Madrid - Interviews

Teresa Solar Abboud : Madrid Through an Artist’s Perspective

3 days ago

On the occasion of our special issue on ARCOmadrid and the art week, we asked artist Teresa Solar Abboud to draw up a special artistic itinerary around Madrid.

Teresa Solar Abboud ( born 1985, Madrid, Spain) graduated with an MA in Cultural Studies from the UEM (Universidad Europea de Madrid) in Madrid in 2009. Solar Abboud’s work has been shown at the CA2M Madrid, Fundación Marcelino Botín in Santander, the MAXXI in Rome, Villa Croce in Genoa, the General Public in Berlin, and Kunstverein München in Munich.
In 2017 Solar Abboud participated in the 9th edition of KölnSkulptur curated by Chus Martínez.
She has just opened her solo show “Cabalga, Cabalga, Cabalga” at Matadero Madrid, she currently participates at “The Future” section at ARCO and will participate in the show “Blind Faith” at Haus der Kunst Munich in March 2018.

An Art Itinerary of Madrid by Teresa Solar Abboud

“If you are wandering around Madrid to spend your leisure time, you should definitely start having breakfast at the beautiful terrace of the Museo Romántico, at Tribunal’s neighborhood. Then head to Convento de las Descalzas to get a good taste of Madrid traditional architecture and an amazing of baroque art. After that, keep walking to visit San Antonio de la Florida church, to see Goya’s famous frescoes.
By that time, it would probably be time for a lunch break! If you are at San Antonio de la Florida, having lunch at Casa Mingo is a must. There you can eat their delicious chicken with cider in an authentic Madrilian atmosphere.
After lunch head to the Retiro area. Walk towards the Museo Arqueológico Nacional, as it has been remodeled recently and the visit is amazing.
Then go to Parque del Retiro and visit el Palacio de Cristal that is managed by Museum Reina Sofía, where you can see great site-specific interventions. Within the park you can also visit Palacio de Velázquez, also managed by Museo Reina Sofía and that now has an excellent exhibition by Spanish artist Esther Ferrer. If you’re looking for something new or unconventional, then I suggest you to go to Yaby, a new artist- run space with a fresh and unconventional program (by appointment only).
I am sure that art lovers will love Madrid’s Museo Geominero, it is one of the most charming museums of Madrid, the architecture is amazing and the collections are also great. For dinner I would go for tapas at La Latina, or you could go to Juana la loca restaurant. After dinner, drinking cañas at La Latina is a great plan, I suggest you go to El Madroño, a restaurant where you can order licor de madroño, a typical Madrilian fruit.
Before leaving Madrid, don’t forget to have a walk around one of the most charming areas of the city, which is pretty near El Madroño: have a walk through Conde de Barajas square and cross Calle Mayor. There is a group of small streets next to la calle el Biombo and San Nicolás church, that I really love, it has all the taste of Madrid’s classy, narrow and old flavour”.

My Art Guides Editorial Team

  • Teresa Solar, Teresa Solar, "Pumping station", 2017, Courtesy of the artist
  • Teresa Solar, Teresa Solar, "Crushed by pressure debris", 2017, Courtesy of the artist
Palermo - Interviews

We Are Two Abysses – a Well Staring at the Sky: an Interview with Ignazio Mortellaro

1 week ago

On the occasion of his solo show currently on view at Francesco Pantaleone Gallery in Palermo, we interviewed artist Ignazio Mortellaro. Curated by Agata Polizzi, the exhibition brings together two series of works and an installation. The works give body to a dynamic vision describing landscapes and contexts as though they were experiences “in transit.”

Ignazio Mortellaro (Palermo, 1978) is an artist, architect, and engineer. His background brings him to investigate, with an experimental approach, the various settings of knowledge. His work is open and looks at possibility as method.

Mara Sartore:  Where do the roots of your artistic production lie and what does your research tend towards?

Ignazio Mortellaro: My work is nothing other than the reflection of thorough research, which identifies itself in the syncretistic processes, typical to the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern area, the foundations of a melting pot culture where knowledge and visions fuse. The Mediterranean has always been a place of exchange in different forms, a space where dialogue is inevitable due to the fluidity of this liminal space, its liquid borders and the osmotic surface, which stretches out between three continents, Europe, Asia and Africa.
The path is long and tiring, the interdisciplinary nature of my research requires intense study, but this is the price you should be prepared to pay when one ventures into unknown territory, into the others space and when we go beyond our familiar ground. But it is a small price to pay when the rewards reaped are so rich, that of freedom, the freedom to lose oneself, the freedom to move, not only from country to country but also from culture to culture. It is in the depths of our freedom we find the power of thought. 

M.S.:We are two abysses – a well staring at the sky” explain the origins and the meaning of the title to your most recent exhibition at FPAC in Palermo…

I.M.: The title, which in its original language reads “Somos dois abismos – um poço fitando o céu”, is a quote taken from the “Book of Disquiet” by Fernando Pessoa, a Portuguese writer who has always been greatly influential in my work, his concepts of limits and distances, in geographic and existential terms, are central to this reflection, the problem of our positioning within space, the orientation of our gaze, and of measurement. Within this quote, which in truth comes from two, we find ourselves between two infinitely distant and opposing spaces, one that verges on the centre of the earth and the other somewhere in deep space. We can move to the depths of these wells and look up at the sky, as the main character in Murakami’s “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle” did, or otherwise look back at the earth from a lonely spaceship as Tarkovskji suggests in his film “Solaris”. I consider these two places the undefined extremes of an internal hiatus in which we can really perpetrate the meaning of our existence, a space of freedom in which not only can we radically invert our positions but also the way in which we turn our gaze.

M.S.: Luca Mortellaro has titled his essay “A New Sisyphus”, which he has dedicated to you in the exhibition catalogue. Luca, other than being a musician and producer is also your brother, so he knows you well. In your opinion what parallels does he find between you and Sisyphus, he who was condemned by the gods to eternally climb a mountain carrying an immense boulder? 

I.M.: Reality is manifold and open-ended, the victim of disorientating blur, a sea in which we have been immersed since birth. Despite this we go about our daily lives engaged in operations of measurement, delimitation, definition, coordination and our ongoing relationship with things. This all feels like an immense effort which is forced upon us everyday, always measuring where we are, to understand where we might end up and others may begin. Perhaps this is human nature, to live in context, feeding ourselves via contamination, a continuous state of adaptation to new conditions. Even our thoughts, which appear to be so volatile and abstract, belong to place, and by belonging become concretised, they are not stable but dynamic forms, which move and it is this mobility, which constructs geometries and spatial architecture. I am fascinated by this dual nature of ours, of being both concrete and abstract, I find comfort in this inseparability which nullifies the distance between things, bringing them together and interpenetrating each other. This sharing of matter and particles confuses me; a word, which leaves our mouth, is embrangled with a breath we take in. We often talk about things we can’t see as though they don’t have body, but when things get serious they endure the forces of physics, it makes me think of the wind which surrounds us and whose presence can be revealed by a simple fist of sand thrown into the air. 

M.S.: The island where you live and its surrounding seas often infiltrate your work, tell us about your relationship with Sicily and Palermo?

I.M.: Sicily is the Island where I was born, my roots are here. It is an Island like myself, but also part of an archipelago. It’s earth made of from hard and pungent black rock destined to erode until it becomes dust, as I will do too. My relationship with Sicily is based on a natural identity, not only a cultural one. 

Ignazio Mortellaro: We are two abysses – a well staring at the sky“, curated by Agata Polizzi, is on view at Francesco Pantaleone gallery, Palermo until February 17, 2018

Mara Sartore

  • Ignazio Mortellaro © Fausto Brigantino Ignazio Mortellaro © Fausto Brigantino
  • Ignazio Mortellaro, Exhibition view, 2017, FPAC, Palermo © Fausto Brigantino Ignazio Mortellaro, Exhibition view, 2017, FPAC, Palermo © Fausto Brigantino
  • Ignazio Mortellaro, Ignazio Mortellaro, "Land XVI, Cap de la Chèvre to Ponte de la Corses", 2017, FPAC, Palermo © Fausto Brigantino
  • Ignazio Mortellaro, Land XXI [Approaches to Bengàsi], 2017 © Fausto Brigantino Ignazio Mortellaro, Land XXI [Approaches to Bengàsi], 2017 © Fausto Brigantino
Bologna - Interviews

Arte Fiera 2018: an Interview with Angela Vettese

2 weeks ago

On the occasion of the opening of Arte Fiera, My Art Guides has interviewed the Artistic Director to learn more about the 42nd edition of the fair.

My Art Guides: Why should a collector from abroad make the journey to Arte Fiera?

Angela Vettese: Because Italian art is both important and ever yet underestimated. The success of Italian sales in auctions abroad has demonstrated this for a number of years now. A few Italian galleries still fervently take on the role of an artisan, it is this quest for the well-made which makes the distinction between primary and secondary markets, the relative distance from a financially driven art world which reduces a work of art to a mere investment opportunity.
It goes without saying that Bologna is also beautiful, boasting a historic city centre which brings together centuries of history and reveals many surprises to those who are not only on the hunt for restaurants. The Polis/Artworks section was created for this purpose: around the city, above all in the wonderful university recesses, in its libraries and museums one can discover an itinerary of both modern and contemporary works of art in dialogue with both history and science

MyAG: In the second year of the fair under your direction, in your opinion what is it that makes Arte Fiera a reference point for Italian art production?

A.V.: Arte Fiera is not only a reference point for Italian art production, but it is also for galleries which know how to successfully converse with foreign art production. In this light, we are not talking about a purely national exhibition-market, but mostly about the occasion for an international overview too. 

MyAG: In your opinion what are the must-sees for a collector during Arte Fiera 2018?

A.V.: We all have our different tastes. For those who are after Modern Art, they will find something to bite into at Galleria dello Scudo or at Matteo Lampertico. Those who love the sixties will find a wall of photographs by Mario Schifano at Galleria Mazzoli, heart sinking stuff which takes us back to the time of analogue photography. Those who prefer objects will find delight when faced with Gianni Piacentino‘s vehicles, a mechanics maniac in the world of motors, but above all the creator of synthetic and futuristic shapes which we are only now beginning to fully understand. Another re-discovery, Irma Blank, thanks to one the most energetic galleries of the last generation, P420.

MyAG: What does the new section Modernity focus on?

A.V.: On the grouping together of important works by a solo artist, provided that he has demonstrated maturity and modernity, regardless of both market trends and personal data.

Arte Fiera runs February 2-5, 2018 with vip and press preview on February 1st (by invitation only).

My Art Guides Editorial Team

  • Angela Vettese Angela Vettese
Madrid - Interviews

Audemars Piguet ARCOmadrid Prize: An Interview with Belen Uriel

3 weeks ago

Belén Uriel (Madrid, 1974) has won the VI Audemars Piguet Prize for the production of a work of art at ARCO Madrid. Her work, “In Dandanah“, is a project presented by the Lisbon gallery Madragoa and will be exhibited, within the Audemars Piguet space, during its celebration from 21 to 25 February 2018.

On the occasion, we interviewed the artist to learn more about her practice and the project she created taking inspiration by the glass game Dandanah: The Fairy Palace, designed by the German architect Bruno Taut in 1920.

Carla Ingrasciotta: Your practice is linked to architecture and design as you mainly work with sculpture. How did you develop the dialogue with these disciplines?

Belen Uriel: My work is probably influenced by my curiosity in both of these disciplines. It was through the medium of photography (which in the past was my main artistic medium) I could bring together the diverse elements both of these disciplines have to offer. I used to create scenarios, spaces filled with architectural elements and de-contextualised objects which I built with the purpose of being photographed. Over time I became aware that I was more interested in the sculptural potential of the objects themselves and on how their properties were transformed. Then I started to isolate these objects or structures and work with them individually, exploring new possibilities or readings where constructing, assembling and staging are intertwined. In this way, the original design and function or the object is reconsidered – both materially and in terms of the ideas carried through their use.

C.I.: In your research you investigate everyday objects, their sculptural potential and their possible conversation with the surrounding environment. This allows us to presume that you have a broad knowledge of art, often associated with several different social and human fields. Could you tell us about your practice and how would you define your concept of art?

B.U.: My works frequently point to real, everyday objects (for example, elements from architecture or furniture). They interest me for different reasons: their forms, materiality, shapes, uses, etc. The way we are supposed to relate to them is the starting point and to consider their social, cultural and functional meanings in the process of making. The manipulation of materials, the construction of forms and surfaces, and the re-definition of dimensions and scales, are worked/thought about in relation to the histories embedded in these objects and structures. My sculptures and installations incorporate a diverse range of materials, from glass to papier mache, metal structures, fabrics… that often replicate recognisable objects, belonging to well-known forms and designs and repeated in our every-day lives, enacting different types of behavioural codes, every-day conventions and protocols, as a way to reflect upon the use of the object, as well as our experiences and “expectations” in regard to them.

C.I.: What about your involvement with Audemars Piguet Art Commission? Could you tell us something about “En Dandanah”, the project you’re presenting during ARCOmadrid? How did this idea come about? Could you tell us about the creative process behind this specific artwork?

B.U.: My piece “En Dandanah” is inspired by my long-term interest in the German architect Bruno Taut (an utopian expressionist architect, I have already done other works related to his work), specifically by a set of glass building blocks, a game designed by him in the 1920’s, named Dandanah, The Fairy Palace. The Dandanah appears to be a unique toy case made of glass, produced at a moment in the history of Design that incorporated the game as a channel for artistic experimentation. It is an object where technological and utopian discourses merge through the medium of glass. Taut considered glass a potential agent of social change (he truly believed glass architecture would improved human life). This game realises and exemplifies Taut’s utopian and mystical beliefs, which somehow, are condensed in this small-scale object.
I’m mainly interested in the unrealistic character of the Dandanah (its usability as a toy is questionable: it was considered to be unsafe). The different constructions, depicted in the six instruction sheets attached to the game, are impossibly idealistic representations, illusory designs that cannot be constructed with the contents of the box. This unreal character and the act of play have for me a lot to do with the art making process, or at least with the way I work.
My intention is to re-recreate part of a construction/tower that appear in one of the instructions sheets to a human scale. The sculpture is the result of the re-creation of modular architecture in metal, with angular form, each side is composed of 24 pieces of the game and covered with a glass panel, as in the original game. The glass pieces are each hand made, one by one. In the production of the glass pieces I try to give each of them the texture of glass, which is either broken or about to break and it is protected by masking tape… I like the uncertainty between something that is broken or could break: fundamentally it gives off the idea that it is the taped glass which holds together the building blocks, evoking the fragility of the original game and its dubious usability.
The structure is divided into two chromatic parts, the left side is produced with a yellow transparency finish and the right part is made with a pinkish colour scheme. For me is like the light at sunrise or sunset which reflects in a glass façade, this alludes to the passing of time…. A fragile, dreamy and imaginary piece of architecture, which lacks any kind of functionality.
Over the last few years I had the opportunity to work with glass. I am an artist in residency at Vicarte (Glass and Ceramic for the Arts, Faculty of Sciences and Technology of the Universidad Nova de Lisboa, Lisbon). With the support and patience of the great professionals there, I have been working with and learning glass techniques since 2015, and this is where I am producing this project.

C.I.: You were born and grew up as an artist in Madrid and later moved to London and Lisbon. What do you think about the city’s art scene and how do you find the city now? Which are the places you enjoy the most and the ones you would suggest to art lovers?

B.U.: Lately I have spent much more time in Lisbon than in London, mainly because it is here where the glass studios (Vicarte) are located. In Lisbon, as well, I have the opportunity to work in an amazing studio that is supported by the Lisbon Council (that supports many artist working in the city); the conditions are really good in which to work and produce, time expands here. I had also the chance to work with great professionals, it is in Lisbon where I have had the most opportunity to develop and for my work to mature…
I would say that Lisbon offers a high quality art scene for its small scale, it offers very good concerts, contemporary and classic, great contemporary dance performances, theatre, plays, exhibitions. My favourites are ZDB and Maria Matos Theatre for their concerts programmes, Culturgest for its great contemporary dance programme, Gulbenkian Foundation programme for classical concerts …there is also a very dynamic art scene, with new spaces opening very often. I love living in Lisbon, I like to walk around and still be able to get a little bit lost and discover things and places, it is a beautiful city. The people, the light, the river etc, make it a very human city.

C.I.: Any upcoming projects or exhibitions we can look forward to seeing?

B.U.: Apart from the project I’m showing at ARCO with the generous support of Audemars Piget, I’m working on a solo exhibition in Porto, which will open on May the 4th at Sismógrafo (a very interesting non profit art space running by a group of writers, designers, artists.. ) with the curator Miguel Wandschneider with whom I had the great pleasure and opportunity to work with before for a large solo exhibition in 2016 (“Segunda Feira”, at Culturgest, Lisbon). At the same time I’m working for another exhibition in Lisbon, a project by Portuguese young curator Claudia Ramos. It is a two-artists exhibition (eight artists, four exhibitions) in four different non-contemporary art related museums in Belem. In my case I’m exhibiting alongside a young Portuguese artist Ana Santos at the Museu da Marinha, opening on May the 18th.

Carla Ingrasciotta

  • Belen Uriel, Installation view, 2017. Courtesy of Audemars Piguet and ARCO Belen Uriel, Installation view, 2017. Courtesy of Audemars Piguet and ARCO
  • Belen Uriel, Portrait. Courtesy of the artist Belen Uriel, Portrait. Courtesy of the artist
  • Exhibition view, Descanso, Madragoa, Lisbon, 2017. Images courtesy of the artist and MADRAGOA, Lisbon Exhibition view, Descanso, Madragoa, Lisbon, 2017. Images courtesy of the artist and MADRAGOA, Lisbon
  • Exhibition view, Descanso, Madragoa, Lisbon, 2017. Images courtesy of the artist and MADRAGOA, Lisbon Exhibition view, Descanso, Madragoa, Lisbon, 2017. Images courtesy of the artist and MADRAGOA, Lisbon
  • Exhibition view, segunda-feira, Culturgest, Lisbon, 2016. Images, © 2016, DMF, Lisboa Exhibition view, segunda-feira, Culturgest, Lisbon, 2016. Images, © 2016, DMF, Lisboa
  • Exhibition view, segunda-feira, Culturgest, Lisbon, 2016. Images, © 2016, DMF, Lisboa Exhibition view, segunda-feira, Culturgest, Lisbon, 2016. Images, © 2016, DMF, Lisboa
Mexico City - Interviews

Joaquin Segura: Mexico City Through an Artist’s Perspective

1 month ago

On the occasion of our special issue on Zona Maco and the art week, we asked artist Joaquin Segura to draw up a special artistic itinerary around Mexico City.

Joaquin Segura’s practice meditates on the phenomenology of violence, sociopolitical microclimates, asymmetrical history and the current role of ideology. Major concerns addressed in recent projects revolve around the nature of power, identity in an age of particular instability and the ontological significance of dissent and failure. One of the most prominent Mexican artists of his generation, his work has been extensively shown internationally since the early 2000s in spaces such as Sala de Arte Público Siqueiros, La Panaderia and Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo (Mexico City), El Museo del Barrio, Anthology Film Archives and White Box (New York), MoLAA (Los Angeles) Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía (Madrid), National Center for Contemporary Art (Moscow), The Modern (Fort Worth) and the National Gallery of Victoria (Melbourne). He’s a founding member and board advisor of SOMA.

“To be fair, we must remark there is not only one Mexico City. Even to locals or people that have spent quite some time around, the broad spectrum of experiences the city formerly known as DF offers is quite diverse and can cater to a wide spectrum of tastes: from the blue-chip plane hopping connoisseur to individuals with a penchant for edgier or independent initiatives, with all their imaginable in-betweens. Even with its insane transit problems and a visible lack of urban planning, most of the places that may interest art audiences are pretty central. Staying at Roma, Condesa, Juárez or Cuauhtémoc would be perhaps the most accessible areas when it comes to beating omnipresent traffic jams, with interesting views and walkable distances. And yes, these are highly gentrified areas, just in case you were wondering.

A good start would be a light breakfast: maybe a croque madame, made with bread baked on the spot and freshly roasted coffee at Patisserie Dominique (Chiapas 157, Roma Norte) or a quick café au lait and pastries at Boulangerie 41 (Popocatépetl 41, Hipódromo). The Modern Art Museum, located in the historical Paseo de la Reforma Avenue, would be a nice spot to hit after, followed up by a visit to Casa del Lago, a cultural center with a strong visual arts program led by Victor Palacios. Walking to Sala de Arte Público Siqueiros, a former studio house that belonged to the illustrious 20th century muralist before being donated to the ‘people of Mexico’ is a definite must. SAPS, as the space is known to the local art crowd, is appreciated for showing politically and socially engaged projects from emerging, mid-career and consolidated artists from very diverse backgrounds.

Lunch should probably be quick if we are looking to make the most out of the day. Nice options in nearby areas would be Caldos Ánimo (Rio Elba 31, Cuauhtemoc). Their fusion of birria, a very traditional pungent goat stew mixed with ramen –hence birriamen- is as fun and tasty as it sounds. Runner-ups would be Suuway (Alfonso Reyes 238, Hipodromo), a Japanese-thai newcomer. Yes, Contramar is still amazingly good but insufferably crowded most of the time.

Hitting the used bookstore district by Zocalo, the main square, is always an exciting thing to do, especially if you’re looking for dirt-cheap soviet era propaganda – a basic need in any trip. Bibliofilia (Donceles 78-80, Centro) carries an amazing selection of documents, antique books and rare items. Beer at La Faena (Venustiano Carranza 49, Centro) and more books at Antigua Librería Madero (Isabel la Católica 97, Centro) would also add up to the incursion in this part of town.

Catching up breath at the Abelardo L. Rodriguez market (Callejón Girón, Centro), where a little-known 1935 relief mural by Isamu Noguchi silently resides, among other discreet gems in a collective project led by Diego Rivera himself is mandatory.

If it’s dinnertime already and you’re still caught in Centro, Limosneros (Allende 3, Centro), contemporary Mexican cuisine with a fancy touch and a bold cocktail bar would be the way to go. La Fonda Fina (Medellin 79, Roma Norte) also offers a cozy atmosphere in which homemade Mexican food with a twist can be delightfully tasted. The porkbelly sope is not to be missed.

Getting drunk in Mexico City is always a nice idea. Covadonga perhaps one of the most traditional artist hangout spots, at least in the past couple decades, will finally reopen its doors on late January, after a disconcerting absence following up the most recent earthquake that shook the city last September. Tortilla soup and tartar steak, along with drinks, drinks and drinks.

This might as well be a nice note to end a day in the city: a resilient and forceful spot in the world, layered and diverse, sometimes harsh but vibrant and welcoming… in its own very particular manner.

Welcome and enjoy your stay”.

Carla Ingrasciotta

  • Joaquin Segura, Photo credits: Walter Novak Joaquin Segura, Photo credits: Walter Novak
  • Joaquin Segura, Notas sobre México, 2014 Joaquin Segura, Notas sobre México, 2014
  • Joaquin Segura, The Battle for Hamburger Hill, 2008 Joaquin Segura, The Battle for Hamburger Hill, 2008
  • Segura, Homemade (Napalm #1), 2010. Courtesy of the artist Segura, Homemade (Napalm #1), 2010. Courtesy of the artist
  • Joaquin Segura, Homemade (Napalm #2), 2010. Courtesy of the artist Joaquin Segura, Homemade (Napalm #2), 2010. Courtesy of the artist
Shenzhen - Interviews

The 7th Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture: an Interview with Curator Hou Hanru

2 months ago

The Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture (UABB), held in Shenzhen, China opens its 7th edition on December 15th, 2017. It is the only exhibition in the world to explore issues of urbanization and architectural development within China and around the world, creating a unique experience for its audience.

This year UABB embarks on a new journey, holding its first ever art exhibition, directed by co-curator Hou Hanru, together with Liu Xiaodu and Meng Yan, and opening new grounds in the art design world. The theme, “Cities, Grow in Difference”, will explore the future development of urban villages and their place among the rapidly developing cities of China, while communicating an understanding of “coexistence”.

Mara Sartore:  This year UABB holds its first ever art exhibition with theme, “Cities, Grow in Difference”. This is exploring the future development of urban villages and their place among the rapidly developing cities of China. Could you tell us more about this concept and how did you get to this curatorial idea?

Hou Hanru: This has to do with a few elements and conditions, namely the local level research and macro level research.
On the local level, there has been a long lasting debate over the issue of urban village and an urgency to deal with the related social concerns. This debate has been reflected in previous biennale but there has been no systematic consistency. Also, the investigation has been more theoretical and conceptual ideas. There has been lack of real actions. We believe this time is an important opportunity to develop the debate in a more systematic manner and to test out the idea of how to negotiate with this situation, rather than utilizing the old fashion official approach of urban planning. Instead, we want to deal with this issue with innovation, renovation and transformation.
In a larger perspective, a macro one, we are looking at a global phenomenon as the formation of urban village has not only been happening in China and also across the rest of the world. We are facing excessive urban expansion where the typical model to deal with it is the method of tabula-rasa. It tends to erase the past and replace historical districts with new projects. This provokes a lot of problems as it creates a radical transformation of the social structure and its social tissues. This has also provoked a lot of protests. Watching the city from a historical perspective, one can see there has been an ecology that erodes with time. Also it erodes with improvement of human conditions. By taking this perspective, it allows us to deal with the issue of urban villages in a much more intelligent and human way. What is most important to this debate is to understand what is the definition of a good city. It should be the one that maintains and encourages diversity, a multiplicity of cultures, people, social structures, values, and individual freedoms. Bottom-up, grassroots voices can be heard and expressed and implemented facing the imposition of top-down planning. This will create a city that is a live body and not a frozen and dead one.
The opportunity of the biennale allows us to look at this dynamics from both the local and global perspectives.
Which model of urban development is the correct model? This becomes a central debate. However, we tend to not embrace one single “correct model”. We want to understand and promote diversity and difference rather than uniformity. This should be the starting point of looking at this question.
The living condition of Nantou village is a great opportunity that our partners URBANUS and us the art team are interested in. The exhibition project is hence turned into a direct intervention in the place, a laboratory for exploration for a healthy and human model of future city development.

M.S.: UABB 2017 focuses on urbanization and architectural development within China and around the world, aiming to raise awareness on this issue. How do you manage to engage the public into this social cause?

H.H.: Working in a village in the city is not simply trying to explore a different typology of urban space and buildings. Instead, it has more to do with the society and its people. An Urban village is a place consisting of many different people, communities and social classes. They are all concentrated in one place for the reasons of survival in a new city like Shenzhen and settling down here for all kinds of economic, political, social and cultural motivations. Many are here for transitional reasons. They are migrant workers and students looking for places to live on their arrival in the city. This brings an interesting dynamics which is much more diverse and rich as compared to other areas of the city. Other parts of the city tend to become increasingly divided into isolated social groups according to their income level, educational level and social levels. Here we can see an interesting landscape of different people gathering in this crucial moment of transition. As such, they are all in survival mode and are “forced” to be more creative, intelligent and dynamic. This movement has generated much folk wisdom and freedom of the mind. They can provide the best grass-root, bottom-up approaches to deal with urban transformation. They are inspirations for many innovative projects.
We are bringing many projects that not only deal with the issues that happen in the area, but also try to interact with the inhabitants. Several projects that are a part of the biennale organize collaborations with the local people, from dancing workshops, construction workshops, mural paintings and of course educational workshops. We have also developed a whole series of events that engage them as an active part of the Biennale.

M.S: Could you anticipate some of the projects that we will be seeing in the exhibition? Any specific project you enjoyed the most?

H.H.: Well that certainly is a difficult question to answer as all our projects are exciting. We have developed projects of different levels and approaches, roughly separated into 3 blocks, architecture, urban, and art. Each block has its own focus while overlapping with each other in both concepts and forms.
Dealing with the concept of the South, it looks mainly at the typology of architecture and urbanism related to the concept of global south. The global South is more than just a geographical notion, but also a geo-social and geopolitical notion that provides us with a new perspective beyond the division of the East and the West, modern and tradition. This new notion of the South signifies an innovative orientation of looking at the tensions between urbanization and social transformation in relation to ecological issues. This further invites us to deal with a specifically local issue as one looks at migration and people in movement as well as their impact on the transformation of the city.
It will also bring in a focused chapter on the conditions that the Hakka face. We look into the cultural roots of Hakka, or migration at large, while also investigating it as a global phenomenon that has not only occurred in the past but also in the present. It will also look at how the new Hakka is bringing in a new circulation of people, ideas, social relationships and a new type of city life.
The previous biennales have had a focus on theoretical and conceptual studies of architecture and urbanism, resembling a typical architectural biennale, but this year we have introduced an entire section of artistic projects.
This art section focuses more on actions, coming up with a complex structure of different levels of interventions with investigations of street life as the core.
At the conceptual level, we present a series of installations and video works which reflect how artists use the streets as a site of creation, dealing with questions of from personal freedom in public spaces to playing games, from political manifestations to community building. Physically, we have decided to preserve the original condition of the factory building, as a site specific presentation to remind us of the original situation and to provide a particular context for this discussion.
The second section, we introduce installation, mural paintings, multimedia works and performative actions into the streets of Nantou. This will also extend into other off-sites areas, such as other urban villages. This will also extend to other areas such as Dawan Hakka round house (being redeveloped by OACT) and Design Society in Shenkou. This will turn the exhibition into a more direct confrontation with even more complex conditions in the city.
We also have relatively permanent interventions in the village to generate relatively long lasting social communities surrounding the projects. Such as the ongoing workshops, food courts, school education programs and so on. They are closely inserted into everyday life situations. This would be a long-lasting process throughout UABB and we hope that some of them will remain after the biennale as permanent structures for the urban village.

M.S.: The main exhibition will span across the whole Shenzhen city and will also include three sub-venues. How did you develop the path of the event within the different venues located all around the city?

H.H.:  One of the key elements here is collaboration. We have a main curatorial team which is more focused on the urban village of Nantou as the main venue, but we also have collaborations with other villages and other organisations across the city. Locally initiated projects in other cities provide singular possibilities. Together they are creating a whole network across the city. We also have a very important element, the collaboration with the Hong Kong architecture and art communities. The Hong Kong part of UABB has its own organization for this event. The organization has been relatively independent, with regular meetings and exchanges with the Shenzhen team, we have built a system that works across two cities. We have also extended a part of this collaboration to other parts of the region, especially around Guangzhou, working with different institutions to present the ecology of the creative community over there in relation to the urban transformation in the area. This network is an lively and ongoing one, a process.

M.S.: What do you think about the relationship between art and architecture, which in the last years has been more and more engaging? Which is your perspective for example on the Venice Architecture Biennale and its link to the contemporary art scene? Do you find something similar in this edition of UABB?

H.H.: This is a really big question and it is hard to give a general definition of that as art and architecture have been very closely intertwined and even existing as one entity in history, with intermittent periods of emphasize on their respective autonomy. In UABB, we are looking into the possibility of inventing new forms of trans-disciplinary practice. Namely, this means we are working with creators, people who have created new ideas and practices that deal with not only one discipline but many other things; using architecture as a structural force and art as a cultural, humanistic and spatial expression, like a flux at once penetrating and evading the boundary of the stabilized urban space.
As to the question of the Venice Biennale, it is difficult for me to answer the question of expectation as I do not know much about the upcoming Venice Architecture Biennale. But from the previous few Biennales, there is a continuous common understanding of what challenges that cities and urbanization might face.
From the attempts to revisit modernity, as seen in Rem Koolhaas’ biennale, to the last one exploring informal architecture and urban ecology, one can see the evolution of global discourses on architectural and urban researches. The Shenzhen Biennale is very closely and organically related to this discussion which has now become a global concern. We are now part of the global force and we have a unique context which the Venice Biennale doesn’t, a real urban condition that we can practice, perform and build on, whereas the Venice Biennale still remains as an exhibition. we are becoming a real field of experimentation, a laboratory and a site of construction.

M.S.: What do you think about the contemporary art scene in Shenzhen? As curator, what would you suggest to an art lover to visit?

H.H.: Again, this is a very big question as Shenzhen has seen a great development over the last 30 years, not only as a city but also as a place developing large cultural infrastructures. Some of the earliest contemporary art institution buildings in China took place here, as seen from the He Xiangning Art Museum, the OCAT Sculpture Biennale, the Ink Art Biennale. They are pioneers of sorts. We are also seeing a wave of design boom. Design is now considered a brand of the city. Hua Museum, the Design Society and so on are the best examples. And of course the UABB itself as the most important urban and architectural event also serves as an important driving force to create a innovative cultural sphere in the city. We can also see more and more young artists gathering in Shenzhen, making it into their own base. Other than UABB, there is another Shenzhen Art Biennale which is more focused on art. However, more importantly it is less about the infrastructures but more about the issues that we generate in Shenzhen. Being a special economic zone in which some of the earliest experiments of introducing new models of economic production such as textile and electronics industries were implemented in, and now the ambition to transform Shenzhen into a Chinese silicon valley. Hence, Shenzhen provides artists with not only the highbrow and fancy issues of aesthetic pleasure but also intense questions of labour, population and the future of work. All these are central to our Biennale as we try and deal with them. There is a chapter in the art section that looks specifically at the question of labour, the future market of work, and of human society surrounding the question of the new labour situation. Along with a forward looking ambition, this provides the art community with intense but natural topics to negotiate with. We expect to see artists coming up with fantastic works about this.

M.S.: Which are your hopes and expectations after the biennial?

H.H.: I hope that the Biennale continues, evolves and becomes something that is inevitably a part of the everyday life of the people there, especially the young people.

Mara Sartore

  • Portrait of Hou Hanru Portrait of Hou Hanru
  • UABB2017, Aerial view of Nantou Old Town UABB2017, Aerial view of Nantou Old Town
  • UABB2017, Main Exhibition Nantou Old Town A1 District UABB2017, Main Exhibition Nantou Old Town A1 District
  • UABB2017, Nantou Old Town City Gate UABB2017, Nantou Old Town City Gate
  • UABB 2017, Main Exhibition Nantou Old Town Street UABB 2017, Main Exhibition Nantou Old Town Street
  • UABB 2017, Poster UABB 2017, Poster
  • UABB 2017 UABB 2017
Turin - Interviews

Tomaso de Luca: Artissima, Lobster Loop and more…

3 months ago

On the occasion of his show at Monitor Lisbon, “The Lobster Loop” and his solo presentation within the Drawings section of Artissima 2017, we interviewed artist Tomaso De Luca (Verona, 1988).

Tomaso is interested in the critic analysis of the political structures in which materi – also are embedded. His sculptures, drawings and dysfunctional architectures destroy and recompose reality, by reducing it to its constitutive pieces, which are then reconfigured in a new, unexpected order. The process of appropriation of reality leads Tomaso De Luca to question the position of the subject. The artist’s work focuses on the performativity of body in the architectural spaces and in its relation with objects. The choice of specific materials seems to b e dictated by more than just functionality: he portrays the body by exploring its connection with surf aces – progressively more functional, obedient, smart and comfortable – as if, after all, we are all somehow striving to b e loved by objects. Within this discourse, materials and forms emerge as a political matter, which is sexualized, racialized, eroticized and profoundly embedded in structures of power. In his recent production De Luca has been questioning the so called ‘machine’ of Modernism – a functional machine which reflects on its own operating principles. Employing aesthetic standards that belongs to art and architecture from that p eriod, the artist reduces time (historical, institutional,intimate) to a spatial element, and investigates the need of complexity as a f orm of resistance in the contemporary discourse.

Carla Ingrasciotta: Your art deals with notion of identity. In your research you aim to free subjects and objects from their standard functions in order to question their forms and relations. How do you translate this idea into your art?

Tomaso de Luca: By trying to mirror reality through a specific thing, a specific gaze, an object, an archetype, a story. My work is a continuous research on otherness, a transformation of the work of art in a multiplicity, a hypertext, that leads the viewer to… nowhere. But in order to get to that specific nowhere, one should pass through every layer of my work, fall in every single charming trap I set up, and hopefully will end up covered in “mud”.
My work reminds me of a silver pot, its reflecting surface which disrupts the surrounding reality. I wonder if anyone can, at the same time, be the teapot, the surrounding room and its reflection, one’s own gaze and oneself?

C.I.: Could you tell us about your recent show with Monitor gallery, Lisbon? Which are the artworks you’ve presented on this occasion and what was the creative process behind it?

T.D.L: The idea for the show started from a dialogue between Andreia Santana, André Romão and myself, after Monitor gallery brought us together to collaborate. We started to think about the show as a novel, a book that can be walked through. We invented the plot of a sci-fi novel, where New York City’s administration, due to the gentrification processes of the last 40 years, decides to abolish public and private space, and turns the whole city into a gigantic dive bar. We started to exchange emails with short narratives about the three of us meeting in one of the bars, named The Lobster Loop (which also could sound like a syndrome). The works I presented were a materialization, if you will, of the characters of my writing.
The two sculptures named “Cokehead” and the drawings on casted resin “The Visit and I Drink Because of You” and paper “Falling”, portray the perspective consumers of the bar. These uncanny heads with long noses seem to consume not only drugs and drinks anymore. They’re sniffing the space itself, architecture, furniture, they consume the space, when everything else is gone. I tried to push even further the anxiety of my generation, the questions about what and how we consume. The work “B.B.B.B.R.R.P.P.S.S.S.V.”, inspired by a drawing by Archizoom, is the impossible architecture of the dive bar, which becomes an unattainable sanctuary.

C.I: How is your typical day as an artist?

T.D.L: Happily there are no “typical” days. I read, write, draw and make sculpture as much as I can every day.

C.I: What about your experience within Artissima? Any tips on the Turin art week you’d like to share with us?

T.D.L: The experience this year was great, I’m really glad João Mourão and Luis Silva invited me to take part of the section Disegni, it was exciting. In the fair, besides the high quality of the galleries proposals (showing some quite incredible works, like Beverly Pepper at Kayne Griffin Corcoran), I think the show Deposito d’Arte Italiana Presente was an interesting (anti)display, where the artists’ works were vividly present. Good job!
Unfortunately my experience in Turin was extremely brief this time, I didn’t manage to see many of the shows around the city. I’ve been to DAMA, where I enjoyed Anna Franceschini’s screening and performance, curated by João Laia, and the works by Sebastian Burger at Tobias Naehring .

C.I: Your were born in Verona, studied in Milan but moved to Rome where you developed your artistic career. What do you think about the art scene in the city? Do you perceive Rome as one of the main Italian contemporary art destinations as Milan and Turin are?

T.D.L: Even if I left Rome two years ago, I am quite positive that it still has plenty of shows and chances to offer to anyone who’s interested in contemporary art. So yes, sure, why shouldn’t be compared to Milan or Turin?

C.I: Any upcoming project we could look forward to seeing?

T.D.L: Actually I’ll be calm for a while now, I’m going back to NYC until January, so I will take this precious time to keep studying and working.

Carla Ingrasciotta

  • View with Tomaso De Luca Cokehead, 2017 Fiberglass, epoxy, clamp and Andreia Santana Rigatino, brass 2017 View with Tomaso De Luca Cokehead, 2017 Fiberglass, epoxy, clamp and Andreia Santana Rigatino, brass 2017
  • Tomaso De Luca B.B.B.B.R.R.P.P.S.S.S.V, 2017. Courtesy of Monitor Lisbon Tomaso De Luca B.B.B.B.R.R.P.P.S.S.S.V, 2017. Courtesy of Monitor Lisbon
  • Tomaso De Luca, Courtesy of Monitor Tomaso De Luca, Courtesy of Monitor
Miami - Interviews

Emmett Moore: Miami Through an Artist’s Perspective

3 months ago

On the occasion of our special issue on Art Basel Miami Beach, we asked artist Emmett Moore to draw up a special artistic itinerary around Miami and the Beaches.

Emmett Moore is a Miami-based designer and sculptor. His work has been shown institutionally at the RISD Museum, the Frost Art Museum, the Miami Art Museum, and the Bass Museum of Art. In 2014, he was the first Miami-based designer to exhibit a solo project at Design Miami. Gallery shows and projects include those at Locust Projects, Miami; Patrick Parrish Gallery, New York; and Moran Bondaroff, Los Angeles. He received his BFA in Furniture Design from the Rhode Island School of Design. The artist is represented by Nina Johnson.

“I’d start any visit to Miami in Little River, also known as Little Haiti. This area has become a hub for Miami’s gallery scene and is home to two of my favorites, Nina Johnson and Bill Brady. Nina represents me and also happens to have one of the best programs in Miami.
From there I would go to Clives Café, a legendary Jamaican place. I’ve been eating their food since they’re modest beginning in a tiny hole in the wall in Wynwood. I usually get their jerk chicken with a glass of their homemade sorrel drink. They also serve a few Jamaican dishes that aren’t on the menu like Ackee and Saltfish.
After lunch I would start heading downtown to check out the Pérez Art Museum designed by the Swiss architecture giants Herzog and De Meuron. They also designed the coolest parking garage in the world at 1111 Lincoln rd. Go by Gramps in Wynwood on the way for a cool drink in their eclectic courtyard. It has a backyard jungly vibe and the walls and furniture are covered by the work of local artists, including a local legend, a Haitian Muralist named “Serge”.
After checking out the exhibitions at PAMM, take a look at the surrounding architecture from their terrace. You’ll be able to see Zaha Hadid’s “One Thousand Museum”, one of her last projects before she passed away. Also visible from PAMM is the Arquitectonica-designed American Airlines Arena, home of the Miami Heat.
Just down the street from PAMM is the usual late night end-up called The Corner if you’re ready for another drink. Right next door is an excellent new coffee shop called All Day if you’d prefer a coffee. On the other side of the street, a couple doors down is the Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation. Home to one of the best private art collections in Miami.
My absolute favorite place for dinner in downtown Miami is Soya & Pomodoro. It’s an authentic Italian place in an old Bank with high vaulted ceilings. It feels like being in Havana, especially when they have live jazz.
Mac’s Club Deuce (the oldest bar in Miami) is pretty much the only bar I go to on Miami Beach. Go there, jump in the ocean to pull yourself together then go to the French Bistro A La Folie Café for a crêpe and a glass of wine.
I am afraid that after this itinerary of art and drinking getting back to the hotel will be a bit of a challenge…”

Claudia Malfitano

  • Emmett Moore, Photo by Monica Mcgivern Emmett Moore, Photo by Monica Mcgivern
  • Emmett Moore, Double Barrel, 2016. Courtesy of Nina Johnson Emmett Moore, Double Barrel, 2016. Courtesy of Nina Johnson
  • Emmett Moore, Installation view, 2016. Courtesy of Nina Johnson Emmett Moore, Installation view, 2016. Courtesy of Nina Johnson
Interviews

Clouds and Tears: an Interview with Michael Sailstorfer

3 months ago

On the occasion of his upcoming solo show at Proyectos Monclova, I interviewed German artist Micheal Sailstorfer to get some more details about the artworks he is showcasing at the gallery and to discover more about his art and practice.

Carla Ingrasciotta: Let’s start from the exhibition you’re having at the gallery. Which are the artworks you are presenting and how did you start your collaboration with the gallery?

Micheal Sailstorfer: Some time ago the gallery contacted me and came by my studio in Weißensee, Berlin. After a great first meeting I came for a visit to see their gallery space in Mexico City and we started planning our first show right away. For my exhibition I will show a selection of new works from my mask series – sculptures of masks made of aluminum, bronze or iron that are characterized by reduced stylistic features. The models of the masks were first constructed out of cardboard, then cast in a sand-casting process in the relevant metal. In between these masks a “solar cat”, which is a cast-aluminum sculpture of a wildcat sitting in the rafters and reaching its eyes closed toward a neon light, meditating and absorbing the energy of the light.  I will also show “Zeit ist keine Autobahn – Mexico” – a car tire, connected to a motorized engine that spins against the white gallery wall slowly wearing down the rubber of the tire. The video work “Tränen” plays with weight, gravity and lightness. In it iron teardrops damage an old house in the Bavarian countryside. I will also show the work “Clouds” which is an installation of large black clouds made of looped truck tire innertubes.

C.I: Your art deals with the idea that human being has not necessarily control on nature, you question the relationship between man and environment. Could you tell us more about this idea and do you translate this into your art?

M.S: I see in my work more of an exploration of the connection between man and environment or a contrast between nature and humans. For example in my works “Waldputz” and “Schwarzwald” it’s about men creating an individual, artificial space in the existent nature and about the conflicts that emerge from that. In both works nature is transformed into geometrical spaces – in one case from removing parts of nature, in the other case in coloring a certain area.

C.I: You mainly work with sculpture, video, and site specific intervention. Could you tell us about the creative process of your artwork? Where did you take inspiration from?

M.S: My works are mostly developed specifically for each exhibition site or space. I always start with a site visit and then realize an idea special to the space.
Everyday life is my primary inspiration.

C.I: How is your typical day as an artist? How does your studio look like?

M.S:  When I’m not traveling, I work from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm in my studio. But besides from that there is no typical day. Mostly it’s about finding new solutions to pieces I am working on. My studio is an old film studio from the 1920’s, which I love for its high ceilings and beautiful light. I’ve been there for 12 years.

C.I: What’s next? Are you working on any new project?

M.S:  I’m always working on several projects at the same time including upcoming gallery shows and public art projects.
I was recently awarded the August-Macke Prize, so for the award exhibition I realized a new work called “Two apples” – it’s two aluminum cast apples painted with a trompe-l’oeil effect, that are hanging from the ceiling and exchanging lightning bolts with high voltage electricity.
I have also been working on a project for the federal environmental agency in Dessau where I’m realizing a sculpture with the help of bees, and I’m currently planning a solo exhibition at the Sala de Arte Público Siqueiros (SAPS) museum in Mexico City to take place next year.

C.I: You live and work in Berlin, one of the capital of contemporary art which this year has seen the first edition of the new Berlin art fair. What do you think about the Berlin art scene? Do you think it’s a stimulating place for an artist? Which are the place you enjoy more in the city?

M.S: I love Berlin and I can’t imagine living in any other city. On the one hand it has tons of inspiration with lots of shows to see and on the other hand the quality of life is pretty good. My studio is the place I enjoy most.

Micheal Sailstorfer was born in 1979 in Velden, Germany. He currently lives and works in Berlin, Germany. “Cloud and Tearsis his first solo show in Mexico City and it runs November 9 to December 22, 2017.

Carla Ingrasciotta

  • Michael Sailstorfer, Photo: Shirin Ourmutchi, Courtesy of the artist and PROYECTOSMONCLOVA Michael Sailstorfer, Photo: Shirin Ourmutchi, Courtesy of the artist and PROYECTOSMONCLOVA
  • Michael Sailstorfer, Himmel Berlin [Berlin Sky], 2012. Installation view in Boros Collection, Berlin, Germany Courtesy of the artist and PROYECTOSMONCLOVA Michael Sailstorfer, Himmel Berlin [Berlin Sky], 2012. Installation view in Boros Collection, Berlin, Germany Courtesy of the artist and PROYECTOSMONCLOVA
  • Micheal Sailstofer, M.59, 2017. Courtesy of the artist and PROYECTOSMONCLOVA, Photo: Studio Michael Sailstorfer Micheal Sailstofer, M.59, 2017. Courtesy of the artist and PROYECTOSMONCLOVA, Photo: Studio Michael Sailstorfer
Interviews

Audemars Piguet Art Commission 2017: An Interview with Lars Jan

4 months ago

LA-based, American artist Lars Jan has been selected for the 3rd Audemars Piguet Art Commission to present a major new artwork curated by Kathleen Forde during Art Basel in Miami Beach in December 2017: Slow-Moving Luminaries”.
Jan is a designer, activist, photographer, director, writer and visual artist. He is the founder of Early Morning Opera, a genre-bending performance and art lab whose works explore emerging technologies, live audiences, and unclassifiable experience, reflecting his background in progressive activism.

Carla Ingrasciotta: You are the founder of “Early Morning Opera (EMO)”, a performance and art lab where you explore emerging technologies, live audiences and different languages and media. How and where did everything begin?

Lars Jan: I started performance in college. I had a tremendous teacher who introduced me to visual artists, cinema auteurs and a whole lineage of experimental performance practice that I hadn’t known existed. I started taking pictures five or six years before that, mostly of landscapes and things around my hometown in coastal Massachusetts, and crucially during a vacation to Yosemite National Park which blew my young mind, and developed them myself in a darkroom obsessively. I didn’t consider myself an artist till late into college, although photography was really my first form.

CI: One of the main subjects of your research is the analysis of the human behaviour within environmental aspects such as climate change and issues related to water (rising seas, in-tensifying floods, and extended droughts). The performance installation “HOLOSCENES” is probably one of the best examples of your interest. Could you tell us about the creative pro-cess of this work? Where did you take inspiration from?

LJ: The inspiration behind HOLOSCENES was a slow gestation, and came from a growing awareness of flooding in the 21st century. It originated from my sense of internal crisis around images of disaster that I felt I had been seeing everywhere. It started with Hurricane Katrina, and then continued through images of flooding that I saw from the disasters in Northern Pakistan in 2010. I was particularly affected by a photo that was captured by an incredible photojournalist called Daniel Berehulak. It is a gorgeous image that looks like a Renaissance painting, depicting a group of men in rushing water, the image is taken from above and captured my attention, making me want to read more about the horrifying situation it depicts. From my research, I discovered that a military helicopter was dropping aid including drinking water and crates, and as they hit the water, they broke and began to sink so people rushed to get to the aid before it was spoiled. Seeing people up to their waist, ankles, and necks, at different stages of alarm; and yet in this gorgeous composition, brought up a question relating to the relationship devastation and beauty – aesthetic composition as a transmissive mechanism for our darkest hours.
This theme underpins the idea for HOLOSCENES but the main inspiration came from a brief vision I had of a man sitting in a room looking at a newspaper turning the pages. Slowly the room started to fill with water, but rather than reacting as if there was a cri-sis, he just kept on turning the pages and ultimately holding his breath as the water passed over his mouth and nose, and continued to turn the pages as they dissolved in his hands. HOLOSCENES began as a project about flooding, and investigation into this topic led me to broader research on climate science. This in turn led me to behavioural sci-ence, the consideration of long-term thinking and the human capacity for empathy. So, in a way climate change has become a mirror for exposing certain human capacities, how they evolved, why they evolved, and their limitations. My new work entitled Slow-Moving Luminaries for the 3rd Audemars Piguet Art Commission will further expand on some of these themes.

CI: Talking about yourself, you state that you’re an activist before an artist. How do you translate the interests you care about as an activist in your artwork? Which are the recur-ring themes you like to explore?

LJ: I would not say I am an activist in a traditional sense. When I was younger my mother was very proactive in helping people who were challenged in different ways by struc-tural systems stacked against them. She would show up and help. In high school I volun-teered in the Boston City Hospital in the AIDS clinic, which served mostly homeless and immigrant populations and I was never quite the same after that experience. When I be-came an artist in my early twenties, my volunteering dropped off. I experimented with — indulged in, maybe — different art forms. It was only when I began to have a sense of fluency across some forms that I started reintegrating some of the themes of social jus-tice, and my interests working in activism back into my work. Most recently I’ve become inspired by making work in public space, a progressive political act in itself. The works are never agitprop, but often suggestive — either by way of an aestheticized hypnosis or satire, or both — of a pretty simple question: that we could be a lot better to each other, ourselves, and our planet, so what is it in us that’s in the way?

CI: In your projects you always involve collaborators such as artists, scientists and institu-tions. How do you find your collaborators? Do you always work in group or you have also a private studio?

LJ: In 2004 I founded an art lab and performance lab called “Early Morning Opera” which is a loose network of frequent collaborators. A lot of these folks I met in various art scenes, in Philly, New York, grad school at CalArts, LA. I also fold in new collaborators for each project, and often these creative teams will include twenty to forty people working over the course of multiple years on the various stages of a particular work. Above all, I wanted to create a flexible process could adapt to the project at hand in a malleable way. I have always made visual work, media pieces, sculptural pieces, and taken photographs, but it was only during the last four or five years that I began considering these pieces beyond the context of performances they may have played a part in. During this period, I began working in my own studio establishing a separate solo practice. I think working mostly alone in a studio has helped counterpoint my sprawling collaborative projects and allowed me to explore other facets of an idea at a different rhythm from the works that demand extensive social interaction. Working in the studio has become a much larger proportion of my practice over the last few years.
At the moment, I am working in a studio in Los Angeles on the 3rd Audemars Piguet Art Commission which will go on show during Art Basel in Miami Beach in December 2017. It is an annual commissioning program by the Swiss watchmaker which supports artists that explore ideas related to complexity, precision, technology and science, so actually their interests very much overlapped with my own. I was also very lucky to be able to visit the home of Audemars Piguet in Le Brassus to learn more about the skill and craftsmanship inherent in their process.
There were a couple of things jumped at me right away and resonated with me as an artist. First, the artisans work on long timelines of development and concentration, making complex objects that take nearly a year to fabricate (especially Grande Complications). This kind of all-consuming, even eccentric, focus is consistent with my process. I take 2 to 4 years to develop a work, which resonates strongly with the rhythm of the watchmakers of the Vallée de Joux. I increasingly feel like there are two rhythms in the world right now: the millisecond rhythm that speaks to immediate gratification vs. an-other, slower rhythm that I am trying to connect to in my own life and with my work. My work is increasingly exploring and expanding into this other rhythm, and I find this pursuit ties in closely with the watchmakers of Audemars Piguet.
Also, when I looked at the way in which Audemars Piguet designs the interior of their timepieces, I was stunned by the aesthetic consideration that goes into the interior of watches that will never be seen by the wearer. I realized the pride of the watchmaker is as much focused on the interior of the watch as it is on its exterior, especially as the watchmakers of the Vallée de Joux were originally motivated by the mechanism of the piece. I work on complex systems for my installations and performances. There is a massive amount of aesthetic exploration and even embellishment that goes into a pro-cess that is itself the crucible for the final work. However, though much of this work is never seen, it lies at the heart of the finished piece.

CI: Son of émigrés from Afghanistan and Poland and growing up just outside Boston, you travelled around the world and are currently based in LA. How has this affected you as a person and as an artist?

LJ: Being the child of people who are from other countries gave me an intrinsic sense that there was a complex, beautiful world beyond American borders, and, generally speak-ing, I think that’s a perspective that’s profoundly lacking in the United States today. I didn’t grow up in a wealthy family, but because of my family – in particular my mom whose friends were also immigrants from different places such as India, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Greece – I was exposed to different languages, traditions and holidays. It is a version of America that I appreciate and love most. I love the purple mountain majesties too, but what I love above all are the multiple identities that go into making American communities. The value of transcultural, super lingual communication is something I aspire to in my work.

CI: What about your involvement with Audemars Piguet Art Commission? Do you already have in mind the project you will work on?

LJ: The project is called Slow-Moving Luminaries and it will take the form of an immersive, kinetic pavilion — on two levels with a footprint of about 100 by 50 feet — presented on the Miami Beach oceanfront. The whole piece for me is about oscillation, and is in response to conflicting feelings I’ve been having of late — on one hand the desire to slow down and contemplate reality to more effectively channel my energies, and, on the other, to scream for help.
The work will invite viewers to traverse a labyrinth on the lower level, which is populated by a series of minimalist, building-like sculptures rising and falling through the space, and disappearing into apertures in the ceiling by way of mechanical lifts. The upper deck will be covered by a pool of water, through which the sculptures will emerge and recede at varying speeds throughout the day. The sculptures and pool visually allude to the Mi-ami Beach skyline and open ocean visible from the viewing deck.
I came into this commission thinking about time the cycles of the planet versus the cycle of human behavior and our built environment — and in particular, the fragility and impermanence of the places where our land-based lives meet the sea.

Carla Ingrasciotta

  • Lars Jan, Photo by Kawai Matthews Lars Jan, Photo by Kawai Matthews
  • Daniel Berehulak, Pakistan Flooded, 2010 Daniel Berehulak, Pakistan Flooded, 2010
  • Daniel Berehulak, Pakistan Flooded, 2010 Daniel Berehulak, Pakistan Flooded, 2010
  • Lars Jan, Holoscenes Lars Jan, Holoscenes
  • Lars Jan, Holoscenes Lars Jan, Holoscenes
  • From Slow-Moving Luminaries by Lars Jan. Image courtesy of the artist and Audemars Piguet From Slow-Moving Luminaries by Lars Jan. Image courtesy of the artist and Audemars Piguet
  • From Slow-Moving Luminaries by Lars Jan. Image courtesy of the artist and Audemars Piguet From Slow-Moving Luminaries by Lars Jan. Image courtesy of the artist and Audemars Piguet
  • From Slow-Moving Luminaries by Lars Jan. Image courtesy of the artist and Audemars Piguet From Slow-Moving Luminaries by Lars Jan. Image courtesy of the artist and Audemars Piguet