On the songs that shape her life
Bram Van Breda was announced best student at the Luca school of Arts in 2016 and is now presenting new work at the Luca Biënnale on November 30. Two good reasons for us to put him in the spotlights.
Interview by Lara Decrae
Photos by Tiny Geeroms
“I’m very interested in what happens to the identity of an object when you translate it into another material.”
In your work there are a lot of hints at forgotten places or events, is it oblivion itself that draws you to these things?
I have a strong interest in what lies underneath and how it comes to be; the thing which lies underneath gets easily overlooked or forgotten. Each work becomes a journey through an environment in search for new stories to unravel. In this way, a pigeon shed in the back of the garden can become a mirror of our contemporary society. A layer of dust and dirt becomes a medium to translate certain cultural values. I’m looking for the universal by questioning the identity of these objects, materials, places, as I believe that in locality we find the thing witch binds us.
Where do you find your materials?
It’s always linked to the environment I’m investigating or the feeling I try to translate. So most of the time the material comes to me. Tactility is an important aspect of the materials I work with. For me it’s a way to reach out to the viewer. It’s often a combination of found materials which I appropriate. I’m very interested in what happens to the identity of an object when you translate it into another material.
“There’s nothing more beautiful than to see objects and materials come together in a whole.”
Is there a specific reason you like to work with textile and pale colours?
I got drawn to textiles from a very young age, seeing my grandmother stitch and knit; she’s a real craftswoman. With a background in graphic design, I started to look for ways to communicate with materials. Textile is a perfect medium to do this, but it shouldn’t be the only one. There’s nothing more beautiful than to see objects and materials come together in a whole. The soft colour tones come naturally with my field of interest. Places and materials that are disappearing are characterised by fading colours as time takes over.
When you portray people in your work they usually have a hidden face. Is anonymity important to you?
The fictive figures are a personal way to react towards a certain environment. It started with an expedition through my own cultural background, which became a small revolt against the way we look towards foreign cultures for inspiration. So I started to portray myself in the textiles I made, appropriating the space. But even though they are self-portraits I didn’t want to place myself as an artist at the centre nor a model who has no relation towards this space. To hide the face became a way to deal with this.
In what way do you like to use a space for exhibitions?
In my opinion the artist should be humble and adapt himself to a changing context. I try to work with as few preconceptions as possible. A space is never empty; there’s always a certain context. So why not use this context or the materials in the space? In case of the Luca Biennale, the abbey is an exposition space which has a lot of symbolic relations. I simply can’t ignore these relations, so I project my way of working on to this environment. An exposition space should be more than only a place to present ones work; it can become a place for dialogue.
“For me interactivity can also be understood as a dialogue between the artist and the viewer, transcending ideas and receiving new perspectives.”
Do you think it’s important for art to be easily approachable and interactive?
Art should be approachable; if there’s no connection to the outside, what’s art then? But the goal shouldn’t be to make an art-peace ‘easily’ approachable; it should come along with the process. I love to work with everyday objects and materials specifically for this reason, because people can relate to them. By placing them in a broader perspective I try to question our traditional view. While some find this difficult to follow, others react to it. When using textiles you immediately get confronted with the aspect of interactivity. Since it’s such a tactile medium, people are always drawn to it. Even though my work isn’t focused on the interactivity I do believe that it’s an important aspect of art. For me interactivity can also be understood as a dialogue between the artist and the viewer, transcending ideas and receiving new perspectives.
Can you tell us more about the expo (Let yourself) Fall? And are you working on any other interesting projects right now?
The expo ‘let yourself fall’ is the title of this year’s Luca Biennale. Which is different from the previous ones because it’s taking place at the abbey Keizersberg. Artists have been asked to let themselves fall into this extraordinary place. For me this was a wonderful experience. I’ll be showing a woven work which bears the traces of this place. I’m using dust as a medium to react on the current state of the abbey and religion as a whole. Currently I’m working on an installation together with a group of people who are following Dutch courses. We’re using textiles as a language to express themselves in a new way. In February 2018 I’m participating in the exposition Fini-Fani in Dinant, where my work will go into conversation with the rich tradition of Milanese fabrics.
LUCA Biënnale – presenting work from Wim Catrysse, fijn atelier, Mekhitar Garabedian, Sarah De Vos, Kurt D’ Haeseleer, Bram van Breda, Ief Spincemaille, De Andere Markt & Georges Lemaître – takes place from 30 November until 1 December at Abdij Keizersberg in Leuven.