02 | EMILIE MCDERMOTT 11 | GUILHERME CUNHA 23 | ERIK NIEMINEN www.madeinmindmagazine.com email@example.com
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COVER | GUILHERME CUNHA
30 | NANA MATSUMOTO 34 | Aleksandar Todorovic
What did you study? How did it all begin? I’ve always been fascinated by dance, and I danced throughout my childhood and adolescence in Europe and the United States, including the Washington School of Ballet in Washington DC. I initially earned a degree from ESCP, one of Europe’s top business schools, yet always knew that I would eventually go back to studying art. After working in the design field for a few years, in 2008, I began to study fine arts and aesthetics at the Paris Sorbonne University. At the same time, I was also accepted by the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Arts de Paris-Cergy (ENSAPC), particularly recognized for its interdisciplinary practices and one of the only contemporary art schools in France to also offer a dance studio course. During my five years of art studies, I concentrated on video art and performance. What is the message behind your work? In my creations, I examine states of transience, i.e. “passing through”, in our connections to departures, death or relationships. I like to view my pieces as small windows into our existential struggles
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and consequent quest for meaning. The subject of my work often involves the act of “circumambulating” (from the Latin circum ambulation), which is a way to circle around or within a symbol. I perceive this relationship to objects, people and places, vestiges of memory, as symbolic attempts to avert failure or the feeling of vain effort that may result from our existence, the story of damnation of our coming into this world as described by Samuel Beckett. Like an incessant pendulum, constantly returning to its starting point, the transient states I film or perform are bridges, linking present to past time, giving awareness to events and objects. Tell us about Mokki Mökki is a two-channel video installation that I created in 2013, during a residency at Arteles Creative Center in Finland. This piece is about solitude. I got the idea while driving around in the region, which was quite daunting to me, having been used to crowded capital cities. The long stretches of road and endless forest, where at times I wouldn’t encounter a single car or person… I had never experienced such a thing.
MÖKKI 2-channel HD video installation Duration 7’45” 2013
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I remember driving one day along one of these roads and feeling an intense sense of “being aware of my own existence”, it was very deep and got me thinking about what it means to be “alone”. At the same time, I met an Iraqi refugee living in the town nearby, who was going through a difficult experience of solitude, being far away from his land, his family and having a hard time connecting with the local population. This encounter also coincided with my getting to know a Finnish artist, who was, on the contrary, actively seeking out situations of utter solitude: days of walking or rowing alone in the middle of nature. I decided to use these two encounters to create a piece that questions our relationship to solitude, both as an experience and as a place: in what way does being alone make us experience our own humanity? How has your work developed over the years? How did you come to work with the mediums you use? I was immediately drawn to performance through my relationship to dance. The act of using bodies and gestures as an artistic medium was key in my artistic work and collaborations, particularly through my use of repetition as an artistic expression. I initially used moving image as a way to film my performances and increasingly became attracted to video as an artistic medium in itself. I consequently began to develop video installations and found that playing with time and space gave me unprecedented artistic liberty and expression. In the last two years, I have become increasingly attracted to the experimental documentary form: in my work, I play with the boundaries between fiction
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and reality and use voice-overs, contrasting images and sounds. Could you tell us about Storing milk in a sieve, you complain of bad luck? Storing milk in a sieve, you complain of bad luck is a performance that I created in 2012, which I performed for my MFA show in 2013. The title is based on an Afghan proverb that basically means that we often create the very situations to which we later tend to object. The piece is about our relationship to departure. Having moved around a lot in my life, I realized that we had little rituals of departure, and yet the departure of others from our lives and also our very own departure from things, places, and people creates true states of transformation. In Spain, they have “despedidas” which are celebrations of departures. I wanted to create my own despedida, gathering objects that I had collected over the years from people whom I had lived with or departed from. During the performance, various assertions that I gathered from 1950s lifestyle books on “moving forward” are projected above me, and the piece questions this imperative through the absurd. What about Zones? Zones is a film I co-directed during a workshop, Opus, led by art theorist Bernard Marcadé and artist Véronique Joumard. With four other artists from ENSAPC, and the collaboration of the Centre National des Arts Plastiques (CNAP), France’s leading public collector and artistic institution, the video was projected at the Palais de Tokyo in 2013. Zones is about works, gestures and places
BEDE Video, Duration 10’14” 2011
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that we do not see but we can imagine: the space between and around art and our position in the handling and conservation of artworks, which also questions our very own relationship to time. For this edition of Opus, the emphasis was given on the performance form, since the artistic work focused on “presenting” CNAP art works as well as “representing” them. This collaborative artistic research on issues related to the art collection had materialized as the film Zones, which was shot in the CNAP reserve and questions the confidential space, the “behind the scene”: a space in transit and storage away from the public eye.
ANNA Video, Duration 3’50” looped 2012
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Which artists have been important in your artistic development? Several artists have been important in my artistic development. For one thing, Pina Bausch had a crucial role in my relationship to art and dance: watching her piece Viktor as a teenager shaped the way I saw dance and theatre, and was pivotal in my life. I was also drawn early on to Bill Viola’s videos and their relationship to life and death: I am delighted to be able to see his retrospective this year at the Grand Palais in Paris. Eija Liisa Ahtila, one of the major video artists of our time, is one of the reasons I was drawn to Finland and moved there: her use of narration, multi-screen installations and her sense of time and presence have opened up my perspective on video art. I also cherish the video artist Bouchra Khalili, who is also a graduate of ENSAPC, and I was particularly attracted by the piece Speeches which she showed at the Triennale at the Palais de Tokyo in 2012: her use of narrative styles is subtle and mesmerizing, and breaks down the borders between video art and documentary. I should also mention Francis Alÿs, whose performances and videos have been very important in my artistic development. Alÿs often evokes the rumor as a central theme in his ephemeral practice, based on word-of-mouth and storytelling.
LES CESSARDS 3-channel HD video installation Duration 8’10” 2013
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For instance, in his work When Faith Moves Mountains, he recruited 500 volunteers in the region of Ventanilla outside of Lima, Peru. Each person was instructed to move a sand dune with shovels, and together they moved the whole location of the dune by a few centimeters. The artist attempts to translate social tensions into narratives instilled in landscapes, and I find that very powerful.
about a reflection: that ultimately we all long for the same thing, a deeper meaning and understanding of why and how we are thrown into existence. I wanted to elicit in the viewer this trance-like state, acquired through repetition. I think that religion can help certain people access these bigger questions, but it can also be the very artifice that traps them into dogma, which for me kills spirituality that should always remain an open question.
In the Bede video installation, three people say a prayer. What is the message behind this gesture? What are your feelings about religion? The piece was created in 2012: at the time, I was living near the “Goutte d’Or”, one of Paris’s multicultural neighborhoods. Everyday going to school, I would pass by an old man on a sidewalk, reciting his “Tasbih”, the Muslim equivalent of the rosary. He was completely entranced, oblivious to the environing street sounds. I found this mix between what we associate with the private sphere (spirituality) and public sphere fascinating. At the time, there was also a debate going on because of a practice by some Muslims of praying in the street (because of the lack of an appropriately sized prayer space in the neighborhood), which certain parties wanted to forbid. My piece, which is a semi-circular threechannel video installation, has three people from different religions - Hinduism, Islam and Christianity - reciting simultaneously their prayer beads amid urban sounds. I’m not sure whether I can talk about a “message” per se in this piece, but more
Which is your favorite artwork that you’ve created and why? The piece Les Cessards that I created in 2013 is very special to me. It is a three channel video installation that I shot about my godfather, Albert, who is a farmer in Southeastern France. I filmed him during the course of the nut harvest. Les Cessards is the name of his property and home, and I have a particular relationship to it, as it was one of the places I would return to every summer as a child. Like agricultural rites, which are cyclical, my very relationship to the place was circular. I first started shooting Albert and the nut harvest with that in mind: to create a piece on the circularity of agricultural gestures. But after a few visits, discussing with my godfather about the nature of his work, his pending retirement, and after going through the film roughs, I realized that the piece was actually more about Albert’s relationship to leaving his “place”, about his departure and its consequence on how he views life. The piece mixes documentary footage, but also narrative shots that I filmed with his two sons.
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ZONES Video, Duration 14” 2013
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We can hear his thoughts in voice-over, and the artwork is an intimate portrait of Albert’s attachment to Les Cessards. What are you working on at the moment? I am currently working on and developing a video series and installation that will be finished by 2015, on women who have recently immigrated to Europe, and the association certain smells have to places that once were but are now left behind. Working closely with these women and their children, the piece is intended to be about this relationship between memories and scent: the perception of scent being the first sense we remember as a child, and the last one before we die.
STORING MILK IN A SIEVE, YOU COMPLAIN OF BAD LUCK? Performance, Duration 15’ 2012
Emilie McDermott is a French and American artist, now working between Paris and Helsinki. Born to an American father and French mother, she spent her childhood and teenage years in Washington D.C, where she danced at the Washington School of Ballet. She moved to France to pursue her studies at the Lycée Henri IV and ESCP school, and later worked in the field of design. She received her Bachelor and Master of Arts suma cum laude from the Sorbonne University and her M.F.A. from L’Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Arts de Paris-Cergy, one of France’s leading art schools, where she worked alongside art critics and artists such as Frederico Nicolao, Bernard Marcadé and Renaud Auguste-Dormeuil. She has exhibited and performed for international venues, such as the Palais de Tokyo and Gaîté Lyrique in Paris or Traverse Vidéo Festival in Toulouse. www.emiliemcdermott.com
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Who are you and what do you do? Iâ€™m a Brazilian artist and an independent multi-knowledge field experimental researcher also working as a cultural entrepreneur and producer, using the possibilities presented by an artistic practice to communicate ideas within different spheres of the social structure. What is your artistic background and what determines how you choose the process and the medium? The first contact I had with the universe of visual poetics came through my maternal grandmother, Teresinha Paiva, painter in Belo Horizonte. My earliest childhood memories are of her home studio with a strong smell of oil paint, packed with books, glass jars with brushes soaked in thinner, remains of used rags and palettes with multicolored masses of hardened paints, drawings and small studies for sculptures everywhere. These memories are still very present and influencing my professional choices. Her home studio was a place where creativity, imagination and experimentation became, some how, real and tangible.
Later on in 1998, I started to study some basic art fundaments and photography during an exchange student program in Brussels, Belgium. In 1999, I entered the Guignard Art School of Minas Gerais State University (Brazil) and graduated in 2004, with emphasis in drawing and ceramics. From 2001 to 2002, I took part in a scholarship program at the Pittsburg State University (USA), studying laboratory photography, painting, sculpture, contemporary art theory, anatomy, polymer engineering and digital image. Since then, Iâ€™ve been collaborating with projects in a variety of creative areas such as contemporary dance, experimental costumes and set design, movies, music and theater, as a possibility to expand the reach of my research as an artist. The poetic process that Iâ€™m involved with is mainly determined by existential issues that reflect a constant research exercise across diverse fields of knowledgebiology, physics, neuroscience, acoustics, sound and mechanical engineering and philosophy-intersecting with art. The approach of this practice is not by any means scientific, technical or to be
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conclusive, regarding a given subject matter. It is artistic research based on creative experimental exploration and intuitive methods, using insights about the human condition, nature and culture from different disciplines. The idea resultant from this practice is the driving force that will determine the production process, the medium of the work and the spatial relations with the environment where it is to be showed. Could you describe to us the Bra (in_to) Brain Communication performance? This work consists of a NeuroPoetic experiment involving three persons, two EEG (electroencephalogram) analogical machines, a pair of LCD monitors and surveillance cameras forming a closed live video circuit, a wood table with two chairs and brainwaves. In the beginning of the performative act, two performers arrive at the scene where the equipment is set up, and they sit at the table facing each other. A technician connects them to individual EEG machines, and according to protocol, fills the needlesâ€™ ink compartment with blue ink, fits the paper roll in the mechanical tray, and runs some preliminary tests before turning the equipment on. Once it is on, the mechanical tray starts to push the paper forward, Bra (in_to) brain communication Perfeormance 2012
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at the same time that the group of nine needles, connected to sensors fixed to the participants head, starts to move causing the formation of horizontal line like shapes on the paper, as abstract representations of the electric impulses coming from separate areas of the brain. Each participant has an LCD monitor in front of them attached to the table, displaying the live video of the otherâ€™s neural electric activity. For 15 minutes, they remain seated still and in silence, looking at the monitor, being visually exposed to the constant updated brainwave data of each other, responding to it in real time through a closed video surveillance system, as if they were sending, receiving and answering the brainwave messages at a constant rate. After the determined time, the performers stand up, leave the scene, and the technician turns off the equipment. The communicative dynamics proposed by the work do not rely on phonetic, symbolic or gestural codes to promote the exchange of information but on immediate expressions of the brainâ€™s electrical responses, enabling, for that matter, the activation of a platform, yet embryonic, for direct brain communication. The work was produced with the participation of the Brazilian artist Paulo Bruscky.
Bra (in_to) brain communication Perfeormance 2012
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Imaginary Dialogues Video installation 2013
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What subjects do you deal with in your art? My current practice as an artist is mainly oriented by the production of experimental environments and installations dealing with sensorial and perceptive frontiers. The human ability to produce knowledge from perception and the study of the possibility to promote cognitive displacement and expansion throughout aesthetic experiments are central points of reflection, which gravitates around my research. In this practice, the intersection of art with other disciplines plays a major roll, contributing to the promotion of a less partial and more integrated view of the phenomena of life and society. One of your most frequent themes is communication between people, like in Imaginary Dialogues and Intra Organic Communication Module. Can you explain that a bit more? For some time, Iâ€™ve been studying about the formation of ideas, concepts, and the origins of different systems of thought. All these elements are part of a very intense, plastic and organic process that have a strong influence in the way people, according to their own time period,
Imaginary Dialogues Video installation 2013
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Intra_organic Communication Module Installation wood acustic cabins, stetophone, subwoofer sound system 2013
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Intra_organic Communication Module Installation wood acustic cabins, stetophone, subwoofer sound system 2013
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perceive and understand the world, define notions of reality and the determine the cultural codes used to identify themselves as part of a given social group. In very general terms, since the invention of the alphabet, words are the main medium through which the exchange of ideas, concepts and thoughts are made, despite the growing emergence of an imagetic culture. The current western alphabet has around 26 letters and 52 phonetic symbols representing the sound used in a linear and sequential way, under very specific rules, to form the words. If we consider that the electromagnetic spectrum is in principle infinite and continuous, it becomes clear that it would be very hard to make sense of this infinite resource of life, in a less partial and incomplete way, using a system of thought and language based on the combination of 52 sounds. But also, it is hard to agree, that we can only produce knowledge and meaning with words, out of the combinations of these small groups of sound. How could the meaning of other sound vibrations and frequency be accessed? Would other communicative platforms, less linear and sequential to the exchange and the
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production of ideas, be able to incorporate a broader group of elements? Some of my latest works consist of the design of experiments for proposing other possible platforms of communication, and reflections about the fragility of our information exchange processes along with its many interference fields. In the IntraOrganic Module installation, participants from inside an acoustic wood cabin communicate through the exchange of the sounds of their heartbeats. What about the Incomplete Mutation installation? This work represents a poetic reflection about the relationship between biological species mutation and perception. In the body of humans, animals, fish, insects, etc, the sensorial instruments are placed according to specific conditions and programed to respond to different portions of the electromagnetic spectrum wavelengths. The size of the brain also influences on how much of the worldâ€™s information a species will be able to access. Humans, thanks to abstract thought, are able to understand and conceive the existence of a different reality beyond its immediate realm of sensorial reach.
Artificial Atmosphere Installation 24 Medical Air Cylinders 2013
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Bod coyture Performance 2010
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The work, Incomplete Mutation, divided with 5 small speakers, presents an audio piece of the narrative of 390 names of colors. This arrangement of factors provokes hybrid visual auditory stimuli causing people to see colors mentally, induced by auditory inputs. According to what has been studied, color is a sensation depending on so many conditions that manifest itself in the brain, more than a quality of objects and things. Due also to the fact that the kind of colors each species is able to see, depends on their visual receptors and brain development. We could then speculate that colors we see are as much imagined, as they are perceived. What role does the artist have in society? Art is a very potent instrument for human development, contributing to the expansion of sensibility, perception and discernment. Intuition, imagination and creativity are essential elements that have helped shape societies and have changed the curse of history, teaching human beings the strength of the mind over time and oppression. Historically, the role of the artist has changed.
Art has been used for conflict mediation, as resistance statements and consciousness paradigm shit. But also, has been used for political propaganda, has submitted to the entertainment industry and has become a global speculative market. The artist cannot be naive about his role in society. The act to encourage reflection, stimulating the expansion of perception and sensitivity through the free expression of creative thinking, is to collaborate with the empowerment of the subject. The autonomy of thought and critical posture towards established models of society and government systems are powerful political tools for social transformation, that can change the meaning of things, alter concepts and modify ideas, impelling people to make different choices. That being said, I think the crucial role for the artist from any society is just to not be indifferent to the human factors of context in which he exists. Name something you love, and why. Iâ€™m going to try not to love some random material thing just to avoid contributing to the movement promoting the attachment of human
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sentiments to inanimate objects. My loving act is going to be direct here to a major elemental force of nature, Life, in its both aspects, systemic and mental. The concept I would like to bring up is of Life not simply as the personal feeling of being alive, or the possibility of enjoyment, but of the universal phenomena, Life, as the most intense, minds challenging, and creative force of the planet. The countless molecular combinations and the complexity of the interaction between structures and systems producing entire beings, semi-autonomous and autonomous species, able to reproduce themselves, grow, mutate, to think, design meaning and develop societies are absolutely amazing. Where is your art going next? My goal is to continue the on going research about human cognition and the formation of ideas focus on the design of cognitive displacements experiments. I have being working with sound and light for the last year and I would like to give more attention now to the studies related to the brain and its faculties applied to the field of biofeedback technology.
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Guilherme Cuhna is a Brasilian artist, he was born in Belo Horizonte in 1981. He studied at the Minas Gerais State University in Brazil. Chuna has won several awards, such as the XIII PrĂŞmio Funarte Marc Ferrez, the PrĂŞmio Klaus Viana, the photo prize of Biennial do RecĂ´ncavo Baiano and he was a finalist of Pierre Verger Photo Prize. In 2013 he was a Director and Co-founder of FIF_BH, International Photography Festival of Belo Horizonte, where he lives and works.
Talk to us about your work. Can you tell us a bit about the inspiration behind this series? My current work evolved out of a series of works that Iâ€™d been working on, dealing with the relationships between people and their environment. I started this theme by making paintings that were usually based on a single photograph. I have since moved on to creating spaces that are fundamentally non-photographic, although I do still use photographs for reference. Whatâ€™s your background? I was born in Ottawa, Canada where I completed my BFA at the University of Ottawa. From there, I moved to Montreal getting an MFA from Concordia University in 2010, and I now live in Berlin. Art has always been in my family, as my father and several other family members are all artists. I have been immersed in art my whole life, visiting the National Gallery of Canada frequently throughout my childhood.
It was therefore natural for me to consider becoming an artist, and I have always viewed it as a real job. What is your working process like? How do you get from an idea to the final product? I take thousands of photographs, documenting my experience of being in an environment. The photographs themselves are merely tools to use on the path to creating the eventual painting. Out of these photos, only certain ones will jump out as being useful, but I keep all my photos. Years later, I will sometimes find something in an old photograph that has suddenly become relevant. I will then start to imagine the possibilities in combining these various subjects found in the photographs, and at a certain point, I will have a general idea of what Iâ€™m looking for. At this stage, I may begin doing several sketches, usually quite loose but sometimes more detailed, in order to get a firmer sense of the space I will be dealing with. Usually, I will wait at least a couple of months before
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Theatre Oil on canvas, 170x147 cm 2011
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starting the painting in order to see, if what I initially envisioned is still worth doing, or if it can be improved upon; it generally can. Then the painting can begin. What has influenced your work? Which artist or work of art has inspired you? Growing up in an urban environment meant that I always had a certain aptitude and understanding of the mechanism or rhythm of the city. Ottawa is not a large city, especially compared to other capital cities of the world but there are sections of it that sometimes feel international. When something feels international, it feels universal, and this feeling is attractive to me and is something that I look to manipulate in my paintings. My paintings all depict no place in particular, but represent a space that is in some way archetypal to western society. The anonymous urban experience is the main influence on my work. There are a variety of artists that have influenced my work, including but not limited to: Paul Cézanne, the Futurist Painters, the Cubists, and on the opposite end of the spectrum, certain photorealist painters such as Richard Estes. What reality are you describing with your painting? The reality in my paintings does not exist in our observable world. The world created in the painting exists according to its own internal logic, and is largely self-created. While I am in control of the general decision making process that goes into the work, I must first and foremost respond to the needs of the reality taking shape in front of me. How would you describe your subject matter? Initially, I gravitated towards the depiction of reflection as a means of depicting the disconnect that one experiences in urban environments. I am fascinated by light, and for me, it is light that defines form and creates space. A reflection is an ephemeral response to light, but in a sense, it is disconnected from the gravity of our world. If we allow for the possibility that the reflection is a state of “non-gravity”, then the possibilities that then the possibilities that arise from it in terms of making art are basically endless.
Man in the Mirror Oil on canvas, 142x96 cm 2007
In its sublime materiality, it allows a direct connection to the natural world as the primal state of glass is a liquid and the reflection as seen through a liquid visually destroys the world we know. Part of my interest is in deconstructing the city and reforming it on my own terms. The glass reflection is a means to this end, as it allows us to see beyond ourselves and to twist and manipulate our vision of what is real, a visual truth, to break the grid of the urban environment. What do you think about the art world? It’s good that there is an artworld, but I’m not too concerned by it one way or another. It provides a platform for people to
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The Man of the Crowd Oil on canvas, 106x731 cm 2008-09
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RICOCHET Oil on canvas, 210x157 cm 2013
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showcase their work, and in that capacity it serves an important role. My wish is for art and life to be much less mutually exclusive, and unfortunately the artworld often contributes to this exclusivity. What impact do you hope to have on viewers from your work? It is difficult to put a precise definition to the impact I want my work to have. I do not require my work to have a specific meaning, so they do not work within a predetermined set of ideological rules. There is little attempt at specific social meaning or anything to do with a “message”. The artwork has its own autonomous existence, which continues to function whether or not the viewer places their own meaning upon it. I try to be open to the possibility that a viewer might pull out a social or even a political commentary from the works... but that is solely the prerogative of the viewer. So I suppose the impact I’d want my works to have on a viewer is to engage them with the space, to consider their relationship to the painting as it relates directly to what’s happening in front of them.
Human Oil on canvas, 215x162 cm 2013
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Revolving Oil on canvas, 55x76 cm 2008
Erik Nieminen is a Canadian artist with Finnish heritage. Born and raised in Ottawa he recieved a BFA from the University of Ottawa in 2007 before moving to Montreal where he recieved his MFA from Concordia University in 2010. He Currently works and resides in Berlin. www.eriknieminen.com
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Why do you make art? how did you start? I entered the Tokyo Zokei University of Arts and entered a postgraduate course at the same university. I went to the Bristol in the U.K. as an exchange student for several months. Currently, I work at a united studio with eight artists. We hold an open studio at the part of the project that a city sponsors once a year. I am thinking about 60s minimalism and Japanese mono-ha. This movement, which appeared after the demise of formalism, was in a way something which rejected everything within the flow of modernism before that point, while on the other hand it also denied some of those notions. I think that during this era most of the notions and ideas which existed as ubiquitous theorems up to that point became oversaturated, and I believe it was an era where various things competed and went on to transform. The circumstances under which these contradictory things existed also led to my present circumstances. I also have an interest in Sen no Rikyu, a tea master who was active in the 16th century.
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His subtraction aesthetic excluded subjects in order to emphasize the existence of the very things he was excluding. I believe that this is an exclusion which opens up toward possibilities and is different from the exclusion found in modernism. How would you describe your subject matter? My current subject matter raises questions about the meaning and intended use of various things we find around us. At times, I handle them pragmatically, while at other times I try to give them an entirely different meaning. In having such an approach to the environment, I believe that the door of new possibilities will open up for me. Talk to us about Story of Forty. The number 40 in the installation Story of Forty is assigned at random and given as the reference for this piece. There is a large screen with the figures 1 through 40 distributed in a certain pattern, a smaller screen listing 40 different objects or sentences, and a lighted lamp. If art is by definition to mainly produce
RING Installation color leathers 2013
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something from nothing, exactly at that specific moment, based on the questions and stories that are born from the relationship between the numbers on the large screen and the listed sentences arising within the viewer, the viewer by himself or herself would appear to become the artist. A lamp placed on the side quietly illuminates the creation and birth of a new artist. Where do you find your inspiration? I get inspiration from a thought concerning a certain event, structure, document, historical event, TV screen and so forth. How would you describe the art scene in Japan today? I think that the art of Japan is still proceeding with a different standard than the West. Even though Japan has adopted many different ideas from the west, the national identity has not changed much. When Japanese artist are reviewed in the world of art, I feel that such identity at times is being seriously questioned. I believe, however, that when such questions are raised in some countries said to be art centers, they are now at all objective and it will be a serious issue for me to handle. Could you describe to us Stripe? Tape is a daily item which can constantly be obtained cheaply. In Stripe the tape is hanging vertically due to pure gravitational force, which is constantly influencing us. As compared to for example Barnett Newmanâ€™s Zip, which is ubiquitous and filled with mystique, the cheap tape is merely hanging and lacking any such mystique. Cheap things like simple packing tapes, the product of industrial competition are mysterious in a different way.
STRIPE Installation packing tape,masking tape 2012
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STORY OF FORTY Installation 2014
What are you working on now, and what are your plans for the future? At the present time I am working on a series using a phenomenon using words like in the Story of Forty. In addition, I plan to bend one piece of metal plate and make a kind of structure. I want to participate in the AIR (Art in Residence) Program in the future. I am very sensitive to things around me and like putting myself in a new and unfamiliar environment. I know that I can feel inspiration from that and get a handhold to proceed from there.
Nana Matsumoto was born in 1986 in Chiba Prefecture. She graduated from Painting Course of Tokyo Zokei University of Arts in 2008, and studied at The University of the West of England of Art and Design, United Kingdom as an exchange student in 2009. She received M.F.A from Graduate School of Tokyo Zokei University in 2010,also received the Zokei Prize of master course. She exhibited at Tokyo Wonder site 2008, and received the Tokyo Wonder Wall prize. Her other group exhibitions include “Group show of contemporary artists 2013” (Tokyo metropolitan museum of Art, Tokyo, 2014) , “TWS-Emerging” (Tokyo Wonder Site Hongo, Tokyo, 2009) . She currently lives and works in Kanagawa, Japan.
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What subjects do you deal with in your art? In my personal art, I create mostly socially engaged and many times politically inspired art. I am trying to explore the phenomenon of Evil: Where does it come from? What forms does it take? How can we fight it if we can at all? The figure of a politician presented in my drawings and paintings is a sort of archetype, the evil in a human like form. War machines and tools of destruction are made by his image. Phallic guns and iconography emphasize the connection between aggression and sexual domination. The common people come in form of crash test dummies accentuating their expendable purpose, to be sacrificed for the selfish goals of their leaders. Could you tell us about the Iconostasis of Isms project? This project started when I was finishing the Academy of Art in Belgrade. In my final year, I wanted to depict the evil which lurks behind three main political
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systems which we have experienced so far in recent history: Communism, Capitalism, and Nazism. I decided to depict them as altar pieces, the Iconostasis, in order to accentuate the similarities between religion and politics, the hierarchy, the cult of the leader and his apostles, and their followers. I also decided to emulate the form of real wooden icons; the frames and engravings were all painted and simulated with the yellowish color of the background, imitating gold leafs, which also symbolize the fake promises of prosperity, those depicted political systems offered. Due to my workspace, I decided to use some odorless painting techniques, so I used watercolors and painted on paper surfaces. After completion of the first series, I decided to depict the situation in my country, focusing mostly on our recent history. That is how the Iconostasis of Serbism was created. But upon its completion, I felt like I didnâ€™t say nearly as much as I could have, so I decided to paint three more Iconostasis which depict communist, capitalist, and fascist, like
Iconostasis of Communism Watercolor, ink, acrylic on paper 100x80 cm 2008
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Iconostasis of Capitalism Watercolor, ink, acrylic on paper 100x80 cm 2008
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tendencies in our recent history. Each Iconostasis is very detailed, its format is restricted by the size of the paper, which is not very big- therefore they each required many hours of meticulous workresulting in miniscule and highly precise pieces of art. All in all, it took about two and a half years of hard work, to create seven of those Iconostasis. This series reminds me of Moses by Frida Kahlo, and the triptych reminds me of The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch, because of the complexity and the symbolic meaning. Were you influenced by these paintings? I as influenced at some point by Bosch, though my influences were mostly from religious compositions, combined with comic like representation. Illustrations, comics, and pop culture in general are a great source of inspiration for me. Many people actually notice the correlation between my work and the work of Bosch, the most notable one is the level of details and figures.
Iconostasis of Nazism Watercolor, ink, acrylic on paper 100x80 cm 2008
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Iconostasis Serbism Watercolor, ink, acrylic on paper 55x75 cm 2009
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Iconostasis Serbocommunism Watercolor, ink, acrylic on paper 55x75 cm 2012
Frida, Bosch, I, and many other artists are all trying to depict some very complex, multifaceted phenomenon, which requires such elaborate symbolical, almost theatrical, representation. Which other art or artists have influenced you? I grew up surrounded by comics, in fact, I learned how to read from them. They were always a big part of my life, alongside TV shows, cartoons, movies and pop culture in general. I adopted the visual language of commercials, illustrations, and pop art. When I was younger, painters like Michelangelo, Rubens, Leonardo and also many impressionists like Monet, Renoir, and Van Gogh were among my favorite artists. Also modern painters from expressionists to cubists and surrealists, there are so many of them, who at some point or another, inspired and influenced me. Bosch and northern European artists were major influences, alongside with such names as director and animation artist, Terry Gilliam. Humor, sarcasm and irony play a big part in my paintings and drawings. Lichtenstein, as someone who adopted the visual language of commercialized art, is significant for me. I am trying not to exclude any art form, but instead to be more eclectic. Depending on the theme, I change the style, it is also much more interesting for me, to visually explore various forms of expression, from painted art to digital art. I even have plans for some sculptural like works in the future. What are your thoughts about the present age in which we are living in? My thoughts are still positive and optimistic despite the fact that the problems we are facing are enormous. I think that a better world and a more humane society is possible and that all is not lost. All people, artists included,
have to fight and work to make those ideals true. This age is probably one of the most challenging and crucial in our history, humanity seems like it is on a tipping point, it will either fall into the abyss, with deteriorating ecosystems, spreading pollution and rapid climate change, or it will be eventually be saved. Art can help by presenting constructive critique in order to â€œawakenâ€? and inspire the masses, and it can offer new and better solutions by creating visions of a more positive, beautiful world. How important is your environment in shaping your work? It is important, since my inspiration comes from my surroundings. Because I live in a country burdened by socio-political issues, I have more than enough material to inspire me. Also, major and significant events are happening all over the world, on a truly global scale. Contemporary modern society and all its problems are very interesting to me, and also their interconnectedness. It is like a puzzle, trying to find those connections and to present it in my works. What role does the artist have in society? Oftentimes, the artist has a very problematic role, society often does not recognize him and his work, and if he creates socially challenging and provocative art, he runs the risk of being labeled as either mad, or even downright dangerous; there are many examples of artists going to jail or suffering other forms of oppression, depending on the society in question. In order to become an artist of substance and quality, he has to spend a lot of time working and perfecting his crafts, mostly without support. At the same time he often has to work another job in order to make a living, or he has to struggle with poverty, there are countless more artists who are trying to live off
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Iconostasis Serbonazism Watercolor, ink, acrylic on paper 55x75 cm 2012
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of their art, than those who actually succeed in doing that. It is a path filled with many sacrifices, and the artist usually lacks the financial or moral support of the very society he is trying to help. An artist has to be highly educated and intellectual, up to date with current events, in order to create art that truly reflects the spirit of the time. It is a challenging role, whether he is trying to form the taste of society by offering new standards of beauty and aesthetics, or to be the critic of various social behaviors and occurrences. What do you hope people will take away from your art? I hope that people will take away from my art a more complex way of viewing things, that all occurences in the world are not black and white, simply good or bad, but that they are all somewhere in between, and that they are all interconnected. I hope that I will entertain them at first bitter humor, irony and at some point even sarcasm are the tools that I use when I am creating, but that they also will be inspired to view things from some new perspective, and hopefully even change some of their habits or behaviors for the better. I am not providing any definitive answers or solutions, rather very complex, bittersweet critiques.
global events, with real gold plating and carved frames on wooden panels. In the future, I have plans for complex large format paintings similar to the iconostasis series, and also some sculptural works. I have already created some digital drawings, which I will probably continue making, possibly even collaborating with some other artists from abroad. Also, much of my activity revolves around my art group C4, where I collaborate with several other young artists. But the theme and the general iconography created in previous paintings and drawings remains the same- that is the exploration of evil, which lurks behind many processes of the modern world, with all its social and political complexity and resulting implications.
Where is your art going next? For now, I am trying to widen my aesthetic range as much as possible. I am making new works with new painting techniques, and my style varies from very clean and simplified, with broad flat surfaces of plain colors, , to some miniscule crosshatched drawings, and to more expressive ones, done with broader looser lines. I will try to make actual icons, based on current Saint isms- politicus perfectus Digital print on paper 55x75 cm
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Saint Isms Hear no Evil - See no Evil - Speak no Evil Digital print on paper 55x75 cm
Aleksandar Todorovic was born in Belgrade, Serbia, in 1982. After high school he attend the Faculty of Fine Arts in Belgrade, which he finished in 2007, as a graduated painter, with master degree. He is a member of the National Association of Visual Artists of Serbia (ULUS) since 2011, and he also has the state recognized formal status as independent artist since 2011 onwards. He is also a member of several art groups and organizations like IGNIS and Siroka staza, and he is a co-founder of the art group C4, which derived from the former group Artizani, founded in 2012. www.umetnik.rs
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