Shooting the Breeze with Amy Sedaris and Marcel Dzama


Shooting the Breeze with Amy Sedaris and Marcel Dzama

This article was initially published in Cultured Magazine, authored by Kat Herriman.

On a gloomy August morning, Amy Sedaris and Marcel Dzama sit across from me. Both of them are headed towards vacation if I could only step out of the way. I am smiling anyway. Two of my New York heroes are not only good friends but co-conspirators. Our conversation quickly transitions from how-did-you-meet into morbid rabbit anecdotes.

Amy Sedaris: How did we meet?

Marcel Dzama: It was through Heather Lawless I believe.

AS: Right! I commissioned that piece when I saw your work in her house, or did we trade?

MD: We traded. I remember because I tried to include a rabbit because you have one. I used to have a rabbit.

AS: But it died in a fire…

MD: Yes, a house fire.

AS: Everyone has a horrible story about a rabbit. I don’t want to hear them, but people can’t wait to tell me. Anyway, after we traded, you used to invite me over to your house for dinner.

MD: Willem, my son who is five, has a huge crush on you, Amy. When he lists his friends, you are one of them.

AS: And, I’m calling you like ‘Hey, can Willem sign a piece of paper so I can use his art on my TV show?’

MD: He drew Amy a bat girl.

AS: It reminded me of Egon Schiele. We had a lot of artists give us work for the show and Willem was one of them, as is Marcel.

MD: The bear costume.

AS: Yes, we have a nature episode.

MD: I had originally made the costume for a Bob Dylan video, which is kind of funny.

AS: You can’t see out of it.

MD: There are eye holes, but…

AS: But, they might as well be in the back. Vanessa Walters, who I met through Marcel, was the choreographer and she danced in it and Paul [Dinello] danced in it. And no one could see. They’d spin around like crazy and take off the head and be out of breath. It was fun. Hot.

MD: I like my actors to suffer.

AS: Yeah suffer! And then I played Marcel in a little film…

MD: That I am working on still. I actually need you for a couple more scenes.

AS: No problem, no problem.

MD: It’s going to be called “The Flower of Evil,” and Amy plays me directing a ballet and a few other projects. There was a trailer for it in my joint exhibition with Raymond Pettibon. Raymond actually plays the gallerist David Zwirner in the film.

Photography: Jason Schmidt via Cultured.

AS: So for the film, Marcel and I went wig shopping one day, which was a blast. We went to Wig Plus on 14th Street. This is my place. They know me there. I get free wig caps there sometimes. Anyway, I had a little mustache, and I got to play Marcel. I played him a lot more aggressive than he is. I guess I put pants on and immediately start yelling at people, because that is what guys do.

MD: But we wanted an over the top character.

AS: Usually I just reinvent the same characters I’ve been playing my whole life and then they kind of snowball into other characters. I guess—unless I am on somebody else’s show, like “Kimmy Schmidt” where I play Mimi Kanasis. In that case, the character was in the writing and then it developed from there. I knew I wanted a country club hairstyle and once I saw my little tiny face in that big hairstyle, I was like ‘Oh, okay, I know who she is now.’ Marcel had me in a cape and a mustache, it was like come on! It was too much fun to play around with.

MD: I had you dressed up in a silver leather jacket too, with sunglasses on and a headset. It was very direct. It’s how I am usually dressed on set. I love barking orders and bossing around my non-existent assistants.

AS: Barking orders is great.

Marcel Dzama, The Avant-guard Army (2004) is available for $2,800

MD: I guess in the same way you recycle characters, I’m often recycling costumes in my films.

AS: I know right? I save everything. It’s hard to let go of costume pieces.

MD: I can’t throw away a mask for some reason.

AS: I am the same way with wigs. I can’t throw them out. I still have my first one from third grade. Maggots or something laid eggs in it, and it didn’t even stop me. It’s all matted and I still love it, even if it has egg sacks in it.

MD: I have a basement filled with more stuff. I can’t wait to move to a bigger studio so I can fit more up here.

AS: But then it gets to be too much, and you can’t find anything.

MD: That’s true. You don’t just buy wigs and props, you also have art.

To continue reading the conversation—wherein Marcel Dzama and Amy Sedaris talk art collecting, the loneliness of art-making, and collaboration—click HERE to visit Cultured Magazine.



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