Interviews with Creatives I

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Interviews with Creatives 1

A series of interviews, with a variety of people involved in creative work, about their lives and work. I didn't think I could ask of others what I wasn't prepared to do myself so the series kicks off with your's truly. 
 

1. What is the earliest piece of art (music / visual art / film - any medium in fact) that you remember having an impact on you and why was it special? 

I remember sitting in class, cross-legged on the floor, and being read a story by a teacher in the first or second year of school (I would have been about six) in which there was a Snow Queen - it was probably based on the Hans Christian Anderson tale: the part where the Queen kisses the boy a couple of times, once to numb him from the cold and a second time to make him forget about his family, sounds familiar, as does the "fact" that if she kisses him a third time he will die. I remember the evil, cold and beautiful Snow Queen and I remember the shock of having a physical response to a creative work. The story opened a window onto a different world. Art, I discovered, can be as imperative as being whacked in the face.

Find the vein, then bring it to the surface. 

2. If you could invite four artists round for dinner, who would they be and why?

i) Jim Morrison - I had a man-crush on him between the ages of about 17 and 23; I liked that he’d been interested in the doors of perception and walking through them. Unfortunately, his road of excess didn’t lead to an infinite palace of wisdom but also of course to an early death - even this, though, was appealing to the romantic in me and allowed me to go down that road a little myself - maybe it opened a few doors, but of course it closed others. Such is life. 

ii) Oscar Wilde of course. 

iii) Emily Carr - a Canadian painter of the wild spaces of the West. 

iv) Michel Houellebecq - for a bit of uncensored debate. 

3. What part of the production of a work, from conception to display, do you enjoy the most? 

I enjoy all of it, but I think the high point comes when I am flicking through a set of potential pictures and come across one where it all hangs together. At this stage the photo may not look like much, but with an exciting picture I can see the potential and see that all the strands (reading, listening, looking, interacting, moving, buying, practicing, chance, preparation, even actually photographing) have finally joined forces, the brooks and streams have come down off the hills and joined the river. 

4. Are there any novels or stories that have had a particularly significant impact on your work? 

There have been many novels that I have loved at one time or another (100 Years of Solitude, Restoration, Girlfriend in a Coma, My Family and Other Animals, Hitler: My Part in his Downfall, Burning Leaves, anything by Raymond Carver, Invisible Man, As I Lay Dying, All Quiet on the Western Front, Money, A Man Called Ove...), though they don't always bear a second reading. However, Atomised by Michel Houellebecq is the work of fiction that has most affected me - I stopped reading novels for years after that and, although it also coincided with the final arrival of the time-sucking force of the internet, I think I stopped because I felt that in this novel fiction had reached its apotheosis - the book spoke so directly to me that I couldn’t imagine what anyone else had to say that would compare - this was an oil painting and the rest were fey lifeless watercolours. I recommended the book to anyone and everyone and, almost without exception, they hated it. No matter, I still loved it - the characters are awful to one another, the message is largely bleak, but it seemed so real, so true to life, that I didn’t want to bother with lesser books. It actually had something to say. I’ve started reading again since then (I read it about ten or twelve years ago), but only just, and it still stands out as a book that actually changed me. 

5. Aesthetics or ideas - are they equally important to your art? And what is the place of beauty in art today? 

Aesthetics are as important as ideas. I’m not out to teach anyone anything about a way of looking at the world; I simply want to say “I saw this beautiful or mournful or melancholic thing and I want to share it because it made me feel something.”

As to beauty in art, it doesn’t get much of a look-in now - I think people take themselves too seriously and believe that art should somehow improve them. To an extent, I agree, but I’d rather have The Roses of Heliogabalus by Alma-Tadema or an Egon Schiele than anything by Pollock; give me kitsch over college. 


6. What would you like the future to hold in store in terms of artistic development?

I'd like to produce one more picture that moves someone. Then another and another... I'd like to keep working. 

 

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Interviews with Creatives 2

The Lake Twins - this from their website

"The Lake Twins are identical mirror twins who work collaboratively. They are particularly interested in making drawings and films centering on exploring an apparent psychological bond between themselves.
The presence of one figure throughout their work is significant to their practice because it represents their desire to own a unified identity. Through this subject they live as one and can exist as a whole. As female artists and twins, The Lake Twins believe that if they used one female figure she could only represent half of them. This is why they do not use female subjects in their work. The sole male subject therefore represents not half of them but a whole."
 

1. What is the earliest piece of art (music / visual art / film - any medium in fact) that you remember having an impact on you and why was it special? 

It is difficult to define an early influence because even in our earliest memories we have always worked together, and it has been most natural for us to make artwork in this way. For this reason, our main influence is probably one another. When we began to develop our practice at Saint Martins we were inspired by the daring and multidisciplinary practice of artists such as Francis Alÿs. We enjoy the way an idea can manifest itself through a range of outcomes.
2. If you could invite four artists round for dinner, who would they be and why? 

We would invite artists who work as a duo to find out how their collaboration has come to be. We would invite the Singh twins, Gilbert and George, Jane and Louise Wilson and the Quay Twins. 


3. What part of the process of the production of a work, from conception to gallery display, do you enjoy the most?

The process, because it is the experimental part. We can work on a drawing for weeks and it can find fruition with little verbal communication. It is as if we both just know what we want from it and where we are heading with an idea intuitively. This is why we feel we are two people working as one artist.
 

4. Are there any novels or stories that have had a particularly significant impact on your work? 

Stories and novels have not had much of an impact on our practice, but the experience of seeing live performances and being part of them has. Our interest in performance became prevalent when we took part in the Pop Life Exhibition at Tate Modern, for Damien Hirst. From this point we began to perform in our own films, and then, later we had performers in our place, one performer at a time, for whom we would create a virtual twin.

This piece that Nicola Baird has written for Who’s Jack magazine explains this below:

‘I was also hugely impressed by the work of Phoebe and Lydia Lake, identical twins whose mesmeric and strangely poignant film piece, ‘We don’t have to be in the same place to be together’ illustrates through the use of a single adolescent male subject the extraordinary nature of a twin consciousness. Shot so as to appear to be two people, the twins express through their subject the level of unspoken intimacy that exists between them exploring by way of body language and behavioural idiosyncrasy the apparent physical and psychological bond that joins them, irrevocably, irreversibly.’

5. Aesthetics or ideas - are they equally important to your art? And what is the place of beauty in art today? 
 

Both. We feel that they can be the same thing. The idea can inform the aesthetic. 
 

6. What would you like the future to hold in store in terms of your artistic development?

We are not necessarily looking for an end result, but continual discovery. There is a compulsion to keep making because we need to unearth, realise and bring to light more about what we are investigating in our practice. A viewer's appreciation is an added pleasure. 
 

The Lake Twins were born in 1990. They are London based artists who exhibit internationally. They studied Fine Art at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design (2008 - 2012). 

 

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Interviews with Creatives 3

Artist and curator Vanya Balogh in the Huffington Post in 2013: 

"I feel as a curator, that experimental in art is now a bare necessity or some form of complicity even, in the world that keeps opening up left and right, revolving doors in the future unmanned shopping malls and with no certain destination to aim for, tied up in an endless loop of fleeting comment, some wonder and a lot of despair. We have yet to see what happens next...."

I'm happy and privileged to have Vanya give some time to my short interview:

1. What is the earliest piece of art (music / visual art / film - any medium in fact) that you remember having an impact on you and why was it special?

The very first visual work that I can remember impacted me was Andy Warhol's Electric Chair in orange version, which was exhibited in the Centre Pompidou in Paris. I was quite young and it was my first visit to this museum. One other moment which I vividly remember was Joseph Beuys appearance at Kassel Documenta in 1982. I have only just turned my thoughts to studying art and was taken to see this this large group event which takes place every 4 years. It also featured many legendary artists. Beuys planted hundreds of trees all over Kassel. He seemed a towering presence. My earliest influences you could say were also on the music side. Bowie and Punk Rock especially.

2. If you could invite four artists round for dinner, who would they be and why?

Do you mean dead or living artists? A. Warhol, W. Burroughs, D. Bowie and L. Bourgeois if dead; Patti Smith, Cindy Sherman, Ed Ruscha and Q.Tarantino if living. 

Why?

Because in both cases I believe it would make for intriguing conversation.

3. What part of the process of the production of a work, from conception to gallery display, do you enjoy the most?

To be honest I enjoy all parts equally. Maybe the end part, the closure sometimes feels a relief and you can figure if you like what you have as endgame to your starting point idea. Equally the way I work is quite random so its hard to pin down. I don't generally think about this aspects of liking. Most of the time at an end you can suffer elation or disappointment depending on what you achieved: the end of one work can usually imply the beginning of the making of another.

4. Are there any novels or stories that have had a particularly significant impact on your work? 

Yes and no. For the most part I tend to avoid any specific references as such but I have been influenced by writers and stories. One that comes to mind is Cities Of Red Night by W.S.Burroughs.

5. Aesthetics and/or ideas - are they equally important to your art? And what is the place of beauty in art today? 

It depends what Im working on. But yes both are important. I normally don't separate the two. What is beauty? We all have different ideas about what makes a beautiful thing. Beauty in itself is somewhat an overrated concept I feel. Sometimes ugly is beautiful too. Who knows....?

6. What would you like the future to hold in store in terms of your artistic development?

I would love to evolve into publications and realise some books I have had planned for years. I have archives of photographic stuff which has not been seen and I would like to present my work in this way. I love art books. Equally I would like to continue curating, exhibiting all over the world and producing more work. Film is something that interests me a great deal. Maybe a new avenue....