Zoo Lion is a 19 year old girl who makes collages out of pornography and old issues of National Geographic, they are weird and pervy and we kind of love them. We stared at them while asking her about her process, her obsession with porn, her favorite era in photographed fucking, and about a time where she thought she was going to be killed.
Superchief: Hey there Zoo, tell me allah about your collages, man. Do you find yourself just shredding every magazine you see? or do you only pull from certain eras of certain magazines?
Zoo: I shred everything I deem usable. I lost a lot of money shredding a rental biology textbook.
Yikes, I bet. Is this project a relatively new thing that you’re excited about or have you been doing them forever?
Well I’ve only done them for about 2 years. I was on a preppy dance team that was basically like cheerleading and that was not a conducive lifestyle. REBELLIIOONN. (wait, can we include my freshman year dance team picture? So hysterical)
We sure can.
Dag, I had a drifting thought that maybe you’d been doing this like, once a day since you were really young, and while your work from your past isn’t overtly autobiographical, you can totally feel out different phases in your history, like “this is when she was obsessed with cutting the eyes out of every face and filling the blank spots with national geographic photographs of mazes” or “this is when everyone had tiny dirty $10 pillow bags of crack floating around their heads”, or “this is when she really got into the color green.” I guess what I’m getting at is, have you been cutting up pornography your entire life? It would be amazing to have that as a diary and have your parents find it when you’re 17 and try to piece that puzzle together.
Yeah, only two years now, and pornography only really introduced itself 6 months in. I used to only use shit like National Geographic until I found some really awesome Euro art porn from the 60s at a flea market. Also my parents totally know about it, my dad’s a huge fan of all the ones with really graphic nudes.
Well of course he is. I’m a bit bummed you havent been doing this since you were like 6 years old, but I’ll get over it. How many collages do you think you’ve made?
Well I never actually masturbate to porn, I see it as educational- not sexually but socially, and also totally hilarious (efukt.com is totally a top site on my browser). It’s like a magical land you can escape to. I have literally seen the most insane porn. We’re not even talking about shit you can find on the web, you like have to buy them from this guy. I have an incredibly bizarre paper and digital porn collection on a bookshelf in my room. I use porn in the collages to kind of desensitize people. Half the people who seem them really strongly dislike them, and the other half loves them because they understand it’s meant to be taken as a dumb joke. I want my collages to be like a wet dream, something arousing and forgettable.
What are you just completely obsessed with right now?
3D Holographic dollar store framed pictures of Jesus and other biblical scenes.
What’s the last thing you remember being obsessed with before that?
I print nothing out, everything is acquired from magazines or books. Printing is cheating. Nothing is digital, except for what my shitty scanner can produce.
Is there some kind of ideal image that you’re flipping through the magazine for, wishing you find? I mean, I know that gathering images for collage is a matter of “I know it when i see it” / “It catches my eye and I grab it” to some extent, but is there some image that haunts your dreams, that you’d be geeked to find?
Simple shapes are the best, like a nude with nothing covering the body and such. A lot of images I find are so great that I can’t make it into anything better, so I don’t use them. I guess the point of collage is to combine separate elements into something new, so I don’t want to use anything too recognizable or complex. Do you ever work in your dreams?
No, in my dreams I’m usually on a subway car flying through space.
If you had to choose, what’s your favorite era in porn?
I’m sure everyone else will probably disagree with me on this, but early to mid 90s porn is by far my favorite. I found this great magazine from that era called Hometown Girls, and it is by far the best one I’ve found. That era was not particularly beautiful, and the girls aren’t incredibly sexy, but it’s just kind of silly and genuine, as opposed to the over posed 60s porns, very bad ink quality 70s porns, very tacky 80s porns, and super gross shiny overly contrasty 2000s porn.
God, I just love it all, i feel like every era in porn has it’s flaws and each flaw is a new and different mental fetish, from the quality of the photography, that era in fashion and what kind of pubes were in vogue, down to the printing and paper quality itself. It’s all gold, but I totally get your reasons for your fave, the 90s are this sunny California moment in my mind. What’s something that you saw in person and you wished that it was a photo so you could cut it into something and keep it like that forever?
I wouldn’t want to cut into it, since it already involved too much cutting, but I watched a cesarean section happen last summer in the Volta Region in Northern Ghana. That’s the only time in my life I’ve ever felt faint.
Once I was having sex with a guy and he says, “wait I’m going to go get something” and I wait a second and he puts a huge box cutting razor next to my head. I immediately jump up to get the fuck out of there and then he was like, “Wait I was just getting that to cut the duct tape I’m going to tie you up with.” Then he came in my eye. I thought I was going to die. I’m joking. Or am I?
What’s the craziest thing you ever did when you were lovesick insane? (if you’ve never been insane you can ignore that one.)
Lovesick insane… Nah. I’m just mildly insane all the time like anyone else. FUK LUV.
The best magazines I’ve come across are Hometown Girls (clearly) and this British 80s photography magazine called ZOOM. ZOOM has really tasteful partial nudes mixed in with landscape shots, so it’s kind of a one stop shop for me. Besides porn, I love vintage science and medical magazines. They always have weird pill ads and diagrams, and generally have bad art direction so it’s easy to use the images because I don’t feel like I’m butchering something that’s beautiful on its own.
I totally get that. I was wondering how you felt about layout, if something looks great already if part of you feels somewhat bummed that you didnt fuck with it first.
Yeah, like once I came across this editorial in a porno called “Thighscrapers” which was pictures of skyscrapers kind of overlayed on top of pictures of women with their asses in the air so it looks like the building is penetrating them. It was awesome and I couldn’t do anything more with it.
Well right off the bat, ASHKAN HONARVAR is the greatest collage artist I’ve ever seen, period. Past that, well Zoe Strauss is amazing, she photographs random gas station attendants and drug addicts. Totally haunting and brilliant. Tostartssbandht is the best band ever. I’m totally on a Ken Russell movie streak… I don’t follow too many sites or blogs, I don’t like to know what’s super relevant because I’m afraid I’ll be overly influenced and deviate away from what’s in my head. Alexandra Mackenzie also has amazing art, she had an art show in the lower east side recently. when you look closely at her work, it’s like tiny pencil lines. Her show in the L.E.S. had a piece that took up an entire wall, just fantastic. But Heather Benjamin is my ultimate illustrator. I have one of her pieces on my bedroom wall, it’s almost a test for all the boys that come into my room, like, i’ll fuck you ONLY if you pass the test of liking this art.
Well, that about sums it up, anything else you’d like to share?
Just say something about how efukt.com is the best website ever, and we’ll call it a day?
Done and done.
More of Zoo’s work can be found on her Tumblr, so click ittttttt.Tweet