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On the Threshold, video installation, 2014 a work by Andrea Knezovic


C o n t e m p o r a r y

A r t

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Zinka Bejtic

Fernanda Vizeu

Harvey Goldman

Amit Kestenbaum

Toban Nichols

Lee Clift

Sharjah

Brazil

USA

Israel

USA

United Kingdom/Spain

I seek the creation of artistic projects that give voice to contemporary social and political issues, intending to reflect about the past, the construction of identity, spiritual beliefs and political ideals, in order to create, or at least consider, other future perspectives. My life story, including participation among European anarchist groups and hippie gatherings, gave me material so I can today, after my graduation as an actress in Rio de Janeiro

Harvey Goldman has created criti-cally acclaimed work in the fields of ceramics, digital imaging, animation and music. He is founder of the Digital Media program at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. His work has been exhibited widely throughout the United States, Europe and Asia. He has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, The Ford Foundation and the Massachusetts Council on the Arts and Humanities.

The materials I work with are usually objects that I find. I treat these objects while attending to their material character from which I try to destabilise their image so as to give them a new value or meaning. My work process is based on experiments. It begins with an in-depth questioning and learning about the objects/concept and my reaction to them. I believe that through the process of trial and error, planning drafts and producing artifacts at different levels of developments.

I wrestle control away from the computer that results in unique digital output. The investigation of this distortion produces a self-reflexive understanding of digital technology that appropriates the semiotic nature of visual language. These images are then manipulated into a photographic or video medium. The final pictures attempt to destroy and reconstruct cultural significance and raise questions about the mediation of art vis-a-vis technology.

I explore the construction of these unrelated objects that create an otherwise invisible narrative to create a new way of thinking and seeing (the unseen), I consider it a cut and paste form of meditation providing a new trains of thought that are often a pertinent starting point for the previously unknown, although sometimes there is little meaning in the initial encounter often they form relationships when conjoined over time and space. leaving it to nurture inside.


In this issue

Zinka Bejtic Lives and works in Sharjan, UAE Mixed media, Installation, Video

Andrea Knezović Lives and works in Ljubljana, Slovenia Installation, Performance

Harvey Goldman Lives and works in Dartmouth, MA, USA Mixed media, Installation

Amit Kestenbaum Lives and works in Israel Installation, Performance, Mixed media

Fernanda Vizeu Lives and works in Sao Paulo, Brazil Performance, Installation

Lee Clift Lives and works in London, UK Installation, Mixed media Andrea Knezović

Anna Parisi

Christian Bøen

Slovenia

Brazil

Norway

When it comes to matters of existentialism, survival is one of the greatest challenges which each individual encounters in their lifetime. It is the primal urge which coordinates our actions and imagination, regardless of social, economic or political backgrounds. Throughout our life journeys we establish patterns which determine our individuality, our modes of action, social positions and the conditions in which we exist. Identity plays a crucial role in shaping how and with whom we will assimilate ourselves.

My major aim was to unite both teams and promote a collaboration spirit within the leading teams. My love for strategic design, creativity and arts have always driven my eager need to learn and understand new processes and methodologies. For that reason, I accepted to work as assistant photographer for the french Gitty Darugar during my stay in New York City. Together we photographed both buildings built by Christian Portzamparc in Manhattan during the fall and winter of 2013.

Great results can be achieved in many ways. Mixing, merging and combining techniques and genres generate almost unlimited possibilities and opens up new perspectives. Exploiting the possibilities that lie in each genre and technique is how I work with all my projects. In APIDAE, I recovered data from a destroyed and disrupted mp4 file of a bumblebee that I observed last summer. I wanted to contribute in drawing attention to the fact that bumblebees are dying.

Anna Parisi Lives and works in Sao Paulo, Brazil Performance, Installation

Toban Nichols Lives and works in Los Angeles, CA, USA Mixed media, Video, Installation

Christian Bøen Lives and works in Bergen, Norway Mixed media, Installation

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Special thanks to: Charlotte Seegers, Martin Gantman, Krzysztof Kaczmar, Tracey Snelling, Nicolas Vionnet, Genevieve Favre Petroff, Christopher Marsh, Adam Popli, Marilyn Wylder, Marya Vyrra, Gemma Pepper, Maria Osuna, Hannah Hiaseen and Scarlett Bowman, Yelena York Tonoyan, Edgar Askelovic, Kelsey Sheaffer and Robert Gschwantner.

On the cover Obliba 1, 2015, a work by Marta Daeuble


A still from If I Don't, 2011

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Zinka Bejtic

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Zinka Bejtic My work is based on a wide scope of modalities ranging from design, photography, experimental film to video art. I am engaged in timebased visual communication and subjects of my work often explore dichotomies between inside and outside, the polished and rough, the physical and emotional, distant and passionate. Through experiments in video and sound, I search for new ways to study conceptual forms common for non-narrative formats. In photography and design, I build on simple and surreal ambiances that serve as a platform for provoking visual narratives. Besides being a practicing artist, I also teach at the College of Architecture Art and Design, American University of Sharjah.

Zinka Bejtic video, 2013

Visual Artist & Filmmaker Assistant Professor of Art and Design College of Architecture Art and Design American University of Sharjah 022 4

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Zinka Bejtic

A still from If I Don't, 2011

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Zinka Bejtic

An interview with An interview by Dario Rutigliano, curator and Melissa C. Hilborn, curator arthabens@mail.com

Highly refined and moving in its baroque but at the same time communicative concreteness, If I Don't is a compelling work by cross-disciplinary artist and director Zinka Bejtic. While walking the viewers through an unconventional exploration of the idea of the escape from the 'safety box', she accomplishes the difficult task of establishing an effective balance between aesthetics and socio-political criticism, to create an area in which emotional dimension and perceptual reality coexist as a coherent unity. Bejtic's elegant juxtaposition between temps mort and rapid movements leads the viewer to the liminal area in which memory and perceptual processes find an unexpected point of convergence. What mostly impressed of Bejtic's work is the way her provoking reflection about contemporary age unveils the creative role of the spectator, discovering unsuspected but ubiquitous connections between art producing and the audience. We are particularly pleased to introduce our readers to her multifaceted artistic production. Hello Zinka and welcome to ART Habens: to start this interview, we would like to pose a question about your background. In particular, after earning your Master of Arts in Visual Communication from the International University of Sarajevo you soon started to work as an editor for documentaries and short films, and most of them were shot in your native Bosnia and Herzegovina. Notoriously, short film making allows the producer to work with a level of freedom that is hard to reach in feature film: how did this experience impact on your evolution as an artist and the way you currently relate yourself to art making?

Zinka Bejtic

became fascinated with the form itself and explorations of visual elements in avantgarde film movement. The surrealist approach is something that I was able to draw from when creating my projects and it seems to be a creative act of effort to free and liberate all of the aspects of imagination. There are so many new techniques that have excelled with the digital age phenomenon and I am very interested in these specific approaches and

The interest in the non-narrative film was shaped mostly by the possibilities of selfexpression due to lack of limitations usually imposed by commercial or narrative format. I

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Zinka Bejtic

how they apply in expriemental films today. Some of the most interesting and unique charactersย€in music and fashion that explore the similar concepts are Leigh Bowery, Isabella Blow, Bjรถrk and Lady Gaga. They can also still be found across contemporary catwalks as demonstrated by designers Gareth Pugh, Philip Treacy, Viktor & Rolf, Comme des Garรงons and many others. In regards to the fashion film and surrealist legacy, many fashion brands utilize the surrealistic concept in a dream-like state to boost the collection. Your practice is marked with a deep multidisciplinary feature: ranging from photography and design to experimental film and video art, your approach shows a successful attempt to go beyond any dichotomy between conceptualism and a non-narrative approach: while crossing the borders of different artistic fields have you ever happened to realize that a synergy between different disciplines is the only way to achieve some results, to express some concepts?

Being educated within different disciplines of design and film, I had the opportunity to experiment with processes that involved graphics, moving images and sound. These approaches enabled me to expand and excel in different areas such as photography, video, film and visual communication. Living in the day and age when moving image is everywhere the static visual experience rarely comply with the expectations of the viewer who now want to be engaged and stimulated through images and sounds, they want the full experience of immersive interaction. That is why the concept of art film today has an artistic but also commercial value. It is the format that encompasses the visual communication, photography, music video, commercial, advertising film, promotional video etc.

A still from If I Don't, 2011 Fashion Association MODIKO

production beginning from If I Don't: an extremely interesting work that our readers have already started to get to know in the

We would like to focus on your artistic

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introductory pages of this article: and I

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Charles Ligocky

would suggest to visit

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genesis of this interesting project: in particular, how did you come up with the idea for it?

https://vimeo.com/37048599 in order to get a wider idea of it. In the meanwhile, we

If I don’t was a project done for the fashion

would like to take a closer look at the

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Zinka Bejtic

A still from If I Don't, 2011 Fashion Association MODIKO

association Modiko from Sarajevo, in cooperation with the British Council. I was assigned a group of four different designers Amna Kunovac Zekic, Jasna

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Hadzimehmedovic Bekric, Ata Omerbasic and Milan Senic and my task was to create a concept for the film that would provide a platform for four different outfits to be

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and fashion designer David Saunders of brand DavidDavid and the opportunity to collaborate with them in a three-day workshop. Even though fashion film format is mostly non-narrative, my idea was to include a simple storyline that still was in a way abstract and very much open to the interpretation. The film asks a question how does what we put on alter our personalities? As the ideals of beauty change, the concept of empowerment through fashion remains strong as it suggests self-expression and identifies the idea of beauty as the tool for conceptualization of positive self-image rather than a simple interpretation of clothes Metamorphosis through fashion indicates that power is in the hands of the subject and not the observer. In the film, four different personalities emerge out of the single character. This type of expression suggests the choice, freedom, strength, power and control, attributes that signify beauty in the modern society. Fashion takes on the symbolic and aesthetic role and communicates on different levels offering a glimpse of the lifestyle, personality and character, making the very idea of beauty that much more intriguing and more complex to interpret.€We were filming in Sarajevo national theatre warehouse, a set that helped us create a contemporary and mystical world. It was great working with the fashion designers and lot of fun on the set. Later, I continued to work with Milan Senic who was behind styling and fashion design for Split, my most recent film.€ The idea was to create a surreal environment that would visually suggest the fantasy, dream or escapism of some kind. Contrasts of many sorts are evident in my work and I think it’s the idea of juxtaposition of unexpected elements that creates tension, necessary to engage the audience. Since this format relies heavily on the aesthetics of the screen rather than the storyline and the narrative, it’s important to

represented in one single film. At the time, we’ve had a great pleasure of meeting prominent British fashion filmmakers Kathryn Ferguson, Elisha Smith – Leverock

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give it tension and advance the aesthetic appeal in such way. There is a suggestive aspect of the horror genre implied through the technical conventions of the film. The sound was an important element through which the sense of uneasiness was introduced. I wanted it to seem mysterious and unexpected, I wanted the fear of the unknown to be the main protagonist. The film begins with that in mind and ends with a realization that it is imaginary. This notion led to the title that poses a question “If I don’t”. We always think about what if I do something, but I think it’s more important to think about the opposite. What if I don’t? As you have remarked, your video/sound installation Fragments questions the challenges of women artists: in particular, we have highly appreciated the way the image of a mother-artist goes beyond the dichotomy between being creative and taking care about their own family. By subverting such stereotyped imagery about femininity you highlight a way out from the unstable contemporary sensibility... Many artists from the contemporary scene, as Judy Chicago or more recently Jennifer Linton, use to include socio-political criticism in their works. It is not unusual that an artist, rather than urging the viewer to take a personal position on a subject, tries to convey his personal take about the major issues that affect contemporary age. Do you consider that your works are political in this way or do you seek to maintain a neutral approach? And in particular, what could be in your opinion the role that an artist could play in the contemporary society? A still from If I Don't, 2011

In this project I question the socially constructed paths – marriage and motherhood and their effects on women artists. For women, it’s generally a battle to be recognized in a field that requires discipline and determination, which is generally speaking dominated by men. Statistics say that 80% of students in art

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schools are girls however; galleries and museums worldwide represent 80% of male artists. What happens to the girls? And more importantly – why? Women struggle to

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Zinka Bejtic

maintain their identity as artists while raising children and attending to their families. This gets especially difficult because of the socially accepted stand that

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once you are a mother you no longer have the right to put yourself first. €

I would like my project to start a

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Zinka Bejtic

A still from If I Don't, 2011 Fashion Association MODIKO

conversation and raise awareness of this issue so that perception changes. I’ve been teaching for a long time in North America, Europe and now here. Most of my students

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have been girls. I look at them, their passion and enthusiasm about art and I want them to believe that what they are learning and what they love to do will remain their choice.

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not exclude the other. On the contrary. It’s great how they can and should complement each other. But in order for that to happen, the social perception needs to change. €

There are so many things that can be done so that mothers who are artists are encouraged to continue making artwork and what is even more important be accepted within the artistic community. Having childcare in museums and galleries, shifting the opening of cultural events to weekends, establishing a network of artists/parents who would offer workshops and provide resources for mothers-artists etc. The video questions the challenges, struggles and rewards of women artists. As the art profession is often dismissed as a 'hobby' and not taken seriously, the issue becomes very complex. The idea of an artist is often presented in someone who is defiant, eccentric loner so the image of a mother-artist is not easily conceivable or socially accepted. The issue becomes even more complex when the internal struggles of female artists are questioned. To what degree a mother artist can stand out without facing criticism and bring attention to their work without feeling guilty. The project is a video installation in which I have juxtaposed images representing my creative work and my daughter’s footage calling ‘mommy’. By combining her physical form with abstract visuals the discrepancy between the two worlds becomes more obvious and it further accentuates the bridge between the physical and imaginative sensibility. The artistic forms are simple but visually provoking and mesmerizing with almost a hypnotic effect, which causes the interruptions to be even more pronounced. The transitions between the segments are followed by strategic sound design to further emphasize the fragmentation. As the video progresses, the juxtaposition of the images becomes more intense to simulate the feel-

I would like them to accept that their dream to become a designer, filmmaker, artist should not disappear the moment they start a family and become mothers. One should

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ings of confusion, interruptions, distress and frustration. The sound provides a platform for this emotional journey as we shift from dense, chaotic rhythm to a mellow and playful ending that remains open-ended and unanswered. By definition video is rhythm and movement, gesture and continuity. In your videos you create time-based works that induce the viewers to abandon themselves to free associations, looking at time in spatial terms and I daresay, rethinking the concept of time in such a static way: this seems to remove any historic gaze from the reality you refer to, offering to the viewers the chance to perceive in a more temporal form. How do you conceive the rhythm of your works?

I give the same importance to both, aural and visual rhythm. When developing concepts for art films or videos, I first depict the mood and the message and then work to develop a temporary track that would serve as a guideline for visual inspiration and development of the rhythm. It’s the back and forth process that sometimes becomes very complex and as the director/editor, you have to find a balance and decide how to integrate both towards the end. Sound, for me, is a very important component. I teach my students that no matter how great the visuals are, if the sound is not done right, the entire experience is questioned. The mood, the emotional aspect or the sensation in general is greatly influenced by sound. Your experimental approach often challenges the relationship between image and sound, which is highlighted especially in your video art piece entitled Days pass us by and we don't even know it. How would you describe the way your process blends connotative elements from sound and image?

A still from Carry On, 2012 Premiered at MTV Adria 2012

rylines where most of the action is open for interpretation. I like to suggest and not show things literally. I place a lot of focus on the visual expression, graphic elements not only

I like to explore the problematic of modern society through visualization of simple sto-

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through abstract imagery but also laws of the frame and mise-en-scene, visual contrast, colors and movement. Subjects of my work often explore dichotomies between

ART Habens

inside and outside, polished and rough, physical and emotional. The relationship between image and sound is an integral part in understanding the experimental expression.

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Zinka Bejtic

A still from Carry On, 2012 Premiered at MTV Adria 2012

As an artist I no longer seek to depict or describe the reality but instead inquire within my own inner reality. New perspectives arise and influence all artistic fields and various

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avant-garde movements characterized by different aesthetic foundations, but encompassed by their common struggle against tradition and taste for novelty, experimental

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elements. The attention is directed to the medium itself with techniques involving cutting o or designing extravagant sound and the effects are usually made to provide a more abstract point of view or more symbolic interpretation. Your deconstructive exploration of the dichotomies between inside and outside in Split seems to highlight the elusive but ubiquitous connection between conscious and subconscious levels and urges the viewers to get involved in the variety of feelings and ideas you convey in your pieces. While addressing the viewers to relate themselves with your work in such a temporal way, your work shows an effective combination between experience and imagination. German sculptor and photographer Thomas Demand once stated that: "nowadays art can no longer rely much on symbolic strategies and has to probe psychological narrative elements within the medium instead". What is your opinion about this? And in particular, I would take this occasion to ask you if in your opinion personal experience is an absolutely indispensable part of a creative process... Do you think that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience?

Well, I have to say that I do not draw from personal experiences when deciding on the topics of my projects. I am more interested in ideas that allow a specific demographic group to connect and re-think. I very much appreciate the simplicity in form and complexity in meaning. Art film rejects the mainstream conventions and explores the medium itself, it is personal and I like the fact that my films can be interpreted on many different levels, depending on social or cultural aspect of the person watching. Surrealism is a significant source of inspiration for me. Many fashion films today have drawn upon the conventions of the movement and contrary to what many believe are not just a commercial advertisement but represent a form of art. As fashion itself, it stands on its

and individual freedom. The entire experience of immersing yourself into this art form comes from the mood or emotional impact created by this synergy of visual and aural

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own as a representation of the designer’s vision of beauty and his/her inspiration. Certain fashion films are triumphs of experimental film with directors’ work resembling the work and style of Luis Bunuel. One of the earliest fashion films created was a British film Ceremonial Hat in 1948 for artist Eileen Agar. The film consists of close-ups and medium shots of a decorative hat. The models of fish, lobster, tiger fish, prawns and seashells are attached to it. Additionally, several feathers are attached to the hat. The male voice is heard in the narration. In this voice over he says that surrealist artist Eileen Agar has designed the hat. Different shots of the woman walking down the street follow, together with the reaction shots from the crowds she’s passing. The aesthetic quality of even the early experimental / fashion films is evident and these films represent an extension of the style concept, another way to experience clothing, fashion or a brand. You have also produced an interesting music video entitled Carry On, that has been performed by Maja Nurkich and that has been premiered at MTV Adria 2012. Over your career you have showcased your works in several occasions and besides being a practicing artist, you also gained a wide experience as a teacher: you currently hold the position of assistant professor of art and design at the College of Architecture Art and Design at the American University of Sharjah, so we would like to ask how does teaching informs the way you nowadays relate yourself to art making: have you ever happened to draw inspiration from the idea of your students? A still from If I Don't, 2011

I think I am inspired every day and this is why I continue to teach. I’ve been fortunate enough to have two careers that I love and care about deeply. I am amazed at how talented and ambitious the students are today. How fast they learn and pick up information, new trends and techniques. I love spending time with my students and watching them

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get that ‘a-ha’ moment, seeing the spark in their eyes and excitement when they become consumed by the project. I recognize myself in them, remember those wonderful

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moments when you forget to eat, drink or sleep because you’re so engaged in your work, when you know that you’re creating something that will push your personal

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boundaries and take you to the new creative level. It’s great for me to be able to do my own work but at the same time to also have an opportunity to open the doors for some-

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A still from Carry On, 2012 Premiered at MTV Adria 2012

one else, show them the way. Teaching methodologies today and undergoing significant changes. As educators, we have to adapt to, not only new and constantly

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changing technologies, but to new pacing and different mindsets. Students learn much faster today, they are generally speaking more technically up to speed and more inno-

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though everything is accessible online and you can teach yourself just about anything if you want, still, I think the idea of someone standing in front of them not so much to teach them or feed them information but inspire them is very important. In today’s busy world, children often lack real role models. I am not implying that I should be one, but more often then not, I feel that I am. And that gives me a great responsibility as I spend time with them, shaping their minds and helping them pave the way into the future. In my opinion, educating someone means feeding them with passion and information to keep the excitement and positive energy. Everyone will be good at doing what they love. Finding what that is represents the hardest thing for most people. I feel very honored and privileged to have that opportunity and I sincerely enjoy being able to share my skills and my knowledge with students. And there’s nothing more wonderful than being blown away by an amazing project they created because I was able to inspire them. One of the hallmarks of your works is the capability to establish direct relation with the audience, deleting any conventional barrier between the idea you explore and who receipt and consequently elaborate them. So before taking leave from this interesting conversation I would like to pose a question about the nature of the relation with your audience: in particular, do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decisionmaking process in terms of what type of language for a particular context?

I make films for myself. That is the privilege I enjoy because it’s something I am not asked to do but I do it purely out of passion for the purpose of self-expression. Company, particular budget or any other requirements do not impact the topics, conventions and production techniques but represent a pure artistic creation. In my projects I deal with

vative. They don’t take things for granted but instead challenge everything, which is a step forward from the type of linear education my generation used to have.€ And even

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topics that many people can relate to and therefore are drawn to explore them. They might not like them but they will understand their message. I believe the beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Being a designer I put a great emphasis on aesthetic of the form itself and I am also interested in the idea of female beauty and how it is interpreted in the media nowadays. As the ideals of beauty change, the idea of empowerment through fashion remains strong as it suggests selfexpression and identifies the concept of beauty as the tool for creation of positive self-image rather than a simple interpretation of clothes. Metamorphosis through fashion indicates that power is in the hands of the subject and not the observer. This type of expression is consequently projected through the choice, freedom, strength, power and control, attributes that signify beauty in the modern society. Fashion takes on the symbolic and aesthetic, as well as communicative roles. Bare on the other hand is interpreted as more vulnerable, open to criticism against the ideals of beauty suggested through the hyper-sexual, image obsessed context in contemporary culture. Fashion accentuates a narcissistic approach to the idea of beautiful. It is superficial and harmless compared to the idea of a body image created by the media and beauty industry. If true beauty lies in attitude and self-expression, than fashion liberates and nurtures the confidence and flair. It’s a formula that has been refined to optimum effect – to make one stand out, be noticed and be unique. As bare body is subject to a more intimate interpretation that lies in the eye of the beholder, fashion communicates on different levels offering a glimpse of the lifestyle, personality and character, making the concept of beauty that much more intriguing and more complex to interpret.

your thoughts, Zinka. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving?

Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing

Thank you for this opportunity. It has been

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A still from If I Don't, 2011 Fashion Association MODIKO

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Zinka Bejtic

my pleasure. Well, I am always super busy with teaching and that is still my main priority but I am also engaged with several films and video installation projects that still aim to reconfigure realistic elements and create

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a new form of reality that will hopefully assign value to the viewing experience and challenge the status quo. An interview by Dario Rutigliano, curator

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Andrea Knezović “Even if one is not an actual immigrant or expatriate, it is still possible to think as one, to imagine and investigate in spite of barriers, and always to move away from the centralizing authorities towards the margins, where you see things that are usually lost on minds that have never traveled beyond the conventional and the comfortable.” Edward W. Said, in Ranjan Ghosh (ed.), Edward Said and the Literary, Social, and Political World (2009) When it comes to matters of existentialism, survival is one of the greatest challenges which each individual encounters in their lifetime. It is the primal urge which coordinates our actions and imagination, regardless of social, economic or political backgrounds. Throughout our life journeys we establish patterns which determine our individuality, our modes of action, social positions and the conditions in which we exist. Identity plays a crucial role in shaping how and with whom we will assimilate ourselves. Existentialism in this case can be translated to any life that endures certain crises be they economic, political or personal. In the case of immigrants, their transitional position places them within a threshold state. It situates them in ambiguous circumstances wherein they experience discrepancies between their previous identities and those which they will adopt in their new geographical surroundings. On the Threshold is a project which describes liminal identity and its imaginative perspectives through the narrative of immigrants’ personal stories. Andrea Knezović

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Andrea Knezović

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video, 2013

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An interview with

Andrea Knezović

An interview by Dario Rutigliano, curator and Melissa C. Hilborn, curator arthabens@mail.com

Multidisciplinary artist Andrea Knezovic explores the notions of indentity and liminality, accomplishing the difficult task of questioning a wide variety of socio political issues that affect our ever changing contemporary societies. In her project On the Threshold that we'll be discussing in the following pages, she explores the hybridity of immigrant identity, highlighting the dynamic condition between migration and assimilation. One of the most convincing aspect of Knezovic's practice is the way she investigates about the relationship between existentialism and abstraction, creating an area of intellectual interplay between perception and memory, that invites the viewers to explore unstability in the contemporary age: we are very pleased to introduce our readers to her refined artistic production. Hello Andrea and welcome to ART Habens: to start this interview, would you like to tell us something about your background? You have a solid formal training and you hold a B.A. in Visual Arts from A.V.A-Academy of Visual Arts, Ljubljana: how has this experience influenced your evolution as an artist? And in particular, how does your cultural substratum inform the way you conceive your works?

Andrea Knezović Hello, and thank you for the warm welcome! First of all I would like to say that that my journey within the art world is completely accidental. My first aspiration was to become a doctor, which turned out to be from a start an incompatible ambition for someone who has a tendency to deviate from regular systematic structure. So, by chance and life synchronicity, I ended up moving from Zagreb, Croatia to Slovenian capital- Ljubljana, where I enrolled in a B.A. at A.V.A-Academy of Visual Arts. I graduated from the department of conceptualization of space, based on art practices which combine visual arts, theatre and set design. My primary focus at the time was photography, which was an ideal starting point for further exploration of visual vocabulary.

During my studies, as every young art student does, I discovered various mediums in which I found playful perspective to my creative art practice. Playfulness and managing was something that was crucial during studying, mainly because I was lacking financial means to sufficiently materialise ideas. These circumstances directed my interest towards more conceptual aspects of my creative practice, giving me opportunities to manoeuver within mediums and focus more on the thematic of my work rather than particular medium.

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Andrea Knezović

Coming from the part of the Europe where geopolitical changes are frequent and cultural politics variable, Balkan is an interesting mixture of various socio-political conditions. In my artistic practise, reflection on socio-political issues is something that comes as a natural modus operandi, mainly because my personal life and impressions depends on it. Restructuring and fluctuations are common occurrences in such setting, I feel that art and cultural scene is responsive to those circumstances; where playing with certain ideological and social constructs opens a new window for us to understand and comprehend the reality we live. Ranging from video and photography to performing arts and mixed media, multidisciplinarity is a crucial feature of your work, that shows an incessant search of an organic symbiosis between a variery of viewpoints you convey into a consistent unity. Before starting to elaborate about your production, would you like to tell to our readers something about your process and set up? In particular, have you ever happened to realize that such synergy is the only way to snatch the spirit of the ideas you explore?

When it comes to conceiving the ideas and making art, my practise varies from one project to another. I like to believe that each artistic creation that I undertake has a unique reference point which narrates the general atmosphere of the process itself. Every project that I begin leads me through my personal rites of passage. I use concept as a central idea of my creating, which through comparative practices and experimenting takes me to formation and materialization of an artwork. Medium, even though it appears as a secondary factor in this process, still has a crucial role in forming a referent and credible art project. In my creative process, I usually find interest in notions that hold certain ambiguity or indeterminacy, which frequently takes me to exploration of margins and thresholds within particular contexts. I think that Synergy plays a crucial role in this, especially if you work with themes that go

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Andrea Knezović

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Andrea Knezović

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beyond direct and clear representation. In that case, each element of the work needs to correspond with one another to create an understandable and intuitive setting. We would start to focus on your artistic production beginning from On the Threshold (Na pragu), an interesting project that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article. What mostly appeals us of this work is the way your exploration of the hybridity of immigrant identity raises questions about the notion of identity in the unstable contemporary age: as you have remarked once, individual’s identity is based on a dynamic condition between migration and assimilation: while walking our readers through the genesis of this project, would you elaborate the importance of the notion of identity in your process?

Seeking beyond conventional, moving away from the centralizing authorities towards margins, investigating boundaries and obstacles, is fundamental part in understanding conditions of immigrant identity. On the Threshold, as a project rose on exactly these ideas. Being an immigrant myself, it comes naturally to me to experience and examine hybrid states of identity. Threshold state is a perpetual mode in which your identity exists. The omnipresence of this thematic in my life steered me to explore this subject outside personal context, and create ‘bridge-profiles’ that correspond to similar notions. I started working on the project at the end of 2013 in collaboration with Aksioma Institute for Contemporary Arts (the project was part of U30 initiative). I recorded testimonials of different individuals about the ambiguous qualities of being an immigrant. I asked them to elaborate upon their personal impressions and how they perceive their own identity in transitioning from one place to another. They were asked to tell their stories in their native language, as well as English language, and also try to associate and produce abstract sound that reminded them of the migration. The exploration of their intimate conditions formed the

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Andrea Knezović

organic set up of the project. It was immediately obvious that the sound was the dominating aspect of this work, while video served as an aesthetical landscape related to an identity of individuals. General atmosphere of the project was focused more on research of different notions of identity, rather than defining parameters between migration and assimilation. I decided to deconstruct the interviews and arrange them in three layers of sound, all intertwining with each other, creating dynamic, yet intimate narratives. As a project, On the Threshold captures liminal states, which in anthropological context (V.Turner and A. Van Gennep) describes disorientation of identity, in-between states, where anything can happen within rites of passage rituals. The reason why I found liminality so important in the exploration process of identities, is because it bares non-fixed attributes. It is a concept that does not determine or establishes, but rather welcomes abstraction as a referent view point of the process. I find this extremely essential in understanding complex matters such as identity. When accomplishing socio-political analysis On the Threshold could be also considered as an allegory of tension between opposite aspects of complementary aspects of reality, and we find this really captivating since brings to a new level of significance the politic feature of your work. Many contemporary artists, such as Thomas Hirschhorn and Michael Light, use to include socio-political criticism and sometimes even convey explicit messages in their works, that often goes beyond a mere descriptive point of view on the issues they face. Do you consider that your works are political in this way or do you seek to maintain a neutral approach?

If we talk about immigration I believe we can’t avoid socio-political and geopolitical context. On the Threshold, first of all is a project that focuses on the intimate condition of globalized individuals, where unique perspective and personal undertaking is in the central focus of the project. On the other hand, the project tackles issues beyond

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individual experiences and subjectivity, so if we correlate it with contemporary context, On the Threshold could be interpreted as an allegory to current occurrences. The question, is this project political or not? I feel politicization in any case is unavoidable in such subjects. If you decide to create a work that involves immigration, you immediately invite different contexts such as biopolitics, geopolitical dynamic and social paradigms. Reflecting the current events in Europe and Middle East; geopolitical destabilization, engineered immigration crises and economic exhaustions, On the Threshold is an example of personal artistic interpretation that captures aspects of several contemporary problem- social disorientation, naturalization, globalisation, and integration. Political engagement in arts ranges from all sorts of different interpretations, from humour and irony, to sarcastic remarks or atavistic engagement, to many other forms of expression. I believe that this work holds a more gentle side to it, especially if we draw the parallel between direct political engagement and the brutality of the immigration circumstances nowadays. As viewers, we often receive the richest and most intense experiences when looking at a work that helps us to understand our experience of the world now: while conceiving Art could be considered an abstract activity, there is always a way of giving it a permanence that goes beyond the intrinsic ephemeral nature of the concepts you explore. So I would take this occasion to ask you if in your opinion personal experience is an absolutely indespensable part of a creative process... Do you think that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience?

Creative process is something that is perpetual in life, no matter from which side or context it is implemented. If we consider that creative process engages research, experimenting, abstract thinking, intellectual involvement regarding themes we focus

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on, it is definitely something that involves a level of intimacy. Even showing interest in something, no matter if we experienced it directly or not, can create certain personal bonds to a subject. We absorb information daily that is not necessarily our own, which we process through cognitive mechanism and build what we called ‘personal truth’. In this case, we use conjectural knowledge as a tool for building new constructs. I feel that comparative thinking is crucial component in creative process of any kind. This permits us to experience, recreate, project and empathise with circumstances disconnected from our direct experience. Intuition also plays a key role in creative process, and is the fundamental attribute of our unique subjective understanding. Abstraction within thinking and creative process establishes exclusive individual intimate space, which serves as a catalyst for recreating personal experience. This is what I consider a beautiful quality of being a human being, because it enables us to go beyond mere empirical actuality. Another interesting works of yours that has particularly impacted on us and on which we would like to spend some words is entitled Liminal, a video installation that deals with transformational nature of language and communication through symbolic aspects, that our readers can view at https://vimeo.com/73562627. We have appreciated your reflection about the non static quiality of contemporary of contemporary communication reminding us of the ideas behind Thomas Demand's works, when he underlined that "nowadays art can no longer rely much on symbolic strategies and has to probe psychological narrative elements within the medium instead". Do you agree with this statement? Moreover, when conceiving Liminal did you aim to be a fly on the wall, or did you ultimately work to create a sense of an overarching narrative?

It depents on the engagment and perception of the viewer, of course. I started working on Liminal with an intention to explore different approaches to communication. It began as an experiment in which I involved peope coming from different national and linguis-

With the project Liminal it is hard to say exactly if its objective is to be fly on the wall or overachiving narrative.

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tic backgrounds; from Sweden, France, UK to Serbia and United States. I decided to give them an assignment - to write a short story of their choosing, true or fictional, and focus on memorizing it's general content. Then they were instructed to elaborate these stories in imaginary languages resembeling their own with rhythm

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and sound, as well as in foreign languages that they were not familiar with. During this experiment they were also asked to express in freestyle form the emotional states that they were experiencing at the time. As the experiment began (it lasted for several months) I realized that the process itself was much more demanding

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and difficult then it seemed in a conceptual aspect. Not only experimenting with language and communication, but also how it was reconstructing psychological states of participants.

tured syntaxes. Everything that we perceive in the world, we connect with symbols -they determine our understanding of from and concepts. Language it self is created from these notions and serves as an identifying tool for trade and conformation of existing reality. When you ask people to fuction outside of this context they usu-

I realized through observing the process that people have difficulty functioning outside struc-

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search of thresholds and manifestations of liminal states. I belive that Liminal is a project that serves more as an abstract and symbolic documentation of a particular process, rather than a video installation that inagurates viewers into process. One of the hallmarks of your approach is the incessant search of an organic symbiosis between different viewpoints, in such a compelling way: your works are open to various interpretations and often communicate a process of deconstruction, recontextualization and assemblage. What is it specifically about working in the liminal area on which real and abstract converge into a coherent unity which fascinates you and make you want to center your artistic style around it?

By definition attributes of liminality or liminal persona are necessarily ambiguous, since this condition and these persons elude or slip through the network of classification that normally locate states and positions in cultural space. Liminal states are neither here nor there; they are betwixt and between the positions€assigned by certain cultural, political or ceremonial convention. These qualities are something that I find closely relate to my personal internal experiences, as well as how I sense the world around me. Working with concepts of liminality provides me access to themes that are usually hard to grasp with material forms. These challenging and exciting concepts, position my artistic practice in the state constant mutation, which forces me to stay active and alert. The ambiguty, thresholds, indetermany, immateriality and disorentaion of certain statuses are things which I find the most stimulative in creative process.

ally fail to establish logical narrative in their minds. It becomes playful and painful practice, because they lose the orientation of pre-learned symbolics. Therefore their mentality is set in absolute state of indetermancy, where outcomes have no predictive mathematical narrative. These ambiguities are again related to my personal re-

Your narrative is particularly intuitive and you draw a lot from universal imagery in order to establish direct relations with the viewers: language is our dominant mode of communication. Is challenging this kind of hierarchy in communication processes important to you?

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Andrea Knezović

Sometimes I’m not sure if I’m challenging communication and language through my work, or if it is challenging me. I think it works both ways. I always had difficulty conforming to a direct visual vocabulary that transparently shows the meaning behind the artwork. I find it uncomfortable to determine just one mode of communication and not leave space for ambiguities. I guess in this case you could say that I like to challenge hierarchy. The way I perceive language is from one side as a structured system that enables us to logically perceive and communicate with world around us, and as symbolic associative tool that gives us an opportunity through codes, meanings and signs to establish abstract narrative. For me, playing between these two concepts is the most interesting, because it opens space for unexpected dialogue. Over your career you have exhibited€internationally, showcasing your work in several occasions and one of the hallmark of your practice is the capability to create a direct involvement with the viewers, who are urged to evolve from a condition of mere spectatorship. So before leaving this conversation I would like to pose a question about the nature of the relationship of your art with your audience. Do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decisionmaking process, in terms of what type of language is used in a particular context?

The way audience perceives and experiences art is relevant. Nevertheless my artistic practice and the way I communicate with my work is not necessarily always dependent on it. I feel that with each work I create, a different kind of communication evolves. It is important to consider and examine all aspects of how you are going to make and present a certain work; from the contextual part (Is the concept referent? What are the key ideas of the concept? How will the audience understand a certain subject?), to practical and applied practice (Which medium will I choose to portray my idea? How will certain

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mediums impact the viewer? Why and how will I use a particular medium? Etc...) As an artist, I find it crucial to first understand my work, to emerge myself in it and secure my comfort in how I relate to that work. Then I start developing the means by which am I going to communicate ideas with the viewers. Sometimes I use abstract visual vocabulary, which is not always relating to the general public, and is only understood by those who decide to engage deeper into the work. Other times I use direct statements, and visual language that is easy to grasp form any perspective. In the end it always depends on what I want to communicate with the audience. It seems to me that you can never completely satisfy everybody with art, for each their own. For me it is enough if the viewer establishes a sincere approach to my art, and shows the will for exploration and understanding of a particular thematic. I think artists are not there to claim and represent certain ideologies, rather to indicate and inaugurate subjects that open new windows to understanding the world we exist in. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Andrea. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving?

It was my pleasure doing this interview. Right now I am working on several new projects, one is a new work which will be exhibited end of this year, and other is an on-going collaborative project with curator TevŞ Logar. I am also developing an educational platform for young artists, where the main aim is to promote and stimulate young cultural workers in their further creative practice. For the future, I hope to be surprised by my own creative process. I like to see things unfold spontaneously, so giving a concrete answer on how my work will evolve, I unfortunately can’t. It is much more interesting for me to observe the circumstances that are evolving in their own rhythm, rather than determining future conditions of my process.

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Harvey Goldman Goldman Harvey Goldman has created

critically acclaimed work in the fields of ceramics, digital imaging, animation and music. He is founder of the Digital Media program at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. His work has been exhibited widely throughout the United States, Europe and Asia. He has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, The Ford Foundation and the Massachusetts Council on the Arts and Humanities. Goldman's work is included in numerous private and public collections including the Iota Center for Experimental Animation, Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Everson Museum of Art, Decordova Museum, Currier Museum of Art, and the Crocker Art Museum. His animations have been screened throughout the world including, the Smithsonian's Hirshhon Museum, the Corcoran Gallery of Art and the White Box Museum, Beijing, China. His interests include gardening, storytelling, world music, sound exploration, language development, writing systems and basketball. He resides in Dartmouth, Massachusetts with his wife and fellow artist, Deborah Coolidge. coincidentia oppositorum

Harvey Goldman

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video, 2013

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coincidentia Special Issue oppositorum

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Harvey Goldman

An interview with An interview by Dario Rutigliano, curator and Melissa C. Hilborn, curator arthabens@mail.com

Multidisciplinary artist Harvey Goldman's work ranges from ceramics and digital imaging, to animation and music.He explores the manifold nature and relationships between chaos and order: his approach rejects any conventional classification and crosses the elusive boundary that defines the area of perception from the realm of imagination, to create a multilayered involvement with the viewers, who are urged to investigates about the ubiquitous order that pervades the reality we inhabit. One of the most convincing aspect of Goldman's practice is the way it accomplishes the difficult task of creating a deep and autonomous synergy between our limbic parameters and our rational categories: we are very pleased to introduce our readers to his multifaceted artistic production. Hello Harvey and welcome to ART Habens: to start this interview, would you like to tell us something about your background? You have a solid formal training and after having earned your BFA, you nurtured your education with a Masters of Fine Arts, that you received from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst: how did these experiences influence your evolution as an artist? And in particular, does your cultural substratum inform the way you relate yourself to the aesthetic problem?

Harvey Goldman

times. Botany, psychology, biology, philosophy and horticulture were all explored. When I finally made up my mind to dedicate my self to the arts I was still unsure of my area of concentration. Painting, sculpture, ceramics and music were all explored. I have a passion for mathematics (specifically geometry) and a fascination with chemistry. This broad exposure has allowed me a unique approach to many of the problems addressed in my visual explorations. I think this background has influenced the way I approach problem solving as well. It is a manner loosely

When I think about my formal education, I am thankful for the exposure I had to a wide range of diverse areas of study. I started my undergraduate career at the University of Illinois, in Champiagn/Urbana. While I had an interest in the arts I began my studies as a pre-med student with an interest in the sciences. Two of my younger brothers now work in the medical and scientific research communities. During my first two years at university I changed my major numerous

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analogous to that of a scientist, ie. ask a question, perform research, develop a hypothesis, test the hypothesis with experiments and prototypes, analyze results, draw conclusion and communicate results. Your approach coherently encapsulates several techniques that reveals an incessant search of an organic symbiosis between a variety of viewpoints. The results convey together a coherent and consistent sense of harmony and unity. Before starting to elaborate about your production, we would suggest to our readers to visit http://harveygoldman.com in order to get a synoptic view of your multifaceted artistic production: while walking our readers through your process, we would like to ask you if you have you ever happened to realize that a symbiosis between opposite viewpoints as well as different disciplines is the only way to express and convey the idea you explore.

Very early on in my creative career I realized that if the entire world was blue we would have no understanding of blueness. That our perceptions were more about relationships and comparisons than about the things themselves. I was mesmerized by early Tantric arts and the idea of integrating opposites. Once one becomes comfortable with the language of art, the elements and principles of design, then the expressions of ideas and feelings becomes the main goal. In a systemic sense one uses the elemental building blocks of line, shape, color, form, etcetera to create an experiential sense of balance. In my work I find the balance of ideas to be just as important and engaging. The beautiful and the grotesque, the graceful and the awkward become compositional notions that can only be appreciated in their fullest when juxtaposed with one another.

A still from Passaddhi, video

the balance between the needs of the

The symbiotic relationships between disciplines, particularly between the sciences and the arts, is another area of study that has engaged me through out my career. Lately, I have been giving a great deal of thought to

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“individual” versus those of the “society”. The writings of biologist E. O. Wilson, in relation to the evolutionary origins of

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experimental animation that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article. What has at once caught our attention is the way it accomplishes the difficult task of

altruism, sheds an interesting light on this topic. For this special edition of ART Habens we have selected Passaddhi, an abstract

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Harvey Goldman

A still from Passaddhi, video

establishing a channel of communication between the subconscious sphere and the conscious one, to unveil the manifold nature of human perceptual categories and to draw the viewers into a multilayered

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experience. So we would take this occasion to ask you if in your opinion personal experience is an absolutely indispensable part of a creative process...

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Passaddhi, a synopsis: Lost in tranquility, the ethereal sounds and imagery of the inner mind struggle to maintain their primal elegance, as turbulence from the world beyond begins to infringe on their domain. The transcendent inner soundscapes of the imagination are ever vigilant as they rumble with the vestiges of human endeavor. Passahhdi is an abstract experimental animation. A melding of sound and image that explores both the emotional relationships and the commonality of their formal language. The manner in which the elemental components of the underlying structure, such as line, shape, color/timbre and form, as well as principals, such as harmony, balance, rhythm, and counterpoint, translate between the auditory and visual experience is a primary concern.

The question you pose is especially interesting for one who collaborates with others. Is personal experience essential to my creative process? Well, there are at least two types of personal experiences, the experiences we have with the outside world, perceived via our senses, and the experiences we have within the inner mind. (If Carl Jung was correct, there is also the possibility of a third “collective consciousness” experience.) The Pali word Passaddhi describes the tranquility of the inner mind. While personal experience is a major factor in my creative process and informs my decision making, I have tried to keep the process fresh by nurturing and exploring the unknown. One example of this might be an experiment where I set up a computer simulation, using a physics engine, such that the outcome is unknown to me. I can create a new world by inputing parameters for gravity, viscosity, wind, etc, and then let it run and possibly discover something never part of my “personal experience”. Of course, how I decide to use the

Do you think that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience?

Passaddhi is a collaboration with the contemporary Chinese composer Jing Wang.

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results is based on personal experience. One of the attractions to some of the work of composer John Cage was his attempt to eliminate personal experience by using a prescribed set of rules that dictated the results. While this approach may have shed light on Cage, it is not my approach. When collaborating we have a whole new dynamic at play in regards to experience. In the case of Passaddhi, Jing composed the audio first and I visually interpreted the music. So, in a circuitous way, I was also interpreting Jing’s personal experiences without having experienced them myself. Of course we share our thoughts and motivations while working together, but in most cases the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. By the way, how do you see the relationship between public sphere and the role of art in public space? In particular, how much do you consider the immersive nature of the viewing experience?

Creating art for public spaces is of great interest. Similar to large theaters, the phenomena of large groups of people sharing a common creative experience is quite different from that of the individual watching a work on a small personal screen. I personally enjoy experiencing the work with larger groups of people. In addition to a stand alone version, the new piece, “Oroborous” that Jing and I have been working on for the past number of months, will hopefully have an adaptation that will allow live performers, both musicians and dancers, to add to the projection in a theatrical or outdoors setting. We have been collaborating with choreographer Lila Greene in this regard.

A still from Passaddhi, video

level of significance the elusive but ubiquitous relationship between experience and memory, to create direct relations with the spectatorship: What is the role of memory in your process? We are particularly interested if you try to achieve

Passaddhi is pervaded with a subtle but effective narrative that captures nonsharpness with an universal kind of language, capable of bringing to a new

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a faithful translation of your previous experiences or if you rather use memory as starting point to create.

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the decision making. Once that is established an idealized “mode of operandi� with specific constraints, rules and protocol are more or less established. How memory functions in relation to the composing process may be part of that protocol. In

My creative process usually involves an initial concept, idea or narrative that drives

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A still from Passaddhi, video

almost all cases these “precepts” are overruled when other approaches are found more helpful in communicating the initial intent.

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Memory itself is a crucial element in the evolution of the work. It operates on a number of levels. As different emotions are expressed memory is the key to opening the pathways needed to stay in touch with past experience. It’s accuracy and clarity are

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concentration. It is some times humorous to find oneself in a state of tranquility while attempting to express memories of ecstatic hyper jubilation or jittery angst. Another interesting project of yours that has particularly impressed us and on which we would like to spend some words is entitled Enigma and we have highly appreciated the way it condenses the opposite notions of order and chaos. As you have remarked once, the main idea behind this work was inspired by the “Enigma Machine”, a device used in the twentieth century for enciphering and deciphering of secret messages: in a certain sense, informations & ideas could be considered "encrypted" in the environment we inhabit, so we need to decipher those patterns. When addressing us to process the things we are sometimes able to catch you seem to suggest that one of the roles of an artist could be to reveal unexpected sides of Nature, especially of our inner Nature: what's your point about this?

Yes, I am mesmerized by all that remains hidden and often missed by our limited perceptual abilities. Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” has been engrained in my sensibilities. I recently finished Anthony Doerr’s “All the Light We Cannot See” which touches on this in a very direct manner. My attempt to make the audible visible is an example of how this pervades my work. There is a elusive short audio element in “Enigma” that sounds like the slight creak of a door opening. The metaphorical revelation of unseen new discoveries is triggered at that point in the piece. As far as nature and the mind goes, I think they are one and the same. I feel strongly that the role of the artist is to bring to light what might be missed without focalized mindfulness.

always shaded as we accumulate more experience. Unlike “action painting” where there may be a one to one relationship between the artist’s emotional state and the composition, my state of mind while working on an animation is usually one of controlled

When inquiring into the blurred dichotomy between order and chaos, Enigma sheds light on the necessity to rethink such erratic concepts on an unitary viewpoint:

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how would you describe the nature of the cohexistence of such often conflictual and ambiguous aspects? In particular, German pioneer of visual arts Gerhard Richter once stated, "my concern is never art, but always what art can be used for": what is your opinion about the functional aspect of Art in the contemporary age?

Since the beginning of humankind we have been trying to develop methods and capabilities to share the inner workings of one person’s mind with that of another. Art, language, music and dance are all manifestations of this attempt to communicate and share. As a highly “eusocial� species humanity has survived, evolved and prospered due in large part to its communicative abilities. We are still developing new methods to disseminate new ideas. I believe the motivation to do such is integral to our humanness. We have evolved this amazing capacity that is entwined in the fabric of who we are. Communication ability in relation to art making is one aspect that may have genetic aspects. Another important role of the artist is creative problem solving, being able to look at problem and see it in a new light. Our culture places a high value on creativity and innovation. I believe a case can be made that this is also a key to our species evolutionary survival. There have been no cultures or societies on the planet devoid of art or art appreciation. Just as conventional language has been shown to have a genetic component, I believe that the making/appreciation of art may be another genetic trait that has evolved with our species.

A still from Enigma, video

Digital technologies play a crucial role in your practice: the impetuous way modern techniques have nowadays come out on the top has dramatically revolutionized the idea of Art itself: in a certain sense, we are forced to rethink about the intimate aspect of the materiality of an artwork itself, since

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just a few years ago it was a tactile materialization of an idea. I'm sort of convinced that new media will definitely fill the apparent dichotomy between Technology and Art, and we will dare to say that Art and Technology are going to

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assimilate one to each other... what's your point about this?

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making of art since 1984. I am not aware of any dichotomy. I do not believe in a hierarchical evaluation of technology. There is always the right tool for the right job. New digital technology is analogous to the

Well, I would have to say my life and work are testaments to that thought. I have been working with digital technology in the

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A still from Enigma, video

development of brushes and pencils as they replaced sticks and lumps of charcoal. I see them as new tools that allow for new approaches and different modes of work to evolve, but in the end they are tools that are

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appropriate for some artists. The other, and I believe larger, aspect of the new technology expansion is the way it integrates with the sociality of our species. The dilemma of time and space has been dramatically altered in

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have been working hand in hand since the beginning. It's no doubt that interdisciplinary collaborations as the ones you have established with composers James Bohn for Undulation, Ken Ueno for Sabinium and with Jing Wang for Enigma and Passaddhi are today ever growing forces in Contemporary Art and that the most exciting things happen when creative minds from different fields of practice meet and collaborate on a project... could you tell us something about this effective synergy? By the way, Peter Tabor once stated that "collaboration is working together with another to create something as a synthesis of two practices, that alone one could not": what's your point about this? Can you explain how your work demonstrates communication between several artists?

After many years of working alone as a solitary artist in an isolated studio I began collaborating on a musical project with writer/artist Warren Lehrer. The fruits of that labor was a CD titled “The Search for It and other Pronouns�. I learned a great deal from that experience. Over the past 20 years then I have worked with three amazing composers on a variety of projects. These combined efforts have been some of the most rewarding and enjoyable of my creative career. No one listens to, or views your work like a collaborator. I remember telling Jing when I had completed the visuals for Passaddhi, that I probably listened to her score almost every day for about 5 months. I was at one with the music. Successful collaboration requires a number of factors. One is a strong trust and faith in the aesthetic sensibility and skills of your collaborator. A second is the cultivation of humility, discreetness and sublimation of the ego. Third is to propagate and nurture an open mind and a willingness to compromise for the greater good. What makes for the most enjoyable collaborations is the development a friendship and emotional

relation to human collaboration and interaction. If it is true that the our species' use of technology began with the modification of natural resources into simple tools, then it follows that art and technology

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Mustique

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Besides producing the stimulating artworks that we had the chance to admire in these pages, you are extensively involved in teaching and you have founded the Digital Media program at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, where you currently hold the position of Chancellor Professor Emeritus. How did this experience impact on the way you relate yourself to art making? In particular, have you ever happened to draw inspiration from the ideas of your students?

bond with your partner. I am lucky to have had very positive experiences in this regard. I have had the opportunity to work with Jing Wang on our last three “visual music“ pieces. Jing has no qualms making visual suggestions and I feel the same way about the music. For example, during the creation of Passaddhi, Jing suggested I look at some vigorous Chinese ink and brush paintings to help solidify a section of the animation that needed work. These painting ended up be influential in how the visuals were created, accentuating some musical arrival points in the piece. If I had been defensive to her ideas the work would have suffered. The work of an artist can be a very lonely one. I embrace the opportunity to work when others when ever it seems appropriate.

Teaching has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my professional career. One of my earliest students, who I met over 30 years ago is the godfather of my daughter. We just returned from visiting him and his wife (another past student) in Hawaii last summer. Over the years I have

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had the opportunity to learn from and be a part of many young artists lives. A few years ago my daughter married another past student. (I will leave to your imagination what I may have had a little to do with that.) Without hesitation, I can say that I have learned much more from my students over the years than they have learned from me. I decided to stop teaching a few years ago and dedicate myself to working full time in the studio. It is a new phase of life for me and one that I am loving.

language. There is usually an underlying narrative that helps give the work a structure and sense of place but is usually presented in a manner that is abstracted to then point the audience is only subliminally aware of the narrative. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Harvey. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving?

Over your career you have exhibited internationally, showcasing your work in several occasions, including this years screening at "MuVi4": International Exhibition of Video, Moving Image and Visual Music, Teatro Martinez Montañèz, Alcalà la Real, Jaèn, Spain. One of the hallmarks of your practice is the capability to create a direct involvement with the viewers, who are urged to evolve from a condition of mere spectatorship. So before leaving this conversation we would like to pose a question about the nature of the relationship of your art with your audience. Do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decision-making process, in terms of what type of language is used in a particular context?

Sure, as I may have referenced above I am about six months into a new work titled “Oroborous”. It is loosely based on the idea of the perpetual cycle of regeneration, rebirth and infinity. The visuals should be completed by the end of the year. Composer Jing Wang is working on the music and has begun the process of collecting sounds and creating instruments. Our hope is to create a piece that has more than one mode of presentation. There will be a stand alone film plus a variation created such that a live musician or two could play while the film is displayed. We are also engaging choreographer Lila Greene and working towards incorporating a dance component with the work.

The question of audience reception and the language used has two aspects I would like to address. There is no test screening or sampling of audience reception with adjustments made based on audience feedback. We have a vision and attempt to express it as we deem appropriate. However, I am very thoughtful of the audience experience. Let me explain. I want the work to be engaging and hold the audiences attention. One way to accomplish this is to employ a dramatic arc with introductions, rising and falling action climaxes and resolution. I find myself drawn to work that employs these devices along with a strong understanding of film

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An interview by Dario Rutigliano, curator and Melissa C. Hilborn, curator arthabens@mail.com

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Amit Kestenbaum Kestenbaum The media I work with include sculpture and video, but they continually evolve with the development of my idea until I reach the medium I feel best fits the idea. Having been raised on an Israeli Kibbutz, bordering the Gaza Strip, my geographic roots have had an immense influence on my choice of topics and images to work on. Most of my projects are filmed on the Kibbutz landscape, where my family still lives. This environment allows me to explore the the difference that exist on either side of the border with the Gaza Strip. In my current work and research I am concerned with the idea of anticipation and how it affects the relationships that are created between the image and the viewers. Sometimes I am assisted by my close family members in order to study the concepts of home and family in the broader context of Israeli society. The materials I work with are usually objects that I find. I treat these objects while attending to their material character from which I try to destabilise their image so as to give them a new value or meaning. My work process is based on experiments. It begins with an in-depth questioning and learning about the objects/concept and my reaction to them. I believe that through the process of trial and error, planning drafts and producing artifacts at different levels of developments, I can create images and reach the work that best represents my essence.

Amit Kestenbaum

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video, 2013

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Amit Kestenbaum

An interview with An interview by Dario Rutigliano, curator and Melissa C. Hilborn, curator arthabens@mail.com

Hello Amit and welcome to ART Habens: to start this interview, we would like to pose you a question about your background. You have a solid formal training and you have studied Fine Art at the prestigious Bezalel Academy of Art and Design: how does this experience impact on the way you currently conceive and produce your works? In particular, how does the relationship between your geographic roots and especially having been raised on an Israeli Kibbutz inform the way you relate yourself to art making and to aesthetics?

I was born and raised on a Kibbutz close to the border with the Gaza strip. Life on the Kibbutz is very communal and focuses a lot on sharing, all of this happening in a very pastoral environment that is quite different to city life. This contrast is one of the things that brought me to deal with the subjects I explore in my works – the contrast between the pastoral life on the Kibbutz and the tension of living so close to the Gaza Strip. The difference between these two societies is what fascinates me. I choose to photograph most of my work at the Kibbutz and surrounding areas because these places have a lot of significance to me. Moving to Jerusalem allowed me for the first time to distance myself from my natural surroundings and explore a new and different place. This move to a city that is so filled with paradoxes and opposites has given me a wider point of view on Israeli society and studying in Bezalel has given me both the theoretical and practical tools needed to present my point of view in a better way.

Amit Kestenbaum

in a more atemporal form. How do you conceive the rhythm of your works?

I guess you could say that the rhythm of my work is found in the small actions that make it up, and together they are what create the flow in my video works. While the general concept of the work may seem static like a still image, I invite the viewer to find the small gestures that differentiate the video from the photo.

By definition video is rhythm and movement, gesture and continuity. In your videos you create time-based works that induce the viewers to abandon therselves to free associations, looking at time in spatial terms and I daresay, rethinking the concept of time in such a static way: this seems to remove any historic gaze from the reality you refer to, offering to the viewers the chance to perceive

I believe that the main advantage of video in my work is the ability to allow the viewer to

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Amit Kestenbaum

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Amit Kestenbaum

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look at simple actions from a different perspective that they would not have necessarily seen if they would have looked at them in everyday life. I do believe that there is importance to finding the right combination of video and photograph, which sometimes may be more important than the medium itself and can amplify the message. We would like to focus on your artistic production beginning from Untitled: an extremely interesting work that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article: and I would suggest to visit https:// vimeo.com/130857192 in order to get a wider idea of it. When we first happened to get to know it we tried to relate all the visual information to a single meaning. But we soon realized that we had to fit into the visual rhythm suggested by the work, forgetting our needs for univocal understandings of its content: in your videos, rather that a conceptual interiority, we can recognize the desire to enabling us to establish direct relations... Would you say that it's more of an intuitive or a systematic process?

My method of work is usually by trial and error. It is a systematic method based on intuition in which I try out an idea and examine different approaches in parallel until I manage to achieve the image that best represents my concept as I imagine it. We have highly appreciated your insightful investigation about the ubiquitous but still elusive concepts of family and home, unveiling the connection between conscious and subconscious. While addressing the viewers to relate themselves with your work in personal way, your work shows an effective combination between experience and imagination. Thomas Demand once stated that: "nowadays art can no longer rely much on symbolic strategies and has to probe psychological narrative elements within the medium instead". What is your opinioin about this? And in particular, I would take this occasion to ask you if in your opinion personal experience is an absolutely indespensable part of a creative process... Do

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you think that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience?

On one hand I agree – the use of symbols alone can be open to a wide interpretation and may sometimes cause the original intention of the artist to become lost. On the other hand, there is a great importance to the psychological part of the artist and his personal story as a form of expression within his art. For me, my own personal experience is an important part of my creative process and of the work itself. I use my knowledge and personal experience in order to break the concept down and relate to it in wider brush strokes while still preserving the core ideas that make it up. Another interesting work of yours that has particularly impacted on us and on which we would like to spend some words is entitled The Road to Gaza: while walking our readers through the genesis, we would remark that we have been particularly impressed with your use of non linear narrative even to face political themes: could you introduce our readers to this fundamental aspect of your art practice?

The process of creating this work was a bit complicated for me, especially when there is such a direct representation of the Gaza Strip. I was interested in using this analogy and yet not delve into the politics so directly. I was searching for an analogy that could contrast the Gaza Strip in a way that would raise questions about the connection between them. I found that the best way to do this is to create a story that isn’t obviously narrative. I wanted to relate to the scenery and to things that I see while wandering in my environment, because for me the Gaza Strip is more landscape of my childhood than a politically charged place. I also believe that there is a direct connection between my personality and my choice of presenting these subjects in a gentler way. Your works is marked out with a performative feature: the surface of the screen become a concrete, almost physical boundary for you: in every moment the viewers can feel the presence of the performer's body. How did you

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Amit Kestenbaum

develop this unique performative approach to video?

towards various rituals and see them as more of a voyeuristic performance. Through this, I try to focus the viewer’s experience only on the person “performing” his own life, and through that the illusion of a performance is created. As you can see in my work “The Movers/ Tree”, I wanted to create a world in which they (and I) are the sole beings, preforming our action – to create a world with no distraction.

This method of the work came from selfexamination of everyday actions. Just like a person sees himself through a mirror, I examined my actions through video. After doing this, I expanded into examining other people’s everyday actions through video recordings, mostly men’s actions. This method allowed me to develop a more objective view

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Amit Kestenbaum

In your exploration of the Israeli society you often highlight unexpected aspects of the environment we inhabit, as in The movers / Tree. Many artists from the contemporary scene, ranging from Michael Light and Ai Weiwei to more recently more recently Jennifer Linton and David ÄŒernĂ˝, use to include socio-political criticism in their works. It is not unusual that an artist, rather than urging the viewer to take a personal position on a subject, tries to convey his personal take about the major issues that

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affect contemporary age. Do you consider that your works are political in this way or do you seek to maintain a neutral approach? And in particular, what could be in your opinion the role that an artist could play in the contemporary society?

I don’t consider myself a political artist and so I try not to incorporate political beliefs into my work. At the same time, I cannot ignore the fact that some of my works deal with current subjects in Israeli society and may be open to

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Amit Kestenbaum

different interpretation. I tell my story and the way I see the world, so I try to employ a neutral approach and avoid taking a one-sided position. I believe that through this I can leave room for questions about my work. Criticism isn’t the main subject of my work, and the main goal of my work is to create artwork that interests both me and the views that deals with everyday subjects. I believe that the job of an artist in contemporary society is to present current subjects in a way that will evoke questions and explores the subject from multiple points of view. Your artistic research focuses on the complex relationships between narratives and everyday life: in The movers / Tree familiar scenes are pervaded by an unheimlich feeling. Your unconventional sense of juxtaposition give your video a playful yet utterly subversive sensibility: how did you develop your visual imagery?

I am interested in the fine line between reality and an orchestrated scene. I look in my environment for the visual themes which I use in my work. Before I begin filming the work, I visit the location multiple times, sometimes alone and sometimes with others. I try and explore the location, to let in the feelings I get from being in that place and through these feelings I try to create a story which suits the location both visually and thematically. I translate the feeling I get from these locations into scenes taken from real life. this interesting conversation I would like to pose a a question about the nature of the relation with your audience: in particular, do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decision- making process in terms of what type of language for a particular context?

While it is true that some of my works are recordings of real life, I still employ editorial and directorial actions so as to blur the line between what is real and what is orchestrated. As you have remarked once, in your video work, you are concerned with the idea of anticipation and how it affects the relationship that are created between the image and the viewers: one of the hallmarks of your approach is the capability to establish direct relation with the audience, deletig any conventional barrier between the idea you explore and who receipt and cosequently elaborate them. So before taking leave from

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The answer is fairly obvious. I cannot ignore the fact that in any work of art, it is the audience that interprets the artwork. My works are created under the approach that they are to be displayed in a space and that if the artwork interests the viewer, he will stay and view it. This is one of the reasons that I find

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explorer the subjects I already practice in my works, the Kibbutz and my family in relation to the geographic location. At the end of my 4 year graduation I wish to continue with my academic studies and master in Art history

the lack of narrative in my works so important. I would be glad if people would watch all the works, but I am aware of the difficulty in sitting and watching video artwork, that is the need for patience. That is why I try to give a peek to a moment in life. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Amit. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving?

An interview by Dario Rutigliano, curator

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and Melissa C. Hilborn, curator arthabens@mail.com

At the moment I am working on my graduation project. My will is to continue and

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Fernanda Vizeu As artist, I, Fernanda Vizeu, seek the creation of artistic projects that give voice to contemporary social and political issues, intending to reflect about the past, the construction of identity, spiritual beliefs and political ideals, in order to create, or at least consider, other future perspectives. In this sense, the intense and contradictory life of my brother, with his questioning spirit (from being a young anarchist traveling the world as a nomad, having written transgressive philosophical-political manifestos, poems, theater plays, a romance and an impressive travelling diary with the age of 23, to being nowadays a catholic monk in seclusion), inspires me to create works that can discuss these and many other issues. I believe that also my life story, including participation among European anarchist groups and hippie gatherings, gave me material so I can today, after my graduation as an actress in Rio de Janeiro, develop projects that dialogue with my personal experiences and research the limits between art and life, trying to create circumstances that place the viewer as co-responsible for the creation of a new world, including him, therefore, as an integrant part of the work.

Photo of "Untitled or And the people in the dining room

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video, 2013

" that went viral, taken by the photographer Byron Prujansky

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Captions Photo of aIssue Catraca (brazilian name for turnstile) Special

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Fernanda Vizeu

An interview with An interview by Dario Rutigliano, curator and Melissa C. Hilborn, curator arthabens@mail.com

Berlin based actress and performer Fernanda Vizeu explores the notions of identity and politics in the unstable and everchanging contemporary age: her works are successful attempts to investigate about a variety of issues that affect modern societies. But unlike many artists from the international scene, she doesn't restrict her practice to mere contemplation: her performances create an area of intellectual inteplay with the viewers that force them to evolve from being mere spectatorship and urges us to consider other future perspectives. We are very pleased to introduce our readers to her refined artistic production. Hello Fernanda and welcome to ART Habens. To start this interview, I would like to pose you a couple of questions about your background: you have a solid formal training and you graduated in Dramatic Arts from Rio de Janeiro’s State Technical Theater School Martins Pena, the first acting school of South America. Moroever, it's important to mention that at a very young age you had the chance to travel a lot, both in the USA, where you did your last two years of high school and in Europe and Asia: how did these experiences influence your evolution as an artist? In particular, living in a multicultural and vivacious place as Berlin provides your everyday life of a wide variety of cultural ingredients, that merge with your Brazilian roots: how does it inform the way you conceive and produce your works?

Fernanda Vizeu

Well... I was born in Brazil but grew up in Chile. I lived there for 12 years of my life. Then I went to the USA to finish my last 2 years of high school, and then I went to live in Germany to work as an Au Pair. The work was expected to last one year, but lasted only three months. It didn’t go quite well. At that time, my brother, who is today a monk and who deeply inspires me as an artist, was traveling in Europe. He had started a hitchhiking trip that would take him 3 years around the world, regularly publishing his travel diary entries on his online blog. Then I started meticulously reading everything he published: things like poems, short stories, philosophicalpolitical manifestos and also his experiences during the trip. Wow‌ My brother was a nomad

around the world! This provoked a revolution inside me. So I decided to join him. We met in Rome and traveled together around Europe and a bit of Asia, to then separate after a few months, when he decided to continue alone to India in search of a spiritual awakening. The travelling experience I had with him, I believe, was a turning point in my life, as it gave me the opportunity to start questioning the system we live in. During this trip, I got to know political movements and different ways of living. I lived in anarchist squats around Europe, participated in anti-capitalist protests, took part of a No Border

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Fernanda Vizeu

camp in Lesvos (Greece), also a hippie gathering in the Ukraine, etc. I met nomads and people with alternative lifestyles. And I was only 19! Experiencing many things and places completely new to me… So it was a very unique and intense experience. It was a moment of perceiving myself and the world from a completely new point of view, with less judgement, kind of seeing it more as an outsider. Today I realize that I matured a lot thanks to these experiences. Then, after travelling a few more months by myself, I decided to move to Rio de Janeiro to study theater, and, already in theater school, I felt the urgency of talking about the things that I had just experienced. I'm sure that what I experienced contributed to my evolution as an artist in many ways, especially intellectually, because I could question the world, question the crisis we are living in, question the role of art in capitalism, etc. Of course I wanted to replicate all this at some point of my career, posing questions to others through my artistic production. In 2013, during my last year of artistic training, the political demonstrations started in Brazil. Since I had already taken part of many of them in Europe, this time, as an art student, I wanted not only to take part of this new movement in Brazil, but also to express myself artistically, responding to this context of political discussion. I think I couldn’t produce what I produced if I hadn’t lived in all these countries, if I hadn’t traveled with my brother, and if I weren’t in Brazil in a political moment that was so crucial and unique. All this was a gathering of factors for already being able to create an authorial work. So yes, I see my artwork up until this point as a reaction to my experiences. I cannot disconnect them from my artistic productions as they were strong enough to almost impose themselves on my work. If it weren’t for them, maybe I would have arrived in Rio de Janeiro and would have not understood the political context I had found myself in. Demonstrations on the streets would begin and maybe I would have felt they hadn’t much to do with me. And now that I'm living in Berlin, that is, as you rightly said, a cosmopolitan city, where consumption of art is very strong and where there are artistic projects of different sizes and natures everywhere, I can perceive that my works seem to be part of a bigger movement, still isolated, but which denounce authoritarianism through art. The most relevant works I saw while

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Fernanda and her brother Raphael in their trip together

I have been in town seem to want to promote discussion of political and social issues, and I see that there is a common thread that questions the violence of the capitalist system. For example: the other day I saw a play by the Chilean group La Resentida, at the International Festival of New

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Dramaturgies at the SchaubĂźhne, one of the most important theater companies of the city, which talked about the death of Salvador Allende. I mean, works talking about capitalism and socialism, followed by a debate of the play, and active participation of all who were present,

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which is not often done today in many places. At least in Brazil this discussion sometimes does not go beyond inflamed bipolarizations. And here I have also seen plays that include elements of the actors’ biographies on scene. Somehow it makes me feel that there is an alignment of my work

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Fernanda Vizeu

Photo of the performance art "Untitled or And the people in the dining room"

with what is happening in this city, which pulses artistically. One example of this, is that as soon as I arrived in Berlin, I was invited to exhibit my works in the largest art festival of the city, the 48 Stunden NeukĂślln, which in 2015 had the theme "S.O.S. - Art Saves the World". I mean, I think I'm

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not the only one willing to discuss these issues. Of course I also realize that even though transgression and libertarianism are part of Berlin’s DNA, the city has transformed itself very quickly. Only 25 years since its reunification, in which capitalism has imposed itself with vigor. A

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good for the understanding and deepening of my work. To be confronted with so much information about the conflicts of our last century enriches it. The past defines our present and future, right? I think it’s the same with one’s artistic production. We would start to focus on your artistic production beginning from UNTITLED or AND THE PEOPLE IN THE DINING ROOM, an interesting performative project featured in the introductory pages of this article: when I first happened to get to know it we received the same sensations as Shahar Marcus' performances. Your insightful investigation about the notion of alienation highlights the entropic feature of the contemporary age and what has at soon caught my attention is the way you wisely mix functional analysis and autonomous aesthetics. Did you conceive this on an instinctive way or did you structure your process in order to reach the right balance? Would you like to walk our readers through the evolution of this project?

Since the demonstrations began in Brazil the media has shown in its journalistic narratives a tendency of criminalization of these movements, weakening the protests. In the newspapers, the words used to refer to the demonstrators were always “thugs,” “vandals,” or "rioters," and the narratives were that they got into conflicts with the police, when in fact the protesters were being massacred by the police. This could only become clear because of the internet, which is more democratic, and where anyone who went to the streets could share content about what was really happening. So it started to become clear to the participants that the media really manipulated the truth. The internet had and still has an important role in exposing biases fed by mainstream media. But most people, who didn’t take to the streets, didn’t realize that. So me and Ariane Hime, my friend and colleague during theater school at the time when the demonstrations began, felt an instinctive urge to express ourselves and respond to this context, to make an artistic manifesto in one of the protests. We then started talking about what to do, about the importance of being an instrument, of allowing ourselves to give voice to what the collective was indicating, and of how to use this to make an effective message. We then agreed that we would do a performance in which we would remain seated, eating dinner and watching television, alienated from the protests going on

lot of people are arriving from different places, and with that, what is produced artistically in the city also undergoes changes. That is what I have been feeling. Beyond that, being a city where history is so present, with signs of impacting past events in each street corner, Berlin has been very

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around us, and that we would resist until the moment of violence, which happened often. We would wait for the gas bombs to explode, to then put on protective masks and pick up from there, making a criticism of the people who remain alienated even with all the chaos around. Of course we didn’t have an overall understanding of the reach it would have and how we would provoke so great a reaction. We didn’t know it would be something that people would identify so much with and that it would be something to replicate. In this sense, I only became aware that the message we passed on was what many people wanted to say, after seeing the photo of the performance circulating on the internet and all the comments that came from it. We like the way UNTITLED or AND THE PEOPLE IN THE DINING ROOM questions the dichotomy between reality and contemporary communication media, revealing a severe gaze on today's reality. Such combination reminds us the idea behind Thomas Demand's works, when he highlighted that "nowadays art can no longer rely so much on symbolic strategies and has to probe psychological, narrative elements within the medium instead". While the conception of Art could be considered an abstract activity, there is always a way of giving it a sense of permanence, going beyond the intrinsic ephemeral nature of those concepts you explore. So I would take this occasion to ask you if in your opinion, personal experience is absolutely indispensable as part of the creative process? Do you think that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience?

I think personal experience is essential for artistic work, yes, because an artist is an artist 24 hours a day. It’s not a job you only do during working hours, 8 hours and then it's over, right? The artist is an artist all the time; is a way of seeing the world. It’s something that, first of all, you are, and not just what you do. And of course, this includes your personal experiences. What you do artistically is a result of that. I think that the experiences I had with my brother, for example, gave me material to produce already for a long time. But I also think it depends. Each case is different. Each artist works in his or her own way. It depends on the nature of the work. When I do a job as an actress, for example, of course I draw

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Fernanda Vizeu and Ariane Hime during interview for

from my personal experiences, or use my own memories to work the psychology of a character. But this is not as crucial, since first of all, the work in this specific case, is to become capable of performing something. Rehearsal. Repetition. And often for that, the experiences of a director may impose much more on the work than my

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the short film "Art of Resistance"

own. On the other hand, in one’s own work, in which the outcome is a result of one’s own expression or worldview, personal experience is much more influential. It's the past or present experience of an artist that says what he wants to produce and which dialogue he wants to have with his audience. After all, the aim of an artist is

to do something that can be seen, assimilated, felt, or contemplated... There is a desire for communication... In this sense, I find it very interesting what you quoted of Thomas Demand. The world today is so confusing, ideas are so varied, each person has a different background and sees art in such diverse ways, that it’s

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Fernanda Vizeu

Fernanda Vizeu, actress and performance artist

necessary, when creating an artwork that intends to have a real interaction with its audience, to go beyond mere formalisms. Of course, form, aesthetics, is also important. In fact, essential, as it is what generates the uniqueness of a work, attracting attention to it, showing why it has to be seen. But I also think, sometimes, it is

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necessary to be more direct in the dialogue with the observer, especially when the issues that the work discusses have some urgency. If the artist wants to communicate, why complicate using only symbols, as if it were a game of understanding, right? But, as I said, it all depends on the purpose of the artist with that work.

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include socio-political criticism and sometimes even explicit messages in their works, that often goes beyond a mere descriptive point of view on the issues they face: it is not unusual that an artist, rather than urging the viewer to take a personal position on a subject, tries to convey his personal take about the major issues that affect contemporary age. In such grey area, a particular care should be payed, since Art may even stop to be an independent tool to interpret and relate with and becomes a dedicated vehicle, which lies in the liminal area in which criticism blends with propaganda... Do you consider that your works are political in this way or do you seek to maintain a neutral approach?

I think we are all urgently needing to discuss political issues, since we live in a world in crisis. We are on the verge of an environmental collapse and little has actually been done about it. Scientists are saying so. But the majority of the population remains totally oblivious because governments and mainstream media do not want to talk about it. We are already almost 7 billion people on the planet and in little time, if we continue using the resources in such an uncontrolled way, things will worsen. As I believe that any social transformation passes through politics, since transformations happen only through the collective, it’s necessary to talk about these issues. We all need to talk in a more direct way, overcoming taboos. Deep down, politics is about how you put yourself in relation to others, in the sense of wanting or not to contribute with something. Politics are the decisions that an individual has in relation to the choices of the society as a whole, understanding how individual choices affect the collective. Nowadays we’re just not used to talking about politics. People are afraid to talk about it, since deep down they feel they don’t have authority enough to talk about it. They are used to a fastfood life, to entertainment, and feel intimidated when it comes to serious topics. Politics ends up being a theme that exposes their weaknesses, or even worse, the condition in which most of us live: of alienation. So if society is afraid to talk about politics, it’s necessary that the artist does. He is a free being. He is a person who has the courage to expose himself, or at least should. And I think that if my work so far had any reception, it is precisely because I do this,

Sometimes he just wants to provoke an emotional reaction, an impression, that has nothing to do with his direct experiences, and this can be very good as well. Many interesting contemporary artists, such as Thomas Hirschhorn and Michael Light, use to

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Fernanda Vizeu

because I don’t try to maintain neutrality or hide myself. I make myself available to talk openly about the issues I consider necessary. But I do not think my works are propaganda because I'm not trying to convince anyone of anything. I just want to communicate directly with the public, to expose issues to the world, to make people debate. And deep down that is to raise a flag of freedom, which is the opposite of propaganda. Because propaganda doesn’t want to provoke discussion, it wants everyone to accept that and to understand it as a unique reality or the better one. Propaganda is the opposite of freedom, it’s prison. With it you want someone to submit to an idea, you want to convince someone of something. And I'm not trying to convince anyone of anything. I don’t want anyone to be an anarchist or socialist, or whatever. In fact it's just like: “Man, you are not seeing this!?". It is to draw attention to something. Of course a lot of people don’t understand that and think I'm a propagandist. But that’s because they aren’t seeing what I’m seeing. The environmental collapse that scientists predict for the coming decades is already happening. In Brazil, the largest mining company in the world, Vale, a Brazilian company that was state-owned but was privatized and sold to a foreign capital, has just committed one of the largest environmental crimes in our world’s history: two mud dams with mining toxic waste collapsed, killing people, decimating cities and wiping out life in one of the most important rivers of Brazil, the Rio Doce. The mud trail took the lives of animals, affecting thousands of people in communities that depend on the river for fishing and water supply. All the flora and fauna of the region were affected with still incalculable consequences, probably for hundreds of years. The mud has already reached the sea and is reaching areas of environmental preservation, where whales reproduce, turtles spawn, etc. But Brazilian press reported it showing Vale as a victim of a fatality, protecting the company, because it funds political campaigns and advertises in mainstream official media, but so far has done little to repair the damage. They even said that the mud was not toxic and that it would serve as a fertilizer to help in the recovery of the region. And thousands of people are still without water. The most truthful information about the case is only being released because of the militant people on the internet.

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The exhibition "Brazil Exposed" in the art festival 48 St

This case is just to give one example, since the same happens with news about demonstrations, about internal and external economy, and with everything that is related to the collective interest but is centralized in the hands of few, in Brazil and

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unden Neukölln, Berlin

worldwide. Deep down, we know nothing of reality. It's just an elite protecting itself while exploiting us. Negotiations that don’t represent the people. The current political-financial system is not working. But the majority still thinks so,

precisely because the media is in the hands of these same people, who don’t promote debate. It’s not an abstract issue, right? It’s information. I’m sharing information. Information that many people are not aware of. But I don’t expect that

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The exhibition "Brazil Exposed" in the art festival 48 Stunden Neukölln, Berlin

By the way, although the following assumption might sound a bit naive, we are convinced that nowadays Art can play an active role not only in exposing and interpreting sociopolitical issues, but also and especially to offer us an unexpected way to solve them... what's your

everyone accepts it. What I want is to provoke discussion. It’s the least I can do as an artist, since I’m aware of that. Whoever wants to receive it, will.

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in touch with that artwork. Because often, art trespasses, affects a human being in ways that go far beyond emotional and intellectual aspects. Perhaps art can unite both and it’s precisely that that makes it transformative. I think the artist achieves a transformation when he not only thinks about pleasing the audience or does something beautiful to be contemplated, but when he thinks about the transforming power of that work. When he thinks of provoking something, when he thinks about raising discussion about something, when he thinks about raising questions... So I think that art has that power. If the artwork is only something to be appreciated, it ends up becoming something static, only aesthetic, to be beautiful, and loses that transformative potential. The point is that when there is a real provocation, the work runs the risk of not being pleasing, of being misunderstood, especially when you exceed some formal limits. Many people may not understand it as art, and therefore not accept it. Then the artist will have to work to legitimize it. But often the artist doesn’t want to take that risk, because he wants or needs to sell it. So yes, I think art has this potential to transform, but that depends mainly on the artist’s courage, of how far he takes its thematic and formal choices and for what purpose he is producing. In my case, if after seeing one of my works the observer experiences a short-circuit in his mind, I think it’s working. Then I will have already caused a change. If from that he starts to question a little more, getting more aware, or starts to contextualize information, liking blogs and independent pages that are today what brings information closer to reality, if it makes him become more aware of the issues that my work attempts to discuss, I think I will already have contributed to this transformation and the work will have made some sense. Another interesting project of yours that has particularly impacted on us and on which we would like to spend some words is entitled CATRACACATRACA, that can be viewed at https://www.facebook.com/catracacatraca: in which your inquiry about the border between legal and illegal stimulates the viewer’s psyche both at a conscious level, urging us to subvert the common way we relate ourselves with the contradictions that marks out the reality we inhabit... would you like to tell our readers

point about this? And in particular, how can an artist give a move to the variery of issues that affects our contemporary unstable societies?

I think that art has the power to transform society via the transformation of the individual who gets

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something about the genesis of this project? And in particular, what kind of responde you received during the performance?

“Catracacatraca” originates from an illegal increase in the tickets of public transport in Rio de Janeiro and in several other cities in Brazil. This was the catalyst for the demonstrations to begin, because it has become increasingly clear for some that the state works to promote the interests of private companies. Like I mentioned, as the media criminalized these movements, the demonstrations quickly lost strength. Then no change happened. The ticket costs did not decrease. They increased even more a few months later. So the work stems from a response to this context. In fact, it derives from a question: what if someone decided simply not to pay the ticket, decided to jump the turnstile? Because if we protest and nothing happens, if the government’s commitments to us, those that should be the beneficiaries of public services, are not met, then what? What if we get there and also don’t fulfill our part? And if we simply don’t pay? I talked about it with Peter Boos, my partner in life and art, who is co-creator of the performance, and he found it interesting, that it was worth it. So we began to discuss how to aestheticize it. It soon seemed clear that the best platform to generate debate would be the internet. So, at first, the idea was that I would jump the turnstile of some buses while holding a camera, recording what would happen and how much it was effective or not, and then publish the recordings on the internet. We knew there was a risk involved, like being arrested, for example, since I would be doing something illegal. But then, already in the first attempt, we understood that it wasn’t necessary to do it more times because the debate was already triggered in our first trial. During the performance, on the bus, there were people who reacted against, but also people who supported me, like the man who decided to pay for my ticket so I wouldn’t get kicked off the bus by the police. Many people also found it funny, laughed. I think all the ones present were affected. But there was a woman, specifically, who was more noticeably affected than the others. She felt angry with me and the police, who did nothing, and also got angry with the passenger who paid for my ticket. But I didn’t get angry with her, since she was the fulcrum for

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Reaction of a passenger during the performance art "C

the work. It was her reaction that allowed an immediate debate. That’s why the video spread so quickly when posted on the internet. It had an immediate impact, with 15,000 views in 3 days and many comments about the legality or legitimacy of it, about to what extent we are not

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atracacatraca", inside a bus in Rio de Janeiro

distorting things, or allowing groups of society to distort them. The reaction of people who saw the video was divided. Either they were in favor of it or against it. There was no middle ground, since these were current affairs in the country. There were also chauvinistic and violent comments like

"this bitch should be lynched," "if I were inside that bus I would rape her," "pothead," "leftist," or saying that I was a militant of a party, etc. The work ended up denouncing the conservatism of Brazilian society. It brought up a necessary debate, although riddled with prejudices. And

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Registry of the debate that took place during the performance art "Catracacatraca"

only an extreme situation like this can generate such a deep discussion on practical life. The woman on the bus gave voice to what most of the population thinks. Apart from her, the collector and the driver were also against it arguing that they would need to pay for my

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ticket, which is absurd, but it may be true. Unfair, but real. One more point for discussion. Of course, most understood the work just as another protest, without recognizing that this is art, but it is. So Peter and I have been working to legitimize it as art. The work has demanded that from us.

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concepts and ideas, have you ever happened to realize that a symbiosis between different viewpoints and practices is the only way to achieve some results, to express specific concepts?

I don’t know if it’s the only way. Maybe. I think it depends on each work, on what you want to talk about. Before you know the language, it’s art. So, what is the real efficient way to be able to communicate with the audience? I think that if the work requires a symbiosis of different mediums, concepts or viewpoints in order to reach a discourse, then yes, symbiosis should be used. Let’s spare no work. But this is only the artistic support, the consequence, not the genesis. In the case of my works, I think there is a symbiosis as a consequence, because the result was beyond my control. The works showed their own dimension. So I have the impression that, in these works, the issues approached is what’s important. The why. They indicate where the work should go. And they are what say if the work has any relevance or not. In "Untitled or And the people in the dining room," the photographic record of the performance by another artist is what spread. It was shared by more than 1,800 people in only 48 hours. Whereas "Catracacatraca" is a performance that became a short-film and now a theater play. It’s a work in process. And today the records of both works are part of a larger project: the exhibition Brazil Exposed. The result itself is guiding the direction of the following steps, because the discussion still proves to be necessary. Is it performance? Is it intervention? Is it Invisible Theatre, as already commented? Is it video art? It doesn’t matter, it’s all this together. What matters now for me and Peter, in the development of our work together, since he has directly participated in it, is what needs to be said. So let’s use all possible means to achieve this. During your career you had the chance to collaborate with many creative people. We believe that interdisciplinary collaboration as the one that you have established with the actress Ariane Hime and the artist Peter Boos is today an ever growing force in Art and that some of the most exciting things happen when creative minds from different fields of practice meet and collaborate on a project... could you tell us something about this effective synergy?

It’s part of it, as it has to do with its nature. And it’s my responsibility to carry it on if I want it to make some sense. Your approach is marked out with a deep multidisciplinary approach: while superimposing

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By the way, the artist Peter Tabor once stated that "collaboration is working together with another to create something as a synthesis of several practices, that alone one could not": what's your point about this? Can you explain how your work demonstrates communication between several artists?

I think so. If Ariane or Peter didn’t participate, I’m sure the works wouldn’t be the same. In fact, they wouldn’t even have taken place because they originated from the dialogue I had with each of them. If it were only me watching television, without Ariane, the performance would almost have another meaning, one of loneliness for example, rather than of something communal. We had already done other works together and between us there was a very intimate and sincere interaction, what means that we trusted each other in making such risky decisions. Moreover, Peter also contributed to the critical view of the work, regarding how we would present it later. And as me and him are a couple, and we are both artists, of course we are constantly talking about our world views, about art, about what we want of our work, separately and together. This dialogue between us was also essential to understand what were the risks involved in "Catracacatraca," how that could be good or bad for us, and what our stance should be, since there is a fine line between the performance and our own life. It was important to understand the signifier and signified of the work and what would be the best way to continue to communicate with the audience beyond that single gesture, because we understood that the work didn’t end there. It was necessary to discuss a lot in order to understand how to make the work say what we wanted, going beyond the rejections it received. So I think both are not works that call for collaboration, but that originate from it. In these cases, it’s the nature of the relationship that determines the product, if it’s a sincere and honest partnership, if it’s organic, and not imposed for the production of a project. Aside from the fact that in the two performances there was space for cooperation not only between us artists, but also space for collaboration from the viewer.

Post-performance registry of "Untitled or And the peop of your approach is the chance of establishing a direct involvement with the viewers, who are called to evolve from a mere spectatorship to conscious participants on an intellectual level, so before leaving this conversation I would like to pose a question about the nature of the relationship of your art with your audience. Do

Over these years your works have been showcased in several occasion and an hallmark

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le in the dining room" you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decisionmaking process, in terms of what type of language is used in a particular context?

Well, in "Untitled or And the people in the dining room" the interaction with the audience is less susceptible. The performance is an image, which is independent of the interaction with who sees it, even if records have shown that other people appropriated the work after we fled the bombs,

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tell our readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving?

as the case of two men that continued doing the performance in our place. Of course also that due to the circumstance we found ourselves in, we could have been hurt, or even killed (laughs), and that would determine another ending to the performance. Then, thinking it over, yes, it’s susceptible to the audience’s interference. Especially because it also gained the collaboration of another artist, the photographer Byron Prujansky, who we didn’t even know, but that suggested a name when he published the photo, and that was assimilated as part of the title. I also think that the massive sharing of the photo endorses the content of the work, revealing how that speech is a reality for part of society. In "Catracacatraca" the audience’s participation is a key component, as I do it precisely in order to see what will be the reception of the ones present. Without their participation the performance doesn’t exist, because I’m proposing myself to do a portrait of society through a deliberate action to provoke a discussion. I did it exactly to see what would happen, in an almost documentary sense like: if I do this, what’s the consequence? And the fact that the woman in the bus was available to debate, even if against it, but available, was what facilitated the appearance of the issues we wanted to discuss. In addition to that, there is another layer of audience’s reception, that happened when the records were published on the internet, generating many comments that were later used as part of Brazil Exposed. The critical look for it as an artwork often appears only to the person who sees the video record, as those who were directly involved during the execution of the performance don’t have time to think about it, but only to react. For some, only later, with the way how we present the work, that the performance gains a meaning. When a third spectator sees the work in an exhibition, he can see it with detachment, and not only if it was just another life event. So he can comprehend that it's all about what the Brazilian society thinks in this political moment. After all it’s almost as if the audience weren’t audience, but author and character. And if I were just an instrument for this to happen.

At the moment I’m developing a continuous work with my partner Peter Boos, as we have several projects in theater, performance and video that we want to do together and that we are producing one after another. The priority now is to make each time more people enter in contact with the registries of the two performances. That’s why we are working a lot to bring Brazil Exposed to galleries and art shows. In addition, we have "Catracacatraca" evolving into a theater play, which is our area of origin. We already finished a dramaturgy that includes the transcription of the debate that took place on the bus and also the comments to the performance after it was published on the internet. We are working to stage it, as we believe that in theater it’s possible to have the audience’s attention for a longer time and thus to create a deeper discussion. What I aim is to be in service. If we artists seek to address issues that society demonstrates urgently need to discuss, understanding better the role that we can exert from that space of awareness, then we will be using the real transformative potential of art. I think that's the most important. For that reason I would also like to thank you very much for the interesting questions and for the space that ART Habens gave me to talk about so controversial issues.

An interview by Dario Rutigliano, curator and Melissa C. Hilborn, curator arthabens@mail.com

Find out more about the works in: https://www.facebook.com/fernandavizeu.art https://www.facebook.com/catracacatraca

See a video playlist in: https://goo.gl/E67ArV

Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Fernanda. Finally, would you like to

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Fernanda Vizeu and Peter Boos, partners in art and life


Lee Clift The art I produce is about objects, people, emotions and places. I often use found materials or location, this takes me on an exploration of reactions to those objects or places. The perception between object and viewer is where my interests lays. I think ever artist goes through a relinquishing of personal ownership of what they produce and the realisation of that separateness of ownership. I have always been interested in the effect of visceral experiences, the object is merely a conduit of emotion and has no meaning or attachment other than where it takes me. I see everything as a construct of a composed reality within the work and this reality finds me as much as I find it. I explore the construction of these unrelated objects that create an otherwise invisible narrative to create a new way of thinking and seeing (the unseen), I consider it a cut and paste form of meditation providing a new trains of thought that are often a pertinent starting point for the previously unknown, although sometimes there is little meaning in the initial encounter often they form relationships when conjoined over time and space. leaving it to nurture inside. It is the mystery of attraction, interaction and chance. Objects possess a soul and they wait for the right person or situation to charge them with an energy and frequency that is otherwise dormant. I produce work through part instinct, part process and that most important element Chance although a belief in that chance mutates with every action. Like most artists this can become an obsessional reviewing and rearranging process if you let it overtake you, but I revel in the unperfected, unfinished state, its an acquired skill to recognise when something is incomplete but balanced, in this hectic media filled world stopping to look and contemplate is what I realise benefits my work the most. The trivial things of life are often the most interesting aspects of looking, I think this attitude stems back to a childhood spent playing with a set of miniature soldiers. looking intently at them taught me to go inside myself and create a separate reality, your attention can start a new path of thinking, often there is no deep thought put into this, it is only over time that a solid idea is created, I run with everything I think could be a starting point until I realise it is going nowhere, I then move on, it is like a car journey where you read the signs to the next location. I like the fact that the results are often not the initial intention but a unique and surprising outcome. We are influenced by everything we consume and our head space is the only remaining refuge of an unmanipulated personal expression. Simplicity is beauty.

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video, 2013

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An interview with An interview by Dario Rutigliano, curator and Melissa C. Hilborn, curator arthabens@mail.com

Ranging in a wide variety of media, cross disciplinary artist Lee Clift is now focussing on the notion of repetition: his work Sound Generation Prototype No2, that we'll be discussing in the following pages, is an attempt to remove the artist/composer from the production of composition and invites the viewers to explore the ubiquitous relationships between objects and place, bringing to a new level of significance to the concepts of authenticity and meaning. One of the most convincing aspects of Clift's work is the way he forces our perceptual parameters to create a concrete aesthetic from experience and memories: we are very pleased to introduce our readers to his refined artistic production. Hello Lee and welcome to ART Habens. We are always interested in the stories behind how an artist became an artist: to start this interview, would you like to tell our readers something about your background? In particular, are there any experiences that informed your cultural substratum and that impact on the way you relate yourself to art making?

Lee Clift

Like a lot artists it started for me with a love of drawing as a child, I spent a great deal of time exploring this imersive world and I could truely loose myself in it, I remebered I used to imitate noises of the objects I was drawing, even then the world was audioble as well as visual to me, I grew up in a working class environment, being an Artist was never concidered a worthy pursuit, my family were mainly builders so it was inevitable that I would be one to, I did that for a few years but I never really felt I was in the right place, it did teach me some valuable

skills in construction. After the Building work period of my life I began work at IBM. For over ten years I was in a noise filled basement filled with large industrial photocopying equipment, these were hugh machines that printed the IBM educational material, it was a constant chugging noise that was at first nausiating but after a few mounths became unnoticable, the work was mainly heavy mannual work there were periods when all

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the machines were stocked with paper and you had nothing to do, I started to use these as an opitunity to read, I read extensivly on a wide range of subjects including Art, this was the begining of my conecting the possibility of becoming an artist, I started getting together a portfolio of work secretly, at this point I was more interested in living life than any posibility of it becoming an Artist, that all changed though with a back injury I sustained from the repetative action of the work I was doing. I became pretty much useless for mannual work, the pain was immence, this is where my Art schooling started as I enrolled on what they called an Access course, it covered various subjects printing, photography, ceramics the usual Art subjects. I met some amazing people on this course and some really great lectures who's encouragement pushed me to the next level of going to University. I leaned heavily towards wanting to be a painter, I showed promise in that area and got an interveiw at Winchester School of Art with Nick Stewart the head of fine art, I showed him my portfolio which he quickly flicked through, I left thinking it had gone badly, but to my astonishment I recieved a letter obtaining a place. university taught me new ways of thinking and I became interested in using video and sound,Winchester School of Art has a great library so I started looking beyond my preconceptions of what Art is and could be. One lecture stands out in my mind the day Brain Eno and Paul Morley came, I was a fan of his and I loved "Another Green Planet" the penny dropped in that lecture about the importance of sound in everything I was doing, until i'd joined that dot it was on the periferal for me.

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I finished my three years at univesity and obtained my degree, after leaving that intensly cloustered environment you have to start to make work on your own, this is the point that it becomes your practice, you are self governed and feedback becomes self regulatory, in a way I was lucky being a mature student because I already had a

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You are a versatile artist and we have particularly appreciated the interdisciplinary feature that marks out your multifaceted production. While superimposing techniques and concepts from different spheres and consequently crossing the borders of different artistic fields, have you ever happened to realise that a symbiosis between different viewpoints is the only way to convey the

certain disaplin, but even so my work suffered at first, paying the bills started to limit my output. I'm in a good place now I feel, exploring things I find intersting I use any spare money I get to produce work, it is as simple as that, Investigation, Investigation, Investigation.

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ideas you explore and to express specific concepts?

in control as well as experimentation, what I mean by that is it partly releases you from determining the out come of a process, it is about chance as much as it is about selection, you are dealing with a mental aesetic as well as a visual aesetic. Releasing total control over any action I believe is mentally impossible there is always something of you in every action, its

The symbiosis of different veiw points to me is an area I'm greatly intersted in, I think that started for me with reading about Surrealism, that pairing of random words and objects to form a new meaning has a poetical beauty about it, it is a lesson

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For this special issue we have selected Sound Generation Prototype No2 that our readers have already started to get to know in the ntroductory pages of this article: the main idea behind this stimulating works is an attempt to remove the artist/composer from the production of composition: when we first happened to get to know it we tried to relate all the information to a single meaning. But we soon realized that we had to fit into the unity suggested by your approach, forgetting our need for a univocal understanding of its content: in your videos, rather that a conceptual interiority, we can recognize the desire to enabling us to establish direct relations... Would you say that it's more of an intuitive or a systematic process?

I would have to say both to that question, intuitive and systematic. In the early phase of the Prototype experiment I developed the idea on a long walk that I take every morning, I find this helps me clear those things that keep circling your thoughts, I suppose its a form of meditation, anyway the idea was fully formed in my head when I returned to my sudio but it was a different concept entirely that involved ping pong balls on a rotating machine, I sketched out that idea and as I progressed I realised that I would have to simplify it mainly because of cost of matterials, nesessity as they say is the mother of invetion, so I built Prototype No1 out of cardboard and gaffer tape and substituted the ping pong balls for marbles, this was purely a test to see if it was sonicaly palitable. There was a lot of ajusting involved because of various factors, at the time I was interested in musical composition and also systems, I was looking for a method to detach the performer from interpreting the sound and thus reacting to it, I suppose I wanted to remove the human element, the machine

what makes everyone unique. How we make those connections is the interesting part, life is all about connection, we look for path ways and we also constuct them. Removing choice is an interesting experiment but impossible to achieve, we always like one thing more than another.

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was the means of removing that interaction, repertition was a means also of removing the temptation to move toward harmony, the drone I feel shifts us towards a state of reflection and that was part of the original conception the watching element. Sound Generation Prototype No2 us has impressed us also for its successful attempt to go beyond a mere interpretative aspect of the reality you refer to. As the late Franz West did in his installations, your work seems to reveal unconventional aesthetics in the way you deconstruct and assemble memories into our collective imagery, to draw the viewer into a process of self-reflection. What is the role of memory in your approach?

I think memory forms all our reactions to any aeshetic, we can't escape the fact that we are what we believe we are, I embrace that and the reaction of others to what you present shouldn't in my opinion desire any specific responce, once you've concived it it is no longer owned by you, this is something some artist find hard to grasp, I personaly love the way children percieve the world, it is memory in action they bypass intention and go with gut responce from what they know its a purer form of thought. Memory played a significaant roll for me on Prototype No2 because the materials were metal parts used from my deceased Grandfathers old workshop, this brought back the smell and sound of that place on a personal level, this would have no relevance to anyone else, but it was a factor for me. Process changes all the time, even through I explore developing systems that are ridged I always addear to the need for flexability, outcome is never predetermind. I am always amazed by reactions from other people, they tell you about things

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that were never there conciously but subconciously you must be thinking about them, that is interesting to me. Sleep plays an important roll in my formation of ideas, I always have a notepad to wake up to. What has at soon caught our eyes of your approach is the way it unveils the convergence between reminders to universal imagery and a abstract gaze on the elusive concept of space. Such compelling combination reminds us of the idea behind Thomas Demand's works, when he states that "nowadays art can no longer rely so much on symbolic strategies and has to probe psychological, narrative elements within the medium instead". While the conception of Art could be considered an abstract activity, there is always a way of giving it a sense of permanence, going beyond the intrinsic ephemeral nature of those concepts you explore. So we would take this occasion to ask you if in your opinion, personal experience is absolutely indispensable as part of the creative process? Do you think that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience?

I am part of the last generation that remembers a pre-internet age and also life before the mobile phone,these two inventions have radically changed space, making it smaller, I remember how it felt before these two inventions and they completely altered the world, I have always loved and embraced technology though, I mention this because I think what Demand's say about symbolic strategies is very true now, knowledge is readily available and this makes a difference in peoples perception, we are in a symbiotic relationship with our media devices they feed us new naratives constantly that subtely manipulate us.

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Probing the psychological is probably the only new horizon left it interests me a great deal in myself and others, changing pschology is the holy grail of thought, I tend to embrace everything that is unexspected I don't know about anyone else but I love to be surprided at life its an emotion you can't manipulate there is a purity to it, our knowledge base now is so vast that not much surprises us, repitition of information I think can ultimatly dull the senses to a point where manipulating conections in peoples thinking has become a complicit action, happening in a state of complete apathy. I concider most activities to be abstract not just art, disconecting personal experience from the creative process is I find almost impossible but looking for ways to distort your approach to a subject is something I always try to do, I am trying to develope systems but at the same destroy them. Your approach to ideas as an artist is forever changing and developing ideas should never become routine. A crucial aspect of your practice concerns the exploration of the relationships between found objects and places: as you have remarked once, you like the fact that the results are often not the initial intention but a unique and surprising outcome. When highlighting the evokative potential and the emotional contents of objects, you seem to urge us to challenge the relation between our cultural substratum and our limbic perceptual parameters: to quote Simon Sterling's words, this could force things to relate that would probably otherwise be unrelated. Do you agree with this interpretation? And in particular, what is the creative role that chance plays in your approach?

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The more I have thought about this aspect of my practice the clearer it becomes, we try our hardest to form connections with most things, separation or isolation unnerves us, we form a narative with virtually everything we see, as soon as we

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make a suggestion of an objects relationship to another by placing it in a contained interacting environment they becomee relavant to each other, Life has aquired a heightened sense of interaction in recent years I think social media has

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played a massive part in this, people have embraced it whole hartedly now, they use it in ways that they wouldn't act out in person, some people use their virtual persona in an emotional and potentialy dangerous way, we have a sort of collective

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conciousness now, the individual becomes less and less important, it is now an online collection of egos that we regulatate with our own moral codes, I have thousands of facebook friends and I have created lives for some of them purely by the things they

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post I don't know them personaly but I know their virtual lives that is what I mean by life being abstract now, I'm astounded daily by the openness of people that really just want an encouraging word.

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I think art will always remain a commodity in a monitary sense, any thing of value will always be used as a status symbol, this is the functional aspect to dealers, its big buisness, having said that though I believe art still has the power to change things even if it is only from the sidelines, I have seen people effected by art in a very intimate and personal manner I have felt it myself that is a hard thing to difine, there are so many annomillies involved in that expereince that I think it would be hard to define it in words. the functional aspect of art is endless but if we are talking about art on a spiritual level I do believe it enriches us as a collective, it is an undefinable nessesity for progression. It teaches us a lot. Your practice is connected to the chance of establishing a spontaneous involvement with the viewer - we daresay - deleting the forntiers betwee the author and the spectatorship. So, before taking leave from this interesting conversation I would like to pose a a question about the nature of the relation with your audience: in particular, do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decision-making process in terms of what type of language for a particular context?

I see the audience as a vital component to everything I do, even though I do make work that I never show, because on a personal level it is to intamate, this I suppose relates also to the idea of the conection between object and memory. I never get precious about my work, life teaches you that you really are not that important, so put it out there be shot down in flames, they are all just forks in a road that lead you to where you need to be, adversity always teaches you more. As to

Your works trigger primordial parameters concerning our relation with physicality: as Gerhard Richter once remarked, "my concern is never art, but always what art can be used for": what is your opinion about the functional aspect of Art in the contemporary age?

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Lee Clift

Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Lee. Finally, would you like to tell our readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving?

being a crucial component to my decision making I would obviously take them in to consideration in the final stage but I believe strongly in instinct being a great gauge early on, what catches your attention in what is interesting, it's a simplistic approach but rule number one of any artist should be to look at what interests you and ask why?.

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I'm very obsessed with sound at this present time I have been recording

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everything, I'm particulaly interested in over heard bus conversations, I have a growing collection of what I'm calling Soundscapes that I'm working on, I am making connections in all aspects of visual and audioble media how sound can relate and transform the image, I do still paint a little but streets and forests have recently become my studio, people

ART Habens

fasinate me, If I had to define my practice at the moment it would have to be all about movement and the interaction of sound. I think this will be an area I will be heading. Its been great talking to you and many thanks for this opitunity for explaining my work, you have helped me define it more in my own mind and connected a few more neural pathways......

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Anna Parisi

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Anna Parisi Anna Parisi

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Graduated with a bachelor's degree in communications at PUC-Rio with a specialization in filmmaking, I started flirting with strategic planning back in 2009. I have worked in the marketing team at GPA PontoFrio - planning and approving all electronic media for TV and Radio. From there I worked at the design office Ana Laet, attending the Barra Shopping account and the Festival Panorama de Dança. I deepened my studies in planning and branding and consumer anthropology before moving on to work at Cravo Ofício Comunicação & Design as Strategic Planner with clients such as Natura and Coca-Cola Latin America. Before heading to New York City to study at the School of Visual Arts New York I acted as innovation and strategy consultant at MJV Technology and Innovation, performing research and defining all creative content strategy for both the marketing and innovation teams. My major aim was to unite both teams and promote a collaboration spirit within the leading teams. My love for strategic design, creativity and arts have always driven my eager need to learn and understand new processes and methodologies. For that reason, I accepted to work as assistant photographer for the french Gitty Darugar during my stay in New York City. Together we photographed both buildings built by Christian Portzamparc in Manhattan during the fall and winter of 2013.

video, 2013

Upon my return to Rio de Janeiro I was invited by FLAG - The Creative Disruptive Network to work as a freelance concept planner for specific projects at their hub inside W/McCann and in their newest office in Rio de Janeiro. During this intense period of work I dealt with clients such as Lojas Americanas, Pro Plan, Coca-Cola, Universal Channel and Revena. 022 4

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An interview with An interview by Josh Ryder, curator and Barbara Scott, curator arthabens@mail.com

Anna Parisi's work explores the elusive but ubiquitous sense of isolation that pervades contemporary societies, inviting the viewers to rethink about the concept of human relationships. In The Forget Me Not Postcard Project that we'll be discussing in the following pages, she highlights the need of establishing the true connections between people: her direct approach draws the viewers into a liminal area in which staticity and dinamism find an unexpected point of convergence, creating a compelling and multifaceted aesthetics. One of the most convincing aspect of Parisi's approach is the way it condenses the permanent flow of associations in the realm of memory and experience: we are really pleased to introduce our readers to her stimulating artistic production. Hello Anna and welcome to ART Habens: we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your background. Over these years you have earned a wide experiences working in agencies and about two years ago you finally decided to join the MA program at the School of Visual Arts in New York. What has lead you to make this leap in your career? In particular, how does the relationship between your Brazilian roots and a multicultural place as New York how do these experiences influence the way you relate yourself to art making and to aesthetics?

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am, however, applying to three art schools in New York, but I will keep it a secret, for now, so that I don’t jinx it. Since I was small, I have had a connection to the arts. As a kid, I used to play the flute. When I got a little bit older, I was part of the lower school choir called “the musical stars” – we would dance and sing and act. I did drama plays and poetry readings. I wrote poems of my own. In high school I participated in the literature magazines both in English and Portuguese, writing poems and short essays. I loved photography. I LOVE photography still. My first college option was literature, and I studied it for a

Hello! First of all, thank you for the invitation to participate in this issue of Art Habens Contemporary Art Review, I am very pleased! Well, I would like to clear one thing out for the readers because maybe that got confused up; I am not enrolled in the MA program at the School of Visual Arts. I did attend several continuing education courses there in 2013 during a sabbatical period. I

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flight had been overbooked and I was stranded in Madrid. So I headed back to my hostel at four in the morning and managed to get inside the closed lobby, only to find that there was a barefoot drunk Swiss guy sitting down in the lobby as well. He held a cigarette in his hands but had no lighter. I had no cigarette to smoke but had a lighter. I wanted a cigarette; he needed a lighter – so a deal was made. We headed up to the terrazzo of the Madrilenian hotel and in a very Hollywoodian scene while the sun was rising; he told me that he was going to be a papa. I’m saying all this because this guy, Andre Cerbe asked me a question that was the first step for my whole career change; he asked: “what would you do tomorrow if you were not afraid.” It does seem lame and a little “eat, pray, love”, but that is when it all began. I endured one more year of corporate life and decided to head to New York for a small sabbatical period to take art courses. Since 2013 I have been to New York five times to take art courses, to visit schools, exhibitions, museums. I know where I want to be. I don’t remember who said this, but it is so absolutely true: “New York, it gets to you.” Maybe it was Paul Auster. Or maybe I want it to be Paul Auster because I love his writing so much. Anyways. I have carried New York inside me; just as all of Brazil has always been a companion to me. I studied at an American School my whole life. I went to New York for the first time when I was six, then never again until 28 years old. I had a dream of NYC in my head. But I know that New York does not feed all the parts of me.

year and a half. Then I switched to communications because I was afraid that, in Brazil, I wasn’t going to be able to have a secure future as a writer. But then again, what is security and who can guarantee tomorrow, right? Anyways, back then I was younger and had older parents that cared and loved me too much. They feared for me. They feared for this future I had chosen. Their idea of success involved a career based on monthly paychecks and office work. They knew no other option, and so they feared. I was young, and their fear became my fear. I graduated from Communications College with a minor in filmmaking. I just adored the life inside the set - the craziness of its rhythm. But I knew, that the movie set life was not for me, deep down I knew that screenplay was more my thing – but I kept quiet. The fear followed, and the pressures to earn money did too. So, soon enough I had to get working. I first worked at this major retail company called Ponto Frio and I just couldn’t see myself working there at all – it had nothing to do with me. It took me a while to learn that of course, but I learned quite quickly that to satisfy my family’s requests. I needed to find something that I liked working with that would give me the “stability” my family craved for. Marketing was just it – strategic planning, to be more exact. So I did that. I studied that. I read all the books I could. I took courses. I talked to every single hot shot in the market. And finally, I got a job. And I worked in agencies for a while. But I never did get the same goose bumps or the same butterflies in the stomach nor did tears roll down my face, as it did when I first saw the Winged Victory of Samothrace in the Louvre for the first time. Something just was not there.

There are three crucial aspects of living in New York that have influenced my work ever since I came back: the weather, the colors, and the shapes. New York is filled with different shapes. These geometries that overlap and reflect both modern and contemporary forms grasped my attention.

In 2012, I went on a trip to Spain by myself. I usually travel by myself. Curiously, when I was heading back, I missed my plane. The

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A stroll through the soothing and nurturing east village contrasted with the strict austerity of the financial district – I love it. I have to say that my first experiences with New York during the fall and winter were magical. The colors of fall were simply something new to me. There is no fall in Brazil. There is no intense red in nature except the dry red soil of Minas Gerais. I still feel that this red will translate into something in a further stage of my work – right now, I am still dealing with the colors of winter. I know for a fact that the Forget me not project was a reflection of this winter period, of this moment where I was up there in New York during the 2013 Polar Vortex, reflecting upon human connection, warmth, and touch. No wonder! I was cold, and I missed the sun! [Laughs] Carioca is the word used to call the people that were born and raised in Rio de Janeiro. There is a saying in Portuguese: “Cariocas hate cloudy days”. We hate rain and cold. We are sunny creatures. So, the winter and the fall changed me somehow. They were capable of bringing forth emotions that were repressed or long forgotten – winter and fall made me feel my own self in a very profound manner. It was an aesthetic experience of my own self. I have no doubt that I will be searching this experience again soon.

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I believe I do not have a process, but rather live within a process. I think my act of creating is an act of being in process, or rather being active in this thing I call my artistic process. I always felt I needed to express my overflowing feelings and perceptions of the world. I simply had to sit down, write or make a collage or photograph. My hands that always drew when I was younger got shy as the years evolved. But I always needed these same hands to manipulate paper. Collage was always there. There were only perhaps 4 or 5 years where I did not do one single collage – and I have no idea why. I simply stopped creating. Attending collage classes at School of Visual Arts made me touch and manipulate and feel again – as if paper, textures and sensibility all came together and my hands felt and spoke. In New York, I began collecting magazines. I am fond of working with very heavy or extremely fragile and translucent papers – and when picking magazine images, I prefer when they have a thick materiality to them. It didn’t take me a long time to notice that I loved collages with silhouettes and body parts. The absence of the silhouette when the image is removed through a process called decollage became an obsession. I believe that the absence of the silhouette reveals an ever waiting for the return of a figure that has left and shall never again be back. As if this “Saudade” I refer to in my works is a perpetual state of longing for something that is absent. Perhaps waiting for the return of a Godot that will never be back again, but not with the same pessimism – but with eyes that once in a while have mystical and symbolical encounters that are glimpses with this silhouette figure, this Godot, this holy grail and Dante’s Rose.

Before starting to elaborate about your production, would you like to tell to our readers something about your process and set up for making your artworks? In particular, as you have remarked in your artist's statement, the theme of "saudade" is a recurrent one in the works that we'll be discussing in the following pages. The word saudade, is well-known as it is a part of the title of an extremely popular song, but that cannot be properly translated into other languages. How does the elusive quality of saudade informs your work?

I believe that what is elusive about the word “Saudade” and the reason that it cannot be translated properly into other languages, is

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Anna Parisi

the fact that one cannot translate a word that is so drenched and entangled with the pure sensation and feeling that it evokes. Saudade is not a word. It is a feeling that someone decided to name, but never was able to translate. One can only know it, touch it; capture it fully if and only if one has lost something or someone so deeply.

the theme of "Saudade" without stumbling over the clear dichotomy between absence and presence. There would be no nostalgia if this absence was not completed by an immense presence. This presence that complements the absence is never there in reality. The South-African artist William Kentridge offers a perfect translation of this dichotomy in his 1991 drawing for the film "Sobriety, Obesity & Growing Old: Her Absence Filled The World". There, the concept of absence being able to complete and fill a void is a paradox in itself. But is there any other way to translate this emptiness? Can words convey the message so deeply as this paradox does?

I feel that I talk about this emptiness, this state of longing through my work. The unavoidable solitude that is common to everyone. I seek to convey the desire for a reconnection to something that feeds and nurtures us in our most humane aspects – the comprehension, compassion and humanity all of us crave for. Be it through postcards left around different cities of the world in the attempt to establish a connection between individuals. Or through collages that portray the emptiness of relationships and the way we interact with the world around us. Or perhaps even other projects of mine where I have sought to reestablish a connection between the individual citizens and their political participations – as, for example, when I presented the “Se Essa Rua Fosse Minha” project.

I question myself regarding the nature and the future of the “Forget Me Not Postcard Project” almost every other day. Its intrinsic process strays away from the digital medium and the contemporary dependency that our society has regarding the digital technologies, and shifts towards a more analogic approach. The major point that the project is proposed to discuss is specifically this reflection on how the digital technologies and social media are affecting inter and intrapersonal relationships and communication. However, I usually betray the core values of this project when I post an Instagram picture to report the developments of the project. The questions and ethical challenges regarding the inner processes of this project, many times clash with the needs to publicize the project itself. A simple decision of whether it should have a website, a Facebook or an Instagram account questions the very nature of the project. Sometimes I feel betraying my own ideas regarding its nature, but I figure that the act of reflecting upon an issue is of greater importance than the strictness of project parameters. The awareness of the problem is, at this time, more important than the rigorous process that the project requires. For me, the analogic action of

You are a versatile artist and we have highly appreciated the multifaceted feature that marks out your process and we would suggest our readers to visit http://cargocollective.com/annaparisi in order to get a synoptic view of the variety of your projects. While superimposing concepts and techniques from opposite spheres, have you ever happened to realize that a symbiosis between different viewpoints is the only way to achieve some results, to express specific concepts?

Sometimes this multifaceted feature that seems so characteristic of my process is quite confusing to manage. I do believe that certain concepts carry their opposites. For example, I find it rather difficult to deal with

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writing and delivering of each card is overridden by any exceptions that were granted to the process and making of the Forget Me Not Postcard Project.

the subways – all very proper, all very automatic, all very intrinsic to the behavior, chance had little space for action. New York: a liquid contemporary metropolis.

As artists we think we can translate the totality of concepts - with all its senses and nuances - that's a lie. Appointing a feeling and expressing the same feeling are two realities apart from each other - and what a task it is to translate feelings into artistic expressions!

I remember I bought a book down at Strand as I flipped past and skimmed through the pages while doing my laundry later that day, this passage stood out: “Its like a hurricane, a hurricane! There’s so much confusion here. Its like a hurricane.” I remember jotting down notes immediately on my cellphone. A reflection on how his modern age allows us to feel as if we are shielded and protected by the many screens around us. Protected by social media that prevent us from needing to interact face-toface with one another – we are always connected, hyper-connected and have fast access to anyone anywhere. The truth is, we are all islands - standing alone in a sea of turbulence. Connected, yet apart from each other. Craving to be part of something bigger, something more relevant – but we are not, we stand alone, sitting in our rooms. We are like messages in a bottle drifting and wandering at sea due to the coming and going of the tides.

All we have to do is reflect upon the Law of Polarity that states that everything is in a continuum and holds its opposite side: night and day, absence and presence, good and evil, life and death. Its hard not to convey a concept and have its opposing idea attached – inevitable, I’d say. We would like to start to focus on your artistic production beginning from The Forget Me Not Postcard Project, that our readers have already started to get to now in the introductory pages of this article. Would you like to walk our readers through your process when conceiving this stimulating process? In particular, what was your initial inspiration?

This was the spark that gave birth to the whole project. The whole concept revolved around the idea of messages drifting through space and waiting for a response, waiting to be found, craving for interaction. I believe that each art project needs to be guided by certain limitations, so I set the boundaries for this project: all postcards would be handwritten by myself, I would photograph the place where each card was left behind and all cards would be replied– provided they had a return address, of course.

New York is a huge city. Maybe not in size, but certainly in density. I realized that in New York life is lived by the clock – a schedule doctrine that most follow with discipline. Bumping by chance into a random person twice in the same day is almost as witnessing a miracle. In Manhattan, people cross the streets without looking at each other; they cruise blindly in the public space staring at their mobile devices. My first impressions of New York were of a robotic and automatic city – where everything and everyone knew their places and reacted accordingly to the blows of the hurricane. They walked fast, strayed from the homeless, stood to the right in the escalators, looked down without staring at

At first, I started leaving postcards myself. I walked through the city and left postcards around museums, subways, restaurants, libraries, shops – basically everywhere. Then I headed to New Jersey and left some in

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South Orange and Secaucus – I absolutely love South Orange in the winter. It didn’t take me long to notice that I would need help. Upon my return home from my sabbatical, during Christmas holidays I left some in Paris, but still it wasn’t enough. I needed to spread many more cards around in order to receive cards back. That’s when I made a decision to include others in my project. Everyone travels around the world and goes to amazing places that I will never have the chance to go to. They became my eyes. I decided to send pre-written postcards through them, with instructions: they had to leave the card in significant places, photograph the cards in these spots, tell me why these places where relevant to them, and send me these pictures. Now I had more stories to tell. The stories of those people that traveled and wished to share those intimate moments and the stories of those found postcards that were replied and both of them took time and required patience on my part. I had to wait for replies. And so the project grew and visited almost all continents. I dream of the day when I will be able to take one of my postcards to Iceland, The Sahara and Thailand myself - places I want to go.

I believe we, as a species, have created multiple realities to live in. We relate to each other and construct our own notions of individuality, personality, and autonomy within these different realities. We have not even noticed how deep down the rabbit hole we are, how late it is to go back and take the other pill - the reality pill - because our reality is so mixed up with this networked pseudo persona, life, and space we allowed ourselves to be sucked into by the advances of technology and the establishment of the world wide web connected realm. The medium is the message and we have missed the memo. Now we are bound to undeletable images of ourselves, codes that reveal forgotten conversations that were never really erased by the system - we are stuck to a digital trail or as you might wish to call it, a digital memory. I don't believe man can stray away from his symbollic constructions and language associations. We have, even before the Rosetta Stone, communicated through symbols, acknowledging symbollic structures and strategies. I do not quite agree with the analysis proposed. Our own development of language is based on the relationship of symbollic realities.

What has at soon caught our eyes of The Forget Me Not Postcard Project is the way it probes the capability of a medium to offer constructed realites to whom we relate. When questioning about the disconnect between physical experience and the immateriality of the technological simulation of physicality, suggested by social media, you seem to suggest the necessity of going beyond symbolic strategies to examinate the relationship between reality and perception. Do you agree with this analysis? In particular, is in your opinion personal experience is absolutely indispensable as part of the creative process? Do you think that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience?

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I do believe one must go beyond symbolic strategies to examine the relationship between reality and perception, but I believe that only through one's own repertoire of stories, symbols and myths is he able to truly connect to deep sensations and feelings and eventually be able to connect with one another. The beautiful last words uttered by the tragic hero Christopher McCandless, "happiness is only real when shared", in the movie and homonimous book "Into the wild" states more than simply a quote to guide a generation. It speaks about how we, as human beings, crave and need connection - we act in order to be seen.

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feelings into words and phrases and stories, so I have to admit a presence of these memories in my work.

Would we write to each other meaninglessly if there was no response? Would we create artwork if stranded in a desert island forever? I don't know if we would. I prefer to think of ourselves as social beings that need connection and need interaction.

This project is solely about reflecting about where we stand as individuals, our connections, how we relate to each other. It is about taking the time to answer a handwritten card, allowing time to act upon each other's lives, having the patience for a response to arrive. The postcard exchange questions the contemporary space-time status quo and offers a place for inward reflection for those writing me cards, for those that in their voyages have to choose a unique and significant place to abandon cards and be at the moment, and apparently, for myself.

We are a sum of our stories and our myths and our culture - we are a symbolical construct in context with our own time. I do question the need to reflect upon how each of us relate to one another within this fast, technological, hyper-stimuli and networked society we call contemporary world. But I don't think that personal experience can be cast aside, neither can the results of such experiences. These are crucial for every creative development, every creative process. There is no process if there is no path one chooses to travel by - even if when one reaches the fork in the road, be it the one less traveled by. Direct experience leads to error and failure, which lead to enhancement of skill and learning - this is the crucial basis for the creative process: enduring failure and adversity and learning through direct experience how to prevail.

This is a project where my responses are based on my actual feelings at the current moment when I sit down to reply each postcard. Questions are asked and I answer them openly. There is no space for a narrative construction here – it is what it is. I do not rewrite a card; I simply sit and reply to a postcard that I received, months after having sent a previous one. The narrative will only be built in due time, when I have a larger volume of responses to relate to and when connections are established through this slow-communication process I bound my project to. That is what I like about it, its uncertainty, how it takes time to evolve and how I have to remember what I said in a previous card and re-read the past stories to understand the whole story being created. I think this is a project about space and time and how it was then and a reflection on how we are willing to establish it nowadays.

In a certain sense, your successfull attempt to establish the true connections between people allows you to go beyond a mere interpretative aspect of the reality you refer to. As the late Franz West did in his installations, your approach seems to reveal unconventional aesthetics in the way you deconstruct and assemble memories in a collective imagery, to draw the viewer into a process of self-reflection. What is the role of memory in your process?

Rather than focusing on a process that deals with memory as one of its primary themes, I seek to establish a process where each individual has to access their perceptions and feelings, tackle the questionings and doubts and pains of their own inner self. Obviously, however, memories are the basis for the translation of such perceptions and

The impetuous way modern technology has nowadays came out on the top has caused a dramatic and sudden revolution around the idea of Art itself: while just few years ago it was a tactile materialization of an idea, we are today urged to rethink about the intimate aspect of the materiality of an

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artwork itself. When inviting us to a reflection of the consequences of pervasive media, you seem to highlight a subtle dichotomy between traditional art and new media: so we would take this occasion to ask your point about the relationship between Art and Technology. Do your think that Art and new media could assimilate one to each other?

This vast array of opportunities for new media art is, indeed, very exciting and stimulating. For artists, curators and the spectator, of course. The new techniques that are emerging due to new materials that are being created since Nano-technological and biotechnological advances are affecting everything! It is appalling and incredible! But one can't deny the fact that the gap between new media and traditional art is widening - a real dichotomy.

When I was studying filmmaking in college I came across a very interesting professor that spoke about the need to reflect upon the contemporary viewer and his inability to see. I remember I devoured his thesis paper in a week and was knocked over by his ideas of how we are blinded by the excessive light and stimuli of culture due to the multiple images and ever-growing repertoire of imagery around us. The idea of being hyper stimulated by the contemporary surroundings stuck to me. I have no doubt that the roots of The Forget Me Not Postcards Project lies in these first associations.

First of all, I think it is of utter relevance to point out that I believe in art as a form of expression of concepts through due processes. Having said that, I believe that technology is able to translate and express concepts. Value judgments regarding the means chosen for an artwork or another can only be discussed in order to assess the concept and coherence of the artwork itself - so I do not think that digital new media is superior or inferior to traditional art, that is irrelevant. Trust me, I am not an activist or militant for the traditional art forms. I do, however, believe in being conscious of one's choices always - whether in art or how we conduct our life choices.

Technology and its mediums have extended its tentacles pervasively nowadays. It is pervasive and invasive, but not necessarily noxious. When Walter Benjamin, back in 1936, wrote “The Work of Art in The Age of Mechanical Reproduction” and addressed the loss of the “aura” of the artwork he was reflecting upon similar issues that where troubling the creative minds who found themselves bowled over by Gutenberg’s press.

Each artwork requests a technique, material and process that make sense solely for that piece. One cannot force together puzzle pieces that do not fit - it will spoil the whole puzzle image. The same thing happens here. Let's think back to the contemporary hyperstimuli blindness issue I was mentioning before: artists nowadays are dazzled by technology and its possibilities. Sometimes, maybe many times even, concepts and inner artwork demands are being neglected at the expense of the desire to introduce the use of technology into a particular work. This is creating artworks that are devoid of substance. But let me be less rigid, for many artists are experimenting, testing these new

I find myself deeply drawn to and repelled by technology. I am an avid reader of technology websites, following up and keeping myself up to date with innovations regarding artificial intelligence, smart cities, the Internet of Things and human enhancement. I believe there is a very new place for artists to explore the new realm of possibilities that technology has provided.

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Hirschhorn and Michael Light, use to include socio-political criticism and sometimes even explicit messages in their works, that often goes beyond a mere descriptive point of view on the issues they face: do you consider that your works are political in this way or do you seek to maintain a neutral approach? In particular, what cold be in your opinion the role of an artist in the unstable contemporary societies?

technologies and having fun - and that is perfectly fine. I see the current moment as that first moment when a baby is exploring and learning the world through its mouth, you know? Our society and our artists are learning how to code, how to deal with technology that enhance their capabilities, we are testing the limits of this knowledge and questioning it. I am not sure if traditional art will be set-aside on that account, but I don't believe it will. New media is one thing and it will always exist and so will traditional art forms. The mixture between both will produce a very rich moment in the near future for the arts - or at least I hope.

Well, every work is political. Every action is a political action. My presence wearing black at or white at a certain place is a political attitude. The Forget Me Not Postcard Project is definitely a political one. It intends to provoke and to evoke thoughts on contemporary communications, relationships, technology, what binds us as human beings, memory, networked societies, all of that and many other interpretations that are messages embedded in my work – waiting to be uncovered.

The Forget Me Not Postcard Project offers to the viewer a key to find personal interpretations to the concepts you communicate through your works: this quality marks out your production in which, rather that a conceptual interiority, reveals the desire to enabling us to establish direct relations... Would you say that it's more of an intuitive or a systematic process?

In my opinion, artists have the liberty to be the freest beings. They suffer the turmoil and carry the weight of their sensibility and talent, but they transit within the many layers of society. And it is this ability to move within and through freely, to express themselves through many techniques, and the capacity they naturally have to be observant, sensitive antennas to the context around them that binds them to political responsibility to engage in change or become catalysts of change and reflection. I am not the first to say this, nor will I be the last. The artist has a political duty. I even think that the artist should fill in the void of the lost ethos and become at least a mirror that reflects the contemporary troubles through his or her artwork, actions or speech.

I'd say systematic, but the word does not seem to be a perfect fit. There is space for the viewer to build upon works by relying on their own repertoire of experiences, feelings and intuitive perceptions. But I have a concrete process of creating concepts and developing them into works. There are concrete interpretations and meanings that I picture and associate to each project or work - but words fly in the wind after they are spoken. The same happens after a work is created and finds a place for itself in the world. Interpretations will occur, be it systematically or intuitively, and I will not have control over them. It's clear that you draw a lot from the reality you inhabit: many interesting contemporary artists, as Thomas

Your approach is intrinsically connected to the chance of creating an area of

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intellectual interplay with the viewers, so, before taking leave from this interesting conversation I would like to pose a a question about the nature of the relation with your audience: in particular, do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decision-making process in terms of what type of language for a particular context?

your future projects? How do you see your work evolving?

Thank you for the opportunity! The Forget Me Not is actually an ongoing project and a three-part project, so I definitely see its evolution in time. I have not begun the other two parts, but they already have been sketched out and I am reflecting on the best ways to execute my ideas.

I don’t create for my audience. I create because I need to express one thing and another, and if there is an audience that is interested in my work I am very much satisfied. I cannot depend on the judgments and needs of my audience, and I learned this early on with the famous story of “The old man, the boy and the donkey” – basically you cannot please everyone, so the artist must please himself and work within the needs of each artwork.

I am interested by the fact that these postcards travel back and forth going to places I have never been to in most cases. I believe that there is a second and third stage of this project where I will have to track their motion and voyage around the world, but I face some inner artwork ethical decision-making challenges regarding the introduction of technology as a solution. As I said before I try to keep my work as coherent as possible, so I have to look for solutions that will fit the concept, techniques and processes I restricted myself to at the beginning of each project.

The decision-making process in a project relates solely to the concept. The concept of a project or artwork is what guides each decision. Sometimes I feel that the artwork is making its own decisions and I merely execute its needs.

Other than that, I am developing a project based on Gaston Bachelard’s “Poetics of Space” that will also require spectator interaction. This is a new artwork project that I am very excited about. I believe that I am evolving from collage into more interactive and sculptural art investigations.

The type of language is not premeditatedly adapted from one context to another. This is an ongoing and conversational artwork that demands interaction, time and the development of a trust relationship. You cannot fake that. Either it happens or not, either one falls in love with you or not, either you are hungry for it or not! I try to be as honest and transparent as I possibly can. Each postcard brings forth new questions, a new conversation, themes, and tones. Language is inherent to the process, but it’s my own language dealing with another person’s own language. You can’t build that in narrative.

An interview by Josh Ryder, curator and Barbara Scott, curator arthabens@mail.com

Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Anna. Finally, would you like to tell our readers something about

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Toban Nichols Nichols Like most things created by humans, computers often break-down while doing the work they were programed to do. I exploit these weaknesses, using the flaws as the genesis of my art. Through “databending” (forced errors or subverted “natural” function), I wrestle control away from the computer that results in unique digital output. The investigation of this distortion produces a self-reflexive understanding of digital technology that appropriates the semiotic nature of visual language. These images are then manipulated into a photographic or video medium. The final pictures attempt to destroy and reconstruct cultural significance and raise questions about the mediation of art vis-a-vis technology. Moreover, the forced glitches create a simple aesthetic that is rich in color and texture. Stripes become convoluted and intermixed; light and dark turn and twist into each other creating a dramatically chaotic architecture. Unique formal qualities of texture, light and motion are formed; and, contrast and flow growing more evident. Furthermore, pulsing, glowing light and patterns suggest movement and exploded and degraded pixels mutate into inorganic shapes. The data of this process is recorded to construct a digital terrain that striving to familiarize the now unfamiliar. Toban Nichols

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An interview with An interview by Josh Ryder, curator and Melissa C. Hilborn, curator arthabens@mail.com

Toban Nichols is a versatile artist whose practice ranges from video to photography and objects: the cross disciplinary nature of his approach leads him to conceive works that reject any conventional classification, to investigate about the semiotic nature of visual language. In his recent body of works entitled Dendroid that we'll be pleased to discuss in the folowing pages, he accomplishes the difficult task to subvert the viewers' perceptual parameters in order to force the level of significance of elements from the univeral imagery as environment and landscape. One of the most convincing aspects of Nichols' work is the way he manipulates images and the concept they convey to create an unconventional aesthetic from experience and imagination: we are very pleased to introduce our readers to hisr refined artistic production. Hello Toban, and a warm welcome to ART Habens. We would start this interview posing you some questions about your rich background: after earning a Bachelors degree in Painting, you nurtured your education in the field of New Media at the San Francisco Art Institute in California where you eventually received a MFA in New Genres. How have these experiences informed your evolution as an artist? In particular, how has the convergence between formal training and your cultural substratum informs the way you conceive and relate yourself to the aesthetic problem?

Toban Nichols

was. As a student you are given a set of rules for studio practice and for getting through college, getting your work done, making time for things outside of your studio practice, etc. Since that time, I’ve enjoyed the constraints of rules and found that following them created an environment where I could be creative but also fastidious. In my practice today, I still follow a set of rules that have morphed from my student days. I find rules to be very satisfying, at least for myself. I’m not really interested in forcing rules on other people. Establishing guidelines for making work gives me stability in the process and a place to begin. An example of guidelines would be: be-

In day-to-day life, I rely on being very organized and thrive on creating and following rules. I make one or two lists of things I need to get done every day. It’s ritualistic I suppose. Though I think I get the propensity from my Mother, who has always been very systematic, something I thought was normal when I lived at home and when I went off to college realized was not how every Mother

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fore beginning a project I decide a status the project will have in the larger scheme of things. What definitions the work creates or lives by and where it will live in relation to my body of work and what it represents overall. I make those sorts of preliminary decisions then dive into the project. My process has a lot to do with experimentation and decision making, probably like a lot of other artists. But I tend to think of it all like a sort of laboratory or research library. That’s my approach to making art. Your practice ranges from a wide variety of media, involving video, objects and photography: we would like to invite our readers to visit http://tobannichols.com in order to get a wider idea of the cross disciplinary nature of your artistic production. The unconventional kind of symbiosis between different disciplines that marks out your approach provides your works of dynamism and autonomous life. While superimposing concepts from opposite techniques have you ever happened to realize such synergy is the only way to express the ideas you explore?

I do think these things are symbiotic and synergistic, at least to my work, but I don’t think of them as separate genres. Photography and video are the same to me, and the making of objects and the installation of them all live in the same world of art. I don’t make those sorts of distinctions. Though, I have been experimenting with painting for the last few months. I used to be a painter and back then, if you’d have asked me this question I know I would’ve answered it completely differently. But for me, now, they are all part of the same way of making work. I would challenge any artist with that same question about their own work. I think it speaks to the inner clock-workings of the artistic mind. For this special issue of ART Habens we have selected Dendroid, a stimulating body of work that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory

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pages of this article. As you have explained once, the initial source of inspiration for this project was the California landscape: what has at once caught our attention of your re-interpretation of the traditional ideas of natural beauty is the way it accomplishes the difficult task of condensing opposite ideas into a coherent unity: when walking our readers through the genesis of Dendroid, would you shed a light about the role of landscape on a conceptual aspect?

I have a keen interest in the beauty of nature and movement of wind and water. I have been obsessed with water, motion, and nature for almost a decade now. I’m endlessly fascinated by trees and wandering through nature letting the mind wander as well. And as anyone who knows me will attest, I am completely obsessed with water and being immersed in it. I have a dream of building a house with water flowing through its halls, living in the water. It’s a silly idea, but I’ve got it mapped out pretty well in my head. Kind of on the other side of that coin, I’m also drawn to ideas of deconstructing technology, manipulating technology to the point of breaking. A term that gets thrown around a lot now is “glitch”. I’ve allowed myself to be lumped in with glitch and databending because it’s definitely connected to what I do and the definitions of glitch do fit my aesthetic, but I’m not sure I’m actually considered a member of the glitch club. Anyway, running the traditional landscape through my glitch process repeatedly is the type of experimentation that is key to making my work. It’s not just about the landscape, it’s about the two meeting each other, co mingling to become this beautiful output. I shoot photos in locations that inspire me and then I bring them into the computer and start deconstructing them, taking things apart and putting them back together sort of like Dr. Frankenstein did with his monster. Yeah, I’ll own that, I’m like Dr. Frankenstein… sort of.

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Dendroid us has impressed us also for its successful attempt to go beyond a mere interpretative aspect of the reality you refer to, and this is a recurrent feature of your work that we can recognize in Non-clonal Ecotone as well. As the late Franz West did in his installations, this work seems to reveal unconventional aesthetics in the way you deconstruct and assemble memories, recontextualizing them to challenge their role into our collective imagery, to draw the viewer into a process of self-reflection. What is the role of memory in your approach?

I am not interested in inserting memories into my work. They play only a tangential part in creating the work. When ideas strike, I pounce and run with it. I get going on an idea as fast as possible, I don’t waste time connecting memories or putting much thought into the past, only how it pertains to my research. I don’t think it’s crucial for memory to play a part in my work. I think audience members viewing any kind of art take it upon themselves to relate to it or not. That’s their job as a viewer; it’s not my job to provoke them. Like the way a great song manipulates the emotions of the listener, I’m not really looking to do that to people. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly want the viewer to be moved by my work. And I suppose I sometimes subliminally make choices that will make the art more appealing in some cases, but really it’s up to the viewer to love or hate. People today are so insanely opinionated, they really don’t need my help. The way your approach invites the viewers to tread the elusive, fine line that forks between pain and pleasure hints the necessity of going beyond any symbolic strategy to examinate the relationship between a variety of states of mind: it rather constructs a concrete aesthetic from experience and memories. and works on both subconscious and conscious level. So we would take this occasion to ask you if in your opinion, personal experience is absolutely indispensable as part of the

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creative process? Do you think that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience?

Yes, personal experience is part of my creative process. It’s probably most of it, to be honest. And yes, I think people have to disconnect themselves from certain topics in order to be unbiased. I don’t feel that this is something that needs to be part of my work; I’m not very interested in inserting politics or broad statements into my work. And unfortunately I find politically motivated art to be pretty boring most times. I can’t get into it. I try to understand the statements of the work but it’s not really my thing. I need to be wholly invested in the idea and interested in the process and the outcome or I get bored. I get bored very easily so an idea needs to remain engaging to me or what’s the point? There are lots of ideas I’ve had that I start to explore that become tiresome, uninteresting and I set them aside hoping to come back to them later. Another stimulating work from your multifaceted artistic production that has particularly impacted on us and on which we would be pleased to spend some words is entitled PRODUCTION & DECAY OF STRANGE PARTICLES, and that differs quite a lot from your usual approach: in particular, your exploration of the physicality of the body allows you to go beyond the intrinsic ephemeral nature of the gestures you captured and suggests us a reflection about the notion of time. Addressing us into the liminal area in which performative dance and conceptual videomaking blends together into a consistent unity, you seem to invite us to enabling us to establish direct relations... Would you say that it's more of an intuitive or a systematic process? And in particular, what is the creative role that chance plays in your approach?

I’m surprised to hear you say that it differs from my usual approach. I’ve never thought of that before. I see that particular body of

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work as connected to everything else I do. The ideas are the same; maybe the rules are a little different. Hmmm, you’ve really given me something to think about! I wouldn’t say the work is necessarily dealing with notions of time. Maybe with freezing time. For me, it’s about building shapes out of the human form. That’s why I worked mostly with dancers or acrobats, though some of my friends are very bendy! They really held their own against the dancers. I think the process is both intuitive and systematic. Everything I do is systematic. I create the systems and work inside them. This particular body of work is more collaborative and in that way it is intuitive because I’m working with someone I don’t know very well and have asked them to bring articles of their own clothing to wear and to come up with their own poses with little interaction or discussion from me beforehand. We discuss what I want them to do when they arrive at the photo shoot, but I give them very little direction during the shoot. Chance plays an important role in this body of work because I’m relinquishing control to the collaborative process and sharing it with someone else. I don’t exert control over the poses the model creates except to have them hold a pose a little longer or give them encouragement. For PRODUCTION & DECAY OF STRANGE PARTICLES you collaborated with models who actively played in the making of the piece: they could personally what to wear and their choice had an intrinsic creative role. It's no doubt that collaboration today is an ever growing force in Contemporary Art and that the most exciting things happen when creative minds from different fields of practice meet and collaborate on a project... could you tell us something about this effective synergy? By the way, Peter Tabor once stated that "collaboration is working together with another to create something as a synthesis of different practices, that alone one could not": what's your point about this? Can you explain how

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your work demonstrates communication between several creative minds?

I found this particular project to be really fun as a collaboration. That’s because I didn’t worry as much or control the situation. In my other work, collaboration is usually included in the process as well. But, it’s more of a behind the scenes collaboration where I’m the one calling the shots and making decisions. The other people aren’t as actively involved in the outcome, but more like bit players. Someone who can cast aluminum, for instance. I don’t know how to do that so I had to find someone to collaborate with. That person’s work is not directly noted in the final product, unlike Production and Decay. Since the models are in the photos and part of the process I felt less pressure in the entire process and actually had a lot more fun. I’m definitely open to collaborating with other people after that project. It was fantastic. I don’t agree with Peter Tabor’s statement. I think its bullshit. The creative mind can always come up with ways to do what the artist wants or needs. Finding collaborators to help you is great, but it’s not always necessary to the success of a project. People adapt to what they have, the project can grow or shrink according to the surroundings. Production and Decay was not about several creative minds. I had the idea and invited others to play in that sandbox, I certainly didn’t ask them to come up with ideas other than the poses and the clothes. The initial photos are only a small part of the product. It’s about 2 minds at a time, though ultimately, it’s about my vision, my ideas, my path we follow. I’m taking the photos and combining them how I want, not asking the models’ opinion on the final outcome. Their contribution is immense but also small in comparison to the overall project. Your work is particularly concerned with new media and you often digitally manipulate your images to force their

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aesthetic values. The impetuous way modern technology has nowadays came out on the top has dramatically revolutionized the idea of Art itself: in a certain sense, we are forced to rethink about the intimate aspect of the materiality of an artwork itself, since just few years ago it was a tactile materialization of an idea. I'm sort of convinced that new media will definitely fill the apparent dichotomy between art and technology and we will dare to say that Art and Technology are going to assimilate one to each other... what's your point about this?

My work definitely deals a lot with the manipulation of digital media, but I don’t think it’s a matter of art and technology assimilating each other. Technology has always played a role in art for its entire existence. The person that created gesso for painting is a technologist. Even artists working with traditional media utilize technology in their process. As I answer these questions I’m standing next to a digital projector in my friend Laura Ricci’s painting studio. New media is very simply another form of art making. At one time photography was seen as folly, as a non-art form. I don’t think anyone would say that now. I remember being drawn away from painting in the late 90’s, I didn’t know what I was being drawn to, and I could only see ideas in my head. Then I discovered digital processes and that fit perfectly with what I had been imagining. Like other forms of art, digital processes emerged from the ether, fully formed and ready to change the world…but all art forms have done that. Your work is strictly connected to the chance of establishing a direct involvement with the viewers, who are called to evolve from a mere spectatorship to conscious participants on an intellectual level, so before leaving this conversation I would like to pose a question about the nature of the relationship of your art with your audience. Do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decision-making process, in terms of

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what type of language is used in a particular context?

was so happy, even though one of the rules of the project was not to talk about it. It still makes me nervous to talk about but here goes… The project lives completely on Instagram and is only accessible if you search the right hashtags. There are only three of them.

I think in the back of my head about the people who will look at my work out in the world. But it’s not a part of my decision-making process. I’m mostly unconcerned about what people will think about my work. I mean, I want it to be good and to have value as art, those things are subjective though. But I would argue every artist wants their work to be seen and is interested in the audience’s reaction and feedback. I don’t create work with the intention of the audience in mind. That is more of a designer’s job, appealing to an audience, entertaining and tricking with flair. That’s not me.

The project is about the self-portrait, or more accurately for the times, the #selfie. In fact, that’s one way to find the project, search the hashtag #selfie. You’ll see that’s a pretty daunting task. There are over 300 million selfies on Instagram, it’s ridiculous. You can also find it by the tag #art. There are a few less #art tags on Instagram, also pretty ridiculous. The project is meant to comment on the tradition of the self-portrait in art and how it’s subverted now by every person on earth taking photos of them constantly. It’s insane! I was trained as a painter to paint self-portraits as a way to learn about painting and light, a way to learn about you. Selfies now are only for looking at your physical beauty, a new profile photo to show your friends. I certainly find myself seduced by that from time to time. I catch myself staring all the time…at myself. It’s rather gross.

Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Toban. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects. How do you see your work evolving?

I really couldn’t tell you how my work will evolve, I have no idea. There is no way to know what’s to come. I get ideas and follow them. Or, the idea isn’t strong enough or in my research I become disinterested and drop the project. I have a long line of dropped projects, ideas that never came to bear fruit. And quite a few I think could live on and have a life yet.

The last museum I was in, a group of teenage girls made their way around the gallery just taking selfies in front of the art, it was disgusting, it made me angry. Anyway, the new project kind of comments on a lot of those ideas from the past and how they’ve been changed by present trends. I find it interesting and probably anyone my age and older would too. Though lots of people comment on my project on Instagram, many of them young, I’m not sure if they really know what I’m up to, and the profile doesn’t mention what the photos are about, it’s mysterious. Anyone can find the project really quickly by searching for the profile name, it’s essentia_aeternum. That’s the name of the project. Give it a look, I’d love to hear what the readers think. Now that it’s all out in the open, I love discussing the project.

I’ve taken a bit of a break this year, 2015 after showing a lot last year and making a lot of work. I felt burned out by January. I do have a not-so-secret project I started back in spring of this year that I didn’t tell anyone about until very recently. I didn’t share with my friends or other artists what I was doing. It lived online, in secret, to be discovered by anyone who might wander by. I didn’t talk about it when someone asked what I was up to. I just let it sit there, for months, sitting waiting. Always adding to it always evolving, just waiting for someone to notice. A lot of people did discover it but no one I knew for a long time. Once someone I knew found out, I

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An interview with An interview by Dario Rutigliano, curator and Melissa C. Hilborn, curator arthabens@mail.com

Exploring the creative potential of digital arts in a wide variety of aspects, Norwegian artist Christian Bøen produces stimulating works that draws from the liminal area in which science and popular culture find an unexpected point of convergence: his project Exitium that we'll be discussing in the following pages, provides the viewers of a multilayered experience that accomplishes the difficult task of creating a coherent and autonomous multisensorial unity. Probing the viewers' capability to understand unexpected relations between the concepts he conveys in his works, Bøen's process reveals a mature understanding of the instability of contemporary age and one of the most convincing mark of his work is the way he goes beyond any artificial dichotomy between universal imagery and contemporariness. We are very pleased to introduce our readers to his unconventional and multifaceted artistic production.

Christian Bøen

Hello Christian and welcome to ART Habens: we would start this interview, posing you a couple of questions about your background. You have a solid formal training and you degreed from the Art Academy in Bergen about twelve years ago: how has this experience influenced your evolution as an artist? In particular, how does the relationship between training and your cultural substratum informs the way you relate yourself to art making?

I discovered early that art was a gathering place and a playground for every media and for everything I wanted to work with. I got a special opportunity at the age of twelve when I was invited to join video and animation workshops, held by international lecturers at the University College nearby. Shortly after I started experimenting with video and electronic music and at the time I thought of studying film or animation. But that was before I found art.

The Art Academy in Bergen influenced me in numerous ways. When I started at the Academy in 1999 I was only 20 years old. I came from a small town on the west-coast of Norway where the thought of becoming an artist, or choosing any creative profession at all, was seen as quite far-off. Art was something weird and unknown.

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A new and exciting world opened up as I entered the Art Academy. Socially by meeting a lot of unconventional and interesting people, and professionally by being challenged by the professors, pioneers within their field, innovative, demanding, tearing you down and building you up, forcing you to think in new perspectives, working with new techniques, media, and expression, getting a completely new understanding of art and what it is and can be. At the time everything was overwhelming. I would suggest our readers to visit http://www.termodress.com, in order to get a wider idea of your artistic production: your approach is strongly multidisciplinary; both in terms of formal aspect and as regards the way you combine a variety of materials to pursue the kaleidoscopic nature that marks your works. While superimposing such a wide variety of materials and crossing the borders of different artistic fields, have you ever happened to realize that such unconventional symbiosis between different techniques is the only way to achieve some results, to express specific concepts?

Great results can be achieved in many ways. Mixing, merging and combining techniques and genres generate almost unlimited possibilities and opens up new perspectives. Exploiting the possibilities that lie in each genre and technique is how I work with all my projects. For this special issue of ART Habens we have selected APIDAE, an experimental short video that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article and that can be viewed at http://www.termodress.com/Video/Apidae_2 015.mp4. What has at soon caught our eyes of this stimulating work is the way your

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investigation about the relationship between perception and collective imagery accomplishes the difficult task of unveiling the subtle but ubiquitous relation between personal dimension and collective sphere, creating an autonomous and compelling

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aesthetics. Do you conceive it on an instinctive way or do you rather structure your process in order to reach the right balance?

structured. I start my projects by doing a lot of research and gather as much information as I can, almost like a scientist. In the editing process I look for structures and patterns. During this phase where the

The initial part of the process is very

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project develops and takes its form my decisions are made rather instinctively.

wanted to contribute in drawing attention to the fact that bumblebees are dying. In a few years we may not see any at all.

In APIDAE, I recovered data from a destroyed and disrupted mp4 file of a bumblebee that I observed last summer. I

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between external reality and human perceptual process questions the concept of direct experience: in particular, your investigation about the intimate consequences of constructed realities gives a permanence that goes beyond the ephemeral nature of the concepts you capture. So I would take this occasion to ask you if in your opinion personal experience is an absolutely indispensable part of a creative process... Do you think that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience?

For me the answer would be no. My creative process is much connected to direct experience. Even though, I always try to free myself in the process while working with new ideas, gaining new experience and carrying out my research. You are also a prolific musician and over these years you have released six electronic albums. Sound plays a crucial role in APIDAE as well as in many other of your works and we find really exciting the way you created a coherent combination between electronic music and references to accessible melodic and rhythmic patterns, that induce the viewers to elaborate personal associations, recontextualizing the relationship between the cinematic images and sound, which in your pieces never plays as a mere background. How do you conceive this aspect of you works?

Having control of both audio and visual is a great advantage and gives me a lot of freedom. In some projects, like in APIDAE, I worked with the two expressions in parallel. Quite often experimenting with sound and music generates new ideas when I work with visual projects. It may also be helpful if I’m not satisfied with the progress.

part of the Exitium, an experimental glitch art project consisting of destroyed files of photos and videos: we have been impressed with the way your process of deconstruction and recontextualization urges us to explore the liminal area

Another interesting series of yours that has particularly impacted on us and on which we'would like to spend some words is entitled Høyspent / High Voltage: as you

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the apparent dichotomy between art and technology and seemingly Art and Technology are going to assimilate one to each other... what's your point about this?

have remarked once, this project started as an fascination for high voltage pylons. The impetuous way modern technology has nowadays came out on the top has dramatically revolutionized the idea of Art itself: in a certain sense, we are forced to rethink about the intimate aspect of constructed realities and especially about the materiality of an artwork itself, since just few years ago it was a tactile materialization of an idea. I'm sort of convinced that new media will definitely fill

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There are many areas where art and technology have already assimilated. For a long time technology has offered artists new ways of expressing themselves. And as a tool it is being more intertwined than ever before.

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Exitium seems to reject an explicit explanatory strategy: rather, you seem to offer to the viewer a key to find personal interpretations to the concepts you communicate through your works. When you conceived Exitium did you try to achieve a faithful visual translation of your motional state or do you rather prefer to maintain a neutral approach?

In Exitium I maintained a neutral and scientific approach. During the experiments I did not have any control over the millions of digital errors that occurred. So when destroying and hacking my own art I utilized a technical method more than an emotional state. However I had a faithful visual approach for the results when selecting the interesting pieces. Exitium also offers an opportunity to rethink about ever growing informationfocused techno-sphere and what actually could be hidden between an apparently ubiquitous determinism. In particular, you seem to highlight the creative potential of aleatory process in the construction of meaning. While walking our readers in performative aspect of this work, would you like to shed a light about the role of randomness in your approach in general? In particular, do you think that chance could play a creative role?

In general my approach is very structured, but in Exitium chance played a role in the creative process. Each experiment was logged and I had only one chance to destroy or hack an art piece. If I didn’t succeed, in the meaning of making a glitched art piece into something that could be opened or read by the computer, the experiment had failed and I had to move on to a another piece of art. The results were entirely unpredictable.

In my own artistic work I rely upon technology, both in production, presenting and interaction. I have a general interest in technology and science which is where my unconscious fascination for high voltage pylons may have started. The pylons have made huge impact on nature, but they are also remarkable and towering hi-tech objects in the landscape.

And we couldn't do without mentioning Another interesting project of yours that has particularly impacted on me and on

While exhibiting a captivating vibrancy

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ART Habens

Christian Bøen

which I would like to spend some words is entitled Under Construction: its ambience has reminded us the concept of Heterotopia elaborated by Michel Foucault. By bringing a new level of significance to

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signs, this work challenges the common way we question the dichotomy between our perceptual processes and the outside reality... By the way, we are sort of convinced that some information and ideas

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Christian Bøen

ART Habens

our inner Nature... what's your opinion about this?

Under Construction was a long lasting project which started already before the Art Academy. It was an early reflection. What caught my interest were the lines and geometry in landscapes and cities in progress. My role as an artist is to add new perspectives, questions and even be provocative. If we could sum up in a single adjective the feature the experience you provide your spectatorship of we'd choose for sure the word "multilayered": your approach goes beyond any barrier between the viewers and the ideas you explore, highlighting your effective communication strategy. Over these years your works have been exhibited in several occasions: so, before taking leave from this interesting conversation I would like to pose a a question about the nature of the relation with your audience: in particular, do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decision-making process in terms of what type of language for a particular context?

As a perfectionist in both music and art I always have the audience in mind. But I don’t let them influence the decisions I make in my projects. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Christian. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects?

I have several ideas for future projects. I will work further with Exitium and continue experimenting with electronic music and produce more albums.

are hidden, or even "encrypted" in the environment we live in, so we need -in a way- to decipher them. Maybe that one of the roles of an artist could be to reveal unexpected sides of Nature, especially of

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Profile for ART Habens

ART Habens Art Review // Special Issue  

ART Habens Art Review // Special Issue  

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