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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Interview with Bjørn Bjarre


Q) First of all, can you present yourself?

A)I was born in Oslo, Norway – where I still live and work. In my childhood I spent much time making strange science fiction inspired drawings, and building big architectural fantasies in Lego bricks – mostly spaceships inspired by Star Wars. I was a lonely child because, for inexplicable reasons, I began stuttering at school, which made me quite shy and withdrawn in social situations. Very early on I got interested in art, music and film. Even though there was little cultural influences from my family, the exception being my father who used to take me to the movies a lot, I think that I got interested in art because it was the best way I could express myself.


Q) Do you think of yourself as an artist?

A)Yes, I guess that is the best way to describe what I do. Even though calling yourself an artist doesn´t tell much about what you do, since art can be virtually anything. When I was a teenager I thought that artists where kind of like Gods, but with time I have realized that everyone is an artist. I think Joseph Beuys said that, and I guess he was right.




Q) What is creativity?

A)It is for me connected to play. When I manage to forget myself and everything around me, when I am concentrated on what I am doing and discover connections and associations in the work I am doing, when I am able to realize new possibilities by accident, when my mind is making unexpected leaps and turns. It is a feeling of freedom accelerated by chance and change in the physical and psychological union between mind and matter.


Q) Does your environment influence your art, either in style/format or interference?

A)My environment is not only the city in which I live, but also the people, the music and everything else. I am influenced by what you could call a global urbanism. I do not feel very norwegian, although I think that I have a nordic melancholy sensibility.


Q) What are some of your influences and inspirations?

A)The most important influence in my art is popular culture (and unpopular culture!) which then again very much influence my dreams, my subconscious and my memories, which again is the main inspiration for the work. Very often I find it difficult to trace the development of an idea or a work of art, and often I discover what I thought was my own ideas in other artist´s work. But I think this is a kind of natural synchronicity. I can try to give an example: The sculpture “Abstract Feeling no. 31” (1996) was first a drawing I made after an all-night introspective discussion with my ex-girlfriend. We were not only talking shit, but we were also getting rid of a lot of shit. Years before that I had made a drawing of an abdomen with a nose in place of the genitals. Then later I saw the sculptures made by Jake and Dinos Chapman with the genitals replacing the mouth and nose. Then later again I heard Frank Zappa read from William Burroughs Naked Lunch, about the talking asshole. And then I learned that David Cronenberg (another important influence) had made a film of Burroughs book. All this is what I call synchronicities. Similar ideas that somehow is a result of a common culture and similar sensibilities. It do actually happen that the influence comes after the work is made.




Q) What’s your favourite mediums?

A)I should say plastecine, which is this soft plastic stuff that never hardens, that´s the material I have mostly used for my sculptures, but now I´m pretty tired of it. I´m trying to quit too, but it´s hard. It´s like I have become addicted. I started using this material because I found it childish and impure, almost comical. The first couple of sculptures had also Lego bricks and hair in them, which I thought was a pretty surrealistic combination of materials, but with a very distinct meaning for me. I have actually discovered several new meanings in these materials over the 10 years I have been working on this “Abstract Feeling” series, which now consists of approximately 100 sculptures (even though most of them are not realized, they exist as drawings or just as a thought). First was bringing these materials together an almost intellectual exercise, but when I started working with them, they took on a life of their own, and the shapes that appeared were totally unexpected. At first I wanted the sculptures to communicate the duality of existence. Bringing these opposite materials together, the geometric, masculin quality of the Lego and the organic, feminine quality of the plastecine, was supposed to speak of the utopian desire of unity in the face of this feeling of duality. An old man I met once told me he got a strange sensation when he saw these abstract sculptures; they brought back a childhood memory of physical contact with the hard skin of his father and the soft skin of his mother. And the hair is this dark unruly animal part of us which is both dead and alive at the same time.


Q) Who are some of your favourite artists?

A)Robert Gober, Philip Guston, Carrol Dunham, Bjarne Melgaard, Francis Bacon, Salvador Dali, Frida Kahlo, Edvard Munch, Pushwagner, Henry Darger, Odilon Redon, Balthus, Adolf Wölfli, Marcel Duchamp, Tom Friedman, Eva Hesse, H.R. Giger, Robert Crumb, Charles M. Schulz, Andie Kaufman, The Marx Brothers, Louise Bourgeois, Kiki Smith, Charles Ray and more…


Q) How long does it normally take you to complete a piece of your artwork?

A)It can take five minutes to do a drawing, when I am jotting down an idea, or it can take months for a big sculpture. But the longest stretches of time is when ideas are forming in my mind. I can contemplate an idea for years before realizing it, or throw it in the dust-bin.


Q) What else are you interested in besides visual arts?

A)Sex and death.




Q)How would you describe your art to someone who could not see it?

A)Unreal, dreamy, bizarre, fantastic, surrealistic, irrational, degenerate, fetishistic, polymorphously perverse, funny and sad.


Q) What other talent would you like to have?

A)I wish I could play the piano, and I wish I could fly.


Q) Favourite books?

A)JRR Tolkien – Lord of the Rings
Jack London – Martin Eden
Haruki Murakami – South of the Border West of the Sun
Georges Bataille – Story of The Eye
Neal Stephenson – Snow Crash
Douglas Adams – The Hitchhiker Trilogy


Q) Favourite films?

A)Ridley Scott - Bladerunner
Stanley Kubrick - 2001
Andrej Tarkovski - Solaris
David Lynch - Mulholland Drive
David Cronenberg - Videodrome




Q) What kind of music do you like…And is the music important for your art…?

A)Music is very important not just for my art but also in my life. What would life be without music? It´s impossible to imagine. I think that music, maybe more than any other art, because of it´s formless immateriality, is what keeps us connected to eachother and to the cosmos. Music is very important also because listening is like travelling to alternative worlds, and while working the music transports me to a different state of mind. I listen to a lot of stuff, too much to mention. In my late teens my favourites was Captain Beefheart, Van Morrison, Bob Dylan, Velvet Underground and a lot of other stuff. In the last couple of years my favourites have been, among others; Aphex Twin, Brian Eno, Can, Boards of Canada, Charles Mingus, Frank Zappa, John Coltrane… etc. Just now recently I am beginning to tune into Sun Ra and the electronic works of Karlheinz Stockhausen and György Ligeti. I have a deep fascination with electronic music, because the electronic sounds are so artificial. In the same way the plastic materials in my sculptures remind me of the artificiality of our modern life.


Q) Any advice you have for artists?

A)Only do it if you don´t have any choice.


Q)Your contacts….E-mail….links

A)bjarre@gmail.com
http://www.bjarre.org/

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