Introducing Alexandra Kehayoglou

Interview with the participating artist
By Zane Datava

  • Photo: Courtesy of Alexandra Kehayoglou Studio
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    Photo: Courtesy of Alexandra Kehayoglou Studio

How would you describe the place you work/ your studio? Where is it located? What is the best time of the day for you to work?

The studio is located in the outskirts of Buenos Aires. It is in the northern part of the city, in Munro, an industrial residential neighbourhood 20 minutes away from where I live. The studio is housed within the premises of a largescale industrial park. I have realized through these years, I need a lot of space to produce, handle and document the carpet work I make, that is why I had to get out from the city to find a big space near to industrial area.
The ground floor of the studio, is the main the workshop where we have the canvases and stock the yarn, here we work with several hand tufting machines to make the works that then travel to be exhibited. There is a lot of movement and noise in this ground floor, and although is where all the action takes place, I had to create another space more silent and slow where to think and draw.

That’s why 2 years ago we created a space on the upper floor where I have a drawing room, and some more organized less industrial place where to hang out and think about the upcoming projects, and new works. This is also a very important place for me, since it is where I keep all the documentation from different travels, sources of inspiration, books, maps, and small treasures. Here it is more silent. Actually right now changing my working times and routine, since I have a 2 months old baby… I think I now will work when I can, and try to be more flexible with my routine and adapt to what I feel is ok to move forward with and when it is best to rest. It can get very hot in Buenos Aires and I can’t go with the baby to the studio with extreme heat.

What inspires you in your work? What is the main motivation to create?

I am inspired by remote places. I try to travel every year around Argentina since it is such a vast country with so much land that you can find new places if you are willing to travel far. I do search for landscapes that look like they are from other worlds, colours that I have not seen before in nature, formations and geologies that look unknown and are related to my research.

I also find myself drown into stories of forgotten land and forgotten people, that's why after my travels around Patagonia I decided to research about the wrongly darkened native tribes of Patagonia, and have encounters with them and understand their cosmology… I even had a baby with my partner who has Mapuche native roots from the Andes, I believe this is also part of my story.

Generally, nature ignites something within me, a sort of happiness that fills me with air and new ideas.

When I spend enough time in true nature a will to create comes very easy, that's when I decide to tell a story, to make justice. I sometimes feel something outside me calls me to do what I do.

  • Photo: Courtesy of Alexandra Kehayoglou Studio
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    Photo: Courtesy of Alexandra Kehayoglou Studio

What are the challenges you face in your artistic practice?

In these times, in the global context we face of extreme climate, extreme pollution and decimation of natural landscapes we women are standing up to embrace our task of caregivers. This task was before our role in the family, in the house, taking care of children, but now it can’t just stop inside the house since the world is in such bad shape that need to be taken care from the feminine hemisphere.

Motherhood is also challenging. While being pregnant you share creation of ideas with creation of a human. Its powerful and intense, it has always been challenging for me drawing those limits. The creative process can reach a critical place, the mind enters a new state impossible to put into words.

Have you experimented with other mediums? Maybe thought about working in other fields?

I draw, paint, photograph, film, write; each project I face has a conjunction of different mediums that hide behind the work. I normally keep these different exercises and research documents to myself, but also I like to show and start to share them with the carpets that outcome from each project.

What are you reading right now? Which are some of your favourite thinkers, artists and musicians?

I was reading the life of Violeta Parra, a Chilean musician and artist that killed herself, she spent her life taking big risks, and fighting about the popular culture in Chile. I am not really a big fan of anything in particular. I do like to inspire myself in popular artists, specially folkloric music, where they sing the stories of places and people, I do yes cherish this.

  • Alexandra Kehayoglou, Locus Amoenus, 2016, Textile (handtuft system) Retrieved wool 100% natural, work in progress. Photo: Courtesy of Alexandra Kehayoglou Studio
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    Alexandra Kehayoglou, Locus Amoenus, 2016, Textile (handtuft system) Retrieved wool 100% natural, work in progress. Photo: Courtesy of Alexandra Kehayoglou Studio

What exhibitions and projects are coming up for you in 2019?

For 2019 I am working on a new unknown work that will be exhibited in the Hannah Ryggen 2019 Triennial, this work is inspired in a special landscape I encountered in Patagonia 1 year ago. A very special place with very different colours and palette of which I am used to work; in a way it's an extension from the big site specific piece I recently made for the exhibition “Dream” at the Chiostro del Bramante,curated by Danilo Eccher, where I am still showing this very challenging work the curator invited me to make. The work for Hannah Ryggen Triennial will be related to the prayer rugs I made in 2018, that will be exhibited for the first time at the Triennial.

Apart from that, I am going to work on unique project for Hermes Singapore in August. I will also have solo show in Buenos Aires at the MNAD in October, which will be very special for me, since I will be showing quite a number of works that are directly related to the Argentinian landscape, and the problems of the loosing of land, in the actual place where this problem is present.

Ah! We are also working on my first monograph that will be published by Walther König, and it is an amazing opportunity to put together my work from the past 10 years. This project is led by art historian and critic Dr. Cornelia Lauf, and will include texts about my work and documentation we have been gathering with all our research and production.