Spike Jonze and Marcel Dzama: Going bump in the night (or at least in the dark)

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You know what's hard? Conducting an interview in near-total blackness. That's pretty much what happened shortly before the signing for Marcel Dzama's new tome, Even the Ghost of the Past, at David Zwirner gallery. I was led into a darkened room where the cover artist for Beck's Guero was seated at a table under tiny yellow lights—next to Spike Jonze. The Being John Malkovich helmer was there since he'd done a Q&A with Dzama for the book. Want to know what's even harder than talking to someone in the dark? Talking with Spike Jonze:

What did you two like most about working together?
Spike Jonze: Monkeys! Mostly. Probably. Mostly. I mean, not entirely, but I'd say, like, 80 percent, 90 percent...

Care to elaborate?
SJ: Smaller monkeys!
Marcel Dzama: I guess it's good for running ideas back and forth between each other about which monkeys to pick...

SJ: [To TONY] Let me ask you a question!
Umm...
SJ: Are you good at math?

No, I completely suck. Are you?
SJ: I am better at math than spelling. And I am better at spelling than Marcel is.
MD: That's why we collaborated, because sometimes I'd draw something, and I'd be like, "Hey, I wanna put a saying under here. Spike, how is this spelled?"

And monkeys? How do they come into the process?
SJ: The same way they come into most processes.

The BearAt that point Jones assured me that a real live bear, borrowed from the Central Park Zoo, would be joining us for the book signing. Actually it was just a guy in a bear suit, occasionally swigging a beer. For the next three hours, visitors were escorted into this dimly-lit parallel universe, to file past the artist and the filmmaker while the bear danced in a corner as if it'd stepped out of one of Dzama's dioramas. Two men in white, masked as the artist's signature melting snowmen, made sure nobody tripped on their way out. At least they didn't have to duck real low while leaving.

Find more on Marcel Dzama's Even the Ghost of the Past here.