Am Schmidt is an artist living and working in New York. Her solo show “Rachel’s Wardrobes” is up at 321 Gallery in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn through April 15. Recent group shows include “TEN: PopRally” at the Museum of Modern Art; “Rubbings” at ZAX in Queens; “Will You,” curated by Jenni Crain and Nick Fusaro at Pratt Institute, Brooklyn; and “No Dice,” curated by Howie Chen at Kimberly Klark. She is the next artist in session at Recess, where she will do a project about musician Dave Navarro. She has an upcoming residency at the Wexner Museum in Ohio to complete her shot-for-shot remake of Dirty Dancing. Schmidt is a 2018 MFA candidate at the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts, Bard College.
The hit American television show The Office factors heavily in Schmidt’s Consumer Report, appearing not just on the TV screen but also in a series of Instagram accounts checked throughout the week. Another show—the forgotten music-based reality competition program Rockstar: INXS—is viewed as research for the artist’s forthcoming Dave Navarro-related project. As all of this happens, plenty of work gets done and pop-punk gets listened to. Check it out below. —John Chiaverina
Monday, March 6
Realize I just gave Candy Crush the middle finger.
I look at the clock on the microwave and am surprised I’m ready to leave for work this early. For the first time since having moved into this apartment in November, I stop at Starbucks before getting on the train. I ask for room but they don’t give me any. I try to get someone’s attention but they’re all too busy to notice me so I pour some in the garbage. Half and half, and—since they have it out—nutmeg, cinnamon, and cocoa. The W train is here as I descend the steps. Love when that happens. Lot of people study the train’s stops up on the thing because people still don’t know the deal yet with the W train being back. At Atlantic the N shows up while the Q doors are open. Love when that happens. Switch to the N.
I’m reading Class Matters by bell hooks. I feel like a self-righteous douche reading this on the train. I often try to hold the book so that the cover isn’t visible to fellow passengers. Not nearly as bad as reading Artforum on the train though. (Gives me the idea, a dumb one, to do a performance in which I ride a packed train at rush hour—I think evening would be better than morning—and squish between two people on a bench and read an Artforum, or try to.)
As I exit the train, I think again about how I want macaroni and cheese right now. I’m getting back into boxed mac ‘n’ cheese. I think of when I was in therapy ten years ago and my thing for boxed macaroni and cheese came up, the therapist asked in disbelief, “You like that stuff?” I welcome any sharing of different tastes, but it occurs to me now that what I really took from this instance was the class divide he was acknowledging between the two of us. He skied and cycled a lot and it had come up that a common dinner of his was salmon with a (single) glass of red wine. Class.
When I exit the train, I glance into Spiro’s Cafe to see if Carlos or Isaac are up front to wave to. They’re not. Walking to work, I cut through the high school playground. The little things. Turns out being on time for things is relaxing.
Slack reveals that my boss is very busy and is feeling under the gun. Having to tend to someone else’s stress reduces my own about my own life.
Note to add to ppl I met list: Triple Canopy intern at the Independent.
My phone gives me a calendar notice that I teach in ten minutes. For a second, I get nervous that I’ve gotten my days wrong but then remember that yesterday I manually changed the date in my phone to the following day to get more lives in Candy Crush. Now changing the setting back to set-date-automatically.
The Magnetic Fields’ Holiday is playing at work. I was the one who put it on. Can only take so much NPR these days. “Take Ecstasy With Me” still reminds me of fall 2006. Was a special season. The most excitement, and the most heartbreak.
The album is over. Giving this week’s “Discover Weekly” a go. Decided months ago that Spotify must be pouring all their funds into making Discover Weeklies and none of their funding into fixing website glitches. I’ve heard people who work there make a lot of money.
Lauren tells me that the most expensive cup of coffee in America is sold at the newest coffee shop in Industry City (where we work).
So far so good on the Discover Weekly. Pavement track four from Slanted And Enchanted. Reminds me of driving to work on Route 33 to the record store in Bethlehem around 3:30 p.m. in 2005. I’m not getting any work done. Need to stop writing in my Consumer Report so I can do my job. Lauren probably thinks I’m texting. But I’M WORKING, HERE, PEOPLE!!!!
No one who I emailed a super sad drippy song I recorded ten-plus years ago to late last night has written me back. And did I—ugh, yep, yes I did, I sent it to my mother as well. Cool.
Discover Weekly reminds me that I still have to get into Box Car Racer one day. I’m kinda saving it so that some unchartered Tom DeLonge material still exists in the world for me.
Texting with Raque. She says she has to come visit me at my studio some evening this week so that she can make an appearance in my Consumer Report.
This is perhaps my best Discover Weekly yet.
My cousin’s fiancé passed his boards and is now a dentist. It’s blowing up on the family group text, which I’ve got set to do-not-disturb. I am reminded that I should get another dental check-up.
I find the Instagram account @dundieawards.
Still no one has responded to the song email. Not even my mother.
Been thinking again that my mom and I should start a ’90s cover band. Songs with harmonies.
“Constant Headache” by Joyce Manor comes on Lauren’s Spotify. I love this song. I remember how for a week in 2015 I crashed at a friend’s house in L.A. who was roommates with one of them but I didn’t know it till afterward. He was nice. He recommended a thrift store in Glendale, where Tom and I went shopping and I got what is still to this day my favorite hat.
I play for Lauren two of my favorite songs, which have to be played back to back: Sum 41 “With Me” and Yellowcard “Only One.”
On the train home Lauren and I talk about Instagram. I tell her I’m going to follow her, and then I follow her. See she has a lot of followers, more than double mine, as do her roommates. Ask her advice even though I know the answer: selfies. My ‘gram is one big meditation in banality. Gonna make an effort to post more selfies.
Got to studio an hour ago. Been playing Rockstar: INXS on YouTube in the background. (Researching for upcoming Recess session, which is about Dave Navarro.) Worked on my plaster sculpture of a ceiling fan. Put the first layer of mixed plaster over the cheese-cloth plaster strips. Relieved to be past the chicken wire stage. Had cuts all over my hands and arms.
Now I have to make a lesson plan for class tomorrow. It’s audio day. Do I really have to teach them Audacity? Haven’t touched it since like 2011. But, a lesson plan I shall make. My reward for finishing that will be more Rockstar: INXS and/or Sum 41 “With Me” and Yellowcard “Only One” on repeat while I paint my sculpture of an oriental rug.
Ohh shit, first though, gotta watch Deanna (a Rockstar contestant) do “I Can’t Make You Love Me.” That is one of the saddest songs ever.
I learn that I was completely wrong that I have to teach Audacity.
Text dad a pic of the plaster sculpture of the ceiling fan. He responds, “Oh my.” Meanwhile texting with mom about how bad all the contestants are on Rockstar: INXS and would she still consider doing a ’90s band with me.
Just got off the phone with mom. We talked about our band and some songs we’d like to do. I’m gonna email her a list and she’ll add to it. First tho I have to email her a link to “River Euphrates,” my deal breaker. And “Kimberly Austin,” which I didn’t know till Elliot started playing Porno For Pyros at work.
My selfie that I put on Instagram at 7:30 p.m. has 106 likes. The most likes I’ve ever had on an Instagram post. So, it’s true what they say: selfies work.
Only opened Instagram because I was waiting for FilmStruck to load Chantal Akerman’s Saute Ma Ville. Watching to see if I want to include it in tomorrow’s audio lesson. I’ve not seen it before but I think this is the one where she blows her house (and presumably herself) up at the end by lighting a match at the stove with the gas cranking. Based on this premise, I deduce there may be a constructive example of the utilization of audio in film/video somewhere in this 13-minute video.
As I write and type various video artists’ and filmmakers’ names into my class notes, I am reminded how frequently I note only a last name for men, and a first and last name for women. That’s fucked up. Will I really forget who I was referring to if I write “Butler?” I make a point for the rest of the night to write only “Akerman” for Chantal. It’s the least I can do for the woman.
Watching Saute Ma Ville more slowly than I’d planned to. I rewind things a lot to make sure I haven’t missed any details. The compulsive rewinding feels to be for my benefit but as I get older I suspect this habit is merely to my own detriment.
I had hopes of getting home a little earlier than usual tonight but it looks like it’s gonna be another 4 a.m.-er.
Now Akerman is mopping her floor. Now she is washing her tiled kitchen wall. What is she doing? In shots prior she had already started taping up her apartment doorway, so we already know what she’s ultimately doing. Ooh, scrub you’re shoe like that with that brush, sure, but not the skin of your leg! That looks painful! As I write this, I feel like the narrator of that Crazy Nastyass Honey Badger video that David reminded me about.
The floor of her kitchen looks like the floor of my elementary school. I wonder if anyone has ever told Isabelle that she resembles a young Akerman. I’ll try to remember to text Isabelle that after I’ve watched this. I keep missing details in the work so I have to put my phone down and just watch the rest of the video. Pen and paper is OK. Phone is not.
It occurs to me that I still have received no replies to my song emails.
Look for songs by the band Live to add to the Spotify playlist I’ve made entitled “Mom” for proposals of what our ’90s band might do.
At least I’ve moved on from Live (and numerous other male-populated bands) and am now on Liz Phair, but this doesn’t bode well for me getting out of here any time soon.
Mom knows Whip-Smart but not Exile in Guyville. I know Exile. And I know Whip-Smart. So I have to show her Exile. “Divorce Song” is one of my favorites.
Wait, no, right—it’s not “Divorce Song,” it’s “Strange Loop.”
Choosing which paintbrush width is best for that one stripe of color around the perimeter.
I request a Lyft, for “just me.” Sixteen minutes, what the fuck. So I take the train.
I walk into the apartment and David is already up. This freaks me out, as it makes me feel like it is even later than it already is. We have a fun chat though and then I lie down.
Tuesday, March 7
One more snooze.
Made it to class on time.
Watching Rockstar: INXS on YouTube while working on my plaster sculpture of a ceiling fan. I’m on episode 18. I’m gonna be sad when Marty gets kicked off. He’s cool. Was cool when last night he had to sing “Hit Me Baby One More Time.”
On the L train. A baby in a stroller in front of me has realized that the water in the uncapped Poland Spring bottle he’s holding will pour out if he tips it. After the first pour, I consider moving so that I (translation: my laptop) don’t get wet. I don’t want to offend the mother so I stay put. The baby little by little pours out the rest of the water bottle.
Home from studio, having Vietnamese delivery with David, watching The Office.
David says that in my Consumer Report I shouldn’t reveal how much of The Office we watch, that while I’m Consumer Report-ing we should watch documentaries and stuff.
I get a text from Kitti.
David and I talk about San Diego. I fall into a San Diego Google Street View hole.
I fall into a San Diego Craigslist housing hole. Housing in Ocean Beach, housing in Sunset Cliffs, in Mission Beach, Normal Heights, Hillcrest.
I fall into a Los Angeles Craigslist housing hole (yet again).
I move on to a Los Angeles Zillow hole.
The Cranberries’ “No Need To Argue” pops into my head.
Still looking at Zillow.
Wednesday, March 8
Home sick, in bed. Check Slack and email in the morning for my boss’s studio. I tell them I’m sick, tell them after resting for a bit I’ll be on Slack. Unable to get out of bed till that evening, I don’t check Slack till 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, March 9
Teach my class. It’s audio day. I show them how to work with audio in Premiere.
Texting with Tom.
Baselining the inside of the next box for the subway-snack-sale-sculpture. Then have to mix and pour the plaster. In theory I’d rather be sleeping but in practice I’d rather be doing this.
“Losing a Whole Year” follows up an Oasis song on the Mom Spotify playlist.
Waiting for a Lyft to take me home. Watching the car in the app.
In my Lyft. A girl named Karissa and some dude were already in the car. Karissa and I follow each other on Instagram. They get out somewhere on Broadway. Faith Evans is getting interviewed on Hot 97. I thought only a straight shot down Dekalb remained, but according to my app we are about to pick up a Michael. I want macaroni and cheese and I want to be in bed.
Michael has entered the vehicle.
Friday, March 10
Instagram hole. I find the account of the actress who plays Jan on The Office. I’m really into a video of her cat and her dog playing together.
Through her account I find Debbie from Singles. I spend hours on their accounts. David says, “In the future will we all be pole dancing?”