Author Archives: Huai ya Lin

Artist Spotlight: Zara June Williams

Life is like a game. The Australian artist Zara June Williams explores the unexpected and the intuitive of the creative process. Approaches such as combining different individual paintings and interacting with remain marks and droplets of the paint allow her to view the familiarity with a new lens. She invents rules for her art-making and stays playful with the colours and forms. Her art practice seemingly parallels to the nature of life as a game, where we developed regulations and strategies, and laboriously invest ourselves into it.

“Sometimes I think there’s so many aspects that are very complicated, but then it also is nothing. That’s how I feel about being alive in general. It’s everything, but it’s meaningless.”

Zara’s paintings come across as a game of vertigo and chance. Roger Caillois introduced the four elements of game in his 1958 Man, Play and Games (Les Jeux et Les Hommes): Agon, Alea, Mimicry and Ilinx, which means competition, chance, simulation and vertigo respectively. Intrigued by the remains of the process, she lies down papers beneath her paintings to catch the drops. “I guess I speak a lot about chance.” Often she wonders whether it is the unintended trace or her paintings are the actual work. “I think the interest came from feeling too egotistical or too controlled. A lot of it came out of not being satisfied about the outcome, because I can anticipate about it too much.”

To add the unpredictable quality into her work, she sets up certain parameters and games. For example, she took a cluster of wooden frames found on street which resonance Jose Dávila’s “Homage to the Square,” and lands it randomly on the surface. She then paints between the edges of the frames and repeats the process of interacting with the unintended composition of structures. “It’s almost like someone else in the room doing something when I’m not looking and I have to respond to it.” Zara is meanwhile interested in working with found materials which already come with a character she can react to.

Her captivation of inviting chance to interfere with the work rises from the desire for the sense of an instant novelty. Ilinx,the Greek word for “whirlpool,” means the alteration of recognition, which Caillois defined as “an attempt to momentarily destroy the stability of perception.” “Assemblages is another way I can surprise myself from the outcome.” She cuts her paintings into half and plays around by putting different pieces together. “Just by the act of joining two sides together, I instantly see a complete image that is complicated, which I haven’t seen it gradually worked up. There’s a freshness of it that I enjoy.”

During the residency, Zara has started to experiment with integrating photography and painting. She takes pictures of her works, collages them in photoshop, and then transfers the resulting image on another painting. “I don’t think of it as photography, but more of a way to create enough information – information I have that is too much, it needs to be collapsed upon each other and find its ways to happen in an organically and aesthetic pleasing way.”

Written by Huai-ya Lin


See Zara’s work in the upcoming exhibitions

HUNGRY DUNGEON FRIENDS

vernissage: 
Saturday 17 August 
7PM-10PM

open: 
Sunday 18 August – Sunday 1 September 
10AM-6PM (closed Mondays)
location:
Kunstkraftwerk
Saalfelder Str. 8
04179 Leipzig

GRATEFUL PARK

vernissage: 
Friday 20 September
7PM-11PM
open: 
Saturday 21 September – Monday 23 September
1PM-5PM 
location:
PILOTENKUECHE International Art Program
Franz-Flemming-Straße 9


Artist Spotlight: Michella Perera

Sri Lankan born Irish artist Michella Perera explores the edgy co-dependent relationship between the fictional representation of a culture and the tourist industry. Under the radiant traditional garments and embroideries lie the fetishization and mystification of oriental tourism in Western ideology. The fascination of “the exotic” generates the mythical portrayal within their understandings and preconception. The resulting image and objects that signify the culture become icons in which the original context and historical value are reduced. She stated that the phenomenon ironically juxtaposes the belief of cultural tourism: to acquire knowledge and appreciation of another country through traveling. Tourism is however based on the attraction of the mystified and the fetishized, and highly depends on it. The bewitched process is thus inescapable.

Michella Perera is intrigued by the absurdity within touristic behaviour. “I am interested in shrines,” she says, referencing the particular space where we place items which we have collected from our vacations. The arrangements of her made objects, as if displayed on a shrine, are in flamboyant colours. “There is this expected vibrancy of tourism…. People expected to see colours, but also they tend to dress ‘on-holiday’ with all the colours on them.” In addition, she pointed out the “I’ve been there, I know” attitude, while much knowledge is in fact a generalization or built from preconception. “I got a lot of people saying ‘Namaste’ to me. I don’t speak Hindi, I learn Sinhalese.”

Born in Sri Lanka and having moved to Ireland at the age of ten, she is also on the quest of self-discovery through tourism and binary cultural discomfiture. Confrontations with the sense of in-and-out not only appear in geographical context but also in her own cultural identity. Her appearance is distinctively different from those in Ireland, and at Sri Lanka her posture is clearly one of the tourists. “In Sri Lanka, I don’t particularly read Sinhalese well, so then I have this feeling that you are drawn in and spat back out at the same time.”

Her practice is then “a resolution without a resolution” for this complex sensation. Michella has been in search for the materiality of the language, through learning the origin of letters and understanding it physically. She explained the Latin alphabets are angular due to its origin from stone carving; whereas the medium of Sinhalese was dried leaves. The strokes flow along with the hair of the leaves, ending in letters without angles. She started to make the letters out of clay and carving them into plaster. “It’s just spending time with the letters that I don’t necessarily understand, in the hope that maybe I can understand them more sculpturally, more materially.”

Her work has a strong sense of bodily interconnection. In addition to her exercise in letters, which she playfully refers it as “to physically understand something linguistic without understanding it linguistically,” she works on embroideries and body positions in papier-mâché. The art work is not only a practice for her to comprehend the in-and-out sense, but it also encourages viewers to relate to them through their body, instead of through identification and naming.

Written bu Huai-ya Lin


See Michella’s work in the upcoming exhibitions

HUNGRY DUNGEON FRIENDS

vernissage: 
Saturday 17 August 
7PM-10PM
open: 
Sunday 18 August – Sunday 1 September 
10AM-6PM (closed Mondays)
location:
Kunstkraftwerk
Saalfelder Str. 8
04179 Leipzig

GRATEFUL PARK

vernissage: 
Friday 20 September
7PM-11PM
open: 
Saturday 21 September – Monday 23 September
1PM-5PM 
location:
PILOTENKUECHE International Art Program
Franz-Flemming-Straße 9

Artist Spotlight: Christopher Sperandio

“It’s a comedy that makes you want to cry,” says Christopher Sperandio. The distress and injustice of our world are increasingly so absurd that it almost seems comical. Christopher is an American artist with a great enthusiasm for comic books. He has long been working closely with the medium, including several international collaborations. Capsulizing his own art within one mere word as “pissed-off,” his practice in comic illustration – the fierce palette of the print and the action-lead raw narratives – certainly reflects the frustration and the fury of the artist toward the countless and endless, even repetitive, chaos of the society derived from greed, brutality and racism.

Christopher is no stranger to the power of comics. Beneath the naive frivolous nature of the medium lies an explosive energy, and most of all – a political voice. He points out that the aftermath of comics can be just as violent, with cartoonists and comic artists sent to prisons or even murdered. Take for example, the recent Charlie Hebdo Attack, where twelve employees of the French satirical magazine were killed.

Yet the danger is not limited to the confrontation and controversy from free speech, but also as a political tool for the purpose of propaganda. Interested in the history of comics in different countries, Christopher spent a month in Lisbon last summer. Diving into the archives of Portuguese comics, he devoured the considerable amount of Fascist prints with their governmental indoctrination. They were full of beautifully portrayed images such as kids in uniforms singing patriotic songs.

images by PILOTENKUECHE International Art Program

At the same time, comics are equally influential for positive uses. He mentioned the critical cartoons during the 1968 protest in Paris in which the dreadfulness of capitalism was conveyed through graphics and narratives. Early last year, Christopher curated the exhibition Between Love & Madness: Mexican Comic Art from the 1970s. The title came from one of his comic book collections of original drawings Entre el Amor y la Locura. “That comic is about gaslighting,” he explains. He references the 1944 mystery-thriller Gaslight where the husband manipulates the wife into questioning her own sanity. “That’s what Trump is doing with the American public. He’s gaslighting the American public – telling lies and making the citizens believe things that aren’t true.” Christopher complimented the utilization of comic book form to discuss the psychological manipulation which is still perfectly relevant to contemporary issues in the modern world.

“Humour can reach across gaps whether it’s class, race or other kind of social boundaries. Humour has a political dimension to it. It can be quite useful in destroying tyrants.” The artist who previously published a copy about Trump, describing him in comical term as “a straight-up villain,” is currently working on his new comic book, tackling on the concern of automation. Seeing the videos of Boston Dynamic robots, he questioned the possibility of the exploitation – robots deployed as a military or police force instead of for health-care purposes. “It sounds a bit like science fiction,” he continued “but it fills me with dread seeing the videos. These things literally feel like zombies, with no pity and no feelings. They are animated but not alive.”

written by Huai-ya Lin

images supplied by artist


See Christopher’s work in the upcoming exhibitions

HUNGRY DUNGEON FRIENDS

vernissage: 
Saturday 17 August 
7PM-10PM
open: 
Sunday 18 August – Sunday 1 September 
10AM-6PM (closed Mondays)
location:
Kunstkraftwerk
Saalfelder Str. 8
04179 Leipzig

GRATEFUL PARK

vernissage: 
Friday 20 September
7PM-11PM
open: 
Saturday 21 September – Monday 23 September
1PM-5PM 
location:
PILOTENKUECHE International Art Program
Franz-Flemming-Straße 9