Jaret Vadera, all that glitters, 2016–19. Mixed media. Courtesy of the artist.
Jaret Vadera, all that glitters, 2016–19. Mixed media. Courtesy of the artist.
Jaret Vadera, all that glitters, 2016–19. Mixed media. Courtesy of the artist.
Jaret Vadera, all that glitters, 2016–19. Mixed media. Courtesy of the artist.
Jaret Vadera, Flag for No Country, 2018. Custom textile. Courtesy of the artist.
Jaret Vadera, Flag for No Country, 2018. Custom textile. Courtesy of the artist.
Jaret Vadera
How did you arrive at the series "all that glitters"? How did you arrive at the series "all that glitters"? Movement and transience have always been important themes in my work. Then, a few years ago while working on the Distansya exhibition with curator Edwin Ramoran for the Filipino American Museum I made the first pieces in this series. I was thinking about the duct tape industriousness of immigrants, the makeshift aesthetics that organically emerge, and tricked-out jeepneys in the Philippines.

Growing up in Toronto, my family lived in working-class new immigrant neighborhoods similar to many you find in Queens. So when Sophia, Baseera and I began talking about what to show at the Queens Museum, it seemed like the perfect time and place to dive deeper into this series.

In many ways, “all that glitters” begins with the dollar store. Dollar stores have always made sense to me. There is something reassuring and comforting about them.
How does the comfort with that space translate to making a work?
How does the comfort with that space translate to making a work? You can find dollar stores and discount stores in working-class immigrant communities everywhere. They are part of the landscape, but invisible in another way. And forgotten as many immigrant families look forward, ever-aspiring to climb the unending ladder of brand names.

I often seek out dollar stores. I like to walk around inside, see what's being sold and where it all comes from. There is rarely one governing aesthetic, more like a collage, of animal prints, camouflage, gold iron-ons, sparkly jeweled designs, and lots of plastic everything.

These stores carry much larger stories as well. Often run by immigrants, selling to working-class immigrants, and largely stocked with products made by factory workers from around the world.
How are these immigrant communities different? What do the commonalities you are responding to signify? How are these immigrant communities different? What do the commonalities you are responding to signify? Each community, family, and individual is very different. So I don't want to overgeneralize. But I lived and worked in Queens for years. And there have been a number of small moments, when the vibrant colors on an event poster in a storefront window, mixed together with music spilling out into the street, as the smell of some greasy and delicious mystery food wafted by, when I felt like, maybe, I might have always lived here.
How does your work comment on aesthetic standards and the values and biases embedded in them? North American design aesthetics and cultural norms can be ethnocentric, controlling, and sterile. But a walk down most main streets in Queens will resist any claims to any one dominant hierarchy of aesthetics. It is in this "noise" that I find myself. "Rude" and "inappropriate." In the everyday life of culture, or cultures, being themselves, un-spectacularly saying "fuck you" to whatever standards you may think make sense. How does your work comment on aesthetic standards and the values and biases embedded in them?
What does it mean to occupy space between these positions? What about commerce and its relation to this work? What does it mean to occupy space between these positions? What about commerce and its relation to this work? I am not really into binaries. I simultaneously feel like I am part of many us's and them's simultaneously. I feel more aligned with hackers, code-switchers, and shape-shifters. I'm more into the mash-ups. And the charged unwieldy potential energies they create.

Examining the relationships between commerce, capitalism, class, and migration are part of this work. But this series focuses more on the micro-resistances, in the small shifts. When the discarded, or cheap, or broke-down is reimagined, tricked out, and becomes something new. When there is an active shifting of value. When something from the dollar store can become transcendent. When all that glitters can become gold.
What does Volumes mean to you and your work? I'm not sure what Volumes means to my work but, if the music is too loud, maybe you are at the wrong party. What does Volumes mean to you and your work?
Jaret Vadera (b.1976, Toronto, Canada) earned an MFA in Painting and Printmaking from Yale University (2009) and an undergraduate degree in Fine Art from the Ontario College of Art and Design University (1999). He also studied in the Fine Art Mobility Program at The Cooper Union (1999). He has shown his work internationally, including recent exhibitions at the Bhau Daji Lad Museum, Mumbai, India (2018); the Asia Society Museum, New York (2017); the Aga Khan Museum, Toronto, CA (2017); the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, New York (2016); the Maraya Art Center, Sharjah, AE (2015); the Museum of Modern Art, New York (2014); and Queens International (2006) and Fatal Love - South Asian American Art Now (2005) at the Queens Museum, New York. He has recently completed residencies at the Alserkal Residency (2017); the PES Artist-Researcher Residency, Gateway Project Spaces (2016-17); and the Artist Research Fellowship at DakshinaChitra (2014). Vadera has lectured and taught at: Yale University; Pratt Institute; Brooklyn College; Montclair State University; IIT Madras; and is currently the Assistant Professor of Practice in New Media in the Architecture, Art, and Planning School at Cornell University. Jaret Vadera lives and works in New York.
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