"Rad Talk" is a new column running on The Emma Edition, for 2013. In this column I interview creative people who make my life all the more rad and whose work I think deserves a wider audience. I’ll be giving them a forum to speak on things they may never been asked in a typical interview. Today I am featuring Nolan Boomer, the co-founder of the art collective, The Juvenilia. A new interview is posted on Fridays.
Q: Nolan, How did you and Kolleen meet?
A: “I love to tell this story--it seems fake but it’s really truly real. Kolleen (my co-editor) and I met the summer of 2011 while taking a summer abroad program in Greece. On the first night of the program we were sitting in the lobby of a hotel in Athens waiting for our rooms to be ready. After flying on a plane for sixteen hours or so and not sleeping, all of us were delirious and awkward. I saw her across the room reading my favorite Jennifer Egan novel, and went over to her to talk about it.
Realistically, our relationship is absurd. There was no context given to us to hold us together. We live halfway across the world from one another; our physical bodies couldn’t be more different; and we grew up in radically different cultures. But somehow over the course of that month we became such a complimentary fit to one another. Time, distance and context were no longer relevant. We would roll our eyes at each other when other said something poorly thought out. We would lie on the beach sharing earbuds playing Los Campesinos! and Stars. One night we sat on the concrete steps outside our rooms late at night and told each other we were queer because it felt right. We hugged and hugged and our reclusive hearts synchronized.”
Q: What made you guys want to fuse your friendship into the creation of The Juvenilia?
This project was a perfect way to share something professional together. I knew how to code websites and had a network of artists I loved. She knew how to write with heart and get stuff done. The collaboration was something we remain excited about and always feels relevant.
Q: What would you say is the mission statement behind the project?
A: “Part of what inspired The Juvenilia was dissatisfaction with the way our generation consumes art. With websites like Tumblr, you can endlessly scroll down a page of images with little understanding of who made the art and how. I think there is something lost when art becomes nameless. In the field of literature, many argue that critical essays and background information should be considered to fully understand the meaning of a work. This collective is an experiment to restore the personal and intimate back to art and writing. It is a carved-out space for us to present ourselves with a face and a story.”
Q: How is it running a collective with a close friend?
A: “Each day when I wake up I look at my messages and normally Kolleen has left me a link to something funny or beautiful. Throughout the day we have one slow but continuous conversation that includes gossiping; making plans for the blog calming each other down when we worry and reminiscing.
Behind the scenes our collective is fairly organized. We use a calendar to organize our posts, and each published piece has gone through a series of drafts and been talked about for a while. But within this structure, we all remain fairly informal. I talk to most of the bloggers every few days because I think their minds are beautiful and it is important to me that they feel comfortable expressing their feelings with me.”
Q: Is The Juvenilia for anyone?
A: “I think The Juvenilia can be appreciated by a wide variety of people. However, I think young adults will get the most out of our work.”
Q: On The Juvenilia you feature art, writing, photography, poetry, of primarily of those not yet discovered. Was there a particular voice you were trying to give to this group of people?
A: “Honestly, our collective is a fairly introspective, process-oriented place. The other editors and I work with our artists closely to develop a piece of art they are proud of each month. Our artists come from a variety of places and backgrounds, and we work to inspire one another. I’ve found our main priority isn’t to get attention but rather to help each other to develop our own voices.”
Q: What was your favorite post you ever ran?
A: “There are far too many beautiful creations that have come from this to have a favorite, but a recent one that broke my heart in this best way possible was this photo essay on an old folks community, Sun City.
I didn’t know Anna very well before she wrote created this, so its charm caught me off guard. My jaw dropped.”
Q: Who are some of your favorite artists/writers right now?
A: “Toni Morrison, Mark Morrisroe, Sherwood Anderson, Miranda July, Lorrie Moore, Richard Siken, Rainer Maria Rilke, Elmgreen & Dragset, Félix González-Torres, Jenny Holzer, Henrik Olesen, Piet Stockmans, and Amy Friend”
Q: What do you guys do when you’re not working on The Juvenilia?
A: “Kolleen and I do the same things: think of strange hypothetical scenarios, pet cats, have existential crises on the train, roll around, complain about how we don’t want to revise our papers anymore, stand around prettily, eat lunch alone, text each other overheard quotes, try to make change and take long road trips.”
Q: Do you guys have plans to take The Juvenilia onto other platforms?
A: “We have many plans for the near future! The collective itself will remain online, but we plan to start having live events featuring our artists’ work, and to create some sort of hard-copy counterpart to the blog.”
Q: Based on the title and the posts, there is definitely a childhood nostalgia that emanates from the site. Is this something you are conscious of?
A: “I think all of us in the collective are at the stage in their life where we have an acute awareness of the place we came from. Many of us are beginning to leave home for the first time, and are understanding that our home culture is just as foreign as any other culture. “Nostalgia” is the wrong word here. We think about our pasts often, perhaps obsessively, but not necessarily in an idealized way.”
Q: Last, but not least, what were your teenage bedrooms like?
A: “My room while growing up was white with one blue wall. It had a large denim window seat where you could sit and look out at a kidney bean shaped pool and further out, the scrappy Santa Monica canyons. I travelled between this room and my dad’s house often, so there was normally an open suitcase or bag in the corner from the last I transferred houses. My walls are covered in art my brother and I have made, and my desk is covered in mail I haven’t thrown away, ugly notes from my Number Theory class last year, zines, and a weird stuffed cat my grandma bought me. I wish I had more collections and shrines, but I have too many spaces to decorate and I tend to give things to people so things stay fairly minimal.”
To learn more about Nolan, Kolleen, and The Juvenilia, click here.
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