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LandEscape A r t A r t

R e v i e w R e v i e w

May 2014 March 2014

Special Issue

THOMAS S. LADD ALICE ZILBERBERG LOIS CREMMINS ANDY-JEAN LEDUC GÜRKAN MIHÇI PHELAN MCCONAHA MANDY WILLIAMS KATY UNGER MASSIMO CATALDO From the Tonight is the night series, 2012 A work of Jörg Zimmer

Portrait, commissioned work (Massimo Cataldo)


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Summary

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.

landescape@artlover.com

Massimo Cataldo

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S P E C I A L

I S S S U E

(Belgium)

Coal tips and their surroundings, holy lands for those who are stuck in the Borinage. Almost spiritual grounds guarded by a threatening and rainy sky. Rising on the horizon, reassuring and protective, they also remind the heavy past of the area : coal mining, diseases and firedamp. From the †errils series

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Katy Unger (United Kingdom)

My work concerns the conversation of the body and the enigmatic environments that it occupies. It is the intuitive and subconscious bond between ourselves and our surroundings that fascinates me.

broen From thePiken Lucidpå series

Mandy Williams (United Kingdom)

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My interest in the psychology of place and how a sense of home is created and sustained has been a catalyst for both autobiographical and voyeuristic projects, documentary approaches to more conceptual ones. From the Dream House series

M a y

2 0 1 4

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Phelan McConaha (USA)

My paintings are derivative of landscapes. While they qualify as Abstract Expressionist works, they are created with an intention to document a landscape, whether it be emotional or physical. Brook's Lagoon

Gürkan Mihçi (Turkey)

Tell me, what did you dream last night

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The central focus of Gürkan Mihçi's works based on critical view of social, political and cultural issues. Often referencing existentialism and its relations with nation state and society, his works explore the varying relationships between inner feelings and society.

Submit your artworks to http://landescapeart.yolasite.com/how-to-submit.php

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Land

Andy-Jean Leduc (Canada)

M a y

A work of art goes to the essential, it does not get lost in endless meandering, it touchs us directly to the heart, it lives by itself, it speaks to us, and oddly it evolves with time. Die wachklige Gebärmutter

(USA)

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Through multi-media installations, I endeavor to directly involve and engage participants—as opposed to “audiences” or passive viewers—in a creative and collaborative process of city building.

2 0 1 4

Lois Cremmins

Imprint

Alice Zilberberg

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(Estonia/Israel)

Imprint

Thomas S. Ladd (USA)

The camera has lead me to understand that the surface of things are endlessly beautiful; that slow and careful observations of the external world will lead one to deep introspection; that the tension between the photograph and the ‘real’ world will never cease to engage peoples’ imagination; that photography is a form of thinking; that, nothing is ever what it seems to be; and that, one’s intentions never materialize… something more exciting always takes over.

Submit your artworks to http://landescapeart.yolasite.com/how-to-submit.php

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I S S S U E

Los Paramos

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S P E C I A L

I choose to narrate the story as well as participate in it, placing myself as the dark haired heroin. She is not saved by a prince, but alone and in despair, or even dead. Playing the role of the girl character, I challenge conventional ideas about how a women should act, look and be like.


From the †errils series

Massimo Cataldo 4

#196 Winter


Massimo Cataldo

Massimo Cataldo (Belgium)

†errils Borinage (Belgium), 2012 - In progress Black and white analog photography work

Coal tips and their surroundings, holy lands for those who are stuck in the Borinage. Almost spiritual grounds guarded by a threatening and rainy sky. Rising on the horizon, reassuring and protective, they also remind the heavy past of the area : coal mining, diseases and firedamp. I live there since I’m born. As a child, most of the stories that my grandparents told me were about World War 2 issues or coal mining, I grew up with this background. Almost everywhere in our small villages, the coal tips (“terrils” in French) watch your every move. Maybe they have something to hide. As the silhouettes that appear from time to time on the empty roads. The darkness is tender around here so don’t be afraid stranger, come take a walk on these “mountains made by men’s hands”. To me, they release unique and strange vibes, that’s the way I try to represent them through photography. It’s more a visceral work than a documentary, a feeling deep inside me illustrated on 35mm films.

Massimo Cataldo www.massimocataldo.com

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Massimo Cataldo

An interview with

Massimo Cataldo Hello Massimo 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? Do you think that there's still an inner dichotomy between tradition and contemporariness?

In my opinion, a work of Art could be regarded as an entanglement of personal experiences, perceptions and obsessions. It has to come out of your guts. It should also be food for thought. Whether they like it or not, beholders should think it over. Maybe they’re gonna recognize themselves in it, even view it as a catharsis or just find it revolting or disgusting for any reason.

an interview with

At best, contemporariness could be defined by originality, the will to extend boundaries and to push the limits with a serious control over all the techniques.

Massimo Cataldo

In that sense, tradition and contemporariness could be combined to offer many new possibilities : influences, outcomes, equipment, etc. Would you like to tell us something about your background? Are there any experiences that have particularly influenced you and that impacted on the way you currently produce your Art? By the way, what's your point on formal training? I often ask to myself if a certain kind of training could even stifle a young artist's creativity...

I’m from Mons-Borinage in Belgium, an area where coal mining industry was really important back in the days, from 18th century to late 70’s.

related to pictures I saw on television or in the newspapers, shocking ones. Images related to crime cases as the “Mons Dismemberer” (women’s dismembered dead bodies were found in garbage bags in Mons area around 1997 and later). My grandfather used to tell me a lot of stories about World War 2 or the everyday life of coal miners which both involve History books with stunning black and white pictures. I guess the raw and simple aesthetic of these old photographs really impacted on me.

I’ve always been fascinated by images and sounds. Some of my childhood memories are unmistakably

I studied photography for three years (high-school graduate at the HELB in Brussels), I find it great for

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Massimo Cataldo 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?

It depends. †errils was not premeditated, I started taking pictures in my area without thinking of making an entire work about it. Afterwards the work took shape little by little. On the contrary, my other work in progress named STRIP is totally planned from the beginning. The preparation also depends on the subject, I felt freer with †errils because I could go out and shoot films whenever I wanted to. STRIP is a little more complicated since it’s about sexual urges, swingers and prostitution, it involves trust, discretion and a whole lot of time. For these works, I use black and white 35mm films. I develop and scan the negatives myself. I finally clean (dust removing) and contrast the pictures in digital post-production. Since my two current works are long-term projects, I couldn’t tell you precisely how much time I will need to complete them.

a few reasons : on the one hand, I was interested in learning the technical aspects of photography (especially the analog process), to be able to step back on a work, to develop a critical eye on your own work by comparing it with other ones. On the other hand, the creativity was sometimes limited depending on teachers and students’ personality. Some works could become trite and insipid academic standards: the technical quality would be there, sure, but the main idea of the student would maybe come down to clichés. Before starting to elaborate about your production, would you like to tell to our readers

From the †errils series

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Massimo Cataldo

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an interview with

From the †errils series

Now let's focus on your artworks: I would like to start with †errils that our readers have started to admire in the introductory pages of this article: and I would suggest them to visit http://massimocataldo.com/terrils-engl/ in order to get a wider idea of this stimulating project... in the meanwhile, would you tell us something about the genesis of this work? What was your initial inspiration?

ple in the streets as you could see in a big town. It’s pretty gloomy some days. You’re just walking on your own and it seems that every way leads to the coal tips, enduring memories of coal mining and rough times. It took me some time to realize they should be the cornerstone of a new project. As if it were an investigation and the clues were there since the beginning. Even if they gave their name to the work, †errils isn’t just about these little hills of ours. It’s more spiritual. And i’m not even speaking about religion which is really important in the Borinage. I try to represent mystical feelings you can’t put words on.

It began to take shape out of the slightest thing. A few pictures taken in my neighborhood while hanging out with a cousin or just by myself. Around here, in the Borinage, you don’t see as many peo-

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Massimo Cataldo

From the †errils series

As you have remarked in your artist's statement, as a child, most of the stories that your grandparents told you were about World War 2 issues or coal mining: and your works are capable of establishing a presence and such an atmosphere of memories, using just little reminders of human existance... 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?

a creative process. What built you will build what comes out of you. A creation is always stronger when it comes from real-life experiences. A dichotomy between the two could lead to something cold and robotic, perhaps technically perfect but dull. "Maybe †errils have something to hide" one of the features that has mostly impacted on me is the way you have been effectively capable of re-contextualizing the idea of landscape... And since our review is called "LandEscape", I would like to stop for a moment to consider the "func-

I think that personal experience is the essence of

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Massimo Cataldo

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From the †errils series

tion" 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?

In †errils, the landscape is a character in its own, it is more important than humans, it tends to absorb them like the nature which took possession of the

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Massimo Cataldo

From the †errils series

coal mining industry’s vestiges. Art can revive things burried in us. Therefore, it can become pretty powerful. It can control, hurt, calm down, bring answers or ask questions which will always remain unanswered. While your works are completely analogue, in these last years we have seen a great usage of digitals, in order to achieve outcomes that was hard to get with traditional techniques: do your think that an excess of such techniques could lead to a betrayal of reality?

As mentioned above, my works are analog but the

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Massimo Cataldo

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Samaritaine 18, a performance created by Nathalie Rozanes

post-production is digital. Some people have asked me why I don’t shoot in digital and try to give an analog look after but for me it’s not the same. The analog process gives me time to step back on my photographs and, furthermore, it helps me to stay more concentrated while shooting.

available. The betrayal of reality exists anyway. It happens all the time. You could turn the atmosphere of a normal life situation into something special with any camera, depending on a point of view, a color grade, etc. In a certain kind of way, my works distort reality, I wouldn’t call it a betrayal but just the fact of shooting in black and white films might be considered as a will to transcend reality.

I also feel more secure having my photographs on films and on computer. However, I also use a digital camera for my commissioned works and in the future I don’t rule out working on new personal projects entirely in digital, it will depend of the chosen subject and the amount of time and money

By the way, I can recognize a subtle but deep social criticism some of your elder pieces as STRIP... even though I'm aware that this might sound a bit naïf, I'm sort of convinced that Art in these days could play an effective role not

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Massimo Cataldo

Portrait, commissioned work

only making aware public opinion about socio political issues: I would go as far as to say that nowadays Art can even steer people's behavior... I would take this chance to ask your point about this. Do you think that it's an exaggeration? And what could be in your opinion the role that an artist could play in our society?

veyed by the media and the institutions. It may also offer astonishing atmospheres and take you on a journey to the unknown. My work STRIP depicts a specific vision of sexual urges. I chose to focus on prostitutes and swingers because they constitute a direct reference to sex. However, I didn’t want to represent them in the usual way, I didn’t focus on their social or attractive aspects. Here, they’re surrounded by anguish and void. Bodies against bodies, neon lights, lonely bodies, sleazy spots. All gathered for one last celebration before death.

It’s not an exaggeration, we are influenced by many creations we read, hear or see and that in all kinds of ways. In my opinion, the whole point of Art stands in the fact that it may propose new forms of thinking, different points of views than those con-

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Massimo Cataldo

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From the STRIP series

It goes without saying that feedbacks and especially awards are capable of supporting an artist, encouraging him: I was just wondering if an award -or even the expectation of positive feedbacks- 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? I sometimes wonder if it could ever exist a genuine relationship between business and Art...

I’m undoubtedly looking forward to hearing what people will think about it but I don’t aim at making it enjoyable for beholders. With such a state of mind, I don’t think I’m in the best position to talk about business right now.

So far, I’ve always done my work the way I felt it.

At the moment, I’m still looking for a steady job.

Thank you for your time and for sharing with us your thoughts, Massimo. 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?

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Massimo Cataldo

From the STRIP series

Besides, I would like to complete my personal works with videos. I plan to shoot two music videos, one for BÜrinägh ( http://www.facebook.com/borinagh ), an experimental black metal project using cigar box guitars. The other one for a blues-folk song, it will still take place in the Borinage and represent things that were underlying in †errils. I already have some video material for STRIP but I need to collect more in order to start the editing with a friend, it would be a sort of video-photosound experimental collage.

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Katy Unger (USA)

An artist’s statement

'Perception is sharp and delicate From sound to shape to color Living beings within the womb feeding upon reflections in constant vibration The silent hum of an electrified landscape A gradual warmth on the edge of consciousness' I am inspired by the fleeting moments on the edge of sleep or consumed by fantasy when there exists an overlap between fiction and reality. In my work and in my process, I look for a connection between the conscious and subconscious - in my execution, a balance between control and chance. I seek to find a unity within the anonymity of the vast social sphere we have created and the deeply personal individuality which we can never escape. I experiment with the applications of various mediums, particularly using combinations of charcoal, ink, and acrylic. Each has a specific characteristic and consistency that allows for spontaneity during my process. It is often within wayward lines and unguided brushstrokes that the essence is revealed. My work concerns the conversation of the body and the enigmatic environments that it occupies. It is the intuitive and subconscious bond between ourselves and our surroundings that fascinates me. Through my art, I seek to explore the intimacy and complexity of that relationship.

Katy Unger #196 Winter 16


Dive

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Katy Unger

An interview with

Katy Unger Hello Katy, and a warm welcome to LandEscape. I would start this interview with my usual introductory question: what does in your opinion define a work of Art? By the way, what could be in your opinion the features that mark an artworks as a piece of Contemporary Art? Do you think that there's a dichotomy between tradition and contemporariness?

Hello and thank you! I would define a work of art by its impact. It can be conceived through intention or by accident, and may be beautiful or hideous, but it forces us to study it and engage with it both outwardly and inwardly. I believe that anything can be be considered art because art is a way of seeing, a kind of altered lens in which to view the world, but everything can be a work of art. A work of annot interview with art challenges our way of thinking and makes us awe and pause due to its emotional and sensory impact. Contemporary art, in my opinion, is inventive by default because it has an investigative and experimental approach and an honest and intuitive execution. When I consider a work contemporary, it is because it has been given permission upon itself to break away from historical molds and traditions. In other words, it has paid its dues by having a solid foundation in the principles and techniques of what came before it, and thus is able to transcend traditional artistic practices into a uniquely individual viewpoint and aesthetic. I feel it has to either pay homage or challenge the art of the past in order to direct some light on the art of the future.

Katy Unger

ted on the way you currently produce your artworks? By the way, I sometimes I wonder if a certain kind of formal training could even stifle a young artist's creativity... what's your point?

I, like a lot of kids, I didn’t consider myself an artist when I was little. Art was such an intrinsic part of my childhood that it didn’t occur to me that it could be a profession.

Would you like to tell us something about your background? You hold a B.F.A. of Painting, that you received from the Pacific Northwest College of Art, Portland: how has this experience impac-

It wasn’t until college that I was able to call myself 18


Katy Unger that I started to gain a real appreciation for representational art, and eventually the human figure. In the class we would often paint outdoors, focusing mainly on perspective and architecture. We would split up and head out with our materials and plant ourselves down to paint when a specific environment spoke to us. I began to take this practice outside of class and would spend a lot of my time sitting outside of coffee shops or public parks, drawing in my journal the scenes in front of me, quick sketches of street lights and buildings layered on top of text or collage from previous entries. My focus would drift from the cityscapes to the people that were passing through them, observing how they moved through and physically responded to the spaces I was sketching. It revealed a kind of unspoken, hidden dialog between people and their environment, and the idea that there is an altering and shifting of energy that occurs not only in our presence, but in what our presence leaves behind. I began to explore body language as a subject in my paintings to follow and my thesis investigated the aspects in which environment conditions behavior and vise versa, themes that I still touch on in my work of late. While my formal training didn’t exactly set me up with a career right away, it gave me the education and the community that helped me believe a career was possible. It also allowed me a kind of distance from my art, a way to detach myself and see it objectively. There have been moments, however, that I’ve found formal training to be stifling. You almost have to train yourself out of your training. When I was fresh out of school, I was collaborating on a painting with a friend who shouted “Stop being so art school about it!” because I kept stepping back and self critiquing instead of just letting go and immersing myself in the process. That always stuck with me. Formal training gives you the tools to push you forward, but I believe you have to go out there in the world and experiment and deal with opposition and disappointments and start from scratch in order to make it your own.

an artist without confusion or hesitation. It was an acceptance of who I was, a kind of coming out in a way. My first year in college I had an interest in abstract and mixed media art. I loved layering text and painted images on found wood, adding and de-leting words and illustrations until a message was revealed through the process. I was searching for a story, or maybe a direction, always hunting for clues to fill in the mysterious gaps that were so abundant in my early twenties. I believe it was in an observational painting class 19


Land

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I tend to be a little impatient when it comes to my preparation. Once I am painting, I am very focused but my set up isn’t always so careful. I will use whatever is in front of me for a palette: cardboard, egg cartons, scrap wood etc. and there have been times that I have even injured myself because I was too quick with my prep and forgot to make sure I was in a comfortable position before starting. I’m trying to be better at that now. Make sure to adjust the light, add a cushion to my seat if I am going to be sitting, do a couple stretches here and there, try to remember to take lunch breaks etc. When I am painting I lose track of time, and fall into a kind of deep meditation. That is one of the things I love most about the process. Everything else falls away and my only focus is light, shadow, form, color, and the music in the room. My paintings start as a light sketch, usually in pencil or charcoal. Then I plug in the shapes with thin washes of paint and build up the painting layer by layer from shadow towith light, gradually forming the an interview figure. I work the background at the same time so I am able to see the painting as a whole throughout the process. I often work while the painting is on it’s sides or upside down so that I am satisfied with the composition at all angles. As for technical aspects, I’d say I focus most of my time editing the figure until I am happy with the proportions. Once the proportions are there, I set aside a good amount of time softening the features and working in the details and highlights.

Dive 2014 Ink, Charcoal, Ink, andwith Acrylic on Canvas 36”x48” an interview

a wider idea of your current artistic production. In the meanwhile, would you tell us something about the genesis of these pieces? What was your initial inspiration?

For my recent series, I allowed myself to let go of some control in my technique and lean more towards the abstract.

Now let's focus on your art production: I would start from your recent pieces entitled Solace and Dive that our readers have already admired in the starting pages of this article: I would suggest our readers to visit your website http://www.katyunger.com/Katherine_Unger/Current_ Work_Gallery_by_Katy_Unger.html in order to get

Solace was the first inspiration of this series, because while it started with a charcoal sketch as do most my paintings, I became frustrated with the proportions somewhere in the process, and that frustration led to a kind of freedom and expe20


Daydream 2013 Ink, Acrylic, and Oil on Canvas 36”x36”

paintings, I wanted to take more of an outward and physical approach not only with the execution of the medium but with the psychology behind it. Convergence 2014

an interview with

Ink, Charcoal, Ink, and Acrylic on Canvas 36”x48”

an interview with

rimentation with my medium which ended up sparking a new series. The liquid quality of the ink and paint and the integration of the figure and background gave the pieces an ethereal quality and the subjects a ghostly presence that brought to the surface for me a feeling of Hypnagogia- a word I like because it describes the mystifying, half-conscious state on the border of sleep and wake where we can exist simultaneously in two places at once. Although this theme was touched on in my previous series, We Dream in Color, with my recent

Looking Glass 2012 Ink, Acrylic, and Oil on Canvas 20”x20”

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Katy Unger

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Rock n' Roll Singer, 2009

Fall Away, 2012

Ink and Charcoal on Canvas 36''x36''

ink, acrylic, and oil on canvas

A feature of your works and especially of your stimulating Portrait that has mostly impacted an interview with on me is your capability of creating a deep intellectual interaction, communicating a wide variety of states of mind : even though I'm aware that this might sound a bit naive, I have to admit that in a certain sense some pieces of this series unsettle me a bit... I can recognize in them an effective mix between anguish and thoughtless, maybe hidden happiness... I would go as far as to state that this work, rather than simply describing something, pose us a question: forces us to meditation…

Perhaps as you mention there is a hidden happiness beneath it. I am attracted to people that are comfortable with being alone and I suppose this is why my portraits all share a theme of intimacy and solitude. I think what makes them potentially unsettling is that they are devoid of a specific context and rely solely on the body or face, stripped down to bare emotions which are often hard to face.

On the lines of meditation, whether they are my own or another artist’s, I like to view portraits as paused moments rather than representations of an individual. That way I feel more present with the subject, like I am suspended in that moment right there with them. I try to portray many states of mind, but I must admit I’m a sucker for melancholy. I have always found it more interesting than other emotions because it isn’t obvious and you have to dig a little deeper within yourself in order to connect with it.

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Katy Unger

Simon and J Acrylic on Wood Panel 24�x36�

Another project of yours on which I would like to spend some words is entitled Chiaroscuro: one of the features of this series that have mostly impacted on me is the effective mix between dark background and the bright tones, which creates a synergy rather than a contrast: it seems to reveal such a struggle, a deep tension and intense emotions... I can recognize such interesting feature also in The Birth an earlier series of yours...By the way, any comments on your choice of "palette" and how it has changed over time?

school. I return to them often, especially when doing commission work. Two of my big inspirations for these paintings, although widely apart historically, have been Caravaggio and Gregory Crewdson. Although one was a painter and the other is a photographer, I find that the dramatic quality of light in both of their works narrates the piece as much if not more than their subjects. It directs us to the psychological and often unsettling undertones that are lurking just beneath the surface of their subjects.

The chiaroscuro paintings are some of my first portraits, some dating back when I was in art

I like the dramatic effect as well as the tension that directional light can have on a subject standing 23


Katy Unger

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Lucid 2014 Ink, Charcoal, Ink, and Acrylic on Canvas 36”x48”

beneath it. While the light shifts across the body or the face, it alters our perception of what we are seeing and how we feel about it.

experience can’t help but be tied to their creative process. At the same time that I was working on a series titled We the People which was deeply rooted in themes of anonymitywith and identity, my father was an interview in the midst of a profound and life altering transition from male to female. This experience, while very personal to her, enabled me to question my own perception of identity and gender roles, and there is a kind of unity in the anonymity and the sexes of that series that I can see now has a deep connection to what was going on with me internally at the time, not just in terms of my art.

an interesting interview The thingwith about my palette over the years is that while my paintings may look quite different in terms of color, my palette has not varied much at all. Except for my ink paintings and some blues here and there, my base colors are and have been the same for about 10 years: yellow ochre, phthalo green, naphthol crimson, and titanium white. It is incredible how many shades and colors can be created from those alone. And I couldn't do without mentioning We Dream in Color which I have to admit is one of my favourite series of yours... 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?

As for We Dream in Color, the first piece of the series was painted shortly after moving to Los Angeles. It is a portrait of myself with one hand pressed against the surface and the other hand pressing a paintbrush against the surface with drips of paint trailing down the canvas. It is a mirror reflection of myself set amidst white,

That is an interesting question. I think that while it may not be an obvious correlation, one’s personal 26


Katy Unger

Convergence 2014 Ink, Charcoal, Ink, and Acrylic on Canvas 36”x48”

to put myself out there and step out of my studio and into the world. But I do think that it is important for myself and all artists to remember that above all, you create for yourself because you enjoy it. If you forget that, what it is the point?

empty space. Reflecting on it now, that painting was not just a gateway into a new series, but also a symbolic representation of myself, as an artist, in a new unfamiliar place. anand interview with So far your works have been exhibited on 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 awardcould even influence the process of an artist... By the way, how important is it for you the feedback of your audience? Do you ever think to whom will enjoy your Art when you conceive your pieces? I sometimes wonder if it could ever exist a genuine relationship between business and Art…

an interview with

Thanks a lot for your time and your thoughts, Katy. 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?

Thank you for the thoughtful questions and interest in my work! Have really enjoyed sharing my answers with you. At the moment, I am wrapped up in a few projects involving painting, stop-motion animation, and illustration as well as continuing on with my latest series. For updates on current happenings and exhibitions, please visit: www.katyunger.com

I would be lying if I said the expectation of an award or an exhibition didn’t have an influence on my process. It has a large influence because it is a huge motivator in terms of production. Feedback is important for me too, because it helps me know my market and audience and encourages me

An interview by landescape@artlover.com

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Mandy Williams (United Kingdom)

An artist’s statement

I am a photographer and video artist who is interested in the social dynamics arising from contemporary culture - particularly how personal identity is affected by environment and how our social and affective lives interconnect. My interest in the psychology of place and how a sense of home is created and sustained has been a catalyst for both autobiographical and voyeuristic projects, documentary approaches to more conceptual ones. Much of my photographic and video work highlights the domestic environment, although projects sometimes refer more broadly to place and sites in transition. My recent landscape work and photographs of the built environment share an underlying narrative about human interaction or presence and the psychology of a particular place will always lead me to research and initiate a project. Some of these ongoing series include Unseen Landscapes (2012-14), which uses Google StreetView captures as a starting point to create somewhere otherworldly; Disappearing Spot (2014), about the last seen locations of missing people, and Riverbed Stories (2012-14), photographs documenting polluted riverbeds in South East London.

Mandy Williams #196 Winter 1


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Mandy Williams

An interview with

Mandy Williams Hello Mandy 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? Do you think that there's still an inner dichotomy between tradition and contemporariness?

Hello from London. I think what William Burroughs wrote on this subject is the best definition. He said: “one very important aspect of art is that it makes people aware of what they know and don’t know they know ... Once the breakthrough is made, there is a permanent expansion of awareness. But there is always a reaction of rage, of outrage, at the first breakthrough... an interview with So the artist, then, expands awareness”. I think that description especially applies to the features that mark a work of art as contemporary. It would be work that is risk-taking in that it shows us a new way of seeing something. Thematically, it might also reflect technological change and how we receive information or it might comment on a specific contemporary socio-political situation.

Mandy Williams

what's your point on formal training? I often ask to myself if a certain kind of training could even stifle a young artist's creativity...

Contemporary art may recycle previous forms or appropriate traditional genres to create something that’s never been seen before. It can manipulate these traditional forms into something that has resonance for the 21st century. There are also artists whose work is traditional in form and content who are completely uninterested in their work reflecting the world around them.

The art history courses at Warwick were diverse and included English landscape painting and Romanesque architecture. I had wanted to take a modern architecture course but was the only student who signed up for it. Although I enjoyed the courses I wouldn’t say they have influenced my work. The film course at Goldsmiths was different. It was predominantly practical and we were free to direct and produce a 16mm film. I threw far too many ideas into it for it to be successful, so perhaps it taught me the importance

Would you like to tell us something about your background? You studied Art History at Warwick and Communications (Film) at Goldsmith’s: how has this experience impacted on the way you currently produce your Art? By the way,

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From the Inside Project

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?

of editing my material. But I also took Adult Education courses in film and photography and learned a lot from those. I think you can only be stifled if you let yourself be. I’m sure there’s a lot of benefits from doing a MA in London if you can – facilities, mentoring, networks, etc. It takes time to develop your own language whether or not you’re in formal education.

The process varies from project to project but there’s usually a period of research and preparation. This was quite extensive for the media in-

Before starting to elaborate about your produc-

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From the Unseen Landscape series, 24x24'', 2013

From the Unseen Landscape series, 24x24'', 2013

spired photography projects, Last Seen (2014), Setting (2013) and Home (2009). Sometimes an idea has to germinate for months before I can find the best way to express it. However, I can also work on different photography series at one time, benefitting from stepping back from one to concentrate on another.Videos are more demanding. They take longer and require 100% once I’m in production.

readers can admire in these pages: and I would suggest them to visit your website directly at http://www.mandywilliams.com/replace/replace_2 012.html in order to get a wider idea of this stimulating project... in the meanwhile, would you tell us something about the genesis of this work? What was your initial inspiration?

When I started this project in 2012 I wasn’t aware of work that artists such as Michael Wolf and Jon Rafman were doing with Google Street View. Like many people I was just fascinated with the technology and how it enabled you to travel around the country experiencing locations that you’d never seen in real life but wanted to visit. Initially I was very interested in the quirks of GSV – the colour distortions, overlapping camera angles, refracted light.

Dream House involved auditions, interviews, location scouting and over 200 hours of editing. Inside also took a long time to edit. I deliberately filmed without a storyboard and had no fixed idea of how to link the shots until I was in the middle of filming and looking at the footage. As it was inspired by a short film by Derek Jarman I decided the opening and closing shots (the only two moving camera shots) should be filmed at Dungeness and this seemed to work. I suppose I approach most projects with a degree of flexibility, open to new ideas or solutions as they progress.

Although I was looking at a specific place it was less realistic than a regular digital image. It was a couple of steps removed and so I decided to distance it further by creating something more imaginary and otherworldly from my capture of that location. The most recent photographs are color-toned and circular format unseen landscapes. #196 Winter

Now let's focus on your artworks: I would like to start with Unseen Landscapes that our

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From the Unseen Landscape series, 24x24'', 2013

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From the Riverbed Stories series

From the Riverbed Stories series

As you have remarked in your artist's statement, your recent landscape work and photographs of the built environment share an underlying narrative about human interaction: your works are capable of establishing a presence and such an atmosphere of memories, usinginterview just little reminders an with of human existance, as in the interesting Riverbed Stories... 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?

child which terrified my parents, but I have little memory of it. That experience may be a subconscious factor in pursuing this theme but I think it’s a subject that holds a fascination and horror for many people. One of the features that has mostly impacted on me of Inside -that our readers will find at http://www.mandywilliams.com/inside/video.html is the way you have been effectively capable of re-contextualizing the idea of environment an the mutual feedbacks that are established with "human experience"... And since our 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?

Riverbed Stories certainly has an underlying narrative about human presence and the work is my way of responding to the damage I see being caused to this natural environment. But no, I don’t feel that direct experience is an essential part of a creative process. For example, the mixed media work, Setting, 2013, where I printed ceramic plates with images of family homes that had turned into crime scenes, was not based on anything that I had directly or indirectly experienced. I’m drawn to explore difficult subjects and like most people have an interest and empathy in these stories. I often return to the theme of missing adults and children – in fact I was lost on a beach in Tangiers as a young

You are right in that I rarely consider the environment in my work to be a passive background. In Inside, the interior scenes are viewed voyeuristically in the evening light. Observed from the street 34


Mandy Williams

Waiting for you #1, 2013

play an effective role not only making aware public opinion about socio political issues: I would go as far as to say that nowadays Art can even steer people's behavior... Since you are artist interested in social dynamics arising from contemporary culture, I would take this chance to ask your point about this. Do you think that it's an exaggeration? And what could be in your opinion the role that an artist could play in our society?

the scenes document a pattern of domestic behaviour and rituals at the close of the day that happen simultaneously across the city. There is a similar rhythm to our lives in this respect. The light at that time of day and the glowing rooms as the light fades draws you in. It’s the idea of a sanctuary, safety and comfort. You see it as you pass by and it’s welcoming you and you want to be inside - even though you realise the conformity and compromises that are necessary to being there. The stranger’s viewpoint of social observation, separation and belonging is one that I like to re-visit in my work.

I think those photographs can be read that way, especially in the context of the current economic situation and housing difficulties for many people in London. I approached the owners of these houses, who I did not know, and they generously allowed me to document their homes. The work’s as much about aspiration and the fact that many of us – who are content to live quite simply – can

I can recognize a subtle social criticism in "Waiting for you / an open door"… Even though I'm aware that this might sound a bit naïf, I'm sort of convinced that Art in these days could 35


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E scape still see images of houses like these and want to live in them. So, although the door is open symbolically, it’s obviously closed in a broader sense for most of us. It’s not a criticism of any of the people living in those specific houses but an acknowledgment of a societal divide. The video, Dream House, can be interpreted the same way although I approached it to highlight the imagination of young children as well as the concept of a dream home being something deeply rooted in us from an early age. Many who have watched it found it poignant because of the unlikelihood of these desires being fulfilled in a person’s lifetime. I think it’s easy to be pessimistic about the role an artist can play if you think about how quickly art with a genuinely political subject matter can be assimilated into a capitalist art world, become an investment and lose its original purpose. The majority of the mainstream media collaborates in this process. Obviously there are projects in recent art history that have successfully affected some social change. However, the politics of art also exists in how artists live, collaborate, produce and distribute work. Who sees it and where they see it. During your career, your works have been exhibited in several important occasions and you recently had your solo Waiting for You, at House Gallery, London... moreover, you have been awarded from the Canada Council. It goes without saying that feedbacks and especially awards are capable of supporting an artist, encouraging him: I was just wondering if an award -or even the expectation of positive feedbacks- 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? I sometimes wonder if it could ever exist a genuine relationship between business and Art...

From the Dream House series

appreciated. I certainly don’t let it influence the direction of the work but I think if you are represented by a gallery – and I was fortunate to have that in Canada – you do end up hoping there will be a positive response from them to your work, especially when you are creating an exhibition. #196 Winter

It is important for me to get feedback but when I create work I try not to think about a potential audience. My strongest work, in fact, is usually produced when I’ve taken more risks, tried something new, and probably felt that it would not be 36


Mandy Williams

Thank you for your time and for sharing with us your thoughts, Mandy. 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?

in the early stages of a new video work, collecting content. Without saying too much, it’s going to be fairly experimental, with an equal emphasis on sound and image. Once again, it’s about living in a city. I’m looking forward to getting swept up in it.

Thank you for the opportunity. At the moment I’m 37


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Phelan McConaha (USA) An artist’s statement

“Colors are the deeds and sufferings of light” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

My paintings are derivative of landscapes. While they qualify as Abstract Expressionist works, they are created with an intention to document a landscape, whether it be emotional or physical. Each painting contains the essence of places visited or felt. As a painter based in Los Angeles, the city bares a presence in my paintings. Rich colors and abstract shapes coalesce into an overall harmony, which are reminiscent of rip currents, mountains, city lights, and reflections afloat in tide pools. My work centers around an infatuation with color: how it changes based on surrounding colors, lighting, intensity, and hue. Recently, I have been working with oil paintings on multiple layers of glass. I have been fascinated by the effect of pulling paintings apart to their individual layers and observing the way light and distance impact the paintings, creating a three dimensional effect. The result of this process seems to imbue the works with a life of their own. Colors shift and change based on the light during certain seasons and even at certain times of day. Blues emerge brightly from crimson layered glass during mid-day and recede quietly back into the red background in the evening. The drama created by interplay of time and color allows a viewer the sensation of renewal and a range of visual diversity housed in a single painting. Overlaps created by the multiple layers of transparent color in the glass paintings provide spontaneous variations of color and intensity.

Phelan McConaha

Amanda “Phelan” McConaha's work can be categorized with American Abstract Expressionism and is influenced by Modern masters of color, from Monet to Albers. Her paintings have been exhibited in numerous exhibitions across the United States. She received her Fine Arts Degree in Art History from the University of Illinois in Urbana, Champaign in 2005. In 2006, she accepted an offer to manage the national publicity and promotions of several well established artists based in Los Angeles. In 2009, she joined the curatorial staff at Galerie Michael in Beverly Hills. In 2010, she was recruited by Enservio Select and continues work for their Los Angeles branch in art appraisal. Her paintings are prized and collected by connoisseurs of fine art and color theory alike.

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Amanda McConaha

An interview with

Phelan McConaha Hello Amanda 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? Do you think that there's still an inner dichotomy between tradition and contem-porariness?

Hello, and thank you for having me. This is a complex question. I would say that what defines a work of art is its ability to connect with a viewer. That connection could be an instant emotional response or something that takes time to process. My favorite works of art are ones that I have had an interview with to spend some time with and that have challenged me as a viewer. I remember the first time I encountered Yves Klein’s work in a museum and I was stunned by it. It was so simple but so powerful. I left reeling from it. That to me is what great work should do. Rendering one’s work with a mind for one’s specific place and time, to me, can mean chosing new media, approaching the execution in a new way, or even taking inspiration from something that has happened in the artist’s personal recent past. In my own work, I draw inspiration from artists from all time periods, but utimately the subjects I choose to portray come from my own experiences of them and my personal lens.

Amanda McConaha

Specifically, the work I have done on glass changes based on the light in the room, which is defined by the time of day, season, location of the work, et cetera. The work changes and requires the viewer to see it with new eyes every time. It, therefore, has a life outside of my hands and intentions, which is what I love. I think my interest in those aspects of the work’s life and function makes it contemporary.

Landscape painting, for instance, is a constant theme throughout art history, but I try to approach it from a current viewpoint, with an attention to a fleeting moment within that landscape, which I try to express in a way that challenges the viewer to identify with it and that takes time to process. 40


Amanda McConaha scheme by researching a particular artist’s work or genre of work. Perhaps the work I make is markedly contemporary, but it is steeped in a rich understanding and apprecation of art history. I feel that it is imporant for artists to have a keen awareness of art history so that they have a visual vocabulary to from which to draw. Would you like to tell us something about your background? You hold a Fine Arts Degree in Art History that you have received from the University of Illinois: how has formal training impacted on the way you produce your artworks these days? 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?

The University of Illinois offers two types of Art History degrees: one through the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, which emphasizes historical research, or one through the College of Fine and Applied Arts, which focuses on the practice of art making. I went the route of getting my degree from the College of Fine and Applied Arts. I enjoyed the program. The professors were supportive to students who wanted to experiment, but they focused on providing a solid foundation from which to build. Simultaneously, the Art History faculty emphasized critical thinking when viewing works of art. I feel like both the Fine Arts faculty and Art History faculty provided the foundation for how I approach my work – on a practical and theoretical scale. I am hesitant to think that some training could stifle an artist’s practice. I always relish the chance to learn something new. Even if a certain training is not a good fit for me particularly, I enjoy experimenting with it. I could use ideas from that training later down the road. I think creative people are generally pretty flexible in their thinking and in their practices and can reappropriate things to suit their needs. But, perhaps, I’m optimistic.

It seems to me that many artists, art collectors, and people who love art in general struggle with a dichotomy between tradition and contemporariness. However, in my personal view, I don’t see the division as being so opposed. I have a deep interest in art history and am always looking to other works of art for inspiration. I can often resolve issues I am having with composition or color sche-

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 tech41


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Massimo Cataldo

nical 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 work from a sketch of some kind, but I always have a list or notes of what I’m working on. My lists usually include colors and images to reference while working, along with ideas I want to keep in the forefront of my mind. I always have a general idea of what I want to make, but I leave myself open to possibilities. I am certainly not ridgid about the outcome. With the works on canvas, I typically have a rough color sketch and then I start by laying down complementary colors to what the main color palette will be. Next, I start building up the canvas with marks. I apply layer after layer, protecting areas that I’m satisfied with, until it’s complete. It usually takes months to complete a painting because I wait for the paint to dry between each layer. I always work on multiple paintings at the same time, so I am always busy with one stage or another. For the works on glass, I have to alter my process. I still start with a rough sketch and a list, but I an interview with have to spend time deciding what elements or colors will be put on which layer. I decide at this stage on the size and amount of layers. Again, I wait for the paint to dry between each application, which becomes more time consuming depending on the amount of layers. Obviously, glass doesn’t absorb the oil paint the way a canvas does, so it can take more time to dry. I have to hold them up to each other so I can chart the progress of the work and make choices about colors and composition, so it’s important that I am patient during the drying time. I also have to watch the way the light changes the work, so I have to be mindful of the colors I am using, the thickness of the paint, and the way the marks overlap with the other layers. Now let's focus on your artworks: I would like to start with Tide Pools and Autumn that our readers have admired in the starting pages of this article: would you tell us something #196 Winter 42

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Massimo Cataldo about the genesis of these pieces? What was your initial inspiration?

With Tide Pools, I had been spending a lot of time at a secluded beach outside of Malibu. I was going there at low tide with my dog and we were encountering sea life on our walks that I generally don’t see in the populated areas of the California coast. I was interested in the patterns on shells and how the creatures seemed to be a sort of hybrid between plant and animal. I created this work from notes I took on my trips there and I wanted the central focus to be the abstract shape suspended in the layers that evoked mix of plant and animal. I wanted to paint it in nearly a holy light, similar to a Baroque painting, but with a color palette based on things I was finding in the sea. That shape is repeated in several of my works because I really enjoy it’s fluidity and composition. It’s both line and shape and difficult to define. For Autumn Garden, I was interested in the color values present in the fall. In this work, I used primarily reds, golds, and violets, but on the frontmost layer I applied aqua blues and light greens: the fading colors of summer. The end result was that when the painting is lit from above or the front, the blues and greens show brightly, but when backlit, they nearly disappear. The lighting completely transforms the work of art. It was exciting to feel like I was working on two paintings at the same time. Another pieces of yours on which I would like to spend some words are New Year and especially Currents, that I have to admit is one of my favourite pieces of yours: I love the way you have been capable of creating an effective synergy between thoughtful nuances of red and the light tones that gives rhythm to the canvas... By the way, as an Abstract Expressionist artist some of the sources of your inspiration are from imagined beauty: does this allow you visualize your works before crea-

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an interview with

Amanda ''Phelan'' McConaha

New Year

ting? Do you know what it will look like before you begin? I was wondering if in your opinion experience as starting point is not an absolutely necessary step for creating an artwork...

I always have some idea of what I’m going to do before working on a painting, but the details are never totally fleshed out. I leave myself open to problems arising in the process or for things to not go totally as planned. I find that the works I struggle with, the ones where I’ve gone off course and I have to try to reign in, those tend to be my favorite.

Thank you very much. Currents is one of my own personal favorites, too.

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Massimo Cataldo 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?

It depends. †errils was not premeditated, I started taking pictures in my area without thinking of making an entire work about it. Afterwards the work took shape little by little. On the contrary, my other work in progress named STRIP is totally planned from the beginning. The preparation also depends on the subject, I felt freer with †errils because I could go out and shoot films whenever I wanted to. STRIP is a little more complicated since it’s about sexual urges, swingers and prostitution, it involves trust, discretion and a whole lot of time. For these works, I use black and white 35mm films. I develop and scan the negatives myself. I finally clean (dust removing) and contrast the pictures in digital post-production. Since my two current works are long-term projects, I couldn’t tell you precisely how much time I will need to complete them.

a few reasons : on the one hand, I was interested in learning the technical aspects of photography (especially the analog process), to be able to step back on a work, to develop a critical eye on your own work by comparing it with other ones. On the other hand, the creativity was sometimes limited depending on teachers and students’ personality. Some works could become trite and insipid academic standards: the technical quality would be there, sure, but the main idea of the student would maybe come down to clichés. Before starting to elaborate about your production, would you like to tell to our readers

From the †errils series

Currents, 2013, oil paint, glass, wood 3


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Phelan Massimo McConaha Cataldo

Perhaps it’s because while making works like this, I tend to doubt myself: What am I doing? Why am I painting? And then, somehow, I pull it together and I am happier with the results than if everything had gone to plan. For instance, with New Year, I didn’t have a very solid plan. I just started working on different glass panels and let the work grow. I had a very rough idea of the composition and colors, but I wanted it to develop naturally, somewhat organically, during the process. With Currents, I had a very definite plan of what I wanted to do, but the work fought back, so to speak, and I just kept applying layers and layers, covering things that didn’t appeal to me and building up areas I liked, braiding them in with each other. I wondered if I would work on the painting for the rest of my life and just keep adding layers every time I went into the studio, but one day, I finished a layer and I knew it was done. I have a very special relationship with that painting for that reason. Many of my paintings happened like that and I couldn’t have planned for them. Another pieces of yours on which I would like to spend some words are Of Mountains and an interview with Unmade Beds and Iris Garden... As we have already discussed, you experiment with different materials, and I can recognize that glass inspires you: how do you decide upon which materials you incorporate within a piece? By the way, any comments on your choice of "palette" and how it has changed over time?

Both Of Mountains and Unmade Beds and Iris Garden were painted on canvas because the foundation colors were instrumental in the works. In Of Mountains, I wanted the mountain layer to slowly reveal itself and recede again. I wanted there to be a general overall motion in contrast with a more subtle motion behind it. With Iris Garden, I was wanted the foreground to contrast radically with the background, which would have been nearly impossible if I had chosen to use glass. The glass generally allows colors to blend or work in unison with each other, whereas, canvas paintings allow for dramatic contrast. I take that into consideration at the onset of any work I do.

Of Mountains and Unmade Beds, 2012, 19 3/4 in x 20

My palette has certainly changed over time. Los Angeles is known for its sunshine and my color palette has lightened quite a bit since I moved out #196 Winter 46


Phelan Massimo McConaha Cataldo warmer and softer. I would credit my environment for that. I am from Central Illinois originally and the work I was making there was quite a bit more brooding. In Illinois, we have long winters and short days. Without being fully aware of it, my work was influenced by the light. I may have been drawn to darker color palettes because I could identify with them. Now, my land

inches, Oil on canvas

Water Garden

here eight years ago. I didn’t recognize it instantly. It took several years to notice that my work had brightened and that the colors seemed war-

scapes are warmer – even if I’m inspired by difficulty or darker subject matter, my landscapes still retain brighter color palettes. 47


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an interview with

Amanda ''Phelan'' McConaha

Iris Garden

As I can read in the starting lines of your artist's statement, your paintings are derivative of landscapes and I would suggest to our readers to get a wider idea of your artistic production and visit http://phelanmcconaha.com/gallery. And since our 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?

You are absolutely right that I do not think of landscapes as passive backgrounds. I think of our landscapes as being fundamental to who we are. The environments in which we are immersed define 48


Phelan McConaha who we are and often reflect our desires and ideals. There are certinaly hidden cues in every landscape which suggest who the inhabitants are. Our emotional and physical lives are defined by how we operate within our landscape. I am very interested in how environments play my sense of self. Moreover, I like the challenge of translating an emotional field into a landscape. People have the option of choosing what to focus on in their surroundings. I like having a chance to present my choices in physical imagery.

But I never make a work with a mind to sell it. Selfishly, I like to live with the work myself for a while. Business is not a good inspiration for me. I don’t like thinking of my art as a job, and if I started approaching it from that angle, I think I would loose a lot of the joy I gain from making it. I prefer to create the work, live with it, exhibit it, and have someone connect with it. That is the best I can hope for my work. But if the right person doesn’t encounter and connect with it, I’m still connected to it, and that gives me satisfaction.

It goes without saying that feedbacks and especially awards are capable of supporting an artist, encouraging him: I was just wondering if an award -or even the expectation of positive feedbacks- could even influence the process of an artist... By the way, how important is it for you the feedback of your audience? Do you ever think to whom will enjoy your Art when you conceive your pieces? I sometimes wonder if it could ever exist a genuine relationship between business and Art...

But now I can't do without posing you a really cliché question, that I often ask to the artists that I've happened to interview during all these years, especially because even though it might sound the simpler one, it gives me back the most complex answers: what aspect of your art practice do you enjoy the most? What gives you the biggest satisfaction?

The aspect of my art practice that I enjoy most is the accidents or unforseen hang ups. They are challenging and they make me question myself and what I am doing and I appreciate that.

In all honesty, positive encouragement is great and I appreciate it. It definitely motivates me. But, that being said, it’s not the reason I do what I do. I would like people to respond positively to all of my work, past and future, but that’s an unrealistic expectation. Ultimately, I paint the way that I do and I choose the subjects that I do because I am compelled to come to work with self preservation. I have to paint because I love it. If someone else loves my work, that’s wonderful and I’m happy to hear about it, but I can’t chase that. I just have to be true to my vision. I think when we start making work to please someone or an audience, we do a very real diservice to ourselves and risk loosing our authentic expression. I definitely draw inspiration from the people around me and my experiences with them. All of the works that I have made are embedded with an experience I have had with someone.

They also make me aware of the materiality of what I am doing and they force me to problem solve. If every painting went exactly as planned, I think I would have less fun and be less invested. I enjoy the challenge and I enjoy knowing that ultimately I must decide how to fix problems or accept them. I love that. Thank you for your time and for sharing with us your thoughts, Amanda. 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?

Right now, I am exhibiting my work at Linespace Gallery in Culver City, California. The gallery is wonderful and is active in supporting emerging artists. The opening night was very successful and the show will be up for a couple of months. Currently, I am looking to add new galleries to my roster. I love the opportunity to show my work in new locations and see a new audience respond to the work.

A conversation with a friend might become a seed from which the work grows. There are certainly hidden elements in the work that remind me of that, but I rarely, if ever, tell the person who inspired it. It’s just the seed and not the totality of the work. 49


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Gürkan Mihçi (Turkey) An artist’s statement

Gürkan Mıhçı is a media artist and lecturer, based on Istanbul and Ankara. He exhibited his collective and individual art and media works in festivals and exhibitions such as, Radio Festival, Porto, Portugal, Monsters International, Montreal, Canada, Animatu Digital Animation Festival, Portugal, FILE - Electronic Language Festival, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 0090, Antwerp, Belgium, The Wrong - New Digital Art Biennale and 10th Istanbul Biennale, Istanbul, Turkey. Currently, he works on physical computing and sound art. The central focus of his works based on critical view of social, political and cultural issues. Often referencing existentialism and its relations with nation state and society, his works explore the varying relationships between inner feelings and society. In addition to that, in his works he uses human and machine audio-visual interaction to through the subject matter.

Gürkan Mihçi

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Gürkan Mihçi

An interview with

Gürkan Mihçi Hello Gurkan 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?

For me, a work of art is an expression of emotions and ideas. It is the central point of my works. I think that a work of art is based on how we perceive the world and the output is related with our ideas about environmental effects around us. If I’d could able to write, I would have expressed my emotions and ideas by writing. First, an artist is a person that has a problem and critical to her environment. My ideas and emotions are changing constantly according to what I read, listen,interview talk, teach share and discuss with my friends an with and students and I always try to update my knowledge and therefore, if I could not add my updated knowledge to my artwork, I can not say that my artwork is the contemporary.

Gürkan Mihçi (photo by Kaan Bagci)

Also, teaching at university help me a lot in my creative process. My students’ fresh ideas help me to catch the contemporariness of an artwork. Their opinions from different angles on art works deconstruct my ideas and create new concepts.

can create”. Of course, it was a joke but, there was a small truth that art is so related with ego and self confidence. Because, creating is a process that you should face yourself and solve problems. I think this tension between young artist and the academy is based on the relations between professors and artists. I believe that it is personal. Since, I have been working on for six years; I perceive that high hierarchy and ego wars sometimes rise in academy.

Would you like to tell us something about your background? You have formal training and you hold a MFA of Visual Arts and Visual Communication Design: how has this experience that have impacted on the way you currently produce your Art By the way, since you also teach, I cannot do without asking your point about formal training... I sometimes happen to wonder if a certain kind of training could even stifle a young artist's creativity...

In addition to that, there is always a tension in creative process between not only professors and artists, also professors are in competitive pressure and that sometimes creates a worst environment for art. I was so lucky that my professors were so open minded and helped me a lot while studying in my BFA and MA degrees. In my BFA and MA deg-

I never forget that, in my first day in the university, there is huge writing on the board that “only god 52


Gürkan Mihçi 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 spend most of my time on reading, listening, watching, discussing, and traveling to find the idea. I can answer this question with an example. This process mostly explains how I create a work of art. I worked as an audio visual artist in a Play called The Man and The Room directed by Mesut Aslan. Mesut’s already produced the play. However, he wanted to change whole concept and reproduce it for Istanbul Theater Festival. First, I read the text and thought how to visualize the text. The basic problem was how to integrate works and create an audio visual atmosphere for a play. Because, the play is a time based work of art as a whole and, I had to integrate other media had to part of it and not to create errors in continuity.

rees I studied and worked in an interdisciplinary program that contains also art, design and media. As my MFA project I studied audio visual noise aesthetic that covered art and design disciplines. They always help me to develop my ideas and tried to positive to my every concept. They taught me how to be critical, solve art and design problems and reach effective solutions. Of course, education adds lots of things to artist but, I never believe the enlightenment of education is just a tool that helps open minded artists to develop their ideas. I think education and academy environment only help students how to develop concepts and how visualize these concepts and ideas. The artists and professors should be open minded and ready to criticize their ideas.

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Being in There, 2013

you tell us something about the genesis of this project?

Therefore, we worked together with actors, director, dramaturge, scenographer, lighting designer and other staff to solve these problems. First, we created concepts than, we discussed the possible solutions for three mouths and we decided on tools, such as, software, computers, video mixers, cameras and projectors.

Being in There is an audio visual installation project about the way we as beings understand the day on a minimal way by the abstracted notions of everyday images. How is Being related to Space and Time? geometrical space, or the reciprocity of spatial relations, is Nothingness. The statement that “I know where I am” means that “I know where I am not.”

Also, I was working with our scenographer, Meyrem Bayram, on producing the materials. I always believe that learning by doing that we shot lots of videos recorded lots of noises and sounds. The play is a live event that we had to solve how to design an interactive media easy to control during the play because, the media were so related with the actors’ performances. We spend most of our time to find the right concept.

Space is a Nothingness, and is seen in terms of the For-itself’s free project to organize relations between external objects. I mostly get my concepts from books or other reading materials. I am interested in text and its relation with visual arts. I really like to challenge how to combine to different disciplines.

Now let's focus on your art production: I would start from your audio visual installation Being in There, an extremely interesting work that our readers can strt to admire in these pages, and that has particularly impressed me: would

Text world is inspiring me a lot. Especially, existentialism has a big impact on me. In Being in There, I questioned how we perceive time and what the relation with being is.

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Gürkan Mihçi

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": and I would suggest to our readers to visit your website at http://www.gurkanmihci.com/ in order to get a wider idea of your artistic production. Your Art practice ranges from sound performances as Tell Me, What Did You Dream Last Night? to interactive technological artworks, as the recent and stimulating Starfish... 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?

I think that, it is “the only way” to achieve some results, to express some concepts. Starfish and Tell Me, What Did You Dream Last Night? are some of them, Tell me, What Did You Dream Last Night was performed by Eser Selen and me for Fluxus exhibition opening in Turkey. We combined performance, sound and interactive arts.

Starfrish, 2013 Light Interactive Game Concept

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Starfrish, 2013

Starfrish, 2013

Light Interactive Game Concept

Light Interactive Game Concept

I designed 6-channel-interactive-sound composition and combined with a mic. Also, Eser Selen, performance artist, added all speakers and mic to her dress. With the audiences’ answers to this question we created an interactive performance. However, Starfish concept is totally different. I was an interview thinking how I couldwith create a small game with integrating light, human movements and interactive technology. It was a challenge and I designed the Starfish. In Starfish, the player uses a light source to bring forth the image or video. The system reacts to the light source which deletes the black squares according to its location and its movement. After a while, the black squares replace themselves and the image-video fades out, that means that the player should be constantly active and use the light source to keep image exposed. Although, my designer and new media background allow me to work on these technologies, I sometimes work on analog tools while waving between different disciplines. By the way, I have to say that I have highly appreciated the synergy between Art and Technology that I have recognized in your creations, especially in The Leaf of Sound, that I have to admit it's one of my favourite work of yours... and I'm sort of convinced that new media art will definitely fill the dichotomy between Art

The Leaf of The Sound, 2012 Sound Installation 56


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The Leaf of The Sound, 2012 Interactive Sound Installation

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?

in those forgotten places. It is one of the peaceful and quiet places in the Big City. The place has a tree, a bench and a beautiful sea view. It consists of a small sensor (invisible by user) and a monitor giving the re-mix of Mikail Aslan���s composition (Pelguzar). The sensor recognizes the visitor who sits on the bench, and it plays the re-mix Leaf of The Sound by a monitor. The project contains a computer with a Max/Msp technologies and a sensor that connects to it.

When we say art and technology I always give example of the painting technology. Cave man invented this painting technology around 40.000 years ago and there have might been some homo sapiens that they have refused to use it or forced artists not to use this new technology. If we understand and emphases that technology is just a tool for creating art not the basic aim of it or art does not depend on these technology, we will make peace with the technology.

The project represents the idea of “The Leaf of The Sound”. The system is located secretly on the tree. I needed to interact with audience and that’ why I have used this interactive technology. Although, I claim that technology and art work together peacefully, I sometimes see art works that only based on the technology and lack of concept and idea. It is very good to use new technology but, I think we sometimes forget what the art means.

The Leaf of The Sound is an interactive sound installation inspired by Mikail Aslan’s music composition PELGUZAR (Leaf of the Hearth) (he is an Anatolian Folk musician. He was born in Dersim, Anatolia, now lives in Germany). The Leaf of The Sound is an interactive sound installation located 57


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Eminonu Subway, 2012

Eminonu Subway, 2012

Interactive Wall and Soundscape Project

Interactive Wall and Soundscape Project

Your artworks are strictly connected to the chance of establishing a deep involvement wit your audience: both on an intellectual aspect and -I daresay - on a physical one. In particular, I would like to make aware our readers of an extremely important ongoing project entitled Eminönü Subway that can be discovered at http://www.gurkanmihci.com/?/Interaction/eminonu/ As you have remarked once, "Listening is an activity that needs complete attention and it can be too much disturbing for human brain too much", so I would like to ask you if in your opinion personal experience is an absolutely indespensable part of a creative process... I mean, both for creating a piece of Art and in order to enjoy it....Do you think that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience?

During these years, your works have been exhibited in several occasions, both in your country and abroad: and I think it's important to mention that you participated to the 10th Istanbul Biennale. It goes without saying that feedbacks and especially awards are capable of supporting an artist, encouraging him: I was just wondering if an award -or even the expectation of positive feedbacks- 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? I sometimes wonder if it could ever exist a genuine relationship between business and Art...

I think the half of the concept of art work is mostly what audiences understand from it. I have some friends that I trust their objective judgments that I send my work of art before sharing with the public. I believe that without sharing art and getting feedbacks I can not improve my ideas. I am producing for years and I can easily say that sharing finished work or process of the work always encourage me a lot. They sometimes brutally criticize me but, it always helps. Also, when I exhibit my works or make online, the feedbacks and comments become priceless for me.

I attach importance to creative process. Because, this research process and solving creative problems teach me lots of things. I mostly put emphasis on how I start working and continue with the same effort. Also, I really like to watch behind the scene videos of any art, design and media works especially, collective works. I really like collective works and their creative processes. Long discussions, disagreements and persuasive process these are all challenges for me. In addition, the audience has right to see how a work of art created and what happened during its creative process.

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": and I would #196 Winter 58


Gürkan Mihçi 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?

First of all, thank you so much for your interest and this beautiful interview. Now, I am working a project called Soundscape for a day, is about achieving a year. I record 10-second immersive environment sound piece during my everyday practices and upload to the Sound Cloud page (https://soundcloud.com/soundscapeforaday). A soundscape can be a sound of a bus engine, a bird or a conversation in a related day. The project started on January 01, 2014 and every day a 10-second Soundscape will be recorded. And the project will be ended on January 01, 2015. In addition, my one year life will be archiving with sonic elements. Last week, I have finished a kinetic and interactive audio visual installation concept called “Demeanor” is investigating the perception of “Demeanor” as a neurotic process and physical behavior. “Demeanor” consists of a big wall in the middle of the room and the wall has 2 different sides-surfaces that are moving and waving (with motors). One of the surfaces has organic waving system; the other one has triangular moving system. Then, there are different visuals are projected to the surfaces and, these visuals interacts with the human movements. Also, during the installation a sound composition plays in the room. I have also finished the physical computing and solved other technical issues. Now, I am looking for funding and exhibition opportunities for it.

suggest to our readers to visit your website at http://www.gurkanmihci.com/ in order to get a wider idea of your artistic production. Your Art practice ranges from sound performances as Tell Me, What Did You Dream Last Night? to interactive technological artworks, as the recent and stimulating Starfish... 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?

I think that, it is “the only way” to achieve some results, to express some concepts. Starfish and Tell Me, What Did You Dream Last Night? are some of them, Tell me, What Did You Dream Last Night was performed by Eser Selen and me for Fluxus exhibition opening in Turkey. We combined performance, sound and interactive arts.

Also, I am planning to open my first solo exhibition in Marquis Project, an artist residence and art space in Izmir, Turkey. Marquis Project, founded by Thomas Keogh in 2013, is located in historical district of Izmir that it has spectacular soundscape and visual environment. It is in the middle of historical bazaar of Izmir, Kemeralti (still active). In addition to that, its building (ancient Greek house) and its environment are very inspiring.

Thank you for your time and for sharing with us your thoughts, Gurkan. My last question

an interview by landescape@artlover.com

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Andy-Jean Leduc (Canada)

Brooklyn Subway 2


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Andy-Jean Leduc

An interview with

Andy-Jean Leduc Hello Andy-Jean 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? Do you think that there's still an inner dichotomy between tradition and contemporariness?

Hi. I like your questions even they make me ‘freak out’... Think this is hard!! It is impossible to define a work of art as it is impossible to define porn! We know when we see one (porn), this is an obviousness it is the same for a work of art! It imposes by itself, it is a fact, that's right, period, there is no ambiguity.

Andy-Jean Leduc

A work of art goes to the essential, it does not get lost in endless meandering, it touchs us directly to an interview with the heart, it lives by itself, it speaks to us, and oddly it evolves with time. What is not, what are those who are in the service of their creator, they are not there for themselves, but as a way to convince us that the artist is, for example, a true intellectual (nerd)! That he has a social consciousness! That he defends a just cause! Etc. etc. and etc. … The artist is in the service of its work, otherwise this is nothing more than a pamphlet. Each of us, are the product of what we are from our birth and of our time (experience). An artist is the one who concretizes through a medium what he is truly and so, inevitably, he expresses his time, there is thus no opposition between contemporary and tradition.

to life.Take a look on the art that we find on (http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/art) versus the one at (http://theartstack.com/) There is matter for a debate!? Would you like to tell us something about your background? Are there any experiences that have particularly impacted on the way you produce your artworks these days? By the way, you have studied history and art history, philosophy and literature at the University of Montreal... how has this influenced your developement as an artist?

Machiavelli and Leonardo da Vinci. I retained from the first one 'The end justifies the means', and from the second one, the science and technology are not the enemies of art but are essential tools. Let me explain. I constantly wonder what there was essential in this picture, in what I see, in what I feel, what is it and is it not another one, what is its specificity? Its energy? Its shout? To give birth to this ‘image’, out of the mess that surrounds it, as a sculptor from a block of marble already seen the work, I have no shame to use everything that my time - the year 2014 - gives me, and sometimes,

I believe that ‘Visual Art’ in contrast to other arts, like cinema, architecture, music... is drained of his energy, of his creativity; he has rejected the notion of Beauty, giving way in the ‘concepts’ empty of life and sensuality. (My definition of Art = sense + sensuality and desire) And people lost interest in it, galleries emptying. Fortunately in recent years the Internet has emerged and ‘Visual Art’ returns 62


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Rail

when I don’t have the ability to use these tools I ask of other one to do it. Don’t shout! An architect does not hold the hammer! But it is his name that appears on the bronze plaque.

lifeless on dirty ground, its wings apart, his empty eyes, it did not sing any more. I never kill again. From this moment I knew that I loved Life, I liked the smell of Life, that I loved her bubbling, its Beauty.

'Dead Bird' shows a turning point in my life. I grew up on a farm, and shoot with a rifle was for me a game also anodyne than playing soccer! One day I was 13 or 14 years old, I was walking in the wooded with my rifle, it was a beautiful summer day, a pure light crept between the tender green of the leaves, slowly I approach a beautiful little bird of all colors who proudly on its branch sang quietly, I put in plays, I shoot, and then, I see him

What you find in my work, is this search for light, the heat of the summer, love, and the mystery of the night. 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 63


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The Dead Bird

Andy-Jean Leduc


Andy-Jean Leduc

Fixation


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Andy-Jean Leduc

work? And how much preparation and time do you put in before and during the process of creating a piece?

In short, I write my journal by creating. I say in image what I saw, the way I feel, what troubles me, what shocks me or enchants me. These are also my desires, my loves, my hopes, my paranoia.... I don’t take request (order) I only do what I like. My models are my friends, or my lover. What makes the strength of my work, this is this palpable link between them and me. I tell a story, whether joyous or tragic doesn’t matter, what matters is how I feel. If I have nothing to say I watch TV! For me the light says everything, it is the tool number 1. Rembrandt was my master. The light is for the visual artist what is the chisel is for the sculptor, it cuts, shows and feel what you want to say. Tool number 2, the framing. I am a maniac, in the millimeter near. As in the business world there should be the essential, the eye must not get lost in the maze side, I go direct to the goal and I wonder, "What do you see? What do you feel? But really? "It is what guides me. Sometimes I'll keep only a detail of the original photo, but it is part, that says everything. Time? There's no limit! It is long! Some work take years before being ready Impressionism

Now let's focus on your artworks: I would like to start with Brooklyn Subway and Rail that our readers have started to admire in the introductory pages of this article: one of the features of your works that has mostly impacted on me is the skilful ability to reinvent these processes through merging the use historical devices with modern technology as digital editing : I’m sort of convinced that soon or later new media art will definitely fill the dichotomy between Art and Technology....I will dare to say that Art and Technology are going to assimilate one to each other... what’s your point about this?

hammer, or the power saw, or the pneumatic drill, !!!! Ha, Ha, Ha, but through the integration of the building in its environment, by volume, light, space, the harmonization of materials, etc. Why Visual Artists defines itself by the tool, I use the brush so I'm a painter, I used watercolor, I am a watercolorist, … It is only a tool, (pauvre petit con!). Tell me what you have to say and I will tell you if you're an artist. The computer has changed the situation. It is like a huge cauldron in which is poured a drawing done in oil, photo, collage, scan, an illustration, a Photoshop effect ... It doesn(t eliminate the tools of the pass, but embrace them. #196 Winter

You are cool! I like this question! I dedicate myself full-time to my work as artist since, maximum 15 years, before, I developed real estate projects, and never, I saw an architect defining his work by the

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Andy-Jean Leduc are capable of establishing a presence and such an atmosphere of memories, using just little reminders of human existence as in Sensuality... 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?

Direct question direct answer:-No-. In the question No.2. I described the long-lived memories which gave birth to "Dead Bird". An artist plays on two levels, in the physical world and after the representation of this world, which he lives, or on what he lived, or on what he would like to live, or … In "Sensuality" it was my lover Sasha who posed, and his hand, I believe, says everything. An artist as any human being cannot give what he doesn’t have, and no «…that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience?”

However, there is another step to take, crossed from the virtual world to the physical world. A work can be is only a real one unless it left the flat screen to display on the wall of your house. Digital printing technology now allow us to print on silk, canvas, metal that I like very much, etc. I would like to print in transparency ‘Rail ’on a large sheet of copper so that the warm color of the metal could become allied with the image. So we would have complete the loop, the creation would join the sustainability. Another works that have particularly impressed me and on which I would like to spend some words are Impressionism and The Dead Bird: I have been fascinated with the way you

Sensuality

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Hasting Street

an interview with And since our 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 as in Street Art 1& 2 and the wonderful Hasting Street and especially in La Forêt Magique, which I have to admit it's one of my favourite pieces of yours ... 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 wayto 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?

La Forêt Magique

purchased a work of art! The artist does not have to pay a penny for a shrink, it frees himself by creating and we bought his fears! Great! That said, an artist does not have a role, he has only to be honest with himself. An artist is one who sees. More, an artist he is the one who to build his universe uses what surrounds him.(La Forêt Magique) One thing before I raise the subject, when I create I don't think, I don’t cogitate, I don’t conceptualize, it is the instinct, it is a force inside of me who guide me, and I noticed that the good artists, never hesitate when they create, afterward I side, but the main part is already there.

Thank you for loving what I'm doing. I used to joke by saying that an artist is the luckiest man of the Earth. Why? Because he evacuates his frenzies, his fears, his madnesses, and people pay for hanging them in their living room by saying that they have

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Andy-Jean Leduc such a social criticism... I would go as far as to state that your works seek to challenge art in its conventions of exclusivity and question the audience’s role just as a consumer: and even though I'm aware that this might sound a bit naïf 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... what's your point about this?

People who are interested in my work and those who have purchased my them are not consumers in the pejorative way of the term-'Oh! Looks like it's going to get married with the leather couch!’but people who have had “Un coup de Coeur!”

Have you noticed the particular relation that director Tim Burton maintains with the nature? For him the nature is mystery, danger, it is shadow, I would say spiritual. For me the nature is sun, meaning, sensuality, life, strength, warmth, spirituality. ‘La Forêt Magique’// ‘Hasting Street’ are works from the beginning, when the Black haunted me, the prospect crashed on a tormented black wall, the street is dark, lifeless, covered with blood. The years have passed, and the Black has left its place to works as 'Impressionism'. The Sun is not shining, but it is there! Moreover, your pieces as Nuclear Winter and in a certain sense also Why? seems to reveal

Why?

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Them and I we communicated not in word, but by interposed work. Art in the broadest sense is the most powerful means of communication that the human race has, it goes back up as far as the Stone Age. Today's man who sees the so beautiful paintings of our ancestors can perfectly well capture the meaning. I think that what makes that the Human is Human it is his sense of the esthetics and the Beauty what no other living being on the earth possesses. Yes! (Nuclear Winter) A work that screams” I don't want this monstrosity! This destruction” can change the course of things in awakening the desire to live, by illustrating the world of darkness that could be. « Why » is also a poignant question' Why do you cut of me? Of love? Of life? Why you do not overcome this barrier? Prohibited by your Religion?' And once again, it is possible that this image could release the one who looks at it. I do not seek to guide the behavior of people, but only to tell them what Andy-Jean is. If we look at the online ecosystem, we are strucken 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 autorship, and I daresay that this could lead us to rethink the concept of an artwork itself...

My English is poor, and I am not sure if I understood the meaning of what you say. Web is simply a broadcasting mode which emancipates itself from art galleries, which unfortunately, looks for itself, not that they have no more their reasons of beings, but simply because they were allowed locked up, cloistered, in a dead-end, empty of life, and meaning. I already hit in a word. As the need to create is pegged to the soul of human, and he could no longer flourish in the galleries, and well, the Web has taken over. That said this is always the same path, Internet or not, a guy has talent, he expresses himself, and others want to see. Simple. We are at the dawn of a revolution, when we shall really have assimilated the impact of the concept "Image" and when the ‘Virtual’ will pour in the physical world, and especially that we shall shout what we are, we people in our time of 2014, so the Visual Arts will find their strengths, their Beauty, and the public will recognize in it.

#196 Winter

Nuclear Winter

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Lois Cremmins (USA) An artist’s statement

It all started when this artist/horticulturist moved back to Manhattan. What was she to do with the worthless seed and plant catalogs showing up in the mailbox? Cut and paste! That was the springboard for City Gardening, which evolved into this painstaking process of layering paper, paint and ink. I’m now teetering on the fine line between high art and a craft project. You Never Know What’s Around the Corner refers to the unpredictable and random moments encountered daily on the streets of the city. It's a direct response to the cacophony that bombards the senses and reflects of a compelling sense of adventure and optimism. These collage/paintings are a tribute to my father Mike, who braved New York in the really gritty days. He loved construction and buildings and his work was as unrefined and wonky as mine. For my recent work I'm painting on canvas again, this time with fabric and ribbons.

Lois Cremmins East to the Alphabet 16"x20"

#196 Winter

cut paper, acrylic, watercolor and ink on paper

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Lois Cremmins

An interview with

Lois Cremmins Hello Lois 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? Do you think that there's still an ineer dichotomy between Tradition and Contemporariness?

When an artist makes a piece that is able to convey something strongly, in a clear cut way, with nothing extra needed and nothing left out – that is a work of art. There is artwork everywhere, but for something to be a true work of art, it must resonate and be perfect in itself. Every artist is capable of making true works of art but he must first get to a point where he can surrender to being completely honest with himself and his with intentions and then develop an interview the skill to express them. We live in this moment of time. Any art that is made by an alive artist who is putting his thought process into the work is contemporary. If an artist is working with traditional methods but truly seeing the world through the lens of today’s eyes, his work is contemporary. If a 90 year old is making art about issues pertinent to his life, his work is contemporary. Borrowing from the past is important. It gives us new skills and insights on which to build our current experiences.

Lois Cremmins

living for many years as a florist and gardener. Not only was this a more practical means to earn money, but it also freed me up to make paintings that were not necessarily commercial and to not care what anyone else thought of them. The flower arrangements I made were extremely creative, very large in scale and delivered weekly to Manhattan’s lobbies and restaurants. I learned more about color, composition, sculpture and collage from building floral arrangements and designing gardens than I did in art school.

Would you like to tell us something about your background? Are there any experiences that have particularly impacted on the way you currently produce your Art? By the way, I sometimes I happen to ask myself if a certain kind of training could limit or even stifle a young artist's creativity... what's your point about this?

I studied both Studio Art and Horticulture in college. Although I have always been a painter, I made a 74


Lois Cremmins to develop into paintings. Once I began working in collage I was able to abandon sketching altogether and work more directly. I sometimes begin with pieces of paper, sometimes with painting. This begins a painstaking process where I am building up the work layer by layer: painting, preparing and cutting paper and gluing. It is a time consuming but also freeing process where nothing is precious or necessarily permanent. Now let's focus on your artworks: I would like to start with You Never Know What's Around the Corner, that our readers have admired in the starting pages of this article: and I would suggest them to visit your personal website http://www.cremmins.com/you-never-know-whatsaround-the-corner/ in order to get a wider idea of your Art... in the meanwhile, would you tell us something about the genesis of these interes-ting project? What was your initial inspiration?

The inspiration for this project is the streets of New York City. It is a direct response to the cacophony that bombards the senses – the noise, the smells, etc. and a goldmine of visual information. It is not boring here, and unpredictable and random things often happen. Literally, You Never Know What’s

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 has evolved over time. I used to be constantly making small sketches in pen and ink. They were little snippets of ideas that I would use

It's A Nice Morning, 12"x12" cut paper, acrylic and ink on paper 75


Lois Cremmins

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Taxi!, 18"x22"

Wrought Iron, 14"x16"

cut paper, acrylic and ink on paper

cut paper, acrylic, watercolor and ink on paper

Around the Corner and figuratively, there is a compelling sense of optimism that I feel in this place.

Although I love to look at artwork that has muted and earthy tones, I realized long ago that that kind of palette is not Lois Cremmins. My palette bursts forth with color, is intuitive and has remained constant. I am a firm believer in the power of color to evoke perception and I use it freely. Color can take you on a little journey, can conjure up emotions can even screw up your senses.

In particular, I would like to spend some words about Wrought Iron and Taxi! I have found them particularly stimulating and the feature that has mostly struck on me is the dynamicity, the sense of movement that you have been capable of impressing on the canvas... one of the visuals an interview with that has particularly impacted on me is the nuance of intense tones which creates an interesting synergy rather than a contrast: by the way, any comments on your choice of palette" and how it has changed over time?

an interview with

The works are distillations incorporating bits and pieces of information from a variety of places at multiple moments in time. They are landscapes, but not in the conventional sense of a staid scene. Everything in the city is constantly moving and it is that dynamic flow that I am using in my thought process as well. For example, you mention Taxi!. Here’s my little story on that one: “Which has more power: those high-rise buildings or the old tree with a trunk of the size of a sequoia? We’ll never know because I think those two taxis just had a collision and I hear the sound of broken glass”.

Architecture Above, 22"x30" cut paper, acrylic, watercolor and ink on paper

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Lois Cremmins

an interview with Fence, 22"x30" cut paper, acrylic and ink on paper

By the way, since our review is called "LandEscape", I would like to stop for a moment to consider the "function" of the "abstract 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?

The abstract quality of my work definitely suggests an inner landscape. I always have some vague concept behind the scenes that is psychological and many times I can’t identify it verbally. My intention with abstraction initially is to make a work that compositionally holds interest for an extended period of time, not only for me but for the viewer as well.

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From My Family Names series Project relating to the Holocaust consisting of 34 images. Viewed chronologically.

Fall Away, 2012 ink, acrylic, and oil on canvas

Each image in the series is 14" x 11" or 11" x 14", of cut paper, marker and ink.

an interview with

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

Then I pull it to something recognizable and visa versa. It is the constant push and pull between the indefinable and the definable that I enjoy. In fact I don't like to define things too much. Anything too literal doesn’t leave enough room to think.

All of my work is autobiographical because it talks about what I think about, what interests me. I don’t think direct personal experience is necessary for the creative process, just sincere personal interest. When I was a child I was petrified by the idea of the Holocaust even though I didn’t know the details, and it was only later in life that I slowly allowed myself to learn about what happened. Were the demons I conjured up in my head worse than or equal to the actual events? My Family Names is a conceptual piece in 38 images that attempts to address what might have been the fate of my ancestors.

The City Gardening series is extremely abstract. It is sensual and ephemeral. And hopefully evocative of that encrypted environ-ment that you mention. http://www.cremmins.com/city-gardening/ And I couldn't do without mentioning My Family Names, a Project relating to the Holocaust. An important and recurrent feature of these works is a deep emotional and especially intellectual involvement, that in my opinion forces the spectator to fill with her/his own personal experience... So I would like to ask you if in your opinion personal experience is an absolutely indespensable part of a creative process... Do

As our reader have noticed at your website http://www.cremmins.com multidisciplinarity is a recurrent feature of your artistic production

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Lois Cremmins

24" x 52" acrylic, fabric, ribbon and zippers on canvas

and 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": 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?

the work is in some way a tribute to the garment industry that once thrived in New York. http://www.cremmins.com/new-work/ It goes without saying that feedbacks and especially awards are capable of supporting an artist, encouraging her: I was just wondering if an award -or better, the expectation of positive feedbacks- 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?

I like to think that we are all complicated people, life experiences change and we change. Perhaps I do a lot of thinking, I don’t know, but I am a multifaceted person and have different things to say. Concepts lead to new concepts, materials lead to ideas for new materials which lead to new concepts. My newest work is a perfect example. I am working on large canvases using acrylic paint, fabric, ribbons and notions. The images are of cityscapes with deep perspectives that hopefully take you deep into the streets for a gritty walk. There is a great textural quality to the fabrics and

My thoughts on this have changed over time. Originally I made art in a confident vacuum and didn’t care about accolades. As I have gotten more and more positive feedback and attention I have come to love it. It’s a great feeling to hang your art on a wall and have people say wonderfully perceptive things about it. Every sale is a thrill for 79


Lois Cremmins

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Fence 32"x28" acrylic, fabric and ribbon on canvas

me. I will never tire of the fact that someone will pay good money to buy my art, hang it up and enjoy it day after day. Does it influence my process? Not really. Maybe more as an after thought I might think, “Boy this is really ugly. No one will ever want it”. Sometimes that turns out to be my most adventurous piece. Thank you for your time and for sharing with us your thoughts, Lois. My last question deals with your future plans: what's next for you? Anything coming up for you that you would like readers to be aware of?

I’ve been teaching art more and more and have a new session of classes in Collage starting soon. Teaching adults has been keeping me on my toes and I have learned a great deal from all of my students.

an interview with

I am scheduled for a solo show at Atlantic Gallery in 2015. Thank you for interviewing me. It has been a pleasure answering your questions.

An interview by landescape@artlover.com

54"x28" acrylic, fabric, ribbon and buttons on canvas

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Lois Cremmins

an interview with

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Alice Zilberberg (Estonia/Israel) An artist’s statement

When you think of fairy tales, you might think of a beautiful princess with long golden hair, a handsome prince in shinning armor, or a fairy godmother performing miracles. Think again. The sweet, innocent children's tales known today did not always end with “happily ever after”. The meaning, tone and content of older versions of these fairy tales, collected by the Brothers Grimm, was dark, even ugly. They included harsh punishment of characters, sexual inferences and often death. These tales were rich and expressive, passed down for generations through an oral tradition that allowed constant alterations by individual story-tellers. Criticized as unsuitable for children, the earlier versions of these stories were edited to suit ever-changing societal tastes. Over time, all ugliness and sexual connotations were removed, culminating in changes made over the last century – by Disney. This series attempts to thematically take these fairy tales back in time through image composites. I create my own versions of Walt Disney’s Cinderella, Snow White, Alice in Wonderland, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel, Hansel and Gretel, Little Red Riding Hood, Thumbelina, the Little Mermaid, and Goldilocks – introducing a different way down the rabbit hole. The dark aesthetic takes the stories back to their origins, mocking the Disney versions for their simplistic happy endings. Contrasting the tale of Alice in Wonderland, my own image presents Alice as a girl with a mental illness, in a dark state of mind, as her environment suggests. This depicts the tale in its original, dark form, which is far more expressive. Visual elements portray this idea as well. For instance, while many of Disney's heroins are portrayed having beautiful golden hair, I use only dark hair in all the stories. These repeating visual details tie up the stories thematically, correcting Disney’s uninspired, sanitized versions of these tales. I choose to narrate the story as well as participate in it, placing myself as the dark haired heroin. She is not saved by a prince, but alone and in despair, or even dead. Playing the role of the girl character, I challenge conventional ideas about how a women should act, look and be like. For example, Cinderella sits crying as her leg has been cut off by her sisters as punishment. The recreated narrative in this image returns the story's tone to what is presented earlier versions, while acknowledging and embracing the fact that these stories are meant to be shaped by their creator, thus creating stories that speak about much more than the Disney versions do. My inspiration for this series came from women writers of the 17th century. Writing primarily for adults, women used these stories to create alternate realities--worlds that could only exist in imagination. Their stories touched on counter-cultural ideas such as choice of spouse, inheritance rights, and woman's right to education. Their tales challenged both literary and social conventions in a world where they did not have political power. A story by Marie Ebner-‐Eschenbach, “Princess Banalia”, 1872 tells the story of a queen breaking away from her expectations as a queen, woman and wife, as she longs to join her beloved. In this story, the heroin embraces her own sexuality, breaking away from the expectations imposed on her by society. In this series, I re-frame Disney versions of fairy tales through my own lens. They are illustrated as dark, ugly, and horrid. This parallels previous versions, while presenting the case that current Disney versions of fairy tales are uncreative and unrealistic. The twisted narrative in the images and use of character also challenges mainstream cultural myths about what a woman should be, and how her story really ends. The series also stressed that the plot of the story is always controlled by its teller, in this case, not ending happily ever after.

#196 Winter 82


Alice in Wonderland, 2010 2

Chromogenic Print


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Alice Zilberberg

An interview with

Alice Zilberberg Hello Alice 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?

History shows us that the spectrum of what can be defined as art is quite broad. In my opinion, not everything can be art and not everybody is an artist. Art is something with a strong intention, regardless of the medium. Many things can be declared as art, and some draw more attention than others. Art being made now has a lot of history to acknowledge before it can be claimed successful.

Alice Zilberberg

Would you like to tell us something about your background? You have formal training and you an with that you received hold interview a BFA of Photography from the Ryerson University: how has this experience that have impacted on the way you currently produce your Art? By the way, what's your point on formal training? I often ask to myself if a certain kind of training could even stifle a young artist's creativity...

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?

Art school for the most part was a positive experience for me. There were things I learned in art school I wouldn’t have otherwise developed on my own. However, I don’t think it is a crucial step for artists. Ultimately, art school doesn’t make you a good artist, good artists just happen to go to art school sometimes. One thing that I always say is that there is no single, one way to make art. One artist’s workflow might be great for them, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that it will work for another. Art school sets a framework. For me, it began to set a workflow that wasn’t working for my practice by the end, and I’m happy I learned this. Now that I work on my own, I have a workflow that is unique to me.

In regards to preparation, I do a lot of research and planning before I touch my camera. If I sense that something in the planning isn’t right, I know that there is no point in doing the shoot. Once I think of an idea for a work, I ask myself, what artists have done similar things? Do I have enough background on the subject I am using to portray the concept? Where does this stand in history and what can we learn from this project for the sake of the future? These questions bring meaning and personality to the project. The technical aspects change from work to work, and are unique to every artwork. 84


Mandy Williams

Sleeping Beauty, 2010

Repunzel, 2010

Chromogenic Print

Chromogenic Print

The concept always supports the visuals, and vice versa. My ideas almost always start with a visual inspiration and get merged with a suitable concept.

isual and experimental back in 2008. After digging in more into the history of fairy tales and their dark origins, it was natural to me that this became a body of work, in which I reflect my ideas about Disney’s Fairty Tales, removing outdated notions of weaker sex, while I act as the narrator and model in each of the works.

Now let's focus on your artworks: I would like to start with The Death of "Happily Ever After" that our readers have started to admire in the introductory pages of this article: and I would suggest them to visit your website directly at http://www.alicezilberberg.com/170924/1699608/ga lleries/the-death-of-happily-ever-after in order to get a more detailed idea of this stimulating project... in the meanwhile, would you tell us something about the genesis of this work? What was your initial inspiration?

You often draw inspiration from folklore, fairy tales and especially from mythology, as in the stimulating The Vanishing of Gaia, but, as you have remarked, your work place a new gloss on traditional themes... do you think that there's still an inner dichotomy between tradition and contemporariness?

This project started with the creation with one of the works in the series, “Rapunzel�. This was mostly

I think there is no contemporariness without knowing tradition. We learn from history in almost 85


Alice Zilberberg

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an interview with Forests of Gaia, 2011

Repunzel, 2010

Inkjet print on Smooth Pearl

Inkjet print on Smooth Pearl

every field, we learn from war, and learn how to avoid it in the future. It’s the same in art. “Vanishing of Gaia” takes ancient tradition, (The Goddess Gaia) and shows it in a contemporary light, commenting on then, now, and the future. In this way, tradition is always intertwined with contemporariness.

The experience of it is in fact completely indispensable. As I’ve mentioned above, I create art about things that excite me, weather visual or conceptual. So personal experience is what drives the art. If I was let’s say, a watermelon, I have no experiences, opinions or thoughts, so I can’t make any art. During these years, you have been awarded several times and you recently had the solo Who is Alice? at the Bezpala Brown Gallery... It goes without saying that feedbacks and especially awards are capable of supporting an artist, encouraging him: I was just wondering if an award -or even the expectation of positive feedbacks- 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? I sometimes wonder if it

As you have remarked in your artist's statement, "I choose to narrate the story as well as participate in it, placing myself as the dark haired heroin" I would like to ask you if in your opinion personal experience is an absolutely indespensable part of a creative process... I mean, both for creating a piece of Art and in order to enjoy it....Do you think that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience?

For me, art is personal, and how I express myself. 86


Alice Zilberberg

Sands of Gaia, 2012

Shores of Gaia, Sunset, 2011

Inkjet print on Smooth Pearl

Inkjet print on Smooth Pearl

could ever exist a genuine relationship between business and Art...

sense that, if I thought I had crea created my best work, where do I go from there? I think the artwork can always be improved, and there are infinite directions this can go in. Little wins are great, but an explosion of positive feedback can be devastating to future creation.

This is a great question. Positive feedback is great, it helps talent grow, because then that talent receives special attention and helps cultivate it. However, if a body of work received exceptionally positive feedback, it’s always expected that the artist’s next body of work will be bigger, and better. This can put too much pressure on the artist in my opinion. This happens I think a lot, and not just in the visual arts. I always strive to create a great product, but there is a lot of experimentation, and failure, that I have to go through to get to that point. Once the project is done, you can put it on a wall and admire it, but the joy itself comes from the process and ultimately, the envisioning of the result to come. I also think that an art practice is never done, in the

As my art practice grows and I develop more and more as an artist, it becomes clear to me that when putting art and business together, the two clash like oil in water. An artistic practice always has to come from a genuine place, and if I start picturing the potential client and put emphasis on who will like it and who will buy it, the genuineness of the work and the product may suffer greatly. And I couldn't do without mentioning Venus Envy, that has particularly impressed and I have to admit it's one of my favourite project of yours... I can recognize such a subtle social cri87


Alice Zilberberg

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an interview with

Repunzel, 2010 Chromogenic Print

ticism in it and in my opinion it also seek to challenge art in its conventions... 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... what's your point about this?

Thank you. I think the subject of art as a tool to steer public behavior is really complicated and interesting.

my art makes people think, learn and change. I want to speak about important and relevant issues in my art, things that I’m excited about, and I think that if I’m excited about it other people will be too. The impact of art is really personal, just because I have a story behind it, doesn’t mean it’s finalized there. It could mean something different to the viewer. Once I put it out for the world to see, it is not longer just mine but the world’s art as well. It becomes everybody’s art.

I would love more than nothing than to hear that

Thank you for your time and for sharing with us 88


Alice Zilberberg

Repunzel, 2010 Chromogenic Print

us your thoughts, Alice. 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?

Yes! I am currently working on a new body of work set to release around the time of the issue launch. It is a pretty personal project that was influenced by a recent trip I took last summer. 89


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From the Los Pรกramos series, No 42: El Angel, Ecuador 1

#196 Winter


Thomas S. Ladd (USA)

The camera has lead me to understand that the surface of things are endlessly beautiful; that slow and careful observations of the external world will lead one to deep introspection; that the tension between the photograph and the ‘real’ world will never cease to engage peoples’ imagination; that photography is a form of thinking; that, nothing is ever what it seems to be; and that, one’s intentions never materialize… something more exciting always takes over.

Thomas Spencer Ladd Associate Professor, Chair Design Department University of Massachusetts Dartmouth

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Thomas S. Ladd

An interview with

Thomas S. Ladd Hello Thomas 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? Do you think that there's still an inner dichotomy between tradition and contemporariness?

It is very difficult to define a work of art. Much has been done by visual and performing artists over the last two centuries to expand the traditional definitions. This includes exploring new materials and processes, stretching the limits of representation, overlapping genres, and asking questions about what constitutes an aesthetic experience. There are no identifiable features, no common traits, or unique an interview withqualities of representation within the arts. There is no single definition, milieu, or canon, and the authoritative gatekeepers or critics who oversee "legitimate" expression are changing. There are many outlets for sharing representation. That is positive, allowing for a wide array of representation and expression. I am excited about the future. This open landscape can be difficult to navigate and there are some anxious or difficult questions to resolve, or maybe not resolve, for emerging artists. Yet, none of these conceptual problems should stop anyone from making new work. The best way to resolve the ambiguity is to make something, then make something else, then make something new, and so on. The process of making will lead to new ideas, and elicit new responses to media and new inventions. Or maybe someone may reject the new and embrace an ancient tradition. There is no other way, even if your work is conceptual. It must manifest itself in some manner, and you must make something.

Thomas S. Ladd

All of us work from a process that grows out of a direct experience with materials, and with a large array of concepts and historical works that inspire us. Ultimately, we do what our bodies and minds can manage or control; that is different from person to person and shifts from place to place. There need not be a hierarchy of quality or superiority, just cells that host different perspec-tives in different places. e will gravitate to those cells to which we can contribute or to that to which we respond. Art is contemporary when it collectively and individually addresses the present conditions of our


Thomas S. Ladd

From the Los PĂĄramos series,

From the Los PĂĄramos series,

El Angel, Ecuador

Cotocachi Reserve, Ecuador

The paramo, which is located at high elevations in the Northern Andes, is an austere glacier-formed grassland which is windy, cold, wet, and blanketed by clouds. The land has long been the home of indigenous communities who have grazed livestock and cultivated tubers. Unfortunately, the landscape is changing rapidly. Mining concessions, agricultural encroachment and population growth have transformed most of the land, in some cases irreversibly. In order to document these sublime places I have received generous support from Proyecto Paramo Andino and financial assistance from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

external world. Art is always informed by traditions, which are always, and obviously, related to history. They are linked. It is naive to think otherwise. How can anything made in the moment be anything other than contemporary, and at the same time, not reference things made before it? It is impossible. Some lines are clear and straight, while others are foggy and meandering. That is wonderful. Would you like to tell us something about your background? You have received advanced degrees from Cranbrook Academy of Art and Rhode Island School of Design: how has formal

training that impacted on the way you currently produce your Art? By the way, as an experienced professor as you are, I would ask your point on formal training: I often ask to myself if a certain kind of training could even stifle a young artist's creativity...

I came to the visual arts through an interest in music. I worked for a record store during summer vacations while in high school and college. I had a simple job—I put the inventory out on the retail floor for people to buy. The customers expected that I knew where to find the records they wanted and that I knew something about all the artists.


Thomas S. Ladd

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From the Los Páramos series,

From the Los Páramos series,

El Angel, Ecuador

Cotocachi Reserve, Ecuador

I worked at this job for four or five years. When I began, there were musicians I did not know and some genres of music I had never heard. Over time, I became fascinated by the marginal, the experimental, and the less well-known musicians. I was young and questioned just about everything; for good or bad, music and art were included.

and Ken Quill. Each was dedicated to the educationof his or her students. I found my way there. The camera was a natural choice, as it allowed so many of my interests to come together. The environment became an aesthetic experience that I could record, much like Cage enjoyed sound versus music. The mundane could be transformed into something different through the intervention of the photo-graphic frame. There was a craft and exactness to the exposure, development, and creation of a beautiful print. This was much like classical music training. It was earthy, bound in routines—it had a daily chore-like quality. I could structure my day around photography and I could get out of the classroom. This seemed to be the perfect solution for a person who lacked direction and exhibited attention problems.

Eventually, I came across musical recordings composed by John Cage. His work was very exciting, and everything was turned on its head. Serious, funny, irreverent, spiritual, non-western, etc… When I was young, I couldn’t get enough of contrary points of view. Cage led me to Marcel Duchamp and other contemporary artists that questioned traditional modes of expression. At the same time, I was studying classical guitar, which was steeped in history, technique, and romantic expression. The training focused on technique to produce a prescribed expression of beauty. I appreciated both points of view. ut, I did not gravitate to either extreme. I attended a small college is south Georgia where the visual arts faculty took me under their wing and helped me find my path. I remember them all vividly: Pat Steadman, Tom Raab, Aubrey Henley,

My formal education continued. I studied with Carl Toth at Cranbrook Academy of Art. He was a brilliant photographer, educator, and theoretician. His work truly inspired me and caused a shift in my photographic practice. He constructed or fabricated photographic images. His way of working made me question traditional assumptions about how photographs are "taken." I hadn't thought much


Thomas S. Ladd

From the Los Páramos series,

From the Los Páramos series,

Lake Puya Puya, Ecuador

Ozogoche, Ecuador

about using the camera to literally "make" a picture. So, I emulated Carl and made still lifes that weretaken with a camera. He introduced his students to contential theory, literary criticism, and a thoughtful approach to representation. It was current at the time. I wasn’t particularly original; although I may have thought so, I copied. So much of a person’s education is mirroring, even if the goal is to make a unique body of work.

I don't think the formal education was stifling at all. Yet, I must confess, I was a bit of a bastard at times. The frustrating questions that come up while a person is so focused on one thing can bring out the good and the bad in everyone—students and teachers.

I also studied Graphic Design at Rhode Island School of Design, where I came to understand how visual messages can be controlled and disseminated. The design process became important to me. The whole dialogue was completely different. The program was formal and theoretical. There, I studied with a number of wonderful, thoughtful, inspiring professors: Franz Werner, Nancy Skolos, Tom Wedell, Hans van Dijk, Tom Ockerse, Hammett Nurosi, Donald Keefer, and Jan van Toorn. They worked tirelessly with the students. We were all passionate about the process of making, communication, typography, and the craft of graphic design. This led to a rethinking and realignment of my process. My work became more political, more controlled, more intentional.

From the Los Páramos series, Ozogoche, Ecuador


Thomas S. Ladd

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From the Los Páramos series,

From the Los Páramos series,

Ozogoche, Ecuador

Páramos Road, Ecuador

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 an interview with work? And how much preparation and time do you put in before and during the process of creating a piece?

It is slightly different when I make still life images. I do construct those images. But, there is still the process of creation, discovery, remaking, rethinking, and moving forward. In the end, what you make is generally much more interesting than what you imagined you would make.

Before I begin my landscape photographs, I research the site or location of the images. I mark out a place and then walk within the space to make the photographs. I don't think analytically while I am making the pictures. I respond. The thinking occurs before and after the images are made. There is a decision to shoot within a space and then a decision to edit the images. So many things change after the images are made. Once you see the images, you have to begin again, reassess what you are doing based on the photographs, and then move forward. I go back to the same places over and over again. I ompletely understand the motivation of Giorgio Morandi. It is impossible to exhaust a subject, especially a large section of land. If I tried to find a picture that matched what I imagined I would not make any photographs. They wouldn’t exist.

Now let's focus on your artworks: I would like to start with Sheep Pasture Gardens that our readers can admire in the following pages of this article: and I would suggest them to visit http://www.thomasladd.com/sheep_pasture_garde ns.html in order to get a wider idea of this stimulating project... in the meanwhile, would you tell us something about the genesis of this work? What was your initial inspiration?

The initial inspiration grew out of two parallel activities. First, I was inspired by a poem by Wallace Stevens, titled "The Plain Sense of Things." In that poem, Stevens describes a bleak winter landscape and then connects that description to profound philosophical reflections on aging and the eventual loss of imagination. It is a poem about the creative process and its connection to the body and things around us. What I found so remarkable is two-fold. First, the imagery is vivid. It reminded me a of a


Thomas S. Ladd

From The Sheep Pasture Gardens series The Sheep Pasture Gardens are community vegetable gardens which are tended by residence of North Easton, Massachusetts. I began to make photographs there as a refuge from my busy and noisy life. I could focus on the beauty of the landscape, reflect on changes of the season and admire the elegant structure of plants. Yet, over time the garden landscape became less fanciful. During my visits I noticed that food was left unharvested to rot. The gardens appear to be therapeutic hobbies—not essential to the people who cultivate them—and were often forgotten. This promoted me to question how gardens are used by people who truly need them. My research lead me to learn about poverty farming within the Andean Communities of South America. I decided to visit. Presently, I am working on two complimentary projects: the Sheep Pasture Gardens and the Cloud Forest Gardens—each serving a different purpose.

photograph by Eugène Atget, titled Parc de Seaux. Mar, 7 h. matin, 1925. The image fits the poem perfectly! It was inspiring. At that point in time, I had not made photographs for several years. The second remarkable thing is that a bleak poem about the end of imagination made me get up and move, I began a series of winter landscapes. One of Stevens’s greatest poems grew out of the despair that he could not write anymore. I took long walks near my home, in the cold, revisiting the same places over and over again. The "Sheep Pasture" gardens are places I visited. Once I was in that landscape, and once I had a number of photographs from the place, my ideas changed.


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Thomas S. Ladd

The garden became political, not a place for romantic musing on nature; it was now about nature and culture. I will continue to make photographs there for years to come. There are so many variables and constants that they are often hard to grasp. Another interesting series of yours that has particulary impressed me and on which I would like to spend some words is Los Paramos. This works is capable of establishing such an atmosphere of memories, using just little reminders of human existance... 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?

That is an interesting question. Los Páramos, believe it or not, grew out of the photographs made at the Sheep Pasture. As I made images at the community garden, I noticed that many of the vegetables were left to rot. They were not grown for food, but as a therapeutic hobby. I found a great deal of waste, and I began to think, “Where doesn't this happen? Where does it count? Where is the environment valuable, threatened, precarious?” I researched poverty, agriculture, and environmental destruction. It led me to mountain farms in the Northern Andes. I found a guide and traveled to Ecuador, where I photographed kitchen gardens, so completely different from those in Easton, Massachusetts. They were small gardens in the cloud forest cultivated by people who truly needed the food that they harvested from those gardens. While I was there, I visited the páramo, a beautiful cold, windswept landscape between the tree and snow lines of the northern Andean Mountains. It was sublime. I knew I had to do a body of work based upon what I saw there. It was out of the EXPERIENCE IN the landscape that I found the sublime and beautiful. The concrete and the real created an atmosphere that pointed towards less tangible things—to spirituality, to the mysterious. My body grew tired and my hands got dirty as I hiked into that sublime landscape. Mountains can be spiritual places, but you can't get

From Los Páramos (Ozogoche, Ecuador)

to remote places praying on your knees in a church. I found a great deal of healing energy there. Yet, the páramo is a real place, with real problems, and is not protected simply because of the way it makes some of us feel. It is threatened, it is political, it is a frontier for agriculture, and IT IS NOT A BUCOLIC PLACE. And, yet it is. It is where poverty and the environment clash. It is sublime; it is real. It is a terrain that is being neglected and exploited by both


Thomas S. Ladd 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?

There is nothing neutral about the landscape, or simply sentimental, or passive. It is where we live, we inhabit, we cultivate, we manage. One of the roles the artist can play is by exposing the tension between the political and the aesthetic. To make us look at the ordinary in new ways, to question traditional assumptions on the landscape, and to form a better or more sophisticated dialogue about how nature is represented in our culture. Sometimes an artist can make something that arrest our attention, that make us look, or see something in a way that we may come to political conclusions, powerfully persuasive ones, like… "let's leave this beautiful place alone, let's preserve it." Maybe, the picture doesn't need an overt political message to be persuasively political. By the way, as you have remarked, your research for Cloud Forest Gardens lead you to learn about poverty farming within the Andean Communities of South America... even though I'm aware that this might sound a bit naïf, I'm sort of convinced that Art in these days could

indigenous people and industrialists. That tension is all at once interesting, sad, and human. So many people get confused; the bucolic is political—it isn’t just sentimental. We don’t seem to understand that anymore. And since our review is called "LandEscape", I would like to stop for a moment to consider the "function" of the landscape suggested by your

From Los Páramos From Los Páramos


Thomas S. Ladd

Land

E scape

Odd Shoe from the series Close Wander

from the series: Sheep Pasture Gardens

play an effective role not only making aware public opinion about socio political issues: I would go as far as to say that nowadays Art can an interview with even steer people's behavior... I would take this chance to ask your point about this. Do you think that it's an exaggeration? And what could be in your opinion the role that an artist could play in our society?

It goes without saying that feedbacks and especially awards are capable of supporting an artist, encouraging him: I was just wondering if an award -or even the expectation of positive feedbacks- 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? I sometimes wonder if it could ever exist a genuine relationship between business and Art...

Yes, I have stated this before; your reading of my work is accurate. We cannot overlook the social and political aspects of photographic representation. It frames elements in a way that creates questions and dialogue and provokes reaction. So, yes, if it is seen in the right place, presented with a sophisticated voice, and received by a thoughtful audience, the landscape image can steer people's behavior. It can make them question what they see and what they assume. They can find beauty in the ordinary and they can also start to reexamine their traditional, maybe sentimental, notions of the landscape. There is no singular path in the persuasive voices of artists. Yet, as annoying as some can be, they are often very effective at communicating complex ideas.

Feedback, whether positive or negative, is important. This “making stuff” business is about communication; it is about sharing, dialogue, and realignment, adjustment, and moving forward with new works of art with new ideas. For some, it is about collecting objects. But for most artists, it isn't about the object—it is more often about the dialogue of materials, the stretching of representation and the communication that can occur through various forms of substitution and replacement of signs. It is about exploring. Thank you for your time and for sharing with us your thoughts, Thomas. My last question deals


Thomas S. Ladd

San Carlos, Ecuador from the series: Close Wander

with your future plans: what's next for you? Anything coming up for you professionally that you would like readers to be aware of?

Yes. I am starting a new body of still life images that integrate the landscape.


LandEscape Art Review - May 2014