The painting of Hoptille by Anna Taratiel (Ovni) was probably the biggest, and most challenging production R.U.A. has ever realized so far. We had to deal with different parties, each of them with their expectations, restrictions and bounderies. We wanted to let Ovni the freedom artists need to be able to work in their creative flow, but at the same time, we had to have very detailed sketches before we could start. It turned out to a period of excitement, struggles, frustrations, enlightning, learning and especially amazement - for us. But how did Ovni experience the project and how did she come out of this process? We we're curious and interviewd her recently.
AP: Anna, can you tell me, how did you experience this project, can you tell about the start and the process?
My first reaction was super happy. I’d recently become mom, so I was totally out of my daily routine as an artist, and this assignment came as a welcome surprise. It was perfect to do such a huge project in Amsterdam! The city I live in.
Looking back now, I realize I didn't imagine that it would be such a big project. There were a lot of directions I had to cope with. Hoptille is a building that’s stretched out and contains a total of 26 murals that should show the coherence of one big total object. That was the biggest challenge for me. I have never done that in my life. It also took a long time to prepare the idea, the project, the sketches, before being sure if it would really happen the way I thought it should.
AP: How did you come to the final concept?
R.U.A. asked to make it possible for people of the neighbourhood to participate. I like that concept a lot, but it made me go wild on the ideas. I like to make people part of my creative process instead of producing something for the people.
One of the things I am working on in all my projects now, is to hand out tools and see what people make with them. It is curious to see how each individual has a complete different inspiration with – in the case of Hoptille – exactly the same ingredients.
AP: So how did you start after all?
After a serious period of intern brainstorming, I came with two different options. One was a static piece of art spread over the different walls. Something I could make with the help of people, but without letting those people influence my artistic process.
The other idea was to make an online game. I developed a simple idea with several geometric forms and shapes in different colours. The game was to drag and drop the shapes into a virtual canvas of the scaled size of a mural of Hoptille. People would be able to make their own compositions like that.
We concluded together that the interactive game would be absolutely the best option, so I started to develop the shapes and forms. In the end I came up with 20 shapes. I made a series of compositions with different types of complementary colours that would fit on the background we’d choose for the Hoptille canvasses. And that’s what became “Parts ‘n Pieces” the project I realized on Hoptille.
When the ideas crystallized and started turning into reality, I was super excited to see the result. Combine all the elements of the project: the concept of Hoptille as one object, the participation of different people and the game I developed to make people participate...
I am very proud of the result. I am happy that I did it, and although it was the biggest project I have ever done in my life, I have to say that it had a very big impact on my state of being, mentally and physically. It asked a lot of me and I got very exhausted, sometimes extremely stressed, and frustrated in the end, when the end seemed never to come.
The fact that I could only really see what would be the result of combining all the elements, made me going until the end. And now that it’s ready, I feel proud and satisfied.
AP: How did you experience the process of the production?
First of all, the creative process of this project was the development of all the elements in the project, the concept, the tools and the website, and most curious, the contact with the people sending their input for my murals. When the website went finally online and the first compositions were sent in, it felt like a dream became true. Magic!
We developed a wooden version of the online game, for people of the neighbourhood who were able to do the game on a computer. It was very nice to see people gather to make compositions with my shapes! It caused a lot of interaction on the street in front of Hoptille and it made people understand better what I was doing out there in a cherry picker.
The practical production; the execution of the painting was more difficult than I expected. The background was rotten sometimes and it took a lot of concentration and energy to make the outlines. I could count on the great help of several dedicated assistants, some from the neighbourhood, some of them students of the Rietveld Academy. That was a nice exchange.
The nice part were the reactions from people passing by, watching the work progress and commenting on it.
AP: What did you think of the building Hoptille and how did locals react?
The architecture of the building is very curious. All murals together formed a perfect gallery to showcase the idea and the total result of the project.
Most inhabitants of the building were very happy with the work. Especially the people who made a composition and saw it later on a mural of their own building were very excited. That was nice experience for me too. That’s different when you have a show in a gallery. The audience doesn’t see the process and doesn’t react the way people did in this project.
People where not always understanding why I was making their building beautiful while there are so many things in their daily life that seem to be more important to care about. Hoptille is a building of a social housing company. There is a lot of practical maintenance that has to be done. Art is something that comes on the last place if asked their priority. They would say they don’t need it.
AP: But do you think the art has any influence on them?
For adults I don’t know. But for kids for sure the art in the neighbourhood, not only mine, but all the other pieces that were realized there during the summer, give a new fresh impression of the area.
When I was a kid, I never had that kind of experience - someone making my building beautiful. The architecture of a building and how it looks, are important for the way you look at your surroundings. It is inspiring for kids I think.
My generation started doing that, people of my age started painting, doing graffiti. But if I would have had the possibility as a kid to watch people making buildings in my neighbourhood beautiful, it definitely would have had a different impact on me.
I think it is important that people can do something about the place they live in.
AP: Why do you think it is more difficult for adults?
Adults don’t have the innocence of feeling free to do something crazy, like children still have. For me it’s a challenge to include adults in the process, and make them able to get rid of their fears. Why fear?
When I was young, I didn’t care if I would make something ugly or crazy, I would just make it. Now, I want everything to be perfect! Why can’t we – as adults - just have fun? Why is it so difficult for people to express themselves? That’s the challenge for adults!
Hündertwasser is a great inspiration for all my work. He said: ” If a building is sick, the people who live in it, become sick as well”. It is very important that people who live in a building, can do something on that building, to make them feel good. Art in public space is like that. It is part of daily life, and it is a beautiful contribution to daily life.
AP: Did you use elements of the architecture, or public space in the Bijlmer for your art?
I looked at the architecture of the area and felt that things were missing. My art on Hoptille is based on the missing things in the H-Buurt. I created pieces with colours of elements I saw around me, things that I was missing.
I am a very structured person. I live in a city – which is total chaos – so I am always looking for ways to bring balance and harmony into that space, or to give ‘sense’ to it.
AP: Would that describe the essence in your work? Anything you’re planning for the future?
I will continue doing what I do. Trying to create more projects in which people have to give me the input for my final work. And, I like to make people happy. Life is so complicated by itself, why should I make complicated art? It is nice to do things that feel good and make people happy. I want people to feel good when they see my work.