an effect on everything we made, whether we knew it or not. It's in our work, our energy, our force was a product of that feeling we were losing our city, or we were building our city, were we losing ourselves, or building ourselves. That photo of me on the roof, my body covered in graffiti, scared, when I look at that photo, I think of the World Trade Center falling down. I don't know why, but to me, they're very connected.

 

R: We couldn’t have been that crazy if crazy shit wasn't happening around us, you’re right, our city was melting.

 

D: I think we really vented it ourselves, we had no clue what the goal was outside of our minds, we didn't know what the real version of what we wanted was, we just made it up in our heads.

 

R: And Dash was so fascinated by Bin Laden, obsessed with him.

 

D: I think what was important to Dash was so say that there is no such thing as universal moral compass. There are the powers that get to define what's good and evil to the majority of the world, but we know it's all bullshit. Dash was trying to say that George Bush was just as evil as Bin Laden. He wanted to fuck with good guys and bad guys in his work and life.

 

R: Those themes became such a driving force of his work, the way he collected New York Posts and turned them into art. All of his weapons that he turned into art. Sourcing human skulls and turning them into art. I remember he only wanted American skulls which were illegal and very hard to purchase.

 

D: Yeah, he just had such a great touch. He was able to tune in on ‘his’ special items, and fixate on objects that were amazing and do it with much intensity. I don't even know how to put it into words, honestly, what do you say about it?

 

R: I’d say that it was so important you decided to dedicate a year of your life to making an oil painting about his apartment on Avenue C. His apartment was art, it was a giant sculpture.

 

D: It described who he was in so many different ways, his meticulous nature, and also his ragtag style. The notes that guided his life were written all over the walls, it was crazy how fluid he was with objects and the uses of them, whether it was a marker for tagging or a marker for information, writing on the wall, writing on a piece of paper, stabbing the piece of paper onto the wall with a knife. Using that knife…

 

R: In a Polaroid.

 

D: Exactly. He was just collecting these things that were building up, and eventually turned into sculptures. The way you guys worked was show and tell, like your work was something we could look at all night long. Dash’s Polaroids or objects he collected, or your new zines, contact sheets or Polaroids. Just sitting on your bed on 7th Street was somehow a transformative experience.

 

R: Dash’s couch was the same place.

 

D: His apartment only went in this one progressive way, and it was living, it was like a plant, it had new leaves and branches. It was alive; if you brought something there, and left it, it became a part of the place.

 

R: (laughs) Compared to my room in our apartment, which was like the Dewey Decimal system at the library.

 

 

R: I have these dates written down, in the summer of 2002 you were in the barn, my Whitney show opened February 14th, 2003, your Rivington Arm's show opened September 2nd 2003, the ‘New York’ Agnes B show in Paris opened September 18th 2003.

 

D: By September 2nd I had worked for two years in isolation on 4 paintings, there was never going to be a 5th painting ready for the show Agnes held on September 18th. All of a sudden, it was like, hold on a second, all my friends are going to Paris! I said, “Agnes, I have some paintings," and I wrapped these blank boards in bed sheets, and said, "the paintings are in these bed sheets." I got to Paris and that was the moment I made the first spray paint “Holy Shit” painting, and that was a big, important moment in terms of what happened with my art the following years to come. I was only making these super slow works, and now there were these works that were more...

 

R: Gestural and quick, action painting kinda works. Actually very similar to tagging in a way.

 

D: Yeah, so that was the first one ever. That's kind of when Dash and I bonded more.

 

R: I remember him on our trip to Berlin. He was trying to get clean, but he would disappear, he slept out by the river one night, he was really trying. Right after that trip Lily accidentally overdosed and died, then Joey Semz from IRAK committed suicide by overdosing. Also Shawn Mortensen who Dash had lived with for a while in LA shot himself in the head.

 

D: When I first got sober, I remember I got 160 days, and I was, like, "man, if Dash only knew what it was like." 

 

R: Do you ever see that graffiti portrait of Dash on Houston and Allen Street above the Dominos Pizza?

 

D: Yeah, all the time. It just makes me sad. It's amazing that somebody climbed up there and did it. It’s obviously nothing grand, but it's perfect. From that intersection, if you look Uptown you see the Empire State Building, and if you look Downtown you see Dash Snow, it's cool.

 

R: From my apartment window, I can see the Manhattan Bridge, and I see the back of this billboard that has a huge SACE tag on it that’s been there probably since 2000, it’s comforting.

 

D: I remember the first time I went to Europe, and on my trip in Amsterdam I slept on the street one night, and I remember waking up in the early morning and there was a SACE tag, and what it was able to do for me at that moment was so huge.

 

R: It was like he was there, right? When I see a SACE tag now, it’s still like he’s here, a little bit.

 

D: Dash was a seducer, he seduced everybody, sometimes he could do it in a wild way, but he wasn’t ever a mess, he was seducing the whole time.

 

R: He and I were very connected because he was very comfortable in front of my camera, he really wanted to be photographed. He was born to be a star. He became such an important part of my work, because he was the adventure seeker. That was part of his DNA already from his graffiti bombing missions. I was always like,  “alright, let’s go.” Wherever we would end up, we’d sneak onto rooftops and climb inside subway tunnels, sneak onto the highline, crash a party, scale the Manhattan Bridge, go here, go there, which was the best way to take pictures. Then he was so psyched to be in front of the camera.

 

D: I wish that you had photographed me more. I wish I played more of a role like Dash. We all wanted to be stars, and you made us feel like it, that was huge. I knew what was happening, I knew that you were recording our lives, and that was thrilling. You turned us all into characters that were being watched by an audience, and we all wanted to have an audience.

 

R: They were our family photos. It’s funny, in this exhibition of my early work, a handful of photos are images of me that will be printed for the first time. Initially, I would never show them because they were so self-destructive. Pictures of my wrists bloody, pictures of me hysterically crying, pictures of my in the hospital or vomiting. Now that my life is so different I forget about how we all came so close death.

 

D: We got to survive, and Dash didn’t, but his contribution was equal. I guess the point of this show, is saying, “could they have ever existed without each other?” Could one of them have done what he did without the others doing what they did? Dash was your muse, he was like a little brother to me, and he was also a major influence on both of us.

 

R: He was a once in a million kind of person, he was brilliant. But, he always struggled so much with the title “artist”.

 

D: You don’t make the stuff that Dash made as obsessively as Dash did if you don’t want it to become a part of art history. You don’t make that shit. He was in turmoil about it, and he died because of that turmoil, but he wants us talking about his art, he wants his art to live forever.

 

R: Do you think that if he had gotten clean he’d still be making art?

 

D: He used to talk about getting out of the city, and going to India, or Africa, or somewhere. Who knows. He really did try, way before us, he tried many times, he tried before he died. He left his daughter behind, and I think he felt paralyzed to help her, or do better for her than anybody did for him. I think that was part of his demise.

 

R: It was such a tragic ending. It seemed like he didn’t feel like he could accomplish what he wanted to do, which was to be a good father.

 

D: When Dash died, my father called. I picked up the phone, and he was like, “is it true, did Dash die?” And that was the last time I really cried.