Friday, March 02, 2007

Art Space Talk: Yasmine Chatila

I recently interviewed Yasmine Chatila. I met Yasmine at the Digital & Video Art Fair (DiVA) 2007 in New York. Her piece, Stolen Moments, was presented by Damien Montalieu, Fine Art. I asked Yasmine for an interview and she agreed. ( ).

Yasmine has a prolific background in art. She studied at the Atelier Berino (Paris, France), Parson School of Design (BFA- Paris and New York), and Columbia University School of the Arts (MFA- New York, NY). Her work has been widely published and exhibited.

The following text is Yasmine's statement about Stolen Moments... followed by the interview.

"Stolen Moments
by Yasmine Chatila

On a quiet winter night, I looked out a window. I could see a building far away, the windows where illuminated, and I could vaguely make out people inside their apartments. When I imagined what they might be doing, my mind fluttered between wild fantasies and mundane clich├ęs. I was curious to compare my expectations to the reality of their lives. After months of continuous observation in different parts of the city I collected hundreds of photographs of strange, comical, and often haunting moments. At times, I was lucky enough to catch a glimpse of human nature when it was not guarded, not self-conscious and completely uninhibited. This provided me with a stage where it was possible to observe myself in the most secret and vulnerable moments of others.In order to render the subjects unrecognizable, and in an attempt to render them more archetypal, they are taken out of context and displaced from their original habitat."

Q. We met at the 2007 DIVA ART FAIR (digital video art fair) in New York. The exhibit seemed to be a hit when I was there. As one of the exhibiting artists... how was DiVA for you?

A. "Diva went very well. I think Thierry had a wonderful idea to make an art fair only with digital and video art as its subject.

Personally, it was the first time I have shown the stolen moments to anyone, so I didn’t know what to expect. The response was terrific, and I am very happy about that."

Q. At DiVA your work was presented by Damien Montalieu. How has it been working with that gallery?

A. "Damien and I have known each other for many years. He is not a gallerist but a curator.

He has been involved in the Stolen Moments project since the beginning and I very much enjoy working with him."

Q. You were trained at the Atelier Berino and you studied at Parsons School of Design and Columbia University School of the Arts. How did these educational experiences shape you as an artist? Many graduates state that they had to 'unlearn' what they had learned while in art school... do you agree?

A. "If I had to do it over again I would make all the same choices. The incredible amount of art and caliber of artists I had the priviledge to meet was fantastic. I do believe there is a distinction between artists that benefit from the process of verbalizing the artistic experience and those that don’t. For myself, I have a more intuitive approach and I have found four years of independent practice very beneficial to find my true voice."

Q. I was impressed with your project called Stolen Moments. Can you go into further detail about the meaning of this piece?

A. "These works are collages, an incorporation of what I have seen combined with reconstructions from memory and my imagination. I found it incredible how beautiful people are in their private spaces, ungarded and vulnerable. How when the masks come off, and we are alone or in extreme intimacy we are surprisingliy all so much alike than it might seem.

I initially took photographs to solidify the moments I was witnessing which I repainted by manually with Photoshop. The images were blurred and recontexualized, collaged into different homes and combined together. I consider these images authentic moments of non-selfconsciousness; an essence of human experience."

Q. You are currently working on two projects that I'm aware of- Just Cause You Can't See it and Ghosts. Care to share some insight about these projects? What do you want to convey with them?

A. "The works stem from a day I saw a woman out my window dressed in a wedding gown, and walking in cirles following some invisible thing. Of course since this is New York, nobody payed any attention to her. I thought what if she was sane and everybody else around her was crazy? ‘’Just cause you cant see it" is about vindicating her, giving her her own voice."

Q. When did you first discover that art would be an important part of your adult life?

A. "For as long as I can remember I have been an artist. Without it I would have no reason to wake up in the morning."

Q. What was the toughest point in your career as an artist? Have you ever hit rock-bottom?

A. "I didn’t show my work for a number of years following graduation from my MFA and spent the time in my studio. This was a time for great self reflection - something I believe that all artists confront - and with my blessing, (or curse!) of great stubborness and obessiveness, I indulged in this time. Putting myself in the public eye again makes me excited for the possibilities before me."

Q. Can you share some of your philosophy about art and artistic creation?

A. "To me being an artist is one about going deep inside yourself and retreiving snapshots of what that inner landscape looks and feels like. In a way its like being a journalist of the unconscious, an astronaut of the soul."

Q. Do you have any 'studio rituals'? As in, do you listen to certain types of music while working? What helps to get you in the mood for working?

A. "I listen to a lot of jazz when I am working. When I get tired of my internal dialogue , I usually turn on the radio and listen to NPR, I cant think of one time that I listened to NPR when I didn’t learn something."

Q. What trends do you see in the 'art world'?

A. "Lately I have noticed that many artists are making their own websites. A few years ago, and to a certain extent still today, it has been taboo to do so. I think it’s positive for an artist to gain control over their work and engage the public directly, away from the structure of galleries and museums."

Q.Where can we see more of your art?

A. "I just recently made my own site ."

I hope that you have enjoyed my interview with Yasmine Chatila. Feel free to critique or discuss her work.

Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin


omardoom said...

Very insightful. Yasmine Chatlia's work has always inspired me. Thank you for posting this interview!

Anonymous said...

Wow! I visited the Yasmine Chatila site and I am astonished of how sensitive and delicate her work is. Please finish this work in progress. I would love to see more more more... Thank you for this superb work.