John Trashkowsky | Interview
We discussed with John Trashkowsky about his powerful and thought-provoking artworks. Read our exclusive interview with the artist.
What do you see when you look around you?
I see that this is our time and the moment lies in our hand. Family, friends, people, politics, economy, war. I don’t know if it’s better or worse than in the past or if the future will be better – it doesn’t matter, because I think we all should live more in the present.
‘Science of power’, 2015, metal frame, wire, US Army helmets
Do you believe art allows seeing things differently or does reality generate art through the concerns it raises? Did your contact with art influence your ways of seeing or was it something else that had a greater impact on you becoming an artist?
Art was always a mirror for every decade, a form of reflection, a chance to see things from a new perspective or to point out what’s really relevant in life. I am happy that I discovered art for me as a catalyzer. I’ve been creative since I was a Hip Hop kid and started to scribble my graffitis into books. I´m an autodidact and the art I do today is my very own form of expression.
‘Heal the world’, 2015, globe, patches
You are also a creator of image and meaning. How do you think your art influences others?
My artworks are statements, they talk to people, tell stories or bring up good questions. They are mostly packed with different topics, often from a cynical point of view. So people start seeing things from a different perspective I guess – everyday life objects, slightly manipulated or set in another context, suddenly have the power to touch people emotionally or bring up some questions.
‘Horsepower’, 2015, rocking horse, crutches
Consumerism, surveillance, power, war are among the aspects that you constantly approach, often with irony. Share some insights about these themes, how they link and why they are recurrent in your work.
It’s my way to handle what I observe going on in the world, to get along with the topics which bother me. When you can’t change the system, you have to find your very own way to deal with it. The irony is just a way to show another truth.
‘Red carpet’, 2013, red body bags, cord stands
Among the elements that you use in your artworks, we noticed the crutches. What disabilities do you reflect? Are they social, political, psychological?
The interesting thing is actually, that every material has its own message or story and by mixing them, changing a detail or adding something, an object you are used to know for years suddenly becomes something new or gets a new meaning that is bigger than it used to be. So, depending on the context or the material mix with the crutches, they are social, political or psychological.
‘Swing a lifetime’, 2013, crutches, swing
Money and trash, is it a cause-effect relation?
Economists could tell you the exact cause-effect of trash and money. But what is obvious is that the more money people have, the bigger the hill of trash. Both materials have a strong meaning from their function and when you start working with them their value transforms from the object to an artwork. For a few years now I’ve collected trash bags from all over the world and it’s interesting to see how different cultures are dealing with trash.
‘This is not a parachute’, 2010, dollar sewn on original umbrella frame
From your recent works, we find “No blood is better” (2015) and “We are watching you” (2015) to be very powerful. Can you talk about these works and your current projects?
In my opinion the only war we should fight in the 21st century is the war on war. “No blood is better” is a symbol that nobody is better than anyone else and the pain on both sides is the same. Today we are not only watched by cameras, our complete virtual life is observed and “We are watching you” is like a monument that shows what you can expect from the very first day here on earth.
‘We are watching you’, 2015, baby crib, wood, surveillance cameras
‘No blood is better’, 2015, pharmacist scale, Palestinian & Israeli blood donor
What would you never accept or do as an artist? And, on the contrary, what would you like to do most at this moment?
I am happy that I have a job beside my art, so there is not much I have to accept as an artist. On the other hand I would like to have more time and space for it.
‘Babushka riots’, 2015, Babushka dolls, wool, fabric
‘Cup of boom’, 2013, ceramic cup, fabric
Any upcoming exhibitions and events where we can see your work?
I participated in the Cityleaks Urban Art Festival in Cologne, had a gallery show at Stroke art fair Munich, participated at Containermuseum in Winterthur and had a little one window show at Sihlhalle in Zurich. In 2016 I will participate in a group show in London, do a gallery show at Art Muc in Munich and there are some other projects in preparation. Just check out my website from time to time: johntrashkowsky.com.
All images © John Trashkowsky