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Forced Leisure, Installation (Christoph Gruber & Laura Skocek)


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Bill Hill

Jody Zellen

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Alessandra Dimitra

Gabrijel Savic Ra

Jihane Mossalim

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As an artist I am committed to the exploration and development of new and experimental art forms. My research focuses on a synthesis of these new art forms, with interdisciplinary investigation in digital media technology, and the evolutionary sciences. Conceptually my work is concerned with the transformation of the human species, specifically its biological components and its behavioral characteristics. My art works are influenced by theories on living systems, artificial life, interspecies communication and the underlying pattern and beauty inherent in the nature and organization of matter, energy, and information.

The trajectory of my practice over the years has not been a straight line. Yet in many ways it is a linear progression as my interests in photography led me to artists books which led me to juxtapose images and words. I went from making discreet images to room-sized installations and that led to public art. My embracing of the internet as a viable platform for making artworks led to animation and hypertext as well as to the use of HTML. Seeing the power of interactivity on the web prompted me to expand those concepts into physical spaces where the viewer’s movements could trigger changes to the environment.

Overall, I consider my art to be "inspired by life", not on a representational level but on an emotional level. I allow the uncon-scious to be the explorer, the developer and the creative guide. My creations happen in the moment and are therefore free from planning and preconceived thoughts; they are expressive and reflect images and ideas that the viewer associates into. I find it invigorating and insightful when people share their impressions and interpre-tations of my images with me, which at times assist me in getting closer to this unconscious inner guide. For me, it is the viewer who brings out the essence and meaning in my work, which is another cycle that aids in the completeness of a painting or drawing.

There are two main elements that the viewer of Alessandra Dimitra’s paintings observes even at a first encounter with them: the drawing of her compositions from a rich vocabulary of ‘personal mythology’ and the treatment of the painting process as a ritual act. On the paintings’ surfaces gather familiar people involved in everyday situations, albeit the complexity of the relations between them and the surrounding space reveals an essential effort for understanding the human condition and an artistic usage of archetypical symbols aiming at the discovery of a road to the Transcendental.

As a person who is living in a generation bombarded by information and new forms of social interaction, my work is about how I feel and how I think in this time period and culture. I am interested in the progress of emotions like stress, anger or happiness etc, and how we act or react to these emotions. How our emotions changes and what motivates that change, and how people deal with the current social environment and what people believe in or do not believe, interests me a great deal. I love to play with colors and space, installation work and clay sculpture are proven mediums supportive of this love.

I am looking at the relationships and lasting memories we entertain with our surroundings, our physical environment and its components; from the painting on thewall, to the insect crawling at our feet. They leave indelible marks on the brain and stay our own forever. Sometimes quiet, sometimes as loud as a cicada on a hot summer day.

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To me it is fascinating, really fascinating. Emotions and memories are so deeply interconnected and so personal to each and every individual. When I paint, I dig in the past (not necessarily mine) in a general way trying to capture here and there a possible memory trigger.


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live and works in Vienna, Austria

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Bill Hill lives and works in Jacksonville, Florida, USA

Nicole Philippi

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lives and works in Vienna, Austria

Jody Zellen

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lives and works in Los Angeles, CA, USA

Gabrijel Savic Ra

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ives and works in Belgrade, Serbia

S.Mitrović & N. Lapajne 116 Tiffany Fung

S.Mitrović & N. Lapajne L.Skocek & N. Lapajne

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Tiffany Fung is a Hong Kong artist, filmmaker, and cultural worker working mainly in moving images, mixed media installations and community organizing. Her vision is to contribute to a more diverse, inclusive and socially engaged future in the arts. Growing up in a bilingual environment and city where “east meets west”, she is particularly fascinated by her struggling relationship with this thing called “culture”: its pull between the imaginary and materiality, personal and collective, private and political. In the constant code-switching between languages and value systems, Tiffany’s work dances in liminal spaces.

SMNL is an artistic group made up by Nuša Lapajne(1970) and Slañana Mitrović (1981); both are livingand working in Ljubljana. The two female artists are active in different fields: Nuša Lapajne has devotedherself to spatial installations in ceramics (SpatialSystems), whereas Slañana Mitrović is working as apainter and theoretician/researcher. Their artistic paths cross in the SMNL group, which was createdfor the needs of carrying out performance and experimental projects, such as ART FASHION. The aim of the SMNL group is to evoke an artistic creaction to the changes and fast actions of modern-day life; hence, it is characterised byopenness, plasticity and flexibility.

It is important to meet with people who are not artists and to operate in a different environment. Inspiration does not come from sitting in the studio the whole day and practising, although there has to be time for that too. Artist residencies have always been a great source of inspiration. A change of location is usually refreshing, also to exchange views with other artists, get to know their practise and to have time to focus solely on your work which you might not have at home. Although I received a number of scholarships I earn my living through work on clients’ projects when I am in my hometown Vienna and thus have a very different mode of production then.

livesand works in Ljubljana, Slovenia

Alessandra Dimitra

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lives and works in Berlin, Germany

Tiffany Fung

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lives and works in New York City, USA

Jihane Mossalim

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lives and works in Montreal, Canada On the cover Forced Leisure, Installation by Christoph Gruber & Laura Skocek)

Special thanks to Haylee Lenkey, Martin Gantman , Krzysztof Kaczmar, Joshua White, Nicolas Vionnet, Genevieve Favre Petroff, Sandra Hunter, MyLoan Dinh, John Moran, Marya Vyrra, Gemma Pepper, Michael Nelson, Hannah Hiaseen, Scarlett Bowman, Yelena York Tonoyan, Haylee Lenkey, Martin Gantman , Krzysztof Kaczmar and Robyn Ellenbogen.

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Laura Skocek Christoph Gruber

Forced Leisure, Installation (Christoph Gruber & Laura Skocek)


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Laura Skocek An interview by Dario Rutigliano, curator and Melissa C. Hilborn, curator articulaction@post.com

Multidisciplinaruty is one of the key features that marks out the effective collaboration that artists Laura Skocek and Christoph Gruber have established over these years: their recent work "Forced Leisure�, that we'll be discussing in the following pages, accomplishes the difficult task of creating a consistent synergy between elements that belongs to opposite sides of universal imagery to inquire into an issue that affects our unstable contemporary societies. One of the most convincing aspect of their approach is the way it coherently combines an exploration of humanity's (?) sociopolitical sphere as well as its more limbic parameters, to draw the viewers to an unconventional and captivating experience: we are very pleased to introduce our readers to Skocek 's and Gruber's stimulating artistic production. Hello Laura and Christoph, thank for joining us and welcome to ARTiculAction: to start this interview, would you like to tell us something about your background? You have solid formal trainings: Laura studied Digital Arts at University of Applied Arts Vienna and Christoph is a trained chef and professional photographer (selftaught). How do these experiences influence your evolution as an artist? In

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Forced Leisure, Installation (Christoph Gruber & Laura Skocek)

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Laura Skocek and Christoph Gruber

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particular how do your cultural substratums inform the way you relate yourself to art making and to the aesthetic problem in general? Laura For me it became evident very

early that I wanted to become an artist and I started university at 18. In the beginning there was a strong interest in the surrealists, especially filmmaking from Bunuel/Dalí to Maya Deren.. To the latter’s work I was introduced at the department of Digital Arts in Vienna. Then, through getting to know various practices, also those of my colleagues at university, I began to view art in a broader context, namely that of being embedded in a discourse about technology and society. I always appreciated the feedback from colleagues and that of my partner Christoph, who was pursuing different things at that time, from architecture and writing to his passion of cooking. In terms of critique of my work I can rely on him to give an honest opinion. Also I have always received great support from all my teachers at university and was encouraged to explore new fields, from electronics to film theory and our understanding of science. Christoph Not coming from artschool

makes my artistic approach a little more playful and intuitive. I do not think too long about a specific concept or meaning before I start to work on something. Rather I have always found myself in art related areas which had a great influence on how I approach things: From my creations as a trained chef and short stories to my work as a professional photographer and to my

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studies of Landscape Architecture at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna. Multidisciplinarity is a key feature of your approach, that coherently encapsulates a wide variety of techniques, revealing an unconventional still consistent sense of unity. Before starting to elaborate about your production, we would suggest to our readers to visit http://www.viablethings.net and http://christophgruber.myportfolio.com in order to get a synoptic view of your multifaceted artistic productions: while walking our readers through your process, we would like to ask you if you have you ever happened to realize that a symbiosis between different disciplines is the only way to express and convey the idea you explore. Laura Thank you, I like how you summed

up the features of our approach! It has always been a challenge to make the choice which project to start next, how much time to dedicate. Being interested in many techniques and modes of production the main problem seems to be that of contingency, however, if you take a moment to focus on one idea at a time and then maybe one or two more a little later and start working on them, your projects – be it an animation movie or an interactive installation - will take off and in the end you will be surprised how you managed to do it. Once you are in the process of working on a piece it will eventually get some sense of urgency. Also you will encounter barriers sometimes, then you should not hesitate to ask for help and talk to people who are experts in a certain field. The ideas I have not realised yet are bugging me

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Laura Skocek and Christoph Gruber

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Forced Leisure, Installation (Christoph Gruber & Laura Skocek)

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Sleeping Bed, Installation (Laura Skocek)

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Laura Skocek and Christoph Gruber

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constantly. Some will take years from conception to realisation. In the end there is a time for everything, if not it was not important in the first place. What I also feed on are experiences outside of my art practice. It is important to meet with people who are not artists and to operate in a different environment. Inspiration does not come from sitting in the studio the whole day and practising, although there has to be time for that too. Artist residencies have always been a great source of inspiration. A change of location is usually refreshing, also to exchange views with other artists, get to know their practise and to have time to focus solely on your work which you might not have at home. Although I received a number of scholarships I earn my living through work on clients’ projects when I am in my hometown Vienna and thus have a very different mode of production then. Lately these film projects I work on as editor and camera operator have become very interesting and helped to broaden my horizon and I can see this being beneficial for future works of art. There is not only the two types of artists: the art superstar, whose work sells for millions and the poor genius, who has not been discovered yet, instead there is a great number of artists with a very different reality who have often found very original ways to operate. For this special edition of ARTiculAction we have selected Forced Leisure, an extremely interesting collaborative project that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article. We have really appreciated the way this work creates a consistent synergy

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between elements as a hammock and a straitjacket that belongs to opposite places in the universal imagery, inviting the viewers to challenge their perceptual parameters. German multidisciplinary artist Thomas Demand once stated that "nowadays art can no longer rely so much on symbolic strategies and has to probe psychological, narrative elements within the medium instead". What is your opinion about it? And in particular how did you conceive the composition of Forced Leisure? Christoph Even in my times as a chef we

played with the customers anticipation, e.g. having a dish on the menu consisting of different parts of pork, but arranged to look like and named after a traditional Austrian sweet cake. Generally speaking I am quite a humorous and a bit cynical person and I really appreciate this moment when I am confronted with an unexpected association. It often makes me and others laugh and as an artist I can use this shift in perspective to draw the viewer in. After the expectations are destroyed the observer is open for new meanings. Thus I really like the idea of combining the hammock and the straightjacket and the contrasting ideas they represent: namely the command “Relax NOW!� while being forcefully constrained. My aspiration for this collaboration was to work on an interactive installation that made use of my knowledge of other professional fields, mainly Landscape Architecture, and to work outside of a museum or gallery, in public space. After deciding to work with textile sensors and a hammock, we ordered different types of hammocks and right

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Still from Citizens (Laura Skocek)

after unpacking the structure and tone of the fabric of one model instantly reminded us of a straightjacket. We loved the idea of being constrained in something you typically use for relaxation in your spare time and have the freedom to mount wherever you want. In merging these two antithetic


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images we created a new layer of meaning. Laura We were very much interested in

how people would use the hammock, how they would play with it. Interactive art is often critisised for being just a “play thing”, we do not view that as

negative, however, and were pleased at the reactions we got from visitors of the exhibition we had at Schmiede festival in Salzburg – from wanting to encase their partner to anxiety to amazement at how this piece works technologically, we encountered everything. We use a very strong iconic language which drew a lot

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Still from Citizens (Laura Skocek)

of people to our work. In a similar way I was amazed at people’s reaction to one of my previous works “Sleeping Bed ” (image 3), a kinetic sculpture from 2009, which tackles issues of societal compulsion of following a certain standard of sleeping and bedtime. I was reading a lot about

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different cultures and their approach to sleep and did research on my own sleep patterns which subsequently led to a broad body of work. The first piece “Sleeping Bed” was widely exhibited and so people from many different backgrounds came to view it. Some would sit in front of it for minutes and


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of art is surrounded by a story, that only a few people will know about. By experiencing it viewers become part of that narrative. “Forced Leisure” is particularly interesting in terms of conception. I was playing with textile senors during a residency in Iceland, where Christoph came to visit me for a week and we discussed applicability and came up with hammocks. Then I built a prototype in Finland (image 4) that you could play with your head. Back in Vienna we decided to build a lifesize object and when the package with materials arrived and we saw we had purchased a beige hammock it immediately reminded us of a straitjacket and this also made us come up with the title. It was as if everything fell into place. At the Schmiede festival, which is a meeting place for people interested in media arts, who come and build prototypes for 10 days, we then realised the object and presented it for the first time. Currently we are still working on the sounds you can produce with it. I see this work as evolving with every time we exhibit it – like “Sleeping Bed” – and am looking forward to our exhibition DIALOG at the Technical University of Vienna in September.

experience trancelike states or contemplate, others would associate it more with fear and anxiety, which can also be part of the process of falling asleep that it was inspired by. For me setting up this piece has become sort of a ritual itself. From conception to reception every work

As you have remarked once, the title Forced Leisure is borrowed from “leisure theories” elaborated by sociologist Chris Rojek and refers to forced unemployment, affecting mostly permanently unemployed persons. We can recognize an effective socio political criticism in this aspect: but while other artists from the contemporary scene, as Judy Chicago or more recently Jennifer Linton, use to include ope socio-political criticism in

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their works, you rather seem to hint the direction to the spectatorship, urging them to elaborate personal associations. Do you consider that your works are political in this way or do you seek to maintain a neutral approach? Do you feel that it’s your responsibility as an artist to teach and raise awareness of certain issues? Laura To your last question: Definitely

YES, as artists we have a certain responsibility, also considering the privilege of freedom we have that makes it possible to anticipate certain developments early on. So if processes in our society are on their way to becoming unbearable it is our duty to raise our voice with the means that are disposable to us. On the other hand art should never just be finger-wagging. In the case of “Forced Leisure” the title we came up with led us to do research and we stumbled upon leisure theories which matched also what I had been working on as a documentary filmmaker shortly before: I had previously produced a movie with a political scientist - a documentary film about people suffering from depression and other medical conditions, impairing their lives. The film presented different coping strategies and a call to political decision-makers for better inclusion in the job market. So this seems to have bleeded into the work as well and we apply the concept to other parts of society as well: in some countries women are still excluded from the job market for example and asylum seekers all over Europe do not have permission to work. How can anyone be expected to become a part of our societies if they do not have this fundamental right?

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Still from Citizens (Laura Skocek)

To answer your first question: Normally I am not a big fan of nudging the viewer in a certain direction too strongly, but concerning this piece we viewed it as an opportunity to frame the object this way and so we decided to use it to make a “statement” if you want to call it that. Concerning “political art” in general I


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think every piece of art can be interpreted as being political. Morevover, as artist I think it is best not to become affiliated with any party and stay neutral in this regard. Condemning views of certain parties is a different story, however. As stated in the beginning we should be aware of the

responsibility of our privileged position and use our means to point out certain conditions – via art or in person. At the moment I am in awe of artists documenting the events of the Syrian civil war, especially the Syrian Anonymous group, and other artists dedicated to human rights, the focus

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reconfigure(d) – object 2 (Kinetic Installation by Laura Skocek)


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should be on them right now. Laura, in Citizens you explored the theme of dissilution of spatial and temporal structures around arriving people and playing children, removing any historical gaze from the reality you refer to, and the ambience you have created reminds us of the notion of non-lieu elaborate by French anthropologist Marc Augè, inducing the viewers to rethink the notion of time in such atemporal way. Animations tell a story and portray experiences, especially the sense of disconnect that affects our unstable contemporary age: so we would take this occasion to ask you if in your opinion, personal experience is absolutely indispensable as part of the creative process? In particuar, how would you describe the role of memory in your process? Laura Augés work has definitely been a

great influence on this and other works. For me Citizens has two aspects: The one you mentioned: that of atemporality and the concept of a place being transient and the second aspect: being stuck in that state of transcience which many people who migrate, voluntarily or involuntarily, experience – so you might find this aspect to be political again. Doing research on perception has always been important and how memory evolves and can be called up is a fascinating topic. Certain places or smells can trigger memories for example. Furthermore sleep plays a keyrole as our memory is consolidated while we sleep and dream. Different sensual impressions that make up a specific memory are stored in different areas in our brain and everytime this

memory is called up it evolves or is reframed by new experiences. So our personal history changes according to where we are at a specific moment. (image 8) Woman Yelling at Waves shows a woman yelling unintelligible words into the sea: this work accomplishes the difficult task of unveiling the elusive still ubiquitous channel of comunication between the subconscious sphere and the conscious one. When walking our readers through the genesis of Woman Yelling at Waves would would you shed a light about the role of metaphors in your process? Laura This was a rather spontaneous

work. Christoph and me were going by car through Iceland and promised the landlord of one of the hostels we stayed in to yell at the waves on the black beach of Vík (apparently a tradition there). I generally find that I suck at performance art and did not really want to do it but found it to be challenging and cathartic in the end. I then chose to make the documentary of the act part of an installation that is a little tongue-incheek. As viewer you are confronted with this strange sensor in the form of a staircase that will let you switch the channels of a TV, between a piece of performance art and a commercial program where Iceland’s nature has been commodified. It is like out of a bizarre dream melting multiple experiences and concepts into one. I can see myself producing more installations of that kind. Sometimes it is important not to take yourself too serious as an artist.

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We have appreciated the way you combine cutting edge technology as Arduino to traditional materials as acrylic paint. Our contemporary age is marked out with the impetuous way modern technology that has nowadays came out on the top: this has also dramatically revolutionized the concept of Art, that just few years ago it was a tactile materialization of an idea. We are sort of convinced that new media will definitely fill the apparent dichotomy between art and technology and we will dare to say that Art and Technology are going to assimilate one to each other... what's your point about this? Laura Digital Art has the technological

evolution as a topic and views it from a critical point of view. That is what distinguishes it from other artforms that may incorporate digital media but where technology is only means to an end. Technology and how we submit ourselves to it, how it pervades our environment, is tackled in many pieces of Digital Art. While I was at university I always had the feeling I was studying science fiction, in the sense of dealing with topics that have always been important in this genre. For me a lot of what was produced in my department seemed like fragments taken from a dystopian or in some cases utopian space, I came in touch with robotics – albeit on a very basic level – and as you mentioned with rapid prototyping. DIY and accessability to technology make it easy to realise your artistic vision, but what we should not forget is the dual use possibilities of these technologies: armed drones and DIY instructions for building your own weapons with the help of 3D-printing are

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only the most prominent examples of misuse and thus supporting civil society in their campaigns to set in motion endeavours to regulate these technologies seems like a good idea. It's no doubt that interdisciplinary collaborations as the one that you have established together are today ever growing forces in Contemporary Art and that the most exciting things happen when creative minds from different fields of practice meet and collaborate on a project... could you tell us something about this effective synergy? By the way, Peter Tabor once stated that "collaboration is working together with another to create something as a synthesis of two practices, that alone one could not": what's your point about this? Can you explain how your work demonstrates communication between two artists? Laura In general in collaborations you

dare to be bolder, maybe because you are sharing the responsibility. Collaboration has to do with mutuality and a shared vision. Christoph and me had the idea for Forced Leisure together, and then divided the tasks of its realisation. He had more hand in the setup and configuration of the piece, I was more working on the technological part, adjusting the sensors and adapting the V4 open source patch to our needs. Then we both added our parts to the concept, Christoph coming up with the doublebind of telling “someone to relax” (It is the same when telling someone to be creative, where you will actually achieve the opposite). I added the more political aspect that we previously discussed.


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Woman Yelling at Waves (Laura Skocek, camera: Christoph 29 Gruber)


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Woman Yelling at Waves (Laura Skocek, camera: Christoph Gruber)

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Over these years your works have been international showcased in several occasions, including your recent participation at the Athens Digital Arts Festival: one of the hallmarks of your practice is the capability to create a direct involvement with the viewers, who are urged to evolve from a condition of mere spectatorship. So before leaving this conversation we would like to pose a question about the nature of the relationship of your art with your audience. Do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decisionmaking process, in terms of what type of language is used in a particular context? Laura No, in the first place we have to

like it. Audience reception is then always a pleasure to get to knowl later, but personally, I never approach a work thinking who I want to impress with it or how people will receive it, at least not on a conscious level. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Laura and Christoph. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? Christoph For now we will go on

vacation to Spain and see what will happen there.

An interview by Dario Rutigliano, curator and Melissa C. Hilborn, curator articulaction@post.com

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Bill Hill Lives and works Jacksonville, Florida, USA

As an artist I am committed to the exploration and development of new and experimental art forms. My research focuses on a synthesis of these new art forms, with interdisciplinary investigation in digital media technology, and the evolutionary sciences. Conceptually my work is concerned with the transformation of the human species, specifically its biological components and its behavioral characteristics. This transformation or evolution is an environmental reaction to the manifestations of science and technology. My work engages viewers in a visual, tactile and auditory realm, to elicit a dialogue regarding the relationship between technology and our changing concept of nature and self. I am interested in the way that our increasingly enhanced and extended human capabilities allow us to perceive the world in micro and macro modes, explore it more thoroughly. That technology can simultaneously ruin, reveal, reinvent and repair nature is a paradox I investigate in my work. My art works are influenced by theories on living systems, artificial life, interspecies communication and the underlying pattern and beauty inherent in the nature and organization of matter, energy, and information.


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Bill Hill An interview by Josh Ryder, curator and Barbara Scott, curator articulaction@post.com

influence your evolution as an artist? In particular, how does your cultural substratum inform the way you relate yourself to art making and to the aesthetic problem in general?

Interdisciplinary disciplinary artist Bill Hill's work accomplishes an insightful investigation in digital media technology, and the evolutionary sciences to develop new and experimental art forms. In his recent Latent Territory that we'll be discussing in the following pages, he draws the viewers into a multilayered experience to explore relationship between memory and experience, pushing the contrast between the hardened exterior facades that we build to protect the more vulnerable inner parts of being. One of the most convincing aspect of Hill's approach is the way it urges the viewers to evolve from the condition of mere spectatorship to reflect on the various roles of technology in our unstable contemporary age, and in particular on the intersection between natural and technological systems: we are really pleased to introduce our readers to his stimulating and multifaceted artistic production.

The process of formal education in the arts has made significant impact on my practice and process. The academic inquiry into meaning and the use of text has influenced my visual imagery by permitting me to develop a linguistical understanding of materials that are encoded with meaning. With a functioning codification of referential meanings, my work seeks to evolve as a text that is driven by communication of meanings as much as the aesthetic qualities related to their physical representations. The loaded meaning of images and words are powerful in both the signification of emotional responses and to the pragmatic physicality of “real�. Clearly, this function with immediate cultural connections related to my heritage, therefore it is important to provide a context for this vernacular by the development of narrative.

Hello Bill and welcome to ARTiculAction: to start this interview, would you like to tell us something about your background? You have a solid formal training having earned your MFA of Electronic Intermedia from the University of Florida and have been engaged in scholarship for the past 20 years: how do these experiences

Your approach reveals an organic investigation about the relationship between technology and our changing concept of nature and self. The results convey together a consistent sense of unity: before starting to elaborate about your production, we would suggest to our readers to visit

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http://www.billhillism.com in order to get a synoptic view of your multifaceted artistic production: while walking our readers through your process, we would like to ask you if you have you ever happened to realize that a symbiosis between different approaches is the only way to express and convey the ideas you explore.

I can’t speak to anything being the only way to accomplish something, but I can say that my work is heavily driven by purpose and meaning. Because of this, the process is the least important component driving the work. Meaning that it is not something that drives the work, but is driven by the purpose of the work. Art in a broad sense functions as a reflection of the culture, it becomes an extension of the studio, a new space the audience occupies, both familiar and unfamiliar. My work is less about the developing the illusion of an open-ended experience, but to restore a Brechtian perspective in the audience and reconnect to the limitations of both technology and the body. As exploration of the subject evolves specific media or processes reveal themselves as integral parts of the work itself. By addressing the relationship between the external environment and the internal self, the work struggles with dichotomies in each. The environment in our current culture is a struggle between electronic stimulus (made tools) and nature (untamed) both are living systems that react to/through man in unique and predictable ways. The process for developing works come directly from the embodied experience in contemporary culture. The content flows from one piece to the next using metaphorical imagery and objects that stand in for the body. The unifying

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connective tissue is the meaning that is bridged between the physicality of the materials that are inherent in the subject matter and the ephemeral signal that is the consciousness. Therefore, the discussion of process abstractly is


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probably the most difficult and evasive part of my work, but I have found that I have a passion for fabrication of objects that function both as works of art and set pieces to drive a narrative. The physical process of fabrication is extremely

important in the development of the work. For example, in the development of the piece, Tabula Rasa, an investigation into the primitive construction techniques of indigenous Indian tribes became necessary to be

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able to construct an authentic “Chickee� hut. This became the center piece for the entire work. For this special edition of ARTiculAction we have selected Latent Territory, an extremely interesting project that our

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readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article. What has at once caught our attention of your effective use of metaphors brings to a new level of significance the elusive relationship between communication and the


Bill Hill

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Metaphors are vital to my work. The use of them to build a narrative is only part of the process. Being grounded in a structural approach to visual language. I seek to leverage the encoded meaning of objects while at the same time building a new understanding of the signified through association. The Oyster is a prime example of this metaphor in action. It stands in place of the body on many levels and in many interpretations. The hard outer shell is grown as a survival mechanism to protect the inner and as it ages that shell becomes encrusted with calcium and actually are attached onto by baby oysters to help them start their shell. All the while, the interior becomes a protected place that carefully and selectively exposes itself at great risk. An encoded understanding the object is necessary to transfer meaning through the metaphor in the narrative. Your inquiry into the realm of memory accomplishes the difficult task of creating a work that stands as record of existence and that captures nonsharpness, going beyond the elusive relationship between experience and identity in our unstable contemporary age. So we would take this occasion to ask you if in your opinion personal experience is an absolutely indispensable part of a creative process... Do you think that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience? personal substratum of the viewers, urging us to rethink about the elusive nature of our perceptual process: when walking our readers through the genesis of Latent Territory would you shed a light about the role of metaphors in your process?

Yes. Personal experience in necessary to my process. I find that one the greatest struggles as an artist today to be authentic. Although my goal is the communication of issues that I hope resonate with others and speaks to a shared experience, it is necessary for me

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to have a personal connection with the content and its meaning as message. Much of my work is actually a record of performance. This means I must be personally invested in the subject to be able to articulate honesty. But it is also important that as I am drawing from personal connection that I use a visual language that provide room for others. For example, Latent Territory, comes from a personal experience with a lost pregnancy and the postpartum that followed. Witnessing these event lead to the visual construction of chambers in the piece. But additionally, the performer in the piece had suffered a traumatic death of her husband, so we collaborated on many decisions that provided a shared language. We have appreciated the way Tabula Rasa explores the interstitial space between personal and public spheres, providing the spectatorship with an immersive experience that forces such a contamination between the inner and the outside: how do you see the relationship between public sphere and the role of art in public space?

I believe art is imbrued with its own language and mode of operation. Inherent in my work is a connection with the audience designed to activate a dialog between them and the work. It is combination of building an imaginary landscape that is also disrupting the illusion of a utopian space. The work does possess a form of activism in its construct by inviting participation, either physically or conceptually, in completing the narrative. The role of the public sphere is all about participatory engagement. With Tabula Rasa there is an interesting dialog that happens during

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the performance. As augmented reality, the viewer is alone in their engagement with the work but present in a public space. They are immersive viewing the work in a private space, but simultaneously they are the focus of the piece in the physical space as viewers observed them. It has become necessary


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for me to perform both virtually and physically in the work to maintain the illusion of the two spaces the public and the private. As you have remarked in your artist's statement, your work is concerned with the transformation of the human

species, specifically its biological components and its behavioral characteristics. Conveying both metaphoric and descriptive research, your inquiry into the relationship between technology and our changing concept of nature and self practice constructs of a concrete aesthetic. As the

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late Franz West did in his installations, your artistic production unconventional features in the way it urges the viewers to a process of self-reflection. Artists are always interested in probing to see what is beneath the surface: maybe one of the roles of an artist could be to reveal unexpected sides of Nature, especially of

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

Yes. I completely agree. Art can be many things, but one valuable role is its ability to challenge us to consider different perspectives of our world and ourselves. Ironically, I believe are actions “speak�


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audience over the objectification of the artifact is also deeply embedded in my practice. Although I am concerned about the aesthetic qualities of the work and aspire to have them function representationally, I am more concerned of the residual qualities that the meaning of the work sparks reflection in the audience. Exploring the interstitial space that highlights the ubiquitous dichotomies between physical and digital existence you invite us to rethink the notion of materiality itself. Our everchanging society are marked out with an ephemeral feature that is constantly emphasized by the impetuous way modern technology has nowadays come out on the top: this has also dramatically revolutionized the concept of Art, that just few years ago it was a tactile materialization of an idea. We are sort of convinced that new media will definitely fill the apparent dichotomy between art and technology and we will dare to say that Art and Technology are going to assimilate one to each other... what's your point about this?

louder than our words. Specifically, for me the tools we create and way we interact with our environment is the portal for my investigation into our inner nature. It is also interesting that you reference West. His approach to art as a vehicle for social interaction and his concerns of the participation of the

One of the greatest champions of art in contemporary society is also one its greatest threats. The “Gallery� system has greatly aided in amplifying needed voices in our society; they have aided in establishing value to the work of artist, and have aided in elevating the status of artist in our society. But regretfully, by removing art from the context of the world they have also aided in the segregation of art and it practices from everyday life. The assimilation of art into society is of greater value to me than seeing it grow as a commodity. Our species has evolved based directly with the development of tools to control and

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shape the landscape of our environment. We increasingly rely on the constructs of our invention. In the ever struggle for survival our species are at the tipping point of control. The rate of invention compounds every generation and today we are facing technology that is actually shifting our genetic code. This artificial selection process is being driven by a social collective that values the artificial over the natural. I believe that electronic

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technology will become increasingly vital to access the artificial and will replace the gallery system as a new gatekeeper for art. We will benefit as a culture if they do assimilate. Besides producing your stimulating works you earned a wide experience as a teacher and you currently hold the position of Associate Professor of Intermedia: how does this aspect of your work influence your practice? In


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particular, have you ever been inspired from your students' ideas?

Teaching is vital to my practice on several levels. In general, the process of developing pedagogical approaches that have clearly articulated benchmarks with rubrics designed to assess outcomes provide the structural underpinnings for the mental process I use to develop content in my studio. I don’t know that I

can recall any specific student ideas that have influenced my work, but the act of working with them to deconstruct their ideas and find their visual language continually inspires my process. Plus, as a professor, it is so important to be doing what you are teaching. If I am not actively engaged in the process how can I provide leadership to them. Over these years your works have been

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showcased in several galleries and museums throughout the United States, as well as abroad including your participation at THAILAND NEW MEDIA ART FESTIVAL in Bangkok and at the FESTIVAL INTERNACIONAL DE VIDEO ARTS DIGITALS in Girona. One of the hallmarks of your practice is the capability to create direct involvement

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with the viewers, who are urged to evolve from a condition of mere spectatorship. So before leaving this conversation we would like to pose a question about the nature of the relationship of your art with your audience. Do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decision-making


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process, in terms of what type of language is used in a particular context?

Absolutely. The audience is fully considered in the development. This includes the physicality of the interaction, the media or form of the work and the symbolism that functions as a conduit for

meaning. Early in the development of my artistic practice in interactive media, I became driven by the physicality of computing and how the electronic stimulus was embodied and how the gesture of the body itself changes our understanding of the stimulus. It started as simply as building a better

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mouse(trap), but as the investigation of constructing physical devices to consociate with digital information evolved it became clear that a more transparent mode of interaction was needed to create more ambiguity in the work and allow for the audience to experience an internalized discovery through the interface. This

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notion of discovery for the audience has carried over into the imagery and symbolism in the work through building on the encoded meaning of the symbols while shifting context. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Bill. Finally,


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would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving?

I am encouraged by the development of immersive video and how documentation of performance can engage the audience. I would like to see the work become more

transmittable and assessable to a wider electronic audience. The actual project that I am currently working requires the fabrication of human size Oyster shells that will be used for an underwater immersive film. So these days I have been in fabrication mode and learning how to hold my breath.

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N icole Philippi Works in Vienna and lives in an idyllic village outside of Vienna, Austria

An artist's statement

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verall, I consider my art to be "inspired by life", not on a representational level but on

an emotional level. I allow the unconscious to be the explorer, the developer and the creative guide. My creations happen in the moment and are therefore free from planning and preconceived thoughts; they are expressive and reflect images and ideas that the viewer associates into. I find it invigorating and insightful when people share their impressions and interpretations of my images with me, which at times assist me in getting closer to this unconscious inner guide. For me, it is the viewer who brings out the essence and meaning in my work, which is another cycle that aids in the completeness of a painting or drawing. My favoured mediums are charcoal, acrylic paint, chalk/soft pastels, and at times I apply digital enhancements to photographs of my own work, which frequently receive post-processing after

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printing by applying the above mediums, making each pieces exclusive. I prefer to draw and paint on strong, recycled paper or canvas. These tools allow me to explore and to create balanced compositions that are mainly abstract and sometimes figurative, injected often with vibrant colours. I feel that my rough and yet expressive outlines inject a dynamic in to my works. My brushwork is seldom refined but displays the passion and energy of an instinctive mark-maker. It is all the above that supports my open approach in releasing an energy into my work processes that delivers a uniqueness and variety to my portfolio.

“My creations come to life by releasing energy that fuels the images; a cycle of releasing and creating a buzz ... vibrations, surges and impulses that continuously spark the aliveness.� ~N.P.

Nicole Philippi


Walking his armadillo


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Nicole Philippi An interview by Dario Rutigliano, curator and Barbara Scott, curator articulaction@post.com

Artist Nicole Philippi's works accomplishes an insightful exploration of the notions of human perception to walk the viewers through a multilayered experience, inducing them to elaborate personal associations and intepretations. Her style rejects any conventional clasifications and is marked with freedom as well as coherence and speaks us of emotions, while encapsulating a careful attention to composition and balance. One of the most impressive aspects of Philippi's work is the way it provides her images with an autonomous life and aesthetics: we are very pleased to introduce our readers to her stimulating and multifaceted artistic production. Hello Nicole and welcome to ARTiculAction: we would start this interview with a couple of questions about rich and multifaceted background. You have a solid training in architecture and hold a BSc (Hons) and a Diploma in Design and Innovation and over these years you travelled a lot. How do these experiences influence the way you conceive and produce your works?

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And in particular, how does the relationship between your cultural substratums due to the years you spend in South Africa your current life in Vienna inform the way you relate yourself to art making and to the aesthetic problem in general? Hello Dario and ARTiculAction team! Thank you for this great opportunity on being featured in your magazine. Personally, I feel that my multifaceted background has a 1:1 impact on how I conceive and produce art, as well as on how I see and experience life. Overall, for me, architecture, design and art share line, form and aesthetics as a base, yet when applied within their own disciplines (may it be through a scientific and/or artistic methodology) each is manipulated and crafted into their own stimulating and/or practical outcomes, which contribute value within their dimensions of existence. This provides just a simplistic view besides the intricacies of the social, political or personal notions that can stimulate the intention of expressing construction, destruction or simple mark-making. For me, the problem of aesthetics that you mention is tied up in all this and also in each one of us. Everyone has their own cultural traditions, history and experiences that will influence the way


Mongolian dancer


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he or she sees, senses and defines beauty and that’s the way it should be. I do think this is an important fact for each artist to appreciate. There will never be one piece of creation that is adored by and aesthetically appealing to everyone. Even though I left South Africa some years ago, I still feel her strongly and consider her my home. I am grateful for the life and experiences I had in South Africa, aka The Rainbow Nation. Her multi-cultural and multi-lingual, openminded, innovative and friendly people together with her strikingly beautiful, yet so diverse environments and sociopolitical complexities would undoubtedly leave marks on anyone who stayed there for some time. Austria on the other hand seems to be shrouded in melancholy that is steeped in history with a kind of rough and rugged beauty that is difficult to explain. Her people appear serious on the outside but have a wonderful, sometimes dark sense of humour and they have this astounding knack of looking both ways at once, which makes living here intriguing and the people endearing. Yes, I do think that the overall feel of my art and the way I approach art-making has evolved by having experienced and embraced these multifaceted environments. Rejecting any specific style, the figurative language you convey in your paintings is the result of a spontaneous approach that requires no planning: your inquiry into the expressive potential of embrodery combines together figurative as subtle abstract feature into a consistent unity. Moreover, in your practice you explore a wide variety of different mediums, including painting, sculpture,

photography as well as digital graphics. We we would suggest to our readers to visit http://nicole-philippi.pixels.com in order to get a synoptic view of your work: while walking our readers through your process, we would like to ask you if you have you ever happened to realize that such multidisciplinary approach is the only way to express and convey the idea you explore.

Indeed, for me a multidisciplinary approach is a comfortable and resourceful way in expressing the multiplicity of the themes that come up for me. I am interested in many different aspects of art, as well as life, and each mentioned medium has its own special qualities to aid me in expression. However, I would like to say here, sculpture has been shelved for now. I have not found enough time to really delve into it and in the meantime I will go on enjoying sculptures made by other artists. I love each medium for what it is and there are times when the different mediums merge in my works, like a painting may require an extra boost or it lacks a “certain something” for me to feel content in releasing it and then I may move a painting into the digital process to complete it. Once I’m satisfied with the digital tuning the work gets printed and thereafter personalized by me. It can be a lengthy process but I enjoy the moving in and out from the physical to digital and back to the physical doing. The result is a unique, one-off mixed media image. I do however have a rather passionate relationship with painting. I thrive on the energy it releases in me, the feel of the paint and the movements that go with it all. I even treasure the mess I create; my

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studio walls are covered in paint, despite the fact that I’ve shielded them <grins>. Painting is for me such an awesome allrounder in that yes, one will have some result at the end but it also offers freedom within body and mind … sometimes I sit while painting and, for example, meditate or I stand and use large arm movements to infuse the current emotional state into the canvas or paper. I am not surprised that painting is recommended as a form of therapy. It is a total balancer! Photography has been with me since my childhood but I was always reluctant to learn the technical ins and outs of how a camera and lenses work . I thought, I had to be a mathematical whiz kid in order to grasp it, especially when being confronted by square roots! However, my life-partner, Don, who is a photographer, has encouraged me to explore and to get to know how my camera functions. I am rather grateful for his gentle nudging, as it has been eye-opening. Oh yes, I’m still a novice who is realizing more and more that just clicking the button doesn't necessarily present the image one hopes for. This versatility, within the analogue and digital realms, suits my general approach to art making very well, which is typically spontaneous and intuitive. I think, it is mainly due to this impulsive attitude with the strong instinctive and emotional guidance that the style of my art cannot be truly categorized. It’s just too varied, as your readers who are planning on visiting my artist page will see! Painting is rather a personal outlet in which I allow myself to free-fall, without expectations but realizing at the completion of a piece what was bubbling inside. Completion is

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Woman with molten mirror

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The hunted

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Nicole Philippi


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always a moment of conscious recognition of what’s been going on. Photography on the other hand requires me to be present in a different way, I need to be in tune with the subject, the camera and have to have an idea of what the shot should look like. Two different mediums with different approaches and yet the combination of the two can complete the balance for and in me … For this special edition of ARTiculAction we have selected Walking his armadillo through space and time an extremely 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 work is its dynamic and autonomous aesthetics: in particular, it seems to communicate a successful attempt to transform tension to harmony, and it's really captivating. While walking our readers through the usual genesis of Walking his armadillo through space and time, would you tell our readers something about the your main sources of inspiration?

Through the painting “Walking his armadillo through space and time” I explored how to visually represent an interruption of habitual thought and action by freezing a moment in time on a two-dimensional surface. This was kind of my thinking when I approached this work. I'm interested in time-slices, hence my fascination with photography and I'm also curious about philosophical presentism where neither the past nor the future are considered real but only the present moment of an intended purpose. This study of being in the present moment while art-making has woven itself into the way I approach my work.

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In “Walking his armadillo” I used acrylic paint, chalk and charcoal on recycled brown paper (70x100 cm). I enjoy medium to large sized paper or canvas and their roughish texture; it complements my coarse, sometimes violent line and brushwork. The process, as always when I paint, was drawing and painting by free movement without thinking of any particular outcome. This means there were no pre-defined mental images and colours to start from. This is how I approach most of my work, intuitive and open. And yet, I generally start my works with charcoal lines and shapes that eventually merge “into something”. Here in “Walking his armadillo” the outcome was surprising, especially in view of the limited colour palette and the overall construct. It was pleasing to discover a type of layering of shapes, forms and colours on the physical plane that can call up different junctures of awareness for the viewer (including myself). That the image, especially the rough charcoal lines, depicts something close to a figure walking with arms in the air holding an “armadillo” was pure chance that I discovered once the painting was complete and while searching for a title. This is what I see, others may see something entirely different. My main sources of inspiration come from my subconscious, life, written text and in particularly from music, not the lyrics but the rhythm, the tempo and the mood of a piece and, as always, the given moment when my hands and tools slide across paper or canvas. Even though music touches me on such a deep level, I seldom paint to music, as it can be distracting while something else wants to

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come forward during my painting process. The dialogue established by tones and shapes is a crucial part of your style: in particular, the effective combination between both delicate and intense nuances of tones sums up the mixture of thoughts and emotions. How much does your own psychological make-up determine the nuances of tones you decide to use in a piece and in particular, how do you develop a painting’s texture? Moreover, any comments on your choice of "palette" and how it has changed over time?

Probably 95% of what I produce is influenced by my psychological make-up. Being an artist who draws from the inside, my unconscious and emotions will resonate in the images. Emotions don't necessarily have to be negative or filled with turmoil and by no means do they always stimulate an emotional response for the audience. I think, certain art, especially abstract art, can be compared to music, although non-representational, without characters or a situation, can trigger memories in us rather than a recognition in a reality. For example the image “Mongolian dancer” started as a fast charcoal sketch that I turned into an upbeat and brightly coloured, almost sweet looking painting. As an image evolves so do the colours. I do believe that my psychological state of the day when I start a painting not only influences colour choices and their tonal values but the entire painting, including shapes and lines. If I would have been angry on that particular day, my line work would have probably been jagged and edgy, while the colours would have been more sombre, less bright with much


Dance of the severed scarecrow


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Modern day reaper

less white. Readers may be interested in taking a look at “Dance of the severed scarecrow”, which reflects a melancholic

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state or sadness, although I have used a similar technique as in “Mongolian dancer” and “Walking his armadillo”.


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painting to enable me to continue in the overall feel or mood. No, I'm not crazy! <laughs> The textures in my works come about by juxtaposing different mediums, such as acrylic, charcoal and pastels, and application techniques using for example cloth, spatula and brush and some variations thereof. I have not applied any textured medium (such as sand or poured texture) so far. I think, it is also the way I work, for example, charcoal into the paint that provides the illusion of texture.

Hand in pocket

It almost seems as though, each painting, as it develops, takes on its own psychological expression <grinning>. I say this because I am a fairly balanced person and I have to be in a balanced state when I start a painting and often when I go back to a painting on a different day, in order to continue with it, I have to drop back into the state of the

I have only been painting for about 4 years since I left school many years ago and quite honestly, I have not taken note of any colour palette changes. I usually select bold colours, straight out of the tube or container that I mix directly on the canvas or paper. I also tend to use reds, oranges, greens and blues with white and black most of the time. I did a brief check into my colour choices once I noticed that I use mainly these colours and it turns out that my default state seems to be fairly well balanced overall, considering that each colour has a positive and a negative side, according to colour psychology <grins>. I don't consciously play with colour composition or the symbolism that may apply to them; very seldom anyway. We have appreciated the way your works conveys both figurative and abstract feelings into coherent balance: you seem to address to viewers to extract a narrative behind the evocative images you select, to establish direct relations with the spectatorship: . German multidisciplinary artist Thomas Demand once stated that "nowadays art can no longer rely so much on symbolic strategies and has to probe

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psychological, narrative elements within the medium instead". How do you conceive such compelling narrative that pervades your pieces?

Past generations used storytelling to pass down information, traditions, superstitions and symbols, etc.; it used to be part of daily life. Nowadays it is perhaps the lack of narration, being replaced by abbreviations and emoticons, which in fact are symbols anyway that one finds on social media platforms, etc. There appears to be a general lack of enthusiasm and depth that some people seem to bring across in conversation ... perhaps it is globalization and a cultural phenomenon in which assimilation is taking place to quickly and people feel they may be loosing their ethnical and, dare I say, human identity. I'm not too sure on this one yet. This question has touched on something that I want to explore some more. But there seems to be a general undertone of withhold and angst. For me symbolism plays into this; traditions are steeped with symbols and rituals and even though we are driven to constantly update and reinvent, symbolism is still as strong today as then but like so many things within systems they adapt and change. Society as a broad concept is complex and I feel that symbolic strategies are an intricate part to aid us in deciphering some underlying concepts, perceptions and meanings. I think, Thomas Demand expanded on what has been part of our natural progression, especially in view of 19th and 20th century art where artists merged, synthesized, yet altered and compacted symbolism, psychology and the narrative elements. I think, if one

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considers art as an emotional, psychological and intellectual stimulant, then what Demand said is almost a requirement that is brought about by artists who immerse themselves reflectively into the social and political mind-sets … presenting an externalinternal contemplation on how things are seen on the surface but also on how these things are felt on the inside. In view of the above, my painting “Woman with molten mirror” may fit here due to its simplified forms and colours with black outlines but also the feeling of the subject. The painting depicts a hint of a naked woman holding something … a mirror in front of her, surrounded by other flat forms all rendered in plain, unmixed pastel colours … presented almost like ice-cream that is melting. The realization of what the deeper meaning of the image conveys came later when searching for a title. It struck me that this image is about ageing; the loss of youthfulness and agility. Youth is melting away and as we age we drift into the background of society … we become pastel coloured and grey. Yet, we are still here and have presence, as marked by the black outlines. This is what the image communicates to me. A 20 year old might not get the same experience when viewing this painting, which to me is just as fascinating. Based on my brief description of “Woman with molten mirror”, challenging a narrative or cognition to come forward when looking at a painting seems like a gentle way of encouragement to open up and to feel what an image may mean to someone. By no means, do I assume that I can provoke this state in people nor is it my intention to do so. People have to be


Nicole Philippi

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On the red divan

willing to look and see* and add themselves into the equation and by no means do I expect them to see and feel the way I do. I feel, this would be very presumptions on my part. I enjoy the

interchange of emotions and intellectual stimulation that an image can trigger. It is often through these conversations with viewers that I have my own cognitions.

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The lack of any theory


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I have learned to rely on myself during the art-making process to approach my work sincerely, with honesty. Don’t know if this makes sense … each work (and many artists may agree with me) has the … essence of the artist within it; the indispensable quality that is unmasked and pure. Hopefully it is my own openness, free from conscious thought that allows for a purer connection with the artistic intention during the process, which comes out in my work that people can identify with on some level, whether it is the overall mood, the subject or just the colour combination.

me, our memories are formed through our experiences and feed our perception and imagination and for many artists, therefore, memory plays an important part in their process.

*To me there is a difference in looking and seeing: looking is regarding and acknowledging something passively and briefly, while seeing involves active exploration, where one engages perception, understanding and cognition by looking beyond the obvious or beyond the surface.

I have translated my own experiences on death into “Modern-day reaper” and instead of creating a morbid and solemn piece, this one is dynamic and colourful … on the surface. In many images death is represented in dark, monochromatic settings that reflect the mood of the situation. My image is colourful, almost humorous, showing death on a bike-led type of harvester. Most people die in normal everyday surrounds that are colourful; there is no physical black, grey and white filter that can get switched while someone is dying. It is only when the viewer actively engages in “Modernday reaper” that they might see or experience a shift away from the initial upbeat image and recognize the violent, unsettling undertone.

We have been particularly impressed with the way your hybrid approach accomplishes the difficult task of transferring into a liberated expressive realm the imagery you refer to. When developing a multilayered language, you capture non- sharpness and bring to a new level of significance the elusive still ubiquitous relationship between experience and memory. What is the role of memory in your process?

For me, memory has quite an elusive facet. Memory has this sneaky characteristic of distorting itself and therefore cannot be truly relied upon, especially when it is situation based memory. Recalling facts works differently, more on a cognitive level. To

Death is an aspect of life that most people have been confronted with; so have I, far too many times. When I was younger, the author Terry Pratchett indirectly helped me, through his fantasy writings, to accept death and to see a gentler, even humorous side through his characterization of death. I am not saying that death is a humorous experience, by no means!

The image “Hand in pocket” was inspired by the Punk-days of the 80s but more so by the mind-set of one particular guy I met. He was what I like to call a “2-tone punk” on the outside; permanently dressed in a white shirt, jeans with braces and combat boots listening to punk rock and Ska. However, his general

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attitude was sincere, moderate and sensible. He was a reliable and honest friend even though he hung out with the hard-cores who were perceived as the hooligans of the neighbourhood. I think this image depicts him well, in how I related to him at the time and still do now. Perhaps in this image one perceives symbolism through the mono-chromatic feel and the predominant blue tones, which for me underline the guys competent, calm and relaxed character but also the idealistic self-expression, which is further indicated by having one hand in his pocket but with the thumb showing. So moving back to my perception of memory when starting this answer. I think “Hand in pocket” illustrates the elusiveness of memory well through the bold, wavy outline and the general lack of detail, combined with its fuzzy treatment. It is quite tricky to speak about an image when there was little conscious effort during its creation. Your works often induce the viewers to abandon themselves to free associations: as you have remarked once, it is up to the viewer; in what they bring along while looking. When artists leaves their works open to interpretation, it is like giving the viewer permission to see anything in your works without anyone ever being wrong. Has that ever proven to be a problem?

That’s exactly right! I encourage the viewer to associate into my images. I would like for them to fall to a place inside themselves that elicits thoughts, memories, past experiences and/or feelings. No matter what their reactions

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are, I would like them to share those with me. Allowing someone to be unrestricted fosters communication… and art is a form of communication. I cannot judge their feedback because we all have different experiences and interpretations. So no, this approach has never caused an issue for me. I rather enjoy the exchange and responses, as these are insightful for me and I consider this engagement with the viewer a part of the overall process. It kind of completes the circle of creating and learning, and yet can become the source of something new. In order for me as an artist to convey or to express something that is seething inside me, I have to in a way expose myself to myself first; to free-fall; to become vulnerable; to be in the state of the present, and for me it is a great compliment if viewers are willing to do and be the same. Perhaps I’m a little surreptitious with the kind of titles I provide. I like to name each work straight after completion to capture the spirit of the process, on how I felt and what I saw after. It has been my experience that people appreciate named pieces. They find it easier to associate themselves into the image and, hopefully, will encourage them to talk about what they see and feel. During an exhibition in Vienna, I had a rattling experience through the piece “The lack of any theory”. A gentlemen visitor came up to me and said:”You have arrested my core in this painting. It depicts me through and through!” And while talking about how the image relates to himself, his hands moved in and around the painting, as though he was following a path of his own life-journey. His expressions that went along with his


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The last dance

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explanations were absolutely priceless, gave me goose-bumps and a lump in my throat. I was incredibly touched to receive such passion and identification from a viewer. As you have remarked once, your art is guided by your internal visions, your emotions, instincts and perceptions at the time: the equilibrium concerning the composition of your works gives them a permanence to the intrinsic ephemeral nature of the perceptual process that inspires you. So we would take this occasion to ask you if in your opinion personal experience is an absolutely indispensable part of a creative process... Do you think that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience?

How could it be? The process of making art alone is a direct experience for me. As mentioned earlier on, I do believe that memory fuels our imagination and forms our perceptions. An experience, on the other hand, marks an instance that we have been through personally and then we have a memory of an experience, which is the one that carries the most value for most people. And it is from those remembered experiences that we mostly draw reference from ... no matter how distorted they may be. Their impact can be so strong that the feeling becomes a subconscious sensation that brings about creativity. Afterall, it is the individual's experiences that have brought each one of us to where we are now. It is experience and energy that guide me and allow me to tap into my internal resources and recesses. When I compose, for example, figures and faces, my reference may be an experience, not necessarily a memory, not a copy or

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someone else’s photo or idea. I think, it is exactly this aspect of my art-making that directs the overall abstractions and distortions in them. I never intent to work on anything that portrayals something that is real but rather something that generates emotion and/or memory. Experience is like adding herbs and spices to food, it infuses mood, humour, drama, etc. to a piece of art. I realize that I may be contradicting myself but this is what can happen when art is created from feelings rather than from a chosen reality. And yet, I believe that framework, structure, line and certain brushstrokes can be used as anchors that have been placed deliberately to draw the viewer in, this goes for the titles too but it is up to the viewer whether they use those anchors or not and/or bring something of their own into the analysis. The image “The last dance” may instill different stimulants for different people. I started painting this image on the 31. December 2015. Year-end seems to be linked to reflection and a form of sadness that stretches not only over the year but seems to throw in the odd “way-backwhen” memories too. In this case, I had flashes from my school leaving dance. It was festive and grand. We were all dressed in gorgeous attires and felt so grown up. I love dancing and literally took the stage with one of my classmates. It was an unplanned but incredible moment when we were suddenly alone on the dancefloor while everyone watched us move across it. We were caught up in the music and the rhythm and we moved in synch, so much so that people thought we had rehearsed this performance. These flashes of this moment made me realize that this is kind of what life is, we

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The daily freak show

all dance, often alone, often with others, in and out of rhythm, in tune and out of tune with society and her expectations. One of the hallmarks of your work is the capability to create a direct involvement with the viewers, who are urged to evolve from a condition of mere spectatorship. So before leaving this conversation we would like to pose a question about the


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nature of the relationship of your art with your audience. Do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decisionmaking process, in terms of what type of language is used in a particular context?

Hmm … no, the prospective viewer is never part of my decision-making process. I have attempted to keep the

viewer in mind while working but I find this complicates, stifles and interrupts my otherwise open process, as too many aspects of my art-making just “happen”. I guess, based on this, some people may see my behaviour towards this process as a selfish act, self-gratifying and selfrewarding … and yes, there are these traits in it as well. However, as an expressive artist who leans on

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abstraction, I am fuelled by an energy thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s tied up in feelings and sensitivities that can only come about in my work when I can abandon restrictive and compulsive thinking, where my state is congruent and my mind and body are in harmony. As quite a few viewers have mentioned to me, I do not paint pretty pictures but images that are alluring to the audience anyway, in one way or another. This

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answer relates back to my previous reply in that the viewersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; reactions and feedback is an integral part and completes the process once the image is ready to be shown. Based on the above, one may perhaps appreciate that commissioned work can be extremely frustrating for me, especially when I receive briefs that are tight and hold fixed expectations from the


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the first place. This is not a criticism just a paradox to my own thinking. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Nicole. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving?

For someone who creates in the moment this is a difficult question to answer and without wanting to sound obtuse, I have no idea how my art will evolve and I am not very concerned if and how my art will change or not. In the way I operate, I have no, nor do I want to, take control of it. I will let it happen, just as I have until now. For the last year I have been focusing on photography, on getting to know the technical intricacies of the camera and how the knowledge of this influences an image. Although, consequently I have taken a hiatus from painting after having been involved in art- making almost nonstop for the last four years.

requester. On quite a few occasions I've declined taking on a project that didn’t give me free reign on a subject. I am sensitive enough to appreciate that patrons want a representation of what they have in mind, no problem there at all; however, I do not understand people who seem to be taken in by artists’ works and then expect them to produce something that is totally dissimilar to what drew them to the artist’s work in

However, I thrive best when I’m creative and when I allow myself to let go, so you will see more of my work, although, as mentioned, at this stage I am unsure if my direction is going to change or if I will continue experimenting the way I have been. Thank you for this inspiring set of questions and for selecting me to be part of your portfolio of artists.

An interview by Dario Rutigliano, curator and Barbara Scott, curator articulaction@post.com

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J ody Zellen Lives and works in Los Angeles, California, USA

An artist's statement

J

ody Zellen is a Los Angeles based artist who works in many media simultaneously making interactive installations, mobile apps, net art, animations, drawings, paintings, photographs, public art, and artists' books. She employs media-generated representations as raw material for aesthetic and social investigations. She also thinks about ways to integrate interactivity and technology into her works.

Her interactive installations include "Time Jitters," commissioned by the Halsey Institute for Contemporary Art in Charleston, SC, "The Unemployed" a data visualization at Disseny Hub Museum (Barcelona, 2011), "The Blackest Spot," (Fringe Exhibitions, Los Angles, 2008), and "Trigger" (Pace University, New York, 2005). Her net art projects are "Spine Sonnet," 2011 (commissioned by LACMA), "Lines of Life," (http://www.linesoflife.net) 2010

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(commissioned by terminalapsu.org), "Without A Trace," (www.jodyzellen.com/WithoutATrace) 2009 (commissioned by turbulence.org). Other net art projects include "Ghost City" (ghostcity.com) 1996-present, an ever changing poetic meditation on the urban environment, urbanfragments.net, allthenewsthatsfittoprint.net, talkingwalls.com and disembodiedvoices.com. Recently she has been making iPhone/iPad apps. Her apps "Urban Rhythms," "Spine Sonnet," "Art Swipe," "4 Square," "Episodic," "Time Jitters," and "News Wheel" are available in the iTunes Store. (www.jodyzellen.com/apps) Zellen was awarded a second Artist Fellowship from the City of Santa Monica, for 2015-2016. She is also the recipient of a 2012 California Community Foundation Mid Career Fellowship, a 2011 Center for Cultural Innovation Artistic Innovation Grant as well as a 2004 COLA (City of Los Angeles) Fellowship.


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Jody Zellen An interview by Josh Ryder, curator and Dario Rutigliano, curator articulaction@post.com

Multidisciplinary artist Jody Zellen's work explores a variety of issues that concern our unstable contemporary age, centering a consistent part of her practice on the integration between interactivity and technology. In her recent installation entitled "Time Jitters" she brings to a new level of significance the elusive relationship between photojournalism and the viewers' cultural substratum, to draw them through a multilayered experience. One of the most convincing aspects of Zellen's approach is the way it addresses the nature of the perceptual process to unveil unexpected aspects of our media driven era: we are really pleased to introduce our readers to her stimulating artistic production. Hello Jody and a warm welcome to ARTiculAction: to start this interview, would you like to tell us something about your background? You have solid formal training and after your studies at Wesleyan University, you attended the California Institute of Arts, from which you graduated with a MFA degree. You furthered your education attending New York University's Interactive Telecommunications Program receiving a MPS degree. How do these experiences influence your evolution as an artist? And in particular, how does your cultural substratum inform the way you relate

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yourself to artmaking and to the aesthetic problem in general?

I studied photography, art and art history at Wesleyan University. Perhaps the biggest influence on me was learning about conceptual art by studying the collection of Sol LeWitt. I was in a seminar that put together an exhibition from the LeWitt collection and that experience had a profound effect on my development as an artist, as it allowed me to think beyond photography. I began to make image/text works and artist's books at this time and no longer held the photographic object (or image) as sacred. I soon began to cut, tape and collage found images. In graduate school I continued this way of working. Things really changed for me when I began to make work on the computer â&#x20AC;&#x201D; I learned not only how to collage using Photoshop but also how to make web pages and animations. This opened up new possibilities. Much later I returned to school to further my understanding of interactive programming languages and technology based approaches to art making. I tend to work in many media all at the same time and one thing often leads to another. A series of drawn or photographed images can become an artist's book, an animation and a website and then be transformed into an interactive installation which then becomes an app. I'm particularly


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interested in the viewers' experience beyond the white cube. This is reflected in my public art projects, as well as net-art and my motivation to create large interactive installations in public spaces. Your approach coherently encapsulates a wide variety of disciplines, ranging from painting and installation to video, public and net art and reveals an incessant search of an organic investigation about aesthetic and social issues. The results convey together a coherent and consistent sense of harmony and unity. Before starting to elaborate about your production, we would suggest to our readers to visit http://www.jodyzellen.com in order to get a synoptic view of your multifaceted artistic production: while walking our readers through your process, we would like to ask you if you have ever happened to realize that a symbiosis between different approaches is the only way to express and convey the ideas you explore.

The trajectory of my practice over the years has not been a straight line. Yet in many ways it is a linear progression as my interests in photography led me to artists books which led me to juxtapose images and words. I went from making discreet images to room-sized installations and that led to public art. My embracing of the internet as a viable platform for making artworks led to animation and hypertext as well as to the use of HTML. Seeing the power of interactivity on the web prompted me to expand those concepts into physical spaces where the viewerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s movements could trigger changes to the environment. Having gone large, I have now returned to making art for the small screen. One way of working does not always lead to the next but in my practice, the ability to see how technology changes the form and

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Time Jitters, Installation, Grand Central Art Center, Santa

content of my work has been the catalyst for ongoing experimentation. Some people are content to develop a particular idea or form very slowly over time, but I tend to jump from medium to medium because I see interesting interrelationships between them.


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Ana, CA, 2014

For this special edition of ARTiculAction we have selected "Time Jitters", an interesting project that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article. What has at once caught our attention of your inquiry into how the media presents world events is the way appropriating

elements from universal imagery and changing the context, you have brought to a new level of significance the elusive relationship between communication and the personal substratum of the viewers, urging us to think about the elusive nature of our perceptual process: when walking our readers through the genesis

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of "Time Jitters", would you shed light on your main sources of inspiration?

Time Jitters is in many ways the culmination of a project I had been working on for a long time. It started with the concept of daily rituals. Beginning in 2005, I committed to making a daily drawing. These drawings are spontaneous— a quick doodle using a black pen on a piece of A4 paper. In addition to the doodle drawings, for a number of years I also traced images from the printed version of the daily newspaper. These newspaper tracings were featured in my net art project Without A Trace. (http://www.jodyzellen.com/WithoutATra ce/). In this project I was interested in the relationship between my hand tracings and how the computer could be programmed to trace an image. This led to another daily ritual — saving a jpg image from the international news section of the online version of The New York Times. I digitally transformed this image in myriad ways— making it a line drawing, a high contrast black and white image and reduced it to a series of colored pixels. The colored pixel images were used as the background for a series of digital collages and paintings as well as the base image for the Time Jitters animation. The linear sequence in Time Jitters runs about eighteen minutes. The work is a meditation on how the media presents these news worthy events. The animation is a sequence of over forty separate fragments each using a different news photograph as its point of departure. The original images are scaled back, diffused and subtly manipulated, yet what they reference never disappears. Images of war, crowds, man made and natural disasters are prominently featured in the

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Time Jitters, Halsey Institute, 2014

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work. I want the viewer to recognize the tenor of the imagery yet also appreciate the way I have taken it apart and recontextualized it. I see it as a sequence of moving elements that coalesces in readable imagery that then breaks apart becoming another in an endless flow, just like the news. The images I select are specific. There is a certain genericness to them. I gravitate toward photographs with silhouettes, buildings, and remnants of war as well as images that have a universal quality. When looking at a sequence of 365 images that represent a year I want there to be both recognizable moments as well as a feeling that this could be last year or ten years ago. It is important to note that Time Jitters is also a free iOS app. For the app, I selected 12 clips from the longer animation and added a sound component. In the app users can scale and reposition these clips creating a collage of overlapping visual and sonic elements. Please visit www.jodyzellen.com/apps to learn more about this and my other free iOS apps. For "Time Jitters" you drew from an archive of 365 photographs that you collected one for each day in the year: inviting the viewers to a multilayered experience that urges them to a process of deconstruction and recontextualization from the flow of information that you conveyed in your images. This allows "Time Jitters" to accomplish the difficult task of constructing a concrete aesthetic from experience, working on both subconscious and conscious levels. So we would take this occasion to ask you if in your opinion personal experience is absolutely indispensable as part of the creative process? Do you think that a

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creative process could be disconnected from direct experience?

Most of my work is in response to that which surrounds me. I listen to the radio, read the newspaper, and remain fascinated by how meaning can be gleaned from the combination of unrelated things. Your successful attempt to produce a dialectical fusion that operates as a system of symbols creates a compelling non linear narrative that, walking the thin line between conceptual and literal meanings, establishes direct relations with the viewers. German multidisciplinary artist Thomas Demand once stated that "nowadays art can no longer rely so much on symbolic strategies and has to probe psychological, narrative elements within the medium instead". What is your opinion about it? And in particular how do you conceive the narrative for your works?

The narratives in my works develop organically. I almost never plan out an extended scenario but create unrelated (or related) fragments that I weave together into a whole. Whether or not that final iteration deconstructs the way mass-media communicates with an audience is beyond my control, but it certainly could function that way. You regularly take part in projects in public space: your work provides the viewers with an intense, immersive experience: how do you see the relationship between public sphere and the role of art in public space? In particular, how much do you consider the immersive nature of the viewing experience?

When making public artworks, I like to take into consideration the site's location,

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Time Jitters, Halsey Institute, 2014

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Time Jitters, 2014, animated video (silent, 18:16)

history and function and often incorporate images of architecture into the final product. Usually my projects involve an integration or juxtaposition of historical and contemporary imagery. Both my studio and public art practices often deal with themes relating to architecture and urban life. By placing the work in the public realm, I believe it has a greater impact and reaches more people than when it is placed on a gallery wall. My "true" public works are not immersive at

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all and while I would welcome the opportunity to create a full-on interactive and immersive public work, I have not yet been given that opportunity. In many of my gallery installation, I have surrounded the viewer, bombarding them with visual stimuli from all directions. Often I have projected animations on all sides of a gallery space and even overlapped them to create an immersive environment of ever changing imagery. When the viewer interrupts a projectionâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;


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Time Jitters, 2014, animated video (silent, 18:16)

walks through the beam of a projector and the body casts a shadowâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; it becomes part of the piece. Life is immersive as we are constantly bombarded with sounds and images everywhere we go, and I would like my work to be experienced in that wayâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; as representative of the dynamic nature of contemporary life. Your practice is also centered on the integration between interactivity and

technology and also seems to question the impact of cutting edge techniques in our unstable and ever changing contemporary age. The impetuous way modern technology has nowadays come out on top has dramatically revolutionized the concept of Art: in a certain sense, we are forced to rethink the intimate aspect of the materiality of an artwork itself, since just few years ago it was a tactile materialization of an idea. We are sort of convinced that new media will definitely fill the apparent dichotomy

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between art and technology and we will dare to say that Art and Technology are going to assimilate one to each other... what's your point about this?

I am quite sure technology is not going to disappear. But also not all artists embrace technology in their works. In 2004, I created a net art project as well as an interactive installation entitled Disembodied Voices. It was created around the time when mobile phones were still new and not everyone had one. I noticed that those that did often spoke quite loudly and were oblivious to how their actions effected those around them. Of course nowadays this is understood but when I created the work it was not. At that time, I wanted to present a piece about the way cell phones were changing the nature of public space. In continuing to think about the proliferation of cell phones, I wanted to infiltrate that space by making works of art designed specifically for iOS devices. I wanted to create something someone could look at and interact with in private â&#x20AC;&#x201D; like when waiting in line or on a bus journeyâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; when out in public space. Those artworks (I currently have 7 art apps, all free in the iTunes store) are interactive game-like works that explore ideas about public spaces as well as how meaning can be gleaned from the random juxtaposition of multiple unrelated elements. Drawing from highly symbolic and evocative elements from contemporary imagery, your work provokes direct relations in the viewers and accomplishes the difficult task of going beyond the surface of communication. We find this aspect particularly interesting since it is probably the only way to accomplish the vital restoration you pursued in this work, concerning both the individuals and their

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Time Jitters, iOS app


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News Wheel Installation diagram

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place in our ever changing societies: how do you see the relationship between public sphere and the role of art in public space? In particular, what kind of reactions did you expect to provoke in the viewers?

My latest iOS app, News Wheel, www.newswheel.info will hopefully address this issue of how an artwork can function in the public sphere, particularly in the installation format I have envisioned. News Wheel is an interactive app that explores the charged poetics of ever changing news headlines. It begins as a static disk divided into nine sections each representing a different news source and tinted a different color. The sources include the english language publications Asian Age, Guardian, Los Angeles Times, National, New York Daily News, New York Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. On the iPad or iPhone when the app is launched, tapping anywhere on the screen causes the wheel to spin. Another tap stops the wheel and suddenly a headline in one of nine pre-selected colors appears on the screen. This playful interface invites users to start and stop the wheel eventually filling the screen with a collage of current headlines. Individual words can be deleted and repositioned so users can create poems from this content. In addition, dragging one's finger across the screen creates an animated chain of fragmented and poetic text derived from these headlines. News Wheel is a creative and poetic way to view, juxtapose and interpret world events from divergent international news sources.

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I am working on expanding the app into an interactive installation and would like to present it around the November, 2016 U.S. election. For the installation, an iPad station/stand would be placed atop a disk in the center of the gallery that mirrors the splash screen of the app. The iPad image will be projected onto the wall filling the space. As viewers interact with the iPad, the projection changes in real-time displaying current headlines. I envision people gathering around the user to watch the interactions and rotating who is in control or the 'player'. In a sense, the audience will have some idea of the player's political views based on which words are deleted or how they are strung together, and could even serve as a starting point for a discussion of how the headlines shape our expectations of public dialogue. Over these years your works have been exhibited in several occasions, including "HERE AND GONE", at the Culver Center of the Arts. One of the hallmarks of your practice is the capability to create direct involvement with the viewers, who are urged to evolve from a condition of mere spectatorship. So before leaving this conversation we would like to pose a question about the nature of the relationship of your art with your audience. Do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decision-making process, in terms of what type of language is used in a particular context?

One of the reasons I pursued net art was because it provided an alternative to the commercial art scene and its emphasis on unique objects. It was a place where I could create projects without interference or compromise and reach diverse international audiences without conforming to any rules. What also thrilled me about making art for the web was that it could exist outside a gallery space: I saw it as new type of public art.

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Here and Gone, Culver Center of the Arts, 2015

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The Unemployed, Interactive installation, Barcelona

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I created my first public art project â&#x20AC;&#x201D; again taking a sequence of images originally designed to be seen page by page in a book and enlarged them to mural scale to be installed on a plywood fence that encircled a subway construction site in Hollywood, California. I was especially interested in what happened when people walked around the work, how did the meaning change with the dramatic shift scale, or when it was viewed in the opposite direction? I began to pursue other public art opportunities as it was very satisfying to create works that would be on view indefinitely and became part of the urban fabric. I think a lot about the different audiences who have access to my work and try to find or create opportunities outside of a gallery â&#x20AC;&#x201D; like making net art, artist's books and apps as well as public art that can be viewed by anyone, anytime. Lastly, I am very excited by the possibility that the view completes the work, through their interaction with it, beyond the traditional means of simply looking at it. Choices made by the viewer become significant. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Jody. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving

What I hope to be doing next is presenting my latest app News Wheel (www.newswheel.info) as an interactive installation and in the next year I hope to be creating my first augmented reality app in which animations will be visible when the user's device passes over specific sections of an artist's book I will create for the project. An interview by Josh Ryder, curator and Dario Rutigliano, curator articulaction@post.com

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he base for Western society is dialectics; we always have to have two opposing sides that come together through synthesis for creation of anything in our civilization. That’s theory, but it is evident that when it comes to problem of racism that’s not happening, from overt racism to very subtle forms, it exists, feeding the paternalistic determinism that one is always lower and less worthy than the other. But, what happens when we pain(t) different picture, when we change color of each others skin, when we monumentally stand together with self-consciousness revitalized, not following dialectical synthesis, but rather acceptance of individual uniqueness that is not followed with “but”.

Gabrijel Savic Ra Gabrijel Savic Ra, born 1978 in Belgrade, multimedia artist, poet and theoretician. Studied philosophy at Philosophical Faculty (University Of Belgrade, Serbia). Gabrijel exhibited, performed and lectured worldwide (Museum of Contemporary Art in Novi Sad, MADRE Museum Of Contemporary Art in Naples, Pasadena Museum Of California Art, Independent Museum of Contemporary Art, Cyprus, etc.) He was a founder and curator of two galleries in Belgrade’s Students Cultural Center: V.I.P.Art Gallery and Art@Art Gallery. In 2005 along with few other artists founded art group “Corpus Artisticum” for new media art theory and practice. As a poet and art theoretician he published two books of poetry and was featured in various collections of poetry and art magazines. He is an author of several music albums. in 2015 along with Avery Gilbert II (a.k.a. ADOS 33) created (Av)+(Ga) which is more concept that just a regular art/curatorial and production group.


Comfort Zone, 2016


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Highly communicative and moving in its direct simplicity and rigorous composition, Comfort Zone is a performative video from Serbian multidisciplinary artist Gabrijel Savic Ra, that explores the issue of racism in our unstable contemporary age, triggering the viewers' perceptual parameters to draw them to a process of revitalization of self-conscousness to accept the uniqueness of individuals. We are very pleased to introduce our readers to his refined artistic production. Hello Gabrijel, and a warm welcome to ARTiculAction. We would start this interview posing you some questions about your background: after your studies in Philosophy at Philosophical faculty, Belgrade you nurtured your education in the fields of Marketing and Management of mass media. How do these experiences influence your evolution as an artist? And in particular, how does your cultural substratum inform the way you relate yourself with art making and with the aesthetic problem in general?

Hello and thank you for having me here. Philosophy has a huge impact on me as a human being and as an artist,

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it gave me ever expanding and changing platform of how to live the life and how I approach to process of creation when it comes to art. Rich life of the mind is the rich life in general, without it I would never be completely happy. Being confronted with complex theory turns me in to the child, gives me that innocent child-like excitement. On the other hand marketing, management and PR are necessities of modern life and culture, art wouldn't had that upward mobility, not only in economical sense, but it goes hand in hand with everything that defines culture, popular culture or counterculture. So, in a way, my experience with marketing, management and PR gave me a well rounded way how to approach works that deal with social problems and injustice. Now, when in comes to contemporary art and me as the part of it, aesthetic is not relevant, art simply doesn't t run through any of imposed categories that aesthetics is established on. Even though aesthetics evolved over the years, its base is the question of beauty which for me and my art is irrelevant, I would rather say


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that Lyotard’s ”sublime” has impact on me. And my approach to that ”sublime” is pure, non emotional, almost clinical, that would be what we find in conceptual or minimalist artworks You are a versatile artist and your approach encapsulates several

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techniques, revealing an incessant search of an organic symbiosis between a variety of viewpoints. The results convey together a coherent sense of unity, that rejects any conventional classification. Before starting to elaborate about your production, we would suggest to our


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approach is the only way to express and convey the idea you explore.

One part of contemporary art is that you don’t have to be bound by only one discipline or media, but you can go from one to the other in free flow or combine them all together. But, also, all of that depends on the idea, sometimes one idea works the best with certain media, performance or video or painting or word or music, it’s a freedom that I appreciate the most. I’m not going to say this universal rule, this is what works the best for me, but its perfectly fine for each artist to follow and develop within one discipline. I started as a painter over twenty years ago and over the course of time I incorporated one media or discipline. I don’t favor one over the other, the idea or the concept I may have finds its own way how it want to be expressed.

readers to visit http://www.artmajeur.com/en/artist/ga brijel in order to get a synoptic view of your multifaceted artistic production: while walking our readers through your process, we would like to ask you if you have you ever happened to realize that such multidisciplinary

For this special issue of ARTiculAction we have selected Comfort Zone, a stimulating video that you produced in collaboration with Avery Gilbert II and that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article. What has at once caught our attention of this work is the way it accomplishes the difficult task of creating an harmonic mix between representation and symbolism: when walking our readers through the genesis of Comfort Zone, would you shed a light about the role of metaphors in your process?

Symbols are representation of the idea, so in this particular work symbols and

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idea are united through process of representation. And symbols in this work come first from three of us who worked on it, Avery Gilbert II, Dawit Amare and myself. For a while I have been thinking about nationalism and racism, what are the similarities and forces that connect them. I was aware quite well, what nationalism can do, coming from former Yugoslavia and the war we had and than when I moved to States I saw how much racism is out of control. Now, Dawit Amare is from Ethiopia and same for him as for me, in his homeland, he knew what nationalism was, but didn't had that race awareness until he came to US. So, two of us coming from different countries with deep understanding of nationalism being forced to became aware of our whiteness and/or blackness. On the other side Avery Gilbert II is African American who dealt with racism all of his life. So, each of us are symbols, living symbols I would say, where representation is the process, whether the performance that Avery and I did for the video or the music I did with Dawit. When it comes to metaphors, Avery is painting me in black and I paint him in white and behind us the my painting of red splatter on black background. Me being painted in black represents how I am perceived by white majority that its not sympathetic for my continues support of black community, they see me as a traitor of the race, its their mindless white supremacy logic. In video same as in life I ware that color proud and make a stand against racism. Painting

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Comfort Zone, 2016

Avery in white depicts what society wants from black people, to turn them into white, to leave their rich culture and conform. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s that white arrogance that we are standing against here. The black painting with red splatter is the blood, the same life substance that runs through all of our


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veins. And at the same time its honoring all of the victims of racism, especially the ones that are being killed by police in recent years. Through a linear, almost symmetric storytelling, Comfort Zone also inquires into the interstitial space

between personal and public spheres, in which personal memories and universal imagery find unexpected still coherent points of convergence: this aspect of your work provides the spectatorship with an immersive experience that forces such a contamination the inner and the

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outside: how do you see the relationship between public sphere and the role of art in public space?

Art is communication of its own sort and as such it has to connect with public sphere, it has to be able to change things for the better, not only

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to make ascertainment. I like for my works to be integral part of every day life, especially when the works deals with issues like Comfort Zone does. I want for all people, not only art audience, to get involved , so that we can all together deal and squash social problems like racism, homophobia,


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almost brawl in between police and security of the festival, other time during performance “Breathing-Walking – Touching” I was attacked by radical right wing group and that started the series of events which led to me immigrating to United States. So, all of that shows you how much its important to connect public with art whatever is the outcome. At the same time traditional interpretation of private and public has transferred to cyberspace and even though we can perceive cyberspace as simulacrum of reality, it is still great platform that redefines the public space and function of art in it. It also gives more equally dispersal podium for action, what Fiske, calls ”metaphor for the distribution of power in society”. All the social medias are doing great job for socially involved art, but we have to be careful not to get stuck there, we have to understand that social medias are just one of the options, not the final meeting ground.

xenophobia, misogyny etc. Art has a crucial role not only as a check point of individuals, but also of conscience of whole humanity. The reality of social involved work and public space is that it comes with certain danger, when I was doing a performance “Capital” police tried to stop it and it turned into

A distinctive mark of the way you convey a vision into your work is the construction of a concrete aesthetic from experience and symbols, working on both subconscious and conscious level. So we would take this occasion to ask you if in your opinion, personal experience is absolutely indispensable as part of the creative process? Do you think that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience?

GSR: For me and my work, experience is part of creative process. And whether

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Comfort Zone, 2016


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we admit or not, we can not avoid experience because that's how we are formed as individuals or as the whole. Traditionally it is thought that intellectualization of anything is somehow detached from experience and that cannot be further from the truth. In some of my works starting

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point is in mysticism and occultism, but even with those branches of human intellect, experience is crucial, if not my own, it will be experience of those before me. On the other hand, if we think of that part of art that Plato calls â&#x20AC;&#x153;techneâ&#x20AC;? is still a product of experience, its a learning process.


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artist, rather than urging the viewer to take a personal position on a subject, tries to convey his personal take about the major issues that affect contemporary age. Do you consider that your works are political in this way? Do you feel that it’s your responsibility as an artist to teach and raise awareness of certain issues?

When analyzing the theme of racism, you elaborate a direct socio political criticism. Many artists from the contemporary scene, as Judy Chicago or more recently Jennifer Linton, use to include socio-political criticism in their works. It is not unusual that an

I don’t see my work as political in any way, because politics, at least the successful one, is developed through compromises. I don’t make compromises, I stand by my opinions and the work I make. However, my work are socially involved, they deal with injustice, racism, any form of hatred or against death penalty or free immigration and so on. It is my responsibility as an artist and as a human being not only to raise awareness of certain issues, but to try and change them. Sometimes art is starting point to handling social problems and sometime is the whole walk in any good fight. While I was working as a curator of V.I.P.Art Gallery in Belgrade’s Cultural Center I met Serbian and international artist who thought that activist art is thing of the pass, for them is was just of many fazes in history of contemporary art. I never agreed with that, I see artist as a person who has to be aware of everything, in a way a revolutionary individual that never forgets that its a part of big whole, someone who has to push a change, who is a change. Artist is a teacher, but not only tied to some educational institution, true artist teaches always. He has to have ability

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to stand in front of Academia members same as he would explain something to children, he has to have that type of versatility. It’s something I do daily here, especially now with misunderstanding of white public about the ”Black lives matter” movement and the phrase. They came up with other phrase ”All lives matter” and while all lives do matter, no question about it, not all lives are in danger like lives of black men and women. So, my duty is to explain this on daily bases, so that more people can understand and support those who are in danger, in this case black people. We have really appreciated the way you invite the viewers to challenge their perceptual parameters for the references to the act of painting on the skin. German multidisciplinary artist Thomas Demand once stated that "nowadays art can no longer rely so much on symbolic strategies and has to probe psychological, narrative elements within the medium instead". What is your opinion about it?

I do agree that symbolic strategies are not enough, but that can be said for psychological narrative elements, because from Jungian perspective of archetypes, symbols are narrative elements. I would rather use Deleuze’s “Body Without Organs” in correlation to artistic medium and viewer perceptual parameters. Deleuze connects all the parts in one well defined and adjustable “organism” that can be purely metaphysical or physical body. Therefore painting on skin goes from

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They said sacred, I said human, performance (2016)

corporal action to deeply ontological execution that builds medium from itself. That way me as a creator of the work and the viewer are involved on metaphysical level and in a way interchangeable in creation of the artwork.


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It's no doubt that interdisciplinary collaborations as the one that you have established together with Avery Gilbert II are today ever growing forces in Contemporary Art and that the most exciting things happen when creative minds from different fields of practice meet and collaborate on a project... could you tell us something

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

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Freedom - Godot Has Finally Arrived, exhibition 2013


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For many years I have collaborated with many artists, all with different sensibilities and with different backgrounds in art and all of them I cherish very much. As much as I enjoy creating my work in solitude, I enjoy even more working with one or more artists, having strong individuals that work together always brings amazing results. In recent years the most usual collaborations are with Vojislav Radovanovic, from my art group Corpus Artisticum and with Avery Gilbert II with whom I formed (Av)+(Ga) and collaborations with both of them gave birth to amazing works that otherwise I would never have created by myself. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s very hard to describe certain part of calibrations, artist has to intrigues and inspire each other, there has to be mutual understanding intellectually and emotionally and than there is a part that it can be caught by words. Maybe we can call it energy. In Comfort Zone, that communication is most visible during the process when Avery and I are painting each other, but its even more there once when we finished with it and now painted we turn, standing next to each other and look forward. That point right there, is our mutual understanding of situation of racism, our acceptance of reality and determination to change it. In a way, our bodies, that now belong to everybody who feel the same way as we do, become living monument that will not allow anybody to forget the

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past and push you to modify or alter the present. Over these years you works have been internationally exhibited in several occasions, including eight solos and you recent participation at I Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t Get it, at the AB Gallery Portland State


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They said sacred, I said human, performance (2016)

University. Your work is strictly connected to the chance of establishing a direct involvement with the viewers, who are called to evolve from a mere spectatorship to conscious participants on an intellectual level, so before leaving this conversation I would like to pose a question about the nature of the

relationship of your art with your audience. Do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decision-making process, in terms of what type of language is used in a particular context?

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walking proudly to our EUolgy, video work (2016)

When I think about certain idea and creating, I don’t think about audience in advance and for that to lead me how will I express my idea or that will somehow have an impact on the used language. I don’t go into creation

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worried how it will be perceived. One of my performance “Ma longue misere” that dealt with Christian hypocrisy, brought me a lot of problems and life treats, but at the end, as extreme as it was, it made some people think. They


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first projection, it made some people uncomfortable, but also created great platform for conversation and for action. At the same time, once when the work is executed, me as an artist and the audience, we become one and the some, its a gratifying feeling of belonging and unity that always gives me hope for humanity as the whole. I accept this duality, this love and hate relationship as a normal part of being an artist that deals with social problems and it seems provoking topics. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Gabrijel. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects. How do you see your work evolving?

came to me afterwards, we had great talk and they understood what I wanted to say. But, I didn't go into this performance with idea to indulge to audience expectations. I never do that. Same as with â&#x20AC;&#x153;Comfort Zoneâ&#x20AC;?, at the

I just finished filming in the desert for my new video work that will deal with cognitive dissonance necessitating freedom of individual in relation to different societies and cultures around the world. On of the directions I see myself on, is Bio Art, I have been fascinated by it for quite a while and a lot of my ideas are starting to crave for that typo of expression. But, in whatever direction I take I believe the constant will always be dealing with social problems, injustices and personal growth. An interview by Josh Ryder, curator and Melissa C. Hilborn, curator articulaction@post.com

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S lañana Mitrović N uša Lapajne Live and works in Ljubljana, Slovenia

An artist's statement

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MNL is an artistic group made up by Nuša Lapajne(1970) and Slañana Mitrović (1981); both are livingand working in Ljubljana. The two female artists are active in different fields: Nuša Lapajne has devotedherself to spatial installations in ceramics (SpatialSystems), whereas Slañana Mitrović is working as apainter and theoretician/researcher.

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Their artistic paths cross in the SMNL group, which was createdfor the needs of carrying out performance andexperimental projects, such as ART FASHION. Theaim of the SMNL group is to evoke an artisticreaction to the changes and fast actions of modern-day life; hence, it is characterised byopenness, plasticity and flexibility.


Photo by Iztok AmerĹĄek


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making and to the aesthetic problem in general?

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Nuša: Even though we have completely

Artists Slañana Mitrović and Nuša Lapajne have established an effective collaboration: in the video "ART FASHION” that we'll be discussing in the following pages, they investigate about the relationships between art and fashion, urging the viewers to rethink their usual cultural and perceptual categories in order to bring to a new level of significance the elusive notion of Art. One of the most convincing aspect of their approach is the way it accomplishes an effective inquiry into the fundamental question of what art is today: we are very pleased to introduce our readers to Mitrović and Lapajne's stimulating artistic production. Hello Slañana and Nuša, welcome to ARTiculAction: to start this interview, would you like to tell us something about your backgrounds? You have both solid formal training: Nuša's degreed with a MA of Painting, that she received from the Academy of Fine Arts and Design, University of Ljubljana and Slañana holds a PhD in Anthropology of Art from the Graduate School of Humanities Institutum Studiorum Humanitatis: how do this experience influence your evolution as an artist? And in particular how do your cultural substratums inform the way you relate yourselves to art

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different views on art, they seem to be extremely similar in some points. Art uses a universal language and if a work of art has quality it is not important what sort of education the artist has, what language he speaks and what environment he comes from. However, it is clear that the environment in which one lives determines one’s artistic creativity, perception, as well as one’s experience of the aesthetics. Regardless of its European membership, Slovenia is artistically isolated. The flow of information is slow; the art market is not developed or one could say almost non-existent. This is why our video emerged from “more is less”. We decided that the stress should be placed on delivering our strong message, while technical perfection came second. The idea of aesthetics is relative anyway, as is the idea as to what is modern or what is art. Slañana: Thank you for inviting us to

cooperate. We both started our artistic careers at the Department of Painting at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Ljubljana. I continued with my studies at Institutum Studiorum Humanitatis in Ljubljana, where I successfully defended my PhD in Art Anthropology in 2013. My studies in painting provided me with


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abundant practical skills, but I lacked research and theoretical approaches, which is why I started to focus on history of art, contemporary philosophy, psychoanalysis as well as cultural and gender studies during my doctoral studies. Dealing with theory opened new thought patterns that differed from the practical, painting ones. At the same time it proved, that both, the artistic practice as well as theory, are based on the research of a specific problem, as both disciplines respond to our existential, social, intimate questions that are impossible to escape. If you can’t find the answers in painting then you have to open a new front, discover a new discipline, a discipline that will accompany art. The things I failed to express through my painting, I researched in theory and tried to express through words. The time and space in which the work of art emerges triggers a certain communication code that can be understood or not, but whatever one does one should not exclude the universal meaning that everybody is privy to. The work of art has to influence the viewer on numerous levels with aesthetic, narrative, psychological, emotional and symbolic elements, which at the end form a cultural substratum. In my work I favour various elements, and I truly believe that not only a strong idea, but also the aesthetic impact is important, thus the burden of the cultural substratum should be eased. Multidisciplinarity is a key feature of your collaborative approach and before starting to elaborate about your production, we would ask you to walk our readers through your process and set up: in particular, we would like to ask you how did you develop your style and how do currently you conceive your works. Nuša: Multidisciplinarity can be seen in all

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spheres of life and not merely in the artistic sphere. In our work we address the current socially critical issues: Does fashion exist in art? Is art fashion? Is fashion art? In our work we applied a painting element to the black and white film – we added colour, with which we


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merged the conceptual and visual aspect. I have noticed that in today’s art we fail to emphasise the visual aspect as much as we should. As a painter I believe that we are much too likely to turn to philosophical, psychological and sociological explanations of an individual

work of art and that we tend to forget that a work of art is VISUAL. The work has to primarily address the viewer with its visual image and only later pose questions. Our video is primarily a work by painters, for we have manually applied colours to the film, painted upon it and scratched it (not

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digitally). I could say that the film is a long painting canvass painted with gestures, the unconscious and action painting, which coincides with the other contexts of the video. Slañana: I believe that multidisciplinarity

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is not merely a current fashion trend, but that it reflects the need for the multilayered communication of a work of art. Contemporary artists unconsciously return to the Renaissance artist model. The artist is not merely a subject who knows how to present his skills on


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canvass, but a multi-layered personality who descends into various forms of research and creates knowledge. The artistic connections, the teamwork between art and other disciplines need to work in this sense. The artist establishes cooperation with theoreticians, doctors,

biologists, physicians and other scientists with which he hopes to develop communication, associations, memories, thought patterns and cognition in the broadest possible sense. I have not developed a recognisable or continuous style in my work. My style changes radically. I always start with a problem or story that pushes me to search for an image in a broader context, which is why I always like to create series. When I paint I create a number of consecutive canvasses on the same theme, and I work similarly when I work with text or video. I try to find the appropriate material and aesthetic solution for my story or idea. If I were to show this on an example: when I was painting an erotic series, the painting material was sprinkled, dripped and splattered on canvass, in a way that was reminiscent of human bodily fluids. I am currently painting a series entitled Exodus, which addresses religiosity and migrations, which is why the colour layers are translucent, and I only use various shades of blue. The paintings have a contemplative appearance. It is similar in theory. The last thing I did was write a text on bodily pain. At the end I ascertained that sentences and phrases were sharp and harsh, there was no space for easiness, playfulness or metaphors in the text and during the final read I got the feeling that every letter sliced into the reader’s flesh. In my opinion style is formed through a process and in accordance to the contents. If you opt for a style in advance and apply the same style to all of your works, you are bound to fall into automatism. For this special edition of ARTiculAction we have selected ART FASHION, an extremely interesting performance video that our readers have already started to

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get to know in the introductory pages of this article. As you have stated once, this work project was created as an unscripted performance: what has at once caught our attention of your investigation about the relationship between art and fashion is the way you have brought it to a new level of significance that challenges our daily experience to recontextualized it in such an unconventional way. When walking our readers through the genesis of ART FASHION, we would like to ask you what is the role of chance in your process: how much improvisation is important for you? Nuša: I will tell you an anecdote that will reveal

how we came up with the idea for the ART FASHION video. Together with a group of art critics, curators, gallery owners and artists we visited Arte Fiera, a large art “fair” in Bologna. For two days our conversations focused exclusively on art. With all these intellectually demanding themes, we stopped next to a cluster of fashion shops and transferred our thought process onto Italian fashion. Enthusiasm for art is easily turned into enthusiasm for interesting fashion pieces. Of course we also purchased some articles. While doing so we wondered where did the art go, for it was the sole topic of our conversation merely a moment before. The connection could also be found directly with the art “fair”, where we viewed the pavilions at the exhibition centre and where art was offered at market or non-market prices and where they presented what was currently considered modern in art. There we were, in the midst of the pavilions, with shopping bags from a fashion store. What a paradox! Improvisation was the only possible solution if we wished to express our attitude towards this issue in an elementary way. We established contact with the viewer merely with a gesture, movement, glance, without using any text. Slañana: The idea for the video performance ART

FASHION emerged from the years of cooperation

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Nuša Lapajne and Slañana Mitrović


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between Nuša Lapajne and myself. We meet several times a week, we have cooperated in a number of projects, and I am well acquainted with her work. In our debates we often discuss the meaning of art, we try to define our standpoints on the artistic practice, the position of art and the role of the artist. We wanted to give a new dimension to the thought rationality that is included in our cooperation, a dimension that can be brought forth by coincidence and experiments. An unwritten performance that was recorded to video introduced unconscious motives to the field of sight. In the beginning the idea behind the ART FASHION video was to question the connections between fashion and art. From this aspect the ironic conflict between the historical and contemporary position of art, high and popular culture, appearances and mental depth is ever present. The possibility of a spontaneous reaction made it possible for us to introduce ourselves and our bodies as a psychological portrait. We treated the camera as a living being, and responded spontaneously to it, thus unexpected emotional reactions, gesticulations and facial mimics appeared and this led to new contents. Your art practice draws a lot from direct experience, encapsulating elements from social environment as well as from psychoanalysis: in a certain sense, when placing art into the fast rhythm of our everchanging contemporary age, ART FASHION could be considered a successful attempt to create a work that stands as record of existence, to go beyond the elusive relationship between experience and identity in our globalized mundanity. So we would take this occasion to ask you if in your opinion personal experience is an absolutely indispensable part of a creative process... Do you think that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience? Nuša: It is impossible to create high quality artwork if

the artist does not draw from his own experiences. If the artist is not drawing from his experience he is merely arranging and replicating something. Posing questions on identity and other global problems of the contemporary society is based solely on experience. Slañana: The creative process can simply not occur

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without the involvement of direct personal experiences. Through his work the artist researches and makes his identity visible. The creative process is caused through the biography of the creator and his existential moment, it is a personal seal, a manuscript which can trigger emotional empathy and identification of the viewer. Using Michelangelo’s Moses as an example Freud showed that any artwork demands a series of unconscious elements that the artist failed to realise or label as important. I believe in the psychoanalytic theory, which is why I often include strategies of spontaneous speech into my artworks, for they draw unexpected elements into the daylight. Unconscious motives spread the artwork’s message on a number of levels. ART FASHION also inquires into the interstitial space between personal and public spheres, in which personal memories and asumptions find a point of convergence with universal imagery: this aspect of your work provides the spectatorship with an immersive experience that forces such a contamination the inner and the outside: how do you see the relationship between public sphere and the role of art in public space? Nuša: The video is set in an intimate space – a

room, in which we undress and change our clothes and while doing so we flirtingly invite the viewer to join us. This opens our space into the public space. The screen acts like a membrane that separates the intimate setting from the public setting. You can either enter the intimacy or you can walk past. The intimate act is not unusual for the public. Changing clothes is a part of our everyday lives, but while looking, the viewer wonders: Can I see more? The video ends with a stopped, frozen frame. There is no perversion. The perversity is located in our minds. Where is the line between perversity and art? Slañana: The entire idea for ART FASHION is

based on the crossing of the personal and public

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space. We walked along the edge the entire time; on one hand we were interested in the subjective relation to the ratio between fashion and art, how do I as an artist depict myself in the trend? Our portraits lead to the question: can I be a fashion icon or a work of art, a model or an artist? On the other hand ART FASHION clearly addresses the eye behind the camera, the viewer, the public, which is why the artist’s body changes into the viewed object, becomes a model and an aesthetic event. At a certain point the space between the inner and outer, private and public, subject and object, visible and invisible gives way to a clear division just like on the Möbius strip. We would go as far as to state that drawing from immediately fruible set of symbols, ART FASHION urges the viewers to re-elaborate what is sometimes is the conflictual relationship between our personal substratum and mundane imagery. German multidisciplinary artist Thomas Demand once stated that "nowadays art can no longer rely so much on symbolic strategies and has to probe psychological, narrative elements within the medium instead". What is your opinion about it? And in particular how do you conceive the narrative for your works? Nuša: Our work functions on a number of levels. As

soon as text appears, the viewer’s thought process becomes guided. The painting canvass also has no subtitles. You can read the accompanying text or ignore it. Everybody understands and feels it differently. The ART FASHION video is similar. It can be understood as a sequence from a “home” environment, socially critical, a painting … Slañana: ART FASHION was planned as an open work

that has plenty of space for spontaneous operation, challenges, experiments. The narration was added at a later stage, as an added value. This was done because of how the psychological elements - the repeated changing of clothes and decorating the body with jewellery, the seduction of the viewer with female and erotic elements - functioned. It is hard to avoid symbolic interpretations in Western culture. As an example let’s take a look at the statue of the goddess Aphrodite that we used in ART FASHION. This statue has its history, myths, meaning and they all

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mark it even when it is used in contemporary artistic practices. As you have remarked once, the video also raises the question of the relationship between the woman/artist and the viewer. While lots of artists from the contemporary scene, as Ai WeiWei or more recently Jennifer Linton, use to convey open socio-political criticism in their works, you seem more interested to hint the direction, inviting the viewers to a process of self-reflection that may lead to subvert a variety of usual, almost stereotyped cultural categories. Do you consider that your works could be considered political in a certain sense or did you seek to maintain a more neutral approach? And in particular, what could be in your opinion the role that an artist could play in the contemporary society? Nuša: We did not wish to open feminist or any

other political issues. However, women and femininity do represent a key aspect in this video. A woman as an artist and an object of desirable glances that she draws from the viewer. We started from our personal experiences. We both perform, record ourselves and invite the public to enter our intimacy. We could say that this is a part of the subculture, a time of selfies, reality shows, etc. Slañana: ART FASHION exposes a certain form of

social criticism and evaluates our relation towards art. If we are to look at an example: ART FASHION emerged as a response to our broader cultural events. Nuša and I decided to pose a series of questions: is art merely fashion or is fashion before art? Can fashion be found in art and does art have an advantage over fashion? It bothers me that artistic events in Slovenia are restricted to certain state institutions which determine and define the entire artistic scene. If you are friendly with these institutions, you will be well situated in the artistic scene, while the quality of the artwork often loses its meaning in this context. The artist had a number of socially

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important roles ever since the ancient times: he was a shaman, a spiritual leader, a revolutionary, the carrier of new ideas, an intellectual, a rebel opposing the ruling regime, a critic, an aesthetician, etc. I have noticed that the role of the artist today is often reduced to concern: concern for continuous production, media appearances, excellent references, international cooperation, while the dimension of the artistic idea and the quality of the artwork are insufficiently exposed. Art quickly falls into a selfevident action that is hard to resist. In ART FASHION we recognised the irony and reacted to today’s position of art and artists. A certain political orientation can be seen in this. It's no doubt that interdisciplinary collaborations as the one that you have established together are today ever growing forces in Contemporary Art and that the most exciting things happen when creative minds from different fields of practice meet and collaborate on a project... could you tell us something about your effective synergy? By the way, Peter Tabor once stated that "collaboration is working together with another to create something as a synthesis of two practices, that alone one could not": what's your point about this? Can you explain how your work demonstrates communication between two artists? Nuša: I agree entirely with P.T.’s statement. The

synthesis of two different worlds resulted in a product that could not be created by a single individual. My work is totally different from Slañana’s work. I work in pottery installations, even though I am a painter by trade. While combining several artistic fields I tend to improvise and reconstruct. It is possible that we are similar in these points. However, Slañana is more involved in the theoretical part, while I am more involved with the practical aspects. Slañana: Working in a group or in a pair demands

communication, accepting suggestions, an exchange of questions and answers. Nuša and I have different thought patterns, we both have our own history of artistic work and this is where the charm of our

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cooperation lies, for we connect totally different art directions. As you have mentioned, the interdisciplinarity establishes a new field of creativity, in which standpoints, ideas and thoughts intertwine. When two or more disciplines are merged a new space is created and this provides the possibility for a different operation. ART FASHION has a multilayered message; one of the ways it could be interpreted is as a double selfportrait, in which we complement each other in the expressions, gestures, and communication with the viewers. As a pair we create suspense with the exchange of our opposing roles of artist - model, viewer – the viewed, subject - object.

seduction game. We have a double role: we are the model, a woman who is showing herself and creating various messages with her body. While creating the performance/video we were looking at each other, recording ourselves, as well as entering an interaction with the viewer, man, consumer, art collector, the public on the other side of the camera. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Slañana and Nuša. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? Nuša: While writing this interview we have

Over these years your works have been showcased in several occasions and one of the hallmarks of your practice is the capability to create a direct involvement with the viewers, who are urged to evolve from a condition of mere spectatorship. So before leaving this conversation we would like to pose a question about the nature of the relationship of your art with your audience. Do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decision-making process, in terms of what type of language is used in a particular context?

started a new version of the video. It is improved, leads to a more involved experience and has stronger contents. It is surprising how you can influence the transformation of the base and obtain completely new contents, expression and visual stimuli in post-production. Once again this was a fast, improvised and spontaneous manoeuvre. At this stage we do not wish to make any detailed plans. We merely responded to the current impulses of time and space. “Slañana, we have one film left. When should we start?”

Nuša: Not only is the viewer important, he is

Slañana: I would like to develop ART

the key to the video. We try to gain attention, interest, expectation and make the viewer contemplate his position in society. On the other hand, the viewer might merely enjoy himself and move his hips to the rhythm of the music. This is also a contemporary man!

FASHION into a new form of visual language that would not necessarily be linked to performance or video. It would be interesting if we could establish some sort of cooperation with the fashion industry and thus create a new relationship.

Slañana: The viewer is always a part of the

Translation: Sunčan Stone

work of art, for he is consciously or unconsciously always present. In the final phase even the artist swaps the role of the creator with the role of the viewer. In ART FASHION we reflect on directly gazing into the camera, and we play the flirting and

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Photos by Iztok Ameršek An interview by Dario Rutigliano, curator and Barbara Scott, curator articulaction@post.com


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A lessandra Dimitra Lives and works in Berlin, Germany

Tracing the human signs in the paintings by Alessandra Dimitra

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here are two main elements that the viewer of Alessandra Dimitra’s paintings observes even at a first encounter with them: the drawing of her compositions from a rich vocabulary of ‘personal mythology’ and the treatment of the painting process as a ritual act. On the paintings’ surfaces gather familiar people involved in everyday situations, albeit the complexity of the relations between them and the surrounding space reveals an essential effort for understanding the human condition and an artistic usage of archetypical symbols aiming at the discovery of a road to the Transcendental. In her works the figures of contemporary humans find their place in ancient myths and take on the roles of gods, heroes and mortals, merging the past with the

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present, space with time, reality with the metaphysical. The figures, which are characterised by technical precision and discipline, elevate themselves to psychographs that come to life through their communication and interaction, which is so dynamic and immediate that it activates senses beyond that of sight. In the depiction of the characteristics of the form the gestural way of painting is especially evident. The turbulent motion of the brush, combined with the large amount of colour and its application in multiple layers, creates the effect of relief, which does not destroy its expressiveness but enhances it.

Vassiliki Athena Vayenou, Art historian


Ariadne meets Penelope, textile object, 2013 Berlin, by Alessandra Dimitra PastPresentFuture series, cotton banner with a yellow silk bordure, colour drawings printed on canvas, threads and burden bags, 75 x 48 cm


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Alessandra Dimitra An interview by Josh Ryder, curator and Dario Rutigliano, curator articulaction@post.com

Investigating about the relationship between identity and hybridization, Alessandra Dimitra's work rejects any conventional classification and accomplishes a consistent synergy between traditional techniques and contemporary sensitiveness to extract a compelling narrative that draws the viewers to a multi-layered experience. In her project PastPresentFuture that we'll be discussing in the following pages, she examines the relation between spiritual self and the places it chooses for coming into existence, walking us into an area in which the perceptual dimension and subconscious sphere merges together into coherent unity. One of the most convincing aspects of Dimitra's work is her successful attempt to draw the viewer's attention to real situations in which we all might take part and reflect the problems of current society, ethics and appropriate behaviour: we are very pleased to introduce our readers to her multifaceted artistic production. Hello Alessandra, and a warm welcome to ARTiculAction: we would start this interview posing you a couple of questions about your background. You have a solid formal training: you studied Painting and Textile and you degreed from the prestigious Institute

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of Fine Arts at J. Gutenberg University in Mainz. How has this experience influenced your evolution as an artist?

From a very young age on I wished to be educated in the arts, so I have studied classical dancing, design and finally fine arts. During this process I considered University as a heaven of knowledge offering every pleasure to my thirsty mind and allowing me to in-depth my passion of understanding the history of art and culture. Among other artistic disciplines my main focus was already on painting and drawing. By the time of my beginnings at University my interest in figurative art appeared rather exotic; still I could enjoy the support of my professors on my quest about human consciousness and social interaction. My early unit Positions in time and space deals with the subjective reality perception of real persons at a particular moment in time and elaborates psychograms defining the complexity of human perception. The following project Fleeting Systems also narrates portraits in series and explores human interconnections now focusing on social structures of families, friends and groups of people. The artwork conquers the physical room as well as the superior reality that builds the frame within the time and space dimensions, in which relationships and


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communication take place creating a multidimensional network of interactions, a think-tank and field of experience. And in particular, how does your cultural substratum dued to your Greek roots as well as to your further studies in Philosophy, Education Science and Ethnology inform the way you deal with the aesthetic problem in general?

In order to understand the art of any particular period it is necessary to gain knowledge about its Zeitgeist. At any point in time art is the expression of a particularly society with its culture formed by politics, religion and philosophy. So all this disciplines work together for a deeper understanding. The most exciting for me is to observe the continuous trail of cultural knowledge as it flows from one blossoming civilization to the next unfolding the same existential wisdom within ever new expressions of art. My education in the arts of the ancient Greek cultures gave me a solid background and helped my understanding of the other important cultures of antiquity and their influences upon the evolution of art. I was socialized as Greek, German and European, I guess that made me focus more on the connecting than on the diverting part of cultural identity. My research and teaching on global culture focuses on the aesthetic archetypes as a basic human expression. You are a versatile artist and your media ranges from painting, illustration and land art, showing an organic synergy between a variety of expressive capabilities. Before starting

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to elaborate about your production, we would suggest to our readers to visit http://www.alessandradimitra.de in


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PastPresentFuture, Installation view, Berlin, by Alessandra Dimitra Installation with 23 life - sized drawings printed on chiffon banners, connected with a â&#x20AC;&#x153;red threadâ&#x20AC;? and hanged on clotheslines stretched through the room

order to get a synoptic view of your multifaceted artistic production: while walking our readers through your

process, we would like to ask you if you ever happened to realize that such multidisciplinary approach is the only

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PastPresentFuture Installation view, Berlin, by Alessandra Dimitra Installation with 23 life - sized drawings printed on chiffon banners, connected with a â&#x20AC;&#x153;red threadâ&#x20AC;? and hanged on clotheslines stretched through the room

way to express and convey the idea you explore.

Of course it is all about ideas. Each emerging concept demands a particular form of materialization. Every idea goes along with certain types of media. According to the audience that I like to address I may choose among this media range the proper techniques and materials for each project. As an artist I enjoy the artistic creation. The media and techniques are simply tools in my toolbox. I might even express art

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through cooking. The perpetual repetition of successful techniques provides no challenge. For this special issue of ARTiculAction we have selected PastPresentFuture, a stimulating project that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article. What has at once caught our attention of your inquiry into the interconnecting relations between the spiritual self and the places it chooses for coming into existence is the way it


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accomplishes the difficult task of creating a channel of communication between the conscious sphere and the subconscious sphere. When walking our readers through the genesis of PastPresentFuture, would you shed a light about the role of metaphors in your process?

The intermedia project PastPresentFuture follows the structures that connected individuals within their cultural backgrounds leave in the time and space frame. Besides the current reality and the historic information

nowadays, I select subconscious information fragments to recreate the complexity within the narrative. Mostly we operate with our conscious mind without reflecting on all those processes that happen driven by the subconscious. It influences our choices and behaviour in so many ways. We like or dislike people, things or places according to long forgotten experiences that have left their blueprint in our brain and they still give signals to us through the subconscious. Actually we all

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sometimes notice that happening, but one can exercise this sensibility. On the same way our subconscious reacts on stimuli from our surrounding in a more intuitive way. That is why a picture or a short poem may transport so many more information than a written or spoken text addressing to our conscious perception would do. As my artistic intention is the creation of visual poems, metaphors play a vital role in my artistic vocabulary. When investigating about the hybridization between identities and cultures you seem to address the viewers to bring to a new level of significance the relationship between the spiritual self and the places it chooses for coming into existence. We can recognize a subtle but effective socio political criticism in this aspect: but while other artists from the contemporary scene, as Judy Chicago or more recently Jennifer Linton, use to include open socio-political criticism in their works, you rather seem to hint the direction to the spectatorship, urging them to elaborate personal associations. Do you consider that your works are political in this way or do you seek to maintain a neutral approach? Do you feel that itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s your responsibility as an artist to teach and raise awareness of certain issues?

I suggest that accepting the hybridization between ones identities and cultures within the timeframe would smash the boundaries of identity perception and cultural belonging towards a more global point of view, leading to a respectfully altered intercultural approach.

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Maria - Nefeli, painting, 2011 Berlin, by Alessandra Dimitra Panta RhĂŠi series, oil on canvas, 100 x 140 cm

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OberbaumbrĂźcke, Friedrichshain, limited edition fine art print, 2014 Berlin, by Alessandra Dimitra Berlin! A love story! series

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Art always expresses a statement, even if only a formal one, that fore it can hardly be neutral. My statement is sociopolitical. I ask questions in an artistic way. I don’t intent to provide readymade answers or messianic solutions. I open up a discussion, make people see something from another point of view, notice a different facet and think it over again. The quest of wisdom is the motivation behind our existential human questions interpreting the eternal cycle of becoming and passing. This urge to knowledge serving the individual search of fulfilment is a point of reference of my artistic work. Each change of our point of view transforms our subjective perception of reality and causes social changes through alternated actions. That kind of alternated structures are not random. Humanitarian idealism is needed, in particular an egalitarian sense of freedom and a tolerant attitude towards the variety of individual life styles. The task is to track the interconnection between the power of thoughts and the manifestations of this creative energy as concrete reality. Personal luck and happiness are rather a matter of ones point of view than the necessary result of circumstances. Within the given systems, I could not oversee the issue of “power”. I explored the topics of power over one’s self and the use or abuse of social power. Investigative courage is needed to get access to the most intimate hidden passions, to the most torturing necessities, to friendship, love and the

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whole range of emotions in order to explore and to sublimely transform them. Fascinated I follow this urge of knowledge as I go deeper into the existential questions of humans and their perception of fulfilment, expressing this process with my artwork. Judy Chicago is a legend for female artists of my generation. In my series Half of the undivided or the female aspect of god and Wish as well as in the Rhea Land Art Projects I research on female aspects and primordial goddesses, which links this works to some of her concepts. In my family there is a teaching tradition maybe that made it so familiar to me. Teaching is about leading a person to discover knowledge within its own experience and possibilities, a demanding and joyful task. I have been teaching art students at the University and various Institutions. Lately I work again with children which I find very enjoyable. Currently we also started an art education project with refugees in Berlin. As you have remarked once, in order to explore the topic of personal identities, you use your own personal and artistic experience as well as your current perception of life. A distinctive mark of the way you construct a concrete aesthetic from experience and memories and symbols is evident in your current series entitled Berlin! A love story! and it works on both subconscious and conscious level. Moreover, you once remarked that animations tell a story and portray experiences yet you want to show them as drawings; so we would take this occasion to ask you if in your opinion,

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personal experience is absolutely indispensable as part of the creative process? In particular, how would you describe the role of memory in your process?

We have been formed by our experiences; they mainly are the result of our decisions and actions. That makes us who we are and defines what we have to say. We are driven by intentions that long to manifest. We have to experience something before we can express it. As future is always uncertain and present is just a tiny bit of time, I am afraid that mainly we possess our memories of the past. In fact, it is not even the exactly occurred event that we recall as we keep interpreting by remembering. In the series PastPresentFuture my research is focusing on the origins of various memories of my other identities that occurred since my childhood. My endeavour is to work out those information fragments and to interweave them with historic facts in order to complete each of the time portraits that reassemble the multilayered picture. In my current series Berlin! A love story real people transform into carriers of a supreme identity as they become representatives of their district. The project is creating a historical as well as artistic - subjective portrait of Berlin by showing its regional microcosmic district peculiarities, before it once again alters its appearance. It deals with memories of the historical layers that marked the exiting history of


Andromeda, painting, 2008 Berlin, by Alessandra Dimitra Panta RhĂŠi series, oil on canvas, 120 x 100 cm


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Ithaki 1550-1498 B.C., Berlin, by Alessandra Dimitra PastPresentFuture series, life - sized drawing printed on chiffon banners, 200 cm x 90 cm

Beaumont 1707-1751 A.D., Berlin, by Alessandra Dimitra PastPresentFuture series, life - sized drawing printed on chiffon banners, 200 cm x 90 cm

Berlin. Besides the impressive architectural structures leading us back to the classicism at the end of the 19th century and the Prussian order, the story of the city takes us to the glamorous metropolis of the 20es, the

totalitarian madness of the 30es - 40es, the rebuilding out of scratch in the 50es, the real existing communism of the DDR, the cold war city - island that Berlin has been until the unification and last but not least to its new role as

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people involved, locals and visitors, influence their perception of the city and define their reality. Another interesting project that has particularly impressed us and on which we would like to spend some words is entitled PĂĄnta RhĂŠi, an aphorism from pre-Socratic Greek philosopher Heraclitus of Ephesus that could be translated to everything flows. What has at once caught our attention of this project is its successful attempt to produce a dialectical fusion that operates as a system of symbols creates a compelling nonlinear narrative that, walking the thin line between conceptual and literal meanings, establishes direct relations with the viewers. German multidisciplinary artist Thomas Demand once stated that "nowadays art can no longer rely so much on symbolic strategies and has to probe psychological, narrative elements within the medium instead". What is your opinion about it? And in particular how do you conceive the narrative for your works?

Eleusis 588 - 527 B.C., Berlin, by Alessandra Dimitra PastPresentFuture series, life - sized drawing printed on chiffon banners, 200 cm x 90 cm

capital and center of the art ever since. After many extended visits in the city, I live and work in Berlin - Mitte since 1998 were I witnessed the gentrification process and the exchange of the inhabitants. The memories of all those

Thomas Demand is a fascinating colleague. Certainly readable information and aesthetical elements must be well expressed through the chosen medium. The use of symbolism simply depends on the necessities of the artistic approach. There cannot be a dogma about it. The excessive or dogmatic use of symbolism during certain periods in art history may not make it appear so popular nowadays. On the other hand we are surrounded by symbolism. Archetypes are the basics of our communication system. Propaganda and advertisement, product design or

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fashion trends could not be effective without them. I researched on this interesting issue and lectured about it. Communicating through global language of signs by using the psychology of colours and shapes characterizes my artistic production in general. In most of my projects the initial idea is followed by an extended time of conceptual planning before the realisation takes place. During that process the narrative takes its form. I balance long term projects with more spontaneous artistic actions. The project Pánta Rhéi puts emphasis on certain mythological references. As the rich mythological material found its way from Greece, through the Roman Empire to influence the later western cultures, it can be used as a communication platform were the modern interacts with the ancient. While these artworks define the characteristic state of continuous changes as a secure constant element, modern archetypes express personal destinies in the context of society values. Transformed into mythical heroes, they become carriers of the individual reality perception and feedback the common reality. Pánta Rhéi also seems to remove any historic gaze from the reality you refer to, inducing the viewers to rethink the notion of time in such temporal way. At the same time, the fruible set of elements you draw from universal imagery trigger the viewers' primordial parameters concerning our relation with physicality: as Gerhard Richter once remarked, "my concern is never art, but always what art can be used

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Chasing the shadows, Performance, 2015 Berlin, by Aless

for": what is your opinion about the functional aspect of Art in the contemporary age?

Pánta Rhéi transfers archetypical mythological statements into a contemporary scene. There is no intention to further specify contemporary. As the present keeps


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andra Dimitra PastPresentFuture series, Ithaki1550-1498 B.C., Macedonia 360 - 310 B.C., Alsace 1752-1808 A.D.

evolving I don’t use attributes that link to a particular era. That creates a sort of an everlasting present, a surrealistic illusion in which people are in lack of their shades. As I give my artwork formal and conceptual intensions I am already using art for communicational, educational or

socio-political purposes. This is far more than the pure joy of creation. The difference between a “non-functional” artwork and a “functional” design object is merging. Ready mates, conceptual artworks and target group specific projects, crowd founding and art sponsoring on the one side and high end design objects that provide far more

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Chasing the shadows, Performance, 2015 Berlin, by Alessandra Dimitra PastPresentFuture series, Egypt 1986 - 1917

than function one the other, both underlay aesthetical values. The idea of art without any functional aspect is in fact a rather short term statement within art history. Your pieces encapsulate both traditional techniques and modern methods you merge together to create a coherent unity, that rejects any conventional

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classification and that invites the viewer to explore the liminal area between Tradition and a vivacious contemporary approach. What is in your opinion the relationship between Tradition and Contemporariness? Do you think there's a contrast or do you rather think that Contemporariness could be considered an evolutive stage of Tradition?


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that makes the difference, enabling us to take the next step. On this endeavour we find it helpful to create a reference system providing orientation within the multidimensional network of actions and reactions between the individual person and its environment. If we wish to study the processing dynamics of events within a larger time scale, we need to focus on the hidden connections relating them. We first need to transform information into knowledge and then once again alter it into wisdom. Questioning the mainstream moral, philosophical and religious traditions by both analyzing them rationally and sensing them intuitively serves the utopic purpose of creating a suitable future orientation frame. Such a system would be build by using traditional knowledge and by overcoming meaningless dogmas.

B.C., Delos 700 - 600 B.C., Bretagne 1313 - 1361 A.D.

I would definitely agree that Contemporariness should be considered an evolutive stage of Tradition. It is in our nature to react on what we recognize as familiar and then we struggle to keep it updated with the Zeitgeist. We always alternate familiar strategies in order to invent or explore the unknown. But still it is this tiny bit that we alter each time

Over these years you works have been exhibited in several occasions and your works are in several public collections around the world. Your work is strictly connected to the chance of establishing a direct involvement with the viewers, who are called to evolve from a mere spectatorship to conscious participants on an intellectual level, so before leaving this conversation I would like to pose a question about the nature of the relationship of your art with your audience. Do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decision-making process, in terms of what type of language is used in a particular context?

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In my design projects I would define the visual keys according to a specified target group. For an artwork I would not do so as it addresses to a wider audience that decides to ignore or interact with my artwork by a variety of criteria. Crucial for the artistic communication is indeed the right type of artistic language used in the particular context. I wish to stimulate my audience to experience the visualized concept from their own point of view. There is no intention to make the spectator follow the complete process and intentions of the artistic creation just to make him understand the artwork. It is important that an artwork has a strong aesthetic intention. That makes it powerful enough to involve the viewer. He may then interpret it as he pleases. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Alessandra. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving?

Besides the ongoing series PastPresentFuture and Berlin! A love story I will continue with wider multimedia series merging paining and drawing with new technologies. The aspect of colour stays crucial for my artistic creation but I intend to do more space related projects. Also the issue of human perception and metaphysics will continue to inspire me. Thank you for this interview. An interview by Josh Ryder, curator and Dario Rutigliano, curator articulaction@post.com

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Timeline, Installation 2014 Berlin, by Alessandra Dimitra PastPresentFuture series, 20 colour drawings on Joss-Paper, 20 x 14 x 15.5 cm

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T iffany Fung Lives and works in New York City, USA

An artist's statement

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am searching for our being together in time and space to decipher the personal and collective identities that we share. The identities in which we locate the notion of self(ves) in the context of history, culture and community, or in realms beyond human understanding. My work attempts to build an ongoing dialogue between art, everyday life and spirituality, translating the experiences of our common sociopolitical struggles to form solidarity.

Tiffany Fung is a Hong Kong artist, filmmaker, and cultural worker working mainly in moving images, mixed media installations and community organizing. Her vision is to contribute to a more diverse, inclusive and socially engaged future in the arts. Growing up in a bilingual environment and city where “east meets west”, she is particularly fascinated by her struggling relationship with this thing called “culture”: its pull between the imaginary and materiality,

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personal and collective, private and political. In the constant code-switching between languages and value systems, Tiffany’s work dances in liminal spaces. She often speaks in silence and ambiguity to stimulate the opening of senses and subjective interpretations of light, sound and image montages. Simultaneously, she offers a multilayered response to current sociopolitical issues to question, disrupt and raise awareness. In 2015, Tiffany cofounded the art collective Distill HK to connect Hong Kong artists local and abroad. She is dedicated to promoting critical dialogue and building communities for the preservation and making of culture. Her work has received recognition from the Hong Kong Film Arts Association, UNICEF and been presented internationally in Hong Kong, New York, Greece and New Zealand.

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Artist & filmmaker Tiffany Fung's practice ranges in various media to explore a wide variety of issues that affect our contemporary age, as placemaking, community-building, social justice, with a particular focus on the notion of cultural identity. In her work H_CNY: Happy Chinese New Year! that we'll be discussing in the following pages, she accomplishes an insightful investigation about the temporal and spatial dislocation, drawing the viewers through a multilayered experience. One of the most convincing aspects of Fung's approach is the way it deciphers the personal and collective identities that we share: we are really pleased to introduce our readers to her stimulating artistic production. Hello Tiffany and welcome to ARTiculAction: to start this interview, would you like to tell us something about your background? You have a solid formal training and you are currently a M.A candidate in Arts Politics at the prestigious New York University: how do this experience influence your evolution as an artist? In particular how does the relationship between your cultural substratum dued to your Hong Kongese roots

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inform the way you relate yourself to art making and to the aesthetic problem in general?

Studying sociology and film studies encouraged me to locate art among other disciplines and within the greater social milieu. Without attending art school or receiving formal training, I began my creative practice with the desire to understand daily experiences and to process the social problems in this world that seemed too difficult to handle. I actively sought for opportunities to make work outside of school, collaborating with friends under no budget, gathering support from local communities to produce short films on social issues. It was also during this time of being abroad which forced me to embrace my cultural differences, to allow the experience of distance to bring me closer to home . When I moved to New York, I met artists who devote their lives to provoking critical dialogues and making an actual impact on people s livelihood. Only then when I finally acknowledged myself as an artist too, and that by simply creating, I am fully empowered to share the struggles of my community and the unique perspectives that Hong Kong artists may contribute to the global narrative.


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Your approach reveals an incessant search of organic investigation about the technosphere that marks out our media-driven lives in our unstable contemporary age. The results convey together a coherent and consistent sense of harmony and unity: before starting to elaborate about your production, we would suggest to our readers to visit http://www.tiffanyfunganyi.com in order to get a synoptic view of your multifaceted artistic production: while walking our readers through your process and set up, we would like to ask you how did you develope your style and how do you conceive your works.

My family exposed me to all kinds of film at an early age, from mindless blockbusters to dark comedies and the films of Iranian New Wave. Despite a carefree and joyous childhood, I became drawn to the bitter sweetness of life, the struggle and pain alongside love and humanity. Hence, my work attempts to recreate some lightness in the mundanity, conflict and disruptions of reality, to somehow find unity in the seemingly opposites of positive and negative, real and imaginary, expression and ambiguity. I transcode text rarely in a verbal manner, but mostly as symbols or in forms of imagery, sound, and energy. Influenced by a humanistic and Buddhist worldview, I am always seeking for knowledge beyond Western definition of logic and order, but through sensation and being.

For this special edition of ARTiculAction we have selected H_CNY: Happy Chinese New Year!, an extremely interesting project that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article. When walking our readers through the genesis of this project, we would like to ask you what is the role of chance in your process: how much improvisation is important for you?

When I was recording the Chinese New Year celebrations in New York I had no idea that I would come home to the news of a riot erupting in Hong Kong. At that moment I felt a strong instinct to connect these images of violence and celebration, to present the irony of dislocation. Perhaps inspirations often appear as chances, but it is a deliberate choice to hold onto them and organize them into some sense of cohesion. Simultaneously, the creative process should always remain as a series of improvisations, where one constantly readjusts to new ideas, instincts, practical limitations and unexpected changes in the present environment. I feel that most when I am editing a video, experimenting different ways of cutting, joining, juxtaposing snippets of times and spaces together. The fusion between personal and news footages creates a fruible set of symbols dued to the references to universal imagery. German multidisciplinary artist Thomas Demand once stated that "nowadays art can no longer rely so much on symbolic strategies and has to probe psychological, narrative elements

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within the medium instead". What is your opinion about it? And in particular how do you conceive the narrative for your works?

I do think of myself as a storyteller but one who does not abide to linearity and conventional narrative structures. That means I am not concerned with the existence or order of a beginning, climax and end, but rather, the people and their relationships. Exploring the temporal and spatial dislocation, H_CNY: Happy Chinese New Year! also inquires into the interstitial space between personal and public spheres, providing the spectatorship with an immersive experience that forces such a contamination the inner and the outside: how do you see the relationship between public sphere and the role of art in public space?

When creative expression appears in public space, it physically opens up the necessary portals for individuals to directly engage their subjectivities with the collective consciousness, to freely discuss different opinions and potentially form action. I am always amazed by the political art that flourished on the streets and highways of Hong Kong during the Umbrella Movement. Unfortunately, public art installations today often serve as spectacles of consumerism, creating a distraction from the fact that art continues to be defined by certain powers, limited to specific spaces and access by certain groups. To navigate between this dichotomy of the private

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Tiffany Fung


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and the public, not just in terms of physical space, I think we need to reexamine the roles of site-specificity and local communities. You draw a lot from your personal experience and your successful attempt to decipher the personal and collective identities that we share allows you to capture non-sharpness with an universal language, going beyond the elusive relationship between experience and identity in our globalized mundanity. So we would take this occasion to ask you if in your opinion personal experience is an absolutely indispensable part of a creative process... Do you think that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience?

In the end, I can only speak for my truth and reality. But my reality is built upon all the past and present experiences that already exist and are constantly renewing. One of the most powerful aspects of understanding culture is to see the interconnectedness of our identities. We are speaking in the tongue of our ancestors, feeling joy and anger like our enemies, sharing opinions with people we have never met before. Imagination allows the direct experience of what we deem as beyond our immediate selves. As you have remarked in your artist's statement, your practice aims to establish a dialogue between art, everyday life and spirituality, translating the experiences of our common socio-political struggles to form solidarity. While lots of artists from the contemporary scene, as Ai

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Tiffany Fung


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WeiWei or more recently Jennifer Linton, convey open socio-political criticism in their works, you seem more interested to hint the direction, inviting the viewers to a process of self-reflection that may lead to subvert a variety of usual, almost stereotyped cultural categories. Do you consider that your works could be considered political in a certain sense or did you seek to maintain a more neutral approach? And in particular, what could be in your opinion the role that an artist could play in the contemporary society?

Of course my art is political. My voice, my gender, my skin color, my mere existence is political. I think my approach is not to be neutral but to provide different vantage points and an open space for viewers to enter. As an emerging artist, I hope that I will not only propose questions from a remote and safe position, but to really immerse myself into constructing long-term solutions and provoking real action. It's no doubt that interdisciplinary collaborations as the one that you have established in the artist's collective Distill HK with Emily Yin and Dorothy Lam are ever growing forces in Contemporary Art today, and that the most exciting things that happen when creative minds from different fields of practice meet and collaborate on a project... Could you tell us something about this effective synergy? By the way, Peter Tabor once stated that "collaboration is working together with another to create something as a synthesis of several practices, that alone one could not": what's your point

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about this? Can you explain how your work demonstrates communication between several artists?

Distill HK was founded by our common desire to reexamine the Hong Kong artistic identity and to create new collaborative opportunities between local and overseas, native and transient talents. We hope to expand the notion of artist to include creatives from all arenas, may it be scientists, businessmen, or domestic housewives. Our inaugural event, the Hong Kong Contemporary Film Festival, utilized resources from individual artists, cultural non- profits, local businesses and the Hong Kong government to promote independent local productions abroad. I believe that joining forces with diverse passionate individuals is the key to sparking synergy. You are also the co-founder of the Hong Kong Contemporary Film Festival in NYC: one of the hallmarks of your practice is the capability to create a direct involvement with the viewers, who are urged to evolve from a condition of mere spectatorship. So before leaving this conversation we would like to pose a question about the nature of the relationship of your art with your audience. Do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decision-making process, in terms of what type of language is used in a particular context?

I think acknowledging, without seeking to control, audience reception is an

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artist s responsibility for creating objects/action in this world. I often think of myself as an audience to my own work, and the audience an active maker of our collective experience. Hence, considering how others perceive my work does not sabotage creative instincts. Rather, it is a process that creates distance, perspective, and empathy to stay grounded. I tend to enact language in very different ways. During the film festival, we hosted transnational dialogues between the Hong Kong filmmakers and New York audience to foster cultural exchange. In my video piece <Cantonese is a Chinese dialect that is not an Official Language>, I purposely use a foreign language for mistranslation and illegibility. In both situations, though, I am recognizing the presence of a receiver whom is yet to be known. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Tiffany. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving?

I want to venture deeper into art and spirituality. I want to work closer with community members through participatory, collaborative processes. I want to continue making moving images while weaving sound and performance into my current practice. I am awaiting all the unexpected turns and surprises in this journey. An interview by Josh Ryder, curator and Barbara Scott, curator articulaction@post.com

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J Jill Poczkai Ibsen Lives and works in Dallas, USA

An artist's statement

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hen I was four years old, I had a near death experience while having an open heart surgery. My heart stopped beating, my body temperature went low, a heart-lung machine kept me alive. Coming back from that threshold, I knew that opposites are bound together and that I encompass both. It left me fascinated with edges and yearning for meaning. My works are born from that same simultaneous sense of vertigo and stability. They deal with a dichotomous - the realization that one reality can reflect many and there is no one definition. The truth is endlessly evolving and expanding. I try and reconcile conflicts and contradictions such as beauty that encompasses crudeness, weakness as a source of strength and disillusionment that feeds innocence. The early works (“Red Heart”, 2007-09) are naïve drawings of bodies and situations, subtle yet disturbing. Minimalist figures floating in white space. With time, layers appear

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(“Illusions & Reality”, 2010-13). Through intricate drawings and installations I struggle to weave together the past, present and future. Recently I’m fascinated with transformation (“Release”, 2014-15). The Sisyphean process evolved to a new set of rules, which dictates different materials, gestures and speed. The new paintings are large and expressive, made in one continuous session, like an intense ritual. I see my studio as a cross between a womb and a lab. My practice is a tool for understanding myself as well as the world of phenomena around me. My goal is to generate a change that shapes perspectives and actions, thus enabling for something new to occur - symbolically, conceptually and tangibly. I have a distinct feeling that there is something beyond me, a life force, which I can’t put into words but I can channel into art.

Jill Poczkai Ibsen


Jihane Mossalim

I am looking at the relationships and lasting memories we entertain with our surroundings, our physical environment and its components; from the painting on thewall, to the insect crawling at our feet. They leave indelible marks on the brain and stay our own forever. Sometimes quiet, sometimes as loud as a cicada on a hot summer day.

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Jihane Mossalim's work explores the relationships and lasting memories we entertain with our surroundings, our physical environment and its components. Her works accomplishes an insightful inquiry into the liminal area in which perceptual process and memory find unexpected points of convergence to wlak the viewers through an unconventional, multilayered experience. Drawing from universal imagery, Mossalim's approach deconstrupts symbols to trigger both memory and imagination, creating a compelling narrative: we are very pleased to introduce our readers to her stimulating artistic production. Hello Jihane and welcome to ARTiculAction: before starting to elaborate about your artistic production would you like to tell us something about your background? You have a solid formal training and after having graduated in Fine Arts from the Dawson College you started a career in the media industry for a few years, both as a SFX and beauty make-up artist. How does this experience influenced your evolution as an artist? And in particunfolar, how does your cultural substratum inform the way you relate yourself to art making and to the aesthetic problem in general?

Excellent question and I’ll try to answer as best as I can; Every time you do

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something artistic, no matter the art form used, it makes you see the world in a different manner. You are of course more attentive to the shapes and forms, the colors, the proportions and how everything works together as a whole. In that sense, doing make-ups on people wasn’t extremely different than painting on canvas! Your approach is very personal and your technique condenses a variety of viewpoints, that you combine together into a coherent balance. We would suggest to our readers to visit http://www.jihanemossalim.com in order to get a synoptic view of your work: in the meanwhile, would you like to tell to our readers something about your process and set up? In particular, would you tell our readers something about the evolution of your style?

When I first started painting, I was more interested in an abstracted depiction of people and their environment. As I kept on working, I felt the need of portraying subjects, especially faces, as more figurative until the abstraction disappeared altogether. One could say that I was more interested in a generic, observer’s point of view whereas today I’m interested in being part of the picture on a more intimate scale. We would start to focus on your artistic production beginning from Charlotte and the Boat, an interesting piece that


Charlotte and the Boat


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our readers have already started to admire in the introductory pages of this article. What has at once captured our attention of this work is the way your inquiry into the development of the color provides your pieces with a dynamic and autonomous aesthetics. While walking our readers through the genesis of Charlotte and the Boat, would you shed light to your main sources of inspiration?

Ghosts! Well part of it; I love old photographs and the melancholy that can emanate from them. I think that when we delve into the past, especially late 19th, early 20th century, ghosts and eerie things seem easy to imagine. This whole Gothic era… It definitely was and still is in many ways, a big inspiration to a lot of my work. We definitely love the nuance of red you choose for Pocket Full of Posies: the dialogue established by colors and texture is a crucial part of your style: in particular, the effective combination between intense nuances of tones sums up the mixture of thoughts and emotions. How much does your own psychological make-up determine the nuances of tones you decide to use in a piece and in particular, how do you develope a painting’s texture? Moreover, any comments on your choice of "palette" and how it has changed over time?

It’s funny because when I was working on my first show I used a lot of blues. Why? I’m not entirely sure… I guess in a way it was well suited for the whole melancholy aspect of the chosen subjects. Red was a color I used extensively in my very early works and

right now, it seems to be creeping back into my paintings. I make a very conscious choice of leaning towards monochromatic palettes; to me they are more interesting to use and easier for the viewer to ‘’read’’. Some works I picture more in reds, others more in blues and some in black and white. I keep it simple. As for the texture, when I first started I used painting knifes a lot, creating different thicknesses of paint. The knife slowly disappeared to eventually, be given up entirely. My layers of paint are now extremely thin, using acrylics in a similar fashion as watercolors. I love using the medium that way. As you have remarked once, you are looking at the relationships and lasting memories we entertain with our surroundings, our physical environment and its components: while exhibiting a captivating vibrancy, you seem to reject an explicit explanatory strategy . You rather seem to invite the viewer to inquire into their personal substratum to find personal association to the feelings that you convey into your paintings. This quality marks out a considerable part of your production, that are in a certain sense representative of the relationship between emotion and memory. What is the role of memory in your process? And in particular, do you try to achieve a faithful visual translation of your feelings?

Memory defines the ‘’self’’. Everything we do in our life is defined by our memory and different situations triggers different memories; an object, a sound, a scent... I remember coming home with this antique Victorian baby carriage

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similar to the one featured in ‘’The Doll’’. The first time my grand-mother saw it, she became very emotional and started crying. When asked what was wrong she couldn’t give me an answer. She couldn't make sense of her own sudden emotion. Maybe she had a similar carriage as a kid? I can’t say for sure but the sight of that particular object triggered a strong emotion from a long forgotten memory. To me it is fascinating, really fascinating. Emotions and memories are so deeply interconnected and so personal to each and every individual. When I paint, I dig in the past (not necessarily mine) in a general way trying to capture here and there a possible memory trigger. When inquiring into the realm of memory, you seem to draw from the subconscious, almost oniric sphere, inviting the viewers to challenge their primordial, almost limbic parameters to get involved into a multilayered experience. This is particularly evident in Mike Eddy and the Tricycle: your approach allows you to capture nonsharpness of physicality with an universal kind of language. We are particularly interested if you try to achieve to trigger the viewers' memory as starting point to expand their perceptual parameters.

Interesting! Well I will admit, I have never seen it that way or done it with that particular purpose in mind but it is absolutely something that could apply to what I do. When I painted this particular piece, I wanted the boys to be ‘’nowhere’’ therefore in a way, it could definitely make the viewer use their own memory to visualize the untold setting of the work itself.

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Misery Loves Company

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The theme of childhood is quite recurrent in your imagery. However, the boys that you paint, as you did in American Boy and in Observation convey something different from common imagery: they are meditative, silent and sometimes even grotesque figures on an indefinite landscape that never plays the role of a mere background and that extablishes direct relations with the viewers going beyond any process of translation of cultural symbols. German multidisciplinary artist Thomas Demand once stated that "nowadays art can no longer rely so much on symbolic strategies and has to probe psychological, narrative elements within the medium instead". What is your opinion about it? And in particular how do you conceive the narrative for your works?

I completely agree with Thomas Demand and I might be wrong but wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t it always the purpose of art? Even when it wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t out in the open, the suggestions of underlying meanings were always there. They were dormant maybe, but always there. I believe that my work is generally straightforward having a main subject/figure without much background embellishments or ornamentations. Just like a strange rendez-vous between the subject of the painting and the viewer where everything fades in the background and all that is left are the main characters. We have appreciated the way your paintings shows a coherent equilibrium concerning the composition: the multilayered experience to whom you invite the viewers gives a permanence to the intrinsic ephemeral nature of the notion of sight. So we would take this

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The woman with the pearl necklace

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


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In my opinion, personal experience is crucial to any creative process. I think an artist (writer, painter, musician, etc.) is

able to create a much stronger work if he/she knows the subject very well; whether it be personal experience or

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Believe

extended knowledge of the selected subject.

Over these years you have exhibited in several occasions throughout North America and your works are in private

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collections in Canada and Scotland. One of the hallmarks of your work is the capability to create direct

involvement with the viewers, who are urged to evolve from a condition of mere spectatorship. So before leaving

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Insight

this conversation we would like to pose a question about the nature of the relationship of your art with your audience. Do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decision-making process, in terms of what type of language is used in a particular context?

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This might sound strange to say but I don’t think I would be doing what I do if people didn’t like my work or a least ‘’reacted’’ to it. There’s nothing worse for an artist than indifference from an audience. Does it change the way I create my work? Yes and no. If I show pieces that had very little reactions from


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Alice

an audience, pieces that were ignored, chances, are I won’t show them again and I will concentrate on the ones that got people to react. Having said that, I’ll still create ‘’boring’’ works no matter what. The audience doesn’t play a role in what I create but plays a major part in what I’m going to present.

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

I have a few projects in the making; some still brewing in my mind some already in production. I will continue exploring

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memories, childhood, insects, and group photos (something new). As well as continuously being inspired by the magic world of books and movies.

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I thank you very much for this interview and these insightful questions.


Jihane Mossalim

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

A r t

R e v i e w

Special Issue

An interview by Dario Rutigliano, curator

This Old Man

and Barbara Scott, curator articulaction@post.com

29

ARTiculAction Art Review // Special Edition  

Pablo Picasso once stated that "the purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls": in this special edition of ARTiculActio...

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