Last summer, the New York–based artist Jacob Goudreault hosted a string of unfortunate studio visits. “Everybody totally hated [my] sculptures, because they’re kind of small and ugly a little bit,” Goudreault told me recently over the phone, of the work he was showing out of his studio to various art dealers. One of the pieces is comprised of a bottle of Martinelli’s apple juice, paint, paper mâché, and the artist’s own beard hair, among other items. “Basically they are these grotesque sculptures that I was really into, and nobody was into them on these studio visits, which is kind of something I’ve been running into lately,” he continued. “[Gallerists] want something a little more refined and not as gritty.” Instead of turning his back on this body of work, though, Goudreault decided to take matters into his own hands.
For the past two years, the artist has been part of a tight-knit community centered around the live streams and chat rooms on the website of the Atlanta-based television network Adult Swim, in particular those of the deranged variety show Bloodfeast, whose creators Goudreault has gotten to know, and who recently agreed to let him ship work to Atlanta and stage an art show on their stream. It aired last Tuesday, and is temporarily archived on the show’s website.
“Honestly I can’t tell you how the show is going to go,” Goudreault told me several hours before it aired. “I’m putting a lot of my trust into them.”
Bloodfeast was created, and is co-hosted, by the entertainers Maxime Simonet and Dave Bonawits (who are also behind the animated series Tender Touches) and trades in a non-linear, improvisational style that relies heavily on viewer interaction. It has a tiny but dedicated following and a layered, at times explicit, style of humor that, like many things on the internet, can feel impenetrable. There are also often crossword puzzles, keyed onto the screen and solved in real time with the help of viewers. It was Goudreault’s girlfriend—now fiancée—who first introduced him to the show, though he did not take to it quickly. “I hated it for like a year,” he said. “Then I slowly got into the chat and then I would ask her questions about things that were happening, and it would be totally random, totally what I didn’t expect, it’s not even on your radar of what’s actually happening.”
Watching the stream, the show felt like a live manifestation of the rhythms of internet culture, with the tried-and-true format of a lo-fi cable access program acting as a container for the madness. “In some ways, I feel like this is actually the future of what entertainment’s going to be,” Goudreault said. “Because there’s a host there, and you can say something in the chat room, and then they will read it on the air, or they’ll change the show based off of what’s happening.” Though stream has presented musical performances in the past, this was their first art show.
Eight of Goudreault’s sculptures were placed in the show’s main studio on an array of stools. The stools were, it should be noted, not the artist’s choice—Goudreault referred to their inclusion as “just gallerists making decisions.” Jazz music played softly in the background. In addition to Goudreault’s aforementioned Martinelli’s sculpture, there were Ghost Soul, whose materials include a baby figurine, a vape pen USB charger, and a peach pit, and Curiosity in Youth, which incorporates fake puke, a guitar pick, and a whole lot more. Besides Goudreault’s own sculptures, one host–who is not known as a contemporary artist–threw a few works of his own into the mix, which came as a surprise to Goudraeult, who was tuning into the show from New York.
What mostly transpired on the hour-long stream felt loosely intentioned and loaded with inside information. The sculptures proved to be mostly an ambient backdrop to whatever oblique conversation was unfurling between the studio, the chat room, and the callers. There was very little talk of art. Three years in, even a fairly dedicated viewer like Goudreault admitted that he still doesn’t understand half the things happening at any given moment. Abstract calls came in from a variety of presumably familiar viewers. One of them rambled through a voice box. A crossword puzzle slowly got filled out. Some art got knocked over. The latter part of the show featured an extended reggae song of sorts, sung karaoke-style over what is presumably a bed of royalty-free music created for broadcast. It was actually a really good song.
“It’s probably only once a month they have a good song,” Goudreault said, talking the day after the show aired. “They have bad songs every day, all the time. Literally, I’m in the chat telling them how bad the show sucks half the time.” He noted that this kind of troll-ish behavior made him a bit worried his art show would end up being the butt of a joke. But, he said, “they were very kind to me. I think they were mean, but they were kind at the same time. It could’ve been really bad, because they know me, they could’ve gotten personal or something, which they sometimes do, but they chose not to last night.”
Later this year, he’ll show work in a more traditional format, in a solo exhibition at Bahamas Biennale in Detroit.