Q&A with The Thing Quarterly

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Visual artists Jonn Herschend and Will Rogan took time to answer some questions via email about their project, The Thing Quarterly, a periodical that sends out objects to subscribers made by writers, filmmakers, artists and more. All of the objects incorporate the use of text and are of some function to subscribers. For example, a past object by Dave Eggers was a shower curtain with text on it beginning: “I am your shower curtain.”

The current year’s subscription includes objects by David Shrigley, Tauba Auerbach, author Ben Marcus, and ending with the iconic John Baldessari.

The Daily Californian: Why is The Thing so closely linked with text and/or word?
The Thing Quarterly: We started The Thing because we wanted to publish a magazine. Through an organic process, it became an object, not a magazine. One thing that we connected on when starting this project was the idea that writing on objects changes objects. We also wanted to find a way to imbue everyday objects with a sort of specialness.

DC: Was there a single event that inspired you to create The Thing Quarterly?
TQ: No, there were a lot of events. We were influenced by the history of artist publishing.
We wanted to publish something here in the Bay Area where Art Forum and Rolling Stone started, but we wanted it to stay here and have something of the Bay Area in each issue. We also were inspired by McSweeney’s, and their junk mail issue: Issue 17. We liked how it was unwieldy once it was open. The reader had to figure out a way to contend with it. We wanted to make it affordable.

DC: Do you have a personal past favorite object?
Will: “The Hodges Meteorite.”
John: “The Rock My Daughter Gave Me.”

DC: What kind of reactions do you get from subscribers?
TQ: People are in general very supportive and appreciative – sometimes excited beyond words.

DC: The objects you curate are interactive and useful. Do you think that all art should be functional?
TQ: We think all art is functional. We just want people to be able to live closer to art, for it to be in people’s everyday lives.

DC: What piece are you most excited for in the future?
TQ: The next year is for sure the most exciting issue cycle yet for us. The next issue by David Shrigley is going to be so great that we cannot stand it.

DC: Do you have a dream artist/musician/filmmaker/writer, dead or alive, that you would want to create for The Thing?
TQ: Stephen Malkmus or Samuel Beckett. ([Beckett] would be hilarious … and serious … also dead). George Perec (same problem as Beckett in terms of being dead).

A.J. Kiyoizumi covers visual art. Contact her at [email protected].

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