“Objects that no longer have value for other people are an opportunity for me”

“Objects that no longer have value for other people are an opportunity for me”
“Objects that no longer have value for other people are an opportunity for me”

“Objects that no longer have value for other people are an opportunity for me”Jorge Muñoz

Matter. Body. Image. It is impossible to summarise, but these three words are essential to understand the creative path that the Vitoria-based visual artist Ibon Landa Amutxategi has been developing over the last few years. A path that is taking him to different places, as happened during the second half of last year, when he was chosen to carry out a residency in Belgium.. He is now back in Bilbao, where he has established his residence and main workspace.

At what point do you say: art could be my future profession?

–There is no specific moment when you say to yourself: this is when I am going to start trying to make a living from this. It is something gradual. My decision was the result of a compendium of small decisions. It was about giving continuity to things. You are in the Art degree at the Faculty of Fine Arts. From there, you go through calls, you take a studio with some friends… I finished my degree in Sculpture. It was difficult for me to carry out my work here, at my parents’ house. There was a first small decision. That is the path, Always have the desire to give continuity to work processes that may have had a pit stop for an exhibition or a presentation, for example.

Working in the cultural field is precarious and unstable… Why accept the challenge?

–No, it is not the safest thing to do in terms of work. It is about mentally preparing yourself for what is to come. Expectations also play an important role here, what you ask of this. In this precarious economic situation, I am not going to have expectations of being, either, financially regular, with an amount of income that can always allow me to face more idle expenses. You are always looking at rent, food… the basics. Everything is limited to those possibilities in order to continue working in art. There was a time when I heard a friend say that he wasn’t going to ask art for money to live on, that he would do art on the side and get income from somewhere else. The first time I heard that, it gave me peace of mind.It seems that we all have to make a living from our practice and, in reality, there are infinite options or, at least, each one looks for his own puzzle to get ahead in life. It is about trying to maintain a minimum number of hours in the studio and a minimum amount of income per month and gradually putting that puzzle together.

Beyond the specific projects, what do you think defines the mark, the hallmark of Ibon Landa Amutxategi?

–My way of approaching materials from their physicality and from a contact of the body with the material, which conditions what will come in that material relationship. In that field, I am very interested in the subject of sculpture and space. At the heart of my practice is this concern for the elements and objects that I create from that material relationship, and then what physical relationship that has with the viewer, from body to body..

In this work, you often use already used materials to which you give a new meaning. Is this something conscious, is it the result of pure economic necessity, does it depend on the project…?

–There are several factors involved. The need to obtain materials more quickly is a determining factor. If you have objects at hand that no longer have value for other people, for me they are an opportunity. An object that no longer has any use gives me the option to work with it without complexes. That is the main reason, being able to work with them with aplomb, not being afraid that it will lose value, but rather what it does is increase it. That is according to my criteria, of course. Then there is someone who says: you’ve made shit even worseThat’s the number one reason, knowing that this is worthless and now I can start working peacefully. Redefining a material is something important to me..

“It seems that we all have to make a living from our practice, and in reality, there are endless options”

You mentioned the public earlier, the relationship with people who often encounter a piece without knowing the processes. We are in a time when the relationship between contemporary art and society is not very close, to say the least. Quite the opposite. Do you think much about the spectator?

–When I work, I always have someone in mind. In that relationship, when someone comes to see my work, in later conversations with family or friends, you see that they appreciate the conversation. At the time, it is difficult for them to have enjoyment and be calm while looking at a piece. You sense that there is a need for some discourse, for a context. The more information we have, the more it will fill us.The question is what information we are able to obtain without a textual discourse. We have the senses, we are able to obtain information through them. Understanding, at least sometimes, does not have to come from the textual. But I also tell you that with this question, I am still trying to establish some things. It is true, however, that contemporary art is not close to the day-to-day life of society. It is a rather complex subject and I still do not fully understand the reasons why the situation is like this.

Your practice has a lot to do with touching, with working with the material in a physical way. What is your relationship with new technologies, with the emergence of Artificial Intelligence?

–The first contact is always from the environment. The first contact is always seduction. But then, after a while, I realize the dangers they can have or the abusive uses. It seems to me that sometimes that initial seduction can overshadow what these new technologies can come to structure in society..

“Going out gives you distance to see what you have at home and also different practices that usually exist in the Basque context compared to other places”

Your recent stay in Brussels is neither the first nor the only event of this kind that you have participated in. What do you hope to find in this type of initiative?

–I spent six months in Brussels, a time when you really feel what you experience there. Going out gives you distance to see what you have at home and also different practices that usually exist in art, whether in Bilbao or in the Basque context, compared to other places. In addition to living for six months in a city where there is a lot of art movement, the residency program I was on has meant meeting nine other people from different countries and that has helped me to see what each person is carrying. The experience and the coexistence is very good for being aware of the whys. That is the richest thing about this type of experience. You are sharing with people who are trying to do the same thing as you, to continue to deepen each person’s artistic practice. You learn a lot about the concerns that move each person and the different situations in which each one is..

“I would like there to be a balance between producing and showing work. That balance helps a lot”

Now that you mention the Basque context, is it conducive to developing an artistic career?

–I would say yes. When you graduate, you have these opportunities for scholarships, calls… that can help you propel yourself in the beginning of your artistic practice. But then We must learn to live beyond that, in balance..

Ibon Land Amuchategi

2024 is the year of the centenaries of Chillida and Basterretxea. Do the new generations of Basque artists maintain these references or, while acknowledging the past, do they think exclusively of looking forward?

–In my environment, there is recognition. When you start out in this, you spend years watching and consuming a lot of art. You spend years nourishing yourself and feeding yourself on what has been there up to this point. But I think that, having those references, you have to carry out your practice. Just as they did with their previous references, it is necessary to move forward or adapt to new concerns.. I insist, there is recognition and, in some way, that legacy is there, it is passed on.

What is he up to now?

–After the six-month residency, having spent some time working as a teacher, I want to get back into the studio to carry out a couple of projects I have for the summer. I’m looking forward to getting back into the studio.

By the way, why in Bilbao?

–When I did the Master’s in Painting at the UPV I returned to Bilbao and stayed. I saw that, at that time, there were many people who were working in art and For me it is important to have that community to continue working.There are times when it is difficult to keep the motivation alive. In Bilbao I found that propitious environment.

And the future?

–It is an almost impossible question to answer. As for my wishes, I would like to continue working in the studio, to have projects underway so that I can continue to feed the path. I would like there to be a balance between producing and showing work. That balance helps a lot. Both showing a lot without having time to be in the studio and the opposite is difficult. Balance is important.

You may not be fully aware of it, but more and more is being said and written about you. How do you deal with these recognitions or expectations about what your career can be?

–Recognition is always appreciated. It helps. And you have to know how to put each thing in its scale. It is very important but that is all.so to speak. It’s something that gives you the strength to say: you have to keep going.

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