The art world’s focus is very often on final products: the completed painting on the museum wall, the finished sculpture in the exclusive gallery, the much-practiced symphony in the orchestra hall, the edited film on the silver screen.
But behind the artwork on display is the artist, and though many argue that the two should be evaluated as very separate entities, probing the creative process of the artist is always a worthwhile endeavor; when we learn about how and why artists do what they do, we can expand our own understanding of human beings and the myriad of ways they see and respond to the world. We can also cultivate our own sense of creativity.
Thus, YLC wants to shine its spotlight on local artists to get a better idea of their creative seeking and striving: What inspires them? How do they work? What do they see? What do they feel? Why do they see it? Why do they feel it?
Through a series of interviews with artists working in Stockholm, we hope to garner some interesting responses to the queries above – and maybe even inspire our inner artist, too.
First up, then, is photographer Mona Bensafiddine, a native of Stockholm who uses her camera to go to a mindful space and capture the many nuances of simplicity found in the world around her.
So without further ado…
YLC: Hej Mona! Thanks for taking the time to chat with us about your life as an artist. Let’s just jump right into it: Tell us a little bit about your background.
Bensafiddine: Hej och tack själv! Well, I studied at Kulturama’s photography school for two years before switching to the University of Gothenburg, where I graduated with a degree in fine art photography in 2013. I’ve assisted photographers and artists and have been freelancing with my own customers as well.
YLC: Cool. What inspires your work?
Bensafiddine: I believe that the true esssential is the simple; I find this thought very appealing.
YLC: The simple – can you elaborate?
Bensafiddine: Well, to give you a better idea, I saw this documentary about a man named Jiro who is considered by many as the world’s greatest sushi chef. He has a simple restaurant in the subway of Tokyo. He was really into perfection through simplicity. It was very much about repeating a simple process day after day and getting better and better at it. That really resonated with me.
I think focusing on the simple also is a way to understand what is important, to find quiet in a world that is so often loud and rowdy.
YLC: That’s very interesting. How does this notion of the simple impact your work? How does it play into your creative process?
Bensafiddine: Well, one of my ongoing projects involves close up pictures of the ocean in motion. I look for “ready-made” paintings or patterns that appeal to me. I focus on the details, the little things, in order to get a new perspective. The search for patterns is very meditative and I think it’s the only way I lose myself in time. I need my work to be enjoyable like that, more ease than effort. I also made up my mind that I’m not going to pay attention to the thoughts that come to me while I work. I don’t intellectualize them or think so much about how my work will end up.
YLC: That sounds like a refreshing way to create – any particular reason you focus on the ocean?
Bensafiddine: The ocean is free – free from explanation and theory. It communicates through a body experience, through non-verbal methods, and these are really pleasant to me. I’m always happy when I’m there. I’m also attracted to the paradox that the ocean is uncontrollable: scary and beautiful at the same time. So with my images I guess I’m getting to know it, trying to control and know it piece by piece.
YLC: Can you explain a little more what you mean by ”piece by piece”?
Bensafiddine: Well, with my close-ups, and with photography overall, actually, you always choose to cut something out of the picture, so it’s true to what you’ve seen, but on the other hand, you’ve left some information unseen. In my work, I do a lot of conscious decontextualizing, so it goes from being familiar to unfamiliar or at least you’re not sure what it is you are seeing. For example, someone once thought my images of the ocean were the Earth from far distance and that’s very interesting to me.
YLC: That makes me want to hear about how a variety of viewers would interpret your work since it seems like they could have very different experiences, perhaps all of them questioning what they think they know?
YLC: Cool. Do you have time for one more question?
Bensafiddine: Of course!
YLC: Great. What are your goals as an artist? What is it that you are striving and seeking?
Bensafiddine: I really like to be occupied with my job in the studio I’m in every day, but it doesn’t give me much time for making my own stuff. The ideal is to merge these two together. I guess I’m seeking and striving for a good work-life balance.
YLC: Nicely put. Well thank you so much for an inspiring conversation! I think our readers will gain some valuable new perspectives on living and creating – whatever it is that they do. Lycka till!
Bensafiddine: Tusen tack for taking the time to listen.
If you would like to see more of Bensafiddine’s work, or find a way to get into contact with her, check out her blog at http://monabensafiddine.tumblr.com/ or find her on instagram as mnfddn.