Art Basel Miami '13 Interview Series: FriendsWithYou Talks New "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" Installation

The duo talks to us about their new art piece debuting at Art Basel Miami Beach this week.

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Complex Original

Image via Complex Original

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We've had FriendsWithYou (Samuel Borkson and Arturo Sandoval III) on our radar for a while, and each new endeavor that they reveal impresses us more than the last. Earlier this year, they showed us around their awesome studio in Los Angeles, where we learned that the magic they create is not only very exciting but also very contagious. Surrounded by colors and various creatures, it's no wonder that they're leading the way in making post-Pop art a reality.

We caught up with the duo before they reveal their Somewhere Over the Rainbow installation for Art Basel Miami Beach at the Mondrian South Beach (1100 West Avenue, Miami Beach, FL) this week. They gave us the heads up about the project, their Rizzoli book coming out next year (WeAreFriendsWithYou with contributions by Pharrell and Alejandro Jodorosky), and their most recent exhibition with Paul Kasmin Gallery, "Psychic Stones."

What work are you bringing with you to Art Basel Miami Beach this year with Paul Kasmin Gallery? Did you make it especially for the fair, and how long have you been working on it?
We are bringing an experience called Somewhere Over the Rainbow to a poolside location at Mondrian South Beach. We wanted the experience to be like you made it to the end of the rainbow, a place where healing colors radiate people as they chill and play with our work making their own adventure.  Full with a soundtrack of healing magic form our collaborator Norman Bambi, the entire experience should be an amazing one.

You're originally from Miami, so how do you feel returning to exhibit Somewhere Over the Rainbow? Did any of your experiences or thoughts about the city influence the installation?
It’s really funny because we are dealing with an interesting location in that it faces the bay so we actually took inspiration from the sun and its direction and how it will illuminate our pieces. We created the simple geometric gradient forms that will look like giant jewels representing our emotions and are created to effect the emotions of others. Usually you see the sunrise in Miami being that it is on the East Coast but in our installation your will be seeing it set. We always have Miami in our heart so we are so happy to bring such a nice healing and magical experience back there to our people.

You recently released Psychic Stones, which was sort of a new style of work for you, yet contained interests you've previously expressed, like animism. What did you learn from the experience of giving each stone a customized spell? How did others react to the project, and what you made you go in this direction?
Yes! It has been incredible. Interfacing with people one by one has been such an eye opening experience. It’s really beautiful and inspiring. We have always been about connecting with people mostly as a spectacle, but this is way more in depth. Way more healing and magical. It’s incredible how good it feels to connect with people and I think it is a great experience on both sides. We feel it is a great success and further informs our practice in a very special way.

You tweeted that you met Alejandro Jodorosky in Mexico before showing the Psychic Stones. What happened during that exchange? Was it a dream come true? Did he give you any good advice?
Yes it was incredible but it is a much longer story than an answer and we spoke to him on the phone at 6am on a Sunday so we could catch him at the perfect time of 3 p.m. on that day in Paris at his home. He is truly an illuminated teacher and as he expands our capacity for consciousness through his work and our own personal work, he encourages us to do the same with our work. We feel we are on an important path with Jodorowsky and were honored to speak with him. The full convo is transcribed in our new book We Are FriendsWithYou coming soon from Rizzoli.

Speaking of tweeting, Jeff Koons tweeted you back the other day. What did you think of his response to your questions about the power of art to change the world and how everyone thinks? Would you ever collaborate with him?
I feel we are already collaborating if his intention is to expand consciousness; I think all artists are working together even if they don’t realize it. We are all connected and we need to connect even deeper so that our own brand is not the sacred idea, but the unity of people is the main goal.

Your new book comes out in May. Is it finished? What can we look forward to in the monograph? How did you get Pharrell Williams, Alejandro Jodorowsky, AND Peter Doroshenko to be a part of it?
YES! We are so honored by these people, I cant express it with words how thankful we are to have included them. Pharrell is such a positive force it’s amazing. He is like a shooting star in real life, and he and his wife are the reason for the book to even happen in the first place. Jodorowsky has used his art, films, graphic novels and books for the purpose of transcending his audience through symbols and myths. He has been one of our greatest inspirations and to speak with him was life changing. And Peter Doroshenko is a visionary of the art world. The way he has contextualized and understands more about what we are doing helps even inform us; it asks us to push our game even harder. We are so fortunate and grateful. It’s nice to write this on Thanksgiving.

What music are you listening to these days? Is the title of your new installation inspired by the song "Over the Rainbow" or something else?
The haunting beauty of the song "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" from the Wizard of OZ is like an idea of hope and positivity. It really has the essence of what we built. We want to transport people to that place Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Allow them to heal their emotions and play and explore and invent. And speaking of music, Norman Bambi has helped us create an amazing sound piece that will accompany the installation. It’s incredible!

What are your plans after Miami? Any upcoming exhibitions or projects to keep on our radar?
Yes, so many exciting things this year we can’t wait for you all to see it…sometimes I feel dizzy just thinking of it. So happy and we love you so much for supporting us and sharing with the world. Hi everybody. 

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