Epilogue: David Young V

For the past seven years David Young V has been living in San Francisco, CA, obsessively building his career as an artist. His series of intricate pen and ink paintings reveal a future generation whose ancestral umbilical chord has been cut off from the past. There is no United States, it’s tribal country, a post apocalyptic San Francisco where there’s left, right, fascism and neutrality. Tribes co-exist in an effort to survive, oppress, liberate, enslave or uplift each other. It’s a time when mankind is on the brink of entering an era that’s best described by Einstein, “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”

Recently he’s been working on Epilogue, a project he’s co-creating with Hugh Leeman and Eddie Colla. DYV was a nice enough young man to sit down and talk to The Microscopic Giant about Epilogue, wheat pasting Central America, being a building manager, and living in the infamous Tenderloin in San Francisco, CA. Thanks DYV.

Getting up: North America
Most recently I had the opportunity to travel to Guatemala. I had visited both Guatemala City and Antigua on this trip. They are two places within a 45-minute drive from each other but couldn’t be more different.

Guatemala City is in many ways what one would expect from a big city in that region. It has lots of old architecture mixed with modern building, highways, and malls; loads of gated residential areas. Its very densely populated and filled with more guns than the entire state of Texas.  Everyone drives there because I’m told that in most areas it’s far too dangerous to walk.

Antigua on the other hand is a small historical town filled with old architecture, narrow streets and untouched walls. There are several strict laws in place there to maintain its historical aesthetic. Antigua is a huge tourist /traveler destination where people go to relax, mingle and learn Spanish. It’s pretty safe for the most part and has an exciting and very ‘local’ nightlife. It has the feel of a small city; you can cross one end to the other in roughly 20 minutes. 

In Guatemala City I got hooked up with some artists through a buddy of mine in San Francisco, Kevin G. Orates. Two of his friends, Zona Ariz and Yerly took me out pasting in Zone 1. Everything in Guatemala City is sanctioned into zones. Zone 1 is probably something similar to the Tenderloin or the Mission District in San Francisco (only a lot cheaper to live). It’s a very upcoming arts district filled with muraled walls and plenty of buildings recently occupied by artists. I have a feeling that in a few years it’ll become a lot more popular on the international level due to the amount of wall space and dope community coming out of there. It was great being taken out by the local artists and exploring entirely new ground. I must have got up nearly 20 pieces in one night while viewing first hand all the dope work going on in that neighborhood. Oddly enough I ran into two ladies from San Francisco that evening, that recognized me from SF. They both had seen me one night jump out of a car in the Mission months before with two of my friends to quickly put up some work. Strangely enough they were both traveling through Latin America working on a documentary about female street artists…small world.    

Antigua was a bit different then Guatemala City due to its high concentration of historical preservation. There is virtually no graffiti or street art in Antigua. I saw a few tags, but that was it. I didn’t want to advertise what I had planned to due there because I thought people may either get offended or aggressive about it. However, a young lady named Marcela who worked at the hostile I was staying at took me around. We had found some corrugated metal walls used for construction that were up. I ended up putting my pieces up on those. I got a pretty good response the next day from some of the locals. It felt kind of nice being perhaps the first person to put up street art in Antigua. Simultaneously two local cafe/bars (Cafe Porque No, Cafe 2000) allowed me to put up work inside their establishments. That was pretty sweet indeed.

Building Manager: You don’t have to fire me, I quit.
They’re were plenty of interesting incidents over the years at 555 Jones st. I’ll keep this one short and discuss one of my experiences with fecal matter. One night I was called back to the building to clean up human shit. Apparently someone had shit on the 5th floor stairwell carpet as well as smeared their shit on the elevator door. When I got in the building I saw no shit on the elevator door. Either it never happened or someone cleaned it up for me (my tenants are generally not that helpful though). However, when I reached the fifth floor, there it was, a perfectly crafted untouched, unsmeared piece of human shit. I cleaned it up and that was that. When I mentioned the incident to my supervisor, he blamed me. He claimed that it was a tenant lashing out at me for not doing my job properly…. my boss is a fucker.

On a similar note, in my four years at ‘The Triple Nickel[referring to his building 555 Jones st.]’ my basement sewage trap has backed up three times. Each time this caused a flood of human waste throughout the basement. When I say ‘flood’ I mean small lake taking up the virtually 500 sq ft. at nearly a foot and a half deep. During the most recent ‘flood’, I was forced to hop onto a set of shelves with wheels that was in the basement (in the flood) and navigate through the feces with a paddle (broom stick). I reached the boiler room, turned on the light, and witnessed the largest flood yet. There was even rotten toilet paper wrapped around the pipes that were close to the ceiling. I was lucky that this particular flood had not reached my art studio (The Spice Islands), which is also located in the basement. This catastrophe was prevented due to all the sewage pouring down the elevator shaft from the boiler room. It was like a waterfall of human shit! I hate this building, and I’m happy to leave it.

Paradise: The Tenderloin (San Francisco, CA)
Well…there was this one incident at the Coast Hotel on O’Farrell and Jones (one block down from me). I was walking home one afternoon up my block where I saw a crowd of people surrounding the hotel. I witnessed people crying, in complete awe, and being questioned by the police. I immediately knew something was up, and more than likely someone was dead. When a got through the crowd I saw a women on the pavement who appeared to have jumped out of one of the windows above. She was still alive (at least for the moment). Although her broken bones didn’t appear to pierce her flesh, they were protruding out of her body in awkward positions. I distinctly remember her broken arm. It almost seemed like the bone was waiting to tear out of her skin. It was more then disturbing to see. The Coast Hotel is one of many SRO’s (single resident occupancy) in this area. They are basically ‘pay by week’ hotels that some people occupy for decades. They’re a lot of normal working people that live in them, but also a large number of drug addicts and mentally/emotionally troubled people as well (especially in the Tenderloin). What had troubled me the most about witnessing this incident was not the sight of her broken body, but what her mind and heart must have been enduring before she jumped. What frightens me the most about this neighborhood is not some potential threat to my well being, it’s the idea that people go crazy. What must be going on in the heads of many of the people you see on the streets here is something that I cannot even begin to decipher.

Current Project
The next project I have coming up is entitled Epilogue. It’s a three artists project ( myself, Eddie Colla and Hugh Leeman) being held at Hold UP Gallery in downtown Los Angeles on September 8th. The show deals with what may happen to humanity after an apocalyptic event. Each artist in the show has chosen an entirely new medium to work with, other then what they are previously accustomed to using. There’ll be video work, works on found objects, military gear, reclaimed billboard advertisements, car hoods, spray cans, etc. Our intention was not to simply have an exhibition, but rather create an entire atmosphere within the space. The installation will include collected/archived identity cards, facial molds, and clothing from the supposed dead. They’re will be an entire weapons armory of reclaimed automatic rifles, smg’s, helmets, etc. They’re will be a dead animal hanging from the torn out ceiling, which implies a potential existing food source. All of this and much more will be included in Epilogue.

I think for all of us involved, this has been the most challenging project to date. The three of us generally have a grip on our own unique styles. When it comes to showing, we can usually produce work according to numbers. With Epilogue, that is certainly not the case. Everything has been new, challenging and very frustrating. It took me months to even get a handle on my process for this show. I have never worked in any of the mediums I’m using for this show. I’ve had to approach things very differently this time around. I believe that I’ve become a far more adverse artist as a result. I’m existing well out of my comfort zone on this one. Its only a week until we all drive down to LA for the install. I’m nervous as hell, but also optimistic. We’ll see how it goes.

This article was originally published in 2012. Presently, DYV continues to produce work and get up around the world. For TMG, he wrote about his trip to Hong Kong here.

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