Michael Bilsborough Makes Frightfully Intoxicating Images

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QT: “Big enough for the both of us” really intrigues me. It’s one of the most carnivorous of the recent images, but then there’s that one figure clipping his toenails. (is that what he’s doing?) It’s totally absurd and peaceful, in a sinister way, perhaps? Is it the same man throughout or is this an outsider?

MB: He makes me laugh; he’s so at home, so at peace with his toes! I remember that David Hume said something more or less like, “It’s not irrational that a man should will the destruction of the world over the prick of his own finger.” On that note, poking a digit can make us forget our surroundings. I like the pluralistic perspectives of that scene; that the surrounding groups are engaged in Dionysian frenzy and desperate consumption, while that guy just wants to pick his toes, something simple and simian. Yet his basic hygiene is aligned with their libidinal excess, in some ways.

QT: What’s in the locked cabinet in “such great heights?”

MB: Curiosity, Temptation, Obsession, then Frustration. And old photo albums.

QT: How do you think of your titles? What inspires your titles? There’s curiosity, hope and perhaps some anxiety in them: “Big enough for the both of us,” “What could go wrong?”, “Let’s just try it.”…

MB: Those titles mix messages and moods. They could be mantras or promises, assuring and encouraging, or they could be diabolical, desperate, and damning. They are often innuendos and double-edged. In other words, I dwell on them and craft them in the ways that I think of drawings: funny, foreboding, multivalent. I usually pluck them in songs or scripts, or colloquial phrases; then I carry them around and gnaw on them until they match a drawing. “There’s A Place for Us” could be optimistic faith or the outcast’s axiom. It could allude to open space in the sunshiny park or a felching club – it’s effective when you lift it from its showtune origin.

QT: What are you afraid of? Both personally and as an artist?

MB: Abandonment, shopping, bacteria, and poisonous insects. I’m too superstitious to mention the rest.
Bedroom Suite 1Bedroom Suite 3Bedroom Suite 4Heart of Glass

Image Index:
No Easy Way Out, 2007
Bathroom Lines, 2005
Inverted Figure, 2007
Big Enough For The Both Of Us, 2007

Special thanks to Nicholas Weist for helping coordinate this feature. You’re the best, Weist!