Discover

Frieze London | Interview with Ilja Karilampi

October’s Very Own, 2013
Courtesy of Ilja Karilampi and Sandy Brown, Berlin

Ilja Karilampi is a Swedish visual artist who resides and works in Gothenburg, New York and Berlin. Through his (literal) multimedia art he investigates the contemporary urban individual and its relationship with mass- and pop-cultural memory. The world he documents is understood socio-digitally at a level that is as personal as it is representational. Karilampi is a productive fellow: In 2013 alone he has exhibited in Stockholm, Berlin, Amsterdam, Milan and New York. In London for Frieze, he presented an imagined hotel room defaced by Jimi Hendrix during a stay in Gothenburg back in the 60’s. Ilja is a charismatic and understated Scandinavian with a delightfully no-bullshit language typical for non-native English speakers. We sat down in his installation and had a chat:

JU: Where does your new piece come from?
IK: I was finding all these criminal records of Jimi Hendrix’s stay in the Swedish city Gothenburg, found his collector’s items, papers and so on. I never realized that he was there for such a long time (2 weeks), so I wondered how a rock star life fits in to this part of Sweden. It intrigued me for a long time and I started seeing it as a sculptural act of destruction. It’s a strange relationship we have with furniture and things surrounding us, and strange that people don’t have outbursts more often like the one Hendrix had. People are quite contained. I’ve tried to link these things in the video.
The installation is quite close to what I find ideal in terms of medium. There’s a sculptural centerpiece and a motor narrative. It’s circulating.

JU: In the video there is a big fascination with Hendrix as an outrageous celebrity. Is it a personal fascination or one representative of a culture?
IK: It’s an interesting question. I think there are several voices and several movies within the movie. I am interested in the aspect of proximity and that we are all, in a way, people. In the end, a “known” person’s experience is not that different from others’ on a given grey Tuesday. It’s a movie about Gothenburg as well as a movie about a rock-star, about an artist, and about being a teenager having access to recording video.

JU: Would you say it is an autobiographical piece?
IK: Maybe. I think there are definitely some meta-parts in the work about me making the work.


Hendrix Incident, 2013
Video on DVD
14 min 23 sec
Courtesy of Sandy Brown, Berlin 

JU: You’re here at Frieze represented by your gallery (Berlin-based Sandy Brown). How is it different from having your own exhibition?
IK: Obviously it’s a work that we have invested a lot in. The biggest differences are the amount of visitors passing through and that people look at things a little bit differently here. I like that, because you should not have to know of any background to appreciate a work. You look at a work exactly for what it is. When you dive into it, there are more connections.

JU: In terms of time span, can people focus on your work with so much other art around it?
IK: I guess it depends on the person and how much visual stimuli you are able to take in before you are full. But also, people come to a fair for very different reasons.

JU: Yeah, do you think about the financial aspect of your work more being at Frieze?
IK: There’s maybe a little buzz in the air because of all the money being made here, but mostly I think about the piece having a bigger chance of finding its audience here.

JU: So you’re actually more concerned with the audience?
IK: I am concerned about the final buyer, but obviously it’s my gallerist who takes care of most of that stuff. I definitely hope that the people who buy my work will share my feelings about the work.

JU: What’s next for you?
IK: I was just skyping with Yung Lean who asked me to do a new line of merchandise and caps for Sad Boys Entertainment from Stockholm. I just did a radio program today as well. I try to keep myself busy and keep finding inspiration everywhere.

Recent Posts

NHU DUONG SS17 WORK COLLECTION FT. KARL HOLMQVIST

What is a piece of clothing that “works”? Who is working whom? Is the one who poses the one who actually “works” hardest? The S/S 2017 collection of Berlin-based, Swedish- Vietnamese designer NHU DUONG entitled ‘WORK COLLECTION’ plays with the ideas of professionalism, leisure and appropriateness through a range of garments that are inspired by work outfits and hobby uniforms. Overalls, raw denim outfits, kung-fu pyjamas, biker pants, baggy tights and gloves, bomber-jackets, bomber suits,… [read more »]

Preparing to Welcome the Chthulucene | Agustina Zegers

Preparing to Welcome the Chthulucene is a text made up of living exercises to accompany Haraway’s theorization of the Chthulucene and her upcoming book Staying With the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene. Haraway posits that not only should we name the Anthropocene carefully (including the terms Capitalocene and Plantationocene within its narrative) but that we should also be using this crucial ecological timeframe to move towards a dynamically multi-species, “sym-chtonic“, sym-poietic future: the Chthulucene.… [read more »]

Laboria Cuboniks in Conversation

Laboria Cuboniks is currently a group of 6 women working together online to redefine a feminism adequate to the twenty-first century. They collectively wrote Xenofeminsim: A Politics for Alienation in 2014. Here, in conversation with Postcontemporary Issue guest editors Armen Avanessian and Suhail Malik they discuss the dissatisfactions and limitations of historical feminism and the importance of theorizing “the future” as a feminist project. Armen Avanessian and Suhail Malik: The initial formulation of your political… [read more »]

Situating Global Forms: An Anthropology of Cosmopolitan Science

Aihwa Ong, interviewed by Armen Avanessian and Suhail Malik Constructing Globality Armen Avanessian and Suhail Malik: Your anthropological research pays close attention to specific emerging and inventive configurations of globally-constituted modernization, particularly in East Asia and its diaspora. Throughout this work you identity many ways in which ‘things that used to be fused together — identity, entitlement, territoriality, and nationality — are being taken apart and realigned in innovative relationships and spaces by neoliberal technologies… [read more »]

Ways Of Living ⎮ Arcadia Missa

Ways of Living, curated by the team behind Arcadia Missa, moves beyond the home as a site of political contestation and into the working place, the artist studio, the public sphere, and nature. While so-called ‘social practice’ taught us that any attempt of art to engage with issues outside its own institutional reality are easily coopted into the mythologizing machinery of individualism and patriarchy, art still possesses an ability to address issues far beyond the… [read more »]

What is at Stake in the Future? | Alex Williams & Nick Srnicek

Every ‘future’ inscribes a demand upon the present. This is so whether at the level of human imagination, or within the sphere of political or aesthetic action necessary to reach towards their realisation. Futures make explicit the implicit contents of our own times, crystallising trajectories, tendencies, projects, theories and contingencies. Moreover, futures map the absent within the present, the presents which could never come into actuality, the wreckage of dreams past and desires vanquished. Futures… [read more »]

Dog Plays | Hayley Silverman

Hayley Silverman’s “Dog Plays,” an ongoing series in which a cast of untrained dogs take on the role of characters from a range of pop-culture texts, disrupt the canon of identities traditionally represented in Hollywood as they are re-inhabited by animals. Calling on artifacts ranging from Richard Linklater films, to science-fiction thrillers, to Depression-era musicals that rhapsodize class difference, these performances investigate how our understanding of narrative, authority and identity transforms when we project stories,… [read more »]

A poem by Ser Serpas

ripped apart you rip me apart collage million dead collage donde queda mi cuerpo el temporal como dios en mil partes clothing as point of impact a totem is a wrap around a city as it is engagement with one’s surroundings and engagement with that which has been worn out discarded and filtered into alms buckets and newly tagged i wear my surroundings on my feet when it wears out i see only my vantage… [read more »]

DISCREET Call for Participants

DISCREET – An Intelligence Agency for the People The 9th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art invites you to apply for one of fifteen spaces open to individuals interested in taking an active part in a three-week-long public workshop conceived of by Armen Avanessian and Alexander Martos for the formation and development of a civil secret service organization. Held from June 22 to July 11, 2016, the workshop brings together renegade experts from art, theory, technology,… [read more »]

Parent and Parroting | Nancy Lupo

Each year retail displays are readied in preparation for the gestation and labor of the catch-all holiday season before floating into a colorless postnatal celebration of mundane plenty. Capitalism’s sympathetic pregnancy makes for a cold and lifeless pas de deux, at times humorously inseparable from the vitality of social milestones. In Parent and Parroting, Nancy Lupo continues with a series of interventions into commercial products and industrialized food. Her interferences often reveal or reconfigure the… [read more »]