Finishing off DaWire’s one year week-long celebration, today we are revisiting the very first artist interview conducted for the site, featuring a conversation with the Spanish artist collective Aggtelek (Gema Perales and Xandro Vallés, 1978, Barcelona). This interview kicked off a series of conversations that have included artists such as Wilfredo Prieto and Victor Vázquez.
The work by Aggtelek proposes new ways of looking at sculpture by exploring and playing with the creative process in a very dynamic way. In their videos, their artwork manifests itself as a direct result of the structural development of their performances, creating narratives that question the traditional notions related to sculpture by means of constructing and deconstructing ephemeral objects and scenarios.
Aggtelek lives and works in Barcelona. They are the recent winners of the 2008 Castellón Painting Prize. DaWire caught up with them for an exclusive interview.
Carla Acevedo: As an alternative to traditional one-artist-model based artistic production, artist collectives have become more and more widespread. How did you both start to collaborate and what does each of you contribute to the process of constructing your sculptures/performances?
Aggtelek: We started in 2003 after meeting at university. After some coffees we knew we could do something together. At the beginning it was only about sculpture, meaning pure sculpture. At the end of the year, we presented one piece in a prize and we won! Maybe it is then when Aggtelek really started. In 2005 we tried to envolve the pieces with actions, to relate it to the creation process, because in some way that was how we were working, discussing, and getting ideas. From the first time each one of us has been fifty percent of the group, everything is thought and approved by the other. We sculpt, paint or travel always together. It is like being an artist with two heads over the shoulders.
CA: In your video 2º Ensayo Escultórico, you quote Alighiero Boetti “It isn’t the materials that are important, it is the attitude…” How does this translate in your work?
AT: Sometimes an artist, after working a few years on the same subject, is labeled with a special word. This is horrible! Our word was “recycling”. It has nothing to do with our work. In fact it is true that sometimes we use cardboard, but we also use plastics and resins, so that was not the idea we tried to show. The sentence of Alighiero was an intentional smile to everyone that was going to watch the video: You know what? We use cardboard boxes because we are young and poor artists and it is the best tool to make faster ephemeral sculptures, but the real story that you have to look at is behind the material…
CA: What are the questions you intend to answer with your work? And how much of it is improvised?
AT: We are interested in creation processes. Until now we have made some videos where we use destruction as a way of construction. It has something about anarchy, not in political questions, of course, but in how sculpture is regarded. We try to raise again sculptural meaning adding time and movement. This transforms the video into “sculpture” and the sculptures into documents of a performative time.
Currently we are working on “a history of forms”, from the Big-Bang to an unknown future. We are focusing right now on new narratives, to loosen the standarized point of view, to use imagination to laugh about important things from art history.
Probably it seems without sense, but everything in our performances or sculptures is carefully studied, we always plan a storyboard. Improvisation is always a rescue tool in everyday life, but we think it is not good to abuse, because then you dont know where you are going.
CA: What project are you currently working on? Since you mention the creative process is so important, can you elaborate further from the moment this project was conceptualized to its execution?
AT: The title of the project is Slash Theatre of My Mundo. It is a series of videos and sculptures where we want to walk through history, history of forms. The idea of starting from the Big Bang is because it was the first act of creation, like a point of departure for everything in our world. In this project we are working in a different way: we research about history, we get influenced and then write a script. The process here is more mental. It means that it runs from the real history to our story. The process of creation is not about improvisation. You can show the process in many different ways, like how to do a sculpture or how the ideas we have today are sediments of previous creations.
CA: What advise can you give young artists to get their work out there?
AT: This a difficult question to answer because the art world is not easy. What we can say is that we used prizes, residencies and these kind of stuff to meet people, to share ideas, and this helps your work to be shown. But if you feel nothing is coming on, then do it yourself. The most important thing is to be deeply optimistic, be sure of oneself and keep working.
This interview was conducted by Carla Acevedo exclusively for DaWire. It cannot be reproduced without prior consent.
Images and video courtesy of the artists