Gary Simmons


“My name is Gary Simmons and this is Ghoster.  Ghoster is a play on the word roller coaster and ghost. And because that its traces and fragments of different roller coasters, I think the image haunts you just like our memory haunts you. And it was one of the clearest titles to come up with when I completed the drawing because I looked at it and it seemed like an image that was present one minute and disappearing the next.

“I call them erasure drawings because they originated with the idea of erasing certain negative histories. And primarily cartoons- early 30s, 40s race cartoons- and originally they were the images themselves and they were, there was the attempt to erase a stereotype, and as in all stereotypes, there are traces that are left behind. So when they were first executed, they were taken directly from those cartoons, and as they moved along they sort of developed into composite drawings in a way that was based more on your memory. And I think Ghoster is kind of the first time that I put together different pieces of- kind of pasts, in this case amusement parks and roller coasters.

“Being born in NY, the cyclone is one of your greatest memories of childhood and I think that wooden roller coasters specifically— I think whether you’re in Europe or you’re in the South, the wooden rollercoaster has that kind of creaky, you know very scary, excitement, you know it’s a real moment of all of those feelings rushing to the fore. And the first time you ride on a rollercoaster, I think everybody remembers that, and the sound as well as the physical space is very present for you.

“I think with Coney Island, that’s one of the beautiful things about Coney Island, is it’s a location that actually everybody can go to. And that’s why it never needs to disappear. Because its one of the prime places in New York that describes that and holds onto memory in the same way. And we don’t want to erase those kinds of locations.”