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ART

Special Edition

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

CASSIE SHAO ALARIC HOBBS CLAUDIA UNGERSBÄCK AIMEE MELAUGH CHRISTIAN HIADZI CATRIONA FAULKNER BIANCA CASTON ANNA MASIUL-GOZDECKA ARIT EMMANUELA ETUKUDO

ART

a work by


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

Aimee Melaugh

Alaric Hobbs

Anna Masiul-Gozdecka

Claudia Ungersbäck

Arit E. Etukudo

Cassie Shao

United Kingdom

Germany

Poland

Austria

USA

USA

Melaugh’s paintings present a burst of memory, depicting a moment in time and have the potential to be viewed as a door to re-examine past events, inviting the viewer to be transported into a different time and space.

Alaric Hobbs invites you to reenter the more playful, perhaps innocent mindset of a child aged 5-11 years with this project titled; ‘Primary’.

Realistic painting does not have to reflect reality, it searches for other layers, other meanings, questions, and looks.In my abstract works, I consider each painting as a separate world, a separate reality that I discover and explore. I like to use forms and shapes associated with nature. Forms similar to leaves, boats, stones, scales. Contours of known reality in an unknown world. I observe their interactions among forms and colors. They float in them and define this world, organize, or allow this world to define it.

I am working inbetween the fields oft ext, image, movement, painting and music exploringboundaries to sculpture, performance to widen fine art apatial and digital in a perseptual, sensual anexperimental way.

As an experimental storyteller, I recreate the relationship between my body’s physical movements in the world and its incorporeal movements as a result of that. In my work, my body is not limited by form, space or time; but instead manifests itself beyond what is immediately perceptible. I produce work that discusses my body and the realities that it creates. I appear repeatedly in my work; each body a different version of myself, each body a different world, each body a trace of what existence leaves on me.

To choose animation as a medium for my own artistic expression was a natural decision, as it is the only medium that allows me to visualize and directly conjure forth imagined imagery without limitations or boundaries. My primary inspiration is my dreams. I dream almost every night of the strangest scenarios, and I create animations from them. It is fascinating to let my subconscious brain do the work, as it swallows and digests what I watch, read, and think in my daily life into something I didn’t consciously create, but somehow manifested in the form of a dream.

Does that mindset, lacking our current over-education in contemporary art, enable us to view these images with a more honest appreciation of the References to her shapes, lines, form, grandfather’s experience of being and colour and allow in the army during them to move away World War Two are from the didactic and evident throughout into the artistic? Melaugh’s large How does adding scale paintings in understanding and the form of education of the numbers, dates and content increase that appreciation? descriptions.

Abstract concept, thought, linguistic sign and the physical act of art, a touch oftheme, worlds, maker and viewer and trust in images, meaning, referring, existance negotiationfigural, figurative and pure aspects as well as the gap of automatism and conciousness, copy andoriginal are the main areas of conflict I´m interested in.


In this issue

Anna Masiul-Gozdecka Aimee Melaugh

Claudia Ungersbäck

Arit E. Etukudo Catriona Faulkner

Christian Hiadzi Catriona Faulkner

Bianca Caston

Christian Hiadzi

United Kingdom

USA

United Kingdom

My work is a glimpse into a world of reinvention where my practice examines and reinvents the beauty within objects that have been discarded, lost or are defunct and are refound. With the use of fine hand stitch and beading I create assemblages, exquisite artefacts, shrines of complex and intricate detail, configured from twisted shrapnel and broken jewels to animal bones and beautifully oxidised rusty nails.My practice reflects an ethos of using what is around us to create, the precious treasures I find enables a sense of the familiar but is reimagined, refashioned and presented in a new context and configuration.

I enjoy creating layers in my work so the viewer can look beyond the surface. I believe that in the moment of focus , peace is present. I have a minimalistic approach to my work. My goal is that while someone is viewing my work and focusing on the details, diving deeper into the piece.. they get a sense of peace.

At the core of my practice is the passion and drive to create an idea that in itself, becomes a catalyst to challenge and enhance the viewer’s imagination. I consider myself the conveyor, the vehicle through which the imagination of the viewer is pushed beyond the obvious.My aim is to demonstrate against the status quo of society, my rejection of mundanity and rebellion against archetypes within a contemporary world; where I invite the spectator to establish a dialogue with my works in order to inspire them.In my work, I attempt to show my aversion towards following the status quo of contemporary society by encouraging the viewer to draw out and observe the beauty of the unfamiliar caught within the ordinary.

It’s important for me to know that my viewers are able to see the foundation upon which the layers rest on because all of the foundations are solid. Without a solid foundation peace is impossible.

Bianca Caston

Alaric Hobbs Cassie Shao

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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:

a work by


Anna Masiul-Gozd

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ecka

Anna Masiul - Gozdecka

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video, 2013

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Jordi Rosado

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An interview by and

, curator curator

Hello Anna and welcome to ART Habens. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production we would like to invite our readers to visit https://agozdecka.art.pl and we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your background. You have a solid formal training and you graduated from the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts: how did those formative years influence your evolution as an artist? Moreover, how does your cultural substratum direct the direction of your current artistic research? Anna Masiul - Gozdecka: I was born in Warsaw (Poland) during the communist era – grey and sad. In my childhood the only four available books illustrated in color were "History of Art" which was like a Bible for me and the only real painting in our house was done by my parents' friend, painted boldly in a very impressive way. These two elements were my foundation in origin. Nobody in my family who was touched painfully by history had an opportunity to develop a talent; I was the first and I fell in love with beauty and color.

Anna Masiul - Gozdecka

The years at the Academy was a special period in my life. Finding the way between "giving in to training" and my individual cultural background was not easy. In fact, I started to discover my path only years after graduation, when I was able to distance myself from them and also from being under the pressure of rapid development and expectations. I allowed myself to paint a lot of paintings that I always wanted to paint. I allowed myself to paint them badly just to see how I

would feel with it. Sometimes I felt good with it, sometimes not. From then on I redefined what I really wanted to create. My advice would be to find your inner master and trust him. Select and look at all the inspirations, education, but from a different perspective. Let go of control, efforts, let something happen, let inspiration be ab-

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Anna Masiul - Gozdecka

sorbed, and then let go of these inspirations. The fascination in color may have been learned or consciously shaped, but it is this basic aspiration, the subcutaneous river that drives my search.

Blue seems to be a recurrent colour in your pallette and we have particularly appreciated its thoughtful nuances in Dragon`s Eye, as well as the way you combine delicate tones with geometric patterns in The Scent Of Rose creates tension and dynamics. How does your own psychological make-up determine the nuances of tones that you decide to include in an artwork and in particular, how do you develop your textures in order to achieve such brilliant results?

Marked out with such unique visual identity, the body of works that we have selected for this special edition of ART Habens —and that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article — has at once captured our attention for the way you use your visual language in a strategic way to counter-balance subjectivity, offering an array of meanings. When walking our readers through your usual setup and process, would you tell us how do you usually develop your initial idea for your portraits? Do you create your works gesturally, instinctively? Or do you methodically transpose geometric schemes?

Anna Masiul - Gozdecka: I never have enough blue, especially turquoise. It is a kind of counterpoint in my palette, it emphasizes, enhances and contrasts other colors. Contrast is the main skeleton of the image, both in terms of color and form. Searching for textures is a deep need for me, which breaks all blockades, patterns, "ruts" in thinking. And here my work is very intuitive- creating the right contrast, texture, form, balance of composition gives me physical pleasure,

Anna Masiul - Gozdecka: To answer this question, I have to go back to the source itself, why I paint at all.

As you have remarked in your artist's statement, you consider each painting as a separate world, a separate reality, that you discover and explore: how does everyday life's experience fuel yur artistic research?

I am fascinated by the beauty of the real world. The play of light, shadows, mid tones, reflections, subtleties in colors and spaces. I watch the world and I sometimes notice something weird, something that would slip away and that I would like to save. Portraits fascinate me, because of this whole show of light and shadow comes the space of the human psyche, the whole inner world. However, to build a cycle, you need to go deeper into history, practical and schematic actions. I certainly work very intuitively, but this intuitive action must also have solid foundations, such as artistic skills and composition. This also includes tearing down schematics and avoiding “secure paths”.

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Anna Masiul - Gozdecka: When I talk to people and read what they write - whether it's thoughts, posts, books, listening to their stories, I see separate but intertwining worlds everywhere. I watch how the dog sees the world and how the cat sees the world, and for each of them, there is a separate story about the same world. Similarly, with paintings, they can come from one cycle, have some common features, but each of them has its own story, rhythm, poetry, which is

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Anna Masiul - Gozdecka

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The Scent of Rose, 80x80

separate from all the others. This should be the case if we want to avoid repetition (duplication). In the real world, in everyday life,

nothing is always the same, every day is a new day and I want to discover this newness.

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Anna Masiul - Gozdecka

Catch The Moonlight, 100x100

Scottish painter Peter Doig once remarked that even the most realistic paintings are derived more from within the head than from what's out there in front of us, : how do yu consider the relationship between reality

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and imagination, playing within your artistic production? Anna Masiul - Gozdecka: I see many reasons in this quote. How we perceive the world

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Do Not Cry In The Wind, 80x60


Dragon`s Eye, 80x60


Anna Masiul - Gozdecka

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What Would You Like, 100x100

and what we want to say about it determines what we create, our experience, dreams, feelings and expressions. I think that man constantly creates and changes ideas (adapting to reality). However, the relationship be-

tween reality and imagination is crucial in artistic creation. Reality is the basis. There is nothing more perfect than the world of nature, the laws of physics, language rules, mathematics.

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Anna Masiul - Gozdecka

All About Your Indifference, 100x100

We all understand that. At the same time, imagination shapes the concept, interpretation and nothing is impossible here-absolutely no limits! Imagination can fly far beyond understanding but man needs understand-

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ing. Therefore, to find it, I need a coherent and logical language of reality. For me, painting from observation, exploration of the real world enriches my approach

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Anna Masiul - Gozdecka

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Space To Think, 100x100

to abstraction. Abstraction is a kind of reality, something that is outside, before or in between (the actual subjective picture of feelings). It is an abbreviation, a kind of haiku, while realistic painting can be compared to a

story. I need both that I combine sometimes. With their unique multilayered visual quality, your artworks highlight contours of known reality in an unknown world and seem to in-

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Anna Masiul - Gozdecka

Road To Nowhere, 100x100

vite the viewers to look inside of what appear to be seen, rather than its surface, providing the spectatorship with freedom to realize their own perception. Austrian Art historian Ernst Gombrich once remarked

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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 is for you to trigger the viewers' imagination in order to ad-

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Anna Masiul - Gozdecka

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The Bird Song, 80x80

tant statement. It is amazing for me to hear what people see in my paintings, especially children who are absolutely sincere. I sometimes provide several hooks along with the canvas so that the new owner of

dress them to elaborate personal interpretations? In particular, how open would you like your works to be understood? Anna Masiul - Gozdecka: This is a very impor-

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I Need Dream To Live, 100x100

the painting can hang it vertically or horizontally according to his imagination of my painting. I am fascinated by how people open up, interpret it in their own way, find parts of themselves in my paintings. There-

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fore, I would prefer not to give titles at all, allowing viewers to opt for their own title of my work. However, not everyone has such courage and often need some attachment or guidelines.

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Your Sadness Is Mine, 80x60


Anna Masiul - Gozdecka

Your artworks often are marked out with explicative titles that sometimes reflect personal feelings, as Your Sadness Is Mine and that sometimes seem to speak about the outside world, as All About Your Indifference: how do you go about naming your work ? In particular, is important for you to expressly tell something that might walk the viewers through their visual experience?

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love these technological changes. Every day I can see great paintings from around the world, I also have contact with people who react to my art. When this contact was very limited, galleries rarely shared viewers' opinions and comments. And this is something that gives me a lot of power and desire to continue creating. Now I know I don't create in a vacuum. At the same time, I have realized that looking at paintings in reality and on the internet is totally different and difficult to compare, that's why I always recommend visiting live art exhibitions.

Anna Masiul - Gozdecka: Recently it has become much more important to me because my approach to my paintings is changing. Partly because (which I never let it happen before) it has become a self-therapy, which results in even less pressure on the result (which is surprising, often giving better results). Painting is also a fairly long process during which various changes occur in me. Often, my titles refer to literature, which I experience while painting, reading books or listening to audiobooks. I treat painting as a kind of poetry, and the title becomes a metaphor for me, a complement to the picture.

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

Finally, I encourage viewers to give their own titles and why not? By doing so, it adds an element of light and fun which often inspires me.

Anna Masiul - Gozdecka: Thank you also for this inspiring conversation. Currently, I am continuing the cycle of "Personal, liberating abstractions". Working from a different approach to the portrait, there might even be something new that may appear. However, I never close any cycle, my development is like a coil, after some time I return to old topics, but I see them from a different angle and find its complement. It is not worth closing anything, especially if you are as “hungry” for art as I am.

You are an established artist and over the years your artworks have been internationally exhibited: how do you consider the nature of your relationship with your audience? Direct relationship with the viewers in a physical context is definetely 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 — as Instagram — increases: how would in your opinion change the relationship with a globalised audience?

An interview by and

, curator curator

Anna Masiul - Gozdecka: I have to admit that I

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Lives and works in Derry, Northern Ireland, UK

Bhopal Installation photograph, The Glassworks Derr

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Aimee Melaugh

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video, 2013

y. Aimee Melaugh. Photo by John Deery 422 0

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Jordi Rosado

Supporting Cast 2019 Oil on canvas 167 x 205 cm.

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An interview by and

, curator curator

Hello Aimee and welcome to ART Habens. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production we would like to invite our readers to visit http://www.aimeemelaugh.com and we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your background. You have a solid formal training and you graduated from the Ulster University with a First Class Honours (BA Hons) in Fine Art Painting: how did those formative years influence your evolution as an artist? Moreover, how does your cultural substratum direct the direction of your current artistic research? Aimee Melaugh: Hello and thank you to the Art Habens team, I’m delighted to have been selected for your publication. It was through studying the BA Hons degree in Fine Art Painting at the Ulster University that I gained an understanding of different art forms and transformed my artistic practice completely. Through taking part in group critiques, all of the students helped push boundaries with each other’s work and this experience made us constantly re-evaluate our processes and working methods in the studio. My work would be completely different if I hadn’t have studied the BA in Fine Art. I don’t think I would feel so comfortable working on such a large scale and I wouldn’t be producing the work I am now. I am often drawn to explore subjects that interest me within my own culture and family history and my artistic research is evolving to include worldwide issues such as climate change, exploitation and freedom of speech.

Aimee Melaugh the introductory pages of this article, has at once captured our attention for the way you use your visual language — and in particular symbolically charged images, as the clown mask in Supporting Cast — in such strategic way to counter-balance subjectivity, offering an array of meanings. When walking our readers through your usual setup and process, would you tell us how do you usually develop your initial idea for your portraits? Do you

Marked out with such unique visual identity, the body of works that we have selected for this special edition of ART Habens, and that our readers have already started to get to know in

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Aimee Melaugh

the way its thoughtful nuances in Aside creates tension and such sense of dynamics. How does your own psychological make-up determine the nuances of tones that you decide to include in an artwork and in particular, how do you develop your textures in order to achieve such brilliant results?

create your works gesturally, instinctively? Or do you methodically transpose geometric schemes? Aimee Melaugh: Supporting Cast is one of my most recent paintings, developed in line with my current artistic research surrounding narcissism and narcissistic traits. I had read about how narcissists often cast victims to play a role in their life and thought the title would playfully hint at this idea. Supporting Cast, however, whilst based on my personal experience has been interpreted by viewers, even in a political sense. I find it interesting how viewers of artwork often interpret the work in different ways and sometimes relate through their own life experiences. I always write down possible painting ideas and potential titles of work as soon as the ideas pop into my head and eventually, multiple ideas begin to merge into one and I have a rough idea for a painting. I often collage images before beginning to project the ideas onto a canvas. However, I find that my initial ideas end up changing once I begin, as often images will translate differently once painted. Sometimes I start a painting, then leave it for months if I’m unsure where it is going and come back to it once I have another idea to add or another collage to merge on top of the existing image. I think I do create instinctively or at least that is what leads the direction of a painting after it begins from the initial methodical approach.

Aimee Melaugh: Blue is often used throughout my work as I find it can create a lifeless and eerie atmosphere within a painting. Inspiration for Aside came about through working as part of the Art Department on a feature film set in Derry. I was inspired by the concept of how a false reality can be created through art and film, this then began to develop into ideas surrounding false realities within war and traumatic events. My most recent work has changed a lot in terms of my colour choices as I want to explore warmer, earthy tones with the aim to be more experimental in my approach. I use a variety of mediums when painting, such as liquin, dammar varnish, stand oil and linseed oil and often experiment using squeegees and different materials to add and take away layers of paint. My own psychological make-up may unconsciously influence the nuances of tones within my paintings as I put a lot of time and thought into creating the work, however instinct often directs the finished product. Your work is a collective exploration of traumatic events which have taken place throughout history, and as you have remarked in your artist's statement, references to your grandfather’s experiences of being in the army during World War Two are present throughout your work: how do you consider the role of memory — including familiar and historical ones — playing within your process and how does everyday life's experience fuel your artistic research?

My paintings are often influenced by film, literature and real life experience. Ideas have in the past, come from images in war literature or old family photographs. Tuam, was inspired by the revelation that human remains of babies had been discovered buried in a small town in County Galway in Ireland and the remains were to be exhumed. I was inspired to create a painting to raise awareness about the topic of Magdalene laundries.

Memory is an important aspect explored throughout my work, in particular I tend to focus on memory in relation to trauma and the impact

Blue seems to be a recurrent colour in your pallette and we have particularly appreciated

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Aimee Melaugh

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Tuam 2019 Oil on canvas 210 x 195 cm art can have on the viewer through their engagement and interaction. Coal Shed was inspired by my grandfather’s experience in World War II, but also by more recent memories and experience of conflict in Northern Ireland. I am particularly interested in how artwork allows for the exploration of historic traumatic events which

in turn generate sensations to produce a reaction in the present. I find that memory is an important aspect to consider when exploring traumatic events as personal memories may trigger different responses through the spectators and generate a sense of empathy amongst some. I am interested in how when interpreting a piece of

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Aimee Melaugh

Aside, 2019 Oil on canvas, 163 x 200 x 5.5 cm Special Issue

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Aimee Melaugh

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the viewers to look inside of what appear to be seen, rather than its surface, providing the spectatorship with freedom to realize their own perception. 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 is for you to trigger the viewers' imagination in order to address them to elaborate personal interpretations? In particular, how open would you like your works to be understood?

artwork, the viewer’s personal response is subjective and dependent on events that have taken place in an individual’s life. I am also interested in how a viewer of art only has the ability to connect on an empathetic level, they will never feel the degree of emotion the victim would have felt during the traumatic event, as a ‘muted dose,’ of trauma is all that can be presented. Everyday life experience fuels my artistic research as I am drawn to some subjects rather than others. Sometimes a seemingly meaningless encounter will become the beginning of a painting and new theme.

Aimee Melaugh: I feel that through my work I aim to provide a space inviting viewers to project their own ideas. Inspiring viewers to participate in discussion and respond to the work is something which I am continually trying to develop and push throughout my practice. It is one of the most difficult aspects of painting, especially for someone who loves to paint realistically. I find that I am constantly trying to leave out certain sections of a painting and paint over others whilst layering images to try to abstract what is going on within the painting.

Scottish painter Peter Doig once remarked that even the most realistic paintings are derived more from within the head than from what's out there in front of us, : how do you consider the relationship between reality and imagination, playing within your artistic production? Aimee Melaugh: I agree that even though aspects of my work are heavily focused on realism, they are derived from images I have initially put together through my imagination. My paintings sometimes are even just inspired by a colour, then the image begins to form through collaging and manipulating different images. Imagination is the most important aspect, as ideas within the work need to connect and I am constantly pushing my practice so that it does not focus solely on realism, but on presenting a force of trauma. My paintings, Fuse, and Lull, were inspired by a previous painting I had completed during 2019 titled, Vain Exterior. They explore the same ideas of stripping something back to its authentic form, opposite to the theme explored in Supporting Cast, which focuses on how narcissists have tendencies to cover up their true self with a disguise. I feel that imagination and reality are inseparable, however perhaps emotion shapes imagination.

I don’t always want to simply provide the viewer with an image of trauma but an image which produces sensations and has the power to trigger an emotion. I often try not to simply describe an experience of trauma whether it be historical or personal, but allow the effects of such experience to inform my work. Hopefully then a reaction will be provoked within the viewer and discussions will be sparked. Personal interpretation is important if one is to connect with the work on a meaningful level. Your artworks often are marked out with explicative titles that sometimes reflect personal feelings and that sometimes seem to speak about the outside world, as Waiting For Thunder: how do you go about naming your work?

With their unique multilayered visual quality, your figures in your paintings are often blurred and merge into their surroundings and seem to invite

Aimee Melaugh: Titles for my paintings which were completed during 2018 were taken from war

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Installation photograph Tuam at Platform Arts Belfast 2019 photo by Simon Mills


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Aimee Melaugh

Coal Shed 2018 Oil on canvas 200 x 200 cm. literature as I wanted the collection of work to relate and ideas to flow between the pieces. As my work started to develop towards the end of 2019 and become more personal, I started to explore how titles can change the meaning of a piece such as Vain Exterior. This title does not

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refer to anything visually within the work but was inspired by exploring the idea of how a skull represents stripping everything back to its basic authentic form in response to ideas surrounding vanity. The title, Aside, was inspired by research I had carried out in relation to film terminology.

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Aimee Melaugh

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Bhopal 2019 oil on canvas 168 x 200 cm 21 4 10

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Aimee Melaugh

Vain Exterior 2019 Oil on canvas 50 x 60 x 3.8 cm Special Issue

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Aimee Melaugh

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Blood-Shod 2019 Oil on canvas 28 x 32 cm I had encountered the description of, ‘When a character in a film breaks the 'fourth wall' and

directly addresses the audience with a comment.’ As the painting was inspired by working behind the

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Aimee Melaugh

Waiting For Thunder 2019 Oil on canvas 26 x 28 cm scenes on a film, I thought it was an interesting title as it almost describes what I often try to

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achieve when painting which is to break a barrier between the artwork and the spectator.

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Aimee Melaugh

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Fuse 2019 Oil on canvas 50 x 60 cm

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Aimee Melaugh

Shelter 2018 Oil on canvas 160 x 190 cm.

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Aimee Melaugh

Your artworks also raises awareness on topical issues that affect our unstable society, as the interesting Bhopal: Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco once stated, "artists’ role differs depending on which part of the world they’re in": does your artistic research respond to a particular cultural moment? In particular, do you think that artists can raise awareness to an evergrowing audience on topical issues in our globalised and everchanging society?

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would in your opinion change the relationship with a globalised audience? Aimee Melaugh: I think social media, especially Instagram, when used correctly can be a great way to get work out there and connect with an audience, meet new artists as well as discover art galleries worldwide. However, online platforms can be negative at times as seeking validation through likes and followers isn’t something which should be the most important aspect with art. Direct connection with viewers in a physical context is an important aspect of exhibiting to ensure that the impact and energy of the art is experienced.

Aimee Melaugh: I don’t think my research responds to a particular cultural moment, however my previous work was focused on World War Two as I had so much inspiration and images at the time and a body of work just seemed to form around this particular topic. I think Bhopal, was the first painting where I wanted to try something new and explore a topic that I had only heard of through research at the time. I was shocked at how extensive this catastrophe was, and although it had happened in 1984, the effects are still seen today and was inspired to create a painting in response. I understand how artists’ roles tend to differ in relation to which part of the world they are in, as external influences often play a huge role in the work I create and the people you are surrounded with also tend to have an impact. I do think artists can raise awareness on topical issues today and it is probably more important to do so in today’s ever changing society.

We have really appreciated the originality of your artistic production and before leaving this stimulating conversation we would like to thank you for chatting with us and for sharing your thoughts, Aimee. What projects are you currently working on, and what are some of the ideas that you hope to explore in the future? Aimee Melaugh: Thank you for the opportunity to share my ideas and processes behind my work. At the moment I am preparing and planning work for an upcoming residency at St Augustine’s Old Schoolhouse, Derry in conjunction with Art Arcadia. The one month residency will be taking place in April 2020 and will be completed with a solo exhibition taking place from 1st-9th May. The focus of my new work will be responding to issues such as attachment to location, connection, transition, social deprivation and freedom of speech. The goal for the exhibition at the end of the residency is to create a contemplative space for the viewer and to provoke questions and discussions surrounding the topics explored. In the future I would hope to create much more work on a larger scale and explore subjects in an abstracted sense and of course to reach a wider audience through both online and traditional gallery exhibitions.

Since graduating, you have been selected to exhibit at the Royal Ulster Academy’s 137th annual exhibition and the ArtisAnn Gallery Emerging Artist Exhibition, moreover, you will also have a solo exhibition at the Verbal Arts Centre in Derry in December 2020: how do you consider the nature of your relationship with your audience? Direct relationship with the viewers in a physical context 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 — as Instagram — increases: how

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Lives and works in Vienna, Austria

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Claudia Ungersbäck

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video, 2013

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Jordi Rosado

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An interview by and

, curator curator

Hello Claudia and welcome to ART Habens. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production we would like to invite our readers to visit http://www.claudiaungersbaeck.com and we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your background. You have a solid formal training in Printmaking and Philosophy: how did those formative years and your cultural substratum influence your evolution as an artist? Moreover, are there any experiences that did particularly help you to develop your attitude to experiment with different media and art disciplines? Hello ART Habens, thanks for your invitation. Well, I was always interested in both, language and image. When I was six, I got a diary from my mother as a present and I used to combine words and drawings together as complimentary as well as separate parts. My nursery teacher was the opinion I would become an author, I used to spend a lot of time with her as she lived across the road.

Claudia Ungersbäck

a reason I was and am more aware about languages and I still don’t feel familiar with attributes like “Austrian” but I have this specific melody and rhytm when I speak and this is something you can also find in my work. I grew up in the countryside, there are just houses, a castle, pub, bakery, shop and a church until I was 14 and went to boarding school in a nearby town. That was great, there was a library, some cafés and

From an early age I loved to read, watch movies, draw, write and tell stories but I didn’t consider myself an artist until quite late. I don´t consider myself as an female Austrian artist either. I used to speak like an adult quite early, I was raised standard German with me and when I started attending kindergarden I couldn´t understand the other children with their dialect but am into languages quite quick and easy. Maybe that is

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people of my age outside of class. In fashion school we did a lot of drawing. Everything from designs, to patterns and technical Drawings what always had to do with figure, technique, various materials and narratives. I also drew when I was bored during lessons, which I was quite often. Around that time I became interested in fine art but still finished with fashion school in order to get a job and I did long no artistic work at all. I was raised catholic what caused problems when I got older.

weeks, laughing and telling stories while picking. I also liked working, playing and picking in the woods. When I was a child I wanted to become farmer also, but that didn´t work out for some reason, later on I wanted to be designer and now I´m artist combining my experiences, needs and wants. The wish to have a farm still exists in a way but I don’t think I’m realizing this also in just one lifetime. I am very sensitive to an overload of images and text as I can’t get used to it finding them everywhere. I find it exhausting in a way even though I prefer living in a big city at the moment. I like silence, air, movement, space and quiet places otherwise I can’t think but I also dance a lot and am interested in music. Art education started with nudedrawing classes when I was in Dublin. I was 20 then I got to know interesting people who had to with music and art, one run a bar in Vienna and so I came to Vienna. I looked for a job, I quit and took the decision for a contuniative art education and started working in bars. Printmaking taught me a way to rethink a drawing in many ways, analyze it in steps and helped me to concentrate on an image more than painting did. I learned to think in negatives and mirrored while working on copper, stone or wood. We also had a good formal training, space and guidance for experiments.

I liked church when I was a child, I used to read in front of the others during mass. Once a priest didn´t wanted a girl nearby the altar and refused letting me bring the wine. That was the first time I can remember when I started becoming suspicious on reality. There are a lot of storytellers and musicians in my family, my grandmothers wrote stories down, one of them fictional but with inner truth and the other wrote during second world war al lot on daily matters and is a interesting chronicle. There have also been composers in my family. I grew up with stories about the second world war, my grandfather used to speak a lot of that specific time and what happened and my parents told me and my sisters and brother, this is something that formed definitely my character in a way. Politics and history and their narrative and awareness is something important in my family as well as discussions about it. Experiments are something I also grew up with - in a world with experiments in cooking, sewing, working on the house and garden, inventing plays and stories. I loved picking cherries with my uncle who had a farm in order to make schnaps. We were standing on ladders leaning on the tree for

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Philosophy and printing has something in common - it is thinking within an image or a language. I am a curious person and don´t take everything for granted, everything in the world is made by someone in a way. I remember working on my first etching - I made it and was thinking: okay, I know how it works what am I going to do now? Maybe

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Claudia Ungersbäck

easy this question keeps me going and looking for new ways of visualization. I started reading philosophy and poetry during my A-levels in fashion school and went at University quite late, after my printmaking education and after working at theatres. I still do study, but more in a Wittgensteinian way, one sentence and thought after the other. I am not the best scientific writer. I live in-between this old analog world and the possibilities of a new digital world - I like the smell of oil as well as cutting movies.

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kind of a cross-border commuter, philosophy also starts with wondering and reflecting and there are long stories of muses. I rarely remember my dreams for example, I wake up with a sentence and a specific pitch as if this would be the summary of what I have processed during sleeping. I listen into the day, I make coffee, I write my thoughts down and rethink. That’s how I start my day, that’s how I get on with my work. I just start somewhere I´m into, I deas and the next steps pop up while doing, writing, painting or cutting. It’s sort of like I’m remembering what I´ve seen or read.In my second year of printmaking studies I found a book in the library about Goyas work. It had a copy of the speech he held in front of the Academy in Madrid printed in it. The speech was about drawing from nature and not from artworks like sculptures, as this was the normal way of studying art at that time. He did not make many friends with that speech but he had me. Goya worked a lot with sayings and I as well have a saying for nearly every situation.

Your artistic production combines personal aesthetics with such a unique conceptual approach, and the visual language that marks out your artworks seems to be used in a strategic way to counter-balance subjectivity and offers an array of meanings. The body of works that we have selected for this special edition of ART Habens —and that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article — has at once captured our attention for the way you explored the point of convergence between text and image, to invite the viewers to question the evokative power of symbols and patterns: when walking our readers through your usual setup and process, would you tell us how do you develop your initial ideas?

Sayings describe certain topics of what is happening in a poetic way. They are little poetic moments and pictures in everyday life, I, however, don’t follow a specific strategic way, I amble. We have really appreciated the vibrancy of thoughtful nuances that mark out some of your artworks, and we like the way they create tension and sense of dynamism: how did you come about settling on your color palette? And how does your own psychological make-up determine the nuances of tones that you decide to include in your artworks?

I read a lot when I´m interested in something, I want to understand everything from the scratch. So I’m kind of extremely focusing myself on a topic when something passes my way – I try to understand the world in images: Why is it like this and why not different? Like, the way I see things for example. Why does everything seem to be so complicated? I try to order impressions and want to transform them, handle them in an artistic way. I am a

I loved blue since I was a child. I wanted to

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have everything in blue and started crying when I got a pink schoolbag. It is the colour my eyes and is the colour of utopia, of the Absolute, and of communication. Later on there came black. I had my colourful phases as well but using colours often has something obtrusive. I am very careful when using colour and focus on the form, the technique, the deep shadows of a colour, material or subject. When you´re careful and conscious you notice the fine nuances of everything. I try to catch this feeling. We have really appreciated the way your artworks embody an interface between realism and imagination, as well as the way you include elements from ordinary experience, as you did in in stilllife_cab. Scottish painter Peter Doig once remarked that even the most realistic paintings are derived more from within the head than from what's out there in front of us: how do you consider the relationship between reality and imagination playing within your work? And how does everyday life's experience fuel your artistic research? The linguistic relation between image and imagination does not exist in German. There is “Vorstellung” – something concrete in front of reality - and “Phantasie” ,which is used more as the opposite of reality but is a means of painting in the head and combining thoughts. I agree with what Peter Doig is saying. What is in front of me is always strange, but what is in my head seems to be familiar, it feels true and real but it is not independent. I perseive and process with my whole body and see the world though my experiences and I do my work in this way. The process of art is making this subjective

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experience as realistic as possible when reviewed inside onto the outside v.s. Invisible. There is no way of pure objecitve view but there is a realistic way. In the way I perceive and view it. Jackson Pollock remarked that every good painter paints what he is. I like the world inside of me and the world outside of my head, I’m kind of combining them and go in a poetic way through nature. I don’t want to mark but think about what is necessary. What do I necessarily need for what I want to do or say. Sometimes the object itself says more than a picture of it and sometimes the object itself is troubling. To be honest, I can spend hours of watching a spoon agitating in a glass of water. Have you ever really noticed that subtile movement and what it has to offer? Reality is also something what is made.

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two images and the next one. I can´t cope with structures, I would like to because I am fascinated by them but it just doesn´t work for me. I didn´t know the end but I knew every step I did in order to see what I desired in a blurred way. I am interested in this area of conflict between the movement of automatisation and conscious drawing. As you might have noticed I’m rooted in figure and go through the classical subjects like body, portrait, still lifes, movement studies, room. For lat. copiare – the animated installation in the copy machine was called animareprostalladuktion – I found it interesting to point out the specific characteristics of a subject - for lat. copiare it was merely a portrait in a certain architecture and in motion. The work is a stop motion film, every still is made by hand but there was no specific flow chart or storyboard beforehand. Rilke once said that there are great seductions in life and it takes strength to follow them. I´m always on the way trying not to get lost.

Another interesting work of yours that has particularly impressed us and that we would like to introduce to our readers is entitled lat. copiare, a stimulating experimental film that questions the theme of originality and that has struck us for the way you sapiently created such unique ambience, manipulating human figure: in a certain sense, lat. copiare seems to stimulate the viewer’s psyche and consequently works on both a subconscious and a conscious level. how did you structure your process in order to achieve such brilliant results?

With their unique multilayered visual quality, your artworks seem to invite the viewers to look inside of what appear to be seen, rather than its surface, providing the spectatorship with freedom to realize their own perception. 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 is for you to trigger the viewers' imagination in order to address them to elaborate personal interpretations? In particular, how open would you like your

Oh, I didn´t structure at all. I was fascinated by the aesthetics of a copy. I made a picture, then a second one, a third and so on. In the end the film was an installed floating graphic work in an interactive copying-machine. The only structure was in-between

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Claudia Ungersbäck

works to be understood? Oh, do you think so? I focus on the surface, the form, the sound. I don´t want to reveal something. I try to see things as they are, without meaning, things as they appear to me, without judgement. I don´t think much about a specific audience while working but I am also not ignoring the fact that there is an audience. I am maker on one level and viewer on another and there is the viewed and viewing subject. I think from myself to myself, corresponding. Viewers of my artwork should be free in their perseption and so I just share what I do with hints in which way I was thinking for example in title or texts. I think of myself more of a poet than a painter so I am also or maybe more interested in the figural aspects of a subject and what surrounds it. Art aspects are a means of both the maker and the viewer, the viewed or, ontological, myself and the other in a certain relation. Of course I am happy if somebody gets the intendend meaning out of my work, but it’s not a nessessity. Max Imdahl for example says that the true hero in art is the viewer while pointing out his action retracing the artistic point of view. I am often surprised as to what people see in my works, things I never thought of. I see this as an enrichment as long as I can stay free and open as well and it is not a shortening, blocking attribution to myself. Kathy Acker wrote once that people can do with her work whatever they want. I find open views fascinating, it opens up a variety of possible worlds. Like Gobrich remarked, it´s more a physical thing, I don't want to write out accompanying texts in full, give instructions, answers, telling stories or make clever art - I want a

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poetic space for what I do, myself, the subject and the viewer, providing a room of intellectual freedom but this is nothing I

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intend actively, I don´t want to trigger something in a viewer of my artwork or provoke something, an artwork needs to

ART Habens

breathe for unrolling virtue as well as a body does and then it realizes freedom. So I don't want to speak too much about or for

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Claudia Ungersbäck

an artwork but rather more within it. Art is something experienced and I offer certain pieces of paths but nobody needs to follow.

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The performative and the physical act of art play a relevant role in your work. New York City based artist Lydia Dona once stated

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Claudia Ungersbäck

ART Habens

create your works gesturally, instinctively? Or do you methodically transpose geometric schemes? In particular, how do you consider the role of chance and improvisation playing within your creative process? Yes, Frank Stella said something similar, even he however draws different conclusions. He noted that it is important to know what a painting is and then you can try to make one. I start instinctively and my line is clear, confident and easy. I am still working in small steps and experiments while visualizing and composing, searching to find the perfect place for every line or piece of material. I do this without a conceptual approach but wait for the right mood and beat to begin and then everything comes from within and sort of its own. Of course there are some methodical styles I developed and which I repeat and combine anew in order to find something new. But it starts gestically, yes. I find chance and improvisation interesting, because it comes close to music and dance what I love. It makes you think wider, helps to keep moving and opens new horizons. Improvisation is something more physical and spontaneous as well. I like that. The next step is organizing. You are an established artist and over the years you have had group and solo shows including gesTrues - with dancetheatreperformance NEGOTIOATIONS by Alexander Gottfarb Tanzquartier Filiale, in Vienna: how do you consider the participatory nature of your relationship with your audience? Direct relationship with the audience in a physical is definetely 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

that in order to make art today one has to reevaluate the conceptual language behind the mechanism of art making itself: do you

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Claudia Ungersbäck

audience via mobile and vice versa. As long as you can define borders that’s great. Internet is a huge artistic machine, a library, a cinema, chatroom a concert hall and yet an unwritten story. Question of trust pop up when it comes to digital images and bodies which doesn’t happen in this way in reality.

increases: how would in your opinion change the relationship with a globalised audience? I always miss sitting accomodation, a lack of appealing ambience to linger in gallery spaces and art places. If there is an artwork that fascinates me I prefer to sit down for a while and balance while viewing and talking about it. I like what Patti Smith does on Instagram for example.

I don’t think that a direct physical relationship with the audience is decisive for an art experience except a life performance or music. I often visit museums or galleries without the presence of the artist. Sometimes real life can be disappointing as well

Sharing her moments and thoughts in her unique way. She has direct contact with her

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or it deviates from the work itself. Artists and viewers have “bad hair days” like everybody. Ingeborg Bachmann pointed out that she only feels true when she is writing, Maria Lassnig wrote something similar about her life and work. What doesn´t mean I wouldn’t have liked to chat with both or don´t want to talk with viewers of my work in person. Internet makes independence from physical space possible and maybe art becomes something different through it, maybe art is morphing generally into a more adressive and narrative form in comparison with artwork in a gallery space or in the streets because of the awareness

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of a globalised audience. The audience has the possability to watch an artist think and work in social media, that is something new. It comes closer to theatre and performance. NEGOTIATIONS took part in an old shop with shopping windows and I drew in front of the audience close to the performance of the dancers. I found it great when people stopped and watched while I was drawing. People could join, sit down and watch the performances eight hours a day, seven days a week for one year. It was an important experience. Virtual reality can’t substitut reality and it is

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not easy to compare, you are independent in a way but also leaving traces. Virtual reality is not a white cube and piece of paper but it seems to be like one. Everybody can participate, from everywhere and anytime. Life itself becomes more artistic in a way. And maybe it appears more artificial as well in a way. We have really appreciated the originality of your artistic production and before leaving this stimulating conversation we would like to thank you for chatting with us and for sharing your thoughts, Claudia. What projects are you currently working on, and what are some of the ideas that you hope to explore in the future? Thank you for the interesting questions, it was a pleasure chatting with you. I am working on a series of “music images and text bodies”. I am interested in the artificiality of texts in relation to nature, the original, and am also looking for a form which doesn´t represent something. Something that doesn´t exist or just exists like a now of music and dance and a future of poetry. I try to get away from figure into something fugitive but essential, pure. Using just my fingers as pen, objects, material and light for example. With GesTrues I came to a point on which I wrote off figure into gesture and also what I can identify as real, as effigy, as copy and what can I say about truth titled in a wordplay. Figure seems to be necessary for a narrative and this provokes a question about truth. I am now rethinking picture as a fact, language as an instrument and art including writing, spoken word, music and text physically as act as well as in digital.. That´s the point I´m at, at the moment.

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Claudia Ungersbäck

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Lives and works in Severn, MD, USA

Madonna alone

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Arit Emmanuela Etukudo

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video, 2013

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Self Portrait After A Deep Sadness


An interview by and

, curator curator

Hello Arit and welcome to ART Habens. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production we would like to invite our readers to visit https://aritemmanuela.wordpress.com and we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your background. You have a solid formal training and after having earned your BA in Cinematic Arts from the University of Maryland, you nurtured your education with an MFA in Fine Art, that you received from Nottingham Trent University: how did those formative years influence your evolution as an artist? Moreover, how does your cultural substratum direct the direction of your current artistic research? Arit Emmanuela Etukudo

Arit Etuduko: My earlier years as a film

(photo by Tracy Gnoan)

student/filmmaker definitely influenced my current work, where I learned different methods of storytelling and was also able to refine my skills.

I use my body as material as a way of retaliating against spaces that have tried to control black female bodies in both past and present histories.

I currently create moving image installations and find myself using some of those same techniques that I learned in undergrad.

In my art, I place my body in positions of power and authority to let viewers know that it is possible for this body

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Arit Emmanuela Etukudo

Emptiness has no sidess

Marked out with such unique visual identity, the body of works that we have selected for this special edition of ART Habens, and that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article, has

to exist without constraint. The second thing I do is use my art to create my personal mythology, I tell stories of my origin, my experiences and my beliefs as a means of giving authority to my existence.

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Arit Emmanuela Etukudo

at once captured our attention for the way you use your visual language in such strategic way to counter-balance subjectivity, offering an array of meanings. When walking our readers through your usual setup and process,

ART Habens

would you tell us how do you usually develop your initial idea for your portraits? Do you create your works gesturally, instinctively? Or do you methodically transpose geometric schemes?

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Arit Emmanuela Etukudo

Arit Etuduko: In broad terms, my work

is mostly instinctual. I often begin with capturing photos of myself while meditating on my current physical, mental, emotional or spiritual state. I then create the final work in the same manner. It is not until the end of the work that I discover the idea and meaning behind it. I prefer working this way as it brings forth a sense of honesty from my work, where I cannot allow fear or shame to stop me from expressing my stories. We have particularly appreciated the way its thoughtful nuances in The christening creates tension and such sense of dynamics. How does your own psychological make-up determine the nuances of tones that you decide to include in an artwork and in particular, how do you develop your textures in order to achieve such brilliant results? Arit Etuduko: The goal I set for myself

as I create work is to be as honest with myself, my feelings and my experiences as possible. Whether it be pain, joy, fear and so on, I make a decision to express it fully. It’s as simple as that. My work is as much for the viewers as it is for me, telling stories such as the one in The christening is a cathartic journey. I have a diverse background in the arts,

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Self portrait at times when I must bring myself peace 21 4 08

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Self portrait thinking about loss Special Issue

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where I have at one point tested out mediums, genres and techniques. The results of my work is from allowing myself to access any of these facets when they come up. As you have remarked in your artist's statement, your work is for people who want to look beyond the present physical and explore the dissection of the life experience and we have really appreciated the way Self Portrait After A Deep Sadness: how do you consider the role of memory playing within your process and how does everyday life's experience fuel your artistic research? Arit Etuduko: My memories have

always seemed like a dream that I keep waking up from. Multiple continuous inceptions one after another. Trains and buses and airplanes have become portals linking one dream to the next. Every time I wake up I am in a new place, in what seems like a different world and the last world immediately feels like it no longer exists. Once I have woken up, no matter how captivating the dream was, it will immediately begin dissipating. The way that I experience my memories have a deep impact on my work and visual style. Where I create my work based on these dream states that I experience. Selfportrait after a deep sadness is an

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Self-portrait thinking of all that has left me


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Arit Emmanuela Etukudo

I once was held for 1000 years

example of one of these memories that immediately feel like a dream, where even after experiencing such a deep emotion, the moment the feeling has ended it no longer feels a part of this world.

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We have appreciated the way your artworks unveils the connection between the lyrical and the spiritual, drawing them to such dreamlike visual experience. Scottish painter Peter Doig

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once remarked that even the most realistic paintings are derived more from within the head than from what's out there in front of us, : how do you consider the relationship between reality and imagination, playing within

ART Habens

your artistic production? Arit Etuduko: I think reality and

imagination go very close in hand. We are constantly by ourselves in our thoughts and having experiences

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exist when placed alongside reality. This plays into my artistic production where I take the outside “real� world

from the outside world intrude on these thoughts is what leads us into imagination. Imagination can only

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ART Habens

With their unique multilayered visual quality, your paintings — as the interesting I once was held for 1000 years — are often blurred and merge into their surroundings and seem to invite the viewers to look inside of what appear to be seen, rather than its surface, providing the spectatorship with freedom to realize their own perception. 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 is for you to trigger the viewers' imagination in order to address them to elaborate personal interpretations? In particular, how open would you like your works to be understood? Arit Etuduko: Although I am giving

recounts of my own history, it is my goal to push viewers to understand and form ideas of their own existence on a level deeper than they already know. I want people to look past their physical bodies, analyze what traces life has made on them, discover the worlds these experiences created in them and reflect on their relationships to one another. I want my work to inspire viewers to undergo processes of self-exploration. In pieces like, I once was held for 1,000 years, viewers have full reign over how they want to

and explain it with the “imagined” world.

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Save me father for I have lived

understand the work. They are given an image, a dialogue and freedom yet it is me that they are looking at. They have the freedom to interpret the

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work as they need to but not the freedom to fully detach me from the work.

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You create work that uses your body as language and you feature yourself in themes of divinity, religion and authority as a way of negotiating

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yourself into spaces that your are not welcomed in. Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco once stated, "artists's role differs depending on which part of the

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Arit Emmanuela Etukudo

I found myself yelling at God in the mirror

world they’re in": does your artistic research respond to a particular cultural moment? In particular, do you think that artists can raise awareness to an evergrowing audience on topical

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issues in our globalised and everchanging society? Arit Etuduko: As a black female artist, it

is almost impossible for my work to not

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How Does It Happen 21 4 18

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Arit Emmanuela Etukudo

respond to cultural moments. As a minority, I am putting myself at the forefront of my work and forcing people to acknowledge me. I absolutely think artists have the ability to raise awareness on topical issues if they navigate their practice in that direction.

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accessible to my audience and we are able to have unregulated conversations on varying topics. I feel as though it is easier for viewers to get the “spirit of my work” and myself as an artist through our short interactions on Instagram than in inperson talks. https://www.instagram.com/arit_em manuela

Over the years you have exhibited your artworks in several occasions, including your recent solo Waiting to become: Images from a dream state, at the Attenborough Arts Center: how do you consider the nature of your relationship with your audience? Direct relationship with the viewers in a physical context is definetely 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 — as Instagram — increases: how would in your opinion change the relationship with a globalised audience?

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

me! I’ve enjoyed our chat as well. I am currently in production of some new work for my next solo exhibition at the New Art Exchange that’ll be launching in September 2020 in Nottingham, England. I am also in the works of forming new ways to install and exhibit my work. In the future I hope to continue pushing the boundaries of ways that I can express my stories.

Arit Etuduko: My direct relationship

with viewers is often limited to artist talks and workshops, where I am able to directly interact with viewers in a somewhat regulated space. Social media has the ability to remove most forms of regulation. My Instagram, which I use mostly to share my work and projects has become a place where I am easily

An interview by and

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, curator curator

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Lives and works in Rochester, Kent, UK

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Catriona Faulkner

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video, 2013

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Jordi Rosado

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An interview by and

, curator curator

Hello Catriona and welcome to ART Habens. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production we would like to invite our readers to visit http:// catrionafaulkner.com and we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your background. Are there any experiences that did particularly influence your evolution as an artist and that help you to develop your attitude to experiment with different media and art disciplines? Catriona Faulkner: I come from a textiles background and worked within printed and constructed textiles but always struggled being categorised in a specialism. In hindsight I desired a broader more diverse creative approach, without boundaries or restrictions.

Catriona Faulkner (Photo by Cathy Teesdale @ humansoflondon)

Often without a clear intention other than curiosity I have continued to source methods and approaches which have enabled the invention and evolution of my process. This may seem like a clear linear journey that lead to my creative promised land, it really wasn’t. It has been filled with hurdles and obstacles along the way that have made me adapt processes and techniques to enable me to achieve what I needed to create. I have experimented with other processes along the way such as drawing and

painting, methods of stitch, collage etc. The need to create has always been in me, I remember being quite young and needing to create, make or paint and that feeling has never left me, evolving into the artist I am today. Now I have a sketchbook in every handbag, a phone in my pocket to capture inspiration and collect objects such as a rusty discarded paper clip, these all facilitate and

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ART Habens

Catriona Faulkner

Your artistic production combines personal aesthetics with such a unique conceptual approach, and the visual language that marks out your artworks seems to be used in a strategic way to counter-balance subjectivity and offers an array of meanings. The body of works that we have selected for this special edition of ART Habens —and that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article — has at once captured our attention for the way you explored the point of convergence between text and image, to invite the viewers to question the evokative power of symbols and patterns: when walking our readers through your usual setup and process, would you tell us how do you develop your initial ideas? In particular, do you create your works gesturally, instinctively? Or do you methodically transpose geometric schemes?

steer the creative process that happens in the studio. I think I was born with a punk attitude - always needing to explore and question and if I don’t know how, I will do it myself. A DIY ethos has always enabled me to create, be experimental and inventive through necessity. There wasn’t art equipment or materials around when I was young so the need to create lead me to use household paints and scraps of fabric, these materials became my tools of alchemy. It’s the same in my process today, I witness an alchemy that I’m party to but there is also a subconscious unravelling and emergence that happens. I remember being reprimanded at school by a supply teacher for using oil paint on paper as it wasn’t the correct method of use, obviously I questioned this, I just loved the way the oil bled out from the colour but i ended up with a detention. Thank goodness my art teacher soon returned to support my claims of injustice as to where did the art rules and boundaries lie? Her creative openness and passion most certainly fuelled my boundary breaking artist ambitions and got me out of detention. My school art teacher was undoubtedly a driving force behind my creativity at a young age, we are still friends today.

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Catriona Faulkner: There is an instinctive approach to my work that comes as I select objects for assemblage at the start of a piece, whether the objects just speak to me automatically or are symbolic in reference, their selection and placement are intrinsic to my whole process. My practice is my own unique approach, i use assemblage and objects to translate my ideas through an ethos of using what is around to create, as well as an appreciation in the objects life and its

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symbolic reference.

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The planning of a piece can be all consuming with my detailed mind exploring endless ideas and possibilities, these ideas are quite fluid, and eventually I have a loose idea of where to begin a piece and where it is headed allowing an element of a work to evolve and take its own natural form. My inate aesthetic and inspiration is undoubtedly woven into the work and my practice is how it comes out of me creatively, but perhaps there are too many elements to analyse that completely form my practice as a whole. For example there is a disruptive off balance symmetry I like to consider. Initial recognition of symmetrical objects to the viewer but on closer inspection provide an unpredictability, an intrigue, an interrupted golden ratio of what our minds expect, I find this interesting.

My visual language takes form in my work as an amalgamation of inspiration research and conceptual thinking. Throughout my work objects are used strategically to explore subjects visually and symbolically that can also evoke a deeper sense of meaning and narrative. I use this instinctive approach throughout the process,I trust the feeling of knowing an object is right or when a piece is complete. It can take a long time to find the perfect object /element that I need to continue or finish a piece, so often I work across different pieces at different stages. I have a very visual mind and spend a lot of time in the creative zone, brain space considering my work and it’s development, considering possibilities and symbolic references that I can use and explore through further sketching and collecting.

I consider the evocative use of the objects and concepts throughout my work always wanting to develop and evolve them further, sometimes this can feel quite personally revealing especially through my new work and the unravelling it took to produce. I am open to the viewers own interpretation and contemplation and finding ones own meaning and symbolism. It’s curious to me how we all visually interpret the information we see.

I’m naturally curious about the use of objects and symbols throughout different cultures and traditions finding inspiration in their use and meanings and often using these ideas to create my own multi layered works full of symbolic meaning and reference. I was brought up catholic and was always drawn to the opulence and ceremony of the church as a child, now finding inspiration across cultures, religions and traditions.

My own conceptual approach comes from an amalgamation of all the creative influences and inspirations my mind collects. I work instinctively and understand my own visual language

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always striving for authenticity and unpredictability. There is a methodology that transposes throughout the creative process,an

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approach that allows me to get the ideas out. Constant sketching, considering and collecting allows me to be fuelled and present in my work

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shoe, a bird skull or broken car bolt. I’m drawn to objects that have had a previous life that have been used or are broken, it’s the DNA and marks of life that fascinate me old, used, broken, damaged are all qualities that add to the intrigue and fascination as well as the patina. Reinventing objects and finding something beautiful in them rather than an original purpose enables my fascination to be fed and surprised. I want my work to initiate a response in the viewer beyond the subjectivity in however the viewer wishes to interpret the use of metaphors and symbols. Objects can be so emotive that people often find their own meaning in my work. I use and select objects that are rich in metaphorical properties that enable me to explore and weave narratives throughout my work. I have used imagery as well as objects metaphorically to investigate aspects of pain, devotion and ceremony and continue to do so with my new body of work using medical equipment and medication, a more obvious use of symbolism through objects. Metaphorical properties in objects allows me to create works that become allegorical in their completion. Things I collect and find are often used symbolically in their interpretation often confirmed or questioned by their placement and configuration in an artwork.

not just in the studio. It is a constant for me to be engaged in my practice whether researching and finding inspiration or creatively producing, it’s all part of the same thing. Your practice examines and reinvents the beauty within objects that have been discarded, lost or are defunct and are re-found. We really appreciate the way your choice of materials provide your works with metaphorical aspects, eliciting response in the spectatorship: New York City based 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 — or that you plan to include — in your artworks: in particular, how important is for you to use materials rich of metaphorical properties in order to create such allegorical images, as Together Forever? Catriona Faulkner: I have always collected, everything. As a child I had shelves full of bits and pieces, objects I was fascinated by.it is the same today, my house and studio are a treasure trove of collections, oddities and inspiration. It just seems to be in me to be drawn to objects for various reasons, sometimes not even knowing why I need, want or am captivated by something, it could be a rusty old horse

With their unique visual identity and their richness of details, your artworks

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challenges the viewers' perceptual parameters: we daresay that your artistic practice 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 trigger the viewers' imagination in order to address them to elaborate personal interpretations? In particular, how open would you like your works to be understood? Catriona Faulkner: My work has its own visual identity that is a culmination of my rich mixing pot of inspiration and all the things that make me, me. My practice aims to intrigue the viewer with my reoccurring obsessions and fascination of objects and their reinvention, using complex compositions to reinterpret familiar items. I’m interested by the perceptual parameters our minds can set and the way we subconsciously expect to view something in an explainable manner. Challenging these parameters we often don’t realise are in us, can surprise and challenge. Objects used in unexpected configurations and arrangements confront the viewers preconceived framework. The DNA and grime of an object is an aspect I’m drawn to but beyond the surface is a natural expectation and familiarity of an object we recognise whether in its familiar form or metaphorical or symbolic use we look for an understanding that we

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know or perceive to know. Sometimes a viewer connects with a part of the visual aesthetic of my work, identifying aspects they personally culturally or religiously relate to, triggering their own memories or interpretations. Homage contains objects I have had since childhood,love tokens, family heirlooms and all kinds of things I have

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collected and found on my travels. This piece is a homage to my memories and passions, life, family and journey so far. So many memories linked to these objects it’s a piece that’s unable to be unravelled by anyone apart from me. It’s perfectly fine for the viewer to find their own interpretation and meaning in my work, this is fascinating to me how different people view /see/translate my work and hopefully encourage the freedom of the viewer to realise their own perception. However I do find through conversations with my clients they often ask me to elaborate on my personal narratives and metaphors, this can enable a deeper connection that may resonate with them. I would encourage personal interpretation and freedom to find own meaning in my work and am happy for my work to find different meanings in each viewer. As long as my work sparks imagination and creates discussion, I’m happy.

ART Habens

connection to it personally has become “an” interpretation not the only interpretation. You draw inspiration from religious reliquaries, shrines and ceremonies constantly referring to themes of human ritual, remembrance and devotion, and as you have remarked in your artist's statement, you want your work to reflect the opulence of ancient relics, embellished and decorated objects/shrines that have been worshipped and revered as holy or ceremonial. How do you consider the relationship between cultural heritage from traditional aesthetics and contemporary sensitiveness? In particular, how does your artistic research reveals a point of convergence between Tradition and Contemporariness? Catriona Faulkner: I have always been interested in anthropology and cultures around the world, how people live, reuse, reinvent and the creativity that is embedded in all communities through tradition whether ceremonial or decorative.

In 2020 I have begun to release a new body of work that is more personal and obvious in symbolism, this work relates to my chronic pain condition and feels very personal. I had a tentative apprehension of showing this work as putting it out there felt very exposing and laid bare. This piece Spoonful of Sugar is part of this series and reflects the constant rounds of medication I take. This piece has been received positively and re interpreted so individually I’m pleased that my

An aspect of my inspiration is fed by a fascination of religious reliquaries from across the faiths and belief systems, their opulence and history whether an ancient gold locket or a temple are reflected in my inspiration and shrine like work as devotion. I’m fascinated by acts of ceremony and ritual that humans carry out such as leaving

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playing within your artistic production?

flowers by the side of the road or carrying a lucky charm, these are all individual humanistic attributes we acknowledge or take part in some how. How and why we memorialise throughout cultures and religions using objects, food, statues, flower’s or perhaps a talisman as offerings is a constant source of inspiration to me. Aspects of my practice are obsessed with the beautiful and skillful execution of my work through the use of traditional and cultural techniques and methodologies. I use approaches that I have developed, fused and adapted acknowledging the traditions that were and are generally practised by women in new contemporary configurations.

Catriona Faulkner: Reality and imagination is a blurry line for me and my mind definitely wanders between both realms. It’s not a contrived place, it’s just my place, the way it all works for me and comes out of me. I have always had “my zone” to retreat to and explore my imagination, it’s always been part of me and is a place I treasure. Throughout my art education my imagination has always been commented on or highlighted, it’s only as Ive got older I realise not everyone has the constant vivid imagery in their minds that I presumed everyone had.

My practice is a convergence of many avenues that inspire and drive me, yes a mix of traditional methods and inspirations as well as all the ingredients that are embedded within me as an artist. I don’t consider the contemporariness of my work or how it fits in the whole scheme of things, it’s just what I need to do.

I seek visual stimulation and feed my imagination constantly. Apart from the obsessive collecting, I use a sketchbook to process my thoughts, it’s a good place to get things out, ideas that roll around in my mind can be worked through and explored. “She’s Bionic” is a piece from the new body of work that is using more anthropomorphic shapes as does the piece “Feeling Lucky ?” Here I have used these objects of a hand and spine to convey the visual reality of these aspects of my health. Yes my hand looked like this and my spine has a wire stitched to it and these are interpretations of the images in my head, however they seem visually

We have appreciated the way you combine reminders to reality — as anthropomorphic shapes in She's Bionic. Scottish visual artist Peter Doig once remarked that even the most realistic works of artare derived more from within the head than from what's out there in front of us: how do you consider the relationship between reality and imagination,

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night it is fulled with questions, ideas, interest, distractions, distractions and more distractions. My studio space is a sacred sanctuary and very precious to me, it keeps my well-being and creativity in balance. Thankfully I have a very patient wife who understands me.

revealing and feel realistically obvious to me, but I have found the viewers interpretations of the works doesn't necessarily focus on my specific representation but a broader interpretation of the whole piece or perhaps have a specific connection to the elements I have used.

You are an established artist and you have been exhibiting for over ten years in various galleries, exhibitions and group shows including the V&A Museum of Childhood, London Design Week, Guild of Designer Craftsmen and London Fashion Week: how do you consider the participatory nature of your relationship with your audience? Direct relationship with the audience in a physical is definetely 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 - as Instagram, https://www.instagram.com/ catrionafaulkner - increases: how would in your opinion change the relationship with a globalised audience?

As you have remarked once, you consider your work as ongoing therapy: a place where you can immerse herself in your creative zone: how does your everyday life's experience fuel your artistic research? Catriona Faulkner: My creative zone is my space where I can immerse myself in a place where it all makes sense and allows me to get it all out creatively. Yes it’s an ongoing therapy,I understand that now and utilise it every minute I can. I would describe it as “a calm zone of pure creative and imaginative meanderings” that are explored and analysed through my practice. Everyday my creativity is fuelled whether it’s finding a rusty bolt, discussing daily life or historical events, sketching ideas or visiting a cemetery, it all fuels the library in my mind. I realise I'm very lucky to find constant creative motivation as not everyone is as fortunate. I think my brain is wired so intricately, probably more so from the offshoot of living with a chronic illness, that it never quietens, day or

Catriona Faulkner: I have seen my client base and profile shift slightly with exposure on social media platforms. Primarily my work has always captivated an audiences imagination and attention in real life form. My work is notoriously difficult to photograph and even harder to convey its sense of

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spirit and illuminous richness through a digital image. There are obviously good and bad aspects in the broader sense of the use of social media but as an artist it does open you up to a globalised audience who may never discover you otherwise. People from around the world communicate with me about my work in an instant and a conversation has begun.

alone my piles of sketchbooks could keep me in constant production forever if I allowed them all to take form. I’m always exploring new possibilities and adventures within my work and continue to push my practice forward. 2020 is the year where I am exploring my health with a more focused approach through my practice. I’m using larger symbolic and metaphorical objects to not only explore but celebrate aspects of this ongoing journey.

Used in the right way it can be a useful tool and create communities of like minded people, as with everything in our world shifting to an online presence. I think we need to combine physical established ways with the new online platforms, no disregarding traditional gallery experiences for online platforms but embrace and facilitate both, whilst continuing to take the time to seek and uphold communication with your audience, thus creating a dialogue face to face or virtually.

I won an award from Shape Arts Open in 2019 which was selected by a panel including artist and patron Yinka Shonibare. It was the first piece of work specifically regarding my health that I had ever shown in public, fuelling my confidence to analyse unfold and explore further, coincidentally in the 20th year anniversary of my accident. I have decided to produce a collection of 12 pieces of work, one for each month relating to my current health and reflecting upon the journey so far and what may emerge or resonate with the month I am working on. I’m excited to explore this new approach and seek new metaphors and symbols, the possibilities are endless!

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

An interview by and

Catriona Faulkner: My endless research, collecting and documenting ideas let

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, curator curator

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Hello Christian and welcome to ART Habens. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production we would like to invite our readers to visit http://www.studiohiadzi.co.uk and we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your background. You have a solid formal training in Architecture and after having earned your BSc (Hons) from the University of East London, you nurtured your education with a Postgraduate Diploma and further studies at the Kingston University: how did those formative years and your cultural substratum influence your evolution as an artist? Moreover, are there any experiences that did particularly help you to develop your attitude to experiment with different techniques?

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Christian Hiadzi: Growing up in Ghana where I was born and spent part of my formative years before moving to London, one is constantly surrounded by vibrant colours and texture, two of the many attributes that run like a thread in my body of work. I started making art when I was as little as eight years old, drawing, painting and sculpting, and this continued throughout my architectural education. Art and architecture as we all know are both creative and intertwined, with the latter being more structured and greatly influenced by regulations and cost. My art on the other hand gives me the freedom to be more expressive of my feelings and the world around me. The two together, the structured and the non structured, are like the yin and

yang that help create a balance in my life. Your artistic production combines personal aesthetics with such a unique conceptual approach, and the visual language that marks out your artworks seems to be used in a strategic way to counter-balance subjectivity and offers an array of meanings. The body of works that we have selected for this special edition of ART Habens —and that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article — has at once captured our attention for the way you explored the connection between human experience and imagination: when walking our readers through your

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One of them usual setup and process, would you tell us how do you develop your initial ideas? Christian Hiadzi: Each painting begins as an idea, this could be a person I know or may have interacted with, a found image or it could also just be an imaginary person in my subconscious mind. The interesting thing here is that, the moment the paint hits the canvas, I am no longer in control of what happens.

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The intension is never to paint the obvious, but explore emotions through the play of color. I describe it like a journey, although I have no idea how to get there. The fuel or the driver for this journey is emotions and imagination.

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textures, are all metaphorical pointers to these emotions that I try to capture. Your artistic production shows a successful attempt to elaborate upon unfamiliar aspects of an otherwise familiar scene, and we have really appreciated the way your artworks embody an interface between realism and imagination, as well as the way you include elements from ordinary experience, unveiling the point of convergence between the figurative and the abstract form. Scottish painter Peter Doig once remarked that even the most realistic paintings are derived more from within the head than from what's out there in front of us: how do you consider the relationship between reality and imagination playing within your work? And how does everyday life's experience fuel your artistic research?

We have really appreciated the vibrancy of vivacious and at the same time thoughtful nuances that mark out some of your artworks, and we like the way they create tension and sense of dynamism: how did you come about settling on your color palette? And how does your own psychological makeup determine the nuances of tones that you decide to include in your artworks? Christian Hiadzi: My paintings are very much process led, and the decisions as to what colour to use at what stage of the painting process is pretty much spontaneous and instinctive. A lot of the process is layering, you don’t quite know what you are going to end up with. The colours speak to themselves and to me, and eventually the synergy between us, somehow produces this emotional response which becomes the painting.

Christian Hiadzi: The emotions I aspire to draw out from my work are real, but it is the execution and finished works that requires some imagination from the audience to be able to create a dialogue with my work. For me, painting these figures in a realistic style, kills the work.

I am inspired by the human conditions and qualities that we experience day in day out. I can relate to all the emotions that we all experience as humans, but for some reason, there ones that inspire me the most to capture are mystery, tension, fear, pain, decadence and death. I find something rather deep and profound in these emotions. A deeper level of connection, sometimes disturbingly calming almost. The mysterious and darkened eyes, the layers upon layers of paint, working and reworking surfaces, adding and subtracting, the scares, the

The mystery, tension, omission of the archetypal from my work, allows room for imagination to prevail. I think the second part of this question is the same as the second part of the previous question. In that, the human conditions and emotions that I had mentioned previously, which I also experience as a human, are the inspirations that fuel my artistic research. As you have remarked in your artist's

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Lady X statement, your aim is to demonstrate against the status quo of society, my rejection of mundanity and rebellion against archetypes within a contemporary world. Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco once stated,

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"the artist’s role differs depending on which part of the world you’re in. It depends on the political system you’re living under": ? Does your artistic research respond to a particular cultural

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moment? Moreover, what could be in your opinion the role of artists in our contemporary age?

Christian Hiadzi: I wouldn’t say my artistic research responds to any particular cultural moment. But I think some of the emotions

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that I try to capture in my work are

today’s polarised and ever conflicting world

particularly heightened and poignant in

we live in. They transcend race, culture,

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gender and all socio economic backgrounds. My hope is that the audience or viewer would be encouraged to reflect on their own journey.

With their unique multilayered visual quality, your artworks stimulate and expand the viewers' imagination beyond the obvious, encouraging your audience to draw out and observe the beauty of the unfamiliar caught within the ordinary. In a certain sense, we dare say that your artworks seem to invite the viewers to look inside of what appear to be seen, rather than its surface, providing the spectatorship with freedom to realize their own perception. Austrian Art historian Ernst Gombrich once remarked the importance of providing a space for the viewers to project

I think artists have the responsibility to produce work that inspire people and enable interaction of people of all walks of life. They should also challenge the status quo, push boundaries, provide thoughtful critique on socio-economic and political systems. In so doing, it is the responsibility of artists and art institutions to demystify the art world andmake art accessible to all.

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onto, so that they can actively participate in the creation of the illusion: how important is for you to trigger the viewers' imagination in order to address them to elaborate personal interpretations? In particular, how open would you like your works to be understood? Christian Hiadzi: This is at the core of my practice in that, my aim is to create work that is a means to an end, not an end in it itself. Art that is thought provoking, challenging and reflective.

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My pieces are meant to be the catalyst, challenging the viewer to use their imagination beyond the obvious, thereby as you mentioned, actively participate in the creation of the illusion. In effect, I see myself as part of the vehicle through which this can be achieved.

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, as Instagram (@christianhiadzi_art) increases: how would in your opinion change the relationship with a globalised audience?

I merely provide the raw material, leaving the viewer or audience enough room to expand upon that, forming their own understanding of the works.

Christian Hiadzi: Audience participation is very important, and you are absolutely right in that seeing a painting or a work of art in reality is never the same as seeing it online. Also for me, there’s a great deal of pleasure to be derived from taking part in an exhibition and talking to the audience about your art, and also eaves dropping on people critiquing your work without them necessarily knowing you are the artist. However, there are very few galleries to support all the amazing artists out there. Also we all live in different parts of the world, but want to know of and enjoy the works of artists afar. The internet helps to facilitate this and I think we should all embrace it.

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 gesturally, instinctively? Or do you methodically transpose geometric schemes? In particular, how do you consider the role of chance and improvisation playing within your creative process? Christian Hiadzi: I think it is the combination of all the above technics, without much involvement of geometric schemes. It is very much a process lead approach in that I have no idea what the finished painting is going to look like until it’s finished.

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

Paint does not always do what you want it to do, hence you can only guide the process, and in so doing textures, intensities and emotions are revealed through what I call accidents. These accidents together make the painting.

Christian Hiadzi: Thank you. It has been a pleasure. At the moment, I am still exploring the human condition through portraiture.

How do you consider the participatory nature of your relationship with your audience? Direct relationship with the audience in a physical is definitely the most

This is such a huge subject matter and could take a whole life time. I am hoping to further expand this field into working on large

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surfaces and create multi layered compositional works.

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I am still exploring ideas, directions‌. Please watch this space.

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Lives and works in Vallejo, Ca, USA

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An interview by and

, curator curator

Hello Bianca 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: are there any experiences that did particularly influence your evolution as an artist? In particular, what did direct you to become an artist? Well, I've been in love with art for as long as I can remember. Some of my favorite field trips in my primary years were art galleries and museums. I would constantly tell myself within that I'd create something to grace gallery walls one day. As I got older my main artistic interest was ceramics, I have an uncle who is a potter and his work has always inspired me. I don't think I could ever forget the sensation I felt the first time I learned to throw, something about being centered intrigued me. It was very easy to be in love with art as a child because life hadn't gotten in the way yet. I believe it was Picasso that said " every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up." Fast forward a few years, I became overwhelmed with trying to chase the American dream. After all my forced plans fell through I realized all I really wanted was a peaceful life and that's when art entered back in. I started doing more arts and crafts with the children at my mothers daycare. Watching them get so excited as I pulled out all the supplies

Bianca Caston

reminded me of my excitement about art. I started to experiment with paint pouring, a technique that create cells. The shapes that would surface from the pours inspired some of the shapes in my layered works. I got an extra push to emerge as an artist from several family and friends. The biggest direction I received was from

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my own passion, many nights went by that I couldn't sleep until I created something.

for this special edition of ART Habens and

The body of works that we have selected

to know in the introductory pages of this

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that our readers have already started to get

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article has at once captured our attention of

sensitiveness that provide the viewers with

your works is the way you sapiently

such multilayered visual experience: when

combined geometric patterns and abstract

walking our readers through your usual

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setup and process, would you tell us how do you develop your initial ideas?

figuring what shape I want the outer edge to be and how many layers will be within each piece. Although the title is important to the message i try to convey, i usually don't title them until the piece is done.

Currently I don't have a studio , so my setup is usually on the floor of my cottage and quite frankly, sometimes my bed. I start out

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after I decide on the main shape I ponder on color scheme. I use a soldering iron to burn the shapes into each layer.

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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 gesturally, instinctively? Or do you

We would like to ask you something about your daily routine. New York City based

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methodically transpose geometric schemes? In particular, how do you consider the role of chance and improvisation playing within your creative process?

shape I want the outer layer to be. I do feel that my works are mostly created instinctively despite starting with such a definite shape. I believe the unconscious thought of creating random shapes aid with

As stated above I usually start with the

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allowing viewers to get lost within the layers.

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aren't any rules that the shapes are trying to measure up to so theres no room for trying to work their way back to a standard. However chance plays a big role once the layers come together because its important

Improvisation isn't a key component in my layered works because they are already pretty whimsical and free spirited, there

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Bianca Caston

ART Habens

to expressly tell something that might walk the viewers through their visual experience? I title some of my layered pieces after people names because I feel people have a depth to them that you can't experience upon first encounter but over time you learn their uniqueness. I also believe that names have strong meanings, for example the piece titled Janell means jehovah has been gracious. I wanted this piece to be round. Circles have strong symbolism some believe they symbolize wholeness. Janell is a personal piece for me, my middle name is Janell and I know that my journey with Jehovah and art has given me a sense of feeling whole. along with that I aim to be a well rounded artist. It’s important for me to know that my viewers are able to see the foundation upon which the layers rest on because all of the foundations are solid. Without a solid foundation peace is impossible.

for the viewer to see through to the bottom layer of each piece, the shapes have to make room for each other in that sense.

As you have remarked in your artist's statement, your goal is that while someone is viewing your work and focusing on the details, diving deeper into the piece, they get a sense of peace. In this sense, your approach to art making seems to stimulate the viewer’s psyche and consequently works on both a subconscious and a conscious level. How do you consider the nature of your relationship with your audience? Is there a particular way of engagement that you seek to encourage?

Some of your pieces are titled after people names: how do you go about naming your work ? In particular, is it important for you

Yes, this is quite tricky since the viewer isn't suddenly aware that while focusing on the piece they aren't thinking about their worries. I can only hope that my work and

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Bianca Caston

artist statement may spark conversation within the audience. I may start to incorporate words within the layers that will ask thought provoking questions but for now my pieces will remain silent.

illusion: how important is for you to trigger the viewers' imagination in order to address them to elaborate personal interpretations? In particular, how open would you like your works to be understood?

We have really appreciated the tactile feature of your artworks, that are carefully detailed and are marked out with such sense of dynamics and sapient choice of tones: how did you come about settling on your color palette? And how does your own psychological make-up determine the nuances of tones that you decide to include in your works in order to provide the viewers with such immersive visual experience?

Triggering the viewers imagination is very important. Personally I love being able to participate in art that I see by forming my own interpretations it helps you to connect with the art. I believe connecting to each piece is a necessity. That being said I wouldn't want my art to be openly understood. I'd like it to provoke wonder and curiosity. Your works convey such stimulating abstract feeling, whose background creates such an oniric atmosphere: how do you consider the relationship between the real and the imagined playing within your artistic practice?

Thank you, in high school I grew a deep appreciation for the color wheel, that has really helped me with choosing my color palette for each piece. color meaning also plays a role. for example in my piece Sadie, I chose a yellowish gold. This color was chosen for its brightness and warm happy tone.

I include both. I connect what's real, my experiences and interpret them with fanciful shapes.

While I was in high school I had a teacher , named Sadie who was a bright spot of my day so I wanted that piece to be warm and bright just like how I felt in Sadie's class. The backgrounds are usually always white. The reason for that is to give each piece a minimalistic clean and crisp vibe.

By the way, as the move of Art from traditional gallery spaces, to street and especially to online platforms — as Instagram — increases, how would in your opinion change the relationship with a globalised audience?

With their unique multilayered visual quality, your artworks seem to invite the viewers to look inside of what appear to be seen, rather than its surface, providing the spectatorship with freedom to realize their own perception. 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

I think the move is great! more eyes looking at art means more discussions are being had. I know for me being able to see works from different areas of the world gives me ideas and inspiration for future projects. Readers can check out my Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/lenajarts. I post about things I'm currently working on and process video clips.

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Lives and works in Berlin, Germany

Trellick Tower, Pen on Paper, 28x36cm, 2017

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Alaric Hobbs

ART Habens

video, 2013

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Geology Rocks, Spray Paint And Pen on Paper', 70x100cm, 2019


An interview by and

, curator curator

Hello Alaric and welcome to ART Habens. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production we would like to invite our readers to visit https://www.alarichobbs.com and we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your background. Are there any experiences along with your cultural substratum that did particularly influence your evolution as an artist? Moreover, how did you develop your attitude to experiment with different techniques? Alaric Hobbs: Hello there, it’s a pleasure, and thank you for your time. Whilst studying Contemporary Crafts I realised that geometry was always the main foundation throughout my work, so in my final year I just got really into the simplicity and forms of the shapes.

My experience after I’d graduated was a horrible, depressing time and I wasn’t creative for a year. A year passed until I was creative again, but I was poor and reminded myself of what made me enjoy art in the first place; which was drawing. Pencil and paper is practically free so I combined my knowledge of geometry and turned it into illustrations.

Alaric Hobbs

The body of works that we have selected for this special edition of ART Habens —and that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article — has at once captured our attention for the way you explored the tension between pattern and form to inquire into the relationship between the didactic and into the artistic: when walking our readers through your usual setup and process,

Your artistic production combines personal aesthetics with such a unique conceptual approach, and the visual language that marks out your artworks seems to be used in a strategic way to counter-balance subjectivity and offers an array of meanings.

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Alaric Hobbs

would you tell us how do you develop your initial ideas? Alaric Hobbs: I’ve gone about the process in several ways. I used to really concentrate on a certain shape and try using an idea with that but then found it constricting after a while. Mostly, the ideas come from something I have read or researched.

Sometimes I can picture the final drawing in my head straight away and that will be the final result. More often, I play around with certain aspects of what I have in mind for the illustration, this can be a few sketches to many variations until I feel I have the final outcome of the drawing. The final shapes used depend on the concept and story of each one. We have really appreciated the way your artworks embody an interface between the figurative and the abstract form. Scottish painter Peter Doig once remarked that even the most realistic paintings are derived more from within the head than from what's out there in front of us: how do you consider the relationship between reality and imagination playing within your work? And how does everyday life's experience fuel your artistic research? Alaric Hobbs: I feel that the finished drawing is the reality of my imagination when it comes to that piece, although I will find the drafts again in the future and still like some of the ideas that weren’t developed further.

A lot of the time I’m not specifically looking for ideas for a new piece, it could be

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Alaric Hobbs

ART Habens

Let's Talk About Mental Health, Spray Paint And Pen on Paper, 70x100cm, 2019 21 4 06

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ART Habens

Alaric Hobbs

Scutoid, Spray Paint And Pen on Paper, 70x100cm, 2019 Special Issue

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Alaric Hobbs

ART Habens

Haem, Spray Paint And Pen on Paper, 70x100cm, 2020

For example, I’m currently recovering from an ankle injury and had to take injections against thrombosis, this got me researching blood clots and then I found an

something I happen to be reading and then I would start thinking about how that would be cool to share with others by turning it into something visual.

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ART Habens

Alaric Hobbs

article about how a young man coughed up a complete blood clot from his lung and the shape of it alone was instantly a final piece for me to draw. As you have remarked in your artist's statement, how does adding understanding and education of the content increase that appreciation? With their unique multilayered visual quality, your artworks stimulate and expand the viewers' imagination beyond the obvious, encouraging your audience to look inside of what appear to be seen, rather than its surface, providing the spectatorship with freedom to realize their own perception. 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 is for you to trigger the viewers' imagination in order to address them to elaborate personal interpretations? In particular, how open would you like your works to be understood? Alaric Hobbs: It sounds quite egotistical but I don’t particularly want the viewer to interpret the piece based on what they believe it to be. I’m open to suggestions and what people have to say but the drawings always have a meaning behind them.

Although, I think it is best for the viewer to see the image first, conjure up an idea of what they perhaps believe it to be if anything and then to read the influence or meaning behind it. That way they’re either informed, correct, surprised on whatever they believed the drawing to be which I think makes the experience slightly more exciting. New York City based artist Lydia Dona once stated that in order to make art today one has to

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Alaric Hobbs

ART Habens

Vector Equilibrium, Pen on Paper, 28x36cm, 2015 21 4 10

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ART Habens

Alaric Hobbs

Square Root, Pen on Paper, 70x100cm, 2019 Special Issue

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Alaric Hobbs

ART Habens

reevaluate the conceptual language behind the mechanism of art making itself: do you create your works gesturally, instinctively? Or do you methodically transpose geometric schemes? In particular, how do you consider the role of chance and improvisation playing within your creative process? Alaric Hobbs: More recently, I have tried breaking away from the rigidity of geometry, as much as i love it it can be quite restrictive at times. I did a few drawings to try and break out of this form that I’d gotten used to where I used one of my illustrative styles that was inspired by all things natural, such as cracked earth, thunder and lightning, roots and rivers, etc as its own shape and found it was freeing and even ended up looking like some sort of ancient alphabet, which I enjoyed.

With regards to the improvisation it really depends on my mood, the context and the shapes. I could start an idea and really get into it at first and after a while decide that it looks shit and drop the idea completely. It’s always an idea there that I could possibly go back to and interpret in a different way in the future. We have appreciated the way you artworks, as the interesting Vector Equilibrium, reveals the connection between Art and Maths: how do you consider the relationship between artistic research and scientific method? Do you think that there are liminal areas where Art and Science blend together to create one single discipline? Alaric Hobbs: I value the scientific methods because they are the basis of much of my

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Alaric Hobbs

artistic research. I often use a diagram or alter it in a way that it becomes one of my drawings. There are so many examples where art and science blend together to create a single discipline. Like before cameras were invented and illustrators had to draw the human body in all its aspects. Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco once stated, "the artist’s role differs depending on which part of the world you’re in. It depends on the political system you’re living under". Does your artistic research respond to a particular cultural moment? Moreover, what could be in your opinion the role of artists in our contemporary age? Alaric Hobbs: It depends on the image. Some of the symbols I’ve drawn are used in various cultures throughout the history of the world and I mention this in the text of each one.

I think artists could highlight equality and racism, where the viewer will perhaps read or see something that they weren’t so aware of or didn’t fully understand before. Lately, I’ve been researching diagrams of hair follicles and they are always shown, bar one of someone who is caucasian, that in itself is a problem right there. It’s as if POC don’t exist, which is very problematic.

Web of Wyrd, Pen on Paper, 18x35cm, 2015

might walk the viewers through their visual experience?

Your artworks have often short still explanatory titles, as , that allow you to clarify the message while maintaining the element of ambiguity: how do you go about naming your work ? In particular, is it important for you to tell something that

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Alaric Hobbs: Not much thought goes into the titles really. I just name it what it is. The illustrations are there to inform the

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Alaric Hobbs

ART Habens

Truncated Rhombohedron, Pen on Paper, 70x100cm, 2019

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Alaric Hobbs

Uranus(LOL), Spray Paint And Pen on Paper, 70x100cm, 2019 Special Issue

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Alaric Hobbs

viewer so starting with a simple, self explanatory title hopefully invites somebody to read what it’s about.

ART Habens

genuine. I have been trying to remind myself to do it when it feels right for me, despite what society or social media tells us. Those things are flawed systems most of the time anyway. We’re fed things that mostly aren’t true or our own reality.

So far, the only time I have gestured people to alter their visual experience is when I displayed a large, format drawing that turned 3D when using the red and blue 3D glasses. That was cool because I got to interact with the person and they got to interact with the artwork.

The internet can be positive and helpful, by finding events or happenings in which we can actively get out there, meeting and greeting people in person. Also, word of mouth is a lovely attribute.

Over the years your artworks have been exhibited in several occasions and your had the solo 'Primary', at Das Gift, in Berlin: how do you consider the participatory nature of your relationship with your audience? 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 — as Instagram, https://www.instagram.com/alarichobbsartist — increases: how would in your opinion change the relationship with a globalised audience?

We have really appreciated the originality of your artistic production and before leaving this stimulating conversation we would like to thank you for chatting with us and for sharing your thoughts, Alaric. What projects are you currently working on, and what are some of the ideas that you hope to explore in the future? Alaric Hobbs: Thank you for the complement and thanks again for this interview!

My latest project has been focusing on elements of anatomy, highlighting tiny aspects of us as people that we may not already know.

Alaric Hobbs: I enjoy connecting and meeting with people, if not for interesting interactions but for inspiration and artistic connections, so I see that being inherent.

I’m thinking that I need to branch out and create a combination of 3D shapes with free-flowing lines. I see that being an exciting duo.

Personally, I believe Instagram to be an unhelpful platform for artists most of the time. I found myself getting stuck with that, feeling like I had to produce something for social media to gain likes, when really, that isn’t coming from my soul, from within, and therefore my audience can tell that’s not

An interview by and

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, curator curator

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Lives and works in Los Angeles, CA, USA

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Cassie Shao

ART Habens

video, 2013

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ART Habens

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Jordi Rosado

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An interview by and

, curator curator

Hello Cassie and welcome to ART Habens. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production we would like to invite our readers to visit https://www.karasucassie.com and we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your background. You have a solid formal training and after having earned your Bachelor of Fine Arts, in Animation and Sound Design from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, you nurtured your education with an Master of Fine Arts, that you received from the University of Southern California: how did those formative years influence your evolution as an artist? Moreover, how does your cultural substratum direct the direction of your current artistic research? Cassie Shao: Back at SAIC in Chicago was where I officially learnt to animate. From making small animated fragments to creating an independent short film, I not only was taught the fundamentals of how to make animation but more importantly the concept of experimentation and the potential of animation as a medium. I studied under independent animator Chris Sullivan, who made the feature length animated film Consuming Spirits. The film was raw, dark and utterly honest that heavily expanded my vision of what animation could be. Along with other instructors like Jim Trainor and Joe Meredith, who were also independent animation artists themselves, the experience always focused on

Cassie Shao

conceptualising, encouraged experimentations and embraced the most unique characteristics reflected in one’s work. The experience fundamentally influenced how closely I place my animated works to the core of being me. I learnt to always look deeply into myself as a being that reflects, and is reflected in my surroundings; to marry the conscious with the unconsciousness, and to not be afraid of

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Cassie Shao

breaking the rules. I also established my sound design aesthetics there favouring unconventional sounds. It seems to have become one of the major characteristics that enhances the surreal and dream-like atmosphere of my films. The MFA experience at USC gave me, after establishing a solid approach to art concepting and filmmaking, access to experiment with a wide range of animation techniques, and all the support I could get from both experimental animation artists and animation artists that have worked in the industry. I started making mixed-media works as I began animating various art forms and discovered the possibilities of mixing and blending both digital and analogue mediums. Each step I took pointed me towards a more complete artistic vision and a clearer direction as I try to build animated experiences that evoke otherworldly perspectives. I was also highly inspired by my artistic collaborations with USC alumni Katie Gately, the most talented experimental sound designer based in LA; and Robert Wolf, the most talented music composer based in LA. I hope to establish a future collaboration bond with both of them as well as other artists. It was definitely a fulfilling journey combining both my experience at SAIC and USC, although completely different, but completed each other in a way that made an evolution in my artistic approach possible. I have had some other routes opening up to me in-between, but I made decisions and it now seemed inevitable that each single incident lead me to where I am now.

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Being a Chinese filmmaker who went through multicultural education, as I did schooling in New Zealand before enrolling in colleges in the States, I feel a sense of melancholy that I carried from my

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Cassie Shao

ART Habens

Asian roots. It influences the way I think and

restraint, an appetite for stillness and isolation,

things I am fundamentally attracted to.

and a tendency to build an iceberg where most

Obscurity and insecurity seems apparent in the

of the thoughts are buried under the surface.

way my mind works. There is always a sense of

There is no strong sense of “ending� in my

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Cassie Shao

culture, everything is essentially ever-lasting.

everything circling back to me —— which seems to be what the culture predicts as well.

That gives me the tendency to continuously ask the question “then what?” and try very

It also gives me curious results as I write. I write before I begin to make the film,

hard to see beyond me, but then only to find

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Cassie Shao

ART Habens

languages as some of the phrases pop into my head more naturally in English, while others in Chinese. I have to say I am not the best translator, but I enjoy the way how strange sometimes English phrases sound when packed into a Chinese way of speaking. Uncommon use of words excites me. It adds onto the experimentation aspect of my works as well as taps into how my mind works unconsciously digesting words and sentences. I pay special attention to the phrases, the way they were spoken and what they speak of, in my dreams; gradually they became one of the elements that shine vividly still in my head when I wake up. On the other hand, I realise that Asian texts are often viewed as symbols in the western culture, and that gives me a fresh view on my native language as well. For this special edition of ART Habens we have selected There Were Four of Us, an interesting work 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 animation film is the way you use your visual language in such a strategic way to challenge the notion of how animation as an art form intersects with our existence and consciousness. When walking our readers through your usual setup and process, would you tell us how do you usually develop your initial idea for your works? Do you create your works gesturally, instinctively? Or do you methodically transpose geometric schemes?

throughout, and sometimes even after the animation is done. It is one of the most important elements that weaves through the

Cassie Shao: It is definitely a lot more instinctive. The fact that I primarily work with

piece. I find myself translating between the

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Cassie Shao

dream imageries shows my fascination with the unconsciousness; which does not only appear in the form of dreams, but also as accidents and intuitions. I plan very little in the beginning as I simply lay down a central idea, concept and an overall structure, and then I just sort of let it naturally evolve throughout the period of production. Animated works in general take years to make. Seeing that as an advantage I try to open myself up to all sorts of possible changes and developments throughout the year. A lot of the times I feel like I am “going with” whatever I am feeling at a certain moment: if I find myself reincarnating an image in my head repeatedly or being fascinated with a particular emotional pulse whether in real life or in dreams, I incorporate them into the film. I also find myself consciously looking for patterns and similarities in those moments that moved me, and deliberately tailoring the film to reflect more of them. These two processes go on simultaneously and I cannot honestly say which of them I do more. But they seem to be, in the end, complimenting each other to strengthen the bond I have with my works. There Were Four of Us was the first production for which I drew heavily from personal experience and presented the reality with dream imageries. The initial idea was based on a dream I had of me being trapped in a room with three other people, trying to figure out a death and the question “who did it?”. It was really a dream that stuck with me because I intensely felt waves of fear, hopelessness but also curiosity like I have never felt before. The film was just going to be me re-creating and

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translating those emotions into the picture. The same year I was planning for the film, my grandfather passed away. What I found of his death that moved me the most, apart from the

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Cassie Shao

ART Habens

weird incident at the moment of his death(as

which directly resulted in my parents not being

he was dying my aunt tried to contact my

able to see the last of my grandfather), was a

parents but for some reasons her phone just

book I found on his bookshelf after his death.

went blank, the blankness lasted for a while,

The book instructs you on how to live until a

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Cassie Shao

hundred years old. I wondered, even

never wish for the same; but the fact that he

remember asking my cousin, if grandfather

had it, hoped to achieve it, and this kind of

really wanted to live to a hundred years old. It

hope might have played a part of pushing him

seemed a foreign concept to me, I felt I would

closer to death made me again feel intensely

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Cassie Shao

ART Habens

I reconsidered the film with a lot more examples from my daily life that made it the way it is now. I take similar approaches with the actual production. My usual process being, after creating the 3D environment, I digitally draw and animate the characters, and then experiment with under-the-camera animations such as paint on cel/paper, paint/sand on glass, pastels, stop-motion etc. (I also did a bit of screen-printing with There Were Four of Us), and lastly composite them all together. I am very open to happy accidents. One of my favourite analogue backgrounds of the film happened because I misplaced cleaning wipes on a piece of coloured paper. As I went to remove the wipes, the paper had faded spots on it that look much like rain-drops. With the help of digital distortion, it then became this interesting and vivid texture. Similarly, if at a certain point, I have a feeling of a shot being complete, even if it wasn’t actually “finished” as planned, I would happily trust my instincts and leave at that. It seems that for There Were Four of Us you drew from your personal experiences, and in this sense, we dare say that your works is for people who want to look beyond the present physical and explore the dissection of the life experience: how do you consider the role of memory playing within your process and how does every day life's experience fuel your artistic research?

the fear, the hopelessness and the curiosity. I didn’t know until all the emotions reincarnated at that moment that I was going to tell his

Cassie Shao: When I remember things, I remember a fraction of a second, a seemingly

story with the dream I had. After deciding that,

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Cassie Shao

unimportant gesture or a close-up of someone’s forehead. Those moments remain with me with the most intense emotion, while the rest of what happened always seem more like a blur or a conscious invention. It in a way explains why I prefer to work in short forms with deconstructed and fragmented timelines. It also is the reason why I love to work a lot with emotions instead of actions. Sometimes I feel like my characters are not doing anything apart from feeling —— a bit like in a theatre setting, they sit, walk around or they fall down (I love seeing plays). When they gesture, they don’t gesture to convey the meaning of a movement but a feeling. I find myself trying to reach the viewers through emotions we might once share. I present what I have felt, in the way I felt and remembered. It influences the way I think, write and dream; and it is directly reflected in my works. One thing I never stopped doing is to write. Most of the time they are mumbling or murmuring that I would never show anyone, but they are a form of everyday life experiences that remain with me aside from my memories. A lot of the times the urge to write was triggered by something I saw or heard, sometimes I write to myself instead of converse. Once in a while I will find in a long paragraph, one sentence that despite coming from completely different circumstances, miraculously align with what I was trying to say in my films; it would then become a part of the voice in the film. Sound plays a crucial role in your work and we have highly appreciated the way it provides

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There Were Four of Us with such an enigmatic ambience capable of evoking such an uncanny sensation in the viewers: why did you decide to include such sound ambience? And how would

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Cassie Shao

ART Habens

you consider the relationship between moving images and sound?

element for building or enhancing the overall

Cassie Shao: In my opinion, sound is just as important as the visuals. It is an essential

create an immersive “animated experience�

atmosphere. With my works, I often aim to

rather than a more linear film. Sound, whether

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Cassie Shao

intentionally or not, has the ability to

times I understand without hearing. It is

completely alter how one is surrounded in an

almost as if I am inventing the sounds in my

environment. The way I approach sound

head, hearing them as how I think they should

resembles the way I hear in my dreams: a lot of

be heard when I step upon a scenery or

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Cassie Shao

ART Habens

squeaking sound as someone turns their head. It makes me feel uncomfortable yet in an addictive way that I don’t consider the experience complete without it. The other aspect is that I deliberately try to steer the audiences away from designated emotions. I do that both by using saturated and garish colour palette as well as by creating unconventional soundscape that may be jarring at times. It is the displacement of sounds and visuals the puzzling pieces I place in the films. Sometimes, I put the sound at the center of the stage accompanying a black frame, with intent to snap the viewers out of a fluent string of narratives for a second. I do not wish for the viewers to be instantly sad or sorry because the theme of the film revolves around death and the death of a family member. I see the sound and the visual working together as the trigger to a chain of reactions or a train of thoughts, triggering the viewers to be curious about the lives reflected upon the deaths, and about how the other lives reflect our own. We have particularly appreciated the way There Were Four of Us forces and subverts the viewers' perceptual parameters, Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni once stated that ''we know that underneath the displayed image, there is another, one more faitCassie Shao: hful to reality'': as an artist particularly interested in the exploration of the dream realm, how do you consider the relationship between reality and imagination playing within your work as an animator?

encounter an entity, much like knowing the answers a step ahead of hearing the questions. All that process happens in the back of my head; it somehow results in me hearing a door

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Cassie Shao

Cassie Shao: I think the infinite possibilities of relationships between reality and imagination is why I chose to do animation in the first place. It is the medium that is the most challenging because we have the most freedom. Whatever choices we make, there lay a piece of ourselves underneath. I don’t think one could overlook the reality’s influences on their dreams and imaginations, and vice versa. I like to think that the conscious and the unconscious walk hand-in-hand, and that when I look at one I am seeing the other reflected. It doesn’t seem to be something one could hide or look away from. Looking back at the films I made when I thought I was strictly making imaginative films, it is still clear that my reality is buried in there somewhere, everywhere. I am making discoveries on both sides. A lot of times I find myself talking about a moment or a feeling that struck me, that inspired me to create a certain imagery and asking questions for which I don’t have answers to. I thought that insoluble questions are nevertheless worthy of, if not especially, being asked. By looking at my works I sometimes find pieces of answers, or sometimes, more questions that I didn’t know I had. It is much like keeping a dream journal and observing the dreams in a way, it is looking at the reality from an intimate distance; that I am both inside and outside, experiencing and observing. I wanted to be closer to myself, at the same time hoping by showing the vulnerabilities and contradictions in me, I am drawn closer to the others and to this world.

ART Habens

struck us for the way you created images of the surroundings marked out with such sense of geometry, that provides the result of your artistic research with consistent surreal

Synched, an interesting work that can view at https://vimeo.com/313236148 has at once

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Cassie Shao

ART Habens

Cassie Shao

cinematographic quality. How did you develop

Cassie Shao: With Synched, I was definitely

your style in order to achieve such captivating

going for a minimalistic feel and viewing

results?

everything as a gesture. The geometric block made of smaller cubes is a gesture of modern

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Cassie Shao

building, and the falling of the cubes is a gesture of destruction. I imagined a world that is perfectly symmetrical and took it quite literally as I drew out a rough design of a

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simple platform with two blocks at each end. The design reminded me of the animated film Balance, which I remember seeing years back that stuck with me not only because of its

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Cassie Shao

ART Habens

complex storytelling and in a way made us imagine the whole wide world behind it. Like many of my other works, the last shot of Synched is both the end and the beginning of the film. Although being the last shot, it was the first image I thought of. In the case of Synched, the camera slowly zooms out to reveal the world with falling cubes. Once the whole geometry is set, what happens within becomes a lot clearer. I remember when I was making Synched, I was looking at a lot of pictures of the sun being portrayed as a perfect circle. After a while I felt like whenever I see circles I see the sun. Furthermore, whatever I put in place of the sun also becomes the sun. This was the inspiration for experimenting a bit more with the minimal, symbolic world, where the shot of the staggering objects in front of the sun and the falling pills came from. The other thing I thought about a lot is as to how I make the characters and the world look like they belong in the same space, given that the characters are hand drawn while the world is computer generated. The thin outlined look were directly taken off the characters and applied to the environment; and the hard edged flat-looking shadow of rendered elements were added back onto the characters. They both soaked up the characteristics of the other. These are sort of examples of that instead of being upfront and transformative on the surface, I always find myself naturally drifting towards subtlety and oddity, making them the quality and aesthetics of my works.

morality-questioning ending but more of the fact that the whole film happened on a simple platform with a few identical characters. Through simple gestures, it was able to convey

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Cassie Shao

With their unique multilayered visual quality, your paintings — as the interesting Yuan — are often blurred and merge into their surroundings and seem to invite the viewers to look inside of what appears to be seen, rather than its surface, providing the spectatorship with freedom to realize their own perception. 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 is for you to trigger the viewers' imagination in order to address them to elaborate personal interpretations? In particular, how open would you like your works to be understood? Cassie Shao: It is completely open for me as to how people interpret the work. It is very important that I provide space for the viewers to “actively participate” in relating and projecting what they see onto themselves, and hope for them to reach further within themselves. I aim to provide an experience; a structure with stylistic choices that hopefully provide guidance as to which road I am leading the viewers down to. I try to convey through imagery that best represents how I feel, and communicate through the emotions. Often my stories and feelings are very personal, and I was once told because of that, it may evoke distance between the film and the audience because the film feels like it deliberately made itself “hard to understand”. Like Yuan, this is a film about a friend of mine that passed away. I took a few lines from his notes that moved me tremendously and presented with what my fragmented memory has left of him. During

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the process, I blended my memories of him with what I feel upon the loss of him, then the feeling of dealing with loss in general, then of what I remembered in a book describing it as “swimming

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alone across the dark sea� (thus arms in the

far in life. I, however, don’t think the viewers

ocean scene). This train of thoughts happened

need to necessarily understand this thought

in my head and it is somewhat unique because

process to feel what they feel about the film. I

it is a combination of what I experienced so

hope for the texts and the visuals to remind

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Cassie Shao

them of what they experienced, what they feel

the work itself. Even the confusion and the

strongly about because what we feel strongly

greyness is a part of it. I’d be happy for people

about is what is important. I personally am not

to both understand or not understand my films.

keen on explaining my works, I hope it is all in

I hope for the viewers to feel the emotion I

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after viewing and became what they dream about for the next few days. I liked that because it feels like a conversation between us left impressions. In general, I am better at leaving impressions than explaining clearly in detail so I would just do that. Over the years you have exhibited your artworks on several occasions, and There Were Four of Us was recently screened at the China Independent Animation Film Forum “”: how do you consider the nature of your relationship with your audience? Direct relationship with the viewers in a physical context 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 — as Instagram — increases: how would in your opinion change the relationship with a globalised audience? Cassie Shao: The best screening scenario is probably at a festival in a programme with other films that all vary in style. With the audiences opening themselves up to be thrown into the minds instead of looking for specific things to grasp onto, and without me being there afterwards to talk about it potentially altering what they experienced or think they should experience. It would be a virtual but deep-touching relationship that we share silently. intended, to sink into the space I created, and to be curious about what is beyond the surface; this is just about the level I would like my works to be understood. I had some people say that images stuck in their head

I have shown at galleries, film festivals, released videos online on Vimeo, and I have my Instagram presence (instagram.com/karasucassie). With Instagram, I noticed that the artists would, in

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Cassie Shao

order to promote their full length work, put an excerpt of the works on their Instagram. It often results in people watching only the excerpts, realising and deciding the value of the art based on purely a section of it —— sort of like in the digital age we listen to one song instead of the whole album. We then in a way have to consider each excerpt its own small piece. I often have trouble finding the excerpt that best represents my piece because many sections vary in style and in the emotions they convey. If I post a few it looks like I am posting several completely different works, not to mention that presenting at such short length essentially changes how it feels and what it says. There is also the inevitable looping option, where the moment is stuck within itself instead of moving forward. It at times works with the aesthetics of animation, which is the notion of repetition and expanding time, but it definitely challenges both the artist and the viewer on their relationships with the work. Although, it perhaps, on the contrary, provides a larger space for where the viewer’s own imagination comes in. Ultimately, I think one just needs to be okay with however their works are interpreted, and be open about the possibility of being inspired by however it is presented. We have really appreciated the originality of your artistic production and before leaving this stimulating conversation we would like to thank you for chatting with us and for sharing your thoughts, Cassie. What projects are you currently working on, and what are some of the ideas that you hope to explore in the future?

will be a short film named This is a Story Without a

Cassie Shao: Aside from making commercial or collaborative works, my next independent project

Summer 2015 Special Issue

Plan (working title). It is about two characters constantly witnessing an explosion very slowly

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happening in every corner of their lives. The

second in reality, and make it present and

project will expand on an animated moment (of

forever remain. The explosion may be profound,

an explosion), that supposedly lasts only a split

or it may be refracted, reflected or easily

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overlooked. The two characters will experience

is at an early stage of production, so I am still

the explosion from all sorts of angles, and in

feeling my way through it but at the moment it

various surreal settings inspired by my dreams. It

aims to be an exploration into both their

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life takes form in an explosion slowly unfolding and I was unable to do anything about it. At the same time, I felt like I couldn't look away and had to witness it happening, so that it would eventually be done with. It is also possible that as I observe, I intervene in its existence and at some level, I change it by just looking at it. This next film will serve as an experimentation and exploration into this idea, the feeling of uncertainty and again and always, the fragmentation of time. I also intend to bring analogue mediums more into the foreground with this film, having them become the subjects, rather than mostly being the background in my previous films. I have been going to artist residencies (so far Yaddo and MacDowell in the United States) to work on the film. Both are located in a rural setting in a forest up on a mountain, which is a drastic change from my usual setting in urban cities. I have already discovered an increasing number of presence of trees, deformed rocks and organic shapes in the film. It will be interesting to explore what draws me to them specifically as well as what is being reflected in those decisions.

relationship with the explosion and with each other. The idea generated from the time I felt like I was watching the deconstructed of my

An interview by and

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, curator curator

Special Issue

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ART Habens Art, Review, Special Edition  

In this issue: Cassie Shao, Alaric Hobbs, Claudia Ungersback, Aimee Melaugh, Christian Hiadzi, Catriona Faulkner. Bianca Caston, Anna Masiul...

ART Habens Art, Review, Special Edition  

In this issue: Cassie Shao, Alaric Hobbs, Claudia Ungersback, Aimee Melaugh, Christian Hiadzi, Catriona Faulkner. Bianca Caston, Anna Masiul...

Profile for arthabens
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