v i s t o
a series of photographs exploring body, light, shadow and gravity... Unique prints on Hahnemühle Canvas. Exhibited 2009 at Koong Gallery in Jakarta, Indonesia. Interview with the Artist by Kadek Krishna Adidharma What is your name? My name is Lovis Batiste, but my mum used to call me visto or sometimes even visto batisto. It was just her way of calling me, but some friends picked it up and started using it too. Calling this exhibition VISTO goes hand in hand with dedicating it to her. Where were you born, and where do you live now? I was born in Herdecke in West Germany. I grew up in total countryside near Osnabrueck where cows literally looked into the window in the morning. Where do I live ya? Haha it's hard to say. I live where I am. This year I lived in Bali, Melbourne, New York and Jakarta. After this exhibition, I will be going to Germany and back to New York. Tell us about your education… I went to a Steiner school, and my formal tertiary education was in an acting school in Germany. But the better school was working for and with people I learned from. So, you’re an actor? Aren’t we all? Yes, I am, and I think being an actor influenced my approach on working with the dancers in a way that gave everyone on set much more confidence. Knowing what is possible and being able to act it out for them was a great bridge when language was not sufficient. The dancers could sense that I understood their difficulties. Tell us about your time in New York… I first went to NY during my acting school to participate in the Watermill Summer program and, as you can imagine, it was quite something for the German village boy I was. It was like being in movies that I used to see in the small movie theatre back home… I loved it and I still do. I came back and became Robert Wilson's personal assistant in 2006, which opened the door to so many things. It gave me the opportunity to work at major opera houses as well as collaborating with galleries and artists around the world. Most importantly it changed the way I look at things now. How did you get the idea to do your Momentum series? I was doing a fashion shoot and asked a dancer to join because I wanted to add energy to the picture. I had in mind that the model would simply stand and be present while the dancer would be in the air next to her. During the shoot, I noticed the shadows. At first I tried to avoid them, but then my curiosity got the better of me. I then asked the dancer to jump in front of a white wall and saw how dynamic the pictures suddenly became. I instantly knew that the dancer would have to be nude in order to achieve certain purity and after some time I managed to convince him to try it out. It simply blew my mind. We shot for only ten minutes before it started to rain and we had to leave the site. What did you choose to explore? At first I just visually appreciated the image with the shadow next to the jumping subject. It seemed to extend the energy the dancer already brought into the picture. When looking at it again I kept noticing the muscles and tension, which seemed to have no real direction depending of the status of the jump: still jumping (going up), at the top of the jump, between jumping and falling (temporarily free of gravity), or already falling. I started looking for dynamic and vitality of radiant bodies rather than beautiful poses. I asked the dancers NOT to think, NOR to express anything. I was looking for the expression through the body only, with a relaxed empty face. I would tell the dancers to think of their face as a cleaning cloth, to release the tension when jumping, to breathe out. I told them to think about the space behind them instead of the one in front of them. Not the easiest for most. I also did not want to emphasize on the poses like in a traditional dance shoot. How did this progress to your Unclad series? The energetic and demanding shoots tended to lead to an exploration of a resting body. Being able to play with exposure and aperture as well as carefully light a shot became interesting again. It sort of happened in parallel and was like a balancing exercise for me. How would you describe what you have captured? The vitality seen in the well-trained bodies, combined with the emptiness in the faces — which provides a wider canvas for the viewer’s internal projections — is what makes this series of pictures for me. For one it may look sad, to another contemplative, the next questioning, and the last viewer might just think it looks boring... For this exhibition I would like to focus on vitality. This might sound shallow but I am not a friend of putting too much meaning into something that is just sharing a perspective or a moment I created. If anything, these works should communicate and/or celebrate the beauty and vitality of the human body. I am open if there are any other views on these works. As I said, reducing the expression of the subject was meant to enhance the ability of the viewer to project his/her own interpretations, feelings, or emotions. What would you like to explore next? Funny you should ask, I asked myself the same question this morning!