It is a myth that reflection is only possible from the outside

An interview with curator Daniela Amolini (words) and artist Johanna Tagada (visuals) about their collaboration at Exposed Arts Projects, the meaning of artistic research and the importance of daily practice.

1. How did your collaboration started, and what do you value most about it? Can you name one or two things that you’ve learned from each other — that somehow changed your own practice?

Johanna’s poetic spoke to me since the first time I saw her artist magazine at Tate’s shop. I thought that her handbound zine perfectly combined a balanced aesthetic and a daring attitude inherent to independent production. Even if these two characteristics often clash, in Johanna’s were as one. I straight away wanted to meet her and know the person behind these works. Her bubbly personality and wittiness shined through her persona, gestures and speech. I straight away admired her composed manners, kind thoughts and energetic interactions. Through our conversations I learned how her practice constantly evolves via a crescendo of research into different, more sustainable materials, repetition of patterns series or slow, caring productions methods.

Her research is fused with her daily routine, including the people and the environment she interacts with. The everyday-ness of her practice taught me how life and work cannot be two distinct activities but even if they might be compartmental – work time and leisure time – they dialogue with each other. So, the choices you make in your private life somehow interfere on your working life. What you make is a complicated creation that spring from a variety of situations, connections, research findings and personal perspectives which we might or might not control. Kenneth Goldsmith in his latest books argues how for writer copying and pasting from a text to create their own text can be compared to Nam June Paik’s Magnet TV work. Goldsmith attributes to the action of copy and paste the action that Paik did in 1965 when he took control of television images by attaching a magnet on top of the device. By moving the magnet, the artist could distort and change the image. Thus, reversing the traditional one-directional information structure inherent to television by allowing the audience the power of production. In the same fashion, anyone can take something, like a text or an image, that is already made but through editing, experimentation and manipulation processes can create something new and unique. I see this process very vivid in Johanna’s work.

Her documentation process showcased especially through her zines, but also in her books and magazine production, is a self-representation via the editing, manipulation and experimentation with things she founds across her life. She perfectly masters this skill and her compositions very strongly depict found objects on a familiar, homely backgrounds or nature landscapes, sometimes overwriting these with hand-written messages through postproduction processes. The overall aesthetic though looks really natural, positive and simple, yet embedded with profound meanings that tends towards nostalgy of lost treasures or moments. I see this drive also within my curatorial view where I like to juxtapose and put into dialogue historical texts with more current productions. This mind-frame I believe made Blankspace Librar