Thursday, October 3, 2013

An interview with Jason John Würm

Jason John Würm photographs of his surrounding world and the moments that everyday forms some greater meaning have been nationally exhibited and widely published. He is also the driving force behind Waal-Boght Press. He currently lives and works in Brooklyn. You can see his art at

There is a certain somberness to your Northeast pictures. Do you find you're generally bummed out? You don't seem so bummed out.
No, I'm not bummed out at all. Some people find the work a little depressing while others find it kind of humorous. I have no set agenda, but I am occasionally drawn to tragicomical scenes. 
And your California pictures aren't super happy either, but I would say they’re more weird than anything else. Are you itching to move west? Do you find photographing out there to be really different?
The greater Los Angeles area is a really weird and scary place to me. Maybe someday I'll end up out there, but not anytime soon. I do find that it's very different to work out there. The light, the people, the whole scenery has such a different vibe than being on the east coast and I feel more anxious in that environment. Maybe that comes through in the work, maybe it doesn't , but it's how I feel when I'm out there. 
Can you share anything about the Lake County work without getting anyone in trouble? And what understanding do you hope people will get from the pictures? 
I'd rather not get into any details regarding these photographs. That body of work was produced over a pretty short period of time and I don't expect people to be able to have any meaningful understanding of the area after looking through the photos. I am hoping to go back and invest much more time in the area in the future and then hopefully figure out what this work is really about. It feels like I've just skimmed the surface of something and I may have prematurely put this work out into the world by having it up on my website and zine form, but I'm ok with that. 
So you grew up in the Baltimore, MD area? And went to punk rock shows growing up? Were you a big Dischord kid?
I was an army brat growing up and moved all around. When I was 15 we moved to Copperas Cove, Texas, which is little more than an hour outside Austin. The tiny town had a vibrant local punk scene and it was unlike anything I had ever experienced. The kids in town were putting out 7" records and playing shows at the local VFWs, parks, garages, or wherever anyone would let them play. The bands I was a huge fan of were very N.O.U. / Fugazi inspired so I got into Dischord back then. When I moved to Maryland it was the late 90's and local hardcore or backpack rap was big and I got into both. I may have had a star wars haircut with jet black hair at some point in my life, would that make me a big Dischord kid?
As a dude who has published his own books, I’m wondering whether you think any of your punk rock roots have carried over into your art practice?
As far as zine / book making goes, yes. I've always been inspired by my punk / hardcore friends that never cared about what others thought and just did their own thing because they felt that they absolutely had the right to put their thing into existence. As far as my photography goes, who knows? I'm pretty sure all the baggage I carry is insinuating itself into all my picture taking decisions. 
Any good showing-going stories / favorite show ever? 
My memory has melded all those shows during my teenage years together into one awesome golden energetic era filled with positivity and camaraderie and I cherish that. 

If I am not crazy, you didn't go to grad school, right? But it seems you've been able to establish yourself in the art scene and make a living in art? Any feelings about not going to grad school? When you find yourself working with kids with MFAs, do you ever mock their debt?
I did not go to grad school and I'm not sure how established I am in the art scene. I have a day job that deals with art, but it would be even better to make a living selling my art. In undergrad I was over obsessed with the idea of going to grad school because it seemed like a natural progression in my education. I decided to wait a year after graduating to apply and then I just never applied. I wanted more time to develop on my own, without the direct influence of professors or peers. I struggled for a few years with the decision to apply or not and finally just decided that I can develop my work without it. I'm in more debt from undergrad then most MFA holders are, so I would never mock them for their debt! There's so much to learn from and about photography that I still feel like a student. 
So you secretly have a musical career? Is it the Weekend? But not the R&B singer / producer The-Weekend? And do you think that making music bleeds into your visual art and vice versa?
I make music and play shows occasionally. The first couple of shows I played as "Weekend" but then quickly ditched the name after hearing of several other bands with that name; unfortunately I wasn't smart enough to research it before using it. My music project's name has changed several times over the last few years and now I just play under my full name...until I want to use something else. The music is a totally separate thing from my photography. 
When did you start playing music, and was there a point when you decided to go with the photography instead of the music?
I've been making music since I was a kid with a boombox that had two tape decks and would make silly loops from my Metallica or D.R.I. tapes. In 2008 I was really inspired by my friends in Baltimore and New York that were making really great music, so I went out and bought some samplers and pedals and have been doing it ever since. Photography has always been my priority and it will continue to be that way. 
Anything coming up art / music wise we should look out for?
I'm planning to put out an EP late spring / early summer and I have a couple of zine projects in the works, so hopefully those will be out around


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