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ART

H A B E N S C o n t e m p o r a r y

A r t

R e v i e w

ALIETTE BRETEL NADINE ROBBINS JANA CHARL MICHAEL TROZZOLO FRED L’EPEE FERNANDO VISCASILLAS FRED L’EPEE LORAINE LYNNE GULI SILBERSTEIN

ART


ART H A B E N S C o n t e m p o r a r y

A r t

R e v i e w

Chen-Jung Kuo

Michael Trozzolo

HelenCharl Acklam Jana

Fernando Viscasillas

Nadine Robbins

Guli Silberstein

Taiwan

Canada

USA

United Kingdom

USA

United Kingdom

My creative practice involves exploring different media and techniques around testing the boundaries of what defines contemporary art, including the blurring of the traditional lines dividing craft, commercial art, and fine art. I am a passionate storyteller inspired by the raw materials, experiences, and observations that I collect. The challenge to capture the human form and psyche is my longest enduring fascination.

The simplicity and the energy of Fernando Viscasillas define his works using the composition to define each individual, yet without removing the flexibility of that shape or introducing any hardness to the form and the positive energy transmitted by his ironic characterization of his subject and his several architectural styles. In his pictures everything seems coincidental and connected only by chance, together with other things, but it is not exactly true.

In much of my work I try to subvert relationships between the model and the audience, allowing a dialogue between the two to begin.

My painting process balances intention and intuition to effectively evoke a visceral sensory experience from the viewer.

The work from Chen-Jung is inspired by the conceptualisation of separation, through multiple identities, thoughts, time and space, perception, and the creative process. It records this investigation into issues regarding separation through image, sound, and video.

Michael Trozzolo’s artwork explores the theme of desire and how it is connected to the political, cultural and social dynamics which are prevalent in today’s world. His work aims to explore the personal and global repercussions of unfulfilled desires while raising This creation also questions about questions once more social and cultural the connections norms. Trozzolo between life, often references humans, and society, Asian culture, and aims to inspire popular culture, reflection and religion, sexuality feedback from those and nature in his who experience it. work.

The composition of each defiant portrait is achieved by finding that place between the humorous and poignant, a kind of intimacy that goes beyond my relationship with the model. These sensations are an important part of my practice. For example, intimacy and a certain tenderness is also at the core of my Oyster still life series.

Simple and bold compositions conjure a range of emotions through organized arrangements of colour, shape and form. I believe art is a universal language and a celebration of humanity, which is why I use abstract elements as universal communicators of joy and sorrow; strength and vulnerability; conflict and peace.


In this issue

Guli Silberstein

Fred L’Epee

Chen-Jung Kuo Aliette Bretel

Nadine Robbins Jana Charl Fred L'Epee

Loraine Lynn

Aliette Bretel

France

United Kingdom

Perù / United Kingdom

Filmmaker and visual artist Fred L’Epee’s work rejects any classifications. His pieces are marked with freedom as well as rigorous formalism, when encapsulating a careful attention to composition and balance. In a age in which the borders between artistic disciplines becomes more and more blurry, he uses his kaleidoscopic approach to inquire the notions of psyche, death, contemporary mythology and post existentialism.

I operate in between boundaries and pull from different disciplines to explore concepts and interrogate existing structures.

Graduated from El Centro de la Imagen (Lima, Perú) in 2004. From the beginning, my work has been defined by a strong reference to the memory, the past, and the passage of time. My creative process always passes by an analytical filter that gives me a bigger understanding of what I want to communicate and helps me finding out the appropriate format to develop and display my projects . I have showed my work in solo and collective exhibitions in Buenos Aires (Argentina), Lima (Perú) and Ankara (Turkey).

I examine their meanings and histories in order to produce critical commentary within my work. The common thread connecting my art is conceptual rather than visual. The aesthetics within my oeuvre vary, which provides a subtle visual connection between each body of work.

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Loraine Lynn

Michael Trozzolo

Fernando Viscasillas

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Special thanks to: Charlotte Seeges, 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:

His films and visual

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installation by


A still from IMPRESSURE, 2017, UK, 4'35''

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Guli Silberstein

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video, 2013

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Guli Silberstein

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An interview by and

, curator curator

Hello Guli and welcome to ART Habens. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production, we would invite to our readers to visit www.guli-silberstein.com in order to get a synoptic idea about your artistic production and we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your background. You have a solid formal training and you hold a BA in Film from Tel-Aviv University and you later nurtured your education with a MA in Media Studies, that you received from The New School University, in New York City: how did those formative years influence your evolution as an artist? In particular, how does your the relationship between your cultural substratum due to your Israelian roots and your current life in the United Kingdom direct the trajectory of your current artistic research?

Guli Silberstein

The experience of arriving to the M.A in Media Studies program in New York City, from Israel, was life-altering. Not only have we seen and discussed many experimental works, had access to most current digital tools of the time, but also discussed theory in depth.

systematic thinking and ecological perception of the mind, inspired my work by thinking in ways of patterns – patterns represented by images, patterns as aggregates of differences.

One lecturer especially, Professor Paul Ryan, who was an artist himself, was a big influence, teaching us Cybernetics theories and Delueze. Gregory Bateson’s Cybernetics theories especially, of

The overall experience of New York City as a whole, in those dramatic times around the year 2000, fed into my work. And watching Stan Brakhage’s film ‘Dog Star

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Man’ at the Museum of Modern Art, Nam Jun- Paik retrospective at the Guggenheim, and Bill VioIa’s at the Whitney Museum, in addition to being exposed for the first time to other works, such as Chris Marker’s ‘San Soleil’, all were a massive force. So I made my first work ‘Schizophrenic Sate’ in the Media Studies program as a final project, which was like the Big Bang for my theoretical and practical moving image research. This research is a continuous process, taking place where ever I am, including London, where I’m happily settled since 2010, using new digital video tools and techniques that come along. I may be more connected to global socialpolitical issues now, such as hyper-capitalism, rise of fascism and climate breakdown, and it finds its way into my video work recently. For this special edition of ART Habens we have selected Field of Infinity, an interesting experimental film that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article. Would you walk our readers through the genesis of this captivating work? In particular, how did you develop the initial idea? The film is first and foremost an emotional response to images on screen. On March 30th 2018, a six-week campaign composed of a series of Palestinians protests was launched at the Gaza Strip, near the GazaIsrael border. The Israeli response was firing live ammunition at the protesters. The images of protests and the killings appeared

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A still from FIELD OF INFINITY, 2018, UK, 5'22''

in western media, and marked another escalation of the bloody conflict, highlighting again the Israeli forceful

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Guli Silberstein

control of the Palestinians. The news images, appearing in TV news and social media can be interpreted in different ways

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but it can’t be denied that protesters behind a fence were shot by the army, including nurses and journalists.

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Guli Silberstein

A still from FIELD OF INFINITY, 2018, UK, 5'22''

At around that time I went with my family to a holiday in Tuscany Italy, and when walking inside an old house museum that

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had a treasure of Renaissance paintings, it struck me that the issues depicted are the same as the ones we are struggling with:

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Guli Silberstein

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protesters in their call for justice, freedom and revenge, and the renaissance paintings. Further than that, there was an amazing red poppy flowers blossom all across Tuscany, and one morning I went on a walk where I found an amazing such field, filmed it and later combined it in the work. The area in Israel near Gaza border is full of these red flowers as well. And of course also poppies are used as war memoriam. The work then continues to further connotations bridging Tuscany culture and landscape to the IsraeliPalestinian context. Such as Olive trees near Leonardo da Vinci’s birth home, and culminating in my daughter walking in a field, all glitching and breaking down. The work is digitally processed, creating a fragmented texture, for highlighting the fragility of perception and giving the whole work a painterly feel, making the work an experience more than a documentation. The film combines images both of paintings, landscape and news in a way that both highlight and annihilate them. In the end we are left with a girl in the field of image – walking towards an unknown future, that evaporates into a black screen in the end. It's an enigmatic work which I still discover, peeling off layers of meaning. Inspired by both Italian renaissance paintings and contemporary news broadcasts from Gaza protests at the border with Israel, to create such a captivating personal aesthetics, strictly engaged with topical issues: how do you consider the relationship between the heritage from Tradition and contemporary sensitiveness?

death, birth, love, despair, salvation. And a connection was created in my mind between the news images of the

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A still from FIELD OF INFINITY, 2018, UK, 5'22''


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Guli Silberstein

I was born in war-torn Middle East, in Israel, and still believe in peace. Not only it’s moral urgency, but also it’s the only way to stop this violence and have a better life for all the people in the region. My video works tranform mass media images from journalistic documentation to poetic form that shows the images in different perspectives, and becomes a sort of protest act, aiming to raise awareness to the fragility of life and the injustice and absurdity of violence. The manipulation and deconstruction of the video images first aim to highlight the human in the image. Secondly, it aims to critique both the artificiality and power of images. I have always been interested in the question of what is ‘real’ and what is ‘not real’, in the process of our interpretation of the world using our senses and through electronic media, and in issues of representation. So my work also strongly connects to those ‘post-truth’ and ‘fake news’ issues. Field of Infinity, was inspired by a recent visit to Tuscany and a long term following of the Israeli Palestinian clashing: how does your memories and your everyday life's experience fuel your creative process? And how do you think your works respond to it in finding hidden, crystallised moments in the everyday?

A still from STUFF AS DREAMS 2016, UK, 5'52'

around us, in us. We tend to forget that. Having a simple walk with my daughter in a field can be just incredible, just as violence

It’s coming really from appreciating life. Existence is extraordinary, rare. We are all here by chance, and there is a lot of beauty

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Guli Silberstein

we human inflict on each other is absolutely shocking. There’s a very fragile line between tranquillity and chaos. One

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moment a family hangs out in a beach in Gaza, a moment later they are bombarded by a missile. So yes, my memories of war

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Guli Silberstein

A still from STUFF AS DREAMS 2016, UK, 5'52'

and terror keep living with me. So in my work I contrast images from my own environment, from immediate

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surroundings, with memories, dreams, and mass media images. And sometimes we can find in them fine crystallised moments

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Guli Silberstein

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As you have remarked in your artist's statement, your works incorporate personal recordings, footage found online, and mixes of both, processed digitally, and composed as montages or as developing single shots. Would you tell us something about your usual setup and process? And how do you consider the role of editing in your creative process? I use mass media news images and personal footage as the building blocks for creating the video works. The work is as that of a writer using existing words to tell a story, or a sculptor collecting organic materials to assemble works. The same way words are part of language and rocks are part of our landscape, mass media is part of our immediate environment. So I use video editing, layers composting, image processing and sound work to tell an audio-visual story, which becomes a sensory experience. The processing of the footage involves diverse techniques such as animation (rotoscoping), sound re-working, image processing, montage editing, speed manipulation, datamoshing, dramatisation, ridicule and more. It highlights the artificiality of the images, but at the same time makes them faultier and therefore more fragile, directing attention to the filmed subject, promoting empathy and reflection. The work also creates contrast between content and form, creating a contradiction composed from aesthetic pleasure and horrified reaction, which brings up interesting notions, I think. The processing takes place not only spatially but also temporally, as the videos

of life and existence. And those are what I look for, both in recording, appropriating and processing.

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often progress from abstraction to clearer context. The combination between sound and visual plays a crucial aspect in tour artistic practice, and in particular we have particularly appreciated the way the soundscape of Field of Infinity provides the visual experience with such an enigmatic and ethereal and a bit unsettling atmosphere: according to Canadian media theorist Marshall McLuhan there is a 'sense bias' that affects Western societies favoring visual logic, a shift that occurred with the advent of modern alphabet as the eye became more essential than ear: how do you consider the role of sound within your artistic research? Yes - sound makes 50% of the timeline. In the process of editing, sound is literally half of the work. And I see sound as a parallel stream to video, which interacts with the visual layer. Video and audio can be seen as two dimensions that merge into a third dimension which is not sound nor image, but a cinematic experience, or a cognitive and emotional experience. As Michel Chion said - the sound leads us through the images. It’s a time-based element, developing, giving pace to space. It’s a marriage, sound and image, and when they hook up, complex relationships are created. Chion spoke about the merging of sound and image as creating another dimension in which the audio and the visual become one like they always

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DISTURBDANCE 2012, UK, 3'25''

existed together, giving materiality to the images that is closer to our inner mind perception of it. It becomes a cognitive image, a projection of our perception.

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Marked out with such a powerful narrative drive and rich of symbolically charged elements, your artistic production seems to aim urge the viewers

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to look inside of what appear to be seen, rather than its surface, providing the spectatorship with freedom to realize their own perception. How important is

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CUT OUT 2014, UK, 4'19''

Increasingly, I aim to create surfaces or textures that viewers reflect on. Since films have massive propaganda potential which is abused, especially by utilising all kinds of

for you to invite the viewers to elaborate personal meaning? And how do you develop your storytelling in order to achieve such brilliant results?

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Guli Silberstein

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to refer to political issues and not escape too much into the daily and banal, since the world is burning, as you know. In ‘Field of Infinity’ especially, I followed Deleuze and Guattari's concept of 'Plane of immanence', to open a field of reflections with concerns about the political image, image of the political, the politics of the image, and the image of image… But not necessarily that, since there are other possible layers of meaning in the work for potential viewers. And that’s why I focus on mostly non-dialogue works, to let the moving image inspire thought. At the end of the day, a video work is a collaboration between the artist, the work itself, and the viewers’ experience of it. We have really appreciated the multifaceted nature of your artistic research and before leaving this stimulating conversation we would like to thank you for chatting with us and for sharing your thoughts, Guli. What projects are you currently working on, and what are some of the ideas that you hope to explore in the future? It’s quite obsessive, making these works, so it’s all a work in progress, ideas come and I try them out, and sometimes something happens. So that process will continue I suppose. Thank you very much. Lovely having this interview with you. tricks of the trade, it’s very easy to convey a message. I think it’s more interesting to have works that lay a field with potential interpretations. At the same time I do want

An interview by and

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, curator curator

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Still from Years, 2018

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Fred L'Epee

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video, 2013

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Fred L Epee

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An interview by and

, curator curator

Hello Fred and welcome back to ART Habens we already got the chance to introduce our readers to your artworks in a previous edition and we are now particularly pleased to discover the development of your artistic production, and we would like to invite our readers to we would like to invite our readers to visit https://fred-lepee.com in order to get a synoptical idea about it. How would you describe the direction of your current artistic research? And how does your daily routine has changed over these recent years? Fred L'Epee: First of all, I would like to thank you to invite me once again to ART Habens. I am feeling very excited to participate to this interview. About my work, I can not describe my artistic research because I will kill it at the moment when I will define it. The only thing I believe that help my artistic direction is to explore the human kind, to travel, to read, to write, and to have other lives. The fact and the need to expand my thoughts in the purpose to regenerated creativity.

Fred L'Epee

For this special edition of ART Habens we have selected Years, a stimulating film that our readers can view at https://vimeo.com/254207441: sapiently shot and edited, Years features keen eye for details: what were your aesthetic decisions when editing? In particular, what was your choice about camera and lens?

My daily routine has been modified by the time management of my productivity. By searching another styles, formats and ideas. By using freely the pressure of creativity in the purpose to avoid useless obligation of constraint. The temporality in not only embed in my work but also in the process of my vision.

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Fred L’ Epee

Fred L'Epee: What is generally moving myself is the intellectual choices resulting from the vision of the films. My aesthetic decisions could be oxygenic, aerial, ergonomic and organic. The idea of film "Years" was the notion of using a fluid statism. The one of mechanics and the pressure exerted by the fluidity on an immersed body. The correlation of what is past, present and future. And especially by the short format of what I've created for the film. I am glad if that can be understood between the lines. By tactile abstraction and the rhythmic of the movement. Your film seem to be meticolously structured: how do you consider the relationship between the necessity of scheduling the details of your performative gestures and the need of spontaneity? How importance did improvisation play in the making of Years? Fred L'Epee: Every work has a different spontaneity before to became a form and content of creative. Improvisation is a process coming from an abstract scheme, a vision, a perception. A daily observation that you write in your working book. Spontaneity is an anticipation. From this anticipation, born the waves. I believe that between spontaneity and planification, the importance is the path of what you do from the first idea til the end of the one.

Still from Years, 2018

visual quality: how do you consider the relationship between reality and imagination playing within your work as a director?

While marked out with such an effective mix between simplicity and beauty on the visual point, Years features ambivalent

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Fred L'Epee: The common point between

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Fred L’ Epee

reality and imagination is the ambivalent way to perceive life. The interdependence. Imagination is the act or power of forming a mental image of something not present to the senses or never before wholly

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perceived in reality or creative ability. Imagination is a hypothetical world created by your thoughts, observations and inspirations. Imagination involves interaction of yourself with any thing in the

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Fred L’ Epee

Still from Years, 2018

universe from sci-fi to fantasy. It’s a vision which carves out everything you have seen so far, and turns it into a day-dream world.

facing their idea of reality. Reality is above all else a variable. With a firm enough commitment, you can sometimes create a reality which did not exist before. As reality, thinking application

The people who say you are not facing reality actually mean that you are not

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Fred L’ Epee

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We have been highly fascinated with the poetic quality of your video allows you to combine realism and dreamlike atmosphere: what did address your process towards this stimulating direction? Fred L'Epee: The stimulating direction of my work "Years" could be described by the synopsis that triggered, illuminated and constructed some perception and ideology to my film. The flow between to combine realism and dreamlike atmosphere could seems to be unlocked by this reflection: "A phenomenon that a number of people have noted while in deep depression is the sense of being accompanied by a second self — a wraithlike observer who, not sharing the dementia of his double, is able to watch with dispassionate curiosity as his companion struggles against the oncoming disaster, or decides to embrace it. There is a theatrical quality about all this, and during the next several days, as I went about stolidly preparing for extinction, I couldn't shake off a sense of melodrama — a melodrama in which I, the victim-to-be of self-murder, was both the solitary actor and lone member of the audience". Years features sapient mix between footage and its ethereal - and a bit unsettling - soundtrack, created by composer Mark Nyos. it's no doubt that collaborations as the one that you have together 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 the proficient

is the action of using your mind to produce ideas, decisions or any productivity. Subjectivity and/or objectivity. The whole can not be separable in my films.

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Still from Years, 2018


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Fred L Epee

synergy that you usually establish with composers? Can you explain how your films demonstrate communication between artists from different backgrounds? Fred L'Epee: Indeed, with creative people; truly new horizons open up. Through my production Helicon Films, many artists have collaborated on many different film projects over times. As cinematographers, screenwriters or musicians. I am always excited to find a multi-disciplinary synergy with fellow artists. I always learn a lot with music composers. Their thoughts over my film propositions may be different and may have another pragmatic visions. I am continually at the listening of this. It is a parallelism. Looking for the same existential forces. We have really appreciated the way your film breaks the emotional barrier with the audience. Years mixes realism with initial moments of surrealism, that walk the viewers through the interstitial point between reality and imagination and we have really appreciated the way it stimulates the viewers' perceptual parameters and allows an open reading: how important is for you to trigger the spectatorship's imagination in order to elaborate personal meanings? What do you hope your spectatorship will take away from your Years? Fred L'Epee: As I said before, I am also the spectator of my films. I try all time to trigger a cerebral matrix. A mental encoding

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Still from Years, 2018

information that is not systematically a form of authors film. My personal meanings is very relative. Sometimes a graphic desire, a scenic conceptuality. However my target is definitely more complicated than to elaborate personal

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Fred L Epee

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meanings or to represent a simple narrative form.

believe, what we lived and what we would like to live. Life, perhaps...

My personal expectations as I have written in one of my past film is: between what we

Afterwards, You know, the horizon is an imaginary line that recedes as you

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Fred L’ Epee

Still from Years, 2018

approach it. As Jack Kerouac said: "I Have Nothing To Offer Anyone Except My Own Confusion." However, I insist about the fact to introduce a sort of artistic vector. To raise awareness among the spectator to

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visual art films. To offer the possibility to the spectators in an another way to watch and to understand avant-garde films. Particularly for the ones that they are not used to. That is very important direction

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Fred L’ Epee

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appreciated the way you have created such insightful resonance between the ideas that you have explored and the shore, that is a place rich of symbolic values: how did you select such location and how did it affect your shooting process? Fred L'Epee: The shore and the film decor are metaphors of anamnesis. Image is a compression of our consciousness. The surreal resonance of "Years" was to merge the geometric sensation and the scenic rotation of the camera. Panoramic shooting with different angles to reveal a different world. Perspective is a choice. "Years" has been created with the willpower to introduce a certain speed and a kind of rhythmic balances. For me, it was a performance. Dynamism is a fragile equilibrium. But what is important with slow motion films is the tricky way to live every second like a last breath. Over the years you have exhibited your works in several occasions: how does your relationship with your audience evolved over these recent years? In particular, how do you consider the role of emerging online technosphere in creating new links between artists and worldwide audience? Fred L'Epee: For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled. I don't know about changing my perspective, because creation is such a glorious blessing and I am very thankful for that. It's such a beautiful experience. I so strongly recommend it. It's bliss, love and

toward contemporary culture. With your slow camera movement, Years also drawn heavily from the specifics of its environment and we have highly

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Still from Years, 2018


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Fred L’ Epee

fulfilment of another level. Still over the years. I am grateful of this. I consider the role of emerging online techno sphere in creating new links between artists and worldwide audience as a necessity. Obviously. I am bored to watch films that impose me the to watch them. Even though if the overall budget is no bigger than that of an average "Hollywood blockbuster". The emerging online technos sphere is a great opportunity for real artist to face with the industrial filmmaking. That is why media support has important. Personally, I love indie/underground films. It is there that you can find jewellery. Maybe unknown forever, because talent is not enough. But alive in the flow of eternal. I think it is worth it. Especially, if Art is a needs. The rest is for God. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts again, Fred. We know that you are focussing on a new project entitled HIKIKOMORI: would you tell something about this new film to our readers? In particular, are there any things that you do fundamentally different from when you started years ago? Fred L'Epee: Indeed, the challenge is to renew your art in permanence. The fundamentally difference from when I started years ago are the films management during year. I prefer to concentrate myself over two or three films per year. To target better quality than quantity.

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About my next project, Hikikomori (Japanese: or , lit. "pulling inward, being confined", i.e., "acute social withdrawal"; colloquially/adaptive

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Fred L’ Epee

translation: shutter) are reclusive adolescents or adults who withdraw from society and seek extreme degrees of isolation and confinement. Hikikomori

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refers to both the phenomenon in general and the recluses themselves. Hikikomori have been described as loners or "modernday hermits".

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Fred L Epee

In The Anatomy of Dependence, Takeo Doi identifies the symptoms of hikikomori, and explains its prevalence as originating in the Japanese psychological construct of amae

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(in Freudian terms, "passive object love". Young adults may feel overwhelmed by modern society, or be unable to fulfilled their expected social roles as they have not

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Fred L Epee

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I think that this a total contemporain psychosocial problem. My next film will be to contain that psychological part toward of this modern-day hermits. The way to try to visualise surrealistically by this way of thoughts, the hallucinogenic way to represent their fantasy like during of an underground dark cabaret. Psychotropic. A Brechtian punk cabaret. Dream and fantasy. Between the sexuality perception, the voyeurism, fetichism, anxiety. I think it could be totally unexpected subject. Kaleidoscopic. Psychotropic. Slow and speed like such many details to transmitted. With many antagonist. It will be a great disturbing theater. Not a documentary, of course. But a fiction who is speaking about psychiatric disorders with social and cultural influence. It will be my next mind of work. Something I never made. So before to leave us, I would like to thank you for support and professionalism from this interview. I am so glad to answer to such high quality of discussion and analysis. Wholeheartedly by your investigation and exchange. Traduction of thoughts are universal. Gratefully. Post scriptum: I would like to write and to add just something: One bright day in the middle of night two dead boys rose to fight. Back to back they faced each other, drew their swords and shot one another. A deaf policeman heard the noise, and saved the lives of the two dead boys. If you don't believe this lie is true, ask the blind man, he saw it too.

yet formulated a sense of personal honne and tatemae – one's "true self" and one's "public façade" – necessary to cope with the paradoxes of adulthood.

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Chen-Jung Kuo

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Chen-Jung Kuo

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An interview by and

, curator curator

Hello Chen-Jung and welcome back to ART Habens we already got the chance to introduce our readers to your artworks in a previous edition and we are now particularly pleased to discover the development of your artistic production. In the meanwhile, we would like invite our readers to visit https://bobbiekuo.wixsite.com in order to get a wide idea about your artistic production. You are a versatile artist and your multidisciplinary practice encompasses dance theatre, musical, and illustration: would you tell us what does address you to such captivating multidisciplinary approach? How do you select an artistic discipline in order to explore a particular aspect of your artistic inquiry? Moreover, are there any experiences that did particularly influence your evolution as an artist and help you to develop your attitude to experiment with different media?

Chen-Jung Kuo My work doesn’t fit into a single category, and I don’t like being limited to just choreography. My definition of what I do is to break through and challenge conventional beauty, the aesthetic preconceptions of the viewer, and also to discover diverse subjects that really capture my interest. My art is direct: I have something that I want to say, and how I say it is different each time.

desire, what I want to pursue isn’t just movement. I want to see vulnerability. I want to see danger. So, what I want to express isn’t singular. I use whatever inspires me as the elements of my work. In this way, my work usually reflects my life and feelings. Being an independent artist, I’ve always had a

I often feel uninspired by dance and movement because it’s all so similar. What I

kind of internal energy to create something

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Chen-Jung Kuo

from nothing, to accomplish an original piece. When you see every piece of art as your only opportunity, you will seize it with everything you’ve got; that’s when I become the most ambitious, stubborn, and isolated in my work. My creations dive straight into subjects related to the senses, and they’re very aggressive and extremely conflicted.

started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article and that can be viewed at https://vimeo.com/248736737. When walking us through the genesis of this captvantig project, would you tell us how did you structured your process on a technical aspect, in order to achieve such brilliant results? Room is a video installation comprising sound, visuals, space, and atmosphere. I’ve always been obsessed with a kind of brutal, extreme beauty, and a close-up inspection of human emotions. Room seeks to investigate the fractured thoughts that result from the process of searching for oneself. I wanted to portray this sense of dissociation through space: atmosphere and installation, using filmed portraits and multimedia for viewing at an extremely close distance.

Now that I’m 37, when I talk about memory, loss, emotions, and relationships, I’ve become more fearless. I want to experiment more with different colors, and deeper levels of emotion, not just black and white, life and death. In 2016, during my year at Brunel University’s MA in Contemporary Performance Making, I was particularly inspired by my professor, Johannes Birringer. Before I went to London, I didn’t realize that I had the ability to do anything outside of dance, and during that time we were taught to create something outside of what we were familiar with. It could be a simple, ordinary object, or anything: space, sound, video, or even an article of clothing. It was all about creation, not about making things beautiful. There was no right or wrong. He taught me that, “Creation is about discovery and exploration.” That’s the inspiration I received from him. To this day, I still maintain this philosophy of creating art: the greatest artists can take nothing and transform it into something.

The installation included four handmade oil canvas boards. To reconstruct the stress and hallucination of mental schism, I chose to use a very small space, and divide it into an even smaller space. The result is that the viewer enters into a space that is only somewhat larger than the human brain, allowing them to get the closest experience possible of the oppression and illusion inside. All of the fracturing repeats endlessly, a hallucination of images and sound. This kind of state only exists within the body, within the main subject; that conflict, dissociation, vertigo -- it can only be felt by oneself.

For this special edition of ART Habens we have selected Room, a stimulating video installation that our readers have already

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We have particularly appreciated the way Room addresses your audience to a

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Chen-Jung Kuo

ART Habens

McLuhan there is a 'sense bias' that favors visual logic: how do you see the relationship between sound and moving images?

multilayered experience. Austrian historian Ernst Gombrich once remarked the importance of providing a space for the audience to project onto, so that they can actively participate in the creation of the illusion: how important is for you to trigger the viewer's imagination in order to address them to elaborate personal associations? In particular, how open would you like your works to be understood?

When I’m constructing an atmosphere, images and sound cannot be separated. To me, their relationship is like two sides of the same coin. On the other hand, images do not necessarily need sound, and sound doesn’t necessarily require image. This is a kind of philosophical question about the relationship between relationships. Everything I choose to create depends on how I’m feeling in the current moment: what I want to say, and how.

Instead of saying I’m making a performance, I’d rather create a time-space to let the viewer enter into his or her own personal inner world, to explore it and feel it. In the real world, there are very few opportunities to do this, because most people don’t want spend time facing their own inner-feelings. They’d rather just pass through without acknowledging them.

Room also questions the connections between life, humans, and society. Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco once remarked that "artists's role differs depending on which part of the world they’re in": how do you consider the role of artists in our globalised and media driven contemporary age? And how do you think your works respond to it in finding hidden, crystallised moments in the everyday?

I enjoy observing and discovering things. I don’t know why, but I just see things differently from other people. Somehow I feel that curiosity can help us to reach beyond the ordinary, because in the real world, we overlook the possibilities of things that we think we understand. People are going to believe what they want to believe, anyway, so I don’t expect them to understand the purpose of what I create, or what I’m trying to say through my work.

I believe that a great work of art can go so far as to influence society, but at the same time I do think a huge part of creation for me is personal. It’s all about how I live and what I breathe and what I do, honestly. So related to that, Room was largely connected to my feelings and the conflict I felt at the time between the multiple identities and cultures I found myself in.

Sound plays an important role in your video and we have appreciated the way the sounds of the ambience provide the footage of Room with such a bit enigmatic atmosphere. According to media theorist Marshall

I was born and raised in Taiwan, but I’ve spent a lot of time in the West, living in different

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ART Habens

Chen-Jung Kuo

countries. My whole life I’ve been searching

In your performances and in your films you find

for a feeling of belonging when it comes to my

an effective way to walk them to develop an

identity, and that paradoxical questioning

emotional bridge with the viewers: what was

evolved into Room.

your preparation in terms of rehearsal? In

My intention was actually very simple. I was

particular, do you like spontaneity or do you

asking a question about my relationship to the

prefer to meticolously schedule every details of

world: people, society, and my identity.

your process?

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Chen-Jung Kuo

ART Habens

It depends. I would describe my process as

the process of rehearsal. That’s how we

organic.

discover which body movements that come out that we want to keep, because anything

At the beginning I definitely have strong,

might inspire me during the process, even a

clear images and things in my head that I want

random object or the rehearsal space itself.

to express, but the journey of creating art is unpredictable. Everything is created through

I have to be fully involved.

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Chen-Jung Kuo

Another interesting work that we would like

do you consider the relation between the

to introduce to our readers is entitled Panic

abstract feature of the issues that you explore

0.1 an interesting short film that explore body

and the physical act of creating your

movement and images of physical and

artworks?

psychological behavior, and that our readers can view at https://vimeo.com/205088085.

For me, choreography is not just the simplistic

German visual artist Gerhard Richter once

movements of an individual body. It’s a real

underlined that "it is always only a matter of

expression of life.

seeing: the physical act is unavoidable": how

My work is emotional, and I never hide

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Chen-Jung Kuo

ART Habens

anything. I actually believe that physical

black and white and you are constantly

behavior is a reflection of internal emotions,

spinning, unable to stop.

very direct and difficult to hide. Whether

Therefore, none of the movements were

something should be called “abstract” or not

individually choreographed as such,

isn’t important. Panic 0.1 is about a kind of

intentionally; they reflect the feelings of self-

obsessiveness, that could be my reaction at the

blame, self-interrogation, the expressions of

time to something, anything random, maybe

psychological disorder.

even my own weight. When you’re obsessed, it

To me, that’s what’s real. They don’t need to be

seems like you have no way out, there’s just

explored, I just put them out there to be seen.

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Chen-Jung Kuo

When art only shows the positive and beautiful

these recent years? In particular, how do you

side of human existence, to me that’s simply

consider the role of emerging online

not enough.

technosphere in creating new links between artists and worldwide audience?

What really captures my attention is the ugly “other side” of human nature.

I value using innovative methods of displaying

Over the years you have exhibited your works

my work, and I’m looking forward to doing so

in several occasions: how does your

again, as well as closely exchanging and sharing

relationship with your audience evolved over

ideas with artists and audiences from different

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Chen-Jung Kuo

ART Habens

countries and cultures. Even though the world is

your evolution as an artist over time?

full of divisiveness and rules, and everything is

Are there any things that you do fundamentally

becoming virtual, digitized, I still believe that art

different from when you started years ago?

knows no borders. It can build connections and inspire dialogue

Art is intimately connected to the life of the

between people and cultures.

artist, and every person’s life has different stages. What hasn’t changed for me is that my

Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your

whole heart wants to be an artist. Nothing

thoughts again, Chen-Jung. How do you see

more.

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Graduated from El Centro de la Imagen (Lima, PerĂş) in 2004. From the beginning, my work has been defined by a strong reference to the memory, the past, and the passage of time. My creative process always passes by an analytical filter that gives me a bigger understanding of what I want to communicate and helps me finding out the appropriate format to develop and display my projects . I have showed my work in solo and collective exhibitions in Buenos Aires (Argentina), Lima (PerĂş) and Ankara (Turkey). I currently live in England from where I continue working on my artistic projects, mixing film and digital photography.

From the TransiciĂłn | Transition series


ART Habens

From the Transiciรณn | Transition series Special Issue

Aliette Bretel

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From the Transición | Transition series An interview by and

Kingdom direct the trajectory of your current artistic practice?

, curator curator

Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you and your readers.

Hello Aliette and welcome to ART Habens. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your background. You have a solid formal training and after having graduated from El Centro de la Imagen in Lima, Perú: how did those formative years influence your evolution as an artist? In particular, how does your cultural substratum due to the relationship between your Peruvian roots and your current life in the United

I was lucky to learn from contemporary artists in the CI. Not only did they teach courses they shared their own experiences first hand, their own processes and methods. I also learned all the technical key aspects of photography, combined with a highly creative and conceptual education. We would study the work of world’s greatest contemporary artists explained by real contemporary artists who encouraged us to read, explore, create and carry out art projects

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Aliette Bretel

with absolute freedom and expecting us to be able to explain and sustain our ideas and concepts whilst at the same time mastering the use of different types of cameras, flashes, films, and film developing processes. Learning all that I felt prepared to be an artist anywhere in the world and I’m grateful I had such a solid education.

ART Habens

I haven’t been working on a specific project in a while, I haven’t had a place and deadline to present anything new and that’s what always drives me to put in motion any new ideas I have. I’ve been working mostly on ideas to one day develop but haven’t sat down to conceived them in depth yet. Going forward I would like to continue some of my projects, “Transition" is one of them, “Air and light and time and space” another one, and Calma, which involves pinhole cameras and analogue developing process.

I don’t think I ever felt that I belonged in Lima, or any city or country I have ever lived. I feel nomadic at heart. I’ve never felt anchored to one place in particular. At the same time I have felt very comfortable anywhere I’ve been. Moving around so much you learn to adapt yourself quickly to the place you are living, at the same time I keep a thin distance so things don’t become familiar and I can still be surprised by the place and find subjects to take pictures of.

The body of works that we have selected for this special edition of ART Habens we have selected Transición | Transition, an interesting series that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article. What has at once captured our attention of your insightful exploration of the themes of the passage of time, is the way the results of your artistic research establish direct relations with the viewers: when walking our readers through the genesis of Transición | Transition, would you tell us how did you develop the initial idea?

We have appreciated the way the results of your artistic inquiry convey such a coherent combination between intuition and a rigorous aesthetics, and we would like to invite our readers to visit https://www.aliettebretel.co.uk in order to get a wide idea about your artistic production: when walking our readers through your usual equipment and process, we would like to ask you if you think that there is a central idea that connects all your works.

I was visiting a nursing home when I first started it and I wanted to take pictures there without a specific idea in mind. It was meant as a tribute to the elderly. I started visiting the home, taking portraits of the people living there, as well as scenes of the everyday inside the place. When I developed the work I realised I had taken pictures of people in a transition state, always one person in a place and somebody leaving or entering the scene, or somebody about to leave a room. Thats how I named the work but also it was then I realised that was the place where people spend the last days of their lives. That captured my attention. They all were there after living a long life in transit to the inevitable, having already disposed of their belongings and

I would say Time, either the passage of it or its absence. It has always played an important role in my photographs as well as the subject of memory, they are recurrent elements in my work. At the moment I’m just working with digital cameras, I have a 6D and a 5D Canon, a few lenses and flashes which I purchased mainly for my wedding photography business, but when I go out I always take one camera with a 24-105mm, to have some versatility and a 50mm to be more discrete and slip by unseen.

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Aliette Bretel

having to live with complete strangers. So I continued taking pictures of nursing homes in Agentina and Bolivia. When I returned to Lima I got permission to photograph the main nursing home there and I meant to continue the project around Southamerica and every place I go as a sociological study. That is why I feel it’s incomplete and I would like to continue it, I’m sure I will at some stage. Your approach to photography seems to stimulates the viewer’s psyche and consequently works on both a subconscious and a conscious level. How do you consider the role of memory playing within your artistic practice? Apart of the projetcs that are specifically conceived around the subject of “memory” like “Imaginarias” or “Trace” and even “Memento”, in a different way, I think you can say that are certain elements in my day to day photography that can evoke a feeling related to the memory. I tend to take pictures in an intuitive way. I take pictures of places that give me the sensation that I have been there before, even though is an entire new place for me. Some places some times make me feel a connection with something I have lived in a specific time in the past. So I take the pictures with that in mind and the result of the images are photographs of timeless places and scenes which can evoke in the viewer that they remember them too, almost as if it is their own memory of the place. We daresay that Transición | Transition seems to aim to look inside of what appear to be seen, rather than its surface, providing the spectatorship with freedom to realize their own perception. How important is for you to invite the viewers to elaborate personal meaning? And in particular, how open would you like your artworks to be understood?

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Aliette Bretel

ART Habens

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Aliette Bretel

From the Transiciรณn | Transition series Special Issue

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Aliette Bretel

ART Habens

I think it is more a consequence rather that my intentional purpose and in that way it is very interesting to me that my photographs make the viewers feel or think something totally different that what they meant to me and it is even more interesting when they evoke in them exactly the same thing that I intended with it. I love the connexion in different levels that art can create between people. Transición | Transition has drawn heavily from the specifics of its locations: the ambience doesn't play the mere role of a mere background: how did you select the locations of the city and how did they affect your shooting process? The process of selecting the places is basically random, I make a list of the main homes in the city and then send letters to get the permission to access the places. Once that is granted I like also to approach the people who live in there and ask for their permission and see if they wouldn’t be comfortable with me taking photographs of them. Once they allow me I have to move around the place avoiding people and areas where they don’t want me around and at the same time try not to disturb the interaction with my presence so I don’t interfere or disrupt their daily routines and I can get a real image of how things happen there, I mainly sort of merge in their every day nature always being respectful of their privacy. The world is becoming more and more digital, however, the art world has been slow at adapting to the digitalisation. Manipulation in photography is not new, but digital technology has extended the range of possibilities and the line between straight and manipulated photographs is increasingly blurry, as a artist currently involved in the exploration of the combination between film and digital photography, how do you consider the role of digital technology playing within your work? And

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Aliette Bretel

how do you experience the connection between the real and the imagined, as an artist working on the borders between the real and the virtual world? I like to be able to choose between different tools and formats to use depending of the outcome I want to achieve in a project and also on the budget. What I really like about digital photography is that you have a result immediately and you can then wave if you need to stay and take more pictures rather that have to come back after realising you didn’t have enough material. It’s more practical, specially for commercial and even more wedding photography. In the other hand I like the fact that film photography slows you down in all the processes. The main downside for digital photography, for me in concerns with the artistic work, is that rather than be just another option it came to replace film photography and that made it more difficult and more expensive to find a laboratory to develop your film and copy your own photos, and made it almost impossible to have an analogue colour film printed in analogue colour paper. Sometimes rather to be an option is it the only way and that is frustrating. I do not use much photo editing softwares, I mainly use the camera settings to achieve what I have in mind so, in that sense, I don’t see much difference apart of the statements gave above. Film photography gives you more chance to experiment and thats why I prefer it, specially pinhole photography where I don’t have too much control of the outcome and I like the surprise effect of the final result.

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Aliette Bretel

ART Habens

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Aliette Bretel

I like to investigate about a subject, write about it and create something with an idea in my mind.

Your artworks are sapiently balanced: do you conceive in order to achieve a precise aesthetic result or do you prefer to capture beauty in a more spontaneous way? I like them both.

I love also to go out to take pictures without any idea of what I’m gonna find and feel free to experiment with the camera.

I like the process of conceiving a project, the idea and the process of unfolding it to achieve the results I’m looking for. I like working methodically.

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Over the years your artworks have been internationally showcased in several occasions,

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Aliette Bretel

including Buenos Aires (Argentina), Lima (Perú)

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would consider it almost one sided in the sense that art is very personal.

and Ankara (Turkey): how do you consider the nature of your relationship with your audience?

And I do not like to compromise its essence in order to please anyone but I do love to get feedback, to know when somebody likes what I’m doing, also when they don’t like it. I love connecting with people through my art.

And what do you hope your audience take away from your artworks? In terms of the relationship with the audience I

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Aliette Bretel

currently working on, and what are some of the ideas that you hope to explore in the future?

We have really appreciated the multifaceted nature of your artistic research and before leaving

I really appreciate this exchange too and the opportunity to show my artwork to your readers and hope they enjoyed it. I'm going to be presenting one piece in a collateral exhibition at

this stimulating conversation we would like to thank you for chatting with us and for sharing your thoughts, Aliette. What projects are you

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Aliette Bretel

the Venice art Biennial this year, thanks to the GAA Foundation and the European Cultural Centre, between May and November in Palazzo Mora, and I will also be part of the Other Art Fair by Saatchi in Chicago in May. I am really exciting to show my work in Italy and in the USA. I am working at the moment on the selection of the

ART Habens

pieces I will present in Chicago and in the final details of the piece for the “Personal Structures� exhibition in Venice. An interview by and

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, curator curator

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Nadine Robbins

ART Habens

video, 2013

422 0

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Nadine Robbins

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An interview by and

, curator curator

Hello Nadine and welcome to ART Habens. Before starting to elaborate about your works we would like to invite our readers to visit www.nadinerobbinsart.com in order to get a wide idea about your artistic production and we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your background: while largely self-taught as a painter, you have a solid formal training in Graphic Design and after having earned your BFA from the State University of New York at New Paltz, you launched your successful career, that you later closed to devote yourself full time to painting. How does your previous career influence your evolution as an artist? In particular, how does your cultural substratum due to American culture direct the trajectory of your current artistic research? Nadine Robbins: While shifting from a graphic design career to working as a full time painter may seem like a significant change—certainly it would have a generation or two ago, when there was a strict division between “commercial” and “fine” art—for me it was a natural, seamless evolution. My expertise in graphic design has been enormously helpful in my painting.

Nadine Robbins

graphic design has an instant impact on the viewer. I think my paintings have a similar impact: they have an immediacy about them, and a sense of boldness.

Planning a composition is similar to planning the layout of a printed design piece. Graphic design is about setting a visual tone, and using elements of art (line, color, composition) to convey a concise and distinctive image. Good

I’m a very down to earth person, which I believe you can see in my work: I’m interested in the authenticity of my subjects. That practicality comes in part from running a successful design firm for many years. I value

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Nadine Robbins

clear communication and honesty in all areas of

photorealism, which began in New York in the

my life and my career, first as a business owner

1960s; Louis K. Meisel coined the term. I know

and now as a painter. My work is very much

that some art historians make a distinction

rooted in the American tradition of

between photorealism and hyperrealism, while

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Nadine Robbins

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others use the terms interchangeably. I tend to

others’, between traditional technique and

use “hyperrealism” more frequently, but

contemporary subjects. When photorealism

ultimately my concern is not the terminology.

first started, the focus was on the technique,

Instead, it’s the confluence in my work, and

and the artists maintained an almost

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Nadine Robbins

documentary objectivity. Now, there’s room in

becoming increasingly important to me.

hyperrealism for the artist’s voice to come

Traditionally photorealism and hyperrealism

through. That emotional undercurrent is the

have not had a socio-political tone, but my work

most compelling aspect of this genre, and it’s

is very much grounded in challenging social

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Nadine Robbins

ART Habens

norms. In particular my work has subverted

they’re emphatically not just the object of the

traditional ideas of the female nude and

male gaze. While a number of female artists I

portraiture of women.

admire, such as Cindy Sherman, have also

My models are unapologetic and in control,

challenged norms of portraiture, I feel my work

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Nadine Robbins

is unique because I’ve done so within the realm

special edition of ART Habens and that we our

of hyperrealist painting.

readers have already got to know in the introductory pages of this article has at once

The body of works that we have selected for this

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impressed us for the way you provided your

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Nadine Robbins

ART Habens

artworks with such a powerful narrative drive:

photoshoot where I take a series of pictures of

would you walkus through your usual process?

the model and then select one to use as a reference for the painting, to capture all the

Nadine Robbins: My paintings all begin with a

detail. The narrative drive in my work comes in

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Nadine Robbins

part from the nature of the photoshoot. I don’t

That sense of spontaneity keeps the work fresh

go in with a fixed idea of the outcome. Rather, I

rather than formal. I want the models to have

build a rapport with the model and let the

agency about how they present themselves,

shoot organically unfold as we work together.

and to be comfortable so their authentic selves

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Nadine Robbins

shine through. One of my favorite anecdotes about a photoshoot provides a good example of that spontaneity. I had organized a shoot that was designed to be a parody of singer

ART Habens

Robin Thicke’s infuriatingly misogynistic song and video “Blurred Lines.” I took many photos of that event, but the one I ended up using captures a moment when the model was sitting

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Nadine Robbins

on a blue wingback chair, The Green File, filing her nails with a green nail file during a break. We were talking about how angry the video made us, and that moment perfectly

ART Habens

encapsulated what she and I were feeling. I never would have expected going in that a photo taken during a stolen moment like that would turn out to be my favorite one. So that


ART Habens

Nadine Robbins

spontaneity creates the underpinning of the narrative. I’m so fortunate as an artist to have an inherent ability to capture the decisive moment.

approached complete strangers. Occasionally I paint people I know well. That process is always interesting because I have to put aside the nuances of our friendship and look at them with a fresh perspective.

As you have remarked once, the composition of each portrait is achieved by finding that place between the humorous and poignant, a kind of intimacy that goes beyond your relationship with the model. At the same time, many of your subjects seem to reveal their inner lives in the portraits: what’s your philosophy on the nature of the portrait? How do you select the people that you decide to include in your artworks?

Going back to the photoshoot, that rapport I build with the model allows us to move past small talk and to discuss more intimate topics while I photograph them. As I mentioned with The Green File, many of these conversations lead to the anger that many women feel about gender inequality, chauvinism, and, in many cases, instances of abuse and sexual violence. The Me Too movement is one example of how this anger is being acknowledge and channeled into advocacy, accountability, and ultimately change. My most recent painting Try and Stop Me is a visceral portrait of a model named Clementine, who I’ve used before. She has this absolutely stunning inner beauty. I have a few models, like her, who I’ve painted multiple times. I call them my muses. During the photoshoot where I took the photo for this painting, Clementine and I were talking about some of these issues, about being unheard as women. She told me a story of how she had wanted to start a business, but when she approached her father for a loan, he refused to give it to her. Instead, he was going to give the funds to Clementine’s brother, who, in her father’s estimation, would be more successful at running a business. I asked her to keep that thought in her mind while I photographed her, and she did not disappoint. You can really see the anger in her face, which I underscored with the vibrant red background.

Nadine Robbins: My philosophy on the nature of the portrait is that it’s a kind of collaboration between the model and me. The images capture the model’s mood, emotions, and the way she presents herself; at the same time, I respond to the model with my own mood, emotions, and ideas about how to present her. All of those elements combine to create a complex interrelationship not only between the model and me, but also between the painting and the viewer. I select my models intuitively. They’re women with a particular type of beauty that captivates me; they are often not beautiful as that term has traditionally been defined, but they’re inherently photogenic. There’s something undefinable about each of them that I respond to and that is holistic: it’s as much about their sense of self as about their appearance. Often that comes through in the eyes. Sometimes the models are acquaintances; other times I’ve

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Nadine Robbins

New York City based artist Lydia Dona once remarked that in order to make art today one has to reevaluate the conceptual language behind the mechanism of art making: are your works created gesturally, instinctively? Or do you methodically transpose geometric schemes?

ART Habens

contemporary age, as the theme of identity, race, beauty and gender, your artistic research reveals such subtle still effective socio political commitment. Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco once remarked that "artist's role differs depending on which part of the world they’re in. It depends on the political system they are living under": how do you consider the role of artists in our globalised and media driven contemporary age? And how do you think your works respond to it in finding hidden, crystallised moments in the everyday?

Nadine Robbins: By its nature hyperrealism is a methodical process of painting the outline from the photograph, blocking in the color, and then applying paint in increasingly detailed layers. It’s time consuming and precise. As I’ve described, the spontaneity that I strive for in the source photograph offsets the traditional rigidity of hyperrealism. The new body of work I’m painting, called Seeing Red, is less precise and more gestural than my earlier painting. I’ve loosened the process and freed up the brushstrokes from the strictures of hyperrealism. This evolution of my approach dovetails with my increased emphasis on the emotional undercurrent of my subjects. It’s as if the anger and frustration that has been simmering under the surface of my work for a long time has broken through; my more gestural approach captures that energy and makes it palpable for the viewer. I still consider myself a hyperrealist, but I’ve increasingly put more weight on the content, adjusting the technique as needed to best convey that narrative. I consider my work, and that of other artists I’ve shown with, to be pushing the boundaries of hyperrealism and going beyond how it’s been defined.

Nadine Robbins: I agree with Orozco’s statement completely; it’s inevitable that an artist will respond to the political, social, and cultural climate they’re living in. In my work, I’m driven by the women’s revolution that’s happening in the U.S., and that’s been gaining momentum since Trump came into office. These issues affect me personally and politically, and as an artist I feel compelled to shine light on them. It’s a complicated and frustrating time to live in America. People live in their bubbles, follow the media that confirms their beliefs, and shut themselves off from other points of view. We’ve had to become used to sifting through endless misinformation to find the truth. A recent opinion piece by Jessica Noll in the New York Times (“Smash the Wellness Industry”) called out the enormous industry that is supposedly focused on well being for actually promoting weight loss. She talks about intuitive eating as an antidote to the focus on “wellness” that keeps women feeling guilty and inadequate. One huge benefit of social media is that grassroots movements like intuitive eating can have a voice in the

Engaging the viewers to question such a variety of issues that affect our unstable

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media, even if they don’t have the money and the platform that the wellness industry has.

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was elected: I felt (and feel) utter despair about what his administration would mean for women, for LGBTQ communities, for immigrants, and for so many other marginalized people. At the same time, I had some health issues and was thinking a lot about aging, and what it means for my career to be an “older” woman artist. My prior work had a sense of defiance inherent in the women I painted, but State of Mind is what I consider a breakthrough piece—where that defiance became full blown rage. Women’s anger has been seen as threatening and unbecoming. It’s perceived as a liability for women but as part of men’s power. In this painting I’m channelling my feelings about politics, about societal expectations, and about how those things affect me as an individual.

Noll’s piece called to mind my painting Runnin’ on Dunkin’, which, as you say, crystallized a moment of the everyday while also making a broader socio-political statement. This painting was part of a series that explored bad habits and guilty pleasures. The subject of the painting is a model and burlesque dancer living in New York, and her guilty pleasure is fresh, hot, glazed donuts. There’s a Dunkin’ Donuts on the ground floor of her apartment building, so she’s faced with this dilemma every day: does she avoid the donuts because, as a professional dancer, there are certain expectations about her weight and appearance, or does she indulge in what brings her pleasure? I brought donuts to our shoot, and the painting captures the moment where she fully owned her decision to eat one—she looks at the viewer with a raised eyebrow that almost dares us to challenge her decision. The painting is about her as an individual, but also about the pressures that she, I, and all women feel around appearances and expectations. She’s saying, “I don’t care, I’m eating the donut.” Women see this painting and immediately understand what it’s about, because all of us have that those same internal conversations.

We have been fascinated with the way your artworks unveil the point of convergence between historic legacy of portraiture and contemporary sensitiveness, highlighting that exploring a past experience can enhance the understanding of the contemporary": how do you consider the relationship between Tradition and Contemporariness playing within your artistic process? Nadine Robbins: When you study Western art history you clearly see a cyclical pattern of tradition being challenged by contemporary ideas, which then become the norm, and then are later challenged by a new radical idea, and so on. Photorealism started as a response to— a rejection of—abstract expressionism and minimalism. The photorealists wanted to bring back virtuosic painting technique and were also

State of Mind is my first self-portrait, and it turned out to be the start of the Seeing Red series that I’m currently working on. For me, this self-portrait epitomizes the notion that all politics are personal. I painted this during a period of depression I experienced after Trump

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responding to what many saw as the

was a sense of hubris, that they were proving

encroachment of photography into the world

that they could make paintings that looked

of “fine art.� Nearly all of the first generation of

more like photographs than photographs

photorealists were white men, and I think there

themselves. They were appropriating

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photography and inserting it into their painting

energy of the photograph is transposed into

process. Painting from a photograph gives a

the energy of the painting.

painting more emotional weight, because

Now, thankfully, there’s no longer a hierarchy

there’s a kind of layering that takes place as the

in terms of art media and there’s so much

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depth that new tools and media can bring to traditional techniques. Anyone with a smartphone has an incredibly powerful camera in their pocket that can create a picture that’s more advanced than what we can see with the naked eye. That doesn’t make painting obsolete, though; on the contrary, as a painter I can use that same tool—a powerful digital camera—to make my paintings even more detailed and nuanced. I’m energized by being at this intersection of traditional and contemporary—I can take the aspects of the traditional techniques that work for me, and use them in conjunction with new technologies to amplify my message around contemporary issues. Another interesting series of yours that have particularly impressed us and that we would like to introduce to our readers is entitled Oysters and we have been struck with the way you sapiently conveyed the idea of intimacy and tenderness using such a vivacious palette: how did you structure your tones in order to achieve such brilliant results, combining such apparently opposite ideas and visual qualities? Nadine Robbins: Building on the discussion of the role of photography in photorealism and hyperrealism, I want to talk a bit more about how I use photography. In a photoshoot I take dozens of images, yet I select only one that will become the basis for the painting. In addition to choosing the one that’s most arresting, I’m also choosing based on the visual characteristics of the photo—the light, composition, color, and so forth. Then I can further adjust these in Photoshop until I achieve the perfect image. I think there’s a misconception with hyperrealism that the photo dictates the painting, but in reality, I have a lot of leeway in how I use the

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photo. This is one area where I call upon my graphic design background quite a bit. In the oyster paintings, I’m investigating exactly the apparently opposite ideas and visual qualities you mention. In essence, I’m challenging whether they are, in fact, opposites, or whether they can rightfully coexist. In nature, an oyster has a hard, chalky shell, and a soft, viscous interior. The qualities are opposite, yet they are inextricably linked, two parts of a whole. We tend to ascribe attributes to these qualities, seeing the shell as solid or “masculine” and the inside as fluid or “feminine.” I’m making the statement that the oyster—or, by extrapolation, anyone who identifies as female—can be both hard and soft, solid and translucent, understated and bold, and so forth. In the oyster paintings I use light and reflection to underscore and draw attention to the shapes and the textures. You’ll notice the facets of ice cubes catching the light, a spoon reflecting the room around it, and drops of water with a mirror-like shine. As you have remarked once, Oysters also expresses a certain robust appreciation of the tactile, the feminine and as such your identity as a woman: as one the pioneers of feminist art, Italian Baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi, your artworks not fall prey to the emotional prettification of a beloved subject and we dare say that your artistic research seems to be a tribute to the theme of women's identity, decontextualizing it from the unavoidable cultural influence of our patriarchal and maleoriented societies. Do you think that your being a woman provides your artistic research

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with some special value? Moreover, do you think that your artistic research responds to a particular cultural moment?

assumption that women have a particular

Nadine Robbins: Absolutely. Traditionally, since

things that are generally accepted as beautiful. I

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the time of Gentileschi at least, there’s been an appreciation for beauty, and therefore paint

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do think that my work is a tribute to women’s

society or cultural norms. My work captures the

identity; one of the ways I express that, as I

complexity of women. I’m showing that we can

touched on earlier, is by choosing models who

be angry and sensual, that we can be defiant

are beautiful to me—not by standards set by

and experience pleasure. Understanding and

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celebrating this complexity is crucial for society as a whole, in ways that are both small and monumental—whether it’s being able to eat a donut without regret or the media talking about a female political candidate’s platform instead of her clothing.

around her wrists and neck. This is a direct reference to the medium she works in, which is retired fishing line. One viewer saw this painting and wrote an amazing email to the museum where it was on view. She talked about how, as a survivor of abuse, this painting symbolized to her the ability to break out of physical and emotional bonds; the painting helped this woman shift from seeing herself as a victim to seeing herself as a survivor who triumphed over her situation. While I knew the image was powerful and showed the model’s confidence, I could never have predicted this individual viewer’s response. That’s an ideal example of this threeparty conversation between the model, the painter, and the viewer.

Your sapient brushstrokes impart such a tactile feature to your artworks, providing them with stimulating allegorical quality. Austrian Art historian Ernst Gombrich once remarked the importance of providing a space for the viewers to project onto, so that they can actively participate in the creation of the illusion: how important are metaphors in your practice? Nadine Robbins: I see the viewer as the third participant in a sort of conversation that takes place between me, the model, and the person looking at the work. For art to have an impact, that conversation must include the viewer; otherwise, the work can’t communicate its message in a way that can be heard. The viewer needs to find a point of relevance in the work.

Over the years you have exhibited in a number of occasions, including your recent participation to WMOCA - International Biennial Portrait Competition (*): we would catch this occasion to ask you something about your relationship with your spectatorship. Direct relationship with the audience in a physical is definitely the most important one, in order to snatch the spirit of a work of Art. However, as the move of Art from traditional gallery spaces, to street and especially to the online realm increases: how do you consider the role of emerging online technosphere — and platforms as Instagram — in creating new links between artists and worldwide audience?

As you’re suggesting, one way I provide an entry point for the viewer is through metaphor, though it’s always a metaphor that can be interpreted in many ways. I have no control over how a viewer “reads” a painting once it’s out in the world, and that’s okay; in fact, it’s preferable that the metaphor is personal, so it resonates. The multiplicity of meanings is interesting to me as an artist and when I’m in the role of the viewer myself. It’s so powerful to see and hear different interpretations. My painting I Will Survive shows the artist Gin Stone with rope

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Nadine Robbins: As an artist it’s enormously gratifying to be able to share my work online and to directly and immediately reach

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society telling us what’s appropriate and not appropriate when it comes to women’s bodies. I’ve tried to appeal, but it’s hopeless, so now I post my paintings on my blog where I don’t have to blur them out or be subject to someone else’s notion of what’s acceptable.

audiences, collectors, and curators around the world (which, incidentally, is how I was selected for an exhibition at the MEAM museum in Barcelona for International Women’s Day). Online tools and social media platforms make communication and connection easier than ever, and they enable me to share my work with more people than I ever could without them. These tools are also instrumental in advancing socio-political movements globally, as we’ve seen with the Women’s March, for example.

We have really appreciated the originality of your artistic research and before leaving this stimulating conversation we would like to thank you for chatting with us and for sharing your thoughts, Nadine. What projects are you currently working on, and what are some of the ideas that you hope to explore in the future?

This virtual connection is clearly not a substitute for personal relationships, though. I love to connect with people through Instagram and other media, but I hope those connections eventually lead to real-life interactions, like having a curator invite me to an exhibition or a collector purchase a painting. While images convey a lot of information, they still can never replicate the tactile quality of seeing a painting in person.

Nadine Robbins: My current body of work is a series called Seeing Red, which includes the latest painting of Clementine Try and Stop Me I mentioned as well as my self-portrait State of Mind. This series takes many of the themes and ideas we’ve been talking about and explores them further. They’re large-scale portraits of women set on flat red backgrounds. The technique is almost pointillistic, and the emotional tenor is not just defiant, but furious and visceral. These paintings embody the dire need for women in America— and around the world—to speak our truth. In the age of Me Too, eroding abortion rights, a misogynistic president, and other so-called women’s issues (that actually affect everyone, regardless of gender identity), we can no longer be quiet.

Similarly, technology and social media can help me identify and communicate with models, but there’s no way those tools could ever replace the personal dynamic that happens during a photoshoot, when we’re both physically present in the same room. One frustration I have with technology is that the algorithms that control content on social media are not sophisticated enough to tell the difference between a painting of a nude and an image that actually violates their policies. I’ve had my work censored on Facebook because it depicts nude women. While it’s not surprising, it’s infuriating, and just another example of

An interview by and

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, curator curator

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Lives and works in Los Angeles, California, USA


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Xin Ni

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An interview by and

, curator curator

Hello Jana and welcome back to ART Habens we already got the chance to introduce our readers to your artworks in a previous edition - and we would like to invite them to visit www.janacharl.com - and we are now particularly pleased to discover the development of your artistic production. In particular, the body of works that we have selected for this special edition has at once captured our attention for the way you sapiently combined minimalism and abstraction. While walking us through the genesis of this captivating body of works, would you tell us how you structured your process from a technical aspect, in order to achieve such brilliant results? The highlighted projects, Stories of Forgotten Fisherwomen (Fish Factory Art Residency, Stöðvarfjörður, Iceland, 2018); Parcoursvita (Trélex Residency, Switzerland, 2018); and Oregon Sunshine (Hay Creek Ranch, Oregon, US, 2019); are all mixed media site-specific installations created predominantly from salvaged materials. In each of the projects, experimentation was key to the technical process and final results.

Jana Charl

allowing for all natural lighting. In order to reach a wider audience I set up the artwork along the windows for both indoor and outdoor vantage points.

At the Fish Factory I selected an installation space with a wall of windows overlooking the fjord. By mid-May the sun set for only three hours per day

Initially I experimented with materials and brainstormed by creating small mixed media paintings; however, not

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until I began installing the stylized female forms did I discover nuances requiring repositioning and adjustments. Similar to stained glass windows, the penetration of light effected colors and levels of transparency. I played off of this by varying the types and layers of materials. Also, I strategically positioned components, such as the draping of fish nets, for intricate shadows effects across the floor. Upon viewing the second story installation from ground level outside, I noticed that the natural lighting didn’t penetrate very deep; the forms were opaque; and undesirable details were visible. All of which required alterations. Building the installation indoors freed me from dealing with the weather conditions; thus, I was able to sew lightweight pieces together with thread and secure in place with small nails. The exception was the dimensional buoyfishnet centerpiece which was suspended from steel beams and entirely formed with safety pins and fishing line. Moreover, for the unveiling of the installation and video documentation (https://vimeo.com/270883740), I collaborated with Miriam Donohue, an Irish musician who wrote, composed, and performed the song Einarsdóttir-The Fisherwoman. While brainstorming at the TrÊlex residency, I began hanging works-inprogress from the ceiling beams. I became fascinated by the subtle

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movements along with the impact of natural and indoor lighting. These inadvertent observations led to a dramatic shift of my concentration, culminating in a kinetic installation. As I sought to maximize and control the mobility, I observed the subtleties between suspending with string, fishing line, and wire. I tested balancing elements of varying weights in different positions. Moreover, I crocheted string and sewed plastic mesh into the mobiles for their effect on rotating shadows. Inspired by a swing hanging from a tree branch, I translated the mechanism, based on my experience making jewelry, by building wire jump rings, and also incorporated twigs into the installation. Three looped rings notably maximized a twisting action. In addition, throughout the residency I recorded a variety of sounds. On every hour church bells would ring and exactly two minutes later the ringing would repeat. I incorporated the twelve chimes marking noon into the beginning of the installation video (https://vimeo.com/315978778). Oregon Sunshine is my most recent mixed media installation. The layers of history to create the twelve panels, spanning 11 x 1.5 m (36 x 5 ft), involved repurposing prior artwork. Beginning with digitizing Sunrise, an acrylic painting on stretched canvas with a surface disrupted by woven strips of painted canvas. Because of the scale and consequent resolution

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required for output, I photographed the painting in sections and then merged the patches together. I digitally adjusted the 91 x 122 cm (36 x 48 in) composition for output on 11 x 1.5 m (36 x 5 ft) outdoor vinyl.

gesturally, instinctively? Or do you methodically transpose geometric schemes? In particular, what importance does spontaneity play in your daily routine? Creating my artwork involves balancing both instinctive and methodical approaches. At times I begin painting or sculpting more impulsively and then refine and rework until I’m satisfied with the result. Other times the process is reversed and I begin with sketches and outlines but freely change course and improvise along the way. By not confining myself to a planned direction, I allow for serendipitous results.

After the six-month outdoor exhibition, I cut out a damaged area and created a series of ten small mixed media works as part of the Production - Process Collaboration installation curated by Marina Moreno at Tate Liverpool. Months later, I cut the remaining weathered vinyl into twelve panels (roughly 91 x 150 cm / 3 x 5 ft each). I gessoed and painted sections; sewed on circles of string I crocheted along with plastic mesh produce bags; and wove in additional painted canvas graphic bars. Each piece was then mounted on three wood bars (which had another life as the dividers of foam surfboard blanks used during the manufacturing process). I displayed the panels outdoors for one day (https://vimeo.com/335790381) and hope to exhibit them later this year in an indoor public setting.

Spontaneity is a form of freedom but without any parameters, it can be chaotic. For years I’ve been concentrating on an abstract, minimalist, stylized female form. During the development phase of experimentation and discovery, freedom and spontaneity were essential. However, as the form has evolved into a recurring motif, my practice has become more methodical. By keeping one variable relatively consistent, the female form, I’ve been able to explore different media and techniques without becoming overwhelmed by the near-infinite possibilities.

Marked out with such unique visual identity, your artworks display such a coherent combination between sense of freedom and rigorous aesthetics. New York City based artist Lydia Dona once stated that in order to make art today one has to reevaluate the conceptual language behind the mechanism of art making itself. Do you create your works

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However, as a result, I’ve been grappling with a growing sense of redundancy in my work. I’m reconsidering the parameters I’ve set and contemplating

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the next stage for my further artistic development.

such a wide and once unthinkable

Contemporary practice has forged a new concept of art making involving

particular, photographer and sculptor

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variety of materials and objects. In Zoe Leonard once stated, “the objects

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of the materials that you include — or that you plan to include — in your artworks. Discovering and collecting objects, especially waste destined for dump sites and landfills, for my projects has become both my passion and source of inspiration. Zoe Leonard’s statement relates to one of the allures of working with found objects, there’s also the challenge to effectively integrate them into new works. Along with the inherent histories are the stories of discovering or receiving the items; all of which adds layers to the storytelling. In addition, I don’t believe in any limitations in regards to the variety of art supplies; nor the delegation of materials as a means to distinguish between craft, commercial art, and fine art. How do your memories and everyday life experiences fuel your creative process? And how do you think your works respond to finding hidden, crystallised moments in the every day? Memories and everyday life experiences are stored in various levels of consciousness which I delve into as the fundamental inspiration to create meaningful art. Interpreting and visually communicating in a way that is more relatable to others is my aim. My awareness of isolated moments or incidents becomes more apparent when

that we leave behind hold the marks and the sign of our use: like archaeological findings, they reveal so much about us.” We’d love to ask you about the qualities

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bundled into clusters over time. For example, the metaphor of finding purpose in discarded, undervalued items, considered “trash� has recently surfaced in the context of ageism. It is one of the themes I plan to further explore.

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We have really appreciated the vibrancy of thoughtful nuances that mark out your artworks, and we like the way they create tension and dynamics. How did you come about settling on your color palette? And how does your own

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requiring the reworking and remixing of pigments, has been key to developing my color palettes. Particular to my paintings are colors and color combinations which I’m drawn to over and over; even though I mix pigments, I

psychological make-up determine the nuances of tones that you decide to include in a specific artwork? How do you develop your textures? Experimentation, including trial and error

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of women artists is to continue to express and share experiences and visions uninhibitedly and not to compromise because of real and perceived barriers. And not to diminish the fact that being a woman is part of an artistic identity which impacts the filter for viewing the world and delivering experiential or political messages. Moreover, I view it as a means to mentor and empower underrepresented women. Nevertheless, women are free to choose whether identifying their gender is an important aspect of their art. My hope is that I’ll be defined by the quality of my work and messages conveyed; not (solely) by my sex.

can unintentionally arrive at familiar results. Other color palettes are directly derived from observations and interpretations of my immediate surroundings and elements within the work. Additionally, I develop textures by technical means, such as the use of color placement, not entirely blending pigments, layering, varying opacity and viscosity, and mixing unexpected elements into the paint. I use obvious tools such as paint brushes, including old ones; as well as my fingers, toothbrushes, textiles, and basically any instrument I find to create an interesting effect. Also, I disrupt the canvas surface by cutting into it as well as sewing and weaving materials into it.

At times I’m reluctant to use the word “feminism” because it has taken on so many negative connotations. I also have mixed feelings about last year’s “Me Too” movement: there’s an awareness of issues but also an exploitation of them and consequent backlash. Through my art, I’ve sought to communicate and encourage dialog with the intent of gaining a deeper understanding of issues. Art is a venue for discussion that might not be accessed in other ways. For example, I researched fisherwomen in Iceland for the Stories of Forgotten Fisherwomen installation and became inspired by largely forgotten women of the 18th to 19th centuries who were judged by their skills and abilities not gender. I found myself asking people in

As you have remarked in your artist's statement, feminist issues, perceptions of women’s roles, identity, and gender relationships are key themes weaving your work together. How do you consider the role of women artists in our age? Do you think that your being a woman provides your artistic research with some special value? Although the feminist art movement began in the 1960s, it still has relevancy fifty years later in all cultures. I feel very strongly about equal opportunities for women, which includes the creative arts space, not as a divisive factor but rather for the beauty of more diversity and varying points of view. I believe the role

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Icelandic villages if they knew about some of the famous fisherwomen and fascinating conversations ensued.

most recent installation Oregon Sunshine, on Hay Creek Ranch, Central Oregon. What do you hope your audience takes away from viewing your current body of work? As art shows

Over the years you have exhibited your artwork at many venues, including your

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move increasingly away from traditional gallery spaces to the streets and especially to online platforms, such as Instagram, how is your opinion changing regarding the relationship

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with a globalised audience? Oregon Sunshine marks a time of personal reflection and change. By cutting apart, painting, and sewing over a previous installation, I revisited its

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history. Most significant is a breaking away from my focus on the human form and looking to nature as a point of departure. The wildflower’s name is also symbolic: I moved from California to Oregon and “sunshine” represents optimism. Moreover, I created the large-scale installation from a damaged-beyond-repair temporary installation which was destined for a landfill; and I introduced unexpected materials such as salvaged plastic produce bags and turned them into flower petals and crocheted floral discs. In general, I strive to create meaningful and memorable artwork, often with a sense of humor and playfulness, to engage viewers in innovative ways that challenge or question beliefs, especially preconceived ones. Even if that engagement is simply the press of a key to “like” a post of it. Initially I was reluctant to join Instagram, in part because of the limitations of screenviewing in a square format. However, once I joined (@janacharl.art), I soon realized how amazing it is to be able to connect with such a vast global community of artists, artenthusiasts, galleries, curators, collectors, etc. I enjoy the feedback and curiosity. Also, after living in Los Angeles and then relocating to an isolated and remote place, Instagram has enabled me to expose my work to a larger and more diverse group of viewers. Instagram is just one means of sharing; I highly recommend internationals artist residencies for meaningful face-to-face connections.

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Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts again, Jana. How do you see your evolution as an artist over time? Is there anything that you do fundamentally different from when you started years ago? My confidence as an artist has evolved over time allowing me to pursue opportunities rather than simply accept invitations; speak publicly about my artwork, including sharing what had always seemed too personal; and dedicate myself to my creative practice even as it requires increasing amounts of sacrifice. I’ve also become more inquisitive and passionate with age, which has actually increased my productivity. Originally inspired by the Venus of Willendorf, I’ve spent years interpreting, abstracting, and simplifying the female form and I’ve expressed it with polymer clay, metal, acrylic paintings, and drawings. I’ve merged the practices by creating mixed media works, and I’ve incorporated found objects. Moreover, I’ve created large-scale indoor and outdoor installations; including my recent kinetic installation. Now I’m in the process of self-reflection and transition, fueled by an overpowering urge to freshly pursue a new direction. An interview by and

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Loraine Lynn

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video, 2013

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Loraine Lynn

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An interview by and

, curator curator

Hello Loraine and welcome back to ART Habens. We already got the chance to introduce our readers to your artworks in a previous edition and we are now particularly pleased to discover the development of your artistic production. In the meanwhile, we would like invite our readers to visit http://www.loranitude.com in order to get a wide idea about your artistic production. We like the way your approach conveys such a stimulating combination between figurative elements and captivating abstract feeling, whose background creates such an oniric atmosphere: how would you consider the relationship between figurative and abstraction playing within your artistic research? In particular, how does representation and a tendency towards abstraction find their balance in your work? Loraine Lynn: Thank you for having me back! I’m happy to be speaking with you again. Figurative and abstract play off each other in my work. I aim for their relationship to be one of frustration. I enjoy playing with the tension that is created between the two and using it to have the viewer experience art in a way that isn’t always comfortable. This creates a backand-forth, giving room for this contentious relationship to be explored and questioned rather than just disregarded. Balance is found between the two through the idea of “connecting the dots,” which happens within my work through intention, site, and proximity. I tend to lean more towards abstraction because of its ability to be open ended.

Loraine Lynn

because it does not urge them to be involved with the work on a deeper level because it is familiar. Having aspects of representation and abstracting it helps to engage the viewer. I prefer a mixture of the two because it helps create a space for further interpretation and new meanings to be made on behalf of the audience and also on my behalf as the maker. The main point of balance between the two is found in how I display the objects and forms I choose to use in a piece. Like our dreams, the

This is a personal bias, but I find that representation halts audience interpretation

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works have recognizable pieces from our everyday lives, but they are manipulated and “off� in some way. Much like the phenomenon of lethologica (when a word is on the tip of your tongue) or semantic satiation (saying a word so many times it loses its meaning), they exist in terms of conflict when it comes to their relationship within the art I create. The body of works that we have selected for this special edition of ART Habens has at once captured our attention for its powerful combination between insightful conceptualism and unconventional aesthetics. When walking us through the genesis of your recent body of works, would you tell us how did you structure your process on a technical aspect, in order to achieve such brilliant results? Loraine Lynn: I am interested in concepts like deskilling, which can be seen in how I handle the material within my art. There is not a high polish or finish to the work, which is intentional. There’s an irreverence in my process when it comes to technique - I acknowledge its value, but find it more interesting when it is undermined. I do this with the intention of having the audience consider ideas of labor, skill, and their place in the world. It is important to have knowledge of a skill or a trade, but it is also looked down upon when it comes to societal roles. For example, the plumber can be seen as less than the thespian despite the fact that plumbing arguably serves very an important purpose. Those types of value imbalances inform my conceptual process and also interest me on a personal level. In terms of techniques used within my recent work, I employ mold making, glass making, and an exploration of literal space, which you could relate to the discipline of architecture, to have the work challenge the audience on a material

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and spatial level. With Manufactum, I was thinking about factory production and how it relates to glass and the idea of condensing these large scale operations into something that could speak to its impact in a sculptural sense. With works like Distortion and constructionem the optics and how the site was viewed and engaged with were important aspects within both of those pieces. Distortion is an object produced from blowing and sculpting glass that blurs the space around it due to the material’s inherent traits. That makes it the most literal of my recent works in that its purpose is to blend in and manipulate the space its occupying. On the other hand, constructionem is meant to interact with unique architectural aspects of the exhibition space and I will elaborate more on this piece in the next question! , Your works, and in particular are structured in order to drive the viewers through a surrounding visual experience: what were you aesthetic decisions in relationship to the exhibition space, in order to provide constructionem with such visual and also tactile quality? Loraine Lynn: constructionem was created, partially, from chance. There happened to be a very interesting architectural feature specifically pillars - in the exhibition space. I really wanted to integrate the space into the work, to consider it as a material rather than a place for display. I think the glass being colorless, along with the transparency of the pallet wrap, give the work a tactile quality. There’s also a tension, literally and metaphorically, within that work. Seeing glass held in place by something so thin and seemingly flimsy puts people on edge and that’s of particular interest to me. I really like having that sort of edge to my work and to get

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Loraine Lynn

that type of reaction out of the viewer. Making them a little nervous rather than putting them at ease. Aesthetically I am drawn to sites that are rough and considered raw or “under construction.” Those types of spaces allow for a deeper interaction and exploration when it comes to the type of work I produce. They also speak to ideas of work and the daily commute. It is a common experience that many people share, that annoyance at being inconvenienced by these “in progress” sites. They take time to figure out how to navigate and even then they are still perceived as a bother. In a way I am trying to replicate that within my recent works. As you have remarked in your artist's statement, you intervene on spaces (architecture, bodies, objects) and recontextualize them through acts of repetition - rendering the familiar unrecognizable, to allows for an abstraction that leads to moments of tension. How do you consider the role of memory and the reminders to universal imagery playing within your creative process? And how does everyday life's experience fuels you as a creative? Loraine Lynn: Being able to find something new and meaningful in everyday activities, sites, and actions is an important aspect of my creative practice. I mentioned previously about construction sites serving as inspiration for my work. For me everyday occurrences and spatial situations, especially the ones that are inprogress, speak to my interest in presenting something familiar in a new way. I also think of these spaces as universal since infrastructure is constantly being developed, built, and repaired. Aspects of memory, like how they change each time we remember them, the concept of muscle memory, and also material memory are interesting to consider when it comes to my

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Loraine Lynn

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Loraine Lynn

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Loraine Lynn

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work. Working with materials that are related to a skill, technique and the mastery of the aforementioned speak to the idea of tradition, which relies on memory in terms of passing along information. I am interested in questioning common traditions and revealing the underlying histories that, for better or worse, may have been overlooked due to romanticism or ignorance. Using these concepts in my creative process allows me to keep altering and changing what I do. The universality of these themes and the scope of their effects fuel me as a creative because they are personal without being solely focused on my own experience and emotions. That can be valuable in other artists’ practice, but not in mine. I think a certain amount of detachment allows for adaptability which keeps me open to new ideas and forms within my work. We sometimes tend to ignore the fact that a work of art is a physical artefact, and to treat it more as a window, or a even a portal: how do you consider the relation between the abstract feature of the ideas you aim to communicate and the physical act of creating your artworks? And how has your daily routine changed over these recent years? Loraine Lynn: Concept and form are both important aspects of my creative production. They both inform each other and there is no set of rules that one needs to come before the other. I have my artistic routine adhere to a vein of research rather than just creating for the sake of creating. This comes from an interest in rethinking how art is commonly viewed and engaged with. I suppose this is a very academic way to make art, but it is how my practice is running at the moment. My daily routine, in relation to artistic production, has changed in the sense that I

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ART Habens

Loraine Lynn

treat it as work. And I do not mean that in a negative sense. I see work as being fulfilling and exciting, which is why I chose to frame my artistic routine in that way. If I do not set up some parameters for myself it is almost as if I am giving myself permission to ignore creating, which is something I do not want to allow! As you have remarked once, your work is intended as a critique of structures we adhere to and perform within: as an artist particularly interested in producing work dictated by an underlying ideological position, do you think that your artistic research respond to a particular cultural moment? Loraine Lynn: I do. I think it is responding to advancement in technology and the decline in skilled trade. This leads to my interest in types of labor that are now being explored or given validity such as emotional labor and intellectual labor. I would also go as far as to say my research is a response to the effects that Capitalism has had culturally and in individuals’ lives. Some sayings come to mind with this: “you are your work,” taking time to yourself is lazy, make something you love your “side hustle” or monetize it instead of enjoying it. It is really universal and a timeless issue to respond to since we are creatures that toil and work, or rather have that idea ingrained into us. Moreover, how could in your opinion contemporary art - with its never seen before globalised approach to communication - could play as a trigger for societal change, at least on a cultural aspect? Loraine Lynn: We are more connected than ever before, which is both good and bad. I see contemporary art being able to use this for the benefit of whole communities. Social Practice and activism in art is rising and drawing attention to the underlying problems of institutions, mostly their perpetuation of

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exclusion and violence through acts like gentrification and the ethically questionable actions of board members and donors. There is also the tendency in contemporary art to use activism and hopes for societal change as a ploy because it is trendy at the moment and

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Loraine Lynn

can be profited from. I am more hopeful about

ART Habens

The way you sapiently include materials and objects, as wooden pallet in Manufactum, urges the viewers to push the envelope of their perceptual and cultural parameters and we really appreciate the way you transform common objects into compelling works of art.

it than that, but that does not mean I am going to just ignore the negative aspects that this has brought forward. I definitely see the artist as an agent for meaningful change.

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Loraine Lynn

Photographer and sculptor Zoe Leonard once stated, "the objects that we leave behind hold the marks and the sign of our use: like archeological findings, they reveal so much about us". We’d love to ask you about the qualities of the materials that you include in

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your artworks: how do you select them and what does address you to combine found materials? Loraine Lynn: When selecting found materials I am thinking about labor and objects associated with work and production. “We are our work”

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Loraine Lynn

and other saying like that interest me because we essentially break down our identities to what we “do.”

ART Habens

“works of art,” and so on. Like all our work will eventually build up into something great. There is a high expectation and weight when it comes to the term “work.” So, what does it mean if something becomes functionless, useless, or does not perform as it is expected to? Futile labor, useless labor, and

Work becomes such an important and defining aspect - we even refer to art making as “work,”

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Loraine Lynn

things like that are what I think about with works like Manufactum. Factory and construction aesthetics are something I am drawn to. I regularly see sites being worked on daily on my commute and the idea of that inbetween state of non-function fascinates me. I also like to knock “beautiful” or “precious” things and material down a peg with my art, so there is an edge of rebellion or attitude in my works. Over the years you have exhibited your works in over thirty collective and solo shows: how does your relationship with your audience evolved over the years? how do you consider the role of emerging online technosphere in creating new links between artists and worldwide audience?

ART Habens

making and thinking about. The internet and its reach is also interesting to consider when it comes to the roles of the collector, and it is interesting to see that many people are not collecting objects anymore and opting for experiences. This is a bit of a blanket statement, but it is interesting to think about how technology and the internet has and is currently shaping not only audience and artist, but collectors and curators. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts again, Loraine. How do you see your evolution as an artist over time? Are there any things that you do fundamentally different from when you started years ago? Loraine Lynn: Thank you for speaking with me, I really enjoyed the insightful questions! One thing that is constant in my artistic practice, even from the beginning, is the idea of fluidity and adaptability. Change is important, as cliche as that is.

Loraine Lynn: I have went from being an object producer to thinking about space as a material and incorporating it more in my process. I am interested in the concept of “in-situ” and getting an audience to reconsider the spaces they interact with and are usually designated for viewing art. My relationship with the audience has shifted over the years from onesided, in the sense that I make an art object and the viewer takes it at “face value,” making it purely a visual experience, to a more intricate one. By considering space and asking the audience to do the same it helps engage them physically, as well as conceptually because it questions their preconceived notions of what art is supposed to “do.”

My practice has become less about a specific discipline or skillset and more interdisciplinary. I have come to include writing and curation more thoroughly into my work and process. Surprisingly I have found that my teaching is also helping to shape my artistic practice, which is not something I planned for. Overall I find myself engaging more with artists and audiences outside of my region, which helps satisfy my curiosity about what is happening in contemporary art and how art can be related to other disciplines. I do not see my growth as a practicing artist settling with these methods anytime soon, but it is interesting to look back at what influenced me when starting out and what I am working with currently.

In terms of digital space and even VR technology, there is great potential there that is being explored but also runs the risk of falling victim to fad. There is also a bit of push back when it comes to technology and digital art because it seems so unfamiliar and disconnected in a tactile and personal sense. I do think it is a great resource for connecting with other artists and seeing what they are

Once again thanks for having me! It is always a pleasure.

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Still from My Dreamsicle, 2018 film, 04:35

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Michael Trozzolo

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video, 2013

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Michael Trozzolo

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An interview by and

, curator curator

Hello Michael and welcome back to ART Habens we already got the chance to introduce our readers to your artworks in a previous edition and we are now particularly pleased to discover the development of your artistic production. In the meanwhile, we would like invite our readers to visit http://www.michaeltrozzolo.com in order to get a more updated idea about your artistic production. How does your practice has evolved over these years and in what direction are you currently addressing your artistic research? In particular, how does moving from Toronto to Shanghai direct your current artistic research? Over the past few years my practice has gone from being mainly photo and film based to encompassing other artistic mediums such as painting, sculpture and digital illustration. I’ve always experimented with many different mediums however, my main projects have always ended up being photo or film based. As time has gone by, my ideas and concepts have changed so I started thinking of new ways to express them. I’m also somewhat of a collector of things, specifically toys and vintage items. I’ve always wanted to use these sorts of items in my work, so expanding my use of mediums has allowed me to do this.

Michael Trozzolo

For this special edition of ART Habens we have selected My Dreamsicle, a stimulating video that our readers can view at https:// vimeo.com/258443654 and that revolves around the exploration of the repercussions of a fabricated and constructed society. We have really appreciated the way you sapiently mixed video, still photography and animation to achieve such powerful narrative results. Brilliantly edited, My Dreamsicle features essential cinematography and keen eye for details: what were your aesthetic decisions when conceiving and editing this interesting work?

Moving to Shanghai has impacted my work tremendously. Shanghai is overflowing with art - it’s everywhere. I’m constantly exposed to various types of art which is incredibly inspiring. Shanghai is also an extremely dynamic and energizing city which has also been very inspiring. If I’m not working on my art, I’m usually at an art gallery, museum or rummaging through antique stores.

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Michael Trozzolo

Still from My Dreamsicle, 2018 film, 04:35 calmness and tranquility. Whereas with the fabricated imagery, I’m interested in creating very bold and fantastic images.

I wanted very clean, simple and beautiful imagery. Whenever I decide to create a film and actually go out and shoot, one of my goals is capture images that can stand alone as a beautiful piece of work. As well, I love contrasting natural imagery with fabricated imagery. When I’m shooting and editing the natural imagery, my aim is to create soft and delicate images that express a sense of

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With its effective combination between elements from the environment and such an ethereal ambience, My Dreamsicle invites the viewers to aim to look inside of what appear to be seen, rather than its surface. Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni once stated that ''we

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Michael Trozzolo

know that underneath the displayed image, there is another, one more faithful to reality'': what do you hope your audience take away from My Dreamsicle?

ART Habens

audience was moved and inspired by any of my projects. Walking the viewers through a journey through the beauty and wonder of nature, My Dreamsicle enshrine the divide between reality and perception, inviting the viewers to confront with a vision of a cataclysmic fate: how important was for you to create an

I hope my audience will be moved emotionally and be able to relate to it on some level. Possibly even see themselves in it. If not, then at least be able to appreciate the film for it’s simplistic beauty. Ideally I would love if my

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Michael Trozzolo

Still from My Dreamsicle, 2018 film, 04:35

and hopefully get them to question themselves, the things they do and possibly inspire them to look at their life from a different angle.

allegorical work, to communicate on a subconscious level? Creating allegorical work is very important to me because I think it creates different layers within a piece allowing a greater audience to relate to it on a very personal level. It also creates a more powerful and intriguing piece. What’s most important to me though, is creating work that will catch peoples attention

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The soundtrack that you mastered provides My Dreamsicle with such a mesmerizing quality, as well as with such ethereal atmosphere: how do you consider the role of sound within your practice and how did you structure the

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Michael Trozzolo

relationship between sound and moving images?

ART Habens

listening to a piece of music a number of times, the film begins to develop in my mind (at least the main ideas and shots). Eventually I begin to shoot and create the imagery, then through a lot of editing and experimenting the film begins to develop.

Sound has always been very important within my practice. It’s an incredibly powerful tool used to help trigger emotions and reactions from the audience. Normally the audio comes first which then inspires the film. I listen to a lot of classical music and every so often I’ll hear a piece that will inspire me to create a film. After

My Dreamsicle has been created by yourself alone, with few collaborations: how important

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ART Habens

Michael Trozzolo

is for you to have the total control of each

particular about how my work looks so I like to keep full control over everything. During the conceptual phase, the piece begins to take shape in my mind so when I actually begin creating the piece, I need to surpass this mental

artistic aspects of your projects? It’s very important for me to have total control of each artistic aspect of my projects. I’m very

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Michael Trozzolo

ART Habens

image in order to be happy with the project.

like to have full control over my projects, I’m

Having full control over my work allows me to

very open to other peoples thoughts and ideas.

achieve this. With that said, I’m constantly

Another interesting work of yours that we

asking friends for their input. So as much as I

would like to introduce to our readers is your

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Michael Trozzolo

mixed media sculpture entitled Teddy. We’d love to ask you about the qualities of the materials that you included in this stimulating work of art. What message did you aim to convey in your artwork?

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Teddy is a piece that I’ve been working on for a few years. As I mentioned earlier, I collect toys and I think the teddy bear really epitomizes a children’s toy. This has always fascinated me so I decided to work with the image of a teddy

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Michael Trozzolo

bear. Initially my ideas were always sculptural and this particular piece was one of the first Teddy sculptures I made. It consists of a variety of materials including various fabrics, yarn, acrylic paints, lacquer, resin and plastic. As with

ART Habens

most of my work, Teddy is about desire and how it’s connected to the constructed nature of our lives. Along with sculptural Teddy pieces, I’m currently working on digital illustrations and experimenting with various mediums.

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Michael Trozzolo

Contemporary practice has forged a new concept of art making involving such a wide and once unthinkable variety of materials and objects: are there any particular materials that you plan to include in your future projects?

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I’m very interested in using all sorts of materials including metal, glass, mirror, rubber, organic material, 3D printing and so on. This is one reason why Teddy excites me so much. I feel that Teddy really lends itself to an array of

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Michael Trozzolo

unconventional materials and I’m excited to see where it takes me.

ART Habens

theme of desire and how it is connected to social and cultural constructs: how do you consider the relationship between the emotional, inner sphere and the social dimension? In particular, how do you consider

As you have remarked in your artist's statement, you plan to further explore the

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Michael Trozzolo

the power of contemporary art to tackle sensitive social issues in order to trigger social change in our globalized societies?

dimension are interconnected. They are constantly affecting each other. Obviously this can have very negative effects on the world, but also incredibly positive effects. I

I think the emotional, inner sphere and social

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Michael Trozzolo

think contemporary art has immense power to tackle social issues in order to trigger change. Contemporary art has become so much more accessible to the general public through social media, the internet and art fairs. It seems that

ART Habens

more and more people are becoming interested in art, ultimately giving artwork and artists a strong voice. Whether the artwork is a commentary on social

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Michael Trozzolo

or political issues or just an interesting piece to look at, it has the power to bring people together, which is ultimately creating something positive.

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Direct relationship with the audience in a physical is definitely the most important one, in order to snatch the spirit of a work of Art. However, as the move of Art from traditional

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Michael Trozzolo

gallery spaces, to street and especially to the online realm increases: how do you consider the role of emerging online technosphere in creating new links between artists and

ART Habens

worldwide audience? I think it’s incredibly important. We live in a global village and share very similar

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Michael Trozzolo

social, political and cultural issues. Having access to art work from all over the world is incredibly eye-opening and inspiring. The internet and social media really allow us to

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see how artists from all over the world express their ideas, concerns and emotions. As well, from an artist standpoint, showing our

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Michael Trozzolo

work online has dramatically increased our audience and it has given artists a lot more control over their careers.

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Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts again, Michael. How do you see your evolution as an artist over time? Are there any things that you do

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Michael Trozzolo

fundamentally different from when you started years ago?

and I’m very excited to see where my ideas take me.

I see myself experimenting a lot more with different mediums. I feel as if I’ve just begun

Conceptually, I think my projects will remain similar to what I’m doing now. I’ve been

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Michael Trozzolo

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working with the theme of desire for years and it’s something that fascinates me.

repercussions. We all have such a huge impact on the world, even when we think we don’t.

We all have desires and in acting upon them we are faced with personal and global

An interview by and

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, curator curator

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Lives and works in Pontevedra, northwest of Spain

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Fernando Viscasillas

ART Habens

video, 2013

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ART Habens

Fernando Viscasillas

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An interview by and

, curator curator

Hello Fernando and welcome to ART Habens. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your background. You have a solid formal training and after having earned your MFA, University of La Laguna,Tenerife you nurtured your education with a Doctoral Courses in Fine Arts, that you attended at the University of Vigo: how did those formative years influence your evolution as an artist? In particular, how does your cultural substratum due to your Spanish roots direct the trajectory of your current artistic practice? Hi! First of all, it is an honor to have been selected to be part of the artists of this biannual, special issue, celebrating the 10th anniversary of your magnificent art magazine in London. I was born in Galicia, North West of Spain (hooding skies, rainy days...) but I studied Fine Arts in Tenerife, Canary Islands, a real privilege for an aspiring artist, where there is a special light that is difficult to find in other places. This light, the Sun throughout the whole year, caused unconsciously in me a way of working which I have always identified with: the color, the brightness in my works. I had several good teachers, like Miguel Arocha or Maribel Nazco, two magnificent artists and people nearby, those who could speak with confidence. I had rented a house - study, two floors with rooftop, independent, detached, where lived and worked throughout the day (well, almost the whole day‌ let some little time to motivate you) and soon I began to exhibit at art centres in the archipelago. They were fantastic years. I say no more.

Fernando Viscasillas

had a large folder of drawings and paintings but also lots of photographs. At the same time, I went a couple of evenings per week to the study of a professional photographer for better training. This will be added the journeys that enrich my work and suggest me new projects. I'm all day thinking about my stuff, almost absent; I can be

In the doctorate, - back in Galicia, being a teacher -, was when architecture entered in my projects, as a result of several research lines. In two years I

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Fernando Viscasillas

hours in an airport delay of my flight, sitting, doing nothing, just thinking... My family says that I’m always “off” (laughs). Celestino Hernández, Director of MACEW (Museum of Contemporary Art Eduardo Westerdhal, Tenerife), who knows my trajectory well since student, says: "Over the last two centuries, English travelers, or residents in England, descended to the peninsular and island Spain, attracted by a favorable climate, more also by landscapes and peasantry, which caught their attention. Accompanied, several of these travelers, their cameras, since Niépce, Daguerre and Talbot gave nature letter to photography, captured images of how many places and people surprised their eyes. So much so, that one of the best sources to know what happened on our lands, through the images of then, is in archives, museums, antiques and even markets of Great Britain. (…) Fernando Viscasillas is one of these new travelers, who travels in two directions, both to the island of Tenerife, as well as trips to lands further north of his native Galicia. Countries like France, Switzerland, Italy, and in recent times England, above all, know about his stay and the routes he takes through their cities, not only as a traveler, but also as an artist. Fernando has managed to transcend his initial dedication, never unique, but rather preferred, to painting. Over time, with the experience he has gained from his workshop, he has made inroads and reached new achievements in other fields of the arts, in different architectural and urban spaces as well, and finally, in photography, turning it into one more of his resources and ways to let us know his work, this time in a new format and with approaches applied to photomontage whose last work led him to Artrooms Fair London in January 2018.”

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Fernando Viscasillas

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Fernando Viscasillas

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We have appreciated the way the results of your artistic inquiry convey such a coherent combination between intuition and a rigorous aesthetics, and we would like to invite our readers to visit https://www.viscasillasphotos.com in order to get a wide idea about your artistic production: when walking our readers through your usual equipment and process, we would like to ask you if you think that there is a central idea that connects all your works. My way of working is quite anarchic. It’s easy to get carried away by a photo, a reading, an image, a movie, a few regulars in a pub… I go out to the street many times without fixed direction, unoccupied, without hurry, I enjoy observing with attention the architectures, the environment… I carry my Samsung phone or the Iphone ... I have a lot of "Flâneur". The 'flânerie' is the availability of attention with a hedonistic point, according to Baudelaire, his first theoretician and creator of Perplexed Dandism, who says: “For the perfect flâneur, for the passionate spectator, it is an immense joy to set up house in the heart of the multitude, amid the ebb and flow of movement, in the midst of the fugitive and the infinite. To be away from home and yet to feel oneself everywhere at home; to see the world, to be at the centre of the world, and yet to remain hidden from the world – impartial natures which the tongue can but clumsily define.” José Muñoz-Millanes, professor of Literature at NYU, translator of Walter Benjamin, wrote: "What defines him as 'flâneur' is his attitude as a pure observer who considers the city a spectacle, hence his architectural sensibility, Benjamin has detected early features of 'flânerie' in the urban details of German writers such as E.T. Hoffmann, Jules Laforgue on Berlin. «Berlin, villa and court» is an excellent example of early flânerie, and also in

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Fernando Viscasillas

the letters written by Leopardi from Pisa, a small

of the books of Hessel and Fargue (the decades of the

town, the subject of the suggestion of the interiors is

20s and 30s of the 20th century), perhaps Berlin,

shown through the windows, analyzed by

due to its greater complexity, will lend itself more

Baudelaire in «Le Spleen de Paris» (...) In the years

than Paris to the flânerie. That can be seen in

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Fernando Viscasillas

Hessel's book and in the photographers of the time,

ART Habens

that goal, relaxed and available attitude of the attention in which the art of the flânerie consists.�

but, as Benjamin and Hessel themselves point out, For this special edition of ART Habens we have selected BIRMINGHAM UK, an interesting series

the Berliners still had a long way to go to achieve

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Fernando Viscasillas

that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article. What has at once captured our attention of your successful attempt to invite the viewers to explore the aesthetic tension of urban environment , is the way it establishes direct relations with the viewers: when walking our readers through the genesis of BIRMINGHAM UK, would you tell us how did you develop the initial idea? On this question I think very adequate what was written by Emilio Pallarés, encyclopedist and M.A. in Geography and History: “The art is expressed through any way. Techniques, material elements which are depicted, are simple instruments at the service of the idea. Viscasillas has a strong academic background, allowing him to skillfully master the rudiments of the craft. But Art is something more: Art is the expression of the idea through the construction of a discourse. The chosen technique is an accessory item, at the service of the idea. Nowadays, the artist has provided fantastic digital tools, which have infinite possibilities. Viscasillas has remained attentive to experience them. In Birmingham UK series we can see a significant sample of how Viscasillas exploits them to continue exploring one of the themes recurring throughout his career, architecture, which is its main distinguishing: the masterful use of color. Birmingham UK aims to reflect the dynamism of the British city, through the balance of color and overlapping, recovering the technique of photomontage with solutions that recall the works of Jan Kamman, Dziga Vertov, or Walther Ruttmann, with his transitions between frames in Berlin, die Symphonie der Groβstadt, coming to testify in Viscasillas, in addition to an artist with own speech and prodigious technical command, we have a knowledgeable connoisseur of the history of Art, able to retrieve and update the Vanguards of around a century ago.”

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Fernando Viscasillas

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Fernando Viscasillas

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We like the way you artworks convey such a stimulating combination between figurative elements and captivating abstract feeling: Your approach to photography seems to stimulates the viewer’s psyche and consequently works on both a subconscious and a conscious level. How did you decide to focus on this form of photography? There are no limits for me, there are no rules and there are all. Nothing is incompatible. I like what Silvana Cagnolo, gallery owner in Bologna, wrote about it: “During this first meeting with Fernando, I had the opportunity of listening to him telling both personal and non-personal stories, which he does in a very complex and articulate way, with a great deal of special features and humorous anecdotes. He adds different characters and situations, with little physical description of the things or people involved, but with a clear and precise presentation of the personalities or the character of objects, leaving us imagine the rest. This made me realise that he did the same with his artwork. He tells us about moments, situations, personal or oneiric encounters in which many shapes and colours intervene, and which contain several architectural styles. He does not represent one in particular, neither certain sights of a palace or a city, but several together. Nor does he present a realistic portrayal of a single individual, but rather shows a few individuals together in one work. But the character and the strength he uses for this purpose do not leave any doubt about their identity. In his pictures everything seems coincidental and connected only by chance, together with other things, but it is not exactly true. The selection of the places and the colours chosen are sometimes provocative, not real. Sometimes, the image is flat, in two dimensions, and at other times, it has three, or both possibilities occur combined in the same image. He places the images without a defined focal point and without any respect for perspective; he

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Fernando Viscasillas

never makes a mistake in the balance of the composition or in its complexity. Everything is developed with complete harmony. I would like to note the fact that he has had the maturity and lucidity to create an individual language, unique, clear and recognizable which addresses all our temporary, geographical and architectural directions. A language made out of not only shapes and colours but also irony and sensibility. He tells us in his work what he remembers having seen somewhere, but, above all, and using the perspective of time, he transforms those images within his mind.” We daresay that BIRMINGHAM UK seems to aim to look inside of what appear to be seen, rather than its surface, providing the spectatorship with freedom to realize their own perception. How important is for you to invite the viewers to elaborate personal meaning? And in particular, how open would you like your artworks to be understood? I never work thinking about the viewer. I don’t think about it. It would be very stressful and not very rewarding to work conditioned. I find it more interesting what they can interpret when they see my work, because sometimes they comment on things that I had not thought about, they surprise me, and they even give me ideas for other works. The funny thing is that, until now, most of my projects have been well received, and I like that, of course. But it is not essential when it comes to work. BIRMINGHAM UK has drawn heavily from the specifics of its locations: the ambience doesn't play the mere role of a mere background: how did you select the locations of the city and how did they affect your shooting process? “A book should not be projected in advance (…).” James Joyce.

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Fernando Viscasillas

ART Habens

I go out to the street adrift, one leg to here another there. I usually go to Birmingham’s downtown, it could be from St Paul's Square, where I usually have a good breakfast, or a brunch depending on the time I get up, shot at the tombstones of this small park, old nineteenth century cemetery attached to the church, between jazz notes of a group that plays live from the shrine, which I approach and shot, taken a look to see that they exhibit there in front, in Argentea Gallery, specialized in photography, after a while I leave the square ... .. by Newhall St. I go by the sidewalk in front of The Queen Arms, the usual pub of the penultimate pickup, shot several times carefully the corner that forms, and I still go up without much decision to the corner with Edmund St., there may decide to throw to the left going down the street and wander through the financial district of the city, and let me go between buildings of red brick, other modern steel and glass, careful facades, firing continuously their architectures, animated streets of pubs of executives with meetings of work at noon around a few pints, and continue towards Colmore Road ... or not? Or do I detour to Margaret St. where the Faculty of Fine Arts? I do not know, or do I go to New Street, the area around the Bullring? Yes, and maybe I walk by the Market, or not, or I go to Chinatown, or ... that I approach the IKON later, well, or before I fall through the channels portraying the barges going and coming, long walks, very nice stopping to take a good staut and firing without stopping, people, architecture, exterior and interior ... I do not know, who knows, I walk and we'll see. Let’s pay attention to what is coming out. Birmingham is in the process of urban changes. They are developing a work plan for the next ten years that will make it one of the most attractive cities in Europe. Victorian architecture is mixed with modern buildings. Every time I visit I check all the changes. I do not get tired of photographing it because every six months it changes some area. It is very interesting.

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ART Habens

Fernando Viscasillas

The world is becoming more and more digital, however, the art world has been slow at adapting to the digitalisation. Manipulation in photography is not new, but digital technology has extended the range of possibilities and the line between straight and manipulated photographs is increasingly blurry. How do you consider the role of digital technology playing within your work? And how do you experience the connection between the real and the imagined, as an artist working on the borders between the real and the virtual world? I start from the basis I’m not a photographer, I’m a visual artists, the camera and the editing programs are my tools, like the brush. My work has always been a mixture of the imaginary and the real, figurative and abstract images. An digital photography makes it extremely easy for me to cross these borders. Your artworks are sapiently balanced: do you conceive in order to achieve a precise aesthetic result or do you prefer to capture beauty in a more spontaneous way? When does the artist consider a work finished? Never? Probably. There is something almost innate in part of my work. The famous "creative process", everything is emerging and you do not know which direction it will take. The images are superimposed on the screen and it is never quite clear where the "final" result will come from. Over the years your artworks have been internationally showcased in over 14 solo exhibitions in Italy, France, Portugal, Spain, Monte Carlo, as well in the United Kingdom and in Japan: how do you consider the nature of your relationship with your audience? And what do you hope your audience take away from your artworks? With regard to this I think very well what was said by Silvana Cagnolo again: “People looking at the works of Fernando Viscasillas, try at first to recognise the place, but after a little while this loses

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Fernando Viscasillas

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ART Habens

Special Issue


ART Habens

SummerIssue 2015 Special

Fernando Viscasillas

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Fernando Viscasillas

ART Habens

importance and they enjoy the image with the conviction of having been there at some time. It is a few years since I have worked with Fernando’s work. We have celebrated art exhibitions in different places in Italy and the rest of Europe, and every time I approach the spectators who observe and meditate in front of one of his architectures I realize they are experiencing a deep and touching emotion; I realize they are re-living the landscape of their most intimate memories.� We have really appreciated the multifaceted nature of your artistic research and before leaving this stimulating conversation we would like to thank you for chatting with us and for sharing your thoughts, Fernando. What projects are you currently working on, and what are some of the ideas that you hope to explore in the future? The Birmingham series, in process, is part of a project in which several other cities will enter. I am also preparing a trip by car from Spain, crossing by ferry from Santander to the UK and touring the entire South, coast and inland, taking pictures and painting landscapes of small format. Later I hope to do it for the lands of York, Edinburgh and Highlands. And how can we forget London? I have a good archive of photos to classify from different periods, from analogical photographs to those of the last years. Oh, and I do not rule out a jump to Dublin, to photograph it and remember the Irish summers of my adolescence. Too much? First of all a lot of calm (smiles winking). To conclude, I want to congratulate you again for your magnificent career and for your tenth anniversary, with my best wishes for the coming years. For me it has been a pleasure and an honor and I thank you very much for all your attention. See you soon.

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ART Habens Art Review, Special Edition  

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