A r t
R e v i e w August 2013
ANNI GARZA SOFIE DIEU SAMANTHA PERSONS JOCELYNE CLEMENTE SAMEH AL TAWIL DANNY WINKLER EMILIA LOSEVA ALINA d’ALVA TERESA NEISES MORITZ FINGERHUT KITTY VON-SOMETIME Kitty Von-Sometime
The Weird Tour of China, Part I, Epic
The Worryball, Interactive Artwork artist: Thomas Marcusson
Our net review presents a selection of artists whose works shows the invisible connection betwen inner landscapes and actual places. Apart from stylistic differences and individual approaches to the art process, all of them share the vision that art is a slice of the world to be shared. An artwork doesn't communicate anything: it simply creates a mental space. Language, gestures, or rather a masterly brush-stroke of a painter are nothing but ways to invite us to explore our inner landscapes". Thirty years have passed since this Borgesean deep and at the same time provocative statement has been written by the fine Italian writer Giorgio Manganelli. email@example.com
D E C E M B E R
2 0 1 3
Rec On, at Sarai Reader
Moritz Fingerhut works with situations that are unique and accessible for the unexpected, situations that offer the potential of new forms of critical debate. With a interdisciplinary methods, often incorporating text or voice, he aims for speculative approaches to how discourse unfolds, and how content is produced and perceived.
Danny Winkler & Emilia Loseva
We make video art which, we believe, is free from the mechanical, what the Futurists called the ''carrion''. Cinema, in principle, has taught people to wean themselves from perceiving the beautiful and the genuine, while its aims are supposed to sharpen perception and establish an artistic order in interrelations of all kinds between objects in motion. Twelve Haikus in Letargy
Kitty Von-Sometime (Iceland)
My inspiration comes from childhood dreams, from synchronicity, from public participation, in freeing those from their own constraints and a personal obsession with spandex. I proactively involve those outside of art to become art, to live art, to feel art. The Weird Tour of China
Teresa Neises (USA)
My mission is to photograph people in their natural environment. To show the real Characteristics of each individual and to create some-thing to be cherished by you for a long time – memories. Alone
Alina d’Alva (Brazil)
My work consists in take risks. The risk to meet the other without a frame or pre-defined idea. The starting point of my creative process is to let myself be affected by the "world", be this “world” a place, a person or an event and allow a poetic form emerge from this affection.
Submit your artworks to http://landescapeart.yolasite.com/how-to-submit.php
Sameh Al Tawil (Egypt / Germany)
Ready To Go
A work of art is the expression of our human qualities. Art is reflexion, emotion. It is a language which unites ages and territories; it is a tool of knowledge. Rempart de lâ€™â€™Oubi
(France / Australia)
Samantha Persons (USA)
I create immersive installations that incorporate built shelters, complex written narratives, props, sound and video; and alternately, media such as short films, coloring books and photography. I use artifacts, dialogues, and suggestion of site so the viewer may empathize and make sense of the characters through their own navigation.
Anni Garza (USA)
The continuous superposition of real and virtual world which we are now so used to, has trans-formed the perception of ourselves and the world. What I would like to particularly emphasize in my artwork is the possibilities in terms of experience that may occur using technological devices as artistic tools. Datanimbus
Submit your artworks to http://landescapeart.yolasite.com/how-to-submit.php
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By focusing on the essence of the being and its biotope, my work makes visible the human instincts, touching the senses and offering the possibility to reconnect to the self, to link conscious and subconscious.
D E C E M B E R
My recent work is characterized by Performances or installations that combinehuman body, sculptural forms with video orsounds and interactive experiences. Objects and environments are systems and instruments, combining physical forms with multi-dimensional and nonlinear audio/visual elements.
Moritz Fingerhut (Germany) An artist’s statement Moritz Fingerhut works with situations that are unique and accessible for the unexpected, situations that offer the potential of new forms of critical debate. With a interdisciplinary methods, often incorporating text or voice, he aims for speculative approaches to how discourse unfolds, and how content is produced and perceived. A recurring topic of his work is the perception of the common and the challenging of it in order to create a new multitude of points of views. “ When I was traveling in Japan I found an electric guitar on the street. The guitar was almost new and I did not know, whether I can take it or not. The guitar was placed on the side walk. No owner was around. So I waited for a while, and, since nobody came, I took the guitar with me. But immediately afterwards I, I felt like a thief, so I asked friends, if it could be possible, that someone just left it on the street, for some one else to take it. My japanese friend said: “What? You found a guitar on the street? IMPOSSIBLE!” I said: “ Yes, I found it. There was no owner.” I realized that in Japan it is very rare to have an encounter with something in the public, that is unexpected or that does not belong there. Everything is organized. So I had an idea to create unexpected encounters with art for the people: I collected artworks from colleagues and friends and packed them each in a box with the letters (Please take me home) written on the outside of the box. In February 2013 I traveled through Japan to place the boxes in rural parts of the country in public spaces. Once the box was deposited on the location, it is up to chance and the passing by people, what will happen. I created an unusual situation for the passer-bys that might distract them from their daily routine. I try to raise questions of excitement: What is this? Can I take this box home? What is inside the box? Where is it from? … Further, if someone takes the box home, how will he relate to it? What will he do with it? It might lead to a very intimate situation between each art piece and the viewer that is not possible in an art gallery. Furthermore the work challenges the perception of public space, since it will change the way people look at their daily routes: once you find something special on the street, you will always remember this place.
Moritz Fingerhut 4
ご自由にお 自由にお持 にお持ち帰りください。 りください。
Casey WhittierMoritz Fingerhut
(Please take me home) 2
An interview with
Moritz Fingerhut Hello Moritz, and welcome to LandEscape. I would start this interview with my usual introductory question: what in your opinion defines a work of Art? And moreover, what could be the features that mark the contemporariness of an artwork?
Hello! As an answer for your question I don’t have a real definition , but I think a work of art always involves some kind of communication and thereby it is not only determined by the work itself, but also by the viewer/reader/listener who brings in all his own knowledge, imagination or interests into the work. So I think an artwork is always a dialogue, both in the process of making or planning it, but also in the process of reception. And thereby I think a work of art is always contemporary. You can only see the works of art from your standpoint that you have now. You can imagine how things were, when the work was produced, but you are always immersed in your own contemporary society and the possibilities that come with that.
an interview with
Would you like to tell us something about your background? Are there some experiences that have particularly impacted on the way you produce your art nowadays?
I studied art in Cologne, Germany where I got in touch with a really broad spectrum of what a work of art could be. People like Julia Scher and Siegfried Zielinski who were amongst my teachers there had a mayor influence on my conceptual thinking. But after that I wanted to see something else and get to know yet another way of thinking, so I moved to Bangkok and lived there for about 5 years. I was very interested in the big clashes of disparities that you see there everywhere; like traditional and progressive, rich and poor, etc. It is a very dense city. And even though Bangkok is a metropolis with a very contemporary lifestyle, people there usually are not so acquainted with a western kind of thinking and dealing about art. So this was also a mayor influence for me, to find out that concepts and ideas that I had learned to take for granted, might apply for only a very small group inside a small society. So I think all this influence together led me to a process of working, where I try to shift the art work more away from me,
From ご自由にお 自由にお持 りください。(Please にお持ち帰りください。 6
Moritz Fingerhut where I set only the framework or the starting point, but the work itself can still evolve. By the way, you travel a lot, and you have recently had the chance to get in touch with the Japanese scene... so I would ask you what are -if any- the main differences between the Western scenario and the Eastern one?
I am not sure if I can point out general differences. But I remember that while I was in Tokyo I visited a small gallery in a district called Koenji. They had a very minimal exhibition of an artist called Hitomi Masaru. He hand-folded tiny birds made of paper. They were so small and precious, you could almost not hold them in your hand. So they used chop sticks to pick up the paper birds. He made a lot of these birds, a whole box full. It almost looked like pop corn, but if you looked closely, you saw tiny birds. I think I was very impressed about the detail that went into the work and also the great dedication to a single work process. Before starting to elaborate about your production, would you like to tell to our readers something about your process and set up for making your artworks? In particular, what technical aspects do you mainly focus on your work? And how much preparation and time do you put in before and during the process of creating a piece?
I usually donâ€™t start form a technical question, but from a topic, or from a situation. For example if I read something that catches my interest, or I am at a place. Then I research and I always try to create a work that is challenging and that can make a difference. The technical aspect comes after that, when I think about the implementation. My recent works often also involved some unplanned elements as I try to keep the work open. So things can change, or they can also go wrong. Iâ€™m actually more surprised if a work turns out to be the way I planned it, than when it changes. Now let's focus on your artworks: I â€˜d like to start with (Please Take Me Home), that our readers have started to admire in the introductory pages of this article. And I would suggest to our reader to jump directly to http://www.fingerhut.me/projects/Please-Take-Me-Home/ and have a more complete idea of it... in the meanwhile, could you take us through your creative process when starting this project?
When I was traveling in Japan I found an electric guitar on the street. The guitar was almost new and I did not know,
take me home) 7
E scape whether I can take it or not. The guitar was placed on the side walk. No owner was around. So I waited for a while, and, since nobody came, I took the guitar with me. But immediately afterwards, I felt like a thief, so I asked friends, if it could be possible, that someone just left it on the street, for someone else to take it. My Japanese friend said: “What? You found a guitar on the street? IMPOSSIBLE!” I replied: “ Yes, I found it. There was no owner.” I realised that in Japan it is very rare to have an encounter with something in the public, that is unexpected or that does not belong there. Everything is organised. So I had an idea to create unexpected encounters with art for the people: I collected artworks from colleagues and friends and packed them each in a box with the letters (Please take me home) written on the outside of the box. In February 2013 I traveled through Japan to place the boxes in rural parts of the country in public spaces. Once the box was deposited on the location, it was up to chance and the passing by people, what will happen. I hoped to create an unusual situation for the passer-bys that might distract them from their daily routine. Thereby I tried to raise questions of excitement: What is this? Can I take this box home? What is inside the box? Where is it from? ... Further, if someone takes the box home, how will he relate to it? What will he do with it? My thought was that it might lead to a very intimate situation between each art piece and the viewer that is not possible in an art gallery. Furthermore the work challenges the perception of public space, since it will change the way people look at their daily routes: once you find something special on the street, you will always remember this place. Finally I would like to say thank you to the contributing artists: Agnes Brandl-Fingerhut, Hathairat Charoenchaichana, Fabian Engl, Kiertichai Lert-Utsahakul and Kevin Pawel Matweew. As you have remarked, a recurring topic of your work is the perception of the common and the challenging of it in order to create a new multitude of points of views: since our art review is called "LandEscape", we would like to stop for a moment to consider the "function" of the landscape, which most of the times seems to be just a passive background... I'm sort of convinced that some informations & ideas are hidden, or even "encrypted" in the environment we live in, so we need -in a way- to de8
Moritz Fingerhut decipher them. Maybe that one of the roles of an artist could be to reveal unexpected sides of Nature, especially of our inner Nature... what's your point about this?
The role of art is always to question. It is a tool for questioning. And since we are always acting inside an environment (culturally, socially, etc) art is also a tool to question this environment and to bring about new perspectives and languages. I would like to give a quote from Ludwig Wittgenstein: â€œ The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.â€? I think it is very suitable for the questions concerning environment.
(Please Take Me Home)
I would like to mention that you have recently published a book entitled VIEWERS CAN, that is now available directly on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Viewers-can-MoritzFingerhut/dp/1492283487/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=138090912 4&sr=8-1&keywords=moritz+fingerhut It consists of compiled quote excerpts from art related texts. As you have remarked, it acts as as instructions for the audience, on how the artist intended the perception an interview with and understanding of his work. This is a very intriguing subject... it is not rare that artists shrink from explaining their creations: most of the times, they are inclined to offer a platform to the audience, to pave the way towards a feedback...
Yes, I was thinking, that often we cannot see the original art work. We see a picture of it in a book, or in the internet. Or if we see it live, there is an accompanying text to tell us about the intentions of how the artist wants the audience to react when he encounters the art work. The texts act like instructions, but it also limits the experience. So as a reaction, I collected quote excerpts from art related texts, such as exhibition catalogues, artwork descriptions, etc. which seem to prescribe what the viewer can see/ feel /do when he encounters a work of art and formed them into a constant stream of commands, orders and demands to the reader. Another piece of yours on which I would like to spend some words are All National Anthems Of The World that our readers can discover at http://www.fingerhut.me/projects/allnational-anthems/ and Rec: On... If I have been asked to choose an adjective that could sum up in a single word your art, I would say that it's "kaleidoscopic": while cros-
Moritz Fingerhut crossing the borders of different artistic fields have you ever happened to realize that a synergy between different disciplines is the only way to achieve some results, to express some concepts?
I discovered for myself to work with sound, because in my opinion, it is not so enticing to be taken as for real. We seem to have more trust in what we see, than what we hear, even though we all know the extensive possibilities of manipulation. I’m interested in to work with pluralities and sound is an interesting medium for that since it is possible to layer things and thereby come to new forms. For All National Anthems Of The World I layered all national anthems of the world on top of each other, so that you hear them at the same time. The result is very brutal, in my opinion and in a way resembles the complexities and conflicts that are involved when 7 billion people live on the same planet. For Rec:On I was interested the following question: How do you document the process of creative emergence? The exhibition I participated in “Sarai Reader 09” in Delhi was conceived as a project that developed over time. Artists were invited to create the work while the exhibition is going on. So to document this process based exhibition project I wanted to create an open channel, where I do not choose and decide what will be in and what will be out, as you do for example when you take a picture. The camera man always sets the frame. So in my installation I placed a microphone and a looper in the exhibition space that would record and playback 24 hours a day for 3 month. Each 17 hours the looper recorded another 17 hours, which were simultaneously layered on top of the previous recording(s). This process is called “overdub”. The speaker continuously played the live recording together with all the previous recorded layers. Thus the looper created a collage of recorded sounds that more and more added up and commingled over the course of the exhibition period. Everybody was free to use the microphone. So, by constantly recording and looping the sound, the device served manifold: for documentary purpose, for production, for involvement and as source of inspiration. Inhabitants of the space were be able to refer back to happenings that already occurred and re-integrate them into their inventive process. So even though it was a sound work, it involved live presence, the gallery space, the audience, the other artists’ work, etc. And yes, as you said, in a way it became a work that accumulated the synergy of different artistic fields.
A sequence of images from Cash For Civilization, 2004 Michael May & Moritz Fingerhut DETOX ART @ QUART FESTIVAL, Christiansand, Norway
And I couldn't do without mentioning an interesting work entitled Cash For Civilization that you have created about ten years ago in collaboration with Michael May: I'm sort of convinced that Art these days could play an effective role not only making aware public opinion, but I would go as far as to say that nowadays Art can steer people's behavior... an interview with what's your point about this? Do you think that it's an exaggeration?
Your works have been exhibited all around the world and you: by the way, it goes without saying that feedbacks and especially awards are capable of supporting an artist, I was just wondering if an award -or better, the expectation of an award- could even influence the process of an artist... What' your point about this? By the way, how much important is for you the feedback of your audience? Do you ever think to whom will enjoy your Art when you conceive your pieces?
I think the media can steer people’s behaviour, and art is one part of the media. For “CASH FOR CIVILIZATIONS” we altered the art work by Iftikhar & Elizabeth Dadi, which was a big banner that read “CLASH OF CIVILIZATIONS”. We did not have the permission tho do it. So it was actually an act of vandalism. But also an act of involvement.
A work of art is often not useful from itself. It can often not be sold, it might be ephemeral, etc. So artists need other ways to support this kind of work. Then awards or grants are a way of the public to support art projects.
The slogan “CLASH OF CIVILIZATIONS” is a term developed by Samuel P. Huntington to describe the theory that people’s cultural and religious identities will be the primary source for conflict in the post-Cold War World. When I saw the banner I was cought by the term “Civilization” and thought about it, what it actually means. What are those civilizations, or who are they. So I came up with the idea, that more than the cultural or religious differences, the disparate distribution of wealth is the actual reason for conflicts. So in a way, I thought “Cash for Civilizations” is more honest.
So I think artists know that they have to work with this system to be able to do their work. You have to research, where you can apply for funding, etc. And in a way this also influences the working process and the art work itself. And as I described earlier, in my opinion the feedback is part of the work. The art work form itself is just one part. Thank for your time and for sharing with us your thoughts, Moritz. My last question deals with your future plans: anything coming up 12
The Christensen Room, Human Hotel,Copenhagen | August 2013
for you professionally that you would like readers to be aware of?
mories. Recordings were made in the home she grew up in, locations around her home town, and personal places around Copenhagen. Visitors who came to the exhibition of The CHRISTENSEN ROOM were invited to listen to these intimate recordings on personal headsets, interpret her memories through their own imagination, and draw on paper whatever images came to their mind. In other words, recreate the visual documents that were once lost.
Recently I was participating in a artist residency in Copenhagen called “Human Hotel”. I stayed with a family for 10 days. My original intention for artistic collaboration was to reorganize and recreate the host’s family photo album through photo collages and montages. However, news came that all of Kristine's family photo albums, as well as many other precious belongings from her childhood and that of her daughter's, had been taken by movers and thrown away by mistake. We had to then start from scratch.
The complete recordings can now be found on http://christensen.fingerhut.me and I’m pleased to tell that we are currently in the process of creating a book with the collected drawings that were created at the exhibition. The book will be out soon.
During the course of the residency, Kristine and me verbally recalled her old photos, letters, and memories that could once be seen through photos and souvenirs, but are now intangible me-
An interview by firstname.lastname@example.org
Danny Winkler & Emilia Loseva (United Kingdom) An artistâ€™s statement We make films in defiance of cinema, in a way, expiating its sinfulness, constructing the methods to liberate cinema from aesthetic prosiness and Philistinism. We make video art which, we believe, is free from the mechanical - digital nowadays -, what the Futurists called the ''carrion''. Cinema, in principle, has taught people to wean themselves from perceiving the beautiful and the genuine, while its aims are supposedÂ to sharpen perception and establish an artistic order in interrelations of all kinds between objects in motion. When working on films - which are all different - we are interested, like any other artist, in images, form, colour, texture and rhythm, but the subject in our films is strictly speaking subjectless, even if it seems intelligible. We avoid metaphors and symbols, and if these appear looming on the screen it is pure delusion to take them for what they are not, and what they are, really, is of ephemeral matter. We do not teach or impose any new ideology or Higher sense, for the human sense is so small and so petty; as to the movement in nature, it has neither meaning nor purpose. This ''Great meaninglessness'' was captured by the wise men of the East long ago. We believe that creativity is nothing else but the release of personal phantoms, and the higher order of the world, reason, nature is drawn of spontaneity and impulsiveness. We know nothing about the world and matter, we create our own world for ourselves by grasping and revealing the fragments of the impossible. In this constant movement, if people were given the ability to grasp everything and see the physical wholeness,Â they would all go mad. Haikus, our shortest and simplest film, is about that. 14
A still from Twelve Haikus in Lethargy
Danny Winkler & Emilia Loseva
An interview with
Danny Winkler & Emilia Loseva Hello Danny and Emilia, I would like to give you welcome to LandEscape with my usual ice breaker question: what in your opinion defines a work of Art? Moreover, what could be the features that mark the contemporariness of an artwork?
EL: According to the Concise Oxford English Dictionary, art is a work exhibiting human creative skill or its application, which essentially means that whatever you wish to call art is art. Another approach would suggest that art is a play of creative forces in colour, sound, stone, word and imagination. Culture is a play, art is a play, life is a play. Creative activity as necessity can be designated as an attempt to escape from common sense or to obtain it. Anyway, art is made of what is not art, a universe is being formed out of the chaos.
about formal training: I sometimes happen to wonder if a certain kind of training could even stifle a young artist's creativity...
an interview with
EL: Well, where to start? Years and years of music studies and certain attempts at composing and performing with some experimental artists. It was ages ago though, but it is good to be educated enough to understand music. Then linguistics – languages are actually what expand consciousness, more than yoga or kabbalah. I have been studying the Philosophy of Arts and other fashionable sciences by myself – this seems to be an endless process.
Everything is reality for an artist, and by establishing a new reality, art does not need any other realities, it explains itself and does not require explanations. What is contemporary is that which lacks the absolute truth. Physics states that everything ends with entropy – this is also a feature of contemporariness – eschatological moods, aesthetical mutations, the diffusion of high styles and the mixture of the artistic dialects. The avant-garde is left behind, it ceased to exist. We are happy to live in these puppet-show times, free from metaphors, inspired by what Baudrillard called “the transmutation of all the values, uncertainty and unpredictability”. Strictly speaking, you can build anything on this principle, from the pyramids to the museums of the cultural pathologies. Baudrillard himself was obviously inspired by this, otherwise what would he have been writing about and would he have been writing at all?
Then – writing… This is just a bad habit like smoking. It is wonderful to be able to include all this knowledge and pseudo-knowledge in the projects with Danny and other artists I work with. Training cannot spoil an artist – this is a great delusion to think that someone could become a man of genius but the Academy spoiled him. A genius either does not bother to get a degree or simply gets it and leaves it all behind.
Would you like to tell us something about your background? Are there particular experiences that impacted on the way you currently produce your works? Moreover I would ask you what's your point
DW: What I find curious to observe is not how background impacts on the content of artworks, but how biological characteristics/the chemical 16
Danny Winkler & Emilia Loseva ge to be shot. For sure some images are thought through, but what is most interesting is the ‘capture’ of images as one might grasp a flying insect. More time is given to taking what has been brought into the art space and organising it with other elements of sound, altered treatment etc. EL: I believe that all genuine things happen spontaneously, easily. The world we live in is like a glass of champagne sparkling with ideas. Unfortunately, we are limited in space-time terms to be able to realise all of them. Now let's focus on your artworks: I would like to start with the interesting work entitled Twelve Haikus in Lethargy that our readers have started to admire in the introductory pages of this article: would you tell us something about the genesis of this piece? What was your initial inspiration?
EL: Twelve Haikus in Lethargy (Unfinished)! – this is the full title and it is important not to miss the “unfinished” aspect. It took us two evenings to complete the work. There were some amazing images – leftovers from the main, as we call it, “Indian films”, Ebir Nāri and Than, and we had never made a proper short video – 7 min – this is, by the way, the contemporary speed of perception. I wrote a kind of stylised haiku-imitated series of verses in a free Silver-age style. The music was
composition of the brain affect a work, for instance in how individual focus, or lack of, is borne out in plastic. Gus van Sant discovered this same thing in his ‘frame-by-frame copy’ of Hitchcock’s Psycho – the impossibility of replication. Before starting to elaborate about your production, would you like to tell to our readers something about your process and set up for making your artworks? In particular, what technical aspects do you mainly focus on in your work? And how much preparation and time do you put in before and during the process of creating a piece?
DW: For most of the images there is almost no focus or preparation until confronted with the ima-
A still from Twelve Haikus in Lethargy
Danny Winkler & Emilia Loseva
A sequence of stills from Twelve Haikus in Lethargy
there waiting. It is a Zen-piece to the extent the Western intellect can apply its miserable irrationality to a foreign metaphysics. And the main artistic device here is that the visuals are from India and they have nothing to do with haikus and Zen and Gagaku music, but it works.
thing else in a time when people accept without any doubt the statement that all stories have been told. The creative process is this invaluable direct experience for me personally. Danny loves walking around the globe; I love travelling too, but I do not use any cameras because I do not want to miss things and I want to remember everything as I have seen it all with my eyes. Danny also does not use his camera very often, only on these special occasions. So we do not have this obsession of reflecting and storing everything around us.
The realism of nature is one of the features that mainly pervade this video: moreover, to produce another interesting work of yours entitled Ebir Nari (Beyond the River), you have decided to shoot directly in India and in the Caucasus... So I would like 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?
By the way, since our art review is called "LandEscape", I would like to stop for a moment to consider the "function" of the landscape suggested by your work: most of the times it doesn't seem to be just a passive background... and I'm sort of convinced that some informations & ideas are hidden, or even "encrypted" in the environment we live in, so we need -in a way- to decipher them. Maybe that one of the roles of an artist could be to reveal unexpected sides of Nature, especially of our inner Nature... what's your point about this?
EL: “The realism of nature” is part of what could be called “our ideology”, namely, “stolen languages”, and it wasn’t a kind of decision to go there and shoot this “realism” to make a film. Danny travelled, brought back disconnected pieces of footage and we made a few separate films. Ebir Nāri will become a classic video in 100 years’ time maybe. Not very many people understood the true quality of this artwork, meanwhile, I am certain about it, we created a story incomparable with any-
EL: Our landscape is never a background, even #196 Winter moves in this world, when it is “passive”. Everything 18
Danny Winkler & Emilia Loseva pens, you cannot find the words to talk about it, it is beyond our vocabulary. The inner nature, the true self – some would say it is pure light, others would call it “darkness” or “shadow”. Remember that famous repetitive meditation practice – “who am I?” When you get there, you will never talk about it. Those who do talk, do not listen to them, they are either liars or clinically insane. In these last years we have seen that the frontier between Video Art and Cinema is growing more and more vague. As film producers, do you think that this "frontier" will exist longer? By the way, how have new technologies as DSLR and digital editing impacted on your process?
EL: If you see all Alexander Sokurov’s works, you will not be able to identify the ”frontier” because he uses and develops his own ABC. I adore the perfectionists of ”bad quality” and those who destroy the digital “deceit” by using the technologies only as tools, not as the means of expression. constantly changing, even the stills and photographs, stones and pavements are in perpetual motion. What is “hidden” will remain hidden since this is the law of the way of things. There is no need to decipher anything. Nature and art reveal themselves without our foolish efforts and pains. Revelation is a blessing, they say, it is a religious term, you cannot achieve it by labour. When it hap-
DW: As with film, the charm of video is to be found both in its alteriority and degradation – only with video this can be more difficult to achieve. I can say this in another way, perhaps, though the continued development of digital technologies will soon nullify this argument: it is still harder for video to flatter the filmmaker.
A sequence of stills from Twelve Haikus in Lethargy 19
Danny Winkler & Emilia Loseva
A sequence of stills from Twelve Haikus in Lethargy
During these years you have established a fruitiful collaboration... I personally find absolutely fascinating the collaborations that artists are capable of establishing together: could you tell us something about this effective synergy? an interview with By the way, the artist Peter Tabor once said 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?
Your work Twelve Haikus in Lethargy has been recently selected at the VIDEOHOLICA International Videoart Festival, Varna... it goes without saying that feedback and especially awards are capable of supporting an artist, I was just wondering if an award -or better, the expectation of an award- could even influence the process of an artist... By the way, how
important for you is the feedback of your audience? Do you ever think who will enjoy your Art when you conceive your pieces? DW: These works are not about communication.
DW: The synergy is as mysterious as the lack of synergy with another. It happens, it exists, just as the lemon tree exists, and why that exists it is not possible to explain.
objects to be found, picked up or discarded. As such, my concern is not with the audience. EL: And still it is a pleasure to know that there are a few individuals who “find” these “objects” and “pick” them up. It is true that we do these works for ourselves, not for communicating messages, but isn’t that what art should aim for – self-contained form and self-consistent subject matter?
EL: Obviously, as some artists-friends say, this is not an accident that we met and coincided. It really feels like being a lemon-tree. When we do works separately or with other people, the outcome is something different of course. When I work with other artists, I waste a lot of energy and often end up with disappointment – errors occur and you cannot change the outcome. Working with Danny is always rewarding in that sense that each idea is realised completely and there is nothing I would wish to change.
Thank you for your time and for sharing with us your thoughts. My last question deals with your future plans: what's next for you? Anything coming up for you professionally that you would like readers to be aware of?
EL: There is an upcoming book of translations of 20
Danny Winkler & Emilia Loseva
A still from Twelve Haikus in Lethargy
one of the Russian Futurist poets, Vasilisk Gnedov, which we hope to publish shortly.
preparing my own book for publication, children’s poems for adults with extremely funny drawings.
We are conducting some preparations for our next film about a Russian-Latvian sculptor Victoria Pelshe, deep in the snowy woods, where she has a village-house and wild animals roam among pine trees.
Danny will possibly go to India again to do a proper documentary this time.
By “preparation” I mean we are hoping to obtain a grant, at least once in life it should happen! I continue collaborating with Latvian artists and
An interview by email@example.com 21
Kitty Von-Sometime (Iceland) An artist’s statement
With no education in the fields of art, cinematography or direction I take what is in my head and make it real. I am a child born of the emerging digital world and have a compulsive hunger to record what I do. My existence is but a drop in the ocean - all the documentation I have forms the ripples. My inspiration comes from childhood dreams, from synchronicity, from public participation, in freeing those from their own constraints and a personal obsession with spandex. I proactively involve those outside of art to become art, to live art, to feel art. Those who are entangled in what I do, what I make, are often completely unknown to me before the pieces merge us together. Undercurrents of female empowerment run deep, specifically with regard to the female form but come secondary to creating visual images. I envelop the viewer in a candyland, summoning them without them knowing why there is a sudden desire to come out to play. The series The Weird Girls Project is to date the majority of my total works. The women involved are unaware of everything involved in the performance until they arrive on set. Many do not know each other. They free themselves of everything and I direct their involvement in a world I have created for them – a place both challenging and safe – and draw out parts of them they didn’t know existed. I love what I create. The more I create the more I want to . Kitty Von-Sometime
#196 Winter 22
Kitty Von-Sometime Photography by Egill Bjarki 2
An interview with
Kitty Von-Sometime Hello Kitty and a warm welcome to LandEscape. I would start this interview with my usual introductory question: what in your opinion defines a work of Art? Moreover, what could be the features that mark the contemporariness of an artwork?
Thank you. Well, I do not like answering this question. I feel the age old question is still a question as there isn’t exactly an answer. Would you like to tell us something about your background? Are there particular experiences that have impacted on the way you produce your artworks these days? By the way, as a self-taught artist, I would ask you what's your point about formal training... I often ask to myself if a certain kind of training could even stifle a young artist's creativity...
My background carries deep threads of creativity since childhood, but no education in art or film. All the I have done comes from a love of the an work interview with mediums and an exploration I have undertaken on my own. I would love to know more, and often crave a bigger background in my head, but sometimes I enjoy the utter naivety I have.
Kitty Von-Sometime (photo by Egill Bjarki)
fore and during the process of creating a piece?
Asking me how it would be comparatively if I had training is like asking an only child what it would be like to have a twin. They wouldn’t know. So neither to do I. My main concern with formal training versus non formal is that I believe an artist should be recognized by their work, and not necessarily a history of formal training. I completely understand and respect education, but feel that not having it shouldn’t exclude you from opportunity or acceptance if you can show works of worth.
My productions are huge. For The Weird Girls Project I spend on average 3-4 months working on one piece. Initially I develop the concept alone and then work with costume makers and film crew preparing the shoot day. These days on set I have around 20-30 women participating and a crew of between 30 and 50 people. Technically, working with film requires a great deal of forethought. I also ned to build a solid relationship with the crew as it is not like working on a normal film set. The women are completely unaware of the entire day before they show up. They do not know where they will go, what they will do, what the concept is nor what the costumes are. So even with a shot list and a storyboard, a great deal comes down to me working with women on the day, encouraging
Before starting to elaborate about your production, would you like to tell to our readers something about your process and set up for making your artworks? In particular, what techni-cal aspects do you mainly focus on your work? And how much preparation and time do you put in be24
From The Weird Girls Project, Episode 3, The Dark Side would like to start with a very stimulating work entitled The Weird Girls Project whose stills have been admired in the starting pages of this article, and I would suggest our readers to visit your website at
and reacting to their personal limitations and boundaries and working them through it in the confines of my personal visual story. By the way, do you visualize your works before creating? Do you know what it will look like before you begin?
http://www.theweirdgirlsproject.com/about.html in order to get a wider idea of this stimulating work: in the meanwhile, would you tell us something about the genesis of this project? What was your initial inspiration?
Always. I often refer to myself as a concept artist as the concept is what begins, everything else is concerned with enabling me to share that concept with the outside world. My skills in installation and in filmmaking and direction are constantly self monitored. I feel I have grown each time the end result gets closer and closer to being exactly what I birthed in my head.
The project started as a one off, not particularly meant for repeat nor to be a progressive work of art. I had many female friends who not only were lacking in something to do, but also were buried deep into self consciousness and body related issues. Some of these were related to eating disorders, abuse, rape, bullying or other personal
Now let's focus on your artistic production: I 25
From The Weird Girls Project, Episode 13, Love the Earth Part I and II As you have remarked, the Project involves ordinary women rather than professional actresses or models... I personally find absolutely fashinating collaborations that artists can established together: especially because they reveals a symbiosis between apparently different approaches to art, especially as concern whom I would define "non professional artists" as "ordinary women"... and I can't help without mention Peter Tabor who once said that "collaboration is working together with another to create something as a synthesis of two practices, that alone one could not": what's your point about this? Can you explain how your work demonstrates communication between several artists?
My work is collaborative in nature but this project is very much under my direction. As someone who has not had any traditional training in art or film making, over the years I have collaborated with film makers, costume designers, choreographers and cinematographers through the life of the Project to enable my initial visual concept to come to life. In the early days I would very much need multiple collaborators for this but these days as my experience has grown and my ability to understand how to get to the end visual goal is strong my collaboration has become less. These days I am opting to collaborate only with musicians and a cinematographer. The rest I am now in complete creative control over and have the skillset I need to get there.
From The Weird Girls Project, Episode 13, Love the Earth Winter Part#196 I and II
This does not mean I am not open to working with others, 26
I have just found that my pace of work is very fast and I run my work like a machine and other creatives can sometimes find that unenjoyable or hold my productions up. There are many people I would love to work with in the future however. With regards to using â€˜ordinary womenâ€™ â€“ this means I take women from all backgrounds who want to be part of a work of art but have possibly not been exposed to a way to do so. A feature of your work that has particularly impacted on me is the skilful capability of communicating a wide variety of states of mind... have you ever happened to discover something that you didn't previously plan and that you didn't even think about before? I'm sort of convinced that one of the roles of an artist could be to reveal hidden sides of life and nature... what's you point?
Every episode of The Project unfurls a new experience both for myself and the women participating. It is something that comes with the format of the women reacting to a completely unknown day and for me, I have to interact with their responses and guide the visual concept into being.
From The Weird Girls Project, Episode 8, Kaleidoscope 27
From The Weird Girls Project, Episode 1, Neon Fame and The Last Supper
an interview with It goes without saying that your artworks are strictly connected to the chance to create a deep interaction: so, how important is the role of your
audience for your artworks? When you conceive a piece, do you happen to think to whom will enjoy it?
I start my work to be seen. I cannot even imagine leaving a piece somewhere in the dark without an audience. I am at heart an exhibitionist and feel like our lives are so very short, our work and actions are what stay here â€“ not our physical being. I want my work to be accessible. I want people who think they don't know anything about art to enjoy it. People who say they arenâ€™t interested in art to enjoy it. I feel many people are threatened by what they see as art, that art is only art if it is intellectually challenging, if it is in some way difficult. I am very preoccupied with enjoyment and my work is heavily focused on that. If I have been asked to choose an adjective that could sum up in a single word your art, I would
The Weird Girls Project, Episode 14, Replica 28
say that your it's "kaleidoscopic": while crossing the borders of different artistic fields have you ever happened to realize that a synergy between different disciplines is the only way to achieve some results, to express some concepts?
nor programming before – yet I submitteda concept and won the commission – now I am in the process of searching out teachers to collaborate with to see if I can pull it off.
In all honesty I do not think that deeply about it. I am aware of what my work is, what it has achieved and areas it has managed to succeed. I have an end visual I want to achieve and utilize whatever disciplines I need to get there. I think maybe this is where my lack of formal training is in some ways an advantage. I don't feel that areas outside of my ‘expertise’ are threatening. I managed film making without initially knowing what I was doing, began installation with no idea how to make it happen and so a new idea and a new discipline is completely accessible to me. Right now I am working on a public light installation for Iceland and UK. I haven’t touched light
Episode 7, No Seeing Eye
The Weird Tour of China, Part II Shanghai Bright Night
without asking to the artists that I happen to interview, since even though it might sound the simpler one, I receive the most complex answers: what aspect of your work do you enjoy the most? What gives you the biggest satisfaction?
The work itself is done for enjoyment. My enjoyment in making it. The girls enjoyment from participating and the public’s enjoyment in viewing it. I can’t not make it, I feel empty an interview withbubbling in my head. without a creative project Thank you for your time and for sharing with us your thoughts, Kitty. My last question deals with your future plans: anything coming up for you professionally that you would like readers to be aware of?
As I mentioned, I have a public light installation lightwork taking inspiration from the magic of biolumiescence. Above the public’s head, in an outside location a swarm of jellyfish will be hung. In addition I am always working on new developments for The Weird Girls Project and am awaiting some grant responses and also some proposals for festivals abroad who have asked for submission of The Project to be involved in their events – art and cultural festivals alike. I also hope to work with some age related charities to approach women’s consciousness in aging.
The Weird Tour of China, Part II, Shanghai Bright Night.
An interview by firstname.lastname@example.org 30
Episode 7, No Seeing Eye
Teresa Neises An artistâ€™s statement
My mission is to photograph people in their natural environment. To show the real Characteristics of each individual and to create something to be cherished by you for a long time â€“ memories. Photography has been a passion of mine for most my life and I decided to pursue it as a career. I am glad I did; my husband died earlier this year and I am so thankful I have something meaningful to do with my life. I hope you will join me as I grow as an individual and as a photographer on my journey to becoming whole.
An interview with
Teresa Neises A warm welcome to LandEscape, Teresa. We would start this interview with our usual introductory question: what in your opinion defines a work of art? By the way, what could be in your opinion the main features that characterize a piece of Contemporary Art?
I would like to say Thank-you for this great opportunity to show my work in your magazine. I just spent last weekend with some very talented photographers. Each night select individuals stood up and talked about their work.
Everyone had their own unique approach to their body of work. I find that a work of art is the result of several components put together to create one cohesive thought or idea. We all know the rule of thumbs and anyone can follow those but it goes beyond that to get a great composition. I feel you need to have passion for what you are doing to make a great piece.
an interview with
We would like to ask you something about your background: are there particular experiences that have impacted in the way you currently produce your artworks? By the way, what's your point on formal training? I sometimes ask myself how much a certain kind of training could influence too much a young artist's creativity...
I became interested in photography when I was a teenager. My father loaned me his camera and tried to explain f/stop and shutter speed to me. Unfortunately math was not a strong subject for me as a young teenage girl and so he set the settings for me and I just used it as a normal camera. I became interested again when I had my first child and actually would stare out the car window on short road trips thinking how great it would be to travel and pho-
Stepping Stone, year 34
Nature Sculptures, year
Before starting to elaborate about your production, would you like to tell to our readers something about your process and set up for making your artworks? In particular, what technical aspects do you mainly focus on your work? And how much preparation and time do you put in before and during the process of creating a piece?
tograph the landscape. It wasnâ€™t until 2 years ago that I actually decided to pursue photography and went back to school. I am a strong supporter of education in the sense that it teaches you self-discipline, helps you get familiar with time management, meeting deadlines and learning to accept constructive criticism from your fellow peers. I also found that with the new digital age it was faster to learn how to work both the camera and the editing processes. I also am a little conflicted about the creativity being influenced. I think that you need to supplement your learning outside of the classroom as well. I personally have been using the classroom to explore areas that I would never have tried.
This has been a struggle of mineâ€Ś for the past 2 years I have been working on projects that the teachers assigned. I have been very fortunate in one aspect that life just happens to present the subject I need to fill the assignment. I am really bad at writing down my thought process or the technical aspects that went into the shoot. I try to be prepared 35
for everything since I donâ€™t always know what I am walking into when I go to shoot my subject. I usually end up having more equipment than what I needed. I am constantly thinking on what or how I should approach the work though, even when I am trying to sleep. I will have an idea of what I want to convey and show up and be surprised by something totally different and shoot that instead. Now let's focus on the artworks of your that our readers can admire in these pages: I would start from your series of photo that you took at Starved Rock Park: what was your initial inspiration? Could you lead us though the development of this project?
These were actually taken on a field trip with the Student Photography Society Club. I had heard that this was a beautiful park in Illinois, great for photographing. So when I heard that the student club was planning an excursion I joined in the festivities. I love waterfalls and was told the park had 3 of them; I was extremely disappointed when I arrived and found they were all dried up due to the lack of rain this year. I decided not to let this keep me from enjoying all that nature had to provide. As I was walking the paths trying to keep up with everyone I started to notice all that the park had to offer. There is more to landscape than just a scenic view, so I started to explore this relationship between the paths and nature. Although I'm personally not that fond of "interpreting" an artwork, I would go as far as to say that it's a narration of colors that shows how colors are capable of communicating the idea of beauty besides the contests: would you like to tell us something about your "photographic palette"?
I can honestly say that 2 years ago I felt every-thing needed to be in color. I struggled when the teacher said we had to shoot in black and white and was slightly offended. I now struggle as to when to keep something in color or if it should be black and white. I left the photos for Starved Rock Park in color because there has been a drought in the area and not everything is as green. Would the images present well in black and white? Yesâ€Ś I feel they would have 36
probably been even better in black and white. I still love color over black and white but have accepted the fact that it plays a vital role in the perception of the artwork to the viewer. Your works deals with in contaminated Nature, but I would go as far as to state that even though we can see few "human steps" as suggested by the title "Natures Sculpture": I would go as far as to say that your Art speak us also about sociopolitics, but from a intimate viewpoint. Do you think the main artâ€™s
purpose is simply to provide a platform for an artistâ€™s expression? Even though I'm aware that this might sound a bit naif, I must confess that
Paths we take
Standing Tall 37
I'm sort of convinced that Art could play an effective role even in facing social questions, not only speaking, but also steering people behavior... what's your point about this?
I agree. I believe that art can have an affect on people and their behavior. It is a great platform for artists to explore social media that is preserved for a lifetime. We are surrounded by ugly behaviors that have been kept quiet or not spoken of due to embarrassment. We go about our days not thinking twice about how our actions impact the world or people around us. The news channel throws it in our faces but we can shut that off and go about our day. Photographs or all mediums of artwork preserve that little bit of history in time for future generations to see. Our history books would just be words had there not been someone there to capture the essence of that History. I whole-heartily believe in the saying that â€œa picture speaks a thousand wordsâ€?! And since our magazine is called "LandEscape" I cannot do without asking you: what is the significance of the landscape in your art practice? I can see that it doesn't play the passive role of a an interview with simple "background", isn't it?
I am still exploring that myself, I use to do the big picture pretty landscape that you would expect but then through my teachers I have learned to start looking at the details and each individual part that makes up a particular scene. In doing so I have discovered the art of nature herself. Mankind does everything to destroy her but even in death she survives. We trample the ground but she will still grow there, we litter and she overtakes it, we burn and she returns full force. In some ways I think this is also about me. I recently lost my husband and even though a part of me has died I too continue to grow and survive my disaster. The artist Nina Bumbalkova once stated that photographs should not be considered memories themselves but they interfere and they are sort of like building blocks that we create with in the process of remembering and recalling. Sometimes, I happened to think that one of the role of an artwork is to allow us to discover a hidden Ariadne's thread, that for example often let us to discover an unexpected political side of
Teresa Neises an artwork...
If you look up art and politics you do see that they have had a vital role in our society each playing off the other in the development of our nations. Be it poetry, music, literature or painting the government has at one point or another tried to censure free expression. I use to view photographs as memories in time of loved ones to be cherished. I have since learned the power of one simple image. I do like the analogy of artwork being a hidden Ariadneâ€™s thread. I just figured out this past weekend through my images a hidden message to myself that life goes on and that we all have a path to follow. artists I interview, and although it might sound a bit simplistic it gives me back the most complex answer: what aspect of your work do you enjoy the most and what gives you the greatest satisfaction?
Well up until recently I enjoyed tackling the various projects the teachers set forth for us. My eyes were opened and I learned more about photography and art then I would have had I ventured out on my own. I have always considered myself a landscape artist and that will always be my passion, but now I have learned there is more to photography than a pretty picture and I find great satisfaction in attempting these different art forms. Thank you for sharing with us your time and your thoughts, Teresa: my last question deals with your future plans: what direction are you moving in creatively? Anything coming up for you professionally that you would like readers to be aware of?
My future plans are to continue photographing the healing process that I am going through. I did an editorial on the first month of my grieving for a class project and I want to continue documenting the emotional process of my healing. I started journaling my thoughts and feelings to help me work though the pain. Iâ€™m hoping that when I finish this project to produce a book with images and text. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Neises-lifestyle-pho tography/427872483996121 Twins
Alina d’Alva (Brazil) An artist’s statement
I was born in Brazil in 1971, years later I moved to Bonn, Germany where I received my MFA in visual arts from the kunst Akademie Alanus Hochshule. I currently live and work in Tunis, Tunisia. I’m an architect and visual artist working with many differents medias including installations. My work consists in take risks. The risk to meet the other without a frame or predefined idea. The starting point of my creative process is to let myself be affected by the "world", be this “world” a place, a person or an event and allow a poetic form emerge from this affection. Distract myself enough of myself to find what is not sought, but that happened. The process is an important part of my work, integral to any consideration of a "final product". Get "empty" of "ideas" but willing to the encounter is a key element in this process where the duration is one of the conditions necessary for the production of the instant of the "event" that can be understood here as the "work of art". In view of an "aesthetic" that comes naturally from a relative "ethics" with the world. #196 Winter 40
An interview with
Alina d’Alva Hello Alina and a warm welcome to LandEscape. I would start this interview with my usual ice breaker question: what in your opinion defines a work of Art? Moreover, what could be the features that mark the contemporariness of an artwork?
A work of art, in my view, becomes art when composes and decomposes with everyday life. It can be gesture, action, object, installation, architecture, reflection, no matter the "how", but it is important that it is able to show to the human being, other sides of the common place. Through his affective relationship with the world the artist allows something new to emerge, or he simply throws light on what was always there and no one noticed. The artist is someone who realizes the immensity of what is surrounding him. He highlights the delirium of society that is always on the run and passes without seeing, hearing or touching.
an interview with
When art leaves the pedestal, the frame, and its immobility, it is not anymore a monument, it becomes a moment. Then art becomes alive, falls into another dimension of existence, influences the space, is influenced by the place and renews the sense of everyday life.
I think contemporary art can not be conceptualized by theorists and art critics because it is heterogeneous, multiple, diverse. There are no rules. It can remain true to trends, legitimizing institutions, the market, but it can also be treason, reaction and denial. I believe that to be alive and actual (or contemporary) art should emerge from relations. It is through “encounters” that new possibilities are open, where "reality" is not given beforehand but reformulated every time the encounter takes place.
ted on the way you currently produce your works?
In Brazil I did a degree in Architecture and Urbanism and worked for some years in architectural offices in Sao Paulo. Gradually I was migrating to the urban area where I had the opportunity to work in the master plans of small towns in Brazil, as well as working with suburban communities on issues relating to the improvement of the area where they lived. Perhaps because of these experiences, the relationship with the space is so familiar to me and greatly influences my work as an artist.
Would you like to tell us something about your background? You hold a MFA in visual arts that you have received a couple of years ago from the Kunst Akademie Alanus Hochshule, in Germany. How has this experience of formal training -and especially moving from Brazil to Germany- impac-
The Masters in Germany helped me find the middle ground between the artist and the architect. 42
Alina dâ€™Alva you put in before and during the process of creating a piece?
Each situation is unique. If it is a site-specific work, is an inevitable consequence of my relationship with the place, with people, with what "find me". Nothing is fixed before-hand. I do not cling to any technique, it is set during the process and is a consequence of it. The definition phase for me is the most time consuming and more difficult as well, but, at the same time, very intense and very lively. When I "discover" what the project wants to be then I just carry it out, and then the technique, the "how to do it" is very important. It's like a picture out of focus, where the focus will just be very clear at the end, perhaps on the display. The process of mounting the work, usually only lasts a few hours, or a day. But the process is not linear and is very intuitive to me. Now let's focus on your artworks: I would like to start with your Whispering Walls, an interesting project that you have developed in partnership with the tunesian artist Raffa Bacha, and that our readers have started to admire in the introductory pages of this article: would you tell us something about the genesis of this project? What was your initial inspiration?
Sidi Bou Said is a town in northern Tunisia located about 20 km from the capital, Tunis. The entire town is located on top of a steep cliff, which overlooks the Mediterranean Sea. The town got its name from a Sufi who lived there in the 12th century and establishes a sanctuary. What most caught my attention in Sid Bou Said was the tension between what is apparent and what is hidden. Between what the city shows- in its streets crowded by marketers eager to sell their products to tourists - and what its narrow streets and walls hide.
I had excellent teachers and I think that objectivity and structure of German thinking taught me to channel my subjectivity. In the beginning there was a big cultural shock and during this period my work was very marked by the things of my home country and identity issues, especially regarding the cultural and religious fusions of Africans, native people, and European and the influence of religious syncretism in my personal life.
In one of my first visits to Sidi Bou Said I was told by the locals, scandalized, that the mausoleum of the patron saint of the place (The Marabou) had been burned, probably by a radical Islamic group that does not tolerate the worship of saints. The Marabout was a Muslim religious leader and teacher in the Maghreb, but this term also refer to a tomb of a venerated saint, and such places have become holy centers and places of pious contemplation in Tunisia.
Before starting to elaborate about your production, would you like to tell to our readers something about your process and set up for making your artworks? In particular, what technical aspects do you mainly focus on your work? And how much preparation and time do 43
From Wishpering Walls, detail, Paredes falantes
This accident and the reaction of the population (inevitably) lead me to new discoveries. Simply being willing to " be " there and hear people allowed me access to some of the hidden life of this place, listening to stories passed down for generations, retold and recreated or even invented over the years, but never loosing there attraction. The device I used for this project was to listen and record (during the period of a month) stories of the residents of Sidi Bou Said about the saints who lived an thereinterview and everythingwith that revolved around them. These stories, told in different ways by different interlocutors, formed the raw material for this installation. It was then edited and transmitted by loudspeakers installed in the walls of the mausoleum of Sidi Azizi. For this purpose I had to create false walls out of MDF sheets.
From Wishpering Walls
to meet the other without a frame or predefined idea. I'm sort of convinced that some informations & ideas are hidden, or even "encrypted" in the environment we live in, so we need -in a way- to decipher them. Maybe that one of the roles of an artist could be to reveal unexpected sides of Nature, especially of our inner Nature... what's your point about this?
The idea is that when you enter the space of the mausoleum viewers listen to all narrators talking at once. Just a big buzz like what you hear in the streets and cafes of the city. To hear the stories clearly, one needed lean closely to the wall with the ear at some little holes, like listening a whispered secret. During the exposition the Marabou space functioned as a place of encounter with the invisible life of the village Sidi Bou Said. A place where the voices of the residents were amplified. A portal of "simultaneity" that allowed access to something that was long hidden to those who pass always in a rush.
The capitalist world distorts the time of the human being, makes him track time and money, following hastiness without seeing what is around and without seeing himself. The artist is the one who allows himself to stop, slow down and pay attention at the world. Thus he is open to receive something from the world and offer it to people and in this "giving" and "receiving" the work "happens". When #196 Winter the artist accomplishes this, the result is pure
As you have remarked in your artist's statement, your art practice consists in taking risks. The risk 44
Today Takrouna is a place in ruins. During the past fifty years the village was emptied of almost all its inhabitants and only three families live in the ruins on the hill. The departure of the inhabitants began mainly with the Second World War. At that time, Takrouna was the scene of clashes between the Allies and the German-Italian military, but the main cause of the exodus of the inhabitants was the lack of water that made life impossible in the place. In my first visits to the village, I had no idea what kind of work I would perform there. The beginning of my creative process always occurs by telling myself: “be open to the unknown and no predefined ideas”. Traversing the aridity of the ruins of the hill I realized and admired, that the walls of the houses, were incrusted by fossil seashells. This led me to the discovery that the village was built upon a rock of tertiary age full of fossils.
poetry. The art and life converge to the pleasure of the subjective construction of the world. Another piece of yours on which I would like to focus is the recent video installation Agua Viva, held in Takrouna, a Berber village from Tunisia: I think that's important to underline that while "Agua Viva" in a word-for-word translation means "living water", actually it is referres to the Portuguese name for jellyfish... could you lead us through the development of this project?
Takrouna is a Berber village in Tunisia, built on a fossilized rock covered with cactus from the Tertiary era at an altitude of 200 meters. The village consists of stone houses whose architecture reflects the Berber construction methods: a small inner courtyard surrounded by vaulted rooms.
Agua Viva 45
Capela, from Gottesdienst
During this process of investigation of the place I had to spend a few days in Lisbon and went to visit the Oceanarium, which is a place where you can see in close-up range many fish species. In such a submarine aquarium I found these beautiful beings who are the jellyfish. One of the oldest forms of life on the planet. When I was there "submerged" and surrounded by water I remembered Takrouna, that was underwater itselfwith a thousands of years ago and an interview where there must have been plenty of aquatic life... In that very moment, far away in Lisbon, I had a clear picture of how my future installation in Takrouna would look like.
"Agua-Viva” is the Portuguese name for jellyfish, and literally means “living water”. The video-soundinstallation Agua-Viva intended to bring the “water”, and with it, the “life” back into one of the abandoned houses of the former prosperous Berber village. In this installation, the jellyfish were projected on the wall and ceiling of an abandoned house of Takrouna. Its reflection on the surface of the water covering the floor together with the sounds of deep seawater, of singing wales and old Berber lullabies created the illusion of being flooded by water all around.
snatch the spirit of this piece is to visit it the chocolate factory Cima Norma, Switzerand, since the personal involvement of the audience plays a crucial role in this piece: at the end of the projection, the space around is filled with the scent of lavender essence: so it's a piece that should be "felt" and not just watched to... By the way, how much important is for you the feedback of your audience? Do you ever think to whom will enjoy your Art when you conceive your pieces?
And I cannot do without mentioning the performative video entitled Gottesdienst that I would suggest our reader to view directly at your website http://alinadalva.com/section/263101_Gottesdienst.h tml... or better: I do think that the best way to
The construction of this work took place during the three-week period of residence in Dangio (Tessin/ Switzerland) It was through the daily relationship with the place that the project emerged. I should carry out the work in an old chapel that was used by employees of the chocolate factory Cimma 46
Alina dâ€™Alva ment where all aspects of sexuality and procreation were increasingly linked to sin, a woman could not be entrusted to take care of sacred realities. The German word Gottesdienst (literally, "God's service") may be defined as both "divine service" and "public worship.â€? Man's sacrificial service toward God in the offering of hymns and prayers. The white curtains, which are washed and immersed in lavender and then stretched into the chapel, were found dirty and crowded inside the factory warehouse. They belonged to the little church. I had the impulse to wash these white and delicate fabrics, as an impulse to care. From that point I started to create my Gottesdienst, my free offering to the spirit. A simple ritual of re-connection with creation. Be an agent of a new human condition: that of absolute detachment from sin. A form of power against another form of power. The performance was filmed within the space of the chapel. The video installation was assembled after, at the same place. During the exhibition the space of the chapel is filled with the scent of lavender essence that was used in the water where the clothes were dipped in. With sound, video and smell, the visitors are immersed in a place that emanated a great quietness. Spirituality perhaps? But surely something connected to the simplicity of life.
Norma. At the beginning of this process, many questions: What to do in a space dedicated to the cult? How touching it without profaning it? But this act of profanation could also be the very act of freedom (liberation)? The real act of communion with the spirit? The video shows a very simple scene: A woman goes into a chapel carrying buckets of water. She kneels down and starts washing clothes. Slowly she stretches the clothes on wires inside the chapel. Gradually the altar will be sealed. When she finishes she leaves the place. In biblical times, the interplay of purity and impurity took center stage in many patriarchal religions. In an environment where all aspects of sexuality and procreation were increasingly linked to sin, a woman could not be entrusted Caption 6to environ-
from Gottesdienst 47
Your art practice is particularly multidisciplinary and you work with many differents medias: from drawing to video, to sound installations: if I have been asked to choose an adjective that could sum up in a single word your art, I would say that your it's "kaleidoscopic": you produce installations, sculptures, and Video art. By the way, I'm sort of convinced that new media art will definitely fill the dichotomy between art and technology and I will dare to say that Art and Technology are going to assimilate one to each other... what's your point about this?
To be honest the medium that I use in my work does not define my work. They are never determined a priori. Each situation is unique. I use various media because every affection that touches me asks me for a different way to communicate and each media solves the issue in a special way. The technology can enrich and give a great dimension to the work, but it is not all. Drawing, for example, is a very important technique for me. I cannot live without a sketchbook. The drawings help me to capture moments of tenuous perception. They are like photographs of the thought. They are captured by the hand connected to the heart. This moment caught on paper can strike a chord on the viewer about their own â€Ścan evoke a language that can touch things thatwith are important in life. an interview Put in another way, I think Art and Technology always have been somehow connected. From Ghottesdienst You are currently based in Tunisi, in the Northen Africa, an interesting side of the world that has recently come to the fore about social and political issues: so even though I'm aware that you have been asked about this at least a thousand of times, I cannot do without asking you: what are the main differences in the art scenario between Tunisian and Europe? And especially, what can we learn from the Arabic scene?
Tunisia was the first Arab country to bring down its authoritarian leader, to hold democratic elections and bring to power moderate Islamists. But the party to power (called Ennahda), found himself caught between a progressive movement, and radical Islamists. #196 SomeWinter of these radical Islamist
Sid Azizi 48
Ism are still not banned. The actual transitional regime does not enough to condemn extremist groups that threaten the freedom of expression. This fact causes much frustration and disbelieve as for the so called arab spring among artists, but they don’t give up and keep producing good work. Sometimes I think that the tension even inspires for deeper and more powerful art. Thank you for your time and for sharing with us your thoughts, Alina. My last question deals with your future plans: anything coming up for you professionally that you would like readers to be aware of?
movements consider all kind of artistic expression as being blasphemy and therefore condemn the artists’ work and persecutes the artist himself. Last year, in June, I took part in an exhibition (the Spring Arts exhibition at the Palais Abdellia) that was attacted by islamists who called death threats on 27 artists that participated. Following this art event a wave of incitement to murder for "disbelief and offense to the sacred" was launched via social networks and forums . In addition, the Minister of Culture Mehdi Mabrouk publicly defended the islamists terror because these artists deliberately touched the realm of the sacred. On his Facebook site, Ennahda has even claimed that any insult to religion should be severely punished by prison. Today the danger of these forms of radical islam-
For the moment I am participating in a project with a group of artists and researchers from the And_Lab Lisbon. The AND_LAB is a Centre for Artistic Research and Scientific Creativity, directed by Jo„o Fiadeiro and Fernanda Eugenio, and positions itself as a platform for education and research at the interface between creativity, sustainability, politics and daily life.http://and-lab.org/ We are working on a sort of "game" that involves multiple artists online, that will have a second phase in an artist residency in Lisbon and will be finalized, hopefully, with an exhibition in Lisbon and Brazil. 49
Sameh Al Tawil (Egypt / Germany) An artist’s statement
“ Born in Cairo 1978, studied and practiced art in Egypt, Germany and Switzerland since 1999, check my detailed biography on www.samehaltawil.com “ My recent work is characterized by Performances or installations that combinehuman body, sculptural forms with video orsounds and interactive experiences. Objects and environments are systems and instruments, combining physical forms with multi-dimensional and non-linear audio/visual elements. Architectural and site considerations are often parameters for designed spaces that explore the physicality of visual and sound in relationship to human sensation. Objects and sculptural forms are frequently interactive and involve viewer participation with touch or motion. This aspect of my work involves an ongoing dialogue between the tactile and the aural, cause and effect relationships of viewer action within reactive systems, and personal versus social dynamics within interactive structures such as play and collaboration. Both The static or interactive systems in my pieces are either programed or constructed from hand-made instruments and customized software, often running in a balanced state while uninterrupted while containing flexible parameters that are sensitive to viewer actions or environmental conditions. Fusing visual elements and physical media, my work also explores the conflation of vibrational energetic processes with material form, and shifting relationships within sensory dynamics and perception. These ideas engage my interest in the transformative potential of these processes when applied to material forms, and the resulting subjective experiences within the viewer. Most recent works explore therapeutic potentials of immersive audio/visual experiences. Sameh Al Tawil 50
Sameh Al Tawil
An interview with
Sameh Al Tawil Hello Sameh, and welcome to LandEscape. I would start this interview with my usual introductory question: what in your opinion defines a work of Art? And moreover, what could be the features that mark the contemporariness of an artwork?
In my opinion, a work of art is an artist’s decision; in other words, The artist is the only person who can turn anything into an Art-Work… lots of our surroundings have highly artistic values but it couldn’t be a work of art until an artist sees it and decides to put it into an artistic context. The concept of contemporariness of an art work couldn’t be evaluated or marked in certain features because it’srelative; it differs from one culture to another, and from one person to another… from my personal point of view, what makes a piece of art become contemporary is being personal; that represents the artist’s experience himself / herself an interview with which by nature different from others, the real artist is a person who decided to use Art as a language to positively add value to the humankind. Sameh Al Tawil (photo by Fahad Shamsheer 2010)
In addition, The Interaction as one of the contemporary art features - the work of art is well-known from the aroma of time as a static object holding a one to all messages and based on the science and rules of logic and beauty - but the interactivity in art breaks this concept and came up with a new type of art; art projects delivering one to one messages, art-systems needs the viewers to interact and / or contribute in order to become an art work…. that enhances the art viewers experience and meets their daily inter-activities and reflects the contemporary era changes and the spread of the internet, mobile technology, Etc…
fluenced the development of your artistic practice?
I am an Egyptian artist, born in Cairo 1978, brought up in one of the public districts in the old cairo surrounded by Islamic monuments and traditional houses, dealing with all levels of Egyptians, this atmosphere and the people triggered and grown my artistic sense so i decided tostudy music and calligraphy and then i joined the Faculty of Applied Arts and chosen to study sculpture, later idecided to continue studying art in Europe and wills fortune to meet a german artist Bruno wank we worked together and with his generous support i was able to jointhe Academy of Fine Arts in Munich,Germany and this was an important turning point in my artistic life, where I got to know a new culture and
Would you like to tell us something about your background? I have read that you hold a BA in Art from the faculty of applied arts Cairo, and a German Diplom in art from The Fine Art Academy in Munich ADBK: how have these experiences in52
Sameh Al Tawil
From Unclarities, details
learning new language; at this point I began to have my art style which consists of amixture of all these cultures and experiences, since the year 2000 i am exhibiting and joining artistic events in both Egypt and Germany.
who experiences or moves between more than one culture, He usually compares between his own culture and the one he moves into it, personally this is my favorite art topic and iâ€™ve realized so many art projects based on the cultural shock or cultural differences i.e. Solo, 26, Visitors, Ready to Go. and other projects as well.
Currently, I am writing my Master in the history of media art at the Danube University in Krems, Austriaâ€Ś
In the same context, Contemporary art in Egypt is unfortunately limited to the experiments of individualartists, experiments, however the Egyptian Contemporary Art in general still suffering from several contradictory crises, the most important crisis is the attempt to get out ofthe cloak of ancient Egyptian art (Pharaonic, Coptic, Islamic, modern), which attracts art toward conservationand tradition, another crisis is the blind affecting of Western art
By the way, even though this might sound a bit steretyped question, I'm sure that our reader would like to know if you, as a contemporary Egyptian artist, have happend to found relevant differences between the Egyptian artistic scenario and the European one...
This case, in specific interests every artistâ€™s mind 53
Sameh Al Tawil
A sequence of stills from Ready To Go, Video Performance your artworks? In particular, what technical aspects do you mainly focus on your work? And how much preparation and time do you put in before and during the process of creating a piece?
without any conscious studying of the culture that have produced the contemporary Western Arts, and finally the crisis of bad art-education system in Egypt… thesystem of education in Egypt, unfortunately, does not allow free creativity, also does not provide real opportunities of teamwork or scientific research, and doesn’t have agenuine criteria to choose arts students or instructors…
In my own art work; The idea is the hero and most oftenis the starting point as well, I am in a permanent research for valuable ideas or / andmessages that need my intervention to become a work of art to get enriched and delivered to the largest number of people.
an interview with
On the other side, I found a great activity and diversity in Europe with regard to art and educational institutions andfreewill in terms of ideas and great support from thecountry, the civil society institutions and the private organizations. Despite the existence of ancient civilizations in Europe, but they Precede from Egypt in the ability to get rid of this circle and produce better contemporary art that expresses the reality and enriches the humankind’s culture more, although sometimes I criticize some forms of freedom that might collide with other cultures and public moralities.
Only when I find the appropriate idea i begin the search process to become more familiar with all the necessary information to better understand the subject ; Then i cometo the production stage of a preliminary sketches or images to imagine the form of the work, and finally i move to the stage of selecting the most appropriate medium or / and technology to realize the Art work. I can’t determine the time required for the production of myartwork, however some ideas are strong and honestenough to be realized in days and others takes weeks ofrethinking and studying until i get satisfied and some of the ideas just get trapped in my sketch book forever.
Before starting to elaborate about your production, would you like to tell to our readers something about your process and set up for making
Now let's focus on your artworks: I would like to start with the recent project Ready To Go, that our readers have admired in the starting pages of this article: I would suggest to our reader to jump directly to http://samehaltawil.com/art-projects/ and have a more complete idea of this stimulating work... #196 Winter in the meanwhile, could you take us through
From Ready To Go 54
Sameh Al Tawil
From A442 Hz, Installation
your creative process when starting this project?
retrieved my personal experience as an eastern citizen who spent many years in the West.
I’ve created this project during my stay in Bern, Switzerland within an artist in residency program, sponsored by Prohelvetia cairo… the idea of the project starts after i met some arab expats in bern and during our usual discussions about our countries and comparing a lot of life aspects in the arab world with it’s counterparts in the Western world, these discussions triggered my attention to the concept of departure from the arab expats perspective, that leaded me to come up with a concept entitled “ Departure culture” ; it’s Caught my attentionalso how the eastern immigrant is keen to carry everything with him i.e. culture, religion, worries,memories, Etc… packing his homeland in mind.
Finally i decided to use different techniques and art formsto deliver the idea; the first form was a performance where i play oriental music improvisations on a grand piano and 2 arab performers were packing me and the piano - during the concert- using the transparent packing foil (similar to the one normally used in airports), another form was sculpture pieces made of personal items packed with the same transparent plastic material, also another form was an installation consists of a car overloaded with furnitures, baggages and households, Etc… The project in brief; is a self-critic visual documentation ofthe psychological state of the eastern immigrants in the West ... documenting metaphorically his state of constant readiness for departure.
The eastern immigrant has a great fear of west that turns into loads and constraints prevent the communication and integration with the West and prevent the West to communicate with him as well... so i’ve inundated in the study of this concept based on my discussions with many expatriates and
Your works, as the recent and interesting Vs and A 442 Hz are deeply involved into political 55
Sameh Al Tawil
From A442 Hz, detail
issues, and in fact the aforesaid video installation is entitled also Songs of the Revolution... as an Egyptian Post-Revolutionary Contemporary artist, we cannot do without mentioning the nowadays situation of your country: many people alla round the world have been struck -and sometimes even fascinated- by the recent events... I would seize this occasion to read the opinion of an artist that is deeply involved in the matter...
I’ve created these 2with projects after 3 years of the an interview Egyptian revolution, because it’s too difficult to make up my mind during a huge incident like that.
From Vs, detail
Concerning “A442Hz” video-installation; it’s considered as an experimental video presents an Egyptian orchestra without a Maestro in an unsuccessful attempt for over 3 minutes to tune their musical instruments ! the video, of course, is ridiculously criticizing the current political and social situation in Egypt with all antagonism and lack of harmony and confusion. The Video was filmed with a fixed camera so that the viewer feels to be part of the film and partner in the chaos and the responsibility.
demonstration ... This action puts the Egyptian viewers in front of a mirror to watch themselves with all their contradictions. This work also carries a highlighting on the concept of privacy penetration and the deception of the public media. The common idea between the two works is that the Egyptian political situation carries a lot of contradiction and confusion from all parties. I am myself convinced that Art could play a crucial role not only in speaking about sociopolitical questions, but even and especially in steering people's behaviour... What's your point about this? Do you think that an Artist could play a political role? By the way, how much and the Egyptian Revolution will influence the regional Art scenario?
The second project entitled “VS." it is an interactive project where the viewers are asked to carry a preparedbanners that bearing liberal pictures and slogans in front of a huge screen; on the screen the placards are turninginto totalitarian pictures and fundamentalist slogans andtriggers a pre-recorded fundamentalist voices chanted in real time ... this Work represents a demonstration thatelectronically manipulated simultaneously to turn into a counter-
I completely agree that art can play an important role in guiding the behavior of human beings, also 56
Sameh Al Tawil Your art practice ranges from photography to new media art, from Installations to Performance art: If I have been asked to choose an adjective that could sum up in a single word your art, I would say that your it's "kaleidoscopic": by the way, I'm sort of convinced that new media art will definitely fill the dichotomy between Art and Technology and I will dare to say that Art and Technology are going to assimilate one to each other... what's your point about this?
As I mentioned earlier , I have learned not to start anyart project by thinking in techniques, because it determines the artistic thinking in that particular execution,even if it is not the most appropriate technique for the implementation of the idea .... I prefer always to start racing the idea and leave it decides the suitable techniqueto come to life. I have in mind in this context, one of my recent work entitled "Integration" that can be viewed directly at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hf1ifaqpKXA#t=15. In fusion, and after researching decided to use an advance interactive technology based on a Kinect camera which captures the viewers body and movements and transform it into a forms of graphic momentarily so that they can interact with other pre-designed forms of graphic , in a way close to video games the viewer finds himself in another world trying to deal with shapes that represent the population of the virtual world
in the development of solutions to deal with the social and political crisesâ€Ś that Art in all its forms inherently carries the ability to gather the masses, regardless of their opinion or cultural differences, the Art also holds the ability of building communication between the viewers and the artworkâ€Ś these two abilities are enough to end up all the problems of human-beings in general. For instance, In Egypt for the first time after many years people met in the squares of the revolution against the ruling regimes; during that emerged new forms of arts on the Egyptian art scene like Graffiti arts and the freemusical bands and street performance art, Etcâ€Ś People may stop the revolution after implementing their demands but i think the revolution will continue in theEgyptian contemporary art and will maintain the gains of the revolution such as crowd and public art, and will produce more new art forms.
From Integration, detail 57
E scape And since I am myself a musician, I cannot do without mentioning our artwork entitled "Solo" http://samehaltawil.com/portfolio/solo/ , a piece that I like very much, especially because it is capable of establishing such a synergy between appa-rently different cultures... Even though you have underlined that this piece has been in a certain sense inspired by the cultural conflicts over your head, I can recognize an effective example of syncretism: all in all, syncretism is a revolutio-nary gesture itself, isn't it?
Music is my great passion, if i had a choice i would preferred to be a pianist …In this work , " Solo " I wanted to document my contradictory feelings at the beginning of my residency in Germany, A feeling of joy and happiness to be in a new society and culture, and my feeling ofalienation at the same time; Inability to understand the language and express myself , the inability to engage in the community as a result of preconceived ideas.
From Solo, detail goes without saying that feedbacks and especially awards are capable of supporting an artist, I was just wondering if an award -or better, the expectation of an award- could even influence the process of an artist... By the way, how much important is for you the feedback of your audience? Do you ever think to whom will enjoy your Art when you conceive your pieces?
So I decided to play the piano with my hands tied with handcuffs... I’ve played joyful and Polyphonic Music of my synthesis to shout out the message that I'm not weak or sad , but I would appreciate more an interview with freedom, power andhappiness . I've selected the piano because of my intense passion for the instrument as well as a symbol of Western civilization, also because it’s Fortunately available in most places in Germany in the houses at the University, etc… and for that was for me a communication machine to introduce myself, feel confidence and communicate with others in a common language.
Art in my opinion is an eloquent way to communicate , which is pretty similar to music to some extent in this aspect; In the sense that the artist controls a little bit of the ideas sent by his art-work to the viewers , but the bulk of the messages and ideas are not controlled by the artist deliberately, most of these messages related to the nature of the artist, his history and experience, and another
Your works have been exhibited several times both in Europe and in your native country: it
themselves as a result of triggering the artwork these ideas inside their minds ...
A sequence of stills from Upside Down 58
From A442 Hz, Installation
From Solo, detail
I do not think much of the audience’s feedback towards my art , but I feel happy when I see a positive reactions or when some of my original thoughts reaches the viewers and i become even more happy if someone reads my work from a different perspective, that enriches my artistic experience and direct my attention to new areas in my art and personality.
case my art and my thoughts in your valuable magazine and for your readers. As for my future plans, I am writing now aMaster thesis about the Egyptian revolution and its impact on contemporary Egyptian art, Upon completion it will be published as a book “Egyptian revolution as a cyberspace” I hope that the readers will like it. I am planning also for some exhibitions i.e. a groupexhibition in Germany next summer with Artist Bruno Wank, and Artist Mohamed Shoukry, a screening of myfilm “442 Hz” within the AfriPerfoMa Festival Harare, Zimbabwe. You may follow my new activities and subscribe for my newsletter on my website www.samehaltawil.com
Thank you for your time and for sharing with us your thoughts, Sameh. My last question deals with your future plans: anything coming up for you professionally that you would like readers to be aware of?
I’d like to thank you as well for inviting me to show59
Rempart de l'Oubi, from the Nocturnes series, 65x100cm, 2009, huile sur toil
#196 Winter 1 60
Jocelyne Clemente (France)
An interview with
Jocelyne Clemente Hello Jocelyne, and welcome to LandEscape. I would this start this interview with my usual introductory question: what in your opinion defines a work of Art? And moreover, what could be the features that mark the contemporariness of an artwork?
A work of art is the expression of our human qualities. Art is reflexion, emotion. It is a language which unites ages and territories; it is a tool of knowledge. You can study works according to their original context or other criteria, but it is not my way of doing so. I establish connections between the art of the past and today's works, for me, they exist in the same contemporaneity. Would you like to tell us something about your an interview background? I havewith read that you graduated in Fine Arts from Saint-Etienne Art School: how has formal training influenced the development of your artistic practice? Moreover, are there particular experiences that have impacted the way you produce your art nowadays?
I have always been very receptive to images since my childhood. Shyly, I began visiting museums during my adolescence. I felt a very strong attraction for some works, even if I knew nothing about them. I did not have any cultural references in my immediate environment. I did not feel authorised to go to art school straight after high school. First I had to think of earning a living, in spite of my desire to study Art. After studying English at university, I passed exam to become a teacher. It was at the very start of my teaching career that I met students from Art School, I was very attracted by their lifestyle, and I understood that I needed to involve myself in art, to try this experience.
Jocelyne Clemente citing because they were confusing. It was not expected that you just know how to draw well, in reaeality I did not understand what was expected of me. It is a place where you are challenged, where you have tremendous meetings, where you learn what is freedom and commitment. If you are not 62
Jocelyne Clemente own. Little attention was paid to painting; so it was difficult to defend your work, especially when it was figurative. Going to museums and to expos was part of my learning process and, even today, I still feel the need to visit them. Before starting to elaborate about your production, would you like to tell to our readers something about your process and set up for making your artworks? In particular, what technical aspects do you mainly focus on your work? And how much preparation and time do you put in before and during the process of creating a piece?
Serendipity, the ability ÂŤto find something else than what you were looking forÂť and procrastination are integral parts of my creative process. I like the quote of John Perry: To be a high achiever, always work on something important, using it as a way to avoid doing something that's even more important. It is in the routine of my work that things take form or not, that they resist more or less, that the paintings bring joy, satisfaction, surprise, doubt. A lot of time has to be spent in the studio, sometimes hours to destroy, or redo a previous attempt. It takes time; it is necessary to let time do its work. You need to be able to let your ideas mature, leave the pictures on the wall for some time, or put them away for a long time and take them out again later to see them in a new light. That is why it is difficult to say how long you will take on a picture. A picture is not done alone; I need other ones as well: those that are already done and those that remain to do. They interact together, and the meaning is built across the series. I like to start from something that pre-exists. I use the left over colours from one painting to begin another one. When I paint on paper, I cut out pieces to make collages. At the moment I am working on a piece begun on posters where I reuse the images. I also have several projects under way. Photography takes over at one moment, or maybe engraving; or I might draw.
strong, disciplined and you do not invest yourself completely you cannot succeed. But it's nothing compared with what awaits every artist once he or she leaves Art School. I did not learn how to be a painter in Art School which taught only very briefly the classical topics. So I had to learn how the profession works on my
The subject of my work is not homogeneous. I exert my right to this freedom, and this way of working. 63
maison 1, 2010, 100x100cm, huile sur toile Now let's focus on your artworks: I would like to start with the recent series Nocturnes, that our readers have admired in the starting pages of this article: I would suggest to our reader to visit http://www.jocelyneclemente.odexpo.com/galerie_d3.asp?galerie=27127&ng= tableaux%20r%E9cents&lg=&via=gal and have a more complete idea of this stimulating series... in the meanwhile, could you take us through your creative process when starting this project?
I am not bothered about sticking to reality; I want the landscape to be a representation of itself. The series "Nocturnes" questions the mystery of nature and casts the landscape as a play where our contemplation is played. My landscapes are not natural, and there is no reference to real places. The works of art are a source of inspiration, like the landscapes in the background of Renaissance paintings or the Flemish Old Masters. There is an aspect that is much researched, very detailed. This careful rendering of the elements of the landscape, this interpretation of nature is fascinating. It is not a work of copying or of observation; it is a teeming, passionate
la lune boit, 2007 130x90cm, huile sur bois #196 Winter 64
Jocelyne Clemente and generous invention. Everything mixes together in the landscape; everything that you can imagine is there. It is not the illusion of reality that is looked for, it is an imaginary landscape which is arranged in an elaborate manner without any real atmosphere, an impossible landscape. When I consider more recent artists, I see the trees of
are still many other places or pictures that are important: they share, I believe, a certain strangeness, a link to reality which is not photographic, a link to beauty which is unconventional. By the way, a visuals of your paintings that has particularly impacted on me especially are the and the vivid -I daresay "thoughtful"- blue that is a recurrent colour in your series Arbres et Cailloux: any comments on your choice of "palette" and how it has changed over time?
I have experimented with monochrome several times, Monochrome allows you to concentrate on the drawing, the composition of the picture, but also upon the qualities
#196 Winter , 2012,
of a unique colour. The effect produced by blue is not the same as that of orange. I have noticed that the insects in my studio climb more frequently upon the pictures that are predominately yellow! I know that blue is going to bring closer me to the night, to introspectionâ€Ś Besides painting, you have also produced an interesting series of photographs on which I would like to spend some words. In particular, I can recognize an underlying geometrical feature both triptych, and the pieces of your series "Construction", as the interesting "Zone de Travail"...
â€œMaison Temoinsâ€? is a photo that expresses a special atmosphere. The moment during dusk for example when it is neither day nor night, which makes everything seem a bit unreal. I make directories of photographs which I then put together. In front of the computer screen, I use the images without trying to have a unity of time or place. These are especially urban scenes because it is in the city where I am most often. I do not go looking for places; I use those that I see in my daily life. These are ordinary subjects; I do not look for spectacular scenes.
, 2008, photography
Then, in front of the computer, I work like the painter who thinks about the composition, the drawing, the colour. The photographs are put together according to these criteria to create new landscapes. I create them from fragments of reality. I do not try to give an illusion of reality. The changes in scale, the breaks, and the unlikely junctions highlight the assemblage. It is like editing a film: you choose shots, and you put them together to tell a story.
an interview with
In the series of paintings "Constructions", there again it is not a about copying reality and remaining true to the subject. I sometimes use photographs of houses for the initial sketch and then the painting completes the transformation. The details of the architecture disappear under transparent layers which envelop the home like a veil. The painting progressively removes the identity of the model, leaving just some pieces of wall. And often the surrounding nature, trees, gardens make a scene where an event takes place. What do you try to communicate through your work and especially: what role plays your audience in your process? When you conceive an artwork do you think to whom will enjoy it?
zone de travail, 2005
Of course I ask myself the question of why I should 66
, 2005 22x22cm
create new pictures, while we are overwhelmed by images and have become used to viewing them very rapidly. In my pictures I experience the time of creation, the time that it takes to create, arrange, look, to inspect the details and the whole, and to judge the meaning.
of a man who walks in the sun than in all the religions that have existed.». Peter Sloterdijk said: «Artists are important because they are the bearers of the ambition of their epoch. The artist is an individual who always affirms that he is able to superimpose his individuality and the universe, and who aspires to his own universe. He wants his own biography to be the definitive history of his time; he is the man-world, the man microcosm. But I am disposed to think that the classical artist is going to disappear. The man-world does not
There are important ideas at stake, there is thoroughness. I do not paint landscapes, I work on the depiction of the idea of a landscape, the idea as was said by Giorgio de Chirico that « On earth, there is much more mystery in the shadow
, 2012 50x70cm, huile sur toile
La peur du vide, 2012, 50x70cm, huile sur toile 67
not have a very big future. I think rather that we are going to see generations of lightened artists, artists without worlds. The tendency towards lightness that I spoke about earlier is also going to affect the art world. Âť In my work there is the notion that the pieces communicate between themselves, that there are connections between the series or between photography and painting. I build a world, but to construct it, it is necessary that it leaves the studio, that it is displayed to the public, that it can inspire them to dream up their own stories. artists that I happen to interview, and I have to say that even though it might sound the simpler one, it gives me back the most complex answers: what aspect of your work do you enjoy the most? What gives you the biggest satisfaction?
The most important thing is to have the time and the freedom to do what you want. I need to immerge myself in my work, and not be interrupted. What is pleasing is to feel that you are on the right track; you know this when things become obvious. Sometimes a last addition is all that is necessary, a
an decisive interview gesture or an with idea that prevails over everything else; by that I me an experimentation, doubt, and slow work of maturing an idea or concept. Thank you for your time and for sharing with us your thoughts, Jocelyne. My last question future deals with your plans: anything coming up for you professionally that you would like readers to be aware of?
I must say that I am happy to appear in your magazine. The name of LandEscape has a particular resonance with my work! I thank you for your invitation. I am currently working on several projects and I update my site regularly that I invite your readers to visit: http://www.jocelyne-clemente.odexpo.com
le temps qu'il faut, 2010 An interview by email@example.com
100x120cm, huile sur toile
les lisi+Đ¸res cosm+Đštiques, 2005 22x22cm
Sofie Dieu (France / Australia) An artistâ€™s statement
My recent series of work, Light & Soul, is an opened window on human inner turmoil and aspirations. It is an artistic development based on the relation of Man and the primitive elements of his space-time environment. By focusing on the essence of the being and its biotope, my work makes visible the human instincts, touching the senses and offering the possibility to reconnect to the self, to link conscious and subconscious. "When the history will be finally conceived as that of the human soul, it will forego artificial chronological divisions, and, restoring generations their role and importance, it will wonder about problems so far neglected, especially that of the "progress ", the ceaseless transformation of souls. This will be the "turning points" that it will have to attempt to explain, rather than simply recording them, without though defining them.â€? greatly inspired by the work of the writer Christian Senechal, this serie is composed of three interactive lights installation using new textile and light technologies (LED, optical fibre, phosphorescent ink). It also showcase a video projection, two sculptures using small recycled furniture as well as eight diptychs composed of, on one side, paintings and on the other side poems.
Sofie Dieu 70
Soul Whisperer, July 2013 2
An interview with
Sofie Dieu Hello Sofie and a warm welcome to LandEscape. I would start this interview with my usual introductory question: what in your opinion defines a work of Art? Moreover, what could be the features that mark the contemporariness of an artwork?
Hi! It's my pleasure, thanks for taking the time. Well, it is a very broad question. I will refer to Glenn Barkley, the curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art of Australia, and to answer your first question, I would say that a work of art should be source of intellectual and emotionnal response. In other words it should be able to make your brain and heart salivate. To give you an example, I recall, many years ago, when I was an art student living in Paris, going to the Beaubourg Museum and looking at some new acquisitions. One of them was a video work, the artistinterview had recorded himself an withon the top of a hill and he was screaming until exhaustion. As I was there for deepening my knowledge in contemporary art, I looked at the double A4 explanation provided with the video. After 1 page reading I was completly out of it: emotionnaly first the static video of that man screaming was not echoing with me and then that lengthy aimless reading killed me intellectually. So that video stays as a anecdote in art (at least for me), it did not touch me in anyway. On the other hand if I look at a work of Diane Arbus or a performance of Marina Abramovic, it impacts on me at every level.
Sofie Dieu (Photography Martin Bichsel)
background? You hold a Degree of textile design and a Bachelor of sculpture, that you received from Olivier de Serres art school, in Paris: how have these experiences of formal training impacted on the way you produce your artworks? By the way, I often ask to myself if a certain kind of training could even stifle a young artist's creativity: what's your point about this?
Regarding the contemporariness of an artwork, the easy answer would be to say the materials employed, as there are so many various way to create nowadays. But I believe that it mainly resides in its capacity to talk to a now global audience, while being precise, personal and non anecdotic. Looking at the modern and our post-moder society, what new does a piece of art have to bring to the audience?
The first 2 years I was studying in Olivier de Serres, some of the other students were really good. I mean really really good, the cream of the cream. We all came from different artistic background and each one of us had its own way of seeing the world. I learned so much from them, more than from the teachers actually. The first day I remember, that petite black hair girl was sitting in front of me wearing a fushia skirt with a cadium red belt: I was shocked by her daring, how could she have mixed
Would you like to tell us something about your
these two colours together?! It was beyond my world. These students opened my naive eyes and show me how to step out of my conventions. It has sank into me since, and I keep these fresh look at any stage in my work. The last 2 years of my studies, I was very lucky, some of my teachers were wonderful, truely inspiring.
exploring and not being shy to try that would be the best training. But at the end of the day it is the responsability of the student, either you get involved either you do something else. Before starting to elaborate about your production, would you like to tell to our readers something about your process and set up for making your artworks? In particular, what technical aspects do you mainly focus on your work? And how much preparation and time do you put in before and during the process of creating a piece?
From a technical as well as an estheatic point of view. I use everyday the techniques they taught me. These great teachers were also excellent at pointing me and the other students in the right direction, they would never do things for us, instead they were leading by their vision and their talent.
The way I work is very schizophrenic to be honest. If I draw or paint, only a few sketches are enough. For a sculpture where new technology is involved it takes much longer, I need to prepare the ground very well as I have to work with other people. But generally everything starts in my note books and
It was the right balance between what braught my peers to me (and me to them I hope!) and these few teachers knowledge that made these 4 years unique. So I guess it is about formal training, 73
The Gardener, from Light and Soul, August 2013
sketch books, each one of them has its own purpose. I have a “nightary” book in which I write and draw all my dreams, they are great source of inspirations, I have others for writting my poems, to-do-list, weekend sketches, random ideas... In total at the moment I have a dozen. I also take a lot of pictures or collect some on the net of what I am interested in. I read a lot too. Regularly, consciously and unconsciously I diggest these informations and then the necessity of creating rise.
The Gardener, from Light and Soul, August 2013
This is the delicate step, I am very intuitive and tend to create a lot based on my gutts feelings. So I have to slow down (which is tremendously difficult as I have so much that needs to go out) in order to be able to articulate intelligently my thoughts. I ask myself a lot of questions and try a lot: I call it my 'cooking time'.
of this stimulating project? What was your initial inspiration?
For the last 5 years I have been living in Victoria, south of Australia, the nature here has been so well preserved. There is wild life everywhere (I have a possum living in the roof of my house). The most stunning I think here are the skies. They look like living pieces of art. Every day, and especially at dawn and dusk, the sky gives us a spectacular demonstration of its beauty and wildness. This endless time-space object was like an open gate, when I look at it everything stopped and become peacefull, inside and outside my soul. I started to reconnect with myself. The contrast with China where I used to live before was so intense. In Shanghai and Beijing where I used to live, everything was about business, being busy, the “go-go-go” attitude, it made my head spin. Here I learnt to take the time.
Once I know, that things have now become very obvious, then I work on my final. That is when I let myself go all over the place: while Iwill be painting I will start a sculpture, halfway through I will work on a video project, some drawings, go back to my painting etc... I have to, otherwise I get too bored. Then everything folds into place and that cycle ends. There is usually no rest in between as towards the end of a series of work in the back of my head a new need start cristallising. Now let's focus on your artworks: I would like to start with Light & Soul that our readers have admired in the starting pages of this article: would you tell us something about the genesis
Therefore I became very interested to explore the 74
Sofie Dieu One of the features of the series of which this project is composed that has impacted on me is the way you have been capable of establishing such a symbiotic dialog between the spontaneity of human instinct that springs from the evocative visuals and a timeless contemplation, suggested by the words of your poems... and since our art review is called "LandEscape", we would like to stop for a moment to consider the "function" of the landscape and its contemplation, in recreating a bond between people and Nature... maybe between Man and Man's nature itself. What's your point about this?
You are touching at the heart of what should become our post-modern society! The landscape, and I am not talking about the urban one here, but the rare one that is still untouched, has a specific place in our life: it is I believe, the primitive version of the human being. And by pretending that it is not
relation of Man and the primitive elements of his space-time environment. I wanted to explore more variations of that primitive object and looked at stones, crystals, coral, geology documents, underwater photography, Yann Arthus Bertrand pictures etc. A lot of my kids memory resurfaced during that period; the tactile and playfulness of certain works are based on them. I looked at where the origin of Man were : both geographically and memory wise. The link between the primitive self and its surrounding became clearer, I wanted to make the human instincts visible, his biotope and the collective memory associated to them. Without Light there is no Soul. This work is about redefining ourselves in this so rapidly evolving world. How to touch base with our inner-self, who are we? What is the place of nature in our life? How do we and should we interact with it, with ourselves?
Cirrus & Coral from Light and Soul, August 2013
important we are depriving ourselves from the source of well being. We have disconnected the beings from their realm and transposed them in a more â€œsuitedâ€? one. But it is fake and something is missing. It is very obvious here in Melbourne, every friday evening after work, people rush in their car, horning their way out of the city and other industrial zones to go for a weekend in the 'bush', in the wild, or at least in the coutryside. People need a break of the urban centres and of themselves. They seek isolation, they want to be the only one walking on that beach or in this forest. A lot of them go camping, they uncounsciously need to go back to their roots. They are looking for a way to slow down, they are looking for stopping the time. That is the function of the untouched landscape: being a time-stopper. Another work of yours on which I would like to spend some words is the light installation Soul Whisperer, and I would suggest to our reader to admire directly at your website http://sofiedieu.jimdo.com/work/2013/. In order to develope it you have used modern technology, as LED lights and optical fibre... I'm sort of convinced that new media art will definitely fill the dichotomy between Art and Technology and I will dare to say that Art and Technology are going to assimilate one to each other... what's your point about this?
Technology will not be art by itself, the artist behind only will have the ressources to make it so. However, not using technology in art or considering it as a quick fashion would be a mistake. It would be like having that same old conversation of numeric photography over argentic, which used to be before argentic technology over daguerreotype etc etc. The capacities associated to that sector are still beyond our understanding, it is scary but so exciting at the same time! Personally I believe this is where postcontemporary art should go. At the moment I am very interested in the work of Gavin Baily, Tom Corby and Jonathan Mackenzie. I think they found how to beautifully synthesize art and new technology, especially in the art gaming field. Their work is deep, poetic, smart, educational even. It is such a fresh breeze compared to the fashionable pessimistic, exhibitionist art now showing.
an interview with
And we couldn't do without mentioning Alchemy: an interesting features of this series is the visual perception of tactility and an important aspect of your work is focusing on craftsmanship and its manual process. By the way, do you visualize your works before creating? Do you know what it will look like before you begin?
It is true craftmanship or artisana as I prefer to call it, is a
from Light & Soul, July 2013
Cantic, from Alchemy - RAW
big part of my work. It is the time spent doing a piece that counts as well. There is a lot of room to spontaneity in my work, but the consumption of time is as equally important. In Alchemy it was the apotheosis: each necklace or reversed crown have taken a lot of time. And as the rest of my work, it play with the senses: the touch, the sight are the main ones. Although I play a lot with taste and smell too.Some of my works come instantly, like a vision. I can be sometimes tortured by not getting something out of a canvas or a sculpture, and eventually it comes to me in the less expected moment. That is why I ALWAYS have a notebook with me, I need to write down everything, my brain never stops, it is exhausting. I wake up at night with the most brilliant ideas... I know what you are about to ask me, yes I do have a notebook and pen on my bed side table!
Cantic, from Alchemy - RAW
For the Alchemy – Raw, it all came from Melbourne. The houses here have this decadent Victorian flair, and there is lot of embroidered metalic decorations around the houses roof. It is stunning, especially in the late day light. That decadence came to me in the vision of the Queen Victoria dropping her crown. I crocheted cotton for making these reversed crowns. I transformed cotton into royal jewellery. And as I like to give more than one life to objects then I transmutated them in Gold, Jade and other precious minerals and stones.
Citadelle, from Alchemy Transmutation
If I have been asked to choose an adjective that could sum up in a single word your art, I would say that it's "kaleidoscopic": you art ranges from drawing and painting to sculpture, from digital art to new textile technology, as we can see in the stimulating Biophosphorescence. While crossing the borders of different artistic fields have you ever happened to realize that a synergy between different disciplines is the only way to achieve some results, to express some concepts?
regarding their choice of medium, only need one discipline to express themselves: oil painting or watercolour... they have used one unique medium their whole life. I find it very impressive, you need to have a lot of talent for doing so. Personally I am absolutely incapable of it. I need the emulation of the technical challenge, though sometimes it feels good to use a tool that you control perfectly. Merging different techniques or different disciplines as you call them is, at least for me, only a way to achieve that mental picture that would not find its way out otherwise.
Some call my art practice “all-over-the-place”, as for me I find refuge under the name of visual artist most of the time. But I really like your terminology, I might use it every now and then!
I would like to mention your coming exhibition ‘Light and Soul’ (October 2013) at Beechworth Historical Jail Gallery in Victoria, Australia: how
Some artists, and I admire them for their loyalty 78
Rose Gold, from Alchemy Transmutation
The feedback of course is important, for that being able to live as an artist you have to sell your work, so of course you want people to enjoy what you do. That said, when I work I never think of who could buy it, if it is sellable, what people will think of it... If I do so I end up with a blank canvas. Working as an artist is in some ways extremly egotic and selfish, when I create I do not care about anyone's opinion, I do what is necessary to be done. I will not make my paintings green because they sell better than the blue ones, it would kill my ethic and my creative source. Every time I am about to make a new work it is because I am trying to answer a question, I am trying to define a vision. Other people's view don't have their place during that process. Once it is exhibited then they can say what they want. I miss the European art scene for its diversity and its ground breaking feel, though I like the easygoingness of the Australian one. I find artists here more accessible, more open to discussion. Each has its positive and less positive aspects, it only depends how you take them. Thank you for your time and for sharing with us your thoughts, Sofie. My last question deals with your future plans: anything coming up for you professionally that you would like readers to be aware of?
much important is for you the feedback of your audience? Do you ever think to whom will enjoy your Art when you conceive your pieces? by the way, I'd take the occasion to ask you what are the main differences between the European art scene where you come from and the Australian one, where you're currently based...
End of 2013 and then 2014 will be intense, it is scary but I am very excited about it! I have just started doing research in the visual art field with a french university, I work by distance. The next 8 months will be focused on that mainly, it is a big challenge to do it in such a short time... fingers crossed!
The Beechworth exhibition has been postponed actually, the gallery is still under renovation, so we'll see how things are next year. Instead this month I am exhibiting at Ocean Grove a city on the Great Ocean road not too far from Melbourne. It is a group exhibition and I am really excited to meet other artists and also the public.
I am also working on some new pieces at the moment which involve photography and illustration. Cirrus & Coral Some shows will to be confirmed soon for early and and Soul, August 2013 later next year, so from stay Light posted! 79
#196 Winter 1 80
Samantha Persons (USA)
An artistâ€™s statement
In â€œAbbie +Bethâ€? there are tropes of emergent adolescent agency, 70s era wilderness survival handbooks, and myths of feral/lost children to investigate social and political implications of materiality, gender, sustainability, agency and autonomy. I create immersive installations that incorporate built shelters, complex written narratives, props, sound and video; and alternately, media such as short films, coloring books and photography. I use artifacts, dialogues, and suggestion of site so the viewer may empathize and make sense of the characters through their own navigation.
An interview with
Samantha Persons Hello Samantha and welcome to LandEscape. I would start this interview with my usual introductory question: what in your opinion defines a work of Art? Moreover, what could be the features that mark the contemporariness of an artwork?
I am a firm believer that not everything an artist makes is art. I have many studio side projects that don’t exactly fit into my current body of work. I would like to point out I do not believe in avant-gardism, the idea of avantgarde is a matter of perspective and distance from other works. The new is never fully new. What defines art is intent and context, though on a western art historical basis it was the rich white hetero-normative male patrons and art critics/historians that defined art. an interview with Though there still are contemporary versions
and Art History that you have received from the Kansas City Art Institute and you are currently studying for your MFA, at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign: how has formal training impacted on the way you produce your artworks? By the way, I often ask to myself if a certain kind of training could even stifle a young artist's creativity: what's your point about this?
of these gatekeepers in the art world, what changes the dialogue and its place, as well as, redefines art is globalism. The opportunity to have multiple voices from a plethora of backgrounds, in this art atmosphere, I think is what really defines works of art as pieces that re-examine what we know of the world and introduces alternative conversations of time, place, gender, race, etc. A work of art is something that you can keep returning to and discover as much about your self as well as in the work of art itself. A work of art is never easy. You have to be able to hate it as much as love it, it should challenge the viewer as well as guide them. I have to acknowledge as well that I don’t exactly have the truest answer to this question, it gets complicated and contradictory just as much as people do.
I think most people think that higher education is the end all be all, or the great corruptor of true artistic genius. I am not a believer of genius—there are individuals that are virtuosos with medium and material it is hard work and failure that creates art, not elitist mentality or genius. Formal training is nothing but our contemporaries’ version of what the artist guild was with its master and apprentice system, such as painters of the Dutch Golden Age or workshops from Flanders and Italy during the 1500’s. We aren’t making work to fulfill the demands of cathedral commissions, monarchy, or religious patronage. Today we don’t need to solely focus on the technical skill sets.
Would you like to tell us something about your background? You hold a BFA of Sculpture 82
From Abbie, Installation
We have you-Tube and, how-to blogs to teach us the technical practices needed in accomplishing ambitious projects.
real life experience they need, but for me, its part of a dedication to the study of art, not just the practice.
I see formal training as a tool to teach artists to think about their practices, to be critical of what they do and why they do. It’s a way to confront an artist into being more proficient or taking for granted that they have technical proficiency. From the immortal words of Uncle Ben from Spiderman “…with great power, comes great responsibility.” I have to believe it is the responsibility of the artist to be critical. Formal training or academic learning should and does in some places address this responsibility to their students.
Before starting to elaborate about your production, would you like to tell to our readers something about your process and set up for making your artworks? In particular, what technical aspects do you mainly focus on your work? And how much preparation and time do you put in before and during the process of creating a piece?
My process is varied, I am an obsessive multi-tasker and have my hand in a little of everything and anything needed for the projects I am working on. In “Outpost” the breadth of the works have combined short fiction/coloring book illustrations, short experimental narrative films and new media inte-
I agree formal training is not for everyone and for some practitioners it is a hindrance to the 83
From The Little Savage
ractive installations. I spend a lot of time writing and learning the technical skills need to convey the project. In preparing the short fiction/coloring book piece called “The Little Savages,” I spent a lot of time learning Adobe InDesign which is a tool primarily used by graphic designs, publishers and advertising. I try tointerview be an voracious reader and researcher. an with Each piece has come with its own tools I’ve had to learn and become proficient in. “The Little Savages” project was a yearlong process before I finally got to the finished piece. “The Little Savages” embodies a prequel to the “Abbie” installation and the short films, but I was working on all of these projects at the same time. Working on multiple pieces it allows me to solve studio/project issues faster if I get stuck in some of the installation parts, I am able to jump over to the video work or the writing portion, and somewhere in there is the answer to the problems I had in the other materials. I am crafting a grand narrative, with characters growing and telling me what they need and how they would use a tool or deal with the situations I present them with. There are moments where Abbie or Beth “create” the work and then there are moments where the artist/orator steps in to tell the story.
Now let's focus on your artworks: I would like to start with your work B and A Conversation, that our readers have admired in the starting pages of this article: I have read that this is a part of a multi-media project called "Outpost"... would you tell us something about the genesis of this project? What was your initial inspiration?
I have always been slightly obsessed with J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan. “Outpost” is an experiment in telling a queer survivalist narrative. In the last year and a half I have been reintroduced to the power of science fiction writing as well as young adult survivalist fiction. Not long before, I was focused on non-fictional writings about queer and feminist theory, science, as well as various forms of research. I’m not 84
psychological stress of survival and solitude. The use of celestial bodies, particularly the Mars landscape, embodies this distance of place and reality in her mind. The footage of Mars was recorded by Spirit and Opportunity, twin rovers separated by space and time searching a foreign landscape for clues of place and origin; this twinning is also a way to elaborate on the Abbie and Beth connections. The landscape becomes more than just background, it becomes a physical representation of how Beth’s mind works. Another work of yours on which I would like to spend some words is your stimulating piece entitled Abbie, a multimedia interactive installation diorama which, as you have remarked, it's a replica of 16 years old girl's campsite...
The scene is a representation of Abbie’s abandoned campsite, with a fragmented/collaged landscape in the background; both creating a trompe l’oeil imagined place, and a tool for describing Abbie’s fractured psyche. Food, water, gear, and an old Playhouse ™ tape player/recorder that Abbie has used as her diary and friend are left behind during a quick escape. Upon entering the installation, the viewer must decide if they feel empowered enough to pilfer through Abbie’s possessions and thus discover who she is/was, or stand from afar and become a passive observer of half the story.
From The Little Savage
saying I just dropped all the theory and such, it’s just instead of simply creating responses to theory, I am more interested in the application of that theory into real life/fiction, particularly how a non-embodied narrative can ask questions of agency. I like to think of this project as a band of queer lost bois.
I am also interested in the idea that if the viewer chooses to participate in the installations they also unwittingly become the characters, in this case Abbie. Through all the works attached to the “Outpost” project I am trying not to show a figure but use place and artifact to give these characters a complex history, while at the same time allowing the viewers to step in and play these roles. What does it mean to have a multitude of genders and orientations step into the lives of these characters, to put on the mask of fiction?
“ B and A conversation (Beth)” is a parallel film to “A and B Conversation (Abbie).” Both titles are a play on the childhood joke, “this is an A and B conversation C your way out,” but in the case of the Abbie and Beth the conversations are completely one-sided ((interior)monologues). “ B and A Conversation” uses the landscape and fragmentation of scene as a way to show Beth’s inner mind and psychologi85
From Abbie, Installation
If I have been asked to choose an adjective that could sum up in a single word your art, I would say that yours is "kaleidoscopic": you produce installations and Video art. By the way, I'm sort of convinced that new media art will definitely fill the dichotomy between art and technology and I will dare to say that Art and Technology are going to assimilate one to each other... what's your point about this?
an interview with I agree. I believe art and technology are two sides of a multi-side die. I think it is inevitable for the arts to become more and more connected to technology.
From Abbie, Installation
in your Art practice? In a certain sense, your artworks are the background where the viewer is immersed, but it's not simply a passive background...
We live in an ever media saturated environment, when you go home from your job the work no longer ends, you have 24hr access to email and social system. With that I think this multiplatform existence invites the artist to think in that way. Why burden yourself with a single medium that might never fully represent the potential of an idea when you can easily just step over to video, html, robotics, writing, or any other material? Why stop potential? In my practice it is the idea that determines the medium or material.
Place and landscape are at some of the heart of exploration. We go into space not because it is easy but because we want to touch the thing we once thought was impossible. Landscape is never passive, just look at some of Jared Diamondâ€™s writings on the evolution of Western culture and the advantages of climate and the land provided. How can you not see landscape as being a active power influencing human psychology and development? We are in the Anthropocene period where we as a species have changed the planetary landscape to such a degree we ha-
Since our magazine is entiled "LandEscape" I couldn't do without posing you a simple question: what is the significance of the landscape and -in a wider meaning, of the background 86
especially if that award is attached to monetary grant or prize. I think the WPA was a powerful American asset awarding artists with a financial investment in the development of culture. I am not saying that all artists need to work towards an award, I think that would just create boring art and we already have a lot of that in the world. But awards do influence artists to be more ambitious and to take more risks. At least I hope this is true. When I think of my ideal audience it is that of the an adult version of 7- and 8- year- olds. They have no fear when it comes to participating and playing different roles. They are willing to make the mistake as not let it keep them down. The art world has an unwritten rule that art is never to be touched, especially when it comes to art as commodity. I usually think about the audience after the fact. If I was to worry about audience I don’t think I would be making the installations and short films I am currently making. I always love hearing how my work is viewed, I think all artist do, it’s kind of of a confidence booster, and if an artist says they don’t they are totally lying to you. without asking to the artists that I happen to interview, since even though it might sound the simpler one, it gives me back the most complex answers: what aspect of your work do you enjoy the most? What gives you the biggest satisfaction?
ve to adapt economically, culturally, and politically. On a geological time scale landscapes are ever changing and active, it’s just we, as a species do not live long enough to see its full activity.
I would say the biggest satisfaction is in the process and research, It’s like playing all the time. I feel like my studio is a sort of mad laboratory, where I mix stage props and sculptural elements with cinematic influence and create magic.
Your works have been exhibited in several occasions: it goes without saying that feedbacks and especially awards are capable of supporting an artist, I was just wondering if an award -or better, the expectation of an award- could even influence the process of an artist... By the way, how much important is for you the feedback of your audience? Do you ever think to whom will enjoy your Art when you conceive your pieces?
Thank you for your time and for sharing with us your thoughts, Samantha. Anything coming up for you professionally that you would like readers to be aware of?
I currently have a public sculpture up at the Cedarhurst Center of the Art in Mt. Vernon, IL as well as a short film on exhibition at St. Micheals College in Vermont.
Most definitely, awards or the potential of an award can influence the process of an artist, 87
An artistâ€™s statement
Anni Garza (Mexico) An artistâ€™s statement Growing up in a time of boiling technology when the Internet , social networks and mobile devices have become a daily part of our life, revealed to me a change in the way human beings live the reality, especially about how interpersonal relationships are formed, leaving aside the time and distance as an obstacle (as it was before).
On one hand, the immediacy of communication allows us to easily generate collective knowledge; creative work has now a great potential to be collaborative, to blur the boundaries of specific disciplines and become more focused on the convergence of heterogeneous ideas. On the other, my background as a videogame designer has influenced my interest in developing installations focused on the audience's experience, sometimes even conforming them mostly through the participation and presence of the users.
The continuous superposition of real and virtual world which we are now so used to, has transformed the perception of ourselves and the world. What I would like to particularly emphasize in my artwork is the possibilities in terms of experience that may occur using technological devices as artistic tools.
#196 I think the best way toWinter spread a concept is giving 88
A still from Environmental Disturbance
the audience the ability to intuitively experience it, and that happens in the most natural way when such experience is somewhat playful. This also applies when working within a collaborative pro-duction, as a lubricant between interpersonal rela- tionships, different ideas and creative processes.
time and somehow unpredictable. When relationships converge in a kind of self - organization, it is possible to transmit in a straight way an idea both in an aesthetical and emotional level, referring to something cognitive, political , moral or personal. This is what I consider interactive.
For me, the name of the artist as sole creator has lost importance, because the capabilities of creative collaboration become much greater than what one person can achieve by itself. I think the artist is now to propose the playground as users construct the art piece from their experience, which is different every
My work , generally intended to be relational, speaks mainly from an inner point of view, through which I am trying to answer, with the help of others, concerns about art, environment, emotions, identity and the ability to tell stories from the fact of how we met each other and how different levels of relationships change our paths.
Latest exhibitions: 2012 Arte Laguna Prize VI, Virtual Art, Venice, Italy 2012 Canada. 2013 Toolkit Festival. Venice, Italy 2013 Transitio MX_05 Festival. Mexico City, Mexico 2013
An interview with
Anni Garza Hello Anni and a warm welcome to LandEscape. I would start this interview with my usual ice breaker question: what in your opinion defines a work of Art? And moreover, what could be the features that mark the contemporariness of an artwork?
Hello, and thank you. It's hard for me to do a straight judgment about what work can qualify as art, as it often depends on the context and the institutions that validate it. Speaking from a very personal perspective, I think there are some characteristics that, while not giving a precise definition, I do recognize in the work of several artists, and are aspects that I would like to take in when producing my artwork. Even though it is always important to compare the artist's intention with the final result, I think it's precisely in the understandable meaning and concept of the work of art that we can see what kind interview of connection the artist has with its environan with ment, how it has reflected his/her inner self, if it is introspective or not, what things he/she likes and knows and particularly if that core, first abstract idea was transformed into something physical or virtual in a poetic way. When the artist managed to solve that intention into an artwork, being aware of him/herself and his/her surroundings, in a yet clear but surprising way, it becomes evident, it is even reflected on the different media the artist chose. For me this would be first clue for identifying a work as art. The idea of contemporary has more to do with the fact that artistic discourse may be able to connect with current human concerns. Somehow the widespread use of the Internet has allowed the emergence of a collective awareness in which we share at least some common references and where we are able to communicate, up to a point, beyond language (and if not, in English). When a work of art can speak about the problems we all, or a lot uf us, are experimenting now, it becomes consistent with the time we are living in. It can show, for instance,
Anni Garza (photo by Alessandro Verre)
the social changes suffered through the use of technology in the past ten years (as my work inteds to do). And in general matters I don't think this is attached to the year of production: there are many works whose vision is still 90
Anni Garza how have these experiences of formal training impacted on the way you produce your artworks? By the way, I often ask to myself if a certain kind of training could even stifle a young artist's creativity: what's your point about this?
Although I studied visual arts, I majored in animation. At that time I was not interested in becoming an artist, but a trip to Spain for finishing my degree gave me clarity about what I didn't want to become: an employed animator, working eleven hours a day, as would have happened if I had stayed here in Mexico at some animation studio. The direction I took was defined by the first job I had as a videogame designer for Gameloft. Although I disliked office work, learning about the design of interactivity and observing the results immediately hooked me. I quit that job and started working on my own projects, hybrids of animation and videogames. It soon became clear that for my installations to wort it was necessary to learn programming, and fortunately, the schools i studied in, showed me the importance of being self-taught, to make some research whenever you do not know something. Now as a teacher I think the most appropriate training for a future artist is instilling curiosity. Being curious about the world around us and whatever is happening in it, as well as never to stop learning is essential in the development of any artist who seeks to live by this profession. Information is so accessible now than anything we need to know or learn how to do, with lots of tips and experiences of others, is available anytime on the Internet. Technical training is no longer a constraint and is not exclusive from schools, which I think, give a historical context and to some theoretical view but should focus more on cultivating critical, independent thinking, and the willing to learn by themselves. Before starting to elaborate about your production, would you like to tell to our readers something about your process and set up for making your works? In particular, what technical aspects do you mainly focus on your work? And how much preparation and time do you put in before and during the process of creating a piece?
contemporary and art being produced today but whose speech is obsolete.
Working with technology is generally a difficult process especially if you try to do everything on your own. At first I did not have the technical expertise to produce the things I wanted. But interaction had cap-
Would you like to tell us something about your background? You have studied Visual Arts in UAEM, Morelos and UPV, Valencia: 91
An artistâ€™s statement
Environmental Disturbances. Video installation
captivated me, I wanted my work to be able to actively interact with my audience, so I began to learn, and I'm still doing all the time. When I think of my work, at first I don't worry about how I will solve it technically, I just think what kind of experience I would like to build or live. Initial ideas are a bit abstract, something that reflects an inner desire, or things that I notice while browsing on Internet or reading fiction, for example. Then comes a time to work with the idea, to figure out how to express it, how the ideal funtioning would be, to search for the right media. When the artwork is clearly formed in my mind then comes the hardest part: technical research, what technologies or mechanisms exist to generate an experience like I want.
Environmental Disturbances. Video installation
Now let's focus on your artworks: I would like to start with Environmental Disturbances an interesting video installation that our readers have started to get to know in the starting pages of this article and that I would suggest to view directly at http://vimeo.com/67894747 : would you tell us something about the genesis of this project? What was your initial inspiration?
Generally this has been the longest stage because the training I took had very little to do with programming or electronics. Although I also had to learn about augmented reality, mobile devices, internet and above all I have learned to lean on others and work as a team, that allows everything to flow much faster and have more quality in the result . The final part of testing and adjustment is also very important. Many times I even changed some functioning because when interacting with the artwork it wourldn't seem to be so intuitive, and usually there are always many details that I could not foresee by myself. I want my work to be more automatic and independent of my presence every time.
As in most of it my previous artwork, I had a concern about the relationship between human emotional states and how they can be improved, changed or produced by machines. My research in affective computing came from a personal inability to be completely at ease emotionally, so for me, a way to solve it is creating experiences #196 Winter that alter my perception of an emotion or another. 92
Anni Garza the day. If at another time I was thinking too stressed about work, the landscape would distract me in a kind of game in which that concentration could struck lightings somewhere, or if something out of usual happened, like it started to snow (in Mexico City there is no snow ever). In despite this idea was clear, I must say my artworks are usually also experiments which end result I can't entirely predict, especially since each person will experience it differently. I looked for a way to meassure my emotions, send them and filter them to the computer. The result was a brain wave sensor, that reads in a certain way, values about user's state of mind, such as relaxation, concentration, meditation and some other results that are evident to the audience so that users could control their inner state to adapt the landscape to their mood. The landscape is presented in a video recorded from my home and layers of weather events that are activated were post-produced by Alejandro Palomino, based on my personal view of how my mood would improve if these things happened in my environment. Sounds are also important for making this landscape alive and are triggered with the weather changes, they were designed by Francisco Eme. You artworks are capable of generating meaningful experiences for the audience in order to expand their physical capabilities... So I would like to ask you if in your opinion personal experience is an absolutely indespensable part of a creative process... Do you think that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience?
Environmental Disturbances arose because in Mexico City, during the summer, there is about three months of rain, cloudy days when we rarely see the sun between June and September. This situation, at a particular time of my life, began to affect my mood. I generally knew everything was going well but the fact that it was raining all the time began to depress me a bit, I got less desire to go out. I read about a condition that many people suffer: their mood change according to the season (seasonal affective desorder) and then the idea came, I wanted to invetir this process.
I know it is possible to create an artwork from a completely conceptual basis, making very intellectual or philosophical work, but that's not the kind of art I would like to produce, I feel such position ignores somehow important human (social and emotional) aspects, and for me this causes a sense of failure, a lack of soul of the artwork, so to speak, the connection with the human viewer and also runs the risk of being cryptic to the audience, which often does not have the level of knowledgement required to read, understand or enjoy this type or art.
I longed for what I saw out the window would be more in line with how I felt or wanted to feel. If for instance I was relaxed, the scenery, instead of depressing me, should provide me with the warmth needed to make me feel cheerful through
As my artwork is intended for a human, alive 93
Unbekanntes Gesicht (Unknown Face)
audience, I think the best way I can imagine how it will be received is just recognizing me as a person, as a viewer, because in the end, what I am sharing is my insight into the world. I want people to see things as I see them, even just for a very short time. Therefore, I think it's hard for me to think of my work away from personal experience. I don't know if I could enjoy working in this as much if I didn't think of it as a solution or experimentation on the interests that I have, the things that I like and care about. Or if I wouldn't care so much about an interview with what other people feel like when they have the experiences to share about my artwork. In that sense I would say my work is very personal, is my way to relate to the world and let others linkwith me.
Unbekanntes Gesicht (Unknown Face)
thinking of creative projects, regardless of disciplinary label, capable of taking, giving and merging knowledge from different fields.
I must confess that I'm always happy when I discover synergies between Art and Technology: do you think that nowadays still exists a dichotomy between art and technolo-gy? Moreover, I would go a far as to say that the more time it passes the less there are concrete differences between Art and Science... and I would go as far as to say that in a way Science is assimilating Art and viceversa... what's your point about this?
For me it is a logical step in the artistic process to move towards other type of knowledge, to all possible type of knowledge. I just happened to feel more attracted by technology, design, video, games, mobile devices, because that is what I have at hand on my daily life, is part of my environment and my lifestyle. I think innovation comes now, from the possible combinations.
As I wrote in my statement, I think that humans have changed our way of relating and thinking by incorporating so much of the technology that we have into our lives, so that now everyone and everything can be immediately interconnected. I think that perhaps the concept of artistic work, even the definition of art itself, is being transformed and we should rather focus about
Another piece of your on which I would like to spend some words is Unbekanntes Gesicht (Unknown Face), thatour reader can start to view at http://annigarzalau.com/anni-garza-lau-unbekanntes-gesicht.html It's an interesting installation/action that has recently taken place during the festival Transitio_MX05 in Mexico City... This work has made me think 94
Anni Garza on the face of the other person, to make assumptions and timidly ask about personal matters, has become less necessary and important. We share in the network aspects of our lives that at other times would have been unthinkable or at least uncomfortable. We live in a time where we need to show off to feel that we exist in this virtual world (and therefore in real terms) without realizing that what we are exposing is our identity, and not only our closest friends and relatives will have access to it, we can't imagine who or what for entered our profile. That's just something to take into account, but on the other hand, as I point out, is easier for that same reason to generate an overall effect with a single video on vimeo than a expensive traveling exhibition would, in the half of time. This is an extremely powerful tool to reach millions of heads, to show your work, to create collectively. Artists and art institutions supporting an artistic circuit will always want a name, someone to direct their attention, but the truth is that now the line between object of art, online action, spectacle, performance, and so on, has become so blurred that both the identity of the artist and of the work sometimes become something independently changing and evolving when they become part of the virtual world. It is a process, for me, very interesting to observe. The network is so huge and with so many users and producers of creative content that I don't think there are enough institutional domains to have all the power required to move the interest, attention and thinking of people based on the study of our identities, however I do believe that somehow they are discovering ways to forsee how we will react to one thing or another and as users should be our responsibility to be more careful about our personal information.
that if we look at the online ecosystem, we are stricken by an enormously great number of web services that present works which are accessible for immediate feedback on a wide scale and attract massive attention... maybe that the challenge could be to rethink individual authorship....an individual or collective struggle against homogenisation of institutional domains... what's your take about this?
My interest in doing Unbekanntes Gesicht was to show that all the information that is on the network is public, but its uses are what determine if the effect becomes either political, social or personal. In the specific case of this arwork I used Facebook and face detection, my focus point was the identity. It has,from my point of view, been reduced into a bunch of data stored on some server. The warm side of humane treatment, to read the gestures and emotions 95
An artistâ€™s statement
As we have already said, your works - as Second Look and Datanimbus - are often based on augmented reality concepts, and a feature that I recognize in your work is the perception environment and the challenging of it in order to create a new multitude of points of view: since our art review is called "LandEscape", we would like to stop for a moment to consider the "function" of the landscape, which most of the times seems to be just a passive background... I'm sort of convinced that some informations & ideas are hidden, or even "encrypted" in the environment we live in, so we need -in a way- to decipher them. Maybe that one of the roles of an artist could be to reveal unexpected sides of Nature, especially of our inner Nature... what's your point about this?
I do believe there are many more things than we can see or which we realize in the environments we live. Not only people have virtual identities, but also the places and sometimes even ideas or other type of content (songs, movies, pictures, etc). Being able to reveal these entities superimposing them in the real world is for me a way to give visibility to a more abstract space with which we can relate, not only with a keyboard and a mouse, but through their meaning and context. I see technology as a tool that has helped us to extend our perception of reality in different forms, and I have been interested in the possible ways that a particular landscape or concrete space can be expanded. In a sense I also see this overlapping
#196 Winter 96
Anni Garza as a way to unify the two identities of the individual: the real and the virtual one, and allow him to experience simultaneously both spaces as a single one, mixed, where boundaries and properties are continously transformed with which he can interact physical and intellectually. I think it's a fact that most people do not think much or at all about it, the information transmited from a specific place or saved in certain location, but I do believe that assimilating this complex, half invisible, but active environment can change the way we understand both our living space and our inner nature and it's reflected on how we build bridges between them. So far, your works have been exhibited around the four corner of the world: from Mexico to Canada, from Germany to Italy and you're soon going to have a show also in Bulgaria... it goes without saying that feedbacks and especially awards are capable of supporting an artist, I was just wondering if an award -or better, the expectation of an award- could even influence the process of an artist... By the way, how much important is for you the feedback of your audience? Do you ever think to whom will enjoy your Art when you conceive your pieces?
Although in the last couple of years my work has been featured in different places, the truth is that I didn't think, nor do I think, while making my installations, in the possible prizes. The festival selections are always a great way to give visibility to an emergent artist and often
Second Look 97
even the economic support required to continue producing artwork, but I don't see it as a goal. I know I cannot rely on them or waisting my time trying to convice certain kind of jury, I would spend my life disappointed, frustrated and stagnating my own creative process. What interests me is to have the resources for producing the ideas that I have, so that even more people have access to them and especially that they can generate a unique experience able to connect to the audience with my idea. If I don't succeed in the art world, as long as I have creative freedom and the means to produce something, I don't have a problem to move into another spot. The feedback, on the other hand, I find as an indispensable tool in order to make more effective my insteractive objects. When people play with my work often amazing things happen inside them; I love to listen to them and have been very helpful in improving the works and sometimes even to create new ones. However, before thinking about who might enjoy my art, I think rather how I could enjoy it, what would surprised me, how would it make me feel . artists that I happen to interview, since -even though it might sound the simpler one- I receive the most complex answers: what aspect of your work do you enjoy the most? What gives you the biggest satisfaction?
It's very satisfying when I see people interacting with my installations and everything works fine. I like them to talk with me, to give me their comments and sharewith their experience. The moment I enjoy most is an interview being able to make something nonexistent to materialize and then people can see and perceive what was the original idea or even find something else, that was there but I wasn't able to perceive earlier. I also like, though in different ways, the stage of research and design the artwork. There are always new problems to be solved, both creative and technical from which I learn a lot and the process itself, though difficult, is a challenge that as is being developed and resolved brings great satisfactions. Thank you for your time and for sharing with us your thoughts, Anni. My last question deals with your future plans: what's next for you? Anything coming up for you professionally that you would like readers to be aware of?
Next year I will be finally presenting Datanimbus here in Mexico. It's been a great challenge and there is still a lot of work to do, but I'm very enthusiastic of Augmented Reality and it's possibilities for art, as well as the idea of cloud, related to the mass information and services on the web. I would invite anyone who reads this interview to be part of it. I've also been working on another couple of artworks and experiments on the Internet that you can visit on my website on the next months, mainly because they are related to net art. Thank you, and it's been a pleasure to have this interview
Published on Dec 1, 2013