PAGE JUMP / INTERVIEWS

ARTIST INTERVIEWS – 53 FRAGMENTS

Stephen Linsteadt Talks About His Work & 53 Fragments

I paint because it gives me great joy to move thick and colorful pigment around a canvas with bristle brushes that bounce off the surface the way drumsticks recoil sweetly off a perfectly stretched drum. There is a rhythm to it that reverberates through my cells, like a dance, and when the strokes flow just right and the colors sing just right and the form splashes and drips just right then euphoria takes over and I disappear into a place where my everydayness can’t find me. This doesn’t happen with every canvas. It only happens with enough paintings to keep me in pursuit of it. It is the pursuit that is the addition.

I am left unsatisfied if the painting is just random marks and splashes of color. I look for the meaning, which supplies a sense of purpose in the endeavor. For meaning, I rely on poetry because poetry uses words that are the symbols we use to convey content. Poetry also utilizes metaphor, which is that slippery place where words fall short of describing feelings and thoughts that float in and out of the uncharted world of ideas. These floating inspirations come from a place one can attribute to a Muse. I assume there is always a Muse standing beside me when I am successful with a painting or a poem. I can’t say for sure, but I do know that my favorite paintings and poems have all come from a place I can’t take credit for. The thrill is to see what comes next out of the process.

The painting “Oxyrhynchus and Osiris” in “Part 1 – creation / birth” depicts the ancient fish oxyrhynchus (Echeneis remora) swimming in the primordial ocean of the unconscious. This fish was famous in ancient times for having swallowed the phallus of Osiris after he was dismembered by his brother Seth. The story of Osiris and his evil brother Seth contains many alchemical symbols, including the idea that we have become separated and fragmented from our original transcendent state of being. The fish’s name, remora, means ‘to delay.’ It had a sucker-shaped mouth, which it used to attach itself to passing ships. Apparently it had the power to stop ships and bring them to a standstill. The alchemical significance teaches the true seeker to swim against the tide of our conditioned beliefs and the tides of our desires (the large ships). From the alchemical point of view, the oxyrhynchus exerts an attraction on the ships that is compared to the influence of a magnet on iron. It is the power of the magnet that draws out the iron from our base (carnal) nature. Hence, our spiritual resurrection begins only after we lose identity with outward desires and become androgynous, as it were (hence the need to lose one’s symbolic phallus).

Carl Jung made the distinction that the magnetic force, in the alchemical view, does not “precede from the fish but from a magnet which [people] possess and which exerts the attraction that was once the mysterious property of the fish.” It is the “magnet of the wise,” that has the power to draw us out of the depths of the ocean of the unconscious, which is the real secret teaching of alchemy.

Read more>> (http://stephenlinsteadtstudio.com/articles/oxyrhynchus.html)

“Part 5 of 53 Fragments – death / re-birth” (forthcoming) inspired the painting “White Crane (hamsa) #6.” The white crane appears in Chinese mythology as symbolically connected to immortality. The crane was also considered to be the intermediary between earth and heaven and as a messenger of the gods to humans. Cranes are said to carry souls to Paradise at death and represent the ability to enter higher states of consciousness (re-birth).

I am honored to participate in 53 Fragments / in five parts. Like Osiris lying dismembered in the desert, I too feel fragmented during those times I feel lost and am searching for meaning and purpose. Circumstances have a way of dismembering our hopes and dreams. However, like Osiris, we can take comfort knowing that the alchemical distillery of our life’s journey is cleaning the dirt off our wings. When the process is complete, like the great hamsa, we will lift off the water’s surface and take flight to higher realms of consciousness.

Interview with Dean Pasch

What is the spirit and motivation behind you creating poems, pictures, music, film?

It’s my spirit’s way of helping me stay alive each life.

What would you most like your audience to know about you as artist and person? I mean of course the people who seek to know more about your art and about you.

That I believe in and feel that being alive is filled with layers and that whatever medium I use to explore being alive it must always seek to reflect this belief and deepen the mystery.

Could you say something about the first piece you have contributed to 53 Fragments? Its genesis, development and what it means for you personally (OR please choose the piece you would like to comment on)

I posed this question to all contributors but for me it might be more salient and interesting to ask the question why I initiated this project.

I am a structure junkie who is also a chaos addict. Those words are loaded and my use of them frivolous. A great number of people afflicted with addiction end up both dying from it and sourcing a great deal of grief and pain for those around them. So with that in mind I still use the term addiction in my answer to this question.

I basically accept I cannot imagine not making pictures, writing when I feel a need to, attempting to dabble in music and always feel the creation of film powerfully close to my creative core.

The umbrella term for all of the above is art. And the artist is so because there is no real choice involved. It is a dictatorship of the senses and the imagination. The calibration of the artist’s role and place in life is varied and that theme is also relevant to my answer. I wanted to be an artist since my earliest childhood and I hope this wish will accompany me into my death. If it doesn’t then I will have to just deal with it.

The project ’53 Fragments’ is nothing more and nothing less than my wish to make a journey with other artists through the stages and states of life – for convenience structured as:

creation / birth
childhood & youth
early adulthood & middle-age
old age
death / re-birth

A cycle of existence and its absence

A cycle that has intrigued me for longer than I can remember

What are your impressions of the current project (53 Fragments)?

It’s something I embraced with a plan, a modus operandi – a methodology I felt would see me through to its completion – which would be a year. The last 2 parts and their 26 fragments have never failed to inspire me, amaze me, challenge me and give me a deep satisfaction that has confirmed and sustained my wish to go for it – to do it.

There were time a few weeks ago when I felt a degree of burden and unpleasant obligation.

Those feelings passed quite quickly and with a release of fragment 27

53 Fragments has moved beyond the half-way point and that feels good. I can do this and I believe the artists taking part in the project will support me and the project right up to fragment 53.

Interview with Chris Madoch

What is the spirit and motivation behind you creating poems, pictures, music (choose the medium where appropriate)?

It is core to the fact of my BEING an observational expressionist trapped on Earth- a thing I may have chosen for myself to be, OR a responsibility that was ‘gifted’ me. In the context of The Cosmos as a whole my choices are to either kill myself or write or create in any medium or genre.
It is a question I am forced to address every day of my life.

What would you most like your audience to know about you as artist and person? I mean of course the people who seek to know more about your art and about you.

People who want to know anything about my art will find all the answers in my art.
People who want to know more about me should question what drives them in this direction- having said that I am very approachable.

Could you say something about the first piece you have contributed to 53 Fragments? Its genesis, development and what it means for you personally (OR please choose the piece you would like to comment on)

No. It speaks for itself.
What are your impressions of the current project (53 Fragments)? What made you agree to take part in it?

It is gargantuan and on the tipping edge of being unmanageable. I took part in the project because I was invited by a person I admire for their persistence and for their alchemical powers to make the unmanageable manageable.

Michael Dickel talks about his latest contribution to part 2 of 53 Fragments (childhood & youth)

An interesting thing for me was that I am one of four brothers, and in a very general way, there is a resemblance between the four children in the drawing (which you sent me to respond to) and the four brothers of my family. I started there—and with a memory of a red brick wall from my youth that could have served as this background.

However, the piece is (flash) fiction — other than the four brothers and 11-year spread between us, no reality. My father was a school teacher, not a photographer (although he did photography as a hobby and took occasional paying jobs as a photographer). He died in his late 60s of a heart attack when I was an adult with my first child already, not as depicted in the story.

I started to write this as poetry, but felt stuck until I changed it to prose and moved into the implied narrative. It became flash fiction rather than a poem, which worked better for me with this drawing for some reason.

I guess this is ekphrastic (as you probably know, writing responding to or describing actual or fictional artwork), so ekphrastic flash, but not ecstatic—a bit dark, I’m afraid. It calls into question the notion of youth and childhood, which Neil Postman (for one) traces as a relatively recent invention related to the printing press, an increased social expectation-need for literacy, and thus the invention of schools for children (as a class, no longer just younger humans) to teach citizens (who became adults as a class and not just older humans) to read and write. My questioning has less to do with this social construction at that point in history and more to do with its post-industrial revolution effects in a romanticized image of childhood that usually ignores the fact that children are very sensitive to and aware of emotional realities around them, and often most or all of the other realities, as well.

Interview with Viviana Hinojosa

What is the spirit and motivation behind you creating pictures?

First of all the desire to paint and draw, the impulse, raw as it comes, without further reasons. Second, the need to create possible worlds on paper or canvas, whimsical or absurd or surreal images, to experience color, line, shape and tone.

What would you most like your audience to know about you as an artist and a person?

Two things, I’m obsessed about perfecting the craft. I like to play. No point in making art if you can’t have fun with it. Play, play, play.
Oh, and I like cats.

First piece I contributed to 53 Fragments:

A piece about birth. I was trying to draw something else but the idea of drawing a nest was irresistible. So I drew a nest on a girl’s head and she is holding some flying device.

That for me is a beginning: to play, to pretend to fly.

Impressions on the current project and what made me take part in it:

I like collaboration projects. Creativity needs others to blossom. I liked the idea of being part of a big group of artists from other places and disciplines working together in a communal project. I was curious about how the work of each one would resonate with others generating new interpretations and ideas and new art pieces. So far, the 53 Fragments Project has proven to be most interesting and beautiful. Image, words and music come together in unexpected ways, each part alone is beautiful, together, it goes beyond beautiful, into the realm of wonder. Makes you anticipate what will come next, and how will it work together. It has gone beyond my expectations. Truly inspiring.

Interview with Michael Dickel

What is the spirit and motivation behind you creating poetry?

I’m not sure that I could name the, as in a single, spirit or motivation behind my poetry or my creating. Most of my poems and other art have such a mixture of influences—some ideas, topics, themes, or philosophical questions that I have been thinking about; observations from my life, from what happens around me; bits and pieces of Jewish Tradition and more than a little of Jewish mysticism (Kabbalah); the socio-political realities around me. This begs the question, though, of whether these make up the matter of the poem / art while something else would better be considered “spirit and motivation behind…creating”? I’m not sure that I know. I do know that I am compelled to write. Perhaps it’s a mental disorder, a sort of obsessive-compulsive disorder that expresses itself in word, word play, ideas, images, poetics and all that that word entails from Aristotle to today.

I create, therefore I am.

What would you most like your audience to know about you as artist and person? I mean of course the people who seek to know more about your art and about you.

If there is an audience that seeks to know more about my art and about me, I would suggest that they seek the art more and me less. My biography would not be boring, but I don’t know if it says much about my art. My art, however, may say much more about me than anything else. Yet, I hope, it really is not about me or, even when autobiography, about my life. My art has many layers, a lot going on below the surface. Take the time to let it sink in, return to it. And, if you don’t get it, ask yourself if that might also be the point—the ineffability of epistemology. I am strong on image, but sometimes my images move into cubism or abstraction in ways that make them (almost) beyond comprehension. I try to reach out into that place where I cannot quite express what I think or feel, and bring something back.

Could you say something about the first piece you have contributed to 53 Fragments? Its genesis, development and what it means for you personally?

Even for one poem, identifying a single spirit or motivation seems a bit beyond me. Swallowing our Tale, the poem I wrote for creation / birth takes the title of the section for one driving force, a motif of birth and the creation of the universe providing a framework. However, while writing the poem I also was visiting the Upper Galilee, house sitting in the ancient and mystical city of Tzfat. Some of the most poetic parts of the liturgy for the Jewish Sabbath came from Tzfat hundreds of years ago. More than once I saw the sunset over Mount Merion, a double-peaked mountain that almost holds the sun as it sets when watching from Tzfat. Seeing it, the layers of shadow and light on the hills, also appears in that poem. Kabbalistic teachings about creation also influence how I wrote about birth, the contractions both labor and what G-d has to do to make room for the universe. Finally, rockets appear in the poem as, at the time I wrote it, rockets fell in Gaza and in Israel during the most recent (so far) violence between Hamas and Israel.

What are your impressions of the current project (53 Fragments)? What made you agree to take part in it?

I like fragments. I think our perceptions, thoughts, observations, images in the end are fragmentary. We connect dots and think we see a web of connections that influence the world. But the connections and influences come from us, not from the world. I think this project lives that, with artists, musicians, writers contributing fragments. You probably see connections as you put each fragment together with another. I see connections when I look at the site. They likely are not the same connections. And this is the strength of this project, in my opinion. We all get something from it, even those of us who contribute, but none of us controls the interpretations.

Interview with Eric Armitage

 What is the spirit and motivation behind you creating pictures?

I love to draw because it makes me see things in a different ways. I can get lost in myself thoughts and revisit old ideas. Painting for me has become another form of drawing.

This spirit has always been in me and the motivation always there, my true luck is the people around me who have supported me through my journey. And the best is yet to come.

What would you most like your audience to know about you as artist and person? I mean of course the people who seek to know more about your art and about you. 

I have been drawing, painting, photographing and collecting images my whole life. While at the University of Washington earning my degree in art, I specialized in textile design, photography and combination of the two. After university I moved to San Francisco and worked in the textiles industry. While working for others creating, designing, producing and selling, I always continued with my drawing and painting.

For the last 15 years I have lived in Amsterdam and work at the Rembrandt House Museum. The paints I use have been made in Rembrandt’s studio (by me) using the same recipes as the master himself. Simple cold pressed linseed is mixed with natural pigments from stones, minerals and other earthen materials to create all these colours. I then build up the image on a ground colour, layer for layer. I learned that Rembrandt made no pencil drawings on canvas but sketched out an image on the canvas with paint. This has changed the way I paint.

For my drawings I don’t make my own ink but my work has been greatly influenced by Rembrandt’s Etchings and his use of light & dark. When printing in Rembrandt’s studio I do use a printing ink that I do make myself in house.

With this job and an endless supply of paint I have the freedom to draw and paint what I want.

Could you say something about the first piece you have contributed to 53 Fragments? Its genesis, development and what it means for you personally.

The first piece was creation and that for me is my work. I’ve been sitting at that spot off and on for the last 15 years. Many ideas have started right there and started with a simple drawing in my sketchbook. And yes, I do get inspiration from being in Rembrandt’s Studios. How could you not?

What are your impressions of the current project (53 Fragments)? What made you agree to take part in it?

I really enjoy to seeing the different artistic solutions to the same theme and can’t wait to see what will develop next. The idea of connecting the image with a poem and using the Net as a progressive collective gallery was very intriguing to me. I’ve been looking for a new avenue to get my work “out there” and I was hoping to get new ideas from my participation that would help me in the future.

Interview with Steve Karn

What is the spirit and motivation behind you creating (music, lyrics, art & film) ?

This is both difficult and easy to answer.

Easy – I am inspired by something/someone I see, hear, smell, read or taste and feel an urge to respond, to replicate, in spirit, then build on it and possess it for myself. To make it bigger, better, longer, to distil, redefine, model, crystallise, shape it and then hold it back up to the world.

Difficult – There are so many intangibles at work it’s impossible to give a singular answer. It’s all the above senses being stimulated in varying proportion but through the individual prism of one’s own personal and unique sensibility and experience. It’s the moment, the past, the future. It’s an innate desire to make something, sometimes for its own sake, sometimes exclusively for oneself, sometimes for everybody. It’s a feeling of wanting to bring together elements that have a connection in one’s own experience and consciousness. It’s the desire to arrest time. It’s the need to create a legacy. It’s a statement of ego and the desire to be validated.

It’s the desire to tell a story, to express love, joy, hate and fear. It’s born of attraction to the world and repulsion at it. In my own case it’s not generally a desire to show the ugly and the dark but to instil what I do with a sense of positivity, to show the world, my world, as a fascinating place of hope and wonder. Then again I find wonder in drain covers and pavements, so it’s all very subjective!

What would you most like your audience to know about you as artist and person? I mean of course the people who seek to know more about your art and about you.

I find this a challenging part of being an artist. I don’t really want people to know about me personally. At all.

I simply want people to take an interest and have a genuine response to my work. If such a connection is made then I am happy to engage in discussion, but would prefer this to be about process and technique rather than ‘message’. As most of my work is instinctive rather than conceptual all I could ever really do would be to describe the inspiration behind individual pieces.

Meaning itself is harder to define.

I myself don’t know, or cannot see, everything (anything!) that’s tangible in a piece from the perspective of others and enjoy the idea that it has a life of its own. Sometimes the more people know about the artist and their work, the less effective the work becomes, insomuch as it becomes settled, rather than free to roam.

Of course I have an interest in details about the lives and personalities of individual artists and realise that a certain amount of extra-curricular information can enhance and inform one’s own experience of an artists work. Personality is inevitably a factor, however this ultimately comes through in a work anyway so anything other than the work itself is icing on the cake.

Cake is good, as is icing, but it’s not crucial to have both, although icing on its own is a bit too much.

Could you say something about the first piece you have contributed to 53 Fragments? Its genesis, development and what it means for you personally?

My first contribution to 53 Fragments was a piece of music called Let It Rain. The piece was already a work in process when I was asked to make a contribution and, on considering the thematic context (creation/birth), seemed to be a appropriate fit to the underlying concept. The genesis of the original piece was a field recording I had made of running water (the brook outside my house after heavy rain). At the time I was using a lot of wild sound as the starting point for musical projects, rather than words, melody or rhythm. That’s how the piece began, and I worked around that sample, using it as the base element, adding the musical elements to the mix – piano first and then drums. Once I had decided that components, and spirit, of the piece in the raw fitted the brief, I developed and refined its structure and tone, giving more consideration to its place within Fragment 6.

I felt a flat, looped dynamic structure was preferable to a more traditional narrative ‘song’ format. More incidental soundtrack accompaniment than theme tune, if you like. I didn’t want it to be a focal point, but wanted it to sit alongside the other visual and literary elements in the fragment.

So, ultimately the piece, for me, has come to mean two things – its original conception speaks to me of my local environment and connects me emotionally to water and rain, in relation to a fairly specific time and place. On another level I feel it is now also connected to the wider metaphysical concept of creation and birth, the essence of water and rain as significant elements in the creation and sustenance of life, as outlined in Part 1.

I am also excited about how the piece connects with the project as a whole and the other pieces in Fragment 6, and glad to feel that my contribution has played a valid part in Part 1’s wider construct.

What are your impressions of the current project (53 Fragments)? What made you agree to take part in it?  

My impressions are that I am impressed!

This is a wonderful example of a collaboration which still fosters a sense of individual creative freedom. I admire the scope of vision behind the project, how it is growing as a body of work as well as how the dynamic of each part and fragment functions individually. The feeling of witnessing, and being part of, something that it in the process of taking shape over a period of time is both thrilling and rewarding. I very much subscribe to the idea of bringing together a diverse selection of creative individuals across the three disciplines.

In culinary terms it’s a series of unique and fascinating three-course meals that together constitute a veritable feast of ideas, consumed over time.

No gluttony though, just perpetual nourishment!

I like the modernity of the project – the fact that it is being realised in the digital domain, where all three disciplines can exist together in the same space.

The grand themes of the project (which have already given a home to some brilliantly conceived ideas) enable the participating artists a wide spectrum of expressive possibilities, not, however, at the expense of structure, cohesion or clarity as each part and fragment within it brings the need for a certain level of discipline and focus.

It’s living, it’s breathing, it’s growing, and will mature and reach conclusion in reflection of the project’s thematic stages, (who knows what rebirth will bring!).

It is representative of life, and experience, and individual lives being lived, yet it has a life of its own.

It is made up of fragments, yet not fragmented. There is a glue binding it all together, and once complete it could, and should remain in perpetuity (unless Kim Kardashian manages to break the internet at some point, that is), as a rich body of work, and a testament to a fantastic vision, which would indeed be a marvellous thing.

What made me agree to participate? Simple – just knowing and respecting you, Dean, and trusting the honesty and integrity of your creative vision, and that of other artists you have connected with.

Interview with Cornelia Pasch

What is the spirit and motivation behind you creating pictures and music?

The spirit or motivation for me is essentially exploring my inner world and the world around me. There is a constant dialogue between ideas, thoughts and sudden impulses with the exterior conditions of life.

Creating something is the ultimate freedom a human being can have and it’s probably the most honest activity you can share with others.

What would you most like your audience to know about you as artist and person? I mean of course the people who seek to know more about your art and about you.

Art is like traveling the human landscape with all its conditions, chances and limitations, but also more that that. Whatever means of expression are chosen art is always the key to our existential set up.

Could you say something about the first piece you have contributed to 53 Fragments? Its genesis, development and what it means for you personally?

I was experimenting with some different instruments and styles until I found the tunes I liked. It was a completely intuitive approach – more like a playful creation.

What are your impressions of the current project (53 Fragments)? What made you agree to take part in it?

I love how artists express their reference to different stages of human existence, how their pictures and words are chosen to express a deeper truth. I like the different dimensions, words, pictures and music, how they relate or influence each other, without a hierarchy.

Interview with Kevin Reid

What is the spirit and motivation behind you creating poetry?

The very same one that keeps and gives life … The everyday, memories and a need to find out how words work.

What would you most like your audience to know about you as artist and person? I mean of course the people who seek to know more about your art and about you.

I’m a person first. Words and images are part of the skin that keeps me together.
I’m interested in exploring more collaborative work around film and sound.
If you have an idea and think it lends itself to collaboration, go for it!
Contact me through my web pages at http://eyeosphere.com
Follow me on twitter @eyeosphere and on facebook.

Could you say something about the first piece you have contributed to 53 Fragments? Its genesis, development and what it means for you personally?

My daughter’s birth had its dramas. A first experience
where innocence was protective and experience clinical,
both with equal voice. Her mother’s scream,her cries.

What are your impressions of the current project (53 Fragments)? What made you agree to take part in it?

A stream of conscience for all the senses.
Having followed and admired Dean’s work online for a few years and after his dedication and rich contribution to the >erasure ii project,
I was more than delighted to be asked to be a part of this innovative and thought provoking project.
It’s a real pleasure to be working alongside some of the best groundbreaking artists around.

Interview with Mauricio Venegas-Astorga

What is the spirit and motivation behind you creating music?

People, and their lives, landscapes, humans and geographical ones.

What would you most like your audience to know about you as artist and person? I mean of course the people who seek to know more about your art and about you.

That what I do as a person is the same as what I do as an artist …. with love, freedom, justice and care for humanity at the centre of it.

Could you say something about the first piece you have contributed to 53 Fragments? Its genesis, development and what it means for you personally?

It is a piece that was created/born by exploring the “Charango” in a different way from what it is traditionally used for (strumming very rhythmically and fast) and the combination with the sound of a 350 years old violin means and reaffirms in me that the language of music or the spirit of it transcends cultures, countries, regions, and styles.

What are your impressions of the current project (53 Fragments)? What made you agree to take part in it?

Any sincere art collaborative enterprise that appeals to human beings from harmony, beauty and understanding deserves time and truthful interest, 53 fragments not only means that to me, it has also allowed me to rekindle a very important friendship that has endured the passage of time, absence, distance, and still is today as vibrant and important to me as it was 20 years or more years ago.

Interview with Steve Mueske

What is the spirit and motivation behind you creating music?

I have always had a need to create, though these days it is primarily through making electronic music and writing poetry. Music-wise, I guess I am just trying to create a kind of aural narrative with sounds. Like a movie that the listener creates based on reactions to chords, progressions, mood, etc. I hope that this is different for every person, unique in the way that dreams are personal and constructed of signs and symbols from everyday events. I do create from themes and ideas (for example, Hydra, from Hello Cruel World, was inspired by the chess program of the same name written by Dr. Donninger), but I really hope that these are just triggers. I guess, more than anything, I want the songs to be organic, to not follow prescribed forms. They are born of curiosity, collages of sound experiments, tunings, sequences, etc., with the over-arching principle that they be fecund with meaning and be listenable.
What would you most like your audience to know about you as artist and person? I mean of course the people who seek to know more about your art and about you.

I’ve never thought about that. I guess I’m pretty obscure in the big picture. I’m not after fame or fortune or any of those things. I guess I hope to impact a few people here and there. If I’m being honest, I just want to believe that these activities that I do in private — making music, writing poetry — matter. As a person who suffers from depression and anxiety, these are my tools to interface with the world.
Could you say something about the first piece you have contributed to 53 Fragments? Its genesis, development and what it means for you personally?

The first piece was called “My Beautiful Longing”. It originally began as a short exploration of the Pythagorean tuning in Omnisphere using a simple pad. As it progressed, I wanted it only to express a pure feeling of longing and loneliness, the way there is a kind of solitary beauty to the human spirit. My pieces are generally fairly complex setup-wise, but this particular piece was only three tracks, using three patches. I usually use Reaper as my DAW, but this one was done in Podium.

 Interview with Timur Iskandarov  (Tamerlan)

What is the spirit and motivation behind you creating music?

First and foremost, the need for communication with the world we live in. The need to express myself. We use words to exchange information, but we don’t usually treat them as something that defines our personality. We smile, but we hate inside. We say “I promise” just to make it sound dramatic, and we walk away from that the next second. Just as our lifestyle of “behave, obey, don’t question, fit in”, our personalities and words have been demoted to the mere tools of formality. This is why I was searching for a better and more meaningful way of expression (not only limited to other people), and found it in music.
It’s as if every note I write enforces my connection to the world and the universe. This is all the motivation I need.

What would you most like your audience to know about you as artist and person? I mean of course the people who seek to know more about your art and about you.

Well, whoever seeks to know such things about me, should at least buy me a beer…. then we will have a heart to hear conversation about interesting things in our artistic and personal lives.The jokes aside, I would just direct the ones interested, to my musical works.They say more about me than I will ever be able to express with words.

Could you say something about the first piece you have contributed to 53 Fragments? Its genesis, development and what it means for you personally?

“Bloom” is one of the compositions I am most proud of (at least when we speak about the older Tamerlan material). It was published in 2009, as a part of Tarot Series compilations, and was created for the volume of the Empress card. It was later re-released as a part of “The Trinity Of Painted Symphonies” split album with projects Hoyland and Melankolia. Being that the main symbolism of the card is fertility, I really thought that it would fit perfectly into the first part of 53 Fragments project. The development of the track was an improv session gone wrong. I was just improvising on lute with my mind preoccupied with the card, and accidentally, the whole song appeared. If I was ever happy about an accident happening, that was the moment.

What are your impressions of the current project (53 Fragments)? What made you agree to take part in it?
I was very happy to receive an invitation to contribute to such a fascinating project. One of my main goals in life is to find those, whose mind walks the same road as mine does (survivors in the world of the undead???). It’s refreshing to see an attitude where such an important spiritual state, that is our current life, is being documented by uniting the spheres of creativity. I am looking forward to seeing this project come to life, and I’m willing to help any way I can.

Katerina Dramitinou Says Something About Her Art

Well you see, what I do has nothing to do with hidden meanings.

It’s just me and the way I communicate with nature, that is, life…Nothing else. That’s where I rest, that’s where I find answers.

That’s where I find painting if you wish. Colours and forms, forms and colours. As for what they call whatever is behind a work of Art, I don’t think it’s me that can give you an answer. It’s not my role.

If something like that exists, if you can find it, let me know too.

Lately, I have discovered my face amongst the intertwined tree branches, and Elizabeth, full of curves on cars’ windows or behind curtains. I found Nick built in the wild bedrocks, his gaze everywhere…Pieces of a puzzle, all mixed up. Wherever I passed, I left an eye to watch behind. And no…I haven’t just seen curves, shadows, branches and rocks.

I gather, there must be others who would like to look into this matter using the same code. The one of truth and simplicity. Because, as we have said, painting equals life. Life everywhere.

Wherever you look, there is life.

Interview with Robert Gibbons

What is the spirit and motivation behind creating poems?

I was reading one of Gwendolyn Brooks’s poem, Negro Hero, when I contemplated this question. One particular phrase caught my attention: “ a man will guard when he loves.” I cannot say I have always been committed to one particular idea. I was a musician in high school. I thought I would go on to play the saxophone. At an early age my parents exposed me to the piano and violin, so I would have the element of musicality in my head. But to say that I would play a physical instrument I was not invested. I would not spend countless hours. I would not breathe it in the morning and at night. I would not have the idea of a musician as a daily repartee. I would leave my instrument scattered on the floor of my bedroom or leave it at school and pick it up the next day. I would not guard it like I feel about the written word. The musicality groomed me and now more than anything else I want to guard the sounds, the words, and the poems. They come when they need to come. I will it so. I ask the gods, muses, and the ancestors to give me a sign. The spirit and the motivation is based on where I am from and where I am going; not on mere adulation or admiration, but a relevant expression. The voice that rises, comes from a place of destitute. A place that has tried to be silenced, but it cannot. I found a rich legacy in my own backyard, although I did not know it was there. The sugar cane, the muck, and celery field comes to mind. The orange moon in October. It is through trial and tribulation and a lifetime of observation.

What would you most like your audience to know about you as artist and person? I mean of course the people who seek to know more about your art and about you.

I want them to know finally I am proud of who I am. I had not always been this way. There are systems built to make one feel that they are less. I cannot place the blame game at this point. I could list many instances where I could say this was because I am black, or not tall enough. I could list a myriad of grievances. But at this juncture I find that only I am to blame. I know what I must do and that is to write. I must seek voice. I must continue to create. I want my audience to know that I am human. I understand the world’s need for expression. That I have in fact been handed a gift that I will never take for granted. I want my audience to know there is room for all of us to express ourselves for liberation. I am in search of balance. I think of Plato’s cave. I want the ultimate light.

Could you say something about the first piece you have contributed to 53 fragments? Its genesis, development and what it means for you personally?

I was invited to Peruvian Film Festival with a friend here in New York City. This festival brought some of the best filmmakers from South America. One of the films I viewed was called Mother Ocean, the title of the poem. The reason I titled the poem, Mother Ocean, is because of the symbolism of the ocean. The one body that connects the entire world. More than that we all benefit from her bounty. We use and abuse the gifts we are given. Some might view this as fanatical, but I was possessed by the images I witnessed. I did grow up in South Florida, so I am connected to the spiritual effects of water. I remember as a child people in my community would go to Lake Okeechobee for water baptism. It was an entire ceremony. People would dress in white. They would sing deliverance songs. They would watch as others would immerse themselves in the lake. A place where many cultures considered it sacred. We considered it a scared ceremony. We should view it as sacred. It started as my relationship to water and the holiness of the ocean. Most of us in my community could swim. The act of navigation and wading through the treacherous, choppiness of the waves. The ideal that I am a part of something bigger. It was a captivating moment to create this poem.

What are your impressions of the current project (53 Fragments)? What made you agree to take part in it?

I studied the other writers of 53 fragments and I was impressed with their work. The ideal to combine the visual, musical, and written really is attractive to me. The larger ideal of collaboration with other like minds from around the world is also inviting. I grew up in a small, close-knit community. It was very insular and many did not invite change. I found from years of travel and witness, change is a good thing. I do not want to have just one interpretation, but I want to hear from the sea of voices. It is so important that this is my life’s work to be a part of a global community of writers. I appreciate every moment and every blessing that comes my way.

Interview with John Guzlowski

What is the spirit and motivation behind you creating poems?

Most of my poems are about my parents and their experiences as forced laborers in Nazi Germany and their experiences after the war. My dad was taken there in 1940 and spent almost 5 years in Buchenwald. My mom was captured in 1942 in a round up in her village after seeing her mom and her sister and her sister’s baby killed by the German soldiers and Ukrainian militia. After the war, we spent 6 years in Displaced Persons camps in Germany.

I’ve been writing about my parents now for about 35 years. Part of my inspiration comes from a sense of guilt. When I was a kid growing up in America, I hated to hear my parents tell their stories. It made them sound foreign, weird, weak, unlike the Americans around us. I think that my writing is in part a penance.

The other motivation I think is a sense that my parents’ story, and the story of the other people who were dragged to Germany, made to labor under terrible conditions, sometimes brutalized and starved and worked to exhaustion and beyond, needs to be told.

I remember one time I told my mom I was going to do a public reading of poems about her and my dad and their experiences in the war. My mom replied, “Tell them we weren’t the only ones.”

I guess that’s what I’m trying to do – to tell people that my parents weren’t the only ones who suffered as slave laborers.
Writing about my parents, I sometimes feel that I’m writing for all those forgotten, voiceless slave laborers, refugees, and survivors that the last century produced.

What would you most like your audience to know about you as artist and person? I mean of course the people who seek to know more about your art and about you.

I give a lot of poetry readings where I read poems about my parents.

The question people always ask me is do I ever write about myself. The answer is yes, but it’s not work that I tend to share with others. I finally don’t think my story is as important as my parents’ story.

Could you say something about the first piece you have contributed to 53 Fragments? Its genesis, development and what it means for you personally?

“The Day I Was Born” was the first piece I wrote for the 53 Fragments project.

It was largely inspired by Dean Pasch’s asking me to write a poem about birth/creation. I’d been thinking recently about the six years my parents spent in refugee camps after WWII. I was born in one of those camps in 1948.

There wasn’t much I remember of the camps, what they were like, what the lives of the hundreds of thousands of people in the camps were like. I’ve done reading about what life in the camps was like, of course, but that never crystallized into any kind of poem, any kind of writing.

And then I got the note from Dean asking for a poem on birth/creation. That email was a thunder clap. As soon as I read it, I started writing the poem.
What does the poem mean to me?

Both my parents are now gone. I’m 66 years old, and for years I’ve thought that my writing about my parents was done, that they would never tell me any more stories about what it was like for them in the war and afterward in the camps.

Suddenly, Dean asks me for a poem, and a poem comes out that feels like a story my mother told me.

He gave me a tremendous gift.

What are your impressions of the current project (53 Fragments)? What made you agree to take part in it?

I love the idea of working with and in response to images/paintings. The first writing I was interested in was the writing I found in comic books and comic strips (what are now sometimes called graphic novels). I couldn’t believe how much words and drawings together could touch me, inspire me. From the time I was 5 years old until I went to college, my favorite writing was in the comic book format.

In fact, the first actual writing I did was for comic strips and illustrated science-fiction stories.

For me, working with an artist like Dean Pasch who would join my words to his images has been a life-long dream.

Another gift.

Interview with Kevin M. Hibshman

What is the spirit and motivation behind you creating poems?

I have an inherent, unshakable desire to communicate. Poetry became the mode of expression I found would work best for me to share myself with my fellow beings. It is a great source of pleasure watching a piece of writing take shape I also enjoy following where the poem leads and welcome the surprises as it informs me as to what it might wish to convey.

What would you most like your audience to know about you as artist and person? I mean of course the people who seek to know more about your art and about you.

I am a believer. I like believing in things: As we continue to evolve, I want to believe in our growth as I believe in our unlimited potential.

Could you say something about the first piece you have contributed to 53 Fragments? Its genesis, development and what it means for you personally?

I wrote my first piece for this wonderful project on the spot specifically for the theme provided. It speaks for my current belief system and I’m fascinated by this particular creation myth.

What are your impressions of the current project (53 Fragments)? What made you agree to take part in it?

I loved the idea of this project ever since I was asked to participate. It’s a real privilege to contribute with all the other artists, I love the idea of artists of all kinds working together. It allows all of us to learn and grow and share inspiration. So far, the work is just
beautiful.

Interview with Debra (AKA ‘Ophelia’ – musician)
 

What is the spirit and motivation behind you making music?

All music to me is religious and life is spiritual.

What would you most like your audience to know about you as artist and person?
I mean of course the people who seek to know more about your art and about you.

I try to express the things that I think represent my ideal self and the ideal self I thought I would be when I was younger. Anything that stirs memories and creates new ones. Newness is something I strive for.

Could you say something about the first piece you have contributed to 53 Fragments?
Its genesis, development and what it means for you personally?

‘Release’ is a ambient movement with a non-static tone, sweeping behind broken angels. The strange place between birth and death where everything is the same. I wanted to create a counterpoint that was chaotically soothing.

What are your impressions of the current project (53 Fragments)?
What made you agree to take part in it?

I think it’s brilliant and loving, and I do whatever Dean tells me to do.

Interview with Petra Whiteley

What is the spirit and motivation behind you creating poems?

There’s just a need to write. Poem is a feeling that comes over me, sometimes it announces itself with an image and sometimes it’s just that feeling that I need to write, it’s like a small storm brewing.

What would you most like your audience to know about you as artist and person? I mean of course the people who seek to know more about your art and about you.

I’m more outgoing in writing than in person. Generally, I don’t really like to talk about myself in either way. That’s probably why in my poems it’s mostly the world of the self, the only place where the self can talk about itself, sometimes it also wears other selves though, saying that I don’t want to give the impression I write confessional poetry because I don’t.

Could you say something about the first piece you have contributed to 53 Fragments? Its genesis, development and what it means for you personally?

As the subject was birth I got to think about the fact that in that stage of life everything must seem as it would now if you’ve entered an alien planet, and sensing it through the physical impressions, through physical reality. Also I wanted to convey that at that stage we have a very short memory with the structure of the poem and that as soon as one physical impress happens it’s no longer there and new ones appear, there’s no continuity, that enters only later on.

What are your impressions of the current project (53 Fragments)? 

It’s very interesting to see what a collective can forge together. I like the multi-media approach and the interactions, the creative buzz of it.

What made you agree to take part in it?

Except for it sounding exciting and challenging, as I’ve not sought any exposure for my work over last few years, I also have great respect for Dean Pasch, his work, and as he has supported mine for a long time it was also time to give something back.

Interview with Jane Blue

Now we’re into Fragment 7 – Jane’s first contribution is a poem about birth and she kindly sent me yesterday her responses to the interview questions. She said she wasn’t a friend of the interview so I am especially grateful to her for taking part in the interview thing.

So here we have it – Jane Blue and her responses:

What is the spirit and motivation behind you creating poems?

The motivation is that I just want to make poems. The spirit may be sort of spiritual, that it is the only way I can express certain feelings.

What would you most like your audience to know about you as artist and person? I mean of course the people who seek to know more about your art and about you.

I have written poetry since I was a child. I was an introverted and somewhat lonely child. There were many things we didn’t talk about in my household, particularly how we felt, or anything to do with my father. (And yet I think it was he who left behind the poetry books I read.) I grew up with a strict Catholic grandmother and a rather anti-Catholic mother. Lots of tension. My refuge was my room and my little desk, or a huge elm in a nearby park. My first poem just came out of me when I was eight, which seems to be a common age, when something (moonlight) just struck me as magical. I think poetry is magical.

Could you say something about the first piece you have contributed to 53 Fragments? Its genesis, development and what it means for you personally?

It is a very personal piece, but that was what “Birth” made me think of. My own sort of unique birth, having never been alone in the womb. I have been reading different poets in the morning recently, and feel a great affinity for Stanley Plumly. I don’t think this is exactly like Stanley Plumly, but something about his lyrical approach to nature plus the personal started this for me.

What are your impressions of the current project (53 Fragments)? What made you agree to take part in it?

I agreed to take part in it because I greatly admire you and your work, Dean, especially some of the films you have made with your photographs and your voice and music as well.  I am not good at collaboration, but in this someone else would respond, or you would choose art and music to go with it, and I was curious to see what that would be. I was very pleased with the results. And I have liked all the others that I have read, seen and listened to. What an undertaking! Thank you for including me.

Interview with Sandra Hollstein

Fragment 4 has joined the first 3 and I also have the third response to my set of interview questions. This time it is from Sandra Hollstein – contributing music to the project. Having met Sandra at a cultural evening where some of my film work was screened (and she was performing with other musicians) I knew it would be great to stay in contact and hopefully collaborate. A while back she developed one of my poems into a song and when I approached her to contribute to 53 Fragments I was lucky enough to get a yes. And here she is talking about her work and 53 Fragments:

What is the spirit and motivation behind you making music?

I make music, because it makes me happy, over and over again; I like the sound of my instruments, I like single notes, I like how they blend into a harmony and change identity a bit according to there surroundings and I like to play together with others, be together in a special way, listen to each other and create something together, a space, an emotion, a piece of music and be surprised by what happens… I also like the interaction with the audience, sometimes there are magical moments, created by the attentiveness of the listeners

What would you most like your audience to know about you as artist and person? I mean of course the people who seek to know more about your art and about you.

Well, basically, that I really like what I’m doing, I’m not the best musician technically, but I love doing music and I try to be honest about what I play and sing and to love every single note; I´ve done a lot of different things in my life so far and also moved around a lot, but now I feel I have arrived in a way. It´s not always easy, I have a lot of downs as well, there´s insecurity and sometimes a lack of grounding, but this is what I want to do. I´m glad and grateful to play in different groups, meet interesting people, and also to get around.

Could you say something about the first piece you have contributed to 53 Fragments? Its genesis, development and what it means for you personally?

It was a difficult topic at first, it took me some time to get started, then I started to improvise with the idea of starting with a single note, out of which others are born, and keeping a general idea through the piece, like a core identity with little developments happening around this identity. I then recorded one track and then again improvised on top of that with a different sound on the piano. The piece sounds quite different from what i normally compose and i like that.

What are your impressions of the current project (53 Fragments)? What made you agree to take part in it?

I like the idea of working together with other artists of different directions, I’ve already worked with Dean and really admire his work; it´s very inspiring to get to know people´s different ideas and approaches and I think, I’ll get a lot of input from it and it might help me grow as an artist. and I like the length of time it will have, the development and challenges.

Interview with Sharmagne Leland-St. John

53 Fragments is now in motion – so to speak. The first 2 fragments are out there and I’m pleased with how the presentation looks and feels.

I struggle with the technicalities – there are background issues that are still taxing me – but I take the whole as an organic unfolding and will wrestle technicality stuff in the spirit of ‘it goes with the territory’ – striving to have each fragment’s display pleasing to the senses and spirit. The main thing is that I have been lucky enough to have a group of poets, artists and musicians  commit to 53 Fragments.

I wanted to include a Blog as part of 53 Fragments, to provide a running commentary of developments and facets, that would not fit into the presentation of fragments. A ‘holding home’ for reflections upon the main frame – the main frame being the poems, the pictures and music.

I thought it would also be a good thing to include something about the individual contributors and to that end the idea of sending out interview questions occurred to me. And I did so and will do so.

In the case of Sharmagne (writer of the poem ‘Gemini’) I received a set of responses I would like to share

without further ado:

What is the spirit and motivation behind you creating poems?

I can’t not write poetry. Everything I do has an unwritten poem at its core. All day long I seem to be composing. Sometimes I stop and write the ideas out, oft times I just let them go.

What would you most like your audience to know about you as artist and person? I mean of course the people who seek to know more about your art and about you.

I am autodidactic. My poems for the most part are autobiographical. I didn’t study poetry or literature in school. I am a natural poet. I’d be terrified to take a college course in poetry because I’d be afraid it would change my voice.

In the 70s when I was writing song lyrics, I used to write what I’d call emotional band-aids. I still write from the heart, but my poetry reflects loss in a different way now.

Could you say something about the first piece you have contributed to 53 Fragments? Its genesis, development and what it means for you personally?

I was on an airplane final destination Austria. For some reason I find myself writing poetry on planes and trains and in automobiles. Maybe it’s the hum of the motor. I was looking out the window into the dark void and just began to write. I actually had not written much poetry of late as I’ve been polishing a novella.

My first drafts are usually my final drafts with an adjective thrown in here or there. There is a second part to this poem Gemini II which tells my father’s role in my creation.

This poem might be a follow up to a poem I wrote many years ago which says:
I’ve heard my mother say/
“one cannot live in the same castle all of one’s life. /One must see the world to choose the life that she will lead”/ it’s not my life that worries me/ it is my destiny/ and what a sad song/she always sang to me/ tender and somewhat out of key…/

They say our talents are a gift from Great Spirit what we do with them is our gift back to him. This poem is a gift to my late mother.

What are your impressions of the current project (53 Fragments)? What made you agree to take part in it?

I was intrigued by the idea of the project. I have great faith in Dean as an artist and wanted to be a part of something new and foreign to me.

Interview with Ben Fisher

What is the spirit and motivation behind you creating poems, pictures, music, film?

I would assume my answer is similar for most other artists. It’s an escape, a means of expression. As difficult as it can be to finish a song, or even find the muse itself sometimes, there’s definitely a cathartic feeling when it happens. As cliched as it may sound, I find that creating songs is something I simply must do. If I’m not doing it I am miserable.

What would you most like your audience to know about you as artist and person? I mean of course the people who seek to know more about your art and about you.

Most of the time I feel like I have nothing and also have no idea what I’m doing. I used to wonder if I only had so many songs in me and that, on occasion, I’ve simply run out. But I’ve been doing it long enough now to realise, during the quiet patches, that it always comes back eventually.


I’m writing this in the midst of a pandemic lockdown and have realised that my biggest obstacle has always been time. Or lack thereof. I’ve written/finished more songs during this lockdown than I usual muster in a year. For once I’ve had the time.


Also, despite appearances, I’m actually very approachable. And, trust me, I will most likely be more nervous than you.

Could you say something about the first piece you have contributed to 53 Fragments? Its genesis, development and what it means for you personally (OR please choose the piece you would like to comment on)

The first piece was a collaborative effort by Dean Pasch and myself called New Beginnings. I originally didn’t think I would have the time to contribute to 53 Fragments but Dean told me he wanted to make New Beginnings the first piece. I don’t like leaving things unfinished and, more so, I don’t like letting people down, so here I am and there we were and here we are.

Another piece I feel inclined to mention is the piece I wrote for Part 5 – Death/Rebirth, called Please Don’t Blame Yourself, or Each Other. I don’t know if I should mention it but I will. The title was to be the note I left behind. I decided I didn’t want it anymore and hoped that by using it as a title for a piece of music about death, using it for another purpose, meant I couldn’t use it anymore for anything else. It served its purpose. And there I was and here I am.

What are your impressions of the current project (53 Fragments)?

I think it’s great. Dean chose well with the people he asked to be involved and also matched pieces up perfectly. It’s always a wonderful thing, experiencing other people’s art and also being introduced to some great artists I wouldn’t have known existed otherwise.

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