Artist Interviews 2017 – Ivan Juarez
Hey Ivan can you pretend to be Pablo? ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑
The following interview was recorded and transcribed by me. The words are as original as possible and so more like spoken English, rather than written English.
Many thanks to the artists for sparing their time and thoughts for this little project. Much appreciated!
What made you apply for the Kamiyama Artist in Residence program?
Ok.. Erm.. Since I was a kid one of the countries I wanted to visit was Japan. Through my artwork I had the opportunity to visit some countries through my artwork and I just found this (Kamiyama) residency open call so this was the perfect plan to know the culture of Japan with this artistic project. So, I did apply for the residency and fortunately I got it. It has been one of my best experiences.
Describe your work in one word.
Yeah.. Ehh.. Yeah.. I think I have.. two words but I don't know if this is OK? It's dialogue with nature.
Do you have a special method for generating your ideas?
Actually for me it's very unexpected. When I came here, for example, it was always a surprise in the way of what I am going to see. Even if you learn a bit before coming here to Kamiyama, the first experience is the most important experience for me. So.. when I do these kind of projects that are interventions in site specific places I listen. During my work I try to listen to what nature is saying and so in that way I try to answer in a very quiet way. It's how to have a dialogue with nature. Sometimes I wait to see what nature is telling me. I just follow this instinct and if I try to go further by myself it is not good, right? So I have to wait on what nature (or the place, the landscape or the environment) is telling me in that moment.
What is the most frightening experience you have ever had?
You mean here? Or in my life? Actually, I'm scared of something that I can't control. You know these kind of things like accidents or some kind of.. something that doesn't depend on you. Nothing happened to me, yet, but these kind of things that happen in seconds, could change your life forever. I'm always afraid of it but I have to prepared for it right? I mean this is what is scary for me. These things that happen in normal life but can transform you. I'm not afraid of airplanes: I'm in an airplane and I know something could happen. But something unknown.. I am scared of. A surprise.
What is your favourite Japanese food?
Ok.. I'm not good at the words for food so I am always pointing at what I want. The food that I enjoy most is this restaurant very close from here (Hidenoya) run by this old lady and she's very nice with me and even though we can't speak with each other she always asks me about Mexico and she was worried about the news.. So for me, the experience of eating there is an experience in my heart. Even though I didn't know the food, she always gave me something I enjoy.
What do you enjoy most about creating art?
Hmm.. You mean here or in general? Well first art has provided me with the opportunity to travel around. It's something only really rich people could do with their own money and for me, my work is something I can do everywhere and I am learning everyday something from these different cultures. So for me, what's really important is how creating is a way of getting knowledge. It's a way of constant research. It's an open door that always gives me different opportunities and I try to follow it.
What does Kamiyama lack? What does it need?
Especially.. I was reflecting about Strijdom right? He just came back, 14 years ago, everyone was asking him what's the changes in Kamiyama? He was reflecting about things.. One thing I liked about his response was the theme of nature, not human beings. So I think Kamiyama, I'd like it that it doesn't transform a lot. I think it's something unique in the way of the society. In the last few decades it's transformed – the city, the society, but there is a dialogue with nature and I hope it doesn't change in a way. I hope it doesn't lose this spirit. This spirit is very delicate and if a lot of influences come it may lose it's way, it's spirit: historical, cultural and everything. So I wouldn't change anything, I mean everything is in a constant change but I hope Kamiyama could contain this spirit.
How did you discover your passion for art?
Actually, what's nice is that I didn't discover in a way.. I've always had this passion. I didn't discover it suddenly like 'Oh! I'm going to be an artist!' It's a vision that has been growing. This vision, through my work, combine it with my thoughts and they can be together. For me, it's a passion and something that I really enjoy and I don't consider it as work. This has been part of my life before I was creating but it was a way of thinking.
Do you think you have a particular technique/style?
Well actually I cannot go and do what I cannot do so I focus on what I know how to do. Use my knowledge. For instance, I studied architecture so I have that way of thinking, thinking about architecture. But I was disappointed in architecture and then I went furthere and made art and landscape part of architecture, so I try to combine these disciplines: landscape, architecture and art together so they can merge in the one.. not discipline, but the one way of thinking.
Do you find art difficult?
You mean to make it? To understand it or..? It depends. Could be very easy in a way, but I think what I really like most is something very difficult, you see it very easy. When I look at gymnasts, for example, and I see how they dance and it looks so easy I know there is a lot of work behind it. But when you see it, you see a connection between this artistic way of doing things and I see artwork in the same way. Maybe behind something there is a lot of work, a lot of thinking, but when you see it it is something that is simple.
If you were a giant for one month, what would you do?
Oh my God! I would like the vision you know. I don't know if I would do something but I would look at lots. I'm always fascinated to climb towers and trees to see something higher so I'd like to be a giant and walk around and look at everything I can. I know there are a lot of drones (photographic tools) and it's fashionable now but as a giant I'd like to see how everything looks. It would be fascinating for me.
How do you feel in Kamiyama?
You know, I have a lot of happiness here. When I am by the river, going to wherever I am going, I say to myself 'I am happy!' I had a lot of happy moments. Happiness is not always constant, it's not always like that, but here I've had many happy moments together in a very short period!
How would you like your art to relate to Kamiyama and its residents?
Actually, when I came here I didn't have any idea what to do and I was thinking of making something easy to do in a way, more personal; something I can do myself without any help or support. But when I came here I noticed that the people wanted to help; they wanted to be part of the process. So, I wanted to see what these people could do, what was their expertise. For example, my (Kamiyama) father, Mori san, his expertise is construction: wood and everything. So I was trying to think of something that we could have a dialogue with, even though we don't speak the same language! So in this way, my last project was happened. I wasn't thinking of doing something permanent but it became more permanent even if it was a lot more work – not only for me, but for them also! So in a way, the work became no longer mine. It became more from them in a way. They took all the plans and the techniques and they were giving instructions so in the end I was thinking 'I'm just part of it and I will follow'. The process was for me, learning a lot, especially from Mori san. And now that the work is there, like today, some people came and had lunch there and were saying that they want to do a tea party there. So I think it could be a place for Kamiyama people to experience nature in a different way.
What is the worst thing you’ve ever made?
Wow.. Many! I have a done a lot of bad things!! I am a very bad person! If you put them all together you will say you're a monster!! I don't have something specific but I think I'm not always very well behaved!
What do you think about this ham:
I've never seen this before. What do I think? I don't know! I think.. It's.. Our way of expression, our way of thinking about food is now crazy. We are becoming like something crazy. I think it's funny for kids, yeah. I would love it if I was a kid. Your son would probably enjoy it right?!
(I wouldn't feed him this!)
What do you dislike about your work?
Maybe it is very selfish if I say that.. Maybe what I dislike about my work is that I want always more. In a way like, it's not enough for me. Not being in this rush and always doing more would be nicer. But maybe, sometimes you feel pressure to do it in with this spirit of doing more and rushing. Without this I think it would be nicer. But sometimes you feel this pressure because everything is moving quickly and the idea of making a lot and showing a lot.. Sometimes I want to say 'Stop. OK. You've done enough'. You don't have to do things at the same speed. It's something I dislike, that I'm always trying to do more..
What is the worst piece of advice you have ever been given?
'I told you'. When someone tells you 'I told you'.
What is the best smell?
The best smell? Actually, now I am doing research about the smells of nature. I went to a store where they make things from wood in a very artisanal way and the lady, the owner, she gave me this bowl that was from the heart of this very big tree and it's very smelly. I will take this with me because it is the smell of Kamiyama. It has a strong smell of forests and this could remind me. You know smelling is the best way to remember. So if I want to remember these moments I've had here, I will smell this (bowl) and I can remember.
Who inspires you?
Many people. Not only people that I know, but many people. Probably my grandmother is the person that inspires me. She is very tenacious; she's 94 and still working and still very clever and like a pillar of the family. Also, it's very common to say this but, nature always inspires me.
Can you describe Kamiyama in one word?
How do you say.. when you open your arms before you hug? It's welcoming but it's more than.. it's this process before having a hug. The people here don't hug but.. I don't know the word. Something like 'open arms'. It's two words!
If you lived in Kamiyama forever what would you do?
I think many artists think about it right? And today I was thinking what should I do if I was living in Kamiyama. Of course, I wouldn't focus on just artistic projects, I would focus on these strategies I told you about at the beginning: how can Kamiyama develop in a way. If new people come, how to develop an economical environmental strategy. Something like this.
How do you feel when you show your work to the public?
Yeah, very shy. I don't like it. It's something that.. I just want to run away and hide somewhere, behind something! I don't feel good. Actually, when it was the (KAIR) opening, there was this big storm and we couldn't go to my place (Ivan's sculpture site). In a way I thought this is good because I don't have to be there! I think after (the opening) they can discover the artwork in a more personal way right? As you did. You went after the opening and you can see and experience by yourself. Sometimes I don't want to describe what's my idea!
Do you have a weakness?
Now, in this period we did a lot of physical work and I was working together with people who are 70 years old. They were jumping and climbing and you know, carrying big tree trunks and everything. I was the one that did the project and I was like Oh my God! I was not at the same level in a physical way! You mentioned one time that everything here is very basic, very simple, kind of like survival things right? So I think I have this weakness. I mean, it's something.. You asked me also what I am afraid of. I think we, as a society, have to be more related to nature and not have a sedentary way of living. So that's my weakness. I think it's not just me, it's part of society nowadays – very sedentary with internet and things. So when I see these people and the agriculture and the farmers and everything, they have a strength and a way of relating to nature everyday. They don't need to check the weather channel, they can see a typhoon is coming by just seeing the sky a few days before! I feel very weak in that way. If someone just left me alone in the forest, I don't know if I can survive for a day, right?!
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