Rose Eken Interview - Unveiling the Mystery of an Art Studio as a Center of Attention and Fascination
Rose Eken is an artist fascinated by space. For her, all places and spaces lay somewhere between the memory of the past and the aspiration of what lies next. The artist is fascinates by the projection of our memories into things that we are being presented with in our everyday life. It is this relationship between the space and the surrounding objects that as she believes, makes us unique and shapes our identity.
Rose Eken has developed an interest in music early in her life. Her mother was an opera singer teacher and at the age of 16, Rose left school to work as a stage technician. Simultaneously she was creating light designs for various Punk and Rock bands from the Copenhagen underground music scene. Her love for music has set the tone for a lot of projects she has undergone in her career including Punk-inspired photography and Rock and Roll ceramic miniatures. But now the Danish artist looks closer to home and finds inspiration in her art atelier.
Tableau, her latest solo show brings a realistic portrayal of an artist studio into the space of V1 Gallery in Copenhagen. The artist removes the vail of mystery surrounding the artist studios whose secrecy she comperes to alchemist workshops. There’s a feeling of intimacy surrounding the exhibition as Rose Eken enters into her fellow artists’ studios to recreate and display the working environment of an artist.
From Backstage Rooms to Alchemist Workshops
Widewalls: Many of your previous projects dealt with Punk and Rock and Roll music. What attracted you to these music genres?
Rose Eken: Basically I’m interested in the notion of space and how we perceive the spaces and the object that surrounds us. Working as a stage technician, behind the scene, made me understand or notice the nature of these types of spaces. They are made for an audience and when the audience is not there the space sort of hovers. It is suspended in time, somewhere in between what has happened and what will happen. This fascinates me. This is what is the core of what I do. All places and spaces are really this, somewhere between the memory of and the aspiration of what lies next.
It is very much the notion between public and private understanding and recollection which fascinates me and music is a mirror of this notion. Nothing like music hits you directly emotionally and yet also very literally physically. We so want to believe that that front singer is singing this particular love song specifically to you. Or you have the experience that he or she has put in words the way you feel. This is very intimate and a private experience. Yet at the same time you can stand among 30.000 people and everyone is singing along to the same song or jumping up and down what ever the music might be. This is a very collective experience but you still believe that the singer is singing this song just to you. This balance between the private and the collective experience and comprehension of our navigation in the world is very much at the core of our existence or at the core of what we believe shapes our individual identity.
WW: Why did you choose art studio as the main topic of your upcoming exhibition?
RE: Well, there are just as many gadgets in the art world as there is in the music world! So lots to re-render! No really, I think I just wanted to turn my gaze closer to home. And the artist studio is just as (if not more) romanticized than any backstage room. Or at least it goes on a hell of a lot longer in art history. Basically the artist studio has been a center of attention and fascination. The artist studio is like the alchemist workshop, mysterious and fascinating. This is where the magic happens, where the suffering artist is contemplating all the sorrows of life. This is where the genius is at work. But really when you work in one every day it’s actually not that interesting at all. It’s just where you work and make things happen your way.
With the Little Help from Fellow Artists
WW: How long did the correspondence with other artists last? How much did their feedback affect your original exhibition concept?
RE: That varied quite a lot. With some I haven’t had a long correspondence at all. They just sent me a picture. Others engaged more, or had many more questions or concerns about what I was doing and why. It is definitely very much entering a private sphere when entering someone else’s work space and I didn’t want to step on anybody’s toes. It is the one and only place to be yourself with what you do. But it varies a lot, how the individual artist create this space around them or inhabits it. For some, it’s very related to their practice, to their manner of working, to the actual physical space. To others this has no importance whatsoever. Their feedback didn’t change my concept at all. But it has very much been an important factor in the overall look and feel of the final show, as it has determined which particular objects it would consist of.
WW: After exploring all of their studios have you made any changes to you own working space?
RE: No, why should I? I have my particularities just as they have theirs. And mine works for me. But I do feel, at least with some of the artist I have corresponded with, that they have allowed me an insight into their way of working as I have studied the various details of the space and tools that surround them every day. Spaces I have never been to myself and I now feel I know them very well. I have noticed things that they might not even themselves be consciously aware of, but still stuff that have some relation to how they think and work.
Ceramic Recreations: So Close to the “Real Thing”
WW: You involved ceramic recreations of objects from your own studio in Tableau exhibition. Could you name your favorite item both in your own studio and your favorite item in the exhibition?
RE: I guess the thing I like from my own studio is my “tapetowers” as I prefer to name them. I have this love of tape and have always had stacks of different kinds standing on my desk. They are quite sculptural and colorful things, very mundane objects we all know, but stacked like this they form this strange abstract color formation. I like that. But naming one from the show… Gosh, that is a bit like saying which one of your children you like the best! Yes of course, I have preferences but I couldn’t name one in particular because if I do I will think of another the same instance. Like, I love the sink, but I also love the milk carton then there are coat hangers, the jacket, the skateboard, the “tapetowers”, the plate palettes, the paint tubes, not to forget the rubber gloves or the cactus. I could go on.
WW: My favorite item is Jack in the Music Box. Why do artists keep non-work-related things in their studios?
RE: Yes, I admit, I do love that too. I guess that was very much my incentive for making it in the first place or deciding to make exactly that from the overwhelming array of materials and objects Jonathan Meese made me choose from. Go to a random office building and you are most likely to find something that is not work related in each office like a picture of the kids a Rubik’s cube or a cactus or something. Why should an artist work space be so different?
WW: You’ve worked with a variety of mediums in your career. Why did you choose ceramic for Tableau exhibition?
RE: For this show I wanted to create something that seemed almost impossible, something totally over the top. I also wanted the weight and the presence of the object and clay, so ceramics seemed most suited for that. My vision was to create something that was very close to the real thing and yet at the same time so obviously NOT the real thing at all! I love this collapse, reality that brakes down before you. We have this, call it a gift, as humans to dream or to project memories and associations onto what we look at. We compensate for all the glitches, the wobbliness and uneven straight lines in these ceramic objects. We want to believe that what we see is the real thing because it is so familiar to us. Basically we subconsciously overlook that it’s a fake and thus it becomes much more about the essence of the object itself rather than just a mirror or exact replica of the world.
Studio Talks and Studio Memories
WW: During Tableau exhibit you will participate in Studio Talks with writer Jens-Peter Brask. Have you read his “Brask Studio Visit” book and if so could you share your impressions about it?
RE: Well, Brask Studio Visit book itself doesn’t have much text at all. It primarily consists of pictures from Jens-Peter’s countless studio visits with artist from all over the world. So in that light his book has been a great source of inspiration and has helped to extend my own research.
WW: Artists often feel special connection to their studios. What are your prevailing feelings and favorite memories related to your art studio?
RE: Extreme peace of mind while an explosion happens.
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Featured Images: Tableau Exhibition Installment and Ceramic Pieces by Rose Eken, photos by Jan Soendergaard, courtesy of Rose Eken and V1 Gallery