In The Studio with: Julija Goyd

Not long ago we featured a project entitled  A is Yellow – a collaboration between Berlin-based photographer Julija Goyd and multi-talented creative duo Who is He?Continuing our rather sporadic In The Studio interviews, I sat down with Julija to further explore the way she approaches her highly personal photography projects, the unusual path that led her to land in Berlin and the importance of finding balance between concepts and aesthetics.

Patrick: Well let’s start with connecting a few dots on your background, such as how you started out in finance management, your work as an actress, model, photographer and director – how do these all fit in?

Julija: Four years of economics was great, I was working a lot and it was nice work, but it was not for me. So I decided that I had to do something else – but as you know when you work and already have a certain education, it’s not easy to make these decisions. Obviously you find ways to get out. Through new people, new interests, perspectives… and so on. So after a few years of work I already had a completely different environment, such as with people and friends having artistic backgrounds and activities. Then I got two acting jobs, main roles, and it gave me the opportunity to quit my other job.

Patrick: Were you already acting professionally at the time? Or was this your first acting job?

Julija: This was a first job. The director saw me in the street and said he wanted me for his movie. I said why not. So I quit my job and had a few years to think… and while acting I met a lot of people in cinema production, producers… including one who invited me to work as a photographer in his advertising agency. I spent about a year there and then left for Helsinki to work in a play and take pictures. After a while I went to Athens, to work with the Epidaurus Festival. That lasted about a year and afterwards I moved to Berlin, mostly because of a friend and to see what would happen.

Patrick: Great. Let’s talk a bit about your work and your approach. You seem to work a lot with self-portraits, is it related to your work as an actress and model or is more out of practicality?

Julija: It’s both. First of all only I know best what I want to show and how the picture should look. The second thing is that while I worked as an actress and modeled, I got to know what the image and object of beauty is. Since my body was objectified in this sense while I was modeling, I can connect these things in a direct way.

Patrick: This seems to be reflected in the themes of your work as well… such as in the series Naked Nylon, Black&White or Women in Water. 

Julija: Yes of course, all my work is very personal… If I take you through the different projects I have done, they all revolve around the themes of Subject/Objects/Becomings. The first series for example, entitled Growing Identities (series of natural dehydration process), is from the first period I lived in Berlin. I was curious about how to create objects which would represent nature of time within social context. As a narrative I used a mechanism in which status quo is a relation between a man and a woman. Each object is independent, self reflected and individually representative.

“Growing Identities” – Series of natural dehydration process – 2010 
See full project here.

 

Julija: The series named “Portraits of citizens” are spontaneous snapshots of people I know around me. We just spent time together I always had my camera with me.

Portraits of Citizens by Julija Goyd

Portraits of Citizens by Julija Goyd

“Portraits of Citizens” – 2010-2011 – See full project here.

 

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Patrick: Did you think of the conceptual side to this series before or after creating the images?

Julija: Most of the concept was thought of beforehand. I already knew I wanted to capture portraits of my friends or people I met, in the same time I was interested in recreating an image of the city (Berlin) through it’s inhabitants. This is the reason why most of portraits give impression being objectified in a space.

 

Patrick: In ‘Portraits of Citizens’ you relate to the idea of citizens as urban dwellers, could you explain that a bit more? How much did this have to do with coming to Berlin?

Julija: A lot. During my residency period in Berlin i had moments when i was trying to define myself in a new space. This process drew my attention to several key features. By citizen I don’t mean citizen of a specific country, but more the city dweller. Being an urban resident is a result of not fully conscious or deliberate choices and mainly related to a certain life style and state of mind, its a transformation into a space while becoming a part of it. The individual effects of this transformation on people’s destinies, the traces of it on a citizen’s daily life – these were the subjects of my work.

 

Patrick: Could you talk about the idea behind your project Black & White?

Julija: It’s simple, its like black and white, but there is always something appealing in the simplicity of it. Through self performative gesture i was trying to explore an idea of continual conflict with the gravity of the everyday life, which is always overriding a stable state and a stable identity. When i did these series first, I was mainly relating it to a subject of night life (i have lost a few friends who were drawn into the dangerous traps of night life), but at the end the series got into abstract dimensions and interpretations.

Black & White by Julija Goyd

Black & White by Julija Goyd

Black & White by Julija Goyd

Black & White by Julija Goyd

 Black & White – 2011 – See full project here.

Patrick: How about the project ‘A is Yellow’? I’m curious to hear about how the collaboration between you and Who is He? came about.

Julija: They found me and sent me an email explaining their project and that they would like to collaborate with me. Since they live in the US we started chatting via email and they explained how the main idea of the project is to explore the language through the appearance of scarves (design of each of the pieces is defined by an algorithm that distorts letterforms, creating an abstract flow of color). So I decided to make the scarves look like something…

'A is Yellow' by Julija Goyd & Who is He?

Patrick: You captured something moving, as if living…

'A is Yellow' by Julija Goyd & Who is He?

Julija: Exactly, it’s not the clothes as much as an object or subject. Looking at these pictures shouldn’t conjure an image of a scarf straight away, it reminds some people of medusa, or a question mark or a thought…

'A is Yellow' by Julija Goyd & Who is He?

'A is Yellow' by Julija Goyd & Who is He?

“A Is Yellow” – 2012 – See full project here.

Julija: Who is He? and I discussed ideas until we found something we liked in common, and then they sent me the scarves and I did the photos.

 

Patrick: That’s great. I love this kind of photography because aesthetically the movement, color and texture are visually striking. But also conceptually, the photos can have a lot of meaning. There’s a nice balance.

Julija: Exactly, that’s really what this work is about. “A is yellow” is really an unconventional project. In the same time it could be a fashion story, but on the other hand it has a concept. People who don’t look for much meaning in the photography tend to label it as fashion, because it is so lively, colorful and imaginative. These images could go as well aesthetically as conceptually, I love to connect these two different sides.

 

Patrick: What’s the story behind this image…?

'Little World' Photography series by Julija Goyd

Julija: This image is from the series “Little world”. I’m very curious, whatever I do I like to ask questions about everything. Once i shared a studio in Prenzlauer Berg. If you know a bit Berlin, you must know that Prenzlauerberg is an area in the city where a lot of young families move to when they get babies. I paid attention to surroundings, expensive design shops, fancy restaurants, high prices. I was amazed about this “world” and I wanted to find a reasoning for it. Then I got to know that Germany has extremely low birth rates and Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government has pumped billions into Germans’ pockets to encourage people to make more babies — but they still aren’t doing it. At least I did this picture!!!

Julija: For this series I had an idea of visualizing a state of mind with a tree. Trees are important here because they are about crossing borders. At first I didn’t realize how difficult climbing a tree could be, but once you’re up in a tree you are somewhere between borders – in space but also on land. That’s why trees seemed good for explaining a state of mind.

'Little World' Photography series by Julija Goyd

'Little World' Photography series by Julija Goyd

“Little World” – 2012 – on-going project.
 
Patrick: What about the title Little World?

Julija: It’s about how people undergoing changes in life, it’s about difficulties, it’s also about seeing perspectives and crossing borders, it´s how sometimes one or another situation or problem becomes so big that it shades/blocks an ability to see what is around you, to find a right place for own identity. That’s why I called it ‘Little World’ and created spaces so impressively big.

 

Patrick: Regarding your inspirations, do you have specific artists’ whose work you get inspired by?

Julija: Li Wei, Ryan McGinley, Laurie Anderson

 

Patrick: What about local places you like in Berlin?

Julija: How about the Zoo???

 

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In The Studio with: Artist Andreas Nicolas Fischer

Munich-born Andreas Nicolas Fischer is an artist who works in a quickly emerging field of visual arts: generative art. This computer-based form of art spans across all types of visual art, from stills to motion, or sculpture to architecture. The possibilities and boundaries of this type of work are simply unlimited, since they are based on autonomous systems, in Fischer’s case these are custom-made software or algorithms, allowing him not to do “one stroke with a pencil, but a couple thousands at the same time.

I sat down with the artist to discuss his creative process, where he finds inspiration, and his thoughts the web’s image-overload.

What attracts you to the field of generative art?

Generative art might look complex but isn’t necessarily – often it’s just a question of multiplicity. The interesting thing is that the rules creating these things are not that complicated – you just have a lot of it. So instead of doing one stroke with a pencil – you can do a couple thousand at the same time. And then depending on the parameters and variation, a shift in perception occurs.

The same goes for the sculptures [the Schwarm series] – on its own a toothpick doesn’t have much effect – but once you pass the couple thousands mark you reach a level of visual quality that wasn’t there before. It has to do with human pattern recognition, we’re just wired to see patterns in everything. So as soon as we have so many of these single items which seem to be moving together, a shift occurs and they become an entity.

Toothpick Sculpture by Andreas Nicolas Fischer

A lot of this lends itself to the recreation of natural patterns. Up to a certain point this can be illustrated using the term “fractal”, coined by Benoit Mandelbrot, which is an attempt to mathematically deduct complex natural phenomena. The idea is that you can deduct patterns in nature from simple recurring mathematical formulas. Although the theory didn’t go as far as he envisioned it, generative art is frequently backed with the similar idea of recreating these natural phenomena through simple rules that get executed…

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Do you often start with a pattern from nature?

No, although it might look similar to nature – the artworks [in the Schwarm series] are more about the final composition than the original motif – it’s about the process of the abstraction but not what is being abstracted, not the original images the composition is based on.

Instead of working off particular motifs or patterns, I usually work off of a couple lines of code and keep trying out things until it feels right. Most things come about through persistence, waiting on inspiration or thinking a lot conceptually can slow you down, in the end you need to keep working at it until something comes through. This isn’t to say the coding involved is really complex, that’s also not of importance to me. It’s about the end result and not what is behind it.

“Most things come about through persistence, waiting on inspiration or thinking a lot conceptually can slow you down, in the end you need to keep working at it until something comes through.”

 

Does your work ever have a more conceptual edge?

Yes, there are projects where I’ve done months of researching, such as back in 2007, a project I did focusing on the ongoing economic crisis. I had to read-up on macroeconomics in order to get a good grip on what was happening in the grand scheme of things. It helped me find an interesting angle in order to create the artworks.

So I spoke to an economist who explained to me how the global GDP (or the economic output of the whole world) compared to the world output in financial derivatives leaves this huge bubble of paper or value on paper, with no backing like gold or goods, nothing. Pure inflated speculation.

Out of this I made two sculptures that fit together: one mold showing the world GDP, and one that fit on top, showing the derivatives – illustrating this “bubble”.

But then again, most conceptual work requires too much time to be done on a constant basis, so these last few years I’ve been more focused on developing my aesthetic style and experimenting.

Mapping of the world gross domestic product 2007  

Mapping of the world derivatives volume 2007

Fundament – Andreas Fischer 2008

Data, Beech wood, poplar plywood; 40 × 60 × 20 cm;

 

A lot of your work balances between still and motion, and some is both. Do you visualize or create things with still or motion in mind?

I don’t really think in terms of motion and still – I build systems that can be animated or rendered into print just as easily. A lot of times it happens when I working on the project, such as a video in which a still really pleases me – I’ll just use that separately.

 

Have you ever worked with more traditional media?

 I did a lot of drawing, but nowadays I mostly do sketching – forming ideas and writing.

 

Collaborations?

I frequently collaborate for commissions. But apart from that I also work within the artist collective WeAreChopchop. Occasionally we get together and do commercial work or workshops.

Egyptrixx – Start from the Beginning Directed by Andreas Nicolas Fischer – 2011

 

Do you pull inspiration from web-based resources or more outside?

I have huge catalogue of images, and spend quite some time on platforms like FFFFound or Tumblr. But sometimes I won’t use that for ages. The problem sometimes with this sort of image overload is that you’ll get an idea, which you think is yours, and later on realize you’d seen it before on the net. It kind of puts things in an awkward position. But then again, sitting in front of a blank page and pulling everything from nowhere doesn’t really work for me either.

 

Well the image-overload is something I’m constantly looking through, and I find it to be fascinating how after a while you begin to see things in a more general perspective: you begin noticing things that are different and original in contrast to the copies of copies. Tumblr, for example, is particular in the way images are filtered.

Yeah, just don’t call it curating.

 

Exactly.

And having good taste isn’t enough. You need to make and produce things, not just take stuff from one website and put it on another. Then again, I always feel like an old man while saying these things – if Tumblr was around when I was 16, of course I would have had a Tumblr, probably several of them. But in the end what counts is you ability to produce something of your own out of this assemblage of images. All that time spent re-blogging, maybe it isn’t lost, but it isn’t going to really get you anywhere either.

“But in the end what counts is you ability to produce something out of this assemblage of images. All that time spent re-blogging, maybe it isn’t lost, but it isn’t going to really get you anywhere either.

 

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In the Studio with: Klub7

I’m really excited to get started on this regular feature. Hopefully over the next few months I will be visiting various artist studios and capturing a little more insight into various creative processes. If you’re a Berlin-based artist or collective with a studio-space, and have interest in sharing insight into your creative process, drop me an email.

First up, the great Klub7 group – previously introduced here for their recent exhibition.

Earlier this week I had the privilege of sitting down with members Ingo Albrecht (aka Disko Robot),  Christian Heinicke (aka KidCash) to talk about the things that ignite their creativity and how they keep their work so fresh – hat tip to Mathilde Ramadier for helping make this happen.

The other members of Klub7 are Dani Daphne, Mike Okay, lowskii and Otto Baum  .

It’s not ‘Street Art’.

It’s hard to pin-point the exact type of work Klub7 does since it spreads across so many formats. For instance, the group might work on a huge mural one day, but then the next they’ll haul a load of scrap wood off the street to use as support for intricate designs.

Yet they’re quick to point out that the urban nature of their work doesn’t mean it has to be labelled ‘street art’. In fact, defining the constantly evolving state of this group’s work with such a flimsy label as street art is simply unfair (as a side note, I’d say the debate around this sort of categorizing is roughly equivalent labeling a band’s music as ‘indie’).

KLUB7 best of 2011

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Keeping it analogue.

From the conversations I had with Ingo and Chris, I got a better idea of the essence of their work and what motivates them.

Most importantly, Klub7 is driven by a relentless curiosity; and thus constantly experiments with new materials. That is, unconventional materials – not necessarily new in the digital sense, which is something they’ve only recently began working on. In fact, Ingo explained how these days the pull towards more non-digital or analogue formats is stronger than towards computer-based tools. This doesn’t stop them from working digitally however, since it has its own advantages as well.

 

Always staying curious.

I’d say the most important aspect of Klub7’s creative process is curiosity and never settling. This shines through all of their work and especially when one looks around their studio: whether it’s testing typographic skills on a piece of glass hung on the wall, or the results of a laser machine test from the Weißensee University, or the stacks of door-parts sitting on shelves, ready to be sand-papered and brought back to life.


DiskoRobot was kind enough to take the time and jot down some people and places that matter to the group:


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