Äkkigalleria interview with Camille Girard & Paul Brunet on Sunday May 6th, 2012.
Äkki: You are the recent recipients of the reputable Prix icart 2012, how has this sudden fame affected your lives as artists?
PB: The prize was a bit strange; it was more about the recognition and we were extremely happy to receive this recognition in Paris. So many people came and supported us. It was great. But nothing has really changed.
CG: It is a bigger prize to be chosen to come to Finland; more our style. The competition was strange: the exhibition lasted only 4 hours. The jury came in chose the work and then it was over. But the party was really great, the students who organised the event did a fabulous job, and we are extremely grateful for all the support. But after the party everything is the same.
Äkki: This is your first time in Jyväskylä and you arrived just in time for a very special Finnish festival: May Day. What are your first impressions of Jyväskylä (Finland)?
PB: well first of all it was a party.
PB: Everything was just starting up, we met a lot of people, there were lots of parties (May Day, Graphica Creativa, openings) and we had to adjust to the climate. It was important to just walk into a store, for example, and look around. We did a lot of walking and looking.
CG: At home we don't really get out a lot and here we have been outside almost all the time.
PB: And especially because we had just spent the last 2 months inside working and drinking coffee. And here it is like a breath of fresh air.
CG: But our first impressions of Jyväskylä when we arrived; it was so strange to arrive here and find a city with such wide roads after riding the train through the forest and rural landscapes. But after walking around we can sort of recognize the landscape we saw from the train.
PB: It seemed like a really big city. With big block buildings, larges roads and a cold feeling. It is definitely not Quimper or Paris where the roads are so narrow and open spaces are rare, here there is so much space.
Äkki: Has your new environment influenced how and what you are drawing here?
CG: the last project we worked on everything was the same. All of our drawings were the same size, same colours: black and white and same subject matter. But those images were made with a specific goal for a particular exhibition.
Here, we have started a lot of drawings which we haven’t time to finish...
PB: we haven’t had time to finish YET, maybe…
CG: ...but maybe they might just stay that way. And we have been using bits and pieces of found paper from here. When we work at home we know what is around us. Here we want to get out and see as much as possible and collect.
But I want to do something special with the gallery space. The exhibition probably won’t only be drawings. We don’t know yet…
PB: We have experimented with a lot of things here. We have just let everything go. No limits.
There is a huge part of the work, which is and will remain invisible. The books that we have seen here for example are present without being shown directly in this show. Everything that we have encountered has affected us even though it might remain unseen.
The subjects of our work are similar to what we work with at home, you can easily find a connection to what we are doing here. But the drawing is accompanied by a whole event. It includes music and food. We always want it to be more than just a medium. There is drawing, the object and the space in between.
Äkki: You have been officially working together since 2007 when you were still in Art School together. Do you ever work separately?
CG: Well, we don’t really do the same thing.
PB: Yes and no. We work together but it’s true, we don’t do the same thing. We share a lot of things but our perceptions are very different.
Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. It is separate and not separate.
Äkki: I noticed that Paul, you have been reading about Vatanen in “The year of the rabbit” by Arto Paasilinna. Have you seen Paasilinna’s Finland here in Jyväskylä?
PB: mm. I don’t know, good question. Vatanen is someone mythical like Jesus. It is as if he were real or was once real. I have gotten to know Paasilinna more than Vatanen. His writing is amazing, it is dramatic and hilarious and then it also quite sad. Like the episode where the two people who are unsuccessful at trying to hang themselves meet by chance, and are so happy in their common goal to commit suicide.
But we are in the city too much to be able to tell if this place is as Paasilinna tells. I don’t think I am able to see it yet. Maybe I see it in the people, I don’t know it is not so clear.
But of course I see it; something of it.
If I met him I would quit drawing and follow him for the rest of my life. His spirit is completely different. The language is a huge barrier, here we are just spectators. Maybe I meet him everyday and I just haven’t recognised him. But on the first of May we met people. They looked at us in the eyes and talked to us in Finnish with their faces close to ours, and we just had to say “sorry we don’t understand”, but they just keep on talking. It was quite intense.
Äkki: What importance or influence does literature have in your work?
CG: No I don’t think so, it does in my life generally speaking but it does not necessarily have a conscious effect in what I do with my drawings.
PB: You (Camille) read a lot more than I do. I read more comic strips. But here we read a lot. So the literature is quite present.
Reading is replacing music. Here we don’t have music to listen to with us. But it must be an influence. A sensation.
Äkki: One particularity about your work is that you make it together, at the same time, sharing, trading on and off. How much do you talk or discuss what you are doing or going to do before hand?
CG: We talk. And sometimes we talk about what we are doing and it works.
PB: But when we don’t talk it is good. The drawings talk for us. If we could talk well we might not need to draw. Sometimes we talk about it after.
The most important thing is to make a decision. And when it doesn’t work it is because we can’t decide. When we talk we fight.
CG: No, that is not true.
PB: But, it is easier when we talk after. We have different perspectives: We say lets go to the lake and one of us thinks we are going to the lake to draw and the other thinks we are going to the lake for a walk.
Äkki: The other day you described what you do as an exchange; an exchange between the two of you and also between you and the public. For you, drawing seems to be much more than what is happening on the paper. Could you talk a little bit about your experience of drawing and what it means to you?
PB: It’s something communist. It is something which we want to develop in drawing and in our relationships with others. A way of trying to understand things better, we share a glance, a meal there are many different kinds of exchange. And everything, all of our interactions influence us.
CG: we spend a lot of time looking at other peoples work, not necessarily art, but we are enriched by that. There are different kinds of exchange. There is a kind of exchange within what we draw: what we decide to draw, and how we draw it. And then there are also other people who participate in our drawings. Exchange is teaching and learning.
Äkki: And what about your earliest memory of art or maybe of drawing?
PB: “Les maitres du temps” a fantastic animation. It's a story about a space ship which crashes on a planet. There is a little boy in the spaceship who has a ball which is a kind of Walkie Talkie with which he communicates with the mother ship. He uses it to communicate with an old man, who really is the boy as an old man, and this man helps him return. I used to watch it all the time, there were such strange animals in the film. I didn’t really understand it and that is probably why I watched it so many times. I really should watch it again because I am starting to forget some of the details. It’s a film by René Lalloux, a very magical film.
CG: when I was really young, my parents used to have a special arts afternoon for my brother and myself. It was really just to give us something to do, but those were very special moments. It was really very important, yet quite simple at the same time.
Äkki: And now some one word/short answers:
PB: ephemeral, feet on the ground, paper pen.
CG: light (lumière)
PB: a lot