Irreverent and atypic, poetic and so ironic, Sasha Kurmaz belongs to a new generation of artists –cheeky and talented. Using photography as a medium to decrypt and mock the common world, he tends to bring unexpected experimentations into a deadly public space. In Kiev, Ukraine, Sasha explores his hometown as a playground; a playground where his art, if not changing the face of the world, will, at least, move it forward. If his materials are multiple and his character quite complex, one thing is for sure, Sasha Kurmaz enjoys titillating the world's inconsistencies.
Who are you?
That's a good question. I would love to find the answer to this question also.
How much the city you're from, Kiev, had impacted your approach to photography?
The city still has a great influence on my works. I began my artistic practice as a graffiti artist and still kept public space as my main domain for the work and continued to use underground strategies of exploring and hacking public spaces.
How would you define the different component of your art? Would you share with us a bit of these exciting underground strategies?
I try to use photography as a graffiti writer uses spray cans. I think this is the closest analogy. Just check this video!
Do you think producing art outside a studio can bring back this idea of an art anchored in everyday life? Is this the role of an artist today: shaking the reality of everyday life by confronting people to it?
Art has become an elite entertainment for a privileged group of people, not all of it, but a lot. I travel and watch how art is related to the social conditions of life. The higher the social and economic level of the country are, the more dull and glossy is the art produced there. I'm not saying that this is 100% true, but a high enough percentage. The artist is always free in what he wants to do. The only thing that is important is to be sincere in what you're doing. No problem if you want to do glossy things and sell them. Everything is ok. But at the same time, I like those art works that define complex and difficult questions for the viewer. I think being an artist today is a challenge, just look around: art turns itself into a shiny shell. Many young artists are thinking about how to sell themselves and how to come on the cover of a glossy magazine; not about how to create a really powerful piece.
Why do you hate the definition ‘street artist’?
Because it's a stupid definition coined by journalists who joined the two words ‘street and ‘art’. A more primitive wording is difficult to imagine. In the history of art, there are many examples of artists that came out into the public space and tried to expand the boundaries. Starting from futurists, situationists, lend art and conceptual artists. All of them have worked in the public space, and they were all just called artists.
Most of your work is quite malicious – almost fun! Like Dancing In The Wind – you turn up something dramatic with irony. Is it something you're looking for when shooting?
I'm just trying to be open and attentive to the world around.
Speaking about your series Make the Invisible Visible – how do you proceed your installation? How do people react on that?
It's always interesting to find a way how to hack something in the city. In this piece, on the one hand I wanted to break the advertising space itself, on the other hand change the advertising on something impactful, to pay attention on the really important things. I watched the reaction of passer-by’s and noticed that some of them just do not pay attention, some take photos with their phones, some looked and did not understand the meaning.
Could you tell me more about your ongoing project Daily Practice? You seem to really love mocking the street cameras… What inspires you to do so?
The life and the people, situations around me. I feel a strong interest in pornography. Not in the images themselves, but how these images affect the viewer. I'm planning to do a series of collages using this imagery.