Julia: You were once had an exhibition entitled, Oral Sadism and the Vegetarian Personality what was that about?
Karl: Oral Sadism and the Vegetarian Personality was a show I did in 2012. I keep a list of odd book titles that I feel have potential resonance for me. I repurpose these for titles of shows; this was one of them. The book “Oral Sadism and the Vegetarian Personality” was a psychoanalytic text from the 1980s. But 30 years later, and in relationship to my work, it becomes about class, lifestyle and choice.
Julia: How do cooking and food factor into your life? You seem to take it pretty seriously.
Karl: Cooking is a big part of my life for sure, because I love to eat! (Now that I stopped drinking and smoking I’m down to two hedonistic pleasures). I do nearly all of the food shopping and cooking for our house; it’s crucial for my mental health. I make art, I cook/eat, I exercise, and I read. I’m obsessive I guess, and I hate to waste a meal.
Julia: You have made salad recipes into large drawings, and presented them as art. Why and how does food, salad in particular, emerge in your practice?
Karl: Food has appeared in my work, simply because food is part of life, just like sex, love, politics and family. I did make a series of drawings called Salad Days, these could be followed just like recipes. I like when one thing becomes another–a person is a shape, an object is a feeling–various conflations and confusions between the literal and the figurative. Recently I wondered if I could make an interesting drawing about a sandwich, specifically because I realized putting together a sandwich is a lot like putting together one of my installations.
Julia: You and Emily eat salad every night before bed, The same salad, one that is surprisingly plebeian given the level of sophistication of the salad you prepared for the blog. What is the origin of the bedtime salad?
Karl: Some people eat ice cream or pretzels before bed, Emily and I eat salad. Even as a kid, I would make a salad for my late-night snack. It was always been a simple American salad – romaine, carrots, celery, a bit of red cabbage, perhaps. I’d dress it with a package of “Good Seasons” dressing mix (our house dressing growing up). It became a tradition, and I continue to eat this same salad every night. I suppose I find it comforting, but that “Good Seasons” dressing is really good stuff. Very underrated.
Julia: Before we made your salad, we debated the nature of salad itself. How to define something with such blurry edges. What did you resolve that a salad is for you? Or does it even matter?
Karl: I like to think through something before I make a choice. When buying a car you should understand the essence of car-ness before sealing the deal. When I realized that this dish should be served warm and required a knife to eat it, I wondered, is it a salad after all? Through our discussion, I think we established that the essence of saladness is based on: size (it should arrive bite sized), even distribution of elements (you should be able to consume most or all elements in a single bite), and dressing (including both acid and a fat). Although your blue cheese iceburg wedge needs a knife, as does your caprese, so there are always exceptions!