If It Creeps A Few Out, So What: An Interview with Mary Boo Anderson

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I know you have already briefly mentioned this to me but, as a start, enlighten me fully on the origin of your name and how it relates to your stage presence.

Well, my birth given name is Mary Angelina, but I’ve been going by Mary Boo for a while now. A friend of mine freshman year of college mentioned how I’m kind but creepy like Boo Radley from To Kill A Mockingbird and the nickname Boo stuck.

It’s a fitting name especially in terms of my art practice because often in my work I overstep social boundaries that could potentially creep people out but I think people mostly understand that it’s from a place of genuine desire to shed light on these social boundaries and not intended to just make people uncomfortable. But whatever, if it creeps a few out, so what. I keep that quote that’s like: “good fiction’s job is to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable” in the back of my head at all times.

What was your first exposure to performance art? Did this at all relate to your current attachment to it? Who are some other artists and people in general that have entranced you through the years?

I first discovered performance art was a thing that exists while in college. Learning about famous artists like Sophie Calle, Andrea Fraser, Andy Kaufman and Adrian Piper helped me realize that you can use every day life as a medium to intervene and critique and just have fun.

Prior to knowing I could do a weird thing and call it ‘performance art,’ I had always found ways to perform. As a child, my mom would take me with when she went shopping. I would be so bored in Macy’s I would knock mannequins from pedestals so I could get on the pedestal and start singing songs and telling stories to all of the other small children who would watch.

Lately, I’ve been going to a mix of comedy shows, poetry events, and performance art things. I love seeing how all of the creators in their respective fields use language and their body to move an audience. I’m interested in pulling parts from all three to make my own things. A comic, poet, and performance artist I’m obsessed with: Aparna Nancherla, Claudia Rankine, and Miranda July.

You studied Studio Art and got a BFA at NYU. Tell me a bit about that overall experience and how it connected with your relationship with artistic forms of expression, if at all.

I’m thankful for the experience in so many ways. One of the first pieces I learned about in school was called ‘Untitled (Perfect Lovers)’ by Felix Gonzalez-Torres and it’s just two clocks ticking next to each other. The delicate, finite nature of human relationships being portrayed in such a simple way really opened up a whole new world for me. The fact that anything can be art even just two clocks you can buy from Kmart is beautiful to me.

Near the end of art school, the work that made me most excited was the work that had a responsibility to the viewer. In art there is so much self-indulgence that I can’t justify. Why would a straight cis white man be making an abstract expressionist piece in 2016 is absolutely beyond me. There’s so much boring stuff out there in the world, I don’t think art should add to the pile of sludge. I think we either have to progress a conversation or step aside.

I have already gone on and on with you about how much I love your tweets. Talk to me a bit about them. Do you think this will continue to be your main form of literature besides your short films, performances, and live shows?

Yes, I LOVE Twitter. I am addicted. I use it as an open sketch book. Whenever I’m writing a poem or constructing a performance or video I read through past tweets and look for themes, sometimes using tweets verbatim. Sometimes I’ll even compose a thought in twitter then copy it into a google doc for later and not post it. It helps me think when I’m forced to edit something down to 140 characters. Otherwise… *gestures wildly to my lengthy interview responses*

What is the ideal art museum?

One that is free and for the people by the people. Focusing on underrepresented voices and media.

How much should we destroy current societal standards?

We should destroy the standards to the point they no longer hurt anyone.

Anything coming up in the near future?

Going to be releasing a series of dog poems soon. Also, Ryann Slauson and I have some collaborative projects in the works.

And to conclude, how can we please support you?

Follow me on twitter at @whoismaryboo hehe <33

Interview conducted by Jordan Hoxsie.