David Coccagna is a local visual artist, skateboarder and noise musician. I recently caught up with David to talk about his work and his upcoming show “Rap Music” at Theory and Practice Gallery (738 Santa Fe Boulevard) which opens on March 18.
Who are you?
My name is David Emmanuel Coccagna. I’m a 24 year old artist living in Denver. I was born & raised in Philadelphia, PA. I went to college for a brief period of time in Santa Fe, NM before dropping out and moving to Colorado. I have since worked on my brand of re-appropriated collage and harsh noise cassette tapes. Back in June, I birthed Cavities Zine with Kelley Kavanaugh and Zach Reini, a zine outlet and resource for new media artists that focus on difficult subject matter such as global cults and missing person reports.
What are your thoughts on Denver zine culture:
I think the reason Denver has such a rich zine culture is because of its serious DIY culture. Not only is there a world of vibrant experimental electronic DIY happenings, there is an ongoing and potent punk/hardcore community that taps in the world of traditional zine work. The art world of Denver sort of demands that there be a zine community. If there is an art scene and a DIY scene, it is inevitable that there be a Zine scene.
What are some of your favorite zines?
When it comes to zines coming out of Denver, I am a big fan of people like Mario Zoots, Milton Melvin Croissant III, Matt Scobey and Jacob DeRaadt. They have been doing big things and making big strides in Denver’s art and sound community, but much of their work remains as accessible as zines are and should be. Swan Lake out of Fort Collins has been going on for 8 years! What Jacob [DeRaadt] has done is impressive. Same goes for Drippy Bones Books. Everyone involved with DBB has worked to make connections nationally and globally and I think that’s important. Art has local and global impacts on other art and zines are a terrific vehicle for that.
Tell me about your upcoming show:
Well, the show is called “Rap Music” and features new work from myself and Dmitri Obergfell. I have yet to really see what Dmitri’s got going on, but I trust it will be amazing. I’ve created a body of work that revolves around similar themes from other work: violence, internet presence, obsession, and discomfort. I’ve spent a lot of time on 4Chan recently to get an idea and aesthetic from it that I can create work out of. I’ve got a handful of videos, prints, and a paper-based mural I’ve put together. There may be some other items, but you would have to come to see them. There’s going to be a performance at the opening from another artist named Andrew Englander that I’m really excited about as well as music from Lauren Zwicky and Isaac Linder. Should be a really great time.
It has nothing, or at least very little to do, with shock. In fact, more often than not it is not shocking to see this material in everyday news, film, and websites. I think my interest in these themes revolves around the transference from acceptable to abhorrent when it goes from the net to a gallery. Also, as an ordinary person who grew up in a generation of constant internet access I too am victim to wanting to obsess over and view the same things common people want to see. I just want to use it for art projects though.
Do you find it interesting that the most popular shows on television (CSI, Criminal Minds, Law and Order etc.) are all based off off violence, internet presence, obsession, and discomfort?
It makes absolute sense. People want to be able to observe these things, the violence and discomfort, as a device to make oneself feel better. They do not feel it and in turn it does not effect them. It is sadistic in a very simple way. It does have the problem of entertaining what is in fact happening every day. Alleviating your pain with violent television and pornography has become common in our era.
So is your work making a social commentary on the obsession by society?
It is and it isn’t. I am inadvertantly making a social comment but when it comes down to it it is a personal investigation. I make brief but I think astute judgments of why others are interested and know whole-heartedly why I am.
What are your thought on the Denver art scene, and what’s next for you?
I think Denver’s art scene is rich and heavily community-oriented. Everyone influences and helps everyone else. I’ve helped artist like Zach Reini install shows and I know in turn he will certainly help me. I think Denver is a wonderful city. In the coming months I have plenty of projects to work. I’m in discussion with Lewis Mitchell Neeff in Boulder about doing a show on exploitation and its fashion appeal. We’re aiming for the fall for that one. I’ll let you know how it pans out! Also, Cavities will be seeing its first year in circulation. It’s insane how quickly artists have wanted to involve themselves with this project. Like I said though, Denver is good for this.