During ARTVILNIUS’16 art fair, which will take place from 9-12 June at Litexpo exhibition centre (Vilnius, Lithuania), virtual contemporary art platform Art-Cart will present works by the Dutch artist Guda Koster. The stand will exhibit not only photographs by the artist but also a cycle of live sculptures “Overheard at the Vilnius Art Fair”. During this performance, the audience will hear three sculptures in conversation about what it means to be a sculpture.
Koster’s works are created in parallels of time, space and textile. Her installations often consist of a variety of textile items, such as clothing and interior accents – wallpaper, curtains, carpets and so on. Koster uses fabrics, colours and patterns that underline the codes and meanings conveyed by our choice of clothing. Often her starting point is the material and its properties that are later conveyed in coloured photographs.
Live sculptures are a rare form of art in Lithuania and across the world. They are often carried out by a group of people or one person where the body becomes a form to express an idea. Unlike conventional art objects, which viewers can explore at any time, a living sculpture is instantaneous and the relationship between viewer and performer are highly important, even crucial.
Koster treats the body as a basic sculptural material, which is always impersonal and the face remains hidden. However, in the relationship between scenography and character dressed in costume indications of identity, social status and interaction within the social environment are created. Her works are full of everyday parallels, mild social criticism, irony and humour. The artist enjoys playing with illusion and contrast between the visible and the invisible. Invisible faces, hidden behind small houses, geometric forms or certain social or religious signs, erase the boundaries between people and context, create mystery and fuel the desire to know more, making her art a universal language.
Koster lives and works in Amsterdam, where she also teaches sculpture at a private school. She often presents works in the Netherlands and abroad. Although her main field is sculpture, she is also the initiator of community-based projects, site-specific installations and her photographs are mainly presented at exhibitions and art fairs. In 2015, Koster participated in Kaunas Biennial, where she presented a personal project entitled “Made in Kaunas”. Whilst in Lithuania the artist created a site-specific installation at the former textile factory “Drobė” as well as collaborating on a dance performance with dance theatre “Aura”.
Interview with the artist:
Guda Koster is a Dutch artist who creates living sculptures and performances, which the photographs are the results of. Koster’s works are created in parallels of time, space and textile. Her installations often consist of a variety of textile items such as clothing and various interior accents – walls, curtains, carpets and so on. In her works Koster uses fabrics, colours and patterns that underline the codes and meanings our clothing conveys.
How would you describe your works?
I make installations, sculptures and photographs in which clothing plays an important part. Clothing doesn’t just have a function but also conveys a message. In our everyday lives we communicate our identity and social position primarily by means of our clothing. Clothing can be seen as a visual art form that expresses the way we see ourselves and our relationship with the world around us.
What themes are you interested in exploring in your works?
I have a lot of books on clothing: not just on fashion but also on functional clothing like company uniforms, folk dresses, ritual cloths and of course books on other artists who work with textiles. Daily life, identity and transforming the human body are important themes in my work. A work may begin with the pattern of a fabric found on the market or it may start with an idea.
What techniques do you use?
I always sew the clothing myself and those will then be part of an installation or sculpture. I may also build a set, dress myself and photograph myself in the set with the self-timer. I use fabrics, colours, patterns and new cuts to underline the codes and meanings clothing conveys.
On the website you present a series of photographs. Can you comment on them?
In these photographs I am often ‘invisibly’ playing the leading role, dressed in self-made outfits, often photographed against a patterned background. The work looks professional and serious, but it is humorous as well. In the work Twins the pattern of the fabric is transformed into the windows of a skyscraper and in the work Snowwhite a furry coat is turned into an animal. You can see the photographs as little stories.
Your interest in fashion, interior design and architecture are evident in your works. What connects you to these disciplines?
You can also mention theatre, but the connection is the use of textiles and the relation people have to their surroundings. The clothed human figure becomes an integral part of a space or environment. I am inspired by daily life, but I exaggerate it or I give it a humorous twist.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am working on something I have never done before. Fellow artist Jan Theun van Rees (www.onewallaway.com) has made the book „Hidden stories“. During the last ten years he has been photographing important cultural buildings in Amsterdam (Stedelijk Museum, the Rijksmuseum, the Amsterdam Jewish Museum, Theatre Carre, etc.) during renovation. Not all of these photos are displayed in the book. He invited me and some other artists to choose one of those ‘leftovers’.
I have chosen one of a stripped room in the Stedelijk Museum. He prints it for me in the format of 3 x 2 meters and that will be the background for me to develop a new work. I can do with the photograph whatever I want. I have always built my own set and I am curious how my work will function with this illusionistic background that is not my own: it will bring other problems to solve and hopefully new ideas.
Thank you for your time.
More information here. Photographs courtesy of the artist.