Sunday, September 4, 2016

Vernonica Compton on Nina Schwanse on Veronica Compton + Bunny Matthews

Prisoner in Isolation by Veronica Compton
I am the real Veronica Compton By Amy Mackie

Looking back at Nina Schwanse’s 2013 exhibition at Good Children Gallery in which she assumed the identity of serial killer accomplice Veronica Compton, Amy Mackie talks to the real Veronica Compton about life after prison, the Hillside Strangler and the terror of having your identity taken away.

In 2013, I interviewed (for Pelican Bomb) Los Angeles-based artist Nina Schwanse, who was then living in New Orleans, about her exhibition Hold It Against Me: The Veronica Compton Archive at Good Children Gallery. The show wove together fact and fiction in an unconventional archive based on the life of Veronica Compton. It included photographs and a video in which Schwanse bears a strong resemblance to Compton, re-creations of Compton’s letters to and from serial killer Kenneth Bianchi, a mock version of her play The Mutilated Cutter, and drawings made in her style. It was an imagined version of Compton’s experiences and history, and it is not a stretch to say that, at the time, Schwanse was attempting to channel Compton, creating work as her. For that reason, when I interviewed Schwanse for Pelican Bomb, I did so twice—once in the artist’s voice and, as an extension of the exhibition, once in the voice of her subject-cum-alter-ego.

Years later, Compton (now Compton Wallace) discovered Schwanse’s project and the two interviews and reached out to Pelican Bomb. Shortly after, she agreed to an interview with me. A writer, artist, and musician who also lives and works in Los Angeles, Compton Wallace was convicted of attempted murder and incarcerated in 1981 as a result of her relationship with Kenneth Bianchi, a.k.a. the “Hillside Strangler.” She served a 22-year sentence in Bellingham, Washington. Since Compton came into the public sphere before the Internet, a quick Google search readily brings up Schwanse’s likeness, often before Compton Wallace’s own, a disorienting consequence of image construction in the digital age.

This series of interviews reveals multiple viewpoints and the layers of history and perspectives of one woman’s life—and challenges the way her history is and has been written, told, altered, and edited. I am grateful to Compton Wallace for sharing her story and to Schwanse for bringing it to my attention. —Amy Mackie

Amy Mackie: Was it upsetting for you to discover that Nina Schwanse made a body of work inspired by your personal history? More>>

Da Blues Too by Bunny Matthews
Bunny Matthews is the Real Bunny Matthews

Before and After at Arthur Roger features Bunny Matthews’ instantly recognizable cartoons spanning the last 34 years. Meticulously rendered in pen and ink and sometimes colored pencil, the cartoons are drawn in what has been described as his “traditional post-psychedelic baroque caricature style.” In 1982, Bunny Matthews created the emblematic characters, Vic and Nat’ly Broussard for the Times-Picayune’s Dixie magazine. For decades, Vic and Natly’s commentaries have amused, and often provoked. Observing life in the Creole City from his exurban Abita Springs redoubt, Matthews has said that he holds high standards for New Orleans, where he believes most people are too accepting and forgiving. His outspoken style often prompts controversy, yet he remains unapologetic. He believes that lines are meant to be crossed and through his work, he aims to educate and enlighten his audience, forcing them to react, to think and to change. Due to a recent illness that limited his ability to produce new work, this show is a retrospective of sorts. He's one of a kind, and he's Naturally New Awlins--we wish him the best! More Here & Here