mark anthony green's art basel miami exhibition was a tribute to A$AP rocky
We speak to the artist and writer about Suite 101, a multidisciplinary exhibit featuring everything from his unpublished photography of A$AP Rocky to inscribed arrow artworks.
It should probably come as no surprise that A$AP Rocky was several hours late to a dinner he was expected to attend; or for that matter, that we waited two hours to interview him - time which had been scheduled before the dinner - and that in the end, the interview regrettably never took place. Amidst the ruckus of Art Basel, the rapper (and now actor) co-hosted a private dinner to celebrate Brooklyn-based artist Mark Anthony Green's Suite 010 exhibit at Dream South Beach. The exhibit, composed of varied pieces that testify to Mark's ability of working with very different mediums, included everything from a slogan-engraved marble basketball board to $40 pin sets and custom-made arrows. Some of his photography was also featured in a series named "Barefoot", a collection of intimate and unpublished photographs of A$AP that he shot between Los Angeles and New York. Rocky's tardiness was apparently due to a wardrobe malfunction - he couldn't find the right shirt - and while the interview was initially supposed to include him, it actually seems fitting to focus on Mark. After all, the evening was dedicated to him and his work; the reason a party had been organized in the first place and the reason musician Dev Hynes, as well as Ian Connor and Kylie Jenner made an appearance at dinner. We chatted to Mark throughout the evening about spelling designer names properly, compromising on how many bales of hay he can buy, cool kids like Ian Connor, and the parallels between him and A$AP.
Can you explain the meaning behind the name of your exhibition, Suite 010?
Suite 010 was my last college dorm room. I was homeless off and on for almost two years of college and there were some semesters I wasn't even registered for school. Not a lot of people knew that then. Anyway, the first time I got evicted I thought life was over — the universe had targeted me and it was going to win. But by the third and fourth time, I was kind of ok with it. Suite 010 was first time in years I knew I wasn't going to get evicted. That was all because my best friend at the time was an RA and pulled some strings. His name is Warren Chancellor. He's still my best friend; still pulling strings to keep me and my ideas afloat.
Your pieces phonetically spelling out words like Givenchy seem to convey the idea of being able to educate yourself even in isolation. Is this a statement about the relationship between high-end fashion and socio-economic backgrounds, or the evolution of how style and fashion is being defined?
Yeah, that's basically it. I grew up really into fashion—the history and culture of fashion designers, the super insidery stuff, which was weird for a kid in Kansas City, Missouri. I could pick out individual pieces from collections. I knew what designer had what addictions. I knew who knocked off who. But I grew up pre-internet and no one around me was talking about Yves Saint Laurent for example. So when I pronounced his name I pronounced the 'Y'. The 'T' was a hard 'T'. I had no clue I was so off! It's funny now, but these pieces are me just trying to help my younger self out a bit. Like hey kid, get the fucking names right.
Tell us about how you and A$AP Rocky met and why you chose to document him for your exhibit.
When I signed the deal with the Dream Hotel earlier this year my first thought was: Holy shit! This is awesome. My second thought was: Holy shit! This is a lot of space. So I wanted to share it and split the space by taking photos with an artist or creative who inspired me this year. I thought about Misty Copeland. I thought about Gay Talese (I went back and read a lot of his sports writing). But I inevitably landed on Rocky. He's a good friend. We always talked about how our careers started basically at the same point. We'd see each other at parties a lot and had a shit ton of mutual friends. Eventually we just started hanging. Watching him perform is super inspirational for me. He's such a perfectionist - which sounds cliché in 2015 but he really is. We're both weird, care about clothes too much and like skinny girls with big foreheads. He's one of the few musicians with mass success that doesn't compromise what they want to do.
We spotted some cool kids like Ian Connor and Kylie Jenner at the dinner. What is your relationship with someone like Ian and what does he bring to you creatively?
Ian's insane. I really like that kid. When I met him in SoHo, like four years ago, he told me he was a model and a creative director and a visionary. I definitely was like who the fuck is this kid? But he's totally right. He's a model, a creative director and he has incredible vision. I always say don't fight the internet. But what I'm really saying is: don't fight the kids, don't fight the youth. The moment I'm writing or painting or creating something that the youth can't vibe with, it'll be time to pack it up.
In terms of fashion, what brands are exciting you at the moment and doing something daring?
Dior and Saint Laurent. Supreme and Nike. And Sid Mashburn. Daring isn't the word I'd use for any of them really. Though this cardigan is from Supreme and it's pretty daring, I look like a peacock. I like Sandro and IRO. Paris is controlling the wave right now. I need to spend more time up there. I need to get my Rosetta Stone on first though.
You became the official Style Guy for GQ in September along with creating the artwork for this show, and collaborating with a bunch of people such as A$AP. How has this changed your life or the way in which you approach projects?
I have to trust people a lot more now, which I'm still struggling with. Not because the folks I work with aren't incredible at what they do. They all are. But I'm learning to let go a little more. And I'm learning to listen more. When Warren says we're over budget so I can only have 100 bales of hay, not 200, I have to listen to him - or complain about it until he budges at 150 bales of hay.
You're a writer at heart and by profession. When did you decide to use art as another way to communicate your thoughts and feelings?
To pinpoint it exactly: I needed to get my mentor and big brother, Will Welch, a wedding present and I just couldn't find the perfect thing. So I made the first piece with stitching, painting and sanding - what would grow to become my style, so to speak. I figured even if he hates it he won't say anything because I made it, ya know? I cheated! But I think I made the decision to spread my creativity across a few platforms when I was much younger. My mum used to call me Ricochet Rabbit because I was always bouncing around making music, writing poetry, playing basketball, and chasing girls. I chased girls like it was profession when I was like 12.
How do you see your creative process evolving?
Well, my goal is to become Howard Hughes with the mental light switch. One second someone is showing him blueprints for a jet, the next its stills from a film, then he's retreating in his own mind trying to figure out how to circle the globe in four days and what not. I want to not hesitate between the projects. Writing a story, taking photos, poetry, art, design, whatever. I've gotten a little quicker in making the shifts between thoughts. Mostly because both worlds have become more demanding. So I'm forced to become more Hughesian which is my ultimate goal, ya know? Minus the being naked locked in a screening room peeing in jars thing.
Text Sarah Owen
Photography and artwork Mark Anthony Green