EK Interview: Irina and Silviu


UK based artists, Irina & Silviu was previously featured last month by Konahrtist. The paper collagen duo gave an in-depth interview based around the philosophies, inspirations and background based around their work.

Please introduce yourselves to our readers.
We are Irina and Silviu Székely, born in Romania in 1980. We met in 1999 at University, both studying philosophy. We translated some books together, among which Foucault’s course Psychiatric Power. We also developed a taste for contemporary critical theories and 20 Century avant-gardes, starting only recently to put this taste to test by producing collaborative collages and photo/montages.

You were both born in Romania and moved to the UK. What was your journey like?
We left our home country for good in the winter of 2006. We lived for a while in France and Italy, where we met some wonderful people. Our journey was fascinating, exhausting, sometimes painful and beautifully absurd. Now we know exactly what we lost and what we gained so far.


What are some of the most striking differences you have noticed between a communist nation to a capitalist one?
It is always a question of ideology and who and when is controlling it. The system of beliefs upon which a nation is built can sometimes be brutally manipulated by certain individuals in the name of democracy. The differences between a communist and a capitalist nation are the same as those between good and evil, abundance and austerity, seriousness and humour, Kandinsky and Warhol.

There is a lot of Dadaist influence in your collages. Who are some of your favourite artists and thinkers from the movement? Any others outside of Dadaism that you particularly admire?
Yes, there is some Dadaist influence in our work, coming mostly from their early exuberant satirical and anti-traditionalist performances held at Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich. Tzara, Ball and Huelsenbeck (who later edited the DaDa Almanac) are the key figures in this movement. Although, our interest in the Dadaist movement does not lie in its actual and irreplaceable production of works of art, but in its brief and intense explosion as a mixture of nihilism, humour, sarcasm, mockery, literary provocations and political ambiguities.
At a different level, we must mention the names of Bataille, Foucault, Klossowski and Deleuze for their radical contribution towards new forms of thought and alternative philosophical and political strategies.

Much of Dadaism was a reaction against the contemporary political climate. What is your opinion of where the world is today politically?
Let’s not forget that Dadaism was surrounded by the atrocities of a world war; it was the continuous threat of an unleashed and most visible violence that made possible the counter-offensive of an instinctive outburst of polymorphic energies that started in Zurich and then expanded to Berlin, Paris, New York and other major cities.
If we look at today’s political climate, we can no longer ascertain the reality of a unique source of power and violence (evil Hitler, ruthless Stalin etc.); society is now radically changing at an alarming rate, there are countless networks that distribute and amplify power, and maybe this is why we cannot link any artistic or literary movements (if they are still possible nowadays) to these short-term impulsive manifestations.

Have you been following the global unrest? The UK has its own Occupy movement as well as other protests. Do you have an opinion on these developments?
We chose to stay away from any political and social agitations, so we are not very interested in the daily events hunted and sold by mass-media. This doesn’t mean we are not aware of what is going on in the world. Occupy London is one of those leftist movements (in solidarity with its American Wall Street version) which take place in countries with weak socialist traditions. They will soon be forgotten, as long as the society’s desire to possess objects and to acquire wealth will not redesign itself from scratch.

Moving past the politics underpinning Dadaism, what do you think of the current state of the art world? Are there any trends that your art is rebelling against, or at least engaging with?
It seems that today anyone can do (almost) anything and we are free at last to call this art without even questioning the very nature of what we are doing. Hence, the total lack of social coherence and the impossibility of any movement proposing a new –ism. We developed a rather pacifist approach of the world of art, but we can say that through our work (photo/montages, their titles and some complementary texts) we are challenging the idea of authenticity, ownership and commercial value of the so-called artistic object.

You say that you have zero formal training and started only a year or so ago. Are you at all surprised by how much attention you have gained in such a short period of time? Why do you think it is that your work was immediately noticed?
We are certainly not aware of the impact of our work, but it is nice to find out that people are enjoying it. There must be something striking in it that we can’t control, maybe the way the objects interact with each other, how they combine their functionalities, or how their title is dismantling a single, insufficient meaning.

As spiritual surgeons, what would you say is the malady and the cure for the human spirit?

Human spirit is made to be continuously reshaped; when this process stops, the dangers of a sterile contagion may be unleashed. There is no cure for that and no symptoms exist yet to describe a certain post-modern malady; therefore, every artistic operation we undertake represents a satirical description of a domain of events with all their unnecessary and ironical degradations.

Is there an ultimate reality or is everything just a lovely illusion?

Yes, everything is exactly the way it is. Hopefully, this dichotomy will soon become a relic of thought.

Any upcoming shows or projects that you’d like to promote?
We will be featured artists in Bluecanvas Magazine Issue 11. With this occasion, there will be a Launch Event at Exchange LA in January 2012. Also, we have submitted 2 of our works for the 19th International Contemporary Collage Exhibition, Paris, which will take place in April 2012.

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Previous post: http://www.emptykingdom.com/featured/irina-and-silviu-szekely/

Interview by Konahrtist
Edited by okmarzo