This new series, COLLECTIBLE In-Depth, unveils the backstage of contemporary creation. Tackling various topics from personal designer processes to the position of collectible design on the global design market, COLLECTIBLE In-Depth offers different views to suit all tastes. Today we speak with Ief Spincemaille of Atelier Ief Spincemaille.
COLLECTIBLE: What are the key questions you ask yourself before starting to conceptualise a new piece?
Ief Spincemaille: I am active in different fields with different media: visual art, media art, design, theatre, performance, ...). I consider myself as a post-media artist for whom any form can be recruited in the service of a general conception. This general conception in my work is about our relation to the other, the unknown and the sublime and the processes and situations of change, instability and uncertainty that these relations evoke.
When I invent new relational projects for the public space, such as the 60-metre-long Rope project with which I am travelling around the world with, I always link back to an existing methodology and the related questions and design frameworks. Is the object recognisable and unrecognisable at the same time? Does it have enough impact to install a state of instability and not-knowing in a real context? Is it modular enough and can users easily appropriate it....
In contrast, when I develop new work, in the isolation of my studio, I am guided primarily by what things and materials say and tell me. I ask no questions or requirements of the objects, I loop what they have to say and I am fully immersed in the process of things becoming what they are. But also here at a certain moment I always ask myself the question: what does it tell and does it add to the above mentioned general conception of my work?
"Everyday natural phenomena like nightfall, the colour of the sky, the intensity of sunlight. [...] They are the invisible backdrop of our daily activities. But if you stand still and focus your attention on it, it becomes something sublime."
C: Where do you take your inspiration from?
IS: Nature. Everyday natural phenomena like nightfall, the colour of the sky, the intensity of sunlight. I love the closeness of those phenomena, we are so familiar with them that they are almost invisible. They are the invisible backdrop of our daily activities. But if you stand still and focus your attention on it, it becomes something sublime.
With my relational project, I dive into the lives of people and things. When you dive into someone's life you discover there as much depth, vastness and otherness as when you look at nature.
I have a dark view of the world we live in. I swing back and forth between optimism, zest for life and a need to connect with people and things and be in the world. But everything seems to take place in a world where our relationship with nature, our bodies and each other is becoming complex and under pressure. I hope my work shows something of that, too.
A fascination with nature and people against the backdrop of a world that seems to be slowly unravelling nightmarishly. Something like this.
C: Can you brieﬂy describe your process?
IS: My design process is moving back and forth between two forces and attention states. On the one hand, a kind of centrifugal attention, a chaotic wonder for everything around me. On the other, a centripetal attention. A returning to yourself. Reflecting, contemplating and ordering. Why does this fascinate me? What does it say to me? How can I tease out this image so that it makes the initial wonder stronger and purer? It is a dynamic that plays out throughout the entire design process. Without the first there is no inspiration, enlightenment or creation, without the latter the inspiration never takes concrete form.
C: What have you been up to recently? What are the next projects/exhibitions you wish to highlight?
IS: In spring I will present a new project at INAE (Montevideo, Uruguay) and Festival de Marseille (France). This year I am finishing my doctorate in the arts. Every doctorate involves a public defence. The public aspect of this defence, as something that is for all, is to be taken with a large grain of salt: it takes place in specialised institutions, the audience is mainly white and the defence is an intellectual activity that takes place between university graduates.
With this project, I am taking the notion of "public" to the ground. Summarised in 45 simple theses, printed on as many different types of play-balls (very small, very large, all colours!), I will travel the world with my PhD. For 7 days I stay with the play-balls in 1 location and interact with them in context. I will also bring a blank book, consisting of 45 blank pages.
I draw people's attention to the fact that these are not play-balls but carriers on which propositions are printed, and that on each page of the blank book I want to create an illustration for each proposition, with people, things and processes that I find locally. After my 7-day stay, I will give a lecture of my PhD, using the 45 illustrations created locally.
Although this project builds on the methodology I developed with Rope (disrupting spaces and installing uncertainty, using objects that are simultaneously recognisable and strange, ... ) projects like this are a leap into the unknown. Everything is live, and unlike a theatre performance, there is no rehearsal.
About Atelier Ief Spincemaille
The Belgian visual artist Ief Spincemaille's artistic journey spans visual art, design, media art, photography and performance. Spincemaille succeeds in combining technique and poetry with a strongly committed social practice. He creates visual work about natural phenomena, perception instruments that connect with media art and visual performance projects with a strong social component. The latter make use of monumental objects such as a disproportionate rope (ROPE), a modular sail (THE PLAY) and temporary workstations (MUSTER STATION). With these sculptures Spincemaille investigates how the work of art can acquire meaning by temporarily connecting it to a community.
Portrait of Ief Spincemaille