This is an excerpt from an interview with the artist Ben Jones (Paper Rad, Problem Solverz) conducted via IM sometime in early 2010. The entire interview along with about 100 images representing the last five years of Ben Jones’ visual output, is published in Men’s Group: The Video, an oversized 188-page spiral bound book, just released from my very own PictureBox. (Plug: Order now and receive a gloriously signed book + a Jones-designed tote bag). The book’s release is timed for Ben’s solo exhibition at MOCA Los Angeles, The Video.
— Dan Nadel
DAN NADEL: Do you miss Paper Rad as a daily occurrence? (Stupid question alert!)
BEN JONES: That question has only gossipy answers, I mean, to what extent was I deeply connected to Paper Rad? 100%. But I have the ability to love, so that I have taken that love and fallen in love with new art and new people. At the end of the day, and in the end of my statement about wanting power, I still reduce my goal to simply having love. But you don’t miss love. You make it.
DN: I thought your goal was having power? Have you ever seen the movie Highlander.
BJ: Yes. I love it, and I loved the TV show. Highlander was smart because it made no attempt to convince you of its reality. It was fully formed and easy to understand.
Man’s true spirit is simply defined by watching the woman you adore and cherish grow old and die in your arms in the Highlands of Scotland and then you move to New York and have a cool new apartment and fight and mack on future-space-babes. Man is eternal, to answer your question.
DN: When you were growing up were you scared of men?
BJ: Hmmm, that is a good question. No.
DN: Your father was understandable to you?
BJ: No, I just felt him as another peer. I think I accepted everyone and their weirdness, friends, family…
DN: That’s unusual.
BJ: Many men grow up without any men. My male role model was a thinker and a tinkerer. Had I grow up with a violent cocksman I am sure I would be better at fighting and fucking, but instead I am very lucid with computers. And I don’t have a power complex that causes me to fight or be scared. My complex causes me to want to be better and outthink other men.
DN: You want to “beat them all.” I get that. And you’ll put up with a seeming unending amount of shit to do so.
BJ: I think as a man it is hardwired that we want to beat them all, its just we learn the methods to that game from our fathers
DN: Maybe. Some men want to not participate as a way of winning.
BJ: Then their fathers were losers.
BLVR: Well. It’s not that simple.
BJ: Look. someone taught us, TV, the nanny, someone taught us how to not participate.
DN: There is biology and circumstance, etc. And yes, of course, there is teaching. Were you told you were special when you were little? Unique in some way?
BJ: Yes, by my mother
DN: Of course. Me too.