No. 5
  • THE REALITY OF THE OBSCURE

    Written by Ksenia Rundin

    Noémie Goudal is a French photographer, who has an incredible talent to connect the viewer with nature through the features of geomorphic architecture. In her photographs you could experience how the cold brutality of concrete, placed in an obscure space, brings you into a reality that has been constructed out of something like an image of the stairs of the Paris Métro or a bunker from World War II, found on the beach in Normandy. Images mounted on cardboard start living their own life, taking the viewer on an imaginary trip to his or her true self. Her artworks reminds of a scientific investigation, referring to Egyptians with Cheops, Aristoteles with Cosmos or Tycho Brahe with Stella Nova.

    The images appear to be uncannily real, turning into an element of the autonomous discourse between the world and the viewer, the artwork and the viewer. By eternalising the moment Noémie’s images also catch something invisible by uncovering it for the viewer in a magnificent but at the same time very narrative way. The terms of abstraction such as space, light, and volume that architecture is often described with, compose a clear experience of physical presence in a remote space of nature, you do not recognise but feel a close connection to. Odalisque Magazine had an honour to meet the artist, whose exhibition “Stations” is now presented at Fotografiska in Stockholm, and to ask her a couple of questions about her hypnotising artworks.

    Why have you chosen photography as a professional path in your life?
    I think it came quite naturally, because I have had a camera since I was 12. Growing up surrounded by a lot of children, I first started to take pictures and later went to the lab to study the process. Later, I went to Central Saint Martins to learn graphic design, where I used a lot of photography. The crucial moment was actually when I applied for the Royal College of Art, where I completely re-learned how to think about photography.

    Isn’t graphic design a bit like architecture in a digital form? What relationship do you actually have to architecture in the sense of your artworks?
    I became interested in architecture in relation to nature, because my whole work is about the relationship between nature and the man-made. This is a quite specific type of architecture – geomorphic architecture that takes its imagery from nature and a natural process. There is actually a special series of mine called “In Search of the First Line” that is a cross-cultural, historical examination of geomorphic architecture. I photographed some very old Roman architecture that I later printed on paper and mounted on a cardboard with a wooden structure on the back. Then I replaced it into very small contemporary spaces. They are kind of both completely blend and at the same time you can see that there is a distance. Thus I am quite interested in the layering also in those images, the layering in architecture in general and in also having two moments in time.

    What is your message to you audience? What do you want people to see in your artworks?
    I think one of my main challenges is to create images that have a big enough gap for the viewer to really feel it with own desire, own knowledge and experience. For me it is a really big challenge itself, because my images do not really have a sense of scale, a sense of time or a specific geography. It is very difficult to create images like that. It is always difficult, therefore I always try to do a lot of research.

    Where do you find the places to take your pictures at?
    It really depends on opportunities. I have done a lot of projects in France. My last project was in California in the Mojave Desert. Now I am doing a new project, which is also in France, at the Sèvres Porcelain Factory, near Paris. They produce amazingly beautiful ceramics since the 18th Century. It is a huge place and for me it is a great opportunity to be there. I am a resident there now for a year.

    What culture are you inspired by?
    American minimalism, I think. Dusseldorf School of Photography, probably. I am actually more Londoner than a Parisian. In London I feel kind of more connected, probably because I studied there and was influenced by teachers and other people around me.

    What kind of reality do you think you create by bringing together the brutalism of concrete and purity of nature?
    It is a reality that does exist, because this is what the beauty of photography is about. It has existed at some point, it has been there. And then it is a mix between what has been there and something that stays in memory; something that lies between the collective memory and our own memory. And they meet somewhere in between.

    Is there something you would never place in your images?
    People, because I feel that the viewer needs to have a place to put their ideas in. And then I think I would avoid too many details about the geography and time.

    How does your dream photo look like? Maybe it should depict a certain place?
    I don't know. Usually I like to create such a place to take a picture of.

    When you start working, do you have a clear picture how it should be?
    I have an image in mind and then I make changes, depending on what is going on in the shoots. If you have a different light or something unexpected takes place. The beauty of photography is also about dealing with such things like rain or sun that you cannot control. So, I have to work around that.

    In our times, to see the invisible might be the best quality in order to stay true to yourself. Do you think that your art is a certain reflection of our times, uncovering the invisible?
    Definitely. For me it could mean that I am reaching to the spirituality. It is the role of art, I think. It makes you question things around you from the world in general and in a philosophical way the perception itself.

    If you were offered a fashion shooting job with an unlimited budget, what theme would you choose then?
    Actually, I have shot the H&M’s collaboration with Maison Martin Margiela, what was amazing. They asked me to do a show, and one project would be especially about the new collection. I work a lot with stereoscopic images as well. So, what I did was to photograph some dancers wearing the garments from the collection while dancing with a white simple background. It became very natural, because we could never see their faces, as they were always moving and it could be the hair that covered the face or something else. Later, there was a wall installation in a dark room with objects where you could see through and you could see the images in 3D. If I had a fashion shooting today, I would try to have a lot of fun, working with different materials in nature, for sure.

    What is sustainability for you?
    I like people projecting their own thoughts into my work. This is what I want to do and this is what sustainability is for me. In fact, we are in the word where we think about ecology all the time. People have that projection straight away when talking about nature, which is disappearing today.

  • “Hostess”, 2018 by Rebecca Ackroyd

    WOMEN MAKING ART HISTORY AT FRIEZE ART WEEK IN LONDON, OCTOBER 4-7, 2018

    Written by Ksenia Rundin

    For the sixth year in a row, the Frieze art fair has created a showcase of contemporary art in the middle of Regent’s Park. However, this autumn Frieze London has had a female-centric agenda, emphasising female artists in the contemporary context. The visitors could both discover new artists and rediscover those who had fallen off the radar, explore something more in-depth and experiential.

    Nevertheless, the main course of the fair has still been aimed at the dealer booths and the wide array of art for sale, the theme of female visibility has acquired a new highlighted ideological perspective. In 1971 the American art historian Linda Nochlin wrote in her legendary essay “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” that “the question of women’s equality—in art as in any other realm—devolves not upon the relative benevolence or ill-will of individual men, nor the self-confidence or abjectness of individual women, but rather on the very nature of our institutional structures themselves and the view of reality which they impose on the human beings who are part of them.” Celebrating the centenary of women´s suffrage this year, Britain has also celebrated the female artistic achievements and their concomitants, which have challenged the established stereotypes in the social structures of the art world.

    While entering Peres Projects’ exhibition space, the visitors could observe a woman sitting on the floor with the face turned away. Soon one would discover that the face is nothing more than an empty black hole, causing an ambivalent combination of the personal and the alien somewhere inside oneself, followed by a laughter and a fear. There is, according to artist herself, a reflection of a layered identity, where the personal and the abstract seem to be in a constant emotional battle with each other.

    The Cuban artist Glenda León, represented by the Galería Juana de Aizpuru (Madrid, Spain), offered the audience a slice of C International Photo Magazine as her work “Fragmented readings II”, formed in a cake served on a classic pedestal with a glass lock over it.

    The London gallery Pilar Corrias, run by Pilar Corrias, who offers 65 percent of the art space to female artists, featured works by such female artists as Sophie von Hellermann, Cui Jie, Helen Johnson, Koo Jeong A, Tala Madani, Sabine Moritz, Christina Quarles, Mary Ramsden and Tschabalala Self.

    In parallel with the Frieze London art festivity, Swedish artists have tempted the public by a cogent installation group called Fashion Speaks “Sisterhood”, designed and produced by the Belarussian-born Sweden-based artist L Christeseva, consisting of discarded toiles — prototype garments, collected from the prominent Swedish designers. The installations would make the audience wonder what sisterhood means for each of us coming from different cultures and families in particular, as well as for us –- women –- today in general? Based on a personal story of her own, the artist could illustrate how a fashion garment becomes an emotional symbol that provides a way to learn how to unite and support each other. When being a little girl during the World War II, her mother had to wait for one of her sisters to come home from school to be able to wear the only dress all the sisters shared in order to go to school herself, while the other sisters would wait for her to return.

    The exhibition Fashion Speaks Sisterhood was brought to London in order to support the international project Artdom, upheld by the Embassy of Sweden in London and curated by the Goodwill ambassador of Swedish National Committee for UN Women Arghavan Agida, who by means of art seeks to build bridges between Iranian and Swedish female artists.

    Revealing an intellectual deepness, framed by the institutional weakness of recognizing the full creative potential and conspicuous importance of the female art, the women at the art fair have sincerely displayed their outstanding artistic talent, grinded by hard work, surrounded by cultural-ideological biases and inadequacies. Frieze London might have bestowed them an opportunity to face up to the reality of their history in order to re-construct their future in the art world.

                   “Fragmented readings II” by Glenda León
     
                             “Feel'd”, 2018 by Christina Quarles

    Installation view “Fashion Speaks Sisterhood” by L. Christeseva

    Photography by Erica Bergmeds

     
      
      

    Installation view “Fashion Speaks Sisterhood” by L. Christeseva

    Photography by Erica Bergmeds

  • Photography: Annika Sundvik

    L. CHRISTESEVA: 'FASHION SPEAKS' IN COLOURS OF AWARENESS

    Written by Ksenia Rundin

    On August 25, L. Christeseva, Belarusian-born Swedish artist, launched a new project, ’Fashion Speaks’, which was running through Fashion Week 2018 in Stockholm. The artist placed a number of toile-dress sculptures at various locations in Stockholm, letting those evolve from orange to pink, then transforming to off-white and finally fluctuating to white and red. Why would the artist do something like this?

    The toiles of L.Christeseva were previously exhibited at The Army Museum (2016), the residency of the US Ambassador (2016), the Nordic Museum (2017), the Bergman Center located on the island of Fårö (2018) and many other places in Sweden. Constituting different versions of garments made to test a pattern, these toiles have been recycled from different designers and placed on stage by the artist L. Christeseva in order to solve artist’s main concern about her cultural identity. That concrete ‘reincarnation’ of cultural identities seeks to tell different stories by women, about women, for women – and the rest of the world. Nevertheless, the main purpose is to raise the question ‘What makes woman a woman?’ and invite the audience to answer it from an individual cultural perspective.

    What makes woman a woman?’ is a main concern of L. Christeseva, who many years ago moved from the patriarchal culture of Belarus to the feminist society of Sweden. Toiles for L. Christeseva is a material to share her own story as a woman and as an artist. They are a certain embodiment of how the artist has experienced her own identity both personally and culturally. It is a complex matrix extending through many dimensions, and which is not possible to be finished with – recycling, re-forming, re-configuring, re-thinking. Thus toiles, which are usually thrown away in the fashion world, become an important artistic medium to speak about processes of construction, transformation, and learning.

    The project ‘Fashion Speaks’ is designed to extend and to enhance the perception of fashion further as an expression of individual identity by using the toiles as a remedy for creating a platform for socio-political discourses around femininity. Contrasting conceptually and ideologically with the concept of the established Fashion Week, which runs in Stockholm since 2005, ‘Fashion Speaks’ aims to disrupt the current paradigm of the phenomenon of Fashion Week by using fashion as a tool for spreading awareness of important social and political issues and helping to find resources for creating solutions. L.Christeseva claims that ‘The toiles placed in a different context in this case become a symbol, where the past and future create an interlacement, giving rise for the discourse. Today, when we are used to seeing things in black and white, we need to talk, to discuss, to listen and to hear. I use fashion to speak and to make us speak out.’

    On August, 25, the artist dressed her sculptures in orange and placed them around the city of Stockholm: Rålambshovsparken in Kungsholmen, Rosendals Trädgård, Elite Hotel Arcadia, Dansmuseet/Drottninggatan, Arméemuseum, and Norrmalmstorg 6, to mark the Orange Day together with UN Women Sverige and MeToo Sweden. The artistic idea behind the persistent fashion message was to use fashion as a tool for bringing violence against women around the world to an end.

    A couple of days later, the dresses turned into the pink silhouettes, where the colour, charged with ambivalence of pureness and oppression, might often be considered as a secondary colour for a second sex on the one hand. This interpretation is, on the other hand, strongly rejected by the millennials, who see this colour as an infinite trend. The artistic approach here was directed to break the stereotypical rhetoric of the colour and redirect the audience from its superficiality towards alternative interpretations in order to strength the femininity without turning it into a sign of weakness.

    Later, L. Christeseva would turn her creations with aid of the colour of red and white into an elegant and adorable message, bestowing a vigorous effect to the eyes and mind. As Ingmar Bergman once said, the colour creates ‘the interior of the soul’. Bergman interpreted red as a symbol of the female womb, or the source of both life and sexuality. Standing in contrast with red, the colour of white is strongly linked to divinity and faith. Together these colours create a deeply emotional picture, giving rise to a number of new interpretations and feelings. Dressing the toiles in red and white was the artist’s way of paying a tribute to Ingmar Bergman, who brought the image of a strong woman on the stage and often illustrated it by dressing his actresses in red and white on the screen.

    Inspired by August Strindberg, Bergman developed and completed the image of the modern woman, which Strindberg started to build in literature, into a postmodern persona with a deep intellectual side and strong emotional power. Strindberg’s women had to struggle with the social context as much as they had to deal with their feelings, while Bergman’s women stay face to face with their inside, fighting against own fears and weaknesses, looking for their true self. What does fashion give to women today? What does it take from women? Do they have their freedom and will to power? What can fashion do for women today? These issues we wish to be integrated into the contemporary content of fashion, where a fair play can start in reality, without staying an illusion of the latter.

    Interestingly, that the artist always returns to herself and her own story, developing new concepts of works. This kind of u-turn to the original state, where the toiles appeared on stage as they initially were, naked and voiceless, is necessary for each of us before we make a step outside ourselves. Our backgrounds and our cultural differences constitute the way we perceive ourselves and the world around us.

    After receiving an incredible perception in Stockholm, the project ‘Fashion Speaks’ is on the runway through cultural borders now. It will be interesting to follow what colours and what media the artist will address while bringing her works on stage in Turkey on October, 29. How should the different concepts beyond cultural boundaries really be interpreted? Can we find a way to a mutual understanding of our multi-faceted perception in fashion and art?

    Get inspired, create awareness and extend the perception of fashion beyond identity together with the artist on www.fashionspeaks.se.

    Photography: Anna Sundström

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