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Anniversary Edition

MAJA SPASOVA BETH KRENSKY LINDA PERSSON ILINCA BERNEA GEORGE GOODRIDGE AYELET COHEN GUY AON LIOR HERCHKOVITZ SNOW YUNXUE FU , performance A work by

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SUMMARY

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

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

A r t

R e v i e w

Lior Herchkovitz

Beth Krensky

George Goodridge

Ilinca Bernea

Guy Aon

Snow Yunxue Fu

Israel

USA

USA

Romania

Israel

USA

For over more than a decade Herchkovitz's subject matters are varied, but the essence is the same. Whether his themes come in a series or tableaux, he works with clear intention to examine the complex of human condition; man's interference with nature and the vulnerability of mankind. Much of Lior Herchkovitz's work reminiscent of film stills and conditioned by the simultaneous emphasis on narrative structure, photographic sequences and on themes, while in other works is tackling the relationship of photography to painting. Herchkovitz is less concerned with beauty as commonly perceived, but rather fascinated by a perceptible discrepancy between the visible surface and the psychological content, presented subtly that no information gets lost, and thus lends some of these works an ambivalent atmosphere followed with tension and unease.

Beth Krensky is an associate professor of art education and the Area Head of Art Teaching at the University of Utah. She is an artist, activist and educator. She received her formal art training from the Boston Museum School. She has exhibited widely throughout the United States and internationally. She is a founding member of the international artist collective, the Artnauts. Her work is intended to provoke reflection about what is happening in our world as well as to create a vision of what is possible. She is also a scholar in the area of youth-created art and social change. She received a master’s degree with a focus on critical pedagogy and art education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a Ph.D. in Education from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She cofounded and spent a decade as Artistic Director for the awardwinning youth arts/service/action organization, Project YES (Youth Envisioning Social change). Her co-authored book, Engaging Classrooms and Communities through Art: A Guide to Designing and Implementing Community-Based Art Education, was published by AltaMira Press in 2009.

Throughout my career, I have tried to produce unique and meaningful works that are both timely and playful. My works may question diversity, visual kinetics, identities, object-toobject relationships and real world concerns. Many of my sculptural works should be thought of as both figurative and nonrepresentational while blurring the lines between sculpture, painting, architecture and installation. I tend to make works that can be translated in multiple ways that question rather than arrive at specific conclusions. Being dimensions variable these installations have no specific formula for installation. These open ended offerings can and will be translated differently depending on the viewers past experiences and the installation’s sight specific parameters. While many of my works on paper are concerned primarily with visual kinetics, form and color, my sculptural works approach concerns with identity and object to object relationships with underlying sociological references.

Beth Krensky is an associate professor of art education and the Area Head of Art Teaching at the University of Utah. She is an artist, activist and educator. She received her formal art training from the Boston Museum School. She has exhibited widely throughout the United States and internationally. She is a founding member of the international artist collective, the Artnauts. Her work is intended to provoke reflection about what is happening in our world as well as to create a vision of what is possible. She is also a scholar in the area of youth-created art and social change. She received a master’s degree with a focus on critical pedagogy and art education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a Ph.D. in Education from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She co-founded and spent a decade as Artistic Director for the award-winning youth arts/service/action organization, Project YES (Youth Envisioning Social change). Her co-authored book, Engaging Classrooms and Communities through Art: A Guide to Designing and Implementing Community-Based Art Education, was published by AltaMira Press in 2009.

Nature and body. Body and nature. Two subjects of my fascination, occupying my attention ever since the beginning of my artistic path, have later expanded into exploring and studying sexuality and taboo life forms, whom I photograph over the past five years, and which have directly affected my formalistic approach towards photography - both as technique and medium.

Special Issue

Snow Yunxue Fu’s artwork approaches the subject of the Sublime using topographical computer rendered animation installations. She examines and interprets the world around her through digital reality, where she draws a parallel to the realms of the physical, the virtual, the metaphysical, and multi-dimensionality. Modeling her animations on the allegorical paintings of Casper David Fredrich, Fu continues her aspirations in the sublime from her painting background into experimental digital media, exploring the nature of physical and metaphysical I have taken a decision to limits, as the work also mirrors the fundamental aspect of put aside the “narrative Chinese Traditional Landscape images making”, and Painting, which often presents instead relate photography a type of virtual reality where as a twofold medium that is the significance of the individual and linear an image and an object at perspective is blurred into a the same time. voluminous landscape. Extending out from the Accordingly, my works are pictorial, Fu’s installation work engages in a metaphoric photography based, yet relationship with physical treated and presented as perception, by which the sculptures, binding sublime is framed and the together photographic viewer is invited to enter into a liminal interior within a strategies with material sculptural manipulations. digitally constructed realm.


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CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

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Beth Krensky lives and works in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA

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Ayelet Cohen lives and works in Israel

Maja Spasova

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lives and works in Berlin and London

Linda Persson

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lives and works in Swededn and in the UK

Snow Yunxue Fu

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lives and works in Chicago, USA

Ilinca Bernea Maja Spasova

Linda Persson

Aylet Cohen

Bulgaria / United Kingdom

Sweden / United Kingdom

Israel

My work shows both elements of installation, performance – episodically reconstructed events in a milieu which is often city, and the character of more or less integrated forms found in the urban landscape. The point of departure is an idea where the message has both poetic and existential character. Aesthetically I am at home in the conceptual traditions of art and I always address a larger part of the beholder than merely the cognitive and reflecting aspect. I contemplate the fundamental conditions of life in my art. Sound is an essential aspect of my work, but not the only one, because I use many different matters. I do not produce esthetic objects. My art is more a way of producing relations and processes even in the cases when the final result is an object or an installation or a book etc. My works are always in relation to a certain room, physical or mental, and to those who take part in it by looking, moving around, listening, feeling, speaking. I have located many of my projects in urban public places; my expressed desire is to reach people who are not part of the professional art system while also being connected with a more fundamental desire to eradicate the differences between art and life.

My thinking and making goes through different materials and processes and i am, by putting my body in motion to go to places and landscapes given experiences, by actually moving, and that is quite a radical thing in itself, and this forms my visual output. I pick up on things related to our senses like smell, light and dark, dry or moist sonic atmosphere, which are all deeply sensorial and experiential. It's not just about responding to the things already in existence but bring to front the absence in the produced world. This can create hard-tofollow image sequences or mediums chosen, yet it, if successful, can create curiosity or better; a sense of euphoria. Our world shrieks of mobility, interaction, exchange, flexibility however it only applies to a fair few, but mainly it applies to money. Actual moving bodies has created new walls to be built, harsher entries and exits of and into certain countries. My relation and use of material goes hand in hand with my movements. The 'immateriality' of the world is highly material, everything connected to immaterial labour and its affect is rooted in the use of the digital domain, internet and so on.

For several years now, I have been an independent choreographer, while I also serve as a dancer in some of my work. In 2012, I have founded MakesounD Music & Dance Projects, a troupe that focuses on connection between music and dance, turning them into one united language. I work in collaboration with composers, creating a combined form of art as dance and music merge into each other. We are conducting a collaborative process of defining and implementing the idea in two different fields and the final result presents a very unique and authentic artistic statement. The actual process of creation always starts with a specific idea or a particular topic I want to research. Collaboration with the composer is essential prior to implementing the physical elements in the studio. Knowing that I’m able to work with original compositions, which are created to help express my ideas, I feel that the result is much more honest and accessible compared to an arbitrary choice of music to accompany the dance from the sidelines.

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lives and works in Romania

George Goodridge

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lives and works in the United States

Lior Herchkovitz

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lives and works in Tel Aviv, Israel

Guy Aon

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lives and works in Tel-Aviv, Israel On the cover

, a work by

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

Special Issue


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CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Beth Krensky Lives and works in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA

An artist's statement

B

eth Krensky is a professor of art education and the Area Head of Art Teaching at the University of Utah. She is an artist, activist and educator. She received her formal art training from the Boston Museum School. She has exhibited widely throughout the United States and internationally. She is a founding member of the international artist collective, the Artnauts. Her work is intended to provoke reflection about what is happening in our world as well as to create a vision of what is possible.

She is also a scholar in the area of youth-created art and social change. She received a master’s degree with a focus on critical pedagogy and art education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a Ph.D. in Education from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She cofounded and spent a decade as Artistic Director for the awardwinning youth arts/service/action organization, Project YES (Youth Envisioning Social change). Her co-authored book, Engaging Classrooms and Communities through Art: A Guide to Designing and Implementing Community-Based Art Education, was published by AltaMira Press in 2009.


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LandEscape meets

Beth Krensky An interview by Melissa C. Hilborn, curator and Dario Rutigliano, curator landescape@europe.com

Hello Beth and welcome to LandEscape: we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your multifaceted background. You have a solid formal training and after having degreed from the Boston Museum School, you nurtured your education with a master’s degree with a focus on critical pedagogy and art education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a Ph.D. in Education from the University of Colorado at Boulder: how do these experience influence the way you currently conceive and produce your works? And in particular, how does your cultural substratum inform the way you relate yourself to art making?

The social psychologist, Carol Gilligan, insists that we not only listen to what someone is saying, but understand who is speaking—in whose voice, in what body, from what time period and vantage point. With that in mind, I’ll share a little bit of information about me, because the circumstances of my life have shaped (and continue to

shape) who I am. I was born in Greenwich Village in the mid-1960s—a time of great tumult but also of great hope and possibility for the United States. Activism is part of me, and has been since I first absorbed the consciousness of my era. It has taken different forms—as a front-line activist, as a researcher tracking the far right, as an educator and as an artist. My practice is wide-reaching and brings together a material studio practice rooted in research. This practice is informed by multiple traditions of faith—including my own Jewish culture—art theory and a belief in the role of art to transform individuals and communities. It is important to keep in mind that I make up my own rituals and do not in any way intend to represent a specific religious tradition. That said, my own cultural roots inform my practice, even if I have not always been conscious of this. A few years ago, the art critic Doris Bittar wrote about my work. She stated that:


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Beth Krensky

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Beth Krensky metaphorically travels to [her] ancestral well and plucks out what is most relevant. What she finds varies, from stories and objects to images and personas. She reinvents her respective cultural and ethnic milieus. … Eventually the things or detritus she has collected conjure up parables/stories that become infused with icon-like gravitas. These icons in new contexts create a space for teaching and learning. Krensky’s pedagogic repertoire segues into formal strategies that create templates for survival, if and when the ground underneath shifts yet again (Bittar, 2007, p. 8) I find that being a member of a diaspora tribe has meant that the “templates for survival” Bittar wrote about are barely under the surface of my existence. You are a versatile artist and your approach reveals an incessant search of an organic symbiosis between a variety of viewpoints. The results convey together a coherent sense of unity, that rejects any conventional classification. Before starting to elaborate about your production, we would suggest to our readers to visit http://www.bethkrensky.com in order to get a synoptic view of your multifaceted artistic production: while walking our readers through your process, we would like to ask you if you have you ever happened to realize that such cross-disciplinary

Portable Sanctuary

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

In 1981, Cherrie Moraga and Gloria Anzaldua edited a collection of writings by radical women of color entitled This Bridge Called My Back. The bridge metaphor is used often in


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the book referring to women of color being the bridge that is thrown over a river or a tormented history for people to walk over. Twenty-one years later, in 2002, Anzaldua and Analouise Keating edited the anthology This Bridge We Call Home in which Anzaldua writes that

"Bridges are thresholds to other realities, archetypal, primal symbols of shifting consciousness. They are passageways, conduits and connectors that connote transitioning, crossing borders, and changing perspectives.


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Beth Krensky

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Metaphysical Handcart

Bridges span liminal (threshold) spaces between worlds, spaces I call nepantla, A Nahuatl word meaning tierra entre medio. Transformations occur in this inbetween space, an unstable, unpredictable, precarious, alwaysin-transition space lacking clear

boundaries....[L]iving in this liminal zone means being in a constant state of displacement--an uncomfortable, even alarming feeling. (p. 1)" I have come to feel at home in this intermediary space. I try very hard to


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I think that borders and boundaries are not static. We can realign these groupings if we choose. It is a powerful place from which to create work and to live. Dr. Nurit Peled-Elhanan is an Israeli and one of the founders of the Parents Circle—Families Forum, a group consisting of hundreds of Palestinian and Israeli families who have lost a member of their immediate family in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She lost her 13 year-old daughter to a suicide bomber in 1997. When representatives from Netanyahu’s government came to offer their condolences, she left the room. In a 2001 speech to Women in Black, Dr. Peled-Elhanan explained why she would not sit with them. For me, the other side, the enemy, is not the Palestinian people. For me the struggle is not between Palestinians and Israelis, nor between Jews and Arabs. The fight is between those who seek peace and those who seek war. My people are those who seek peace.

hold that space open for my students. I believe this is where true risk taking occurs and it is within this free space where envisioning can happen. Envisioning is the first step in transformation.

Peled-Elhanan’s words give me pause and cause me to ask who are my people, and beyond that, where are my people? This quote changed my life and made me realize that we get to create, and shift, classifications. I no longer accept predetermined borders between people, ideas and places.


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For this special edition of LandEscape we have selected the Where Is the Road to the Road?, an extremely interesting project that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article. What has at once caught our attention of your effective inquiry into the notion of futility in our unstable, everchanging contemporary age is the way you have provided your research with consistent and autonomous unity, accomplishing the difficult task of creating a concrete aesthetics from direct experience: when walking our readers through the genesis of Where Is the Road to the Road?, would you tell us something about your usual process and set up?

I am a gatherer of things—objects, words, spirit—and a connector of fragments, to make us whole. I don’t really have a usual process; however, I do often base my work on something that has social or environmental significance, is authentic and is conceptually rooted in a sociohistorical history of place. Sometimes I gather information for years before I start to create and sometimes I create without even knowing why. Where is the Road to the Road was created for an exhibition at the Mahmoud Darwish Museum in Ramallah. The performance was inspired by a line in his poem, A Noun Sentence. I was especially drawn to the second half of the poem: …Wishing for the present tense a foothold for walking behind me or

Skirt of Sorrow and Forgiveness

ahead of me, barefoot. Where is my second road to the staircase of expanse? Where is futility? Where is the road to the road? And where are we, the marching on the footpath of the present tense, where are we? Our talk a predicate and a subject before the sea, and the elusive foam of


Beth Krensky

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speech the dots on the letters, wishing for the present tense a foothold on the pavement ... 93 These words cause me to ponder where we are headed during this time of futility, growing hatred and unrest. We seem to be wandering aimlessly

looking for the road to the road that can lead us in a new direction. This piece is intended as a performative gesture for me to find my way as well as for others to engage in the metaphorical journey. In particular, I am referencing the contested land of Israel and Palestine. For me, it has


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Skirt of Sorrow and Forgiveness

become a metaphor for the multiple layers of shared existence over time and place and how we choose to interact with such a layered history. I think the time has come to forge a new road, one created by walking together.

Where Is the Road to the Road? is draws its name from a Mahmoud Darwish’s poem: we have highly appreciated the way your approach goes beyond a merely interpretative aspect of the contexts you refer to. As the late Franz West did in his installations, the Where Is the Road to the Road? deconstructs perceptual imagery in order to assemble them in


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that has happened (often a difficult and uncomfortable event) as well as an opening for a possibility to occur. I try to create opportunities for the participants to engage with the work so that they can envision a possibility for themselves or beyond. My process is very ritualistic whereby I attempt to infuse the object with meaning, making it a literal metaphor. Where Is the Road to the Road?, also inquires into the interstitial space between personal and public spheres, providing the spectatorship with an immersive experience that forces such a contamination between the inner landscape and the outside: how do you see the relationship between public sphere and the role of art in public space?

a collective imagery, urging the viewers to a process of selfreflection. Would you shed a light about the role of metaphors in your process?

My work is intended to have multiple entry points and layers of meaning. The work both references something

I use art as a tool for highlighting and creating human experiences that are both shared and unique. I am known for my writing and practice as a community-based artist/educator, so it should not come as a surprise that I see the relationship between artists and the public sphere as inextricably linked. Artists wield tremendous power. It is no accident that artists are some of the first people to be detained, arrested, tortured and exiled when oppressive regimes come to power. The question is what do we, as artists, decide to do with our power? Do we work within the confines of the high art world? Do we take our work into the ever-expanding context of artmaking where every venue is open to interaction through art? What are


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the topics we address? What change do we strive to create through art? What type of bravery is needed for such acts? Elements from environment are particularly recurrent in your imagery and they never plays the role of a mere background. Do you see a definite relationship between the notion of land and your work?

Benjamin Coleman, the Associate Curator of American Art at the Detroit Institute of Art wrote about my work’s relationship to the land. He stated, “With open-ended guidelines and a light footprint, Krensky offers a model for artist-driven environmental activism in the realm of lived practice.” My work sanctifies the natural world and at times indicts those who have degraded it. I choose specific locations because of their history or significance. I perfomed Metaphysical Handcart on the Salt Flats—a wide expanse of whiteness and nothingness near the Great Salt Lake. As the cart makes its way through a landscape, everything it holds jiggles and moves. There are bronze and brass bells; a bowl (limned with a Hebrew blessing) filled with olive leaves; four dead birds cast in bronze. As they make their jingling and bumping sounds, I feel a sense of a narrow liminality, that the division between Heaven and Earth comes somehow aroused. I modeled this piece after the hand carts that Mormon pioneers used when they traveled across the country. For me, in our present day, it opens up a new

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frontier, albeit a metaphysical one: an Other space. The lived practice of the performance and the land are intended to connect with one another and engage in a dialogue of sorts. Another interesting project that has particularly impressed us and on which we would like to discuss is entitled Tashlich, a word that means


Beth Krensky

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“casting off� in Hebrew. Your inquiry into the possibility of change and renewal accomplishes an effective investigation about the relationship between perception, memory and personal imagination, to challenge the viewers' parameters. What is the role of memory in your work? We are particularly interested in how you consider memory and its evokative role in showing an alternative way to

escape and overcome the recurrent reality.

The arts offer the possibility of transformation on both an individual and societal level by opening up a free space where anything is possible. It is this free space or possible world that allows people to name themselves,


Tashlich


Tashlich


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envision a different reality, and engage in the re-making of their world. I think that memory and imagination are linked and inform each other. Memory and possibility are so intertwined in my work that it is often difficult to know which is which. I have my own memories, yet I also draw from ancestral memories as well as the memories that land and place hold. Many of my objects are intended to create new openings and trajectories for some of these memories to either be recalled or reimagined. I have made pilgrimages to massacre sites to pay homage as well as to honor the memories that are entombed there. We like the way you structured Skirt of Sorrow and Forgiveness: it leaves space for the spectators to replay the ideas you explore in their own intimate lives, letting them become emotionally involved in what you are attempting to communicate. As Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco once stated, "the artist’s role differs depending on which part of the world you’re in. It depends on the political system you’re living under". Do you think that the role of the artist has changed these days with the new global communications and the new sensibility created by new media?

Yes, I do. I think global communications can connect us but can also desensitize us. This is why I gather stories and words from individuals. I try to make sense of larger issues by understanding specifics. I also am very involved with a group that uses global connection as a

platform for change. In 1996 I was one of the founding members of the Artnauts. It is an artist collective that was founded by curator George Rivera and uses the visual arts as a tool for addressing global issues while connecting with artists from around the world. The name derives from combining the words “art” and “astronaut” as a way to describe the process of exploring uncharted territory in the world at large. The name also denotes the practice that is “not” art as usual, going beyond the confines of the traditional or conventional art world and blurring the boundaries between art, activism, and social practice. The Artnauts have worked at the intersection of critical consciousness and contemporary artistic practice to impact change for two decades with over 170 exhibitions on four continents. Besides producing your works, you hold the position of professor of art education: moreover, you are known largely for your scholarly works, writings, and also for your work in the field — specifically, going into diverse communities and working with children, making art, promoting dialogue and healing. How does this aspect of your work influence your practice? In particular, have you ever been inspired from your students' ideas?

I began teaching in the urban core of Boston, learning and working alongside young artists who taught me grace and hope in the face of extreme odds. They


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Where is the Road to the Road

have remained my greatest teachers and still inspire me. Years later, I entered the academy to teach future community leaders and educators about equity and justice through the arts and education.

only through invention and re-invention, through the restless, impatient, continuing, hopeful inquiry human beings pursue in the world, with the world, and with each other.�

In Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Paulo Friere wrote that, “Knowledge emerges

I strive for my work as an artist and educator to engage in the type of restless


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and hopeful inquiry that Freire believed had the power to reinvent—or perhaps repair—the world. Over your career you have extensively exhibited in several occasions, both in the United States and abroad, including your solo Tashlich, in Great Salt Lake: one of the hallmarks of your

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


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component of your decision-making process, in terms of what type of language is used in a particular context?

The metric by which I measure the success of my work is based upon the extent to which it engenders healing, dialogue and connection. I really only create work, or facilitate the process, so that people have an opportunity to engage with the work to make their own meaning. I always think of the participants (not viewers) and how they could possibly interact with the work to imagine some type of opening. I am interested in Joseph Beuys’ conception of social sculpture, whereby every one of us can and should play a role in helping shape the world in which we live. He asserted that “EVERY HUMAN BEING IS AN ARTIST who – from his state of freedom – the position of freedom that he experiences first-hand – learns to determine the other positions of the TOTAL ART WORK OF THE FUTURE SOCIAL ORDER.” I like to create the starting point for such imaginings and actions. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Beth. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving?

My artistic practice is a living practice — one that supports sustainability of individuals and the planet — and is a flexible entity that responds to different contexts and ideas. Recent political changes in the United States have

Where is the Road to the Road

pushed me to respond. I am working on an installation of Courageous Acts of Kindness that highlights all of the brave acts people are engaging in to create and maintain spaces of tolerance, freedom, courage and kindness. I am also working on an interactive social practice piece, The Store of Wishes that


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references commerce in the art world as well as the idea of “store” as a repository. I am creating a store that sells and stores wishes—both the remembrance of and hope for these desires. In addition, I am editing a book on youth, art and social change because we desperately need these examples to

inspire us to act—to use our art as a tool for imagination and change. An interview by Melissa C. Hilborn, curator and Dario Rutigliano, curator landescape@europe.com

Photos by Josh Blumental


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Ayelet Cohen Lives and works in Israel

F

or several years now, I have been an independent choreographer, while I also serve as a dancer in some of my work. In 2012, I have founded MakesounD Music & Dance Projects, a troupe that focuses on connection between music and dance, turning them into one united language. I work in collaboration with composers, creating a combined form of art as dance and music merge into each other. We are conducting a collaborative process of defining and implementing the idea in two different fields and the final result presents a very unique and authentic artistic statement. The actual process of creation always starts with a specific idea or a particular topic I want to research. Collaboration with the composer is essential prior to implementing the physical elements in the studio.

Knowing that I’m able to work with original compositions, which are created to help express my ideas, I feel that the result is much more honest and accessible compared to an arbitrary choice of music to accompany the dance from the sidelines. Following the collaborative work process, I find myself approaching my creative work like it was a process of composing a musical piece. I enjoy creating based on the principle of creating a “picture�, which allows the viewer to observe from various perspectives and distances similar to various tools that create a harmony. Relations between the dancers are usually established based on their physical movement or their placement within the movement pattern, and not on a certain narrative. My observation of the creative process is very analytical, yet strives to be full of emotion.

Ayelet Cohen


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LandEscape meets

Ayelet Cohen An interview by Dario Rutigliano, curator

I founded MakesounD – Music & Dance Projects

and Melissa C. Hilborn, curator

four years ago, after earning my Masters in

landescape@europe.com

Choreography.

Artist and choreographer Ayelet Cohen's work accomplishes an insightful exploration of the connection between music and dance, turning them into one united language, to walk the viewers through a multilayered experience, inducing them to elaborate personal associations and intepretations. Her style rejects any conventional classifications and is marked with freedom as well as coherence, while encapsulating a careful attention to composition and balance. One of the most impressive aspects of Cohen's work is the way it accomplishes the difficult task of transforming a reality into an alternate one: we are very pleased to introduce our readers to her stimulating and multifaceted artistic production.

The major beginning of my journey was essentially my academic studies in the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance. It was there that I was exposed to composition classes for the first time, and there that I had my first opportunity as a professional dancer to experience works by the country’s leading choreographers. The inclination to explore music is something that I developed at home. My mother is a music teacher and keyboard player, so as I child, I played the piano, organ and accordion.

Hello Ayelet and welcome to LandEscape: before starting to elaborate about your artistic production would you like to tell us something about your background? For several years now, you have been an independent choreographer, while you also serve as a dancer in some of your work. How do these experiences influence your evolution as an artist? And in particular, how does your cultural substratum inform the way you relate yourself to art making and to the aesthetic problem in general?

My foundations, both in music and performance,

Hello and thank you very much. I’m happy to be

different light; it was then that I understood that

here.

this is my place.

are classical. Until the age of 17, I studied classical ballet only and dreamed of becoming a professional ballet teacher. Only after I experienced modern dance and encountered the field of choreography in college did I understand the extent that it enables me to express myself and how important the “world of the stage” is to me. Suddenly, I discovered myself in a totally


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Ayelet Cohen

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Today, I teach ballet in addition to my creative work, and one of the amazing gifts that I am privileged to have now is the opportunity to incorporate dancers that I have personally trained in my ensembles. I believe that the fact that I come from the world of education is very helpful to me when I work with dancers. Despite the fact that I am on stage with them, I am able to teach them my principles and the languages that I am attempting to create. The choice to also perform as a dancer in the pieces that I create stems from my desire to build maximum trust in the creative process and to be genuine in my movement language by bringing my true self into the entire process. I can feel, using my body, what is right for me, via all of the senses and not just visually. I enjoy experiencing the search for the language of movement myself, alongside the dancers, and I feel that the more I develop as a dancer, the more I advance as a choreographer, and vice versa. This is a principle that is important to me and which I utilize significantly. I am sure that my classical roots play a central role in the aesthetic considerations in my work. I believe in hard work and proper technique, and I encourage myself and my students to strive for these goals. There are those who define my style as conservative in terms of my perception of the body. Indeed, I try to present classical elements in my works, out of a desire to reconnect to those elements, to different figurations and ideas. I would like to believe that these same aesthetics can be used to serve the theme that each of my pieces explores. In Israel, I live a religious lifestyle, which means that there are subjects, for example sexuality, that do not correspond with my beliefs and that I will not


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broach. This would seem to pose limitations on my freedom of expression (as a result of my own choices), yet I feel that this is what pushes me to explore deeper and search for innovation and even rebellion from a simpler and more conventional place. The cultural conservatism that I grew up with has definitely shaped me into becoming who I am today as an artist, and I try to find my modernism within that conservatism, both ideologically and visually. Instead of running away from that conservatism and structure, I place it on a new background with a specific concept, so that the aesthetics and technique serve the idea that the piece seeks to explore. I find myself making analogies from many areas of my life in my choreography, especially musical analogies that lead me throughout this entire process. Your approach is very personal and your technique condenses a variety of viewpoints, that you combine together into a coherent balance. We would suggest to our readers to visit https://vimeo.com/user41825484 in order to get a synoptic view of your work: in the meanwhile, would you like to tell to our readers something about your process and set up? In particular, we like the way it combines formal research with improvisation: how did you developed its main idea? And in particular, how would you define the roles of chance and improvisation in your approach?

To me, the beginning of building a creative piece is first of all choosing the subject matter and understanding what I want to say. Then I search to define a specific structure to serve as the basis, and only afterward, at essentially the last stage, I start to actively work in the studio on choosing the movement. In addition, the musical context for the works exists from the very start of the process. What is important to me in my creations is first of all the statement that is being made; only after I know what I want to say am I able to allow the body to go to work. The involvement of music in the creative process begins when the piece is still just an idea. My dialogue with the composer begins there.


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We sit together to formulate a preliminary, external sketch of the piece; in other words, how many parts it will contain, what each part will reflect, which elements will be incorporated, what the duration of the piece will be, and more. During the practical stage in the studio, improvisation enters the scene. I use it to create central motifs that will be the basis for the entire movement scheme. From the moment that the concept for the piece has been born, and the importance of the structure upon which the piece is based is formulated, my thoughts revert to being more figurative and I set out to search for movement that will best serve the subject. Perhaps the best way to define the physical process is the development of subject and variation. As can be seen in the piece entitled “Windmill,� the idea is the body itself and its physical nature. The piece developed out of my desire to build music from air. Thus, the structure was very defined and clear from the start, and as a result, the preliminary improvisation in the studio was determined very quickly to express the language. Following this stage, which ends pretty quickly in the studio, there isn’t much more improvisation involved, except for perhaps in the content that each dancer adds, in terms of their character and the figuration of their body. The involvement of emotion in the works stems from the sincerity of all of the elements involved in the piece. I do not deal with a specific narrative or with dictating specific types of relationships for the dancers; rather, they emerge from the involvement with the movement alone, and from the inspiration of the music. For this special edition of LandEscape we have selected The Map, an interesting project that our readers have already started to admire in the introductory pages of this article. What has at once captured our attention of your


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captivating investigation about the relationship with the audience is the way you provided the visual results of your analysis with autonomous aesthetics: while walking our readers through the genesis of The Map, would you shed light to your main sources of inspiration?

The solo piece “The Map” is a piece that is especially dear to me and whose creation challenged me perhaps more than anything else I’ve ever done to date. I never thought that I would create a solo for myself; rather, I was interested in always involving several dancers on the stage. Despite the fact that I was part of them, I tried to leave myself available in order to see things from the outside. (This was one of the reasons, for example, that in “Windmill,” I chose to enter only at the end of the piece.) Composer Oded Zehavi contacted me with an especially challenging offer to create a solo that I would perform to a flute repertory that he composed. It took me a long time to internalize his music, understand how I want to approach it and how to build a dialogue with it that was right for me. Only then did I head for the studio. For me, the inspiration came entirely from the music itself. After I started physically working on the choreography, Oded added two additional parts to the repertory and things changed accordingly. What guided me the entire time were the feelings that were evoked within me from the music itself. I think that this commitment to the music is what the audience connects to in these performances. Perhaps they can feel that they are part of a secret dialogue between me and the music, without defining the piece as such outright. I would like to hope that since it is very clear that the choice of movement on stage is based on a statement, and there is a reason for everything happening on stage, a sense of trust is created on the physical level as well.


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Perhaps it is possible to say that the relationship created with the audience is reflective. This is very linear work, but it is also extremely charged and emotional, allowing each viewer to connect to one of the emotions that are raised in the piece and identify with it. The sense of closeness created between me and the music enables contemplation of the subject in the most simple, and therefore most complete, way. The first show that I ever saw, as a child, was The Sleeping Beauty Ballet, and it is possibly the reason for my deep connection to frameworks and the desire to create structure within my works, especially in modern works. In addition to the music, I am constantly searching for interesting structures as a form of inspiration, in natural situations such as rows of ants on the ground, the flight of birds in the sky, or various landscapes. Architecture captivates me, even the simplest kinds; in general, I find inspiration in noticing the small elements. I try to search for specific situations, enlarge them with a magnifying glass and announce them aloud. There are so many wonderful choreographers and artists around the world who I hold in esteem that if I attempt to name all of my sources of inspiration from the dance world, I don’t think I’ll ever finish the interview…I will mention that, not related to choreographers themselves, I enjoy drawing inspiration for emotion through movement from performance dancers who take physical elements and transform them into one big emotion. A major example of this, in my opinion, is the former prima ballerina Aurelie Dupont, who, despite this classical genre that poses as superhuman, expresses something so human and so authentic. The Map provides the viewers with an immersive

experience capable of challenging their perceptual parameters. How do you see the relationship between public sphere and the role of art in public space? In particular, how much do you consider the immersive nature of the viewing experience?

As a choreographer, I believe that taking the viewer’s experience into consideration is an inseparable part of the creative process. I believe that the moment that the audience is no longer considered as a factor in the art itself, this immediately causes disconnection and the audience feels unwanted. I once heard an acquaintance who has barely any exposure to the world of dance commenting that he doesn’t attend dance performances because the few times that he has watched shows, he felt that he wasn’t smart enough to understand what he was seeing on stage. So he simply doesn’t try anymore, and he is in fact a very intelligent person. I think consequences such as this are a shame. In the same vein, the most moving feedback I ever received was after one of my first shows, performing “Between Four Bows”,the first piece that I ever performed independently. An elderly woman approached me after the performance with a wide smile and shining face and said, “Yours I understood. Not the others, but yours I understood. Thank you.” (I was part of a show with three other choreographers who presented their work.) It was then that I understood that this is the greatest satisfaction that I can ever feel. It means that a complete stranger can understand you without knowing you, despite the fact that I’m sure I, as the creator, and she, as the viewer, didn’t have the exact same thoughts and intentions. I touched something within her, and it evoked emotion and left a mark. As an artist, one


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of my goals is to leave an impression on other people. Thus, it is important to me to aim toward building a connection with the audience, whether by touching upon a specific emotion or by incorporating a certain visual element. I feel that via these creative works, I allow people to understand me better and perhaps to understand themselves better as well. When I created “The Map,” for example, the challenge I faced was in finding that channel that would allow other eyes and ears to be part of my conversation with the music. This channel exists, in my opinion, by virtue of the fact that every small detail that I have chosen has a defined reason, so there is a clear structure and very genuine exposure that allows other people to enter. A crucial aspect of your work is the insightful investigation about the connection between body and music: how does this ubuquitous relationship affect your practice?

The connection to the music is perhaps the most intrinsic element of my works. Pursuant to the previous question, one of the first questions that I always ask myself is, “What is that magical element that enables music to connect so easily with people?” After all, it is the art that has the most “fans;” something about music must be touching upon the senses and emotions in such an active, facilitating way. Music is so direct, and the thought that the bodymusic analogy can perhaps have the same effect in a physical way is captivating to me. There are so many things that can be learned from the world of music. For example, just as

playing a certain note produces a specific sound, it is also possible to apply the same use of precision to a physical activity – to know exactly which note you would like to play. In addition, several bodies moving together create harmony – just as entirely different musical instruments produce a joint harmony when played simultaneously. Over the past years, I have been privileged to work with the wonderful composer, Oded Zehavi, who challenges me musically. I understand that what we share as a composer and a choreographer is our broad perspective. For me, this naturally comes into play in my geographic composition, and for him, in the structure of the entire work. Sometimes I feel more like a composer than a choreographer, and Oded definitely relates to us dancers like additional musical instruments. This partnership is critical to me and therefore, I insist on choreographing while integrating originally composed music. I believe that a work must be built from its earliest stage in all of its elements. If I create a work that is set to music written by a composer who sought to make a specific statement in his music, who am I to blot it out and make my statement in its place? Your observation of the creative process is very analytical, yet strives to be full of emotion: how much importance has improvisation in your process?

The improvisation in my creative process only takes place at the practical stage, when I come to the studio. As I mentioned, I first design and shape the idea and the structure that I will use, and only then do I come to the studio and begin to explore different motifs of movement. Perhaps the fact that the idea is defined from the very beginning is what creates the linear sensation and the well defined spatial order.


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When I begin to search for lines of movement, I will first define the start and end points that I would like to reach while on stage. Only afterward do I try to actually move to that point. The spatial-geographic direction is what leads my movement. In the emotional context, this is perhaps the only place on stage that leaves movement for a bit of improvisation. Our emotional search as dancers is the only element that I will not decisively set and define. I will not ask the dancers to feel various emotions at different times. Rather, there are very general descriptive lines, and I rely on them to find themselves within these lines. This search continues and changes, shaped anew each time, even on stage. The project entitled Windmill could be considered as an exploration of the insterstitial point between the figurative feature of gestures and the abstract nature of the process of manipulation: we have appreciated the way this work unveils the flow of information through an effective non linear narrative, establishing direct relations with the viewers: German multidisciplinary artist Thomas Demand once stated that "nowadays art can no longer rely so much on symbolic strategies and has to probe psychological, narrative elements within the medium instead". What is your opinion about it? And in particular how do you conceive the inner narrative for your works?

To me, Thomas Deman’s declaration is thought provoking, because it contains a great amount of symbolism that enables individuality and free interpretation. However, I agree that since today, everything has already been seen on stage and it’s almost impossible to perform something new, especially in symbolism, there must be deeper content alongside it. Perhaps it is correct that it’s not enough to suffice with it


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as is. In dance, when the dancers are the object present before the viewer, the question is whether the very fact that they are each different people, or the fact that the dancer himself is different than the viewer, is enough to introduce a different aspect into the symbolism? In my opinion, there must be some connecting theme that is deeper and creates a sense of closeness between the circle of dancers and viewer. I do not like to define the concept of the narrative in my works; rather, the structure itself is what is ultimately important to me. However, I do insist that the structure serve the objective – the content. In everything that we do, there is an element of exploring the psychological element, so as long as it is clear what subject is being explored, this level will be evoked and the interpretation will follow. For example, in my last work, “One of Two-Thirds,” I addressed the musical term “chord,” which is seemingly very formative and perhaps even symbolic in its structure. But in fact, at an advanced stage of the creative process, I realized that the entire piece was actually my interpretation of relationships. By exploring the space and the formative influence, an entire narrative emerged without my having defined it from the start. That narrative that develops as the creation advances and not as its foundation point is in my opinion very critical and essential at the final stage, and it is what determines the final “color” of the piece. I think that if I would have tried to work in the opposite order, I would have received a result that was not at all authentic. Therefore, I wait for the narrative to simply appear out of all of the other elements chosen, instead of dictating the course of events. It's no doubt that interdisciplinary collaborations as the one that you have established over these years for the MakesounD Music & Dance Projects are today ever growing forces in Contemporary Art and that the most exciting things happen when creative minds from different fields of practice meet and collaborate on a project... could you tell us something about this effective synergy? By the way, Peter Tabor once stated that "collaboration is working together with another to


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create something as a synthesis of several practices, that alone one could not": what's your point about this? Can you explain how your work demonstrates communication between several artists?

I think that the power of creating together is stronger than ever before because from such multidisciplinary work comes innovation. Essentially, it takes an element from a very complete area and connects it to something else from a different area that is also complete in its own right. When the connection between them is productive, something new is created, that does not simply stand on one familiar base. Cooperation between arts is the most effective evolution and perhaps the most thought provoking in the art world. The cooperation between two areas allows each area to complement the other in the most effective way in order to express a certain idea. In addition, I think that the multidisciplinary integration in modern art blurs boundaries and involves more senses and more levels in the creative work, and consequentially, more types of audiences. I agree with Peter Tabor’s statements. The mutual productivity that takes place when working together creates a process that could not have ever been achieved through solo work. This is a process that demands thinking outside the box. As I mentioned at the beginning of the interview, my choice to connect to a composer stemmed from my desire to decipher the secret of the emotional accessibility in music, and the analogy that can be made regarding group dynamics between musical instruments and dancers.


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I learn a great deal from watching the stages of the work process of composition and recording. With Oded Zehavi, for example, this is my third year that we are working together, and I feel that he understands my way of thinking better than various dance professionals, precisely because both of us are connected to the same emotional elements that we aim for in our work. This way of thinking of “seeing the bigger picture” in composing music, as the “leader” responsible for several instruments, pushes me to take a step back all the time to see the overall image. It is clear that ultimately, this is a dance performance, at least according to the visual meaning of the field, but I have no doubt that what defines dance for me is the music that accompanies the movement. Not necessarily the performance itself, but the genuine movement itself. Over the years you have exhibited in several occasions and one of the hallmarks of your work is the capability to create direct involvement with the viewers, who are urged to evolve from a condition of mere spectatorship. So before leaving this conversation we would like to pose a question about the nature of the relationship of your art with your audience. Do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decision-making process, in terms of what type of language is used in a particular context?

The knowledge that an audience will be watching the performance has a strong influence upon me. This does not mean that I create for the audience, or approach the creative process with the intent of supplying something to the audience. I think that I am able to remain true to myself and to what I would like to convey in each performance, without taking various public opinions into account. However, there is definitely something in the creative process that is very aware of the presence of the audience who will inevitably be there. I am sure that if a situation arises in which I have finished a show and the audience didn’t connect in any way and didn’t find the opening


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where I intended for them to enter my body and my emotions, then I have failed as a choreographer. Perhaps this is the reason that I pay so much attention in my works to “subject and variation.” I desire to repeatedly develop the statement that I seek to convey in a few different ways. Like in education, there is the student who will understand one method of explanation, and the student who will understand the idea if you present it differently. As a teacher, you repeat yourself and seek to show all of the different ways that exist to explain the same idea. I aim for the emotional channel which, as I claimed in my answers to the previous questions, is very accessible in the musical world. The formative perspective, the angles of the body, and of one body next to another, as well as the broad perspective of how to situate the images on the stage serve as a door into the world of emotion. I believe that because the structure is clear (even if the viewer doesn’t necessarily understand it, for it is definitely present), the emotion and logic facilitate the dialogue with the audience. The moment I hear from an audience that they remember entire images from a performance, I know that I have met my objective. It is interesting to hear the reactions of young audiences, usually dance and music students, who come and excitedly share with me that they remember entire movements from the performance, especially motifs. This is the biggest compliment I could receive – when the audience studies what it is seeing. The audience undergoes a process based on what they see, and are actively searching as they watch, whether to understand themselves or to understand me. Each person’s interpretation may be entirely different


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than my original intention but it doesn’t actually matter. This communicative channel reminds me time and time again to be extremely genuine in my intentions so that I will have the privilege of creating meaningful moments for the viewers. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Ayelet. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving?

Oded and I are currently working on a new duet (a solo performance alongside a harpist). The premiere is scheduled for the end of February 2017 in Israel. Looking ahead, I see myself working on launching a full length show (until now, I have created performances that were approximately 20 minutes long). My aspirations are to continue to create in conjunction with first rate composers and to create a performance for a large number of dancers, in a way that will allow me to freely use spatial formation. I also dream of appearing on various stages around the world with my works. My biggest dream is to create a performance for a large ensemble accompanied by a live orchestra. In the meantime, I am deeply grateful for what I have achieved during these four years, and to everyone who I have had the privilege of meeting and involving in this process on the way. I anticipate the next four years and promise that I will work hard. An interview by Dario Rutigliano, curator and Melissa C. Hilborn, curator landescape@europe.com


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Maja Spasova Lives and works in

and

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y work shows both elements of installation, performance – episodically reconstructed events in a milieu which is often city, and the character of more or less integrated forms found in the urban landscape. The point of departure is an idea where the message has both poetic and existential character. Aesthetically I am at home in the conceptual traditions of art and I always address a larger part of the beholder than merely the cognitive and reflecting aspect. I contemplate the fundamental conditions of life in my art. Sound is an essential aspect of my work, but not the only one, because I use many different matters. I do not produce esthetic objects. My art is more a way of producing relations and processes even in the cases when the final result is an object or an installation or a book etc. My works are always in relation to a certain room, physical or mental, and to those who take part in it by looking, moving around, listening, feeling, speaking. I have located many of my projects in urban public places; my expressed desire is to reach people who are not part of the professional art system while also being connected with a more fundamental desire to eradicate the differences between art and life.

In the numerous art works for public space, as well in installations and performances for the white cube, I put a lot of careful work in which I assume the double role of initiator and project leader. The advanced technological elements that I often use mean that the works develop in dialogue with technical expertise in accordance with accepted scientific methods, but together with interaction by audience, public, nature etc. – the unpredictable chance. My recent work explores the ambiguity of language, the dynamic between polarities in meaning and searches for alternative ways of expressing meaning. How much do we understand each other, when communication is loaded with continuous misreading, misunderstandings and misinterpretations? At the moment I work with projects related to big cities’ multicultural environment and to the coexistence and conflicts of different social, ethnic and religious groups. The theme of these new works is GLOBUS HYSTERICUS/HISTORICUS and my aim is to explore several phenomena, some of them being the character of anxiety and paranoia in the society today.

Maja Spasova


BINDU, 2014 Photographer: JUJU Performance, Durbar Square Kathmandu, Nepal White chalk, 3 kg hot chili powder, diameter 3 m, duration 3,5 h


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LandEscape meets

Maja Spasova An interview by and

, curator , curator

Exploring the ambiguity of language in our unstable contemporary age and investigating the dynamic between polarities in meaning Maja Spasova is a versatile artist who transverses borders and permeates boundaries: marked out with a captivating multidisciplinary feature, her works provide the viewers with an immersive experience capable of triggering the viewers' perceptual parameters. In all of her pieces we can recognize a successful attempt to eradicate the differences between art and life. One of the most impressive aspects of Spasova's work is the way it accomplishes the difficult task of establishing direct relationships with the spectatorship, to draw them through an unconventional, multilayered experience: we are very pleased to introduce our readers to her stimulating and multifaceted artistic production. Hello Maja and welcome to LandEscape: we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your multifaceted background. You have a solid formal training and after your high school studies, you joined the Academy of Fine Art, Sofia from which you degreed with a Master of Art- Moreover, you later nurtured your education with a one-year study at the Royal University College of Fine Arts in Stockholm: how do these experience influence the way you currently conceive and produce your works? And in particular, how does your cultural substratum inform the way you relate yourself to art making in general.

Quite early, already at the age of four, I knew I would be an artist. My parents were very

supportive. And around my17th birth-day I decided that soon or later I would leave the country. I grew up in Bulgaria during the communism, where the visual arts were the most controlled activity after politics. To be an artist there meant all possible privileges if one would follow the aesthetic and ideological norms of the ruling party and a practical suicide if one would ignore them. I spent four years at the High School of Visual Art in Sofia, an important period of education in ecstatic love for the fine arts, also time when discipline, craftsmanship and psychological resilience were systematically built up. So different from the following five years at the Art Academy which were marked by a stagnated atmosphere, the machinery for ideological conditioning, the rigorous training in the style of social realism, all those monotonous repetitions of mannerist tricks, form filled with dead content. Then I had enough. In a totalitarian society there are only two choices to stay or to leave. Staying and working for the ruling power or staying and not working for the ruling power makes you in the both cases a collaborator as the writer Imre Kertesz says. At the age of 25 I became a refugee with asylum and a new home in Sweden. I got my first child. Then - a guest student at the Royal University College of Fine Arts in Stockholm. One single year under the guidance of the American artist Prof. Bernie Kirschenbaum was more than all my previous art education, it had a major impact on my artistic growth. All these – seeking asylum, becoming a mother, the year at the Art University in Stockholm – were life


LIPSTICK CRUCIFIXION, 2007 https://youtu.be/GPhM-Wja04i Still from video performance, duration 2 min 39 sec


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Maja Spasova


Maja Spasova

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RUBY, 2015 Photographer: John Nelander Courtesy: Vandalorum Art Museum, Sweden Sight-specific installation at the art museum Vandalorum, Sweden "Heart-Drop from the Great Space" Inflatable, PVC, diameter 6 m, height 8.5 m, ropes, sound composition, Dolby loudspeakers.


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reshaping events with an enormous concentration of energy. These three beautiful existential quakes created the fruitful ground for all new which was to come. I found myself between two contrasting aesthetic systems. Not only Art was different in the West, but I could see even that there were hidden economic interests in the web of curators, critics, gallerists, collectors; a tired culture bureaucracy; murky financial methods used by private art galleries. And a lot of naivete about the context, political and social, in which artists live, ignorance about the role of the intellectuals in the society. I wondered then and I still wonder why there are not so many artists who feel rage against the present order: the art dumbed by bloodless rhetoric, paralyzed down by market values, sold like shoe boxes at all these countless art fairs... I felt I didn’t belong to this art system either. I had to create my own environment in which I could blossom. Without having any previous connections – I had lived on another planet my first 25 years - I went straight forward to art institutions, knocked on doors, doors opened. I was so lucky to meet people who believed in me and my ideas and supported my work. With my first work in urban environment, Happening at Plaza Callao in Madrid 1987, I knew I had found a path which definitely was My path. So having these two backgrounds – Bulgaria, a Slavic culture of great emotional intensity, with dramatic history of wars and bloodshed and then Sweden, a Protestant calm rationality, lack of wars for the last centuries, “folkets hem” (in English: “people’s home”) – this makes me stand with each leg on a very different land. Then living in France, Germany, UK – I must have a lot of legs! Like a giant tree with its roots all over the world or like an octopus with thousands of arms dipped in all oceans, the artist can be anywhere, on any soil and with any creature, get nurture where ever he needs, experience and be part of the endless multitude in the world, and create, create, create. I have no problem with identity. I am as much this/that as I am not this/that. I cannot point out a

RUBY, 2015 Photographer: John Nelander, Courtesy: Vandalorum Art Museum

particular place as my home, but I feel at home everywhere. Travelling is a big part of my life and ideas appear best when I am on the move. Travelling should be made compulsory in the education of young artists. Each new place is a step further from the comfort zone of the mind, a confrontation with the unknown, a demand for creativity. Michel Foucault: “Believe that what is productive is not sedentary, but nomadic.” You are a versatile artist and your approach encapsulates both installation and performance,


Maja Spasova

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revealing an incessant search of an organic symbiosis between a variety of viewpoints. The results convey together a coherent sense of unity, that rejects any conventional classification. Before starting to elaborate about your production, we would suggest to our readers to visit http://www.majaspasova.com & www.facebook.com/Art.MajaSpasova in order to get a synoptic view of your multifaceted artistic production: while walking our readers through your process, we would like to ask you if you have you ever happened to realize that such multidisciplinary approach is the only way to express and convey the idea you explore.

Yes, the multidisciplinary approach is the only way to express my ideas. First of all in order to be able to hear the personal voice and to see the unique face of each coming idea, I have to keep myself open, without preference or prejudice towards any material or media. I like to think about the magician – take any material, do a wonder with it. Or – a child at play. Free. Or even as it was written on a badge a friend gave to me: “Take shit and make gold out of it.”


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Maja Spasova

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Free to employ modest ordinary materials – a stone, some piece of paper, a candle. Take a stick and make a drawing in the sand. Or play with the wind. And at the next moment - work with high tech. Work with everything, create out of anything. The use of language, randomness and chance, classic materials, ephemeral substances, my own person, the audience which engages knowingly or unknowingly, socio-psychological and other processes and sound, a lot of sound, all this is like the use of the different colors on the palette of a painter. The idea is the engine of my work. All planning and decisions are related to the concept. But this is something else than the pure idea in conceptual art. Although I see conceptual art as a radical alternative to conventional media and I admire its genuinely polemical position, my concepts are not based on words. My concepts are based on visions. The ideas arrive from an unknown source and present themselves as already accomplished works of art although completely immaterial – just images in my mind. I keep myself open, expecting the visitor – the miracle. An idea usually strikes all of a sudden. I welcome it. And I carefully watch it till I begin to see every detail, size, weight, surface. Though being just an image in my mind, the idea allows me to perceive its visual and tactile qualities as if it was a tangible physical presence. The rest is organization, funding, infrastructure, physical work – components and steps needed for the materialization of the concept. During this secondary process also the verbalization of the idea occurs. So I believe in the beginning there was something else than the word. The beginning was made out of the image, the smell, the touch, the sound, the taste, the heartbeat. The beginning was made by the presence of those who were born by beginnings before this beginning. Perhaps this is what always comes up in my works – each time a new beginning – to create a totality of experience similar to the moment of our first

breath, the very first time we opened the eyes, the sensation of the first ever human hand touching our body. And at the end of the process, when the idea has been materialized, and though often being multidisciplinary, the art work has to have a lean laconic look, to be as minimal and as simple in its appearance as possible. I look for a final outcome which combines both elegance and power. If I have succeeded, I always experience a punch in the stomach and then - an euphoric weightlessness. For this special edition of LandEscape we have selected RUBY, an extremely interesting site-specific installation, that have been exhibited at the Vandalorum Art Museum and that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article. What has at once caught our attention of your practice is its capability of establishing direct relations with the viewers who are urged to evolve from a condition of mere spectatorship: when walking our readers through the genesis of the RUBY would you tell us something about your usual process and set up?

RUBY came to life 2015. A drop from outer space, or a drop of outer space, it levitates 50 cm above the ground suspended by a number of tiny ropes. Its semitransparent surface radiates red light. A Dolby surround system transmits a rhythmic heart beat creating a meditative atmosphere, which explodes each half an hour in a short intensive female scream. The scream always comes as a surprise, completely unexpected. With its height of 8.5 m and diameter 6 m RUBY fills the whole room, thus becoming an inner living tissue of the existing space. The audience experiences the walk around RUBY as a walk inside of it, inside of a living creature, inside of a womb. Originally RUBY was thought for an exterior, but at Vandalorum it landed into the interior and changed character - the content determined by the issue of scale. Although scale in art is much more than the facts of the physical size. And the place beyond size is what interests me and such a place always is the mind of the audience.


BINDU, 2014 Photographer: JUJU Performance, Durbar Square Kathmandu, Nepal White chalk, 3 kg hot chili powder, diameter 3 m, duration 3,5 h


The Golden Braid, 2015 Photographer: Kristina Strand Larsson Site-specific installation, the South tower of Lund Cathedral, Sweden Polypropylene rope, gold metal paint, diameter 30 cm, length 27 m.


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The importance of audience is crucial. The art undertakes dialogue with a constantly changing public and the art materializes otherwise invisible phenomenas. And the audience can experience the materialization of these phenomenas only by active participation, or more precisely: the audience is part of the materialization itself. Here with materialize I mean not only tactile materialization but a whole range of media. “Art is boring” or “I don’t understand art” people can complain at the museum/ the gallery/the white cube, where the four walls very often are a barrier between life itself and art. By working in the urban environment, by exposing the idea to a direct confrontation with the public and by inviting the public to become part of the creating of the art work, I aim at art which is part of life or at life as art. In the urban site-specific sound installation MY DARLING, 2012 the audience had to undertake a 15 min long journey with a rowing boat under the Central bridge in Stockholm. This was the only way to experience the sound – human voices calling on their beloved ones. And this was connected with a risk: one could fall down from the rowing boat into the water and be grabbed and dragged by the strong current. But people did the journey, they stood in a queue on the quay patiently waiting for their turn. In MY DARLING each visitor created and participated in a performance of the great human saga – the life as a wandering in search for love. Another example is the site-specific sound installation THE GAP OF TRUTH at the Church of Revelation in Stockholm, 1998. The original La Bocca della Verita could be found in ancient Rome – a stone relief used to measure the content of truth in court hearings. But at the Church of Revelation the visitor’s hand found a globe of electronic sensors inside the gap. The sensors were connected to the church bells. Thus each individual from the audience became a triumphant composer whose music could be heard sounding in the sky above the church tower.

As the late Franz West did in his installations, your recent work explores the ambiguity of language, the dynamic between polarities in meaning and searches for alternative ways of expressing meaning: German multidisciplinary artist Thomas Demand once stated that "nowadays art can no longer rely so much on symbolic strategies and has to probe psychological, narrative elements within the medium instead". What is your opinion about it? And in particular how do you consider the role of the instability of language in the contemporary age?

Language is an unstable construction, and dualistic – it has its own solid fundament of grammar and given words but also is under a constant change. Words are very odd things, as Wislawa Szymborsca states in her poem “The Three Oddest Words.” It’s a miracle that people can sometimes understand each other while using these odd stuff, language. But the instability of language actually means renewal and diversity. I’m interested in all different layers of language – like a set of Russian dolls, there are always other layers beneath, other languages inside of the very same language. How these layers appear, communicate with each other, conquer and exchange territories, assert control and balance. The judicial or the scientific jargon create a screen of incomprehensibility – a demonstration and exercise of power. Political parties, underground movements, subcultures, in between friends, lovers – each group will create its own coded language within the common tongue, a statement of exclusivity within the community. Society is changed by changes in the meaning of common frases, or substituting common frases with new ones. Now in English we don’t have a “beloved,” but a “partner” – even in the most private, intimate sphere humans have become figures of business arrangements. One doesn’t share life with the one whom he “loves” but is “in a relation” – indication for an anonymous and impersonal state of affairs, just one relation of the many exchangeable others. The alienation in our society demands the usage of this vocabulary as much as our usage of this vocabulary produces the alienation.


The Golden Braid, 2015 Photographer: Maja Spasova Site-specific installation, the South tower of Lund Cathedral, Sweden Polypropylene rope, gold metal paint, diameter 30 cm, length 27 m.


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I speak five languages and have a superficial knowledge of a few more. Each language is a different world, expressing a specific and unique way of being, thinking, feeling as well as it provides a set of tools for a critical discourse on the other languages. The dictionary will say that German “Mutterchen” is the same as English “little mother/old woman,” but it is not. The German word contains a very specific and intense emotional tone which the English totally lacks. By speaking different languages I both discover and create new versions of myself. I think it is a great loss to have dead languages, not spoken anymore – ways in which humanity could exist have for ever disappeared. And it is exciting to think about the new ones coming in future. As a product of the mind and at the same time – producer of the very same mind, language is very similar to visual art. Though the visual is prior to the word as discussed before. And thus extremely powerful and universal. I can’t say it better than the art critic Anders Olofsson: “Spasova presents the text to us as it is, without letting words and symbols overpower the scarcely noticeable but powerful whisper from the depths of existence.” In projects like VOYAGE ROMANTIQUE SUR LA SEINE, Paris 1996 and WHO WANTS TO EMBRACE ME, Stockholm 1994 I used authentic lonely-heart ads in different languages. Taken from newspapers and magazines in Europe and overseas these short texts revealed that though looking-for-love had a very specific way in each language, “Love is the vitamin the human cannot live without, otherwise the blood would clot and the heart would stop” as Svetlana Alexseijevitj writes. Elements from environment are particularly recurrent in your imagery and, as in the interesting performance entitled BINDU, they never plays the role of a mere background. In particular, you use to locate most of your projects in urban places: do you see a definite relationship between the notion of land and your work?

In my work I let the land speak and reveal its hidden core. I believe the idea is born by a kind of conversation, intensive listening and talking to the place, it is important to achieve an organic entity. Each place is being made of countless segments like geographical position, historical and cultural heritage, people. A dialogue with a place is nurtured by intuition and imagination, by using all invisible antennas humans are equipped with. I remember walking in Stockholm August 1984 and passing by Central bridge. I immediately fell in love with the space, the forest of concrete columns, the strong current, the silence beneath though being one of city’s most trafficked bridges. The place was calling me. I knew I will do a work there. The place was talking to me though I couldn’t get the message back then. First 2010 the work took form in my mind, the urban sound installation MY DARLING was realized 2012. It seems it was necessary for me to listen to the whisper of this place during whole 28 years. With BINDU, 2014 it was different. After a month in Kathmandu the idea appeared with all its power. I was trying to postpone and waited till the last day of my stay, but there was no way not to do it. Without announcing in advance and without any permission from the city authorities, I just stepped at the spot on Durbar Square in front of the Parliament and did it. The most amazing thing was that after the first hour the audience wanted to be part of the artwork too, one by one people entered the round surface made of red hot chili powder and stood in its center. Somebody brought a huge Nepalese flag, people started to perform BINDU carrying the flag. At the end of the afternoon the numerous feet walking in and out from BINDU had dispersed the chili powder in all directions, the round surface had disappeared. A few months later a devastating earth quake stroke Nepal – the place of the performance was covered in rubble. This autumn while in Florida and on my way to Key West I passes through a number of isles connected with bridges. And it happened again – the place was emitting such an incredible magnetism and


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beauty, I fell the urge to make a work there. So this must be one of the future projects to come! The artist is the connecting point between the existing and the non existing, in a dialogue with what already is and with what wants to come to existence. He creates new landscapes, perhaps even new planets, new phenomenas, the Universe – the Australian natives believe that the Creation was the work of culture heros who travelled and created sites and places, this world was made by giant artists and their dreams long, long ago. As you have remarked once, your works are always in relation to a certain room, physical or mental, and to those who take part in it by looking, moving around, listening, feeling, speaking. In other words, your practice seems to move from experience to produce an augmented experience: so we would take this occasion to ask you if in your opinion personal experience is an absolutely indispensable part of a creative process... Do you think that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience?

I think no, it can’t be disconnected. The direct experience is intimately woven in the creative process but definitely not the only one source of creativity. Our experience of the world is complex. Our sense of time is open and abstract, we allow reversals and curves and movements of time across sequences and spatial segments beyond our immediate experience. And then we have the memory from an experience, and memory is changeable, it can be revised and reshaped at any time. Exactly as history is being rethought and rewritten on regular basis. The body of works MIGRATIONS, 2010, 2011, 2012 was partly born from my personal experience. First MIGRATIONS, 2010 – a site-specific installation at Palazio Mosquera, Spain in collaboration with Anna Spasova. 200 shoes made of different types of white paper and cotton thread stepping on the surface of crashed transparent glass. The following year 2011 the very same shoes made a dangerous journey on the river Manzanares el Real – only a few managed to survive, most of them drowned on the way. Finally in 2012 the documentary film material from the performance was edited and the short film


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BRIGHT SHINY ME, 2013 Photographer: Medford Taylor Site-specific installation at UVA, USA commissioned by VCCA, USA. Collaboration for the sound composition with Luis Hillario Arevalo


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BRIGHT SHINY ME, 2013, Photographer: Maja Spasova, Site-specific installation at UVA, USA commissioned by VCCA, USA., Collabora

titled MIGRATIONS became an independent art work: https://youtu.be/89Tmi6zOPP4 To be a refugee is to achieve the absolute zero point in one’s existence. The vulnerability and the dependence on help from others in such a moment can be only compared with being a newborn baby but left without parents and loving care. I was spared the barbarism and cruelty migrants often face as as they seek sanctuary, still my experience was very difficult on emotional level, even the lightest steps could cause bleeding in the heart. LIPSTICK CRUCIFIXION, 2007, a short performance in front of the film camera, my love for lipstick and red colour, the beauty show turning into a performance of a clown, then a gesture belonging to the Orthodox Church – all these personal experience, though not only my own but of

countless number of women from many many generations: https://youtu.be/GPhM-WJa04I LYK [LUC] – ONION, 2014 is a series of 10 photo images where I give an interpretation of existential phenomenas using onion. Lyk, pronounced Luc, is the Bulgarian word for Onion. In 2014 while in Nepal I met the South Korean artist JUJU and both of us, being stressed by life conditions in Kathmandu, created a short poem consisting of 10 words – 10 existential issues, an attempt to refocus on what was important in the midst of the chaos we were experiencing. Then we interpreted the poem’s ten words each of us in her own way using onion. Culinary use, medical properties, an image for the multiple layers of universe – Onion everywhere. The simplicity of the material combined with the weight of the ten words and the personal experience at the concrete moment was very attractive to me.


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tion for the sound composition with Luis Hillario Arevalo

Reminding us of Jean Tinguely's generative works, the multimedia installation Bright Shiny Me shows an intimate symbiosis between Art and Technology, taking advantage of the creative and expressive potential of Sculpture as well as of the interactive nature offered by Technology. The impetuous way modern technology has nowadays came out on the top has dramatically revolutionized the idea of Art itself: in a certain sense, we are forced to rethink about the intimate aspect of constructed realities and especially about the materiality of an artwork itself, since just few years ago it was a tactile materialization of an idea. We are sort of convinced that new media will definitely fill the apparent dichotomy between art and technology and seemingly Art and Technology are going to assimilate one to each other... what's your opinion about this?

We cannot perceive what we don’t know or more exactly: what art hasn’t expressed yet. Art is a succession of ideas, and then there is the

succession of attempts to bring the ideas to another level of existence, which Technology and Science are the instruments for. Art and Technology, but even Science are going to assimilate each other – what else is Science if not a child of Art which has to obey certain extremely rigid rules and norms dictated by the present paradigm. Our satellites, airplanes, Internet – these means didn’t exist for people years ago, only as ideas in art, literature, myths. Take the idea of flying. Since the beginning of time art was full with winged creatures, angels and gods – all of them could take off like birds. Then Daedalus and Icarus came and then Bladud, the king of Britons, and others followed – they all made a pair of wings and flew. Wax, feathers, metal, kerosene, solar power – Technology and Science bring ideas embedded in art to a different level of physical materialization. Soon we will have Centaurs and Medusas and the


HISTORIA, 2014 Photographer: Caroline Andersson Courtesy: Museum of Public Art, Sweden Maja Spasova and Barbro Westling read from books written by Swedish Nazis.


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like running around. Once having existence in art and myth, they will be reborn as children of future Biotechnology and Bioscience. BRIGHT SHINY ME at University of Virginia, USA 2013 an interactive surface consisting of 4500 elements, an oversized and always alive impressionistic painting – the 4500 mirrors, elevated 30 cm above the ground, are in a continuous motion caused by wind and by the low frequencies of the sound composition. Thus the image of the sky is replicated 4500 times by these segments as they move independently of each other. To this is to add the continuous changes in the appearance of the sky itself – the clouds passing by are under constant evolvment and disolvement, the airplanes with their different paths, the birds flying in unknown directions, the stars – both fixed and falling – are moving too. Multiple layers of changes and speed create an unpredictable and very dynamic outcome, yet the work has a meditative serene character. The Mexican composer Luis Hilario Arevalo collaborated with me on the sound piece here. Although scale is first of all non-physical matter, the physical size has a decisive role – with its 20 x 20 m and the audience emerged in it, BRIGHT SHINY ME is a landscape: visual, sonoric, tactile. In SYBIL, 1995, created and shown at ZKM, Karlsruhe I used three interlinked computer systems and the interaction of the audience. Speech recognition and speech synthesis were part of the installation, but the invisible web of endless possibilities in form of text stored in the computer and processed by a specially designed computer program was the dynamic part. Each new visitor faced new choices and new possibilities, new boundaries had to be crossed over. A virtual journey in a virtual universe, both based on sound, text, choices, imagination and supported by the latest achievements i Technology and Science. When creating a a dream-like atmosphere, The Golden Braid, a site-specific urban installation for the South tower of Lund Cathedral, also inquires into the interstitial space between personal and public


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BLACK & GREY THOUGHT, 2007 Photographer: Viktoria Spasova Two inflatable objects – each half an hour the two volumes reach their maximal sizes, the following 30 minutes the volumes shrink back to the floor; each 4 x 14 x 6 m, synthetic canvas, air aggregates, electric power and timers.


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QUESTION MARK, 2007 Photographer: Hakan Lindblad Site-specific urban installation – on the roof of The Royal Academy of Fine Art in Stockholm; inflatable with sizes 6 x 1 x 10 m, synthetic canvas, air aggregate, electric power.


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spheres, providing the spectatorship with an immersive experience that forces such a contamination the inner and the outside: how do you see the relationship between public sphere and the role of art in public space?

Art gives birth to ideas much before ideas become expressed by rational mind and language and thus serves us in a fundamental way by permitting construction of unthinkable parts. Art is the place of creating consciousness and conscience, the engine of change, the program for the future. It is the Utopia-making, an expression of extremes in human thought and paradoxes of feeling. Still few have access to art as it has been kept inside, sheltered in an ivory tower, confined to the private sphere, the white cube, the specialist. The public domain, physical and mental, is the right place for art. But who owns the public space? Who has the right to use it, and what kind of use? In recent time the public space has gone through dramatic transformations, it is increasingly controlled by commercial interests. Art has an important role to play here, reclaiming the agora for the citizens, for Utopia. Because without Utopia life is a nightmare – “...in the future, in a world in which there is never anything new, in which all is finished and each moment a repetition of the past, there can exist a condition in which thought will be devoid of all ideological and Utopian elements... The disappearance of utopia brings about a static state of affairs in which man himself becomes no more than a thing,” Karl Mannheim. I love the confrontation between what we call extremes – private and public, individual and society, secret and official, one’s own body and the street, the interior of the heart and the exterior of a cityscape, night dreams and political manifestos. There is always a transformative positive energy coming out of the clash. Tears and laughter at the same time. In the project THE LAST JUDGEMENT 50000 yellow paper leaves with the text “guilty” or “non guilty” written on them were thrown from a helicopter 150


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m above Sergel Square in Stockholm 2000 and from the TV-tower above Alexanderplatz in Berlin 2002. The public on the ground was awaiting their judgement. Only chance decided who received a “guilty” and who received a “non-guilty” leaf. One of the fundamental Christian believes is that of every guilt receiving a corresponding punishment. Judicial systems serve a law based on a similar principle, though their judgements are more concrete than the messages on the yellow leaves. So what is the offence? Behind our official mask there is the other part of us, who knows there were deeds which should be never done... Or maybe justice doesn’t exist at all, maybe judgements are the result of capricious winds... THE GOLDEN BRAID, 2015 deals also with contradictions. The braid 27 m long hangs from the South Tower of Lund Cathedral Sweden, almost reaching the ground. The golden colour vibrates with life against the grey stone wall, a feast for eyes and soul on the austere facade. Protestant church doesn’t recognize Maria in the same way as Catholic dogma does. But women do serve as priests in the North, something still unthinkable in South Europe. Rapunzel invites for a heroic action. Who is the witch? And who is willing to climb the long and risky way up to the top of the tower “only for love?” Art poses questions and creates models entirely existential and tangible. I believe in art, materialized in its physical-visual form and on different scales – physical and social, which takes its place in the public realm, specially the urban space, and becomes one with life. You are currently working with projects related to big cities’ multicultural environment: when investigating about phenomena as the coexistence and conflicts of different social groups do you aim to convey open socio-political criticism in your works, or you are interested to hint the direction, inviting the viewers to a process of self-reflection? In particular, do you consider that your works could be considered political

in a certain sense or did you seek to maintain a more neutral approach?

Political, yes! Politics is an important part in each human life fully lived. Art and politics are the two sides of the same coin, inseparable faces of the very same world. If we ignore this it will be with danger to the artwork which is part of the world too. We see that the institutions of dominant classes in all societies – communists and capitalists, fascists and liberals – have art as an integral part of their systems. Living and working as an artist is a political action itself. Refusing to subdue to the existing norms concerning content and meaning of one’s own life, especially in contemporary society with its mechanisms of control and repression, is a highly political act. Inviting the audience to a self-reflection in a certain direction is a political action too. My decision to locate so many art projects in the urban public space is not only because I don’t produce art objects in the classical sense, but also because I have the desire to eliminate the walls between art and life. I’m preoccupied with life’s existential questions, with the issues of love-timeguilt-reconciliation. My art is based on essentially non-formal problems. In this way it can be considered political. Breton proclaimed that he would use the psychic material of the dream in the service of social change. In dreams we directly communicate with the collective myth, with the subconscious structures. Dreams are the opposite to the ordinary way of thinking. Rebellious and wild, dreams are a parallel world, a life within the human life - thus a powerful mirror of the waken thoughts, and of truth. 2007 in Stockholm and this year in New York I realized the project I HAD A DREAM LAST NIGHT. Interacting with the public on the street, in the subway and the like, asking the question: “What did you dream last night?,” I collected a long list of authentic dreams. The dreams were read aloud by


TIME from the series LYK [LUC] ONION, 2014 Series of 10 photo images, print on Plexiglas, each 40 x 30 cm


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actors during the following evenings. The actors, equipped with headlamps and megaphones, stood on the top of aluminum ladders on the street shouting the content of the dreams as if they read a political manifesto. “And the promises of the politicians are like dreams – quickly forgotten,” commented somebody from the audience. Art in the urban space lacks comfortable arrangements and security. There is more to be thought of, organized and structured on the street than in the white cube. There is always unpredictability of the outcome. But such a movement is open to everyone, it means liberation and experiment, a new future for both art and audience. This as a very political standpoint too, I believe. Over your long career you have exhibited in several occasions, including your participation at the prestigious Venice Biennial and you recent performance Calling Your Name, at the Djerassi Foundation, in California. One of the hallmarks of your work is the capability to create a direct involvement with the viewers, who are urged to evolve from a condition of mere spectatorship. So before leaving this conversation we would like to pose a question about the nature of the relationship of your art with your audience. Do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decision-making process, in terms of what type of language is used in a particular context?

I feel connected with the audience before we have met, it is always present. Already from the very first moment when an idea appears I can sense the presence of the future viewer-participator-cocreator. “As a child of popular culture, teethed on the electronic media, I feel the neighborly nearness of nations, continents, planets. Wires, wires everywhere: our thoughts are beads on the endless chain of connectedness that is the cosmos.” Camille Paglia The language of the artwork comes specific of the idea. I always look for a fresh way to give form to the idea in both complex and simple way, in outspoken visual terms. Though I feel connected with the audience, it is impossible to predict in

advance its reaction. Positive or negative, “like it” or “hate it,” actually this is unimportant. The artwork can be very vulnerable when exposed in public urban space and I find there is an incredible strength within this vulnerability. But the audience participation usually is a crucial component of the creative process, of the birth of the work itself. The worst could be if the audience reacts with “I don’t care” and “I don’t want to do it.” This has never happened to me and if it ever happens it would be an indicator that I have done a serious mistake. In the sound installation TODAY, 2016 as well in the performance CALLING YOUR NAME, 2016, both created at the Djerassi Foundation, I explore the possibility of an entirely open situation, where chaos, anarchy and constant change are at play. Minimizing my power as the artist, I give the authority to the participants. Thus I create a kind of raw material, which can be experienced, thought of and recombined in many different ways. TODAY is a sound installation based on multiple voices and random dates from past, present and future. Several channels of non-linear time fragmented to presumably exact entities, slowly create a volume of information, finally to dissolve into an absence of time. The short film CALLING YOUR NAME was shot during several séances with the fellows of Djerassi as actors. On 24 July during Djerassi Open Studios I realized the performance CALLING YOUR NAME where the visitors were invited to take part. After a short presentation of the idea and just a few words of instruction, the participants were free to create their own interpretations of CALLING YOUR NAME. Logically the choreography was unpredictable and the outcome – a complete surprise. Flow, multitude and mobility became the characteristics of this new work. The project PARLIAMENT STREET–BIRD STREET, 1992 was thought as an installation - a temporary pavement above the existing one along the central facade of the Parliament in Stockholm would be made of bread loaves and would last 3 days. Birds from all over the city would gather and fill the space with life and a new context. The project


ECSTASY, 2001 Photographer: Maja Spasova Interactive sound installation. 20 elements of porcelain, each with diam. 12 cm & height 19 cm, 20 dildos, electric power, cables. Produced with support by EKWC, The Netherlands and IASPIS, Sweden


ECSTASY, 2001 Photographer: Corne Bastiaansen Interactive sound installation. 20 elements of porcelain, each with diam. 12 cm & height 19 cm, 20 dildos, electric power, cables. Produced with support by EKWC, The Netherlands and IASPIS, Sweden


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received the support of several art institutions and a grant from the City of Stockholm, but the security department of the Parliament would not give permission. “One can hide a bomb in a bread loaf,” according to a representative of the security service. Thus I had to find a different way. A poster campaign, presenting the project as already done and announcing a performance on a certain day, was launched. On the given day the performance took place on the Parliament street while at the same time a small red airplane was flying in circles above the Parliament dragging a huge banner with the text “Parliament Street-Bird Street.” It was packed with people, I had enthusiastic comments, the audience was the most supportive one I could ever think of. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Maja. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving?

Usually I work with a number of projects at the same time, they develop paralelly and each with its own rhythm and timescale. Some can take a few months to realize, some – a few years. I can see how my work becomes more and more multidisciplinary, looking for expanding the concept of co-creation including not only artist and audience, but also animals, nature forces, the unpredictable chance. I am finishing a new body of work about disturbances/riots/wars. Here each separate element relates to a hero from the Greek Mythology. I see the Greek Mythology as the proto-manifesto of European civilization, Europe’s development program for the past 3000 years. For ex. paragraphs there stating the white man’s utter aggressiveness, his will for dominance and his misogyny have been thoroughly followed through centuries as the history confirms. Next year a group of sound installations and six short films will come out. The starting point is the numerous interviews I made with African refugees who try to make a new life in Europe. The result, though based on documentary material, is a

mixture of fiction and document, myth and reality. It has been a very difficult work, emotionally and artisticly. The project ATTENTION! YOU ARE LEAVING THE HUMAN ZONE will take place in different cities during the coming couple of years. And to mention as well – two major trilogies are on the way: 3 x RED DOT is a series of performances in urban environment staged around the globe. Red Dot comes from the vocabulary of contemporary warfare, but it can be found also as a concept in ancient Hindu and Buddhist thought. DROPS IN THE OCEAN / IN THE VOID / NEW MOON – three ambitious projects which I have been carrying in my mind since a few years. DROPS IN THE OCEAN – a journey of human voices travelling on the Atlantic Ocean, a journey with unknown outcome. IN THE VOID – an installation with a decisive participatory role of the audience, swept into the experience of void. NEW MOON – a giant mirror reflecting the emotional state of the population on a certain geographic spot. Such projects take an extensive organisation and can stretch over a long period of time. Something else which I love is drawing – quick and immediate. My drawings are comparable with entries in a diary - not about ideas, events or the like, but about various states of being expressed by a random line, an arbitary gesture - this is how I always begin a drawing. Then it develops of itself, I never know in advance what will appear at the end. This is the total opposite of my installations and other works, which grow out of very precise visual ideas.

An interview by and

, curator , curator


Linda Persson

O

ver the last 4 years I have occupied the role of the female explorer going to desolate landscapes, to questioning measured science and history of archive and knowledge production as we know it by putting the [female] body in motion. I recently went to the Australian desert and the opal mining industries to look at landscape / stones / before and after human interference. It’s a film that uses economic, colonial, ecological, gender concerns juxtaposing unlike images forming a sort of radicalism by using imagination as method.

http://www.lindapersson.org/ http://thelastwoman.moonfruit.com/ http://5months.moonfruit.com/news-month-by-month/4581073543


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LandEscape meets

Linda Persson An interview by and

, curator , curator

Multidisciplinary artist Linda Persson's work rejects any conventional classifications and is marked with freedom as well as rigorous formalism, when encapsulating a careful attention to composition and balance. She questions our contemporary society of economic growth ways following a close examination of reality, yet refusing traditional features that mark out documentary cinema: in an age in which globalisation and commodification impinge on every aspect of our lives, Persson uses her kaleidoscopic approach to investigate about language, mobility, and transformation. One of the most impressive aspects of Persson's work is the way it accomplishes the difficult task of unveiling the ubiquitous connections between microcosm and macrocosm: we are very pleased to introduce our readers to her stimulating and multifaceted artistic production Hello Linda and welcome to LandEscape: before starting to elaborate about your artistic production would you like to tell us something about your multifaceted background? You have a solid formal training and after having degreed with a BA from the Chelsea College of Art and Design, London, you nurtured your education with a MFA from the prestigious, Winchester School of Art, Southampton University. How do your


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Linda Persson


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

Hi LandEscape Art Review, thanks for having me. I like that you use the word substratum to form the question to connect cultural and aesthetic, as it means an underlying layer, specifically a layer of rock or soil beneath the surface of the ground. One could use that meaning to describe my practice; it is a careful yet inquisitive handling of materials and information that takes place within an embodied relation to archival and historical data through the actual experience of landscape. I'd like to think that my relation to culture is similar to the way that indigenous cultures often talk about culture. That it is alive and therefore more complex, as one can't easily divide it into past, present and future as in the Western tradition. It's instead all of this, entwined, simultaneous and ongoing, living. As Russell Means (also known as Oglala Lakota) said "Indigenous epistemology is fluid, nonlinear and relational. Knowledge is transmitted through stories that shape-shift in relation to the wisdom of the storyteller at the time of the telling." I have had an extremely nomadic life both by coincidence and by choice. It has accentuated my understanding of white privilege despite being a woman and from a working class background. Leaving Sweden for the UK in 1999 was a choice of possibility for a different future, as the EU accession treaty happened in Sweden 1995, and so studies abroad wouldn't incur hideous costs for me as a student, I could do it even though I didn't come from or have any money. Being situated away from the country where you were born can assist in questioning the notion of belonging and helps


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one to see how the system of language relates to cultural behavior, e.g. how the dominant noun-based nature of English language accentuates the outcome orientation of the world. Being a 'foreigner' creates both a sense of loss and a sense of freedom. I studied at Chelsea College between 99-02 at the sculpture department. It was great as there were so many foreigners, cultures, languages, behaviors, crashing into each other and at the same time one had to follow the rigid English academic system. Following my BA I later applied to Winchester School of Art, as I was very keen to gain access to the ISVR INSTITUTE situated in Southampton University. ISVR stands for the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research. It's a scientific department that investigates the impact of frequencies, vibrations around us, and how this also can be used scientifically for example in warfare etc. This wasn't totally supported by the arts department, but I learnt and experienced a lot, both in navigating the academic rules as well as shifting my practice, pushing the boundaries of making art within a quite conservative set-up, but I exited with a first class distinction. Winchester had a great moving image library with lots of footage available that would have been hard to access anywhere else due to loss or the neglect of certain artistic experimental practices. At Winchester I first encountered Michael Snow's work, Meredith Monk, Mary Lucier, as well as transgender, LGBT and hermaphrodite rights through writings in theoretical academic work, music and video recordings; and it all fully unlocked my interest in things seen as peripheral, marginal and 'other' (but that shouldn't be). In 2011 I moved back to Sweden as I had been accepted to the Mejan Resident programme at the Royal Institute of Arts in Stockholm. I did an artistic research year there using the thoughts of Derrida and in particular his


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Linda Persson


Linda Persson

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writings on the spectre/ ghost to try and expose conventionally defined connections between the physicality of an artwork and the space and movements that produce and reiterate it by trying to devise new associations in-between. I used the place of Berlin and specifically the Berlin Wall and its historical trauma between East and West, looking at it as an object, withdrawn from its history but at the same time historically reiterated in space as one thing, neglecting the nuances of living through these times. I became acquainted with Beelitz, a suburb of East Germany, a forgotten place which became the protagonist for cinematic experimentations through celluloid film and high definition digital technology to set those two types of entropy against each other: digital entropy and physical entropy. It really forced the question of bringing the body back into action and to reinforce a physical and cognitive memory alike. This work became an immersive multiple moving image and sound work called CHromaTiC AdaPTation MATriX, an umbrella title for the various works that is taken from the chromatic scale that transform the colour to be read accurately from screen to eye as part of the system in a MAC computer. You are a versatile artist and over these years you have gained the ability to cross from one media to another: your approach reveals an incessant search of an organic symbiosis between a variety of viewpoints. The results convey together a coherent sense of unity, that rejects any conventional classification. Before starting to elaborate about your production, we would suggest to our readers to visit http://www.lindapersson.org in order to get a synoptic view of your multifaceted artistic production: while walking our readers through your process, we would like to ask you if you have you ever happened to realize that such


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

No, having a multidisciplinary approach is absolutely not the only way, but it is a way that I use and feel most engaged with now. As I said earlier, my practice is fluid and nonlinear and it's directly related to place and experiences of relations, but it simultaneously interweaves academic western vernacular, wanting to challenge the hierarchal systems in place. And it's a troublesome task of crisscrossing cultural epistemologies. It’s about paying attention to our discomfort as this can be an indication that we are feeling the tension that coexist when one is going against the grain. My thinking and making goes through different materials and processes and I am, by putting my body in motion to go to places and landscapes, given experiences by actually moving, and that is quite a radical thing in itself, and this forms my visual output. I pick up on things related to our senses like smell, light and dark, dry or moist sonic atmosphere, which are all deeply sensorial and experiential. It's not just about responding to the things already in existence but bringing to the fore the absences in the produced worlds. This can create hard-to-follow image sequences or mediums being chosen, yet, if successful, it can create curiosity or better a sense of euphoria. Our world shrieks of mobility, interaction, exchange, flexibility however it only applies to a fair few, but mainly it applies to money. Actual moving bodies have created new walls to be built, harsher entries and exits from and into certain countries. My relation and use of material goes hand in hand with my movements. The 'immateriality' of the world is highly material, everything connected to immaterial labour and its affect is rooted in

the use of the digital domain, Internet and so on. These things are directly connected to the earth, soil, the universe- we mine heavily around the globe to access rare minerals that foster and grow our 'immaterial' affective uses. Without gold, copper, radioactive components, coltan (columbite-tantalite) we wouldn't have the immaterial world nor the material world. It's all connected. The connections should be further merged and heightened rather than separated into pockets and disciplines where we lose sight of the connectivity. Therefore this 'moving through landscapes' is a very important component in my artistic practice. For this special edition of LandEscape we have selected Zeus Tears, that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article. What has at once captured our attention of this interesting transdisciplinary research project is the way you provided the visual results of your analysis with autonomous aesthetics: when walking our readers through the genesis of Zeus Tears, would you shed light on your usual process and set up?

Over quite a few years now I have incorporated a role that could be compared to the female explorer. I've been going to desolate landscapes to question our relation to measured science and our history of archiving and the formation of knowledge production as we know it by putting the female body in motion. The prompt for this work started with my interest in landscape and its relation to the human body and time. Landscapes sometimes acquire a reputation of being cursed or where people claim to have seen aliens. Lighting Ridge in New South Wales, Australia is one of these places. The research I was concurrently


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undertaking in Sweden a few years ago, was about a well known cursed island on the east coast of Sweden called the Blue Maiden, on which the stones hold a curse. By studying the early myths and legends around this island I also came across other mythical stories related to sea and stones such as black opals. These were said to also have been the tears of Zeus when he sacrificed his son to not lose his power. So I looked up black opals and found that they only exist in this particular place in Australia called Lighting Ridge (original name Warrangulla). It got its name in 1906 when the first farmer settled with his 200 sheep, only to be struck by dry lightning, which killed most of the stock and the family. Now, people live there and dry lightning does happen. This is a necessity for the opals to be formed. They need water and high charge electricity, instant heat, to then form beautifully over thousands of years. In this way they form in relation to the ironstone base and together with silica and water (like the method of making glass) the opals form particular facets that can diffract light in the most magical way. As I have incorporated both old and new technology in my earlier work, the way I make film, merging celluloid with HD or when I construct devices such as hand built projectors collapses different time aspects and I had this idea that by using an opal stone I could make a lens for a projector that could show time, slow and deep time, geological time as the black opal has had thousands of years in its making but still carries a high content of water and therefore potentially still is a changing life form [theoretically], especially as water is connected to life, both scientifically and symbolically. By shining light through a rotating opal gemstone, a projection of geological time would emerge at the same time using its colour

diffractions as way to produce colour (like a DLP projectors mirror rotation via RGB colour system). So in 2015 Sep/Oct I was going out to Brisbane for a residency / workshops with the IMA gallery and I made sure I was able to hike out to NSW, where I spent 8 days on a bike and in an old mining shed converted to an artists house called Sunsiz Media. I wanted to learn more about the traditional owners of the land, the Yuwaalaraay people and the opal industry. As with many other indigenous groups around Australia the Yuwaalaraay people were displaced. However I met a few Aboriginal people who lived / moved back to Lighting Ridge and I asked about their stories. The Rainbow serpent is a famous Tjurkurrpa story and it was said that in the past one didn't stay in Warrangulla country, it was a significant place but also full of magic. The serpent could be seen throughout the landscape and that country was not to be disturbed. Another songline story describe that the opals where the result of a huge wheel of fire which fell to earth and scattered the landscape with brilliant coloured stones. So both in new and old times the landscape has magical attributes shaped by the force of nature. The film Zeus Tears is part of a larger context, inspired from the landscape, the myths and physically being there. The protagonist in the film is two-fold, the opal and the ghost, something human-like visiting from the past to disturb the current mode. It plays with the delivery of words in connection to the images, so sound and text is out of sync. The landscape appears to be alive through different camera techniques followed by differently pitched image layers through editing. The sound design became an important part of the work where sonic recordings of the colour vibrations from


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the opals have been developed to feature as soundscape. There are also some footage in the film shot in Queenstown Tasmania and nearby ghost towns like Crotty and Linda. I've also included some aquatic scenes from Moreton Bay Sea nature reserve on the Gold coast. So it's merging different landscapes and different histories. The film was first shown in Iceland in Seydisfjördur Nov 2015 alongside a timecollapse performance that I execute with the Tasmanian Hobart based artist Pip Stafford. She builds electro-magnetic devices that can react sonically to minerals that she amplifies and create sound from. This has been a collaborative experiment to force out actual experiences of time in space from different parts of the globe simultaneously and is something we are developing through ideas of ritual, magic and feminist methodologies. Throughout November 2016 Zeus Tears was screened in Elävä-Pori in Finland (a window display next to a car park in north of Finland). I am still working on a larger context for this work to include the opal projector and photography to create a greater immersive experience. As you have remarked once, Zeus Tears is a film that uses economic, colonial, ecological, gender concerns juxtaposing unlike images forming a sort of radicalism by using imagination as method:

Imagination is a tool that is disregarded as a methodological tool in Western systems. In other cultural environs the inclusion of dreaming and imaginary properties are important cornerstones to develop inventive solutions that support the social and living systems, ecological thinking and certain progression. By not following a heteronormative system my research falls alongside indigenous, queer and feminist


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Linda Persson


Linda Persson

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methodologies. By using the female body in motion, I mean my own body with movements through foreign landscapes, I highlight the notion on white privilege, as I am a white person from Sweden, and so it is easier to enable border crossings. But at the same time being a sole traveller as a woman is challenging as it disturbs the ideas of the male conqueror and exposes power relation between gender hierarchies which can be noticed from both men and women that I meet through the journeys. I think this is because our patriarchal system is so embedded in our way of seeing the world, wired into our systems to promote outcomes, goals, progression and economic growth. Using the female body always makes a relation to sexuality, like it or not (also part of a certain political landscape), however this film has over and over given me feedback from women saying that it really speaks to them in a more real way of connecting sexuality and being a woman. It does not show the stereotypical female body but rather uses the body as a tool to speak of its power, strength and sensibility through certain movements and repetitions. And by using harsh landscapes from the outback, active and dead mining settlements as well as the products at task, it tries to connect past, present, future in quite challenging set of image sequences, captured first hand, not trawled online. It activates and creates other ways of looking at the overlooked, or even questioning the idea of image making, by actually putting things in movement in an embodied way. It doesn't mean archives and collected data are useless, for me it acts as ignition, a force to find out more, to resist the academic visual vernacular that so prominent in the (art) world, and instead enable a reconnection of the margins. As


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the work doesn't follow any rules it is challenging and requires a certain 'letting go' from the audience. Seeing some things for the first time, yet also something familiar is a spectral experience. The way I work is also challenging for myself and it surely gives me new eyes every time. Sometimes it fails on several layers but that can also become an important part of forming something unexpected and radical. Zeus Tears was shot the Australian desert: what was the most challenging thing about making this film?

That I was on my own. No camera man, no assistance. But that is a usual way for me. It opens up connections with others and with landscape on ones own terms. But it is hard to be in front and behind at the same time. Even that forces the body to be engaged either through constant moving or through a form of passivity, letting time pass. Visual opportunities get lost due to being alone, which is part of the experience and eliminates sensational imagery. The limits set the outcome in one way and opens up another way of responding creatively to place through other means than film, photography. I often work with very small or non-existent budgets. There is no recourse to revisit or redo. So within the framework set out, the work created becomes part of time and chance, allowing the unexpected to take place. And as always in outback Australia, one has to get used to coexist with emus, snakes, spiders and dingos. And cows. And flies. Do you think that your being a woman provides the way you question our contemporary society of economic growth with some special value the way, with some additional meaning?


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Linda Persson

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Well, I couldn't do it any other way as I am a woman and have grown up in a gender specific society. By legitimate indigenous and feminist methodologies in our systems at large, I think we can get to a point where focus could shift and things could change. So yes, it does create additional meaning as it questions the white male supremacist society we live in, from the other side. Another interesting work from your recent production that has particularly impressed us and on which we would like to spend some words is entitled The Astral Women: what has at once captured our attention of your inquiry into ritual, shamanistic, witch procedures is your successful attempt to produce a dialectical fusion that operates as a system of symbols creates a compelling non linear narrative that, walking the thin line between conceptual and literal meanings, establishes direct relations with the viewers. German multidisciplinary artist Thomas Demand once stated that "nowadays art can no longer rely so much on symbolic strategies and has to probe psychological, narrative elements within the medium instead". What is your opinion about it? And in particular how do you conceive the narrative for your works?

I think it's important to understand the medium(s) one works with and why the medium is chosen for a specific work. Thomas Demand’s work is really staged and plays with showing the 'fake' as the 'real' when setting up his 'nearly perfect' paper cut out models to be photographed, which exposes the gap between truth and fiction in his material. For me it rarely starts with medium or material but instead I focus on place or myth that shapes the medium for

the work, however the medium chosen often negotiates its own internal usage and possibility or as a failure. I have a very broad skill set and materials shift between processes. The research, the material probing; for example transferring an image to become a piece of clothing used in performance or film, or extracting the sound vibrations that become the films sound narrative, are all important parts that help build the work. However with The Astral Women I wanted to work slightly differently and made certain decisions prior to filming e.g. that it was going to be shoot on 16mm celluloid as a single channel film and that I wanted my aunt who is a comedian / actress in Sweden to be the main witch. Conceptually I was interested in the connection between capitalism and superstition that forms the reality around the Blue Maiden with its cursed stones that people take only to be sent back to the borough once bad luck is experienced. Hundreds of stones every year get returned and are currently building up as an unwanted archive. I was also keen to unfold the birth of the word 'witch' that gave effect to the social construction to give power to control the female body, its knowledge and so on. When I first went to do some research before filming, I had no luck getting to the island as it’s very weather dependant to be able to access this place. So instead I spent quite sometime with a historian Thomas Gren, who was working for the borough to where the 'cursed' stones get addressed, and he told me the history of the island and its short time as a quarry as well as its export link to Germany. So his voice is part of the film constructing a sense of documentary even though the film is fictional, this part was shot on HD. The Astral Women also uses ritual modes as


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actions for the protagonist witch to return some real stones that have given people bad luck, so the film actually combines 'real' rituals to relieve peoples’ bad luck and a fictional ritual within the film narrative. The choice to shoot on film was to limit the production of image making on 4 rolls = 12 min. So each stage needed planning and careful set up. The film was shot over 1,5 day. The Astral Women has, on the surface, a seductive beauty: however, it is marked out with a deep socio-political criticism that runs throughout all your works: while lots of artists from the contemporary scene, as Ai WeiWei or more recently Thomas Hirschhorn and Jennifer Linton, use to convey open socio-political criticism in their works, you seem more interested to hint the direction, inviting the viewers to a process of self-reflection that may lead to subvert a variety of usual, almost stereotyped cultural categories. Do you consider that your works could be considered political in a certain sense or did you seek to maintain a more neutral approach? And in particular, what could be in your opinion the role that an artist could play in the contemporary society?

I do think that today any kind of image making is political. We are in a moment where production of images is very ubiquitous and user-generated through various social media applications, but my focus is on the specificity of image-making and how making it into art can simultaneously question the status of the image and challenge it. What is expected of an artwork today? I ask myself this question and I often let the work that I produce respond or react to its own context. Seductive beauty, imagination and fiction can probe much deeper than open socio-political


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statements as it allows people to absorb and feel through something rather than being told specific 'truths'. I would never feel that I could tell anyone how to think or feel about anything, I am not a preacher nor a politician. Saying that, I have strong personal political views and through my

work I try to challenge myself as much as challenging anyone else, to ask questions rather than providing answers or opinions. Your work in general, and in particular your Borderlands series provides the viewers with an immersive experience:


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how do you see the relationship between public sphere and the role of art in public space? In particular, how much do you consider the immersive nature of the viewing experience in your process?

When I build installations, to put the work on show, I'd like to transfer some of my experiences

of the processes through spatial engagement from travelling, landscapes and places. I don't expect anyone to just be a spectator or a consumer of art. By setting out a movement strategy based on the installation of the work, forces the viewing body to actively move into and around the work, emphasizing to look at things differently. This is to trigger the notion of body as experience and not only as a receiver. Borderlands series is a photographic work shoot whilst researching for my work around and with Sámi culture called Nuortabealli (Sámi for shadow from east at winter night, 2014), up in Nordkapp / North Cape, the very north of Norway. The images show a fence that separates the furthest point of Scandinavia and the North Pole. What was striking spending time up there was the numerous of busloads of tourists entering a magnificent 'end of the world' border, with little to no interest to actually look around except for seeing the art monument, the café and see a film about Nordkapp / North Cape. Its surrounding nature seems to remain invisible and is instead hijacked by culture to mainstream the experience, which is often too much the case for 'public' outdoor art. The Borderlands series photographs shows this lack of empathy and rather spurious claim to the place made visible through what's left behind; human rubbish molded by weather and wind into the fence. This is probably my most conventional set of works as displayed in a row on the wall, five A2 sized giclee prints on Somerset paper with ripped edges, appearing to float on the wall using magnets to hold the work, to emphasize a temporality and vulnerability by being unframed and unglazed.


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

The audience will always be considered to respond to the way of how I try to engage with the world, by looking differently at things, especially in my installations and more recently in my performance works. I have moved my practice into performative works that are semi-installations explored through characters that are influenced by ancient folk traditions, mythical / magical bearers and legends, merged with more recent historical environs. This is something that has developed through my extensive travels as art and research to outback areas, through indigenous land, where I have looked at industry, technology progression and tourism in its relation to old knowledge and landscape. What it does for me is two things:Firstly, it merges myself with my work, living it as it happens and acknowledges the experience as one thing that is not divided into categories such as art and research. Secondly, language and behaviour is the structure in which recouped ancient knowledge can be used to reroute the way we live and think about ‘progress’ and economic growth. I use ‘magical’ choreography through performances that use multisensory bodily

engagement, through both the landscape and with the audience. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Linda. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving?

Over the last couple of years I have worked more making objects using ceramics. Clay is a very versatile material. To me clay is as much technology as nano equipment. It also holds strong mythical and healing properties, such as mud baths to heal rheumatism or the story of the Golem. The work I've made with clay has become props for performances such as flutes or part of costumes or performative objects such as the piece Eidola currently exhibited at Luzern Kunstmuseum in Switzerland as part of Laure Prouvost's exhibit 'Higher grounds..' until Feb 2017. I have just come back from a 2 months residency out in the outback Australia, spending time in the Western Australian desert goldfields area. This project will be developed further during next year for a larger touring exhibition 2018/19. I am also continuing my work at the Blue Maiden but through a 2 year project run by an archeologist and professor Bodil Pettersson at the Linnéuniversity with focus on 'Experimental Heritage'. Thanks for your interesting questions and for giving me so much space to elaborate on work and processes. An interview by and

, curator , curator


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Snow Yunxue Fu Lives and works in Chicago, USA

An artist's statement

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now Yunxue Fu’s artwork approaches the subject of the Sublime using topographical computer rendered animation installations. She examines and interprets the world around her through digital reality, where she draws a parallel to the realms of the physical, the virtual, the metaphysical, and multi-dimensionality. Modeling her animations on the allegorical paintings of Casper David Fredrich, Fu continues her aspirations in the sublime from her painting background into experimental digital media,

exploring the nature of physical and metaphysical limits, as the work also mirrors the fundamental aspect of Chinese Traditional Landscape Painting, which often presents a type of virtual reality where the significance of the individual and linear perspective is blurred into a voluminous landscape. Extending out from the pictorial, Fu’s installation work engages in a metaphoric relationship with physical perception, by which the sublime is framed and the viewer is invited to enter into a liminal interior within a digitally constructed realm.


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LandEscape meets

Snow Yunxue Fu An interview by and

, curator , curator

Marked out with a stimulating multidisciplinary feature, artist Snow Yunxue Fu's work examines the possibilities inherent in contemporary media and technology to question aspects concerning human perception in relationship of contemporary technosphere. In her recent body of works that we'll be discussing in the following pages she draws the viewers through a multilayered experience capable of challenging their perceptual parameters, conveying a variety of ideas: when inquiry into a variety of issues, including cultural and anthropological problems, Fu's approach triggers both memory and imagination, creating captivating artworks: we are very pleased to introduce our readers to her multifaceted and stimulating artistic production. Hello Snow and welcome to LandEscape: before starting to elaborate about your artistic production would you like to tell us something about your background? You have a solid formal training and you studied both in China and in the United States: after having earned your B.F.A.in Painting from the Southeast Missouri State University, you moved to Chengdu, China, to attend the Sichuan Normal University. You later nurtured your education with a B.F.A. in Studio Art and a M.F.A. in Film, Video, New Media, and Animation, that you received from the prestigious School of the Art Institute of Chicago. How do these experiences influence your evolution as an artist? And in particular, how does the relationship between your substratum dued to

your Chinese roots and your current life in the United States inform the way you relate yourself to the aesthetic problem and to art making general? I grew up with two art educators as parents and a grandfather who was a well-known Chinese traditional painter and sculptor. I was painting as long as I can remember. I worked with Chinese ink painting, acrylic and oil pastel throughout my childhood, painting anything from abstraction to figurative. As a child, that was very much part of my life. Art is how I reflected what I saw during the day and processed things I experienced. However, there was a break from art in my teenage years, mostly because of the heavy load of Chinese academic work from school. Plus, I had a bit of a rebellious period where, due to family pressure to continue the trade and become an art star, I resented the idea and focused on English. This actually paid off, since I came full circle in the States. It was not until I came to America for college that I started to paint again (on my own terms) and finally majored in oil painting. In my many undergraduate years, I was mainly a painter, but also had a multidisciplinary background in sculpture and photography before making the leap into Experimental 3-D and installation. I came to America for my higher education. I think I approach Asian identity maybe in a more different way then an Asian artist who may be born or grow up in the west. I know there are artist who are more actively working with how to identify themselves as Asians or just Asian identity in general in their work. But what I’m more


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Snow Yunxue Fu


Snow Yunxue Fu

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interested in is more of the humanity in all races and cultures. There are definitely things and morals I hold on to growing up in China. I’m sort of less interested about the conversation of how everyone is different because of their cultural heritage. While I think it’s still very important to allow the difference but it can also become something very arbitrary and sort of trying to take a broader view, I feel like civilizations belongs to every single one of us. Especially while the world is becoming a smaller place, so to speak, with the internet and how easily people can travel nowadays. I think that this heritage is not necessarily like, “oh, I have the blood of China, therefore I only hold on to the teachings and values from Chinese culture.” Therefore, I don’t think I address Asian identity in sort of a direct way like that. There are definitely certain aspects of my work considered Chinese. A lot of times it’s really interesting, people will look at my work and later come up to me and point it out and I’ll also often turn to agree with them. For example, a work I had made was called “Pro,” which is this long gap like animation which is installed in-between two curved walls and somebody came to me after I installed it and they said: “Wow, this is like a digital Chinese landscape painting.” In a way I did connect with that because my grandfather was a very dedicated landscape painter all his life in China. Did I seek out and deliberately said “I’m going to create a Maya digital Chinese landscape animation?” No, I didn’t. However, I think I definitely draw from what my past experiences with Chinese landscape paintings. So yeah, I think my relationship with that is that I’m less interested about the boundaries and I’m less interested when someone only identifies themselves as an Asian artist. But I’m more interested about being an artist and at the end of the day what is the human experience we’re trying to reflect upon but also not throwing out that I do specifically come from somewhere and therefore acknowledge my understanding would be shaped by that. But does it stop there? I do not think so. You are a versatile artist and your work is marked out with a distinctive multidisciplinary feature:

ranging from Installations and 3D Animations to Prints and other, the kaledoiscopic nature of your practice shows an organic synergy between a variety of expressive capabilities. Before starting to elaborate about your production, we would suggest to our readers to visit http://snowyunxuefu.com in order to get a synoptic view of your multifaceted artistic production: while walking our readers through your process, we would like to ask you if you have you ever happened to realize that such multidisciplinary approach is the only way to express and convey the idea you explore. On a whim, I took this intro to Experimental 3-D course at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. It was very different from my normal practice, but I found myself relating to it. What I


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had been hoping to express and explore in painting seemed to suddenly be freed and made possible through the limitlessness of virtual reality. It was like a light coming on or a door opening, and I never looked back. However, I brought with me a painter’s sensibility and process. I quickly replaced my canvas and paintbrushes with software like Maya and Realflow, and moved more and more into intentional abstraction. The main conversations in the painting world were not so connected to what I was trying to explore conceptually. Painting seemed burdened by always carrying around centuries of conversation and baggage. One would almost have to choose to fully carry that baggage or find a way to creatively dismiss it all to explore

what one wished. Yet, when I came to 3-D experimental animation, it was like a sudden discovery of a better language. It was definitely a younger medium and virtual reality had yet to be explored in the art world. The conversation was more energetic. I think the painter in me will never die, but, as in my real life, one language may work better than another to express myself. With each language you learn, new perspectives are available to you to explore. Some languages seem naturally related to one another, and the language of installation was a natural progression from 3-D work, as it is often projected into architectural space.


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3-D medium itself is interdisciplinary by nature, besides painting, it also has characteristics of working with sculpture, photography, virtual filmmaking and installation. It in a way functions as a metaphor and model of those physical mediums. I think it is the logical conclusion of where the most exciting contemporary art should be. For this special edition of LandEscape we have selected Tunnel, an interesting body of works

that our readers have already started to admire in the introductory pages of this article. We like the this work chellenges the viewers' perceptual parameters to draw them through a multilayered experience. While walking our readers through the genesis of Tunnel, would you shed light to your usual set up and process? Tunnel was originally inspired from an experience I had this past summer where we


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was excited so when we went through the tunnel which was made in the early 20th century so it was small. Even though we were traveling with a bus, only one car can fit in the tunnel at one time. So for the majority of the time we were “in the dark,” as the tour guide put it. He also mentioned that there are five windows increasing in size so each one will reveal a little bit more about the other side of landscape. I had a feeling that this experience would be unique and I was very excited as we progressed even though for majority of the time we were in the dark, every once in a while there was a little opening outside of the bus and it got bigger and bigger so you did get to see the other side of the landscape more as it goes on. I was also counting them 1 2 3 4… before I was able to count five already we were outside the tunnel and the tour guide welcomed us to the fifth window. I took that experience very metaphorically. Thinking about this revealed an unrevealed expectation and a parallelization to a sort of the spiritual realm versus the physical and metaphysical realm, which has been a common theme throughout all my work, so the piece Tunnel is very much inspired by that experience and of course the making of the work also made it become something else.

were traveling to Arizona, which the place was not really that important, but working on that experience as a metaphor going through a tunnel was the inspiration--long story short; Arizona is beautiful with all the different formations of rocks so we were really excited as tourists. The tour guide was like “you will get to see this new kind of rock form after we go through this tunnel, and they are unlike anything you have seen before!” so everyone

So working with experimental 3-D is interesting because in a way you’re very exposed to this blank XYZ space. You might also had some experience with 3-D software or maybe even in Photoshop so when you work with the software, things come from nothing to something. Especially working with software dealing with virtual reality. You start with an empty XYZ space and then you sort of create stuff within that space. Things like gravity, if you do not put it in this space it won’t be there. My approach is very much building the world within Maya. Sometimes it’s very much with abstract shapes and there is a lot of esoteric elements. Living in this world is a more figurative structure and it’s very much swimming in and out so it’s about building this world or building this virtual sculpture first and then relating to experimental filmmaking so I animate them. From there it’s working with the


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virtual camera like one may work with a real camera in the world and revealing this world that I just made with different camera movements. What has at once captured our attention of your exploration of the liminal space among the physical and virtual realms is the way you invited the viewers to rethink the elusive notion of perception: artists are always interested in probing to see what is beneath the surface: maybe one of the roles of an artist could be to reveal unexpected sides of Nature, especially of our inner Nature... what's your view about this? The physically installation outlet is a really important component of my work. So usually it’s in the installation form. I also want to bring in the image of the physical space where there is a relationship of scale in distance and relationship of light and dark with the viewer and the experience. Most of the installations are very aware of the viewers’ body like it’s usually in relation to the average person’s height. There’s a lot of gaps, so to speak, in my installation where I deny access of my viewer to fully consume the image and those gaps are very much related to the thickness and width of our bodies so that somebody can understand the fact there’s more image behind the structure but they are not necessarily able to access while I am still inviting them to imagine the more and beyond. So I would say that is my process, with which each of them are very different and address specific issues but by taking inspiration from various experiences, so it’s very much about the specific content in the animation and I am also working with each environments in every the exhibition space and talking to my audience in a special way. Sound plays a crucial role and provide Tunnel with an aethereal, almost uncanny quality, that has reminded us of the notion of non lieu elaborate by French anthropologist Marc Augé: how did you structure the composition between moving images and sound? In particular, did you capture

environmental sounds to process them via DSP methods? As a former painter, sound was not an immediate concern going into 3-D. Now it is quite obvious. Sound continues to be an area of exploration for me. My process is quite intuitive, so there are times sound seems to be a natural extension of the work and other times not. Like with mainstream viewers’ perception of 3-D animation, media natives that have experienced


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digital media and sound from near birth, tend to expect sound when they see a moving image. Whether sound is or is not used, its presence or absence can help viewers arrive at a particular awareness of themselves in relation to the work. When I do use sound, I usually start with recording environmental sound or I use recordings from various sources and then edit them on software like Logic. I find there is a

draw for my work to combine sounds at opposite ends of the spectrum – sound based in the environment and sound that is fully synthetic. And that relates somehow to the experience I want my viewers to have, either fully immersed in the visual and audible elements of my work, or stopping to explore why there is not sound and how it relates. We live in an technologic era that’s saturated with an ever-growing wide multitude of


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methods, and with all the variations and modifications that come with them. As the move of art from traditional spaces to the online realm increases, what do you think the future of technology and art will be? The majority of digital technology has practical places in our daily routines. How can I do this

efficiently? How can I get this information the fastest? How can I connect with this group of people? These questions are often answered by “looking down�, focused on a specific place in time, a screen, an app, a watch. It very much reflects a western capitalist consumerism, though, in my work, I am more fascinated with the idea of


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singular finite 0’s and 1’s, yet they grant the virtual world infiniteness, as in Maya where the X, Y, and Z axes extend forever. The digital realm, therefore, is an excellent platform to hold conversations about the significance of our personal/interpersonal and existential/everyday selves.

conjuring an experience of the infinite in nature – like what happened when you saw the ocean for the first time or climbing to the top of a peak. These experiences reflect the questions we face when our finite selves meet the infinite. The digital virtual world parallels this stage. Everything in the virtual world is made up of

There is definitely criticism I hear especially with the technological part of my work. I honestly think some are good concerns but some are probably just misunderstandings. One thing that jumps out in my mind, many people who come to look at the work, or digital work in general, are questioning the artist’s hand in it, thus the artist’s involvement and therefore the artist’s intention. This is something that is not usually questioned of an artist who paints? This myth about mark marking that traditionally is very related to paintbrushes and empty canvas, and the idea by smearing some paint on the canvas, it somehow makes people feel it’s a stronger human connection verses someone who is sitting behind a computer sculpting, animating, and lighting things. I mean, I definitely understand how it could look a little more distant from the artist hand but I think it’s only because it’s a lack of understanding of how much an artist could be physically, emotionally, and mentally involved in creating a digital artwork. I don’t think it’s… of course technology is more considered as an extended tool, you know. Talking about tool making, paintbrushes and canvases once was a really new tool too. We have developed more as humans over time so of course were using the more advanced tool but I think the motive and intention behind the tools doesn’t necessarily mean the tool would lessen the intent. Of course there is a possibility behind that. It has to do with each artist and how they approach their work and how much meaning and conceptual ideas they put in their work reflect back upon how much are they involved into the work. So that is definitely one of the more general criticisms I often respond to.


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I think there still is a lot of controversy surrounding the digital art form even looking at the history of moving images, or even before that, photography. There were people for the longest time who were very suspicious that photography could never become an art form besides being a medium of capture and then Walter Benjamin came out and wrote an article about mass production and reflecting that into photography and film making. The medium could become more than a capture tool of reality, but in a way quite different, it very much became about image making that relates to the projection of desire. Nowadays, there is so many programs like Photoshop that there is in so many ways functions even more like that, to manipulate images, which some are for better and some are for worse. From my end those are all tools and the grander debate--you can’t really call a tool evil or good, the output of that tools is directly related to the person who is using it--how are they using it? How you can draw a better judgment? There are definitely many different sides to work with technology. When inquiring to the state of the human consciousness, Solid rejects an explicit explanatory strategy: rather, you seem to invite the viewer to find personal interpretations. How does representation and a tendency towards abstraction find their balance in your work? I believe that exploring abstraction is a crucial foundation to examine and understand the process of human perception. As limited being attempts to comprehend the much vaster reality, it inevitably creates many paradoxes. The very creation of language, for instance, while serving the purpose for communication, the individual words often for-short of the much more profound meaning of the subject in which the vocabulary is trying to frame. Abstraction invites the emphasis on personal interpretation, therefore I believe the experience

is more real without too much pre-conceived notion from the artist. I think it is the best way of demonstration the following quote: "...digital space has no generic method for looking at the world the way that a camera does through its pinhole/lens apparatus. Digital space is constructed space, in which each component,


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aspect, concept, and surface must be defined mathematically. At the same time, the world inside a computer is but a model of reality as if seen through the eye of a synthetic camera, inseparable from the tradition of film. Yet, in this context, no viewpoint is ever discarded, the internal space is open to a continuous

rearrangement and access to a selection of views and narrative vectors in infinite, not only to the author, but also, with the use of certain strategies, to the viewer. Once the author constructs and organize a digital space, the viewer can enter into a narrative relationship with it. A shot in film indicates a discrete


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viewpoint. Its narrative purpose is to eliminate other possible views. In contrast, the world in the computer contains the infinity of undivided space, undissected by the viewpoints of narrative progression. In the world of the machine, all sets of narrative vectors are offered in an equal nohierarchical way. The machine is indifferent to the psychological conditioning of a viewpoint. All coordinates of space are always present and available to the principles of selected observation." --Notes on Installation, by Woody Vasulka Your installation Pro² could be considered as an exploration of the insterstitial point between the figurative feature of daily life objects' physical perception and gestures and the abstract nature of digitally constructed space: we have appreciated the way this work unveils the flow of information through an effective non linear narrative, establishing direct relations with the viewers: German multidisciplinary artist Thomas Demand once stated that "nowadays art can no longer rely so much on symbolic strategies and has to probe psychological, narrative elements within the medium instead". What is your opinion about it? And in particular how do you conceive the inner narrative for your works? My artwork approaches the subject of the Sublime using topographical computer rendered animation installations. She examines and interprets the world around her through digital reality, where she draws a parallel to the realms of the physical, the virtual, the metaphysical, and multi-dimensionality. Modeling her animations on the allegorical paintings of Casper David Fredrich, Fu continues her aspirations in the sublime from her painting background into experimental digital media, exploring the nature of physical and metaphysical limits, as the work also mirrors the fundamental aspect of Chinese Traditional Landscape Painting, which often presents a type of virtual reality where the significance of the individual and linear perspective is blurred into a voluminous

landscape. Extending out from the pictorial, Fu’s installation work engages in a metaphoric relationship with physical perception, by which the sublime is framed and the viewer is invited to enter into a liminal interior within a digitally constructed realm. Pro² provides the viewers with an immersive experience capable of challenging their perceptual parameters. How do you see the relationship between public sphere and the role of art in public space? In particular, how much do you consider the immersive nature of the viewing experience? Maybe because I have originally come from background of other mediums that deal with objects and space such as sculpture, after an intense involvement with the digital space through 3D animation, I was eager to bring the images that I have created there at least partially back into the physical reality. Pro² came out from that. As I believe the human perceptual experience is not only with our visual and hearing senses, but also a bodily one. So the viewing of the work in space and especially public space become an important one for me. In the contemporary era, our experience of the physical space is also profoundly informed by the experience we have with the digital space. I love the following quote dealing specifically with video installation and I hope my installation work reflects many aspects here: "...Not only do we live surrounded by images, our built environment and even our natural world has largely passed through image-culture before rematerializing in three-dimensional space...The materialization of other possible apparatuses allows us to imagine alternatives and thus provides the Archimedean points from which to criticize what we have come to take for granted. "A subject in this everyday world is surrounded by images and a built environment that are, at times, hard to tell apart. Three-dimensional objects are no longer a prior reality to be represented, but rather seem to be blowups of a two-dimensional


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world. Two and three dimensions interchange freely with each other in a derealizing process so hard to grasp that we turn to catch words like postmodernism in desperation..." --Video Installation Art: The Body, the Image, and the Space-in-Between, by Margaret Morse Over these years your works have been exhibited in several occasions, both in China

and in the United States: you have had six solos, including your recent show Tunnel, at the Double Frame Gallery and at the DINCA Space, Mana Contemporary Chicago. One of the hallmarks of your work is the capability to create a direct involvement with the viewers, who are urged to evolve from a condition of mere spectatorship. So before leaving this conversation we would like to pose a question


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symposium. It’s really nice. They commissioned the project for me; getting some more money and support than I have ever had for my art, which is nice. Since when I first started out as a student, it was hard to have to out money into your work without gaining it back. So there is definitely changes in that and receiving grants and using it to make the work better and just to be able to have stronger support and better resources for art making. Yes, I’m definitely looking at broader conversations or venues. Not just in Chicago either, even though I love the art community in Chicago, the fact that there is more people and a bigger world out there so I would like to relate to as many people as I can. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Snow. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving?

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

I am currently working on projects that deal further with the idea of multi-dimensionality in a cinematic space, such as the 3-D Animation Gen. Technically, I have also been continually working with liquid mesh and also adding in a moving figurative component to it. Exploring new tools in 3-D animation software and see where it brings me to the next projects. And I also have some plans to work on some smaller scale video installations after taking a slight break on it. I find myself the feeling of wanting to go back to experience the digital images in the physical space again. As a child, my art was very much part of my life. Art was, is, and hopefully continue to be how I reflected what I saw during the day and processed things I experienced.

An interview by

I’m definitely seeking out larger conversations or the conversation has become bigger and at the same time more specific. I’m going to Connecticut this weekend to attend an art and technology

and

, curator , curator


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I linca Bernea Lives and works in Romania

I

conceive humor as being situated at the contact surface with the sublime. I practice all arts but music. I have released several performances in the last three years, created with students in choreography and philosophy. The two aesthetic coordinates of my creations are humor and melancholy. I put myself in the position of the Shakespearean jester, whose sense of humor is meant to dislocate an equal amount of sadness, bitterness and longing. I am addicted to cats and music. I am a big fan of the feline temperament, which has many contrasts, such as: the fast transition from a state of calm and quietness to the attack position or from a sleepy mood to extreme vigilance etc. I believe in beauty as necessity and as a spectacle of existence. I am an urban spirit. I am drawn into the blend between old and new, between chaos and order, between eccentricity and conformity, from big metropolises, which are quite eclectic, culturally speaking. The cross-features that are apparently not meant to be compatible are very appealing to me. I consider myself having an androgynous mind, although I'm very feminine in my sensorial nature. As a writer or creator of performances, as well as a painter, I try to show the relativism of the oppositions that are mainly culturally and

linguistically shaped. The existential reality is not meant to follow the patterns of human thinking and representation, by the contrary, the patterns should adjust all the time. In contemporary societies, we live, besides moral crises, an acute crisis of beauty as well... When a vital substance is missing from the chemistry of your body, you feel sick. When the reality that you're caught into is deciphered by your sensibility as being "ugly" in its own terms, you also feel an inner sickness. We are subjected to many toxic sensorial and emotional stimuli. Besides, the present lifestyle is very dynamic in the frame of external reality and quite inert in the frame of the inner one. We are often pushed towards the exit from oneself, forced, like through an emergency-door, to find the way out of our inner worlds, chased to live at the periphery of our own beings. I think that, under these circumstances, art's role is to put ourselves in contact with our deeper self and senses and to make us aware of our particular ways of thinking and feeling. Artistic expressions influence the way we interpret and live our personal experiences, it's a matter of fact. I am definitely the adept of the beautiful art. If these artistic expressions are hyper-inventive, but cerebral and cold, our critical sense and abstract reasoning are boosted and sharpened, but our emotional and aesthetical needs rest unfulfilled and there is no catharsis...


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LandEscape meets

Ilinca Bernea An interview by and

, curator , curator

I started wishing to become a writer when I was about 12. Until then, I had wanted to become a space explorer and cosmonaut, like almost all children. When I discovered the power of narratives over the soul, it was clear enough for me that this was what I wanted to do. It was obvious to me that the act of writing was a way to materialize and to objectify fictions in order to covey them into a parallel reality‌ Literature comes to fill up the emptiness of quotidian life with whatever our inner lives push us to live.


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Ilinca Bernea


Ilinca Bernea

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It's a way of resizing and reconfiguring it. Literature sets in motion our hidden potential and I am talking from both perspectives: the one of the writer and of the reader. During the years of accumulations and experiences with my writing, I had some moments of blockage and then, because I kept feeling the need to express myself in a creative way, I started taking photos and painting. Recently, I've started reciting my own lyrics on music and I've made some dance experiments guided by my childhood friend, Mihaela Zamfirescu, (we grew up on the same street) and who became, meanwhile, a great choreographer and ballet teacher. In philosophical terms, I am the adept of Croce and Collingwood's views. But to me, personally, art is a practice that helps me out in refining my way of living. I will never put art beyond existence, the art of living is the most important art. You are a versatile artist and your approach reveals an incessant search of an organic symbiosis between a variety of viewpoints. The results convey together a coherent sense of unity, that rejects any conventional classification. Before starting to elaborate about your production, we would suggest to our readers to visit https://ilinkars.wordpress.com in order to get a synoptic view of your multifaceted artistic production: while walking our readers through your process, we would like to ask you if you have

ever happened to realize that such multidisciplinary approach is the only way to express and convey the idea you explore.

It is not mainly an I idea that I am aiming at, but the beauty of existence's spectacle. Ever since I can remember, I’ve tried to find the secret of beauty, like that obsessive character of Suskind's novel, The Perfume, who wanted the elixir of eternal youth. I am talking about all kinds of beauty: the one of natural shapes and manifestations, the one of a mathematical demonstration, of a certain expression, or gesture, or of a body posture, because beauty is what gives identity to each shape, it converts the neutrality of perception. Beauty is what gives meaning to particularity and particularity to meanings. Everything that breaks through the anonymity of common places, everything surprising, everything strident, that could shake the senses and perceptions, bears the fingerprints of beauty. I think we need the experience of beauty more than any other type of inner experience, in order to feel that we are living, plenary and deeply. It is a source of pleasure and even ecstasy in some cases. I’ve reflected a lot on these things. When your body misses a vital substance, you feel sick. The same thing happens with your mental-body: if it decodes the present wherein you're moving as being "ugly", you feel an emotional sickness. In my view, the


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worst thing happening nowadays is the crisis of beauty resources. We are assaulted with toxic suggestions and with sensorial and mental information that keeps us away from our deeper self. The contemporary life-style is very dynamic on an exterior level and quite inertial on an inner level. We are pushed, through all means, out of our inner worlds, like through an emergency door, into a mutual world that belongs to nobody, really, we are chased out of ourselves with bulldozers. And, then, we wonder how come we've got this epidemic of depressions and neuroses and dogmatism and fanaticism? The penury of imagination uglifies individuals and reduces them, keeps them too close to the ground and makes them prone to sick criticism. There are many possibilities to measure and prove your intelligence. In certain cases, you can discover you're smarter or stupider that you expected, but you need nobody to confirm it, intelligence is an individual and instrumental good. By the contrary, beauty is a relational value. On a deserted island, if you are alone, intelligence is a golden mine, but there is nothing you can do with your beauty. It exists only if it is acknowledged by another. It makes no sense to be beautiful if there is no one to realize it and to enjoy it, it is a contemplative good, an inter-human value, it is instinct as well as cultural fiction, avatar of desire and stimuli of fantasy, it is the perfect antidote against angst.

For this special edition of LandEscape we have selected Reeducation / The Intruder, a couple of extremely interesting videos (poems) that reflect the multifaceted nature of our relationship to nature and that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article: when walking our readers through the genesis of the Reeducation / The Intruder would you tell us something about your usual process and set up?

These two poems were conceived as a script for a contemporary theatre-dance performance exploring the confrontation of someone, caught in his middle age crisis, with the failure of his expectations and life plans. It is a metaphor-spectacle about the way in which pieces settle inside of us at different ages, about the awareness of losing and being lost, about the dramatic encounter of the adult with the youngster and with the child that he used to be, about the chimaeras, the strong and weak points of different life phases, about the acceptance and the refusal of reality, about the search of the perfect love. I always try to find the most adequate expression for the ideas and the emotional material I intend to transmit. The language takes the shape of the body of a certain narrative universe. The only two constant parameters of my style, which are true for everything I create, are humour and


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Ilinca Bernea


Ilinca Bernea

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dramatic ambiance, this paradoxical blend is what defines me as an artist, I think. The way you combine words with images allows you to accomplish the difficult task to balance rhyhtm and visual evokative reminders: this aspect of your practice seems to reflect your fascination for continuous transformation processes and draws the readers into a multilayered experience. Do you think that the harmonic fusion between different media could be the poet's goal? Or is the goal to make people look at the sphere of experience in a different way? Is it to touch their soul? Is it for them to feel delight?

It's hard to say. There are some already classicized arts, like cinematography, that make recourse to the image-text fusion. The traditional performing arts operate with image-text-movement melds, as well. Although there are, technically speaking, new media appearing all the time, this syncretism has been practiced, in various shapes, throughout the whole modern era. Sometimes I feel that my texts would better captivate the audience if I associated them with a visual counterpoint, but there are situations wherein I am convinced that the image would diminish or restrain the horizon of the text... Why do books have such seductive powers? How come it is more difficult for us to forget a good book

than a good movie? This happens because literature actively involves the reader into an imaginative process. He (she) is supposed to create in his mind the film of the whole narrative, to visually and sonically configure the story. The temptation of an art that could cover, though its representation means, the areal of all senses, always existed. The question is: when the creator guides you through a so welldefined sonic/figurative universe, are you able to transpose yourself in his fiction with same intensity as if it were yours? The ambiguity of the literary universe absorbs the reader's projections. You complete, as a reader, with your own fiction, the dotted lines, the shady zones of the script, and you are the one who chooses the exact image of every single thing evoked, you have the freedom to sketch all the portraits, to decide the casting of all protagonists. When I choose to associate a poem with images, to turn it into a video or into a theatre performance, I am aware that I resize and reshape it, that I am adding a new lecture-key to its original meaning. Meanwhile, my main concern is to keep the horizon of the text wide open. Therefore my choice is for semifigurative artistic expressions: they have a higher degree of ambiguity, they are more mysterious, therefore more appealing. We have particularly appreciated the way your love for lyricism of the metamorphosis leades you to


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combine symbolic elements with a figurative approach, to create an effective channel of communication between the conscious sphere and the subconscious level. This creates a compelling non linear narrative that, playing with the evocative power of reminders to universal imagery, establishes direct relations with the viewers. German multidisciplinary artist Thomas Demand once stated that "nowadays art can no longer rely so much on symbolic strategies and has to probe psychological, narrative elements within the medium instead". What is your opinion about it? And in particular how do you conceive the narrative for your works?

What I am trying to do is capture the infrareality, whatever is hidden under the curtain of cultural constructs and interpretations. I would avoid any term from those shaped and employed by psychoanalysts, although I am definitely the adept of C.G. Jung and G. Bachelard. I prefer not to do it because the "unconscious" became the hobbyhorse of the actual academism and of doubtful theoretical speculations. What I can say is that one cannot make art inspired by theory, on the contrary, in order to make art one has to get rid of any theoretical influence from his (her) own feeling and understanding. If there was ever a time when I wrote and painted really badly, it was when I fattened up on studies. I needed 10 years of rehab. You turn into an artist only from the moment when you get undressed of any cultural vesture that


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Ilinca Bernea


Ilinca Bernea

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blurs or distorts your natural voice. I want to believe that I have come to the point when my creations have nothing demonstrative anymore, when I really found my "inborn" style, a way of speaking in my own particular language. You cannot get here if you don't know yourself...You need to destroy your supra-ego to be a true artist and a true human being as well, that's for sure. For each one of us, the most difficult thing is to cross the border set between a fake self image that has been culturally and socially shaped and the lands of our inner truth. My alchemical black-gold is the instinct. It's so hard to get in touch with it, to accede it, to let it guide you, to silence the voice of reasoning that is prone to contest any form of spontaneous knowledge! Reasoning is skeptical, by excellence. Spontaneous knowledge is, in fact, the result of thousands of years of ancestral experiences, it functions as a deep intuition that tells you who and what you're dealing with. I'll try to say it as simply as possible: we know what to eat instinctively, because our senses find some aliments repulsive and others irresistibly tasteful. Pleasure and disgust are sensors that warn us about what could be good for us and what cannot...What we perceive as having bad taste, could also be dangerous for our health. The same thing is true on an inter-human level. The attraction that we feel towards someone is a sample of instinctive “knowledge� that tells us, clearly, that we are dealing with someone that we are in harmony with. I think that


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Ilinca Bernea

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

pleasure is the media through which we are taught everything we need to know about ourselves in a primordial sense. Our thoughts, feelings, experiences, acts are not pointing out who we are as clearly as our desires. The aesthetic resonance between the art-consumer and the art-maker happens in the same way and has the same properties. This resonance has mirroring properties. There are art shapes capable of reflecting our own image like mirrors or to acquaint us with a face that we didn’t know we had. Instinct is the compass of the primitive brain, also called reptilian in biology. If this archaic brain, that tells us who we are and what we need and have to know about life through senses and desires and not through words and judgements, would be completely subordinated by the other (the recent and rational one) the whole beauty and poetry of existence would collapse, the whole art would vanish, because art is born from the tension existing between the new brain that operates with logic formulas and abstract ideas and the old brain, that acts through instincts and feelings. There are two big categories of artists: the inventors and the explorers. I am among those who discover... You can discover, through artistic practices, many things about life and about humankind, about yourself. Although art creation is, essentially, a matter of

form, it is not important for me to seek the metaphor or to try to avoid it, to run away from common places or to run after the unconventional, but to put myself in contact with my inner forms, when feeling inspired, to follow the path of inspiration and not the one of the aesthetic values that I consciously subscribe to. The effective dialogue established by tones and texture is a crucial part of your style: in particular, the effective combination between intense nuances of colors sums up the mixture of thoughts and emotions. How much does your own psychological make-up determine the nuances of tones you decide to use in a piece and in particular, how do you develop a painting’s texture? Moreover, any comments on your choice of "palette" and how it has changed over time?

I paint only when I am unable to write. I have no academic or scholar training in painting. It's a genuine matter, I don't take myself seriously. When I have the brush in my hand, it's like sinking into a zen meditation. Everything happens without any effort, the canvas covers itself, badly or not so badly... I am not too skilled in drawing, in fact I am really lousy. But I've been told I have a good sense of color. As a writer, I have many literary strategies, but in painting I let my senses totally free to hit the pace...


Ilinca Bernea

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CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Overall, my visual works are much connected to urban fictions in a quite eclectic way. As you have remarked in your artist's statement, you conceive humor as being situated at the contact surface with the sublime: while artists from the contemporary scene, as Ai WeiWei or more recently Jennifer Linton, use to express open socio-political criticism in their works, you seem more interested to hint the direction, inviting the viewers to a process of selfreflection that may lead to subvert a variety of cultural categories. In particular, you once remarked that art's role is to put ourselves in contact with our deeper self and senses. Do you consider that your works could be considered political in a certain sense or did you seek to maintain a more neutral approach? And in particular, what could be in your opinion the role that an artist could play in the contemporary society?

In a certain sense, yes, every art work has political echoes and implications, we are social-political beings, we live in a network, in a context. Surely, my creations are no exception, they have been conceived as meditations on situations of social crisis or of tensions between values within a community, but I never intended them to have an ideological stake. I try to avoid the

militant attitudes and the enrolment on the side of a doctrine by all means. I am very reluctant towards those pieces of so called engaged art, which are but ideological products and propaganda. I acquired this aversion when I was a child. I grew up in a country from the communist Eastern Bloc, I think it's understandable. Your imagery shows a connection to urban fictions: however, we daresay that your approach goes beyond a merely interpretative aspect of the contexts you refer to. As the late Franz West did in his installations, your works show unconventional aesthetics in the way they deconstructs perceptual images in order to assemble them in a collective imagery, urging the viewers to a process of self-reflection. Would you shed a light about the role of metaphors in your process?

My attitude towards metaphor evolved in time. It could be the scaffolding of a whole novel or performance or painting. I will give you an example. One of my most recent poems that employs metaphors on one side, but is very straight and realistic on the other side. The mixture between a fantastic succession of images, with oneiric accents, and a raw, even aggressive disclosure of a tough reality, is something typical for my lyricism.


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Ilinca Bernea

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

The deal I’ll pay, that’s what I decided I’ll pay for your childhood with tattered sandals for your sleepless nights for the back you broke hardworking for every slap your mom got from your dad for every blow life dealt you for all the mud in the filthy town wherein you spent your youth for all the kilometers of sea that you crossed swimming to forget for every swallow of loneliness if there is no other way and someone has to pay then hit me hurt me for every humiliation you endured unleash your rage, for the school allowance you never received make me feel with each of your cruelties how badly your mother suffered how horribly you felt not being able to protect her give me your fear of earthquakes make me witness the moment you learned to threaten and spit hit me for your damned country I want to know what the life of a dog is like I want to feel your blind rage boiling your strained nerves triggering solar explosions building the walls of dungeons in which so many innocent men struggle with the burden of an unlived life I want to feel in your flesh everything that you keep under silence spill all your torment over me someone has to pay if that’s how you can set yourself free if you will be able to breathe with relief give me your delicate skin that had to endure everything hit me until it's nothing left of me until my chest will echo but the road of the wind slamming against the wall the door of an abandoned house and the sound of the waves washing the shore of your childhood of all impossible desires I pay


Ilinca Bernea

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CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW


Ilinca Bernea

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I am mesmerized, aesthetically, by a certain expressionist tension, I like strong contrasts. I use to juxtapose the universe of desires with the one of the facts and situations that crush them, or the duality inner/other reality, or to put in the spotlight the tension between what we are and what we are claimed and required to be, the fight among the dreamer and the cynical man from inside us. Your successful attempt to show the relativism of the oppositions that are mainly culturally and linguistically shaped allows you to capture nonsharpness with an universal kind of language, capable of bringing to a new level of significance the elusive still ubiquitous relationship between experience and memory. So we would take this occasion to ask you if in your opinion personal experience is an absolutely indispensable part of a creative process... Do you think that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience?

No. It is never possible. That's why I reject the term self-fiction. Any fiction is a selffiction. One cannot escape his own experince, cannot dissociate himself from it, or transgress it without becoming pedant, inconsistent, untruthful or superficial. One of the hallmarks of your work is the capability to create a direct involvement with the viewers, who are urged to evolve from a condition of mere spectatorship. So before leaving this conversation we would like to pose a question about the nature of the relationship of your art with your audience. Do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decision-making

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

Yes and no. I would rather say that when I conceive my creations I split myself in two, trying to satisfy, as an artist, the taste and the expectations of the art/literature consumer that I am. I am trying to write or to paint those things or to make those performances that would capture my interest as a spectator. I don't always succeed, of course. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Ilinca. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving?

I thank you too for the questions. I'd like to talk a bit about the most imporant thing I've done so far, my most recent novel that touches, I think, a nerve of the actual world and times. A Western woman discovers, with astonishment, the Middle East's hidden treasures and a woman from the Middle East is mesmerized by the Western World. The action happens in London. They both are very critical towards their original environment and prone to idealize the experiences that they never had. By the end of the book, they will both get to face a type of disappointment. It is a novel about the contemporary Babylonia and about the roots of Islamophobia, about the fractures in the Muslim world, about the fight for freedom borne by the people in the Middle East, about the political crisis in Turkey and the freedom wastage of those who have it, about the fabulous erotic practices and views of men coming from the Middle East.


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Ilinca Bernea

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

The main character, a woman with a high education and raised in feminist spirit, falls madly in love with a Muslim guy, with no studies, but shockingly beautiful, who makes her aware of unknown and darker sides of her own sexuality.

It is a postmodern version of The Beauty and The Beast, written in a rough manner, with humour, but with no euphemisms, about the current Babylon, a story about passion and melancholy and about the stigmatization of pleasure, about the absurdity of the notion of


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Ilinca Bernea

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CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

enemy. Also, a book about solidarity among women. What I plan to do next is another poetrydance performance with some very talented actors, dancers and musicians. We'll have live music for sure. And I also work with some British artists to a photography/ poetry/

video project that will be exhibited in a new opened gallery from North London. An interview by and

, curator , curator


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George Goodridge Lives and works in the United States

An artist's statement

T

hroughout my career, I have tried to produce unique and meaningful works that are both timely and playful. My works may question diversity, visual kinetics, identities, object-to-object relationships and real world concerns. Many of my sculptural works should be thought of as both figurative and nonrepresentational while blurring the lines between sculpture, painting, architecture and installation. I tend to make works that can be translated in multiple ways that question rather than arrive at specific conclusions. Being dimensions variable these installations have no specific formula for installation. These open ended offerings can and will be translated differently depending on the viewers past experiences and the installation’s sight specific parameters. While many of my works on paper are concerned primarily with visual kinetics, form and color, my sculptural works approach concerns with identity and object to object relationships with underlying sociological references. Works from my Wondergarden Series approach more narrative translations. These dimensional paintings, which I initiated in the late 1980’s, have modern influences stemming from Minimalism, the Post War New York School, Ellsworth Kelly, Turi Simeti, Kenneth Nolan, Anne Truitt, Charles Hinman and others. Deeply inspired by the aforementioned art movements, I have created an organic, biomorphic and at times anthropomorphic approach to threedimensional stretched canvas works. My

works are created by stretching fabric over a variety of armatures or by embossing monotype screen prints on paper. With so many different disciplines approached during production, the final outcome of my sketching, building armatures, stretching fabric, painting, screen printing and embossing never ceases to surprise me. My stretched canvas pieces have armatures made from a combination of mahogany, birch, and bending plywood. With many requests for exterior display, I began treating the raw canvas with marine resins and top coating with either an automotive, marine or aviation grade clear coat with high UV protection. Examples of this process are present in my Wondergarden Series. Over time, I have become very interested in Public Artworks through realizing my work’s potential in this area. I have always considered many of my works to be maquettes for producing significantly larger works and have been awarded projects based on my smaller works as maquettes. These large-scale exterior works have been produced from stainless steel tubing and fiberglass laminations. I remain consistently curious about the potential and direction of my artworks evolution, which seems to take on an existence separate from myself. Clearing my mind of prior influences, I intuitively create odd forms and unlikely alliances from a first impression only to prompt invention.

George Goodridge


Study #5 for Wondergarden, The Hunger, Keep Your Eye On The Prize, 2014, acrylic on marine epoxy treated stretched canvas, aviation grade clear-coat, wood armature, dimensions Variable, 33h. x 53”w. x 24”d. as shown


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LandEscape meets

George Goodridge An interview by Katherine Williams, curator and Josh Ryder, curator landescape@europe.com

Visual artist George Goodridge's work rejects any conventional classification and walks the thin line between figurative and non-representational blurring the boundaries between sculpture, painting, architecture and installation. His hybrid practice accomplishes the difficult task of challenging the relationship between the viewers' perceptual parameters and their cultural substratum to induce them to elaborate personal associations, offering them a multilayered aesthetic experience. One of the most impressive aspects of Goodridge's work is the way it accomplishes a successful attempt to inquire into the notions of diversity and identity, questioning the relationship between significant parings and their attraction and discordance rather than perceived correctness. We are very pleased to introduce our readers to his multifaceted and stimulating artistic production. Hello George and welcome to LandEscape: before starting to elaborate about your artistic production would you like to tell us something about your background? You have a solid background after transferring from the prestigious School of the Art Institute of Chicago to the School of Visual Arts, New York. How do these experience influence your evolution as an artist? And in particular, how does your cultural


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CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW


Diverse Objects Liaise #1, 2013 Acrylic on stretched canvas Dimensions Variable, 28"h. x 94"w. x 48"d


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George Goodridge

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Vertebrate Companions #19, 2010-2016 oil on stretched canvas, wood armature Dimensions Variable, 84”h. x 54”w. x 6”d. as shown


George Goodridge

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

The Art Institute of Chicago's undergraduate program was designed not so much for the creation of finished works as it was designed to develop the students thinking process. Heavily weighted in the Bauhaus tradition with particular attention to grids and systems, studies were made in conceptual thinking, pre-computer design methodologies developed at the Illinois Institute of Technology and color theory based on Joseph Albers, The Interaction of Color. I also studies scientific illustration with a professor from the Field Museum of Natural History. These studies were made with no particular signature aesthetic involved. They were more about pure problem-solving and learning to render images with exactness. This began to formalized my preproduction process for communicating ideas but also instilled in me a critical eye in regards to the quality and archival aspects of images and objects. Transferring to the School of Visual Arts in NY, works that were spontaneous and quirky were in fashion and the fine arts world was booming. Warhol, Basquiat, Schnabel, Herring and others were being recognized. I lived in the East Village and also took up residence at the Chelsea Hotel for a time which was a mecca for

artists. The rawness of my surroundings inspired burgeoning risk taking and a new visceral boldness began to appeared in my work. I began to create using irregular formatting, employed various mixed medias, color Xerox and hung a rusted skeleton of a mattress on my wall in the Dada tradition. Courses were taken in various fine art disciplines, media arts and film animation. These varied experiences opened my eyes to multifaceted visual explorations and I became untampered by stringent rules and singular production methods. You are a versatile artist and the results of your artistic research convey together a coherent sense of unity, that rejects any conventional classification. Before starting to elaborate about your production, we would suggest to our readers to visit http://www.georgegoodridge.com in order to get a synoptic view of your multifaceted artistic production. You draw a lot from elements belonging to universal imagery and works that stimulate the viewer’s psyche and consequently works on both a subconscious and a conscious level. How did you decide to focus on such crossdisciplinary approach? And in particular, do you conceive this in an instinctive way or do you rather structure your process in order to reach the right balance?

The goal has always been to create works containing open ended idealisms and concepts that transcend linguistics with clues to the figurative while initially appearing non-representational. I


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George Goodridge

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

instinctively gravitate towards invention rather than appropriation. As a working process I use a process of clearing the mind of past perceptions and creating from a first instinct to insure invention then formalize for production only. I refer to works created in this manner as having Unconscious Geometry. In some instances I will create a nonfigurative object blindly that on a subconscious level may represents something worldly or somewhat figurative. At that point I arrive at an idea to confront. Then again, there are times when I have a concept in mind and I create sketches for forms that I am not familiar with that I must adapted to communicate. Concerning a production approach, my current discipline of stretched canvas over armatures has proven to be more versatile than expected. These current works are not only very light in weight but also provide me with a way to produce objects of considerable size rather quickly. This process is always full of surprises. I do have an intuitive vision of how the finished objects will appear but there are always the unexpected nuances once the armatures are skinned and painted. At times these works even take on a life that is separate from my own which makes them exciting to produce. For this special edition of LandEscape we have selected The Wondergarden Series, an interesting project that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article. What has at once captured our attention of your captivating investigation about the notion of landscape is Study #3 for Wondergarden, Elusive Targets, 2014

acrylic on marine epoxy treated stretched canvas, avia


George Goodridge

tion grade clear-coat, wood armature, dimensions variable, 32”h x 40”w x 40”d as shown

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George Goodridge

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Study #6 for Wondergarden, Yum, 2014 acrylic on marine epoxy treated stretched canvas, aviation grade clear-coat, wood armature, dimensions va


riable, 25”h. x 48”w. x 26”d. as shown

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the way you provided the visual results of your analysis with autonomous aesthetics: while walking our readers through the genesis of The Wondergarden Series, would you like to tell us something about your usual process and set up?

The set up for these stretched canvas works is more or less the same as all my works wherein I initially create from a first notion and formalize form and color for production only. These works being freestanding and made for exterior display have additional production details that had to be solved. I have begun treating the canvas with marine resins and top coating with an aviation grade clear-coat for weather resistance. Conceptually the Wondergarden is a special project targeting worldly concerns with a somewhat more narrative approach. I have confronted concerns with privacy in regards to electronic media, ecology, business practices, conquest, physical attraction and other personal behaviors. These works also encourage viewers to interact by placing objects as they please which obviously renders varied results. Select pieces also tend to possess biomorphic and at times anthropomorphic forms with characters like qualities. Your exploration of the notion of landscape as a terrain that can be geographical but also a terrain that can be about memory or nostalgia accomplishes an effective investigation about the relationship between perception, memory and personal imagination, to challenge the viewers' parameters. What is the role of memory in your work? We are particularly


Vertebrate Companions #15, 2010 oil on stretched canvas, wood armature, Dimensions Variable, 48”w. x 48”h. x 3-3/4”d. as shown


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interested in how you consider memory and its evocative role in showing an alternative way to escape and overcome the recurrent reality.

If I use memory it is in many cases by default. Obviously memory can't be entirely excluded from ones thought process especially when crossing the line between figurative and the non-representational therefore memory does come into play when I make color choices. For example, greens and tans are generally more pastoral, oranges and reds are more signaling and so forth. These iconic color choices do help to communicate to the audience on a broader more understandable level. As far as overcoming or escaping a recurrent reality, I struggle to come up with forms that I am not consciously familiar with. Even in instances where a simple geometric form may be the most communicative, I modify it to add a foreign quality. The elements of The Wondergarden Series are both free standing and wall mounted. You often allow an open reading, a great multiplicity of meanings: associative possibilities seems to play a crucial role in your pieces. How important is this degree of openness?

The degree of openness is of most importance. All my works invite diverse translations, physical configurations and none are considered conclusive. I create multi object works that the viewer can question and even at times manipulate. All of my works have variable dimensions and can be arranged in countless ways which


George Goodridge

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Vertebrate Companions #28, 2012 Acrylic on stretched canvas, wood armature, Dimensions Variable, 48”w. x 68”h. x 9”d. as shown


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George Goodridge

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Vertebrate Companions #31, Acrylic on stretched canvas, wood armature, 2012, Dimensions Variable, 84


”w. x 66”h. x 9”d. as shown.

George Goodridge

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allows for varied outcomes. Think of these installations as as a type of board game which creates various tensions where the negative space and direction of the pieces can change the meanings of the work significantly. From a figurative point of view placements of the objects can change ones perception from the appearance of defined grouping with with diverse parts to the appearance of separate competing objects with singular purposes. Any of the pieces can be arranged according to what we perceive as balanced or correct or as disassociated or incorrect without jeopardizing the premise of the works. I have been personally intrigued with many of the more uncomfortable pairings. Your inquiry into the expressive potential of different techniques probes the capability of a medium to explore a variety of constructed realities: while questioning about the disconnect between physical experience and the immateriality, you seem to refer to the necessity of going beyond symbolic strategies to examine the relationship between reality and perception, but that we should focus on the nature of the medium in order to understand the way it offers a translation of reality. Do you agree with this analysis? Moreover, I would take this occasion to ask you if in your opinion, personal experience is absolutely indispensable as part of the creative process? Do you think that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience?

I agree to your point, however as my body of work evolves it is becoming less about


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the necessity to understand the processes and techniques used to create these unique realities. Every medium obviously has it's limitations and strengths. If the discipline has a duel fold purpose which aggregates an idea, not just object making, it is most successful. In many cases a process or technique become no more than a safe convenience once one becomes accustomed to that production skill set. I do agree that a unique process or technique can become part of ones personal aesthetic that ignites the initial allure, wonder and such however in many cases artists produced works that are nothing more than processes based objects that illustrate rather than confront or question. We have evolved whereas something more is needed to be said. Especially in my Wondergarden and earlier Vertebrate Companion Series I believe that the process adheres to their concepts. The notion to create organic objects with biomorphic and at times anthropomorphic qualities from bone to skin I believe to be relevant. As far as personal experience being necessary in a creative process I would have to also agree, but to what extent? How do we define person experience? I can climb a mountain and reach the summit or watch a documentary. I could read someone's embellished account of their climb or study a climbers log and develop my own personal notions which

can be both emotional or simply be exposed to informative data. With the advent of the internet, information is available of every kind. These are all personal experiences which we take with us that can foster ideas with sound foundations. Another interesting project of yours that has particularly impressed us and on which we would like to spend some words is the VERTEBRATE COMPANIONS SERIES: the way you to capture non-sharpness with an universal kind of language quality marks out a considerable part of your production, that are in a certain sense representative of the relationship between emotion and memory. How would you define the relationship between real and unreal, between abstraction and representation in your practice? In particular, how do figurative and a tendency towards abstraction find their balance in your work?

The works appear unreal until ones personal perceptions are realized. The mere fact that the work exists makes them real. Because they are initiated through a visceral nearly thoughtless process, emotion is initially at play while memory ideally is not. Any figurative notions in the beginning stages of production are in a way abstractions without an initial image to abstract. I must say that I always seek invention rather than appropriation. At the point of conception forms are quite unreal and non-representational without binding


Study #1 for Wondergarden, Paradise Changed, 2014 acrylic on marine epoxy treated stretched canvas, aviation grade clear-coat, wood armature, dimensions variable, 60”h x 60”w x 60”d as shown


Vertebrate Companions #26, 2012 Acrylic on stretched canvas, wood armature, dimensions Variable, 66”w. x 48”h. x 9”d. as shown


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Ehud Schori

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Vertebrate Companions #21 2010-2016, oil on stretched canvas, wood armature, Dimensions Variable, 84”h. x 54”w. x 6”d. as shown


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alliances towards one another. Formalizing for production is where the process delves toward the somewhat figurative or representational aspects of my work. Only then are possible familiarities to suggest the figurative and representational explored. We would like to pose some questions about the balance established by the colors you combine and that accomplish the difficult task of establishing tension and a provocative dynamic. We have really appreciated the vibrancy of thoughtful nuances that saturate your pieces and especially the way they suggest an augmented idea of plasticity. How did you come about settling on your color palette? And how much does your own psychological make-up determine the nuances of tones and the materials you decide to use in a piece and in particular, how do you develop your textures?

I do brood over color and textural choices and almost never use out of the tube color even for whites. I appreciate understatement, elegance and subtlety which while using brights can be a challenge. Hues, various values of secondary colors and direct or modified complimentary colors are generally a starting point. When choosing brights I tend to add either umbers, grays and whites which removes the garish quality from my pallet. This process insures the brights to appear vibrant in relation to

each other but with with an added subtlety, richness and depth. I also very much approve of monochromatic works with jewel-like color fields accents. Many of my current works employ resins and clear-coat finishes as well. These exponentially tone down or add significant depth through choices of high gloss to matte. You have also has taught Visual Techniques at the School of Visual Arts in New York: how did this experience affect your work? In particular did you ever draw inspiration from your students' ideas?

I have taught Visual Techniques, a course for 1st and 2nd year students. The course entailed teaching new students image making and how to use various media tool such as large format stat cameras, 35mm film cameras, copy stands, typographers and a variety of other graphic arts tools and materials for producing works for use in the print and printing industry. I was also a staff member in SVA's Media Workshop where I mentored students with similar needs. There was always an outstanding student which on a somewhat regular basis exhibited exemplary work but as far as being significantly influenced myself, what they considered mistakes were of the most influence. Often times a student would approach me saying "this just didn't work and how can I fix this". On


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Ehud Schori

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Vertebrate Companions #20, 2011 Oil / stretched canvas Dimensions variable, 54”h x 26”w x 6”d as shown


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many occasions I saw images or techniques that I hadn't imagined. As the result there were often discussions on what is referred to as incidental art and how a mistake can open ones eyes to various new ways to manipulate or even producing imagery. The trick became remembering what you did initially and how to control or produce the same variation again. Over these years your work has been represented in numerous galleries, museums, and corporate collections, including your recent exhibition Trippin’ at the Laundromat Art Space, in Miami. One of the hallmarks of your work is the capability to create direct involvement with the viewers, who are urged to evolve from a condition of mere spectatorship. So before leaving this conversation we would like to pose a question about the nature of the relationship of your art with your audience. Do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decision-making process, in terms of what type of language is used in a particular context?

The audience is always of a concern and I occasionally ask for their participation. Once again with the dimensions variable idea in play installation perceptions can and will change depending on the site specific perimeters. I have in the past had work installed without sending templates for installation whether it be a wall installation or freestanding works. I have relied on the curator or the

installer to join in the creative task. These works are about object to object relationships with various translations after all. This passing of the torch which makes additional persons participants in the artwork introduced me to ideas I may never have thought of or wouldn't have bothered to explore. After a sale or exhibition when I didn't send installation templates, I always ask for the collector or venue to send a photo of the works once installed. I'm almost always surprised at their decision and how their involvement changed the work. I have had explosively positive even joyful reactions from all those involved in most cases. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, George. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving?

I see my work evolving as a natural progression influenced by my larger public artworks and my recent works on paper. I will also be stepping away from minimalism somewhat and working with visual kinetics which have begun to appear in my embossed serigraphs while increasing the works complexities both conceptually and physically. An interview by Katherine Williams, curator and Josh Ryder, curator landescape@europe.com


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L ior Herchkovitz Lives and works in Tel Aviv, Israel

An artist's statement

F

or over more than a decade Herchkovitz's subject matters are

varied, but the essence is the same. Whether his themes come in a series or tableaux, he works with clear intention to examine the complex of human condition; man's interference with nature and the vulnerability of mankind. Much of Lior Herchkovitz's work reminiscent of film stills and conditioned by the simultaneous emphasis on narrative structure, photographic sequences and on themes, while in other works is tackling the relationship of photography to painting. Herchkovitz is less concerned with beauty as commonly

perceived, but rather fascinated by a perceptible discrepancy between the visible surface and the psychological content, presented subtly that no information gets lost, and thus lends some of these works an ambivalent atmosphere followed with tension and unease. Lior Herchkovitz was born and raised in Tel Aviv, Israel. Educated at The Royal Academy of Fine Art, in The Hague The Netherlands; majored in Photography BFA degree. He has exhibited worldwide, his Work appear in Art collections, various Art books and magazines around the world.

Lior Herchkovitz


Theatre Entrance Hall, House of Officers, WĂźnsdorf-Waldstadt, Germany 2015


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LandEscape meets

Lior Herchkovitz An interview by Katherine Williams, curator and Josh Ryder, curator landescape@europe.com

Exploring the expressive potential of a wide variety of techniques and materials, artist Lior Herchkovitz's work explores perceptible discrepancy between the visible surface and the psychological content and considers the vital relationship between direct experience and visual intepretation, to draw the viewers through a multilayered journey. In his Evidence of Our Existence that we'll be discussing in the following pages he challenges the viewers to trigger their perceptual parameters. One of the most impressive aspects of Herchkovitz's work is the way it accomplishes the difficult task of investigating about man's interference with nature and the vulnerability of mankind: we are very pleased to introduce our readers to his stimulating and multifaceted artistic production. Hello Lior and welcome to LandEscape: we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your multifaceted

background. You have a solid formal training and you majored in Photography with a BFA degree, that you received from The Royal Academy of Fine Art, in The Hague The Netherlands: how do these experience influence the way you currently conceive and produce your works? And in particular, how does your cultural substratum inform the way you relate yourself to art making?

Since early age, I liked to watch how my father was placing carefully pictures in our family album. He used to do it at weekends and it had a kind of ceremonial sphere to it, almost magical. I guess it influenced me in some way or another. I remember that he took many photographs, but they were always intended to be straightforward. Mine were never straightforward. Later in life, I became interested in diverse forms of creative expression such as painting, music, poem and film. The Dutch and Flemish painting, in particular, were much of an influence on me. These influences actually brought me to the decision of studying in The Netherlands. To begin with, I went there to study photography. It was always my passion. We had painting lessons too. But I was very poor in


Room II, House of Officers, Wünsdorf-Waldstadt, Germany 2015


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Lior Herchkovitz

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

painting. In spite of that, it was a great opportunity to learn light, shadow and color compositions out of old masters and very tempting to bring it into the photographic image. When I came out from the academy, I realized that if you seek personal expression in photography, you will soon become aware of limitation. The medium I practice reflects the infinite variety of subject matter offered by the natural universe. But the range of vision is extremely narrow. I became aware that I must confine myself to my own peculiar obsessions and types of images which can express character and feelings. Having said that, I do not disavow my photographs, but rather think that the medium I chose proved to be my best and most original medium of expression that becomes important to me more and more. I am influenced often by historical materials and artists of the past. It informs the way I currently conceive my work, but the photograph is formed in the process of work. As an artist, the interaction between man and nature is an important aspect to me. I am looking at how we are, what our common conditions are and how we define our existence in this world. Over these years you have experimented with a wide variety of different techniques. The figurative language you convey in your pieces is the result of a constant evolution of your searching for new means to express the ideas you explore in your works: your inquiry into the expressive potential of colors combines together figurative as subtle abstract feature into a coherent balance. We would suggest to our readers to visit


Lior Herchkovitz

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CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Room I, House of Officers, Wünsdorf-Waldstadt, Germany 2015


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Lior Herchkovitz

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Cinema Hall, House of Officers, Wünsdorf-Waldstadt, Germany 2015


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http://liorherchkovitz.com in order to get a synoptic view of your work: in the meanwhile, would you like to tell to our readers something about the evolution of your style? In particular, would you shed light on your usual process and set up?

In the past, I used to plan to the utmost degree, especially when practicing in the field of staged photography. I would begin with an idea, develop a storyboard and later scout for location and characters. In recent years, I learned to embrace the notion of not knowing at the beginning. This way of working increases a sense of freedom. It begins with an impulse or in other words, out of an urge to redefine the strong complex visual relationships that goes beyond words, between man and his environment. When certain emotion keep on repeating, I simply react to it. I work very intuitively and try to see what affects me in the place, rather than documenting what a place is. For this special edition of LandEscape we have selected Evidence of Our Existence, an extremely interesting project that reflects the multifaceted nature of our relationship to nature and that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article. When walking our readers through the genesis of Evidence of Our Existence would you shed a light about your usual set up and process?

When embarking on a new project, I begin to collect materials, travel in order to get familiar with the surrounding. Looking back, I may say that Evidence of Our Existence began 10 years ago during another project,


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Lior Herchkovitz

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

which I was working on and is entitled Night. Both projects are linked in a sense that I have always been keen on portraying man through the things he leaves behind. All photographs depict no people within the environment. In other words, a world before and after. Both of series portray this in quite a poignant way. The sense of abandonment intensifies in Evidence of Our Existence. Some of the images shown here were done in Wünsdorf-Waldstadt, Germany. A city, which is situated 40 km from Berlin. It was the biggest Soviet army base in East Europe during the cold war and was known as Little Moscow. To the locals it was “The Forbidden City”. The East Germans weren’t allowed to enter. I witnessed a place that was forgotten, and yet replete with things testifying to the fact that people, mostly Soviet officers and their families had lived there. The series is a timely reminder of both human intervention and human absence. There is a theatre entrance hall, cinema, swimming pools, and paint peeling off walls in spaces long abandoned. As I mentioned before, I tend to go back to historical materials. It gives me some reference about the past and how it relates to the present; determining time complexity. In contrast to that, the image entitled ‘Rehearsal Room (Habima National Theatre of Israel)’ was photographed while actors adjourned for one hour break. With this in mind, what is left behind often tells us more about ourselves. The ambience you captured in Evidence of Our Existence reminds us of the notion of non-lieu elaborated


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Rehearsal Room, Habima - National Theatre of Israel 2006


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Lior Herchkovitz

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Liquid Night I, 2015

by French anthropologist Marc AugĂŠ and establishe a channel of communication between the conscious level and the subconscious sphere: artists are always interested in probing to see what is beneath the surface: maybe one of the roles of an artist could be to reveal unexpected sides of

Nature, especially of our inner Nature... what's your view about this? In particular, do you think that your works could induce a process of self-reflection in the viewers?

It does remind in a subtle way the Notion of non-lieu by Marc AugĂŠ.


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Liquid Night II, 2016

Nevertheless, in my mind, the lieu de mĂŠmoire by the historian Pierre Nora indicates one of the subject matters that I am interested in, much more clearly. It signifies memory and in particular, collective memory. According to lieu de mĂŠmoire the cultural landmarks, places, practices and expressions stemming

from a shared past, whether material such as monuments or intangible as language and traditions. It may refer to any place, object or concept vested with historical significance in the popular collective memory. It may be an event or a symbol for instance - a red flag.


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Liquid Night V, 2016

Indeed, both of ideas deal with communication between consciousness and the subconscious. My role as an artist is to focus deep into these sources of our cultural conditioning, and let ideas and practices to reveal undercurrent tendencies. I do try to

induce a process of self-reflection in the viewer in order to help him unleash his inner nature. What is it basically the inner Nature? It is the life of feeling, and it is much more intimately connected with our inner being than our thought and perception. However, with respect


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Liquid Night VI, 2016

to feeling and emotion one has the sensation: within me are endless depths; could I but bring, I can only bring forth the smallest part and transform it into actual feeling. My work has to give all the information but none of the secrets. Not provide answers. I

rather pose questions, which I do not have an answer to. I am reacting to the environment, observing what is in front of me and uses it to create emotion. The narrative is created in the viewer’s mind, but each one of us has his own story, emotion and different capabilities


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Liquid Night VII, 2016

to endure a moment. Your story is true the same as mine. Liquid Night provides the viewers with an intense, immersive experience and the dualism of things that marks out your artistic research leads you to investigate the social sphere and its condition: how do you see the relationship between public sphere and the role of art in public

space? In particular, how much do you consider the immersive nature of the viewing experience?

Art in public space is one of the last frontiers of free expression and as such, has an important role in society. Without art that is engaged with the society at large, the banality of reality would be intolerable. It strives to deal with key


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Liquid Night VIII, 2016

questions and always takes a position. I am creating work for you to react to; trying to provide the viewer an extension of the ordinery human perception and meanings behind the world as we usualy precieve. It is about drawing on a reaction. Whether it is in public space indoors or outdoors, art is entertainment, reaction and experience. That's what all art is about. So, I definitely consider the viewing experience when

having to decide how to display my work in a space. Creating the ultimate viewing experience is always a challenging aspect, because I create within the medium of a still image and I do not sensationalize things but rather searching for a subtle approach. Elements from environment are particularly recurrent in your


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Lior Herchkovitz

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Circle, Hilton Beach, Tel Aviv, Israel 2014

imagery and they never plays the role of a mere background. Do you see a definite relationship between enivironment and your work?

I do not consider my work as environmental or ecological art per se. But I do see a definite connection, since I depict interrelationships within our environment in a way of representation. It

stems from a deep relationship with the surrounding atmosphere, together with close observation on season, light and form as a means to mood and sensation. In another project entitled Seamoods, I pay much of attention to it. The sea and land, and their connection point - the landscape – are supported in human figures, and vice versa.


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Fish Boat, Jaffa Port, Tel Aviv - Yafo, Israel 2015

Another interesting project of yours that has particularly impressed us and on which we would like to spend some words is entitled Tidal: it is an art project that address the relationship between the visible and invisible and we appreciated the way you have been capable of creating a point of convergence between a kind of imagery belonging to universal

imagery and direct experience. So we would take this occasion 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?

Any process I begin emarges out of a personal neccesity. It is indeed an


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Lior Herchkovitz

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absolutely indespensable part. Therefore, it evolves from direct experience. The Tidal project was done in the same manner. Whether I deal with a landscape or man, in my mind it has no difference, but rather similar feature and aspect. Anywhere we go, we always carry on our personal bag. I have to listen to the child, the son, the father, lover and the artist in me. Without it I can not authenticely create an imagery. It is a second to none. Tidal also connects the apparent staticity of a visual image, providing the viewers with an intense experience of real-time walking on the thin line that divides figurative to imagination. In particular, how do you view the concepts of the real, the authentic and the imagined playing out within your works?

Tidal is a good example of playing with the imagined. It addresses the relationship between the visible and invisible, the real and unreal, the felt and unfelt motivated forces that surround us. There is no one without the other. It is inseparable. In fact, the images were made by portraying the subject number of times from the same location, in different weather, time, and light conditions by using number of negatives combined and still carrying the primary image remaining under surface. I have created another sea, almost fantastic, almost abstract. I am always trying to understand the individual that I am. Therefore, the relationship between my inner nature and my work creates an authenticity. Producing work, in a way, is connected with the expression of this “inward” voyage. It comes as a sort of

slow boiling up inside until it explodes. Then, there is that one moment that translates itself into a need to be filled with wonder, a need to look with intensity and with courage. Finally, there is that moment of true vision that puts me in to a state of receptivity and allows me to react on it in a form of an image. This trance is only a game that doesn’t last long, however, because life always calls you back to its commands. It seems like contemporary art practice is about breaking the rules and subverting a wide variety of taxonomies of art: there are no boundaries in it whereas the type of art you’re practicing has very real rules that you have to follow. What are some of the rules that when you sit down and you’re conceiving a new piece that you have to consider when you’re deciding whether or not you’re going to coinceive something?

I take photographs with love, so I try to make them art objects. But I make them for myself first and foremost – that is extremely important. This is my only rule. It has to be an ineresting subject that is meaningful to me. You have remarked once that you are less concerned with beauty as commonly perceived, but rather fascinated by a perceptible discrepancy between the visible surface and the psychological content: how do you relate yourself to the aesthetic problem in general? What does in your opinion mean the


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Water Rings, Mineral Beach, Dead Sea I, Israel 2014

notion of aesthetics in our unstable contemporary age?

With regard to aesthetics as an art form, in this current age we have the chance to precieve the unusual, overstated or shocking as well as the sublime. As we

know, art in midieval period or much later on in communism time was used for other perpuses. Now, we might find it to be fascinating, discover new perception. Artists create more complex, intriguing works. We have the opportunity to much wider eastetical experiences then ever


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Swimmers, Accadia Beach Herzliya, Israel 2014

before. However, It can be a very heavy toll too. Concerning photography in particular, happily, man is still the most important part of the picture – making process. On the other hand, this is an idea that is still not well established in people’s minds. They think that, thanks to a great

technology in image making an extraordinary picture will be found every time, but this isn’t so. The best photos, the ones that are remembered, are the ones that first passed through the person’s mind before being restored by the chip.


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Sand Hill, Alexander River, Israel 2015

Over the years you have internationally exhibited and one of the hallmarks of your work is the capability to create a direct involvement with the viewers, who are urged to evolve from a condition of mere spectatorship. So before leaving this conversation we would

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


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Lior Herchkovitz

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

Facing East to Pray, Natanya Beach, Natanya, Israel 2015

The moment always dictates in my work. What I feel, I do. This is the most important thing for me. Everybody can look, but they don’t necessarily see. I never calculate or consider this issue during the actual process of making art; I see a situation and I know that it’s right. When it comes to desplaying my work, I have to consider the audience, let the viewer who looks at the picture always walk along that visual path

for himself. We must always remember that an image is also made up of the person who looks at it. One must let the viewer extricate himself, free himself for the journey. I offer the seed and then the viewer grows it inside himself. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Lior. Finally, would you like to tell us readers


Lior Herchkovitz

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Tidal I, 2011

something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving?

Ticino, an Art Museum in Bellinzona,

I’ve recently began a new body of work, up in the Swiss Alps, but I can’t tell you about it yet. There’ll be two or three works on display in a future solo exhibition, which will take place a year from now at the MACT & CACT Arte Contemporanea

something now that may evolve to a first

Switzerland. Since my first ever project was done, Sixteen years ago, I feel I have monography. An interview by Katherine Williams, curator and Josh Ryder, curator landescape@europe.com


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G uy Aon Lives and works in Tel-Aviv, Israel

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ature and body. Body and nature. Two subjects of my fascination, occupying my attention ever since the beginning of my artistic path, have later expanded into exploring and studying sexuality and taboo life forms, whom I photograph over the past five years, and which have directly affected my formalistic approach towards photography - both as technique and medium. I have taken a decision to put aside the “narrative images making”, and instead relate photography as a twofold medium that is an image and an object at the same time. Accordingly, my works are photography based, yet treated and presented as sculptures, binding together photographic strategies with material sculptural manipulations. I absolutely do not consider this act as a merely formal trend, but as an actual expansion of the medium as part the evolution photography is going through, repositioning it in relation to the contemporary art field in general, and to the new developing interrelations between two dimensional and three dimensional in particular. Furthermore, this move represents a significant attempt to undermine the accepted pattern; defamiliarize the hackneyed photographic image and challenge the need to reinforce and reposition this art object. Hence, the working process comprises an intriguing research of the materialistic possibilities hidden in photography and using photographed images not as its objective or focus, but as a plastic platform which undergoes concealments and disruptions. I mount lambda prints on aluminum and cut them in CNC machine (a lathe). The result is large scale photographic cutouts which are

transformed into peculiar objects, set in the space as paper cutouts or set against colorful screens which serve as their background. Often the images themselves have sculptural qualities within them. They are created out of an installation - a choreographic gesture which exists only at the very moment of photography, and falls apart a minute later. I set up and document in my studio, unusual body positions or strange man-object combinations; bodies are wrapped around each other, sometimes covered and disguised in wigs, clothing parts and accessories or in metal objects, fur and bamboo – structuring erotic hybrids, decorative physical-mechanical stumps and sex- monsters. It is a blunt nakedness, arranged, even engineered, in a manner which takes it out of the body’s context and plants it new environments, generating an almost pure aesthetical outcome. If so, stretching the limits of photography towards a material direction shapes an elusive artwork, one that does not fully gives itself away; the objects’ built-in concealmentexposure games - flirt with the gaze and suspend it. Furthermore, by using their aesthetical measures, the sculptures I produce embody, within their very own presence, the notion that a certain object can be a popular women’s accessory in one culture, a taboo and fetish in another, or treated as a religious artifact in other social contexts. In this manner, the works demonstrate how art and the art of photography in particular, can and should engage in grand questions of gender, sexual and cultural identity, yet without necessarily be theoretical or didactic.

Guy Aon


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LandEscape meets

Guy Aon An interview by Katherine Williams, curator and Josh Ryder, curator landescape@europe.com

Artist Guy Aon's work inquiries into the relatinship between body and nature to considers the vital bond between direct experience and visual intepretation, to draw the viewers through a multilayered journey. In his bodies of work that we'll be discussing in the following pages he stretches the limits of photography towards a material direction, to trigger the viewers' perceptual parameters. One of the most impressive aspects of Aon's work is the way it accomplishes the difficult task of unveil the interrelations between two dimensional and three dimensional, showing the elusive connection between the abstract and the concrete: we are very pleased to introduce our readers to his stimulating and multifaceted artistic production. Hello Guy and welcome to LandEscape: we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your multifaceted background. You have a solid formal training and you hold a BFA of Photography, that you received from the prestigious Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, in Jerusalem: you also nurtured your education with a year at the Mixed Media Department of the Slade School of Fine Art London: how did

these experiences influence the way you currently conceive and produce your works? And in particular, how does your cultural substratum as well as your childhood in a military base inform the way you relate yourself to art making and to the aesthetic problem in general? My studies at the Department of Photography at the Bezalel Academy provided me with an infrastructure for critical reading of photography. I became familiar with police, family, archival, and disaster photography, among other kinds. The Department combines theoretical studies with labs. The digital and the analog labs were the places where the encounter with the materials of photography happened; where we made our mistakes as well as our discoveries. The focus on the principle of camera obscura and the dark matter, together with the magical realization that photography was simply seeing the world through a small crack in a dark box, gave me the freedom to study and explore any subject under the heading of photography. At Slade, there were three departments: painting, sculpture, and mixed media, which included photography. At first, I was bored since I missed working with materials – for what is mixed media? Laptops? .I looked for material and found it in photographic paper and the possibility


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Guy Aon


Guy Aon

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CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW


Guy Aon

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of sculpting it. I started pasting my prints directly on substances such as aluminum and plastic and then cutting them up. I was born and raised on a military base, the Palmahim air force and commando base. It is a very small, tight community where life sometimes seem to be lived on a stage. My childhood memories are made of soldiers in training, shooting ranges, helicopters, and paratroopers landing in a field across from our yard. The military order and the monochrome surroundings clashed with nature and the nearby sea, surreal appearances of flying objects, and explosions – all of which excited me and stimulated my aesthetic sense. Life and death are a daily affair on a military base, and the tension is constant. Growing up there allowed me to observe the dualities of meaning in objects. For me, aesthetics means a sensual perception. It raises the question, is beauty, or taste, subjective, subject-related, or objective, object-dependent? The aesthetic experience stems from the consciousness of the individual experiencing it through his own eyes. Yet the aesthetic experience is grounded in the object itself, which holds the aesthetic attributes. In my work, I attempt to create an aesthetic condition that attracts the viewer instinctively, not consciously. The interpretation is his responsibility, letting the aesthetics to reverberates in his mind. You are a versatile artist and your pratice includes a wide variety of media and disciplines: ranging from paintings to video art and installations, the kaledoiscopic nature of your practice shows an organic synergy between a variety of expressive capabilities. Before starting to elaborate about your production, we would suggest to our readers to visit http://www.guyaon.com in order to get a

synoptic view of your multifaceted artistic production: while walking our readers through your process, we would like to ask you if you have you ever happened to realize that such multidisciplinary approach is the only way to express and convey the idea you explore.

To my mind, the physical materials which make up the body and the universe are partly hidden science and partly existing in the future. They create life, and without them, we cannot sense our existence. My art is about people and for people; I believe the expressive experience is the ultimate way to approach these subjects. Working in a variety of media comes naturally to me. I've always looked for new ways to realize ideas. By using more and more media, I can create art that is transmitted to the viewer as a multi-sensual experience – that fascinates me! For this special edition of LandEscape we have selected ZEBRA EGGPLANTS, an extremely interesting site specific work that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article: when walking our readers through the genesis of ZEBRA EGGPLANTS would you tell our readers how do you view the concepts of the real and the imagined playing out within your works?

I often wonder whether reality is imaginary or whether imagination is all too real. The series "Zebra Eggplant" came out the of the desire to create a new landscape through still-life practices. Chromatically, I tried to explore the tension in the saturation of black and to see how much white is needed to describe it still as a tricky object. The attributes of the materials I have worked with: their glare and their form led me to a process of reflection and revelation. The


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Guy Aon

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objects wish to appear in all their glory, to be symmetrical, but also to keep the option to be flexible. Focusing on the perception of form is what allows imagination and reality to come closer. ZEBRA EGGPLANTS could be considered as an exploration of the insterstitial point between figurative and abstract in constructed space in the way the sculptural qualities of the objects establish direct relations with the viewers: we appreciated the way you have been capable of creating a point of convergence between a kind of imagery belonging to universal imagery and direct experience with concrete aesthetics you convey through a personal language. So we would take this occasion 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?

To me, the creative process must always be in touch with the personal experience. It's an ongoing internal dialog regarding each choice and each decision I make, a struggle between the familiar and the new. When I sense a new personal experience or an encounter with something new in the studio, as long as it excites me it is right for my work. I also think that I must give my viewer something to hold on to: a composition, a sculptural shape, and a definite structure while charging the images with the potential to be something else, which is one thing to me but something else to the viewer. I can only commit to my direct experience, and as long as I maintain my integrity I can create an image. We have appreciated the way Tilon\Mothership creates a non linear narrative strategy: as you have remarked in your artist's statement, you

have taken a decision to put aside the “narrative images making�, and instead relate photography as a twofold medium that is an image and an object at the same time. German multidisciplinary artist Thomas Demand once stated that "nowadays art can no longer rely so much on symbolic strategies and has to probe psychological, narrative elements within the medium instead". What is your opinion about it?

In the series "Mothership-Tilon" many compositions target the narrative, providing options. In Hebrew, the word tilon is a diminutive of the word for 'missile,' but, ironically, also the nostalgic name of a brand of ice-cream. Tilon is an image of a mask related to the power of the mother, in the tribal sense, the power to be something's mother. The breasts. They are like missiles, something ballistic. They are the makers of the super-food. The narrative must not be linear; in Thriller it is even an attempt to tell a cinematic story. It is a documentary collage shot in hotel rooms in Tokyo, Macao, and Tel Aviv, with four people. I saturate the scene with details, enough so that a thousand plots may be conceived. The portrait has no face, only the narrative of a portrait. There is only a gesture by the subject of the portrait. The narrative is forced, requiring the viewers to use their imagination. I agree with Demand. I think that in today's world of symbols and semiotic interpretations the narrative has been abridged; my aim is to describe a symbol in as many layers as possible.


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While rejecting a theoretical approach, you explore a variety of issues that affects our unstable contemporary age, as questions of gender, sexual and cultural identity. How do you proceed with a site-specific project in terms of creating or selecting the images that it comprises in roder to match them to the ideas that you explore?

I approach images and exhibitions horizontally. I always focus on several terms that I want to bring to the surface. The work process includes creating an assembly of images and ideas. When it comes to displaying them, I construct a syntax to fit the duration and space of the show. As you mentioned, sexuality and identity fascinate me, and I find them to be basic and crucial in the contemporary world, in every site. Another interesting project of yours that has particularly impressed us and on which we would like to spend some words is entitled WIGS: we definetely love the way you stretch the limits of photography towards a material direction in order to provide two dimensional images with a tactile feature. This aspect of your work allows you to inquire into the interstitial space between personal and public spheres, providing the spectatorship with an immersive experience that forces such a contamination the inner and the outside: how do you see the relationship between public sphere and the role of art in public space?

Wigs was a creative process aimed at creating a tactile sense in furry objects charged with questions about identity and ethnicity. The photographs were made typologically, and edited into new creatures as a catalog of prototypes. I used a 4X5 camera and chemical printing, to maximize the chromatic and textural range. These

particular printing and display methods are appropriate for interior spaces and a personal-sphere experience. Following that, I made the series "GUM," which comprised twenty-four large cut-outs with saccharincolored photographs- turned-objects, positioned in the physical space or on screens. The images document body positions or gestures, or person/object combinations, the bodies entwined, covered, camouflaged in wigs, clothing accessories, metal objects, fur, and bamboo. The results are sexual monsters, or machine monsters, erotic hybrids/ this kind of work spreads into the public arena and takes it over. The sculptural qualities of the objects, the sensual conspicuousness, and the size present a public space that seems like a post-human sphere. We like the way you structure your pieces: they leave space for the spectators to replay the ideas you explore in their own intimate lives, letting them become emotionally involved in what you are attempting to communicate. As Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco once stated, "the artist’s role differs depending on which part of the world you’re in. It depends on the political system you’re living under". Do you think that the role of the artist has changed these days with the new global communications and the new sensibility created by new media?

I believe that today, with the help of New Media, the physical role of the artist, his presence, has changed. For example, in June of 2017, I will participate in an exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCoAK) in Krakow. Delfina Jałowik, the curator, has dictated that participation would not involve physically moving or installing the works, but rather creating an interactive relationship with the viewer


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using various New Media devices. This practice speaks directly to the development of the digital arena and our current layered reality. How do you go about naming your work? In particular, is important for you to tell something that might walk the viewers through their visual experience?

Usually I choose titles for my works only when I consider them to be complete. The linking of text and image is powerful, and I feel strongly about it. The name or the title should be equally powerful in relation to the work, and should not obstruct the imagined aspect. The naming of a thing grounds its presence in the verbal world, in addition to the visual, and so expands the artistic discourse. Over the years your works have been showcased in several occasions, including your participation at the show of Graduates of Photography Academies, curated by Naama Haikinwith. One of the hallmarks of your work is the capability to create a direct involvement with the viewers, who are urged to evolve from a condition of mere spectatorship. So before leaving this conversation we would like to pose a question about the nature of the relationship of your art with your audience. Do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decision-making process, in terms of what type of language is used in a particular context?

I try to maintain playfulness In my work process, while taking methodical breaks, to disengage from my personal experience and to try to feel like a random spectator. I expect my viewers to be totally dedicated to the language and the aesthetics as a

Guy Aon


Guy Aon

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Ehud Schori

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starting point in the relationship. The works want to engage with the viewer to be desired by him; the relationship is reciprocal. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Guy. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving?

These days I am working on a new solo show. The images will be printed on fabrics that will be made into photographic dolls and padded objects. I will use the technique of projection, in the dark, on luminescent materials, continuing my study of images as objects. In addition, I am working on a


Ehud Schori

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documentary with the talented artist Sapir Kesem Leary, about nature, animals, and people in isolated farm in Yorkshire. This project is very special to me. It has been filmed for a long time and its plot has developed in the editing, thanks to the cooperation with Kesem Leary. I would like my work to continue to evolve curiosity and

desire in as many people as there are stars in the sky.

An interview by Katherine Williams, curator and Josh Ryder, curator landescape@europe.com

LandEscape Art Review - Special Issue  
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