Nicholas Di Genova is an inventor of his own world filled with post-apocalyptic animals that screw their own children and battle on different levels of Hell, but heâ€™s a pacifist, doesnâ€™t get out much and tries to stay away from horror movies. With his youth behind him, Nicholas Di Genova spends over 12 hours a day in his studio, working with abstract ideas and ambitions that makes for inverted normality found in art galleries across North America.
Format: I saw a photo of you. You had blood dripping from your forehead, what happened?
Nicholas: For some reason I decided to head butt a steel pipe. I like put a hole in my head and then when it started to scab over it grew a horn, because it was so deep. I was going the post office to mail some books and I kind of was in a scuffle with one of my buddies and I head butted a pipe.
Format: What does Mediumphobic mean?
Nicholas: When I was doing street art I went under the name Medium and I still do stuff, but it goes unnamed now. Because it became so easy to look at the images through Google, Iâ€™d rather not have any names on it at this point.
Format: When did you start using Medium as your moniker?
Nicholas: When I moved to Toronto, I went to school and then I moved out of my apartment without any other apartment and I kind of became a bum for six months. And, a lot of the neighborhoods I would go in I would see broken down furniture and broken down kitchen appliances or dead gardens, or whatever. I would always draw what a fridge spirit would look like. So on the wall I would spray paint a fridge spirit coming out of the decrypted old fridge in the alley. I thought an assuming name would be Medium, because a Medium is someone who connects the spirit world to the living world. I thought that was kind of neat, introducing these spirits to the living world. Medium.com isnâ€™t available so I chose Mediumphobic. There was some reasoning, but it sounded kind of cool and it was available.
Format: Do you still actively use the Medium moniker?
Nicholas: I slowed down for a bit. I dated this girl from Ghana, she was from Canada, but with a Guineas heritage, for five years and we were always talking about going to Ghana for a pretty good period of time and somehow during that time, maybe three years ago, she convinced me to stop doing anything that would get myself arrested, because it would really fuck up the idea of going there for a while. I kind of got out of street art for about two years.
Format: What happened during the time you stopped?
Nicholas: I quit my job so I wanted to work for one day a week an art supply store, because I had to pay the bills and try to sell more paintings and focus a little less on street art, partially from that reason. Lately, Iâ€™ve been getting much more into it again and I have some ideas for some pretty big pieces that Iâ€™ll be doing in Florence and back in Toronto.
Format: Have you been pinched?
Nicholas: Iâ€™ve been caught a few times, but Iâ€™ve never gotten to the point of actually going to jail. I manage to talk my way out of thing pretty well. A lot of the times I would bring my student ID and when I got caught I would act absolutely clueless and say that Iâ€™m a sculpturer and my teacher told me to do some site specific work and that I had no idea that I was doing anything illegal. Surprisingly enough it worked a few times. Now my student ID doesnâ€™t work so I guess Iâ€™m going to have to get back into the habit of running really fast.
Format: How did you pickup visual arts in your youth?
Nicholas: Iâ€™m from a pretty small town and when I was there, there wasnâ€™t really much to do. There was an arcade and comic book store. So, I really got into comics when I was a kid and read comics for eight years and I started drawing my own comics. I started making up all these creatures, I was always much more into the monster comics and super hero comics and then when I moved to Toronto I started to get into street art and use that imagery on the street.
Format: What were the comics you were into when you were a kid?
Nicholas: I was really into all the Strange Tales stuff and this one comic called Warlord. It was pretty much fantasy stuff where all these kinds of creatures existed in. I was really into Conan and it was cool to see shit like naked girls, like weird shit comics, not just friendly faces and stuff like that.
Format: You recently finished a large exhibit at Fredricks Freiser, how did that come together?
Nicholas: For the last few years Iâ€™ve been doing shows talking about the children of Poseidon, which is a group of creatures. In my world it is like million years after the apocalypse and itâ€™s time to repopulate. Itâ€™s set in a way where I really donâ€™t understand anything from evolution, but I understand science fiction comics pretty well. So, all these small fish creatures are coming on land and evolving at these breakneck speeds to the roles that need to be filled. They often take on military forms within their own body, so theyâ€™ll be growing Gatling guns out of their nipples or something like that. I built up this army of fish creatures and then I realized thereâ€™s no one for these fish creatures that are gathering this huge group of animals, but thereâ€™s really nothing for them to be fighting. Then I was thinking that Iâ€™m already dealing with reference to Greek mythology with the Poseidon army, so maybe Poseidon could be taking on Hades. I thought that a good anime for them could be this underground world just as large as the surface world that was separated into the nine levels kind of like Hades is.
The show is a look at the first three levels, kind of like an unveiling. The first level is just like plank creatures that arenâ€™t particularly hostile, the second level is the golden forum, which is kind of a take of the golden horde, which is a particular vicious army that during the Ming Dynasty tried to take over China. And, the third oneâ€™s service would be with the dog that would be traditionally guarding the gates of Hell, and he decided that he was getting kind of old and he retires to the third level. He marries the love of his life, which is a giant chicken with a gun for a head, but being a fifty-headed dog he has these urges so he makes babies with his wife and then he ends up fucking all his children and fucking all his grandchildren.
Format: Weâ€™re running this feature in our Halloween issue. Do you have any favorite Halloween costumes?
Nicholas: Iâ€™ve always been kind of a weird kid in a way, where I get really freaked out and fucked up by social situations so I stopped going out for Halloween when I was eight-years-old. For some reason Halloween parties really freaked me out. I very rarely leave my studio at this point. But, I was a cross-dresser when I was six. Iâ€™m from this really Catholic, traditional Italian family and in hindsight itâ€™s pretty funny, because my dad actually let me go out there. Iâ€™ve only had two Halloween costumes my whole life, I was a clown until I was like seven and then I was a cross-dresser once. That clown costume, I wore it when I was quite young, my momâ€™s a seamstress and she kept making it bigger. At one point it was crushing my balls and it wouldnâ€™t go past my elbows in the sleeves.
Format: Are you a fan of horror film?
Nicholas: Iâ€™m a fan of the old horror stuff. All the Friday the 13th, Nightmare On Elm Street. I like those movies, the new ones I canâ€™t really handle them. All this quiet, quiet, quiet and then ineradicably loud screaming and flashing lights. The Ring fucked me up. When I used to date this girl, we went out to see the remake of Dawn of the Dead when it came out and in no way was that movie scary at all, I thought it was kind of hilarious. But, then I went to sleep and had a dream that zombies came into the house and then bit meâ€“no, they bit my girlfriend. Then I woke up and I was having these really fucked up day-mares, Iâ€™ve heard people call them, which are like sleepwalking fits where you think that youâ€™re moving around in the real world, but youâ€™re not seeing what everyone else is seeing. I woke up and my girlfriend sleeping beside me was a zombie, so I was absolutely terrified and I guess I screamed. I started to slowly make my way over to the screwdriver to stab her. She woke up to me with a screwdriver trying to kill herâ€“she freaked out, so Iâ€™m trying to stay away from horror movies or whatever, because they really do fuck with my psyche. Maybe, itâ€™s just not going outside and working like 20-hour days, but Iâ€™m kind of turning half-crazy, so I really need to stay away from anything that will promote that type of behavior.
More on Nicholas Di Genova: http://www.mediumphobic.com