Ladies n Gents
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Posted on Dec 13 2012

Apart from recognition, what else does an award bring for you?
Like most people I strive for recognition and respond to praise. I see entering select competitions as a platform to reach a wider audience and an opportunity to spread awareness of my work. On a practical level awards are also a means for me to satisfy certain visa requirements.

When consciously planning and then working on a photograph, how much does the unconscious come into play?
The subtext of the unconscious does play an important role. My pictures are a point of departure into repressed and unclear areas of my mind. The act of starting something is what is important and the finished picture helps me understand that condition. For me the unconscious is like a muscle that needs to be exercised for the more you stimulate it the stronger it gets.

Do your pictures draw from everyday reality or do they strive to make a point or to comment about it, or do they correspond to more abstract ideas?
I’m interested in presenting feelings or sharing experiences I can’t express in any other form and at the same time I am drawn to exploring the relationship between reality and representation. For me there is a sense of wonder embedded in the idea that the world we see in pictures is not always the world as it is. Getting close to this enigmatic, spectral, dream-like quality is the reason I take pictures.

In your work, the female figures, in a way, lead an intense existence - why?
The women in my pictures are beautiful and presented as slightly vulnerable. There is a tension because of that. I’ve always been interested in spectatorship and how women are watched, particularly in fashion and film. The female figures in my work seem to lead an intense existence because my pictures reveal the presence of a male gaze and reflect back on how the act of looking is structured.

Are there themes that you find yourself constantly returning to as an artist?
Memory, stillness, exile, desire, spectatorship, conflict, power and powerlessness, the tension between private and public, the nature of fleetingness and the mystery of objects glimpsed in a dream.

Many of your pictures take people's hands or feet as their subjects - is this another way to avoid look at a person's face?

I am a silent storyteller. Cropping both arouses and frustrates the spectator’s need to complete the narrative. Eyes may well be a window into the soul but even without a face the identity of a person can still be discerned, rightly or wrongly, via hands, feet or clothing.

Your pictures seem to have benefitted from the contribution of a fashion stylist - is this so, or is it something that you decide upon yourself? And what is the importance of clothes in your pictures?

Occasionally I have worked with a fashion stylist and when that has been the case their contribution has always been valuable. Many times though the choice of clothing is actually something I intuitively feel and decide myself. Often it seems my images do fall in a place where fashion meets film, where the introduction of simple props or clothing becomes a device on which to hang ideas. As such, and in conjunction with other narrative strategies, I’m attracted to using simple props or garments as a means of creating psychological tension and mystery.

If we asked you to name that picture of yours that means more to you personally than any other, which would it be? And what story does it tell?

My earliest and latest pictures are most interesting for me. Presently I would choose the image of a sunken model ship from my transference series; an ongoing series of analog images that use landscapes made of ice to illustrate gradually melting memories. The picture in question tells a story of something lost and found, something beautiful and sad, something familiar yet unsettling. It is an image that reminds me of chance and accidents. It is an image that causes me wonder and self-reflection. It speaks of the struggle between modernity and nature. It speaks of the past, the present, and the future. It is a story of life and death.

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DAN HILLIER Interview  
Posted on Dec 6 2012

Your pictures recall victorian images - what is it that makes this era so enticing and inspiring to you?
Mainly the feel of the etchings, woodcuts and engravings that I chop up and reassemble. I love the quality of the line and the strength of the form. I also love the melodrama and the pathos that so many of those old images encapsulate. The 1800s are also known as a time when society operated on a seemingly very proper level whilst all manner of dark and strange things were going on beneath the surface. That hasn't changed much I think, but maybe we're more willing to look at it now.

Would you share some of the thoughts that go through your mind while you work?
I tend to keep myself out of the way when I'm working if I can and let the process of putting the pictures together lead me, though at the same time I'll have all manner of ideas and associations popping into mind. The atmosphere of the music I'm listening to tends to play a big part in how I work.

There's a surreal quality about your artworks - does any of it find its way into other aspects of your life?
Yes, all of life is surreal.

How important is your artistic work to achieving a balance in your life?
I wish I had more time to make the work. I spend most of my time managing all the stuff that goes on around the artwork and nowhere near enough time actually working. This is something I plan to reverse in the new year.

If you could live in the Victorian Age, what kind of person would you like to be?

Looking ahead into the future, would you name one challenge that you would love to meet?
Pulling bigger and more involved images out is my main focus next year, but one challenge I really want to meet is to find a way to be making pictures 5 days a week.

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ERIC YAHNKER Interview  
Posted on Nov 8 2012

Do you remember the first time that a piece of art grabbed your attention? Did that happen while you were a child or later?
The first art that captured my imagination was definitely The Three Stooges.  The vaudevillian craft reduced to its most violent, testosterone-fueled spectacle is so perfectly timeless.  The first non-cinematic art which grabbed my attention was probably Marvel Comics and Mad Magazine.  Mad Magazine was just so supremely taboo for my conservative upbringing.  It seems so ridiculous now, but looking through its pages felt like looking at porn.  I don't remember my folks not allowing me to look at it, but I guess anything becomes more fun if you think maybe you'll get in trouble if your caught with it.

Your artistic career started a few years back - before that you have worked in journalism, comedy and animation. From that period, what lesson do you still take with you?
Mostly that I'm not a very good team player, and it's probably best to hole me up in my little bat cave to silently slave away on my own shit rather than someone else's.  Nonetheless, I have no doubt my art is informed by the accumulation of all my past experiences.

How does your background in fields other than art inform on your artistic sensibility nowadays?
The truth is that all I ever wanted to be was a political cartoonist, but with the death of print journalism, I concluded that if I wanted to continue down the same path, I would have to adapt or sink with the ship.  I've often said, when the world can't easily classify what you do, 'art' is there to catch you before you fall off a cliff.  Perhaps my work is made for a more highfalutin clientele than a political cartoonist, but it still enjoys a certain dissemination and democratization by being spread around via the internet.  By adapting, I found a way to make a living, while still satisfying my need to seek broader social truths through satire.

To answer your question more directly, I use investigative reporting research methods along with an animator's sensibility and disciplined work ethic on a daily basis.

The famous people that are very often depicted in your work, do they stand as symbols, do they represent something for you or not?
The exploitation of celebrity is just a sound strategy to deliver broader social truths.  The attraction begins and ends there.

Would you describe the feelings and thoughts, and inspiration, that come with the beginning of each new artwork?
I'm usually just thinking about how quickly I can get it done.  Since most of my work is made for solo shows, all the brainstorming is done long before I actually get to make each individual work.  I typically know down to the letter, precisely what my shows will look like before I start any work.  Then, I break it down and chart out how long I think each piece will take me to make, so I can have it all completed by a specific deadline.  This may sound like a depressing lifestyle, but I often feel like I'm submerged under water, and can't surface again until all the work for a given show is complete.  I'm probably a different, lighter person at the end of the process than I am at the beginning.  Once a show is over, I start the process all over again, and am always grateful for it.  Perhaps I've made it sound like I don't have any fun making the work.  I actually enjoy the self-discipline, but it can be taxing on a lot of other aspects of life.  Essentially, it's solitary confinement with hard labor.  But, at least it's the hard labor of my choosing!

Do you feel comfortable and pleased in today's art world?
To be honest, I still don't know too many artists, and I'm not even sure I consider myself one.  I'm a satirist.  If anything, I find I'm socially out of my element in the art community.  I tend to blow people's hair back a bit.  But, it's getting somewhat better as people get used to me.

What is the hardest, toughest part of the creative process?
Knowing you'll never have enough time in life to do everything you want to.  It's probably for the best, though.  Most probably think I'm prolific enough.

Do you think that a collector can be as powerful as to make a star out of a mediocre or bad artist?
I really don't give collector's or their tastes too much thought.  I'm glad there are folks out there who truly have a passion to loft artists, instead of just diversifying their financial portfolios with speculative art buying.  Obviously art is subjective, and I'd love to give the benefit of the doubt to most collectors that their buying habits reflect a very personal and distinct taste, but it's often so shamelessly obvious when the dominoes fall a certain direction that even the mega-collectors are just as fearful and non-visionary as most everyone else.

Anyway, time is the great equalizer.  Who really knows what is good or bad art until time has had a chance to digest or purge it.

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Andrea Hasler Interview  
Posted on Oct 4 2012

Many of your works have to do with the female body and the female identity. What are the issues that you wish to explore through these pieces?
Employing external and internal natural forms, the works are critical interpretations of the body as an idea and ideal that entwine with a personal interest and complex narrative, despite a removal of us from them: ist an attempt to depict the emotional body!
Could you describe the initial reactions of the viewers in front of your sculptures that make use / comment on the female body?
I have collaborated with documentary maker Laura Wilson to film people’s reaction of my last installation ‘Irreducible Complexity’. The comments and associations were incredible. It’s interesting how people are often repulsed by the abject quality of a sculpture but can’t help themselves but to touch it.
The strongest reaction is people who cannot bring themselves to look at the objects. And the reaction that made me laugh the most was someone who asked me if the wax sculptures are made from chewed up chewing gum. This is a particular interesting one as chewing gum as an object also becomes an ‘Abject’: a thing that goes into our body and comes out again.

 In your opinion, in what ways can an artist contribute to public dialogue - only through their work itself, or do you think that it is important
to also talk about the work?

For me it’s the work itself that should trigger the dialogue and I let other people do the talking about it.  I always feel if an artwork needs the artist's ‘manual’ on how to read the work something has not entirely worked and than this should maybe be purposely included and form part of a performance piece.

 You have said, "I am intrigued by the borderline between attraction and repulsion" - would you elaborate?
It’s about the fine line when something is aesthetically desirable yet revolting at the same time.
I am intrigued how the emotional body can be depicted and am fascinated were viewer’s attraction are replaced by repulsion, and how this is different for everybody. I am very captivated with the psychological aspect of consumerism and its emotional link to ‘Abject’.  Through my work, I dissect moral concepts generated by the media and deeply entrenched concepts in every individual without reassembling the dissected, separated and ornamented pieces into a new or different whole - thus confronts the viewer with his or her own feelings of attraction and repulsion, of power, control and impotence. My work poses new questions: How much can our body take? - Will we sacrifice everything for beauty? - Which kind of person do we wish to be tomorrow? - Which identity to chose? - Which designs will we chose? - How much money will we spend for it? I often explore these questions by the illustration of surgical fetishes the viewer is confronted with contradictions - and in particular, with his or her own taste. Where does attraction end and repulsion begin?

In this vein, looking at "ladies&gents", what is the first repulsive image that comes to your mind?
The utterly beautiful disturbing paintings by Julia Randall
In what ways does fashion trigger your interest as an artist?
Living in East London, I am confronted with fashion every time I leave the studio. There is no denying that my work also reflects my own indulgences!
I often work with notions of luxury and consumerism as a platform for the projection of identity and the decadence of affluence. A couple of years ago, I started to create the installation ‘Desire’ which involves cutting up my designer accessory collection: each piece is a sacrifice, it’s a slow process of griefing for the item donated to be replaced by the excitement for the new object that grows out of it. ‚Desire’ messes with the asthetic codes of a luxury boutique and plays with visions of the future. One day, it will not be the Rolex on your wrist that will be the ultimate luxury accessory but kidneys embellished with diamonds.

Do you ever experiment with the image of yourself that you present to outside world?
Oh yes, all the time, I am often still puzzled when the inside view that I have of myself does not reflect what I see in the mirror, saying that how amazing are the moments when the two merge into one!

In our days, to many women feminism has almost become a dirty word - what is your personal opinion and experience?
I am a feminist concubine: at first glance some of my pieces might look like strong feminist statements but there is also a lot of humor in them.
For example the piece ‘ The only way your feeling me is if your eating me’ is a wax breast/bum nicely served up on a plate with silver cutlery or  ‘MiuMiuMe’ is a pair of Miu Miu killer high heels with a delicate, hairy vagina growing on one of the heels. Again, the way these pieces are displayed resembles
limited edition objects on show in luxury boutiques

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