Nick Flatt is all about reality. Revealing what’s real and what’s not through photorealistic portraits, distorting the perception like a glitter motorcycle roaring in our blurry mind.
We all fall for a glossy picture, and that’s where the artist is catching us. Twisting the usual advertising codes, the common images of sex, money and power to turn them into something slightly disturbing. Then, we see: consumption and appearances are emptying our glorious icons and our rebellious models from their meaningful substances.
Motorcycle Boy: Could you please introduce yourself?
Nick Flatt: My name is Nick Flatt, I currently live and work in Berlin, Germany. I grew up in Texas, and started my art career in San Francisco/Los Angeles.
Do you see the motorcycle culture as a Street culture, like Graffiti or British Rock?
I would definitely be looking in from the outside to answer this question, but I would guess that motorcycle culture started out as street culture, and there probably still is a really good underground culture that takes root on the street level, but I would assume that a vast majority of motorcycle sales are to weekend warriors that are significantly more connected to office culture than anything resembling street culture. Just a guess though.
Are you seeing the motorcycle as another consumption item, or rather as an element of distortion, of rebellion, a mean to suggest another way?
I use motorcycles in my work as a representation of both rebellion and conspicuous consumption. I like playing with the idea of how corporate branding co-opts rebellion in order to attach a specific attitude to an inanimate object. In some ways I think the further along we continue down the corporate capitalism road it will become harder and harder to remember whether or not something was genuinely rebellious or only appears rebellious due to the magnitude of advertising and media campaigns launched at generations after generations.
The bike as a symbol. What does it represent for you?
In many ways it represents a sense of modernized freedom. You feel more open than you do when in a car, but you’re still confined to areas that have concrete (for the most part, except dirt bikes I guess, but mostly talking about street bikes and cruisers etc…)
The bike as a sensation. What does it evokes to you?
This is a bit harder since I’ve never owned a motorcycle, but when I would take my dad’s 1972 Trail 90 (as pictured below) down the back roads in Texas, I would feel an immediate liberation. Even at 40mph there is a real feeling of freedom evoked.
What would be your favorite references in the motorcycle culture?
I always picture the Fonz on his Triumph, or Paul Newman riding a Bonneville. I also love the song The Living End by the Jesus and Mary Chain, talking about riding his motorbike. I also really like Daniel Johnston’s song Speeding Motorcycle.
I know you’re thinking about getting a bike. Is that an old desire, or a more recent interest?
Ah man, I’ve wanted a bike since I was 16, but being a poor artist always took precedence 😛
What could be your ideal bike?
My dad always used to take me to the Triumph shop when I was younger, so I’ve always loved vintage Triumph motorcycles, I’d have to say a 1970 Triumph Bonneville would be my dream bike.
A favourite road?
The back roads in Texas near my parent’s house are pretty awesome, but for now I guess going balls out on the Autobahn in Germany would probably be kinda cool, albeit significantly more dangerous.
In a world without engines, what would be your means of transport?
I reckon a bicycle ought to do the trick.
Thank you, Nick Flatt.