Speartalks: Aaron Rose
Several months ago, we about lost our crap when we heard that Beautiful Losers "“ the museum exhibit-turned-most brilliant coffee table book ever bound by mechanical means "“ would soon be joined by another extension of arty rectitude. Beautiful Losers, the documentary, would relate to the book and exhibit by way of subject matter, but would differ from the previous installments through one defining characteristic: The punk, skate, hip hop and graffiti subcultures it traced would take the literal form of the men and women that led the movement.
Now, over six months after we started getting excited about it (and several years after the film's creators starting working on it), Beautiful Losers, the doc, has arrived. Thanks to the hard work, creativity, passion, and rule breaking of the same group of individuals who drove this creative crusade, the film was enthusiastically debuted and received and at this year's SXSW.
This August, Beautiful Losers will open in theatres nationwide. We feel strongly that our readers should go see it "“ because we're of the opinion that this movement is more significant than most other things the past thirty years have given us "“ but since we know you're a rebellious bunch, we brought in someone else to spread the word. Readers, meet Aaron Rose; artist, writer, curator, co-editor of ANP Magazine, owner of Alleged Gallery, and the man driving the Beautiful Losers trilogy.
Joshspear.com: Can you walk us through the history of Beautiful Losers, from the exhibit up until now?
Aaron Rose: It started as an exhibition that opened at the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati in 2003. The book (catalog) was released as the same time as the first exhibition. Since then, the exhibition has traveled throughout the US and is currently touring Europe. It will open in Madrid this fall. The film was in production before the exhibition, but took its title only after the exhibition was created. Now the film lives on its own and has little to do with the exhibition.
JS: You differ from many people who choose to create books and film docs in that you have actually played a really significant role in the Beautiful Losers subject matter. Can you tell us a little bit about your personal history?
AR: I grew up as a disillusioned kid in the suburbs that was into punk rock and drugs. I always liked making stuff and I guess that much is still the same. I'm pretty much the same guy now but without the drugs.
JS: You've been working on the film for a few years now, and at one point you were even unsure as to whether you could tie it in to the book and exhibit. What has the process of creating, producing, and editing the film been like?
AR: Making a film is a lot of work. Especially documentaries, because there is no script. It can go a million different ways. The film started to make sense once we stopped trying to control it. That's possibly the biggest lesson I learned from this experience: Let the art become art.
JS: What are some similarities and differences within the content of the Beautiful Losers exhibit, book, and film?
AR: Many of the same people are featured, but the similarities kind of end there. The film goes much deeper in some ways.
JS: A common theme in Beautiful Losers is the appreciation of a very liberated and unobstructed form of creativity. Historically, these characteristics can be found in most of our culture's significant movements, so with that in mind, would you say the movement traced by Beautiful Losers is a defining movement of our time?
AR: I'm reluctant to answer that. I think history proves what is ultimately relevant. Right now, to me, it's just a wonderful story.
JS: I am of the opinion that much of the popularization of today's most influential contemporary urban artists can be attributed to people like you "“ writers and curators who have recognized this subculture as something important and legitimate and worth sharing. What are your feelings on your position within this movement?
AR: I mean, we're all really just friends. The fact that the outside world has showered some of us with recognition is almost irrelevant. I'm not saying it's not wonderful to be recognized for what you do because all of us have worked very hard at not only being artists, but good people too… so that's nice. But anyone could really do what we did. All we did was support each other, and that's the main message of the movie: Support your friends and amazing things can happen.
JS: What role has rebellion played in this movement, and how would you say that it differs or does not differ from the rebellion innate to other artistic movements?
AR: I rebel against that question.
JS: Docs are different in that you can experience people's reactions to them really intimately. What has it been like watching people watching this film, and what has it been like experiencing their reactions?
AR: I love our audiences! They are so nice and so giving and really seem to care about this film! There has been an amazing groundswell of support, even with the few screenings we've had. That makes me feel great. All we wanted to do was inspire people, and it seems to be working.
JS: What was the SXSW experience like?
AR: Our audiences in Austin were awesome. I'm really thankful for that. People would stop us on the street the whole time we were there to say how much they enjoyed the film. What was especially nice was that it was mostly local people, not film festival people. A cab driver pulled over and gave me the thumbs-up. Doesn't get better than that.
JS: In an interview you did with Fecal Face a while back, you mentioned that you were hoping to open a school at some point in your career. Do you still have hopes for this, and if so, what would the school be like?
AR: It will be a beautiful place where everyone's needs are taken care of. There will be no war and no hatred. We will all create together in perfect harmony. There will be a rainbow that starts at the school and surrounds the world in a multi-colored halo of love, tolerance and kindness.
JS: Where can we watch this film, and when can we purchase it?
AR: It opens in New York in the beginning of August and then will go to theatres nationwide through the summer. The DVD package (which is gonna be awesome by the way) should be out in the fall.