Interviews | February 5, 2024 |

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Image courtesy of Helene Jellestad

Interview: Helene Jellestad
Luca Curci talks with Helene Jellestad during the 18th Edition of VENICE INTERNATIONAL ART FAIR, at Palazzo Albrizzi-Capello.

Helene Jellestad is educated at Bergen National Academy of Art and Design / KHIB, in Norway, and graduated with a master’s degree in Interior Architecture and Furniture Design. Since 2005 Helene has created wall art with motifs that consist of visual constructions based on details from random photos – all photos taken by Helene. “- By using snapshots as a starting point for the creative process the wall arts designs get an authentic, undirected and rough feel that in this context is viewed as an aesthetic quality.”

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Image courtesy of Helene Jellestad

Luca Curci – How did you get into photography?
Helene Jellestad –
My father was a graphic designer – educated at the same state art school where also I was educated later. He was interested in photography and spent a lot of time on it, and as a child, I sometimes joined him when he hunted for photo motifs. My mother gave me a simple camera so I could take pictures too, but it became too expensive to follow up my photo activity (this was in the analogue age before digital cameras), so she stopped buying film for my camera. I continued to snap “pictures” with the camera – but without film, because the motif was there anyway. So, in that kind of way I have always taken photographs, but after 5 years at the art school, I studied television production and started using a small video camera instead. Then I lost interest in still pictures for a long period, before it finally reawakened.

LC – Do you remember why you took your first professional photo?
HJ –
20 years ago, I started taking snapshots of random motifs, then using them to construct new photo motifs that I had not planned in terms of design or direction in advance. In the beginning, this activity started as a kind of “time out” activity between other types of work to “turn off” my ever-present focus, instead of meditation. In this way, over the next few years, I constructed hundreds of new “meaningless” image motifs without ambition, but gradually this time-out activity began to steer itself into a certain direction, and the constructed image motifs that appeared gradually brought with them unexpectedly interesting visual content. For a period, I collected the new photo motifs on a website where those who wanted could follow what I was doing, and some of these photos were also sold as they were then.

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Image courtesy of Helene Jellestad

LC – According to you, what makes a good photo? Which details do you focus on?
HJ –
A good photo for me is one that captures my interest. How long it holds my interest is another matter. I’ve experienced images that I can’t take my eyes off, even though I can’t figure out what it is about the image that makes me keep looking at it. Photography can also be experienced as a medium for the transfer of energy from a sender to a receiver. Then the picture starts to be about more than “a good picture.

LC – How is being an artist nowadays?
– As a Norwegian artist living in Norway, I feel far away from most of what happens in the rest of the world, and experience limited local opportunities in relation to a relevant market and target group. At the same time, the internet and social media seem to be breaking all boundaries and now provide opportunities that are unique compared to a few years ago. For my own part, my artistic activity is primarily about the contact I achieve with myself through being in an ongoing active creation process on my own terms. It can be challenging to both follow what is happening in a common international art and culture arena through the global digital image stream and at the same time manage to hear my own voice through all the noise competing for attention.

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Image courtesy of Helene Jellestad

LC – Do visitors’ suggestions enrich yourself and your art?
HJ –
In terms of experience, my surroundings have been more interested in what I do, than I have been in communicating what I do. Pressure from outside can occasionally be experienced as heavy in the form of different opinions about what I create and suggestions for what I can do differently than what has already been done. As my creative process is part of my personal development, and my artistic activity is based on my interest in what can manifest because of my own contact with myself, I will continue to follow that path which shows itself as I walk, no matter what others may think of it. In addition to this, it is both pleasant and important that one’s surroundings are interested and engaged in what one is doing.

LC – Did your style change over the years? In which way?
HJ –
I am aware that I do not want to define myself within a specific style. I prefer to think that I use part of my allotted time to entertain myself in my own unpretentious play by manifesting various visualizations based on bits of reality. But I realize at the same time that this activity also touches me on a deeper level and brings to the surface the expression of my soul, which I observe, become familiar with, and sometimes wonder where it comes from.

LC – We were attracted by your last artistic production, has the artwork presented been created for the exhibition or as a part of preexisting works?
HJ –
I am participating in the exhibitions Venice International Art Fair – 18th Edition 2023 and Contemporary Venice – 13th Edition 2023 (most likely also at the Rome International Art Fair 2024) with a picture called BONDING – In between. This picture is best described as digital photo art and is number two in an existing picture series of three images with related visual pattern motifs. BONDING – In between, is invited by ITS LIQUID to participate in these exhibitions.

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Image courtesy of Helene Jellestad

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