Untitled Unknown - Interview with the artists
We sat down with some of the artists from HF Kunst Skole in Aarhus to hear about ‘Untitled Unknown’, their 5-day exhibition currently showing at END OF THE LINE.
Ellen Sichlau, Astrid Sigh, Laura Gram, Tobias Mai and Benjamin Sasserson.
Astrid Sigh - I know that for a lot of us this is our first time exhibiting outside of the art school so we are quite nervous.
Personally, I just want people to be excited and interested in the artwork of ‘Untitled Unknown’. Even if they don’t like it, if it provokes a reaction from visitors and makes them engage with the work then it will be a success.
Benjamin Sasserson - It is definitely nerve-wracking for a lot of us, but the opportunity to display our art and display in a new gallery is exciting.
The whole concept behind ‘Untitled Unknown’ is that we are new and visitors won’t be familiar with our work. The 16 artists involved all come from different backgrounds and work in all kinds of different materials - so it will be great to see peoples’ reaction to this variety of forms and styles.
What can visitors to ‘Untitled Unknown’ expect?
And how are you feeling about exhibiting at THE END OF THE LINE?
You all come from varied backgrounds, which is reflected in the artworks you create.
Can you tell us a bit about how you came to study at the art school?
Tobias Mai - I’m originally from Copenhagen, for the type of art program I wanted to study there was a limited choice in Denmark and Aarhus was the obvious choice.
I love living and studying in Aarhus, since moving here 1.5 years ago I’ve been able to build my own individual artistic style. It’s an open-minded and outgoing city when it comes to arts and culture so this has really helped.
Astrid Sigh - I originally trained as a sales assistant. I knew that art was my real passion but initially was too nervous to pursue that dream.
After I did take the plunge and begin with this course in Aarhus I immediately felt like a door had opened for me. I’ve been able to nurture my creativity, produce new artworks and learn new techniques and styles which inspire my own style.
As I mentioned above, all of my art is motivated by the desire to provoke and polarize my audience. If I can get a real reaction - both positive or negative - I’ll know I’ve been successful.
Laura Gram - I grew up in the countryside, in a small village near Vejle, so there was little chance for artists to work there. I was always the black sheep, the ‘weird art kid’ with piercing and different boyfriends and girlfriends!
My grandma is an artist and witchdoctor and nurtured my love of art from a young age. Art is my true passion in life and I love producing and studying art in a city like Aarhus.
Ellen Sichlau - I have lived in Aarhus for 12 years now. My parents moved to Aalborg 3 years ago but I decided to stay here with my brother.
I started an education program which offered a range of subjects but dropped out because I knew art was my one true passion in life and the only thing I wanted to do. Now I work at F16 in Aarhus and create paintings for 6 hours a day.
Benjamin Sasserson - My father is an artist, so growing up I initially thought I would never follow in his footsteps!
But I couldn’t help but draw and create art - initally for my own benefit and then as my studies at efterskole.
After taking the first step in an art education like that, I knew that I wanted to continue down this path, to improve my style and express myself -so I began these studies here in Aarhus.
Some of you have spoken about moving away from Aarhus as your careers as artists develops.
What would you like to change culturally to encourage you to pursue a career as an artist here in Aarhus?
Ellen Sichlau - For me it would definitely be a place where anyone could go to work on projects, and where you could receive SU (state educational funding for students in Denmark).
The recent changes, which are coming into place this summer, are making it much harder for students who want to pursue a career in the arts and need financial support.
As far as I know, there will no longer be a place in Aarhus which will support artists and give them a place to create - without having to work two jobs to pay for study costs and living.
A platform for young people like us to develop as artists without having the concern of having to pay for their education if they want to progress.
Laura Gram - I think we need a change of mindset in Denmark. In other European countries its easier to support oneself as an artist.
For example, in France, artists can get doctorates in art - whereas in Denmark I don’t think people would take you seriously.
We need some respect and nurturing for young artists. The current educational changes is funneling everyone down the same narrow paths and discouraging creatives to explore a career in the arts.
Arts and culture is given a lot of value in society here, but the nurturing and development of young artists is being undervalued.
Something needs to change and the development of new Danish artists needs to stop being taken for granted.
I would like it to be more recognised that an education in the arts is just as important to Danish society in the long term as any other education is.
What would you like to see in Aarhus which would encourage young artists like yourselves to stay here?
Benjamin Sasserson - For me personally, my main focus is on figurative art. I don’t think any of the art academies here in Aarhus can give me that focus - they don’t seem to give it enough respect and focus more on conceptual art instead.
Of course it’s important to cover the whole spectrum, but I personally would be more encouraged to stay in this city and keep creating art here if there was a change in the value that figurative art was given.
Laura Gram - In Aarhus itself it would be amazing to see a space that provided studios for artists - regardless of whether you are a student or not.
There are some institutions like this in Aarhus, and we’ve been offered studios by some but they are always outside the price range of art students!
Have you enjoyed having the control (and responsibility!) of organising your own exhibition at END OF THE LINE?
Benjamin Sasserson - Well it’s been stressful at times! But really I think it’s been a good learning experience for all of us.
For me, there has been a lot of factors I had never considered before: the lighting in the gallery, opening times, how they should hang, how to accept payments and how to co-ordinate 16 art students to work together on this!
But AARHUSMAKERS have been great in helping us out with this when we needed and I think we’ve been able to create an amazing exhibition with ‘Untitled Unknown’.
‘Untitled Unknown’ runs until Tuesday, March 12, 2019. Open Saturday & Sunday 12:00-17:00, Monday & Tuesday 15:00-19:00.