Interview with Chloe Wise



I Remember Everything I’ve Ever Eaten, oil on canvas, 2015


Chloe Wise (or Chole Wise, as most of her read) is a Viral Art-Star, Social Media Aficionado, and classic Jewish American Princess. We have been friends for over seven years and in that time I have watched her career blossom rapidly, from academic beginnings in Montreal and Toronto to putting on major solo shows internationally. This “big artist” —as her ultra-supportive dad refers to her—is a master of media, having already put forward a multifaceted body of work that includes hilarious satirical videos, realistically painted self-portraits, and appetizing-yet-grotesque food sculptures. Chloe is a quick learner, prolific worker and passionate artist; it is also impossible not to fall in love with her contagious energy and boundless charisma. Although I am biased because of the love and loyalty we share, one thing I can say for certain is that she has the softest skin and biggest face of anyone I’ve ever met. 

Hi Chloe! 2015 was a crazy year! Talk to me about the highs and lows.

Art-wise, there were many highs: I was fortunate enough to have had my first solo show in my hometown of Montreal, surrounded by my very close, very real friends and exceptionally cute parents. Other highs include the unnecessary amounts of traveling I did in 2015 –I traveled to 10 or so countries in Europe, including but not limited to Switzerland, Greece, Norway, Sweden, France, Germany, Denmark etc. Truly the only lows I can even think to mention are related to saying ‘goodbye’ –traveling so much and being the very affectionate human that I am makes it hard to say goodbye to people who live far away. Like you. But that’s the nice kind of low, the nostalgic kind.

Yes, and all of  your online “followers” were able to live vicariously through your adventures. Your presence on social media platforms is in fact a huge part of your artistic process. Whether transformed into a painting, zine or Snapchat, you are constantly projecting questions/anxieties about identity, self-reflection, and body image. Is this intertwining of virtual and physical worlds at all invasive or destabilizing? How do your “fans” relate/respond to your work?

My online presence, like my work, inherently possesses a volatile disjuncture in that there exists simultaneously a persona, and an extreme honesty. As you mentioned, my work and my online presence are both autobiographical in a lot of ways. My Instagram and Twitter include personal images, quotes or snippets of stories that are actually happening in my life, that are almost comedically honest to the point that they are indecipherable from the performed or exaggerated images of the persona. Much of my work utilizes my own image, but deals with the idea of the self-mythologizing artist. The accessibility of platforms like Instagram and Snapchat and LinkedIn allow self-representation to be increasingly democratized, to the point where it’s very hard to tell what is ‘authentic’ or what is ‘performed.’ That being said, a lot of my work utilizes my self-image comedically in a self-deprecating way, making fun of myself, or further, inviting the viewer to rethink their initial perception of me (or women, or women artists, or artists, or millennials, or whatever generalization is being prodded at) a certain way. I understand that as a 25 year old white cisgendered Jewish girl of privilege, I am perceived a certain way, whether that is positive or negative, and I like to play with my own image and watch the reactions change. Back to your question, I think my, um, “fans” do relate. Very often people who are in my age bracket come up to me, at times when I am abroad, and the two main things they say are either “hey, I like your art” or “hey, I like your Instagram.” It seems that the two are separate, yet synchronized, as venues of production that can be visually consumed by an audience. I think likeminded people get the joke, and those are the people who tune in to the social aspect of it. I would like to assert, however, that the physical work is separate, and/or has the ability to stand alone.


BigBoyy37, oil on canvas, 2015


JerseyFunGuy6969, oil on canvas , 2015


O Sweet Spontaneous Earth, I’m Actually Not Obsessed With You Anymore, oil on canvas, 2016


Life’s Rough, But Not Rough Enough, oil on canvas, 2016

The idea of networking is so integral to the inner workings of the art world, both socially and conceptually. Your work (I’m thinking primarily of your advertisement videos and picnic paintings) acts as a portrait of not only yourself, but also of the people you surround yourself with: fellow artists, actors, models, comedians. How do you think this affects your work’s position within a network, especially as an active participant in international art fairs?

Networking is undoubtedly a fundamental part of having your work seen and participating in the art world, and in other realms of culture. I am an extremely social person with a very strong amount of love for human beings, which is kind of weird; I literally do not know anyone else who loves people as much as I do, especially in New York where people are not always the most, uh, lovable. I look at artists like Alice Neel, Nan Goldin, and heck, Andy Warhol, and respect the way they situated themselves socially, documenting and celebrating the creative and influential folk surrounding them. I participate in a number of social contexts, and my social circle(s) and the art world aren’t comprised of the same people.  I see it as important to document, celebrate and respect the amazing and varied angels that float into my social life and represent them, their image or their story, in the more rigid confines of the gallery setting. For example, it was really important for me to represent Hari Nef: Jewess, actress, trans activist, writer and model, in the painting of her I created called “I Remember Everything I’ve Ever Eaten,” in the context of the Deitch x Gagosian show at Miami Art Basel. That show was focused on figurative painting, and while there were a nice amount of women artists selected to participate, my painting, the first one you saw when you entered the gallery, was the only one of a trans body. I hope to be able to bring visibility and share the beauty and hilarity and strength of my adorable-ass friends to the sometimes not-so-varied art world.


As two Jews who love bagels, we both know how contradictory the rules and regulations of “Keeping Kosher” can be. In your show Full Sized Body, Erotic Literature, you expand the absurd notion of “Safe Treyf” into the dating game (while also calling back to one of your first memorable works: the bacon Star of David sculpture). Typical definitions of cheating, monogamy, and heteronormative romance are skewed in your video, which parodies sites like Ashley Madison. The accompanying sculptures, including gory boxes of chow mein pierced with sparkly engagement rings, project a strong tension between pleasure and suffering, convention and contravention, obedience and mischievousness. What is your experience with – to use a term of the moment – “fuckery”? 

Fuckery is inevitable. Fuckery is part of the human condition. The laws of kashrut, as well as basically all laws imposed on society by way of religion, are banal and constructed and arbitrary: fuckery. Let me elaborate on Safe Treyf. “Safe Treyf” is a term that means, bluntly, safe cheating. Jews (yes, this is a generalization but work with me, I mostly mean secular, non-orthodox Jews) who keep Kosher, as in, do not eat pork, shrimp, etc., will break their dietary laws at Chinese restaurants because, well, everyone else is doing it. And “out of sight, out of mind” as in “if I can’t see chopped up pork and shrimp in my lo mein, and I can’t read the menu because it isn’t in English, then how am I supposed to know I cheated?”  Picture a restaurant full of Jewish families shrugging in unison. Monogamy in Western society is sort of like that too. While monogamy is lovely and love is real and great and marriage is chill and so forth, it’s inevitable that humans have desires and somewhere along the line someone is going to lie to someone else and everyone is going to cry. Enter Ashley Madison —Canadian website designed specifically for those seeking extramarital affairs. Yet another zone where humans can congregate to agree, communally, to break a rule together, cause “everyone else is doing it.” To answer your question, I have had my fair share of fuckery permeating my life from every direction, especially since I moved to New York. Fuckery in the form of art world manipulation, fuckery in the form of boys who refuse to text back…people are just not always honest, and are inherently selfish, society is a continuous sequence of agreed social performances and manners are a construct and everything is illusory and that’s part of life. *infinite shrug*



Stills from Message Me, video, 2015

On that note, let’s turn to love. Various semiotics of love were at play in that exhibition, conveyed through visual symbols, language and music. However, with love – whether in the realm of spirituality, intimacy, or friendship – can also come fear and violence.

From a woman’s perspective, where indulging oneself in food and sex can be perceived as a shameful or even punishable act, how difficult is it to self-love and/or to love others?

I agree that there is a misogynistic attitude towards women who indulge in ways that are self-satisfying, and food and sex are two great examples of that. There is a guilt or “sinfulness” in society when a woman gratifies her own needs, and I think that it’s largely a Western construct. In Europe, there is little association between carbs and shame. In America, there is. In my show Full-Sized Body, Erotic Literature, I explored the language and images associated with idealized projections of romance and desire. The video, for example, included slow-mo shots of various beautiful woman with hair teased to 80s proportions, blowing in the artificial wind of a mechanical fan. 80’s instrumental ballads like Spandau Ballet’s “True” and some more romantic Angelo Badalementi tracks served as the soundtrack while rose petals and diamond rings flashed on the screen, alongside quotes from Ashley Madison such as “a father figure” and “foreign literature.” This video was meant to represent the male projection of the ideal woman, as they imagine who they are interacting with on dating websites. These women purport their desire to fulfill YOUR needs, to do whatever YOU want, and any hint at their own preference is ‘naughty’ or ‘guilty.’ It is important that women take what they want and exhibit love for themselves and others. I have a lot of love for other people, despite the amount of fuckery abound. And I have a lot of love for myself, despite the fact that some things I love are things that society would intend we feel guilty for. In order to break down constrictions imposed on women, even if they’re unspoken, I think it’s important to acknowledge them, satirize them and deconstruct them.

Complaint 2 oil paint, urethane, engagement ring, cardboard, acrylic, armature wire, wood, 2015

Matzochism Cuff Set, oil paint, urethane, sterling silver, leather, rabbit fur, 2015


A Magnificent Forgetting, oil paint, urethane, parsley, wood plinth, 2016

A similar parallel between food and sex was drawn in your first solo show pissing, schmoozing and looking away at Division Gallery in Montreal. There were blatant references to the pervasive modes of consumerism and commodification, including cookies, caching or other algorithmically-constructed behavioural tracking. You used the highbrow vehicle of art history (i.e. surreal Meret Oppenheim-esque furry handcuffs, colorful Fragonard silkscreens, and Pop fake food window displays a la Claes Oldenburg) and fashion couture (i.e. Chanel, Dior, etc.) to accentuate the decline of value into banality, utility into pure semantics. How does humor, or even “trolling,” help in coping with these issues?

As with the show upstate, where Chinese food boxes studded with engagement rings were paired with faux-romantic paintings and video, the show in Montreal juxtaposed syrupy breakfast foods with sex swings and my video “offer ending soon” featuring attractive, tanned models (wind machine also in effect) seductively recounting the Cheesecake Factory menu. The allure of the designer logo boasted on a bread bag mirrors the sickly sweet drippiness of the syrup on the pancakes, both properties indicating luxury and desire in the same breath. Baudrillard talked about how fashion is actually quite morbid, in that it is self-aware regarding the inevitable mutability inherent to the trend cycle. As in, trends are built to corrode and die, so new trends can then be born, and so on, none of which will have a life span with any longevity. And so fashion and trendiness and the desire they create are fleeting, and somehow macabre, like food that rots or a flower that wilts. My work celebrates, satirizes and critiques, simultaneously, this trend cycle, the life and death of beauty, the arbitrary creation of value (monetary or otherwise), and the signs and signifiers of sex, beauty, food and money. All of these ideas or images surround us constantly, and when you think about the idea that capitalist advertising targets our most pure and squishy cupidity and desire, utilizes it to place monetary value on meaningless objects, and then uses those objects to lure us into spending money, and so on forever, well, it can be dark. Humor is and always has been a great way to acknowledge, celebrate and deconstruct these weird upsetting truths that we find ourselves wading through. My use of “trolling” or creating videos or objects, like ‘offer ending soon’ or my Chanel Bagel, that seem like real consumer objects or advertisements at first glance, ideally serve to shake a little sense into viewers that are used to taking things at face value.

Will 2016 be the year you get your tonsils out?

This year I’m going to focus a lot on large scale oil painting. And making more fake bands like Ondskapstrand, my fake Norwegian black metal band. If I can stop saying yes to millions of projects/my own brain which refuses to stop convincing my hands to make objects and videos then maybe I can get some medical attention.