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LandEscape Anniversary Edition

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Anniversary Edition

Pictures in an Exhibition, 2015 six channel digital video installation at the University of Waterloo Art Gallery


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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

Kees Ouwens

Miya Ando

Christian Gastaldi

Rosalyn Song

Noah Klersfeld

Xiaohong Zhang

The Netherlands

USA

France

United Kingdom

USA

USA

After my studies I went to Japan to study Japanese gardens, because of the difference in perception of space, especially in creating gardens. My main focal point of interest were stone arrangements, which are the fundamental part of garden making in Japan. If the stone compositions are not done in a proper way, the whole garden will appear as an unbalanced, not well designed one. So I ended up working 3 years with stones only, selecting, arranging, and moving them around various places in the gardens I worked on.

The installation piece Emptiness The Sky is inspired by a Japanese kanji character, ‘Sora’ which means both ‘emptiness or void’ as well as ‘sky’. Sunyata is another word for this idea. The idea was to create an empty space of reflection, the form is inspired by traditional ‘chashitsu’ or tea houses, a very simple structure which delineates a space separate from the mundane world. The piece is about memory, identity and the notion of ‘home’. The free-standing sculpture is clad on the exterior with a charred wood, called Yaki-sugi or Shou Sugi Ban. This material is used in my neighborhood in Okayama, Japan.

I am a painter who takes colors from used, distressed material, for whom brushes strokes are tears of posters or magazines. Art is for me a process of sublimation. It is most challengingly achieved using plain, everyday life material not perceived as ‘beautiful’ because of their mundane functions. In my view it is impossible to separate the art you create from your entire life experience. No one has this freedom. We are products of past events, of interactions we have had with people in the places in which we have lived. Now, what are the driving forces, the triggering events that push you into creating?

Our awareness of our surroundings and our lives is often based on what we can perceive. A mistake sometimes made is not acknowledging what is absent, what is not there. Our lives seem lacking when we are bored with nothing to do. But this emptiness is something. And until we can appreciate and see the “nothingness” we are only seeing a portion of what is around us. “Nothingness” to me is forgotten memories, the surreal ruins that scare and inspire me. It is the indescribable feeling of absence. When it comes to art, I do not want to have a certain intention to persuade to the audience. The function of being an artist isn’t convincing to the audience what they should feel through form of art.

My work in digital video highlights moments of careful observation that have been restructured in systematic, fanciful ways. Working with surface and depth, color and light, timing and rhythm, I use video to create new visual systems, harmonizing multiple timeframes that are bound within predetermined, structural forms.

My ecological curiosity was first sparked resear-ching on climate change while pursuing a MA in International Political Economy. The lack of political will seemed to suggest there was a deeper ideological problem of perception towards the environment that science, despite its numerous findings, was not able to change.

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Focusing mainly on patterns, I reorganize motion in an attempt to look at time in spatial terms, using the pattern itself as the framework for temporally redistributing all of the surrounding activity. This method allows me to consider time on an inchby-inch basis rather than day-by-day.

Somewhere along this path of translation in a “hyper-technological” society, meaning gets lost in information.


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Miya Ando

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lives and works in New York City, USA

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Lisa Birke lives and works in Montreal, Canada

Noah Klersfeld

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lives and works in New York City, USA

Sergey Sobolev

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lives and works in Moskow, Russia

Kees Ouwens

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lives and works in Utrecht, the Netherlands

Xiaohong Zhang Sergey Sobolev

Lisa Birke

Alexandre Dang

Russia

Canada

France

The sculptural art is a precise visual genre. Its shape is its language. The shape has distinct limits, otherwise it is amorphous, shapeless in other words. That's why I put my sculptures into concise shape, polish them up to the state of a sign, and get them rid of unwanted details to avoid anything arbitrary. Optimization is the sculpture's genesis.

There are a number of lines of inquiry that I attempted to tackle in Pictures. Firstly, representation, and more specifically our expectations of the representation of the female form as embedded, performing, or perhaps even trapped with the natural landscape. There is a tradition of depicting the female as part of Nature: she is considered naturally part of or at home in the natural tableau in various levels of undress. These mythologized views are very interesting to me and I wanted to see what would happen when I physically played-out some of the historical narratives.

All over the exhibitions in the world, I can see a very universal response from the audience: people mainly smile and start asking "How is this moving? What does it mean?" And this is for me the most important: bringing people to smile and to think about important contemporary issues. Although the works bring smile and seem easy, realising them is not just a children's game, it is really a lot of work! I have to conceive a first draft, do some pre-testing, address the issues, find solutions, do some further tests, find again solutions, finetune etc‌ Realising a new work takes some months or sometimes some years. It's important to highlight it, as when it is realised, everything seems so easy‌

The significance of meaning is put into the significance of form, as if into the box. The significance of meaning gets covered with a shell of the significant form.

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lives and works in Whitewater, WI, USA

Christian Gastaldi

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lives and works in Paris, France

Alexandre Dang

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lives and works in Basel, Switzerland

Rosalyn Song

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lives and works in Dallas, USA

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, Miya Ando, Martin Gantman , Krzysztof Kaczmar and Robyn Ellenbogen.

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M iya Ando Lives and works in New York City, NY USA

An artist's statement

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iya Ando is an American artist whose metal canvases and sculpture articulate themes of contradiction and juxtaposition of ideas.The foundation of Ando’s practice is the transformation of surfaces. A descendant of Bizen sword makers, she was raised among sword smiths and Buddhist priests in a temple in Okayama, Japan. Applying traditional techniques of her ancestry, she skillfully transforms sheets of burnished industrial steel, using heat and chemicals, into ephemeral abstractions suffused with subtle gradations of color. She says: “I have a deep appreciation for the dynamic properties of metal and its ability to reflect light. Metal simultaneously conveys strength and permanence and yet in the same instant can appear delicate, fragile, luminous, soft, ethereal. The medium becomes both a contradiction and juxtaposition for expressing notions of evanescence, including ideas such as the transitory and ephemeral nature of all things, quietude and the underlying impermanence of everything.”Miya Ando received a bachelor degree in East Asian

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Studies from the University of California at Berkeley and attended Yale University to study Buddhist iconography and imagery. She apprenticed with a master metal smith in Japan, followed by a residency at Northern California’s Public Art Academy in 2009. Ando is the recipient of many awards, including the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant in 2012. Her work has been exhibited extensively all over the world, including a recent show curated by Nat Trotman of the Guggenheim Museum. Miya Ando has produced numerous public commissions, most notably a thirty-foot tall commemorative sculpture in London built from World Trade Center steel which is installed permanently at Zaha Hadid’s Aquatic Centre in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London. Her large-scale installation piece ‘Emptiness the Sky’ (Shou Sugi Ban) was featured in the 56th Venice Biennale, in the ‘Frontiers Reimagined’ Exhibition at the Museo Di Palazzo Grimani in 2015. She lives and works in New York. @studiomiyaando


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LandEscape meets

Miya Ando An interview by Melissa C. Hilborn, curator and Josh Ryder, curator landescape@europe.com

Questioning the role of the medium as a semantic vehicle, New York based artist Miya Ando investigates about the ephemeral nature of reality, in relation to the contingent reality we inhabit. While seducing the viewer with references to the primordial nature of elements she juxtaposes, she succedes in creating an area of deep interplay, that urges us to forget our need for a univocal understanding of symbolic contents, inviting us to rethink about the atemporal mark of Reality. One of the most convincing aspect of Ando's work is the way she effectively harmonizes ancestral heritage with a lively gaze towards contemporariness. I'm very pleased to introduce our readers to his refined artistic production. Hello Miya and a warm welcome to LandEscape: to start this interview, would you like to tell us something about your background? In particular, I think it's important to mention that as a descendant of Bizen sword makers, you were raised among sword smiths and Buddhist

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priests in a temple in your native Okayama: what is the role of traditional heritage in the way you conceive your works?

Hello and thank you very much for your interview. I am American, my mother is Japanese and my father is Russian-American. I lived when I was a child in a redwood forest in Northern California and also spent time in my family Buddhist Temple in Japan. My ancestors were sword smiths before they became Buddhist priests. My work is inspired and informed by an investigation of history, as well as by ideas of the ancient past juxtaposed with contemporary ideas and techniques. I am interested in matters of identity and memory. Now let's focus on your artistic production: I would start from Emptiness The Sky , an extremely interesting work that has been featured in the 56th Venice Biennale and that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article: and I would suggest our readers to visit directly at http://miyaando.com in order to get a wider idea of your


Miya Ando

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CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

multifaceted artistic production. In the meanwhile, would you tell us something about the genesis of this interesting project? What was your initial inspiration?

The installation piece ‘Emptiness The Sky’ is inspired by a Japanese kanji character, ‘Sora’ which means both ‘emptiness or void’ as well as ‘sky’. Sunyata is another word for this idea. The idea was to create an empty space of reflection, the form is inspired by traditional ‘chashitsu’ or tea houses, a very simple structure which delineates a space separate from the mundane world. The piece is about memory, identity and the notion of ‘home’. The free-standing sculpture is clad on the exterior with a charred wood, called Yaki-sugi or Shou Sugi Ban. This material is used in my neighborhood in Okayama, Japan. It is a fire-preventative. The material embodies transformation. I find poetic the idea that this material is burned in order to protect it and the contents of the building within it. The interior has floor to ceiling metal paintings. The eastern or Zen notion of ‘empty’ has a meaning which can mean ‘full of opportunity to change’ and I am very interested in this concept. The ambience created by Emptiness The Sky has reminded me the concept of Heterotopia elaborated by French social theorist Michel Foucault. What has mostly impacted on me is the way you have been capable of bringing a new level of

significance to the sign of absence, that invites us to rethink about the concept of the environment we inhabit in. This is a recurrent feature of your approach that urges the viewers' perception in order to challenge the common way to perceive not only the outside world, but our inner dimension... By the way, I'm sort of convinced that some informations & ideas are hidden, or even "encrypted" in the environment we live in, so we need -in a way- to decipher them. Maybe that one of the roles of an artist could be to reveal unexpected sides of Nature, especially of our inner Nature... what's your point about this?

Emptiness The Sky is a physical space which represents a different consciousness or state. I used Shou Sugi Ban (Charred Wood) to demarcate this space, the wood is a material which has very clearly been through a transformation and this is a symbol to represent an entry into a different plane or field. My intention was to create a physical representation of an inner space, a space of memory, a space in another level of consciousness. Another interesting work of yours that has particularly impacted on me and on which I would like to spend some words is entitled Obon: in particular, when I first happened to get to know with this piece I tried to relate all the visual information and the presence of a primary elements as water and leaves to a single meaning. But I soon later realized that I had to fit into the visual

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Miya Ando

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

rhythm suggested by the work, forgetting my need for a univocal understanding of its symbolic content: in your work, rather that a conceptual interiority, I can recognize the desire to enabling us to establish direct relations... Would you say that it's more of an intuitive or a systematic process?

‘Obon’ is an ongoing public art project that I have been putting forth for the past six years in various locations and countries. The piece is inspired by the ancient Japanese festival of Obon, a ceremony to honor and commemorate the departed. Obon is an ancient event, which occurs every 15th day of the 7th month of the Lunar Calendar (midAugust). It is believed that during this 3 day ceremony the spirits of one’s departed family members and ancestors return to the home and are reunited with their loved ones. Lanterns are hung inside the house to welcome the spirits inside and on the evening of the last day of the ceremony, lanterns are floated on rivers to guide the spirits back to the netherworld. There is a beautiful, nondenominational notion of respect, interconnectivity, history, and memory that is celebrated with the festival of Obon. For the ‘Obon’ (Puerto Rico) version of this piece, I created 1000 hand painted (resin and phosphorescence) skeleton Ficus Religiosa (Bodhi) leaves. The leaves were hand painted with non-toxic, phosphorescent pigment.

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Emptiness The Sky (Shou Sugi Ban) 84 x 84 x 84 Inches, Charred Wood, Metal Paintings. Installation created for The 56th Venice Biennale, 2015

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9/11 Memorial Sculpture created with steel recovered from The World Trade Center Buildings 28 feet x 6 feet x 4 feet. Permanently Installed at Zaha Hadid Aquatic Centre Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London


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Miya Ando


Miya Ando

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This phosphorescent pigment ‘charged’ with sunlight during the day as the leaves were cast afloat on a small pond, at night in darkness the leaves emitted a soft, blue glow for a five hours. Each fragile leaf appeared clear during the day and became luminous at night. This was a 24 hour, temporal public project. Multidisciplinarity is a crucial aspect of your art practice and you seem to be in an incessant search of an organic, almost intimate symbiosis between several disciplines, taking advantage of the creative and expressive potential of Sculpture as well as of Painting: while crossing the borders of different artistic fields have you ever happened to realize that a symbiosis between different disciplines is the only way to achieve some results, to express some concepts?

I consider materials to be intrinsic to my practice, I focus a great deal of attention on materials and in selecting the appropriate material for each project. The material reiterates, supports, communicates the idea of each work, therefore I allow myself to consider any and all substrates and mediums in my work. Skeleton leaves are very intriguing to me in their paradoxical nature. They were once alive, now they have been bleached, dyed and preserved, leaving only their structure. I sew them into configurations, mandalas and hanging installations for example, such as ‘Koyo’ (which in Japanese means

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‘Changing of Color of Autumn Leaves). The leaves appear to be delicate, lacelike, fragile but in fact they are quite strong. During these years your works have been extensively exhibited around the world, including a recent show curated by Nat Trotman of the Guggenheim Museum. So, before taking leave from this interesting conversation I would like to pose a a question about the nature of the relation with your audience: in particular, do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decisionmaking process in terms of what type of language for a particular context?

I remain within my own established visual vocabulary regardless of the context. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Miya. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving?

Thank you very much, I have two upcoming solo exhibitions, September 2015 at Sundaram Tagore Gallery Hong Kong and October 2015 at Sundaram Tagore Gallery Singapore. I will post images and information on instagram: @studiomiyaando Also my piece if The Venice Biennale will be on view through November 22, 2015.

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Miya Ando's Solo Shows

Sky/Emptiness (Sora/Ku) Sundaram Tagore Gallery Hong Kong: Wednesday, September 23 to Friday, October 30 Title: Sky/Emptiness (Sora/Ku) Sundaram Tagore Gallery Singapore: Thursday, October 29 to Sunday, December 6


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L isa Birke Lives and works in Montréal, Canada

An artist's statement

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isa Birke is a Canadian artist who situates between the tradition of painting, digital video and performance art. She received an MFA with distinction from the University of Waterloo in 2013, where she held the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Master’s Scholarship and the University of Waterloo President’s Graduate Scholarship. She has had solo exhibitions across Canada and her short films have been screened at film/video festivals and media centres internationally, including amongst others: Athens International Film + Video Festival (USA), ARTVIDEO LAB (France), InShadow International Festival of Video, Performance and Technologies (Portugal), Cologne OFF X (USA, Israel, India), Cyprus International Performance Art Festival (Greece), Cold Cuts Video Festival (Canada), International Short Film Week Regensburg (Germany), and Videoholica (Bulgaria). Recently, Tea

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Service was presented at the National Art Centre’s “Ontario Scene Festival” at SAW Media Art Centre in Ottawa (Canada) and Calendar Girls was awarded a “Jury Award for Creative Achievement” at the Arizona International Film Festival (USA) in April 2015. Lisa Birke examines notions of ‘self’ through the lens of gender, bringing the cultural tropes of woman into focus and into question. Filmed unaccompanied in the Canadian landscape, absurd yet insightful performative acts become entangled in nuanced and complex narratives in single and multi-channel video works that make reference to art history, mythology and popular culture. Revealing what lies beneath the surface of femininity, her work toys with a conclusion that is problematic, comi-tragic, and most essentially, human.

Lisa Birke http://www.lisabirke.com/


“Pictures in an Exhibition” six channel digital video installation at the University of Waterloo Art Gallery, video projections left to right: red stripe painting; walking the line; red carpet (left), Fragonard’s swing; Miss La La; hung out to dry (right), ), 2013 (image credit: Brian Limoyo)


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LandEscape meets

Lisa Birke An interview by Josh Ryder, curator and Barbara Scott, curator landescape@europe.com

Lisa Birke explores the notions of ‘self’ through the lens of gender, bringing the cultural tropes of woman into focus and into question: through an incessant process of recontextualization, her multidisciplinary approach combines painting, digital video and performance art into a consistent and lively unity, to provide the viewers of an extension of the ordinary perception, accomplishing the difficult task of evolving from a passive audience to conscious participant, inviting us to rethink about the way modern society's cliché that unsuspectedly nestle in gestures, symbols and situations I'm particularly pleased to introduce our readers to her multifaceted artistic production. Hello Lisa, and welcome to LandEscape: to start this interview, would you like to tell us something about your background? You recently graduated with a MFA from the University of Waterloo: how has this experience influenced you as an artist and impacted on the way you currently conceive and produce your works?

Thank you so much for having me in LandEscape, it is such a vibrant forum in which to express ideas and creative vision and I am so happy to participate. Yes, I came to my video art practise somewhat by accident. Before 2011, I was engaged in a twelve year painting, drawing and installation practise that was concerned with the overflux of information and the accumulation

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Lisa Birke

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Semiotics of the {Postfeminist} Kitchen, 2014, performance

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“Pictures in an Exhibition” six channel digital video installation at the University of Waterloo Art Gallery, video projections left to right: red stripe painting; walking the line; red carpet (left), Fragonard’s swing; Miss La La; hung out to dry (right), ), 2013 (image credit: Brian Limoyo)


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of material goods in our digital and commodity-based society. Alongside my more contemporary themes I also had one foot firmly planted within art history and was particularly enamoured with the narrative of the figure within the landscape. The winter before beginning my MFA, I spent six weeks at the Ted Harrison Artist’s Retreat Society (THARS) that runs a Residency Program at Crag Lake, an isolated community in the Yukon, in northern Canada. It was January—and extremely cold—yet also stunning and undeniably magical. On a whim, while taking a break from painting, I decided to take my tiny point-and-shoot camera and filmed a type of endurance performance outside in the nude, in the snow. I was inspired by the Arctic Games and was looking for an outlet for the current obsession with Yoga that was playing-out at the time in my home of Vancouver. I thought it would be both humourous and interesting to transplant the Yoga pose even further out of its original context into this unhospitable (and quite literally cold and white) environment. In order to introduce ourselves to the MFA program at the University of Waterloo, all incoming grads were asked to participate in an exhibition upon our arrival. As I could not afford to ship my large canvases, I decided to show the videos that I had made in the north. After this point, everyone thought that I was a video artist and my fate was somewhat sealed. This was terrifying as I considered myself a luddite and technophobe at the time. My extensive background in dance cushioned my transition and producing the videos has, surprisingly, felt quite intuitive and natural. Now let's focus on your artistic production: I would start from Pictures in an Exhibition, an extremely interesting project that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article: and I would suggest our readers to visit directly at http://www.lisabirke.com in order to get a

wider idea of your multifaceted artistic production. In the meanwhile, would you tell us something about the genesis of this interesting project? What was your initial inspiration?

There are a number of lines of inquiry that I attempted to tackle in Pictures. Firstly, representation, and more specifically our expectations of the representation of the female form as embedded, performing, or perhaps even trapped with the natural landscape. There is a tradition of depicting the female as part of Nature: she is considered naturally part of or at home in the natural tableau in various levels of undress. These mythologized views are very interesting to me and I wanted to see what would happen when I physically played-out some of the historical narratives. Of course, the result is anything from glamourous. It is muddy, there are bugs, and it is often really cold and prickly. Ergo—the female form is not naturally at home in nature. Following this, I was interested in unravelling some other myths. As the project built—and because of a certain reluctance in being able to let go of my comfort zone, the medium of painting—I decided to make an installation of six moving ‘paintings’, but all in the video medium. Each ‘tableau’ took its inspiration from an art historical or modernist painting that reveals the act of looking or challenges the materiality of the art form and thus challenging representation itself. The paintings were also selected to posit interesting themes that I could work with: spirituality/transcendence, pornography/sexuality, control, scopophilic viewing and the modern gaze, and entrapement. I wanted to viewer to be aware that they were looking at a constructed image, thus bringing awarneness to the “looking” and “interpreting” process—one that was both familiar and unnervingly uncertain here. I attempted to present stories, objects, and symbols that are already embedded into our cultural consciousness but

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worked to confuse the signification of these tropes and rendered their meaning uncertain. For example, in “red carpet” we are presented with the symbol of the movie industry: the red carpet. The symbol of fame, stardom and presentment, it is a powerful emblem that is usually only seen off screen and not in it—in “red carpet” is has been transplanted to the center of the frame. A woman walks the carpet, yet there are no media scrums and she is seemingly alone in her poised and stoic journey. She is not presenting herself ‘to’ the camera but rather walks endlessly away from it, forcing the viewer to follow behind her throughout the passage of the seasons. Thus, while it subverts cinematic space, it is also a tale about transcendence and literally walking the line, negotiating loneliness, and coming to terms with the human condition. It also reawakens a warning given in Agamemnon by Aeschylus, the first Greek play to use the symbolism of a mortal walking upon tapestries. It is a warning that has long since been silenced: beware all mortals who attempt to act as gods and walk upon such extravagences [artist’s paraphrase]. Out of interest sake, the paintings that inspired “red carpet” were Barnett Newman’s “The Wild” (1950) and “Achilles”(1952), two of Newman’s red “zip” paintings . The works in Pictures attempted to subvert the viewer’s expectations and also frustrate him/her in not providing a concrete resolution to the narratives—things are not always what they seem or are ‘seen’. Art, for me is an investigation into how we construct meaning for the world. Both power and danger lie therein: we often take what is presented to us as truth—especially when a certain image or narrative is repeated over and over again without questioning. The church understood the power of the image in the middle ages, yet we often don’t challenge tropes or mythologized representation in contemporary society. I should add that if there is further interest in some of the background information on the

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source paintings and the mythologies explored in Pictures my MFA thesis on this body of work can be found here: http://www.lisabirke.com/writings/pdfs/lisabi rke_thesissupportdocument_2013.pdf . I have appreciated the way Pictures in an Exhibition takes an intense participatory


Lisa Birke

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line on the conception of art. In particular, your investigation about the intimate aspect of constructed realities has reminded me of Thomas Demand's works: while conceiving Art could be considered a purely abstract activity, there is always a way of giving it a permanence that goes beyond the intrinsic ephemeral nature of

the concepts you capture. So I 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?

That is a great question. No, I feel that

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Endgame, 2016, video performance

sometimes we artists like to feel that we can separate ourselves and/or our personal lives from the ‘greater concept’ we are working towards, but I feel that this is an impossibility. Of course, all our direct experiences cannot but wholly influence what we produce. Even when suppressed, the everyday, the

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mundane, our individual fears, joys, insanities and all of our processed experiences will filter out into the work in some way, if not directly than indirectly. In my own work, I have really had to contend with the fact that I am physically present in


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the work—even if only as a physical stand-in for an architype, or as an abstracted concept. Initially I used my own body because it was cheap, it was willing to do questionable things for the sake of the art and it was always available to me. It has been a challenge to present the work publically

because of that thing we all carry around, called shame and self-consciousness. I have learned to let this go, for the most part. I have become more interested instead in both the physical endurance and discomfort of making the work and in the awkward director/actor relationship that heightens the

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Endgame, 2016, video performance

tension and questions the methodology of control in the image. I hope that because I am just a regular person (and not a trained stunt double) putting myself into these scenarios, that there is a certain degree of empathy that strengthens the issue of direct experience for the viewer.

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As Marina Abramovich once stated, "to be a performance artist, you have to hate theatre", to reject the idea of a fictional representation of the reality you are questioning in your works. But when it comes to investigate about symbols and


Lisa Birke

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true... what's your point about this? In particular, the capability of discerning the essential feature of a concept to translate it into an accessible visual is a key point of your practice: how much do you explicitly think of such communicative aspect for your work?

I am always working with double meanings, puns and literal subversions in my work. I really like how language is contradictory: it is slippery and difficult to pin down yet weighs very heavily when imposed onto a subject or group of individuals with the intention of locking it/them down with a definitive definition. I think that people are generally more comfortable when things are categorized into neat boxes with tidy labels. When we are presented similar stories and representations over and over again, we are happy to accept these as truths because these categorizations make it easier to define our own selves in relation to them. We know where we stand and where we belong, so to speak. This is both a relief and comforting...until one realizes that one is being suppressed or controlled.

semiotic labeling as you did in House Broken it is almost impossible to split form from substance: social clichés embedded in a male-constructed culture are conveyed by apparently innocuous epithets that refer to a fictious reality in order to convince people to take it as

In a number of the images from “House Broken” I take advertisement-style domestic scenes and turn them into surreal tableaus through building on our lexicon of reference points and subtle meanings, manipulating these through our system of language and semiotics. In “House Bunny” and “Cougar” I am working with the ‘animalization’ of the female. In Canadian English, a male usually has other words that are associated with his penis used against him if the intension is derrogatory (odd, considering these words are still symbols of power and thus not really degrading.) Women are much more readily associated with the animal kingdom—again that pesky Nature! So my intention was to reveal this language use in a purely visual form. In “House Bunny” it is not the female domestic that is the house bunny as we would expect from the title. Instead, our subject has been surprised and rendered off-

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balance while washing the dishes by a giant kitsch ceramic bunny visible in the window—a literal House Bunny intruding on her space. We often don’t see these subtle power dynamics at play in our language systems—or maybe we don’t want to see them—like the big bunny in the window or the elephant in the room. The “Cougar” in my image has been stuffed and put in the museum with the other curiosities. Again, it is through the overt humour and lightheartedness in the work that I hope these sytems of signification become apparant to the viewer. So yes, I think about both accessibility of the image to the viewer and using the tropes and stereotypes that are already familiar, while at the same time being very aware of the communicatory potential in saying something meaningful about our society and how the viewer might be able to “translate” and “read” these cues, jokes or subversions in the work. Before taking leave from this interesting conversation I would like to pose a but cliché question, but an interesting one that I'm sure will interest our readers around the world... it goes without saying that feedbacks are capable of providing an artist of an important support, which is for sure not absolutely indespensable, but that can stimulate to keep on with Art: I was just wondering if the expectation of positive feedback could even influence the process of an artist... In particular, how would you define the nature of the relation with your audience?

I am terrified of the audience yet art is made for an audience, so therein lies an inexplicable paradox for me. I have only attempted a few live performance projects and each time I nearly passed-out. This is why I hide behind the screen—the audience can see me, but I can’t see the audience—at least not when the work is being filmed. No, quite seriously (and there is a lot of truth to that first statement), I often have an unexplainable impulse and urge to do what I do (and I realize this is also cliché). I have attempted to stop producing work for short

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Lisa Birke

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Calendar Girls, 2014, Performance

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Calendar Girls, 2014, Performance

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Lisa Birke


Lisa Birke

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periods of time and witnessed my health and mental well-being deteriorate surprisingly quickly. The difficulty of making art is a lifelong challenge that I can’t seem to dissengage from. That being said, I also usually make the work and don’t think about having to present the work to a live audience until much later in the process. Despite my irrational fear of audiences, I am not afraid of negative feedback. When it does come my way it really helps me figure out how the work is communicating or miscommunicating. All responses to the work are equally valid and helpful. Of course, positive feedback is very heartening and gives me the impetus to keep working. When even one other person ‘gets it’ and the work is able to impart just a bit of contemplation or emotion, it is very rewarding. And it feels just a little less lonely. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Lisa. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects. How do you see your work evolving?

I have a number of projects on the go, some very long term that I will hopefully work on for decades and others much shorter in scope. Currently, I am interested in exploring simple video special effects (still involving the figure and landscape) and hopefully will have a new work finished by the end of the summer. I am also very excited that I received a grant from the Ontario Arts Council to produce a collaborative video work with my Mom who is a textile designer and craftsperson extraordinaire. This will go into production in late summer/early fall. This should be another adventure with just a few of those continuing growing pains thrown in for good measure! So I hope that the work will evolve in scope and complexity. Maybe one day I will even start painting again. Thank you so much for having me and asking such engaging questions.

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Noah Klersfeld Lives and works in New York City, USA

An artist's statement

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y work in digital video highlights moments of careful observation that have been restructured in systematic, fanciful ways. Working with surface and depth, color and light, timing and rhythm, I use video to create new visual systems, harmonizing multiple timeframes that are bound within predetermined, structural forms. Focusing mainly on patterns, I reorganize motion in an attempt to look at time in spatial terms, using the pattern itself as the framework for temporally redistributing all of the surrounding activity. This method allows me to consider time on an inch-by-inch basis rather than day-byday.

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Noah Klersfeld is a video artist living and working in New York City. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts and Bachelor of Architecture degrees from the Rhode Island School of Design and attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. He is currently an artist in residence at The Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts in New York City. Klersfeld’s solo exhibitions include The Hunterdon Art Museum (Clinton NJ), The Islip Art Museum (Islip NY), Mixed Greens Gallery (New York NY), Freight + Volume Gallery (New York NY), and The Soap Factory (Minneapolis MN). His video project, "Payroll," has been on two national tours (with Rooftop Films and Hi/Lo Film and Video) and has received awards from the Center on Contemporary Arts (Seattle WA) and the ASU Film and Video Festival (Tempe AZ). Klersfeld recently completed a long-term video commission with collaborator Patty Chang at the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) Tom Bradley International Terminal, a project that was granted by the Percent for Art program and commissioned by the LA City Department of Cultural Affairs in conjunction with Los Angeles World Airports. His work has been reviewed in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Modern Painters, and ARTnews, among others.


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“Four Corners” installation at The Boston Society of Architects, Boston MA Collaboration with Yasmin Vobis and Aaron Forrest. Photo © Aaron Forrest, 2014 22


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LandEscape meets

Noah Klersfeld An interview by Josh Ryders, curator with the collaboration of Katherine Williams landescape@europe.com A careful process of harmonization of multiple timeframes allows New York based artist Noah Klersfeld to create videos capable of offering to the viewer a multilayered experience, urging to rethink about the ambiguous dichotomy between the perception of space and time. While reorganizing motion in an attempt to look at time in spatial terms, his unconventional approach creates an unexplored area of interplay where we are invited to explore unexpected relationships with reality and the way we perceive it. I'm very pleased to introduce our readers to his refined artistic production. Hello Noah and welcome to LandEscape: to start this interview, would you like to tell us something about your background? You have a solid formal training and after earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a Bachelor of Architecture degree from the Rhode Island School of Design, you attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture: how did these experiences influence your evolution as an artist? In particular do you think that formal training did inform the way you currently conceive your works?

I attended RISD from 1991 to 1996. My main focus heading into RISD was architecture. RISD has a wonderful program where all first year students, regardless of major, take one year of courses devoted to the foundations of art, art history, and artistic creation. For me, this established the beginning of a crossdisciplinary way of thinking and working. RISD’s academic structure encourages an exploration across disciplines, and I took

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Photo of Noah Klersfeld © Corinne Nelson, 2015

advantage of this working in architecture, sculpture, photography, metal casting, welding, printmaking, writing, and deductive reasoning, a course I took at Brown University. As a student of architecture, what I enjoyed most was organizing time and space through material forms and the poetics of material construction. This “materialism,” as I call it, carries with me to the present day. Now I am interested in the material of digital video and how the poetics of its construction can orient


Noah Klersfeld

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time as the catalyst for new spatial forms. I attended Skowhegan in 2003. Skowhegan is where I developed my current technique, a process by which I can isolate the temporal elements of a moving image from the static ones. Now let's focus on your artistic production: I would start from "4:52:45PM-4:55:53PM", an extremely interesting work that our readers have already started to get to know

in the introductory pages of this article: and I would suggest to visit http://www.noahklersfeld.com in order to get a wider idea of your multifaceted artistic production. In the meanwhile, would you tell us something about the genesis of this interesting project? What was your initial inspiration?

When I made 4:52:45PM-4:55:53PM I had been working with chain-link fences for a

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Video still image of “4:52:45PM-4:55:53PM”. Image © Noah Klersfeld, 2014

couple of years, as one of many parallel series of work. For me the ubiquity and banality of the fence was powerful as a framing technique where I could imagine different worlds within each void of the fence, harmonized into a single form. As a metaphorical device, this series points to the constant visual conflicts of

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an urban environment, not least of which is the tug-of-war between attraction and distraction. The first works in this series focused on recreation sites like Central Park. The second focused on commuter sites like subway entrances and exits. The third, where this one lands, focused on tourist sites like The


Noah Klersfeld

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When I first happened to get to know "4:52:45PM-4:55:53PM" I tried to relate all the visual information to a single meaning. But I soon realized that I had to fit into the visual rhythm suggested by the work, forgetting my need for a univocal understanding of its content: in your videos, rather that a conceptual interiority, I can recognize the desire to enabling us to establish direct relations... Would you say that it's more of an intuitive or a systematic process?

An important aspect of my work is to create an experience where the viewer has a direct relation to the work, one that is in the moment. When viewing my work, there is no narrative arc so there is nothing that the viewer is waiting to see happen. One can enter and exit the work at any time and only through duration will the viewer begin to develop his or her own understanding. I see this as an ongoing present; a drawn out moment in time that is framed by what’s immediately visible from a fixed point in space. This has lead me to consider time from a spatial position, asking for example, what is the duration of a fence, a street, a brick and so on. My work is empirically conceived, systematically processed, and intuitively finished. I am always balancing between systematic and intuitive influences. This idea of balancing rules with freedoms is something I learned initially in architecture designing fixed spaces within which people move about freely.

World Trade Center and Times Square. The move to Times Square intended to capture, in a media rich landscape, the ambiguous trajectories of its inhabitants and the interplay between two and three-dimensional visual structures.

Your practice is intrinsically connected to the chance of creating an area of intellectual interplay with the viewers, that are urged to evolve from the condition of a merely passive audience. In particular, your process of semantic restructuration of a view has reminded me of the ideas behind Thomas Demand's works, when he stated that "nowadays art can no longer rely much on symbolic strategies and has to probe psychological narrative elements within the medium instead". While conceiving Art could be considered a purely abstract activity, there is always a way of giving it a

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permanence that goes beyond the intrinsic ephemeral nature of the concepts you explore. So I 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?

The creation of a work of art is inherently a result of the artist’s personal experience. This may not be a lived experience but in one form or another it is related to his or her personal history. My projects, while filmed in “real space,” use digital technology to reinterpret how time is perceived and are crafted in such a way as to appear automated. This level of apparent automation helps remove my hand from the viewer’s ongoing relation to the work and provides a more immediate experience. I believe that the relationship between the viewer and a work of art can be disconnected from direct experience. This is what draws me more and more to work in the public realm. I like when a work can exist in the landscape, independently, and allow for more casual interactions with the viewers. Another interesting project of yours that has particularly impacted on me and on which I would like to spend some words is entitled "Percussive Light with Bathroom Floor": the ambience created by your careful juxtaposition has reminded me the concept of Heterotopia elaborated by Michel Foucault. What has mostly impacted on me is the way you have been capable of bringing a new level of significance to signs, and in a wide sense to recontextualize the concept of the environment we inhabit in. This is a recurrent feature of your approach, that provides the viewers of an Ariadne's Thread, inviting them to challenge the common way we perceive not only the outside world, but our inner dimension... By the way, I'm sort of convinced that some informations & ideas are hidden, or even "encrypted" in the environment we live in, so we need -in a way- to decipher them. Maybe that one of the roles of an artist could be to reveal

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Video still image of “8:42:13AM-8:46:40AM”. Image © No

unexpected sides of Nature, especially of our inner Nature... what's your point about this?

I am attempting to work with time in a practical, almost utilitarian manner and there is something uncanny about this


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ah Klersfeld, 2013

approximation. The first person perspectives of the Bathroom pieces add a commonplace reference for the viewer who may remember staring at bathroom tile patterns over and over, when being held captive by the toilet, sink or shower. Now those moments, temporally animated, bring the viewer back to

that physical place but in a way that’s initially cognitive. It is a very personal experience, expressed systematically, which I hope brings emotion to inanimate objects, surfaces, and spaces. The impetuous way modern technology has

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Video still image of “The Main Street Bridge at South Raritan River”. Image © Noah Klersfeld, 2013

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

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materialization of an idea. I'm sort of convinced that new media will definitely fill the apparent dichotomy between art and technology and I will dare to say that Art and Technology are going to assimilate one to each other... what's your point about this?


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I guess it would depend on how we define modern technology. In one view, Art and Technology have always been working together and have always been equally responsible for the development of new art forms and new technologies. If we are talking

about the threat of an all-digital future, this, for me, is a very real concern. I am always striving to strike a balance between the tactile world and the world within the digital field. I am not interested in a digital reality that does not test the ideas of tactility. To this end, I limit my digital modifications to temporal ones

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while capturing footage that can only be found in real space. This is an important distinction for me. By definition video is rhythm and movement, gesture and continuity. In your videos you create time-based works that induce the viewer to abandon himself to his associations, looking at time in spatial terms and I daresay, rethinking the concept of space in such a static way: this seems to remove any historic gaze from the reality you refer to, offering to the viewers the chance to perceive in a more atemporal form. How do you conceive the rhythm of your works? My feel for timing and rhythm comes from my childhood, growing up playing tennis and drumming from an early age. This has no doubt set the baseline for the way I see and interpret much of the world around me. Both activities have taught me how to see and set patterns, establish expectations, visualize variable outcomes, and implement the element of surprise. When working on a piece, I go through a long series of timing tests until I feel there is a proper balance between the real time motion, the structured pattern, and the temporal shifts. From time to time this doesn’t work so I will either reshoot the piece or abandon the project all together. This is where the real time motion often plays a dominant role because its something I cannot control. It provides a certain level of resistance and unpredictability that is critical. Multidisciplinarity is a crucial aspect of your art practice and you seem to be in an incessant search of an organic, almost intimate symbiosis between several disciplines, taking advantage of the creative and expressive potential of Video as well as of Sound: while crossing the borders of different artistic fields have you ever happened to realize that a symbiosis between different disciplines is the only way to achieve some results, to express some concepts?

Yes, all the time. While my work is rooted in digital video, the concepts and ideas I am

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“Party in The Bathroom” installation at Mixed Greens, New York NY Photo © Etienne Frossard, 2014

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Noah Klersfeld


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working with have generated a variety of multimedia projects that include sound and video, architectural design, musical composition, marketing, android apps, and public interventions. It is also true that to express certain concepts, a singe medium or discipline is necessary. During these years your works have been screened in several occasions and your project Payroll has been on two national tours and has received awards from the Center on Contemporary Arts, Seattle and the ASU Film. So, before taking leave from this interesting conversation I would like to pose a question about the nature of the relation with your audience: in particular, 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 for a particular context?

I certainly select works for a particular screening or exhibition based on the theme, audience, or context, but I do not create work with an audience in mind. The design of my installations is more tailored to the viewer, I would say, than the work itself. I have no predeterminations for a piece in terms of how or where it needs to be installed. From the start, any piece can be installed anywhere. Before designing an installation I first interpret the conditions – space, scale, proximity, light, configuration, duration, and points of egress – to determine the best way forward. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Noah. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving?

I am experimenting now with a variety of lighting techniques for a new series of work dealing with burglary and home invasion. I am completing drawings on two architectural installations and am in the planning and negotiations phase for a few new window installations. For my next series of work I will be looking purely at the video plane in a series currently titled “In Formation”.

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Sergey Sobolev Lives and works in Moskow, Russia

An artist's statement

Sergey Sobolev is well known Moscow artist, designer, sculptor.A graduate of the Moscow state academic art Lyceum and the Moscow academic art Institute named after Surikov. Participant and winner of numerous competitions in the field of art, design and architecture. Participated in more than forty thematic, group and solo exhibitions. Over the past years has been developing projects in environmental design, product design, light design, eco-design of residential interiors, creative concepts of public spaces, conceptual architecture, design logos and volume of logos, creation of landscape and urban sculpture, symbolic forms, interactive and socially-oriented art objects. Hi developed theoretical foundations in the field of design, sculpture and architecture. The most important of them is the theo-

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ry of metadesign, the theory megaform, the concept of tactile design, experiences form therapy. In the framework of the project "Morphology" has created a series of sculptures of "Simple forms", "Circles", "Vessels", "Fruits". Aesthetics and the General orientation of the creativity of Sergey Sobolev can be attributed to minimalism, futurism, symbolism and eco-design. Almost all of his work are based on the philosophy of humanism, esoteric and metaphysics. They are distinguished by the detachment, contemplation, study of the field of the unknown and focus on absolute concepts. His sculptures and objects peculiar to biomorphic and brevity of form. Sergey Sobolev is the head of the Studio "Ars forma". Member of Moscow Union of artists, Union of Moscow sculptors and Moscow Union of designers.


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LandEscape meets

Sergey Sobolev An interview by Josh Ryder, curator and Barbara Scott, curator landescape@europe.com

Sergey Sobolev creates multidisciplinary works that offer a multilayered experience, urging the viewers to rethink about the relationship between the environment we inhabit and the way we perceive it. While referring to the primordial nature of elements, his installations suggest an unexplored area of interplay where we are invited to explore the relationship with reality and the way we perceive it. I'm very pleased to introduce our readers to his refined artistic production. Hello Sergey and a warm welcome to LandEscape: to start this interview, would you like to tell us something about your background? In particular, you grew in a family of artists and moreover you have a solid formal training: after your studies at the Moscow State Academic Art Institute Surikov V.I. you joined the Moscow Union of Artists. So I would like to ask you the importance of these experiences in your evolution as an artist: in particular, how does your formal training experience impact on the technical aspects you mainly focus on your works?

Child impressions are the strongest and foundational for any person, that's why the fact that my parents were artists decided my future life perspective. It had a significant impact on me and shaped a certain mindset. Later on 12 years of studies at the School of Art first and then at the University of Art laid the significant groundwork for the technical competence as well as for the worldview shaping and

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Sergey Sobolev

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Sergey Sobolev


Sergey Sobolev

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aesthetical preferences. We were taught in classical way on the basis of antiquity and renaissance ideals. It formed certain aesthetical principles. They are raised to the rank of philosophy, or even more — to the rank of cult. It is well-known that any false note is horrible to the ear of a musician, and the painters feel the same, but in relation to the colour or shape. But another factor was more influential. The stage of trainings can be compared to bullet acceleration in the gun barrel. It looks as if a person is flying in the intended direction through the life, and if they don't meet any invincible obstacles, they don't change this direction for the whole life. It is very important. To deal with any matter it is necessary to focus on it. But it is more important to guess the right direction of this acceleration in the beginning of the life, because if you make a mistake, you may live not your life by inertia. I'm so unfocused by nature and I'm interested in widely different things. And if I didn't have fundamental art education I could be lost in the variety of interests without taking successive steps in definite direction. And I still expand the horizons steadily, and sometimes it leads to slowdown. It can be compared to a river — the wider its bed is the slower the stream is. But I don't worry about it, because I haven't a definite professional goal. Before starting to elaborate about your production, would you like to tell to our readers something about your process and set up for making your artworks? In particular, what technical aspects do you mainly focus on your work? And how much preparation and time do you put in before and during the process of creating a piece?

As to sculpture and especially to architecture, the technical part is much larger than the creative one here, that's why many projects remain unrealized. But honestly speaking I do not feel sad at this fact, because the most interesting thing is to think up. But I can't relegate the execution to another person in my case, especially when it comes to sculpture, where the shape is critical for conveying the meaning and character. It is very important for me to recognize the concept in all the details, and nobody but I can know it beforehand. A reasonably

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large project takes half a year and more. Each new project is a small life, which brings you a valuable experience. I believe that the task should always be a bit higher than apparent potentials. In this case it makes you grow and be in progress. Every time I get involved into the project so much, that I do much more than it is required of me. Of course, I do it for myself and my client gets a result as a bonus. To my mind, easy tasks are just time wasters. Simple solutions of difficult tasks are much more interesting. The sculptural art is a precise visual genre. Its shape is its language. The shape has distinct limits, otherwise it is amorphous, shapeless in other words. That's why I put my sculptures into concise shape, polish them up to the state of a sign, and get them rid of unwanted details to avoid anything arbitrary. Optimization is the sculpture's genesis. The significance of meaning is put into the significance of form, as if into the box. Or conversely the significance of meaning gets covered with a shell of the significant form. I theorize more and more over years, and I consider it to be a more productive process. I get more and more absorbed into philosophy, formation of the attitude towards different objects. That's why I will not tell you about the particular process of sculpture creation and other projects, about the technical matters. Now let's focus on your artistic production: I would start from Cosmic Sphere, an extremely interesting work that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article: and I would suggest our readers to visit directly at http://www.sergeysobolev.ru in order to get a wider idea of your multifaceted artistic production. In the meanwhile, would you tell us something about the genesis of this interesting project? What was your initial inspiration?

It was a project for the certain place, for the private area. It was planned to build children's playing space. At the same time the modern architecture of the house and the forest site layout created a definite image, which I didn't want to ruin. That's why no childishness in the usual sense of the word would have done for me. I took an independent view of the task. What do children

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need? They need their own world, and the more secret and hidden from the adults' eyes it is the more interesting and attractive it seems to them. I had several ideas and the space spheres were one of them. They looked like enigmatic artifacts, meteorites, or petrified remains, absolutely integrated into the landscape, but inside you could see a different world, as in the ant hill. These are the interconnected spherical spaces with the hole-like passages, and I think it is rather interesting to wander through them. Your practice is intrinsically connected to the chance of creating an area of deep, almost physical interplay with the viewers, that are urged to evolve from the condition of a merely passive audience and I definetely love the way Ocean and Cocoon takes such an intense participatory line not only on the way we enjoy Art, but also and especially on the conception of art itself. In particular, your investigation about the intimate aspect of constructed realities has reminded me of Thomas Demand's works: while conceiving Art could be considered a purely abstract activity, there is always a way of giving it a permanence that goes beyond the intrinsic ephemeral nature of the concepts you capture. So I 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?

The creative process, if it is genuine, is always based on the latest update of the personal experience. It is bound to be so. It is a visual form of personal diaries. And there is another important point, such as responsibility for the words we say. Art is an area of freedom, but freedom is good when it is responsible and conscientious. And I strongly believe that it is destructive to visualize your inner problems. This way an artist multiplies, documents and immortalizes them. A piece of visual art can outlive its author and continue to convey the thoughts and emotions put into it. If this message is destructive, it can make a lot of harm to people. That's why I develop a concept of sound art. But to create sound art you must be sound yourself. And it seems to be the most difficult but the most useful task.

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The ambience created by Lips and the reminder to human body has reminded me the concept of Heterotopia elaborated by Michel Foucault. What has mostly impacted on me is the way you have been capable of bringing a new level of significance to signs, and in a wide sense to re-contextualize the concept of the environment we inhabit in. This is a recurrent feature of your approach that invite the viewers' perception in order to challenge the common way to perceive not only the outside world, but our inner dimension... By the way, I'm sort of convinced that some informations & ideas are hidden, or even "encrypted" in the environment we live in, so we need -in a way- to decipher them. Maybe that one of the roles of an artist could be to reveal unexpected sides of Nature, especially of our inner Nature... what's your point about this?

Many people are led by stereotypes. The stereotype is a convenient system for communications. It is a ready module, but it is closed. It means that it doesn't intend any development. I can't accept the stereotypes at all. It is not that I struggle against them, I rather ignore them, do not see them just on principle. But sometimes it is difficult. It requires a special state of keeping distance. I try to be open-minded, like a child, and to create my own constructions, as if I build them with toy blocks. Any concept isn't an absolute for me; it is a flexible material for creative work. The artist's role is very wide. It ranges from the balance of irrationality, which is necessary for the inner self of any person in such a pragmatic world, and stimulation of the people's sociability, to breaking stereotypes when they begin to dominate the reason, as the art lives by its own code. Multidisciplinarity is a crucial aspect of your art practice and you seem to be in an incessant search of an organic, almost intimate symbiosis between several disciplines, taking advantage of the creative and expressive potential of Plasticity as well as the evokative power of abstract shapes: while crossing the borders of different artistic fields have you ever happened to realize that a symbiosis between different disciplines is the only way to

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achieve some results, to express some concepts?

At a certain point I broke from bonds of definitions at last. Everything amalgamated into an integrated stream of creativity for me. Functional and aesthetic aspects are present everywhere. Creativity unites everything I do. Creativity always means discovering something new, inventing something that didn't exist in this world five minutes ago. But sometimes situation calls for definitions, as our brain can work with definitions only, but I try to veil everything. I try to turn architecture and design into art, and endue the art with functionality, if not practical but in any case curative or psychological. All the disciplines I've talked about are directly related to the form and the space. The fact that I'm engaged into various activities is explained not by my efforts to find the appropriate tool for self-expression, but more by the fact that I have my own perspective, my own point of view, where I see the tings a bit different, and sometimes I want to express it. I have defined this term as "metadesign", it belongs to a different level, and that's why the discipline differences do not play an important role. As for the abstract forms, here we deal with absolute metaphysics. Another interesting work of yours that has particularly impacted on me and on which I would like to spend some words is entitled Stream: in particular, when I first happened to get to know with this work I tried to relate all the visual information to a single meaning. I later realized I had to fit into the visual rhythm suggested by the work, forgetting my need for a univocal understanding of its symbolic content: in your work, rather that a conceptual interiority, I can recognize the desire to enabling us to establish direct relations... Would you say that it's more of an intuitive or a systematic process?

Another interesting work of yours that has particularly impacted on me and on which I would like to spend some words is entitled Stream: in particular, when I first happened to get to know with this work I tried to relate all

the visual information to a single meaning. I later realized I had to fit into the visual rhythm suggested by the work, forgetting my need for a univocal understanding of its symbolic content: in your work, rather that a conceptual interiority, I can recognize the desire to enabling us to establish direct relations... Would you say that it's more of an intuitive or a systematic process? Many works appear by intuition. The image comes into being, and at first I can't understand what to do with it, and then it takes the accomplished form. The trend began as a composition of two issues which I was interested in. It is a static form, which supposes expressed or potential dynamics, and an issue of two forms coupling. When they united into one image they took new various meanings at once. I noticed that you seem to induce the viewer to abandon himself to his associations, looking at time in spatial terms and I daresay, rethinking the concept of space in such a static way: this seems to remove any historic gaze from the reality you refer to, offering to the viewers the chance to perceive in a more atemporal form. How do you conceive the rhythm of your works?

I noticed that you seem to induce the viewer to abandon himself to his associations, looking at time in spatial terms and I daresay, rethinking the concept of space in such a static way: this seems to remove any historic gaze from the reality you refer to, offering to the viewers the chance to perceive in a more atemporal form. How do you conceive the rhythm of your works? I deal with supertemporal categories. I'm interested in timeless themes. They unite people regardless of geography or epoch. It is the level where there is no discord, and I try to bring it outside, out of the depth of the unconscious. I want it to get material form and to transform from a theory to a real artifact. To the thing which many people guess, but do not find a real confirmation. This applies especially to sculpture art. It has always been a synonym for immortalization. Before taking leave from this interesting

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conversation I would like to pose a a question about the nature of the relation with your audience: in particular, 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 for a particular context?

Audience has a determining value, if an artist is socially focused. In fact, it often inspires their creativity, discover new topics for them. The ideas appear in a certain context, and they would never come into mind by themselves. The both of them are interesting, one supplies another. I

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began to feel more keenly the social role. I think our presence in this world means a close contact between people, that's why it is a bit wrong to retire into shell and to escape from reality to one's own worlds. Visual art is intended for the viewer, because it is a form of communication. That's why I listen to the response, but I'm interested not so much in logical valuation, I'm interested more in emotions, how my objects correct and retune viewer's inner vibrations. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Sergey. Finally, would you like to tell


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

My creative work plans are deeply connected to common life tasks. As for me, many things in people's lives seem unacceptable in the most essential aspects. It is difficult to notice it from the outside, because I do not waste my power for the struggle. Nothing must be rejected and nothing must be struggled with, before you find an alternative. And if it is really worthy, you won't have to prove anything any more. That's why the best way to

change something for the better is your own example. My life, its latest years turn into reconsidering and new life philosophy shaping. Its final meaning is to learn how to live in a right way. The right way is when nobody can dispute it. The right way is when it is very convincing, intelligible, and inspiring. These are sculptural furniture, where the shape becomes tactile. These are luminous objects, conceptual installations, and sculpture as a process of the shape investigation and its influence on a person, the issues of morphology, form therapy and visual philosophy.

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Kees Ouwens Lives and works in Dallas, USA

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fter my studies at the Royal Horticultural College in The Netherlands, I went to Japan to study Japanese gardens, because of the difference in perception of space, especially in creating gardens. My main focal point of interest were stone arrangements, which are the fundamental part of garden making in Japan. If the stone compositions are not done in a proper way, the whole garden will appear as an unbalanced, not well designed one. So I ended up working 3 years with stones only, selecting, arranging, and moving them around various places in the

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gardens I worked on. Also, I had the opportunity to make walls, water basins, and lanterns out of stone. In 1986 I started my own company to make gardens, not only in the traditional way of creating gardens (which is only copying), but to make gardens (spaces) which reflect today's lifestyles and cultures. At the moment, I am living and working in my studio in Japan, creating my own personal style in making spaces (gardens), in which stone is the most important element to me.

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LandEscape meets

Kees Ouwens An interview by Josh Ryder, curator and Barbara Scott, curator landescape@europe.com

Kees Ouwens harmonizes the expressive potential that comes from Nature with a rigorous formal approach: taking advance from traditional japanese heritage he accomplishes the difficult task of making gardens which reflect the period in which we are living now, establishing a symbiosis between Tradition and Contemporariness, into a coherent, consistent unity. One of the most convincing aspect of Ouwens' practice is the way he creates an area of deep interplay that invites the viewers to explore the crossroad between human emotion and Nature's geometry: I'm very pleased to introduce our readers to his refined artistic production. Hello Kees and welcome to LandEscape: to start this interview, would you like to tell us something about your background? You have a solid training and after your studies at the Royal Horticultural College in Utrecht you moved to Japan to study Japanese art and garden architecture, an experience that has deply impacted on your evolution as an artist. In particular, would you like to tell our

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readers the main added values of this experience? How did it informed the way you currently conceive and produce your works?

Well it is quite another culture in japan compared to the european.Your way of perception of things dramatically changes and you learn about values you never ever thought existed at all.You get more deeply involved with yourself and your direct environment and nature.In a way you discover the roots of all again and how to make use of these in your work as an artist to find a balance and adding values to the works you make, may it be paintings ,sculptures,installations or spaces. Through my experiences here in japan for a long time now I gained a certain way of seeing my environment in a more bigger,deeper way which has a great impact on the works I produce and I was able to find my own style of working. Before starting to elaborate about your production, would you like to tell to our readers something about your process and set up for making your artworks? In particular, what technical aspects do you mainly focus on your work? And how much preparation and time do you put in before and during the process of creating a piece?

I try to make a work that fits into its surroundings as best as possible and that


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Kees Ouwens


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has a balance in its proportions and its use of materials.I first inspect the site and adapt my idea and designs to the place and think about another way of making the work.I never want to produce the same works always looking for something new. Also I like to use locally available materials to make it all more harmonious and respoding to its site and surroundings. The next step is to find and make an interesting shape or design which is also greatly influenced by the things I observe and find in nature. Sometimes this process takes a lot of time only to complete a work that responds well to all I stated before. Now let's focus on your artistic production: I would start from Whispering stones an interesting project that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article: and I would suggest our readers to visit directly at http://www.kees-ouwens.org and http://facebook.com/ouwens.kees in order to get a wider idea of your multifaceted artistic production. In the meanwhile, would you tell us something about the genesis of this interesting project? What was your initial inspiration?

I live in a very rural part of japan where my studio is situated among mountains and rice plants. Every year I follow and observe close up all the work and preparations which are needed to produce rice, including the cultural part of rice with its symbolic meanings its relation to religion and festivals. Actually thes gave me the idea of making whispering stones. By watching the fields being worked on, planted and watching it growing into a large sea of rolling waves of green and changing colors it gave me enough

resourches to produce this work in which, sound, movement, shadows and colors are involved as the main guiding points. The piece is like the riceplants with heavy seeds which are moving in the wind. All the qualities I could observe in the rice fields are incooperated in this work. Your practice is intrinsically connected to the chance of creating an area of deep, almost physical interplay with the viewers, that are urged to evolve from the condition of a merely passive audience and I definetely love the way the evolving feature of your gardens takes such an intense participatory line not only on the way we enjoy Art, but also and especially on the conception of art itself. In particular, your investigation about the intimate aspect of constructed realities has reminded me of Thomas Demand's works: while conceiving Art could be considered a purely abstract activity, there is always a way of giving it a permanence that goes beyond the intrinsic ephemeral nature of the concepts you capture. So I 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?

I do not think so,everything you sense and feel or think depends greatly on your own experiences and state of mind and body.During time you change and your environment changes also,these have a great impact on all the work you make. Every single work is an experience which enables you to understand more about yourself and the works you create, what you are actually doing and how to continue and evolve. It s a learning process and a opportunity to make

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discoveries which influences your works. The ambience created by the fluorescent threads in The Sound of Shadow has reminded me the concept of Heterotopia elaborated by Michel Foucault. What has mostly impacted on me is the way you have been capable of bringing a new level of significance to signs, and in a wide sense to re-contextualize the concept of the environment we inhabit in. This has suggested me the idea that that some informations & ideas are hidden, or even "encrypted" in the environment's geometry we live in, so we need -in a way- to decipher them. Maybe that one of the roles of an artist could be to reveal unexpected sides of Nature, especially of our inner Nature... what's your point about this?

The installation is like a frame work which captures the surrounding environment through its window shaped form and use of steel wires which move in the wind, produces sound and reflect the setting sun. t is like a big cube with all the nature and world inside it, which can be enjoyed by eaxh person in his or hers personal way. A kind of time lapse environment or space in which time is preserved for a moment when you confront this piece.I woild like to create objects to interact which each and every person individually in his or her way to refind our environment and touch our own nature again. We all have our basic instincts but we seem to keep these deep down and unreachable... I want to evoke a feeling again which reaches out to our inner nature...

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Kees Ouwens


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Kees Ouwens


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I definitively love the way you recontextualize the idea of the environment we live in and I would go as far as to state that your capability to evoke the presence of a view forces the viewers' perception in order to challenge the common way to perceive not only the outside world, but our inner dimension as well ... by the way, many contemporary landscape artists as the photographer Edward Burtynsky or Michael Light have some form of environmental or political message in their photographs. Do you consider that your works are political in this way or do you seek to maintain a neutral approach?

Well I feel that people have lost their connection with nature in ournew society where everything is convenient,fast and clean,we do not suffer or struggle any more and are just looking for and easy and secure life style without complications.We lost our ability to wonder and dream we just life a boring,tasteless lifewithout any reason at all. So through my works I would indeed send at least a message out to the world to see and understand. Another interesting work of yours that has particularly impacted on me and on which I would like to spend some words is entitled Tanbo project: in particular, when I first happened to get to know with this work I tried to relate all the visual information and the presence of primary elements as water to a single meaning. I later realized I had to fit into the visual unity suggested by the work, forgetting my need for a univocal understanding of its symbolic content: in your work, rather that a conceptual interiority, I can recognize the desire to enabling us to establish direct

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relations... Would you say that it's more of an intuitive or a systematic process?

Tanbo project is the usage of rice fields like a garden or canvass in which big primary colored wooden boxes are placed without floors and ceilings.These boxes form together a sculptural installation but inside the boxes you can enjoy the art works made by invited artists. When you enter each box has a James Turnell feeling looking up into the framed sky.

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This contrast between the outside world of the total installation in the rice fields and the inside compact art space is the main motive of this work, a combination af man made art and nature. Over your 35 years long career your works have been extensively exhibited around the world: so before taking leave from this interesting conversation I would like to pose a a question about the nature of the


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relation with your audience: in particular, 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 for a particular context?

I never make wotks for a specific aufience at all,but I do want to make an impact on and influence the people who see my works. But the works are solely made because I like to make them in a specific

way or for a special purpose or place,very clear and easy. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Kees. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving?

I just want to continue with what I am doing and make works on a bigger scale with more profound meaning.

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X iaohong Zhang Lives and works in the Whitewater, WI, USA

An artist's statement

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andscape painting was regarded as the highest form of Chinese painting, The classical Chinese landscape painting are rolling hills and rivers of native countryside in peaceful scenes done with softer, rubbed brushwork. Emphasis was placed on the spiritual qualities of the painting and on the ability of the artist to reveal the inner harmony of man and nature, as perceived according to Taoist and Buddhist concepts. My creative focus has been on the Traversing Medium and Reappropriating Motifs in Contemporary Art with continuous investigation of traversing traditional art form of Chinese landscape ink wash painting through the concept of contemporary western art setting. I have focused on exploring digital 3D skills. I want to blur the institutional and historical boundaries between traditional Chinese ink wash painting and Western graphic practices by using western 3D graphic skills to re-figure

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the traditional Chinese ink mountain painting. I have used the 3D software Maya to recreate the mountains, water. Beside my investigation of re-figuring the traditional art form of Chinese landscape painting, I have been also reappropriating motifs. Mountain, river, tree and water have always been popular subjects for Chinese landscape. Much of my work often interrogates historical, social and political themes from a Chinese perspective. I tried to insert modern industrial chaos into the traditional peaceful vision. It is a very interesting mix. I want to address environmental and social issues that have been brought by China’s social, economic, and cultural development. I have been working on a series of projects to epitomize the notion of inclusion by signifying the fusion of East and West aesthetic values through the lenses of culture, language, ethnicity, religion, and politics.

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LandEscape meets

Xiaohong Zhang An interview by Julian Thomas Ross, curator and Melissa C. Hilborn, curator landescape@europe.com

Xiaohong Zhang accomplishes the difficult task of a establishing an effective synergy between painting and movement, creating an area in which emotional dimension and perceptual reality coexist in a coherent unity. Unlike artists such as Carsten HÜller, she does not let the viewers in the foggy area of doubt. Recently focusing on China’s environmental problems, her evocative imagery invites us to investigate themes investigating the relation between reality and the way we perceive it. One of the most convincing aspects of Zhang's practice is the way she creates an area of intellectual interplay between the heritage of her Far Eastern Identity and her current experience in a pluralistic society, . I'm very pleased to introduce our readers to her refined artistic production. Hello Xiaohong and welcome to LandEscape: to start this interview, would you like to tell us something about your background? You have a solid formal training and you hold a MFA from Southern Illinois University: how did this experience influence your evolution as an artist? Moreover, you are currently an Associate Professor in Department of Art and Design at the University of WisconsinWhitewater; do you think that teaching and daily relations with your students informs the way you conceive your works?

My name is Xiaohong Zhang. I came from a small town in Northern China. I was traditionally trained in academic art forms that include Chinese brush painting, western style

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drawing, and foundations of graphic design in earlier 1990’s period. We did not have today’s computer technology during my undergraduate studies when I lived in China. I started to learn about computers in 1999 when I studied at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. During those three and half years in graduate school, I experienced intensive digital techniques and computer software and training. I even took programming classes like C++, database, etc. The entire evolution of an artist for me is a gradual transformation out of instinct and eagerness to learn the new things. The intensive teaching preparation and selfstudy of new media arts became a trigger to change my work styles over time. I used to integrate my 2D digital graphic skills with my fine arts background. Recently I started to work with the 3D in which I use 3D software Maya to rebuild the urban landscape view by incorporating traditional mountains, water and also contemporary industrial subjects like cranes. Teaching and daily interactions with my students has informed the way I conceive my works. It has changed my working process and the way of creating new projects. Before starting to elaborate about your production, would you like to tell to our readers something about your process and set up for making your artworks? In particular, what technical aspects do you mainly focus on your work? And how much preparation and time do you put in before and during the process of creating a piece?

My creative focus has been on “Traversing Medium and Re-appropriating Motifs in Contemporary Art” with continuous investigation of traditional art form of Chinese painting through the concept of contemporary western digital art setting. In other words, I am always trying to use the new media technology to deliver the traditional aesthetics. The detail of mountain and rock is the interaction result of water, ink and color on rice paper. It is very similar to western

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Xiaohong Zhang

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watercolor working process and I immediately used the software function to create a traditional Chinese style mountain after I learned it. The preparation time for completing a new work is considerably longer for me now. It can be a month or up to a year. The preparation includes software proficiency and creative thinking and iterations. Now let's focus on your artistic production; I would start with Across The Divide. Our readers have already begun to get to know you in the introductory pages of this article. I would suggest that our readers also visit your website directly at http://facstaff.uww.edu/zhangx in order to get a wider idea of your artistic production. In the meanwhile, would you like to tell us something about the genesis of this interesting project? What was your initial inspiration?

Across the Divide Project is a platform for Chinese artists and scholars teaching in American universities to share creative practices, research and teaching through exhibitions, symposiums, and other related events and activities. It focuses on a shared cultural identity over differing geopolitical convictions under the large frame of Chinese culture. In 2002 Professor Yu Li at California State University, Long Beach, initialized the Across the Divide forum. He initially established connections with 14 Chinese artists who were teaching in universities across the United States. After oneyear of careful and extensive preparation, in 2004 he successfully held the first exhibition and symposium to open a public dialog on their cultural positions in American society. Inspired by Professor Yu Ji, in 2011 I collaborated with my colleague Michael Flanagan to host an international traveling exhibition Across the Divide and a related Symposium in the Crossman Gallery at University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, United States. The 2011 Across the Divide exhibition at UW-Whitewater included twentyfour contemporary Chinese artists who were working in academia across the United States. With an emphasis given to artwork that blends

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cultural influences drawn from both Eastern and Western aesthetics, the exhibition presented both experimental and traditional approaches that artists have applied in their studio practices to explore their personal cross-cultural perspectives in relationship to the changes that have been brought by China’s current social, economic, and cultural development. The entire Across the Divide project has been slated to elevate awareness of the Sino-Asian immigrant experience, Chinese art and educational practices, and highlight the value of global visual literacy in the Eastern and Western education systems. The investigation about shared cultural identities effectively accomplished in Across the Divide reveals the connection between different cultural spheres which describes such a real-time aesthetic ethnography: you seem to be drawn to the structured worlds we inhabit and how they produce a self-defining context for our lives and experience... A relevant feature of Green Blue Mountain that has particularly impacted on me is the way you highlight the inner bond between Man and Nature: you invite the viewer to appreciate the intrinsic but sometimes disregarded beauty of geometrical patterns, bringing a new level of significance to the idea of landscape itself. Like Jean Tinguely's generative works, this piece raises a question on the role of the viewers' perception, forcing us to going beyond the common way we perceive not only the outside world, but also our inner dimension... I'm personally convinced that some information is hidden, or even "encrypted" in the environment we live in, so we need to decipher them. Maybe that one of the roles of an artist could be to reveal unexpected sides of Nature, especially of our inner Nature... what is your point about this?

My landscape works, including Green Blue Mountain, have been deeply influenced by the philosophy embedded in classical Chinese landscape paintings. Landscape painting was regarded as the highest form of Chinese painting. Classical Chinese landscape paintings often involve depictions of peaceful scenes of

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Xiaohong Zhang

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rolling hills and rivers in the native countryside rendered through softer, rubbed brushwork. Emphasis was placed on the spiritual qualities of the painting and on the ability of the artist to reveal the inner harmony of man and nature, as perceived according to Taoist and Buddhist beliefs and concepts. In China the world is composed of two basic opposing forces, namely Yin and Yang. Mountains and Water Painting comes to show how the balance of Yin and Yang appears in nature. The imposing mountains protruding to the sky are the masculine power of Yang while the gentle clear water is the feminine energy of Yin. Ink that composes form embodies Yang, while Yin appears as the empty and bare paper representing mist, water and sky - both forces are prominent yet delicately blended together. My landscape work is based on retaining its inner essence while updating its subjects and media. Viewing my landscape work, it is clear that depictions of nature are seldom mere representations of the external world. Rather, they are expressions of the mind. Green Blue Mountain addresses China’s environmental problem of excessive urban development. As the speed and scale of China’s rise as an economic power accelerated, with no clear historical parallels, so has its unprecedented various pollutions endangered the ecosystem. Environmental degradation is now so severe, with such stark domestic and international repercussions, that pollutions pose not only a major long-term burden on the Chinese public but also an acute political challenge to the ruling Communist Party. The work uses traditional Chinese painting styles to show Chinese metropolitan areas surrounded by industrial building trash and wrapped in a toxic gray shroud. The ambience created in Spring Mountains has reminded me the concept of Heterotopia elaborated by French social theorist Michel Foucault. I find very impressing the way it highlights the signs of absence, urging us to rethink the concept of Space and Identity. The

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multilayered experience suggested by this work gives hints of something else happening or going on, almost on a subliminal level from ordinary reality. Could you explain this point to our readers?

Ancient Chinese artists are not addressed as a group the way we are today for people with fine art skills. Painting skills are a social symbol specifically for highly educated and privileged class. Generally artists have a dual identity – politicians and fine artists. Song Dynasty emperor Zhao Ji is a good example. He was the emperor, but also was one of the most famous bird-flower artists in the history of China.

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My Spring Mountains has retained the peaceful vision from the Chinese tradition. Meanwhile I intentionally changed the subject and media. Traditional trees become modern industrial cranes. In the midst of the chaos caused by extraordinary urban development, the red cranes became the intruder to the peaceful vision. The red cranes here are symbols of modern industrialization in China and its dire impact to the environment. The impetuous way modern technology has nowadays come out on the top has dramatically revolutionized the idea of Art itself. In a certain sense, we are forced to rethink the intimate aspect of the


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materiality of an artwork itself, since just few years ago it was a tactile materialization of an idea. I am sort of convinced that new media will definitely fill the apparent dichotomy between art and technology and I will dare to say that Art and Technology are going to assimilate one to each other. What are your thoughts about this?

I feel technology plays an important role in the history of creative art. It is the part of art making process. 40,000 years ago when Asian and European cave painters made paintings on cave walls and ceilings, mineral-based pigment was the only available “state-of-the-

art” medium at that time. Gradually canvas, oil paint and bronze became the “new media” and have been used and accepted by all artists. The invention of camera and photographic technology completely changed the art world. Realism is no longer the ultimate goal of artist. Today's digital media, which is commonly referred as the “New Media”, becomes the de facto technology. I'm interested in breaking down the arbitrary division between traditional art and new digital world. I believe infusing digital technology will become the major trend of art creation in the future.

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Christian Gastaldi Currently lives and works in Paris, France

An artist's statement

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am a painter who takes colors from used, distressed material, for whom brushes strokes are tears of posters or magazines. Art is for me a process of sublimation. It is most challengingly achieved using plain, everyday life material not perceived as ‘beautiful’ because of their mundane functions.

I was born in France, on the Mediterranean Sea shore, in an ‘Island city’ penetrated by salty waters. I did not study Art. Instead, an engineer diploma allowed me to live and work abroad. In 2005, the artistic project became an absolute necessity. Studios were put in place and moved around with me (Levallois, Luanda, Courbevoie, Baku, Frontignan). 2011, Redfox Press published a book in their ‘C’est mon Dada’ collection

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on my visual poetry work ‘Poems from inaudible voices’. 2012, I realised a commissioned work on a wall of 2.4 m by 7.5 m, for a new hotel in Barcelona. Two solo exhibitions in Barcelona and Baku (Azerbaijan) in the Center of Contemporary Art. 2013, one of my work makes the cover of the Art and Literature American RiverLit. 2014, participation with HLP galerie to the Art Fairs in Cologne (Kölner Liste, Cologne Paper Art, Art Fair). Five pages article in the Art magazine ‘Art dans l’AiR’. My work can currently be seen at the ‘Galerie Plurielle’ in Sète (France), ‘Galerie HLP’ in Cologne (Germany) and at ‘Die Hamburger galerie’ in Hambourg (Germany).

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us le Pont CLIX - 2013 - 41 x 33 cm

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LandEscape meets

Christian Gastaldi An interview by Julian Thomas Ross, curator and Barbara Scott, curator landescape@europe,com

Focusing on the expressive potential of juxtaposition, Christian Gastaldi invites the viewers to a captivating multi-layered experience: in his collages, his refined investigation about the relationship between Memory and Experience urges us to unveil the intimate connections between the reality that we perceive and the ambiguous dimension of our inner world. Gastaldi's most convincing aspect is the way he accomplishes the difficult task of creating a concrete aesthetic that engages viewers, while conveying emotional and rational approaches into a consistent, coherent unity. I'm very pleased to introduce our readers to his refined artistic production. Hello Christian, and welcome to LandEscape: to start this interview, would you like to tell us something about your background? You are basically selftrained, so I would like to ask you if there are any experiences that have particularly influenced your evolution as an artists and how do they impact on the way you currently conceive and produce your works.

In my view it is impossible to separate the art you create from your entire life experience. No one has this freedom. We are products of past events, of interactions we have had with people in the places in which we have lived.

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Now, what are the driving forces, the triggering events that push you into creating? You may not be aware of what they are, at least immediately, and you also may not be the best placed to understand what they are! This perception comes through time, as small hints, feelings that you perceive and that sometimes fail to materialise into clear concepts. Interviews help in that respect, forcing you to put into words vague feelings, imprecise sensations. I was born in France, in Sète, along the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, in a city surrounded by salty waters, almost an island. Sète is a place where most inhabitants are a mix of French, Italian and Spanish origins, as I am. I came to think that the geographic setting has a strong influence on people. Sète is a place that gives you the irrepressible need for freedom and the desire to discover what lies beyond the horizon. So, I studied and worked abroad (Holland, Brunei, Argentina, Angola, Azerbaijan…) coming back regularly, as if in exile, experiencing the joy and sadness of departures. As described by Fernando Pessoa in Oda Maritima: ’O mistério alegre e triste de quem chega e parte’. Living abroad, doing geosciences research and practicing sports provided me with the emotions I needed. Then Art became a necessity. I needed the emotional rewards of the creation process, the entire mobilisation of body (soul and flesh) into a transcendent experiment. I had no choice, I had to create.


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If now one looks at my work, it may not be obvious at first sight, but I am a painter. And the fact that I do not use paint is a detail. I conceive my work as a painter. The graphic and chromatic equilibriums of the work are paramount. Before starting to elaborate about your production, would you like to tell to our readers something about your process and set up for making your artworks? In particular, what technical aspects do you mainly focus on your work? And how much preparation and time do you put in before and during the process of creating a piece? Through the years, I became fond of literature, of the rhythm and musicality of sentences. I did not care so much about the stories, but the style was critical. ‘Voyage au bout de la nuit’ of Louis-Ferdinand Céline and ‘L’amant’ of Marguerite Duras are great examples for me of what can be achieved through style. This is what I want to achieve in Art.

How does a writer arrange the succession of words to resound with the inner self of the reader? How can the rhythm of written words create transcending feelings? I have similar questions in mind when I do my work. How can I create rhythm and equilibrium in a frozen frame? How can I arrange linear elements to create movement? How will the picture be balanced if I accumulate elements in one place? ... In addition to Rhythm and Equilibrium, the material used is critical. The transcending nature of art is reinforced when working from mundane material, from elements that contain dismissed traces of life. That’s the reason why I work from used magazines, newspapers or distressed posters recovered from illegal billposting places. The time spent to create a piece is variable with the nature of the material used and the size of the piece. I generally spend more time collecting materials or finding the places where posters can be collected, than

doing the work itself. I try do a sketch before starting the work, by arranging the paper elements side by side on the floor before going into the gluing process. But this is impossible when I work on a piece which is purely focussing on rhythm from typographic elements, like ‘Sous le Pont XCII’. In that case, I put together the elements of typography I want to use and start straight away without knowing exactly where I will end-up, except that the direction was clear: I had decided, in this case, not to use any vertical or horizontal lines. I wanted to create a piece that flows. In 2013, when I did a commissioned work for a hotel in Barcelona on a 2.4 m by 7.5 m wall, it took me a day to do the initial compositional sketch on the floor, then 15 days to finalize the work on the wall, out of which, one day was spent to complete the final half square meter without destroying the equilibrium of the entire wall! Now let's focus on your artistic production: I would start from your Landscape that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article: and I would suggest to our readers to visit your blog http://christiangastaldi.centerblog.net or your website http://christiangastaldi.webgarden.com in order to get a wider idea of your artistic production... In the meanwhile, would you like to tell us something about the genesis of this interesting project? What was your initial inspiration?

Landscape was my first series. At that time I was mostly working from torn magazines. The series started with the intention to study how the chaos of juxtaposed paper blocks and the usage of bright colours could be organised to create forceful, yet harmonious, landscapes. In the process, I sometimes deliberately unsettled the composition to see how it could later be recovered. As the series progressed, the colours became fainter and

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the works moved from figurative to abstract until I discovered Nicholas de Staël landscapes. It disturbed me. I had evolved towards the type of abstraction and cold colours he had used. So I stopped. The choice of the theme had also to do with the fact that Landscape is a ‘classical’ subject of painting. I decided that, if starting in Art, I had to confront myself with classical topics right from start. Even more so with the unusual type of material I used. Before the Landscapes, my earlier subjects were even more classical: Christ and Madonna! The picture ‘Monocromo azul (casi)’, though part of ‘Monochromes (quasi)’ series, is conceived as a landscape. It is a tribute to my Mediterranean origin. An important aspect of the way you organize your works in series comes from the original place you pick the materials: the bond between the past of the images and their new life unveils the subtle but ubiquitous connection between Imagination and everyday life: your vision seems to speak of a kind an abstract beauty that starts from a mundane imagery but that brings a new level of significance to images. I would go as far as to state that in a certain sense your works challenge the viewers' perception in order to going beyond the common way to perceive not only the outside world, but the way we relate to it... By the way, I'm sort of convinced that some information and ideas are hidden, or even "encrypted" in the environment we live in, so we need -in a way- to decipher them. Maybe that one of the roles of an artist could be to reveal unexpected sides of Nature, especially of our inner Nature... what's your point about this?

My work should certainly force the viewer to reconsider his environment. As I pick-up elements, visible in everyday life, under other functions (and therefore with other meanings) I take the viewer to question the perenniality of the messages, of the images. Displayed in a

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MPL00 - 2012 - 7.5 x 2.4 m - Reception room of hotel Vincci Bit (commissioned work) - Barcelona, Spain

canvas they acquire a new function. To keep the viewer totally free in his re-interpretation I systematically destroy the original messages and images. They are reincorporated in a new chaos of onomatopoeia, the Babel world of today. Using everyday life material not perceived as ‘beautiful’ you establish an effective symbiosis between Memory and Experience that takes an intense participatory line with the viewers. While creating such intimate involvement, you

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seem to remove the historic gaze from the reality you refer to, offering to the viewers the chance to perceive in a more absolute, almost atemporal form. So I 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?

As we discussed earlier I don’t think it can be. And I would even say it should not. Art without the projection of the personality of


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the artist is a negation of Art, a senseless activity. There are already so many of those meaningless activities in our surrounding environment, not to add Art to this list. I believe in Art as both a product and a source of emotions. I cannot conceive it as a pure intellectual activity. Of course thinking goes into a piece of art but it is for the benefit of the creation of emotion, not as a substitute, a justification by itself. Experience is the soil that feed the art. I started late my artistic activities. Maybe I

needed more time than others to assimilate life experiences. I daresay that your visionary approach to re-contextualization that emerges with a particular energy in Sous le pont has suggested me the idea that environment acts as cornerstones for a fulfilment process that has reminded me of German sculptor and photographer Thomas Demand, when he stated that "nowadays art can no longer rely much on symbolic strategies and has to probe psychological

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Christian Gastaldi


Christian Gastaldi

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narrative elements within the medium instead": what's your point about this? And in particular, how much do you explicitly think of a narrative for your works?

The environment, and the way it expressed itself into the material, is critical to my work. My series from distressed posters are organised by the places where the material was collected. The characteristics of the place and of the people that live there, are influencing the specificities of the colours and typography used. They provide a humanity to the medium that I want to reveal in the creation process. So it is right to say that, in that case, the environment provides the narrative elements of the creation. I have also experienced in my work, that I sometimes use a narrative analogy to help structure my creation. A strong tear, through stack of posters, will be perceived as an analogy of a sea shore line, separating two physical worlds, like in ‘Sous le Pont CLIX’. I have appreciate the investigative feature of the way you explore emerging visual contexts: in particular the posters that you used for MAR-POI, a project that I have to admit is one of my favourite of your wide production, have been collected in Paris subway stations and show an incessant search of an organic, almost intimate symbiosis between colours associations and arrangement of textures. Like many art forms, collage can borrow elements to create new art: your main sources are tears of posters or magazines: in your opinion are there limits to what can or should be used to create collages? In particular are there any constraints or rules that you follow when creating collages?

The only acceptable limits in Art are those that you imposed to yourself. Those constraints are a stimulus to the creation process. Any material, in particular in

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collage, can be used. I am an admirer of Rosalie Gascoigne’s work, and of the old painted wood she used in some of her creations. My current preference is for material which has been exposed to life. The ‘MAR-POI’ series originates from old posters collected at the Paris subway station ‘Marcadet-Poissonniers’ undergoing refurbishment. At that occasion, the recent posters had been removed from walls, leaving to the surface old posters, hard to remove. They were several decades old. The passing of time had given them specific textures and altered colours. They had a fragile beauty that interested me. Only small elements could be recovered, difficult to manipulate. In that case my work is on subtlety. If most of ‘Sous le Pont’ series can be seen as, as you said, energetic, sort of fights within canvasses, MAR-POI is a caress. In MAR-POI 10, I decided to use only colours elements. No line, no letter, no figurative element. A pure chromatic palette. In doing so, I am, more than never, a painter. The challenge was to find an arrangement of colours that vibrates with the perception of textures. Softness of the tears, conveyed the fragility I wanted to achieve. I particularly liked the fainted colours that reminded me of old Japanese prints and the manner they were later interpreted by Van Gogh and Gauguin. The associations expressed by the juxtaposition process seem to avoid any precise politicized meanings: however, it's almost impossible to deny that giving a second life to images -and sometimes to the concept behind them- could be defined such a politicized practice itself. By the way, although I'm aware that this might sound a bit naïf, I have to admit that I'm sort of convinced that Art -especially nowadayscould play an effective role in socio-political questions: not only just by offering to people a generic platform for expression... I would go as far as to state that Art could even steer people's behaviour... what's your point about this? Does it sound a bit exaggerated?

I totally agree with you that giving a second chance to images (and elevating them into

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pieces of art) is a politicised stance. Even more so when there is no explicit political messages imposed on the viewer. I find a bit obscene, even if the word is a bit strong, to have messages on a canvas. As a viewer I want to be free to think on my own. It also distracts the viewer, steers him to the trivial, when what is essential is to emotionally react. My pictures do not have political intentions. But, by the choice of material, I would like to

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contribute to making people proud of themselves. They are much more capable than the politicians or the society want them to believe. Seeing elements that they are familiar with, in a new context, could help them rethinking their role in society. Will it steer people’s behaviour? I would like to be as optimist as you are! Thanks a lot for this interesting conversation, Christian. Finally, I would you like to tell us readers something


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about your future projects. Anything coming up for you professionally that you would like readers to be aware of?

Currently I am for a month in an artist residency in Moncontour in France. My intention is to work on large formats on the MPL series. Then I will customise a cow for the Paris ‘Cow Parade 2015’, go to Sète for the opening of the ‘Transformations Urbaines’ exhibition at Galerie Plurielle (JuneOctober) and install a solo exhibition at a

winery in Var, south of France, during JulyAugust. In October, I will participate to the Salon Réalités Nouvelles in Paris. Before that, I will most likely go back to Montréal (Canada) to work with OXYD Factory on the second phase of our common project where we combined old car parts with distressed posters into creations focussing on textures. An interview by Julian Thomas Ross, curator and Barbara Scott, curator landescape@europe.com

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A lexandre

Dang

Lives and works in Basel, Switzerland

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lexandre Dang comes originally from a scientific background. Convinced of the need to raise awareness of the potential of environmental friendly technologies (eco-technologies) and sustainable development, he developed his artistic creation often incorporating solar energy as source into his kinetic art works. Through his work, he contributes educating the general public on contemporary themes which represent a major challenge for the future.€ Though the sun provides 10,000 times more energy to the earth than humans need, more than 1.3 billion people still do not have access to electricity. The pressing need to address this issue is the driving force of Alexandre Dang’s artistic commitment, where he combines scientific approach, environmental concern and humanism.€

He designs in particular: “Dancing Solar Flowers” and “Wind Flowers”. The flowers are set horizontally to form a “field” or vertically to form a “vertical garden”. Flowers embody by essence the beauty of nature. In his works, Alexandre Dang tries to give them a dimension which is poetic by breathing life into them using renewable sources of energy. These flowers often trigger surprise, wonder, questioning… and thus bring the viewers to think about the underlying subjects which are addressed. Apart from the esthetical aspect of his work, his creations also invite the spectator to question our current use of energy, and to

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think about the possibilities that renewable energy can offer. Indeed, his works reflect the instability of a world in constant turmoil, questioning, transformation… especially concerning sustainable energy, as energy is a major issue for the future of humanity. Alexandre Dang has also developed a pedagogic aspect to his sustainable art, using it to educate young people about the potential of eco-friendly technologies with a focus on renewable energy. He has founded Solar Solidarity International (a non-profit international association) to raise awareness on the potential of renewable sources of energy and to support solar electrification of schools in developing countries.€

The “Dancing Solar Flowers” have become an iconic work of the commitment of the artist. They have toured around the world and have been featured in sites including the Belgian and European Pavilion of World Expo Shanghai 2010, the Palais des Beaux Arts (Bozar – Center for fine Arts) in Brussels, the Singapore Art Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art of Taipei, the Central House of Artists ("The State Tretyakov Gallery at Krymsky Val"), the Musée de Plein Air du Sart -Tilman (Liège), the International Exhibitions of the United Nations on Climate Change (2008 Poznán, Copenhagen 2009, Cancún, 2010), the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken (Brussels), the Royal Palace of Brussels, the European Commission (Brussels), the European Parliament (Brussels, Luxembourg, Strasbourg), the Council of the European Union (Brussels) etc...€


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25 May 2009: "Dang’cing Solar Forget-Me-Not" 2 At the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert, Brussels,2Belgium


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LandEscape meets

Alexandre Dang An interview by Josh Ryder, curator and Barbara Scott, curator articulaction@post.com

Establishing an effective synergy between Art and Technology, Alexandre Dang's works stress the way in which perception depends on cultural perspectives, accomplishing the difficult task of educating the general public and especially young generations on contemporary environmental and energetic issues. His Dancing Solar Flowers that we'll be discussing in the following pages invite us to rethink about way we perceive not only the environment we inhabit in, but also and especially our role and our relationship with Nature. The power of Dang's approach lies in his incessant research of a point of concurrency of various meanings of beauty to create a coherent and multi-layered narrative: so it's with a real pleasure that I would like to introduce our readers to his stimulating works. Hello Alexandre, and welcome to LandEscape: to start this interview, would you like to tell us something about your background? You have a solid scientific training and you degreed at the prestigious École Polytechnique in Paris. How has these

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experiences influence your evolution as an artists and how do they impact on the way you currently conceive and produce your works?

Hello, Many thanks for your interest in my work and for asking me questions. To answer this first question, I would say that having a scientific and technological background enables me to conceive and realise some works integrating technological means notably electronics, mechanics, physics etc.. The scientific background gives me also a sort of reading grid on things that surround us, hence perceiving them from a scientific and technological point of view. Before starting to elaborate about your production, would you like to tell to our readers something about your process and set up for making your artworks? In particular, what technical aspects do you mainly focus on your work? And how much preparation and time do you put in before and during the process of creating a piece?

When viewing my artworks notably the “Dancing Solar Flowers”, public often have a smile: I appreciate this very much, because one aspect of my works is to bring poetry, emotion and in


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Alexandre Dang


Alexandre Dang

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particular smile to people. Everyday's life is difficult enough when viewing all catastrophes and problems that occur just around us and worldwide. Although the works bring smile and seem easy, realising them is not just a children's game, it is really a lot of work! I have to conceive a first draft, do some pre-testing, address the issues (notably technical!), find solutions, do some further tests, find again solutions, finetune etc‌ Realising a new work takes some months or sometimes some years. It's important to highlight it, as when it is realised, everything seems so easy‌ Now let's focus on your artistic production: I would start from "Field of Dancing Solar Flowers" that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article: and I would suggest to our readers to visit your website directly at http://www.alexandredang.com/ in order to get a wider idea of your artistic production... In the meanwhile, would you like to tell us something about the genesis of this interesting project? What was your initial inspiration?

I just saw the Field of Dancing Solar Flowers my mind! I told some friends about it and they could not understand what I was speaking about. So I realised it! I remember the first Field of Dancing Solar Flowers exhibited in February 2006. It was in Brussels in an international surrounding, with people from all over Europe. I could understand

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13 October 2014 – 18 March 2015: "Dancing Solar Flowers"€ At John Jay College, City University of New York, USA


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only very few comments as they were speaking lots of different languages like Hungarian, Polish, Czech and Romanian‌ but I saw their expression in their faces and also all the body language‌ Apparently they seemed to appreciate and this was my best reward. A relevant feature of "Dancing Solar Flowers" that has particularly impacted on me is the way you highlight the inner bond between Man and Nature: you invite the viewer to appreciate the intrinsic but sometimes disregarded beauty of geometrical patterns, bringing a new level of significance to the idea of landscape itself. In particular, the evolving nature of the installation at Queen Fabiola Children Hospital offers a multilayered experience and can be read at two levels: first, it give the intuitive idea of beauty conveyed by flowers, on the second hand the interaction with external light reveals the geometric substratum on which such beauty is grounded... Like Jean Tinguely's generative works, this installation raises a question on the role of the viewers' perception, forcing us to going beyond the common way we perceive not only the outside world, but our inner dimension... I'm personally convinced that some information are hidden, or even "encrypted" in the environment we live in, so we need to decipher them. Maybe that one of the roles of an artist could be to reveal unexpected sides of Nature, especially of our inner Nature... what's your point about this?

Yes, I fully agree. When I see the public

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Alexandre Dang


Alexandre Dang

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looking at my works, I always wonder on which side is the work. Is it the work displayed or is it the expression in the face of the viewer hence revealing her/his inner Nature and Beauty! Marked with careful pedagogic aspect, your works accomplishes the recurrent but difficult task of instilling a consciousness about the potential of eco-friendly technologies and renewable energy, especially in young generations. In this direction, the chance of taking a participatory line with the viewer both on an emotional aspect as well as on an intellectual one is a crucial point of your Art: while referring to an easily "fruible" set of symbols as starting points, you seem to remove the historic gaze from the reality you refer to, offering to the viewers the chance to perceive in a more absolute form, in order to address us not only on a mere contingent view but especially to invites us to rethink about our future. So I 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?

Direct experience is not only important but even key for me and in particular for my creation. I think it's important to mention that besides conveying environmental messages through your artistic production, you have founded Solar Solidarity International, a non-profit international association whose website can be visited at

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http://solarsolidarite.org) to raise awareness on the potential of renewable sources of energy and to support solar electrification of schools in developing countries. Although I'm aware that this might sound even a bit naïf, I have to admit that I'm sort of convinced that Art could play an effective role in sociopolitical questions: not only just by offering to people a generic platform for expression... In particular, I would go as far as to state that Art could even steer people's behaviour... what's your point about this? Does it sound a bit exaggerated?

I'm convinced that art can significantly influence the world. In very concrete terms, I organise workshops where participants are first sensitized as regards the potential of renewable sources of energy and issues linked with sustainable development, and then they realise their own “Dancing Solar Flowers” from the edition "Fill in your own pattern!". These workshops were originally devoted to young public: children, teenagers… but we discovered that adults were also very fond of these workshops! These workshops as a prolongation of the works reinforce the impact of the works. I'm also glad, through Solar Solidarity International, to be able for some years now to support with my copyrights some solar electrification projects like solar electrification of schools, hospitals, orphanages… in the developing world for instance in India, Togo, Tanzania, Mali, Morocco, Kenya, Senegal, Burkina

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Maya Gelfman


Reagan Lake

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Faso, Nepal, Haiti, Ecuador‌

scientific ideas.

Maybe because I have a scientific background myself, I strongly believe of convinced that the boundary between Art and Technology will come more and more blurry, with a mutual convergence between such apparently different disciplines. Multidisciplinarity is a crucial aspect of your art practice and you seem to be in an incessant search of an organic, almost intimate symbiosis between Visual Arts and Technology, taking advantage of the creative and expressive potential of Sculpture as well as of the interactive nature offered by Technology: while crossing the borders of these fields have you ever happened to realize that a symbiosis between different disciplines is the only way to achieve some results, to express some concepts?

Moreover, since your Dancing Solar Flowers are feedback systems themselves I would ask you the importance of the feedback of your audience: does a positive response to a particular idea push you into pursuing it or do you prefer to maintain a more neutral viewpoint?

I'm often asked about the difference between art and science. For me, there is more a complementarity. In fact, art and sciences are like a pair of eyes that enable to see in 3D! During these years "Dancing Solar Flowers" have been internationally exhibited in several occasions: from Europe to China, from Korea to the United States: what experiences have you received in these occasions? In particular I would like you to tell me if you have noticed particular differences in the way your audience reacts to a combination between artistic aesthetics and

All over the exhibitions in the world, I can see a very universal response from the audience: people mainly smile and start asking "How is this moving? What does it mean?" And this is for me the most important: bringing people to smile and to think about important contemporary issues. Thanks a lot for this interesting conversation, Alexandre. Finally, I would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects. Anything coming up for you professionally that you would like readers to be aware of?

There are plenty of upcoming exhibitions in the coming weeks for instance in Paris, in Boston, at NordArt in the north of Hamburg, in Venice, in Japan, in Singapore‌ so I would love that the readers have a look at a real installation. In the meantime, it is possible to have a look at some videos in the video section on my website www.alexandredang.com: this can already give some flavour. Many thanks again for your interest in my work and for taking the time to ask these very interesting questions.

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Rosalyn Song Lives and works in Dallas, USA

An artist's statement

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ur awareness of our surroundings and our lives is often based on what we can perceive. A mistake sometimes made is not acknowledging what is absent, what is not there. Our lives seem lacking when we are bored with nothing to do. But this emptiness is something. It is the lack of something. And until we can appreciate and see the “nothingness” we are only seeing a portion of what is around us. “Nothingness” to me is forgotten memories, the surreal ruins that scare and inspire me. It is the indescribable feeling of absence.

It is this feeling that I try to capture when I look through the viewfinder.

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When it comes to art, I do not want to have a certain intention to persuade to the audience. The world it is already art itself. The function of being an artist isn’t convincing to the audience what they should feel through form of art. I want them to experience from their personal thoughts and state of their mind. Art should be personal experience, not planned by an artist. I want the audience to experience and be free to interpret the art.

Rosalyn Song


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LandEscape meets

Rosalyn Song An interview by Josh Ryder, curator and Barbara Scott, curator landescape@europe.com

Rosalyn Song's camera structures the events in their natural setting: focusing on urban and natural environments, she draws inspiration from the signs of absence that pervade the reality we inhabit, In the series All that we had lost in desert that we'll be discussing in the following pages , she explores the ambiguous and subtle coexistence of forgotten memories and everyday experience. One of the most convincing results of her intriguing approach is an insightful investigation about the hidden narrative that pervades contemporary age and the way we establish perceptual relationships with it. I'm very pleased to introduce our readers to her refined artistic production. Hello Rosalyn and welcome to LandEscape: to start this interview, would you like to tell us something about your background? As an artist you are primarily self-taught: are there any particular experiences that has influenced you? Moreover, do you think that your studies in Cultural Anthropology have informed the way you conceive your works?

I don't believe there was significant influence from my Cultural Anthropology back on my art. My major takeaway from my study of Cultural Anthropology was more of a philosophical epiphany than actual

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from all that we had lost in desert series

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academic knowledge: that everything can be seen equally. That is, things can exist simply for its existence. I respect every single thing that suround me and I love it. I simply appreciate it for itself. I adapted this philosophy to my art as the core mindset to how I approach my art. This allows me to remain consistent and true to myself. I remember the very first time when I held the camera. I was very young, and even then instead of taking family pictures I was more interested in trees and dirt or even mountains rather than people. My parents didn’t like the way I use their camera because they thought I was wasting film for no reason. They would say, “why did you take this picture? It’s useless.” Their idea of photography was that making family photos as a historical relic. It was years later in 2008 when I had a chance to play with an old Nikon manual camera that I was reintroduced to photography. I shot anything that caught my eyes and I played with the camera just like when I was a young child. The results? They were terrible. I found myself wondering why the results were bad? What was wrong with it? I wish I could make photographs just like famous photographers do. I want my photos look beautiful. That was my motivation to do photography. I studied other photographers composition, colors, even their philosophy and finally I have found my own. Now let's focus on your artistic production: I would start from All that we had lost in desert, an extremely interesting project that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article: and I would suggest to visit http://www.rosalynsong.com in order to get a wider idea of your multifaceted artistic production. In the meanwhile, would you tell us something about the

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CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

genesis of this interesting project? What was your initial inspiration?

From 2009 to 2012 I worked on this series. I am a dedicated to my art, but I didn’t make many efforts to travel just to make photographs. At that time I was in Phoenix, Arizona and my camera never left my side. I simply sought to capture the moments that was my life at the time. For example, if I went to the supermarket and saw something I felt connected to, I try to capture that moment on film. Nothing remains forever. I can walk down the a street everyday, which may seem the same each day, but sometimes when you observe closely enough, you can see small differences. This facinates me the most because it happens spontaneously. It is hard to explain what really catches my eye, but it is a magical moment that only it exists only at that time and it disappears immediately. Nothing is forever. There is no time to embellish the moment with a camera. The moment will not be coming back. The pictorial ambience you capturated in All that we had lost in desert and the concept of nothingness that hallmarks your research has reminded me the concept of non lieu elaborated by French anthropologist Marc AugÊ and what has mostly impacted on me is the way you have been capable of bringing a new level of significance to the signs of absence, and in a wide sense to re-contextualize the concept of the environment we inhabit in. This is a recurrent feature of your approach, that provides the viewers of an Ariadne's Thread, inviting them to challenge the common way we perceive not only the outside world, but our inner dimension... By the way, I'm sort of convinced that some informations & ideas are hidden, or even "encrypted" in the environment we live in, so we need -in a way- to decipher them. Maybe that one of the roles of an artist could be to reveal unexpected sides of Nature, especially of

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Rosalyn Song

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CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

from all that we had lost in desert series

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CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

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Rosalyn Song


Rosalyn Song

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CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

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

Very interesting idea of interpreting my work. Yes, of course there are some secrets in my works. I would like to listen to others' interpretation of my work to see if they have found my real intention. I have met a few people who have discovered these hidden meanings, but I don’t really tell them what my real intention is. I believe that artists always hide hidden meanings in their work. While some contemporary photographers Edward Burtynsky or Michael Light use to convey in an explicit way their environmental or socio political message in their photographs, your works seek to maintain a more neutral approach: rather, and you seem to invite the viewers to a personal investigation about the themes you touch on. Maybe that the following assumption is stretching the point a little bit, but I think that All that we had lost in desert reveals the connection between different cultural spheres which describes such a real-time aesthetic ethnography: you seem to be drawn to the structured worlds we inhabit and how they produce a selfdefining context for our lives and experience... do you agree with this analysys?

Briefly speaking, when it comes to art, I do not want to have a certain intention to persuade to the audience. The world it is already art itself. The function of being an artist isn’t convincing to the audience what they should feel through form of art. I want them to experience from their personal thoughts and state of their mind. Art should be personal experience, not planned by an artist. I want the audience to experience and be free to interpret the art. Another interesting work of yours that has particularly impacted on me and on which I would like to spend some words

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Rosalyn Song

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

is the The Tourist when I first happened to get to know with this work I tried to relate all the visual information to a single meaning. I later realized I had to fit into the visual unity suggested by the work, forgetting my need for a univocal understanding of its symbolic content: in your work, rather that a conceptual interiority, I can recognize the desire to enabling us to establish direct relations... Would you say that it's more of an intuitive or a systematic process?

‘The Tourist’ is an on-going series based on my travels in Guam that I've been working on since 2014. What inspired me to do this work was actually a tourist’s brochure. The pictures in the brochure looks perfect, and beautiful enough to attract people. But if you really go to the places, the scenic places shown in the brochure, there is no beautiful sunset and exotic local culture. After you experience the real scene, you will find yourself feeling bored, you would feel scammed by the brochure. For this series, I, as a photographer, want to make photographs that attract people to visit this small island. "The Tourist" is my version of a tourist’s brochure from tourist’s point of view who has an honest heart. Your photography is intrinsically connected to the chance of creating an area of intellectual interplay with the viewers, that are urged to evolve from the condition of a merely passive audience. In particular, process of semantic restructuration of a view that I can recognize in Long ago(and far away) has reminded me of the ideas behind German photographer Thomas Demand's works, when he stated that "nowadays art can no longer rely much on symbolic strategies and has to probe psychological narrative elements within the medium instead". While conceiving Art, even in the case of Photography, could be considered an abstract activity,

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Rosalyn Song

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CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

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CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

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Rosalyn Song


Rosalyn Song

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CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

there is always a way of giving it a permanence that goes beyond the intrinsic ephemeral nature of the concepts you explore. So I 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?

This work “Long ago (and far away)" was my very first work when I started my career as a photographer in 2009. At that time, I has almost no connection with people. I would rather spend time alone and do nothing. I would not deny that the time I have spent being an ‘outsider’ influenced my work. I wanted to communicate with others but I had no idea how. My desire was to find a good friend to share what and how I see the world. But I never tried hard to ‘create’ for of art. That would be conventional and boring to me. I want to find a friend that I can be honest and someone who also sees the world purely as it is, as I do. Your works are always pervaded with an inner narrative, but you reject an explicit explanatory strategy: rather, you seem to offer to the viewer an Ariadne's Thread that allows to find personal interpretations to the stories you tell through your photographs... How much do you think to a narrative for a series?

There is no good answer for this but I spend all day thinking about my work, even when when I sleep. Over these years your works have been exhibited in several occasions, including your participation as a finalist in the Professional Photographers Award UK in 2010 and your recent solo exhibition, counterfeit chicks. So, before taking leave from this interesting conversation I would like to pose a a question about the nature of the relation with your audience: in

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Rosalyn Song

CONTEMPORARY ART REVIEW

particular, 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 for a particular context?

My series, "Counterfeit Chicks" was unintentional. One day I woke up and walked around in my back yard. I realized, the sunlight was quite beautiful and thought I could have fun with my Barbie dolls (I am a Barbie collector). I picked out some dolls and posed them for the shoot. The dolls were just conveniently present when I saw the opportunity to shoot. The reason I posed them erotically was to do something that was completely opposite from the typical Barbie catalogue. Also I wanted to try portrait photography which I have never done it before- those dolls were just perfect for the shooting. Honestly speaking there is no significant changes in context between Counterfeit Chicks series and other works. Although I used iPhone 4s for the shoot, I approached each shot as I would with more professional gear. The results were better than I expected. The dolls were like real people and I came to a realization that nothing is impossible with camera-you can give a soul to a doll. I showed these pictures to several curators and one of them wanted to do a solo show with the pictures. Everything happened spontaneously and without effort. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Rosalyn. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? Sharing thoughts and feelings is the most important thing when it comes to art. I want to find a good way to communicate with the audience. I don't know how my art will evolve, but I am certain that I will devote all my effort and heart into all future work.

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Rosalyn Song

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Landescape Art Review // Special Edition 2015  

German artist Frank Ackerman once stated that "The question for me how can I make time somehow collapse or expand, so it no longer unfolds i...

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