This Could Be You
The Artist You Should Know series highlights artists before they show their work somewhere awesome, it’s our way of supporting the creative community and helping to keep the Bay Area a strange and wonderful place.
“For once it really is ideal to be weird and to be ugly. To be ravenous and gross and spit on yourself. Or to be delicate and dignified and battle ready. And sometimes—this is the twist—sometimes you don’t remain anonymous.” -RC
That’s a snippet from the mind of Ryan Cartwright, who wrote the foreword to the upcoming book SEKDEK. Ryan had sat through a SEKDEK session (acronym to be described later), the veritable orgy of artful disfigurement turned photo shoot.
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Prosthetic teeth. Glitter. Feathers. Fake eyeballs. Prosthetic limbs, slimy blood, garish uniforms. And buckets and buckets of goopy clay. These are some of the props that comprise a SEKDEK photo shoot.
It is grotesquely messy! Potentially slightly painful! Intermittently frightening and embarrassing! Showering afterwards is a bit of a nightmare. I’m surprised the shower drains still operate after these post-shoot cleanups. But more importantly, it’s liberating. Hilarious. Thrilling. Sleazy. And sexy—the way someone might have a cigarette burn on his or her arm and that’s sexy. Per Ryan: “You cackle with laughter and the false teeth fall out.”
SEKDEK stands for Spirit Extraction Kit, Demon Extraction Kit. Halfway through me writing this story, Brice told me the new book will have a new name to replace the old original one that’s two years old, the age of the project. It will be SKEDKE: Spirit Kid Extracts Demon Kid’s Eyes.
That’s Brice Frillici, the creator of this wretched mess. He’s a weird gem of a human who moved to Oakland two years ago after getting evicted from his place in SF’s Mission District. His old apartment has since been gutted and transformed into a gleaming white luxury condo, and his new digs are in an artist studio on Peralta Street. “Much better,” he gleams.
“I was the fake blood guy in college. I just did it to be weird. This was all pre-cellphone, so it was undocumented. Then one day a few years ago I was with my friend Laura and we decided to turn it into a photo shoot. It worked.”
Of the roughly 10,000 images Brice and friends have shot in the last year alone, one highlight was a set of photos of local artist Merkley that make him look like the Oracle from The Dark Crystal. (Pro tip: type “Merkley Happy Birthday” into youtube for some subversive eye candy.)
Here’s another highlight: earlier this year SEKDEK was commissioned to be heavily featured in the music video for Psycho by Muse.
The SKEDKE book is currently in production. It will be a big, fat, glossy shebang on thick luxurious paper and sure to disturb your parents when they visit.
I ask Brice if Broke Ass readers can set up their own personal SEKDEK shoots. The answer is yes. Get in touch with him, and read all about his influences (Bjork’s husband Matthew Barney, the movie Samsara, the substance DMT), his theatrical exploits in college (sometimes culminating in ambulances trying to save him, despite his pleas that the torrent of blood is indeed fake), and how to order a copy of the new book. www.sekdek.com
Ryan from the first paragraph continues, “You shower off as much of it as you can, but you’ll be finding it the next couple days. It’s like beach sand stuck in the pocket of your jackets except it’s glitter behind your ear. You just barely make the last train out of West Oakland. The train car starts up and you catch your reflection in the window. A stripe of electric blue still runs down your neck and speckles of fluorescent pink are all over your shoes. A bit of tinsel is stuck in your hair and when you pull it out you see you must have missed quite a bit back there. Someone across from you smiles curiously and the person next to you moves seats. You briefly consider painting yourself like a warrior every day. The train screams through the tunnel. You’re in the window looking at your reflection, making faces at yourself.”