Tique asks six questions to an artist about their work and inspiration.
This week: Lisa Sebestikova .
Lives in The Hague/Netherlands
How do you describe your own art practice?
In general, I mainly make sculptures and installations, but to just put it in that box is incomplete. The work I make can look very different.
As an artist, I question objects and the environment in which we find ourselves. By depriving them of their function I try to get to the essence of the thing or situation to see them in a new light. I zoom in on the aspects that we experience as familiar and use that as a starting point for my work.
Someone viewing my work is confronted with manipulation of the archetype of an object; it suggests another reality, which appears to be a copy of what we deal with so familiarly. The simplicity that I pursue puts me simultaneously on the border of association and alienation.
In addition to the spatial work, I also paint, draw, take photos and record sounds, which I increasingly use in exhibitions lately. What I find interesting about sound is that it immediately affects the imagination. It puts you directly in a specific situation without changing the environment.
Last year I took part in an exhibition where I had two inhabited houses at my disposal. I asked about the typical sounds of the house, such as a leaking tap, a creaking floor or a door that made a typical creaking noise when it opened and closed. I recorded the sounds from both houses and played them in the other house. This caused a strange dissonance in the residents, where the sounds were familiar, but the surroundings were not.
My goal is usually to make an installation. I play with the qualities of the space by pointing them out, determining a route and in this way guiding the spectator through the exhibition.
The dialogue between the space, the context and the shown work is central.
Which question or theme is central in your work?
I look for familiar and self-evident aspects and try to question these. Take, for example how a ruin in the city of Rome is held together.
These are usually safe and functional ways of dealing with the possibilities. I think that if you get off this path and take a different route, you could be faced with completely new, enlightening insights.
I find fascinating how objects if you de-function them, can take abstract and strange shapes. How you fill this in as a spectator is a visual journey that I leave up to you because that is exactly what I prefer when looking at art. Not being able to pinpoint exactly why something grabs me and what keeps you questioning its meaning.
My work is about having something familiar and alienating at the same time. I look for the archetype of an object or situation to get a better understanding of the phenomenon.
What was your first experience with art?
Since I can remember I have been surrounded by art, but the realization that I could also make art myself was during my studies at the art academy in Enschede. There I came into contact with materials that I did not know yet and developed an interest in sculptural and spatial work.
I think it was around that time that I read somewhere that if a person is depicted in a photo or painting, as a viewer you mainly focus on how this person relates to his environment in this photo or painting, while if you leave this person out of view, you give the spectator the space to step into this scene. That’s how I see it with my work. you can see traces of man, which serve as a handle for what can be seen further.
What is your greatest source of inspiration?
That depends on what I’m working on at the moment. I like to work in a specific location where I do research. Or you see me wandering around in a city or building, doing research in a library or archive, recording sounds, conducting tests in my studio, measuring spaces so that I can make models and then implement my ideas in miniature.
Because of the multitude of information that I collect, I get more understanding of the location.
From all the ideas I have collected, I select a concept that I will eventually implement.
What do you need in order to create your work?
Besides needing a space, tools and materials, I need a problem, a question to research.
I really enjoy being faced with a challenge that at first glance is difficult to work with. For example, not being able to drill into walls, an entrance that is too small, a space that is too large or too small, a stairwell, a wet basement where everything warps. Exhibitions where I manage to tackle these problems, those I enjoy the most, that’s the reason I make art.
For example, one of my most recent exhibitions at the White Noise Gallery in Rome I was unable to build-up the exhibition myself due to covid-19 restrictions.
That fact ultimately determined the form and quality of the work.
I started working with modules that are hung together from the ceiling. The modular aspect of the work gave me a lot of freedom. I like it when my work contains that playful element. It brought me back to one of the primary aspects of sculpture. How does the piece manifest itself in space, how do the different elements relate to each other and what feeling do I want to evoke in the viewer.
In my head, I tried to answer all these questions in advance, while continuously projecting the space where it would hang around me like a hologram.
At the same time, it made me think about explaining in a clear way how to build a sculptural installation like this. Finally, the work was sent with a long and extensive manual to the gallery owners, something I normally wouldn’t do, but which has made me less anxious since this experience.
What work or artist has most recently surprised you?
The first time I saw Nairy Baghramian’s work, I was really surprised, I couldn’t place it properly and at the same time, I really enjoyed looking at and dissecting it. I don’t need an explanation in her work, as long as it is there to look at.
At the moment I follow the young artists Holly Hendry, Nika Neelova and Epos 257. The latter actually comes from the graffiti world but graduated as an artist. I love to see how he is not afraid of bending the public space to his will.
Besides artists, I also look at architects and choreographers of dance performances.