The eXTra finGer

...''He was counting on his fingers.One two three four five six seven eight nine ten eleven.Eleven?Had he been born with an extra finger?''...

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Interview with Carl Abrahamsson

q)Please introduce yourself.

a)My name is Carl Abrahamsson and I’m 43 years old. Other people keep referring to me as an artist and I accept that. I write, I take photos, I make music and occasionally I mix all three ingredients.

q)Where do you live and work?

a)In Stockholm, Sweden. I find myself working more while travelling though: writing more, taking more photos, thinking more.

q)How would you describe your work to someone who has never seen it?

a)The photographic work quite often displays strange facets of human life. Weird people, strange events, bizarre phenomenae, traces of human glory, manifestations of decadence. The writing quite often contains a sardonic humour. I’m not really a fan of irony but it’s there nonetheless. The music is generally very psychedelic, as in teasing or stimulating the human mind and intelligence. If the music becomes too structured, clean or organized, I get tired of it. Music is emotional and evocative and it certainly has the potential of sending the listener away for a while. I encourage that very much. Sometimes I make little sculptures and even paint on canvas. But I feel the thinking in itself is the most interesting aspect of all of this.

q)How did you start in the arts? How/when did you realize you were an artist?

a)Quite early on, but it took a long time before I was comfortable with the term “artist”, as applied to me. I wrote early on, drew a lot as a child, and existed in my own space and time – something which allowed for a slightly overdeveloped fantasy capacity. This is a different way of saying that I was a lonely and spoilt child, and one who has never really ever grown up. Ever since my late teens, I’ve been involved in artistic creation.

q)What are your favorite art materials and why?

a)Pen, notebook, camera. Not forgetting reality in itself, which is a beautiful and malleable art material.

q)What/who influences you most?

a)Thinking about life in all its strange aspects and contradicting facets. There are also human sources of inspiration from history as well as from present times. I like travelling, but mainly because I enjoy coming home again. I like being reminded of what I’ve done – perhaps I fear forgetting or being forgotten. That’s why I rarely print photographs that are recently taken. I let them wait. It goes for the writing too: I usually keep a rapid pace but I save the editing for later.

q)Describe a typical day of art making for you.

a)To be somewhat balanced and alive I need to read, write and think every day. That’s what I strive for, to have the designated time to do that every day. If I’ve managed that, I’ve thereby created art. Both on the level of manifesting general existential choices and, more literally, of allowing something to be created through those choices. All of these things and levels are interconnected. Photography and the visual arts are one aspect of psycho-emotional activity, music another. The writing is the purest channel of transmission for me and very often where I sow seeds that later tend to grow either as visual stimulation or musical ditto.

q)Do you have goals, specific things you want to achieve with your art or in your career as an artist?


q)What contemporary artists or developments in art interest you?

a)Not that many. There’s a predominance of infantilism today and I’m not too fond of that – naivistic mannerism, etc. I like Hermann Nitsch and Peter Beard very much, because of their intuitive knowledge of magic and enchantment. Art can’t be separated from the magical and mythical elements and their deep-rooted connections in the human mind. If that’s not there, we’re only talking about illustration, decoration or ego-masturbation. But art has a much, much larger potential than that. Genesis P-Orridge has touched upon this in many phases of his work. He has influenced me in my thinking about these things, for sure. I like Gilbert & George very much too, but for slightly different reasons.

q)How long does it typically take you to finish a piece?

a)It all depends on the medium. A musical structure can be finished in an evening’s time. A photograph takes a fraction of a second to capture but I can spend many hours in the darkroom or, later, hand-tinting a print. A book of substance perhaps a year. A thought can take a lifetime to finish.

q)Do you enjoy selling your pieces, or are you emotionally attached to them?

a)I definitely want them to be spread around. I’m very happy to sell them. I just hope I’ll sell more in the future than what I have so far. I’m not too worried about it though. Perseverance usually pays off in the end.

q)Is music important to you? If so, what are some things you're listening to now?

a)Music is very important indeed, given that it’s one of my three main expressions. I seldom have any preconceived ideas about making music. It’s a spur-of-the-moment creation for me, and I like that. As for music in general, I listen to psychedelic music from all ages and areas and also some classical composers, Bruckner and Wagner being favourites.


a)This is a very big question, as I read a lot. Books are very important on all significant levels of my life. I live surrounded by them and feel insecure when I’m without them. Reading has taught me the power of fiction, of talismanic creativity, of meta-programming the entire cosmos (if you write well enough, that is). I’m all in favour of Borges’ vision of the universe as a library. In fact, I often feel that I’m inside that library, and that’s a VERY privileged position.

q)What theories or beliefs do you have regarding creativity or the creative process?

a)Tapping into a source, basically. There are different ways of doing this. I get a lot of ideas while daydreaming. It has to do with compensatory emotions being allowed to move freely into the realms of fantasy. And fantasy is, of course, the breeding ground of human creation. Intuition plays a major part in creative development of any kind. Courage and experimentation too. There must be plenty of room for chance and random accidents. When you’re on the path, so to speak, you just have to keep walking. You have to have faith in your own juggling of supposed oppositions. In the end, nothing matters. But until then, some things do.

q)What do you do (or what do you enjoy doing) when you're not creating?

a)Primarily taking part of other people’s creations: reading books, listening to music, watching films, integrating art. I also enjoy meditation and walking.

q)Do you have any projects or shows coming up that you are particularly excited about?

a)There’s always something going on. In February I show some photos at MOPIA in Zürich. It’s photographs of the interaction between porn stars and porn fans at huge conventions in the US. I’m also working on a book on a similar theme right now.

q)Do you follow contemporary art scenes? If so, how? What websites, magazines, galleries do you prefer?

a)I wouldn’t say follow… I have to say that the Museum of Modern Art here in Stockholm is great, and there are indeed many galleries that show interesting stuff. But despite this I tend to be more curious and active when I’m abroad, which is not an uncommon phenomenon. I’m not really actively extroverted while at home, but if someone drags me away to an opening or an interesting exhibition, I’ll most likely go and see what it’s all about.

q)Ask yourself a question you'd like to answer, and answer it.

a)Question: Why? Answer: Why not?

q)Any advice for aspiring artists?

a)Cut away the attributes to get to the essence. Gradually merge with a sincere and honest vision of your will and then do your utmost to discard rational thought – at least on the distinctly creative level. And do not underestimate the talismanic potential of artworks. In this lies a responsibility too – You will be stuck with your art, whether you like it or not. Inanimate objects can come alive and they often do. If your trip is loose, ego-based and Galatea-infused, you will sooner or later end up in trouble. Art has a life of its own, once it’s given form and content. The analogy to children is not far-fetched.

q)Where can we see more of your work online?


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Interview with Bonni Reid

q) What is your name and what do you do?

a)Bonita Helene Reid and I’m an artist, designer and animation colour stylist.

q) When did you really get into art?

a)I have this vague impression that it first really clicked when my grade four teacher got me to draw for the local newsletter. I somehow felt like I was on the road to being a professional. The lack of pay only re-enforced this notion.

q) How did you come to the realization that you should try your luck at art on a more serious level?

a)I got tired of working on other people’s ideas all the time. Animation can do that. As much as I’ve loved my job, over the years you tend to loose your inspiration, what drew you into the field to begin with. Really, I just wanted to work on something that was my own without second guessing or worrying about what would be accepted or not.

q) How did you discover the particular style that you have?

a)Probably by mistake – trial and error. I’m still discovering my style and hopefully always will. That’s what makes an artist grow, in my opinion. I love to experiment and every painting is treated in a slightly different way.

I approach my paintings as an illustrator would, but often I’ll execute it using classical methods such as traditional gesso, egg tempera, shellac and oil. Lately, I’ve been experimenting with casein. It feels like alchemy when I play around with these mediums.

q) How would you describe your style?

a)I have a hard time describing my style. Terms such as pop surrealism, Victorian surrealism and retro-tech surrealism have been used to describe it but I can’t say I feel comfortable with any label. I suppose ‘surrealism’ is the only description that covers most bases. Mechanical devices and anatomy are often part of the visuals and my work usually incorporates some kind of a narrative.

q) Who or what influences your art?

a)I love to know what lies beneath the surface and what’s been left behind once it gone – traces, echoes, ghosts. After my dad passed away I found several notes that he had written and on one it said, “These things will eventually fall apart, they cannot reconstitute themselves.” Without realizing it, I believe that my main motivation has been to simply record and interpret what my impressions are of these things that fall apart, whether they are correct or not.

q) How often do you create a new piece?

a)I’d say on the average about 14 pieces per year, but now I’m hoping to pick up the pace and to also include more illustration work. I’ve just finished an 11-year animation contract, so if all goes well, I’ll have more time to focus on my own work without feeling rushed and deadline-oriented.

q) What kind of success have you had with your art?

a)Well, I think my 15-year career in animation has been fairly successful although I wouldn’t call it my art. I’ve participated in many group shows and I’ve also been in 2 and 4 artist exhibits. La Luz de Jesus Gallery in LA has had me back a number of times – they’re great to work with. People seem to like my work enough to add my paintings to their collections and I’m always glad they find a home.

My work will also be appearing on jewellery and accessories from Classic Hardware which I’m really excited about, and I’ll be doing a show in May for Distinction Gallery in CA that I’m looking forward to.

q) What would be the ultimate goal for you and your art?

a)Ultimately? I would love to have the freedom of working on my own projects and to continue to collaborate with other artists.

I suppose my goal also includes the path that will take me there. I want to continue to grow, evolve, and most importantly, have the resources to do so.

q) What do you see as an accomplishment in the way of art?

a)Every completed piece is an accomplishment. When anyone takes notice of something I’ve created, I feel that it’s an accomplishment in itself.

The fact that you’ve tracked me down to interview me makes me feel as though I’ve accomplished something!

q) What kind of message, if any, do you try to convey through your art?

a)I want to convey a feeling of discovering something from a child’s viewpoint. I want to show what you thought might be hidden in your grandmother’s closet or your reclusive neighbour’s work shed. I want to look into that dusty box hidden up in an attic and paint what I’ve found and tell a bit of a story.

q ) Sum up your art in one word.

a)Scrapbook Dissection (okay, that’s two words…). And I don’t know what that means.

q) Any additional comments?

a)Thank you very much for thinking of me. I’ve been inspired by your questions.

q)…your contacts…