Q&A with Mary Ocher 

We chatted with Ocher (before her show at GPC's Difficult Women) about human rights, music and traveling.

click to enlarge Mary Ocher - SUBMITTED
  • Mary Ocher
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NUVO: You have such a mix of talents. When did your artist creation kick into high gear?

Ocher: Haha, thank you Emily! I think we all tend to be imaginative and drift into dreamlike states pretty much from birth, some just grow out of it and some figure out how to trick the system and make a living doing that.

NUVO: What is next for your music? What about other art forms?
Ocher: A new album with my drum duo, Your Government will be out in just a bit over a month on Faust's label Klangbad, we're very excited to be playing a much bigger multimedia type of show. in other news, the art collective I'm part of, Autodiktat, is scheming an interesting prank exhibition on the artworld during Gallery Weekend in spring, but it's still in its early stages.

RELATED: How Difficult Women came to GPC

NUVO: What are your thoughts and feelings about Pussy Riot? Have you returned to Russia at all since your birth?
Ocher: PR have been made into the poster children of the left, I have been back twice since the story broke out, and have experienced much frustration in the underground's creative circles, unhappy with the responses in the media and the negative word in the street. The Russian media made a witch hunt, they've crucified the left, the punks, the subcultures, made fun of it, called it names — it was scary to watch Russian television, full of conservative, religious propaganda, with its anti-gay slogans, anti-foreigners, anti-women liberation, anti-everything that isn't ultra-conservative, Christian-orthodox, aggressively corrupt capitalist BS.
Places have their own pace and take different historical turns. While some parts of the world have already legalized gay marriages (finally!), others need their time and it's just the first step.

After years of uncertainty, I realized what a dreadful experience it would have been growing up in that place, not that growing up in Tel Aviv was pleasant either, exchanging one horrid place for another. Statistically speaking, I wonder what would have been the chances to have been born in Saudi Arabia for instance? The '80s and '90s were a pretty interesting time (would that have been even more of a challenge? I am glad to have been spared), yet, I'd like to think we learn much from these difficult places, we adapt and learned the necessary survival tools.

NUVO: What is the most important issue pressing on you these days (I am referring to human rights issues mostly)?
Ocher: No human rights issue is more important than another, more personally pressing perhaps, here in Europe is the no-avail condition of refugees, every day there's more news about drownings or suffocating to death. You are either a lucky bastard having been born in the right place (and preferably to a rich, comfortable family), or face a life of hard labor and whichever tools your environment is able to provide you with.

In Germany — if you happen to be of belonging to one of the following non-EU countries: Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, USA and NZ -— the visa application process would be significantly easier. If you are from the far east, South America, Africa or any of the other territories, you'd have to get a lawyer and fight your way for legal recognition, which would be quite a bit more complicated and a lot more expensive, making it only possible for foreigners with means to even consider going that route.

Another issue with particular personal importance is the following — I've been writing to human rights and culture organizations looking for support of a tour of the Middle-East with a symbolic meaning to it (there are two existing peace contracts in the region) — yet no one wanted anything to do with it, it was quite shocking to find out that people are afraid, all that propaganda worked, and what is written on paper doesn't quite translate into a reality on the street, history scarred all parts involved. I can only hope that in the not-so-distant future there will be a little bit more optimism and an idea such as that might actually be possible. to a by-stander it might seem simple, but you can't possibly imagine what it's like for a person living in it day in and day out.

NUVO: Why is Baby Indiana so great? What's the story behind it?
Ocher: Haha. thanks again! I suppose that was my naive take on The Stooges at 19, which is when that song was written, but of course sounds nothing like.

NUVO: Who and what are the biggest influences on your art?
Ocher: Veggie sausages and deep fried Mars bars, preferably together.

NUVO: What was it like for you creatively growing up in Tel Aviv?
Ocher: Just about like being a kid everywhere else I suppose, only that occasionally you'd have to run to the shelter, when the sirens go on in the park.and you'd write and draw and goof around nonetheless.

NUVO: Do you see your work as a feminist statement on its own apart from you as a person?
Ocher: There is no doubt in my mind that we need to keep raising our voices on matters of social injustice (in the gender sphere as much as the others) - yet I wouldn't want to dedicate my entire focus to that particular subject, that would force me to miss out on the vastness of the human experience. Just because I was born a woman and experience certain barriers in the social sphere, I'd be putting more chains upon myself instead of breaking out of them if I did. Even the very fact that this question is ever-present in all sorts of variations, shows that we have internalized a certain lack of emancipation, what we should be doing is actively living the life we had envisioned for ourselves.

NUVO: What do you love and hate about doing world tours? What are your favorite kind of places to play, if you had to pick a few?
Ocher: I love exploring new places - the sounds of the hustle and bustle of their streets, the smells, the body language of passers-by, the variations in street food, the music from passing cars. and of course I don't like so much having to wait until 3 a.m. to be shown where to sleep, just to wake up again at 7 a.m. to catch the next connection...

There's really no particular kind of place, any place with the right crowd is great! and it's amazing to find out that there is such a crowd in just about any place in the world and it's magical to be able to find it!

NUVO: You are primarily a musician? Any other mediums that you are dabbling in at the moment?
Ocher: I make a living playing music, yes. When I'm not playing shows I'm mostly making films, recently short and mid-length, terribly unfitting to most festivals' strict categories, and hence shown mostly in galleries and special screening events. I'm also part of the multi-national perhaps somewhat-subversive art collective, Autodiktat. 


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Emily Taylor

Emily Taylor

Emily is the arts editor at NUVO, where she covers everything from visual art to comedy. In fact she is probably at a theater production right now. Before joining the ranks here, she worked for Indianapolis Monthly and Gannett. You can find her thoughts about Indy scattered throughout the NUVO arts section and... more

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