On August 25, we will host a beautiful en plein air concert, “Mahler Remixed”, with Christian Fennesz and Lillevan. After Fennesz’s interview, we’ve had the great chance of an intense chat with Lillevan, and here’s his inspiring answers. Lillevan is a visual artist specializing in animation, video and experimentation with different mediums. He has collaborated with many artists coming from disciplines that are very different from each other; from lyrical opera to film editing, from minimal techno to more experimental electronica. His live performances and his works have been performed and exhibited throughout the world in many of music and visual arts festivals, private galleries and museums.
“A fascinating characteristic of classical music is the effect of hearing new details and elaborations each time one listens.”
-Hello Lillevan, Can you tell us a bit about how the project Mahler Remixed came together? What’s its origin? How was it born?
The Mahler Remixed project was commissioned as part of the Mahler Celebrations in Austria. It has been a welcome opportunity for Fennesz and me to take our collaboration to a next level, playing and improvising around the work of a fascinating and inspiring composer.
-Is classical music part of your artistic background?
I grew up with all styles of music in our house. I have always been curious about all genres of music and art, and have a very inclusive approach to genres and styles, rather than an exclusive view. A fascinating characteristic of classical music is the effect of hearing new details and elaborations each time one listens, whether days or years apart.
-You have performed and collaborated with many artists from a wide range of genres, from minimal electronic music to opera. Which is your approach to such different styles and artistic sensitivities? Do you try each time to reconfigure your aesthetic according to each artist you’re working with and to his/her style or do you think more important to consider every single collaboration as an opportunity to thoroughly explore and then communicate your own personal artistic research?
I instigate and accept invitations to new collaborations based on their potential to try new approaches, learn new ideas and concepts, be drawn out of a comfort zone. Of course, the personal aesthetic DNA will shine through, no matter how different the projects are, but a collaboration or production must carry the promise of a development from previous work. A collaboration must always result in a performance greater than the sum of its parts, not merely a presentation of previously manufactured elements.
-You wrote that after studying film and film theory and being very active in the film scene, at a certain point in your career you started to grow disillusioned with the “lack of adventure” in the film world. Do you still think much of the current film world is lacking this “vitality”? Do you know some recent more experimental and non-narrative works which are on the contrary built around some interesting ideas?
Disillusionment is usually the starting point for one’s own new adventure. In the years you mention in your question: access to what else was happening in the world was obviously more limited than it is now. Thus, today we have access to creations and ideas from the whole globe and I see many visual & technical experiments.
I still hunger for more abstract emotional and more philosophical experiments.
Too much moving imagery today is created expressly and specifically for the existing channels of distribution, despite the techniques of creation being so much further developed today than ever before in the history of cinema.
-Does film history still remain a source of inspiration for your art?
Yes, absolutely, but similarly: film theory and regional cinema are important sources of inspiration and stimulation.
“A whole new world can be created during the performance, and then disappears and remains only in the memory & emotions of those who witnessed the show.”
-How would you define the idea of the “musicality of the imagery” which is the focus of your artistic research?
Quite simply: when an image or moving image creates and causes a sensory and emotional impact comparable to the impact which music and composition can have on us.
We find that a flock of birds and a violent event can also exhibit musicality of imagery.
-How important is improvisation in your work?
Very important. Improvisation is live composition in real time – with an audience. Improvisation is my main instrument and my passion, especially in dialogue with a great iimproviserlike Fennesz. A whole new world can be created and formed during the performance, and then disappears and remains only in the memory & emotions of those who witnessed the show.
-Which role is played by technology? Is it a simple and “neutral” mean to create your work or also one of the topics of your artistic investigation?
A very broad question; technology is never “neutral”.
Having also studied the history of science at university – alongside my study of film theory and politics – I am very interested in technology, in its evolution and its effects on our species; and in the possibilities it affords me to create new art. In essence: I enjoy experimenting and using new technologies in order to create new forms of visual poetry; I am not interested in art which merely displays technical possibilities, aka proof of concept.
-What are the projects you’re currently working on?
A selection of current things:
“Crowds and Power” with Morton Subotnick and Joan La Barbara, based on Elias Canetti’s book and current political events.
“Silver Apples Revisited – 50th Anniversary” with Alec Empire and Morton Subotnick.
New work for 2018 with Fennesz.
“Prometheus Institute” – Research into the work of the Prometheus Institute in Kazan, Russia, for exhibitions and live shows.
“Diversidad” – Montevideo, Uruguay Nov 2018, a special solo performance investigating concepts and experiences surrounding the topic of diversity – social and natural.
“Kloing!” – editing the DVD version of my collaboration with Austrian composer Olga Neuwirth.
“Glacier Music” – continuing the platform for art around the sounds of the glaciers, a festival of which I am artistic director.
Interview curated by Paolo Ligutti.