I always think that when something looks perfect, it is very boring

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As one of the two first artists in residence at DIVA in Antwerp, Simon Marsiglia has used his time to make a new friend, metal. Starting with a story, set in a fantastical landscape he provides tangible objects with an ‘unreal makeover,’ giving everyday things a sense of higher power through his use of fiction. 

You and Emmie Hubbard are DIVA’s first artists in residence. What has this experience been like?

Emmie and I are the first to do the residency here, and this is also the first post-graduate residency I'm doing, so I feel that for everyone involved it's a bit of an experiment. I think it's also really nice to be put in the same context as someone who does different things from what I do myself. That's usually how you develop, through conversations with different people. I also share a studio back in Amsterdam with a fashion designer, Irene Ha and I think we have an influence on each other's practice. I can see traces of past collaborators in my own work and I can also see people I worked with in the past have carried a little piece of me with them in things they make. It's just a nice exchange to have. I think it's very important to take the focus away from yourself, not all the time, but occasionally, and make things together with other people. 

What has been the biggest change in your practice during your residency at DIVA?

During my time here I have really tried to befriend metal, as it is something that I don't usually work with. Previously I was working with a lot of plastics. I tried to use materials I can shape without tools. I like working with my hands. So that’s definitely something this residency has given me, new material knowledge to add to the library. My library of techniques expands, giving me more opportunities when it comes to building up a story and creating an object. 

I like working with my hands

A really big part of my practice is to present the wearable pieces in a context, so it's not just a tiny adornment on a white background, but the pieces are brought to life. 

How has it been to learn how to work with a new medium?

As I am not a traditionally trained jewellery maker, I have the opportunity here to do a very compressed bachelor's in six weeks, and I’ve taken every single minute of that and put it to work. Of course, I was a bit clueless in the beginning, but DIVA put me in contact with some very nice jewellery designers that helped me out a lot. From there, it is all about playing around. I think the first time you do something is when it turns out the best because you can sort of see that you are exploring the material. I always think that when something looks perfect, it is very boring. I like to see the traces of mistakes and the playfulness in the material. 

Do your contexts come before or after the object itself?

I tend to start from a writing point. I’ll do writing exercises and see what object naturally occurs throughout these stories. If a character needs to go through a portal and is required to wear a certain headset to stay safe while doing so, that is already an argument for that headset to exist. From there, I begin to visualize the object through drawings and then proceed to make it. I think that's sort of the usual chain things take, but those stories are a little bit limited of course because I know in the back of my head that I am writing the story for the sake of the object, so I unintentionally ask, ‘Can I actually make this with the knowledge I have?’ That is why adding new techniques to my library helps me expand my universe of objects. Either way, sometimes you just have to try and ignore your own limits and take help from others.

What kind of stories do you create for your objects?

Previously, I was working from purely fictional stories, with this full-on fantasy/sci-fi vibe, very ‘we are on another planet right now’. During the last year when I have been part of the GEM Z talent acceleration program, I tried to change the trajectory a little and make it easier to relate to the stories. I tried to have the fictional story take place at an actual physical location on earth this time. To choose where the story would take place I asked myself, ‘ okay where on the human planet earth would something crazy happen, like an alien crash landing or a time rift opening?’ The place I chose is Mosquito Bay in Puerto Rico. Mosquito Bay has the highest concentration in the world of a certain organism that sends out a bioluminescent light making the waves glow in the night, it really looks extraterrestrial. I think if some kind of time-warp alien stuff happened, it would totally be there.

Why did you want to have your stories take place on ‘human planet earth’ this time?

Situating the fictional story in an existing place, helps to bridge the gap between reality and fiction and makes it easier to relate to the story. All the objects I have made during this year have the notion of starting out as an existing object. Then, by giving it an unreal makeover, it begins to work its way into the narrative of the bioluminescent bay story. 

One of my objects started its life as a purse but has some appearances of a sea urchin, it sort of has a hard shell and then soft intestines. It started off as a purse, and through this time rift situation, it got crossed with a creature that could have existed in this place. Making it the 'exHandbag', a living entity that started its life as an accessory.

Has music been very important during this residency?

I think music is important to me just in general. At the studio, I feel like I go through like 7 different moods in a day, so I listen to like 7 different types of music a day. I wanted to create a playlist to sort of broadcast the mood, going from very calm to super energized, up and down. I think it is a nice way to send out the vibe you're feeling when making an object. I sometimes make little music videos for my things, just to put them in the context of the energy I was feeling when creating them. I also have a lot of friends who make nice music that I listen to. I even got an unreleased track from Aeoi to include in the mix. So for this interview, I wanted to make a mix. It’s not something I'm very familiar with, but I thought it was fun because I could incorporate sound files from other sources. It’s not only music that inspires me of course. I also watch things while working, so there are sound clips in there from movies like eXistenZ(1999). It's a new way for me to broadcast energy in the studio.



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