Six questions for
Ola Lanko

Tique | art paper asks six questions to an artist about their work and inspiration.
This week: Ola Lanko.

Artist Ola Lanko
Lives in Amsterdam and Ghent

How do you describe your own art practice?

I investigate and unfold ideas by creating photogenic installations and photographic projects. Being curious about parallel knowledge and histories constructed by images, I expand traditional approach to an image exploring its depth and complexity. Fascinated with the big data and free access to information, I use metaphors and references rearranging them in a new non-linear narrative. For my installations I use various materials, from daily objects to rare valuables. Installation is a peculiar medium; there is no hierarchy between the objects placed into a setting. Objects, images, decor are equalized and devaluated. In my installations I mix together images I make, archival materials, historical objects, valuables etc. I like to play with illusions and visual puzzles illustrating the complexity of the world that surrounds us, which is not always visible without an activation of a particular vision that I aim to evoke through my works.

What was your first experience with art?

It is difficult to tell. I can’t recall the moment. I do remember that the first conceptual work I honestly and totally understood was One and three chairs by Joseph Kosuth. It was an incredible sensation when everything came together. At that time I was a student at the Rietveld academy. I was in the third year so seems quite late for such an experience. Before that I could understand the value and importance of certain works but with Kosuth my understanding went beyond the rational it was a pure and sublime emotion. This piece helped me a lot to connect the dots and realize my interests and working method.

What is your greatest source of inspiration?

I am very easily inspired. Everything that I come across can potentially end up being a subject to explode through my works. I look around, read, browse, talk to people and observe, these observations trigger curiosity and inspire to start an investigation. I usually start from something small and than unfold it to something bigger and more general. Often I appropriate existing systems and terminology that derives from sociology, economics, biology and other sciences and use them as an underlying structure for my projects. This type of working helps me to build up my projects and fill in the parts I need to have the picture complete. Using exciting structures I give my works another layer of meaning mixing my artistic invention with reality.

What do you need in order to create your work?

I am not sure what I need but at this moment I have books, Internet, studio space, time and financial support. These things are definitely facilitating my work and simplifying the process. Comfortable environment, under the condition of responsible approach, spare some energies that can be used in making work rather than looking for the means to do so. But I also think that if I wouldn’t have these means I would find the way to work with what is there.

What are you working on at the moment?

I am working on various projects at the moment. Trying to be involved in many different activities. Besides more traditional understanding of an artistic practice I am also involved in semi-educational project, conversation series about art and visual literacy with citizens in Amsterdam. Together we are working on activation of a certain way of looking, triggering curiosity and interest in visual culture. At the moment, I am developing a pseudo-scientific handbook on data literary. The next part of the handbook on visual literacy I published couple of years ago. It is am artistic speculation upon a new set of skills that have to be acquired in order to navigate in contemporary world. And I work on a series of still lives and photogenic installations about the seven sins. Wherein I investigate the sides of human nature that have to be hidden and suppressed in order to have a well functioning society.

What work or artist has most recently surprised you?

Recently I spend a couple of days in Switzerland, visited a remote village isolated in the mountains. Village is an incredible example of well-preserved and capsulated comfortable society that seems to be far from any problems that are circulating in my everyday surrounding. Amazingly refined and surreal setting of the village, with no advertisements, garbage or any other sings of normality was striking and surprising. In the same moment when people are occupied with the growth of inequality, lack of sympathy and social anxiety towards the other, this place exist in another world, world that is free of any tension and misbalance. Beautify uncomfortable, puzzling and very inspiring.

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