a conversasion with

hilde onis

AFFDP : Do you want to tell us something about the work you recently showed at Vacation Spot in Ghent at Gouvernement? Why did you choose the sponges, are them a memory of your own, or something else..?

H: It came from this floor pattern (pointing the floor), so the carpets existed before the suit and all the performance. I always go extremely inside one material for a period, it’s not a decision but it just happens. So this carpet happened and I was completely into cutting the sponges to that size, they looked like fries and I wanted to activate them. Then I was asked for a residency in the North of the Netherlands for one month and there was a dancing studio there, that’s why the performance was filmed and where I developed this work. I’ve done more performances and it’s mainly always about becoming the material. In SOAK it is kind of going in an extreme sponge-foam relation, but also the idea of maintaining something, like with the cleaner releasing me of that position, that wasn’t nice. The maintainer has an extreme focus while doing it, which looks like he belongs to the space , he is like the maintainer of the exhibition in that sense. Then normally, after he releases me, he puts me in the exhibition with the suit on and puts away all the vacuum cleaner stuff. Then he goes behind the scenes again. He is supposed to be a real cleaner.

AFFDP: You are somehow becoming an object as the material itself and the foam is activating you like an actual performer. Is there a relation between the actual live perfomance and the video of it?

H: Yes, there is. There is a way more surprising moment when I do it in real life. I notice that people really.. they can get so close and almost touch the foam. And when they get to the releasing moment, they really feel it. In the video it was not so clear but you can see me breathing, the suit going up and down, I think people see this well, and it’s like a beautiful subtitle.

AFFDP: What about the relation between your work and the space? We noticed that your research also concerns in how to display the work itself.

H: I find it very interesting and I always feel I have to re-think the displaying in a new space: I dont’ have rules for how the work should be shown and I think it’s good to challenge ourself because the space is so important, always going in an open way. Last summer I did an exhibition in a huge space, Kunstenlab Deventer, and I really felt pressure because I didn’t know if I had enough works. It was basically all my work and I also made new works for it. That was the first time I could transform such a big space on my own. And I am used to do sculpture in a more classical way, making big objects and putting them on the floor or on a pedestal, I did my studies in sculpture but then I started doing performance, going abroad. This exhibition was like a big research for me on how to show it. There are still a lot of works on the floor and I want to experiment in more directions, putting stuff higher and really making a path for the visitor. But I like messy stuff too much as well.

AFFDP: We are used to see the gallery as a blank space, white and polish, and it’s interesting your way of facing it, as a setting or a scene. What about “TRYING TO TOUCH LIKE 14 YEAR OLDS IN CRASH CARS HIT EACH OTHER”, do you want to tell the story of the carpets in the installation?

H: Both of them are from a photoshop design and then hand made. The image refers to a kids playground, a car road, mixed on photoshop with a prussian carpet, then I made out one of textile and the other one of beads. I like that the textile is super organic, in form I mean, there are differences in the layer heights. The prussian design is laying over the car road, and the one with the beads becomes really pixelly, it almost refears to a computer game.

AFFDP: Sometimes we feel you talk about childhood, both from a narrative point of view and concerning materials. Is it unconscious or is it a thing that you are researching?

H: I was, a lot researching this. I am going away from it I think. But I also think as a young person doing art-related stuff, you always start investigating yourself and your past experiences. Mainly it was because I was brought up by who were completely not clear, so I had a very twisted sense of behaviour and memory at all. In a lot of these past works, they were always very colorful as an element of fiction, for example the ceramic toy cars, they move and make noise togheter. There was a sensor, so when people walked nerby, it started shaking. (talking about “TRYING TO TOUCH LIKE 14 YEAR OLDS IN CRASH CARS HIT EACH OTHER”)

AFFDP: Right talking about “TRYING TO TOUCH LIKE 14 YEAR OLDS IN CRASH CARS HIT EACH OTHER”, why sometimes do you decide to re-make an object in ceramic and not using the actual one?

H: Part of it is that I think ceramic is a really honest material. I had only one mold and they are all taken from that one, when you rip it out it deforms, so they were kind of all different and you could see it. I’ve worked in ceramic for years, it’s been my job for years as well so I think I am really in this technique when I want to form something.

AFFDP: Which is the most important moment in creating your work, when you are doing your research or when you’re actually making the work or..

H: It depends. I can go from a research and the plan to the material but also the other way around and thinking about it while working and developping it. There’s a rollercoaster made out of clay (right now there in her studio), and this came out of my collected pictures of amusement parks that have been floated by tornados. The idea of amusement in our society and how we are almost drowning in fun and in all the options that we have. I made this translation of the real world in my work, what was happening in the real world was so strong. I am trying to make a serie out of this. The clay rollercosters will be still, but they are so clumsy and kinda fat and they cannot be used, and this translates well I think. I don’t like to active everything, I think that moving stuff is really easy, for the visitor as well, like they don’t have to do anything anymore because it’s all coming to them. AFFDP: Do you have any referencial artists?

H: I think about this a lot, but they always come and then flow away.

AFFDP: Do you think that studying here at KASK do help your work? Later on, do you think you’re gonna work here or maybe somewhere else? Do you have any ideas?

H: Yes, it gives me a lot of opportunities. I’ve had my own studio in the past three years in Rotterdam and it always has been a struggle to find resources. When you’re not studying it’s so hard to get stuff done. Here everyday there are people who can help you, and your process is so much faster. I really like Rotterdam in the Neatherlands, such a young art city. Rotterdam was bombed in the WWII, so it was completely demolished and they build it up again, but there’s a lot of space and the rent is still quite cheap and I got a lot of chances there, from institutes . If you have plans and you propose them they are most of time up for it and ready to go, it’s so alive. Rotterdam has been really good to me. The city treated me well. I’d like to go back but I like Brussels as well.

AFFDP: Are there differences between the art scene in brussels and the one here in Gent?

H: In Brussels it’s way bigger and it has more chances. Here there are like six spaces. I don’t really know but my mentor lives in Brussels, he’s a young guy doing performance, he always says that thare’s so much happening and it’s part of why he moved there.

///In her studio, she shows us her ungoing projects. Talking about the velvet 3d print dorito chip

H:I like how this becomes like a moon landscape and it also refers to the inside of your mouth, the upper part.

AFFDP: Is it an object, part of an installation, or is it gonna be like just doritos?

H: I don’t know yet. I feel like it’s the most attractive on its own thing that I have ever made, so I am trying to find out

///talking about another project

H: It’s a screenshot, I plan to make a serie of screenshots in ceramic as well. Computer always auto-correct my name to Hinernis, which means obstacle, so it’s like being your own obstacle and the computer being too, and then making it of ceramic is another step because it gives it this flinstones look, it’s really the slowest process you can do against the fastness of the screenshot. The work started as a flatsurface but now it’s already going into space.

AFFDP: do you have some other works that you want to show us?

H: Now I am working on this toy that is always in waiting rooms, in hospitals or at doctors. The attraction to me was that you wait there when something is wrong. I want to remake that toy with the wires in a text shape, so there will be letters and you can read it from one side when you look at it and the text will refear to the idea of having something wrong, I don’t know yet but something like “are you okay?” or..

AFFDP: What do you think about the dynamics of the contemporary art system and the common urgency of sellable works?

H: I don’t think about it, about making sellable works. I only once worked with a gallery for a show but I am more into project spaces, they usually give the budget to make new works or set up a show. I love the freedom to work and challenge your visual language. I am not completely against the art system, you need it somehow. Some artists told me that is like the beginning of a love relationship, you can not just step into something because you’re excited, galleries really work for bringing the carieer further in a more honest way, so this also happens. But I am very aware.

AFFDP: While thinking about a new work, do you already have in mind the title or does it come later? Sometimes they are very personal sentences but at the same time you can see yourself in them; so it seems that your work becomes more clear because of the title, another point of view of the work.

H:It often comes later. Or I have a list of some interesting sentences or words, and I might fit them. My older titles were always a whole sentence, kind of a metaphor for a situation, but my last performance is called SOAK, which is really sharp. I made this performance of people press into foam rubber called “i cant talk to you about my dreams when you’re busy” and it’s not completely personal but it refers to the pressure and being centered into something.

AFFDP: we really like the Dorito, we are very into it

H: wanna buy?