Music

Lizzi Bougatsos and the Remembrance of Things Past

An interview with the artist and member of Gang Gang Dance to discuss the publication of her new book.

Lizzi Bougatsos and the Remembrance of Things Past
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We sit down with Lizzi Bougatsos to talk about her brand new, limited-edition book, Her Perfume Tears. The book draws on Lizzi’s lifetime in the arts, so it was a great opportunity to catch up with her about life on the road, her practice as an artist, and plans for the future.

What was it like looking through all these archives of photos? You must have gone pretty deep into memory lane territory. Was it a pretty nostalgic process?
It was difficult. As if I was going through a breakup. Diving into yourself always feels a bit naughty, too, even if it is the past…

We sat down with Lizzi Bougatsos to talk about her brand new, limited-edition book, Her Perfume Tears. The book draws on Lizzi’s lifetime in the arts, so it was a great opportunity to catch up with her about life on the road, her practice as an artist, and plans for the future.

What was it like looking through all these archives of photos? You must have gone pretty deep into memory lane territory. Was it a pretty nostalgic process?
It was difficult. As if I was going through a breakup. Diving into yourself always feels a bit naughty, too, even if it is the past…

Did it bring back any specific memories you were surprised you’d forgotten about?
No, but the tour photos made me think about how to do a tour better. Made me want to play live and tour more as well.

Can you tell us about the overall process of putting the book together? What was it like working with your co-editors? What was the initial inspiration to create the book?
Well, Boo-Hooray was interested in doing a book on my band Gang Gang Dance, but I was on a Hiatus for a while so I was turning the focus on myself completely. The other editor and publisher, Amanda Keeley from Exile Books, said why don’t you do a Lizzi Book? Or it was my idea? I’m not sure, but I knew I needed to tell my New York story from my point of view and that was that.

Ravelin Magazine

Her Perfume Tears

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I knew I needed to tell my New York story from my point of view and that was that.

You are a musician, a collagist, a poet, a photographer, and a sculptor (among other things). Do you see these artistic practices as distinct or overlapping and connected?
I do now.  But when one is in it, it’s hard to see everything crossing paths.  Logistics like touring would mess up my art practice schedule etc. so it would be hard to look up say Taiwan beach towns while wondering where I can try to pour this mold test etc..I guess some practices are more physical than others; the band requires a lot of group intervention; writing is purely my own secret treasure.  Now that I am not touring for a while, I see everything as performance.  It is really about physical and mental space.  My brain is constantly on “psycho mode.”  Sometimes my hands tremble I have so much to do.

You have a fabulous eye for found poetry, which seems like the textual counterpart to your more visual work in collage. The book includes things like setlists, missives on hotel notepads, and graffiti on a gravestone. Are you always on the lookout for hidden moments of poetry? How do you know them when you see them?
Word sequences are everywhere but I am on the lookout for them in the same way I see images or number sequences, signs and metaphors.  It’s all the same to me.

Ravelin Magazine

Her Perfume Tears

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Sometimes my hands tremble I have so much to do.

One theme in Her Perfume Tears seems to be a focus on figures who influenced you or who you admire. Can you talk about why you chose to include Gil Scott-Heron and Alice Coltrane in the book?
Both artists have influenced me greatly.  Gil Scott-Heron reminds me of Nathan Maddox, a member of Gang Gang that left earth.  He was the other singer in the band.

What about the Dalai Lama? Is Buddhism part of your spiritual practice?
I dabble in many practices but my favorite by far is Shintoism at the moment.

You have an entire section about being on tour subtitled “A Nomad’s Portal.” What was it like living the life of the nomad?
The Nomad  part is just the life of tour.  You talk to your friends at a rest-stop if you have the energy to use that time to make a phone call.  I related it to Nathan as well, who rarely had a home.  I compared his travels to mine on the road as my need to tour in the beginning was really an homage to him in spreading his message about peace and offering.

Ravelin Magazine

Her Perfume Tears

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I am lucky to learn from some serious masters and it is bringing me intolerable joy.
Turning our attention to the future, what do you have on the agenda for after the book comes out?
Well, the book is out, but the next one is started about 50 pages in already.  Thinking in volumes like Richard Hell or Lydia Lunch would do poetry volumes.  I am working on a print series for the fall and some site specific installations for the outdoors with my sculptures.  I like to do everything at the same time.  The chaos of it all serves me well.  Hopefully, by the end of summer, the new Gang Gang Dance album will be completed as well.  Another direction I am taking at the moment is acting here and there.  I am lucky to learn from some serious masters and it is bringing me intolerable Joy.  Can’t wait for the next film.

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