#AllEyesOnHyeres2014: Interviews with Photographers in Competition

April 25th, 2014

By the time the Hyères Festival opened to the public today, Friday, April 25, more than 100 exchanges had already been had between the competing photographers and the established members of the photo jury. Brought together in the Cubist Garden at Villa Noailles—a Modernist masterpiece built by architect Robert Mallet Stevens in the hills above the village—each candidate met individually with every member of the panel, overseen by renowned fashion photographer Steve Hiett and assembled very much in his image: eclectic, open, progressive.

The Stimlueye took some time to speak with each of the competing photographers about their work and background.

All Photos by Filep Motwary

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ARNAUD LAJEUNIE, 27, FRANCE

Who are you? 

My name is Arnaud Lajeunie, I am 27, from France. I have a MA in Political Sciences (SciencesPo, Paris) and a BA in Photography (Les Gobelins, Paris)

What forces, cultural or otherwise, have influenced your work?

Some contemporary writers (Deleuze, Maldiney)
Painting (Cézanne, El Greco, Klee, Cy Twombly)
Music also played a rather significant role too, (Steve Reich, Gustav Mahler, Jean Sibelius, french rap and german electronic music)

How would you describe the body of work that you’re presenting at Hyeres?

Water meets colour, colour meets water is a project I started in 2011, when fascinated by the waves-rocks contact. I desired to overcome the mere spectator status and to engage nature. The colors came rather naturally, and after some research about the products I could use, I finally opted for food colorants. The introduction of colour serves different purposes: it thickens the transparent water, add density and then enables short-term sculptures that alter the viewers perception and understanding of the scene. But, more significant for me, the colour modulates the landscape and create the inner rhythm of the image. This notion of rhythm is crucial as the latter conveys sensations, which, in return raises questions. The images provide no straightforward interpretation and therefore offer a space for imagination, sensation and questioning. I feel there is a contemporary relevance to create area that contest this desire to render decipherable the physical space in which we live.

How does this specific suite of images relate to your larger practice?

Water meets colour, colour meets water adresses the recurrent idea of engaging nature through artificial devices, in order to modulate and then blur the initial understanding of the depicted landscapes. Through this collision between natural fluxes and man-made inputs I seek rhythms, that will generate sensations and, in a second moment, raises critical questions (notably about the issue of control and failure). However, the aesthetic sensation remains compulsory, I think, as it paves the way to a sort of “mental space” where these questions can blossom.

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ANNA GRZELEWSKA, 38, POLAND

Who are you? 

My name is Anna Grzelewska. I am 38 years old. I’m from Poland. I studied anthropology of culture, documentary directing and photography.

What forces, cultural or otherwise, have influenced your work?

I was always inspired by women that were photographers. First of my authorities was Julia Cameron, then Diane Arbus, Nan Goldin and recently Cindy Sherman. Not only their work but also their lives, their sensitivity. Also cinema and theatre had a huge influence on my work.  I explore  the line between true and fiction, reality and creation.

How would you describe the body of work that you’re presenting at Hyeres?

Julia wannabe project is searching for woman’s identity. It tells about maturation of the girl, my daughter Julia. About this ambiguous and mysterious period of time. Photographing Julia I discovered the transfer process. My childhood mix with hers and hidden, never expressed emotions revive. In that sense this is my self-portrait.

How does this specific suite of images relate to your larger practice?

Julia wannabe is a long term project.  Among others, this one is special. It’s about my identity my daughter, about myself. It is not finish yet. I will continue it.

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OSMA HARVILAHTI, FINLAND

Who are you? 

My name is Osma Harvilahti and I was born in Helsinki. My work is based on traveling and exploring different cultures through documenting and a certain visual philosophy and rules that I set to myself. Currently I’m spending about a third of each year traveling and shooting material for books and other personal projects. My background is in social sciences and still the most common motive behind my photography is social. The body of work that I’m showing at Hyères this year is titled as “New Colour”, simply because one of the dominant themes in my work is the use of colour and because it’s “new” as it’s shot during the past 15 months and within a period of 3 months.

What forces, cultural or otherwise, have influenced your work?

One of the greatest motives behind my work is the challenge of transforming my aesthetic to resonate between different cultures. The work is mainly build on very formal qualities such as combinations of colour, material and other abstract elements but on the other hand I’m always aiming to tell stories through abstract visual narratives.

How would you describe the body of work that you’re presenting at Hyeres?

The body of work that is on show at Hyères is an edition of photographs from my first monograph that got published in 2013. It reveals the sometimes abstract and largely visual philosophy behind my work and shows some of my favourite pieces I was able to produce last year. During the festival I will also show a new body of work in forms of a presentation and a print portfolio.

How does this specific suite of images relate to your larger practice?

It’s very important that the image I produce feels honest and unpretentious. Simply put, I’m always aiming to produce work that feels “real” and looks beautiful. One of the qualities I’m constantly aiming towards is that I could create a sort of a continuum and a connection between my older work and the new work, so that the photographs relate and resonate between each other and most importantly become part of something larger rather than just a body of work that get’s forgotten when something new appears. I’m hoping that the new work that I will be producing in japan and China this year will connect and respond to some questions I created last year at very different cultures and locations.

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ORIANNE LOPES, 25, FRANCE

Who are you? 

My name is Orianne Lopes, I’m 25 years old, I was born in France (Lyon) but my parents are Portuguese. I have been studying at ECAL (École Cantonale d’Art de Lausanne) in Switzerland where I’m living now.

What forces, cultural or otherwise, have influenced your work?

I was inspired by all the myth about the Venus and feminist preoccupations in all ages but also by the artists who had worked on these subjects. For this work precisely, I have been influenced by famous figures like the black Venus, Josephine Baker, Grace Jones…

How would you describe the body of work that you’re presenting at Hyeres?

I would describe it as a totally uninhibited and visual feeling about the black female body in the western culture and the clichés which are linked to. In a more larger view it’s a photographic work about the image of the feminine ideal.

How does this specific suite of images relate to your larger practice?

I have always been treating of femininity and body in my practice in different ways and with different use of the photographic medium.

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BIRTHE PIONTEK, GERMANY

Who are you? 

My name is Birthe Piontek. I am originally from Germany but currently based in Vancouver, Canada. I moved there in 2005, after graduating from the University of Essen, where I did my Masters in Communications Design and Photography. Since then I have been working as a photographer for various magazines i.e. New York Times Magazine, Le Monde, Esquire etc. while also pursuing my own artistic projects.

What forces, cultural or otherwise, have influenced your work?

I’ve always been very interested in portraiture and the different ways of how people’s identities are displayed. In the beginning I looked a lot at classical portrait painting from the Renaissance or the Dutch masters. I was also inspired by  a certain cinematic style that you can find in movies of David Lynch.

How would you describe the body of work that you’re presenting at Hyeres?

The work I am presenting at Hyeres is a continuation of my exploration of the idea of an image representing a person. With the work Mimesis I create a fictional world of representation that mediates our relationship to reality. I appropriate, change and reinterpret the original found images, in an effort to invite the viewer to look beyond the surface.

How does this specific suite of images relate to your larger practice?

I’m interested in portraiture and see my camera as a tool to investigate the question of identity. While in the past I worked in a more traditional way of portraiture, I am now more curious to include other art forms such as installation and sculpture in my practice.

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VIRGINIE REBETEZ, 35, SWITZERLAND

Who are you? 

My name is Virginie Rebetez. I am freshly 35 and I come from Switzerland. I studied Photography first at the Photography School of Vevey, in Switzerland, then I went to Amsterdam to do the Gerrit Rietveld Academie, from which I graduated in 2008. I am living now in Lausanne (CH), after having spent 7 years in Amsterdam.

What forces, cultural or otherwise, have influenced your work?

I am interested in photographic works having a real reflection on the Photography medium. I am a fan of Taryn Simon, for instance. But I can get inspiration to start a new project from many different things: People I meet, “faits divers” in the newspaper, movies or books (the description of “the psycho-magic acts” from Alejandro Jodorowski for example.)

How would you describe the body of work that you’re presenting at Hyeres?

The work I am presenting at Hyères is called «Under Cover». The serie counts 13 photographs (5 presented in the festival) and was made last year in the biggest cemetery of Soweto (South Africa). I photographed the tombstones which are covered with different materials (blankets, plastic..) and so are masking the identity of the deceased. This practice is part of the funeral ritual. When the tombstone is placed, after the funeral, the family covers it immediately. The tombstone will stay in this state until the “unveiling ceremony”, a big ceremony not to honor the life on earth of the deceased anymore, as the funeral, but to celebrate his life after death. This covering period can go from weeks to years.

I decided to photograph them in front of a black background to put them out of their context and so giving them a new status, a new identity. They become then statues, totems, silenced characters, or monuments waiting to be revealed to the public. Of course, the action of ‘unveiling’ is quite symbolic…

How does this specific suite of images relate to your larger practice?

All my works are closely related and follow the same research, the same interest for the invisible, the invisible world, the traces left after a disappearance, after death. I like to reactivate something dying or already dead in creating something new out of it, as an attempt to stop the final closure. I am interested in questioning our concepts of identity, memory both individual and collective as well as the medium of Photography itself.

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MARIE RIME, 24, SWITZERLAND

Who are you? 

My name is Marie Rime. I am 24 years old and come from Switzerland. I am actually finishing my BA in Photography at the Ecal in Lausanne.

What forces, cultural or otherwise, have influenced your work?

What inspires me the most is the place I come from, Switzerland. I have been raised and I still live there, so its culture, traditions, news and problems are part of who I am today.

How would you describe the body of work that you’re presenting at Hyeres?

I am presenting two different series at the festival : Armures and Pharma. Armures is a series representing seven pictures of women wearing armors that I created myself with household objects. Pharma is a reflection about the power of pharmaceutical industry and the ambiguity of its role, attractive but necessary.

How does this specific suite of images relate to your larger practice?

The two series have a very different esthetic but they both refer to the general idea of power and its ambiguity and attractiveness.

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MARLEEN SLEEUWITS, 33, NETHERLANDS

Who are you? 

My name is Marleen Sleeuwits and I am 33 years old. I was born in the east of Holland where I grew up in a small village. At age 17 I moved to The Hague where I studied photography at the Royal Academy of Art. After graduation I worked two years as a commercial photographer but this didn’t feel like it was something I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I started the MA in Breda to find out about my own fascinations and how to work on my own projects. With my photoworks I explore places with which it seems you are unable to make any connection. I construct and deform spaces in empty office buildings until an image comes into being that conveys this experience.

What forces, cultural or otherwise, have influenced your work?

I like wandering through cities I haven’t been before but mostly I am inspired by the buildings where I temporarily work. These are office blocks from the 70’s. Their interiors are filled with cheap short lived materials such as laminate flooring, self-adhesive wall tiles. It’s fascinating for me that these materials are like a shell that holds no memory and can be changed every few years.
Also I’m very interested in photographers who search for the boundaries in photography. In The Netherlands there are quite a lot of young photographers who make great work and experiment with the medium, combining photography with video, sculpture and installations.

How would you describe the body of work that you’re presenting at Hyeres?

The four photo’s shown in Hyeres are an overview of the works I made in the last three years. Their all interiors I have constructed in empty office buildings. It is unclear what their function is, where they are and what time of day they were photographed. They almost appear to be situated beyond consciousness. The feeling of estrangement and detachment is at the heart of my work. I try to capture the experience of being disconnected from a physical space by almost inviting the viewer to step inside the picture and relate physically to what is portrayed there. Print size and sharpness are therefore of essential importance. In Interiors I play with scale, perception, and the tension between reality and illusion.

4. How does this specific suite of images relate to your larger practice?

How does this specific suite of images relate to your larger practice?

For a long time my work was focused on generic urban spaces such as the empty corners of office blocks, waiting areas at airports or the deserted corridors of hotels. Interiors where we often find ourselves but are shut off, as it were, from our consciousness. Previously I searched for and photographed a portrayal of such places; three years ago, in order to delve deeper into the experience of these locations, I have began to intervene with such like interiors. These transformations mostly resemble temporary installations or sculptures and make the experience of disconnection transmissible on a more psychological level. The four photo’s shown here can be seen as a small overview of this last period.

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CHARLOTTE TANGUY, 35, FRANCE

Who are you? 

My name is Charlotte Tanguy, I am 35 and come from France. I actually studied drawing and illustration. I am self-taught in photography, it came later: five years ago.

What forces, cultural or otherwise, have influenced your work?

I was interested in a cinematic way of sequencing. Cinema and literature influence my work, but also dance, scientific essays etc.

How would you describe the body of work that you’re presenting at Hyeres?

It is a vivid sequence and experience. I put myself in a situation that creates distance between me and my surroundings, and at the same time it makes elementary forms visible.

How does this specific suite of images relate to your larger practice?

This series is the continuity of my previous work, which ended on an inability to read and understand my surroundings, it became my statement.

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LORENZO VITTURI, ITALY

Who are you? 

My name is Lorenzo Vitturi, and I am a Venetian photographer living and working in London.
I studied design and photography, and I started to work as a set designer in the film industry in Rome. I then I brought all this experience into my photography practice which revolves around playful site-specific interventions at the intersection of photography, sculpture and performance.

What forces, cultural or otherwise, have influenced your work?

The main force that influences my work everyday is my passion for light, colour and form.
Culturally I’ve been mostly influenced by my hometown Venice and it’s melancholic beauty.
Venice influenced the way I looked at the world, my experiences and expectations.  My memories are suprasensorial, and I’ve searched for ways to harness this, and translate it into photographs – to disregard it’s perceived intangibility, to manipulate space and the space of the image, and evoke smell in colour and memory in transforming forms and materials.

How would you describe the body of work that you’re presenting at Hyeres?

Here at Hyeres I am presenting a brief selection of my latest project, Dalston Anatomy, which is a book about the Ridley Road Market in Dalston– a unique place in London that is maintaining its authenticity in spite of a surrounding gentrification process. Its community represents perfectly the multicultural nature of Hackney and East London.

During the last year I have been taking pictures, making sculptures and collages with all sort of material I have been finding along the street of the market.

How does this specific suite of images relate to your larger practice?

My larger practice is a continuous dialogue between photography and sculpture. For this reason, in order to make the most of the space I had available here in Hyeres I chosen to present the suite of images as a site-specific installation using different kind of materials coming from my studio in London.


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davide balliano

April 2nd, 2013

He works across many mediums, makes work and research constantly and needs to have a lot of order in his life.

New York-based Italian artist Davide Balliano had a conversation with me about his artistic trajectory, his work, rock climbing, his influences, his love of intervention and his first show in Paris at the Galerie Michel Rein. 

Davide Balliano
UNTITLED_Woman V
Ink on book page
21x26,8 Cm
2013

Courtesy: Michel Rein Gallery, Paris

Lynsey Peisinger: Tell me a bit about your life and your path as an artist.

Davide Balliano: I was born and grew up in Torino, in the northwest of Italy. I was there until I was 18 and then I started in high school studying advertising and graphic design. It was a very peculiar school, a very specific school, which had a lot of elements that are still useful for me now. Especially the graphic design elements, the study of the image, the history of the image, art history. All of that is still informing my work today.

After that, I moved to Milan where I studied photography at Bauer, which is a fabulous school of photography. It is probably the last public school of photography that is left in Italy. What I liked of the school was the approach that they had, that I think they still have now, where rather than teaching “photography as a job”, they tried to raise us as artists working in the medium of photography. They train you as an artist who used the tool of photography. Then what you do with that tool is your choice.

Two years after school, I went to Fabrica, which is a large artist residence in Treviso, in the north east of Italy, a half hour from Venice. It is a beautiful place. A huge building built by Tadao Ando and there are usually approximately 40 artists in residence. It was very commercial-based. There is not much interest in pure artistic research. It’s more applied art. It was a very good experience–they pay you be there, they give you studio, they pay for all of your materials, they give you an apartment. You don’t have to worry about anything.  But, even if it was great, it sort of crushed my relationship with photography. Fabrica had a very strong way of shaping the people that were there, so they were not making it a mystery that they couldn’t care less about the kind of photography that I was doing! I was very young, I was 21.

After Fabrica, I stayed one more year in Milano, then I got badly bored of staying in Italy. So I moved to NY in 2006. And it is in the early time in NY that I started to do other stuff. I felt that this move to NY was sort of giving me a clean cut from everything that I did until then. I sort of put photography a bit on the side and I started to draw and to intervene, but still on photographic images. I assume that because of my background in photography, I always have a difficult time starting anything from a blank background, you know from a white slate. For me, it has always been terrifying!

Davide Balliano
UNTITLED_Barbaro
Watercolor and acrylic on book page
18x25 Cm
2012

Courtesy: Galerie Rolando Anselmi, Berlin

LP: How did you start to move into the mediums you are working with now?

DB: So I started to print out images, mainly from the internet at that time. I still collect a lot images just for my inspiration. And I started to draw freehand on them, mainly abstract geometrical mess! Abstract scribbles, nothing with a precise meaning. Pretty soon, it sort of got clear that the issues that I had with photography were still there–even if I am intervening on top, I still had to take care very much of the meaning of the background image.

There are some images that you can just use for their mood, but there are other images that have a precise meaning that carries responsibilities. I think that this is something that you can use but you need to be conscious about it.

I always hate any kind of work in any kind of medium that just takes strong images and slams them there without standing by it. I always find that it’s a very cheap shortcut.  It is something that I always hate.

So, then I started to draw on art history images because I felt that they left me more freedom somehow because there is already a big gap. You are more free to relate with the feeling of the image rather than with historical facts. The facts are there and I agree that I should deal with that, but there is a distance so there is a larger filter. So if I make a drawing on top of a portrait of a king, I should probably do research about who it is etc, but I don’t. And most people wouldn’t say “why did you make a drawing on this king and not on another one?”.

If you do the same kind of thing in photography, it is difficult because photography is such a young medium that almost any photographic image is in a historical context.  So from there, the intervention grew more and more precise and became more and more essential. So if you take a drawing of four or five years ago, which was abstract and geometrical, but still messy and not so calculated, they sort of condensed somehow and at some point, it felt a need to take this intervention that I was doing on paper and put it on other mediums.

I burned that town just to see your eyes shine
Wood and glass
137x48x48 Cm
2012

Courtesy: Galerie Rolando Anselmi, Berlin
Photo: Nikki Brendson

LP: Tell me a bit about the medium of performance.

DB: Performance, which I do although rarely, is a different thing although I feel that it is strongly connected to….photography. It is interesting, I feel that performance is strongly connected to photography because I still feel it as the production of an image. An image that is locked by a location and by a time. I am very fascinated by the potential of making a legend with performance, not necessarily mine. Sometimes you see performances that are unrepeatable–the original work is born in one place at a specific time and if you were there, there is nothing that can repeat that moment. And it gives you something that is so unique, it sort of makes you part of the history of the work, much more than in other mediums.

Most of the time in other mediums, the work is done by an artist and then is shown. And the artwork has a life and it will be the same life for the next many many years. But a performance is in a place and in a moment and if you were there, you had the privilege of being part of it and then nothing will take that away. I find it fascinating. And I relate to it as the creation of an image, practically speaking.

LP: It sounds like performance gives you an opportunity to experience being an artist in a different way.

DB: Exactly. And also seeing what it means for other artists. It has been great because I am completely incapable of doing it in any other medium. I am sort of a control freak for anything else that I do. I know that in performance, I very much enjoy opening up to collaboration and seeing what it brings.

LP: At which point in your life did you realize that you wanted to be making art? Was it from childhood? Did you go to that graphic design school because you knew that already about yourself?

DB: Well, I will say that it depends. I always, since when I was a kid, felt an extreme need for creative expression. So I always had no doubt that I would be doing something creative in life. But, the decision to make exclusively art research sort of developed over the years. It felt like everything else just dropped and it stayed there. For all of my school time, I had the idea that it was impossible to only do that.

I always thought “I need to do something else on the side”. For example, I thought I could do graphic design while doing other work. Also with photography, but photography was even closer to making pure artwork. But it was an idealistic idea that I could be an artist but also make commercial stuff. I needed to take a decision between the two things. And I think that especially when you are young, people want one or the other.

Another thing that I understood–I sound like an old grandfather saying “when I was young…etc”! — When I was in high school I was doing a lot of rock climbing and at a certain point I had a trainer and was training five days a week. I loved it, but I liked to go out and go to concerts too. I had my social life which was very important to me. Everyone else there was like a monk about it. Just training, training, training. They ate only certain food, they were constantly on a diet. Complete dedication. I understood that I couldn’t at all put in that type of dedication and I couldn’t compete with people that were that dedicated to it. And later, I felt the same way with photography.

If you are trying to do something good, you should consider that most likely there is somebody else that is trying to do it and he is going to be very good at it and he is going to put all his energy into it, he is going to make tons of sacrifices and he is going to go through hell to achieve it. So if you are not up for that, you are in for a competition that will never bring you anywhere. So photography for me was sort of like that. 

I was in Milano therefore everything was about fashion photography. I mean, fashion photography was fun! I would go to a set, with models and people and music. It’s all fun. But if you are trying to do it, you are in competition with 500 kids obsessed with their freaking portfolios who are putting their money into making fashion photography. I’m like “hell no”! I have to be paid to make fashion photography, not the other way around. People would tell me that I had to put together a fashion photography portfolio and then when people look at you because of that, you bring in your art research. But for me, I knew I would not have the energy to do that because I was already putting all my energy into my research. And I sort of became clear that it wouldn’t work. I had to push on thing or the other.

So I decided only to concentrate on art. I assisted for many years. I wanted to learn from an artist. I wanted to learn about art-making and also the practical side of it.

Davide Balliano
UNTITLED_Grid27
Acrylic on linen
120x180 Cm
2012

LP: When you came to NY, you assisted Marina Abramovic for four years. How did that experience influence your work and how did it prepare you for your own path as an artist? 

DB: For me, Marina was like my own private university. She taught me everything that I know about surviving as an artist.

Independently of the love that I have of her work–I approached her because I always had an extreme fascination with her work– the privilege that I had when working with her was that I was in contact with the private side of her. And what I gained from the private relationship is to see how she is completely dedicated to her work. Marina is all work. And there is an insane amount of energy and dedication that she puts into it. Her work is her life, there is no separation, there is no in between.

The personal investment that she makes in her work, I assume gives her this concentration that comes out so clearly in the work. And, other than that, she is such a big artists that if you work with her for four years, afterwards you can truly do anything. I came out of that experience being practically scared of nothing.

Marina works at such a level of intensity that there is really nothing that you can’t do after that. It is like boot camp. You are so used to working under pressure –good pressure, but pressure–daily. Everyday was the same amount of concentration and speed and pressure. The responsibilities are always big. There is never a day that you go and pick up flowers! Every day is something big, something important, something that you can’t mess up. When you do that every day for four years, you come out and truly its like those American movies about Marines. You can really do anything!

LP: You seem to have an approach to your work that is extremely organized and structured. It seems to me that are an artist who approaches your work like one might approach any business in terms of how you structure and use your time and also how you interact with and deal with people. I wonder if working with Marina influenced that or if you were always someone who could self-motivate and give order to your life. 

DB: Definitely working with Marina, and my other assistant jobs, gave me that structure. Marina is naturally 80 percent of it, but everything contributed. Assisting fashion photographers meant being efficient and fast. There are a lot of responsibilities and you have to work under pressure, so you get used to needing to maintain focus. Keeping your concentration on the work itself under all the pressure seems to me to be the secret that all of these big guys shared.

There are tons of different kinds of artists and I know fabulous artists that work in complete chaos and it’s fine for them. Their art can come out of that. They can do nothing for weeks and then disappear and work day and night for a month and then come out like drained zombies, but the resulting work is marvelous.

But that’s not for me. The less I do, the more in pain I feel.

Davide Balliano
PICATRIX, installation view

Courtesy: Michel Rein Gallery, Paris

LP: Tell me about that show in Paris.

DB: The show in Paris started with an invitation from Eugenio Viola, a wonderful curator that I worked with last January. He invited me to have this little show and he set the theme of the show. He asked me to work with the concepts of alchemy and symbolism and sort of esoteric feelings, which is something that is present in my work even if I don’t always relate to those things in my life.

There are four works on paper, two paintings on board and one sculpture. We see a combination of different mediums and the dialogue that they have with each other, which is very important for me. I never make a show that deals with only one medium because it feels like a small part of what I do. I feel like I can’t say what I want to say with one medium, I have to put them together.

In the past Alchemy was called “the great work” and I love it. I like the utopic idea that through my work, and the elements given to me, I can control these elements and have a higher understanding of who I am and a higher consciousness.

Eugenio asked me to consider these things and to put together a little show that gives my view on these topics, so I did.

LP: What is the last thing that stimulated you?

DB: The film The Turin Horse by Bela Tarr. It is really stuck in my mind and I keep on thinking about it. It was very very strong for me. And not because I am from Turin! Its strict and minimal and powerful and its a complete tragedy. There is no space for hope, no space for light, like a classic tragedy. Everything is rotting and closing in on you. Sometimes I feel that tragedy might be more inspiring than happy thoughts. Happy thoughts are private while tragedy can be shared and if you recognize the suffering in someone else, it can make you feel less alone in your own troubles. That is probably why all of the work that I strongly admire has a heavy portion of tragedy and weight.

PICATRIX at Galerie Michel Rein, curated by Eugenio Viola
http://michelrein.com/
http://www.davideballiano.com/


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design parade 7

June 28th, 2012

When we say “Hyères” we often mean “the fashion and photography festival” organized by the Villa Noailles.
But we shouldn’t.
Because for the last 7 years, there’s been another “Hyères” in Hyères :
Design Parade.

10 young design-ers, eye-popping exhibitions dedicated to furniture and industrial design, a special focus on the art brought back by the Noailles’ African expeditions in the 30’s, and already a spin-off event, Tapis Parade (Carpet Parade).

Design Parade 7 visual

Design Parade 7.
masque dogon
«Dege» Mask, Dogon, collected at Opti, Mali, in 1931, 'bois de tage', Musée du quai Branly.
Tapis Parade
TAPIS PARADE - Anémones Jekyll, François Dumas, La Chance.
Fanny Dora
Daedaleas, Fanny Dora © Charles Negre, ECAL 2011.
francois azambourg
Grillage, fauteuil, François Azambourg, Ligne Roset © Jean-Pierre Lemoine.

Design Parade 7
Opening Friday June 29th
Until September 30th.
Villa Noailles, Hyères
Var – France.


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The perfect muse: François Sagat

June 1st, 2012

In Carlo Collodi’s 1883 children’s novel “The Adventures of Pinocchio” it is the wooden puppet that possesses sentience prior to its transformation; it is the puppet and not its creator, the woodcarver who triggers the miracle of the doll coming alive.

With François one never knows who pulls the strings. It is him who invokes the sentiment for a story to become alive. Yet he hands himself over unconditionally to his collaborators, like an “instrument to be played”, as he likes to call it.

Film director Christopher Honoré once expressed that François Sagat “redefines the notion of masculinity”.  François, the humble boy from Cognac has moulded himself to unattainable iconic status. Gilded with his blue inked crane, he is to conquer his righteous spot in the pantheon of pop culture…

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"François Sagat with Apple" Exhibition SPECTRE, Hyères 2010. Photography by René Habermacher

René Habermacher : you recently played alongside Chiara Mastroianni in HOMME AU BAIN by Christophe Honoré, and as well the lead in Bruce LaBruce L.A. ZOMBIE – how were your experiences?

François Sagat: L.A ZOMBIE was an experience which had very little to do with HOMME AU BAIN… The shoot for LA ZOMBIE was like a real porno shoot, scene by scene, it was mostly fucking, except that of course the porno version was censored for festivals…Beyond the sex scenes, LA ZOMBIE was a chaotic shoot, without a script, hasardous… but I’m still to this day satisfied with this participation and collaboration with Bruce LaBruce, from whom I still have much to learn, and who possesses a huge cinema and litterary culture… Despite what his critics say, I think Bruce has a real style.

During the shoot I really tested my capacity to resist “obstacles”, it was at times very difficult, I didn’t know where I was going, no direction, it was like being thrown in the lion’s den.
There was no script, the storytelling was weak and the whole plan was turned on its head by last minute changes and many cancelations, but that can be said about a lot of “cinema” projects.

L'HOMME AU BAIN by Christophe Honoré, starring Chiara Mastroianni and François Sagat.

Regarding  HOMME AU BAIN, the shooting was a lot more structured, but energetic nevertheless. It’s on this project that I realized that my abilities as an actor were limited, weak even, and felt like I was a big challenge for Christophe Honoré because of my “heavy” image, of the luggage I was carrying.
There were moments when I thought I terrified him, being everything except malleable. The project was constantly evolving due to the fact that we had planned it as a short, and that a lot of questions arose towards the end of shooting. It was finally released as a full feature film, and I have the feeling it wasn’t the right place for the film.

It was an intimate project which to me, with hindsight, would have had a strong impact as a short. But I am neither director nor the creator of my own character.  Rather than control the situation, I felt the blowback. But surely the imperfection of the final result  makes it a real film, that can be remarked and criticized. I chose to shoot it and live the collaboration for the moment rather than think of the finished product.

FRANCOIS_SAGAT_RENE_HABERMACHER_THE_STIMULEYE_ROSE
François Sagat for QVEST magazine. Photography by René Habermacher.

What is the difference to you between acting in a porn movie or a feature film?

The difference ? Of course there are differences.

When you’re a porno actor, you’re in constant control of your carnal envelope and your physical aspect, whether you learn it or you have it from the start.

I didn’t know it as first but I am someone who has that ability. Porn is often an activity for people who are shy orally.

As a performer, you never really have to carry the more or less artistic responsabilities of a porn film, because there is no artistic issue to start with. You just have to be a good soldier fitting what the consumer desires to watch and what the production has decided, and that’s it.

I think also that I am someone who’s very sexual and exhibitiionist, but that’s not really giving you a scoop. Porn is like military service, it’s “my way or the highway”, and in my case, I’ve been and continue to be a good soldier.

The main difference is that you need a capacity to adapt and to lose who you really are, physically as well as morally. I created for myself a character in porn as in life, it’s difficult to let it go.

FRANCOIS_SAGAT_RENE_HABERMACHER_THE_STIMULEYE_PILLORY_VILLA_NOAILLES
Video still from PILORI installation by Lynsey Peisinger & The Stimuleye. Villa Noailles, Hyères 2012.

Read the rest of this entry »


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télé hyères

April 27th, 2012

The Stimuleye presents Télé-Hyères…

Télé-Hyères
A The Stimuleye Production
Directed by Antoine Asseraf
Filmed by Thibault Della Gaspera & Jason Last
Postproduction by Clément Roncier
Interviews by Filep Motwary
Music by Ça Va Chéri


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HIGHER ATLAS – Marrakech Biennale

March 14th, 2012
The Arab Spring.
One year later, the events seem so distant already, and yet an undeniable change has taken place in the atmosphere.

A special case: Marocco, where evolution, rather than revolution, is being encouraged through a revised constitution. And now, the Marrakech Biennale, HIGHER ATLAS, curated by Carson Chan and Nadim Samman under the patronage of Vanessa Bronson, opens its door.

A special case, a special place, in a special time… an interview with curator Carson Chan.

theatre_royal_marrakech_THE_STIMULEYE
The Théatre Royal, under construction.
How was lunch?

Thanks for asking! There’s been little time for lunch these days, but the 6 dirham omelets across from one of exhibition sites, the Théâtre Royal, are great.
Now that you spend so much time in Marrakech- what are your favorite places you hang out to get a fresh head?
With my indispensable curatorial assistant, Marie Egger, we often duck away for an hour at the Cafe de la Poste, a beautiful colonial-era restaurant.

Did you accustom to the local rhythm?
It took a few weeks, but I think I finally got a hang of how to deal with contractors, suppliers, interns, accountants and bureaucracy in Marrakech. This time around, I’ve been here for more than a month, and it’s been great to become familiar with some of the people in my neighbourhood. That being said, I’m still often my own tourist attraction!

So did you surrender? Or is it the other way around?
I think everyone involved has surrendered to the biennial making process. I knew that logistics would be a challenge, but in the end, the exhibition, often spectacular, sometimes very quiet, was curated to appeal first and foremost to the senses.

How did your engagement with the Marrakech biennale and Nadim Samman come together?
We were invited December 2010. I ended up meeting Vanessa Branson, the president of the Arts in Marrakech foundation at Art Basel Miami, and was hired after a brief presentation of my past exhibitions on my ipad! She had met Nadim a month earlier in London at an exhibition he made there.

You had initially planned the El Badi palace to be at the core of the Higher Atlas biennale. As I understand one of the challenges you faced with the change of administration was that at some point El Badi was no longer available. What were the consequences?

The consequences of losing the El Badi palace was pretty great in the end! The show now spans five different sites in and around Marrakech, so when traveling from one location to another, visitors, both local and from abroad, will begin to see the city as part of the context of the exhibition.

The Théâtre Royal, a half completed opera house commissioned by King Hassan II, the old foundations and underground cisterns of the sacred Koutoubia Mosque, the so-called Cyber Park (it’s owned by Moroc Telecom and has perhaps the best wifi in the city!), the Bank al-Maghrib building in the historic Djemaa el-Fna square as well as an large scale sculptural installation by Elin Hansdottir in the town of Tassoultante about 15km outside of the city are all places where we have exhibitions.

Particularly in the urban public spaces like the square, the park and Koutoubia, it has been amazing to see visitors that have had very little exposure to contemporary art stay and take time to experience the work.

Installation by Ethan Hayes-Chute.
Did the “arab spring” affect you curating this project?

The so-called Arab Spring (no one here would ever associate any kind of political unrest as a problem relating to other countries…) was definitely on my mind when I started conceptualizing the exhibition. Before spending time at in Marrakech, all I knew of Morocco was what I read about in the media – a politics biased reading if anything. The very fact that we made an exhibition of contemporary culture was a response to politic-heavy understanding of North Africa.

People here go shopping, go to restaurants, read books, watch movies and use the internet for YouTube just like everywhere else.

One of the biennales goals are articulating the blurred boundaries between historically discrete spheres, and the conjunction of local and global conditions. Which works would you allocate to this specific target, and how do you see their relevance?

I would say Jon Nash’s work, Moroccan Drift, is a good example. When he was researching Morocco online, he came across several drift videos in which people would speed up their cars and turn in such a way that the car moves sideways. Inspired by Tokyo drift and other videos from around the world, young Moroccans made their own Moroccan drift videos.

In the end, it was the space opened up by the Internet, not, say, geo-politics, that shaped the cultural lives of the Moroccans making these videos. Morocco is used by filmmakers as stand-ins for several other places. Ridley Scott shot Prince of Persia here, and of course Morocco is no where near Persia. Large HDI balloons are often used as stand ins for the moon, and American artist, Karthik Pandian, decided to launch one of them in the Djemaa el-Fna square for one night. On that night, March 2nd, Marrakech had two moons, the real one, and the one Karthik launched, which was cubic in shape – a gigantic white cube, as it were.

Was it difficult for you to get rid of the post-colonial shades and orientalist romanticism?

Post-colonialism and its echos are definitely here, but not unlike other cities like Hong Kong, Montreal or Mexico City. We worked with about 50 university students from the Cadi Ayyad University, and they definitely regard themselves as either Moroccan or simply world citizens, not products of post-colonialism. In fact, I consciously tried to bypass this framework by foregrounding art as a question of physical experience, rather than a communicator of historical conditions. Having said that, Leung Chi Wo, from Hong Kong, reflected on post-colonial identities in his work.

Marrakech_Biennale_2012_CARSON_CHAN_BRANSON_wienskowski_THE_STIMULEYE
Right, Carson Chan, co-curator, and left, Vanessa Bronson, biennale founder.
I am curious to hear a little on the locals reactions in this context?

The local reaction so far has been amazing! If anything, it has really gotten people talking. Thousands came to our opening, and we are being featured in the local media – radio, television, newspaper, magazines – on a daily basis. Our interns, who have worked for the past two months alongside myself and our artists, are our main ambassadors. They tell people on the street, friends, make their own ads and posters about the show.

I went to check up on the Koutoubia exhibition the other days and it was packed with people streaming in from the main square. At the Bank al-Maghrib, where Nine Eglantine Yamamoto-Masson curated video art as part of a walk-in screening room, I saw families sitting inside entranced by the videos.

How did you encounter the local support when approaching it?
Not only do we have support from the mayor, the Wali of Marrakech and just recently the patronage of the King himself, the love and support we get from our contractors and workers has been immense. One contractor, Said Aakif, has been instrumental to the success of the biennale, and we’re all really grateful for his dedication.
You recently halted your project PROGRAM in Berlin, what was the decision? And, in retrospect how do you see this curatorial experience has affected you?

Fotini Lazaridou-Hatzigoga and I ran PROGRAM for more than 5 years, and as a project that experimented in art and architecture exhibitions, we felt that we had had our run.
There will definitely be more projects through PROGRAM, but the experience there has definitely shaped my work here in Marrakech. To start with, many of the artists I’ve shown there were also in the biennale.
What are your plans after the Marrakech Biennale?

I’m editing two magazines – editor at large for 032c, and contributing editor for Kaleidoscope – so that will take up much time. There are a few more exhibitions this year, talks and lectures, but I’m taking time to work on a conference at Yale University with David Tasman and Eeva Liisa Pelkonen about architecture exhibitions. There are a few books up my sleeve as well…


Aleksandra Domanovic's "Monument to Revolution" and the al-Ghiwane singers, 
performing turner-prize nominee Roger Hiorn's untitled performance.

What is the last thing that stimulated you?

The most stimulating thing was the exhibition vernissage. To see people experiencing the artworks I spent so much time thinking about and considering, to see them take it in and take their time, to see people encounter things they may never have encountered before, that has been the most stimulating.
The Marrakech Biennale
HIGHER ATLAS
Exhibition until June 3rd, 2012.

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must see: guy maddin’s spiritismes

February 22nd, 2012

Damned movies, cinema legends, performance, a trance…

Guy Maddin’s new project at Centre Pompidou, featuring Ariane Labed and other stars such as Mathieu Amalric, Amira Casar, Udo Kier and Charlotte Rampling, has all the right ingredients, and best of all, is open for all to see.

The Stimuleye
Collage by Galen Johnson for SPIRITISMES.

Cult Canadian film-maker Guy Maddin invites anyone in Paris or with an internet connection to follow him and his actors live as they meditate and then shoot lost, unreleased or unfinished films by the likes of Hitchcock and Eric von Stroheim…

More info on the Pompidou Center website.

Follow the shoot live with 3 cameras on the Nouveau Festival / Spiritismes website.


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An artist should not make himself into an idol

February 5th, 2012

Marina Abramović is everywhere lately.

A marathon performance at MoMa, another retrospective in Moscow, on the cover of POP magazine, hosting a star studded event at Jeffrey Deitch’s MOCA in LA and an exhibition at The Serpentine Gallery slated for 2012, the HBO documentary “The Artist is Present” just screened at Sundance. An ever growing list of projects that is taking her across continents…

Exclusive long form of interview first published in POP magazine FW2012
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Marina Abramović with her "Mini Me". Photography by René Habermacher for POP magazine

Marina Abramović is everywhere lately. She has emerged from what was considered an alternative section of contemporary art, Performance Art, to finally occupy an untouchable position in the Pantheon of Pop.
A marathon performance at the MoMa, another retrospective in Moscow scheduled, and an exhibition at The Serpentine Gallery slated for 2012, day and night filming of an HBO documentary and an ever growing list of projects. Marina is known for her works in which she tests and pushes her emotional,mental and physical strength, but her schedule takes its toll: Marina is exhausted.
Broad recognition has come comparably late for Abramović, who was often categorized as some sort of Exotic Serbian Vixen. Nevertheless, she has shaped a significant slice of art history like no other.
Today, less considered for her public sexual identity, and more appreciated for her timelessness and her bravery, one could unarguably call Marina “the diva of contemporary art”, were she not so grounded.

02_MARINA_ABRAMOVIC_FREJA_BEHA_RENE_HABERMACHER_THE_STIMULEYE
Freja Beha Erichsen with her "Mini Me". A collaboration by Marina Abramović for POP magazine
Photography by René Habermacher

Our conversation takes place just after Marina’s return to New York from Manchester, England where she spent six weeks collaborating with Robert Wilson on a new biography, “The Life and Death of Marina Abramović”. The play was staged with accompanied music written and conducted by Antony (of Antony and the Johnsons) and narrated by a ferocious Willem Dafoe.
The audience witnessed him meticulously rummaging through the details of her life chronologically. Marina has been clear about her lack of appreciation for theatre as a concept and this play marks a sharp departure from her concept of herself as a performance artist.

She participates in what she used to essentially despise: “To be a performance artist, you have to hate theatre. Theatre is fake: there is a black box, you pay for a ticket, and you sit in the dark and see somebody playing somebody else’s life. The knife is not real, the blood is not real, and the emotions are not real. Performance is just the opposite: the knife is real, the blood is real, and the emotions are real. It’s a very different concept. It’s about true reality.”

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Death mask of Marina Abramović. Photography by René Habermacher

René Habermacher: With this piece you staged something that you call artificial theatre. It lacks the realness that is central to your work. How was this experience for you?

Marina Abramović: I am his material. I completely gave all the control to Bob (Robert Wilson). That is the only way to really be material for someone else, which is very interesting, because its just absolutely the opposite of what I do. This is first time that i have this really radical approach with Bob – he absolutely refused anything to do with performance. This was an amazing experience for me and very difficult, because his approach to rehearsal is like mine to performance, – but yet it’s just rehearsal! Just be there for hours and hours in order for him to fix the light. I lose my reason, I need the public, I need another kind of dialogue. This was a huge discipline not to kill him!

RH: How did this project with Bob come together? Read the rest of this entry »


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Hyères We Go Again

October 20th, 2011

Ladies and gentlemen, place your bets. Every year, the Villa Noailles art center in Hyères, France offers fashion designers and photographers the opportunity to step into the spotlight…

hyères 2012 contest

Photo by 2010 photo winner Yann Gross, look by 2011 fashion winner Léa Peckre.

Design duo Viktor & Rolf ? Stills photographer and Ricard award finalist Erwan Frotin ? Mugler men’s designer Romain Kremer ? Fashion photographer Sølve Sundsbø ? ANDAM 2011 prize winner Anthony Vaccarello ? Lacoste designer Felipe Oliveira Baptista ? All these people have one thing in common – their work was all launched into the spotlight through the Hyères fashion and photography festival, which is now going into its 27th edition.

As a contestant, you must register by November 26th and send your application package by December 5, 2011. Your work will then be reviewed by a jury of fashion, art and photography professionals (including in the past Azzedine Alaia, Nan Goldin, Riccardo Tisci, Peter Knap, Karl Lagerfeld, Viviane Sassen, Dries Van Noten, Tim Walker, Christian Lacroix…).

If you make it past the first rounds of selection, you’ll be given production help for your collection, flown to the Hyères,  given the chance to meet and talk with the 2012 juries, and have the famous Hyères team produce a gallery show of your pictures or a fashion show of your collection, in or around the unique setting of the avant-garde Villa Noailles, once vacation home to the likes of Dali and Cocteau…

And of course, the best part: my little finger tells me this year there will be even more prizes…

In case that wasn’t enough, here’s everything you need to know about Hyères in 2 minutes 6 seconds.

Villa Noailles
2012 Contest guidelines & registration
Registration deadline: November 26th, 2011
Submission deadline: December 5th, 2011


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Guy Bérubé and his Petite Mort

September 20th, 2011
It has been one year now since I moved to Ottawa, Canada. During the past year I’ve come across a few people who are always trying to make the city exciting. Guy Bérubé, a good friend now, is one of them. He owns a gallery – La Petite Mort, a place where taxidermy meets with iconic furniture pieces and fundraising art sales for several charities (including Guy’s own).
La Petite MortLizard photo: Whitney Lewis-Smith.
Far from presenting “Hockey art” or Canadian landscapes, in Guy’s gallery you will find work ranging from portraits of the city’s crack addicts by photographer Tony Fouhse, to poems on pieces of cardboard by Crazzy Dave of the Ottawa homeless community.
With the look and fame of a bad boy, I can only say that Guy is doing a great job for the art community in Canada: making art available and affordable to whoever is interested.
Portrait of Guy BérubéLegs with severed head (Guy's head, btw) Peter Shmelzer.
What was the last thing that stimulated you?
It happened here in Ottawa, it happened to be a lesbian wedding performance by former American prostitute and porn star turned performance artist, Annie Sprinkle, and her partner, hosted by SAWGallery. It was very interesting for me to see. They are already married, but they do an annual wedding with a theme, and this time here in Ottawa it was marriage to nature, and marrying snow. They are eco-sexual; they have sexual feelings about nature (laughs). I hadn’t seen Annie Sprinkle in over 25 years, and I had met her before at a performance in NY where she had a live orgasm on stage.
So, it happened next door to my gallery at St. Brigid’s (a deconsecrated Church), and a lot of people came, and they saw the look and the aesthetics of a wedding. Everybody wearing white, everything was beautifully decorated, the light was coming through the stained glass… but then the performance started. They rode a pile of snow, exposing themselves by lifting their wedding dresses, and then inserted icicles up their vaginas, as they recited their wedding vows.
That seems a bit unusual for the city…
I’m seeing change, slowly but surely, over the 10 years that I have been here. I know that I’ve had some credit for some of the change. I’m seeing a difference in the art that is featured in galleries, even the Municipal galleries are showing things from my artists. It is something positive; Ottawa is a city where there is a possibility of starting from scratch, even though you’ve seen it in other places. Ottawa is a funny little town, very voyeuristic; it’s like the dude at the orgy who complains about the bad drapes and doesn’t jump into the fun.
What would be a good example of this change coming from your gallery and artists?
The USER series by Tony Fouhse is a perfect example of what my gallery does, something of which I’m very proud. It was featured in New York Times, Japan Newsweek… people got it, but it was very difficult at the beginning; lots of people in the neighbourhood, politicians, people were very against the work.
USERMen wrestling: Matthew Dayler / Photo of man laughing: Tony Fouhse.
Creepy baby head: Robert Farmer.
What’s the deal with the stuffed animals?
Before I had the gallery I had the fake tortoiseshell lamp, which I bought in Paris, and then I bought, not knowing why, the baboon. I think I felt sorry for him, it was on the floor of a junk store and people were grossed out by it, so I paid $20. And so, when I got the gallery, a friend of mine asked me if I was going to bring the “creepy animals”. Then people just started bringing their stuffed animals to me, and it became a depository, kind of like an orphanage. You can bring your stuffed animal, but it needs to have a good valid story, like all the other animals there. I’m not online desperately looking for an owl! I don’t buy them.
Guy's taxidermy collection.
You must have some good stories…
A woman once told me she wanted to give me a bison’s head, and I have always loved the look of them.
So, we had a long conversation, and in the end she told me, “well, it hasn’t been taxidermied yet, it’s just the severed head” (laughs…) it was frozen!!!
Make sure to check out La Petite Mort
SLAVA MOGUTIN & BRIAN KENNY
September 2 – October 2, 2011
INTERPENETRATION
Photographs & Drawings
www.lapetitemortgallery.com

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marc turlan: STAR NOTORIOUS

September 9th, 2011
First, he covered them up with a resin mask, then he cut their eyes out, with a scalpel and after with a laser. This is not Dexter, this is artist Marc Turlan, who always finds new ways of torturing magazines.
With his latest solo show EXO STAR he is taking an artistic leap, opening this saturday at Galerie Anne de Villepoix in Paris.
MARC_TURLAN_MG_3985_THE_STIMULEYE
Marc Turlan: protest board 1 and 2, a collaboration with british photographer Timur Celikdag.
Courtesy gal Anne de Villepoix
The new sculptures of Marc Turlan conclude a logical extension of his appropriative work with the pages of glossy magazines:
“The base of all i do is collage. The technique for my sculpture is the same way, it’s like 3 dimensional collages.”
Right in the first room, the program for the exhibit gets clear: a gym workbench, weight bars in a stack, and 6 sheets of mirror, each with a word inscription of mirror mosaic, that serve as the commandments for this show: WORK – NOTORIETY – SINCERITY – POWER – LOVE
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Marc Turlan: Statement Carpets. Courtesy gal Anne de Villepoix
“It’s about the body. it’s erotic. Its a fetish to have in your mind to transform your body, to make a new image of yourself” he explains, next to two sculptures that look like snaffle headpieces with star shaped marble weights hanging from its leather thongs. It is inspired by gym gear to work your trapezius muscle. The materials surrounding us – leather, marble, mirror, wood. Marc Turlans recurrent structural elements are evident: eroticism, vanity, fetishism and notoriety.
MARC_TURLAN_MG_4011_THE_STIMULEYEMARC_TURLAN_MG_3995_THE_STIMULEYE
Left: Marc Turlan's "Star Rack", and right: the artist himself
And there is of course, the star: “The star is the representation of the absolute, its a simple symbol for everyone. This desire, or fantasy to be recognised, to be famous, to arrive at this point… I use the star in marble.”
In Marc Turlans “gym” you actually work out with the star as a marble weight, stemming the symbol of the desired recognition and thus transform yourself through and towards that idea.
MARC_TURLAN_MG_4059_THE_STIMULEYE
The first room of EXO STAR with "Home Star-Gym". Courtesy Gallery Anne de Villepoix
The second room is pitch black and only lit by pulsating light bulbs on a cluster of stars, an array of audio sculptures speak to the visitor with each a “collage sonore” (sound collage). Corresponding to the acoustic rework of a writers text hangs a framed object, containing a book of the same author with a mirror mosaic highlighting a sentence.
“I keep a sentence very different to the audio collage. It is a proposition, an open invitation. I don’t work in an interactive way. I am interested in the object. It becomes a sculpture” he explains.
MARC_TURLAN_MG_4065_THE_STIMULEYE
MARC_TURLAN_MG_4071_THE_STIMULEYEMARC_TURLAN_MG_3989_THE_STIMULEYE
The collage sonore / sound collage installation in room 2. Courtesy Gallery Anne de Villepoix
Near the pass to the next room the only book that depicts an image and with this marks the transition to the last complex of works. It’s all about stars and fashion magazines. But now the presentation enhances the fact that the magazines departed from being just the source of material. They become objects themselves, so does the frame and the fixture. It becomes altogether an installation: A cabinet of seven blocks present the works on shelves, hung, or in frames that at times can be turned and reveal a mirror. Mirrors everywhere. “Beyond, beyond, beyond the mirror”, as Patti Smith proclaims earlier in one of the audio collages.
MARC_TURLAN_MG_3979_THE_STIMULEYE
Object in room 3 at Gallery Anne de Villepoix
Marc Turlan: EXO STAR
opening Saturday 10th, running to October 15th 2011
at Galerie Anne de Villepoix, rue de Montmorency, 75003 Paris
MARC_TURLAN_MG_4026_THE_STIMULEYE

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Life and Death of Marina Abramovic – vii

July 17th, 2011

“An artist should avoid going to the studio every day”

an artist should avoid going to the studio every day - marina abramovic

STUDIO
Last night was the last performance in Manchester.

Everyone in the cast and crew will soon be returning to their “normal” life, wherever it may be around the globe, to their city, their apartment, their studio.

Over the last week, seven exhausting nights, the play is ending.
It has been seen by Viktor & Rolf, Riccardo Tisci, the director of the MoMA and many others.

But fear not, it will return, soon, somewhere else around the globe.


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life and death of marina abramovic – vi

July 16th, 2011

“An artist should be erotic”

an artist should be erotic - marina abramovic

Marina's 6th commandment. Photo by René Habermacher.

DICK
This is not a dick.
It’s a strap-on.
It’s strapped on a man, Andy.

In the play, Andy masturbates while wearing a mask of Marina, as she flirts with him.

Tonight is the last night to see this, as it is the last night the play is performed in Manchester.


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LIFE AND DEATH OF MARINA ABRAMOVIC : GUNPLAY

July 6th, 2011

Four more days to go until the premiere. The rehearsals proceed until late at night with great concentration. After four weeks of work, the cast, creative team and crew are almost ready for the first preview tonight. Bob Wilson, Marina Abramovic, Willem Dafoe and Antony Hegarty. An ensemble this beautiful doesn’t happen very often, perhaps just once in a lifetime.

The premiere is just hours away. Bob is orchestrating his cast and crew and the multi chromatic illumination of the play. Antony continues to conduct the music, snapping the tempo for the band while singing on stage. Willem recites his text in an endless mantra, a flood of whispers. His face and body moving through their various expressions. There is tension under the roof of the Lyric Theatre at the Lowry in Manchester. There have been troubles and tears and there have been shiny moments of camaraderie and playfulness, all in an effort to tell you a story. The story of Marina’s life. It is a story that will carve out a space for her in your heart forever…

Now, we go into our last rehearsal before the preview. The vultures are flying, Marina is slipping into her red, feathered dress and Bob….well, Bob is setting light cues.

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Robert Wilson instructs Wilem Dafoe in Gunplays. Photo by René Habermacher

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How Willem plays the gun. Photography by René Habermacher

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And finally on stage: "Bruno" as Marina calls him is the new Horse that replaces "Stiffy".
So here Bruno, Willem and Marina. Photography by René Habermacher

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LIFE AND DEATH OF MARINA ABRAMOVIC – I

July 5th, 2011

“An artist should have friends that lift their spirits”

marina abramovic

Marina's commandment I . Picture by Lynsey Peisinger.

STIFFY
The first three weeks of rehearsals were held in a rehearsal space where we used temporary props and stand-in animals.

Stiffy (aptly named by Willem Dafoe) was Marina’s stand in horse. We miss Stiffy now that we are at the theatre and the “real” horse has arrived.

He had a very wide body and Marina had to walk like a cowboy after sitting on him for too long.
But he was good to Marina for those weeks.

Life And Death Of Marina Abramovic
at Manchester International Festival
July 9 – 16, 2011.


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justin anderson – not another dream sequence

June 22nd, 2011

At last, at last. After an epic ping pong interview months in the making, here it is. Painter – turned video artist turned – precocious fashion film director Justin Anderson.

He has a bum fetish, just like everyone else.

BIKE by Justin Anderson

BIKE by Justin Anderson, for Armani Jeans. Still by René Habermacher.

Antoine Asseraf: What is the last thing that stimulated you ?
Justin Anderson: On Friday night – I watched a film by Jean Pierre Melville – ARMY OF SHADOWS.

It had a big effect on me.  It is brutal but very paired down without any melodrama. None of the actors either particularly young or good looking, the direction is tight and  the subject really tough. It is about the French resistance to German occupation – it is about death, betrayal and torture.

The film was gripping was absolutely masterful. What I love is that I discovered this film because I loved the way Alain Delon looked in LE FLIC in his raincoat – which then led me to such a film. I feel very lucky to live in a time in which it is so easy to discover these kinds of gems and I love the fluid way you can to move from one to the other.

So, which would you say are you main influences in film-making – classic films such as the ones you just mentioned, or more experimental fare ?
All kinds of image making influence me particularly fine art – which is how I trained. I would say the paintings of Fontana, Morandi, Barnett Newman, Stella, Ryman, the sculptures of Brancusi, Donald Judd artist like Walter de Maria. Dan Graham, Bruce Nauman were particular influence to me. These have all impacted on my filmmaking as much or more so than other film makers because that is what I studied for years. I suppose my taste currently in film making are as you say classics. I was hugely influenced by Buñuel when I was introduced to it as a 14 year old boy by a very good art teacher at school – he knew exactly how to stimulate a 14 year old boy.

Currently I working my way through the classic European film makers of the last century, Bergman, Antonioni, Chabrol, Renoir and recently Melville. Having not studied film I feel like I have a lot to catch up on.

planks by justin anderson

UNTITLED VIDEO STILL by Justin Anderson. Courtesy of Gerwerbe Karl Marx Gallery, Berlin.

So how did you transition from fine art – painting if I’m correct – to video ?
I started working in video quite along time ago whilst still studying at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam. The work was structuralist and minimal – I chewed gum live on television for 5 minutes, made a video in NYC where I drew the lines of a huge tennis court across midtown Manhattan and the dove them with a camera attached to the roof of a car. The video camera was moved through space like making a drawing – instead of leaving a marking on the space you were recording what is there.

I made a video of a guy dressed in protective sports gear standing against a wall and shouting “Just do it” in German whilst I served tennis balls at him as hard as I could. It was quite violent (our friendship ended soon after!).

At the time I was making very large paintings of  the lines on parts of sports courts- it all seemed to flow from one to another- the video camera was just another from of mark making. The videos had virtually no editing and certainly no close ups or variants in the shots.
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SAVE TOKYO CREATION

May 24th, 2011

This week, under the helm of curator Takafumi Kawasaki, 18 hot Japanese fashion brands and 10 photographers team up in Tokyo for SAVE TOKYO CREATION. As the official Tokyo fashion week was cancelled due to the recent events, stylist Takafumi Kawasaki initiated this show to give young designers an opportunity showing their collections from May 27th to 29th at EYE OF GYRE, Omotesando, Tokyo. Accompanying the show, artworks by Tokyo Posse ENLIGHTMENT will be on display, and a fanzine produced.


Poster of SAVE TOKYO CREATION by ENLIGHTMENT. Photography by Yasuyuki Takaki

The 18 designers produced special pieces for the project to be auctioned for donation. Among the designers showing, is much beloved Jun Takahashi for UNDERCOVER, YOSHIKO CREATION, famous for her unique pieces to Lady Gaga, TOGA, N.HOOLYWOOD and emerging designer JOHN LAWRENCE SULLIVAN, among others as ANREALAGE, G.V.G.V., KEITA MARUYAMA TOKYO PARIS, MAME, MINTDESIGNS, SACAI, SOMARTA, KOLOR, PHENOMENON, TAKAHIROMIYASHITATHESOLOIST, ISVIM, WHITE MOUNTAINEERING and YOSHIO KUBO.


SAVE TOKYO CREATION Photography by Keiichi Nitta

The designers AW 2010 designs were picked up by Photographers and lensed especially for that show: Akira Kitajima, Chikashi Kasai, Tajima Kazunali, Keiichi Nitta, Leslie Kee & Ryan Chan, Masahiro Shoda, By P.M. Ken, Yasumasa Yonehara and Yasuyuki Takaki.

The Stimuleye spoke with Takafumi Kawasaki


SAVE TOKYO CREATION Photography by Leslie Kee & Ryan Chan

RENÉ HABERMACHER: What was your intention with this exhibit?
TAKAFUMI KAWASAKI: SAVE TOKYO CREATION supported by NARS is a big feature of Japanese fashion designers, most of whom lost a chance to exhibit their 2011AW collection because of the earthquake impact.
It’s a charity but not a money-donated oriented.
I wanted to provide Japanese fashion designers a chance to show their 2011AW collection that could not be shown on catwalk because of the earthquake.
As a fashion director & stylist, I believe it is a form of charity that only I can produce to provide those designers with the opportunity to present their creation in public.


SAVE TOKYO CREATION Left: Photography by Kazunali Tajima. Right: Akira Kitajimat

How did the earthquake and its aftermath affect you personally?
The earthquake made me find the huge scepticism about Japanese government and the power of citizens. I would say I feel my approach to fashion and my styling works became more clearer and straight forward.
It may sound a little funny but I became more optimistic about the life. What already happened, happened, even if it’s a massive tragedy, there is no way to change or dismiss it. I feel there is no point to keep crying over that. But what we should do now, is to step forward.


SAVE TOKYO CREATION Photography by Yasumasa Yonehara

Do you feel there is a different mood now among japanese society? I am asking as Japanese people expressing in the past to feeling alienated to their fellow countrymen…
Yes, “alienation” is a serious issue after the quake. Japanese people appear to be longing for the tightly-bound feeling.
Not only real communication and society, but also they are keen to make bonds with others in virtual community, such as Facebook, Twitter and other numerous social media networks. Some people are obsessed about that too much.

Generally speaking, however, I think the Japanese people have found what is important and what is less in life. I believe this is a great chance to reform the typical Japanese convenience-oriented life.They appear to have started making their lives a little slower and calmer, too.
It’s really a big shift of the country.


SAVE TOKYO CREATION Photography by Chikashi Kasai

What is the last thing that stimulated you?
I would say THE EARTHQUAKE in Japan.

The exhibition is held from May 27th to 29th at EYE OF GYRE, Omotesando, Tokyo.


SAVE TOKYO CREATION Photography by Masahiro Shoda

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ATHI-PATRA RUGA: tales of bugchasers, watussi faghags and the afro-womble

May 11th, 2011

The ascension of young South African artist Athi-Patra Ruga came fast under radar of International attention.

His work, that is often characterized by a dislocated humor, is transcending the divides between fashion, performance and photography and interrogates the body in relation to society, ideology and politics, subverting the western ‘art library’ as he calls it.

The Stimuleye talks to charming Athi-Patra, who was recently featured in the Phaidon book ‘Younger Than Jesus’, a directory of the world’s best artists under the age of 33, about his work and influences.

X_Homes_Athi-Patra_Ruga.jpg
Athi Patra Ruga’s intervention for the X-Homes Hillbrow project with the character of ILUWANE.
Photography by Nadine Hutton

RENÉ HABERMACHER: Where are you right now?

ATHI-PATRA RUGA: I’m in my Cape Town studio editing my latest tapestry series and fighting my cats… simultaneously. [laughs] I’m big on cat competitions… my two Russian blues Azange and Shadofax will be taking part so we have been grooming them like crazy… with a few scratches to prove it… hehe.

You’ve just came back from a break – have you got an idea already on what to work on?

At the moment I will be spending the next year creating quietly an extensive body of work revolving around a series of portraits that I will be rendering in tapestry. I have been doing a lot of sittings with various people and doing preliminary sketches. I am editing those now to get started in the next month. I was thinking of titles to name this body or the final exhibition etc: What do you think of :…the do’s and dont’s of bodyworship [laughs]

I am very interested in the power-relations involved in portraiture… especially in response to the ethnographic history involved. I am always concerned with who or what element in the image takes more precedents/importance… the technique or the seater or the artists ego. That argument in my head leads to some lovely renderings.

Your work is known to straddle the divides between fashion, performance and many more disciplines. What is your ultimate goal?

Transcending all boundaries that have been put on who and what one should create.

ATHI_PATRA_RUGA_ADATHI_PATRA_RUGA_ANT_STRACK
Athi-Patra Ruga's monogram and portrait photographed by Ant Strack

The monogram you use ‘AP’, seems to be derived from Albrecht Dürer?

Nice spotting, yes Dürer is the reference. A big part of the work is appropriation and ultimately subverting the “western art library”. In this case I am always interested in this “I am the one and only”, self-centric way of creating or rather I am totally disturbed by it. The logo is for Athi-Patra Ruga and studios cc. The name of my company and studio. The “and studio” part alludes to the idea that collaboration forms a big part of my practice. I would like to continue with this point.

Does Athi-Patra mean anything specific?

No, it’s a brand like others. And a brand is the highest promise of good quality and superior concept.

It’s two nicknames of my birth name. I’ve been called those names all my life really. It’s as old as I can remember.

So where does the “evil little boy”, as you called yourself come from?

Well I don’t know… I embrace my evils and vices I suppose. As to where it comes from, let’s just say there are a lot of boys and girls think so… at some points I tend to believe it. [laughs]

I was born in a Bantustan, which is a puppet state created by the apartheid government, a dictatorship. In March 1984, on my 13th birthday, Biggie Smalls died. My mom was a midwife, my dad a sports journalist. My parents were gone for long stretches of time and I had to defend myself. It seemed natural, it was one big ball of trauma. I grew up in the townships and during the strikes and boycotts. Many kids [or rather young adults] used to brutalise us for going to suburban/private schools. I spent most of my time indoors as many kids could not cope with me: I was violent in a violent time. Both at home and outside, the country was going through a revolution.


Athi-Patra Ruga: "Idol Death Mask Series" 2009, Modeled Paper, Approx. 27cm x 23cm each
Image courtesy of the artist and whatiftheworld gallery

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HYERES ARE THE DESIGNERS

April 30th, 2011

Below our office window in the mythical Villa Noailles, people sprawl in the gardens, visit exhibits and discover new designers and photographers. Creative stimulation everywhere. The yearly invasion of Hyères, a sleepy town in the Côte d’Azur, is at its peak, with this micro-festival gaining even more attention by the international press.

On the secluded terrasse in front of us, Raf Simons, the President of this year’s jury, sits in the shade of an umbrella having conversations with numerous journalists, while simultaneously the crowds gather and mingle: headhunters, designers, buyers…
Christopher Kane is here, teamed up with Carla Sozzani of Vogue Italia, Jack and Lazaro of Proenza Schouler came in from NY to have a look at the 10 designers’ work.

Its Hyères-storic.

All Photographs by René Habermacher

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ODA PAUSMA
Netherlands

“It’s very much about contrast: My work is always focused around the vulnerability of women. I play with it, I try to hide it or extend, to show it or protect it. This collection is really about my most vulnerable moment because I ended love after nine years of relationship. I thought I should speak about this in my own language which is fashion. In the beginning it was all black. But later on in the process I was getting better and was seeing the good things about my situation:

Life goes on and there is so much in the world, so I said to myself don’t worry so much! The world is sad enough, so bring some light!

So I brought that into the collection by using white and Swarovski elements and my favorite materials silks and leathers, to work the contrast between fluidity and the protective. The silhouette is very tall from the waist on, so it looks a little surreal and dramatic.”

“The last thing that stimulated me was just my surroundings I guess. I am having a lot of fun lately and I am really enjoying this festival: it gives me energy and I want to move on and work and do something with this feeling of being selected and being a little proud to be so. It’s a good feeling, so why not do something with it.”

www.odapausma.com

Juliette_Alleaume_Marie_Vial_HYERES

JULIETTE ALLEAUME & MARIE VIAL
France

“We always help each other on our own collections, but this is our first official collaboration.

We met in high school while studying for our baccalaureate in applied arts. After that we pursued fashion design in different schools–I was at Duperre and Juliette was at Chardon Savard. We lived one year apart and then moved in together in order work together. In fact, the collection that we are presenting in Hyères, is a collection that we made during the time that we shared an apartment.

As for the collection…our starting point was a scarecrow. Using the image of the scarecrow we started to explore the feminine silhouette. Eventually we turned this silhouette upside-down and reworked all of the different facets of it. We were also inspired by cubism so, in the collection, there is the idea of a double body–like one body superimposed on another. For example the shoulders have large proportions and are backwards, the skirts are divided in two and are skewed –so all of the body parts are somehow decontextualized. And we see the real body underneath or in the back, usually highlighted with bright colors. All of this creates disproportional, unhinged silhouettes. Plus, the wooden shoes for the collection create a strange walk”.

“The last thing that stimulated us — Well…the festival! And getting the chance to show our first collaboration. Since we were at different schools, we never had the chance to realize a project together and it is the energy of our duo that motivated us”.

www.artifactcollection.tumblr.com

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MADS DINESEN
Denmark

“I try to make a spirit army with no nations and no faces. My collection is a lot about shame and pride and the feeling of guilt.

It’s also about how to use the past in the present and the future and learn from it. This is my graduation collection. At the university in Berlin we do one each semester but this is the biggest one and the first with so many pieces. Though it’s a men’s collection, I showed it on women as well in the past.”

“The last thing that stimulated me was the film HOLY MOUNTAIN. That’s one of my favorite films. But right now I am looking a lot at Easter bunnies because I saw DONNIE DARKO. I use a lot of film and music in my work and literature.

Holy Mountain was part of the inspiration for this collection but mostly the colonial history of my home country Denmark. Because when I moved to Germany I found out I didn’t know anything about it, so the research for the collection started in Iceland. I went for a residency to Reykjavik and collected pieces of each culture that was under Denmark. It’s more like a typology of cultural pieces that I tried to put together.”

www.madsdinesen.com

LEA_PECKRE_HYERES_habermacher

LEA PECKRE
France

“The collection that I am presenting is the collection that I presented for my graduation at Lacambre last year. It’s called CEMETERIES ARE FIELDS OF FLOWERS. I am using a lot elements from cemeteries that interest me like wood, tombstones, mausoleums, bouquets of flowers, the contrast between wrought iron structures and the landscape. These elements, reworked in the materials used for the collection, provided me with really organic shapes–somewhat like trees that climb stones in the cemetery for example. There is a lot of embroidery in the collection as well.

Here in Hyères the defilés are much more structured then at Lacambre. But actually, my show at Lacambre was one of the more simple, subdued shows, so the Hyères show fits really well for me. I like when it is rather simple.”

“The last thing that stimulated me last: I want to finish my collection for Hyères! I am developing new pieces reworking some of the existing pieces and I think it will add a lot to the collection and that it will be better.”

www.leapeckre.tumblr.com
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MATT PYKE AND FRIENDS: that idea of foreverness

April 26th, 2011

The future is back.

That’s the impression you get from Matt Pyke’s new show at Gaîté Lyrique, Paris’ brand new digital creation center. Mutating monsters, illuminated silences, evolving creatures, disintegrating dancers, glowing trees… Pyke and his friends from the studio Universal Everything use every corner of new-old parisian theater to make your head swirl. Literally.


Meet Matt Pyke. Photo by René Habermacher

ANTOINE ASSERAF: I noticed everything is looping, there is no beginning and no end. What as your intention with that?

MATT PYKE: One of the reasons for the looping is we’re really interested in the idea of infinity and how it creates video artworks which don’t really have a narrative story to them.

We’re creating almost a video sculpture, a state of mind or a trance-like situation: for example where dancers that are continually struggling up the wall to get to the sound or the giant walking monster in TRANSFIGURATION which is walking forever and nobody knows where he is going.

It’s that idea of foreverness and how you can use video to do that as an artwork that never stops: everything is almost like a machine that is going and going…

Matt Pyke & Friends : Super-Computer-Romantics

Sometimes you have some very un-digital elements like drawing.

I studied drawing and painting at art school and still find it very important to have a pencil as well as a computer. All of the artworks were based on drawings originally. The archive of the Gaîté Lyrique has a collection with all the working drawings from all the artpieces.

In the exhibition, the one called SEVENTY SIX SEEDS was entirely created through drawing but influenced by the more recent years where i’ve been working with people who use codes. The drawings are very much influenced by digital processes and the shapes that code make.

We’ve made an iPhone application that gave me kind of genetic instructions of what type of seed what type of plant to draw every morning- so it’s a way of using technology to control me, control my pencil.

MATT_PYKE_SEEDS
Works in Progress: left Matt Pykes drawings for SEVENTY SIX SEEDS inspired after an iPhone application.
Images Courtesy of Matt Pyke

Do you code and program yourself or are you trying to bring that kind of “old school” thinking into that?

I intentionally do not code and program myself. I tried to learn and found it did not suit me, so I focus on the conceptual side of things and the visual side of things in terms of art direction and creative direction and come up with the initial seed idea and then work with programmers who are genuinely experts or super talent in their field.

I think one important thing is, by me not understanding code, that my ideas are not restricted to what is possible.

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