Galerija „Artifex“

Interview with KRISTINA DAUKINTYTĖ AAS and KARINA NØKLEBY PRESTTUN (Norway) about their exhibition ‘Garment exchange’! It is still open till December 15 th!
Dalinamės interviu su Kristina Daukintyte Aas ir Karina N. Presttun (Norvegija) apie parodą "Rūbų mainai". Paroda veiks iki gruodžio 15 d.! Esate labai laukiami!
Interviu ėmė ir transkribavo Regina Arelyte.
Photo: Povilas Rėklaitis
The two of you have known each other for a long time, not only as fellow artists but as friends as well. Could you tell me how did this friendship develop? Moreover, how and why did you decide to collaborate as artists?
Karina: We started art school together in 2006 and we discovered that both of us have this very specific background in graphic design and geographic information systems, so we had a connection there. Also, it developed naturally because, despite the differences, we have the same focus in art; we value materiality and things like that. And I just really liked to hang out with her. She is very funny and she knows a lot of stuff so she is easy to be with.
Kristina: It is the same story for me. We are curious about the same things. For example, when we were studying laser cutting the two of us were the ones who were the most interested in that - cutting and engraving. She also has a sincere way of saying things. I use her as an editor or an advisor. So, we just developed?
Karina: When the cooperation started, I think we both had this idea that we wanted to become stronger, we wanted to be taken more seriously. At least I wanted to join forces to achieve more.
Kristina: Yes, because at some point you discover that, for example, organizing exhibitions and making things work is a big part of being an artist and if you are on your own it is much more work. Also, it’s not like we are obliged only to each other and we are not allowed to do anything else. So, we also work on our own projects that are different or experiments that have nothing to do with each other.
How long have you been collaborating for?
Kristina: 3 years. But during this time, we have been quite active, we had quite a lot of exhibitions.
Karina: We have had 5 solo exhibitions together over 3 years.
Kristina: Yes, it has been quite intense. After this it seems like there could be a break.
Karina: And I think also that this exhibition is a nice ending at least to this cycle that has been so naturally evolving. I am actually very happy that we are here with this exhibition because it fits so perfectly.
Is this a finale of your collaboration or will there be a continuation?
Karina: I think we are going to continue collaborating because it gives a lot to both of us. But it has been so intense that maybe, and I can only speak for myself personally, I feel really drained of ideas.
Time for a vacation? (What about vacation? Do you think that you need some rest?)
Karina: Yes, maybe it is a time to take a vacation. But I think we are still going to continue.
Kristina: I hope so, too. It has been a very intense year for me in my private life because I have two part-time jobs besides my artistic practice. And especially in the new job, teaching textiles, I feel like I am so involved in the students’ works that there is not so much left for myself. I feel like I have to balance my time and energy for some time and then we will see what happens.
Now, to focus on this particular exhibition, could you explain how this relationship ended up in this garment exchange? Could you introduce the idea behind this exhibition?
Karina: We were offered this exhibition that was only 3 months away so we had to come up with something really fast. In the last exhibition that we had before this garment exchange, we produced a series of large portraits on this digital jacquard loom. We had two self-portraits in this exhibition and we were quite happy about those. We wanted to use something with that. Also, we wanted to work with clothes. I had worked with clothes a fair bit previously and wanted to get back into it. And Kristina has worked several times with it(clothes) as well. So, I suggested the idea of working on clothes and we decided to pick one garment each to use as a starting point.
Kristina: The garments are also important because we are very concerned what we wear. We came up with this rule that we give each other one garment and we see what we can do with it, how can we interpret it, how can we contemplate around it. We created a rule that we shouldn’t interrupt with each other’s work but that didn’t work. So, these ideas were very spontaneous. We communicated and exchanged them back and forth.
Karina: Yes, it is very organic. (To Kristina) I think you are the only one that has this level of casualness. We are very natural. There are so many other artists that I hear saying “Oh we have been installing this installation for a week and now everybody hates each other”. And we are like “Wow! Why did you do that? We installed an exhibition in two days and we had a great time”.
Kristina: It is very easy between us. We agree on a lot of things.
For this garment exchange, Kristina, you chose an old soviet school uniform, and Karina, you chose an old sweater, which are two completely different items. Why did you choose these particular garments?
Kristina: I have to admit, I wanted to make some kind of a surprise. I was thinking about what garment had the most influence on the person I am today, and why I am different from Karina. Sometimes I find myself thinking what would I be if I didn’t have my early years in Lithuania in the Soviet system. It was so strict and so rule based, and I was really good at accepting these rules: “Yes, you have to behave. You have to do things like they say. You don’t have this freedom”. I was also looking at Karina and realising how similar we are in the way we look at things, and at the same time how different she is. Maybe this is where the answer lays. Or maybe not, I don’t know. Maybe I would be the same anyway. But I was thinking that this could be the answer and I wanted to check, to see how she could interpret it. That is why I gave her the uniform.
(To Karina) Was the political meaning behind the uniform a surprise for you?
Karina: Yes. And because we had only a short period of time before the exhibition, I wanted a more casual piece of clothing. So, it was a surprise for me. And, of course, I chose the sweater because I wanted to have fun. I was trying to push her to do more colours because I feel like she holds herself back a little bit. I figured that when I picked this sweater, she could have fun with it and she kind of had to use a lot of colours.
So, you did intentionally challenge each other, then?
Kristina: Yes, technically yes. And I can agree that after we started collaborating, the colours started to appear. Technically it is very difficult in a jacquard weave to reach this amount of colours, so you get into your comfort zone of doing black and white. When she started pushing me with these colours when I was doing the self-portrait, I was thinking “I will go crazy. I have woven three pieces and they are crap”. In the end, I was really really happy with how it turned out. So, it was a very good idea not to go all black and white.
Collaboration between artists, especially when creating joint artwork, is a very intimate process. Did it feel intimidating somehow? Did you have any fears or doubts before doing it?
Karina: I think I would maybe be intimidated by other people. But after a while, at least for my part, I created a different headspace. I have my own work, which is over here, and I have work that I do together with Kristina. In my work, I can decide everything and in my work with Kristina I decide everything with Kristina.
Kristina: Yes, we have this different dynamic in the joint work. If we feel strongly about something then we have to make the decision together. We have to agree on it. But then we experiment and do our own things.
Textile is such an archaic form of art and both of you employ digital instruments while creating your work. How do you think the use of such new techniques influences your art?
Karina: For me it has a big big difference; the computer is a way to formalise what I do. If I make something and it looks very very ugly in the beginning; then I have to refine it so it becomes nice. That is another thing that we do not have in common. I have the computer as a part of refining my expression. But Kristina can sometimes make very pretty things and needs to make them a little bit ugly so that it can become more interesting.
Kristina: For me also it is very important. If you have been doing weaving, you know that it has a very basic connection to a digital way of thinking. And if you go further and further into it, it becomes even more and more complex. It’s really interesting to push the material all the time, so I am very happy that Karina understands it; I wouldn’t be able to work with an artist that is only thinking about conceptual ideas.
Your works are so colourful. They look like paintings. Are they usually experimental? Or are they very conscious and predicted?
Kristina: I have to admit, some of them are as I wanted them to be and some of them are almost completely different. The main pieces that we built everything else around (...), they were very much thought about and worked on. And then these two (“Swan” and Untitled), they are distorted both, in terms of colour and proportion. So, it’s both, some works are well thought out and some works come in a more experimental way.
Karina: For me, I have always worked a lot with the colours and I was also really caught up with the idea of not having this uniform brown or black. Knowing that I was going to represent Kristina it just couldn’t be these dark black colours. I actually made almost an entire piece with darker colours and rejected it. And when I started introducing the crazy colours, for example, yellow, I just felt that this is going to be really really strange and almost too colourful so I put some shadows on top to kind of represent the oppressiveness of the system. But it was really really hard. And I am still ambivalent about this piece. I accept it in exhibitions but when I have it in my studio, I am unhappy about it in a way. Maybe I will like it better in a year or so. But I am happy that despite all the colours of the exhibition they fit fairly nicely together. I like that even though it’s colourful it does not look overwhelming.
Interviewed and transcripted by Regina Alerytė.