Interview with Utah & Ether
Utah & Ether—or, as law officials know them, Danielle Bremner and Jim Clay Harper—are no strangers to conducting interviews from behind bars. In fact, the fittingly dubbed “Bonnie & Clyde” of graffiti has been clashing with the law ever since they first tagged trains together back in 2005. Striking up an artistic and romantic relationship amid the light rails of St. Louis, Utah & Ether hunted trains in cities throughout the United States, including their respective hometowns of New York and Chicago. After seeking out new material in the tunnels and tracks of Europe, the two were welcomed back stateside in 2009 with handcuffs and a year behind bars.
Watch the Runners video with Utah & Ether here: Runners 02 – Utah & Ether
It was at about this time that the artists decided to leave the US once again in search of new inspiration and new metro systems abroad. They have spent the intervening years across Asia, a journey documented in their multimedia project Probation Vacation: Lost in Asia. The work spans 11 countries and 37 cities through a 12-part video series and an accompanying monograph of stories and photographs. The video series, accessible to all on The Grifter’s Vimeo page, is a vicarious thrill-ride: shot in P.O.V., the clips are a quick succession of hopped fences, hairy escapes, jumbled paint cans, and, as always, the sleek metal canvases of trains.
In May of this year, however, Utah & Ether’s border-crossing hunt for the next blank train was put on hold by Melbourne’s law enforcement. While Utah remains free to tag and travel, collaboration is a tenet of their partnership. “I didn’t want to do the interview without him, as I didn’t feel right about speaking for him (even though I pretty much knew his answers to the questions),” she explained over email. Instead, after waiting for her partner to gain telephone access, Utah took it upon herself to conduct the interview with Ether and transcribe his responses alongside her own.
In this makeshift manner, The Creators Project interviewed Utah & Ether about chasing trains, working as a couple, and the allure of illegality.
Read the interview over here: Thecreatorsproject.vice.com/blog/utah-ether