IMPRINT, on view at SomoS Art House from October 1st – October 17th, 2015 presents the work of two young collage artists, David Woodward (Canada) and SomoS Summer 2015 Artist-in-Residence Ingrid Bittar (Brazil). The exhibition traces how these artists inventive use of heritage, history, and nostalgia create very personal and intimate narratives. These international artists make subversive and imaginative use of public historic and vintage imagery to explore new dimensions and expand the medium’s possibilities and associations.
We decided to reach out to the contributing artists to discover more about their work and the personal stories behind their creative process.
Ingrid Bittar Interview
SomoS, August 2015
Interview by Justin Ross
-Could you tell us a bit about yourself, and how you came to Berlin?
I’m from Rio de Janeiro, born and raised. I’m this really Brazilian thing; a mix of very different cultures in one: I’m half German; a quarter Portuguese; and a quarter Lebanese.
I’m in Europe for three months, having a residency in SomoS. As I applied for a residency there, it turned out that I was already in the artist research pool of the organizers, who were happy with the opportunity to work with me in person. So this stay is part of exploring my roots. I haven’t had a chance to visit Lebanon, but I have visited Portugal, which was an amazing experience, the similarities made me feel strangely at home, and showed me many connections to my work.
-How did you begin developing collages?
I have a Bachelor Degree in Graphic Design. After completing two internships however, it was clear to me that I didn’t like it. At this point, I had amassed a large archive of images, which I had collected over the course of ten years. Then, almost by accident, I started to use them to produce collages, as part of a poetry and art project of one of the people I worked with. Once I had begun, I couldn’t stop. Initially, I created dozens and dozens of postcard sized works, until I felt ready to go on with larger formats.
-Many artists working in collage prefer to use vintage source material.
How does your work relate to nostalgia?
Like many collage artists, I was initially fascinated by the images of 1960’s National Geographic magazines, and interior design books, which I found in my art school’s library.
My pieces refer to the worlds of three generations; kids, parents and grandparents, with the world of my grandparents figuring most in my work, the greater distance in the relationship, as opposed to the one one has with one’s parents, allows me a clearer view of their world.
My work addresses the formation of identity, and the things that happen inside a home.
-You are also producing embroidery pieces. How did you develop an interest in this medium?
Having started to work in different medium, namely embroidery, I am aware that it has a kind of stigma to it, it’s regarded as something your grandmother would do. As my motives are sexual, they often surprise or disappoint traditional crafters however.
As a crafting technique, embroidery never caught on in Brazil. It’s more of a European thing, and because I have European grandparents that’s were I got it from. That’s also a part of why I chose to come to Berlin and not somewhere else, as Berlin is not the most obvious choice for someone coming from Brazil.
– Did you bring your materials with you from Brazil or are you always searching for new materials?
The first time I came to Berlin I did’t bring any books with me because I thought there was a larger reading tradition in Europe, but this time I brought several materials from my first European stay and from Brazil as well. My material has traveled from Europe to Brazil and back to Berlin, the collages travel a lot as well.
I am this race mix that got together in Brazil and my collages reflect the same concept, they are different materials that get together and mixed.
– Could you tell us about your “Mappings”?
The mappings are pieces that trace the source of my collages, and also where they have been made, traveled, and exhibited. I decided to do this weird mapping of where I got the books, where I brought them with me, and where they ended up. Some of them went back and forth trough Europe and Brazil, I also made mappings of some of my collages. The mappings somehow reflect the process of my work.