Interview with Interdisciplinary Visual Artist KristofLab
"Landscapes are transforming. The human footprint is so united with the natural environment that “untouched area” has become a separate concept, and human presence can be felt everywhere. "
As the world shifts, artists adapt as they go and with climate change being the biggest issue we face as a society today, a group of Environmental artists rise to the occasion, bringing awareness to the impact of environmental fluctuations.
One of this artist is KristofLab, who explores crossing the boundaries between art genders- working in sculpture, installation, painting and video.
In 2016, the brand term KristofLab was created, referring to his interdisciplinarity and media artworks, where he often collaborates with other artists.
Even more, KristofLab is a member of the Ziggurat Project, experimenting with various co-art collaborations, working regularly on-site-specific performances across V4 countries and Norway.
Today, KristofLab talks with us about his new project Waste and his ideas of climate awareness and art.
Can you recall the first time you knew; you would become a visual artist?
Not exactly, but it happened sometime when I was in elementary school, painting and drawing caught me. It becomes the most inspiring activity for me, everything else, the computer, the movies, the games were just recreation.
I’ve always been interested in creating something and I’ve found visual arts the most exciting tool for that.
What are your insights into the importance of art as a tool to raise awareness of social or ecological problems?
Art often deals with current problems. And one of the biggest problems of our time is the disintegration of ecological balance. Confirming the level of human impact on the environment. Clearly showing that it is much bigger and more worrying than we thought 50 years ago.
Contemporary art can draw attention to global and relevant issues. You can turn the public to a clear message.
Therefore, this kind of communication is essential, it can be outstandingly important for the environment for which the artist takes responsibility.
Regarding your last project Waste can you speak a bit about it? What are the motivations behind it and why the choice of materials?
It was exhibited within my large-scale solo exhibition ERROR. In fact, I made the first pieces of the project back in 2018.
It soon became apparent to me that this would work as an installation. For that reason, I could realize these site-specific works in my current solo exhibition.
In one of the two project rooms, I created an installation consisting of painted objects and plastic garbage, and in the other, I created a site-specific installation of objects made of fused plastic.
The amount of plastic waste, generated even in my own household, is shocking. Even though I try to avoid unnecessary plastic use, still a lot of waste is generated.
I felt compelled to make something out of it. This worthless material piqued my interest even more.
The MEADOW installation was made using only these- in fact, the artwork is thus really rubbish. This metaphysical process also attracted me, as waste is transformed into a valuable substance.
But above all, I want to draw attention to the ghost image of the fleeting imprint of our natural treasures, which now hardly exists. This is why I project natural images on these objects that mimic the appearance of undergrowth. Thus, it only evokes the beauty of nature and draws attention to the fact that soon this feeling may be so in reality.
In the paintings, the plastic thrown in evokes the situation we can see every day. And the way of painting reminiscent of Impressionism refers to the untouched nature that can still be found in the 19th century when people could still enjoy it.
Although already then they began to destroy the environment of mankind. Plastic waste applied to paintings is an imprint of humanity invading the idyllic picture. As I “spoil” my own idealized images, it similarly destroys humanity’s environment.
Why did you start producing artworks that speak of environmental Injustice?
I’ve always been interested in the circle of problems related to the environment and people. I am not only interested in the individual aspect of social problems but also the global social problems, as Human influence on nature.
In my own lifestyle, I began to focus more and more consciously on reducing waste. I also changed my eating habits, to reduce food produced by the food industry. I feel these changes have an overall positive effect on me and more importantly on my biological footprint that has decreased.
Climate change is a process that can be felt by everyone, we can only ignore it if we deny it. And this global problem has further encouraged me to create works of art that- drawing from my own experiences and thoughts- bring attention to fragile and wonderful nature and biodiversity. Humanity must become a part of it, not its exploiter.
You have said in your statement that “Art is a form of thinking”, can you elaborate on that?
Ever since the 19th century, when the aim of art ceased to be to make a painting that fulfils the customer’s wishes and became an increasingly self-expressing tool, art has gotten stronger philosophical thinking.
If the artist thinks in the language of visuality, where he shares important thoughts in which he is involved, then the way of thinking becomes a kind of form. And I think, as contemporary artists, we need to address issues that affect our age, think about them, and put our insights into whether or not it moves the viewer in some direction.
If you could choose two things to change in society, what would it be and why?
I think that to be able not to ruin the environment we need a radical life change. And this is the way of producing energy and reviewing our eating habits.
Using renewable energy sources is a big step forward but we have to keep in mind that one of the main reasons for deforestation is the production of fodder for animal husbandry. We should consciously restrain the biological footprint of our diet. Switching to meals with much more plant-based food could eliminate overfishing, deforestation, soil erosion and even a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
Nature would have the opportunity to regenerate and regain the “untouched” state that existed two or three hundred years ago and even restore diverse fauna is the largest carbon sequestration on Earth.
Have you personally been afflicted by the consequences of climate change? or do you know anyone who does?
I’m a lucky person, I don’t directly feel the weight of the effects of climate change. But I remember that about twenty years ago there was still snow in Hungary in the winter – I had to wade in it, almost to my knees. Now, this is no longer the case, and these facts are experienced by everyone. The temperature and the alternation of the seasons have been upset.
Fortunately, no one in my immediate environment has been more affected than that. Although that is only because I was born in Europe and, to say, I am not involved in agriculture. My dad, for example, noticeably finds in his rural gardening that the plants no longer tolerate this kind of changes well.
In Europe, desertification is not a huge problem, but other continents are struggling with it, which is the reason for the rapid change in the environment.
What is the biggest challenge you believe we face as individuals and Environmental artist navigating the current state of things?
Uncertainty. What does the future hold? The fact that we don’t know what will happen in 30 years and we don’t even know what we can actually do as an artist.
Do you have any new projects coming up you would like to share?
Not so new, but an ever-evolving project, the Wrong Data series, which deals with humanity as a concept of error in a more classical sense. It has a stronger social charge – urbanization, alienation, the relationship between humanity and nature, and the problems of the impact of virtual life – social media.
Here, the error that slips into the process interests me, which is why I chose Glitch and the wrong JPG files as a starting point.
Where can we find you and see your projects?
You can find out about the latest news and events via Instagram and, of course, through my Facebook page. And on my website, I constantly upload the already finished works and the most important events and news.
Any statement you would like to leave as a last note?
Perhaps my artistic statement and CV or this:
WASTE by Luca Cserhalmi – esthete
Landscapes are transforming. The human footprint is so united with the natural environment that “untouched area” has become a separate concept, and human presence can be felt everywhere. The burningly pressing problems of pollution and unmanageable waste production are forcing humanity to redesign, where care must become the norm instead of one-time convenience.
This line of thought appears in KristofLab’s PolyMER series. Classical paintings in their style evoke the era of “plain-air” painting when the painter could still retreat into untouched nature. However, KristofLab’s waste applications dispel the former idyll, cover the image, frustrate and confuse. While the undisturbed landscape, arranged in the plane of the canvas, is the embodiment of an abstract, distant world, the trash used in the works erupt from the two dimensions and are placed in the space of reality.
In the installation belonging to the PolyMER series, nature is merely presented as an artificially preserved image, a once documented data that tries to give the appearance of reality. In the work criticizing the tendencies and possibilities of the present and at the same time of the future, nature is present only as a mild appearance, a semi-unrecognizable reflection.
Before the change of regime, I was born in 1988 in Győr. Since 2016, I have been consciously using the term KristofLab as a kind of brand referring to interdisciplinarity and my media art activities. I often work in a team or create collaborations with other artists. I experiment with the possibility of crossing boundaries between art genres. I graduated from the Hungarian University of Fine Arts with a degree in graphic arts (2012) and then as a teacher of fine arts (2013). In 2011 I studied with an Erasmus scholarship in Dresden (Hochschule für Bildende Künste Dresden). Between 2019 and 2020, I participated in the Budapest Art Mentor program, which is Hungary’s gap-filling training. I am a member of the Ziggurat Project which experiments with various co-art collaborations. Since 2015, I have been working with them regularly, mainly on site-specific performances across V4 countries and Norway.
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