Interview with the artist Sergei Sviatchenko

Sergei Sviatchenko has been working across several media, such as installation art and collage, and his work has been widely recognized in modern art. His interest in fashion is visible by his innovative combinations of shapes and colors, and he has several times been chosen as one of Denmark’s best-dressed men, most recently in 2019, by the magazine Euroman. We have talked to the Danish/Ukrainian artist about his collaboration with Danish Dance Theatre as a costume and set designer for THE NIGHTINGALE.

By Carla Gianetti, translated by Csongor Szabo, 28. januar 2020


Sebastian Kloborg and Alessandro Sousa Pereira have created the choreography. The electronic-music duo Den Sorte Skole has composed the music. The Danish/Ukrainian artist and style icon, Sergei Sviatchenko has created the imaginative set design and, in collaboration with costume designer Maria Ipsen, the  the costumes – which together with the choreography, the music, and the dancers create the unique atmosphere of the piece. The evening is a double bill that takes inspiration from literary tales about the nightingale and connects contemporary dance with electronic music, stage design and classic literature.

We asked Sergei Sviatchenko about art, inspiration and the process of a multi-aesthetic collaboration, in connection to THE NIGHTINGALE that had its premiere on January 17, 2020 in the Concert Hall Aarhus.

 

What is your relationship with collage?

Collage appeals to me a lot, and has gradually become my favorite medium. A medium that I have been working with for almost 40 years. It is great to work with collage because it reflects my idea about art: a definite impression that mixes well with the spirit of our time.


 Collage by Sergei Sviatchenko, 2019


Have you worked with performance Arts before?

Only in connection with my own exhibitions. An exhibition and a performance are in many ways similar to each other, yet they demand different forms of expression. I have really been excited about working with performance Art this way.

 

How did you find that you as an artist had to create scenography and co-design costumes for a choreographic work?

If I could, I would always work this way! To experience that a work is being created right in front of you, with the human body as a tool, is something very special. To delve into the knowledge and skills of others, to experience such a close collaboration with other artists, and to be part of it as a co-creator has been a true gift.

 

How did you work with the tales of H. C. Andersen and Oscar Wilde in connection to the visual and aesthetic expression?

My goal was to connect the movements of the dancers with the scenography, to let the shapes of the set inform the movements, and vica versa. The process can be described like this: reading the works, finding associations, reflecting on these associations, simplifying or enlarging various elements – then repeating the same steps, over and over again.


What is your relationship with the two literary works of H. C. Andersen and Oscar Wilde?

As with many of the classics: I read them, then I forget about them. However, it is one of the great pleasures of life that we can rediscover them and experience them anew.

 

We have already talked about that this project is a multi-aesthetic collaboration between the music of Den Sorte Skole, your art, and the work of the choreographers. Can you say something about your experience in this process?

I have never worked with dance before, but I had all of the records of Den Sorte Skole before I started working on the project. The visual universe is in one way or another very much connected to both the musical and the choreographic universe, through a pool of common fragments and references. Together they can create a new work by making use of their individual strength and approach. This has been true for our collaboration as well, where several parts create a whole.

 

How was the collaboration with the choreographers, Sebastian Kloborg and Alessandro Sousa Pereira?

Something that is recognizable to me, and which I can really relate to, is the visual language of choreography. In a way, the two choreographers create moving 3D images. Sebastian’s images are like the ones of Wasiliy Kandinsky – fragmented and colorful. Alessandro’s – like Francis Bacon’s – are fluid and have a limited range of colors.

 

How was it to work with Den Sorte Skole?

Their universe is already very rich, and their process is very creative, with their use of different sounds from different eras, from all over the world. I think, their music unites and enriches the movements and all that happens on the stage. As an artist, I can really relate to their music and their universe.

 

How do you use fashion in connection to your art?

I am very interested in style, which for me is a clear reflection of who we are.

 

What are the other things that inspire you?

Life, music, dance! Everything reflects each other, but we see different things. The scenography is inspired by my collage series LESS, which I have been working on since 2004. My choice for the costumes has been inspired by Soviet Constructivism, the avant-garde movement from the 1920’s. Constructivism had a profound influence on everything in art, and with the costumes I wanted to express an idea of the ‘natural’ and the ‘unartistic’. A simple, natural uniform that can speak of both humanity and functionality. This was the progressive idea behind Constructivism, and it is a beautiful thought that fits well with both interpretations of THE NIGHTINGALE.

 

What can the audience expect from this performance visually?

I think the audience will experience an aesthetic surprise that is positively challenging. They will need to search for words to describe the familiar.


Costumedesign by Sergei Sviatchenko and Maria Ipsen, Photo: Sergei Sviatchenko

 

Costumedesign by Sergei Sviatchenko and Maria Ipsen, Photo: Sergei Sviatchenko

 

Costumedesign by Sergei Sviatchenko and Maria Ipsen, Photo: Sergei Sviatchenko

 

Costumedesign by Sergei Sviatchenko and Maria Ipsen, Photo: Sergei Sviatchenko


 


Scenography by Sergei Sviatchenko, photo: Sergei Sviatchenko



Scenography by Sergei Sviatchenko, Photo: Sergei Sviatchenko


Scenography by Sergei Sviatchenko, Photo: Sergei Sviatchenko


THE NIGHTINGALE

THE NIGHTINGALE premiered the 17th of January 2020 at the Concert Hall Aarhus with Den Sorte Skole playing the new composed music live. After the premiere in Aarhus THE NIGHTINGALE premiered in Copenhagen at Takkelloftet at The Royal Danish Theatre. THE NIGHTINGALE will now continue flying across the country on its DK-tour. See the full tour plan here.

 

ART INSTALLION IN THE FOYER

At the foyer of the Concert Hall Aarhus and Takkelloftet there were a site-specific art installioin called "Secretly” made by Sergei Sviatchenko. The installion was based on the idea of a wood´s historical memory, which contains the past, present and future and that it affects our emotions and life. 

 



Site-specific installation by Sergei Sviatchenko


Site-specific installation by Sergei Sviatchenko


Site-specific installation by Sergei Sviatchenko


Site-specific installation by Sergei Sviatchenko


Site-specific installation by Sergei Sviatchenko


 Photo: Sergei Sviatchenko