With the exhibition “Public Audio Image” at hangmenProjects in Stockholm, visual artist and noted art director Slobodan Zivic brings forth an intricate project where art and music intersect, weighing on the participation of ten contemporary musicians.
You’re presenting your new project ’Public Audio Image’ at hangmenProjects and what initially drew me to the project is the way it intersects visual art and music and sees the participation of ten contemporary musicians by musically interpreting your work. What were the ideas occurring to mind leading up to the project?
When I initially presented the ideas and pictures of what would make for the aesthetic and intention of this project, the process led to interpretations back and forth between me and the music producers. So rather a more correct description would be that I interpret their final compositions to be able to finish the work.
At the core there was this desire to work with more than just one of the senses, and an ambition would be to mediate an experience where the viewer and the work have at least some interaction. I chose to work with sound naturally because music is what I want to surround me with in my everyday life, whether I work, rest, work out or socialize, feeling blue or happy, strong or weak – there’s almost always music influencing my subsistence. Maybe that is the most obvious explanation of why a large part of my work as a visual artist is music-related.
The visual identity of the works you’ve created on mirror is interesting and I would call them mixed media paintings myself, alluding to your background as a graffiti artist, and then there’s the added layer of the sound scores. What was the process behind carrying your works out?
The past years I’ve worked with digital printed media, prints in general. I felt stuck by this media and the computerized process. I wanted to work with depth, tangible weight, new media and mixture of materials, shaping in a more dynamic way where I end up with the work and where the object I work on leads me through the process, allowing me to lose control in a way.
Ten musicians making sound scores unique to the exhibition…What directions or pointers, if any, did you give the artists when approaching your visuals? Interestingly you were telling me how the music sounds cohesive despite the musicians not having compared notes so to speak.
My theory of why the compositions got so close to each other is that the musicians all got the same direction and source influencing each of them, despite this quite diverse span in styles that exists between them. The direction was simply that I approached each one of them with an artwork of mine. I believe most of them got the message instantly – they are professionals in terms of interpreting feelings and directions through their own body of work. So I’m not surprised they did such a great job. Also, I should mention that I have personal relationship with many of the involved ones, either on a personal level or as a client-based relationship.
I find there’s a nostalgic element in here, bringing my own relationship to music consumption and the compact disc to mind. What do you think is the relevance of a project like ‘Public Audio Image’ in 2016?
Of course there’s a chance that the viewer automatically feels that there’s a nostalgic presence in this work. But I would say that it is quite an opposite strive away from my perspective. I am personally not a fan of nostalgia. This project is all about the future. In a way you can see this as a “goodbye” and “R.I.P” of the Compact Disc format, and also experience these artworks as artifacts of a past time – that had a large influence on our present time. The approach of keeping the project “outside” of the Internet and to dedicate it to the physical room – is also driven by wanting to connect people in healthier and more romantic ways than what is offered by mediation of the Internet.
Your ties with music and musicians date long back in time and yet the project is quite a stretch from past projects and works you’ve done so far, propelling you into new territory as an artist I’d say. Is that the way you see it yourself? Or rather feel like all of your work, be it as an art director, video director or artist, compromise a whole?
This is a new approach, not at all weighing on the same considerations as my client-based projects as an art director but ultimately comes from the same source – from me, so everything in a way is connected. Though I really did my best to isolate this project from my pragmatic side, and instead opening doors to my subconscious to approach the creative sense. In this case there’s no compromises.
What are you most looking forward to yourself in terms of the exhibition opening?
There are many things I’m looking forward to at the opening. I have been working on this project for a significant time now. Of course I hope that the work and the space (hangmenProjects) comes through together the way I envisioned it. I hope people like it in general and find it interesting in terms of experience and hopefully there’s a solvent feeling of being at a special event where people find a sense of “now”. Most importantly I of course hope my friends and family show up to experience it.
Words by Ashik Zaman
Slobodan Zivic’s ‘Public Audio Image’ opens at hangmenProjects in Stockholm on Friday April 29 (open through the weekend) and is curated by C-print Journal.