Sulej, Peter: INTERVIEW Vlna, 2010

PS:YOU ARE A FRESH WINNER OF THE OSCAR CEPAN S AWARD. YOU HAVE ALREADY BEEN IN FINALS ONCE, SO FOR THE SECOND TIME IT WORKED. IT IS SURELY A SATISFACTION FOR YOU, SINCE THE PUBLIC, AND OFTEN PROFESSIONALS, HAS VIEWED YOU MORE AS A GALLERIST THAN AN ARTIST. BUT DOES THIS AWARD MEAN TO YOU SOMETHING MORE THAN A CONFIRMATION OF THE QUALITY OF YOUR WORKS?

 

PF:You know, I don t know how the public has viewed me until today. I became familiar with works of many artists through Google, but if our public needs to see realizations in those few exhibition places we own in Bratislava, then it is true, that they cannot know me as an artist. As for the award, I am really glad for it. I think I got the award for the concrete project, not for a longtime work. It simply worked out, and I remained a little bit surprised, because I was working on two installations at the same time, one opening in AMT just one day before the announcement of the winner and I installed it after a night spent in Medium. The Oskar Cepan s award is similar to the czech award of Jindřich Chalupecký, which is quite popular and therefore followed by media and the broader public, and I am a little bit sorry, that the most prestigious award in visual arts in Slovakia is not as acknowledged as in the Czech Republic. As if intelligent people were not so much interested in visual arts.

 

PS:Let s talk about the work that you installed for the Cepan s award. It carries characteristic signs of your autography. As Lucia Gavulová writes in the text from the press conference to OCA: "In her work she intentionally works with memory, she examines emotional reactions, she reflects moments in time,which she sophistically moves forward, to the level perceptible by a subject from outside, out of her internal context. The possibilities and boundries of sharing, the form of grasp, fixation, are next to the conceptualization and often postproductionist attitudes dominant. The photography, video, videoinstallation, text and the sound overpower her work. The personal history, family archives, the experience, fascination- those are key moments of Feriancová s work. Her attitude is visually masterful and affective at the same time. She is comfortable with states that are not really standard in Slovakia, but the more attractive. And very well communicable at an international level."

How did you then approach the Čepan s exhibition ? Since it is basically a competition, your attitude was different. Why this kind of realization? Could you introduce it a little better?

 

PF:Oh well, here I would rather copy my original statement, or more statements, that I write during my work, but I am not going to do this, at least I will make it clear a little bit, now with time, and I will describe what really happened. For me, It was important to react to the given form of presentation, which the competition is, following to my first presentation, when I stated my own handicap, a limit, similarly as in horseraces, in my case it was to limit to the visual attitude that would not excede A4 format (A4, the possibilities of use, 2008).Another important factor for me was the fact that it is an exhibition visited by broad public, therefore by a spectator that is confronted with contemporary art for the first time. My relationship to audience is a subject of permanent examination, and therefore I do not create opinions about opinions of other people. In fact, through identification with the spectator I do receive answers to questions that interest me in connection with exclusively my own work. I am not sure to what point this is useful, but also the audience can be useful in relation to my work. I dont know neither if my work is accommodating, or not accommodating towards the audience, but this, too, becomes a criteria for my work. In Cepan s presentation I used attitudes, that allow me to put my work out of my control, so that the work acquires direction that I cannot further influence, for example like in presented projection "Give it 5 minutes", where the only respected criteria within the video shots were one second long sequences regardless from the picture or a story. In this way, the video quits to be what we are used to, and becomes to function as a means for measuring time. It becomes a stop watch.The installation "The Instant Of The Fingerpost" consists of a found and personalized picture material from the collection of the National Geographic, installed on big tables of glass(one vertical-portrait, one horizontal-stilllife), which remained in Medium after a preceding exhibition. Apart from a formal thematization in composition, the installation worked with doubting of well settled laws of viewing phenomena like perspective and optics. If within my presentation my own works showed up, mostly they are a result of my own postproduction, like the mentioned video, or pictures that I show in connection to other pictures coming for example from the archives of my family members, in this case my aunt. "Sewing Machine" is a movie shot according to my instructions, depicting scissors cutting a thread winding on a camera. This story,however, is doubted, negated by facts of the film Super 8, using a celluloid tape, and its material basis, that in loop remains turning over and over again until it burns, what actually happened during the opening.

 

PS:IN THE INSTALLATION CREATOR 2008 YOU USED THE ARCHIVES OF YOUR GRANDFATHER, CONCRETELY HIS PICTURES OF PIGEONS. I SEE DOUBLE CODING THERE. FIRST THE ARCHIVE AS A MEANS OF FIXATION OF THE MEMORY, OR A DATABASIS OF THE AGED DATA, AND SECOND THE WHOLE WORK AS A MEMORY OF YOUR GRANDFATHER, BUT I SUPPOSE, THAT THE WAYS OUT ARE MANY.

 

PF:The installation Creator is a complementary part of the exhibitions natural selection, curated by Marek Pokorný, and installed in the atrium of The Moravian gallery in 2008. Actually I began to consider the archives of my aunt, ornithologist, and her journey through east Africa only when I started with natural selection. I got to a great source, approximately 300 wonderful Kodak dia pictures  shot between 1970 and 1972. The  fascinating thing about them is that even that those were holiday shots without any aim, the most pictures were targeted on the sky, depicting  birds. I began to see my aunt, because I wanted to work with her archive in harmony with what it was for, what I considered it was for. The whole archive was first divided according to biotops and following bird families. During this cathegorization, I began to study the original encyclopedias and I found out, that next to the visual description the ornithologists help themselves with a word description of the sound that a bird emits. In short, I found a poetry, lots of beautiful comparisons, interjections, that were dominant compared to the visual material. And at the end I showed nothing from the wonderful colourful material, (it is called Not Exhibited Now, Exhibited Later), and instead i put the sound definitions to texts in an old stereopticon and I put this projection into a small white box. But I still missed the material for the evolution discourse, that interested me so much from zoology. And I managed to find a bunch of old black and white pictures that my Grandfather put together for his publication of new breeds of pigeons. I noticed, that each picture has a different provenience, it is handwritten on the back, it is an original, some of them were retouched to satisfy high ambitions of the breeders. Each creature on the picture is a creation of their creators. Because of this I have chosen the title Creator. Yes, within Creator I used antagonistic principle, and I think that my way of negation precisely drew its counterpole. Actually, I am not doing this for the firs time. The Creator seemingly negates, but through its polarity towards the title of the exhibition creates its basic idea, that is, Natural selection. Natural selection is a process applying the criteria of survivel (allowance or dooming) in terms of evolution, which is the consequence of division of breeds to more new breeds going from one generation to another. The Creator installation is about a human intervention to evolution, doubting the generational changes of the inherited characteristics. It is about an ambition to create new breeds, physiognomical changes in a short period of time (of one human life), that is in contradiction to evolution itself. Despite of the possibilities of real time, the Creator can manifest the human desire to survive, or to live eternally. This human manifestation of a rebellion to impermanence is actually in harmony with the natural selection, it is one of its characteristics. I have only known my Grandfather a little, I know he was a great professional and if a Creator is to be a monument, then definitely a monument to his proffesionalism. However, the theme of zoology is given, I don t seek for it, and I have also heard that if my family collected pigeons, then the exhibition would be different.

 

PS:FROM YOUR OLDER WORKS I WAS INTERESTED IN YOUR PERFORMANCES WITH MÁRIA TURŇOVÁ, "E TARDI, ITS TOO LATE " FROM 2008 AND "LOST C NOTE" FROM 2006. WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO THEMATIZE THE OPERA WORLD? I KNOW, IT IS ONLY THE ENVIRONMENT FOR OTHER PLANC, BUT ANYWAY...

 

PF:I am interested basically in form, and although it does not seem so, I am interested in working formally with reality itself. And I repeat myself when I say that either I work with birds of East Africa or a colorature soprano it is only because I try to grasp what is really a part of my day to day life and of course with my family and friends taking part in it. It may seem that I show certain ignoration to the audience, because they are not part of my personal life at the beginning, but then it is not important to know the authors intention, is it? I think that more important is the reality, the attitude to the material and the sampling. In fact, it is not my own material, I myself have to approach it somehow. And this was, and it still is, the case of the opera, because this thing isnt concluded yet. It began during the summer holidays in 1998, we were visiting the Turňa family and Mária sang the aria from La Traviata as she was cooking dumplings, then she went to water the garden, and there it came Lucia di Lammermoor. I was excited by the combination, and interesting is, that however the surroundings were inadequate, one burst in tears from the exhalted emotions. Since then I followed Mária, because her expression was not the one of the opera diva, but of a woman, that is leaving the theatre, the one of real Violetta or Lucia. Mária went to teach opera singing to a conservatory, where I was shooting her during a class in the same year 1998, with my first videocamera(Hi 8, I sometimes use it even now), (The Singing Class 1998), and later in 2009 as she leads a choir in a small city near Bratislava. In all those situations I have chosen one part of aria where Mária in the last years in the same one moment instead of acceleration says " I dont have a high C note". Later in 2008 I was offered a possibility to present my work thanks to a Swiss curator, in Luna Bar of the Kyjev Hotel. I considered it nice to organize a happening, that would be connected to the theme of the symposium , the End. (In that time there was quite a sensitive question regarding of taking down the whole Kyjev Hotel, to which the symposium reacted)and therefore I have chosen and put together with Mária 5 different arias from her repertoire, which I put in row according to their own place in the opera and according to the gradation of the story. All of them, of course, led to a collapse of the main heroine, and all of them were great solos. Mária learnt them together with the pianist Milada Synková from the Slovak National Theatre, and on that evening they presented them wearing costumes. It was great because people didn t expect it, they wouldnt expect Gianni Schicchi,Verdi, or Donizzetti s most exhalted passages. After the show the people remained to have fun, I taught the waiter Jozef to mix Dry Martini, you only splash the glass by vermuth , otherwise it is just  gin with ice, and in this way Luna Bar, after decades, functioned in its original way, without great arrangements, and not just it, lived through the past fame.

 

PS:YOU HAVE CHOSEN A PURELY CONCEPTUAL APPROACH IN INSTALLATION "NATURAL SELECTION", FOR THE MORAVIAN GALLERY IN BRNO ATRIUM 2008. TO QUOTE YOU: I ASKED MY FRIENDS TO DESCRIBE A WORK OF ART FOR ME. IF I WAS TO USE A SIMILAR APPROPRIATION AS A POET, AND ASKED MY FRIENDS TO DESCRIBE POETRY TO ME, THE MOST OF THE CRITICS, IF PEOPLE WOULD NOTICE SUCH A GESTURE, WOULD NOT UNDERSTAND IT, AND I AM USING EUPHEMY HERE. WHAT IS IT THAT THE CONTEMPORARY ART SEEMS TO BE THE MOST (PROGRESSIVE,MORE FREE, MORE FLEXIBLE, BROAD SPECTRAL)?YOU ARE INTERESTED IN MOVING THE BOUNDRIES IN ART. TO BE MORE PRECISE, IS IT POSSIBLE TO MOVE THE BOUNDRIES MORE FURTHER?

 

PF:Well, "I asked my friends" is another thing, that I have not mentioned in your question about the exhibition Natural selection, and it made a part of it. It happened because to me and to Marek Pokorný it fit in, although the idea was different, but it was still in agreement with already mentioned ideologizing of the work method. It simply was a part of it. With the exhibition an accompaning catalogue was made, that instead of a catalogue I used as a collection of references from my friends. It was a publication of friends, artists, who described pieces of art from different authors according to their choice. I did not travel that year, (it was the year of Documenta and Venice Biennale), and I realized , as we sat with my friends and listened about this and that, that my ideas, based on their chatting are formed in a precise way, furthermore as I was to be confronted with reality it seemed that it is better to hear than to see. And this was the end of my longterm obsession with mediated experience, that is with living without the necessity of experiencing. After that, I have asked the writers to limit to note rather than critique, that is, I asked them not to describe their experiences from the seen work, because the intention was that the reader was informed without the relationship of the writer to the experienced piece of art. Anyway, there are relationships in those writings, although different, but always present, later there was a discussion if the writers could describe their works vice versa etc. However, the project still lasts, even without my endeavor, I still receive writings, I am preparing the third edition of descriptions, as an A2 newspaper is, as a piece of art, a part of the exhibition space. As for the second part of your question, then yes, I think that visual art is specific, to the point that the more its presentations are similar to it, the more interesting it is. As for other fields, than I have to say that I am too much interested in my own, that I subconsciously push back the others. Sometimes I avoid them on purpose, because I don t like to evaluate something than doesn t make part of my own field, and I am a little scared, especially with film, that I will go crazy. Simply, I don t want to get under the influence. I never enjoyed happenings or festivals where there were both theatre or music and visual arts, because the latter was pushed back. The visual art is, but this is my own opinion, as free as it is specific. It is necessary to be informed, to "be in the picture", and I have to say, that there are only a few people, even proffessionists who are really informed. The truth is, that probably most of artists from different fields view visual arts with despect  and therefore I am very glad for what you are pointing at, because I think so, and I hope so myself.

 

PS:A PART OF YOUR WORK "TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN 2006" BECAME ALSO THE LETTERS OF YOUR FORMER HUSBAND, THAT THE READERS OF VLNA CAN READ AFTER OUR INTERVIEW. YOU HAVE SHOWN A GREAT PART OF YOUR INTIMATE LIFE. IN THE NOVEL OF THE FRENCH WRITER BENOIT DUTEURTRE "THE JOURNEY TO FRANCE" THERE IS A CHARACTER OF A FEMALE ARTIST THAT HAS THREE LOVE RELATIONSHIPS AT THE SAME TIME, AND SHE DOCUMENTS THEM WITH A SMALL VIDEOCAMERA (THE TALKS, THE LIFE TOGETHER, THE DINING, HYGIENE, AND OF COURSE THE LOVEMAKING) AND THEN SHE CUTS THE MATERIAL AND EXHIBITS IT. NOT ONE OF HER LOVERS, OR OBJECTS OF HER ARTISTIC ENDEAVORS HAVE IDEA OF HER EXHIBITION. ANETA MONA CHISA ON THE OTHER HAND IN HER PROJECT "ROMANCE" HAS VIDEOTAPED HERSELF AS SHE MAKES LOVE WITH HER BOYFRIEND AT THE SAME PLACE IN THE GALLERY, WHERE THE OTHER DAY SHE EXHIBITS A MONITOR. LET S SUPPOSE THAT THE BOUNDRIES OF CONTEMPORARY ART ARE VERY BROAD, WHERE WOULD YOU BE ABLE TO GO, OR DOES IT MATTER AT ALL ? WHAT IS IMPORTANT IS THE PIECE OF ART AND OTHER ARE JUST A FORMAL MEANS, THAT LEAD TO REACH AN END? WHERE ARE YOUR PERSONAL BOUNDRIES?

 

PF:The moving of the boundries, as you put it, is for me in case of the letters secondary. The act of making it public in this case was not interesting for me. The interesting thing was to draw out from the material, or to make out of the person (my ex), to myself, someone worth of loving. If I was to describe it simply, then it was a feminine reading of male professions.  But on the other hand, when you look at the original,I have tried to edit the text in a way that it was not clear if the author is man or a woman, I also avoided explicit professions, I preferred the everyday life of the author, to what point he shares it to a distance, and with whom. The film is, apart from two picture sequences just a text, that like subtitles is shown on the monitor, or the screen. It is quite an experiment with new reading, where the pace is, like in a film, given, not influenced by a spectator. The sound coulisse is not explicit, the silence of the street, which actually is never a silence, I shot that at home, that is, on the spot of the possible correspondence destination, that contrasted and sometimes matched its content. As for the moving boudries effect, if they were interesting for me, I would carry on with the project, because the material was great. My ex did complain, his lawyer contacted my gallery in Italy, to put this work away from the exhibition, and later we did correspond through lawyers on this topic, this time not the love topic. I did not find it interesting , better to mention it like this, by the way, and I held the anonymity and incompleteness to be more seductive, rather than some scandalous affair, that I think is more absurd and sad. Yes, it is possible to view the letters as my self portrait, although I used the vision and words of my ex partner. In my work I am trying to avoid self reflection depicting my own sexuality, the body, the face. I am bored by such presentations in general, and I think that even if there have been reasons, then good decaceds, if not centuries ago. There are no boundries nowadays, then why to play if there were some, or to build them. There is nothing to move, and if there it was, then for me in a more complicated way.

 

PS: AT THE END THE USUAL QUESTION: WHAT IS EXPECTING YOU IN THESE DAYS AND WHAT ARE YOU WORKING AT AT THE MOMENT?

 

PF:I am going to Prague to make some pictures and a short movie. At the end of the next week. This fall I am preparing  one solo exhibition in Ancona, Italy (White Fish Tank). It is a wonderful space to which I have been invited by Ljudmila Sjocci and the director of The Gallery of contemporary art in Ancona, the curator Andrea Bruciati. My new proposal is built on working with a bunch of trash, that is, many envelopes, that you were planning to burn at your cottage (if this sounds too familiar to you, then don t put it there). In this exhibition I want to follow my last years unfinished project on the difference between originally said and originally written word, through an interchange in a way that is their own. At this time the exhibition Loophole To Happiness opens, I have been invited to it by Maja and Reuben Fowkes,  that have been working for a longer time on very interesting projects,, for ex. translocal.org confronting in these exhibitions the era of postfordism and application of capitalism in postcommunist countries. The exhibition begins is Budapest in Trafo (House of Contemporary Arts), and later it moves to Poland (Muzeum Sztuki Lodz), but that will happen sometime next year.