Updated: Jan 23, 2022
In this series of interviews, we take a look behind the facade of the featured artworks and consider the people and thoughts behind them. Faces to works. Stories to concepts. We introduce you to the artists of our collective.
Today with artist and designer Ellinor Amini
- An interview by Lucie Vollath
Photos: Ellinor Amini with her artworks. Credits: Lukas Mehl.
In Ellinor's projects, the visual and the conceptual, the creative and the societal, art and activism are closely intertwined with one another. The result: "Energy that you can see".
What does art mean to you?
Art is energy that you can see.
How did you get into art?
My approach to the visual arts came through music. Ever since I can remember, I wanted to be an opera singer. But then I realized that I can express myself better in visual art, it is my ultimate outlet. I love to visualize my experiences and impressions of my environment and make them haptically tangible. Through my art, viewers can look at the world through my eyes for a moment.
What is your vision - as a person and as an artist?
My vision is to tell stories and make new connections through my art. I, myself, am incredibly curious and thirsty for knowledge and would like to make others curious through my visualizations, so that they get the desire to further deal with the subject matter that has fascinated me so much and to deepen thoughts. I would like to give others the impulses that I also get through the world and people. For example, a very good friend told me about her own experiences at the Mia and Hermann Hesse House on Lake Constance and I was so captivated by her impressions and her stories that the work "Mia Bernoulli buys lemons" emerged from it, which started my new series HIDDEN SHEROES X ART. The life of this HIDDEN SHERO fascinated me so much that I was eager to share this impulse with others.
Do you think creativity can reach people more than pragmatism? Why?
It depends. Creativity reaches people differently than pragmatism. In many areas, objectivity is essential, e.g. in science or research. Scientific knowledge is very important for mankind and reaches people, e.g. by saving lives. In contrast, creativity and art can appeal to our senses, create stimuli and arouse curiosity in a split second. Everyone knows the sudden goose bumps when you unexpectedly hear a long forgotten song or the feeling of home when reading your favorite book. I associate creativity with emotions, and these are naturally more intuitive than factual insights. I think creativity makes people think outside the box and thoughts become lucid. Without it, there would be no progress in the world and no objectivity, because all the great discoveries in science and history are based on the creativity of inventors and discoverers.
How did you decide on the kind of art you make? How did you find the right form of expression for you?
I would like to quote Meret Oppenheim on this: "Every idea is born with its form. I realize the ideas as they come into my head. One doesn't know where the ideas come from; they bring their form with them, just as Athena sprang helmeted and armored from the head of Zeus, the ideas come with their dress."
What reactions do you hope for from the viewers/readers of your works? What reactions do you encounter?
I do not hope for a particular reaction, because each person looks from a different past on a present image. But it is wonderful when I feel that my intentions reach the viewers, when viewers tell me what impulses they take away from my works and share their experiences and stories with me. For example, when I work on the HIDDEN SHEROES in public space, passers-by always come by and want to know more about the subject, and exciting conversations always emerge.
What defines your art?
Is there a theme/motif that runs through all your works?
What separates them, what connects them?
I think what all works have in common is the visualization of a theme or thought that is important to me. Impulses that have made me curious, I want to pass on. As for example with my art project HIDDEN SHEROES. Growing up as a woman, I always lacked female role models in the school books. History books are almost exclusively about male heroic deeds and still only just under 17% of all biographies on Wikipedia are about women! As a teenager, my mother always gave me the biographies of exciting women in history, showing me that a woman can become anything and achieve anything she wants. I wasn't taught this at school, but that's where gender equality should start, because this time is very formative for children and young people. In my master's thesis, I wrote about the (self-) invisibility of women in history and also wanted to make an active contribution to making more women visible again. Therefore, I am now implementing this theme in public and museum spaces and hope that these stories and images can inspire others. A missing Y-chromosome cannot stop a woman from sailing around the world, winning the Nobel Prize or ruling a country!
Where do you find inspiration?
Inspiration is everywhere for me. Because everything is relevant and can become a work of art. But, most of all, I love things that other people throw away. I think everything can become a work of art: a broken car mirror, old kitschy artificial flowers, old PET bottles, ... everything is relevant or can be relevant if you look at it with imagination.
How and with what does a creative process begin for you? What is the first impulse?
As I said, anything can be relevant, a news report, a noise in the night or a stone by the wayside. All these things I have implemented artistically, they just came to me. First the thought captivates me and I read, hear, see more about it and try to dive in. And then in this process the form of the idea or the "dress" as Meret Oppenheim so poetically put it, forms in my head. This process can take days to months. And so everything in my head takes shape more and more until I feel that it is ready. Then the physical work on the work itself begins and I visualize the image from my head step by step and bring it into reality.
For example, on one trip my mother pulled a book for me from a public swap library, "The Strangest Places in the World" by Alastair Bonnett. In it, there is a chapter about national boundaries around the world that to this day are not firmly defined. I did not know until then that the border between Egypt and Sudan cannot be agreed upon, just as with many other borders around the world! I am immersed further and further into the subject and am currently working on a triptych about it, in which I paint the various border lines on a self-sewn patchwork carpet, which I have previously dyed desert-colored with henna, tea and coffee.
How do you stay authentic among so many other creators of art?
For me, authenticity means staying with oneself. I always try to be in exchange with my feelings and emotions. In addition, I remain curious every day and try out everything. Interesting and new things are always there to discover and to learn from them, that's what makes life so exciting!
Some of Ellinor's artworks are already up on our website for you:
Thank you so much for your inspiring and insightful answers!