After all that, Tina Corfield wouldnt go west

“…from a series I was developing based on best-in-show animal photos. You can see a poodle video version on my website. So before I got to the poodle, I did a series of cat photos, of which it is one. I feel like you won’t look at me in the same way once you’ve seen it, but hey, we are all weirdos, right?”



Tina Corfield is an artist whose day job is being a phD candidate at UC Santa Cruz. From over here, her dissertation is on the Pony Express and a view of technology and myth making in 19th Century America. I am sure she is shaking her head and saying that isn’t what the thing is about. She hasn’t sent it to me to read, so i can say it is whatever i want to say it is about.

Tina’s purpose in life is being a visual artist dedicated to old technologies as new (this is what i thought until we talked and then i think i get what she does).

Tina is married to my friend Scott Peterson. So, Christina has always been nice and courteous and patient with me to my face. Tina is Christina, Christina is Tina, by the way.

I think the first time I met her, Christina said i was jolly, which is English dog whistle for fat alcoholic who likes to laugh at his own jokes. I am sure Christina is nodding in agreement. I think Christina enjoys that I tickle Scott and make fun of him. I think she takes Scott seriously.

Christina is from England but her mom is Brazilian. I think Christina loves America. As an example, i hold up as evidence her marriage to Scott, who is about as American as you can get.

Christina has black and white photos of her family tree in their domicile in Oakland. i think Christina could easily fit in a time before now, either as a silent move actor or street urchin pickpocket or smoking opium 24/7 in Bodie, California back in 1868.

I think something Christina and I have in common is the perception of our own artistic work. I think we both have low self-esteem regarding it, which is a good thing. Or, maybe not self-esteem, but the inherent value. I might be completely wrong. In person, Christina will change the subject if you ask her about her work and doesn’t prattle on. I dont think it is an affectation, i think it is a character flaw, which makes her good at what she does. The other thing I think we have in common is the do it yourself approach to creating shit, paying for it yourself and letting the fact you do shine through in the work. Christina isnt the type of artist who apologizes for the work she makes or sets a criteria that makes the work a dream that cant be executed and so stays out of reach and let’s her feel sorry for herself that her vision is too big for this world. She makes what she can how she can and that is championed in her work. Here fucking here.

I am certain she skipped the last paragraph.


who are you?

I am a british-brazilian woman, married to an American, living in California. I am an artist-scholar struggling to establish herself, but working hard to get started on a career.

why did you say it like that?
I wanted to give a full cursory description of how I would like others to see me.
what do you do?
I’m an artist and currently a media studies grad student…so I make video art mostly by myself but with my friends as actors. I’m finishing my dissertation .
what do you not do?

Cubicle jobs. Anything that earns a lot of money…apparently. I also dont do math, although I think its the coolest thing in the world.

who was the first american you hated?

Damn! this one took some time. Well, in pop culture, like, growing up, probably some cartoon character or something like that but after having lived here, and if we are talking about truly “hating” someone – despising what they stand for and how they live their life – probably some conservative senator with transparently bigoted and hypocritical ideals.

what do you not know about the pony express?

Probably most things.

what do you hear in your head?

A self critical voice.

what do you hear in your head when you are happy?

When I’m happy I’m probably still checking myself for something I need to get done or something I’ve done wrong. I’d like to say something insipid like “music” or whatever, but really, I don’t know. Maybe just nothing, which is wonderfully liberating.

what do you hear in your head when you feel negative?

Usually that I don’t know anything and that I am selfish and what I do is shallow. Lately with all the awful shit going on in this country I feel like a coward because I’m not out on the streets – even though I know that’s just not how I do things or how I am.

do you have a code you live by?

Try and be as nice and kind to others as possible – try and put yourself in their position so you don’t judge other people.

do you see any patterns of behavior in your life?

I need to be liked by people too much. But I think the way this has manifested itself is by making me always try to see the other person’s point of view and I think this has ultimately made me a more compassionate person. However, I would love to be able to say “fuck you” to people and not give a fuck. But I do. Too much.

what are you working on right now?

My dissertation, an augmented reality installation, some drawings, finishing up an art book project, trying to start a new video…oh, and applying for jobs.

what is the closest you have come to seeing something in your head and creating it in the world?

Well, I try to do that all the time in my artwork. Most of my projects dont end up as i first imagine them, but thats just the process. If I want something to be exactly as I see it in my head, I draw it. Then it becomes pretty satisfying – a quick fix.


do you remember the first piece of art you made you were proud of?

I don’t remember what is was, but it would have been a drawing and I would have been very small, maybe 6 or 7. I had books and books and books of drawings I made and I would love to look back through them, because I enjoyed looking at the drawings I was pleased with.

what drew you to scholarship?

My work was heading in that direction and saw it as an opportunity to have a job that didn’t totally suck or was totally boring and that would pay me decently. I started reading books about 19th century visual culture and I found them fascinating. That, and finding out about theories of modernity at the turn of the century. Really interesting stuff.

why do you think math is the coolest thing in the world?

Because its this really sophisticated, universal language. There is also a smidge of wonder there because i can’t do it, so I think that mystery is wondrous to me. But some of the theories that have arisen out of theoretical math are amazing, and really crazy. And only math will get you there in any “provable” “scientific” way…like, quantum theory – that wouldn’t exist without math…I think the ideas that very complex math generate are what really get me excited. Google “M” theory, for example…a tangent of string theory…and just, bonkers!

what is enough money?

When you can pay all your bills and also put money into your savings and retirement accounts and still have some left over so you don’t have to check your balance every goddamn week, like I do. Disposable income, I guess – to be able to go out or buy one or two nice things for yourself and just know you can, without thinking about whether you can afford it or not. That’s the ideal for me. Never had that.

haha, why did you hate an american cartoon character? 

Ideological reasons probably. Or since I was a child, just probably because their character was an asshole.

was it bugs bunny?

I did find him kind of smug and mean. I just couldn’t understand why he had to be so mean. Also, Jerry, from Tom and Jerry. What a little prick! I hate that fucking guy.

what cartoons did you watch as a kid?

Oh geez…uhhhhh, I don’t really remember a bunch. I do remember watching weird cartoons on Saturday mornings on Channel 4. 6am, like, weird shit from Russia and all over…there were 2 cartoons that really stuck with me tho…the first was “The Mysterious Cities of Gold” and the second was “Ulysses 31” …the 80s realy were the golden age of childrens TV intro songs…oh, and of course, I would watch Thundercats.

what job did you want to have when you were a kid?

I really have no clue at all. I think I always wanted to be an artist…

if you dont know most things about the pony express, what do you know about the pony express?

Wait til I send you my dissertation…

how long can a horse last galloping full speed? in my mind, when i think of the pony express i see the rider in full speed holding onto his hat. any idea how many horses died working for the pony express?

I’m not sure how many horses died, but definitely some did. Some because of exhaustion, some because of bad weather probably. I think a horse can ride top speed maybe for 10 miles or so, depending on the breed/fitness/terrain.

have you ever been on a horse? 

Yes, a couple of times when I was very small, so I was terrified. I’ve wanted to get back on one, but its really expensive and the horse club at UCSC only does the fancy dressage style horse riding you see at the Olympics, not the normal kind. My only other friend who knows horses and who could have taken me now lives in LA, so thats off the books too. Ah, well.

what were people sending via the pony express?

Mostly business mail, government docs and military info. Not much personal stuff at all.

it is cool you are not out in the streets if you know you arent that person. when you dont feel negative, what do you think of your work and what you do?

I really love my work, I love making it, and I think its good – it doesn’t look like a lot out there, but I also think it could be better. The PhD pushed me off the track for a bit and I don’t think I’ve made something really great for a while, so I’m hoping the Pony Express thing will be the next good thing I do. I also wonder whether because my aesthetic is purposefully amateur whether that turns some people off – gallerists that is. I don’t know, I see a lot of crappy looking stuff out there, its definitely an aesthetic, so I think I have a chance…

i think of you as a really nice person but now i am wondering if it just because you feel the need to be liked and really hate me. jesus. i guess i will never know. would you tell me if it was the case?  

Nah, I’d be totally polite about it. Because I was raised right. But I love you, so don’t worry!

what is your favorite color?

I really like coral…but I don’t really have a favorite color.

what the fuck is the augmented reality installation?!?!

Oh shit, I dont know, I may not do it. I was going to paint this big map – like ones you see at Disneyland that show you the lay of the land, but they are painted to look like a book. I was going to make each of the the images scannable so that when you scanned an image on the map, your phone would automatically play a video. So, certain symbols would be linked to specific scenes/reenactments…

can you draw a picture of a time you hid how you felt? 



This was two rounds of questions that took months. Jajajhajajajajajajajajajajaja. I should have sent her the questions via the pony express, it would have taken less time.

At this point, i didnt really feel like i was asking Christina the right questions about her work. I was wasting her time while she was trying to write a dissertation by asking about her feelings about bugs bunny. she seemed to be polite in her answers to her husband’s friend who might remind her of bugs bunny. I really had no fucking clue what christina was after as an artist. Or, I got it, but it felt like I couldn’t wrap my head around it and I knew it was right there and really wanted to know because she isnt an asshole and doesn’t make dumb shit. I was also impatient because I want to know a lot about people and I want people to share as much as they can.

So i asked her if we could do part two over the phone. She agreed, but I maybe think she didnt see what the point of this whole exercise was in the first place.

A few Sundays ago, we had the conversation on the phone. I called Tina while I was on the way to the supermarket so at times I sound weird but that is because I was trying to do two things at once. I wasnt certain if it would be a five minute call and I assume she might have thought the same thing. I think we both were surprised by what the call turned out to be, which was a fascinating discussion. I hung up knowing who Tina Corfield was as an artist and amazed by the obstacles she puts in her own way to create thought provoking art.

(i think the thing starts at the one minute mark)