Do you know Domingo Castillo? If so, then you probably checked out his recent exhibition Duets at Dimensions Variable in the Design District. If you don't know him, you might have ended up outside of the gallery, alone, banging to get inside, experiencing the true art of the whole affair.
Castillo set up a makeshift karaoke bar in the space. But only friends (plus one guest) were invited. The other rule inside DV: Participants could only sing duets. The whole experiment unfolded neatly at times and messily at others.
While we all speculated that Castillo was just causing interpersonal drama among his friends, he saw the endeavor a little differently. So Crossfade called him to clarify the intent of the project and discuss his favorite karaoke songs. You may be surprised by what he chose.
Crossfade: What's your favorite duet to sing?
Castillo: With a man or a woman?
With a man, "Blame It on the Rain." With a woman, "Picture."
It is the best karaoke song. Did your opinion of your favorite karaoke songs change after Duets?
My opinion on how I can sing them did.
You learned new ways of interpreting new songs?
Do you feel like you're a better singer or performer now?
I'm a better singer and I want to end up at an airport lounge bar in the near future. I have to memorize some songs and then fly.
What were the craziest performances you saw here? Can you name two or three?
The little kids, this band called Sugar sung ABBA. The most amazing rendition ever performed in the history of mankind.
How old were they?
Seven and nine. And then there was another one: Lucas [Leyva of Borscht Film Festival] and [artist] Naomi [Fisher] sung "Niggas in Paris" for two and a half hours straight. Thirty-three times. They wanted to jack the throne. They did.
We should make this available and hashtag the fuck out of it, so that Kanye and Jay-Z see it. They see this, they're going to feel humiliated. We had an audience of, like, seven that stayed here the whole time.
What was the craziest night here besides that? One where you learned the most about yourself, about people, about the art of karaoke?
The second night that I did the project, no one showed up and I had a really nice time watching movies.
There were lots of nights where no one showed up. By the end, were those your favorites?
No. When people showed up at like 2:45 in the morning with a bottle of Patrón and they kept me up till 6. That was good.
Will you be continuing to do more karaoke projects?
Never. I'm done.
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What if we all wanted to still do karaoke?
Ask me and I'll give you my whole archive of karaoke songs. Just email me. I have over 3,000 songs.
What was the song that most surprised you? That you didn't think people would enjoy the most, but did?
Band Aid, "Do They Know It's Christmas?"
Was it weird having just your friends here and not people you didn't know?
This is a secret space. This is a personal space. No one here was performing. Everything that was happening here wasn't art, it was life. I just used art to make life happen.
What was the strangest slice of life that you experienced?
I was hypnotized. Opening night, there was a magician and me and two other people got hypnotized.
I don't know.
Do you feel like this was maybe like a cool kids club and you're leaving out people who don't know artists?
No, because how I would talk about it in terms of art world ... I would never talk about the inside. I'd only talk about the outside wall that allowed only friends to come in.
So, all of my friends never experienced any of the art. Like, you interviewing me. You're not talking about the art. You're talking about this personal experience we had here. If you think about it that way, it is a superexclusive, obnoxious personal thing that happened. But the art is the wall I built to provide the space for this. The art was not letting anyone in who I didn't know.
The art was being exclusive?
Excluding the public, but keeping it open to my friends and people I know. My audience isn't the public, my audience is my friends. I don't really care about the public. The public gets to experience it in a different onion layer.
It's just the same thing. I excluded all my friends from experiencing art because they were in here.
Weren't they part of the project?
If nobody came at all, would there have been an art project?
But as soon as one person shows up inside, it's no longer art?
Whatever happened inside wasn't art. It was only the conditions for art to occur.
What about what happened on sidewalk?
Tons of stuff happened on the sidewalk. I didn't let people in. That was art.
You're the mean door guy with the velvet rope?
Not even. This isn't an exhibition for them. The exhibition for them was, like, that experience of knowing that this isn't theirs. They're not allowed to come in here.
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What they learned, what they took away was that they need to be friends with Domingo Castillo.
You're a dick.