Agathe Snow was born in Corsica, but she’s really a native of downtown New York. Her art isn’t so much about the quiet piece on display as it is about groups and communities, tight pockets of friends celebrating, living, drinking, dancing, and everything in between. Snow has hosted 24-hour dance marathons and war-themed dinner parties, and, last fall, at James Fuentes LLC gallery in New York, she showed swirling sculptures made out of street detritus, like computers and fabric, that were utterly lyrical and violently terrifying.
AGATHE SNOW: I’m moving out of the city.
CHRISTOPHER BOLLEN: What?
AS: I went to look at houses to rent in Orient Point, Long Island. I think I found a place. It’s cheap. I really can’t afford the city right now.
CB: What kind of place are you getting?
AS: It’s a three-bedroom house. Come and stay, live with me. There’s a sundeck and a big garage and a barn.
CB: New York can’t lose you, Agathe. So much of your art has been about building a community. In fact, for a long time your friends have been the art materials, like the 24-hour danceathons, or your dinner parties.
AS: The dinner parties started because I was a club promoter, and I was just making food for friends. This was back in 1998. Then 9/11 happened, and no one knew what to do, and we were partying all the time. There was that Hole and Passerby [former bars in New York] scene, and I was dancing on the bar every week, just to get the energy going. The whole idea was to go beyond the individual. So that’s how the food and dancing became a piece. It was about creating an environment. That’s what I love about dancing, too, the endurance part of it. You break down your barriers. You change, dissolve, and decay.
CB: What were some of your early social works?
AS: I held events three or four days a week where I’d bring a pushcart to different places in the city, and I’d serve people food. Then I had the War Series, where I’d invade someone’s house, put down a table, and serve food. The food was always from countries that the U.S. had invaded.
I realized that I am the magic; I’m the glue that holds all the work together. It was a big realization: Oh, my God, it only holds together if I believe in it.Agathe Snow
CB: But your most recent work is a departure from that. You’re making these jetsam sculptural works that hang like mobiles. Where do you find the materials?
AS: On the street.
CB: So they still have that community spirit. Name some of the ingredients?
AS: All sorts of machines. Obviously they were discarded because they don’t work. I look at them like, That’s a nice monster head. Like mixers, blenders, computers . . .
CB: So, they are recycled monsters.
AS: No, they can’t even be recycled. They’re dead.
CB: Then they are beautiful corpses.
AS: The other day I was really down on myself. I was like, “I don’t know what I’m doing. It’s all bullshit. I feel like a fucking asshole.” Right when I started to feel that way all of my sculptures started to fall apart. Each one. So then I realized that I am the magic; I’m the glue that holds all the work together. It was a big realization: Oh, my God, it only holds together if I believe in it.
CB: Well, you’re a huge part of more agathe snow downtown New York. You’re only going away for a little bit?
AS: Just until spring. Sometimes I get so down, like, “Look at this fucking city—I’ve really given my heart and soul to this city, and I can’t even afford to live here anymore.” But then I realize that’s part of it. That’s so beautiful, not asking for anything back.