interview

Aleksandar Macasev
designer

 

What is your opinion on contemporary art in general and particularly in our country?

I have already said once that I am bothered with art being isolated into controlled boundaries where it loses every edge. You just go to the art show opening, have a few drinks, do a little small talk with your friends and exhibited artwork itself is just a social background, like a screensaver. Not many of them come back to the gallery again to check out what that was all about. All in all it sounds like idle entertainment. Besides that, local art has a big problem with the quality of production. It is quite sufficient to borrow the video camera, shoot whatever you want and present that as a video art work. Video art is horribly bad. I suppose it is because it is easy to make. Endlessly boring and obsolete. Artists and art producers don’t take art seriously enough. How can they expect of the audience to take it seriously? Jovan Cekic said once that Serbian artists wouldn’t know what to do with serious budget or high-end technology.

You said that contemporary art is boring. How do you intend to entertain an audience?

I don’t say that art has to be entertaining. It is the fact that art loses the market game among all other spectacles. Therefore art can use the strategies of all this spectacles. Entertainment is not the issue, but accessibility and communication.
Talking about video art and entertainment, I am preparing a video work called “Art must be entertaining, artist must be entertaining”. It is shot of me laughing hilariously to something that is actually in the place of the spectator of the work itself. I laugh in their faces. Video is the endless loop of my face which expression ranges from totally calm to distorted by laughter. The work is meant to be ambiental and its main aim is to infect audience with laughter while artist is actually laughing in their faces.

Besides all the activities you do graphic and web design the most. For fun or money?

For both. For three years I used to work for New Moment advertising agency and a couple of other agencies later too. A year ago I decided to become a freelance designer. You don’t have efficient machinery that you work for but you gain a lot of freedom and pleasure. Beside that you are forced to learn how to sell your art and design. When I am asked to state my occupation I say “art director”. In local context it is still a phantom job, but my dad is very pleased because his son is some sort of a director. When you work in different fields of visual culture it is hard to answer to:”What do you actually do for living?”. “Well, I deal with visual culture. I am visual cultural worker”

What chances do Serbian designers have in the international scene?

The first thing that we have to do is to recognize Serbian designer’s scene. There are interesting initiatives, but there are a lot of things to do. Good examples are the FRESH exhibition or Design Serbia (www.dizajnsrbija.org). We need a higher degree of professionalism, and clients need to realize the importance of design for their business. Good design sells and Serbian companies will realize that when they get serious market competition from abroad. Also, we have to learn the skills of self promotion and how to stick your foot in the door.

A year ago there was an article in the Wallpaper magazine about Serbian creative people. The world is interested in this country after all.

The journalist of the Wallpaper was actually most interested in the post communist architecture. The Wallpaper readers would like to see something exotic and worth visiting. Beside that, some of us managed to present our work. Foreigners realize that there is a great concentration of creative energy here but we still don’t know what to do with it. We should use every chance like this. Laetitia Wolff, the former editor in chief of Graphis magazine, was in Belgrade recently and Serbian designers had a chance to present their work.

What have you been doing for the last year?

As for the clients, it turned out that most of them are from the art and culture area. The most important work was for the big retrospective exhibition of Mirko Ilic. I have found myself in a great situation to work with friends (Anica Tucakov, Tatjana Ristic and Stefan Arsenijevic) and to have the complete freedom from my client (Mirko Ilic). As the client is the designer himself I was under constant notion that I work a design for another designer. It all went great after all. Campaign is already included in several books on promotional design and we won a PR award from the PR society of Serbia. It was the most visited exhibition that year. Immediately after that, thanks to Mirko Ilic, we worked on the exhibition of 24 New York designers called “PUNC’T” in the gallery of the Graphic Collective. Our cooperation continued during the “On Time” project where Mirko Ilic supervised 10 young designers and illustrators that were commissioned to make covers for VREME magazine. I did design for the final exhibition along with the last cover. That project is very significant because the young illustrators and designers are finally given the opportunity to do covers and illustrations, things that were reserved only for the elder or well established. Such a practice should continue.
During the last year, I have been working on a book for Mrdjan Bajic, an artist that I already worked with on his Yugomuseum project (www.yugomuzej.com). It is a retrospective of his work not as a conventional art book, but in the form of a book that traces the process of making art from sketches and drawings to final objects and their variations. A huge catalogued warehouse in the form of a book. The book will be published by the end of the year.

Where do you get ideas?

I don’t have the faintest idea where they come from. Probably from TV, movies, magazines, from the streets, Internet… basically from the big pot of visual culture. I do the best things when I don’t have any intention or a client. You just have an urge to make something without any purpose. My hard drive is full of such follies, but through the course of time I’ve got a big collection that can be easily used when a real task or client appears.

What are your plans for the next period?

Besides the video work I mentioned, “Art must be entertaining, artist must be entertaining” I am planning an experimental graphic project called “Readymade design”. The project is about using prefabricated elements of graphic design included in a variety of design computer programs. You know all these wingding and web dings, already made symbols, patterns from Illustrator and little tidbits that secretaries use to decorate their letters. All these elements are the big no-no in the designer’s world, but I am sure that I can make very interesting graphics out of them. And it would be an homage to anonymous designers too.

For several months I have gathered material for a CD named Spam Art. A huge variety of funny clips, images, little online tricks that we receive from our friends for fun every now and then. When you gather them in one place you get great entertainment. I asked all my friends not to delete these e-mails but to collect them. There is already enough material for a CD but it just needs to be organized, packed and presented.

What is a shortcut to you?
www.the-mighty.com