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This article was published on 24 May 2012, and is filed under Art.

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Interview with Victoria Ulrikke Iles: Shame

Shame Collage by Victoria Ulrikke Iles ©

 

NL: In your new series, Shame, you present suggestively entangled bodies against stark, rich-coloured backgrounds – quite different from your previous work. What inspired you to create this corpus and what did you aim to convey through the work?

VUI: I watched the film ‘Shame‘ by Steve McQueen a few weeks ago and it made a really strong impression on me. It is, in my opinion, a very realistic and original portrayal of someone who’s struggling with sex addiction, and it inspired me to start making work around this theme.

He has some extremely intimate moments with many different people throughout the film, but he leaves them knowing hardly anything about them. I wanted to illustrate these sorts of episodes, almost like dreams, or maybe more like nightmares, full of entangled people using each other up, rotting into each other, being so intimate, yet so distant.

I can’t say I know much about sex addiction, I don’t pretend I do, but I do know a lot about the society we live in, where sex pretty much surrounds us in our everyday life. I think it can feel quite suffocating for many people because it’s all about being sexually attractive all the time, enjoying sex, always wanting it. Though as soon as this becomes reality, it becomes a problem. As soon as sex is everything a person thinks about, nobody really wants to talk about it anymore, it becomes something dirty and weird, something to be ashamed of. I personally feel like there is a lot of hypocrisy when it comes to sex in our society.

These are a lot of the thoughts running through my head at the moment, and I’m still not 100% sure where this project is going, or what I’m trying to say with it. I think it’s interesting to start a project not really knowing what it is, where it’ll go, or where it’ll end up. My hope is that people are able to take what they want from the work and make up their owns minds about what it communicates.

 

Shame Collage by Victoria Ulrikke Iles ©

 

Throughout the series, the images are built upon finely textured, bold backgrounds, the use of colour playing a strong uniting force in the series as a whole; why did you choose such a strong and poignant palette?

In the series I used backgrounds that, in my opinion, communicate what the collages are about. I chose red as a background colour because red is the colour of lust and sex, but also anger. Blue is the colour of rejection, sadness, loneliness, and the brown makes me think of things like dirt, chaos, animals and basic human instinct.

 

Shame Collage by Victoria Ulrikke Iles ©

 

What I find fascinating about the series is that these bold colours seem to come from the covers of old books, which are innately very textural. How important is that quality in your work?

Texture is very important to me – I’m weirdly obsessed with it actually. I peel random things off walls or pick them up from the ground and put them in my pocket, which can result in odd looks from the general public! It can be things like dirty old bits of paper, melted cellotape, or interesting pieces of bark. There seems to be a sense of history in texture. For example I might find a weathered cigarette packet interesting because it has been drenched in rain, then dried in the sun and then bared the footsteps of many people. I find it fascinating that the materials I collect have been manipulated by different events that are beyond my control.

I look for materials in old charity shops, as well as recycling centres and car boot sales. I save every scrap bit of paper that I have, it’s hard for me to throw anything away because even the scraps become something new and interesting in my eyes.

 

Shame Collage by Victoria Ulrikke Iles ©

 

There are often visible markings of past drawings and text that seem embossed onto the textures of some of your pieces, were those there originally or did you create them?

They are most likely things that were there in the first place. Old handwriting or small doodles on pieces of found paper fascinate me, because it means that somebody else has had that piece before me. In a way I am giving it a new life by using it in one of my collages, but I’m also respecting and embracing its past life by leaving the markings. Maybe someday in the future someone will find some of my rubbish and decide to make a piece of art out of it.

 

Shame Collage by Victoria Ulrikke Iles ©

 

Where do you see yourself taking the work next?

I’m in the process of putting together a magazine with some of my friends who I went to Winchester School of Art with and I would like to put more work from this project in there. It’s the first project I’ve felt very excited about since ‘Women Who Kill‘, so I’m keen to develop it further. I do feel like I’m in the beginning stages, so who knows – maybe the final images will be completely different!

 

To see more of Victoria’s work, please visit www.thepaperbandit.com/

 

//interview by Natalie Lloyd
//all works © Victoria Ulrikke Iles