Goodbye Tomorrow

Auguste Petre

Express-interview with Estonian artist Johannes Luik


The young Estonian artist Johannes Luik describes his artistic practice as eclectic and admits that most of his work lay on the base of a deepened research. He is mostly focusing on installation and sculpture, often seen from an architectural point of view. Working with different media he fills the area which thus turns into a symbol and code filled space, open for further interpretations.

In his latest exhibition “Memories of the Future” Johannes Luik has created a psycho-sculpture – an installation that reflects the essence of the memories of the future. To understand more clearly what exactly these future memories are, how they develop and what does the artist himself think about this phenomenon, I asked him for a short conversation.

The exhibition “Memories of the Future” is on view at the Kogo Gallery in Tartu until August 16.

Johannes Luik, Memory of the Future. Photo Taavi Piibemann

How would you describe title of the exhibition “Memories of the Future”? Do you really believe that there can exist remembrance of something that hasn’t happened yet?

I think that the way we experience memories is very chaotic - if we would need to put our memories onto a timeline, it wouldn’t be linear. But sometimes, when we think about our future, we do put it onto a certain timeline. We are able to visualize something that has not happened yet. Making kind of a passive image that does not have details, but is always there with some kind of an outline.

So no, I don’t believe there can exist remembrance of something that hasn’t happened yet. But I do believe that we create a space in our minds for things that have not happened yet and the distinction between the two is a bit hazy.

What, to your mind, initiates the creation of the future memories?

The name of the exhibition is referring to the subjective way we perceive memories. Memories are never as they really would be in real life. Every day we have new experiences and some of them we kind of integrate into ourselves. With this we create a subjective way of perceiving everything.

So for me, our past creates future memories. Every person we meet, every place we visit, every job we have - each one of these events creates a new layer inside us. And through these layers we form our preferences. We are always evolving and the way we perceive the future is evolving together with us.

Johannes Luik, Memory of the Future. Photo Taavi Piibemann

You’ve said that in this exhibition you study the negative spaces of thought. How did you decide to turn to this topic of research?

A few years ago a very important person in my life died. After that I found that some everyday actions, sounds and objects felt strange to me. I felt as if I was touching the outer layer of something that is missing. As if touching the inside of a mould. I felt as if the tangible world around me was a positive that is creating different negative spaces in my thoughts. Different things that are not there anymore or have never really been seem not like positives in the mind but negatives. The exhibition is displaying a few of these positives and with that creating kind of a psycho-sculpture that originates from me but can reveal something in the viewer as well.

Johannes Luik, Memory of the Future. Photo Taavi Piibemann

How would you describe your creative practice – what concepts in art seem interesting to you?

I would describe my creative practice right now as eclectic. I try not to limit myself and to get information, and visual cues from everywhere. If something seems interesting to me then I pursue it. I might start reading about it, googling it, talking to different people about it, writing down all my first ideas about it and then just letting it be. Sometimes it comes back right away, sometimes it comes back in a week and some of the ideas are still somewhere waiting for their time. I think I can divide my creative practice roughly in two. Working with the idea and working with the materiality. I used to study Architecture, so I am really fascinated with space and the way the parameters of materiality and the characteristics of the physical world have a relationship with us. I am also really fascinated how the process of creating a work can sometimes become more than the finished product.

Where do you get inspiration for creating new works?

Most of my inspiration comes from architecture, books, music and just communicating with other people. The sources of inspiration come like waves. They have a point of origin, they wash over you and sometimes they go away. Other times they come back.

I am still a young artist and I like to play around a lot. I think the inspiration comes from just communicating with my surroundings. The starting point of my work is usually very subjective and personal. I start from somewhere and then experiment. I start asking myself all kinds of questions - questioning the idea, the way I am working, the medium etc. I will remove everything that is excessive and bring out the essence. If I find something that interests me I might work with the idea for years.

Johannes Luik, Memory of the Future. Photo Taavi Piibemann

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