Warholian had the pleasure of meeting Abner Preis and his Superhero Project at the 2010 Scope fair during Art Basel Week in Miami Florida. At Scope, Abner was asking everyday fair goers to imagine themselves as superheros. His goal: “to surprise, transform and empower people he meets as he travels the world.”

We sat down with Abner to discuss how this project came to be…

1. Tell us the history of “The Superhero Project”, how did you come to start this project?

“I was invited to do a video presentation at a class for severely handicapped people. The teacher invited me to give a talk about my work and discuss ideas about a video project that they had planned to do.

Every child was really handicapped… a class full of Stephen Hawkings, but all were super cool. Their idea for a movie was to make one of the kids a super hero who could fly… a slow motion smile settled on my face… “Fuck it! Why not? Yes, we can all be heroes!”

That’s when I realized my magical equation of “I equals S”.

I = imagination

If you have Imagination, then you can be an Superhero.

(Incidentally, we still visit the Handicapp class every year, it is still a very special project)”

2. You are trying to raise $10,000 for the “Superhero Project” through Kickstarter.com, what do you plan do with the money?

“To me $10,000 is a lot of money. I have been flying from Holland to Los Angeles and 15 other cities around the world. In addition, I make beautiful color photo books, photo reproductions, posters and shirts…. We are crazy to try to make it at all – just the book will cost us $10,000 not to mention all the other expenses. BUT, we have amazing, generous friends who are each Superhero’s in their own right.”

3. You have traveled throughout the world and met all kinds of “everyday superhero’s”, tell us the most profound thing that you have learned in this process?

“The thing I realized most through my superhero work is that everyone in the world wants to be part of the profound.

I have been to Brussels, Paris, New York, Amsterdam, Istanbul, Rotterdam, Berlin, Munich, Cologne, Den Haag, Canary Islands, and Miami. In every place I meet generous, unique, and creative individuals – each amazing in their own way. I ask everyone the same question, “If you had 3 super powers what would they be?” Their answers always surprise me.”

4. What Superhero’s have inspired you the most?

“I really don’t have a superhero.  A hero is in the eye of the beholder and I don’t want to lead any one with my thoughts…. Axel Rose maybe?  No… bad joke…. well…before the dreadlocks.”

5. As a creative Superhero, what are your creative super powers?

“My super powers are the ability to see (what I call) “the Bottle”. We have always been told to not judge other people by their outside, or the book by it cover….but in my case, the outside – the bottle – is the most revealing part of a person when I approach them on the streets.

My work is to transform a person I don’t know into a super hero – so, I don’t have much time to convince or to play with the person. I have to reveal the inner superhero very quickly and to get into the moment.

There are many elements I have to deal with, especially when I am in the streets. First thing:  ask a stranger to become a hero.  I look at the person coming towards me and make a choice of approaching them or not.

Second: the approach.  People will see a masked man, or a man with a camera. I need them to trust me. Once the trust is gained I get the costume out of my bag and help them get dressed.  This is a very important step – it comforts people and and lets me capture that very special moment.

Then I ask the question “If you had 3 super powers what would they be?”   This is the moment, the point in which the superhero is claimed. The superhero is revealed inside of the mundane, dressed like a hero. Each answer is always unique and revealing.

Colors Magazine did a issue on superheroes and they voted my project as one of their favorites. The other candidates were political super heroes, activists, community leaders etc…. It made me feel good to know that my project was was being viewed so favorably.”

– interview by Lyrica Glory for Warholian

If you would like to donate to “The Superhero Project” through Kickstarter.com, you may do so here:

To stay updated with Superhero Project, “Like” them on Facebook here.