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STUDIO STORIES 2020

STUDIO STORIES 2020 is a collection of short interviews with artists who have been making contemporary work during the Covid 19 pandemic. It introduces readers to the ways in which artists continue to create and adapt their practice today.
curated BY Lilach Schrag

ABOUT STUDIO STORIES 2020 - As the global health pandemic changed artists' lives and practice, Chicago-based artist Lilach Schrag found herself drawn to stories of how artists were adapting to lockdown and the new reality. The result is Lilach's curated presentation "Studio Stories 2020", hosted by Kol HaOt. "When I realized it would be impossible to have my scheduled June residency at Kol HaOt's gallery in Jerusalem, I reached out instead to colleagues and friends around the world who make contemporary art and started collecting their stories. I asked them to provide a glimpse into their mission, their methods, and their hearts. They spoke about their work, altered daily routines, challenging moments, uplifting realizations, and the ways in which they continue to create and adjust their practice during the pandemic. Individually, from their homes and their studios, they tell fascinating stories with thoughtful words and beautiful artwork. Collectively, they offer a snapshot of artists responding to the unprecedented reality of our time.” – Lilach Schrag, 2020

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Bianca Severijns

BIANCA SEVERIJNS IS KNOWN FOR HER ORIGINAL AND DISTINGUISHED PAPER LANGUAGE. SHE ARRANGES HUNDREDS OF HAND-TORN PIECES OF PAPER INTO SCULPTURE TAPESTRIES, MURALS, AND RELIEFS, TO EXPLORE HER PERSONAL NARRATIVE AS WELL AS SOCIAL THEMES AND SUBJECTS OF DISPLACEMENT AND RE-ROOTING. CURRENTLY LIVING AND WORKING IN ISRAEL, HER ARTWORK HAS BEEN DISPLAYED AT THE VENICE BIENNIAL 2019, AND TLV BIENNIAL 2020.

BEFORE I IMMIGRATED TO ISRAEL IN 2007, I HAD MY OWN DESIGN STUDIO IN THE NETHERLANDS TOGETHER WITH MY PARTNER. WE DESIGNED CHILDREN CONCEPTS FOR BOTH INTERNATIONAL AND DUTCH BRANDS. OUR DAILY EXISTENCE WAS SURROUNDED BY CREATIVITY AND CREATIVE PEOPLE.

IN ISRAEL, THE DESIGN BUSINESS WAS DIFFERENT AND DIFFICULT. WE WERE FORCED TO MAKE NEW CHOICES AND IT WAS IN THAT TIME I STARTED MY FIRST PAPER ARTWORKS.

DURING MY JOURNEY FROM DESIGN TO ART I DISCOVERED THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THEM IS THAT DESIGN HAS EVERYTHING TO DO WITH FUNCTIONALITY AND USABILITY, WHILE ART IS ALL ABOUT COMMUNICATION.

ART CAN GIVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO QUESTION, TO PROVOKE, TO IMAGINE, AND TO GET NEW INSIGHTS. ART ALSO COMMUNICATES TO OUR EMOTIONS.

BOTH IN MY DESIGN AND MY ART, THE ROLE OF PLAY IS A KEY INGREDIENT. PLAY, FOR ME, HAS TO DO WITH FANTASIZING, INVESTIGATING, EXPERIMENTING, BEING CREATIVE, EXPLORING, AND BEING SPONTANEOUS.

IN MY DESIGN TIME, I PLAYED A LOT WITH VARIOUS MATERIALS: WOOD, FOAM, FIBERS, TEXTILE, AND PAPER. I FELL IN LOVE WITH THE LAST ONE!

PAPER BECAME MY MEDIUM TO CONVEY MY ARTISTIC VISIONS. THE MATERIAL ITSELF IS FULL OF SUGGESTIONS: YOU CAN CUT, FOLD, WEAVE, TEAR, CRUMBLE, AND PASTE IT.

RATHER THAN REGARDING PAPER AS MERELY A SUPPORT TO DRAW OR PAINT ON, I TREAT PAPER AS A MATERIAL SUBSTANCE THAT CAN BE MANIPULATED IN NEW AND UNUSUAL WAYS. THIS IS THE GENESIS OF MY AFFECTION FOR PAPER; IT FULFILLS MY BASIC NEED TO CREATE.

Paper Blankets - hand-torn paper, acrylic paint, Konjac glue, thread, and textile, 2019
MOST OF MY ARTWORKS EXPLORE HUMANITARIAN AND SOCIAL THEMES. WITH MY ART, I HOPE TO CREATE AWARENESS AND DIALOGUE ABOUT SUBJECTS THAT ARE CLOSE TO MY HEART.

I UPROOTED MYSELF BY CHOICE, AND THIS SUBJECT MATTER BROUGHT ME TO A DEEPER AND MORE PROFOUND EXPLORATION OF THE DISPLACEMENT THEME.

I STARTED TO EXAMINE THE FUNDAMENTAL BASIC NEEDS OF PEOPLE WHO ARE DISPLACED. THAT TRIGGERED ME TO CREATE THE PROTECTIVE BLANKET SERIES.

ALTHOUGH OFTEN PERCEIVED AS AN ORDINARY OBJECT, A BLANKET IS LOADED WITH ASSOCIATIONS, CONNOTATIONS, AND EXPECTATIONS. IT HOLDS PROMISE OF CARE, WARMTH, AND PROTECTION.

WE ARE WELCOMED INTO THE WORLD IN A BLANKET AND WE LEAVE IT IN A BLANKET. IN THE LIFETIME IN BETWEEN, WE NEED PHYSICAL AND METAPHORICAL PROTECTIVE BLANKETS FOR OUR PERSONAL EXISTENCE AND WELL-BEING.

Protective Blanket Scratch - hand-torn paper, acrylic paint, Konjac glue, thread, and textile, 2018

EACH OF THE THOUSANDS OF PAPER THREADS THAT COMPOSE MY PROTECTIVE BLANKET ART SYMBOLIZES A MICRO-LEVEL PERSONAL STORY THAT TAKES PLACE IN OUR COMMUNITIES, IN OUR COUNTRIES, OR ON A DIFFERENT CONTINENT.

THE THREADS IMPLY TESTIMONIES OF PEOPLE NEEDING OR PROVIDING PROTECTION, WHETHER NEAR OR FAR. THESE STORIES AND THESE PEOPLE REMIND ME APPRECIATE AND NEVER TAKE FOR GRANTED ANY SENSE OF SECURITY, DIGNITY, EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES, OR FREEDOMS.

THE MICRO PAPER THREADS FORM LARGER WOVEN PIECES THAT STAND FOR MACRO-SCALE IDEAS OF HUMAN RIGHTS OF POPULATIONS AT RISK LOCALLY AND GLOBALLY.

WITHIN THE “PROTECTIVE BLANKET SERIES” I CHALLENGED THE PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF PAPER AND ITS LIMITS. I MADE MY FIRST PROTECTIVE BLANKET AS A TOTALLY MOVE-ABLE, SUPPLE, YET DURABLE ART PIECE.

AS A METAPHOR, PAPER IS SO VULNERABLE, FRAGILE, AND EASILY TORN. IT EMPHASIZES HOW FRAGILE OUR “PROTECTIVE BLANKET” REALLY IS.

Protective Blanket 1 - hand-torn paper, acrylic paint, Konjac glue, thread, and textile, 2019

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Protective Blanket 1 - hand-torn paper, acrylic paint, Konjac glue, thread, and textile, 2019

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I AM VERY PRIVILEGED THAT MY STUDIO IS PART OF MY HOUSE, SO DURING THE TOTAL LOCKDOWN I WAS NOT STOPPED FROM WORKING.
WHAT CHANGED WAS THAT THE PRESSURE OF DEADLINES WAS OFF. MOST EXHIBITIONS WERE POSTPONED, AND ABSURD, SURREAL WORLDS OF EMPTY MUSEUMS ENTERED MY HOME.
I SUDDENLY HAD TIME TO WATCH ARTISTS TALKS, FIND PLEASURE IN LIVE REPORTS FROM THE SYDNEY BIENNIAL, AND CURATORS TALKS OF THE STEDELIJK MUSEUM, AMSTERDAM ON INSTAGRAM.
AS MY ART SUPPLIES WERE RUNNING OUT, I MADE SMALLER WORKS FROM PAPER LEFTOVERS. THIS RESULTED IN "THE WAY HOME SERIES" OF 12 MINI WORKS MEASURING 26 X 26 CM.

The Way Home Series, Steam - hand-torn paper, acrylic paint, Konjac glue, 2020

I CHANGED MY PLANS FOR A GROUP EXHIBITION TITLED "CONFRONTATION - CONVERSATION" IN BUENOS AIRES THIS OCTOBER, SUGGESTING THREE COVID-19 RELATED ARTWORKS.
AS A NATURAL EXTENSION OF THE SOCIAL THEMES AND HUMANITARIAN SUBJECTS IN MY ART, THEY RELATE TO HOW MANKIND CAN LEVERAGE CATASTROPHES FOR POSITIVE CHANGE.

The Way Home Series, Tree Bark - hand-torn paper, acrylic paint, Konjac glue, 2020

From left: The Way Home Series - Cliff 2; Vortex; Wave, hand-torn paper, acrylic paint, Konjac glue, 2020
Immigrating to Israel was a tough and inspirational life changing event from which my paper artworks sprouted.

COMING FROM A SO-CALLED PROTECTIVE, SAFE, EASY-GOING NETHERLANDS, I WAS SUDDENLY EXPOSED TO WARS, TERRORISM, RELIGIOUS ISSUES, A STRONG MIDDLE EASTERN MENTALITY, AND SO ON.

I AM WITNESSING THE COMPLEXITY AND ABSURDITY OF EVERYDAY LIFE HERE IN ISRAEL ON VARIOUS LEVELS: CULTURAL, SOCIAL, POLITICAL, MILITARY, RELIGIOUS, ETC.

Response to Place - Vessel 2 - hand-torn paper, acrylic paint, Konjac glue, 2018

MY "RESPONSE TO PLACE" SERIES APPEARS TO BE ATTRACTIVE PIECES OF ART, BUT AT CLOSER INSPECTION EACH VESSEL CONTAINS DISTORTED ELEMENTS, HOLES, RIPS, SPLITS, CUTS, OR TOTAL BARENESS AS REPRESENTATIONS OF THE IMPERFECTION AND DISHARMONY OF LIVING HERE.

Response to Place - Vessel 3 - hand-torn paper, acrylic paint, Konjac glue, 2018

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Response to Place - Vessels group 4 - hand-torn paper, acrylic paint, Konjac glue, 2018

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I UPROOTED MYSELF BY CHOICE, BUT MANY IN ISRAEL (JEWS, MUSLIMS, DRUZE, BEDOUINS, ETC.) WERE FORCED TO UPROOT OR HAVE A FAMILY MEMBER WHO WAS FORCEFULLY UPROOTED.

Uprooted Series – Isolation - hand-torn paper, acrylic paint, Konjac glue, 2018

THIS SUBJECT INTRIGUED ME SO MUCH THAT IT TURNED INTO THE "UPROOTED" SERIES. THERE IS A STRONG CORRELATION BETWEEN MY WORK PROCESS AND THIS THEME.

THE HAND-TEARING REPRESENTS SITUATIONS OF BEING TORN FORCEFULLY AWAY FROM TIES AND BELONGINGS.

THE MONOCHROMATIC COLOR NEUTRALIZES FEELINGS AND ASSOCIATIONS TO HOMELANDS.

THE TIME AND LABOR INVESTED TO CREATE THE ART REFLECTS THE REQUIRED TIME AND LABOR FOR RE-ROOTING IN NEW SOIL.

Uprooted series - Order Disorder - hand-torn paper, acrylic paint, Konjac glue, 2018

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Protective Blanket - hand-torn paper, acrylic paint, Konjac glue, thread, and textile, 2019

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THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC HAS MADE FORCIBLY DISPLACED PEOPLE AN EVEN MORE VULNERABLE GROUP THAN EVER. THEY ARE DISPROPORTIONATELY AFFECTED BY THIS CRISIS; SOME HAVE LOST THEIR MEANS OF LIVELIHOOD AND AT TIMES LACK ACCESS TO ADEQUATE HOUSING, FOOD, SANITATION, EDUCATION, AND HEALTH SERVICES.

Protective Blanket 1 - hand-torn paper, acrylic paint, Konjac glue, thread, and textile, 2019

THE CORONA ERA CERTAINLY CALLS FOR SOCIAL CHANGE, RESPONSIBILITY, AND UNITY.
AS AN ARTIST I BELIEVE THAT MY PROTECTIVE BLANKETS HAVE THE POWER TO MAKE US AWARE THAT AT CERTAIN TIMES WE NEED A “PROTECTIVE BLANKET,” BUT IN THESE UNSTABLE TIMES WE CAN ALSO BE THE ONES TO PROVIDE A “PROTECTIVE BLANKET”!

Protective Blanket 1 - hand-torn paper, acrylic paint, Konjac glue, thread, and textile, 2019

Protective Blanket 1 - hand-torn paper, acrylic paint, Konjac glue, thread, and textile, 2019

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Bianca Severijns

you can see more of Bianca's work by visiting:

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Created By
Lilach Schrag
Appreciate

Credits:

Photographs of The Way Home Series 2020 are by Marcus Fraiman; The rest of the artworks are photographed by Sigal Kolton; Studio photos are by the artist