Jaime Carrera on faith and Eucharistia: "The rosary-bead scars run deep."


You never quite know what you’re going to get with Jaime Carrera. The performance artist specializes in doing the thing you don’t expect. Whether it’s a Gallagher-esque food fight involving Jesus Christ, a 1980's dance music send-up, or conducting a wedding-like ritual with frequent collaborator Caitlin Karolczak, with each show you know you're for in for something surprising. For Eucharistia, Carrera teams up with visual artist Michael Cimino to take on Catholic rituals and imagery. We checked in with Carrera to ask about his thoughts on his Catholic roots, and what we can expect with the show.

You've dealt with religious/Catholic imagery in the past (Cheesus comes to mind). What do you think draws you back to that particular fountain of inspiration?

I’ve always had a deep fascination with Catholic art. It's pretty violent and gory. Even though I'm no longer religious, I can still appreciate it. To this day there are so many things about the Catholic church that interests me, like the lives of the saints and all the bizarre rituals. But mostly I think it's all garbage — like all religion — and I love exploring the ridiculous.

What inspires you about Catholic imagery? Do you think you're still working something out with it personally?

Oh, definitely. Most lapsed Catholics will tell you that you never truly stop being Catholic. It's something that's very difficult to explain to someone who didn't grow up in this faith. The rosary-bead scars run deep.

The concept of blasphemy has always intrigued me. I see it as emblematic of humanity's constant quest to silence rebellion. When you grow up in a large Mexican, Catholic, conservatively religious family, you're constantly de-programming yourself from all those fucked up teachings. I've used my art to do that a lot in my life.

Were you a particularly devout Catholic growing up, or were you always a bit of a skeptic?

Up until my pre-teen years I was a very faithful and devout Catholic who followed all the teachings of the church. The fear of god was very much instilled in me. Then I began to question my faith, then religion in general, and eventually the existence of god. I've never really looked back since.

Have you worked with Michael Cimino before? What are you hoping to do with this piece?

I first met Mike through my friend, artist Karl Unnasch. Mike had been Karl's apprentice a couple of summer's ago. Karl's apprenticeships are not for the faint of heart, so that was my litmus test for working with Mike. I immediately fell in love with Mike's artwork the moment I saw it, and thought we'd be a good fit for a collaboration. He agreed.

We came to the idea for this show based on the art he's been making recently, which is installation work based on multiple castings of religious iconography, mainly the body of Christ in the crucified form. Since we are both former Catholics with a heavy fascination for that imagery, we decided to build a performance-art work that dealt with the complicated and mysterious idea of the holy trinity, mostly the dichotomy of god and Jesus Christ.

Perhaps we are exorcising some residual demons with this piece, but we just hope it's visually interesting and that it's fun to perform. Working with someone young like Mike has been really fun and exciting. We both added something that is very uniquely ours, I believe.

When we checked in with you last, you were exploring abstraction. Is that apparent in this work?

I believe so. The last show I did [Neither at Public Functionary] was the beginning of a new body of work that I can only describe as being "even weirder" than my previous stuff. Mike was very open to where I am artistically right now, as was I with his work, so that led to the creation of this very unusual and bizarre piece.

We had the idea initially of what the piece was about, the Sacrament of the Eucharist, but it also devolves into several different commentaries about commercialism, hypocrisy, homosexuality, individualism, and revenge. It's all framed within the religious conversation, but with a dose of the avant-garde flair I've grown more and more accustomed to working in.



8 p.m. Wednesday; 10 p.m. Thursday and Friday

Bryant-Lake Bowl

810 W. Lake St., Minneapolis.

$10 in advance, $15 day of show.