Clay Talks Episode #3: Linda Weimann
Guido Musante: you studied design at the Royal Danish Academy and perhaps for that reason your work might be interpreted as a kind of “bridge” between design and art. How do you interpret the relationship between these two creative dimensions?
Linda Weimann: design and art belong to different sectors, but they look at the same perspective. Personally, more than definitions, I am interested in how much the interaction between them is able to trigger my curiosity. I like the Danish word “kunsthåndværker” (art-crafter): it is traditionally linked to industrial images from the 1920s, but I think it deserves a new place in design and artistic production today. The term can evoke the art of making or doing as a theme that generates connections, looks at the context and approaches the creation of a brand new industrial model. I have always worked towards and looked for this interdisciplinary condition and I find inspiration in the way one area of activity coincides and relates to another: in my opinion one cannot exist without the other. Design is a stage and art is the story that is presented there, and sometimes vice versa. In my training I was given the opportunity to develop this propensity:
I learned to be a visual thinker, to be both naive and conceptual at the same time. I am the daughter of an artist and artisan plasterer, so at the end of the day I haven’t moved very far from my heritage, in which I try to accept who I am.
Guido Musante: your artistic language seems suspended between archetype and kinetics ...
Linda Weimann: My approach is a combination of different processes which rely heavily on aesthetic values and materials but also on concepts and historical memories. Sometimes I only seem to change the consolidated perspective, or even to do nothing, limiting myself to removing some parts or adding others. I think ornaments are a language that many people before me have developed in all sorts of clever ways. It is not necessary to design them again, but rather to create them in a contemporary dimension.
I see harmony, the repetitive elements and the values of symbolism as a key to inspiration, and I think that when something is visibly recognizable, it will give a sensation of perfection or imperfection and for me this provides the value of the archetype.
I am also attracted to the completeness of processes that go from A to Z. Each process is as important as the result, and the result is a mirror of the process. Small steps in traditional craftsmanship, for example, can generate a new concept or form of expression which is why I chose to create handcrafted objects in which kinetics represents an enigma for me, the uncontrolled dilemma of the whole creative process. Nature also changes and transforms itself through a kinetic process, and this is beautiful.
GuidoGuido Musante: your reflection is also a “critical device” for modern architecture as it undermines the traditional dichotomy between decoration and abstraction ...
Linda Weimann: I dedicate a lot of attention to details and the context in which they are expressed; I consider them an imprint and a part of all other things. When I choose to activate a story, I do so in the hope that it will allow me to make a critical comment on a larger subject. During this modern age we have all become highly dependent on the abstraction of languages, on layers of meaning or on having to make sense of emotions. It almost seems that we have come to possess a function linked to perception of the abstract which is aligned with other essential perceptions.
However, modernism also consists in taking and using the best of history and consistently assigning a new role to the different elements.
In typography, for example, swashes with flourishes are still alive and kicking: we simply use them in a different way to how they were used before. The clean beauty of modernism is hidden in timeless values - first of all the materials - and for this reason I believe that the decorative fragments I work on establish a connection with an added sensorial dimension. Perhaps then the question should be: why do we need an ancient resource like decor? As an answer, I can only say that moving from modernism to another historical context means introjecting a critical variable, leaving art with the role of sensor with respect to behaviour.
I believe that today we should really be talking about “alter-modern” rather than modernism, since we can no longer separate decorative language from abstract or minimalist.
Guido Musante: how did you get to know Matteo and his work with raw earth?
Linda Weimann: during a Salone del Mobile in Milan. When I met him, I immediately recognized his history and the value of raw earth as if they were my own, this sense of being attracted to the quality of a material that I perceived as almost “scientific”. This collaboration with Matteo, which is still ongoing and the shared development of various design aspects have given a completely new expressive dimension to my work. The first shared project that resulted from this was Aslant and then we worked together on the reliefs and sculptures of Elements. In both cases, the essence of the project was the balance between form and surface.
My idea was to emphasize the silhouette of the shape, its outline and the edge of the profile, generating a distorted perspective of ornamental language. The word “aslant” derives from a deconstructivist and supremacist way of thinking which proposes the destruction of the traditional formal order and trying to give life to a new expressive mode.
Each creation represents a fragment of ourselves, giving meaning to an emotion and this explains a number of things, including the meaning of that experience. In working with raw earth I had the opportunity to go deeper into the process of complexity of matter. I find that the combinations between clay and aggregates are somewhat in contrast with my work on form, and that their combination may be capable of giving life to a hybrid between two worlds.
The rawness and the immediate material sense that clay provides convey something profound that is linked to ancient and primaeval forces; they speak to us of “origins”, something that refers to the present right from the very beginning.
This is why I have always tried to be aware of the condition of tactility and intuitiveness that the material emanates, challenging the observer to control and awaken this natural event through the dynamics of sculpture. My work with raw earth is an open, self-guided process, which causes light to fall on the sculptured surface in a different way at each point, making the meaning of the expression “one of a kind” truly authentic. During the modeling, which I do using mouldings on plaster models, the generative process related to volume and surface always occurs in a calculated and controlled way (I have always been fascinated by algorithms, since they indicate creative evolution, the drama between order and non-order).
Raw earth is an honest and appreciative material, complex yet simple, inert but constantly growing: it moves continuously, like a living being; like a mother, which it is to everything.