Interview: Slow Burn NYC

We had the pleasure of interviewing the babes Julia Sub and Michelle Le Nguyen, the duo behind Slow Burn NYC—an annual art event series in Brooklyn.

Their upcoming event, THE COME DOWN: Portraits & Sobering Truths will be held in a large photo studio in Bushwick, and is a group show based around ideas of introspection and dark epiphanies about the world today and gender and coming into one’s own. It’s all about “dark truths and moments of realization,” and will be an unveiling of vulnerable revelations of today’s economic, environmental, consumer and cultural climate.️

High Street Disco: How did you come up with the event?

The title and theme of our upcoming group show is inspired by how undeniably fucked up shit is in 2019. While conversations seem to be opening up, mindsets are narrowing in. With digital, accessible platforms to speak your truth and connect with like-minded people, it is easier than ever to put blinders up, filter what you’re exposed to — the divide between you and opposing perceptions is growing larger and larger. 

The Come Down: Portraits & Sobering Truths, is a manifestation of this idea. With this show, the third installment of our annual pop up series, we aim to put varying experiences, truths and works in a physical space, hoping they speak to one another and challenge individual standards of truth. We were intrigued by the idea of sobering truths, exploring moments of realization, understanding the instances when something dawns on you or when you look around and things are no longer what they seem. Dark epiphanies consume us every day and take many forms. The works in our upcoming show are reflective of these moments. 

Are you finding it harder to find a space to show art as a woman artist, or just generally as a newer artist in the city? 

Absolutely. The conversation for us is about how difficult it can be for young artists to find spaces to share work free from institutional constraints that are truly open to public creativity and collaboration. In one of the most creatively dense cities, opportunities aren’t always fairly distributed. We started Slow Burn as a response to always feeling like exposure in NYC is less about authentic desire to share/create and more about how recognized you already are or the connections you have. We are interested in the space between the already established, rigid gallery world and the free spirited and at times disorganized DIY art scene in New York. We want to help our friends and the larger young artist community occupy that space. 

What are the themes in your own art?

[JS]: In my work, I like to think about the physical relationship between technology and memory. I’m really interested in how these two things talk to one another and how I can deconstruct the idea of how memories are stored in the body and the brain. I often explore these things with multi-media installations, film and movement work. I also love puppets and animation — I think there is real power in using mediums traditionally associated with childhood to convey serious and deep topics. I’m hoping to do something substantial in this kind of medium soon.

[MN]: I’ve always been fascinated by the things we miss as kids, from movies and books, that we later realize have deeper meaning in our adult lives. So I’m usually exploring childhood memories and their dark truths, often repurposing materials reminiscent of youth and then manipulating the pre existing narrative to reveal underlying meanings. There’s definitely a dark, humorous approach and undertone in my work behind the futuristic tech / fantasy world I create through my videos and installations. I also try to balance the dualities of these themes, which is ongoing for me. 

Have you featured any artists during your three years of Slow Burn that particularly stood out to you or that you really enjoyed?

Absolutely! Each artist is truly so unique in their practice, style, and medium that it’s tough not to say all of them honestly. The work in our shows range drastically from one of our regularly featured artists, Max Epstein, who programmed a dildo to vibrate when you text a phone number, to more traditional mediums like painting, Ellen Hanson for example who will be in our upcoming show this September, uses geometrically challenging canvas shapes to paint beautiful landscapes and self portraits. 

What are your goals with this series, in say like 5 years?

Kind of a lot… Probably biting off more than we can chew. We hope to branch out our annual series into screenings, art & music events, readings and a rolling gallery to help our artists sell their work. We mainly want to cultivate a strong and supportive community. We’re developing this as a unique and fun platform to showcase and celebrate creativity. Right now, it’s just the two of us behind Slow Burn so we also hope to get some people on board who feel equally motivated to roll something like this out. It’s important for us to also highlight the artists’ individual contributions to our events. Each artist works for up to 6 months prior to the show, committing their time, developing their work and communicating with us. We rely on them to be pretty self sufficient to help us make these shows happen and we’ve been pleasantly surprised every time. It’s exciting to know that as we are building a network of emerging artists, we’re also creating a community of people who genuinely want to be involved because of their appreciation of the art world and how difficult it can be to tap into. 

Who are your favorite artists?

We have too many but a few favorites we always tend to look back to for inspiration are,

[JS]: Doug Aitken, Maya Deren, David Lynch (sorry, I know), Kelly Sears

[MN]: Pat Steir, Kelly Sears, Luther Price, Nam June Paik 

If you could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?

[MN]: Bill from Kill Bill

[JS]: Yea, probably Bill.

Describe what it’s like as a woman artist in NYC in 2019 — and is your experience different compared to other female artists and also your male counterparts?

Well, being a woman in the art world presents obstacles similar to being a woman in any industry, but now more than ever, gender is a larger conversation than just male or female. It’s becoming more important for us as women, receiving those opportunities in an attempt to negate inequality specifically because we are women, to share those platforms with those who can help represent a larger discussion. There’s a lot of work to be done for women’s equality still and these things are nowhere near perfect yet but we do see men we collaborate with working towards the same goals. Our mission is rooted in the idea of providing visibility to the underrepresented so our work is certainly about this constant battle as women in “the art scene” but really about fighting for opportunities for whoever wants them. 

Come hang with Left Bank and Slow Burn on Sept 14 for The Come Down. The event is free and will include a cash bar, works for sale, aura reading and tattooing. RSVP here.


Alexandre Edenne & Mathias Leonard | Amy Barr | Angel Davila | Annie Eodice | Brianna Morel | Camelia Azar | Cristina Villegas | Ellen Hanson | Gal Senderowitsch | Jackson Epstein | James Hsieh | Joe Leib | Jordan Jacobs | Katie Pellico |Lily Primamore | Lydia Nobles | Mariel Rolwing Montes | Martín Carrillo | Molly Hulnick | Matthew C Kramer | Nastya Valentine | Nico Augustine | Nicole Pollina | Olivia Peters | Patrick Mannion | Ryan Albert | Ryan Morris | Sara Minsky |Sierra Rivers Hollister | Sophie Sumney-Koivisto | Stephon Senegal | Vanessa Holyoak | Ximena Preito | Xinyi Hu | Alyssa Friedman | Clio Sherman | Jana Gharzeddine | Kate Davis 


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