Anti-Utopias / Sabin Bors - EXTRA!, October 2012

EXTRA!, October 2012: Anti-Utopias / Sabin Borş

Anti-Utopias contemporary art platform

Interview by Vasi Hîrdo for Ceramics Now Magazine - Issue Two

You hold functions such as curator, associate editor and columnist for different magazines, and you recently initiated a contemporary art platform titled Anti-Utopias. Since you don’t have any formal art education, how did you become interested in contemporary art?

Art has always been one of my main interests, ever since I was a kid, and though I did not follow any formal art education, I did follow an MA in philosophy and culture where some of the major topics we discussed have been Art, Institutions and Cultural Policies, The Artist’s Statute in Post-Modern Culture, or Contemporary Perspectives Upon Culture. I also follow a PhD with a thesis on the future of museums, in terms of art, policies, architecture. Throughout the years I’ve kept a close contact with art in my readings and references, and I think coming from the “outside” is actually an advantage because it allows me to view art in a broader context and integrate its discourse differently. At the same time, I am also aware of the two perils with philosophers discussing art: on the one hand, they run the risk of subsuming art to a philosophical speech; on the other hand, they can feed art with concepts that only deepen the dilemmas of contemporary art and thus contribute to its fractures. When I started Anti-Utopias, my main concern was to create a thematic platform bearing in mind these two perils precisely, but also the theoretical abundance where art in general claims itself from. 

Tell us about Anti-Utopias. Why did you choose the utopian – anti-utopian motive as the theme of your project?

In spite of all the discourses on contemporary art, I think it is still trapped in a false attempt to surpass its own modernity. The artistic discourse still tries to dissect its own foundation and remains somehow captive inside artificial constructions, based on imitation. I am equally circumspect whether discourses crediting the derivative modernities can indeed not only resurrect, but actually redeem the project of modernity. These modernities are based on alter-constructions that complete the same project, though they construct on the margins of modernity. We relate to the same referent, and hope our alter-construction will indeed rescue notions and practices. Art is caught in this paradox: on the one hand, it has to constantly shift its aims outside the marges, because when you construct on the marge, the marge itself becomes a center; on the other hand, art contributes to a global process of territorialization, precisely in this movement it needs to operate. It’s like an expanding fissure that deepens the faults. And it is along this fissure that one can understand the exposure of art, in what this fissure draws ahead, but especially in what it leaves behind, not only as a trace, but in that which remains. Art is this rest, this remnant. Art is reversion. And I think this is one of the ideas and concepts that I need to develop further, this idea of art being a reversion.

When I started this project I knew I was placing its theoretical horizon under two major discursive pressures. The first one is this unsuccessful attempt to give an answer to an utopia other than by formulating another utopia, and the second is the use of the prefix “anti-“ itself, which does indeed bestir a number of critical reflexes and exercises. Obviously, there is no exit from utopia, and the more we seek to counter this statement, the more we end up in utopias of the refusal or in the utopias of some alter-constructions. From my perspective, anti-utopias don’t claim themselves from a refusal or a counter-position, nor are they the expression of a cultural, historical, or political transgression. They do not fall into the metaphysical discourse where anti- would refer to a sort of anti-metaphysics, and I don’t see them being shaped as a means of counteracting either. For me, anti- should refer to a state of exposure, to a certain openness which is not only affirmative but also all-embracing, definitive, and which can be understood on multiple levels: over-exposure, exposure to the certitude of death, exposure to a certain risk and impossibility, exposure to its own tragedy, etc. It is an exposure not only to the unpredictable, but also to a subtending dread defining art and life itself – a fear of dying, the interruption of breath. And though this discourse may seem to bear away from the current artistic discourse, I still think it is this dread that art is running away from. And this can be seen in all its diversity, separations, counter-currents, and reconsiderations. Not lastly, I think that the insistence upon difference/differences cannot account for the current state of things any longer, but only perpetuates the discursive and political impossibilities. From one utopia to another. I think art and society are on the verge of a more radical transformation, for which it has no name yet, a transformation we cannot fully appropriate right now.

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Photographer Jonathan Vanderweit - EXTRA!, May 2011

EXTRA!, May 2011: Jonathan Vanderweit

Interview by Vasi Hîrdo for Ceramics Now Magazine - Issue Two

Ceramics Now Magazine: Tell us who you are and what you do.

My name is Jonathan and I make photographs in Denver, CO, USA. I have been shooting for about ten years, but have really begun to focus on the craft of photography since early 2010. I also work as a videographer and creative director for a small nonprofit organization here in Denver.

Jonathan Vanderweit monocle photo

What is your present photography project, what’s its history and how do relate to it?

Jonathan Vanderweit: My work focuses on the exploration of the world around us with specific regard to the interaction between humans and the natural environment. This means finding areas where nature has begun to reclaim the world of people, which here  in the US often happens in formerly industrial/manufacturing areas as well as at the fringes of cities and towns. I love finding where our maintenance crews haven’t caught up or which taken on a kind of serendipitous equilibrium between the forces of creation and ruin.

My next two photo projects are extensions on this theme. One is a series of portraits of people who wear glasses or contact lenses. The photos will be displayed in pairs, the left a normal portrait of the subject in their glasses and the right will be a shot without them.  The image on the right will have the focus corrected to account for the person’s natural visual acuity, with a different effect for each person depending if he/she is nearsighted, farsighted, or has astigmatism.

The second project will use some of the locations I have discovered over the last year–walls, doorways, stairs, the urban features of Denver–as settings for exquisitely-dressed floating protagonists. These photos will explore the habitation of spaces that have previously been considered industrial or austere by inhabiting them with individuals bursting with style and weightlessness. Gven the labored past of many of these dwellings, one would expect that they be drab and deserted. In fact the opposite is proving true, homes in lofts and warehouses have strong draw for creative people and have become a highly desired place of residence.

Jonathan Vanderweit monocle photo


How it all started? What was your first camera and what devices do you have now?

My first camera was an Olympus OM-1 with a 50mm lens, which was a gift from my father when I was around 15 years old. Today, I primarily shoot with a  Nikon D700 and I also have a Nikon FE2 that I use when I don’t feel like carrying much, as well as a Mamiya RZ67 medium format system which is huge and exquisite serves as a constant reminder of what a camera actually does.

The instant feedback of shooting digital has accelerated my learning curve and gives me loads of flexibility when processing my images, but I will continue to shoot film for the sheer fact that it feels like creating a real thing (which makes me shoot more slowly and thoughtfully), and that the look of many film types is hard to duplicate digitally.

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Rery (likes) - EXTRA!, April 2011

EXTRA!, April 2011: Rery (likes)

Interview by Vasi Hîrdo

What is your name and who are you in real life?

Rery (likes): I am Rery. I was born in Taipei, grew up in Montreal and am now living and working in Paris as a freelance illustrator.

In what techniques do you usually work, do you make sketches first?

I use my pen tablet to make illustrations on Illustrator, but have always a sketches book with me so that I can draw down the unexpected ideas. I like the nearly perfect control and the multiple possibilities of the digital art, as much as the spontaneity and the freedom of the hand drawing.

La pénultième (2010) / Digital collage with Jay Maude’s photograph

What is your present project and what’s its history? Do you plan to make an exhibition?

Currently, I’m working with a friend on a website: ARTchipel.com. It’s a collaboration project that wishes to promote artists coming from around the world.

I’ve only exhibited my works few times in the past. I am preparing to do more in the future, psychologically and in terms of works.

How it all started? Do you remember your first works?

I make Hans Hartung’s words mine: “Everything we feel deeply must be expressed.” I am a very visual person and have always felt the need to express my emotion and state of mind through images.

My early drawings were heavily influenced by manga. With time and various encounters, the evolution comes subtly but naturally. Today, my works are very different from the ones before, but they keep the simple lines and expressiveness of my first drawings.

☼.☼ (2011)

Tell us more about your art blog (rerylikes) and what plans you have for it.

I started my art blog to share things I like with my living-far-away-twin-sister. With time, this (almost) daily practice builds up a digital memory gathering things that move me and help me in my personal research.

It is a beautiful surprise that so many people share the same love for art with me. And thanks to this blog, I’ve met virtually many great artists and curators. I will certainly continue to nurture this love and sharing, hopefully with more and more people.

La lectrice (2011)

Visit the artist’s website and her art blog.

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