I have yet to meet the ever inspiring Jihan Zencirli and her close knit team (a.k.a. Geronimo — known for their larger than life balloon installations) but our LA based photographer, Kate Berry, was lucky enough to be in their presence for an afternoon and I couldn’t write a better description of what I imagine Geronimo to be like if I tried. This is the email Kate sent me…
When I arrived at Geronimo’s studio they were clapping and chanting my name. I immediately felt like I was one of them and invited into their creative space to have fun with them.
At the end of the shoot they parceled me off with sunflowers and bananas, helping me carrying everything to my car. I left on a total high. I think there is something about this energy you see in Jihan’s installations. They’re not trying to trick you or catch you out or make you work hard. It just makes you happy and feel good! And we all need more of that :)
Why yellow? Is that the color du jour for an upcoming project or just the the color that makes you all smile the most?
Jihan Zencirli: My first bed spread of my choosing was a yellow and white buffalo check design from Martha Stewart’s K-mart collection. I wanted to paint my bedroom yellow, but had to settle on the textile because my mother told me that yellow is the color that won’t allow for a restful brain- it’s too stimulating. I still think that- even if it’s not rooted in science- and like to play with things that might be uncomfortable.
Christopher Sullivan: Yellow pops, put it next to anything and it changes the mood of the spectrum. It can be a warning or a welcome. I believe that yellow is the least loved color. No one ever claims it as a favorite color. And although it is primary color, it might lose in a fight with red and blue.
Jen Rose: Not everything in art is deliberate. Sometimes art is made out of choices that are beyond conscious influence. Yellow was speaking to us, we listened.
Jonathan Knight Newhall: Yellow was always one of my favorite colors growing up because I think I always imagined myself living in a house with yellow in it or on it, somewhere in an urban area, and I would get up early and read in that house and the sunrise would make the house even more yellow.
Do you eventually eat the bananas? Are they a snack or art?
Jihan: I made pancakes with my bananas and put peanut butter on top.
Christopher: Love to eat bananas they are the fruit of the people. Bananas are the original GMO plant also they are the original comedy fruit. Versatile aesthetics with some comedy is what we are going for.
Jen Rose: We tried very hard to eat all of the bananas in order to honor their main function in life (nutrition !) and to give them purpose beyond the art that we forced them into. But we’ll never eat another banana as long as we live.
Jonathan: I brought the remaining ripe bananas home. I left them in the kitchen because my roommates all eat an absurd amount of bananas, so I thought “oh they’ll devour these quickly” only to wake up to a text from my roommate that said: “Hey guys, someone put a lot of brown bananas out on the counter last night so when Tristan and I got up this morning the counter and floor were crawling with an INSANE amount of ants. We can’t avoid ants entirely at the moment as it’s summer and inevitable, but we can minimize their presence by keeping anything super sugary closed up. I thought I had discussed this with everyone but maybe not. They’re in bin bags on the counter right now.”
You’re very team forward, what is it about collaborating with this specific team that you love?
Jihan: We have one cushy, rolling, leather office chair at the studio and the rest are three-legged Faye Toogood stools that are great …. for improving posture. Every day we each offer our reason for needing the luxurious chair and the winner has to be going through something especially pathetic like $300 in parking fines due that day. Instead of us each actually wanting the chair for ourself, we focus energy on one person to make them feel better and it’s the simple things like that which makes this team special. We all want each other to win.
Christopher: Being a part of team is the most rewarding feeling, when we fail it’s not as bad as if you are alone. When the team wins it’s like quadruple the joy. Feeling useful to others for a common goal is art in itself, learning how to communicate and work together is life changing. Our team is a very dynamic group everyone has a specific emotional quality that can pull any of us out of a rut and keep the work moving forward.
Jen: I love that we aren’t trying to prove anything to each other out of insecurity of self. We aren’t trying to out do each other. Fully aware of our strengths and possibilities as single human units, we are interested in becoming a superhuman and exploring possibilities beyond what one person is physically and mentally capable of accomplishing.
Jonathan: We are all a bit of hodgepodge that works. We have such unique and different talents, and they don’t really overlap.
What would you say is your superpower?
Jihan: Jonathan is off the charts, child prodigy, speaks five languages smart and is also the group skeptic which keeps things balanced. Jen is the mind-reader and sentence-finisher that is the actual real fine artist of the group and brings that generously into everything she touches. Chris is a great editor and reminds us to keep things simple and uncomplicated and also holds us accountable to our goals. Me? I just make sure we have three options for water.
Christopher: Knowledge, we come from all different walks of life. Together we are one super-brain, we can literally tell you about anything. We all are sponges of information seekers of life
Jen: Knowing ourselves and showing up for each other.
Jonathan: My mouth.