We spoke with Kenan Juska, co-founder and DJ of the radio station Chances With Wolves, about the process of producing intricate collages for his current art exhibition at Pioneer Works in Red Hook. 

His approach includes transforming ‘junk’ into pieces that tell a personal story, creating a certain feeling that is undoubtedly similar to the “seamless listening experience” that set Chances With Wolves apart from typical radio stations.

How did this project begin? What inspired the first collage?

I've always kind of been a junkman… picking up stuff off the street using it in my work. Prior to starting this project, I had been working on these large sculptural installations that were completely comprised of framed produce box labels. In midst of hunting down these boxes night after night, I kept coming across other interesting garbage and started thinking about how I might develop a project that would enable me to use whenever I found not just boxes...

How do you pick the objects you use? Do you clean some items before you think of showing them?

I really love that they give you a glimpse into someone's life, the personal intimate details. But that's kind of just one part of it; there are a lot of elements in the work that speak to the overall human condition, and the rhythms of everyday city life. Also, sometimes things are just beautiful and I knew they would look good collaged.

Are you interested in lost things, forgotten relics of identity? Or you just try to find beauty where people don’t?

I guess a little bit of all of that.

Can you elaborate on this collage project as being precursor to your CWW project? Are they both collages in different ways? Being one half of the DJ duo CWW — how does the work you do in music relate to your visual art?

So, the show is about collecting these castoff or forgotten songs. There's a lonely quality to that somehow — music that no one cared about when it was released. In a lot of ways this the same thing. These are items that were all discarded, lost, or forgotten, but they all hold some beauty or some information that's valuable in them. I'm not sure I consciously made the connection between the show and to work until recently. And the process of assembling them into a collage is not that different from creating this seamless listening experience like we do in Chances with Wolves.

You mentioned that Hurricane Sandy wrecked some of the works. How did that experience affect your perception of the art you were making?

Hurricane Sandy actually ended the creation of the collages… which, in retrospect, was probably a good thing. I got to a point where I was being so deliberate in my process, that I had really slowed down production quite a bit. At the rate I was going it would've taken me a really long time to finish the project as it was originally envisioned. So the fact that Sandy came through our studio and destroyed a good amount of the remaining raw materials I had catalogued for future collages really made me rethink my original goal, and realize the fact that I had made over 500 collages up to that point was an accomplishment in itself, and something to be valued.

How did you become involved with Pioneer works?

I've been sharing a studio with Dustin and a few other people in the old Kidd Yellin space on Imlay st, during Sandy, so we all kinda got through the storm together.

 Has the idea of trash or waste taken on a different meaning for you over the course of this project?

Well, yeah, honestly I've been tuned out to garbage for the two years… But in the process of prepping these works for the show and starting the install I have found myself looking at the ground a lot more. A couple days ago I actually picked up some stuff. I thought about doing a collage for that day but then I was like, "What am I doing?" And I left it on the street.