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A little magnificent world: interview with Dina Balenko 

Do you remember when you were a kid and you used your toys to build and create a scenario? For example, as far as I remember, I liked to create cities with lots of houses, streets, and people (some of them were teddy bears, of course) and then I would imagine that the city experiences a natural disaster like something from the “Godzilla” movie. If you did something like that, Russian artist Dina Balenko should successfully bring you back to your childhood. “Prongs of the fork can become a dark forest; powdered sugar can turn into a snowfall.” – said Dina to me, when I asked her to describe the photography style she’s doing. Dina transforms various items and creates a gorgeous world or situation that she can capture with her camera. “It’s not only about transformations, it’s about the way everything is connected in the small world set around us” – she elaborates her thoughts to me. It is, indeed. And I was very curious about how she decides what situation she wants to create and capture; how she sees the world through her eyes. So I asked her several questions, and now, finally, I can present the answers to you.

You’re focusing on a photographic style that explores the large world through small items. How did you find yourself in such style of photography?
When I began studying photography, I tried various genres: landscapes, portraits, street. Eventually I understood that what interests me lies not in tracing some events and retelling stories of some happenings, but in creating tales of my own and the easiest way to do this is when you have control over all the objects in your shot. You may see yourself as a director that giver orders to cups and cookies.

Your art requires a lot of creativity because you have to create the situation by yourself with various things. How do you decide which of them are you going to use?
I always make a sketch before shooting. It’s not usually detailed, but it helps to define the topic, location and mood, as well as to grasp the overall composition and required objects. I try to keep only the most needed things in the frame, those that would work for the shot, and get rid of all I think as unnecessary. Somehow I feel that the question “Why do I need this thing?” is very important. If the object doesn’t become a part of the story and is not affecting the composition in any way, then maybe the shot will be better off without it.

Why do you think it is actually important to be capable of seeing the world differently?
I think it’s really fascinating: all these connections between things, their small transformations, their secret life and even simple comparisons in a “what does it look like” game help us understand how everything is set up. How does our mind work to find these connections? How does the world build them? You may imagine yourself as an explorer, like David Livingstone, in a world of inanimate objects. I don’t really know if it has any real importance, but anyway, it’s very interesting.

Which emotion is the hardest to express through art? Why?
That’s a good question. I don’t know. I feel that the subtler an emotion is, the harder it is to express through art. Anyone can imagine such basic emotions as happiness, anger, amazement, fear or grief. But when it comes to mixed feelings which are difficult to explain, it becomes rather complicated. This “cocktail” is very hard to express. Yet look what actors do – they always come up with something: the pose, look, turning of the head, and we can understand everything without words. I think that such things can be done for any emotion in photography as well.

Is there any art form or artwork itself that you do not appreciate? Why?
Hmm, it’s hard to tell. There are things I prefer to others and there are genres that I don’t personally like. But I think that if there is some beautiful work in any of these genres, I am able to appreciate it. I don’t like works that simply trace the reality (like documentary) without altering it. One can simply look out of the window to see the real world. Something new, created not by the real state of things, but by the hand of the artist, is far more interesting.

How do you see and imagine photography in 10 - 15 years?
I don’t know much about the state of things in other genres to make predictions, but I hope that there will appear more authors, who practice still-life. I mean not only those who take beautiful compositions with flowers and fruits (though this also requires a lot of work), but also those, who try to make their still-life shot conceptual, metaphoric, narrative. Those who tell stories. Like, for example, Catherine MacBride or Dan Cretu. This is a rather young genre, and it will be really great, if more authors like them appear.

What do you value in your life most and why?
Being able to do what you like and being able to learn to become better. I belong to the kind of people who think that their work is themselves. That’s why I think that the job you like and do well is the most important thing to be.

What is your biggest dream at the moment?
Honestly? Maybe it’s to become the best in my field. I know it’s a long and hard way, and that I’m standing at it’s very beginning, but everyone has to start from something. This dream may never come true, but it doesn’t mean it isn’t worth a try, right?

How do you spend your leisure time and how does it help you to remain inspired?
The best way to keep yourself inspired is to do something new every day to receive new experiences and impressions. You are out of ideas and don’t know what to shoot? Just ask yourself: “What have I never done before or haven’t done in a long time?” You can ride a bicycle, bake a cake, blow huge soap bubbles, go fishing, learn to juggle, try to fold a horse from a piece of paper, play football, swing on swings, find an old computer game and replay it, even reread a favorite book. These may sound childish, bud they bring so much joy! This really helps to overcome the crisis and gives inspiration. For example, I never skated on roller skates – I’m keeping it for a rainy day.

Edited by Melissa Searle 

 

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freundevonfreunden:

FvF interview with artist and illustrator Doug Perkul, Amsterdam
We share a morning full of inspiring stories when we meet up with artist and illustrator Doug Perkul, who graciously introduces us to his creative family life in Amsterdam. 
He left the suburbs of Georgia and New Jersey to eventually make his home in the Dutch capital. Here he works as Managing Director at advertising agency, Sid Lee, where his main focus is to work creatively and collaborately with others.
We hear about his weekly Sunday afternoon creative sessions, the making of a children’s book and his love for Amsterdam in Doug’s portrait on Freund von Freunden.
Thanks to Felicitas Olschewski and Jordi Huisman!

freundevonfreunden:

FvF interview with artist and illustrator Doug Perkul, Amsterdam

We share a morning full of inspiring stories when we meet up with artist and illustrator Doug Perkul, who graciously introduces us to his creative family life in Amsterdam

He left the suburbs of Georgia and New Jersey to eventually make his home in the Dutch capital. Here he works as Managing Director at advertising agency, Sid Lee, where his main focus is to work creatively and collaborately with others.

We hear about his weekly Sunday afternoon creative sessions, the making of a children’s book and his love for Amsterdam in Doug’s portrait on Freund von Freunden.

Thanks to Felicitas Olschewski and Jordi Huisman!

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zumthor:

Interview with Royal Gold Medallist Peter Zumthor

AJ exclusive: James Pallister spoke with Swiss starchitect Peter Zumthor on the eve of his RIBA Gold Medal lecture

This week Peter Zumthor was awarded the RIBA’s highest honour – the Royal Gold Medal, adding to the 69-year-old’s haul of plaudits, which includes the Pritzker Prize, The Praemium Imperiale and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Architecture. 
Many details that make your work so rich seem to come from very close observation of daily life. Do you think architects’ work would be better if they learnt to relax and play a little more?I know exactly what you mean but it gives the wrong impression of how I work. I try to create emotional spaces that feel right for the purpose and the place. So I try to go into the use of the building very deeply and see what could be beautiful and comfortable. 
Sometimes it’s hard to get there. If I can tell something is missing, or I’m not quite there yet, I must be honest with myself. I must tell the client: ‘Please be patient for another month or two, or a year. You will have the rewards for that if you are patient now’. 
This is not easy sometimes. In judging what I am doing I have to be playful and serene and open and emotional because that – as we know – is how architecture is perceived, and not in abstract. I want to please people with my buildings unconsciously, emotionally. That’s all. I don’t want to lecture them. But it’s hard labour to get there. 

Developing the sensibility for minutiae your work shows – how thin a rail should be, how it should feel – seems to be at odds with spending all hours working in a practice, as many architects must in the UK. Is it?I customised my practice in the way I wanted to work. I think everybody can do that. You can always say ‘this is how I want to live, this is how I want to work’ and go from there.
You’ve alluded to a ‘slow architecture’. That goes against a lot of the demands of contemporary life and business: of doing more for less. How do you convince clients that it’s worth taking the extra time to develop something good?By quality. One client once said, at a time when things were difficult: ‘Your best argument is the finished building.’ So I have to persevere to get there. Now I have more finished buildings it becomes easier for clients to trust. It was much more of a challenge for my clients to trust me 20 years ago.If you were to talk to my clients, they would say: ‘We could see he was always sincere.’ They could see I was trying to do the best.
Even if you annoyed them?Exactly! 
In the UK there is a caricature of architects that they are all egomaniacs, waste money and have no idea of what ‘real people’ like. Do you recognise this or do you think it’s an irrelevance?For our society it’s very relevant. I think that’s what this prize is about. There are still some people left who believe in architecture not as a money-making machine but in architecture as an art. 
And yes, there are certain architects who are making fancy forms, but – big deal, so what! But architects who don’t know what people want, that’s a serious problem. It would hurt me if someone said ‘you did a thermal bath or an art museum which looks beautiful but cannot be used’. So architectural education should try to always focus on the ‘use’ – in the broadest sense of the word. Not function, use. I always think that there is something very noble to this. It is a noble thing to think how a building is used, because it has to do with how people’s lives are staged and how they are loved.
Do you revisit buildings to see how they work?I don’t have to do this. I get this right away. I get the reactions straight away.
In the UK we have a housing shortage: Do you have any advice for architects doing housing projects?I would like to do housing but I have never had a chance. I am trying to convince some people in Switzerland – a major insurance company – [I should] work for them. I told them if they had the opportunity I would be really interested in doing something for them – not high end. For normal people. Affordable housing. I will also do something in Holland, in Leiden.  
Do people enjoy working for you?When people work with me they are normally happy. I asked this young girl from Holland how she liked working as an intern in the practice and she said ‘It’s great! Now I believe in architecture again. I can see it still exists.’
In contrast to architecture school?I have had the experience before that, when people go and study architecture at architecture school  and they learn all these theories and the assistants are more clever than the professor and there’s all these talking heads, there is a gap between that and the real thing, which is the building. If architecture education does not focus on constructing, it becomes irrelevant for the building industry.
What would your advice be to a young architect starting now?Select your school carefully. Select your professors carefully. Try and go to a place where architecture is taught as a whole thing – not only as a theory, but also as a way of living. Don’t let any kind of gap come up between your architectural concept and living architecture. 
What do you mean by ‘a gap’?In architecture schools there is too much emphasis on the abstract: on the correct theory, idea or concept. Sometimes that stays very abstract and has nothing to do with real life.I remember when I taught a semester in Harvard we assigned the students a house without a form. They could select a place they knew well and the research task was to represent a house with everything but drawings. This worked wonderfully. 
Renzo Piano, who was teaching nearby, by chance walked in and said ‘Oh! You are working on beauty’. In a sense he was right. We were working on emotional spaces connected to the biography of each of these 12 students. I told them: ‘Don’t give me any abstract “because of this and because of that”. As soon as you start to talk about your feelings you are competent.’ And that’s a beautiful competence!
Via.

zumthor:

Interview with Royal Gold Medallist Peter Zumthor

AJ exclusive: James Pallister spoke with Swiss starchitect Peter Zumthor on the eve of his RIBA Gold Medal lecture

This week Peter Zumthor was awarded the RIBA’s highest honour – the Royal Gold Medal, adding to the 69-year-old’s haul of plaudits, which includes the Pritzker Prize, The Praemium Imperiale and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Architecture. 

Many details that make your work so rich seem to come from very close observation of daily life. Do you think architects’ work would be better if they learnt to relax and play a little more?
I know exactly what you mean but it gives the wrong impression of how I work. I try to create emotional spaces that feel right for the purpose and the place. So I try to go into the use of the building very deeply and see what could be beautiful and comfortable. 

Sometimes it’s hard to get there. If I can tell something is missing, or I’m not quite there yet, I must be honest with myself. I must tell the client: ‘Please be patient for another month or two, or a year. You will have the rewards for that if you are patient now’. 

This is not easy sometimes. In judging what I am doing I have to be playful and serene and open and emotional because that – as we know – is how architecture is perceived, and not in abstract. I want to please people with my buildings unconsciously, emotionally. That’s all. I don’t want to lecture them. But it’s hard labour to get there. 

Developing the sensibility for minutiae your work shows – how thin a rail should be, how it should feel – seems to be at odds with spending all hours working in a practice, as many architects must in the UK. Is it?
I customised my practice in the way I wanted to work. I think everybody can do that. You can always say ‘this is how I want to live, this is how I want to work’ and go from there.

You’ve alluded to a ‘slow architecture’. That goes against a lot of the demands of contemporary life and business: of doing more for less. How do you convince clients that it’s worth taking the extra time to develop something good?
By quality. One client once said, at a time when things were difficult: ‘Your best argument is the finished building.’ So I have to persevere to get there. Now I have more finished buildings it becomes easier for clients to trust. It was much more of a challenge for my clients to trust me 20 years ago.
If you were to talk to my clients, they would say: ‘We could see he was always sincere.’ They could see I was trying to do the best.

Even if you annoyed them?
Exactly! 

In the UK there is a caricature of architects that they are all egomaniacs, waste money and have no idea of what ‘real people’ like. Do you recognise this or do you think it’s an irrelevance?
For our society it’s very relevant. I think that’s what this prize is about. There are still some people left who believe in architecture not as a money-making machine but in architecture as an art. 

And yes, there are certain architects who are making fancy forms, but – big deal, so what! But architects who don’t know what people want, that’s a serious problem. It would hurt me if someone said ‘you did a thermal bath or an art museum which looks beautiful but cannot be used’. So architectural education should try to always focus on the ‘use’ – in the broadest sense of the word. Not function, use. I always think that there is something very noble to this. It is a noble thing to think how a building is used, because it has to do with how people’s lives are staged and how they are loved.

Do you revisit buildings to see how they work?
I don’t have to do this. I get this right away. I get the reactions straight away.

In the UK we have a housing shortage: Do you have any advice for architects doing housing projects?
I would like to do housing but I have never had a chance. I am trying to convince some people in Switzerland – a major insurance company – [I should] work for them. I told them if they had the opportunity I would be really interested in doing something for them – not high end. For normal people. Affordable housing. I will also do something in Holland, in Leiden.  

Do people enjoy working for you?
When people work with me they are normally happy. I asked this young girl from Holland how she liked working as an intern in the practice and she said ‘It’s great! Now I believe in architecture again. I can see it still exists.’

In contrast to architecture school?
I have had the experience before that, when people go and study architecture at architecture school  and they learn all these theories and the assistants are more clever than the professor and there’s all these talking heads, there is a gap between that and the real thing, which is the building. If architecture education does not focus on constructing, it becomes irrelevant for the building industry.

What would your advice be to a young architect starting now?
Select your school carefully. Select your professors carefully. Try and go to a place where architecture is taught as a whole thing – not only as a theory, but also as a way of living. 
Don’t let any kind of gap come up between your architectural concept and living architecture. 

What do you mean by ‘a gap’?
In architecture schools there is too much emphasis on the abstract: on the correct theory, idea or concept. Sometimes that stays very abstract and has nothing to do with real life.
I remember when I taught a semester in Harvard we assigned the students a house without a form. They could select a place they knew well and the research task was to represent a house with everything but drawings. This worked wonderfully. 

Renzo Piano, who was teaching nearby, by chance walked in and said ‘Oh! You are working on beauty’. In a sense he was right. We were working on emotional spaces connected to the biography of each of these 12 students. I told them: ‘Don’t give me any abstract “because of this and because of that”. As soon as you start to talk about your feelings you are competent.’ And that’s a beautiful competence!

Via.

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unknowneditors:

Today’s we’re interviewing simianamber!

Please introduce yourself
Hi, I’m Simon, I post my Descriptive Art under the name simianAmber.

Your concept is very interesting.. Explain your work to us!
It’s a new art form I came up with to suit what I wanted to do…called Descriptive Art, it’s made to exist only in the mind of the reader, the piece is completed in the readers imagination. It grew out of my artistic practice, I’ve written down ideas for art works for as long as I can remember, instead of sketches and so on…one day I realised that’s the bit I like best…and for the great majority of conceptual art you need the concept written down next to the physical piece in order to understand or decode the work…I decided that it’s actually the written part of the equation (the idea) that’s the important bit, not the physical manifestation of it.

Why do you rely on the power of words and imagination? Isn’t an image more clear to the viewer?
Well, have you ever read a novel, then seen a movie of the book afterwards? For me the book pretty much always beats the movie…because your imagination has done all the interesting stuff when you read the book…no matter how good the movie, it still can’t touch you the way the novel did. For me Descriptive Art does the same thing, it describes a piece but leaves out more than it includes, as you read through the piece you’re filling in the gaps almost without realizing it…you’re using your minds eye, your imagination, to complete the piece how you’d like to see it…I think it’s engaging the viewer (the reader) in a much more immersive and (hopefully) fulfilling way than more traditional formats.

Have you ever thought about making one of your ideas come true rather than only keeping them written down?
Some of them are real…but you’ll have to guess which ones! If you visit the Facebook link I include under each piece when I post it, you will find some posts I made there that explain how the idea came into being…
I was a ‘traditional’ artist for over 20 years before I developed Descriptive Art…paintings, sculptures, mixed media…but always starting from a written idea…in the past some of those written ideas became physical pieces…

If you had to make one of the ideas come true (no matter the cost) which one would it be and why?
Good question…if cost wasn’t an issue I guess it would have to be making the worlds most expensive object, (Death and taxes) just for the fuckyeahworldsmostexpensiveobjectness of doing it…then sell it and give all the money to homeless people. 

Do you create in any other form of art?
Not at the moment in terms of pure art, Descriptive Art’s where I’m at these days. As for creating, I’m a furniture designer and maker, which isn’t the same as artist, but does lead into using lots of different materials and techniques, which is always engaging and sometimes leads in unexpected directions, which is the best direction to be led in.

Last but not least, what are some of your hobbies?
Walking, thinking, staring out the window, exploring the web…and of course Tumblr…what the hell did I do before it?

Check this artist out on Tumblr / Facebook / portfolio website
For more UE interviews go here!

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freundevonfreunden:

FvF Interview From Paris: Céline Saby
“When I’m back from holidays, the smell of the underground reminds me that I’m home. I like the people, the architecture, crossing the Pont-Neuf and walking along the docks moves me every time.”
With such a mind, the designer Céline Saby goes through her dream city every day and creates playful pieces that remind of childhood and the necessary innocence one should own. She sees colours and overall design as something essential.
Enjoy the full story in French and English on our site. Many thanks to Léa Munsch and Sarah Skinner!

freundevonfreunden:

FvF Interview From Paris: Céline Saby

“When I’m back from holidays, the smell of the underground reminds me that I’m home. I like the people, the architecture, crossing the Pont-Neuf and walking along the docks moves me every time.”

With such a mind, the designer Céline Saby goes through her dream city every day and creates playful pieces that remind of childhood and the necessary innocence one should own. She sees colours and overall design as something essential.

Enjoy the full story in French and English on our site. Many thanks to Léa Munsch and Sarah Skinner!