It's LIQUID - Interview: Christine Istad
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Christine Istad works with photography, video and installation. She has participated in several solo and group exhibitions in both Norway and abroad. She has exhibited at Liquid Borders in Italy, KUBE Art Museum, Henie Onstad Art Center, Oslo Art Center and Landmark Bergen Art Hall. Istad has made a series of public site-specific projects such as several landscape projects at Henie Onstad Art Center, DeFence and Traveling ‘SUN’ in Oslo. She has participated at the regional exhibitions and her works have been purchased by KUBE Art Museum, Prime Ministers Office and LUAG Collection (USA). She has received her education from Westerdals School of Communication and Parsons School of Design in New York. Istad has received a series of project grants, artist stipends and support from the government of Norway.

Luca Curci – When did you start practicing art and why?
Christine Istad – Since I was a child I’ve been interested in drawing and painting. My plan was always to become an artist. I’ve never considered any other profession. Part of the story is that my father is an artist. At school I was always happy in my arts classes. I was never bored. At 15 I bought my first camera, and started taking photographs and using my father’s dark room equipment. I have always been working with art. My first solo show was in 1998 with abstract art photography.

L.C. – Can you talk about your artistic work? Which are your inspirations?
C. I – The camera is my tool for finding painterly motifs: I like the fact that they are based on reality. That’s the difference between painting and photography: in the photo, painterly aspects can be discovered through the camera lens; in the reality, in the excerpts. You just need to discover them. My pictures, photography as well as paintings, often spring from a discovery of something striking in my immediate surroundings. The important things are rhythm, depth, surface, color harmony and the balance between forms. And I always try to move on and not repeat myself. My goal is to find the optimal motif. The photographs are straight photography, not manipulated. My videos are often about ephemeral and essential moments, and focus on details. The same goes for my photographs, where I try to present the observer with an in-depth study of small fragments of reality. Even though the videos contain a number of different themes, a recurring issue is my interest in water and fluids and with this in mind, I try to investigate the video’s formal qualities as a recorder of living images, as a “moving still frame”. Even though the motifs I use in my videos may include dynamic movements, it looks in many ways like a (moving) photograph since no new elements or incidents occur during the running-time of the video. [...]

L.C. – What are you currently working on?
C. I – The Traveling SUN is a road trip video and a site-specific project from 2012-2015 together with my American colleague Lisa Pacini. The Traveling ‘SUN’ is a glowing light sculpture, 3 m in diameter, that shifts between a wide range of warm colors. We brought ourselves from Oslo to Tromsø in wintertime and filmed the entire event. It was cold but wonderful. During the road trip, the Sun-sculpture was suspended above a flatbed trailer pulled by a truck. It stood vertically on a trailer shining all the way up towards the darkness in the north. [...] On arrival the ‘SUN’ was mounted on the second floor façade of Tromsø Center of Contemporary Art, where it remained for four months during the darkest part of the year, from November 2012 until February 2013, when the real sun came back. February 2013 the ‘SUN’ was moved on to a ship and travelled by sea all along the Norwegian west coast with M/S Nordkapp on a eight-day voyage from Tromsø to Kirkenes and finally to Bergen.[...] It made another trip by sea in September, from Bergen to London and was mounted on the façade of Dray Walk Gallery, in connection with the London Design Festival where the SUN was part of the show 100% Norway curated by Henrietta Thompson (Wallpaper) and Benedicte Sunde (The Norwegian Design Council). From October 2013 until April 2014 will the ‘SUN’ be hanging on the second floor façade of The Culture House at Rjukan. So in spring time it will be fit for travelling again. The ‘SUN’ is invited to Henie Onstad Art Center, Norway next winter. The whole journey is documented on photo and film on www.artubeart.blogspot.no. [...] I’m now on to something which I expect will be my next project. I am making abstract art works combining painting and photography. I’m currently working on a new series for a solo show next spring in Kunstgalleriet Stavanger, Norway.

L.C. – What was the best advice given to you as an artist?
C. I – Do not become an artist if you do not have to. You have to be willing to endure hardship and a constant lack of money. You must have something to say, and an inner voice and passion for art. But if you cannot stop yourself, my best advice is to be true to yourself and believe in your own way of doing art. Never give up.

L.C. – What is art for you?
C. I – An artist should have an all important idea or a sense of universality – how things relate to each other, how they fit, and how they somehow hang together. Artists are placed on the side of society and can see the world in a different way, reflect society at the micro and macro levels. Artists have the visual tool of communication. Art is my main interest and my passion. Through art I can experience something new and surprising. Whether I do it myself or experience the work of other artists. I like it when art gives me a total experience both physically and mentally.

L.C. – What do you think about International ArtExpo organization?
C. I – I like the idea that International ArtExpo is founded by a group of independent artists instead of museums and commercial galleries. It gives it more credibility. And I also think ArtExpo can be more flexible and move faster then the established art scene. It is interesting how you connect artists with festivals, institution of art and exhibition venues across the globe.

L.C. – Do you think International ArtExpo organization can represent an opportunity for artists?
C. I – Absolutely.


Hyper Modern Abstractions

ART FORUM

André Gali, September 2010

Christine Istad (b. 1963) works on the border between concrete and abstract expression. She explores photographic presence and depth in ways that recall abstract painting, yet her pictures always spring from fragments of reality.

“I was born into art. My father works with painting and woodcuts, so art has always been there. Ever since I was a child I felt I should be an artist, but it took many years and many detours before I decided it would be my career.” Istad is perhaps best known for creating colourful photographs with short focal ranges. Her motifs are often based on tight architectural structures. In all her works, vertical lines cut through the surfaces, and between these, colour harmonies can be seen and landscapes and architecture can be sensed. The pictures might call to mind abstract paintings composed with diffuse, geometrical forms.
The camera is her tool for finding painterly motifs: “I like the fact that they are based on reality,” she says. “That’s the difference between painting and photography: in the photo, painterly aspects can be discovered in the reality, in the excerpts. You just need to discover them.”
Her pictures often spring from a discovery of something striking in her immediate surroundings.
“Recently I was out walking and came across a container filled with water. The light glinting off the water refracted into rainbow colours and patterns. And in the same moment, along with the nature and the structure, painterly elements emerged. It was like everything all in one. A real kick. That’s me in a nutshell. When I’m out with my camera, I’m extremely sensitive and looking for things. This is often how my artworks emerge.”

Structures
Art historian Janicke Iversen has called Istad’s pictures “optical poetry”, describing the viewer’s encounter and consequent attempts to analyse them as “exercises in perception”. Truth be told – it is impossible to decipher the motif, but it is abundantly clear that the photographs show details of concrete landscapes, often-times urban. Istad has worked with this type of imagery for the last fourteen years. It all started when she attended a workshop in Can Serrat, Spain, and began photographing vertical lines. “In Can Serrat I became more goal-oriented in relation to what I wanted to work with, and I resolved to focus on art as a career.” Yet now with hindsight, the foundation for her practice, she realizes, extends farther back. “My father paints monumental landscapes. Perspectives. When I was a child and we went to the beach, he would stand on a hillock and paint what he saw. All the while, I was engrossed in the details of seashells and tide pools and digging in the sand. The little fragments fascinated me. And the details are still what I hunt for; structures in nature and architecture, in light and colour. The theme of my pictures is the interaction between nature and architecture, or nature and construction. I feel these things are closely connected.”

Modern and meditative
In recent years Istad has held several exhibitions of photographs from her travels in Japan. The galleries hosting these exhibitions include Gallery Semmingsen in Oslo (2009), KUBE Museum in Ålesund (2009), Kunstgalleriet (2009) and the Art Centre of Møre and Romsdal (2008), when she served as guest artist for Molde Jazz Festival. The works from these exhibitions reveal a kinship between her melange of concrete and abstract expression and the Japanese culture’s synthesis of hyper-modernity and traditional religiosity. The idea for the Japanese project emerged after an exhibition she held entitled Elevator at Henie Onstad Art Centre in 2005. She had been preparing for the exhibition for two years and had taken 700 photographs of one elevator (lift). Through a stringent selection process, she selected thirteen pictures. Working on something for such a long time engendered fascination, and she found she wanted to challenge herself by traveling somewhere to develop the concept further: “I wanted to learn more. I also thought that with my expression, which is reductive and minimalistic, or reductive and meditative, Japan might be a good place to go. The Far East already has this kind of aesthetic. It was the ideas underlying the aesthetic that I wanted to learn more about.” Istad drew up a work schedule. She would travel back and forth to Japan for three years. While there, she would visit the large cities in order to concentrate on urban Japan. At the same time, she wanted to connect with the traditional spiritual life of the country. “I had heard about Buddhist pilgrimages, going from temple to temple. Part of the project was to take that journey and get under the skin of Japanese culture and philosophy. This is hard to do in only one trip.” After receiving a grant there was no way back. Between 2006 and 2009 she took several trips to Japan.

The optimal motif
The East has been put on a shelf while Istad prepares for her exhibition at Gallery Trafo in Asker. Here she presents new works – both photographs and videos. The motifs are from Oslo, Berlin and the USA. She has hunted diligently to find her motifs, and the selection process has been stringent. “I select the motifs according to how they are mounted in relation to each other in the gallery. But it’s also important for them to function as individual artworks. They must have the qualities I seek. My thinking is probably much the same as that of a painter. The important things are rhythm, depth, surface, colour harmony and the balance between forms. And I always try to move on and not repeat myself. My goal is to find the optimal motif.”

Norwegian Artist with Japan Project at Moldejazz 2008
Christine Istad has been invited by the Norwegian Jazzfestival Moldejazz to design this years visual profile for the popular festival. Istad is originally from Molde and the festival exhibition will be her first solo exhibition in her hometown. The motif chosen for this years festival is taken from one of Istad's many trips to Japan and it shows a digital LED sign board from Tokyo.


Christines tempelvandring
Svein Bjørnerem
Romsdals Budstikke, feb. 2008

Årets festivalkunstner Christine Istad fra Molde har funnet freden i japanske templer. Nå planlegger hun en ny pilegrimsreise til øya Skikoku, der hun skal gø fra tempel til tempel. jeg skal først 2 uker pø en studiereie, deretter fortsette pilgrimsturen i november. Jeg har vørt i Japan 3 ganger til nø.
Christines kunstneriske Japan-prosjekt har tittelen øFusion East Westø og finansieres av Statens 3-ørige arbeidsstipend. Hun har vørt der tre ganger allerede, har begynt ø løre sprøket, og planlegger nø en ny fire ukers tur i november, der hun skal gø fra tempel til tempel.


ART FORUM
Hyper Modern Abstractions
André Gali, September 2010

Christine Istad (b. 1963) works on the border between concrete and abstract expression. She explores photographic presence and depth in ways that recall abstract painting, yet her pictures always spring from fragments of reality.
“I was born into art. My father works with painting and woodcuts, so art has always been there. Ever since I was a child I felt I should be an artist, but it took many years and many detours before I decided it would be my career.” Istad is perhaps best known for creating colourful photographs with short focal ranges. Her motifs are often based on tight architectural structures. In all her works, vertical lines cut through the surfaces, and between these, colour harmonies can be seen and landscapes and architecture can be sensed. The pictures might call to mind abstract paintings composed with diffuse, geometrical forms.


KUNST
På jakt etter øyeblikket
Tekst og foto: Mona Vaagan

- Helst ikke! Er svaret hennes når jeg spør om hun kan fortelle hvor hun fant motivene til fotografiene hun viste på høstens separatutstilling på Galleri Trafo i Asker. - Det var en jernbanestasjon, såpass kan jeg si. Men jeg vil ikke si for mye, for da låser jeg tilskuerens tolkning.
Separatutstillingen på Galleri Trafo var «premien» da Christine Istad, som bor på Høvik i Bærum, i 2009 ble kåret til årets kunstner i den regionale mønstringen Kunst Rett Vest. Stadig flere har de siste årene fått øynene opp for Istad. Hun har hatt separatutstilling på blant annet Henie Onstad Kunstsenter og Galleri Semmingsen. I 2008 var hun festivalkunstner under Moldejazz. To ganger, i 2004 og 2009, har hun fått Bærum kommunes kunstpris. Når jeg treffer henne, er hun i ferd med å planlegge USA-tur, som Artist in Residence i to byer på østkysten, sammen med kunstnerkollegene Lisa Pacini, Hennie Ann Isdahl og Mona K. Lalim


AFTENPOSTEN K
Bakom bildet:
Berlin #07
Historien bak et kunstverk med kunstnerens egne ord.

Arkitektur er utgangspunktet for alle mine fotografier. Jeg ønsker å vise at en bygning også kan være referanse til farge, lys, form, dybde, repetisjon og komposisjon. Denne behandlingen av de ulike bygningene skaper et abstrakt, reduktivt og ekspresjonistisk uttrykk. Med de enkle repetitive detaljene og min forkjærlighet for minimalisme ønsker jeg å gi en ny dimensjon til hvordan vi betrakter det urbane landskapet. Minimalistisk i et forsøk på å skjære inn til beinet, redusere form og innhold til enkle geometriske felt, ekspresjonistisk fordi jeg ikke klarer eller ønsker å utestenge det sansemessige og følelsesladede.