Bart Vandeput / Bartaku Interview

an audio transcription of an interview for open house on 201204[?] for an edit history see: interview_bartaku_open_house

Woman: What's your name?
Bart Vandeput:My official name is Bart Vandeput. There is another identity which is called Bartaku and that's more the artistic compound of Bart Vandeput.

Woman: And how old are you?
Bart: I guess this is 41, I m pretty sure it's 41 yes.

Woman: Where were you born?
Bart: In a famous city called Hasselt.

Woman: In Belgium.
Bart: In the east of Belgium.

Woman: And where do you live now.
Bart: In Brussels. Schaerbeek.

Woman: Is there other places you lived in between Hasselt and Schaerbeek?
Bart: I lived for a while in Leuven and besides that for the last 15, 16 years I have been living in Brussels, mainly on the hills anti-clockwise from Anderlecht to Schaerbeek.

Woman: Where do you work?
Bart: I work a lot at home. I work sometimes in studio de FoAM and I have to travel a lot also.

Woman: Into what places?
Bart: Well, last year it was predominately in the north west of Europe, Scandinavian countries, the Baltics and one chunk was also in Mexico.

Woman: And that's related to your work?
Bart: It's all functional time.

Woman: Okay, we ll come back to that later. So how long have you been in Brussels?
Bart: Well, living in Brussels 15, 16 years, yes.

Woman: And what brought you to Brussels?
Bart: I started working here for the [?] And then I wanted to move already for a long time from Leuven to Brussels.

Woman: Why?
Bart: Yeah, I think in Leuven after a couple of months you already know what is there and Brussels was just much more attractive and there was much more contrast and more diversity in many ways and it felt normal, so

Woman: Can you remember what your expectations were moving to Brussels?
Bart: Expectations is not so much, I think, part of my being. I move rather intuitively, so ended up in Brussels and was attracted to it but just moved and followed what happened. Yeah.

Woman: And can you describe Brussels, what characteristic
Bart: Well the thing that I miss the most when I m not in Brussels is the diversity in terms of color, especially in terms of sounds, meaning also language. I miss the cobblestones and the subtle hills. I miss the Source of Love, the natural spring that is in the Park, the south park that did not get a mention in Schaerbeek. And I miss the chaos, the complexity and I tend to miss, when I m not in Europe any more, I tend to miss the seasons and I tend to start missing also the love/hate relationship that I have with Brussels and I especially miss the fact that in Brussels everybody is not really from Brussels.

Woman: Can you describe the love/hate relationship a bit more?
Bart: Well it's such a complex city which is still on a human scale but has all the complexity of a melting pot. There are many issues, of course, in people living together with various interests and so, yeah. The cultural differences also lead to different expectations and different behaviors so, yeah, you have to deal with that and the fact, of course, that everybody knows the city has been managed in a non-city way for a very long time. So it's more like a stitching together of villages, more than a cosmopolitan policy. So yeah, this has its consequences. Some, if you want to ask me what is more in the negative, then the whole pollution and traffic related issues are for me fundamental pain in the ass. Yeah, so the thing I like the most I just mentioned already.

Woman: How would you define your artistic practice or profession?
Bart: I think it has benefitted a lot from the artistic diversity as well in Brussels. cuz you are here in this mix of different cultures and you get a lot of food from many sides and after a while you start understanding what is for you relevant and you can using, starting to apply, that again, quite intuitively I think this is looking back, applying some filters to what you are doing.As I said, I have an academic background that I hopefully have been capable of de-constructing and so I am also an ex-drummer. So rhythm is quite predominately present in my head. After, let's say, after a long period of aimless wandering in Latin America, I started making an installation based on these experiences coming from a fascination with a pre-Columbian information system that the Inca society was using. It was a 3D binary bit organized way of organizing information which allowed them to grow so rapidly. It was the first proto-socialist state. And this communication model that they had, to my big surprise was, there was nothing, not ever once mentioned, in my academic period. So this was a beautiful moment to look back and be aware of this Anglo-Saxon orientation which the whole academic world had and continued having.

Woman: Which part of academia, like, what disciplines were you?
Bart: Well, I was part of the Social Sciences then went on into communication science, yeah. So then yeah, came back and, of course, had to do a job because the money was gone, blah, blah. But then went to Spain for three months, focussing on the south of Spain, where the light is the most beautiful and the smell is the most beautiful.I was sitting on rooftop there to be able to make the transition from Latin America to, and especially outdoors life, to come back to Europe. And there I started writing and that's actually where the installation was born and the fascination for the first time for communication with these threats the awareness was making them of the energy in the oldest medium which is threats and why this came. I think that this is where the fascination for energy in general started growing and the combination of the defamation. So then after that this installation went and was made and [?] Went to textiles [?] but it was about electronics and textiles was already difficult to categorize it. It went to the polytechnic [?] University to a, what was it, a generative [sounds like] arts thing and so for me this was all kind of a new, so it was a good learning experience. After that I went into more deeply connecting advanced interactive software with the medium threat using drills to explore the aesthetic of the energy behavior and I knew it was in position of people in front of screen with cameras to see in real time how you could make patterns from the moment that the rope would snap due to being over-energized by drills. So become smoke [?] Furmans [sounds like] at the amount and started doing workshops, work labs, learning new technologies this is how I got into contact with the X-med-K organizations which was then okno, iMAL, foam nadine and all these organizations. Throughout the years I became more and more closely connected to them. I am now a member of FoAM and these organizations what I like is to experiment, artistic research so probably some remains of my academic period of this research-based approach of my work. Yeah, and then after this whole period I became quite impressed by how people are using hardware, working with electronics, how it feels, how it tastes, how people plug into the wall all the time this battery is charging and I got a bit annoyed with it. I wanted to go to the essential thing of energy, also inspired by some experiences that I had in the Congo where people had, yeah, strange attempts to get access to electricity, to electrical energy.Started reading books of Jeremy Rifkin where he explains mankind's history in terms of a perpetual struggle of access to energy, so all these things I think made me looking at the actions of energy. And of course then you have to look at the start, where it all happened and begun, our sun. Then I started looking at the properties of the sun, how this energy, light energy is being transformed. So I started examining in 2007 these emerging technologies, well, not really emerging but more well known technologies the photovoltaic or the solar technologies. Going all around visiting people getting to know the business, the philosophy, the models behind the technology very deeply to the point that I had to stop because I didn t understand any more what was going on. And I started to do a bit later in my own, I started to do what they were not doing in the labs in the commercial or the institutionalized labs. So I took the liberty of bringing this to other labs so I gave a lot of lectures in these days and started making glass solar cells, using edible materials. Got quite fascinated by that because you could really appropriate this technology to make easily yourself. Of course less functional, but not so functional you start looking at other things, more narratives I think. And from there on, suddenly I was making with materials that I found when I was doing a residency in India. I found edible conducting materials and before I knew I ended up making what I call a temporary photo-electric digestopium which some people tend to call edible solar cells which for me would put emphasis too much on the technology or the result of the invention thing.What I like most is that I introduce, I re-enact actually, this moment I came across making using alchemistic components and molecular cooking stuff and just blending it. I set up a series of co-creation based work labs where I like to play improvisation wise and as a drummer and so I did the same. Basically I think I was just a guy who was tweaking and tuning the people and the participants or the co-creators. I gave out a recipe the working method, the tools, nice blend of things and put them together in a specific context. People from different backgrounds and then I just asked them at the end of the whole making together and exploring I asked them to stick out their tongue to the sun, put this edible thing on their tongue and then check if there was some electricity. And the transformation in their faces I think, looking backwards that this is for me, what it's all about. It's really like a very interesting way how people behave then at that moment. For me it expresses or synthesizes this eternal struggle of mankind for access to energy. So it's a very micro-intimate thing. Because you ve all these hands of people try to measure on the tongues of the others and at the same time it's about micro things as well and I like to bring these things together.

Woman: Mm hmm.
Bart: And they can also not do this in a short moment. Really they have to become very aware of a bee vex [sounds like] scan because that gives the purest carbon. There are many elements that you takes time and patience that you cannot shock like you can in a workshop and extract all the notes. No, you really have to work together and gradually build up. And when you re done, you can I think understand why I m doing this.

Woman: How do you explain what you do to a random person in the street who asks you What do you do? What would you answer?

Bart: I think I would have to invite these people to have a coffee with me and to tell them what I m telling you.

Woman: If you don t have the time?
Bart: If I don t have the time, yeah I get the picture. Well then I basically say that I am fascinated by energy processes from the oldest medium till the origin of the all. I am fascinated by time, imitation of energy because the sun is half dead or half full, if you want and yeah, this eternal struggle of mankind, do anything.

Woman: And do you use the word artist for instance? Do you say I am an artist.
Bart: Well, I m afraid that what I m doing, this is being perceived by the majority of people as an artistic practice. A research based artistic practice. Yes. I just do what I feel I cannot not do. And it happens to be an artistic practice and yeah, that's what I m committed to, that's what I do and that's what it is.

Woman: And you make a living now from what you do?
Bart: I can make a living only because of the fact that some part of my income is being taken care of off society.

Woman: In what way?
Bart: In the way that I have unemployment money.

Woman: In the good sense or what?
Bart: I never managed to get to benefit from this, how do you say this, beneficial agreement because it's not to, again, it doesn t exist as I have to repeat from people who know better than I do. But no, I do not benefit from that and that is because I work, well I cannot not work basically, with how I work. As for money, other creative people I think, so yeah, this arrangement is not for people like me. If you are not in performing arts, if you don t have enough days, this ridiculous arrangement of days and money and I never managed to, then. Yeah.So it is quite weird and it's good but it's quite weird when people from, who I get to know who then come here in Belgium that only need three contracts with an artistic thing and then suddenly they have immediately this beneficial thing. It's an invitation to be very resilient with things like that.I m not so much interested in this whole debate now about the real artist or a not real artist. I have seen this in the 70s and I am not interested. I think that creative people, artistic people, designers, blah, whoever thinks that he is creative, it's better for mankind for the whole if there are more people of that who are capable of really doing what they think they should do.

Woman: And if you said before that you can do what you do because you benefit from the unemployment?
Bart: Mmm.

Woman: System, that's just the basic.
Bart: Yeah, that's the basic, the basic system. Yeah, I have not so much per month but on a global level of course it's a lot but in our society this is, it s, you have to live quite basically, which is fine. Because that inspires you also to look in other models, in other ways. But I do have support. I had two years of support from the Humane ? Committee Flemish Representation in Brussels of Culture and I have for one year also the support from the Flemish Arts Agency and both times this is called developing subsidies. Tragic subsidies or development oriented subsidies it's called. And, for people like me it's fantastic that this exists. It doesn t require too much administration, and it's a very honest way of working. And if you do it in an honest way and a committed way it's a beautiful tool for people like me where research is very important.And it approaches basically with a bit, this adds to your monthly income of unemployment and this way you come a little bit more to what would be in Belgium the basic limit for basic income. And since I am finished this is a fantastic model, the basic model applied globally I know this is very utopian but still I find it as a model, a fantastic model but yeah. But of course I don t know if next year it will be there as well. When you go live together with your partner you lose, I lose, for example 400 euros per month just because we re going to live together. So yeah, I will be forced now to be even more creative. But also I have income of some jobs that I do, artistic jobs. I had some exhibitions last year. In Scandinavia they pay you properly. I collaborate with University of Arts in London, they also pay properly, so I yeah, I manage to get around.

Woman: And what is your main source of income now, if you compare
Bart: Well the main source of income is because well, these income things are very irregular and they depend on many things, so the main source of income is the monthly support from our community, the unemployment money, which is extremely contradictory, but it is like that.

Woman: And if you say that in Scandinavia they do pay for exhibitions?
Bart: Yes.

Woman: Do you mean to say that here they don t?
Bart: No, but in some other countries, more south I mean it depends where in Europe you are again, yeah, they have just not so many possibilities. I haven t had the chance yet to do really like exhibition in Belgium. They tend to be I think a little bit less like interest in what I m doing here. So, unfortunately, yeah I ended up much more in abroad than in Belgium to do my work.But also I must admit I don t do, I m not so good at promoting myself. I used to be a bit better at promoting other people, not so good when doing it for myself. And also you, yeah. Not that it's an excuse but time-wise you tend to make your work advance rather than investing time in self-promotion.

Woman: How would you define your work?
Bart: For me, work is doing what you feel you cannot, not do. It's an emanation. Actually I trust most the thing that I do when I m not aware that I m working. These things I trust the most. There might be more I started collect may be more ugly or not perfect of the design of them or in the wrong position, but for some reason I trust them the most. And the thing that I have to struggle for the most they might end up more into a category that I don t trust so much. But then maybe after a while like more. So yeah.

Woman: But all of them are work?
Bart: All of this is work, yeah it's all part of it. The struggle is part of your work, having in the flow is part of the work and this whole and how you relate to that. How you maintain centered and aware which is a quite complicated and energy consuming process. This is work.

Woman: And how many hours a week do you work?
Bart: Phew. Never enough.

Woman: Another question related. What do you consider free time and what do you with it?
Bart: Free time for me is only time that is non-functional. That's free time.

Woman: And does it exist?
Bart: It exists yes.

Woman: And how do you use it?
Bart: I can give an example. When I started I was working in Brussels somewhere nearby the Buss [sounds like], the stock market and I got quite impressed by the light quality and I started walking towards the light and I ended up hours later at somewhere like Ring and of course in the northwest part of Brussels. That's free time, and inspiration time.

Woman: Is there other things you do during free time?
Bart: Well, there's relationship time, family time, friends time.

Woman: How did your spend your evenings in the last week, if you go back in time?
Bart: Yeah.

Woman: Can you tell me what you did in the evenings of the last week?
Bart: Writing, watching documentaries, doing a set-up as a tryout for a collaboration and that was at FoAM for example and spending some time in a bar with colleagues, my girlfriend.

Woman: And yesterday, can you describe the day of yesterday from morning to evening? Yesterday was a Monday.
Bart: Yesterday was Monday. Yes, there was, in the morning I had to write a report concerning my subsidy. Then I had a meeting about a co-housing project that we are trying to put together, together with other people to see who wants what. That's at a quite early stage but we want to have an answer to the increasingly complicated situation of living in Brussels. I had to prepare to move. We have to move due to speculation proceedings in where we live.

Woman: And it's school housing like if you re a private.
Bart: Yes, yes but we want to combine with all people we have to do some are performance artists. Another guy is artist, research based artist also. And we all have similar necessities so it will be about shared working space, experimental space, maybe a small gallery. It's all freeflow of thoughts for the time being.So yeah, that was let's say 1:00 p.m. Yeah, took us till 4:00. And then I continued writing at home, basically until 12:30 a.m.

Woman: And that was writing for the .
Bart: That was writing for several things. I also had to co-ordinate an application for the European Union also that's a member of FoAM. This is, yeah, together with a couple of other organizations in Europe of course, the Wash [sounds like] and Science Lab in Dublin, Achlich Tourniqua [sounds like] University in Barcelona so a couple of us, and yeah. I m co-ordinating this a bit so we had to do the finishing touch on that.

Woman: Can you explain a bit how FoAM works like, what's the organization means to you in your practice.
Bart: Well, I think the reason why I got so close to them and got a bit to the corner of the theme is because the adventure the openness to experimentation to holistic approach is very important. The relationship between economy and ecology, ambience, new vocabularies this whole dynamic creative way of putting things together. The importance of narrative, these are things that for me are very important in FoAM. It's also about technology but not only so I think as, if you have a bit of a transverse list personality, then FoAM is a nice place to be.

Woman: It's a context in a way for you.
Bart: It's a context, yeah, absolutely and because there are so many people who are, there are so many satellites, so many people who you can connect with and that pass by, planned, unplanned, local, European, international, the residency program. It's a very stimulating place to be.

Woman: How can I understand it? Is is different artists, that can use it as a platform to develop their own practice . . .
Bart: Yes.

Woman: . . . and maybe some collaboration will possibly come out.
Bart: Yes, indeed, yeah. And there is not so much goal orientation so you can really work very freely if you need support, if you need quality talk, you can ask for it and then we will put together some people so that you can have some relevant feedback. You can do presentations if you want. And then finally you can come with a proposal if you want and since FoAM is leading a couple of European projects that's also quite interesting because it brings in new people. So that for me is quite interesting and motivating.

Woman: And do you sometimes work together with other people? You mentioned some collectives.
Bart: Yes, I think I have about four heads that's like working as an individual person it is working as a member of FoAM. It is working with others where I have the lead and it is working with others where I am part of a bigger whole and I can reduce my ego to the minimum or bring in some parts of my knowledge or .

Woman: Is it always different projects?
Bart: It can shift within the project. Maybe I can have the lead in the beginning in some project but then at some point maybe somebody else is more relevant to then do it or execute it, so it can shift and so yeah, if you work through everything intuitively then these things can be changed.

Woman: And do the roles sometimes change like within the project like what different roles do you take up in projects that are collaboratively and how do they relate to the other people working in the same project? Bart: Can you be more specific?

Woman: Is it mainly then a group of artists who work as artists on the same level let's say or do you also have projects where there's let's say two artists, I m using the labels.
Bart: Mmm. Using labels.

Woman: Either a scientist and a more administrative person or
Bart: Yeah. Well for example the projects with FoAM involve people with really different capacities, backgrounds, often people who belong to the in between categories. So yeah, we can work with an engineer, with a designer, full blasts artist, some administration person, economists, a child can be involved, an ex-psycho guy yeah it can go in many directions.

Woman: And are the people you collaborate with always in the same geographical location?
Bart: No, no. We use Skype a lot, for example and to give one sort of project I am in now with future textiles from Central St. Martin's Academy of the University of London. I don t always go to London, they don't always come here I work also with the students so we have a working day next Friday where Skype will be on all the time. We use camera I will do some settings, we will show them, they will show what they are doing and we will try to see where we can take it from there. And then in April I will go there physically to work six days intensively with them, based on, whatever sank in after having seen what we have seen during the Skype session and sessions, because there are going to be more than that. And there is also, we have FoAM Nordica we have a couple of people there, there is FoAM Amsterdam, it's a start-up of FoAM in Japan so yeah to communicate with these people we have to use Skype. And also in terms of projects, if you are involved in European projects, chairing meetings there are always people from God knows where. We have a project about tarot cards for some narrative project and these people now came over from Croatia. They stay with us for a week so there's a lot of movement.

Woman: Do you have a manager?
Bart: I m looking for one. I m really looking for somebody who can help me find ways, find good workflows for all these heads I have. Yeah, so, some type of agent would be very good because I have the feeling that there would be a lot of space for maximizing what I am doing. I have the feeling that maybe 60% of my time, and that's a feeling so probably it's not correct but I have the feeling that 60% of my time goes to admin and unfortunately I don t have that talent.I can follow as many coaching trajectories but I just don t have that talent and have no problems admitting it. I do my best but it's very energy consuming. I need to eat more fruits and salads to be capable of doing one hour's admin compared to, for example, my girlfriend who is an analytic talent.So, yeah, I need, it would be fantastic and also because I think I did eight work labs last year, most of them in Scandinavia but yeah, since it just happens and people contact me, I go there, I have to come back, I cannot make like the tour as in previous years and so that's not so sustainable in terms of traveling. So I would like to have this balance and it's all about this energy balance. I would like to tweak this in a way that it would be better. Actually I did my apprenticeship with Ulte Mavis [sounds like], so she, as a student I, my first job basically was as a student and I worked for Ulte Mavis and the agency that [?] So then I saw how fantastic it is when you have a whole team of people working for you and organizing everything. It will never get to that point because what I m doing is not. And also probably I m looking always. I tend to end up always on the edges of things, so until now not in the more commercial galleri-, and I m not so interested in galleries work itself. But maybe I will be in the finish for sure and maybe, so yeah, any agent, any person who could help me with this would be fantastic. But then I have to see how to pay him and all that and maybe collaborate with other people, maybe within FoAM we have to, this is all ongoing. New organizational forms have been recommended to start again a [?] But yeah, [?] Number 59,500 so we are looking at other ways.

Woman: Is this an issue? Is this something that people talk about?
Bart: Yes, yes.

Woman: How to organize.
Bart: Yes, yes, absolutely.

Woman: Do you see interesting solutions?
Bart: I ve seen a couple of-, in the last year I ve seen a lot of models pass and I was quite surprised that in the end a very down to earth book keeper told me that, forget about the complexity of the other models and just do [?]

Woman: But it's a-,
Bart: I felt a bit like going back and being back at the starting point and maybe it's just true. Maybe it's but we still, yeah, are looking at other ways of going about it. So, and you have to look at other ways also to find revenue because this new liberal wind and conservative wind in Europe, we will be hunted and haunted evermore, so we will have to be very resilient and very creative. And share experiences and yeah, stick the heads together and especially, not start doing the same thing as these new liberal and conservative parties are doing, right, when creating this discourse of us and them I am completely not interested in that. Not going to start shouting out the real artist, the not real artist. The dog guy. How can he be with this organization as well as an artist. Not interested. I think societies where they give the possibility of as many creative energies being able to pop out around the place are quality societies and I think as an artist we should be together in favor of that instead of being against this guy or that guy but then we end up again in the basic income discussion and the utopian aspect or the distopian, I don t know.

Woman: But this means you sort of see it around you, sometimes, this…
Bart: Yeah, yeah. Of course. Because now with this whole situation with now with the, how do you call it, the punishment institute for the unemployed people, who want us all to work to pay taxes, yeah, they are becoming a bit more harsh, again and then you see immediately some discourses and emails popping up against this or [?] And yeah, I think we need to get another perspective to frame this part of what we have to do. We have to transform these types of thinking. And you need very intelligent people to make this, very grounded and very practical and I don t belong to that group unfortunately of very practical thinking people.

Woman: Are there aspects to your work that you would like to develop but which you feel that in the current context where work conditions weren t possible?
Bart: They are not possible?

Woman: Mm hmm, that you would like to develop.
Bart: Yeah, there are, I have a couple of things that I feel that I need to do and there are some, there is now important, for me, important idea and very visual that I wanted to show somewhere and the first talks went into the direction but then the budget problem or one of the partners in the constellation feels that it's not possible and then yeah, it didn t happen, but then again maybe if I now look to the right maybe a new opportunity will come and so I keep the eyes open and yeah, if that's the way it is.

Woman: What could it mean today to be an established artist?
Bart: I think an established artist is an artist that doesn t have to deal with administration at all, that doesn t have to deal with communication at all and has and doesn t have to think too much about how to get enough food on the table and doesn t have to think too much on housing situation, I think that's quite an established artist, yeah.

Woman: How do you disseminate your work? Do you know what audiences do you reach?
Bart: Yeah, I have multi-faced audience. Most often I am invited by arts venues. So, yeah, then you have people over who they find for you. So, yeah, I had scientific people from various backgrounds, I had an astronomers, I have an historians, I had anthropologists, I had also artists, I had some children over, yeah, and the exhibitions are a bit more complicated to know who is coming, but it's an art exhibition, so I assume more like an arts audience. So, yeah, for me it's very . . . and, yeah, it's of course, energy themed, people who connect with that is very broad and that is the topical thing at the moment. It's really very broad. Sometimes there are very funny moments, like I was invited to submit a paper for the European Annual Photovoltaic Conference in 2008, and there are like over 3,000 or 4,000 scientists, business people from this solar-cell scene. So, I presented a paper with the help of FoAM and it was just crazy to Peter, I was the only one who came from some more artistic background, that was fantastic to be there and, yeah, and it's not so easy to be appreciated because you are the odd one out which generates sympathy in itself, but it was a very cool experience.

Woman: What happened?
Bart: Well, it was the first time I said I was standing upright and having an audience with so many ties and quite, white shirts, listening to me for 15 minutes and afterwards coming to me and talking to me and it was quite weird, yeah. And this venue, it was all super fancy, of course, in Valencia in Spain and it was about light technology, transformation of light into electrical energy, and it was all subterranean, which I found very funny. Jokes are funny But I had many people I met back then that I still have as a contact now. So, I can easily call them to ask, yeah, what is going now? Because I lost a bit interest in the pure technological site, because I found my own way now. But still, it's good to see, yeah . . . Sometimes they would call me and ask if I maybe could give a talk or . . .

Woman: Do you retain ownership of your work once it is passed to other people or organizations?
Bart: Well, I apply creative comments so people can distribute my work as long as they refer to me and they are happy to modify it. So, I don t get any revenue from any protected or copyright or who knows what and it's a policy that we have at foAM basically. So, open source mentality. Yeah.

Woman: What type of credit or recognition do you value the most?
Bart: The most is from people, of course, that I admire myself. But first of all, if I myself, yeah, if I feel comfortable, with it myself, which is not so easy to achieve. And which is fluid, of course. So, you just, yeah, but you know this or you just observe this and you just try to remain a bit equanimous on that. But there are people who, peers, and your own people whose work you know whose personality that you know their comments I tend to, yeah, I am sensitive to that, yes.

Woman: And have you ever felt under-recognized, under-credited for your work?
Bart: That also happened. I mean, the thing is it happened, for example, with this installation that I made in 2004, I had very good reactions on the first really big thing I made and I had an extremely good review one day and then another day when it was shown somewhere else there was somebody who didn t like it. So, yeah, you observe both and you try not to become too enthusiastic because of one and you try to remain calm, also, with the other comment and just observe if there is anything in it that you resonate with and just use it in your next work. I mean, you have no choice. You come out, you have to come out, when you feel you have to come out, you have to come out! And then you are naked, huh? That's for everybody it's like that. The thing is, the type of work I make, and maybe other people who do more like art. research based, there is not so much of public discourse anymore. I have seen the last 10, 15 years how dialogue about arts in the normal media how this has shrank how it shrinked so especially for these type of practices, there's not so much of a debate and that is not so good actually. So I would like to see much more comment open up. I mean there are, most often what I see is a positive thing, but I would like to hear in a more open way of some people who have really don t like it. Happy to hear that as well, but there are not so many yet. How, but maybe I don t read the right magazines online or off line, I don t know.

Woman: Do you feel you have a language, enough of a language or languages to talk about the kind of work you are involved in and the people around you are involved in?
Bart: I have the feeling, because I have to write this intermediate report now, I have the feeling that the work often is ahead of me before I am capable of grasping it myself and even then, when I ve grasped it, I am sure that the next week or two weeks after I will tend to reinterpret it but again, depending on how I am at that moment. But yeah, it's very difficult to write yourself about these things. I m trying to be as authentic as possible and not to think too much about these things when I m writing it so, but the work we, yeah it is ahead always of my discourse about the work. I agree with people who said it's tricky where an artist has to explain too much of himself, of what he is doing. It's a very tricky thing, you have to my work labs you have to really do them before you can really know what is happening. People say why don t you use these edible solar cells as a terminal, why don t you spread it out, I don t feel comfortable with it. Something tells me that it's not about this an edible solar cell, it's not about that, the making of this. Again, the silver bullet technology that will save mankind, I am not interested in that, sorry, don t trust mankind enough for that.I think it's just about this transformation that happens, this is what interests me. But this I just discovered only after having done this year's of labs, I only felt I have to do these labs, I don t know why, but I have to do, can not not do it. This is how it works.

Woman: Do you sometime compete or feel that you are part of a competition?
Bart: It's difficult to avoid the feeling of competition, yes, and it sometimes pops up, and the, yeah, it's the eagle thing. I mean on the one hand it's an eagle think and I ve tried to observe it and not to let it dominate too much my being. But of course it's a competition because you have to survive, the survival of the fittest and of course the more the contextual situation obliges you to position yourself, to communicate better to adapt to more the market the more competition comes. So I guess I feel it, yeah.

Woman: And is it a competition, what is the competition about? Is it contained within the arts world or is it larger?
Bart: Well it's larger. I mean, for example, there's a competition going on in Brussels now for finding an affordable flat. If you stand in a line with 70 people of which 10 of them are families with children then there is a blunt competition. Who has proof of paid work, who has proof of not having done anything stupid in his life? Okay, they can go in first.

Woman: [inaudible]
Bart: No, I can tell you, we go out of that line. I don t want to compete with people with children. So it's on all levels.

Woman: Do you consider your work or artistic practice political in any way?
Bart: Interesting. Political, it is political yes. It is about choices being made not make. It is about the individual and it is about the whole. So it is political and not consciously, but when I observe it myself, I think it's political. I have now let's say intermediary ownership, symbolical ownership of a one hectare form of [?] plantation in Latvia.Because I know the term, agro industrial companies capitalist that are trying to buy these former Russian [?] who were monocultured. In 91 the Soviet Union went down and so there is a restorer natural response and the restoration of the eco-systems and we have these power plants it's a type of berry. They are now surrounded by companion plants where there is a whole bio-diversity increased, but it is now threatened because these agro industrial companies are buying these ones so we are in a short moment where this piece of land is very healthy, very bio-diverse on the edge of a shrinking village in Latvia.And at that moment I really felt I had to jump in because of the properties of the berries that I use to make solar-cells. But especially also because this is such a special intermediary moment. So I tried to introduce now some I call it ephemeral rich [?]. To be able to give this piece of land, this tiny piece of land this type of a soil and I will give it an artistic destinate with the help of other people. And it's artistic, it's aesthetic, it's political, it's a social comment. It's many things at the same time. It's quite hybrid. I think it's quite hybrid, but political is I guess, an aspect of it.

Woman: What would you think slow art could mean?
Bart: What it could mean is that the result that a piece of work emerges very slowly, obeying to time patterns that are far away from human, or maybe more like invisible time schemes and patterns. For example, natural patterns and that throughout time the work emerges and this time can be one year, it can be 10 years. I have worked in India that is not I cannot see it myself because how I sow it because of the movement of the Brahmaputra river in the north of India. Only because of the movement of this river on an old abandoned ferry, my work is being made and the work is aesthetically changing all the time. And its relation to the city is changing all the time but this really is only visible over time and I don t control this and not controlling it is not a pre-condition but in this case I don t control it and don t even have the budget now to ask someone to visualize the movement but this is an example I think of slow work.

Woman: Is it, now you mentioned the time aspect, Bart: Yeah.

Woman: is it for you mainly about time, slow art?
Bart: No, no it's not only time, no. In my case it's related to space, place and time. These three together creates the aspect of slowness. I think, yeah, and it can happen in the digital world as well. It can be very constructed, so it can be a man made thing that you make time and space, man made, digitally made that emerges also like just over time. So it's not only as I said, natural but, or it doesn t have to be natural it's just a, yeah.

Woman: You are writing within the open house process a slow manifesto. Bart: Mm hmm.

Woman: Do you think it's a good idea? Is it necessary?
Bart: But I mean when I was reading already the short description, it made me continue reading, so if something tells me that it's worthwhile doing it, yes. I also know that defining all the time has its dangers but I love language, so disconnection of words with electrical connection obviously did something. It produced more connections in my head and that feels like a small moment of refreshment in my head and I like those moments. So I am curious to see what would come out. I was a bit surprised also to see it. Of course, since we work a lot with food we know of course the slow food movement and of course it's a moment and you need, or you can expect the slow art to pop up as well.So I m very triggered. I m curious, I will observe with pleasure what's coming from that yes.

Woman: I also asked the question of the time aspect because the lead for instance with slow food it's about a certain quality that's made possible because of the time. How would you see it in art? Can you relate it but different, I suppose.
Bart: Yeah, I m sorry that I have to give examples of things that I know, but I think it's the only grounded thing I can say about this but when I see what I said before that for my work lab the test where food is the major component the very slow processes involved and also people tell me afterwards that it's only that makes them understand what this actually is about. I don t explain why or what from whatsoever. I give some context I give some tools and in the end they have some understanding apparently or they I don t even know if it's correct or not. That's probably not so important but I do know that this slowly working is very important.I was invited to show my thing, like brief presentation that I was doing and I refused. I m not interested in doing this myself. I m only interested in doing this together with other people and in the process because of the process that is for our speedy minds this is slow, only in this touching, in this smelling, all these senses only can really come to be if you give this time. And I work a bit with some specific colors and some specific set up at tables but that's another thing but and interaction between the peoples becomes much more intimate, they get to know one another. But there's also time it's not speed-dating or something they talk also about other things and there's also laughter because if you re being stupid a bit and childish when they do what they have to do and this opens up things and this is quite slow. It's five or six hours is a minimum but I ve done it two or three days and those of course are the most interesting ones. And in the end, you know a bit that this is a work actually that this is not over and that's why also don t call this a work shop, or something. It's not about that, but only in this doing and giving and allowing this space and time and it's also a way of mental recalibration, a way of resetting the mind, yeah, this is a pre-condition otherwise you do not understand I think what I m doing. Although I now re-use the pictures of the transformational moment but that is something else. I needed this other work to be able to get to that face, actually.

Woman: Okay so I would like to thank you for the interview.

  • interview_bartaku_open_house.txt
  • Last modified: 2012-04-27 13:51
  • by nik