I can recall the first time I saw Danica Lundy’s work in person, marveling at how the layering, perspective and dimension of her visuals seemed to open before my eyes, how a gravelly surface or metallic shine took shape from her brush strokes, how color gradients transformed the flat canvas into threedimensional space. I also remembered meeting her a few days later at her Brooklyn studio and being charmed by her genuine, generous character, equally matched by a zestful energy that fully complemented such captivating work.
So, in order to avoid the awkward lag of video calls and exert some rebellion to 2020 protocols, we opted for a good ol’ penpal method of communication. Over the course of a few weeks, we wrote to each other, covering everything from cars, to art and sports analogies, to the experience of being a Canadian living in the USA.
Sasha Bogojev: How’s life been in the last 6 months since I last (and first), saw you?
Danica Lundy: Have you ever seen the movie Dark City? It might be kind of obvious from the title, but in that city, the sun never rises or sets, and for the most part, the characters are totally oblivious to it. Looking back, I have this weird feeling the last six months could’ve just been one long night.
As a Canadian in the US, how does your life journey look or feel like at this point in time?
Funny you’d ask this next—in that same movie, the protagonist has this vague but enduring memory of his coastal home called Shell Beach. Everyone in the city is aware of the place, but no one remembers how to get there, and each attempt to get there is thwarted somehow. And when they finally do find it, it’s just a massive poster at the edge of the city. I’m pretty sure my home in Canada does exist, and I miss it terribly. But that’s the kind of feeling I get while thinking about finding my way back right now.
It’s a strange time to be an “alien” here—maybe even stranger to be an alien in disguise. I’m assumed to be American until a certain word or two escapes, and then the game’s up. It’s even more disconcerting when I’m assumed American at a time when actual citizens are told to “go back to where they came from” by their own president. I guess any sense of stability forged here is tenuous within this kind of political backdrop.
I feel focussed here. I have a studio in a neighbourhood within walking distance of a bunch of peers, a damn good man-friend—and a new dog we just adopted. I guess I feel a sense of purpose in making things, and deadlines have allowed me to side-step the over-thinking. Despite what I just said about tenuousness, there’s a totally convincing, non-illusionary feeling of home here.
Does it feel, though, a bit like having a joker card, knowing you actually do have another home and this isn’t your original home, that this president isn’t your president?
The only answer to this question is Orwellian: “Two plus two makes five. Oceania is at war with Eastasia. Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia.” Sort of kidding, although I find myself watching what I say here closely. I’ve never felt more suited to a place before. New York specifically, I mean. I don’t want to leave. And it would be tempting to denounce the absolutely egregious MAGA shit-storm as, “not my monkey, not my circus.” But that would be impossible—especially because I’m living and breathing here in the middle of one of the biggest civil rights movements in US history, where systems of oppression are being challenged and deep-rooted racial and social inequities exposed. It would be unconscionable to be on the sidelines for that.
But my American boyfriend Tim and I do talk about moving back to my island. He wants to get a float plane. We biked around on the fourth of July, fireworks popping up on the street in front of us… and Tim started singing “O’ Canada” at the top of his lungs. A little middle finger at American patriotism, I guess. In retrospect, it was funny, but at the time, I just shook my head in embarrassment and tried to pedal away. I was like, “That’s such an ironically American thing to do.”
Did the current situation affect your practice or maybe even the focus of your work?
I mean, how could you not be altered in some huge way? There are such profound shifts happening all around.
Ha, yes, it would be worrying to hear you say “nope” to that one. I wondered more about whether it changed or redirected the focus of your work.
Do you mean the Black Lives Matter movement? Or do you mean the pandemic? Or the shaky economy? Or the ongoing degradation of democracy? Like I said, completely impossible to be unchanged, and I’m definitely processing it in my work and life.
Yeah, exactly. Can you give an example of how you incorporated some of those issues into your latest work?
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