Art is frequently associated with traditional modes of expression but the new millennium brings a bunch new faces where some people find the right elements to shape ideas such as technology. In this field, KEEGAN LUTTRELL is a notorious developer capable of translate emotions through different platforms as video performances and photography conceptual series. Definitely, a trip that will be much better explained by herself.
Keegan! We’re truly impressed with your career and your experience across various points of view. This might be a tough question but as a media artist, Why do you think is important for humanity to keep art alive as a manifest of expression?
This is now more important than ever. Art has always been a reflection of the times, whether those times are when the world is flourishing or in complete devastation.
Nina Simone says it best,
“An artist’s duty, as far as I’m concerned, is to reflect the times…I choose to reflect the times and situations in which I find myself.”
I think now in our internet driven world, access to work that reflects our existence is more readily consumable. However, work still needs to be done to educate and see art first hand. As an artist not only do we create a mirror of our existence but we also create relics of that existence and it is more important than ever to preserve and support the arts so that they can continue to flourish.
Technology evolves every second these days, according to your work, this accelerated evolution is a key platform for creators or a loop where the technology happens to be the protagonist and no longer the idea?
Technology is very much present in contemporary art. I think we are trying to understand ourselves in this world with all of the accessibility and globalization. But we are always tuned in – everyone is – at any minute we are informed. That can be progressive and dangerous.
In some of my work, I investigate this idea of progress through technology with a dystopian lens. As a stark contrast, I make performances that tend to remind us of the human connection without technology. As humans, we need to acknowledge the benefits and downfalls of both progress in a technological world while also remembering to connect, human to human.
Your series Postcards From Atlantis got a “glitch” in there, and you talk about the notion of collapse. Do you think a piece of art has the sufficient strength to change the entire life of a person or society?
I wouldn’t be an artist if I didn’t hope to change, in some small way, my audience’s perception or engagement with the conceptual or historical implications of the work. I think glitches, especially when using imagery that is natural, points to the sort of emptiness of this technological world and helps to question what sort of world do we want to live in – one that is fabricated by computers and/or one that removes our humanness? I think the purpose of such works like Postcards from Atlantis or No Man’s Land, is to expose these worlds that once existed as a bit of a warning or a contemplation of how our generation’s world will be represented when we are gone.
Paper, photography sculpture and else…many mediums to choose with many different purposes, How do you pick and select the right one for a particular piece?
I guess you could call me a polymath when it comes to using different mediums with my work. I like working in several artistic genres as a part of my research. Growing up my father was a photographer, and I tried for years to work just in photography, but it never felt like MY medium. It wasn’t until undergraduate school that I discovered sculpture, installation, and later performance.
I still take analog photography and manipulate images that stand on their own, or incorporate them into sculptures and installations – it is all a very fluid mixing of the mediums.
Can you describe us your creative process? Is something planned or completely spontaneous?
In my practice, I normally have ideas or concepts I want to express. I read and research a lot alongside creating work, whether it is philosophical texts or myths and fairytales, yet I tend to also work very intuitively. I learned a long time ago that to go into making with a strict idea can eliminate the magic that happens when you ‘play’ in the studio. Sometimes I just have several materials in a space and I just go for it and in the act of making the idea forms. With other things like performance and installation, it’s a bit more pre-meditative. With the performance, the parameters are created, but it is within the performing where and element of chance exists, sending me into the most meditative state of my creative process – when I do not have control.
Do you consider yourself as a futurist artist?
I’m not sure if I would consider myself a futurist artist, but rather an artist that is creating in the ‘now’. Most recently I did a performance that was about vulnerability. I sat partially naked in zero degree weather and asked the audience to clothe me with men’s white business shirts. This performance took place three days after the US presidential election. It was very evident that my vulnerability that was being exposed affected the participants who felt the need to protect me and cover me. The feedback from the work was that the piece felt timely – that it spoke to how the audience was feeling in a very present way. I think I would consider myself someone who isn’t trying to define the future, but one that reflects on the present tense.
Can you name us something to be proud of in the latest 50 years of art?
I think the rise of women in art, especially performance art is one of the greatest achievements in the last 50 years. In the late 1970s many women, who felt like they were creating in a man’s world, turned to performance art as a means to own and express themselves in a very subversive way. Artist such as Carolee Schneemann, Ana Mendieta, Yoko Ono and Marina Abramovic, paved the way for women as they uninhibitedly explored their bodies as art through performance as ritual.
A quote by visual artist Cheri Gaulke sums it up pretty nicely:
“Performance is not difficult to us [women]. We’re on stage every moment of our lives. Acting like women. Performance is a declaration of self -who one is- a shamanistic dance by which we spin into other states of awareness, remembering new visions of ourselves. And in performance we found an art form that was young, without the tradition of painting or sculpture. Without the traditions governed by men, the shoe fit, and so, like Cinderella we ran with it”. GAULKE, Cheri. “Performance Art of the Women’s Building,” High Performance 3. Los Angeles: Fall/Winter,1980.p.156.
Pick a place in Berlin where we can understand your perspective of life?
Berlin has such a strange duality – with it’s dark and light side yet it does have an uncanny ability to allow you to feel collective, and it does it in a very true, gritty and unapologetic way. Its war-torn past remains visible while evidence of looming gentrification is found in the construction sites you see sprinkling the city skyline. One of my favorite places in Berlin is Tempelhofer Feld. For those who are not familiar with this unique space, it is a former airport that was built in 1923 in West Berlin. After briefly being occupied by former Soviets, the American allies took it over as an air base in 1945, providing tons of supplies to West Berlin. In 2008 the airport shut down, and after much voting and fighting it became a massive park, where citizens are free to roam, drink beer, enjoy community gardens, bike, skateboard etc, all on the former airstrips. The airport now houses several refugees as well. I live right around the corner from Tempelhoff and just going there helps you to feel that there is still vastness, even with a city. It can help you contemplate the unknown, meditate, and just let your mind be free. You can find me in the community gardens writing, reflecting and drinking an afternoon beer.
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