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ILA - Seek and you shall find not.

Category: Portrait 7. May 2008

Intensity can be fascinating. However, levity also holds a certain charm. The artist’s name, ILA — which stands for the sentence in German: einen “Immens Langen Atem haben" (literally, “to be long of breath”, i.e. “to have stamina or willpower”) — expresses the difficulties of an artist’s existence: facing setbacks, keeping up endurance, rolling with the punches. The business of art often seems like hard work, however, the work process and artistic expression of art is more like play. He wishes for his works to appear like they happen effortlessly, minus burdening concepts like “genius” or artistic self-sacrifice. His work, he says, is inspired by the idea of giving something. They should be considered as invitations to stick around, to wake one up but not to win one over. The viewer then must choose his or her own way through the works, unguided by the preconceptions of others.

After getting a degree in geology, ILA turned his attentions towards art. His preoccupation with natural science can still be found in his work. Exhibition titles such as “All in All” are reminiscent of the systematic paradigm of nature. In his work, “Earth Plugs” — which was honored with First Prize at the International Biennale for Miniatures in Belgrade — he drilled holes into pavement curbs, house facades, and boulders using a diamond drill bit, thereby inoculating the socio-geological ground of these public spaces and found locations as a kind of artistic intervention.

“Call Wood” features the installation of an automatically answering mobile phone somewhere in the middle of the forest. At the headquarters of the high-tech company AVL, ILA’s “Climate- Control Machine” can be found, which in this time of global warming, keeps an ice relief of the world permanently frozen though solar power. The “Female Network” places females in typical positions while speaking on their mobile phones into the context of primitive cave paintings. Culturally provocative references to the natural sciences permeate ILA’s work.

In the academic art education system, ILA is most struck by its tendency to stifle its students’ potential. Stuffy formal principles in isolated educational institutions and the focus on competition in artistic activity, truly limits the artists’ horizons. His work, he says, not least of all through its sense of humor, is sometimes liberating in a childlike way, creating room once again to play. (wh/jn)

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