mandag den 21. november 2011

An interview with Sigrid Astrup

Words by Louise Rytter

It’s simply not possible to tick one box when viewing Sigrid Astrup (1979) work. Her repertoire is wide and includes film, music, fashion, ceramics, graphics and her newest occupation as mother. Sigrid Astrup is a ‘multi-inspiring-playful-working-artist-in-the-making’ and only just graduated from the Danish Design School in 2006. With an impressive cliental from MIKA to Danish DR TV, she has also been part of the art collective Hurrrraaa, founded the fair-trade fashion label MotherMother with Helena Lindberg. This year she launched the shop "Vanishing Point" that sells fair trade quilts, ceramics, jewellery, posters and art. 

Sigrid Astrup is known for her playful hands-on approach and strong narrative. She curiously explores all angles and fields of any given material, sound or medium. She transforms beats, illustrations and stitches into poetic, colourful and abstract visuals. Sigrid Astrup was born in Tromsø, Norway, and lives in Copenhagen, Denmark, with her partner artist Rune Brink and their baby Edit Hulda. 
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How would you describe your work to someone who hasn’t seen it? 
As experiments, with the conventions and preconsidered ideas of communication platforms, techniques and materials I use. No matter what context I work in, I always try to do the opposite of what is expected or obvious, as to find new ways to unfold the visual world of what I work with.  
I experiment with materials and mixed medias. Also I’m very childish but my humour is ‘sick’, so I often make stuff that is a tab too odd for other people to truly understand. This really attracts some and makes others just confused. And I always try to create something new to develop my repertoire of knowledge.

How does your Norwegian background influence your work?
That sick humour I have is definitely straight from Norway. It is also typically Norwegian to be shy and underplayed, which makes me terrible at selling myself or networking. I just can’t talk my way into a job. Most of my friends wouldn’t believe that since I am also so cocky, but it’s true.

Music video for Feed The Horse

What do you overall wish to express through your art and how is it a reflection of society? 
I don’t have an overall goal that my work is aiming at, and I don’t think my work reflects society really. Sometimes I see myself as a poet when I look at the results of my work. I guess its eccentric and self flattering and all, but it is definitely part of everything I do.  I work with aesthetics and materials just like using words in a poem. Carefully putting things together, to create an abstract render of emotions and ideas.

You work in multiple fields (fashion, art, graphic design, music videos and ceramics). What keeps you interested in all these fields and what inspires you? 
Everything inspires me, especially my friends, and my man Rune Brink. The idea of learning something new, trying new techniques and materials just makes me roll over. I love materials, especially natural ones as stone, wood and clay. At the moment I’m saving up to buy myself the ultimate power tool, a stone cutter.

Illustration for mothermother
Your work always has a strong narrative and a hands-on approach. Can you explain your way of working? 
I go about things in different ways so that is difficult to answer. But most of the time I have this very clear idea of what I want to do before I start, and I rarely sketch it out, because that would ruin it’s impossible beauty in my head. Then I get the stuff I need, and start doing what I want to do with it. It is inspiring to have the materials at hand. This way I figure out what the materials are cable of in order to get as close to the original idea as possible. 

What has been your most challenging job?
No doubt being a mother... hahaha. I know it doesn’t classify as a job, but it is. It’s full time and totally demanding from when you wake up until you go to bed, even during your sleep. I always used to mock my good friend Marielouise about the big knot of hair she had in the back of her head. I thought she was too sloppy with her life in all. But she isn’t, she has 2 kids and is a single mother now. I regret this awfully now that I have Edit on my hands.

Intro made to "Min nesten normal familie", TV2

Combining handcrafted collages and digital media is quite a challenge. What role do digital and social media have for you? 
I love mixing analogue and digital techniques, which I don’t find difficult to do at all really. The tantalizing possibilities of software can make you caught up, and you sometimes forget to go out of it and bring in something real. Just looking at the pallet in any adobe program makes you eager to get at it, using all the different tools. I often find that it’s actually easier to put some life into things by bringing in something from the “real world”. And I don’t know about social media. I often find it to be an attempt at making the internet more alive than it really is. 

Cover design for Chimes&Bells
You worked with musicians such as Moi Caprice, Mika, Chimes and Bells and Of Montréal. Can you explain your interest in music vs. art and highlight some of the work you done for these bands? 
Working with musicians is a perfect opportunity to work abstract with form. Creating imagery to trigger the different moods, emotions and ideas, or just a flow that they have created. People I have worked with are exceptionally good at creating the emotions they intend to, and it’s been such a treat to get to know and work with them. Trying to compliment or make a visual world for something not visual, created by another artist with another vision, is also a totally sweat challenge. 
If I was to highlight something it could be the 1 hour visual set I made for “Of Montreal” in 2008. The idea was to make a constant 1 hour continuative piece of collage created under the camera, constantly developing and changing into something new. Nice to do something totally intuitive and without thinking, even though the visual result was so-so, - my version of “new millennium Dadaism” haha. 

torsdag den 10. november 2011

Win two tickets to CPH:DOX | a film of your choice!

We have another two tickets from the lovely people at CPH:DOX to give away. The tickets are valid for all 75 kroner screenings. To be in the running take a look at the program and let us know which film you would most like to see. Please include a valid email address. Entries close at midnight tonight. A winner will be selected at random and announced shortly thereafter.

Good luck!

Update: congratulations Ditte!

onsdag den 9. november 2011

Win two tickets to CPH:DOX | Anna Pavlova Lives in Berlin!

The good folk at CPH:DOX have kindly provided us with two tickets to the sold-out screening of 'Anna Pavlova Lives in Berlin' at Empire Bio tomorrow evening. The director, Theo Solnik, will be attending, as will Anna herself!

To be in the running all you have to do is "like" this post and leave a comment below, including a valid email address. Entries close at 19:00 tonight! A winner will be selected at random and announced shortly thereafter.

Further screenings:
Grand Teatret | Friday 11/11 | 17:00 | 75 kroner

Update: congratulations Malene!

tirsdag den 8. november 2011

CPH:DOX | The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975

Towards the end of the sixties and into the seventies, Swedish television journalists travelled to the United States to document the revolutionary Black Power Movement; to offer an outside perspective on the struggle for freedom, equality and civil rights endured by African Americans at the time. The footage aired briefly on Swedish National Television before being consigned to the network's basement archives. After 40 years of hibernation, it has re-emerged in a compelling depiction of empowerment. 

In The Black Power Mixtape 1967 – 1975, director, Göran Olsson, pieces together startling footage of revolutionary leaders including Stokely Carmichael, Eldridge Cleaver and Angela Davis in a series of blazing, unguarded interviews. Fresh interviews with leading African American artists, activists, musicians and scholars are merged with the archival 16mm footage, and underscored with fitting contemporary beats by the likes of Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson and Om’Mas Keith. By mirroring the mixtape format popular in the 70’s, Olsson creates a captivating cinematic and musical journey that appeals aesthetically across the generations.

The original footage was condemned by the United States media, namely TV Guide, who argued that it focussed solely on negative aspects of American society with total disregard for the positive. Olsson explains that within the United States the Black Power Movement had either been ignored by the media, or treated as a burgeoning terrorist movement. He emphasises that the film offers an outside perspective free of prejudice and loaded assumptions, not a definitive truth. As Angela Davis outlines, “it’s not about black and white - it’s about telling a story”. And what a story it tells.

Further screenings:
Grand Teatret | Saturday 12/11 | 14:20 | 75 kroner

mandag den 7. november 2011

Stella at Bienvenue Pop-Up shop!

Porcelain by Liebe, knitwear from Fnubbu and Soft Gallery, notebooks from
Rie Elise Larsen and the lovely owners, Mette and Rikke. 

You can now buy the latest issue of Stella magazine, The Pop Issue, at Bienvenue Pop-Up shop in Hellerup, just north of Copenhagen. Here you'll find a very cool selection of artwork, porcelain, notebooks and knitwear. It's definitely worth a visit. Plenty of fine Christmas gifts and treats for yourself!

søndag den 6. november 2011

CPH:DOX | Andrew Bird: Fever Year

Innumerable Santa hats, free beer streaming plentifully from the back of horse drawn carts, the occupants merrily united in song. Downtown Copenhagen is teeming with inebriated folk celebrating the launch of Tuborg’s annual Christmas brew. It is J-Day – the infamous date in Denmark’s calendar when one should be prepared to witness the unthinkable. And that we did. 

Buried in a cosy cinema below the revelry, fifteen or so strangers were greeted with birdsong. In her directorial debut, Xan Aranda captures the essence of Andrew Bird’s creative evolution, and that of the man himself. She chases the feverish virtuoso through the final months of a gruelling yearlong tour, all the while he chases the ghost. Bird steadfastly believes that the evolution of his music is imperative to its survival, likening the process to that in the animal kingdom. His rigorous fifteen-year touring career is a testament to this. 

Bird is satisfied on stage; here his music exists in a malleable state, free of the constraints inherent in the recording process. A lingering fear of repetition repeatedly thrusts him back onto the touring circuit where, he explains, his songs regain elasticity and his shows exist as shared moments privy to only those present. Clearly such a whirlwind lifestyle does have its drawbacks; true to the title Bird was afflicted with a perpetual fever for the duration of the tour. 165 shows later, and on crutches, Bird returns to the family farm to reclaim himself, to play for the sheer joy of playing, free of pressure, free of expectations.

In 'Andrew Bird: Fever Year', Aranda has eloquently pieced together a poetic masterpiece for the senses. Not only has she gifted Bird’s ever-faithful audience with insight, but more importantly, a shared memory. Bird, who owns all of the commercial rights, has no plans to show the documentary beyond the festival circuit.

And so we rejoin the festivities, whistling.

Further screenings:
Empire Bio | Thursday 10/11 | 22:30 | 75 kroner

fredag den 4. november 2011

CPH:DOX | Inside Lara Roxx

Quick cash and a thirst for life experience beckoned 21-year-old Lara Roxx from her hometown of Montreal to pursue a career as a porn star in Los Angeles. After just two months in the industry Lara was diagnosed with HIV, having contracted the virus from a co-worker on set. Her story quickly erupted into a media sensation but was soon forgotten once the attention faded.

In her first feature-length documentary, director, Mia Donovan, delicately records Lara's journey of self-destruction, self-discovery and self-affirmation over the course of five and a half years. A handheld camera trails Lara from a psychiatric ward in Montreal back to Los Angeles where she attempts to reconnect with the industry, and through the tumultuous chapters that follow.

Rather than focussing on all the gritty details that such a story entails, Donovan paints a tender psychological portrait of a young woman learning to live with an illness. As Lara poignantly suggests, "courage doesn't exist, just a lack of fear".

Further screenings:
Grand Teatret | Sunday 6/11 | 21:30 | 75 kroner
Dagmar Teatret | Friday 11/11 | 16.40 | 75 kroner

torsdag den 3. november 2011

CPH:DOX - let the festivities begin!

Today marked the commencement of Scandinavia's largest documentary film festival, Copenhagen International Documentary Film Festival. For the next ten days Copenhagen will be blessed with a selection of over 200 independent documentary films from across the globe, along with art exhibitions, concerts, debates and industry seminars.

It's only fitting that Stella will be there to report on the deluge, so expect film reviews aplenty in the coming days.

Grey skies and blustery winds make for perfect viewing weather. Get ye to a cinema!