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UNCOMFORTABLE ILLUSIONS

Creative artist Felix Laband: ‘Art should not have to be pretty; it should haunt you’

Creative artist Felix Laband: ‘Art should not have to be pretty; it should haunt you’
Electronica visionary and visual artist Felix Laband. (Photos: Supplied)

Artistic visionary Felix Laband speaks about his obsession with war, the musical and visual works that inspire him, and new projects soon to be released.

When did you first identify as a creative artist?

At about five years old. I remember drawing being my escape from it all. My dear mother used to keep my drawings with a date and a title.

Amazingly, she still has a folder full of these early artworks and I was going through them a couple of years back. I seem to have been obsessed with violence and war. I’m still obsessed with war and currently living through the most insane violence being dished out for our viewing pleasure. It’s truly an exciting yet insanely depressing time for me, literally watching and documenting the world sleepwalking into a nuclear war.

Outside your medium, what branch of art most stimulates you?

My medium is collage and I apply this methodology to all my different creative platforms – both music and visual art. It’s all a process of cutting ideas from something and then reassembling these ideas to make something new.

So, I try to fill my life with as much inspiration as possible in terms of books and other source material: films and documentaries accessed and downloaded from YouTube have become my latest obsession. In terms of actual art, I think sculpture, especially installation sculpture, is most intriguing to me. 

Which artists have inspired you, and why?

My first real important moment with sculpture was a Jane Alexander installation at the National Gallery in Cape Town in the early 2000s. Much of my work concerns the negative space in my collages. I find the negative space can say as much as, if not more than, the actual imagery in a composition. I found the way she used space, the way the sculptures fit into the three-dimensional space, very special. The silence that show exuded still haunts me.

One of my biggest inspirations in this medium is Michael MacGarry. Some of his more recent works, such as those incredible gun robots, are so inspiring. These fictional gun robots, supposedly manufactured in the near future for the Nigerian military, are so incredibly realistic and beautiful and they command a presence that you could never achieve with any other medium.  

What, to you, is art’s most important function?

To make you feel uncomfortable with the illusion that we are constantly sold. To make you re-examine everything so that you see things in a new context.

Art should not have to be pretty, but it needs to have a presence and a truth that gets into your dreams and your subconscious. Art should haunt you.  

(Photo: Supplied)

(Photo: Supplied)

Local creative people who excite you?

One artist whose work I find really beautiful and special is Ruby Swinney. Her paintings just really speak to me. I loved what Dan Halter made with the monopoly board — his “Colonial Monopoly” work.

I have always loved Georgina Gratrix’s paintings and she continues to make such incredible work. The “portrait every day” project she created during the Covid lockdown was special. I think Zander Blom’s latest work, the huge black and white pieces, are really good.

What specific work do you return to again and again, and why?

An artwork I always return to is Man and Woman Contemplating the Moon by Caspar Friedrich, as this and other paintings of his literally haunt me. Musically it’s Aphex Twin’s Selected “Ambient Works Volume II”, Chet Baker’s “Chet Baker Sings”, Joy Division’s “Unknown Pleasures”, Panda Bear’s “Tomboy” and Burial’s “Untrue”. I find myself always returning to William Kentridge.

(Photo: Supplied)

(Photo: Supplied)

What are your thoughts about the AI revolution?

It really terrifies and depresses me.

I know at this point in time AI will never be able to create the type of unique choices that a true artist makes, but with the right prompts, it can get pretty close — a poor version of the original. I think it’s interesting because what the human can create that AI struggles with is mistakes. And I think we need to embrace our mistakes a whole lot more — especially in the electronic music world — as this is what makes our individual work unique.

Now the music scene is totally oversaturated with mediocre, arbitrary music. Something like 300,000 new tracks get released every single day. AI takes so much away from all the blood, sweat and tears creative people have to put in to gain skills and eventually recognition and success.

Any project you’re unveiling or wrapping up?

I’m busy working on and completing a new music project, which I’m pretty excited about, and I’m really excited about all the video work I have slowly been working on for years now. This is a space that is still relatively new to me and where I feel I may produce some of my most interesting work. Lots of new material coming out very soon. DM

This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper, which is available countrywide for R35.

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Lucius Casca says:

    Uhm no.. It should represent the beautiful and transcendent. This is just typical post-modernist garbage that any 5 year old with a scrapbook can stick together

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