Interview: Carolina Falkholt


Carolina Falkholt has worked with developing the art form of graffiti towards a musical, performative and social practice since the end of the 90s. She has regularly invited other artists, musicians, the public and organizations to collaborate with her. Apart from spray painting and sketching she also creates sculptures, performance, lyrics, music and video. Her expressions are intertwined with words, objects and sounds that mix, are repeated and rephrased which in turn creates structure, rhythm and meaning. Falkholt explores her own aesthetic expression as well as the social possibilities of graffiti in the gap between graffiti as a subculture and graffiti as a contemporary artistic expression.

A lot of the time she works with large compositions, site specific and improvisation. Her artistic works develop with many elements interacting such as the biographical, contemporary society issues and local history. Recurring are feminist views and question that constantly are in the now, not the least for Falkholt who with her art takes up a big space in the public room and speaks loud and clear about structural injustice which clashes with patriarchal culture and provokes discussion. Carolina Falkholt’s work process on site is fierce and exact. Formally the colourful sfumato-like backgrounds meet her significant line drawings that form intricate meshworks. The design contains semiotic ingredients of a physical nature such as eyes, pussies or hand gestures.

Last week, Carolina was a subject of heated debates raging by the authorities in Nyköping, Sweden over her vagina mural at the Tessin school. She was nice enough to take some time and answer a few questions we had for her.

a252047216f4b8f4_orgLet me first say that I am fascinated about the way you create your art. Could you tell us who you are, where you´re from and how did you get started in the street art scene?
I was brought up in the middle of nowhere in the forests of Dalsland, Sweden. I have always been drawing and very early on I got fascinated by graffiti. Perhaps more of the concept of creating something unique in the public space, than by most of the aesthetics I saw in graffiti.  As a teenager I moved to Stockholm and started to write under the alias Blue. In the middle of the 1990s I moved to New York where I became a member of The Fantastic Partners and Hardcore Chickz. Among others I worked together with Lady Pink and I also did large pieces for the record company Rawkus. After four years in New York I moved back to Sweden and now I have my base in Göteborg.

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Do you have a formal education?
No.

How much does your art affect or influence your everyday life and are there any role models or artists who inspired you?
My life revolves around my art. Through the years I have been inspired by many artists but again perhaps more on a conceptual level than on an aesthetic level.

Has your style developed throughout the years?
My art is constantly developing. I’m a process-based artist – one project connects with the other. Perhaps I start working with an idea in one project, develops it in another and reworks it in a third, realizing that it was something completely different that was the real issue. Besides graffiti the ideas can take the forms of collages, sculptures, photos, installation and performance, and I work with sound and music.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYour art is multilayered and complex. Could you describe the development process of your artwork?
Today I tend to work site specific and big. I often have a conceptual idea about what I want to do. I never sketch – or that is not completely true – I often create specific music for the projects that I listen to while I paint and just like a sketch the music works for me and my process. My paintings are improvised on site and in my practice I deal with subjects like contemporary social issues, local history, my biographical background, feminism etc. 

Is there a message in your art?
There is messages in all art but the meaning is shifting, depending on the viewer, the context etc.

I understand that female genitalia is featured in several of your past artworks, but what was the inspiration behind the mural at the Tessin school (Pictured below)? Did you get approval before hand?
When I was asked to do a piece at a school I thought of the harsh verbal climate that often exist among teenagers in this age (13-15 years old). So I started to write degrading words frequently used towards women or anything that is seen as feminine, or not heteronormative. After that I painted it over with radiant red colors and on top of that I draw this abstract image of a female body where you for example can depict two feet and a vagina. That is why the piece is called “Overpainted”. When I was asked to do a piece of art on the school I was given free hands so I assumed they were familiar with my work. To me it’s extremely important that whomever I work for don’t have anything to say about my process or my finished pieces. I rather say no to an assignment than corrupt my artistic freedom.

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Did you feel this might cause a stir in the community?
For a long period of time I have worked with difficult questions and I can understand that my art stirs up a lot of questions and emotions but isn’t that what art is supposed to? If they want something harmless that looks nice they should ask an interior designer and not an artist.

How did the controversy present itself in the aftermath?
It started with an email where I was asked to alter my painting and when I refused they said that it was going to be removed.

How did you feel about it and how did you respond to it?
It is alarming that politicians abuse their power in this way. It’s a sign of ignorance and moral panic. Sensible people came to the rescue though, for example the principal of the school defended it and I have got such a big support. It’s reassuring that most people don’t take censorship so easily.

1024px-Carolinafalkholt_mariestad_TEST_2011What have been your most challenging and rewarding piece of work thus far?
It hard to say but in 2010 I created a project called Graffiti Mariestad (Pictured on the left), which revolved around a 25 meter high silo in a small town in Sweden. The project became a creative hub gathering graffiti artists, musicians, dancers etc and the local community with kids, youths and old folks. During the month it took place we had something like 40.000 visitors.

What do you do when you are not creating art? What are your hobbies?
Besides being a full time artist I am a mother – there is defiantly no time for hobbies.

What ‘s next for you? What shows or projects do you have planned?
Tomorrow I travel to Umeå in the north of Sweden to do a piece on a block of ice and after that I am invited to Cairo to paint together with Egyptian female mural painters. I really hope the violence in the country doesn’t escalate.

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Any words of advice for aspiring artists?
Work hard and listen to your own voice. Imitation can be a good way of learning how to draw and write but to find something interesting you really need to stay focused on your own style and concept.

SAUS would like to thank Carolina for her time, and wish her luck and success in the future.

Carolina Falkholt
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falkholt

Carolina Falkholt has worked with developing the art form of graffiti towards a musical, performative and social practise since the end of the 90s. She has regularly invited other artists, musicians, the public and organisation to collaborate with her. Apart from spray painting and sketching she also creates sculptures, performance, lyrics, music and video. Her expressions are intertwined with words, objects and sounds that mix, are repeated and rephrased which in turn creates structure, rhythm and meaning. Falkholt explores her own aesthetic expression as well as the social possibilities of graffiti in the gap between graffiti as a subculture and graffiti as a contemporary artistic expression.

A lot of the time she works with large compositions, site specific and improvisation. Her artistic works develop with many elements interacting such as the biographical, contemporary society issues and local history. Recurring are feminist views and question that constantly are in the now, not the least for Falkholt who with her art takes up a big space in the public room and speaks loud and clear about structural injustice which clashes with patriarchal culture and provokes discussion. Carolina Falkholt’s work process on site is fierce and exact. Formally the colourful sfumato-like backgrounds meet her significant line drawings that form intricate meshworks. The design contains semiotic ingredients of a physical nature such as eyes, pussies or hand gestures.

– See more at: http://nolimitboras.com/?project=carolina-falkholt#sthash.jB4ug2Os.dpuf

falkholt

Carolina Falkholt has worked with developing the art form of graffiti towards a musical, performative and social practise since the end of the 90s. She has regularly invited other artists, musicians, the public and organisation to collaborate with her. Apart from spray painting and sketching she also creates sculptures, performance, lyrics, music and video. Her expressions are intertwined with words, objects and sounds that mix, are repeated and rephrased which in turn creates structure, rhythm and meaning. Falkholt explores her own aesthetic expression as well as the social possibilities of graffiti in the gap between graffiti as a subculture and graffiti as a contemporary artistic expression.

A lot of the time she works with large compositions, site specific and improvisation. Her artistic works develop with many elements interacting such as the biographical, contemporary society issues and local history. Recurring are feminist views and question that constantly are in the now, not the least for Falkholt who with her art takes up a big space in the public room and speaks loud and clear about structural injustice which clashes with patriarchal culture and provokes discussion. Carolina Falkholt’s work process on site is fierce and exact. Formally the colourful sfumato-like backgrounds meet her significant line drawings that form intricate meshworks. The design contains semiotic ingredients of a physical nature such as eyes, pussies or hand gestures.

– See more at: http://nolimitboras.com/?project=carolina-falkholt#sthash.jB4ug2Os.dpuf

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2 Comments

    • SAUS
      January 29, 2014

      Thanks! Cool page.