Osiris Zuniga is an artist born in colombia, raised in New York, civilized in San Francisco and back out over there doing who the fuck knows with blow torches and alchemy.
I don’t know how to describe Osiris. When i hear Osiris in my head, she is cursing. She curses like how you use commas, but it is never too much or desperate or demasiado.
I wrote a short play kinda based on osigh called Battle Rattle of the Republic, imagining her in the army partying in baghdad on july 4, 2003.
Watching the karate kid last night I realized Osiris is kinda like Daniel in the Karate Kid. But that is whatever.
I asked Diana Lopez, a fellow leo and artist herself to describe osigh. Diana immediately responded:
Hell yeah. nothing more a mortal can add.
who are you?
My name is osiris. I was born in cali, colombia, raised in brooklyn, NY. I am Leo.
why did you say it like that?
i dont know, i kinda hate the question, or maybe its cause i feel like im going thru some sort of weird time right now, where as i get older i realize more and more who i am, and there are things i like and dont like. I’m tryingg to learn to not come off as such a dick.
what do you do?
well. i literally just finished an intense woodworking and cabinet making course. so i was immersed in that for the past 7 weeks. today is the first day I have free, i would like to edit some of my videos and work on some small sculptures/paintings ive been putting off. wait is this a career question? i hate that question. im currently unemployed and interviewing at a shit ton of places where nothing has clicked. (insert death crash noise) yea i try and dodge any sort of what do you career type questions at the moment. next question.
what do you not do?
i don’t smoke cigarettes. I don’t beat animals. i dont hate kids.
where are you from?
I was born in cali, colombia and raised in brooklyn, ny.
do you have a code you live by?
yea be nice to people. dont forget where you came from- in the empathetic sense. if you’re teaching someone something, be patient. remember how it was for you. shit like that. i’m super nice to old people, give them my seat on the train, i get scared about getting old and hope karma will be kind. So pretty much have patience and be kind to the elderly.
what are you working on right now?
I have so many things half started im going crazy! first thing is my videos, i have a lot of editing to do. Im re-doing this immigration video where I secretly recorded my family talking about the experience of illegally crossing the border. I also have a shit ton of other ideas that i need to make happen. its all mostly video related. Ive been watching twin peaks, I love david lynch and realized he has influenced me more than I thought. I started reading kafka again, I havent read kafka since college., kafka and lynch are motivating me right now. big time.
what do you hear in your head?
voices. when I was a kid I thought jesus spoke to me. I thought that was the imaginary friend thing that all these white kids were talking about. but i think it was just my conscience? cause the voice always told me not to do fucked up things. as ive gotten older, i feel way more schizo, and definitely talk to myself a lot. the voices ususally criticize and yell at me when I do fucked up shit.
what do you hear in your head when things are not good?
wowwwww. I hear a lot. criticism. its weird its usually conflicting thoughts. one voice being super critical and harsh and the other justifying the whole thing. very yin yang. its usually me being hard on myself, and then the other voice making me feel better.
what was the worst part of working with yael at pentagram?
haaaa. omg. she is super bossy. but that was it. I was at reception so we only saw eachother morning, lunch and end of day. she is super pleasant and professional though, everybody likes “worker yael”. Especially if I was a boss, yael is exactly the person you would trust to get work done!
who is your god?
hmmmmm. i have always thought of jesus as my god. raised catholic. then that shifted to the universe/mother nature. its really a higher power that is my god., not sure what that is, it manifests in the form of jesus, but its weird I have a strong relationship with nature where i think its godly as well. i think of my spirit guides as well. like our ancestors that watch over us, they go back into the universe and guide you and watch you. so for example when i do something fucked up, i usually apologize to god who is in the form of jesus and apologize to my spirit guides( my ancestors ) since I feel they are watching and judging me. I get this weird feeling that when i die and join them in the afterlife, they are going to confront me on shit. i dont know, like someone is going to hold you accountable for all the fucked up shit you did on earth. see its this catholic shit that was instilled in me as a kid. i guess the equivalent of being at the “pearly gates” and being judged on everything you did. Im high btw. cant even handle this question right now.
what did you do last night?
I had my family over for dinner. My cousin from Colombia, is in town, so I was doing a welcoming dinner. It was the pits. I accidentally dropped the AC out of the window ( is this interview private?) so I have no AC in the living room, well it was hot as fuck last night so if you could imagine how fucking miserable everyone was. Here I am trying to be this good guy and totally forgot I had no proper cooling for these people. Just the ceiling fan and another stand up fan.
i secretly recorded you in the backyard of ginnie and scott’s house in the bronx a few years ago talking about your work. do you want to listen to the tape?
Yea, I would love to. i hate hearing my voice though. I dont know. I dont even feel like the same person. So I’m sure it didnt even make sense.
who is your favorite artist?
what is fucking terrible?
oh god where do i start. beating children is terrible. donald trump and his administration are terrible. ugh. i just got a sinking feeling just writing his name, dont even want to go there in this interview, was really enjoying it and then I mentioned his name. ugh. betsy devos is fucking terrible. that motherfucker. Jeff Sessions is another motherfucker, he tries compare cannabis to heroin?! what a fucking dick! This whole administration, trump supporters, Putin, the state of affairs right now in the world is fucking terrible. I feel anxiety. LIke their is another World War brewing.
you gave us a wedding present that is beautiful and creepy. what is going on in the piece?
I think I called it “about life” its about death decay and regeneration, rebirth. it was also part of a project of who could get the most layers on a silkscreen. i also like the vulgarity of the collarbone. I really enjoyed making that piece.
what was the impetus behind over the hill and far away?
san francisco. oh man., I miss san francisco so much. That was all about san francisco and the great energy and feeling I had there. when i first moved out there I lived in this great little neighborhood, sutro heights I think? I lived right by these long ass stairs that had a 360 ish view of sf. have you been there? it was on the other side of the park, i forgot the streets, lincoln ave maybe? anyway, I loved it there, and would take pics of the city all the time up there. when I would go on hikes i would pick up little shrubs and leaves that I would find on the floor, I decided to add them since they were native to sf. I just wanted to re create this feeling of happiness that SF gave me.
who is did you emulate and copy when you were young to get you on your feet?
growing up I was the only brown girl, not many girls looked like me (until jr. high), especially in my neighborhood. I was trying really hard to be “american” aka WHITE. I think i took in a little bit from all my “american” (white)friends. Trying to make their culture my own. I was super embarassed of my loud family and their weird smelly food, and loud music. I think being raised in another country as a kid really fucks with your identity. All my cousins in colombia like menudo and here I am trying to get into NKOTB. I remember all my white friends had a band member they liked and I chose Donny Wahlberg as my favorite, just to fit in. I wasnt even a big fan. but my friends were, so I pretended to like them too. UGh.
then in jr. high things changed, hormones. I was introduced to different things. i was striving really hard to be different. I liked metallica, grunge, started hanging out in the village by washington sq. park. Did you ever see the movie kids? I was around kids like that, skaters, ravers, punks. I started going to raves , seeing all these different types of people, drag queens, club kids, it opened my eyes to another world. A world I really wanted to be a part of. It was anti the norm and since then I never wanted to be bland again.
what is up with anthony? (anthony is osigh’s manfriend)
he’s good. he”s the best. and has been really patient with me, so i am very grateful. hes been really into boxing lately so goes to the gym all the time, he hangs up his smelly gym clothes in the hallway and sometimes that stirs up fights… he also works at a church on sundays. he considers it volunteering. He is super close the monsignor. the Msgr. is a very charming likable guy. He had a show on pbs “breaking bread” where he would go to different restaurants. I think anthony enjoys working for this monsignor and being part of his team. He does HVAC stuff, which I am just understanding what that is.
what did you do in the car during our wedding?
i was trying to sleep. I was so fucked up. I think i had puked already and just wanted to lye down. i was soo fucked up!!! i was dancing, I remember seeing the kid dancing, and next thing i know i had to sit in the car. then anytime I heard people walk by I would hide. I could hear everyone singing, I felt like such a douche.
what are you not interested in?
hmm. i dont know. anything bland, “mainstream” shit. trendszzzzz
how would you describe your work?
my video work is about dreamstates and other worlds. I’m realizing all those scary movies my dad let me watch as a kid shaped my aesthetic. I like creepy shit. Worlds where there is something not right.
When I was making metal sculptures I was interested in making this “macho” material into my own. “feminizing” it. I liked making it appear soft and intricate. now i could give two fucks. my metal work is about me getting this aggression out, gender, class, and labor seem to be my central themes. I also think in narratives. which is why I enjoy video. Story telling.
what is the relationship between what you might want to create and what comes into being?
I usually start in one place and end in another. During the process of making, there are things, issues, thoughts, stuff that are kicked up. I think all this energy is transferred into the work and the work begins to have a life of its own.
what is your favorite piece of your own work?
This is a hard question. My inflatables are probably my favorite.
I love them. making them was such a bitch. I turned into a crazy monster. But I think the piece that means a lot to me is the immigration video, which is more of a sound piece, where I secretly recorded my brother, aunt and mom retelling their versions of illegally entering the US. This piece is probably the most mature. The video is projected on the floor, the viewer only sees the ground from the perspective of someone walking, but you don’t see any feet. just movement. The sound is the stories of my aunt, mom and brother weaved together.
what is the worst shit you have ever made?
there are A LOT of shitty paintings I made when I lived in San francisco, the best part is I thought they were good, so i would give them to friends, but sometimes I noticed friends having a weird non exciting reaction to them. I used to doodle female torso’s. thats it. no head, no legs, just a torso with big boobs and arms. I would eat mushrooms and doodle,so they looked surreal, 99% of the time these doodles were of the female form. My friends thought I was a lesbian that was in the closet. So yeah, I made a bunch of these “boob” paintings. I look back at them and just laugh.
what do you know that i dont know that i should know?
i came to this country illegally. I was brought here when I was about 4. Back in the 80’s colombia was a shit show. Where I was born (Cali), was super dangerous, it was the kidnapping capital of the world. The Cali Cartel, the Medellin Cartel, all that shit made the country really scary and unsafe. When I was born, my mom couldn’t relax at the hospital, because she said during that time they were stealing babies, so she was super nervous I was going to be stolen. Anyway, so we had to get the hell out of Colombia, my dad had set it up for my mom to take my brothers and I across the border and into the US. that experience has always been with me. Super traumatic.
I still remember being perched on someones shoulders while crossing the rio grande. It was night time and super scary. it was so fucking weird! I remember crossing this river in the dark, so that traumatized me, and also being in a field, I remember tall grass and darkness. I get very uncomfortable when I see tall marsh lands i just remember the feeling, of knowing something wasnt right. we were hiding in the dark in a field, and next thing I know Im at a supermarket, and this is whats strange about memory, I remember drinking sunny delite. and I’ll always remember the taste, because it was very different from anything ive ever had.
so yeah, this experience has fucked with me all my life, and it isnt till now, that I can talk about it.