In Conversation
with Evelyn
Bencicova

Words by Ritty Tacsum

Visuals by Evelyn Bencicova

Evelyn Bencicova (born in Bratislava, Slovakia on December 4th, 1992) is a visual creative specialising in photography and new media. Informed by her background in fine art studies (University for Applied Arts, Vienna), Evelyn’s practice combines her interest in contemporary culture with academic research to create a unique aesthetic space in which the conceptual meets the visual. Depicting multifaceted representations as illusions, Evelyn plays with the viewer’s perception to entice them into the labyrinth of her imagination. Her disturbingly beautiful visual language set within curiously symbolic environments, allow for a deep exploration of the themes that take her works and images far beyond what they reveal at first glance. 

Who is Evelyn Bencicova?

 I’m currently based in Berlin, star-sign Sagittarius (and I am very Sagittarius!) – a bit of a nomad, traveler, and adventurer. I also collect owls (of every material, except taxidermy and alive). More you will probably find out in the text below:)

My sources of inspiration always shift and change in the process of development, to the point that I’m myself curious about what is coming next. It can be anything, anyone, and anywhere. I’m not stating that it is everywhere (even though almost), but the impulses come usually so unexpectedly that they become difficult to trace back to their origins, and often impossible to plan consciously in advance. Wherever I go I take with me a curious mindset that treats each option as an opportunity for exploration – once you begin to truly look, you start to see as well, and observe signs that can guide us once we give them attention. When I find such a threat of interest, which is a mixture of determined search, luck, and strong intuition, I follow it. My main influence is probably places – both landscapes and buildings, exterior as well as detail, that trigger my imagination. In architecture, I observe social and geo-political structures or approaches to the environment all materializing into physical form. Equally important is the human presence, which is always reflected in the work, even in the case that no person appears in the picture. In that, I’m both interested in individuals as well as society and its relations.

 

The last source of inspiration I would like to mention is text. I love to read and many of my project ideas have their source in books, essays, or lectures – topics that are not only personal and my own (even though there is always a piece of that too, the motivation behind the interest in specific things) but more broad and universal. Each work is, taking into account all of these influences, collaboratively. I’m in it a medium that observes what is there, engages, analyses, and then tries to grasp and communicate the findings to the outside world again, in the form of visual interpretation.

I like to say that my works are “fictions based on truth” – glimpses of moments, and scenarios that have conceptual ground in real issues or events, yet staged in a way that blurs the line between memory, imagination, and fantasy. I try to reach the perception of in-between space and state – like dreaming while being awake, suspended between past and future but not entirely present, but rather a parallel world- a world inside of one’s mind.

 

Even visually there is ambivalence, the mixture of painterly references and digital techniques with the aim to always leave the viewer questioning the notion of reality construct, crossing from photography to 3D render in an almost indistinguishable way. Another metaphor I like to use is the one of Merror which was also the title of my first solo show at the Fotografiska Museum. Merror is a combination of mirror and error, the material that reflects anyone who looks into it, yet closer observation reveals friction, a small but deep passage to another layer of the story often told through easily unnoticeable detail. Access there is open, but not asked for at first glance, and even when inside it rather poses questions than dictates answers, without limit or end, I like to keep an open ground for the one that crosses behind the smooth, perfect surface into the plane of reflection and contemplation images aim to evoke.

Colouring relates to particular topics, which are worked on through projects. So I would say that the use of color is conceptual – like the strong presence of red in “Asymptote” which speaks about the architectural, social, and psychological effect of socialism (or more widely understood “communism”) in post-soviet countries, or the merging of gray and green in “SimulacRaum” project that deals with contracted spaces of natural/artificial dialogue. 

 The aesthetics of my works are often described as minimalistic, reduced, or washed-out in the sense of color. This developed quite naturally and instinctively, rather than a conscious decision for working in a certain visual style. In image-based works, my approach can be compared to creating a theater set, in which, if used in a significant way, each object and detail matters. They are the carriers of narrative, yet very subtle, so I try to create an invisible spotlight by avoiding background (I mean background in meaning, not in spatial terms) to a minimum and only keep what is crucial. Even during the production phase, I work precisely in the way that the main idea functions as a stage, prepared for the moment of freeing oneself from all this, losing all control and desirably for connection of everyone involved. I know the direction but the way to get there is and should be unpredictable and open to everyone’s interpretation. Everything then becomes planned in an unplanned way.

Creating is not always producing. For that reason, I would not try to compare the work of the artist to the function of the machine, not taking into the equation the time spent, as the work itself is very often, in many cases not only mechanical or machine-like. And coming back to the time spent on it, I personally often feel that I could not reduce it to the label of work, it is my life. Being an artist is educating yourself, taking part in the general discourse, doubting and questioning, observing the world around and taking part as well- everything I do, even a dream or glance out of the window is part of my process equally as a result that comes out of it. 

I grew up in a society where the notion is that being an artist is not a real job, but rather a free time activity only, for people who can afford to not work. In my case I had to start earning as soon as possible to support myself so from the 1st moment of touching the camera – it had to be thought of as a money-earning job rather than art-form. None of these extremes is true but probably both opinions come from the fact that the work of an artist does not fall within a specific time frame – it does not have to start at 9 and it does not have to finish at 5, it does not require weekend off or often even retirement. At least for me, it comes from a strong inner need to explore topics and share ideas but at the same time delivering results requires a huge portion of pragmatic planning, budgeting, and organization. During this stage of my career, I work both on personal and commissioned projects, and both approaches – academic or more applied- influence and inform each other. What I do is what I love, even if it is work, so there is no issue for me with spending most of my time with it.

I believe that happiness is a fleeting feeling which is also its beauty. And same goes for contentment. I created a few pieces I was very happy with at the moment, but could not fulfill me for too long. Curiosity is always directed towards what is coming next – I want my work to develop as I do so constant flow is a more interesting goal for me than perfection as a final stage. Yet each piece requires a point of finalization, the decision to move from one thing to another, even if they can be interconnected. In the current period, I switch between several mediums and projects which have their own advantages but also challenges, as well as each such medium (in my case it is mostly photography, 3D, and VR). 

In photographic work, I am much more limited with time on set or location and boundaries of reality. But the limitation is equally a chance for the possibility of the unexpected, where the lack of time can lead to taking risks in favor of a more creative approach in which one surprises oneself. If the connection of all people and elements happens there is an option to go beyond the idea or even beyond the most desired result because what is happening could not be staged. It is real, happening there at that moment and everyone can feel, and relate to that. Such a moment is precious.Computer-generated imagery works slightly differently and one cannot rely much on the magic of human connection or the power of a lucky accident.

Possibilities of creativity are almost infinite, only depending on one’s technical skills – which are much more required and complex than in the field of photography – I myself work with a team of other artists in a collaborative way on all fully digital projects. There is no intensified time pressure on the set, as the set, the actors, and even the overall atmosphere is constant and immortal but at the same time often have to be created from scratch. And the most natural thing, like re-creating detailed human skin might take weeks or even months. 

For this reason, I like to create combinations and switch perspectives. When a person shifts the viewpoint from one direction to another, and even more so in a collaborative way, it refreshes the work every time again.

 

Coming from all the previous answers I would say that “I don’t really know” what’s coming next. Let’s see where the flow of the future will take me. It is almost that I prefer to not know too much, to allow openness. But of course, I have many specific plans for the next weeks and months, mostly concerning exhibitions and project developments. My recent work titled SimulacRaum is one that could be out of all described as a work in progress. 

SimulacRAUM is an investigation of constructed spaces, Räume, that carry the resemblance, or likeness (Latin. Simulacrum) to the model standing in opposition to their origin. Series shows the earth’s surface slit into functional shapes as well as urban structures molded to organic forms, each of them artificially created, yet connected with nature either by its fragmentation or re-recreation. In both ways, a transformation takes place, from grown to build and vice versa, with its effects found as traces on-site, in which another meaning of simulacrum, unsatisfactory imitation or substitute, is revealed. 

One of my dreams, and by dreams I mean goals that I’m aiming to materialize in reality, is my first artist book, which would circle around this topic. Let’s see if they will come true, and if so, you will know:)

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