EAS participating artist, Liam Andersen, working with memory and imagination, discusses his two interconnected, ongoing projects exploring identity.
I am a mixed-media artist from Denmark, based in Greece. I am currently working on recreating photographs of my family and upbringing into oil paintings. This method captures the poetics and emotions that memories evoke, allowing me to find a balance between memory and imagination. To engage artistically has given me the opportunity to view memories and family photographs with a more critical lens and helps me better understand where I come from, how this has shaped my identity, and why I have ended up on a very similar path today.The process of becoming a part of the art I am creating, by living the story that I am tellin, is the baseline for the whole project. As a young and aspiring artist, I seek to fulfill my passion by finishing two interconnected exhibitions titled, 'Until I was Born', and 'Mom and Dad, We Survived'.
You can see more images of Liam's work on his Instagram account: the.moon.is.a.harsh.mistress
'Until I was Born' tells the story of my parents, from when they met until I was born, through oil paintings based on recreations of photographs, as well as through their oral accounts, as they were handed over to me throughout my upbringing.
This is a story of a young and idealistic couple who fall in love, through a commitment to creating a life together free from the individualistic and isolating reality of the neo-liberal market society of Europe, since the late 1970s. From the squat scene of Sankt Pauli and Reberbahn¹ in Hamburg, to the drug infused raves of Goa in India, and experiments with communal lifestyles in various parts of southern Europe, this piece tells the story of the life of my parents.
As travelers living on the road in a bus converted into their home, before I was born, they became parents. Before my mother became pregnant, they confronted the question: How can our lifestyle, our dreams and aspirations, be compatible with the safe upbringing of a child? This is a story of sacrifice and compromise. Eventually deciding to settle down, and once again confronted with what they considered a meaningless life within capitalist modernity.
The piece captures the crumbling of my parent’s relationship and my father’s sinking into depression. After years of pain, the result is a divorce. I was born into this moment of pain, this moment of rupture. The only glimpse I would ever come to know of a harmonious family would be through the thousands of pictures that capture those years before I came into being and everything changed.
'Mom and Dad, We Survived'is a video piece, still in process, that follows up on my own love story. From 2017 to 2019, I have been documenting my life and journey with my former partner, using videos, writing and photographs as a tool. The video piece begins one harmonious summer, with two 19-year olds riding their bikes through the woods in Denmark, two days before leaving their houses, jobs and lives behind for the next two years.
The experimental video footage consists often of only fragments. Through these fragments, the viewer is taken on an intimate love story journey with a young couple travelling through Palestine and Morocco, Chile and Argentina, and finally to the south of Europe, where the relationship ends when one of the protagonists becomes deeply involved with the radical left subculture of Greece. Themed around love and the desire to make sense of oneself by revisiting and exploring the rivers from where one’s identity and self-narrative have sprung. The piece consists of video footage, self-portraits (photo) and diary pieces. It is a follow up to 'Until I was Born', exploring the same issues, themes and cultures, only 20 years later through the lens of my own tragic and fantastic love story.
ADDENDUM: Excerpts from a recent interview with Liam published in artCollective Magazine:
Artists that have inspired me
I am a big admirer of Apolonia Skool. Her art has been very inspiring and important to me. The sensation her art gives me is similar to the feeling of disappearing into an amazing piece of literature. The way she portrays her characters is incredibly strong, and I am moved by how her love for the people she works with comes across through her art. I am also a sucker for portraits that are located within the mundaneness of everyday life. The normality of the setting can function almost as a window into something very powerful between people.
I am also very inspired by the city I live in, Athens, and the people around me. … the documentarists that I have met through the political scene here in Athens, and the artistic process of becoming a part of what you are creating, by living the story that you are telling.
Other media and techniques
I love working with oil chalk. I have developed a process that is very physical, and one that allows for a lot of spontaneity. It’s a very simple process, but it’s very therapeutic to me, almost cathartic at times.
First, I cover a large piece of canvas (90x70cm) with a thick layer of chalk, a long and intensive process, often soviolent that my fingers will start to soften and blisters will appear. When the entire canvas is covered in a layer of oil chalk, I draw on the canvas by carving it with a knife. It’s a very long but meditative process. I find this method exciting because you are presented with a completely different set of challenges, but also opportunities...
All the images are oil on paper, untitled # 1-7 from the series 'Until I Was Born'
Note¹: The Reeperbahn is a street and entertainment district in Hamburg's St. Pauli district, one of the two centres of Hamburg, Germany’s nightlife
Revisiting old photographs and hearing them telling family stories, remembering people and lives, Indian artist Jayeti Bhattacharya enters into dialogue with her family's past recreating contexts and meanings.
[Click on the images to enlarge them!]
With different stories embedded within, I found a packet of very old photographs that was left out in the dust, on top of the cupboard for the silver fish.
I started to gather collections of photographs from the family’s close relatives, people who were also present in these photographs but never talked about them. While going through this huge lot of images from my relatives’ archives I was really amazed to find so many which have a deep connection with my roots and identity.
I thought of looking again through them and decided to create visuals with my interpretation of the ambiences where the scenes represented in the photographs must have been part of.
As my family shifted its base from the other side of the border to several different locations, and lastly settling down in Kolkata, it received the visits of countless family relatives who would come to visit the city, to stay here as a basis for medical visits and check ups, or on their way to move to other parts of the country, for their own turns in the city of Kolkata, or many other innumerable reasons.
I feel that these works are celebrations of those special moments lived by the many relatives and friends. These photographs carry the character of both the known and the un-known. Known seems to be the people whom I knew personally, and un-known seems to be those whom I only knew through the words of the known. I feel a relationship grows here between the known and
the un-known. The known plays the pivotal role in conveying the moments and the lives lived with the un-known. The photographs trap different layers of relationship with the times, the situations and the places where the shots were taken and that are captured within their surfaces. The time here becomes ephemeral to me. I feel as if through the photographs I can peep into those moments and those situations, embedded within their surfaces. I thought I could express the importance of time and relationship through it.
I thought of questioning whether these relationships still cherish the same affection or whether they now only share the same photograph surface, and whether the land which we belong to now breaths the same way as before. Many photographs expressed sibling love, which in today’s world is getting much
objectified. With all these ideas in mind, my project was to create a new visual language, using the original photographs and archiving the local history, which connects us to the past and leads the way towards the un-predictable future.
Different question rise in my mind: what if we had to live in a land of nature without the box structures around us (our houses), what if humans had to live alone and survive by themselves alone, what if the animals were to live inside the boxes and humans were to roam around? Apart from these thoughts, humans are entangled in numerous relationships throughout their lives. But over here, again, do these relationships continue to be memorable and significant, or are they just reduced into a pile of old photographs lying in the dust to be found by future generations? In a way the essence of the present is being moved away from the present, but it does live until its enigmatic end.
She holds a Master’s of Fine Arts from Kala Bhavana, Visva Bharati University.
Her work has been shown in many exhibitions, including ‘Defining a Relative Space’ at A.M. Studio; ‘Bad Smell Good Smell’ at Studio 21 in Kolkata; ‘Last Image Show’, both in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in 2018 and Lusaka, Zambia, in 2019.
She was also part of the CIMA Award Show 2019 in Kolkata. Many of her works include a combination of painting and mixed media and address overarching themes related to time, space, land, history and existential reality.
Indian artist Anirban Mishra dives deep into the loss, the pain and the fears spread by the present pandemic, vividly expressing them in his recent work.
Every 100 years or so, our world is affected by a violent disease which becomes an epidemic. In this present time, the novel Coronavirus is the big epidemic in the world, which started to spread in December 2019 in Wuhan, China. Then it affected the whole world very quickly.
This epidemic has not only affected health and population; it has affected our social and economical conditions. This precious time is very critical to handle for everybody. It will be taking its part in world history. As an artist, I tried to represent this situation through my work. The violent nature of this epidemic is not less than a world war, but is more than this. In a very short time, the epidemic transforms the world’s condition to another place. A huge number of people died, some families are isolated from society. Still no vaccine has been discovered. Now we can cure only one way, that is social distance. Governments announced complete lockdown in most of the countries in the world to create social distance. A record in world history.
My previous works are related to alienation in society, now highly increased. Huge numbers of people are dying in this epidemic. Somebody lost their family, somebody lost their lover, and many people have fallen into deep sorrow and faced deep anxiety.
I lost You
I lost You! ! !
Oh God I lost him !!!
You went from me...
I felt into a deep
‘I Lost You’ is a painting that represents the sorrow and anxiety of a family for the death of one member. They feel pain to have lost their closest one. I used exaggerated figures which help me to represent the expression of the family members who fell into deep anxiety. The central character of the composition is laying down on the bed and his death represents the violent epidemic. The standing figures are represented in different postures, showing the character of painful expressions. The fine and simplified lines show the expressive quality of the drawing. Ink and charcoal are the main mediums in this work. The Coronavirus is a most critical disease, which is destroying the social structure. Every day the number of deaths increases and the number of affected people is growing.
This disease is showing a violent character of its own. It’s like our whole world will be covered by this epidemic one day. In this painting, I used monochromatic colors and the black color in the sky to represent the Dark Age. If this epidemic never stops, then the whole world will be destroyed.
In this painting, only three people are standing on a lonely vast land. They are alienated in the world. The background of the painting shows the dark world, which is lonely. It is as if only these three people are still living in the world and the whole world has become a death valley. These people can be created into a new world, which is the transformation of one world to another world.
The novel Coronavirus has become an epidemic. Still, no vaccine has been discovered to prevent the disease. To cure it, affected people need to stay in an isolation. People are scared to live alone, and are also scared to be isolated from society.
In 'A Man with His Pet', a man stays in an isolation room with his loved pet. He is isolated from society. The expression of the character represents pain and anxiety. It’s very difficult to stay alone and isolated for a long time. Bu in the present time people are scared to live.
To prevent the spread of the disease, the governments of many countries and cities announced a complete lockdown, requiring social distancing, which is considered the only way to prevent the disease. This kind of lockdown has never happened in the past. Cities and streets look different. We are all isolated from social contact. The cities and their streets become lonely. People should avoid coming to the streets, but some are not responding properly. They come out of their homes and break the lockdown regulation. The situation can become critical, since it can increase the possibilities of affecting more people. Lockdown in this painting represents a night view of city life. The city is completely locked down, but two people are standing in the street. They feel depressed from social isolation. Their expressions represent anxiety. Standing alone in the street, they see the alienated city. Modern city life can be so alienating.
I am inspired by Egon Schiele, Anselm Kiefer, Edvard Munch, Jackson Pollock, and many other artists. I always try to create my own language. Sometimes my works show the inspiration from these artists.
In these epidemic times, social gathering is the most problematic. People are trying to understand. Lots of people are gathered in the streets and in the market, which increases the possibility of affecting more and more people. Houses are standing in the background of this painting. In the village area and the foreground a group of people are gathered, and a dog is among them.The total composition represents society.
The exaggerated figures and lines help us to understand the breakdown. This exaggerated lines increase this quality in the drawing. The expressions of people who are standing in the street not only represent gathering, but represent the inner scary character of the human mind, which they are communicating to each other.
The impact of the coronavirus on people’s lives and on economic, social and global relations, both now and in the future, is likely to be more far-reaching than any other previous public-health crisis. Not even during the First World War or the Second World War did governments feel the need to close schools. Society is most affected by this epidemic. In 'Social breakdown' I tried to represent the present social condition. This work has been realized with acrylic color and charcoal, basically mixed media on paper. The colors are applied in multilayers. Each layer represents memory and time. Figures are the central element. We can easily understand, by looking at this painting, that it represents a society. Some people are standing in the street and one person has already died. One person hugs the dead body of the man and falls into deep sorrow. The dead man was obviously very close to these people, and they feel pain. Again people are represented with exaggerated forms and lines, showing the breakdown of the society.
The next two paintings are very similar. In them I tried to show the lockdown situation.
Everybody in our society is now scared of the Coronavirus pandemic. All people are scared of death and loss. This painting represents the fear of death and the social condition in the present time. People here do not represent a social gathering. They are juxtaposed to represent society. Their facial expressions represent the fear, anxiety and pain of someone’s death. The flowers also become colorless, indicating the sadness and the uncomfortable situation. The background of the painting is also monochromatic and dark, to represent the dramatic situation. The whole painting uses exaggerated lines, which are very significant, to create distorted figures. Thorn wires are partially covering the bodies, conveying the meaning that people are suffering and living their life with troubles.
The government is telling everyone to stay at home, to stop face-to-face socializing, to stop all non- essential journeys, and to limit our movement to activities like going out to the nearest shop for food and one form of exercise a day. In addition, as announced by the government, you must also stay away from anyone outside your immediate household to stop the virus being spread from one household to another. This advice means that, unless you have sex with someone within your household, it’s important to find sexual pleasure in other ways. Despite the situation with COVID-19, we need to remember that sex is an important part of life, but right now we have to find other ways to achieve sexual pleasure and satisfaction.
But people do not care about the rules and are more committed to each other. Erotic sentiments are mostly increased in this time and they are expressed sexually. 'The lovers' shows lovers holding each other. They are trying to communicate sexually. The figures are exaggerated, showing the anxiety of human minds in times of social distancing. The two faces are covered by cloths, like protective masks, but they have sex to get sexual pleasure. The background of this painting represents the corner of the room. Their expressions show sexual pleasure. Thorn wires represent the boundaries and the lockdown situation of this time. ‘The Lovers’ by Rene Magritte was the inspiration for this work.
The painting ‘Lovers in Garden’ shows lovers who are committed to each other. They are holding each other. They are standing in the garden. The garden looks like it is burned, and full of thorn wires. The sky is browned, to show damaged and rusty nature. This is very much connected to human emotions and the power of intimacy strongly connected to lovers.
The figures are exaggerated, like exaggerated is our present condition. The blue color, appearing in the sky, represents emotions, in this case the pleasure and emotions of sexual attachment.
In this critical time, the government announced the lockdown to stop the spreading Coronavirus. Economic conditions are breaking down. Lower-class people are mostly affected. They have no income and are suffering to live their life. They have no proper shelter to stay safe. They have family and are scared for their families. They try to collect money to buy food, but they can’t. In the painting ‘Economical Breakdown’, a man is standing on the road to sell balloons. There are no other people on the road to buy them, but the man is standing hopefully to sell the balloons to earn money. The body skeleton comes out from his body, showing the man suffering to live his life and that he is hungry.
The present time is very difficult, making history in the future. I've done some works which are related to the present time. These works are part of a series. It's an ongoing process.
I was born in Tamluk, West Bengal in 1995. I am a landscape painter. My works do not only represent natural beauty, but also represent more than what we see; social condition, human emotions, and the alienated society in modern times. I always experiment with different materials; it's more challenging for me to create experimental conceptual art.
In 2017, I graduated in Painting from the Indian College of Arts and Draftsmanship. In 2019, I completed my post graduate degree in Painting from S. N. School Of Arts and Communication, University of Hyderabad.
I have exhibited my works in several exhibitions in India. I received the all India best-exhibition award in painting and in 2019 I was selected as an emerging artist in India.
“Approximations -+” is a project - and a book - created in a fascinating long distance collaboration between Raphael Villet in Berkeley, California, and Carolina Magis Weinberg in Mexico City, on getting to the center. They converged first in Mexico City and then in Berkeley, last January, for a performance/presentation of the project.
As we walked in, the performance had already started, and only a single steady voice was heard in the otherwise pin drop silence of the high-ceilinged room. Immediately, my vision narrowed to the bottom of the amphitheater which doubled as our entrance.
There was a lightness, an openness even, in the tone of the space. Artists Carolina and Raphael sat unassumingly in front of us, speaking in turns. Their neutral colored clothing did not draw attention, but the concentration of focus upon them from an engulfed audience, the microphones, the screen lighting from behind, the wooden stairs, the second floor framing, and the walls all converged to the center.
The center exists because of what is around it. Centers are formed by a relationship with their surroundings. We can perhaps easily think of a few physical centers--we connect all the people in our lives, a museum is a center for the viewing of art, there is a geographic center between Raphael in Oakland and Carolina in Mexico City as they created this book--but there are also centers in time, motion, emotion, and the increasingly abstract spaces.
This book, “Approximations-+: An Exploration of Daily Moments Through the Metaphor of the Center,” was created using a risograph printer, which mimics screen printing, mechanical but notoriously imprecise. The inexactitude, coupled with the Mexico city search for such a printer, added another layer of meaning to the question of what is a center, as Raphael and Carolina cut a hole in the center of the book. The pages denote distances from the center of the book using measurements, numbers, and notches.
The artists told the story of an accident, a hypothetical scenario in which two cars collide. Is it an accident or destiny? Is it meant to be or meaningless? Truly, these two people have been traveling towards each other for years and have met in the center. The whole presentation was a reflection on coming to a center, or one could say on coming to many centers, in the event of moving away from others. It was observing, measuring, and a process.
At intermission the audience was prompted by small pieces of paper attached to a red string reading, “What do you center?”Not where do you center or how do you center, but what do you center? I wrote: “My gut--my emotional, physical, and reciprocal center.” I have gut feelings. My gut is more or less the corporeal center of my body. My gut centers me; I center my gut.
As the presentation came to a close, I had the privilege of speaking with the artists and some of the audience members. Referencing the part of the show where Raphael and Carolina set up streamers from point A to point B in different locations on the stage and measured the distances, Jonathan Villet, Raphael’s father said, “Seeing it acted out, you think about the time it takes to come to a center, to leave a center and then you realize that the center is always evolving.” Ironically, even if the performance had ended, the idea of the center, the idea of the show and the book, never really ends.
My artistic brain is geared toward the literal, but as I contemplate the next move in my career in Education Technology, returning to school to study art, and leaving my home in San Francisco, I have realized that no matter where I move, I will find a center. There is no one center and it will always change but I, like everyone else, am in my center at each moment. Decisions whether fated or by choice will determine my future. The key to my solace is that no matter what that future is, it will find an emotional, physical, and abstract center.
Note: ‘Approximations-+’ is the second book of the Raphael Villet’s Play House Print Series. The first book, ‘Reading Me’ by Lukaza Branfman-Verissimo, was published in 2018. You can find out more about Raphael’s print company, Play Press, based in Oakland, California, and the variety of zines it publishes.
Artist and publisher Raphael Villet is an interdisciplinary artist exploring the possibilities of collaboration with people, materials, and space. His work invites users to consider their relationship to the world in small and large ways. Working across textiles, painting, printing and photography he explores notions of value creation, power and self empowerment through self expression. His artwork has been featured in the Oakland Museum of California, The Tenderloin Museum of San Francisco and the San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery. His publishing house, Play Press works in deep collaboration with artists across the americas and has been archived and made available across the country. www.raphaelvillet.com
Carolina Magis Weinberg ( Mexico City 1990) is a whether reporter and a sight specific artist. Through her interdisciplinary practice she aims to discover the multiple dimensions of visible space, the stories that conform absence, the gestures of a monument, the movement of a center. She is intrigued by the landscape and how it can be politicized and monumentalized through the analysis of certain phenomena, such as snow, rain, and sunshine. In 2017, she obtained a dual graduate degree in Fine Arts and Visual and Critical Studies from the California College of the Arts in San Francisco as a Fulbright, FONCA-Conacyt, and Hamaguchi scholar. She has exhibited her work in exhibitions in Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, France, Germany, Italy, and the United States. www.carolinamagisweinberg.com
Letting nature interact with man made material, watching how the interactions evolve and what emerges. Letting nature take over. Indian artist Maksud Ali Mondal shares Part II of his NATURE project.
The project ‘Where the One Ends, and the Other Begins’, created on the campus of Visva-Bharati University, in Santiniketan, was a durational engagement with nature by observing growing and transforming.
I collected discarded pieces and planks of wood from old buildings, which were already conditioned by time. In the old days those wooden pieces shared space with the glorious past, but later they were discarded and replaced with more durable materials, like steel, plastic and fiber.
With those discarded wooden pieces I built a space and gave the particular conditions required for the continuation of the process of nature. It was (15 feet long, 12 feet width and 12 feet high), on the campus of Kala Bavana, the Art Department of the University. This piece of architecture, so built, was then holding a collection of debris of old memories that were here acquiring a new identity.
This space was a built environment where the activities of nature were allowed to happen freely. Here nature extended to bring in micro life to the site, growing different life forms in the work over a period of time, thus allowing for materials to interact at the level of minute life.
The fallen leaves could decompose; insects, small plants and fungi could grow freely into the site. The installation itself participated in the decomposing process of nature.
We always take care of architectural spaces by maintaining them, and nowadays we prevent the decaying process of natural materials by using synthetic and more durable components. Though different architectural spaces and constructions have different functions, people hardly ever allow nature to interfere with them.
As the materials are influenced by the process of micro living organisms, I witnessed here the extent of what happens in a space by using these materials.
In this project I tried to break with the idea of protecting our spaces by giving nature full control to rush in and out of the space I had built to allow maximum changes. The viewer could enter inside the space and witness all the changes.
The interaction between the construction and nature realized here can be read at different levels of literal as well as metaphoric meanings.
Medium: Discarded wooden door, window and wooden parts
Maksud Ali Mondal was born in Bankura, West Bengal. He earned his BFA and MFA from the department of painting, Kala- Bhavana, Santiniketan in 2019 and studied a semester at the Royal Academy of Art, The Hague, Netherlands in 2016. He deals with biological and feral life in the current environment by observing growth and transformation over a period of time interacting with the materials.
His site-specific installation "Nature Unconditioned”, got the international award in the Kochi- Muziris Students' Biennale, 2019. He is the recipient of the national scholarship from the Ministry of Culture, The Government of India 2018. He participated in an international residency supported by Feudo Maccari, in Sicily, Italy 2018, as well as numerous group exhibitions in India and the Serendipity Art Festival collaboration with the Foundation of Indian Contemporary Art, Goa 2019.
His recent works are deeply concerned critically and creatively with the ecological debates and crisis that surround us today. Maksud currently lives in Santiniketan.