For the April edition of our ongoing, Pllant-curated immersive environments, we're hosting Amsterdam-based visual artist Nicolás Castagno. The Swedish coffee
Visual artist Viktorija Medvedeva gets another go at Frames this Wednesday, 19 February. Curated by Pllant, Frames sets out to produce a creative clash between striking visual artists and live music acts. Hooked on the deliciously decadent visuals from her first Frames appearance, alongside Jessy Lanza, we asked Viktorija for more eye candy at Supreme Cuts + Teengirl Fantasy. Some of her recent accomplishments include a recognition grant from Media fonds, as well as directing several music videos and fashion editorials. For the love of Internet, we jumped from one thing to another and talked about labels we’ve grown into, the art of exaggerating and the story of one-of-a-kind still life.
Would you mind introducing yourself?
I guess it’s always the same, it’s like a pattern: Viktorija Medvedeva, Latvian, Amsterdam-based, you know, visual artist. Yeah, I think that’s good enough.
So you’ve grown into the label. How do you feel about interviews? Is this something that you have also grown into?
Of course, at some point you have to. We all have a self-conscious side, especially when you do visual stuff, because you’re always behind the scene, your face is never revealed. I am always happy when people want to interview me, or ask me to give a lecture on my work, but then I’m never satisfied with the shape my ideas take into words.
It’s part of your body of work, if you have such high standards
These days, it’s a compilation: work is one thing, but there are so many other elements included in one package. And especially if you do all sorts of other things, for instance, I am also busy with commercial projects, I also work as a creative director. And sometimes you have to be visible, and in that sense I am very self-aware.
Your website has such a cool net.art look.
I’ve been using internet since I was a child so for me it’s common, it’s like having hot water. Even when I was studying, I would always find my sources online, you start from Wikipedia and then it leads somewhere else. I also work with found footage a lot; sometimes not, it always depends. My work is very diverse: from fashion editorials and music videos that I shot and edited myself to Youtube videos on which I plaster another layer and it is done in 30 seconds. So it’s not always the case that my inspiration comes from the internet, but rather from life, what people put out there. Nevertheless, all my work lives online. I always design things that you can see on your computer. In a way, my website, which was designed by Karlis Krecers, is meant to lead you somewhere else.
You collect kitschy, glitchy images, or weird moments recorded that you then juxtapose; you have a broad aesthetic yet somehow you are consistent and coherent.
Even in Rietveld it was hard for me to select just one thing: “From now on, I am going to make cups and that’s all I’ll do.” No. For me, it’s about treating it all with the same mindset, that’s how my body of work is tied together.
There’s a certain dead seriousness in the way you frame the subject matter and edit your videos, they’re so nicely executed and I think it’s because you have such a good handle on timing. How does that work? Tell me more about your process.
I’ve had some flops because it’s never easy, you can never get away with: “I’m just gonna lay things out and.. oh, it works perfectly!” You always have to know your moment. For instance, with the visuals I did for Jessy Lanza, I went for striking colourful imagery, but then again, I kept it very simple and repetitive so that in 5 minutes people would get it, and then they could focus on Jessy.
You mentioned Jessy Lanza; you’ll also be at Supreme Cuts in OT301. How will that work, can you reveal anything?
The set is ready, I’ve prepared a teaser.
Do you consider yourself an internet artist, are you present online in this sense, do you get your creative energy from online sources?
I do get this internet or post-internet art stamped on my forehead but I never even thought of it that way; you don’t always have a budget to print the book or exhibit your work so in a way, if you want to do something and just put it out there, doing it online is easiest. My visual work, and my photography, even at Rietveld, it never came from creating something from scratch, it was always appropriating and re-mixing other materials. Another continuous theme is that things go wrong – this is always a subject.
Most artists today tend to shy away from being labeled as ‘Internet artist’, but I think it’s mostly because Internet is still confused with a new medium, when in fact it is just a way of converting images, videos and writing in their digital counterparts supported by one platform, a platform with so much creative and material potential.
Internet is yet another tool. There’s always a new effect, things get animated more and more. Even when you switch to a new OS, it’s impressive. It’s the same with every new program, first, you learn how to use it, then you learn how to misuse it. I can describe my work as something in between WTF and LOL, it gets exaggerated up to that point. I see myself as an editor, I act as a finger pointer: “Look at this, look at that, this also exists.”
So what you do is take things up a notch?
For instance, my first big work at Rietveld, sort of a breakthrough for me, happened in a zoo. I noticed that the enclosures for the animals were made of artificial materials, mimicking the real environment of that particular animal, so if you have a penguin, it’s going to sit on this iceberg-like structure that is actually plastic. And then I looked into this, I discovered the profession of zoo designer. What I did was very minimal. The only zoo that allowed me to do this was in the small town where I come from in Latvia, they gave me an entire auditorium to use as a studio for as long as I needed. I did zoo-keeping training, how to work with the animals. And the work itself was exaggerating this idea of the artificial materials: I included balloons, porcelain elements, so it looked like a still life, with animals.
What are you currently working on or where should we expect to see you next?
Recently, I’ve been tapping more into the commercial world, working on fashion-related jobs. I like pretty things, and I make pretty things, I think it’s bit girlie, but that’s what I do. So I can make this transition and I never felt restricted creatively because so many times I initiated these commercial jobs by pointing out a gap, a need, and offering a way to fill it.
Viktorija showcases her work for Frames at OT301, Amsterdam on Wednesday 19 February during the Supreme Cuts and Teengirl Fantasy show. The event is free for Subbacultcha! members.