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Mark Carson Interview

Ilegal Mezcal is excited to present our collaboration with artist Mark Carson (nom de plume Marcarson)’s NOT FOR THEM in benefit to the Compton Cowboys.

At Ilegal, our aim is to not only to celebrate Black culture; we are making a promise to actively use this platform for anti-racism work, as we have the privilege to help dismantle White supremacy within the hospitality and spirits industry. Anti-racism is not simply a category you can place yourself in – it’s lifelong work that can be difficult, but it’s the greater good. It’s compassion. It’s community safety, saving lives, and reducing suffering as much as it is liberation. It’s self-care. We’ve all been conditioned by White supremacy culture, but it doesn’t have to be our legacy.  

Fortunately we like using a little humor to help with the hard work and so does Marcarson. “I'm pointing out things most people overlook, like a white person teaching me about Black culture is insane. If (the work) is too serious I won’t even listen to it.” Marcarson found that his original interest in fashion left little room (literally he mentions being bound to a t-shirt as a canvas) to explore, and say the things he wanted to say. “A little humor to get everyone's attention,” Marcarson reiterates in response to his collaboration with Ilegal. “You always remember something that makes you laugh, but also something that upsets you, so I try to mix both.” Let us be clear, Marcarson doesn’t view his work as political: “To be honest I don’t follow politics.  I’m lost most of the time”. While this may seem antithetical of his art he explains “(my work) is more about what I’ve been through, what I’ve seen, it’s more cultural than anything else”.  It would seem who he is, what exists at his core is a satirist. Reminiscing about moments where he “did the work” Marcarson pauses, “The first time I sold one of those ridiculous pieces I made, would be a point of pride. It was an Andy Warhol piece ‘I Sold You Soup Cans’, somebody loved it. I was like ‘ok, I mean I’m making fun of the artworld...’ it was one of those moments that showed me I should be doing this now.”  

The marriage of humor and cultural observations come through in his collaboration with Ilegal. “I was looking at museum websites, at pieces no one would have in their home, to recreate them in sort of a funny way.” Within this process he found that the museum staff involved in African American culture were occasionally, not African American, which he found ludicrous, “so I just combined those two things, sometimes it’s just the feeling of it.”  Of course the piece wouldn’t be complete without Marcarsons’ striking universal alter ego Freeface, finally finding its second self within the piece. Marcarson has no idea what he’s doing until he’s doing it – a man who seemingly thrives in that space. After all humorists, comedians always need a new target. Marcarson is no different. If you're realizing you're still unsure who Marcarson is, you're not alone. “If your personality matches your artwork you’re on the right track”, he says “if I'm in a group show you should know what artwork is mine just by talking to me”. He’s right, it’s the one that made you laugh, and you're not sure why.

Learn more about MARCARSON’S work at www.notforthemnyc.com/

Ilegal’s merchandise collaboration with Marcarson directly benefits the Compton Cowboys. Shop the Merchandise

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