1.If you weren’t an artist, what else would you be?
Probably a cook or a choreographer. I’m totally fascinated by the work of the great chefs and a real addict of contemporary dance, as spectator of course. Both are moreover a big source of inspiration for me.
2. Can you tell us more about your work and what are the main ideas you would like to express?
First of all, there was the fabric, discovering the plasticity and endless possibilities of this basically functional material that clothes, protects, covers.
And an imperious need to compulsively and obsessively cut up and reassemble the material.
The gesture is also very important because to create, before making it whole, one must slit, cut into the support to heal the wound, fill it in with cloth; doing it is clean work, it is meticulous, almost surgical.
My work belongs to abstraction and I concentrate on both geometrical and organic compositions and more and more I mix them together.
My purpose is to make the things we are afraid of attractive (see “The new Silk Road”, “The Wall”…). I also explore the links
between microcosm and macrocosm, inside and outside.
I have chosen to cultivate the in-between, the play between attraction and repulsion. Fabrics help me to breathe life into my work provoking the desire to touch the forms and the volumes while instilling contradictory feelings from seduction to anxiety.
3. How do you start the process of making work?
The process of creation always starts in an unexpected way, as by surprise. A song which moves me, a souvenir that re-appears, I always start out from a sensation which I try to transpose visually.
4. Do you consider the viewer, when making your work?
I am the first viewer and when I work my priority is to obtain a result which satisfies me.
But I never forget that my work is intended to be seen by others. I like the uncertainty which represents the reaction of the viewer: How is he going to receive my work? Will he be seduced or on the contrary disgusted? Will he manage to discover what I hid? To consider the final spectator also helps me to understand my work better, it forces me to analyze it, to stand back
5. Name 3 artists that have inspired your work?
It’s a difficult choice because my tastes are very eclectic so I shall say Hokusai, Francis Bacon and Frank Stella, great artists but really different in their personalities and works. Not always directly for the inspiration but to have tempted me to become an artist.
6. Name 3 of your least favourite artists.
I’d rather quote the three last exhibitions which really impressed me these last months : Chiharu Shiota’s Infinity at the Templon’s Gallery, the Yayoi Kusama’s Retrospective at the Pompidou Center, Anish Kapoor’s Leviathan for Monumenta 2011 at the Grand Palais.
7. What defines something as a work of art?
That is The Question!
The traditional identity markers of a work of art have been called into question long ago (Thank you Duchamp!) and I find it very difficult to give a correct and exhaustive definition of it.
The artist can’t decide on his own that he has created a work of art. The qualification of an object as work of art passes by the other people’s opinion. After all, works of art are only defined by the one who receives.
8. In times of austerity, do you think art has a moral obligation to respond topically?In my opinion, the only moral obligation which falls to the artist is sincerity. Beyond that, I don’t believe that an artist can be obliged to do anything. However, it’s obvious that every artist is the product of his time, of his environment. What he proposes, his works, are always influenced by what surrounds him, by the technologies he can use to create or by current events. Indeed, even if his work does not contain a political criticism or a social commitment, the artist always starts from a reality, he’s the witness of his time.
9. Anytime, any place – which artist’s body would you most like to inhabit?
Without hesitation, Pina Bausch when she created her version of « Rite of spring ».
10. What is your favourite ‘ism’?
Exoticism, when it is defined as “the charm of the unfamiliar”.
11. What was the most intelligent thing that someone said or wrote about your work?It’s difficult for me to decide what is particularly intelligent in the things people have said about my work, but here is a sentence I find quite poetical: “In spite of colours that are shimmering, bright or soft, glittery or pastel, Mai Tabakian’s works must hide more frightening or painful realities, feelings or thoughts, evoking a kind of struggle against cruelty about which we don’t know everything.” (Marie Deparis)
12. And the dumbest?
« This one, you should do it in another color. »
13. Which artists would you most like to rip off, sorry, I mean appropriate as a critique of originality and
I really don’t want to do that !
14. Do you care what your art costs? State your reasons!
Of course I do, but selling or not selling, I go on creating, it has no impact on my way of working. I never think about what could be easier to sell. The sale price is an inescapable datum but I always delay the moment to think of it, because it annoys me.
There is a strange paradox with the notion of cost, it’s an element of valuation of my work but also something very demeaning. Personally, I never think of the price of a work of art when I visit a museum, a center of art or even a gallery.
15. If Moma and the Tate and the Pompidou wanted to acquire one of your works each, which would you want them to
Certainly works which I have not realized yet, which I dream to realize and which I would realize specially for those places!
16. What’s next for you?
My next show “HUMAN CONDITION” will take place in Brussels at Mathilde Hatzenberger Gallery with Olivia Barisano from April 20th to May 21st 2012.