INTERVIEW - PATRICIA TREIB

Patricia With Vase, by Kai McBride

Patricia With Vase, by Kai McBride

Aujourd’hui is pleased to release this exclusive interview with Patricia Treib by Timothy Hull during Treib’s latest exhibition of paintings titled Intersticies at Bureau in New York. Treib’s work explores the malleable boundaries of the picture plane and plumbs the depths of forms, both familiar and distant. Her paintings have an irrepressibly active surface, as colors dance about in melody and forms arrive at destinations heretofore mysterious. Treib’s current exhibition furthers her intimate and dynamic research into the secret life of objects and motifs.   

Installation view, Patricia Treib, Intersticies, Bureau

Installation view, Patricia Treib, Intersticies, Bureau

TH: Your paintings are so beguiling to me because they appear so limber, quick and insouciant. Yet, I get the feeling there’s a slow and deliberate process to them. Can you talk about the relationship between slow and fast, labor and ease in your painting? 

PT: I want the works to have a feeling of immediacy and simultaneity, as if all aspects of the painting are happening at once, in the present—yet, if you look closely, there is an underlying sense that they are studied, planned—a structure that has been thought through and deliberated. They are both fast and slow. All of the large paintings have a corresponding work on paper as a point of reference, which I see as a script or score that could be performed in innumerable ways. Having this foundation or anchor frees up the making of the work, allowing for more improvisation and interpretation, since there’s a wide gap to traverse between a handheld, compact painting on paper and the more physical, body-sized paintings on canvas.

TH: I think often of the notion of ‘plasticity’ when looking at paintings, as in the ability to move shapes, have malleable surfaces and push and pull competing planes. It seems like there is a lot of plasticity within your work- can you speak to that? 

PT: A sense of movement in the work is one of the most important aspects to me. I’m most concerned with the moment where one area or mass ends and another one begins—the moment when we perceive a thing versus a non-thing—a moment of discerning, of seeing. It all hinges on the edges between things. I’m interested in how a painting can allow temporal contradictions to live together. I want every edge to be in question, a continual fluctuation between solidity and ephemerality—to emphasize contrasts between things and to also allude to a collapse of distinctions.

Installation view, Patricia Treib, Intersticies, Bureau

Installation view, Patricia Treib, Intersticies, Bureau

TH: I have found your use of shapes to be one of the more intriguing and stylistically recognizable aspect of your work. Can you divulge a little of the inspiration for those shapes? 

PT: All of the paintings begin with a source that I work with from observation. It’s important to me to have this anchor to something observed in a particular time and space. In these sources, I’m trying to focus on the space between things and to make these non-things concrete through the means of painting, lending them a type of solidity. I then use these observational paintings as the source for further paintings, burrowing further into those initial works. The shape vocabulary grows out of this process of searching and trying to extract these difficult-to-name spaces. Of course these spaces and shapes indirectly imply things, as they are contingent on what has cut out their figure. I want the painting to indirectly move or flutter around a thing without naming it or making it explicitly recognizable.

TH: I feel the energy and spirit of the arabesque in your work- maybe through the calligraphic line, perhaps through the repetition of Islamic architectonic motifs… and there seems to be a hint of Arabic glyphs as well. Am I way off on this? 

PT: I’m not intentionally quoting Arabic glyphs or other forms of script, but an interest in calligraphic marks with the speed and rhythm of handwriting has developed over time. After spending many years working through different variations, I’ve come to develop the paintings through rehearsals. I practice the way an area is made over and over again, almost choreographing how a form is constructed internally. Repeating these gestures over a condensed period of time has made the marks more fluid and rhythmic. I’m drawn to Chinese ink painting and the idea that a lifetime of practice and study can be contained within a seemingly simple and terse gesture.

TH: I’ve heard you talk about the concept of memoire involontaire as described by Marcel Proust. However, to me your paintings, via their repeating motifs, seem to point to the incessant and voluntary rehashing of a memory. Are you trying to perfect through art something that is only perfect in memory? 

PT: I sometimes think of my sources and starting points as catalysts, possibly analogous to Proust’s conception of memoire involontaire, that is: to come across a sensation that calls to us without us knowing how to answer it. It is speaking to a nearly lost moment of our past experience—something that escaped our conscious mind but is lodged in a bodily memory. I feel compelled to spend time with these sources and objects—an old clock of my father’s, a 35mm camera, a detail from a Russian icon painting—so that I can look directly into a mystery, something that does not have an easy answer, but opens up more mysteries, compelling me to look deeper.

Patricia Treib, Pendulum, 2017

Patricia Treib, Pendulum, 2017

Patricia Treib, Asturian, 2017

Patricia Treib, Asturian, 2017

TH: The press release for your show Interstices says that your paintings skirt the lyrical. Yet they seem so wonderfully lyrical to me! Can you elaborate on that? 

PT: ‘Skirt’ can also mean to exist at the edge of something, to go around the periphery. It does not necessarily mean avoidance, but it is not cutting directly through either. Similar to the type of temporal contradictions I want to create within the paintings, I thought ‘skirt’ could contain a similar contradiction.

TH: What do you find is the hardest part of making a painting?   

PT: I'm not sure if I have a meaningful response to this last question—I feel that every part of painting is difficult—and every part can be rewarding and joyous as well.

Installation view, Patricia Treib, Intersticies, Bureau

Installation view, Patricia Treib, Intersticies, Bureau

Exclusive interview conducted by Timothy Hull for Aujourd'hui. 
Images courtesy of Patricia Treib and Bureau - www.bureau-inc.com

INTERVIEW - GIORGIO GALOTTI

Along with the bigger and established art fairs, there is a increasing trend that is developing in the contemporary art world - The Boutique Art Fair. These events are characterized by some core elements that makes them partially different from the concept of a classic fair. A smaller number of participants, unconventional venues, synergistic environment among others.

As the New York Times once said, spring - and not only - is the season of boutique-style events in Europe. As a matter of fact, especially in 2016, the European art scene has seen the launch of a few new fairs and events that had a very positive response from the public. DAMA, organized by Giorgio Galotti in Turin, is one of these.

DAMA's DREI, Cologne, work by Cédric Eisenring

DAMA's DREI, Cologne, work by Cédric Eisenring

DAMA's ANTENNA SPACE, Shangai, works by Yu Honglei

DAMA's ANTENNA SPACE, Shangai, works by Yu Honglei

Can you tell us a little bit more about your background?
I was born in Naples at the end of the 70's, grew up in Turin in the 80's and then I moved to Rome in the 90's to finish my studies. About 4 years ago, after an unstable experience of 10 years in the art field, I came back to Turin to open my own contemporary art gallery.

In the last years, aside from the classical art fairs, we have seen the development of a parallel trend, that of the so-called Boutique Art Fair. More limited in number of participants yet not in the quality of the works therein exposed, usually organised in venues that transcend traditional expositional spaces (white cubes). The DAMA project perfectly embodies this definition. Could you tell us what you think about this type of events?
There is something profoundly harmonious in the creation of such events. Clearly there is a need for creating a format better suited for our generation, instead of adapting ourselves to that which has been in place for decades. It’s in the nature of those who aspire to pursue a dialogue with the times we live in, in an attempt to synchronise with them. In almost all cases akin to DAMA, one can see the necessity to start from the history of the places in which they develop, as a tribute to history through a vision of actuality, and to offer contemporary artists a chance to confront the past.

DAMA's NEUMEISTER BAR-AM, Berlin, works by Priscilla Tea

DAMA's NEUMEISTER BAR-AM, Berlin, works by Priscilla Tea

From which needs was the DAMA project conceived, and why did you choose that name?
There are many needs. Firstly, the features of many art fairs often do not accurately reflect the depth of the research undergone by the artists and galleries of our generation.

In regards to naming the project I discussed with an advertising copywriter in order to find a word that would follow some guidelines: it should be an Italian word, yet international, be simple and reflect the project's nature. The same principle was applied on its graphic identity, with the used font being created ad hoc as if it was a brand new alphabet. Dama is Italian for checkers, a game known worldwide, and this case it reflects the idea of a checkerboard in which the “men” are identical and can only move in the spaces available to them. This name also reflects an aspect of the territory it develops in. In Turin, Palazzo Madama is one of the most interesting examples of emancipation of all times, as it stands right next to the Royal Palace, and was built by the king to satisfy the request of Madama Cristina of Bourbon, for she didn’t understand why the king owned his own palace and the queen didn’t. I was intrigued by the actuality of such concept, a sort of gender planning of the 1600s which is directly transposed in the tenet of DAMA, in which galleries and artists cooperate to create a unified vision and to share some of the spaces. Those who experienced DAMA in those days will have perceived the special atmosphere and the full sharing of a vision there.

DAMA's GIORGIO GALOTTI, Turin, works by Sarah-Jane Hoffman and Piotr Skiba

DAMA's GIORGIO GALOTTI, Turin, works by Sarah-Jane Hoffman and Piotr Skiba

The project saw the participation of ten galleries, eight of which are international. Could you tell us something about the selection process of the galleries taking part in the project and according to which criteria they were allocated in Palazzo Saluzzo Paesana?
The selection process came naturally, thanks to esteemed relationships among us and the mediation and dialogue of Domenico de Chirico, curator of the project, with the participating galleries. They were then placed in the halls of the Palazzo with the intent of giving a coherent overview, but also respecting the baroque nature of the spaces. All of them, galleries and artists, immediately understood that their work in those spaces would have to be very different from that which normally is done in a fair, in which everything can be displayed without supervision or selection. In this case, other than a shared selection of the works, we supplied details on the workspaces, what kind of intervention was possible, the history of the halls and all of their limits.

DAMA's WSCHÓD, Warsaw, works by Mateusz Choróbski and Daniel Koniusz

DAMA's WSCHÓD, Warsaw, works by Mateusz Choróbski and Daniel Koniusz

DAMA's CINNNAMON, Rotterdam, works by Isabelle Andriessen and Johanne Hestvold

DAMA's CINNNAMON, Rotterdam, works by Isabelle Andriessen and Johanne Hestvold

DAMA's NEOCHROME, Turin, works by Stephanie Hier.

DAMA's NEOCHROME, Turin, works by Stephanie Hier.

DAMA was a huge success. About 4,500 people visited the venue in the first five days of opening. Did you expect such a positive turnout? Moreover, do you think that ARTISSIMA 2016 had a positive influence on the event?
We saw the necessity to set up an independent project in Italy, and only Turin could have fulfilled such a need. Since the times of Arte Povera this territory absorbes and releases knowledge of this kind, Castello di Rivoli has been fertilising it since 1985 and Artissima has been making it sprout for over twenty editions, with the precious help of galleries, foundations and institutions, bringing the very best of international art to Turin all year round. For some reason, for now at least, it could not develop anywhere but here. Honestly, however, none of us expected such immediate results. We had to limit ourselves to ten participants because we had initially decided that each gallery had to be hosted in its own hall. This was intended to both offer the galleries the possibility to peacefully work in their own spaces, and also guarantee that the visitors would have an easier time navigating the spaces. This is also a reason why DAMA is less of a “fair” and more of a carefully curated exhibition.

You have already started working on the second edition. Given the feedback you have received from the participating galleries, how will you try to improve the performance of next year’s event? Do you intend to change city or venue?
We have to work a lot harder as next year’s expectations are bound to be much higher, and it will not be easy to replicate this year’s success. However since Aujourdhui is a Lisbon-based magazine I can anticipate that João Laia, Portuguese but London-based, will be the Live Programme’s curator for 2017. Everything else is still in the works. 

Interview conducted by Alberto Baruffato.
Exclusive for Aujourd'hui.

For more information and images of DAMA's 2016 edition please see our coverage HERE.
 

Interview - Diango Hernández

Aujourd’hui is pleased to announce Diango Hernández as our next interview. The Cuban born artist is still defying simple categorizations, breaking boundaries and always challenging his work through craftsmanship and a unique notion of materialization. With a intimate view on the role of his art and how it has been shaped through traveling and living abroad, Diango Hernández has been widely exhibited in galleries like Barbara Thumm (Berlin), Marlborough Contemporary (London) and Alexander and Bonin (New York) and institutions such as Kunstahlle Basel (Basel), Museum Morsbroich (Leverkusen), Museum of Contemporary Art (Tokyo), Tate Liverpool (Liverpool), Barbican Centre (London) among many others. Read our interview to find out how he manages to turn blurry memories into feelings, how every nationality comes with different degrees of complication and how he believes that a better future is possible through art instead of any kind of politics.

Installation view, Diango Hernández, The Book of Waves, Marlborough Contemporary (London)

Installation view, Diango Hernández, The Book of Waves, Marlborough Contemporary (London)

Installation view, Diango Hernández, The Book of Waves, Marlborough Contemporary (London)

Installation view, Diango Hernández, The Book of Waves, Marlborough Contemporary (London)

Installation view, Diango Hernández, The Book of Waves, Marlborough Contemporary (London)

Installation view, Diango Hernández, The Book of Waves, Marlborough Contemporary (London)

You were born in Cuba in 1970 where you studied industrial design. How did you decide to change paths and end up living as an artist based in Dusseldorf?
That was a long distance flight. I’ll try to condense it here in a few lines. When I finished the design school of Havana (ISDI) in 1994 I was mainly interested in research, I wanted to go deeper into a very a particular reality that officially was called Special Period(1). After a year of enquiries -basically field research in Havana- and operating under the collaborative name of Ordo Amoris Cabinet(2) we managed to collect a significant amount of materials / objects and data. We gathered hundreds of artefacts made by ordinary Cuban people and started classifying them until we made a comprehensive inventory, a sort of archive that would become later the base of exhibitions and conferences. This very particular popular production that emerged during the Special Period allowed us to understand the cultural implications of objects in a definitive way. We pointed out the relevance of provisionality for our culture, and defined the term Provisional Art(3). During the next 10 years (1994–2004) I was occupied with a very intense and productive artistic collaboration.

In 2003 I came to Europe and decided to stay for a longer period of time. I started my trip in Italy then Spain and finally after 3 years of intense travels, I moved to Germany having in mind starting a studio based practice. Looking back changing paths have been always something unavoidable to me, something that always felt kind of natural. When I finished the design school I realised, as many of my friends did, that studying design was a sort of utopia. We spent 6 years looking and learning from western european and american books and magazines. Our reality back then in Havana didn’t have anything to do with these magazines, basically all we learned wasn’t really applicable. Nevertheless when I finished studies I wasn’t into production nor even into materialisation, I didn’t want to face the Cuban reality in that way. As soon as I started getting to know more about contemporary art, I felt really comfortable, all the flexibility that I was looking for was already there and I loved it. The solitary work hooked me from the beginning, for the first time in my life work gained another meaning and purpose, at that point I have already changed path, but as always is -I guess- it is a continuos flow, at that time it didn't feel like a big change.

Your work is often informed by the collective history and memory of Cuba in the 80’s and 90’s. However, this “Cuba” in your work is more of an imagination or a ‘poetic truth’ that you have recreated over time. Is it a way of keeping your national identity alive since you have been living in Dusseldorf in the past few years? Are you afraid of loosing your references once living abroad?
Living abroad is a very particular experience, something that certainly has many degrees of complications. In which distance plays a very important role, this distance can be physical and/or cultural as well.The more distant you are the more attracted you become to this original source of energy that is the place in which we were born. Unfortunately the “references” will never go away, by the contrary they become stronger. Whatever picture is there clear and crisp in your memory soon blurs away, time and distance transform this image into a feeling, this feeling evolve, it grows and at certain point don’t need anymore a form, a place, a face. These feelings are triggered mostly by very distinctive, mostly subtle things like smells, colours, a sound. In that sense traveling and living abroad is a fantastic experience but a one that demands a certain degree of pain. My work is in direct connection to these feelings, it has nothing to do with national identity nor with any concept as such. (…)To suppress half the metaphor was to eliminate ugliness, and evil, by never naming it, saying something for something else(…)(4) Lezama Lima in his extraordinary analysis of Baroque literature specially referring to Gongora’s strategies talks about the invisible, the suppressed, something that is missing that has been consciously left by the author just for the reader to understand the monumental relevance of its absence.

Yet you seem not to want to be categorised as a “Cuban Artist”. Why? What are, in your opinion, the consequences of that categorisation?
I am an artist, the rest is politics. There is no danger in calling yourself -for instance- a Cuban artist, you can even profit from that. I think that there is something wonderful about being just an artist, there I can see a promise for a better future and also a challenge for all us artist. I think art must be disconnected from geo-political attachments and such boundaries. Whenever I see my name or some other artists names linked to a nationality I think of the limitations and prejudices we are all still facing and that makes me really sad.

Installation view, Theoretical Beach, Museum Schloss Morsbroich

Installation view, Theoretical Beach, Museum Schloss Morsbroich

Installation view, Theoretical Beach, Museum Schloss Morsbroich

Installation view, Theoretical Beach, Museum Schloss Morsbroich

Your work is highly conceptual yet there seems to be a lot of importance given to craftsmanship. If your work comes mainly from ideas and story-telling, where does the importance of the hand-made object come into play?
The construction process of something is a sign of love and care, in my case is also the materialisation of a feeling. When I decide to “build” and bring something to the reality I make sure that this object embodies not only an idea but also a strong sign of engagement and commitment. My starting point is never productivity or efficiency, my studio practice doesn’t include any other person than me, in that way I work as a writer, I need silence and few tools. Lately I am more into reading/translating, painting and drawing, I want to get rid of all the superfluous elements that stay in between me and the construction of something, I want to feel like that long distance runner that only uses his body to masterfully craft the wind that surrounds him.

You have started Lonelyfingers with Anne Pöhlmann in 2012. What can you tell us about this ongoing project?
Nuno Faria a few years ago wrote: The project lonelyfingers is a crystalline paradox, a mirror of water. It has utopia’s strength and innocence. It’s a project of love, that weaves relations in time and space(…)(5). Lonelyfingers pulsates and with every pulsation it opens new possibilities for us artists. These possibilities are not only discursive they are mostly oriented towards the understanding of our practices and working processes. At the moment we have been invited by the MUHKA (The Museum of Contemporary Art in Antwerp) to be part of Lodgers(6), a three months residency and research programme that includes presentations and events. We are already working on a project that has as main focus the reformatting of the artist’s biography. We think that artists’ biographies need to get away from listing and somehow privilege more the map that an artists’ life traces. Maps of You will include a publication and a series of public events and presentations.

Installation view, Komplette Zimmer, Capitain Petzel

Installation view, Komplette Zimmer, Capitain Petzel

Installation view, Komplette Zimmer, Capitain Petzel

Installation view, Komplette Zimmer, Capitain Petzel

Notes
(1) The Special Period in Time of Peace (Spanish: Período especial) in Cuba was a euphemism for an extended period of economic crisis that began in 1989[1] primarily due to the dissolution of the Soviet Union and, by extension, the Comecon. The economic depression of the Special Period was at its most severe in the early to mid–1990s before slightly declining in severity towards the end of the decade. It was defined primarily by the severe shortages of hydrocarbon energy resources in the form of gasoline, diesel, and other petroleum derivatives that occurred upon the implosion of economic agreements between the petroleum-rich Soviet Union and Cuba. The period radically transformed Cuban society and the economy, as it necessitated the successful introduction of sustainable agriculture, decreased use of automobiles, and overhauled industry, health, and diet countrywide. People were forced to live without many goods they had become used to. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_Period
(2) Ordo Amoris Cabinet (1994 – 2003). Living and working in Havana, Cuba, Francis Acea and Diango Hernandez formed Ordo Amoris Cabinet in 1994. Acea was born in Havana, Cuba in 1967 and Hernández was born in Sancti-Spiritus, Cuba in 1970. Attending the Havana Superior Institute of Design, Acea and Hernández received their degrees in graphic and industrial design respectively and formed an artistic collaboration under the appellation of Ordo Amoris Cabinet, the Latin terms for “order” and “love.” Ordo Amoris Cabinet has exhibited widely in Cuba, Europe, Costa Rica, and Canada, and make their United States debut exhibition at ArtPace. Solo shows include various installations at the Center for the Development of the Visual Arts and the Center of Art and Design in Havana, Cuba; Museo de Arte Contemporaneo y Diseño, San Jose, Costa Rica; Banff Center for the Arts, Alberta, Canada; Kunsthaus Berlin, Germany; Seventh Havana Biennale, Living la Vida, Sinpalabras Studio, Havana, Cuba; and, the AFW Gallerie, Köln, Germany. Group shows include Champ Libre, Montreal, Canada; Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge, Cornerhouse, Manchester, Royal College of Art, London, and Camden Art Center, London, England; Fabbrica del Vappore Art Center, Milan, Italy; Suermondt-Ludwig Museum, Aachen, Germany; and the Tirana Biennial, Albania.
Their sculptural installations evoke a reconsideration of necessity through references to sociology, ethnography, and museology, and pose a thought-provoking statement on the realities of politics and material culture in Cuba.
1994–2003. Juan Bernal (until 1995) / Manuel Piña (until 1995) / Ernesto Oroza (until 1996) / Diango Hernández and Francis Acea (until 2003).
(3) (…)A practice based on a concept that condenses the socio historical experience. (…)the concept of the provisional is developed as a characterization of the social attitudes towards labour, in a moment also socially marked as “special” (Special period), that is to say, not definitive. So that Ordo Amoris’s pieces, come signed with an aura of transitoriness, not for the simple fact they will be drained by their use, but because even the needs that originated them are supposedly transitory since the society is called to eliminate them. (Ordo Amoris: Towards a pragmatic Design by Juan Antonio Molina, Published on 26/08/1999, La Gazeta de Cuba). http://diangohernandez.com/ordo-amoris-towards-a-pragmatic-design-by-juan-antonio-molina/
(4) (…)Gongora’s baroque strategies as the elimination of part of a term, ellipsis, in order to make the other part stand out. To suppress half the metaphor was to eliminate ugliness, and evil, by never naming it, saying something for something else. This is the particular feeling that reading Lezama Lima gives of half understanding the meaning. In this sense neo-baroque is anti-literalist, and teasingly playful.(…) Jason Wilson. The Cambridge history of Latin America. Volume X, Latin America Since 1930: Ideas, Culture, and Society. Edited by Leslie Bethell, Cambridge University Press, 1955
(5) Water is a wet flame. Novalis by Nuno Faria for TheFindsPaper#1, 17 March 2013. http://www.lonelyfingers.com/water-is-a-wet-flame-novalis-by-nuno-faria/
(6)http://www.muhka.be/en/toont/event/3327/LODGERS

Exclusive interview by Aujourd'hui. 
All images courtesy of Diango Hernández.
www.diangohernandez.com

INTERVIEW - GOSHKA MACUGA

Goshka Macuga, Death of Marxism, Women of All Lands Unite, 2013

Goshka Macuga, Death of Marxism, Women of All Lands Unite, 2013

A long exchange of emails precedes the day when I scheduled to meet Polish artist Goshka Macuga. Some big projects coming up, keep her highly busy. The activity in her studio is frenetic, and it is precisely there where it becomes clear how Macuga’s range of interests –from physics to politics, from avant-garde theory to comedy theatre or from anthropology to philosophy– is as overwhelming as the amount of research on the basis of her work. In one of her early installations, Picture Room (Gasworks, 2003) she encompassed the collection of items and the incorporation of works by other artists, indicating her intention to work towards an expansive practice, operating between disciplines and escaping categorisation. A precise approach that five years later, earned her a nomination for the Turner prize. Since then, Macuga has been moving and working successfully between different terrains where the search for hidden knowledge remains a constant.

- Alejandro Alonso Díaz

Goshka Macuga, When was Modernism_ (detail), installation view at Rivington Place, 2008, photo by Thierry Bal, courtesy of Iniva.

Goshka Macuga, When was Modernism_ (detail), installation view at Rivington Place, 2008, photo by Thierry Bal, courtesy of Iniva.

Your work deals a lot with archival material and historical elements. Do you think there is room for nostalgia in this interest in the past?
Well, you could look at it as nostalgic. But for instance, if you take any significant work of science, it is all based on the past and it is not considered nostalgic. If it is statistics or if it is observation it always functions as actual data that comes from the past and that is suppose to somehow give us knowledge of how to deal with the present and future time. So I treat archives and history in the same way as scientist treats data. It’s a more a case of observation that allows me to respond to the now, basically treating it as information.

Somehow you try to keep objective?
Not necessarily. Once you go to the past then you have to find your position within this time, wherever it is. So you go to an archive, find different stuff and certain things are more appealing. And then you categorize this information, because the archives also don’t give you the whole truth or picture of the past. You have to be selective and subjective in the way you categorize the stuff and how you state the essence of the content, and that is subjective rather than objective. Also, I am more interested in having the possibility of finding this kind of experience in a subjective way of relating to something rather than finding it in a book where it has already been objectified or narrated by somebody else. 

I guess in this lays the potential to somehow rewrite history and to open new roads for the exploring of other ways to look at it. 
Yes, mainly about the reading of history.

You said that in these selections of archival material you don’t try to stay objective. However those selections you end up with, become very often into a more abstract story as an attempt to don’t reveal everything. In that sense would you say that somehow your work allow fictions to slip in?
In my process of working, the main part is gaining the knowledge that later in some way forms the work. I collect this information for my own purposes, but I don’t feel that it is my responsibility to teach or to disseminate that knowledge to the audience, so I only give clues to the spectator. It’s up to them to decide how to learn or interpret the story I’m telling. If they want to keep investigating, it’s their choice but it is not an obligation. And even if they do decide to follow the story in some way they would most likely end up having a different journey through the information. This particular method of working asks that I situate myself somewhere between my interest in the actual collection of information and the obligation as an artist to show my work and somehow indicate what sort of process I am involved in. But I always think of it as fragments, as a kind of map of my memories.

Goshka Macuga, Installation View, Galerie Rüdiger Schöttle

Goshka Macuga, Installation View, Galerie Rüdiger Schöttle

So you are interested in fiction…
Yes of course. I am interested in everything: from documentary to re-representation, fiction, and all the different strategies that one can employ. However I am not interested in having a practice that is consistent or is somehow always the same. This is why I apply different strategies to every project, and fiction is just one of those strategies. I try to change working structures for myself in order to make things more interesting. I really don’t like repeating the same method over and over again.

In the emails, you were telling me about those first years when you moved to London, studying at Goldsmiths and the way in which right after, you related to other artists. Can you tell me a bit more about this?
You know, it was very different. The whole educational system was different. What you get from College now is quite minimum, you don’t even get a space to work. Whereas, my generation did have a space to work and we paid less money for our education here. I also think there was greater emphasis on taking your own initiative to show your work because there weren’t that many commercial galleries. Many spaces in London were artist-run spaces. Also at the time we didn’t have a big group of collectors so the dynamics of making art were different, a different process too. And now, after the economic crisis, after the whole change and the issues that people have had to deal with, the cuts in education and art, it is interesting to see how artists have had to return to the model of taking the initiative and committing to opening their own spaces and their own shows. The whole thing went full circle. Part of this is a purely practical process where, if you want to start doing something, someone has to facilitate it. If you have few connections through your friends that you study with- you should collaborate on projects.  After graduating, you don’t have the possibility to consistently have a discourse or an exchange with others. You have to create your own mechanisms to feed your practice as an artist. If you don’t need input or an outlet to show the work, then in theory, you should be able to make the work anyway. However, it is important to have a structure and to discipline yourself. So for me, that period after graduating was very much about building the structure that then I could follow, regardless of what the future would present to me. 

During this process, did you feel a common support? 
Yes, I definitely had this support. But you know, we were always small groups. It wasn’t this kind of general support by the main structures. – In this point her assistant comes downstairs to leave the studio and she ask her: Stella did you eat your food? – Sorry, what was I saying? Oh yes… At the end, this is the thing that, in a way, one has to do in order to find a structure, motivation and some kind of dynamic that you then follow.

Goshka Macuga, installation view of It Broke from Within, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, 2011

Goshka Macuga, installation view of It Broke from Within, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, 2011

Goshka Macuga, installation view of It Broke from Within, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, 2011

Goshka Macuga, installation view of It Broke from Within, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, 2011

As you said, London is a special case. At the time you were studying, the educational institution was your bigger support. There were also more opportunities: since you paid less for education you had more money to spend on your own work, to develop your own projects or to buy books for yourself, opportunities that nowadays have been clearly reduced. So looking back to those years at College, were those opportunities also generated in a personal level, through small groups of people with whom you shared interests?
Yes exactly. But you know, of course I didn’t project myself on what it was considered the school of British artists. I didn’t speak English well enough to completely engage with things as I would have liked to. I certainly didn’t have the kind of history shared by the Brits, so I couldn’t really project myself onto the whole kin essence of what Brit Culture meant. Actually, in that sense, this country is still quite nationalistic, I think. A lot of this has to do with the shared history of people, soap operas, newspapers, and all that stuff…
Also coming from Poland, which was like a country not completely exposed to the western values, media and all the things that people took for granted here, or outside of what used to be the Eastern block, was not available to us. It was a very different scenario. Poland is quite nationalistic as well. For example, I follow pretty much every movie that comes from Poland and that is worth seeing. I now follow rigorously many things that happen there, and that I would have never followed in Poland before 1998, because we didn’t have the internet. With the internet it all has become much more accessible or easy to connect, or at least to get the vibe of what is going on. So coming to London from this sort of more repressed place and having to function here… of course I had great insecurities about it, but then I found my own way through it. The things that you bring to the scene because of your background are things that other people haven’t had access to necessarily. In the end, it was all about this process of sharing experiences and finding common interests.

You said that within nowadays intercommunicative era, the open access to online sources facilitates consumer of information, but don’t you think that if everyone has access to the same things it all tends to become much more selective?
Yes, that someone gets access to a certain thing is therefore harder. This whole issue is a bit questionable because we tend to think that we have equal access to everything, but this is not the case. For example, there was a BBC documentary recently about a guy called Aaron Swartz, a young guy who worked on different internet projects, concerned with disseminating knowledge. One of the things that he was interested in addressing and which I find really interesting, is the fact that the knowledge produced through individual research in universities is usually published on restricted publishing sites such as Jstor. You can only access this knowledge/ information by paying a fee. This institution or publisher doesn’t necessarily have a massive input into the process of how this knowledge has been produced, or the conditions of its production, but instead, it charges for the on-line access. It’s almost as if they have the ownership, like banks of knowledge, so if you want the access you have to pay for it, and if you can’t afford it then you don’t get the access. The knowledge cannot be shared.
It also depends on your aspirations, in terms of where you want to get to, you come across certain things and then other things are not accessible, because they are part of other sorts of groups. For example I’m not on Facebook or Instagram or anything like this, therefore I don’t get access to social networks and to what is happening there. For me the way in which someone is self-advertised through a social profile doesn’t really exist.

Is this just because you are not interested in social media?
Well, I am interested in it, but more from a critical perspective. I don´t use it as a tool because I found that the levels of interaction are very low. I do a lot of looking into things, I put a lot of attention on things .To get random information sent to me by random people on Facebook would feel very destructive and this is not really something I am particularly into. It’s a sort of self-discipline where I try to limit my participation in various things in order to be very selective, not to waist too much time.

Installation view, Frieze Art Fair, 2014

Installation view, Frieze Art Fair, 2014

Something that is actually closely linked to your artistic practice. This methodology of being very precise in the way you look at things and how you select them. You have been defined as an artist-curator…
This is a broader issue of categorisation, it is our condition that we need to categorise stuff. You need to put something somewhere in order to find it again in the same place. If you can´t categorise, then it is really stressful. The same thing happens with my work and the categorization of my practice as an artist. 

Is it a strategy to try to escape any kind of category?
No, you exist and then others categorise. I don’t try to escape those categories because they will happen anyway and it’s nothing you can do about. This whole thing of ‘the curator’ is just something that I/ they use when I/ they want but most of the time I just make my stuff, whatever it is called. For me it’s something that’s not really consistent and it is only relevant because there is this phenomenon of the creative curator which has been going on now for about ten years. You know, there are curating courses now… to train people to be creative in how they categorise artists. Also this idea of the curator-artist, it is rare to call a curator an artist but you often find the concept of the curator projected onto an artist. To be honest, I think it is only relevant within the historical time frame of this generation of people functioning under these categories. But I don’t remember Duchamp being called artist-curator when he made the ‘16 miles of string’. 

In your recent work, i.e. the play that you made for the Chicago Museum, it seems that humour is taking an increasingly relevance. Is that right?
There are certain things that I find funny. I think I have quite a good sense of humour, If you speak to my friends they would tell you how there is a part of me more serious and that there is also a comical part. I don’t always put the same part of me into my work, but I felt that for the Chicago project it was the right moment to use the comedy format.

Why?
Well, the film comes from a play that consists of commentaries about the art world. 
In some ways it is institutional critique. Talking about the groups from when I finished Goldsmiths to some experiences when I worked with different institutions. I thought that I could write this in a very serious artsy-fartsy way or I could make it more accessible. At the end I wanted the play to be very accessible, for any general public that might potentially come across it, and who might not be as informed as the people in the art industry. That’s why I wanted to have this feeling of a light comedy, rather than a very heavy art performance. The video and some parts of the set were also shown at Frieze Art Fair, which in a way was also very funny.  

So you use humour to say things that perhaps you wouldn’t say seriously?
Yes. Exactly. 

Installation View, Whitechapel Gallery, London, England, 2009

Installation View, Whitechapel Gallery, London, England, 2009

The Chicago Comedy also includes some objects that seem quite ironical, like the furniture playing with the considerations between art and design that was shown at Frieze…
Yes, being conscious that you are playing in the context of an art fair and how it becomes the stage. The people in the booth became the actors and so on…

Coming back to this interest on collaboration, you often involve other people in the projects, people who produce objects for you or that help you in a specific task. Is this process of collaborating a way of exchanging knowledge?
For me collaboration is more about the experience of being with people rather than just the indifferent accumulation of knowledge. It is about gaining knowledge based on the experience of an individual. Even though, I don’t have a consistent commitment to particular working collaborations, I still often collaborate with people on various things. It is actually a very different process of making art. The nature of my work is that I’m interested in everything, but I like to change my approach and my method. It comes and goes, that’s why I’m interested in collaboration, but it is not always the way I choose to work. Sometimes collaborators bring their skills, sometimes their voices, it really depends. In my time working as an artist I have been involved in lots of different kind of collaborations.

So you think that at the end of the day, collaboration is more about the shared experience than about knowledge…
Well it’s both. Sometimes it’s more like: let’s go and explore something together, while other times it’s more like: tell me what your research on quantum physics is about and then I might refer to it in my work. 

Well, experience is just another way of getting knowledge. Actually this was a main point for Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev’s dOCUMENTA 13, in which you participated. 
Yes, but I wouldn’t say that I collaborated with Carolyn Christov- Bakargiev. Of course as a viewer you might think that this is somehow collaborative, because it is given to you as a part of that dOCUMENTA’s concept. However, the way that the concept is produced is not necessarily based on a collaborative process. It’s just the nature of the way that these big shows are made. The ideal situation of participating in a big project like this would be to understand the intentions of the curators, and follow their process. This doesn’t happen, because the aspirations of these kinds of exhibitions are so huge and so many people are invited to participate that you actually don’t exchange information, so you have to focus on creating your own contribution without the exchange of ideas. In the past, I have made other projects where I have actively collaborated with curators like Dieter Roelstraete, Grant Watson and Peter Eleey, with whom I actually had a strong exchange of ideas. 

People generally refer to your role as an artist as this of a detective. A notion that you seem to like…
Yes, sometimes I know that I want to find evidence of something to prove my point. I am a detective without a real cause.

You have played this role of the detective within institutions like The Aby Warburg Institute and The Whitechapel Gallery. How does it feel? Do you see yourself as an intruder in these occasions? 
Not really. I think most institutions want to be explored and sometimes they have invited me for that purpose. Some other institutions instead don’t want to be explored and also don’t have trust in what you are doing as an artist. At the Aby Warburg Institute for example, you have to speak German, you have to be able to read German manuscripts from the 19th century plus you have to book your visit six months in advance. So things you could see as intruding, maybe, but I think a lot of academic research is also about being able to deal with those obstacles. At the moment I’m doing research at CERN in Geneva. They have a big archive but basically the main issue is about how to get the access to the information when you don’t come from a maths or a physics background.
I recently was invited to be a mentor for hackers (in the sense of software designers), in Docklands. Two of them wanted to do something about creating a type of software so one could find easily information about the ethics of different businesses. Thus, you could access a site or you can buy information that will give you access to the ethics of specific businesses you are interested in. If you could do this in the art world, I would be really interested in exploring the related ethics data of absolutely everyone that my work can be associated with. 

Installation view at Andrew Kreps, New York. 2012

Installation view at Andrew Kreps, New York. 2012

It is clear that you are not interested in categorisation. You have even declared that your work is about letting things go. I wonder if is this constant dealing with history that led you to this attitude. 
Yes. My next project is about stopping. I believe that everything should stop, I don’t know exactly for how long. I don’t even know if this would be a pause or a final stop, but definitely dealing with history has brought me to the point where I really think that we should all stop. This is my next ‘thing’. I’m looking at all these moments in history where certain things stopped. It’s like a punctuation of history. There is no possibility for us to continue without stopping and looking back. 

So this concept of stopping is just for a specific project or is it something we will see in several future works?
A For now is just this one project and then maybe it will go on. I don’t know yet. I will explore this notion of stopping in many ways. My research so far has focused not only on the arts, but also on science, anthropology, philosophy and so on. Actually, talking about categorisation, when you collect an enormous amount of information, there is no way forward unless you somehow categorise it. So it is also this question for example in language if you don’t categorise things by calling them with a particular word, then you have to find other device that you can apply, otherwise you get completely lost within the amount of information. Even if you apply your own mechanism or if you invent a very subjective way to break things down, the categories will still exist. But also this idea of leaving things uncategorised, an open-ended system in which things just flow is great. However if you let them flow, you can’t reach them anymore because they might flow away into a constellation that you don’t have access to. This is only possible in a completely abstract and symbolic way, but it is still great.

Sure it's important to invent these potential yet impossible ways of thinking, it is dangerous to repeat yourself too much.
Repetition is good but not all the time. Already in my life there is so much repetition like: I go home, I come to the studio, I pretty much just do that. I occasionally see people. If for example I get drunk, that means that for three days my brain is not going to work and I can’t move on with the work. It is also about age, when you get to a certain age you know your limits. You don’t have a complete capacity to absorb so you kind of have to look after yourself in order to make the most of it. Sometimes I feel like I want to stop, but also sometimes it is like –great, everyday you learn something and as long as you can do it its worth going on. Also you have to know how to learn, rather than just exist. I have serious issues with just existing. I find really scary to exist without having a purpose and a plan, but you know, I’m just like this– some people are obsessive.

Are you obsessive?
Yes, totally. This is why I can’t have Facebook or anything of this kind. Somehow this creates limits for me because I really throw myself at it. And I try to be really constructive with it. It’s better not to do it, rather than do it and then have these self-destructive feelings of compulsiveness. I spend all day here at the studio and then I go home and then I go to sleep and so on.  The stuff I do at home is more accidental, I look at things that exist in the world, that somehow come out to the surface by chance. In the studio I have a plan. 

Interview conducted by Alejandro Alonso Díaz.
Exclusive for Aujourd'hui.

INTERVIEW - DOMENICO DE CHIRICO

Installation view, You will find me if you want me in the garden*, Galerie Valentin, Curated by Domenico de Chirico.

Installation view, You will find me if you want me in the garden*, Galerie Valentin, Curated by Domenico de Chirico.

Aujourd’hui is pleasured to announce Domenico de Chirico as our brand new interview. With a very interesting combination of skills and activities, Domenico is a Milan based curator, teacher, editor and contributing writer. Collaborating with international galleries, artists and magazines, Domenico still finds time to teach Visual Culture and Trend Research in IED – Istituto Europeo di Design. Read our interview to find out how his process behind the concept and execution of a show, what are his triggers as a curator and how he manages to be a curator in such iconic galleries, without losing focus from all of his activities.

Installation view, You will find me if you want me in the garden*, Galerie Valentin, Curated by Domenico de Chirico.

Installation view, You will find me if you want me in the garden*, Galerie Valentin, Curated by Domenico de Chirico.

How do you see the changes of the art world and its structures, from the rise of social media, online sales, online distribution of work and documentation, expanding art fair circuit and multi-venue mega galleries vs. single venue small gallery?
Consumerism is always becoming faster. About that, in his 1967 essay "The Society of the Spectacle" the french philosopher and writer Guy Debord was already talking about "goods as a show".

You are now a teacher, a curator, editor and a contributing writer. How do you balance all these activities? 
I think it’s possible, at least in my case, due to my passion and voracious need for daily news.

Domenico

Domenico

Installation view, Antoine Donzeaud feat. Micah Hesse, Needless to say I have some unusual habits, Fondazione Rivoli2, Curated by Domenico de Chirico

Installation view, Antoine Donzeaud feat. Micah Hesse, Needless to say I have some unusual habits, Fondazione Rivoli2, Curated by Domenico de Chirico

Installation view, Antoine Donzeaud feat. Micah Hesse, Needless to say I have some unusual habits, Fondazione Rivoli2, Curated by Domenico de Chirico

Installation view, Antoine Donzeaud feat. Micah Hesse, Needless to say I have some unusual habits, Fondazione Rivoli2, Curated by Domenico de Chirico

What is your process behind the concept and execution of an exhibition? 
The process, in any of its various stages, can’t be separated in any way. Everything depends on the initial focus because it constitutes the motive. I’m always willing to open dialogue with the artists, so they can consider together, among other options, the most efficient and satisfactory choices for both sides. Everything is done in complete clarity.

What triggers your choice when curating, especially with such emphasis on emerging artists? 
I strongly believe in the ability of association of the human mind and in the process of concept and cognitive development in relation to the host culture as a mediating element.
The stimuli are capable of eliciting a physiological reflex. Therefore, through the association of more stimuli in sequence it is possible to construct long chains of conditionings.

Installation view, What is a bird? We simply don't know, Nicodim Gallery, curated by Domenico de Chirico.

Installation view, What is a bird? We simply don't know, Nicodim Gallery, curated by Domenico de Chirico.

Installation view, LANDLORDS, monCHÉRI, curated by Domenico de Chirico.

Installation view, LANDLORDS, monCHÉRI, curated by Domenico de Chirico.

Installation view, A Natural Syntax for Rhythmic Forms and Semiotic Rotations, Bid Project, Curated by Domenico de Chirico

Installation view, A Natural Syntax for Rhythmic Forms and Semiotic Rotations, Bid Project, Curated by Domenico de Chirico

Installation view, A Natural Syntax for Rhythmic Forms and Semiotic Rotations, Bid Project, Curated by Domenico de Chirico

Installation view, A Natural Syntax for Rhythmic Forms and Semiotic Rotations, Bid Project, Curated by Domenico de Chirico

Installation view, Grey, Brand New Gallery, curated by Domenico de Chirico

Installation view, Grey, Brand New Gallery, curated by Domenico de Chirico

Do you collect? 
Not much, for the moment. 

Are you more focused on the several aspects of an artist's pratice or do you focus on the finished piece for a show? 
Both are important. 

How is the curatorial pratice changing? What do you predict for the future?
It is not a prediction, just a perversion: escape and return to the past.

Installation view, Politics are personal, EXO EXO, Curated by Domenico de Chirico

Installation view, Politics are personal, EXO EXO, Curated by Domenico de Chirico

Installation view, Hubert Marot and Pedro Matos, Where there's something hiding beneath the surface, Bid Project, Curated by Domenico de Chirico

Installation view, Hubert Marot and Pedro Matos, Where there's something hiding beneath the surface, Bid Project, Curated by Domenico de Chirico

Installation view, Hubert Marot and Pedro Matos, Where there's something hiding beneath the surface, Bid Project, Curated by Domenico de Chirico

Installation view, Hubert Marot and Pedro Matos, Where there's something hiding beneath the surface, Bid Project, Curated by Domenico de Chirico

Installation view, A Perfect Lie, Galerie Jeanroch Dard, curated by Domenico de Chirico

Installation view, A Perfect Lie, Galerie Jeanroch Dard, curated by Domenico de Chirico

All images courtesy of Domenico de Chirico, Brand New Gallery, Bid Project, Galerie Jeanroch Dard, monCHÉRI, Galerie Vantentin, Fondazione Rivoli2, EXO EXO, Nicodim Gallery and the artists.

Exclusive interview by Aujourd'hui.

INTERVIEW - PARI EHSAN (Paridust)

Pari Ehsan at Tara Donovan - Pace Gallery, Wearing the Row, Photo by Tylor Hóu.

Pari Ehsan at Tara Donovan - Pace Gallery, Wearing the Row, Photo by Tylor Hóu.

The interaction between art and fashion has been known and widely discussed since these subjects’ roots. But it was Pari Ehsan who pioneered on pairing these two elements in unique combinations that celebrate this relationship and their influence on the contemporary landscape. The New York based blogger blends high-end fashion and contemporary art by posing in outfits that carefully match the exhibitions that she features in. With over 200,000 followers on Instagram, Pari Ehsan’s wisely curated fashion-meets-art feed has been rising in popularity, which can be attested by her nomination for the CFDA Awards. A step ahead of the conventional fashion blog posts, Pari explores new ways to combine different patterns and textures, creating dialogues and offering a brand new perspective into contemporary art. We had the opportunity to catch up with Pari to learn more about her process, her favorite galleries, and her future projects. Meet Pari Ehsan, the game-changer behind the internet sensation blog, Pari Dust.

Pari Ehsan at Mark Bradford - Hauser & Wirth, wearing Iris van Herpen, Photo by Tylor Hóu.

Pari Ehsan at Mark Bradford - Hauser & Wirth, wearing Iris van Herpen, Photo by Tylor Hóu.

Can you start by telling us a little bit about yourself and your background?
I’ve always been someone that was interested in many different creative pursuits, I love architecture, fashion, painting, collage, art history, philosophy. I ended up going to school for architecture but I felt unsatisfied by confining myself to just this one realm. I tried to expand my role wherever I was to create variety and explore different ideas, eventually this would lead to me working for myself. 

How and why did you decide to start “Paridust”?
I started my own interior design firm and simultaneously I decided to experiment with an idea that had been on my mind for awhile of creating imagery around the nexus of art and fashion. I began by creating these relationships through collage and then decided it could be quite dynamic if I actually brought the imagery to life or performed the pairings, I felt like this way it would add a level of relevance to the content while incorporating the act of sharing and bringing exposure to those who resonate with me. 

Pari Ehsan at Mary Heilmann - 303 Gallery wearing Preen by Thornton Bregazzi, Photo by Tylor Hóu.

Pari Ehsan at Mary Heilmann - 303 Gallery wearing Preen by Thornton Bregazzi, Photo by Tylor Hóu.

Describe your process for pairing an outfit with an artwork/exhibition. What comes first, art or fashion? How do you select what works and exhibitions to be photographed at?
It can work either way of course, but most often the art comes first. I try to go out and physically see and experience as much as I can and it is the work that gives me some kind of emotional reaction that I am most interested in creating a pairing with. I try to capture the overall feeling of the work and heighten my interaction and others perception. 

You have been nominated by CFDA for "Fashion Instagrammer of the Year”. What did it change?Of course this was such an honor for me. It gave me the credibility I needed to be able to borrow the looks I longed for. Essentially my pursuit became more ambitious. 

Art and fashion. How do they relate or inspire each other?
I think both in their most pure state are an expression that can hold much power, create a movement, ignite change and inspire alternate ways of thinking. 

Pari Ehsan at David Hammons - Salon 94, Wearing Chanel Couture, Photo by Tylor Hóu.

Pari Ehsan at David Hammons - Salon 94, Wearing Chanel Couture, Photo by Tylor Hóu.

Pari Ehsan at Justin Adian - Skarstedt Gallery wearing Victoria Beckham, Photo by Tylor Hóu.

Pari Ehsan at Justin Adian - Skarstedt Gallery wearing Victoria Beckham, Photo by Tylor Hóu.

Your website and instagram "Paridust" has increasingly gained success in the art art world, somehow as form of validation. Even the "@freeze_de" account created a "sad face meme" that said "Show reviewed by Roberta (Smith) but Paridust didn't insta." Do you feel you can value/validate an artist's work by posting about it?
I think art is not meant to validated. Also in our current social media soaked climate, I’ve observed that people stop looking at the subject and get lost in the whose looking. I am constantly asking myself why do I like this, what is it that I like, what elements capture me. 

Describe a Saturday for Pari Ehsan. What is your favourite gallery/museum?
On Saturdays I try to take in as many new exhibitions as I can. Its hard to pick a favorite because they are all so unique and it depends on my mood. I do love the new Whitney and some favorite galleries are Salon 94, Hauser & Wirth, Marianne Boesky Gallery.

Pari Ehsan at Tara Donovan - Pace Gallery, Wearing the Row, Photo by Tylor Hóu.

Pari Ehsan at Tara Donovan - Pace Gallery, Wearing the Row, Photo by Tylor Hóu.

Pari Ehsan at Ettore Sottsass - Friedman Benda, wearing Misha Nonoo, Photo by Robert/Michael.

Pari Ehsan at Ettore Sottsass - Friedman Benda, wearing Misha Nonoo, Photo by Robert/Michael.

What pleasure do you take from your work? Is it something egocentric or the pleasure is in sharing and educating?
The vision is to create new dialogues, lead others to pursue the act of discovery and experimentation. Also of course bring exposure and share the love for people I admire and respect. It is not ego driven and I feel very much that I step outside myself to create the imagery. I am obsessed with doing it, it’s all the things I love rolled into one. 

Which artists are you looking forward to work with?
I’m very excited about a piece I am doing on the Japanese artist Mariko Mori, I will be styling and shooting her in her element, she is such a vision and a great inspiration to me, it is an honor to have the chance to shoot someone who fully embodies the work they create. 

What comes next for Pari Ehsan and Pari Dust?
I just expanded my website to become a greater platform for the interplay between art, fashion and design. I would like to get in the studio morewith artists and there are so many art havens I would like to travel to, experience and document. I am dying to get to Inhotim in Brazil and the Japanese island Naoshima. I am also experimenting with digital artists in some new types of content that I can’t wait to share in the next month.

Exclusive interview by Aujourd'hui.
Pari Ehsan (Paridust) - www.paridust.com

INTERVIEW - ALEXANDRE FARTO AKA VHILS

Alexandre Farto, photo by Rui Soares.

Alexandre Farto, photo by Rui Soares.

Aujourd’hui has the pleasure of presenting Alexandre Farto (also known as Vhils) as our most recent interview. His groundbreaking carving technique shaped him into one of the leading figures among Portuguese artists and a global ambassador for Portuguese street art. Born in 1987 and raised in Seixal, a part of Lisbon's outskirts, Vhils started his visual interactions with the urban panorama as a prolific graffiti writer in the early 2000s. The simple, yet very emotional, carved murals were hailed as one of the most compelling approaches to art created in the last decade. With countless works in the public space around the world, Alexandre's work has also been exhibited both in solo and group exhibitions in institutions such as Fundação EDP - Museu da Electricidade in Lisbon, Magda Danysz Gallery in Paris, Coa Museum in Portugal, Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego, Centre Pompidou in Paris, Museu de Arte do Rio in Rio de Janeiro, Lazarides Gallery in London, among many others. Often dealing with social issues, his work highlights and exposes several feelings, pioneering a fascinating aesthetic while also garnering critical acclaim. Read our interview to find out how he is avoiding overstraining, how he still wants to make materials dance and how it felt to be distinguished with one of Portugal’s highest honours.

Alexandre Farto, Lisbon, 2014, Photo by Alexander Silva

Alexandre Farto, Lisbon, 2014, Photo by Alexander Silva

At the age of 28, you have already held a major retrospective exhibition in a museum, created a music video for U2, participated in several solo and group exhibitions around the world, created countless public art walls, and many other projects. Aren't you afraid of overstraining? 
No, as things stand and for the time being I don't feel afraid. Ever since I remember I've always been very active, and I guess that's just the way I am. I grew up with this feeling that one day I would reach a point when I wouldn't be able to do more or create more. I can't really explain it, perhaps it was some irrational fear of dying before I could accomplish the things I wanted to, or perhaps it's because I was so restrained to create as a child that now it's all gushing out in a torrent. On the other hand, maybe it's just the way I like to do things, taking everything to an extreme that fulfils me to a point I no longer think about how fucked up this world we live in really is. I can't really say, perhaps the day I eventually manage to understand is the day I stop creating. For the time being I'm happy doing what I'm doing, and happy with what I've done so far. I have ideas, I'm surrounded and supported by a great team and family all of whom help me achieve and materialise what lies deep in my mind.

You constantly refer to the importance and influence that political posters and paintings have had in your work which you saw in the area you grew up in, on the south bank across from Lisbon. Were you aware of the importance of these elements when you started out or is it something that you came to realise later?
Definitely later. The political murals and posters fascinated me for many reasons but back then I wasn't aware of the importance they would later hold for me nor how they were helping shape my view of the world around me. In reality, more than the content present in these murals and posters what became pivotal was the contrast they provided with what came next, the random visual dialogue they established with subsequent layers of advertising and graffiti. Becoming aware of this overlapping of material layers and how they accumulate over time was what led me to understand how urban walls absorb what takes place around them, retaining the feeling, character and history of a given place. Once I realised this, I began wanting to work with this wealth that was already there, instead of simply painting over them and adding yet another layer.

Alexandre Farto, Forth Smith, Arkansas, 2015, Photo by Andre Santos

Alexandre Farto, Forth Smith, Arkansas, 2015, Photo by Andre Santos

Installation view, 1/81, Coa Museum, 2015, Photo by Maria Rita

Installation view, 1/81, Coa Museum, 2015, Photo by Maria Rita

Throughout your career you've been testing and choosing different materials. Do they follow specific criteria or are the materials just a medium? How important is the process of testing/failing until you achieve the results you had idealised?
To be honest I view this interaction like a dance with the materials. I adapt to the materials and they in turn adapt to me, we play with each other. This process is always different with each material and most times it is in this process where the message lies. I do idealise things but I can never be sure how things are going to turn out once I start working. I can start out with an idea but it always comes down to what lies beneath the surface of each material. In a sense it's always a surprise, and I like it this way. It shows me I can never achieve full control of the work and I'm happy with this. This concept acts as a metaphor in my work that says a lot about what's behind it. Experimentation is a very important step in my work process, but most of the time it's not carried out with the aim of achieving a particular result. I like the randomness of the process and seeing what comes out of it. I have no problems in working with mistakes or unexpected results, most of which I can incorporate into the piece or series I'm working on.

People associate Vhils with the act of carving and drilling and you usually mention this concept of destruction, a way of digging up the past. However, your styrofoam pieces follow the exact opposite method (by adding up), what is their connection with this base concept? 
It plays with it. It's a totally different body of work which, as you say, is based on the reversal of the carving process I employ in most of the others. The Diorama series is essentially a reflection based on the concept of reciprocal shaping between the city and its inhabitants, a process by which both develop a shared character. By looking into how the city and public space shape us into who we are and what we are and how we in turn help shape the city and its landscapes, it speaks of growth and expansion and this is achieved through the choice of material, method and technique. It also reflects on how a city depends on the existence of contrasts in order to exist and function, be they social contrasts or material contrasts, like the interplay of light and shadow which is rendered in these pieces by way of lighting cast over their intricate forms. In this sense, it also acts as a metaphor for how most of the time we only focus on the dazzling light of development and hardly consider the deep shadows it casts over parts of the city and some of its inhabitants.

Alexandre Farto, Sydney, 2013, Photo by Silvia Lopes

Alexandre Farto, Sydney, 2013, Photo by Silvia Lopes

You were awarded the distinction of Cavaleiro da Ordem Militar de Sant'Iago da Espada by the president of your country, Portugal. At the same time, carving walls without a permit as a form of public art was declared illegal. In a country with a government that holds an anti-culture stance, does this distinction feel somewhat bittersweet?
Yes, it does. To me it felt perverse as fuck and that's one of the reasons why I decided to address the issue at length on my Facebook page, expressing my views on the subject. To be clear, the nomination for the distinction wasn't put forward by either the president himself or the government but by the council that oversees the order, which is an independent institution. In this sense it had nothing to do with the person who currently holds the presidency, otherwise it would have been very easy to refuse. If you're interested in why I ended up accepting it after a harrowing debate with myself, you can click on the following link (in Portuguese):

https://pt-br.facebook.com/AlexandreFartoVHILS/posts/894100747295773:0

Your work takes on a very political and social role, specifically in your public art projects. How do you measure the long-term impact of your work versus the fact that the pieces are temporary?
The concept of permanent change and the ephemeral nature intrinsic to all things is pivotal in my work. In this light, working according to these lines is what truly shows respect for a city, creating a form of organic-like public art that changes over time, reflecting how that city is alive. To me, the city is like a living organism that evolves by means of creation and destruction; everything is in constant change, and in this sense I aim at working with nature, not against it. This is the reason why I try to create an art for our times, one that changes and grows along with us. Also, when you work outdoors you learn to accept that everything is subject to this change, and that is the nature of urban art. Everything has its own lifespan, we just have to create more art to replace what disappears. When I dig into the layers of city walls that keep growing thicker over time, absorbing and reflecting the history and the socio-cultural reality of a place, I'm trying to find a certain degree of order in their chaotic nature, but this is done with the intention of playing with this nature and its impermanence and not trying to stop the march of time.

Alexandre Farto, Philadelphia, Photo by Steve Weinik

Alexandre Farto, Philadelphia, Photo by Steve Weinik

You have a project and gallery - Underdogs - with the original goal of promoting and supporting other artists. Can you tell us a little about the evolution of this project and its position in Lisbon's art scene? 
The Underdogs has been a long story and a long struggle. None of it would have been possible without the help of Pauline Foessel, who co-directs the platform with me, and is really the life and soul behind the project and a huge help to all the artists we've been working with, by getting them to explore their work and helping promote it on an international scale. As for me, I was simply tired of living in a city and a country that seems unable to value their own artists, tired of seeing all these great ideas and potential go to waste. I was lucky to have found someone who helped and supported me when I was starting out, so I feel this is the minimum I can do to give something back. When the project took on its current form in 2013 there was nothing like this in Lisbon or Portugal. The idea was essentially to provide a service to artists, the city, and the community. This involved opening a gallery where local and international artists who have been operating outside the established circuit could show their work, while also creating the opportunities for them to work properly in the public space and give something to the city, and putting out affordable artist editions as a means of reaching out to the public and creating a bond with them. None of this was easy to achieve, but we're lucky that the project has resonated so well with the community, the artists, and the public.

Alexandre Farto, Moscow, 2012, Photo by Alexandre Farto

Alexandre Farto, Moscow, 2012, Photo by Alexandre Farto

Aleandre Farto, Shangai, 2012, Photo by João Moreira

Aleandre Farto, Shangai, 2012, Photo by João Moreira

Do you collect art?
I do. I have a huge collection of political and protest posters from around the world, mainly from left wing organisations, situationist and anarchist groups, raging from “May 68” to North Korea, from the Soviet Union to Cuba, etc. I'm also a big collector of prints by contemporary artists and I have several pieces by artists I know and whose work I love.

There's a new project with your name involved that has recently been presented. What can you tell us about Solid Dogma?
Solid Dogma is a creative unit, a business aimed at activating brand and cultural power through art. It's not connected with my personal work, even if it might make use of it from time to time. Its aim is to overcome media boundaries and focus on consumer and social value by developing effective communication projects and powerful branding tools. It basically seeks to bridge the gap between artists and brand creators by helping nurture talent and instil imagination into the world of branding, advertising and culture. You can check it out at www.soliddogma.com.

You’re usually very secretive about upcoming projects. What can we expect from Vhils in the future?
You can certainly expect Vhils to remain secretive :)

Exclusive interview by Aujourd'hui.
Photography courtesy of Alexandre Farto and Vhils Studio.
Alexandre Farto aka Vhils - www.alexandrefarto.com

INTERVIEW - NAMALIMBA COELHO

Namalimba Coelho, Photo by José Cabral.

Namalimba Coelho, Photo by José Cabral.

After talking to several artists and curators in our past interviews, Aujourd’hui has the pleasure to shake things up with Namalimba Coelho, Press Manager for Lisbon-based Museu Berardo. Our conversation allowed us to find out how the Angolan born communicator started in Law, only before deciding to focus on Human Rights and all before becoming the media and press handler of one of Lisbon’s most coveted art institutions. Having promoted some of coolest shows the city has seen in the past ten years, while also working with some of Lisbon’s most well renowned and exciting art institutions, we listened to Namalimba’s in-depth opinion and analysis about the tools of her trade. Read our interview to find how the role of a big museum PR is performed, what’s her view on Lisbon’s contemporary art scene and how a change of projects is yet to scare Namalimba.

Installation view, Pedro Cabrita Reis, Museu Berardo, 2011

Installation view, Pedro Cabrita Reis, Museu Berardo, 2011

Can you tell us a little bit more about your background? How did you go from a Masters in Law to Press Relations Manager at the Berardo Collection Museum?
I believe that being born in Angola is in the origin of many decisions in my life, including motivations and identity, starting with my peculiar name, Namalimba, chosen by my parents in relation with the political context of Angola when I was born (it’s a legend from Huambo), and it’s an everyday social challenge which teached me a lot about attitude and proudly being myself in any context and circumstance. I was born in 1976, just after the independence, in an intense civil war scene, where I lived most of my childhood, which affected everyday life - all the constraints inherent in the social, political and economic perspective you get - with curfew, public schools destroyed and no security, a very limited social life which had its impact, I was living in a reality of exception which to me represented the normality, my references from everyday life. That context led me to study in the french school in Luanda, and later in Lisbon, in order to pursue my studies in the french system, where I completed my “Baccalaureat diplome” in hilosophy and literature, which also led me to form in Law. In Paris, I completed my Master's degree in Human Rights at Université Paris X Nanterre and my Law Clinic at École Doctorale de la Sorbonne, in cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda & Former Yugoslavia (International Law - Genocide; Crimes against humanity and War crimes). In this context I had the opportunity to collaborate with international programs in the UN Information Centre in Lisbon and in the UN International Law Commission, in Geneva.

In this context, I was convinced that my career and vocation would be in this area and away from Portugal, but, in 2003, by circumstances of life, I came back to Lisbon and everything changed. I was deciding about my next step, when someone suggested me to apply for a position in the communication department of ExperimentaDesign - International Design Biennial. I am never afraid of new challenges and I was expecting nothing, so I went to the interview and that’s where I ended up for 4 years. Everything was new for me! If only you could imagine my first days of work, acting as if I was an expert. The truth is that I was loving the experience and I even had a knack for it. Since then, it all happened so fast, in such a natural and spontaneous way! I was very lucky because I was being challenged to collaborate with many projects, in the arts, design and fashion area. I was juggling with different opportunities from distinct universes away from my comfort zone. I completely changed my career path, which turned out to be directed to the area of ommunication and arts, challenged to reinvent myself, and to explore paths that brought me to where I am since the opening of the museum, for almost nine years, in charge of the Media Relations at Museu Coleção Berardo.

This route was essential, personally and professionally speaking, and had crucial moments, when all I thought I had acquired was then being questioned in the context of each new challenge. And I don’t only refer to the cultural or sociological changes in consequence of the dynamic of each place I lived, I am refering to our own inner revolutions, as an important exercise of personal growth and self-knowledge, as a proof of values and principles no matter what you do or where you live.

Installation view, OsGemeos, Museu Berardo, 2011, Photo by David Rato.

Installation view, OsGemeos, Museu Berardo, 2011, Photo by David Rato.

How does one perform the role of being a museum PR?
Museu Berardo has one of the world's most acclaimed modern art collections and is listed in the most visited art museums in the world, and this gives me higher level responsibilities. It is an honor and a privilege to be part of a project with such a scale, even more when you grow with it. Since my assignment started, one month before the museum's opening, in June 2007, with the mission of announcing, local and worldwide, the opening of an institution of this dimension in Portugal, a mission for which I had only three weeks to accomplish, from my admission date in the museum until the opening – June 25. Since then, and over those last eight years of immeasurable professional challenge, I have learned far beyond PR and communication, particularly among people I had the privilege of crossing - unique, inspiring and exceptional in their vision and attitude through what they do and for who they are - my colleagues from the museum, my peers, my interlocutors and people around the world which enrich me continually, including artists, collectors and curators. It’s inspiring to work in a place where every day, a few steps from my office, I have access to the best of modern and contemporary art and contact with people from every corner of the world.

Professionally, it’s been a very intense challenge. There are many factors to consider before planning the communication for each project, which must reflect the expectations and perspectives – mine in conciliation with the artistic director's orientations and with the artists and curators expectations, always complementary to these considerations. Among others, my main functions include managing all the communication of the permanent and temporary exhibitions, promoting and coordinating interviews with the artists, programmers, curators and with the Artistic Director and the Collector, Mr. Berardo; Managing all the international and portuguese media coverage and press clipping reports; Planning and developing media events and networking and organising press trips. I can assure you this is not a simple and technical mission - it’s not just about media planning and communication strategy, attending to the journalists enquiries and providing access to the information or promoting the institution or the temporary and permanent exhibitions or the concrete programme of activities such are conferences, thematic visits, publications, and other instruments for the diffusion of the Collection and Museum goals and activities, it’s also about improving and innovating everyday, expecting the best press coverage and critics ever, putting the best attitude in my work and higher expectations in every new challenge, with the same passion and enthusiasm as if I was doing it for the first time! This must be reflected in the results of what I do and perceived by my peers and interlocutors and it’s what makes all the difference in the role a museum PR performs.

Since the museum's opening I communicated over seventy temporary and permanent exhibitions. For each new one of them I expected higher results, from me, from the press, the public, the critics - from whom I hope to influence in consequence of what I do. Each project requires a specific communication orientation, depending on each different purposes and goals. Not just focusing in the media plan for every present challenge, in short term perspective. Press previews and specific events or projects related to the permanent and temporary exhibitions or to a broad program of activities, but also in a long-term perspective - in direct relation with the aims and vocation/mission of the museum as an institution and collection. Considering those two perspectives, I have to manage a communication plan that at the same time promotes the institution, the collection, the permanent and temporary exhibitions – in Portugal and worldwide.

Beyond media results, in consequence of the press plan which includes print, broadcast and online media coverage that reflects what I hope to achieve with my work, I expect to engage the press and consequently the visitors in order to communicate how trough a program of exhibitions and activities this institution, ensuring that people understand how and why we make the difference in what we do, and change perceptions and mentalities about the access to art and culture in Portugal. My work must be reflected in the perception of the public when reading the articles and that must be measurable beyond the media coverage results, considering how the museum aims to raise its profile through my media plan, setting goals for each one, depending on the audience I want to reach and the selected publications, journalists and art critics that will be interested in the content I have proposed, depending on what I want to achieve in each activity of the museum, defining audiences and messages and finally the strategic approach. A media strategy depends on the different goals, message and target in short term versus long term targets. The long term vision, when I want to communicate the museum and the collection and its uniqueness worldwide beyond it’s activity, which is a completely different media strategy from a short term with immediate achievements. Results and strategy are different in each situation. For the long term strategy it take months, years to increase awareness of the relevance and prestige of the museum and the collection, through it’s program of exhibitions and the consequence of it’s impact in the public, the media, other institutions, curators, etc. And that depends also on a strong relation established with journalists – local and worldwide. And that media work needs to be improved every time I don’t get the results I expect, which is a continuous challenge keeping me revisiting my media plan strategy. Working with the media is not a science and a lot changed in this area in the last ten years, as well as the strategy and the importance given to communication by the museums and its consequent relation of the museums with their publics and the media. And my work must have this in consideration in every moment of my strategy. The paradigm of what was the traditional role and definition of a museum changed, assuming a new mission and commitment with society, playing a key role, as a cultural agent, in the dissemination and democratization of culture. Even more in the particular case of Museu Coleção Berardo, which boasts a free entrance. In this context, the strategic communication in consequence of a PR work becomes even more relevant.

Entrance view, Vik Muniz, Museu Berardo, 2011, Photo by David Rato

Entrance view, Vik Muniz, Museu Berardo, 2011, Photo by David Rato

Installation view, Works from 1900-1960, Museu Berardo, Photo by David Rato.

Installation view, Works from 1900-1960, Museu Berardo, Photo by David Rato.

Is it different to work continuously on the same project, as you have for the past 8 years in the museum, than working on specific projects such as an exhibition or short-term projects like the ones you did?
Yes, it’s different, even if the energy and the dedication are the same. I had the opportunity to be involved in incredible and exciting projects; in a short-term collaborations, and in all of them I had completely different experiences that were very important for me, since my first assignment with Experimenta design. I needed a more diversified experience in this area to understand the different approaches and perspectives. I collaborated in the communication of many projects: Lisbon Fashion Week (over five editions); Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian - Jazz Festival; FUSO – Video Art annual festival; TEMPS D’IMAGES - performing arts annual festival; Carris, ART IN MOVEMENT - urban art interventions in one lift (Santa Justa) and the 3 funiculars, all of them national monuments since 2002; CRONO - 12 Months x 4 Seasons x 16 Artists/interventions in Communication of this unprecedented initiative with the aim of establishing an itinerary of Urban Art in Lisbon which included Portuguese street interventions artists from the whole world, whose most emblematic example is the painting of the Brazilian graffiti writers and brothers Os Gémeos and Italian Blu in the vacant building on Avenue Fontes Pereira de Melo; UNDERDOGS Urban art Platform/Gallery. In a more institutional perspective I took in charge the media relations of specific projects of renowned Design/Art Foundations such Ellipse Foundation and Leal Rios Foundation. As co-director of a Cultural Association, I also had the opportunity to create unprecedented initiatives in which I experienced different challenges for the concept-coordination-communication of specific projects such ‘Inspired Lisbon’ for Bombay Sapphire or ‘Make it Real' for a Design company. I was communication consultant for premium brand projects (Bacardi-Martini group) such Dom Pérignon or Moët&Chandon and Press manager for Bombay Sapphire. There are many others collaborations I didn’t mention, but they were all relevant for my professional evolution, even it’s different to work continuously on the same project (larger impact, duration, complexity, evolution, long term goals) than working on specific projects, but my experience working on those short-term projects in the cultural sector was very important for me in many perspectives, specifically for what I learned with each assignment throughout my professional career.

Installation view, Christian Marclay, The Clock, Museu Berardo, 2015

Installation view, Christian Marclay, The Clock, Museu Berardo, 2015

How has the Berardo Collection Museum changed in the past 8 years?
Eight years after opening in June 2007, the Museu Coleção Berardo has reached over 5 million visitors. From a total of more than seventy exhibitions, the most visited were the museum’s opening exhibition, featuring works from Coleção Berardo (with more than 456 thousand visitors), followed more recently by Museu Coleção Berardo (1960-2010) and Museu Coleção Berardo (1900-1960). Those are undeniable facts that prove the relevance of the museum and it’s collection. Rather than focusing in how the Museum changed in the past 8 years I prefer to talk about the impact of the museum in consequence of its creation. Because the evolution and changes of the museum are a reflection of it’s impact and role in relation to their publics through eight years of activity and how it’s perceived by everyone, including the press quotes I share with you in the question about the relation of the museum with the Lisbon and it’s touristic trend.

How do you see the contemporary art scene in Lisbon, and what role does Berardo Collection Museum play in it?
With free entrance, the Museu Coleção Berardo is a museological space of reference in Lisbon which contributed, without any doubt, to elevate Lisbon into a globally recognized cultural capital and played a very important role in many perspectives, but specially in showing the world that Lisbon can be a reference for modern and contemporary art. You no longer need to go abroad to see a Duchamp, a Picasso, a Warhol or any other of the world’s greatest artists because you can find it in the permanent presentation of the Berardo Collection and in the vast array of temporary exhibitions. Works by artists from diverse cultural backgrounds and contexts, who, through a multitude of expressions, built the art history of the last century, that’s what makes this museum and this collection an unique experience when visiting Lisbon. The representation of more than 70 artistic tendencies in a collection of more than 900 works demonstrates its strong museological and didactic nature, in itself an unquenchable source of creativity and innovation possibilities, not only through the richness of its contents but also because, not being a static collection (the new acquisitions keep an updated status of authors and works), it allows different and state-of-the art readings of contemporary art.

There are many things happening in the contemporary art scene in Lisbon, namely independent spaces and projects, like HANGAR and UNDERDOGS, which are making the difference as cultural platforms curating artistic projects and programs in direct interaction with the public and with the city. Hangar is a new artistic Research Center which includes a center of artistic residences, studios for artists, an art education center, an exhibition and public program. From the concept of unification of certain geographies, cultures and identities, it seeks to organize and produce the development of cross-disciplinary artistic projects in the Visual Arts, integrating public presentations and taking Lisbon as the focus of intervention. Through strategic partnerships in various countries and through the Triangle Network, the program aims to strengthen the exchange between Portugal, Europe, Africa and South America.

Underdogs is a cultural platform based in Lisbon that aims at creating space within the contemporary art scene for artists connected with the new languages of urban-inspired graphic and visual culture. They have curated a program of some large-scale pieces around the city - The Underdogs Public Art Tours – which include a visit to all locations where Portuguese and international artists have been transforming Lisbon's landscape with their large-scale mural interventions. The itinerary takes in the work of artists and collectives such as Alexandre Farto AKA Vhils, PixelPancho, How & Nosm, ±MaisMenos±, Okuda, Nunca, Bicicleta Sem Freio, Clemens Behr and Sainer, among others. Lisbon has a thriving and vibrant art scene, even if culture is not a priority for the portuguese government, there are independent spaces and projects being created, alongside with great museums and contemporary art spaces and galleries transforming the city into a cultural reference.

Alexandre Farto aka Vhils, Espectro, Carris Arte em Movimento, 2010

Alexandre Farto aka Vhils, Espectro, Carris Arte em Movimento, 2010

Lisbon is more and more a touristic trend. Berardo Museum has one of the most comprehensive private collections in Europe, if not in the world. How is it communicated abroad?
Rather than giving you a strategic answer, I prefer to tell you there is no science or specific formula for what I do - it comes as a consequence of a very instinctive and persistent work and the results for that communication abroad can be evaluated by the media coverage, which, I hope, reflects my dedication and what the museum and the collection represents in Portugal and worldwide. I believe this selected press quotes speak for themselves.

“A recent, and impressive, addition to Lisbon's list of cultural attractions, the Berardo Museum opened its collection of modern and contemporary art to the public in 2007. The modern space is filled with vibrant works by all the hard-hitting pop artists, such as Warhol, Pollock and Lichtenstein, as well as other greats artists such as Picasso, Bacon and Dali. Regular temporary exhibitions focus on specific artists or themes.” - In The Guardian’s article “10 of the best free museums in Europe.”

“Un musée d’art contemporain digne des plus grandes capitales européennes (...) La collection, qui peut rivaliser avec celles de Tate Modern de Londres ou du Centre Pompidou à Paris, est la première du genre au Portugal,” in Le Monde, “Lisbonne se dote d’un musée d’art moderne digne des plus grands.”

“Opened five years ago, it could be Lisbon’s best bet to capture a piece of the international art limelight. As the afternoon drifted past, couples and school groups strolled among various selections from the institution’s extensive permanent collection of 20th-century painting, sculpture and multimedia art. (..) Together, the dozens of displayed works formed a thrilling greatest hits of 20th-century art that is rare to find outside of the world’s largest art capitals and all but unprecedented in Lisbon,” - In The New York Times / International Herald Tribune, “In Lisbon, Sowing the Seeds of Culture”

“For many, the opening of the museum represents their first opportunity to see a Picasso or a Warhol. Benefiting from free access, the first twenty-four hours brought in over twenty-three thousand visitors, though it seems unlikely that one individual’s collection can maintain such crowds,” - In ARTFORUM, Diary – ‘Joe’s Show’

“Beyond the Guggenheim… The Berardo Collection displays methodically, chronologically, examples from the main modern movements – pop art, minimalism, kinetic art, conceptual art, arte povera and the rest,” - In The Independent, ‘Beyond the Guggenheim’

What has been your most challenging project so far?
The present one. Always the present. Balancing the personal versus the career decisions, in order to never loose my sense of direction, fulfillment, considering what my priorities are in life. Here and now, in coherence, consistency and consequence with my own inner revolutions, as an important exercise of personal growth and self knowledge, as a proof of values and principles. Never being afraid of new challenges. In Luanda, Paris or Lisbon. In Human Rights or in Arts - the present one is always the most challenging project because it’s the one that determines my next step. Don't you agree?

Installation view, Délio Jasse, BES Photo 2014, Museu Berardo, photo by David Rato

Installation view, Délio Jasse, BES Photo 2014, Museu Berardo, photo by David Rato

What can we expect from Namalimba in the future? What are your ambitions?
Open ended questions deserve open ended answers. I believe that we cannot think about the future without putting the past into perspective and focusing in the present. At ten I wanted to be President when I grew up, as law student I wanted to be a private detective/criminal investigator until I realized how important it would be to make the difference fighting for Human Rights. After seven years studing Law, I ended up working with communication, culture and contemporary art for more than a decade. So, I learned there are no limits on what you can achieve and “Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.” I’m not able to tell exactly where I see myself in five years, but not having plans has nothing to do with not having ambitions. I’m very consistent with my goals when I have decisions to make and objectives to pursue, but, more than projecting the future, I like to give myself to the present, curious and open to new opportunities, but without any fear of changing my course (again). It’s in this perspective that I intend to give myself to the fruit of that everyday commitment - in coherence, consistency and consequence -, that it will bring me the future challenges that will make me grow, even if they lead me away from my comfort zone.

I also believe it’s essential to diversify interests and expertise, that’s why I studied five languages including a course of Arabic language and culture that I attended for 3 years, even if I did it without any special purpose. Since my return to Lisbon I tried to be involved with different areas, which led me to attend a training course on International/Diplomatic Relations; another course on Introduction to journalism, a course in Luxury Brand Management, among other courses and formations. In every context and circumstance, I try to put everything in perspective: identity, beliefs, motivations -, a permanent self confront about my dimension in the world and in life. So, I intend to never stop being curious, interested and expecting always more, from me and from others. So, making an honest balance about life and ambitions, I believe I’m sincerely happy in what I chose to do, but expecting a lot more from the future, empowering all my knowledge and experience, relating culture, art, communication and social intervention.

However, I want to highlight a recent challenge, a non profit initiative, whose process of creation began last year, and still is being implemented, but believing that very soon will deserve the highest consideration: ARCADIAN NGO. As co-founder of this platform, along with a group of people who believe that THE FUTURE WILL BE AMAZING, we intend to do the difference based in this universal concept that serves as inspiration and acting through new forms of art and communication, engaging artists and the creative community in our missions, inspiring a collective and effective change of mentalities and the subsequent adoption by all of us in a more creative, ecological and human posture in the world. For now it is all I can say. For those who are curious, I leave the website link: www.arcadianinitiative.org There is something else I would be proud to be part of... I don’t know how and when that will be possible, but, as a proud angolan as I am, I would love to be part of any solution that could make the difference in the cultural and social field of my country. I believe that angolans from my generation, the one in position to do something, should contribute to make the difference and build something with their knowledge and experience. My generation is the one that should assume that first mission after the end of the war, the one that has the power to start making the difference, as “Generation Zero” - the one that in the present can start doing something for the future generations.

Exclusive interview by Aujourd'hui.

 

INTERVIEW - EZRA KONVITZ, ARTSTACK

The development of technology and the growth of the internet and social media is changing our society and consequently the art world. The ways in which we contemplate and consume art and even the intricacies of the art market are shifting and adapting with the appearance of platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Paddle8, Artsy, Art Rank and more. ArtStack, a discovery tool with a social element, has been growing and creating its place since 2011. Aujourd'hui spoke with Ezra Konvitz, one of its Co-Founders, to learn more about his past, what makes ArtStack unique and its plans for the future. 

Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself and your background ?
I started ArtStack in late 2011 with my old university friend and business partner, James Lindon. We'd met each other more than a decade before, in our first year at Cambridge - neither of us were studying art undergraduate but both went on to do masters in it, me in art history at the Courtauld Institute of Art and him in curating contemporary art at the Royal College of Art. Years later, when I was working at the Serpentine Gallery in London and James was an art dealer in NY, we started talking about how we could bring art online - ArtStack was the eventual product of that conversation: a concept that reflected how people discover art in the 'real world' but made it easier, simpler and more efficient.

How did ArtStack begin and who is its target audience? Is it mainly artists, art lovers, professionals, curators, students, everyone? 
We were working in art and found it was too hard to discover new art - we wanted to replicate (and make more frequent) that fantastic moment when someone tells you about an artist you don't know and you're blown away by their work. ArtStack was always conceived as a democratic platform where everyone could participate, share their taste and join the conversation - and to enable the best, most interesting works to ultimately be seen by the most people. We started as an invite-only platform for people active in the art world with the concept that any system that worked for art professionals would also work for a wider community. Once we knew ArtStack was effective, we opened it up and now the community includes a lot of people who work in art as curators, artists and gallerists, and also collectors, other creatives and people who just love art.

Since the birth of ArtStack other social media platforms have been growing a great acceptance in the art world, mainly Instagram. Magazines, auctions, galleries, social platforms, and so on, have all been steadily focusing on the digital and online world. How does ArtStack differ from everything else? 
ArtStack is an art first platform and community. We designed every aspect so that it answers the needs of people interested in art - and the content, of course, is purely art-specific. This means that you won't find pictures of someone's lunch cluttering up your feed, but also that you can easily see every work by any artist, zoom on artworks, read bios, check dimensions, and find out what exhibitions are on in any city. We're the largest art community platform in the world and we're focused on constantly innovating to provide the best ways of seeing and discovering art online.

Platforms such as ArtStack and all the existing social media surely contribute to a democratisation of culture, information and its circulations. Do you ever fear that it will lead to an overwhelming point of over-information? 
Not everything is precious, despite our desire to repeatedly immortalise our experiences. That's why curation is increasingly important in our digital era. As a specialised niche social network, we started from a point of providing people with a means to share their own curated selections with develop their own personalised feed of art that's interesting to them - and, of course, we've been blessed to have an enormous quantity of work uploaded to ArtStack which enables us to make increasingly relevant links between images to always provide the most relevant content to our users. 

ArtStack has engaged in projects such as a crowd-sourced auction in partnership with Christie's. What are the plans for the future? Any more partnerships or initiatives? 
We were thrilled to work with Christie's on the first ever crowd-sourced auction initiative, which brought eight terrific artworks to sale at Christie's from over 11,000 artist submissions based on a popular vote. We're always interested in developing creative projects - both in the art world and with other creative industries. In 2014, we worked with fashion designer Mary Katrantzou on a crowd curation project, which was really interesting in bringing together fashion and art. We're absolutely looking forward to doing more of these kinds of collaborations!

What are your thoughts on the future of art and the way it is created and experienced, both online and offline? 
Digital technology has the potential to change art as much as the printing press changed literature. I think we are at the start of a really exciting time where we'll see new forms of digital production and experience, as well as more crossover between the online and offline worlds - the art world has been slow to embrace technology but it is happening more and more both from a creative standpoint and from a commercial one. 

Exclusive interview by Aujourd'hui.
ArtStack
www.theartstack.com

INTERVIEW - MANUEL FORTE

Manuel Forte in Mexico City

Manuel Forte in Mexico City

Manuel Forte is an artist born in Oporto, Portugal, and the first Portuguese ever presented in our interviews. He attended Kensington & Chelsea College and the Scuplture Academy in London, He attended Ar.Co ́s Painting course and “Gulbenkian Programme of Artistic Creation and Creativity” Videoart course at the Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon. His work has been exhibited at Galeria Diagrama (Mexico City), BWA Zielona Gorá (Poland), No Space (Mexico City) and Brand New Gallery's 2159miles at Museo Britanico Americano (Mexico City). Read our interview to discover how cities always inform his work and his interest on architectural, behavioural, social or aesthetic transformations.

Installation view, Exclusive Condos, Open Studio

Installation view, Exclusive Condos, Open Studio

Manuel Forte, Shhh (Exclusive Condos), 2015 (Detail)

Manuel Forte, Shhh (Exclusive Condos), 2015 (Detail)

Can you tell us a little bit about your background and how did you first became an artist? 
My interest in art came from a young age and in different forms, such as Painting, Sculpture and Cinema. Painting and Drawing were the strongest interests and later on came the wish to start producing them. It was something I could do anywhere and had easy access to supplies. Then when I was 15 I had the privilege of visiting a painter’s studio in Oporto and that made me believe it could become my profession. Having access to the studio environment and working process and not only the final product was a decisive moment for my own practice. 

You were born in Oporto and lived in London, Lisbon, Sao Paulo and Mexico City.. How did all the contrasts between these cities informed your work?
Cities, especially big metropolis, have always aroused on me a great interest. From early on, whenever I had the opportunity, I tried to discover new ways of thinking the world through the big cities. The “Urban” factor was always crucial for my own work. The search for tools, subjects and points of view were what made me live in those cities. Some for longer periods than others, depending on what moment I was living in each one. In the beginning I was attracted by the similarities between all of them, specially because they were so distant from each other. With time and different ways of producing the contrasts just started making more sense.

Manuel Forte, Untitled (Exclusive Condos), 2015

Manuel Forte, Untitled (Exclusive Condos), 2015

Manuel Forte, Untitled (Exclusive Condos), 2015

Manuel Forte, Untitled (Exclusive Condos), 2015

What made you decide living in Mexico City? 
With Mexico City was different than every other one. It could have been any city in the world really. I was working on a video project that aimed to create a bridge between two opposite moments in an artist’s life. The goal was to do it without any previous form of contact (e-mails, phone calls, social media..). In one moment the artist is still anonymous and the other one he is a respected and acclaimed name. I was the anonymous one and the other was living in Mexico City, and that’s why I moved. The video would show the whole path until finding that artist. It took me two years to find him. In Mexico City I discovered an exciting art scene in a place that was really emerging, with a lot of exciting projects, artists creating interesting and new work and independent spaces that gave the city a new dynamic. (NoSpace, Bikini Wax, Lodos, Lulu) I have been living there ever since.

How is your average day and how does that affect your studio practice? 
The way I live the city and the every day actions are a big part of my work: the things I see, what I hear, where I go or who I speak with. Walking through the city is the gesture that synthesizes everything. It's from this gesture that the "city" an its inherent complexity enter the game. I am interested in the architectural, behavioural, social or aesthetic transformations. I go to the studio on a daily basis and all the information I absorb on the way is filtered, processed and somehow applied in the studio and in the work that I am on at that moment. 

Manuel Forte, Untitled (Exclusive Condos), 2015 (left and right)

Manuel Forte, Untitled (Exclusive Condos), 2015 (left and right)

Do you also collect other artists work?
I think it is important and I always try to trade work with other artists. I don’t think I can call it a collection yet. 

What future projects are you working on?
At the moment I am working on a group exhibition with Pedro Matos and Ricardo Passaporte for The Gallery Wrong Weather in Oporto, and I am also working on a video. 

Manuel Forte, Untitled (Exclusive Condos), 2015 (left and right)

Manuel Forte, Untitled (Exclusive Condos), 2015 (left and right)

Installation view, Exclusive Condos, Open Studio

Installation view, Exclusive Condos, Open Studio

You will be soon exhibiting in Oporto, your first exhibition in your hometown since 2011, how do you feel about it?
It was something that I always wanted to do and the opportunity came with an interesting project. It is important to be part of the artistic scene in our own birth city and it is not always possible to show the work there. It’s different and challenging every time. 

How do you see your work evolving in the future? 
I always approach my practice in a very open way. Each work brings along the next one and I keep finding solutions throughout the process and development. Sometimes the work and primary focus change. It’s a mutating game that matures effortlessly.

Exclusive interview by Aujourd'hui.
Images courtesy of the artist.
Manuel Forte - www.manuelforte.net

INTERVIEW - BRYAN DOOLEY

Bryan Dooley, Signal Test #1, 2015

Bryan Dooley, Signal Test #1, 2015

Aujourd’hui is proud to present its latest interview, this time with the British artist Bryan Dooley. Hailed as one of the most promising artists in the UK, Bryan was born in Leeds in 1987 and graduated with an MA in Photography from London’s prestigious Royal College of Art. Rod Barton, Galerie Jeanrochdard and Chewday’s are only but some of his past exhibitions. Read our interview to find out how photography was just a tool for something bigger, what artists currently excite him and how he became an artist during a heatwave and a flash of light.

Installation view, Grand Century, 2015

Installation view, Grand Century, 2015

Can you tell us a little bit about your background? How did you become an artist? 
From the North of England, studied photography at the RCA, became an artist during a heatwave and a flash of light.

You have studied photography at the Royal College of Art. Today you work with painting, sculpture, installation, etc. Is photography still the starting point of your creative process? 
I think my movement away from photography was the realisation that photography was never the ‘starting point’, it was the construction of images and photography was just a tool or a language I subscribed to.

What do you consider to be the essential ingredients for success in the art world amongst so many new emerging artists debuting every year? 
"All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them." Walt Disney

Bryan Dooley, Car seat and beads (peach), 2015 (left), Studio (right)

Bryan Dooley, Car seat and beads (peach), 2015 (left), Studio (right)

Bryan Dooley, Wolrd Grid #1 & #2, 2015

Bryan Dooley, Wolrd Grid #1 & #2, 2015

Are you working on any future projects? What can we expect from Bryan Dooley in the future?
I’m working towards a solo show at Shoot the Lobster in NYC and an installation with CHEWDAY’S at Sunday Art Fair London this Autumn.

Are there any other artist's work that you are currently excited about?
Catharine Ahearn, Mathis Gasser, Thomas Eggerer, Martine Syms, Jutta Koether, Helemet Federle, John Knight, Nic Cheveldave…….

Installation view, XYZ, Tokyo

Installation view, XYZ, Tokyo

Exclusive interview by Aujourd'hui.
Images courtesy of the artist.
Bryan Dooley - www.bryandooley.com

INTERVIEW - TOBIAS CZUDEJ (CHEWDAY'S)

Installation view, Signal Failure, Pace Gallery, London.

Installation view, Signal Failure, Pace Gallery, London.

Our latest interview presents and celebrates Tobias Czudej, better known as Chewday’s. The London-based curator, who recently curated "Signal Failure" at Pace London, is always able to challenge and amaze the art world with his exhibitions, all while working in distinguished institutions like Gagosian and PACE. With a very intimate view on how a show must be planned, processed and presented, we were eager to know how he manages to create unique and successful exhibitions on a regular basis. Read our interview to discover how internet blends with solitude in his new show, the personal way he subverts conventional displays and how he plans to open a small gallery in London under Chewday’s name.

Installation view, Signal Failure, Pace Gallery, London.

Installation view, Signal Failure, Pace Gallery, London.

What is Chewday's?
CHEWDAY’S is the phonetic way of spelling my surname Czudej - it is the name I have been arranging projects under independently for the past two years. Later this year I will be opening a small gallery in London under the same name.

You are curating a show titled “Signal Failure” with Sara Barker, Philomene Pirecki, Cédric Eisenring and Mathis Gasser, Scott Lyall, Sergei Tcherepnin and Tobias Madison. What bring these artist's work together?
The exhibition started to form a year or so ago whilst I was carrying out research on the work of Agnes Martin. I had at that point never had the opportunity to see a work in person so all that I had to go on were reproductions online and in books. Agnes Martin’s paintings really do not translate at all into reproduction – they generally appear as blank washed out empty squares. They give away nothing of the artist’s intention. I thought this was very interesting in respect to artists of my generation where the reproduction and dissemination of images plays such an integral part in how art is consumed. As soon as a work is exhibited it is photographed and circulated globally through various networks – instagram, contemporary art daily, facebook etc. Mass network saturation and global exposure in the digital era can be seen to have superseded other more meaningful models of assigning value. Although there are seemingly benefits to this exposure – more people see the work etc – it has produced a problem almost as if as exposure increases, meaningful engagement decreases. There is quite a nice analogy that Morgan Quaintance made in an article on David Joselit’s book After Art that describes this : the internet is like a vast network of train tracks, while web pages are like different train companies who use those tracks to run their services; the goal of subway art is to get your tag on as many train cars as possible so that it may gain in notoriety, yield the image-maker prestige, fame and the authoritative power of ubiquity. This is exactly how image circulation functions online, and its power, whether it is an image of Joseph Kony, Beyoncé or some satirical illustration of a political figure, is based on the quick recognition of surfaces. But while depth is an essential property of art and slowness a necessary condition for its appreciation, why would anyone want to reduce their work to the status of a vapid meme? Through different strategies the artists in Signal Failure all make work that resists, complicates or confronts reproduction and circulation. Many of them utilize the tools of digital reproduction, yet whilst these artists deal with the conditions of making art post-internet there is an emphasis on real experience. A slowing down. A break in transmission. The exhibition as a format seeks to render documentation complex – to create an environment that can only be experienced in person and never fully captured and consumed as an image.

Installation view, Signal Failure, Pace Gallery, London.

Installation view, Signal Failure, Pace Gallery, London.

Installation view, Signal Failure, Pace Gallery, London.

Installation view, Signal Failure, Pace Gallery, London.

This show is inspired by Agnes Martin's self-imposed solitude. What do you think to be the importance of solitude in the artistic practice? Is it aggravated or dissipated by the growth of the digital world?
Solitude is something that seems to be increasingly scarce in our hyper-connected times –there is an anxiety in not being connected – we are terminally in touch. I spend hours infinity scrolling through facebook, tumblr, instagram etc without any meaningful result. I read hundreds of click-bait articles that after reading I realise have no content - should never exist as articles in the first place. I often feel that we are communicating for the sake of communicating – like a robot pinging another robot just to clarify that it still exists. I strongly believe that slowness and solitude are intimately tied to human potential and that it is very important to disconnect and be alone as this is where ideas distill, crystallize and form.

Your exhibitions are known for challenging traditional artistic presentation. How are you able to do so while curating an exhibition for such an established and somehow 'traditional' contemporary art gallery like PACE?
think the only way to really challenge or further traditional ideas in exhibition making is from within the institutions that have been integral in concreting these formats. As an artist or curator – as soon as you make a work you are implicated within the structure of the art institution anyway so it is not about inside our outside; it is more about interrogating the specific context and reconfiguring the format or presentation in a way that reinforces the concept.

Galleries and museums seem to have been evolving their architecture and interior design in the past decades in order to create the ideal place to view and experience an art work. However, you curate exhibitions in creepy hotel rooms and one day only events. Why is it important to challenge the traditional way of experiencing an exhibition, and what do you think to be the ideal way to do so?
Although I have put together exhibitions in non-art spaces, hotels, domestic houses etc I generally work within the constructs of the white cube and this is always the starting point - even with the hotel exhibition I was thinking of the hotel room as a surrogate white cube – a neutral space that it repeated globally throughout the various chains of hotels. There are many conventions in the display of contemporary art that are rarely questioned white walls, bright lights optimized for documentation, the way a press release is structured and worded, opening times, private view and I think it is important to precisely reconsider and interrogate each of these element for each exhibition rather than taking them for granted. Also, I am not sure that I agree that museums have been evolving their architecture and design to just create a better place to view and experience work, I think that they have got bigger and grander to better illustrate the power of the structures that fund them – before it was cathedrals and now it is museums. And bigger is not necessarily better as it means that artists are having to make bigger and bigger work. Is there more meaning in a sculpture that is 6ft rather than 6”?

What triggers your choice when curating, especially with such emphasis on emerging artists?
I am always seeing exhibitions, researching, doing studio visits, reading magazines, looking online etc. – the choice always comes down to whichever artists or works are the most interesting in relation to the concept of each exhibition. The emphasis on emerging artists comes down to the fact that these are my contemporaries and friends who I am in constant dialogue with and engaged in similar concerns.

Installation view, Ivan's Ecstasy, The Park Lane Hotel, London.

Installation view, Ivan's Ecstasy, The Park Lane Hotel, London.

Installation view, Everything falls faster than an Anvil, Pace Gallery, London.

Installation view, Everything falls faster than an Anvil, Pace Gallery, London.

Installation view, Bryan Dooley: False Grip Demo, Fitzpatrick-Leland House, Los Angeles.

Installation view, Bryan Dooley: False Grip Demo, Fitzpatrick-Leland House, Los Angeles.

Installation view, Comrades of time, Cell Project Space, London.

Installation view, Comrades of time, Cell Project Space, London.

Do you believe that the curatorial practice has as an important role in culture as the artistic production?
Definitely not but it has a role.

How is the curatorial practice changing and what “trends” do you predict for the future?
I have no idea, I have never really considered myself a curator and I don’t really focus much on curating as a practice, I am far more inspired by artists such as Jana Euler, Jutta Koether, Sam LeWitt etc. and in the way that they approach exhibitions. Artist seems to be the best curators. As for trends - brown is definitely the new black.


Exclusive interview by Aujourd'hui.
Images and interview courtesy of Tobias Czudej and Pace London.

Chewday's - www.chewdays.com
Pace London - www.pacegallery.com

INTERVIEW - CHRISTIAN ROSA

It’s a great pleasure for Aujourd’hui to present Christian Rosa as our brand new interview. Don’t be fooled by the reckless attitude and cool looks, Christian Rosa is not just any other emerging artist. He is the seminal art world success story, with works flying from his studio in Los Angeles to exhibitions at White Cube and Saatchi Gallery in London, Venice Biennale and many others. Born in Rio de Janeiro and raised in Vienna, his paintings have an improvisational feel that uplifts all the right cadences and rhythms throughout the canvas. Read our interview to find out Christian’s remaining goals, what he thinks about abstract optimism and what happened with the infamous Ferrari.

Christian Rosa, Idiotensicher, 2015

Christian Rosa, Idiotensicher, 2015

Christian Rosa, Damien or Natas, 2015

Christian Rosa, Damien or Natas, 2015

You were born in Brazil and raised in Austria. What was your background like? How did you become an artist?
I was born in Brazil and I moved to Europe (Vienna) because my parents felt that it was too dangerous back then. So, Vienna is where I grew up, went to school and university. It is also where I studied at the Academy of Fine Arts. 

Now you live and work in Los Angeles, how is it like to work and live there?
It's amazing. There aren't as many social things that I have to attend like I would in New York or in the UK. I like to be left alone and just do my thing and I think in Los Angeles I am still able to do so.

Christian Rosa, Nothing to Declare, 2015

Christian Rosa, Nothing to Declare, 2015

Inside of Christian's catalogue for CFA Berlin.

Inside of Christian's catalogue for CFA Berlin.

You're now in your early 30's and have already exhibited your work at White Cube in London, Saatchi Gallery, Venice Biennale, amongst many others. What is left for Christian Rosa to do? What are your ambitions in life?
Doing better works and never stop evolving. There is so much more to achieve such as serious museum shows, and hopefully, to last for the next 30 years. This is a tough business, and as fast as you came up, you can be gone too.  So, all I am concentrating on is in doing good work and I hope that it will all continue to work out.

The Guardian newspaper has described your work as "abstract optimism". What are your thoughts on this?
I loved The Guardian. It's such a nice review and I am happy for this description of "abstract optimism". I am happy when people see my works positively. There are so many haters out there and I am just trying to do good works for you and me.

Could you tell us more about your process?
Going to the studio and working from 10 to 10.

Christian Rosa, Wholewheat or White, 2015 (left) and Compton I Miss You, 2015 (Right)

Christian Rosa, Wholewheat or White, 2015 (left) and Compton I Miss You, 2015 (Right)

Painting Detail.

Painting Detail.

Christian Rosa, Untitled, 2015 (left) and Untitled, 2015 (right)

Christian Rosa, Untitled, 2015 (left) and Untitled, 2015 (right)

You are often compared to the greatest artists of the 20th and 21st century and your market has also been on of the hottest in the last few years. How does such a young artists achieve this success and notoriety?
Work, work, work. 10 AM to 10 PM the minimum, and of course, having abilities and talent.
 
Have you washed your Ferrari yet?
Nope. I gave it to a homeless.

Exclusive interview by Aujourd'hui.
Images courtesy of the artist and CFA Berlin.
Christian Rosa - www.christianrosa.com

INTERVIEW - OLIVIER KOSTA-THÉFAINE

Installation view, En Flânant..., Galerie Jeanrochdard

Installation view, En Flânant..., Galerie Jeanrochdard

It’s a great pleasure for Aujourd’hui to have Olivier Kosta-Théfaine in the spotlight for one of our interviews. Born in Bezons in 1972, Olivier lives and works in Paris, where he started as a self-taught artist and graffiti writer. His work has been widely exhibited around the world with solo exhibitions at Galerie Jeanrochdard (Paris/Brussels), Steinsland Berliner (Stockholm), Underdogs (Lisbon) and participations in group exhibitions at Bryce Wolkowitz (New York), Foundation Cartier pour l'art contemporain (Paris), Palais de Tokyo (Paris) among many others. Read the interview to discover how flowers were a mirage while growing up in the suburb and why this is so important to understand his Jardins à la Française.

Installation view, Monde Sauvage, Galerie Jeanrochdard

Installation view, Monde Sauvage, Galerie Jeanrochdard

You are a self taught artist who started with graffiti. How did it  affect your technique and your career in the art world?
Graffiti gave me the chance to look at the city in a different way, to observe it in detail. This is the basis of my work, the details, the ultra neglected, the things that other people do not see or are not interested in. 

Did growing up in the Paris suburbs give meaning to the rough  materials that you use in your work? How did your environment affect  your practice? (Steel, Concrete, Glass, etc)
For years, the city was the only place I knew. My artistic practice is definitely linked to my own environment and the places where I used to live and came from. I was a kid from the Parisian suburbs and in my daily life concrete was definitely more present than flower fields. 

Olivier Kosta-Théfaine, Souvenirs des Indes 2, 2011

Olivier Kosta-Théfaine, Souvenirs des Indes 2, 2011

Let’s talk about process. How does your work take shape?
Every work or series is created in the same conditions. Most of the time it comes from details seen in a close environment, that I archive and forget for most of the time. Then it reapers at some point, either in my studio, my computer, or next to another detail. When they match and create a new meaning and tell a new story together, it becomes an option for a future work. My work is always connected to this idea of drifting, and by extension, to fortuity. In a city that I don’t know, what I love is to get lost in the street and the goal is that I maybe make a “beautiful encounter”. 

In 2014 you had a solo exhibition at Underdogs Gallery – Ideal Standard. What was your experience like in Portugal?
Lisbon is an incredible city. I really enjoyed staying in Portugal for a while and working with Underdogs. Ideal Standard was an exhibition that deals with the city, in a poetic way. The most beautiful piece in the show was definitely the lemon tree surrounded by a wall surmounted by broken glass. I discovered it in the small alleys of the old part of Lisbon and reactivated it in the middle of the gallery space. It’s a perfect example of the “beautiful encounters” that I was previously talking about. 

Installation view, Ideal Standard, Underdogs Gallery

Installation view, Ideal Standard, Underdogs Gallery

For Aujourd’hui, "glass gardens" is one of your most remarkable  works. How did the idea come about?
Originally, the “Jardin à la Française” (also know as “Classical Garden”) is a garden with an aesthetic and symbolic ambition. It carries art to correct nature, to impose a symmetry. It expresses the desire to excite in the vegetation the triumph of order over disorder, culture over wild nature, reflection over spontaneity. Long story short, the idea behind the garden was to create an aesthetically designed sculpture with objects (several tons of broken beer bottles) that usually drive a certain idea of chaos. 

Olivier Kosta-Théfaine, Jardin, 2013

Olivier Kosta-Théfaine, Jardin, 2013

What is your relationship with other artists? Have you curated any projects?
To share is an important part of life. I have curated events and supported a lot of artists through the two magazines I created in the past. I always think about working together with other people.

Installation view, Like/Share, Galerie Jeanrochdard

Installation view, Like/Share, Galerie Jeanrochdard

Installation view, Sculptures, Abbaye de Maubuisson

Installation view, Sculptures, Abbaye de Maubuisson

How do you see your work evolving?
I haven’t made any plans. I just don’t want to follow any dictate, and I definitely want to stay far away from any stupid form of competition.

Any future projects?
I am in the middle of several oportunities and proposals but everything takes time. However, I have been invited by B.P.S.22 to create a permanent installation for the city of Thuin, Belgium, in the framework of Mons 2015, Capitale Européenne de la Culture. I'm also currently part of Club of Matinee Idolz at Co2 in Torino and a solo exhibition is planned at Galerie Jeanrochdard (Paris) for the end of 2015.

Exlusive interview by Aujourd'hui
Images courtesy of the artist, Galerie Jeanrochdard and Underdogs Gallery.

Olivier Kosta-Théfaine - www.olivierkostathefaine.com

INTERVIEW - PAULINE FOESSEL

Portrait of Pauline Foessel, background work by Vhils (Alexandre Farto), by Alain Delorme

Portrait of Pauline Foessel, background work by Vhils (Alexandre Farto), by Alain Delorme

Aujourd’hui dedicates this interview and spotlight to Pauline Foessel, current Director at Underdogs Gallery in Lisbon. Pauline is responsible not only for the gallery, but also its editions and a public art program. The Grenoble born curator, manager and director studied Management at SKEMA Business School before working as gallery manager in Magda Danysz Gallery in Shanghai. Read the interview to discover how a management background gave her the perfect set of skills to manage art facilities, how her firm belief in public art and why it matters is so contagious and how Shanghai – Lisbon left her a little lost in translation.

Installation view, Meaning Matter, Magda Danysz Gallery (Shangai), curated by Pauline Foessel

Installation view, Meaning Matter, Magda Danysz Gallery (Shangai), curated by Pauline Foessel

How did you change from a Business School background to working in a gallery like Magda Danysz in Paris? When did you first develop your interest in art?
I've always thought there was a clear connection between a business school and an art gallery. Today, in France, business schools are increasingly designated as management schools and I think that's what you actually learn there: management. Management of people, management of projects, entrepreneurship, marketing, accountancy, which is essentially everything you need to know in order to run a gallery or any other business in this field (museums, foundations, etc.). I became interested in art when I was quite young. My parents used to take me to museums and I suppose I began developing a keen eye from early on. One of the most striking memories I have is being taken by my visual arts teacher on a school trip to an art centre in my hometown when I was about 11-years-old. She was able to provide an in-depth explanation of what we saw and that was essentially my first real approach to art. I believe that was the very first time that contemporary art resonated in me. It really struck a chord and from that moment on I felt captivated by it. As I completed my studies in the following years I used to ask myself whether or not I wanted to become an artist. I was fast at arriving at the conclusion that I wasn't an artist and didn't want to become one. I studied very hard for two years to be admitted into a French business school. This is an arduous, gruelling process in France as it translates into a mountain of work in order to acquire an incredible amount of knowledge. After being admitted at the age of 20 I felt somewhat lost. I wanted to work in fashion, but had doubts about it. I was still very interested in contemporary art but at that stage wasn't really considering a career in the art world. Then one day I was speaking to my mother on the phone, telling her that I didn't want to work for L'Oreal selling shampoos or for Deloitte or whatever, and she pointed out my interest in art and asked why not consider the art market and try getting an internship at a gallery. And that's when things clicked for me and I decided to follow this path. Some time after that I arrived at Magda Danysz Gallery in Paris and was made part of the team. From then on I knew this was it for me.

Installation view, Meaning Matter, Magda Danysz Gallery (Shangai), curated by Pauline Foessel

Installation view, Meaning Matter, Magda Danysz Gallery (Shangai), curated by Pauline Foessel

How was the transition from working as a gallery manager at Magda Danysz in Shanghai to working with Underdogs in Lisbon? Lost in translation?
As a manager I was responsible for organising each exhibition and dealing with the day-to-day life of the gallery: organising the framing, the printing of invitations, taking care of the artists when they were in town, etc. I was also in charge of sales, of course. I loved it and at the beginning I couldn't believe my luck in being there doing what I was doing. I ended up in Shanghai quite by chance: I didn't have any plans to move to China but then Magda opened a new gallery in Shanghai and chose me to be its manager. At the age of 22 it was a huge responsibility but I had an amazing experience. Today, at Underdogs, I'm the gallerist! Along with Alexandre (Farto) I can choose the artists and curate the shows. It's very different from what I was doing in Shanghai. This is really where I've always wanted to be but I had to be patient and learn all the gallery work from scratch.  The move from Shanghai to Lisbon was a whole new experience. Completely lost in translation. China is an incredible place, everything moves fast and everything is possible. I have a love-hate relationship with it, you're confronted with striking differences every day. Back in Europe things are different, but I have to admit that I was struck by how during a serious recession, when it's obviously much harder to create and launch a new project, the reception was so incredible. Underdogs has caused a great impact and has been amazingly well received, which would not have been the case in Shanghai as there is already so much going on there. In the end you can get much more attention in a country like Portugal than a country like China.

Photographs from Pauline Foessel's instagram. 

Photographs from Pauline Foessel's instagram. 

How do you maintain coherence over time in the ever-expanding projects that Underdogs has been creating?
To be honest I don't give it much thought, I just think that each of the areas we're operating in complement each other. They are aimed at different types of public and reach different targets, but still manage to reflect a broader cohesion. A classic gallery targets a certain type of public, whereas we are trying to create a broader impact. With the Underdogs Public Art Programme we're kind of imposing art on people from/visiting Lisbon. We don't ask people to come to us, we come to them. The result has been mainly positive even though some people dislike the murals, but that's one of the great things about it: art should be out there for all to see, generating reactions in people who would normally have no access or interest in it in the first place. With the gallery we're welcoming people who would normally visit this environment, and with the Art Store at Mercado da Ribeira and our online store we're reaching out to a more international public who can buy affordable art. All of these fields make up a strong and coherent project.

How and Nosm, Underdogs Public Art Program, Lisbon

How and Nosm, Underdogs Public Art Program, Lisbon

After working in such an established market like Paris and a hot, emerging one like Shanghai, why did you choose to work in Lisbon? What challenges does the city have for you?
Well, I didn't really chose Lisbon, I just ended up here once again by chance! Just like Shanghai, life has been driving me to places where I'd never thought I would go to. Lisbon is a very interesting city, full of amazing places and a great playground for public art. The understanding of its impact by the city of Lisbon is also quite unique. Few cities in the world are open to the change and I think that is a great challenge in itself. Speaking more personally, it's always a challenge to move to a city you don't really know anything about. You don't know the rules, the language, how the art market works, etc. To me it's both fulfilling and enriching and always will be. 

Installation view, Ideal Standard by Olivier Kosta-Théfaine, Underdogs Gallery

Installation view, Ideal Standard by Olivier Kosta-Théfaine, Underdogs Gallery

Do you collect art? 
I do, I started with Chinese art. I had a great love for Chinese contemporary art, and I'm not talking here about those artists everyone knows, I'm talking about the younger generation. They have a poetic and subtle way of speaking of the changes their country is undergoing that I find very touching. I've also started a collection of antique wooden sculptures. I look for them in the countries I visit and keep them as a reminder of space and time. 

Installation view, Sell Out by ±MaisMenos±, Underdogs Gallery

Installation view, Sell Out by ±MaisMenos±, Underdogs Gallery

You have recently curated an exhibition at Magda’s gallery in Shanghai. Can you tell us about your role as a curator? Do you have any future projects?
I work like a radar. I always keep a sharp lookout, trying to see as much as I can, trying to create an archive with everything that has interested me and I've seen in art fairs, museums, books, magazines, websites. I don't necessarily think how I'm going to work with this or whether I'm actually going to work with these artists but I keep this information somewhere. As far as working as a curator is concerned, I have a different approach depending on whether it's a group or solo show. For a group show I write a text with the concept after choosing the artists. I feel there is a point of cohesion between them, that they share common thoughts or at least explore a common subject and it ends up falling into place. Of course, the use of the space is also decisive. For solo shows I have long talks with the artists (depending, naturally, on the artists themselves) and we exchange ideas on the concept, working closely for the layout.
I always have future projects in stock, that's what makes me get out of bed every day! I have China calling me back, I'm working on an art project there with two Chinese partners. It's still at an early stage but it's coming along nicely. At Underdogs we also have great projects and exciting exhibitions lined up for the future. I also want to make the project travel or at least inject the Underdogs' DNA abroad. Perhaps in Asia as we've already got the connections there. You'll just have to wait and see!

Exclusive interview by Aujourd'hui
Images courtesy of Pauline Foessel

INTERVIEW - SAMUEL FRANÇOIS

Installation view, Politics of Surface,  Berthold Pott

Installation view, Politics of Surface,  Berthold Pott

The first interview ever presented in Aujourd’hui celebrates and presents the work of Samuel François. Naturally, the international exposure of his work, widely exhibited in galleries and institutions such as Galerie Jeanroch Dard (Paris/Brussels), Rod Barton Gallery (London), Berthold Pott (Cologne) and in collective exhibitions at the Musée Musée Départemental du Sel (Marsal), Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris), BWA (Wroclaw) and Autocenter (Berlin) is considered, but also his role as a curator in several projects. Take a look on why the french artist born in 1977 in Pompey went to work in Hettange-Grande, a small commune far away in the north-east region of France, but close enough to some of the biggest locations in european art.

Installation view, Threesome, Berthold Pott

Installation view, Threesome, Berthold Pott

Could you tell us a little bit about your background and what has brought you to this point?
It's simple: Graffiti, an architecture school, an art school in province and a collective project where we worked to make some links between design and art (Inkunstruction). I have done artist residencies in France and Germany, meetings, and a gallery that trusts me (Galerie Jeanroch Dard). The desire to experience things. I don't know what else I could do.

You live in Hettange-Grande in the north-eastern region of France’s border with Luxembourg. Why have you made this choice and does it influence or inform your work? 
My girlfriend comes from this village and I met her in art school. After few years in Metz, each of us won, in consecutive turns, a scholarship to work in Berlin. Two years later, when we finished our residency, we returned to France, Hettange-Grande, because her parents had a house with lots of space. Now it’s our studio and our home. It's 1h40m from Paris by train, 2 hours from Brussels or Cologne by car,   2h40m from Basel by train… It’s in the countryside, but not really isolated. In Metz there is a very good FRAC (Fond Régional d'Art Contemporain), the new Centre Pompidou, CAC Delme. In Luxembourg they have Mudam, the Casino and some galleries… Finally, there are enough cultural structures to be able to find a certain dynamism.

Your approach to painting has a strong emphasis on the materials used, such as the survival blankets or raincoat paintings. How do you select the materials you work with and what’s your relationship with them? Do they have a symbolic meaning?
I have been very interested in the concept of "surface" for several years. I collected samples, pictures, details of materials, furniture and clothing. When I became interested in "painting" I tried to paint on canvas using paint, but I realised I was just producing one more abstract painting. Mostly, I understood that it was the "canvas" as an object I wanted to talk about and not really paint. I decided to work without painting, to find out what could be similar to a contact, a line, a move, a trace on a surface ... like what I had stored in my studio. I choose materials for their plastic quality but also sometimes for the meaning that can be injected into them. The survival blankets were associated with lighters on which were printed naked women. The parallel between physical heat and warmth, the idea heckled me. And then the fact that it's false, it's shining like silver or gold, but it's not… The illusion of a treasure or an encounter. The pieces with the raincoats I immediately found within the surface. The material is very attractive... it contrasts with the image that we have in mind of workwear. This surface is like a skin, it has very different vibrations depending on how you look. It’s a skin with two different faces. I search and cut it, I have nothing to do or to add, there are already traces or marks on it, which are exactly what I was trying to paint or sculpt.

Samuel François, Ralph Lauren, 2014

Samuel François, Ralph Lauren, 2014

Installation view, Threesome, Berthold Pott ( Jean-Baptiste Bernadet (left) Samuel François (right) )

Installation view, Threesome, Berthold Pott ( Jean-Baptiste Bernadet (left) Samuel François (right) )

In your opinion what’s the role of an artist today? What drives you? 
What motivates me is that I don't see myself doing anything else. I like to search, to be in failure and to interact with others through my production. My works embrace failure in a positive way. The role or roles of the artist… I don't know yet or I’m not sure to be able to find the right words to express my thoughts. I taught in art school for three years and I must admit that my idea about it is constantly evolving. I try to do what I have to do without worrying too much about it. 

You have also curated exhibitions before. What was your approach on curating, and what’s your opinion on the “artist as curator” role? 
I have curated several exhibitions project with different degrees of success, but I am still trying to question the size of these exhibitions. A library room with works by Piotr Lakomy, Renato Leotta, Claire Decet… or the exhibition space of a national art-school of Nancy with Israel Lund, Olivier Kosta-Théfaine, Jean-Baptiste Bernadet, Justin Morin, etc ... Each time there was this idea of confronting the works with the space in which we decided to show. The space of the library offered a step back on the work while the school's exhibition space offered a similar vision of a landscape. It's a real pleasure to work with other artist’s work... it's like a solo exhibition with pieces that I would like to produce. It's like having at disposal more vocabulary to express what is sometimes difficult to express with our own words.

Do you collect other artist’s work? 
Not really…I received pieces by artist friends like Justin Morin, Jean-Baptiste Bernadet, Olivier Kosta-Théfaine, Manor Grunwald, some pieces by my girlfriend Claire Decet and some paintings and objects from the flea-market. I don't really like to own things, and it's the same for my works: I don't keep any of my pieces. I do have some editions and too many books, I can't stay somewhere without buying a book, old magazine, etc…

Installation view, For your love, Galerie Jeanrochdard ( Samuel François (left) Benoit Plateus (right) )

Installation view, For your love, Galerie Jeanrochdard ( Samuel François (left) Benoit Plateus (right) )

Installation view, ASAP, Galerie Jeanrochdard

Installation view, ASAP, Galerie Jeanrochdard

What are you working on / Do you have any upcoming projects you could tell us about?
I am working on news pieces for difference projects: Art Cologne with Jeanroch Dard and Berthold Pott in April and a solo exhibition at Berthold Pott (Cologne) before the end of the year. I'm currently working on it, but things change. I am seeking a way to integrate video or photography in my new proposals. A few years ago I took advantage of things so I would find this spontaneity. Next week I am going to the United States for three months with three artists and friends, it’s an exciting project with many surprises. From Hettange-Grande to Los Angeles… it's funny. I am also trying to finish a book with my own publishing house "BunkEdition”, and I would like to do more kilometres by bike than last year… it's a good start.

Exclusive interview by Aujourd'hui.
Image courtesy of Samuel François, Berthold Pott Gallery (Cologne)  and Galerie Jeanroch Dard (Paris).