Collage takes over the town of Viborg, Denmark, with Less Festival.

Directed by Sergei Sviatchenko and Curated by Faye Dowling, this festival aims to change Viborg’s visual urban landscape introducing the work of 12 artists working with print, sculpture and moving image.

TWS –Collage will be taking over the town of Viborg with exhibitions and public installations. How collage and architecture will interact?

Sergei Sviatchenko: With LESS festival we hope create a new platform to celebrate the history and future of contemporary collage art. The realisation of LESS Festival has been my dream since I arrived here with my family in the beautiful town of Denmark. And we are so excited to be able to start on this new journey with the celebration of this artform.

With LESS we are looking to create the system of “environment – people – contemporary art”. Collage as a media has many possibilities: challenging work with composition, colour balance, eclectic and surrealistic moods. The idea is to incorporate works of very different artists into the structure of the town in order “to distort space and create the illusion of immateriality”. Since my early career the idea of enlarging the image interested me, so called “Architectural illustration”. By using the inside and outside spaces on the way to new aesthetic expression.

TWS –What is NUTOPIA, and what is curatorial concept that helped gather this selection of artists?

Faye Dowling: We started out Curation of LESS in January 2020, of course before the pandemic changed the year for each and every one of us. Our theme of ‘NUTOPIA’ was intended to be about “new visions” of the future – combining ideas of community and nature, set in the heart of the future Metropolis. Of course, during the months of the pandemic we went through this very challenging times, and for some thinking about the future felt at times frightening or daunting idea, whilst so much seemed uncertain around us.

In August we were happy to to confirm that we are were able to to go ahead with the festival. And at this stage our thoughts on the ‘nutopia” evolved into a more gentle and reflective tone. One thing that we could all share this year is the experience that how when our busy metropolises and daily communities  are so dramatically changed, we come back to the things most important around us – such as nature and community, and remembering the significance of Art as process of creation, and a way to communicate with each other.

TWS – With the future of collage embedded on the festival’s spirit, which is the place of technology and new media in the Festival?

FD: Our perspective at LESS is to consider both the history and the future of Collage art and practice in dynamic and contemporary ways. The artists in our first year use so many different processes and tools to create their work. Artists such as Nico Krijno uses both physical materials and technical processes, which become one in a performance of image-making. His “Lockdown Collages’ use “old- fashioned” technologies of the hands and scanner, but with the experimental and playful mindset which is often connected with digital art-making. Australian Artists Donnachie and Simionato however work to explore the possibilities of technology itself in image-making – using algorithms they experiment not only with using technology as a tool, but play with technological aspects as a mode for Artistic creation. In the future the artists hope to develop us a VR sculpture walk in Viborg town ,

As we are now two generations into the Digital Age, it is also important to consider that as we become increasingly talented as artists working with technology as a tool, that the division between media becomes less and less important – freeing us to remember that the true Art is the creation and creative process, and how we connect with our viewers, whether it be a paintbrush, a pixel, a physical object or a virtual terrain.

TWS –As a curator, which is your perception about the place of contemporary collage in contemporary art?

FD: Over the last 10 years the nature of artistic experiment with made-imagery has dynamically transformed, as has its place and purpose as part of the Visual Arts communities and institutions. In this way Collage has itself transformed– wherein the rich possibilities of artists to work from hand-made and the digital – whether this be art created from elements of paper, photography, sculpture, pixels, or moving-image.

It is exciting to look at pioneering contemporary artists such as Penny Slinger and Linder Sterling who were creating hand-made collages in the 1970’s; and see artists such as Nico Krijno and Kensuke Koike, who use hands and paper but with digital mindsets that look beyond the nature of new age tools – in all these artists work it it is the unique artistic magic that connects with us so deeply.
As a Curator and Editor I have worked across all media, collage, drawing, painting, photography, digital, animation, film, VR… and today I see all these practices and modes of creation aligned together in collage practice.

Sergei and myself are passionate about creating a genuine space where Collage art and practice can be both celebrated, enjoyed, and studied. With a new festival we are of course spoilt with ideas for so many artists we admire and hope to work with. We are already starting with ideas and plans for 2021 and it feels truly a treasured opportunity to be able to start building a new community looking into the future.

LESS FESTIVAL OF CONTEMPORARY COLLAGE Viborg, Denmark.19.09-18.10.20
Curator: Faye Dowling
Artistic Director: Sergei Sviatchenko Design: NEW Agency, London.
Old Town Hall opening hours: Tues-Fri 11-3pm
Saturday 12-4pm

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Jason Tessier