Friday, October 19, 2012

The Striking Imagery of Unda Arte

Through social media I stumbled upon the striking images being shared by a pair of artists from Sweden, Marie Lundvall and Peder Bjoerk, who called themselves or their fine art photography Unda Arte. This past spring I reached out to Lundvall, and Estonian-Swede, and inquired as to their interest in being interviewed. She replied yes, but indicated that they were exceptionally busy at the time and that perhaps later in the year would be more suitable. It is my pleasure to introduce them here and now.

EN: What is Unda Arte and how did it begin?

Marie: Unda Arte is a collaboration between the two of us, an art duo. We met once upon a time in a library... By then both of us had been doing art and music on and off in private for more than 20 years. We also discovered that we shared the same ideas.

Peder: Unda Arte started when we discovered that Marie's photos – taken with a cell phone - were better than a professional photographer's ditto of the same object. I photographed intensively at the end of the 80s, before the digital era. Unda Arte was the right context to explore photography in a new way.

EN: Tell us a little about the working process. 

Peder: Many of our photographs are taken during excursions to interesting places. Sometimes we bring props, sometimes the whole art process is taking place in the computer. Most of the time both of us work with all the photos, improving each other's pictures.

Marie: We use software, such as Paint.net, Gimp, Photoscape, Picasa, only to name a few. We always use more than two programmes for the same photo...

EN: What mediums do you work in? I see photography... what else?

Peder: Painting and sculpture, sometimes mixed media. For “In the Studio” paint, sculpture and photography are combined. The software Marie mentioned also contains different painting devices that are useful!

EN: Who have been your personal biggest influences?

Urban Exploration
Marie: I tend to return to David Lynch. I also love théatre de l'absurde, especially the playwright Eugène Ionesco. Frightening absurdism is very interesting, when the balance between comedy and tragedy leans towards either side, depending on who you are... Take a look at “Fortress in water” in this article...

Peder: Our inspiration comes from art, film, literature, science, early industrial music... European film has inspired me deeply, with names like Andrei Tarkovsky and Šarūnas Bartas.

EN: How large is “The Icarus Incident”? What medium is this piece produced with?

Peder: All of our photographs are 8.3 x 5.9 in., i.e. 15 x 21 cm. That’s intentional. The audience should explore our photographs at close quarters...

It is funny - most of the time an artwork takes a few days, sometimes a week or two to create. Then there are exceptions... “The Icarus Incident” was made in Paint.net and Photoscape. It only took about an hour.

EN: What is the role of artists in our post-modern world?

In the Studio
Peder: Today it is easy to present your art electronically, but it is also easy to drown. Uniqueness is therefore more important today and the artist should scrutinize his or her intentions, aesthetics and marketing methods. Yesterday, people often talked about the role of the artist as an enfant terrible. However, we find almost nothing provocative anymore. Coming up with new hybrids, different techniques and new aesthetics is always very interesting...

Marie: Right. Unda Arte started out as a postmodern phenomenon; we wanted to contribute to bridging the gap between popular culture and high culture. It brings people and culture together. The transformation brings about new aesthetics, without automatically making the art more superficial, with the message kept intact. Besides, high culture is not always “deep”...

In the Shadow of the Future
Many artists are active in many areas in order to survive, that’s fruitful for the cultural sphere. Doing art for rock bands etc. may be important for the survival. In a European perspective, the context of an artist is occasionally more provocative than the artworks. Artists presenting themselves and making their art visible for a larger audience, using social medias in marketing their art (as commodities), is still less acceptable in Europe than in the U.S. However, this is about to change - today there are many older European artists on Facebook, marketing their art.

I've seen that art actually may help people sometimes. Inspiration and consolation – that you are not alone – are, of course, important aspects. Artists may also evoke important questions; sometimes people may confront their own ideas, perhaps also one or two prejudices. That can be developing and emancipatory. Artists may also take up issues about society, pointing at stupid or tragic situations, taking part of a larger discourse, more or less in public. However, happenings etc. - the funny side of art - is also needed. It can, of course, be intertwined with the more serious side I just mentioned. That feels natural for us.

Telling small stories, in several layers of interpretation, is another important driving force for Unda Arte.

Peder: Yes. Art is not documentary, but it can really relate to reality in a particular way... No matter what kind of artist you are, an authentic core.., genuineness, is always important.

EN: What are you working on now?

Marie: We are always doing many different things..! I've been writing a lot lately and we have been preparing for the expo.

Peder: Yes, we are collaborating with a composer, working on an expo with an important theme...

Marie: It will be multimedia art, combining visual art with non-visual elements...

TO SEE MORE of Unda Arte, visit their website at undaarte.com.

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