Idol Friends

Last year I interviewed my friend Mavi Staiano about her Facebook stranger-stalking T-shirt project, where she made T-shirts out of the thousands of images she collected of internet strangers. For her most recent artistic endeavor, Mavi spent months documenting the life of her BFF, Little Matthew–filming him eat McDonalds, taking too-close mobile phone photos of his face while he was sleeping, screen grabbing their BBM conversations–she didn’t miss a beat. She then used the images to make posters, stickers, T-shirts, drawings and patches. Together the work looks similar to how you’d imagine a serial killer’s bedroom wall to look, only slightly less deranged, more clean, beautifully executed, and almost weirdly corporate.

How did the project begin?
Most of my work is instinctive. Everybody criticized me last year for spending all those hours on Facebook collecting images, but I really just felt the compulsion to do it at the time. And it was the same with Little Matthew–I just felt like I
needed to constantly be photographing his every move.

So who is Little Matthew?
He’s my close friend. When I met him I couldn’t stop staring at him. I mean come on, he just looks amazing. To me his face is universal; it transcends race, age, sexuality, gender and religion. Someone who looks like that can only represent love and hope, in my opinion.

Whoa, you’re right about his face. Weird.
Yeah! Also Matthew works as a stylist, and a lot of his work deals with these same themes. So I was inspired by what he does as well.

What are the McDonalds references about?
Little Matthew and I just go to McDonalds a lot. There’s no massive meaning behind it. The images contain references to lots of things he likes, like Dance Dance Revolution, anime, the arcade, and he used to love KFC but then I told him that chicken selects from McDonalds are better and he’s finally trusted me and converted.

Has anyone ever called the work creepy?
Well when I was making it at college people kept coming up and telling me how sorry they were that my friend died. I was like, “Uh, he’s not dead! He’s just amazing!” But I realize that people normally only get this kind of attention when they’re a dead or a celebrity. Or God.

Some of the imagery and the compositions of the artwork look quite religious.
Yeah, I didn’t realize at the time, but I’ve since thought that the McDonalds cup looks kind of like a chalice. Also coincidentally Matthew wears a New Era cap a lot, and if you take a shitty phone picture of him at night the hat’s brim makes him look like he has a halo. A sign?! I grew up in Italy, so I’ve been surrounded by Christian imagery my whole life.

So is the art about worshiping him?
I’m not trying to elevate him to the level of a God, no. I’m not necessarily a Christian but I believe in many of the larger things Christianity stands for, like love, hope and forgiveness. And whether you chose to use the word ‘God’ or ‘love’, really it means the same thing. So I’m not saying little Matthew is God, but I believe that many of the things “God” stands for are physically manifested within him. But not in some crazy abstract religious way, in a
real life way.

Like in a street style way?
Yeah, lolz. At the end of the day art is a way for me to explore myself and the world around me, so naturally it’s going to lead me to think about these “bigger things.” And I understand how I could seem obsessive, but it’s because I really believe in all of what my work strives to represent.




8 Replies to “Idol Friends”

  1. karrllleeeeyyi cant find your email adress, PLEASE fill me in on this zine thing, i pre-ordered it ages ago whats gonna happen? do you have any idea where i might have bought it? cant rememba

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