in the Category: art

It is nice, for a few moments, to step into someone else's identity

A forest of multicoloured ribbons guides you from the streets of Hasselt into the galleries of Z33. These streamers, an installation designed by Christian Balakov, are a part of the exhibition Fitting In. It is an exploration of identity through a variety of mediums and interdisciplinary artists. We met Diego Fabri in this immersive exhibition and followed him through textiles, photography, fashion and even digital art. Diego’s own practice relates to the many mediums at play in Fitting In. Although currently studying product design, he has developed an artistic practice with legs in digital and 3D design. After we explored the exhibition, we sat down to talk about materiality - in the exhibition, in the world of digital art, and in Diego’s own work, in which he constantly seeks reiterations of previously made images.

Interview by Dlisah Lapidus
Photos shot by Stefanie De Bakker

The Christian Balakov installation resets the senses of the audience, inviting playful openness as a means of approaching the exhibition. How did you feel entering the museum through this forest of ribbons?

It definitely felt like being at the playground again. Walking through the ribbons and talking was really nice, like walking through a cloud. Even before you enter the building this feeling is introduced, with all of the strands of ribbon that go outside of the building, over your head. I was just eating a sandwich outside and looking up at this, already thinking, 'This is going to be fun.' The ribbons reconnect near the end of the exhibition on the second floor. There, you can see where they all come from and you can see that the ribbons from the outside and the ones on the inside are actually connected.

Walking through the ribbons and talking was really nice, like walking through a cloud

How did the fluidity between genres in Fitting In allow visitors of Z33 to interact and connect with the artwork?

All different aspects of creativity are combined here: fashion, product design, imagery and also interactive work with the visitors. The giant pictures by Mous Lamrabat were interesting because you had to walk back and forth to see the different images. The walking - alone - is part of the experience, which I think is really boundary-pushing. It takes the museum to the next level.

Is working in different mediums important to you as an artist?

The one thing that I really strived for in my early days of experimenting was to know as many things and how to do as many things as possible. This means working with different programs and using different materials, both physically and digitally. I like to get inspired by the digital world, do something there, then bring it back to the physical world, add onto it, and so on. It is always about the duality of the physical and digital, a back and forth.

It is always about the duality of the physical and digital, a back and forth

What are you working on currently?

Right now, I am working on making accessories, ear cuffs and other kinds of more accessible jewellery. Accessories can usually be super expensive, so I am experimenting with glasses, handbags and ear cuffs made from different materials. I am playing with shape and form to create something that is fun and very childlike. The process of making the ear cuffs begins with taking a 3D scan of my ear. Then I bring it into the digital world, taking inspiration from digital design and physical design. Then I 3D print it, prototype it and see how it works, how it fits, how it looks and what kind of materials work well with the design. It keeps iterating. 

Do you have an interest in working with the human form?

The human body is always the number one inspiration, it is your reference point. You work with your own hands and you see your own face. If I am making ear cuffs, I like to use myself to measure because other people are not always available. So it always begins with the human body.

The human body is always the number one inspiration

What work have you done in the digital art sector?

During the corona pandemic, there was a huge movement towards everything being virtual. People were using Instagram filters, and everything was shifting in a VR direction. Instagram and Snapchat were releasing new face-tracking technology, and people could sign up to experiment with creating filters, which was kind of a huge success. Everyone was under the impression that these filters had a real future because they were really digital artwork that goes on your face. This inspired me to learn how to do this as well. In Belgium, a lot of brands wanted to make filters but had no idea how, so I worked freelance for brands and marketing teams to make the filters for them. 

Do you see the emergence of digital artwork, like the filters by Ines Alpha featured in the exhibition, as a movement towards art becoming more accessible?

Definitely. With this, you can experience the artwork beyond the museum. I think that is also what social media is doing. A lot of artists and friends that I know of just make art and post it online. That is how they get their start, and also kind of how I started. This accessibility and shareability definitely interested me. I want to see what other people are doing, and social media is a huge source of inspiration. 

In the exhibition, how did the theme of identity help you engage with the different artworks?

I just think it is super cool to see someone else's reference point or to see work through someone else’s glasses, especially in this exhibition. I love the theme of identity because it is super personal. It is nice, for a few moments, to step into someone else's identity, not fully, but to see how it looks, how it feels, what artists may have been thinking and what their intent is.

Fitting In
Until 26/02 - Z33, Hasselt
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