Talking to Raul Vincent Enriquez
I first met Raul Vincent Enriquez in Los Angeles when he was creating complex and terrifying sound-scapes for Reza Abdoh’s epic Bogeyman Trilogy. Raul rigged a human scream to fly circles around a 300-seat theater until it landed in a tiny flying coffin; contrasted 1950’s tiki lounge tracks with Verdi and Mozart; mixed live cello and drumming with insane techno music. After Reza’s untimely death, Raul began creating sexy, silly, disturbing computer animation, developed a dodgy alter-ego named Sesos de Capitado, the Latino Conceptual Artist, and created one of the best happenings in New York:The Burrito Party. Currently Raul, or maybe Sesos, is trying to get his hands on a large catering truck so he can drive around the City projecting animation and giving out free burritos. Know anyone who has one?
(Keep reading as actress, writer, director , Culturebot contributor and all-around art star Juliana Francis talks to Raul Vincent Enriquez.)
Q. Can you describe what happens at a burrito party?
A. It’s quite simple, actually. I make burritos in front of people. People wait on line for a burrito. The people in line socialize with each other. People eat burritos. As this is happening I project my animation. Maybe a DJ or a band plays. For the New Museum show I gave out Hand-Signed and Numbered Limited Edition Extra Cheese Coupons.
Q. What goes into each burrito?
A. Savory, slow cooked pinto beans, cotija cheese an’ nipple puckering fresh salsa verde, fresh cilantro, tomatoes, onions and a dash of chipotle. Recently I’ve been adding chunks of roasted poblano chili for a gooey, fleshy bite.
Q, When was the first burrito party? Can you explain your original impulse to create such an event?
A. The first burrito party happened at the Robert Beck Memorial Cinema curated by Bradley Eros in 2003. Bradley invited me to show an evening of my animation, and I was very nervous about having to interface with the audience due to my baggage from growing up stuttering. So I decided to make burritos to keep my ass busy and to limit my interaction with the audience. Bradley thought it was a great idea. Plus he ate about three burritos.
I find the “wine and cheese” hospitality of art events too impersonal. It’s store-bought hospitality. I’m interested in creating a unique and personal setting to view my work. When I was a kid we used to ALWAYS eat comfort food when watching TV. I don’t see this as being any different. Burritos are my comfort food.
Since the Robert Beck show, Raul has created burrito parties for Galapagos Art
Space, Sin-e, The National Theater of the United States of America’s Halloween benefit, The New Museum, and The Remote Lounge. I helped Raul stir the beans at his recent party for the New Museum. The line of folks waiting for a burrito was enormous and never seemed to wane. This didn’t seem to fluster Raul at all, who made 86 burritos in two hours, and only seemed to get cranky when folks had too many special requests.
Q. Why did you yell at the girl who only wanted beans and tomatoes?
A. Oh please, I did not YELL! But it is true, I have little patience for picky
eaters. I AINT YOUR DAMN WAITER! I am making burritos, if you want one I will be MORE than happy to make one for you. Again, I am making burrit oooos, not beans and tomatoes on a plate. But maybe I should have a Beans and Tomatoes on a Plate for Picky Eaters Party?
Q. How long does it take to prepare for a burrito party?
A. Usually about three days. One day for shopping and prepping, one LONG day for cooking. And one day for packing it all up, buying last minute stuff, and the stuff that needs to be fresh.
Q. Are the beans really your Grandmother’s secret recipe?
A. No. That is cheap gossip created and spread by some Latino conceptual artist guy. The recipe is all mine – MINE!!!! And it is secret indeed.
Q, Do you consider burrito parties theater? Art Installation? Or something else?
A. Something else that does not try to be theater or art installation but realizes
that it must be sorta theatrical and sorta intallation-ish.
Q. Why do you like feeding people?
A. I’ve had food shoved in my face in various homes since I was a kid. I LOVE it. I strongly believe in offering food as hospitality. I am fascinated with overbearing hospitality.
Q. You grew up in LA, worked after high school, and then went to college to study experimental music, yes? Can you describe your trajectory?
A. I was born in Los Angeles. I come from a kind, generous, hard working lower middle class Mexican-American family. I went to Catholic school for 12 years! I had no interest in going to college so I worked for four years as an offset printer. Then I went to Europe on vacation with my older brother Tony.
While in Europe I met many post-graduate American students on holiday. I envied their savvy and knowledge so when I got back to the States I busted my ass working overtime for six months then quit my job and went to Cal State Dominguez Hills.
I studied 20th century experimental dodecaphonic electronic music. Now there’s some real toe-tapping booty grinding music! After realizing nobody really wants to listen to that kinda music except for other 20th century experimental dodecaphonic electronic music composers and their politely supportive parents and friends, I started doing theatrical sound design. Met theater director Reza Abdoh. Lived in Paris for a few years. Ate a ton of butter, was an arty-farty DJ for a bit. Got into multimedia [animation.] Did the dot.com silliness. Got the first grant I applied for on my own from The Experimental Television Center to finish an animation entitled Chupalucha.
Raul has recently created a striking and rather Warholian series of animated
portraits called Buckfuddy. Most of the subjects are Raul’s friends: actors Mike Shannon, Tony Torn, and Jesse Hawley; New York City Ballet principal dancer Wendy Whelan; Photographer David Michalek; Filmmakers Prerana Reddy and Jawad Metni.; Like much of his work they evince a kind of nervous laughter in the viewer, who can’t decide whether it’s silly or creepy.
Q. Can you describe your Buckfuddy series?
A. Buckfuddy is a series of moving image portraits. I have a person sit and hold a facial pose while I take several digital photographs. Then I sequence all the images together, loop them and BINGO! Everyone looks like they are in the middle of doing something nervous, tasty, painful, freaky, creepy, nasty. After watching them, my artist/architect friend Lisa Quatrale told me she felt like she was watching people looking at themselves alone in the mirror. She felt she had violated the subjects’ privacy. I am simply fascinated with faces and eye contact. I grew up stuttering. For a time I hated myself for it. So I rarely made eye contact with people because it could be construed as an invitation to conversation.
Q. Your reluctance to define the Burrito Parties as theater or art, and some of
your recent animations, the manifestation of Sesos de Capitado, The Latin
Conceptual Artist and your upcoming online Conceptual Art Mega-Store express a certain, um, ambivalence with high concept gallery art.
A. I want to talk about art the way most people talk about pop music, comix, or
movies. There is conceptual art out there that is brilliant. I have no problem
with concepts fueling art – but everyone seems so intimidated by it, so afraid to appear stupid if they don’t get it or don’t like it. And as you can see – I am not afraid to appear stupid.
A. Sesos is Spanish for cow brains; you find them in tacos on a taco truck. Sesos de Capitado is my self-loathing alter ego. We all have a conceptual artist in us trying to get out. Sesos only exists on paper – well, email, actually. There is only one known photograph of Sesos de Capitado. I used it on the CD artwork for the New Museum Counter Culture walking audio tour that I made. It’s a photo of Sesos struggling to choose between two pieces of fruit as he sits on his knees in front of a small cardboard box. He is trying to complete his seminal conceptual art piece entitled Organic Fruit in a Cardboard Box. Hey, I never said he was a good conceptual artist!
Q. Who and what are some of your influences?
A. Reza Abdoh, Gumby, Gilligan’s Island, Paul McCarthy, Mexican moms and grandmothers, Goya (the Spanish painter dude, not the “Hispanic Specialties” food company – well, maybe them too.) Good, creepy theater, lust and fetish, gossip, double standards, race/gender politics, aging, and the manners I learned at home. All the discipline and beatings during my 12 years of Catholic school that I deserved because I was a button-pushing smart-ass.
Those beatings taught me how to refine my contempt into backhanded compliments so I never got my skinny, sorry ass beat again.
You can experience Raul’ss animation for yourself on Wednesday, July 21st at the Remote Lounge, 327 Bowery, between 2nd and 3rd Streets at 10 PM
The New Museum Counter Culture show runs through August 14th. Raul will be leading a free walking tour of the exhibits on Saturday, July 31st at 2 PM, starting at 235 Bowery (at Prince Street.) Get a post-tour burrito at The Remote Lounge at 4 PM.