15_Minutes_with_Kai Lossgott_Mango_Juice

Sep 8, 2015 | Publisher: link3462 | Category: Other |  

[LIFESTYLE I 15 MINUTES] 15 MINUTES WITH KAI LOSSGOTT Contemporary artist Kai Lossgott holds a Bachelors in Journalism from Rhodes University (speciaLising in documentary filmmaking and dance theatre), an Advanced Diploma in Visual Arts from UNISA, and an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Cape Town, all three cum laude. THAT'S QUITE AN UNUSUAL NAME YOU HAVE. WHAT'S THE ORIGIN? It might sound very exotic, but it is actually just the German form of the English or French name Guy. My father is German; my mother Afrikaans. In the old languages of Europe, Kai means variously 'keeper of the keys or earth', or 'quay', referring to a safe harbour. In both Japanese and Hawaiian it means 'ocean'. It was the name of one of King Arthur's knights, as well as of a famous samurai. In Burmese, it means 'unbreakable'. In the Yoruba language of Nigeria, it means 'love'. YOU MOVED FROM FILM-MAKING TO BEING AN ARTIST. WHY THE SHIFT? When I was painting as a teenager at the National School of the Arts, I had this vision of moving paintings, which is how I ended up in film. Both my parents are artists and, really, my film-making was always a continuation of that. Being stuck in an editing suite for hours, days and months really opened my eyes to the fact that I had to make a choice about what I wanted in life. The shift was really one away from the industrial film context, which is a factory where I burnt out with chronic fatigue and depression, to a personal context, which is AI I ju ice May 2011 I wwwilymango.com more entrepreneurial and through which I can express my authenticity I took a big pay cut at a very early age by going solo and deciding I was not going to wake up when I was 60 and realise I hadn't lived. The TV industry taught me I could produce quickly in a short space of time; art taught me that the work I am proud of takes longer. BEING STUCK IN AN EDITING SUITE FOR HOURS, DAYS AND MONTHS REALLY OPENED MY EYES TO THE FACT THAT I HAD TO MAKE A CHOICE ABOUT WHAT I WANTED IN LIFE YOU ARE A POET TOO. WHEN DOES THAT SIDE EMERGE? At the moment, mostly in insomniac moments around 3am. Writers are brilliant at avoiding and procrastinating. I have this computer program called Write or Die - when I turn it on it freezes the screen for however long you ask it to, so that you can't do i b e g i OE anything else on your computer except type. Then I am forced to write for 10 to 20 minutes. If you stop typing for longer than 10 seconds, the screen goes blood red. It's very funny. I use my poems in my drawings and plant-leaf engravings, and publish them in journals. DO ALL THE HATS YOU WEAR COME TOGETHER WHEN YOU'RE CREATING SOMETHING? Sometimes; sometimes not. They're less like hats that I take on and off, and more like extra arms that I use to do different things, or even extra fingers on hands, all of them are busy all the time when I am making something. It's about what the artwork needs at that moment. HOW DOES NATURE INSPIRE YOU? I am inspired by the experience of being silent in nature and realising that it has a living presence. Through spending time in nature, one comes to realise that, although we have removed nature from our urban lives, we are inextricably linked to it. My leaf engravings are simple but powerful statements trying to re-establish a connection with the natural world. In protecting nature, we protect ourselves. TAKE US THROUGH THE PROCESS OF ENGRAVING LEAVES. I engrave green leaves by hand with a pin or an etching needle, or put them in a typewriter and type on them. or I press and dry them and burn the images on with a laser engraver. Then I freeze them to kill off insect contamination and sandwich them between two sheets of glass to protect them from moisture. They are then presented in a light box, as this is the only way you can see the images. WHAT IS YOUR TAKE ON THE WAVE OF DISASTERS THAT HAS PLUNGED MANY PEOPLE INTO INTROSPECTION? The earth is changing. A Chinese proverb says: 'He who knows what was, knows what will come again. The activity of the physical forces that shape our earth has varied over 0 L I2 507 0a U. 50 V0 aKa time, and looks like it is on the rise again - by all indications I'm certain that in the next few years we will be in for a lot more activity than we bargained for. Whatever may come, we owe it to ourselves to cultivate healthy relationships with ourselves, others and the planet that sustains us. In times of hardship or disaster it becomes frighteningly clear that our faith and humanity are the only things that keep us sane. ARE SOUTH AFRICANS ON THE SAME WAVELENGTH AS THE REST OF THE WORLD ABOUT SENSITIVITY TO THE EARTH? Of course not. We have basic human- rights issues like access to clean water and sanitation to deal with. Our government's lack of eco-savvy has got to change. Besides the need for public education, it has been very slow to integrate concepts around climate change - green energy, for instance - in its planning. Like everywhere in the world, government is strongly connected to the industries that have been built on the exploitation and pollution of the planet, and those industries are fighting to continue unchanged. ARE AWARDS IMPORTANT TO YOU? They help to encourage you and boost your confidence. Most importantly, they help other people take you more seriously because you stand out from the crowd. I won a lot when I was younger and it helped me believe in myself. However, learning to believe in myself when nobody was watching has been harder. but more permanent. WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR MOST REWARDING EXPERIENCE TO DATE? In my late 20s, when my impossibly dysfunctional family had finally split and everyone went their separate ways (my sister and I had moved out, my parents got divorced), we slowly began to establish relationships over the phone, relationships we could never have when we lived together. Even being able to have an actual conversation without being screamed dead was a miracle in itself. I learned to value the family I had spent my whole life trying to run away from, and in the long run gained a sense of safety I had never had. HICH PLACE WOULD YOU MOST LIKE TO VIS WHERE DO YOU LIKE TO HANG OUT? With friends at home, where it is quiet and we can talk about things we don't need everyone else to hear. I like to work in cafs, though. and drink endless cups of rooibos tea with lots of milk and no sugar. SECRETS wanted to visit Angkor Wat in Cambodia ever since I saw it in a National Geographic when I was five. MHO Mkt 0111TPUBH A ' v t 1 1 4 \ i FOUR ESSENTIALS TO PACK WHEN GOING AWAY ON HOLIDAY? Depends what kind of holiday but I guess camera, wallet, laptop and the latest wicked novel by Jeanette Winterson. Don't forget a good pen and some paper. That's six, sorry. Kai's full-colour, 4 4 - p a g e b o o k , T a l k i n g t o t h e T r e e O u t s i d e M y P I Window While I Sleep, is filled with his beautiful plant-engraved oetry The imagery in the book references Leonardo Da Vinci's fam us s etch - the Vitruvian Man, and the poems draw on the experience of being silent in nature and feeling its living presence. For more info and to order, go to www.kailossgott.com. www.flymango.com WHICH ARE YOUR FAVOURITE DOCUMENTARIES? I confess to being very old-fashioned. I'd go with Man with a Movie Camera (1929) b y th e Soviet filmmaker Dziga Vertov, if that counts as a documentary. It certainly is a non- fiction film. WHAT'S HANGING ON YOUR LOUNGE WALLS? A postcard of the Buddha, a photo of the artist Joseph Beuys performing his piece How to explain Pictures to a Dead Hare, a National Geographic image of a I7th- century Maori Mask from New Zealand and a photo of Virginia Woolf. Mayamt Juice I 1 9

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