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Episode 61
Artist Ilana Savdie

  • 25 min read

Episode Description

A conversation with artist Ilana Savdie. Ilana makes brightly-colored, large-scale paintings and drawings that are obviously abstract while concealing figurative forms that explore topics of identity, power-dynamics and the imperfection of the human body as a vessel. In the discussion, Ilana shares insights on her creative process, the influence of her childhood in Baranquilla, Colombia, her unique use of materials and her current show at White Cube in London.


Craig: [00:00:09] This is Art Sense, a podcast focused on educating and informing listeners about the past, present and future of art. I'm Craig Gould. On today's episode, I speak with artist Ilana Savdie. Ilana makes brightly colored, large scale paintings and drawings that are obviously abstract, while concealing figurative forms that explore topics of identity, power dynamics and the imperfection of the human body as a vessel. In the discussion Ilana shares insights on her creative process, the influence of her childhood in Barranquilla, Colombia, her unique use of materials, and her current show at White Cube in London. And now a conversation about saturated colors and parasitic forms with Ilana Savdie.

Craig: [00:01:08] Ilana Savdie thank you so much for joining me this week on the Art Sense podcast. Ilana, a lot of times with artists, I like to start with a hypothetical and that is let's say you're at a dinner party next to someone you have never met and they have no idea who you are or what your work looks like. When they ask you, "What do you do? You say you're an artist. What does it look like?" How do you describe your work to someone who has no idea?

Ilana: [00:01:38] That's always a really hard question because that's sort of something that and it happens to me constantly. It's something that I'm sort of fighting against constantly in my studio with myself. But I always call it theTinder question, like when someone on Tinder asks me, "What kind of work do I do?" I'm not going to go into the whole artist statement or the whole...the nuances. And I usually just say I make large scale, very brightly colored paintings with oil, acrylic and wax, and then I always immediately want to take it back because then I'm like, "Oh, but then sometimes I make small scale, and then sometimes I like to work with sculpture. And what if I stop working with all these colors?" You know? So it's just like there's this thing where the elevator pitch feels really daunting, but you kind of have to say something. Yeah, so. Right. I usually just say that large scale, very brightly colored.

Craig: [00:02:31] It's hard because there's so many layers in your work, both figuratively and in actuality. Right? And so let's start breaking it down. When you say large scale, how big are we talking? You know, obviously you do small stuff also. But the big stuff, how how big are we talking?

Ilana: [00:02:51] I think at this moment, somewhere around 86" x 80" or like one, 120" x 100", they're pretty large scale. But it's usually...I'll measure the height of my studio and that's as big as I can go. That's sort of...I like to spread out. The bigger the painting is, the more I can use every joint in my body to make it. And that's what's most exciting for me. So I like to use like my wrist, my elbows and my shoulders to really make a gesture so as big as I can get sometimes. That said, like, I also move the painting around and I work on panel, so I have to be able to lay it on the floor sometimes. So it is also whatever I can move. It's really in response to my own body.

Craig: [00:03:41] And so, you know, one of the things that comes up consistently when I'm speaking to artists and critics and collectors, it really seems like the best art is personal and it's really tied to our identity. It's tied to our perception of place. And I feel like that's consistent with with your body of work. Right? Can you tell me about growing up in Barranquilla and how that influences your work?

Ilana: [00:04:14] So I grew up in Barranquilla. I lived there until I was about 13 and then I moved to Miami. So I grew up...Barranquilla in Colombia is a city where the carnival happens every year. So I think that's probably the most overt thing that's in my work that I can point to my experience with space and environment. I think it's a three day festival that happens before like the three days before Lent, sort of. I think it's the second biggest carnival in the world, if I'm not mistaken. But being in the city where it sort of happens every year, it kind of leaks out past those three days. And it's something that constantly felt in the in the culture, in the in the esthetics, in the behavior of the people where I'm from. And I think that's had a huge influence on my relationship to color, on my interests, my fascination with the uncanny and the grotesque. And the themes around performance themes around the inversion of social norms, themes around mockery and ridicule as forms of protest, which are all themes of the carnival. Those are things that I was always really drawn to, and it kind of took a sort of self analysis and a kind of backtracking of my own history to understand that was probably in response to growing up surrounded by by the carnival. And then I think part of my work also deals a lot with what it means to to leave home, to migrate, to carry home on your back, basically as the sense of like the sort of nomadic sense of home. So what it means to hold home and history and heritage in the body when landscape isn't really what carries it for you.

Craig: [00:06:22] One of the things you pull from is this idea of a parasite. That's a visual that you kind of come back to. Can you maybe talk about your attraction to the parasite, both in a physical form, but also just kind of allegorically? What that what that's kind of attaching itself to, no pun intended.

Ilana: [00:06:46] Well, I think that the parasite, just like its physiological behaviors and the way it relates to power is very interesting to me. I think the fact that it's a it's an agent of imposition and invasion that forces a host to change. I think that's an element of it that feels like it sort of relates to protest in a way that I'm interested in and the act of the sort of the foreign entity that comes in and infiltrates a social body is of interest to me. Then esthetically, it also behaves in a way that that's exciting. I think there's so many different types and I love to deal with microscopic photography in my work. And that's really how I relate to the parasite visually is through the photography. And so it brings in a color palette, a sort of texture that I can work with that is of a body and of the body. But it's has an element of the alien visually also. So I think it behaves in in it kind of comes into the work in so many has so many different entry points into this work. But I think yeah, I think it's the in terms of language, it's a term that's been used for I guess like it's used against people. You know, it's a term that people, my people have been called whatever that means. Like my people have been called parasites. Like anybody that comes in as a foreigner, as an alien, as an invader, you know. So there's this element of threat around it. It's really fun to kind of lean into that and and think about what it actually means and how to kind of work it into a rebuilding of the body in a way that involves this power dynamic.

Craig: [00:08:52] Your canvases are just visually astounding. I love them. And when I was first looking at your work, I felt like there was allusion to figuration. But it took me a while to sort out where the figuration was. I don't know if that was just the color was obscuring it for me, but it made more sense when I saw some of your monochromatic preparatory studies for the pieces. Can we kind of talk about where you start in your process, and how you start at a place where there's more figuration in how it devolves or evolves through your process?

Ilana: [00:09:33] Yeah. So there's a lot of translation that happens within the work and a lot of transformation that happens. Usually I start with a very rough drawing that sometimes is actually...sometimes I start with abstraction. So when you say you saw the preparatory drawings, I think primarily those are the works on paper. I like to think of them as their own series because sometimes they come, sometimes rarely, but sometimes they come after a painting. So there's actually a lot of or sometimes I start with them and then I and then I move into a painting and then come back to the drawing and the drawing ends up taking its own form. So the actual original starting point is a very, very rough sketch that usually starts with form and brings in figuration and then unravels again that figuration back into abstraction. So that's why there is this sense of figuration within an ability to place it. I think of them as like figures as paths that I then reroute. And so there's this...yeah, there's this constant sense of the unraveled body because it actually really is an unraveled body. And I think that I like to think of the the figuration and abstraction is this thing that gets treated as opposing binaries when they're actually really not. They are you know, the body is an abstract form. If you look at it closely enough or far away, you know, like it just becomes form and color. And the constant interplay between both is where...I like to exist right in the space in between things where they're in the process of morphing, they're in the process of transition and of an unravel. And I like to think that that is a space of performance and a space of transformation through a performance. So there's's like they're not really figures, they're forms performing as figures or colors performing as figures or figures performing as color. So there's this sense of like like inability to pin something down.

Craig: [00:11:53] Yes.

Ilana: [00:11:53] And within that, I think as the artist, that gives me a sense of power that I really enjoy exploiting.

Craig: [00:12:00] The forms have multiple saturated colors going on. And so it's sort of hard to tell where one form ends and the next begins because the color is kind of interrupting your ability to see the form. I think that really adds from from my viewer's perspective, joy in the sense of discovery. I'm having to work a little harder to to see what that form is because of the conflict with the color that's going on. So some of that I know you take...we spoke about a carnival, parasite - going back to the carnival. Can you explain to us what a marimonda is?

Ilana: [00:12:44] Yes. So the marimonda is a figure from the Colombian carnival. That is the sort's a really uncanny sort of figure that has a really long nose and these two circles for eyes and a circle for a mouth and these big floppy ears. And it has I think it's position in the Carnival's role is this the sort of the sort of jester party figure, kind of party starter. The word in Spanish is fiestajero. I never quite can translate it in English in a way that it holds as much as fiestajero holds in Spanish, but it really is this sort of in-your-face kind of party figure. And it's the the mask itself is it's a symbol of the carnival. It's omnipresent in all of Colombia, especially in Barranquilla, its history I've discovered through research, it's not something that I learned by living there, but it is it's said to have come from a figure that was meant to mock the sort of oppressive elite bourgeois kind of upper class figure. And so the costume comes with like a suit and tie that's really brightly colored and patterned and they say that the mask comes from a combination of a monkey and an elephant. It's really phallic looking. So the idea of this sort of exaggerated, grotesque kind of bodily amalgamation as this form of mockery and mockery as a form of protest, I think is something that I've really enjoyed injecting meaning into my work through. And I think that the marimonda has become this grounding figure in my work. I use the features, the just the eyes, the nose in the mouth. I use them to ground figuration in the work sometimes and to bring in this sense of the uncanny through this mask. In large part because it was also just a mask that I've been collecting since I was young, and that has always sort of fascinated and horrified me at the same time. And so that feeling of the horrific, of the uncanny, of the grotesque through this figure has kind of come back in the work.

Craig: [00:15:14] Was that intentional or did it just kind of seep in, you know, just in terms of sometimes our work, even just subconsciously kind of reflects who we are and where we came from. Was it an intentional thing or did it just sort of show up?

Ilana: [00:15:29] That's a really interesting question because like, what does intentional mean? I guess sometimes things just show up and they are intentional, but you kind of have to realize that they showed up intentionally after they're there. So I think there were many attempts throughout the years of bringing in the marimonda, but in a way that wasn't about making paintings of this figure, it was about bringing in the ethos of it or the, you know, the sensation of living surrounded by this mask into the work, but without actually making sort of portraits with narrative paintings about them, you know. And so I think that at one point, I was working in a studio and trying to figure stuff out and painting things that were around me, and that was one of the many things that was around me. And then as the work started to evolve, I started to take a step back, look at it, realize that this is what it held for me. And then realize that's almost like therapy. It's like you start to kind of realize what it's all about as you do it. You know.

Craig: [00:16:41] I've heard you talk about your perception of the body and the body as a container, the body as a means of taking up space. The maybe..the societal expectations on you as a female and your body. Can kind of talk about how that manifests itself in your work?

Ilana: [00:17:02] I think the work celebrates what it means to be just like a porous, leaky, boundless thing. And sometimes, like, that's just what it feels like to exist in the world. And whenever there's the sense of a container that's too small, there is this sense of the overflow. And that's true for for all bodies, I think, in all environments. And I think that for me, my particular experience is of of being a cis-gendered woman in, you know, growing up in, in Latin America with a specific beauty standard. But that is I think the body is disgusting and offensive, you know, quote, offensive like. Throughout for everybody. And everybody feels like a sense of the containment of it and the impossibility of that containment. And so I think that there is I just find that to be so. I think that's the most exciting thing about the human condition for me is like everything that I can locate in the body because just existing with the body feels like absurd, you know? And, and then I think with that comes a lot of questions around like who gets to take up space and who gets to who gets a smaller container and who gets to occupy that container.

Ilana: [00:18:23] And I think that with that, the the conversation then becomes about like social standing and politics and things like that. And but I really like to locate everything. What in like languages of the body. So I like to there is no sense of environment that doesn't come with a sense of the bodily in the work. The materiality of organs and flesh and. And just I like to think about how paint behaves in the way that a body behaves, how it leaks, sags, spills, all the ways, all the things that we're trying to pretend don't happen.

Craig: [00:19:06] Right.

Ilana: [00:19:06] But...and then I think one of the most interesting things is the failure in that pretense, the failure and the performance of the body, the fact that we can't contain it, the fact that we can't not it won't not wrinkle, it won't not age. And so there's this constant sense of failure. And that failure, I think, is so fascinating.

Craig: [00:19:25] Yeah. And, you know, maybe this is just like an American perspective, but I feel like no one's really happy with their body. You know, everyone feels like they could be two inches taller or two inches shorter or 20 pounds lighter or 20 pounds heavier or fewer wrinkles or one thing or another. And so it seems like a psychological struggle that's sort of pervasive. In your work, there seems to be an interplay between those figurative forms being seductive and repulsive. Can you kind of talk about that fine line or trying to pursue that balance?

Ilana: [00:20:06] Yeah, absolutely. I think that is I mean, especially after with everything that we just talked about, I think that like speaking of things that leak that fine line, it leaks like the things that said that we're seduced by. It also repels us. Like, I think that there is something really exciting about showing you a really colorful painting and then having you realize that you're looking at a parasite after like after some time. And there's this thing of, like, being attracted and drawn to a part of the body. And I know that that part of the body that you're attracted to in this work is actually like the armpit of a cat or something. There's something really exciting about about getting to really mess with.

Craig: [00:20:46] So do you really put armpits of cats in your paintings?

Ilana: [00:20:49] Often, actually, there's all different kinds of bodies that I look at that are that I it's just really there's a lot of things that are reminiscent of something phallic or something vaginal or something that feels like it's on the verge of like almost sexual tension or or a power play or some kind of something, really. But it's actually just. Or not. But and it's actually also just like strange parts of different organisms, all amalgamated together. And I think that there's something really interesting about feeling shame around seduction, something really queer about the experience of feeling both seduced by and ashamed by the, the attraction, you know, like simultaneously. And so it's another space where I like to feel like I think that the artist holds power, know how to really melt and experience in front of a viewer, you know, in front of the very eyes kind of thing.

Craig: [00:21:47] So you have all of these these inputs. Do you digitally collage these things...where's the the start of your process? Is it sketching or do you just attack a blank canvas and you have these forms in the back of your mind? How structured or improvisational is your work now?

Ilana: [00:22:12] It starts fairly structured and then there's, there's space for process and, and improvisation in the when it makes it to the stage of the painting. But it is there are aspects of the work that are very planned out because I work with wax and wax has to. That here. I like to prepare the canvas differently for different materials that are going to come into the work. And and so I like to know what's going where more or less. Usually I start with a very rough sketch. It's always by hand first, and then I'll start to redraw that again with different with usually pen and acrylic and and a lot of water and letting things kind of happen more organically. But within, you know, playing with mark making basically at that at a certain stage. And then there's a point where I bring that usually I'll take a picture with my phone of a drawing and I like to do it with different lighting conditions so that there is it's like a sloppy photo with my phone almost angled, like really just distorting it just organically and bring that into Photoshop. And then that's where I start to collage in a lot of my source imagery and that's where I think of color. So I do a lot of visual research and collect a lot of images of, like I said, like microscopic photography or all different.

Ilana: [00:23:43] Just things that I find visually interesting deep sea creatures and really close up textures of trees. I don't know things that just. I find interesting in the world. And usually it's. Some kind of animal behavior in the world. And I like to bring them in at this stage as like collage them in at this stage as part of the digital sketch, which is really not something that ever gets seen. It's more of a blueprint, right? It's like a rough kind of compilation of plans for the painting, and then I'll project that onto the painting. So, so that's I think it helps bring the sense of varying conditions in the work, varying lighting conditions and varying methods of applying paint. And that is often, sometimes I'll even collage in other paintings of mine like my, like actually very often I'll sort of cannibalize my own work. And see how that translation....what gets sort of gained in that translation? Sure. And what gets lost. So that's exciting. So but yeah, the digital process also helps bring in this element of the surreal environment that that a digital space can provide.

Craig: [00:25:12] Those those microscopic images that you're looking at at things that are innately organic but also totally alien to us. Right? And, you know, I think I can't remember what the statistic is, but something like a third of our body are outside creatures or something like that. Right? I mean, it's like you're talking we're we're leaky vessels, right?

Ilana: [00:25:39] Yeah. There's a Anzaldua quote that I always go back to about how you are all the different organisms and parasites that live on your body and have this like you are your own body and all these different organisms and the symbiotic relationship that you have with all these different organisms. And so who are you really? You are not a single entity. I mean, that's not the exact quote, but that's like more or less sure. And that that's always been a starting off point from where do we start and someone else where do we end? In someone else starts. Where does the familiar and the foreign start. You know, what is what is us and what is them? There is this constant sense of. Almost like the silhouette as the container when that's not really true. I mean, we experienced it during COVID all throughout COVID, where we are, you know, maintain six feet of distance because that's a safe distance where one person ends and the next person starts. Like that becomes like a really strange concept of a clear number. So you're not just you, you are this, you know, you take up this entire environment and when you stand close to someone or there's intimacy between two people or multiple people, you start to end and others starts, and then you become an amalgamation of different bodies. And that's a really interesting concept because it really it starts to. It starts to bring to question like the foreign and and the the sort of familiar and the alien in a way that feels like a really kind of essential conversation that we're always trying to have.

Craig: [00:27:22] Sure. Well, my wife is really into nutrition. And one of the things that we've talked about before is how how our gut biome will affect our personality, will affect your decision making, your compulsions. And so it's like it's kind of odd to think that this foreign body in our system is affecting what we think of as things that are all in our control, but sometimes it's not, right?

Ilana: [00:27:54] That's really interesting to think about the personality, the like, your behaviors and the things that you feel you have autonomy over are actually directly impacted by. Yeah. Non autonomous beings that live in.

Craig: [00:28:08] You and I feel like I've even seen one of your paintings that was related to to nursing a child. And something I heard just in the last year and a half or so was that when a child nurses at its mother's breast, there's actually a transferal of the child's DNA into the mother in that the mom after that will no longer have just her own DNA, she'll also have remnants of the child's DNA is part of some sort of bonding or, you know, who knows what that intention is. But, you know, once again, there is this transferal that we don't necessarily see it. We don't necessarily comprehend it, but we know that there's a special attachment between the mom and child and there's something physically going on there that kind of points to that.

Ilana: [00:29:02] That's so interesting. Like there's this constant, like, almost like infinite loop of, of, of attachment interchange.

Craig: [00:29:10] Can we talk about materiality? I mean, I think that's the other thing about your work that seems very compelling is just the surface that you work with, right? The majority of the figuration and abstraction that's going on kind of at the center is usually acrylic and oil. But can you talk about the work with with the wax? Where did you start working with. Because it's beeswax and encaustic, correct?

Ilana: [00:29:37] Yes, it's beeswax and encaustic. I've been working with a lot of different materials over the past few years that feel reminiscent of things of the bodily. So I was working with latex. I'm thinking about elasticity and working with resin and thinking about translucency and you know, how to make how to contain things. And there was a toxicity in a lot of the materials that I was working with, with silicone and how it's used in the body for. There's a lot of toxicity in a lot of the materials I was working with and I think wax while there are precautions I take wax felt like the safest. So at one point I was like, "Let's just stick with wax for a second". And then the more I worked with it, the more interesting it became. It was it has this like translucency. Beeswax has a translucency to it that felt reminiscent of the of my own flesh. And then at the same time, it's also a material that the body produces, which is so gross. And so there's something that can be so fun about making this material work for me and how to have agency over this material. And so I started just painting with it and, and I enjoyed know, paint like melting it and then painting with it like paint and how it congealed a gesture as it was drying. It literally would dry as I was applying it. So then it contained my own gesture as I as I was working. And I think that that's always something that I enjoy doing with quick drying paints. And so I started making paintings out of wax, and then they were more abstract works that were more about color and discovery around material and color.

Ilana: [00:31:31] And, and then there was a moment where I had an itch to do this for a long time, but I wanted to. I really enjoy just making things coexist that aren't supposed to coexist because that kind of feels true to me and how I exist in the world. I always feel like walking contradictions at all times and and I respond to things juxtaposed together and I respond to excess and abundance. And so I just wanted to make everything that I had been doing exist in one plane. And so a lot of this work was a result of that making different ways of of working with paint and working with materials like wax and working with materially influenced forms, I guess if that makes sense, like making those, all those things exist in one plane and making them work. And that challenge is part of the impetus behind some of this work. And so I started thinking about the texture that I was making this wax exists through was it felt reminiscent of a of of a kind of alien flesh or microscopic human flesh or some kind of animal or some kind of coral reef or or landscape view or like a an aerial view of a landscape. So there are so many things that it was doing at once. So I just figured I'd start working with it until I got tired of it. And that has been part of all of the more recent bodies of work, is this wax material.

Craig: [00:33:21] Is the piece on the wall when you're applying the wax?

Ilana: [00:33:25] It depends on and it depends on the piece. I like to. Yeah, sometimes I like to let it. Like I said, when I'm making the paintings, there's a there's a I leave room for I leave room for error because a lot of it is about responding to that, the failures of containment. And so but there's also just the the nature of the wax not being able to adhere to some surfaces. So I have to really work around that limitation.

Craig: [00:33:53] You know, we think of just sewing a surface for for painting. What does the canvas want to be more raw to, to receive the wax?

Ilana: [00:34:02] The canvas wants to be raw. Yeah. So that's part of what why I have to make a really clear plan around where the wax is going to go in advance. And then and then a lot of this work is also about priming the canvas differently. So that's another reason why the sketch is really pretty concrete before I start. I prime it so it has different textures throughout and then I can actually like there's, there's a stage where I do a lot of pores and those pores can adhere differently throughout the whole plane. And that's part of how sort of process defines form.

Craig: [00:34:39] I can tell you a lot when I look at your work, it really moves the needle for me and I look at a lot of art and and I don't know if it's just personal to my esthetic, but, you know, I love your work. You currently have a show up at White Cube in London at the White Cube, Bermondsey, which is south east London. Is it is it just more of the same or is it a little bit different?

Ilana: [00:35:03] It's actually a very fairly new body of work. I've been working on this only for about a little over two years. So in that sense, no, it's not more of the same. But this work is specifically dealing with or thinking about the theatricality more so than I think the works have up to now. Or there was more of a lead up and I started to think more about the specific figures that are in position, like figures that are sort of agents of imposition through performance. So the the jester, the clown, the parasite, the witch, like figures that are agents of change in varying ways. And I started to think about the circus a bit more. And so elements like the the ring, the ball, the circle that then becomes the, the orb, the hole, the portal. Really taking...starting with these motifs around the circus and bringing them into this sort of space of surrealism that that felt like a natural progression. So there's been a few elements around this body of work that hold that specificity a little bit more. But dealing, bringing a lot of the elements around the carnivalesque that I've been working with into this next plane or something.

Craig: [00:36:25] It seems like a logical extension to go into that you're teetering in that that area between surrealism and abstraction. Right? I mean, it's it's not like someone would walk up to the painting and say, "oh, there's a big top and there's a clown". Right? It's a lot more veiled than that, right?

Ilana: [00:36:44] Yeah. I think that sometimes I mean, I don't even know if there's actually ever officially a clown, too. I think it's like the the just like there's never really a curtain. But I always think about the curtain. There's a lot of elements that I think about them as a visual motif that never actually quite make it, makes it, but it's more like the theme of it, makes it the ethos behind it make makes it in. And I don't work and really like a closed series. I let things evolve because I think that that just feels more natural to me. External deadlines don't really end my areas of interest so, so cleanly. So the work really just gradually evolves. But I think there's a big rise in surrealism right now, and I think it's just a natural response to to this state of uncertainty, this like this rise of something, this impending doom sense of something that kind of lines up to the last rise of surrealism. You know, I think that there is a global unrest in that in a way that does feel impending and new, familiar, but also unfamiliar. And I think that the space of surrealism is a funnel for that. You know, it's a funnel for all of those collective that collective unconscious is kind of coming through and through this language. Yeah.

Craig: [00:38:11] Yeah. And I guess that's what I, what I'm really admiring in your work is just the subtlety and the subconscious of those forms rather than, I don't know how much of a battle it is for you to maintain it at a subconscious level then. Then getting lured into more protracted interface figuration. But the sense of discovery, like I mentioned before, I really appreciate that, that subtlety and the subconscious themes that are in there versus kind of interface.

Ilana: [00:38:50] I respond to work that rewards me as a viewer for rewards me for looking. And I think that there is this there's a lot of power plays that happen in the making of the work and the thinking of the work and the viewing of the work and in the work itself. And I think that one of them is this really kind of dominant way of telling you something, but submissive way of handing it all to you and asking you like. Telling you, like the more you look at it, the more I'm going to give you. And that is that's a way for me to constantly keep that language of power dynamic. Yeah. Rewarding you with excess to the point that that's almost not a reward anymore. The idea that the more you consume might not actually always be good. You know, it might not actually always be good. So literally, the more you look and the more you see, the more, you know, you start to kind of vibrate. And there's something that feels really grotesque about that, too. So, yeah, I think I like to keep it in a space of ambiguity because I feel like I there's something about naming something and once you name it, it ends. Or like you create a boundary, you block it within, you know, you bracket it as this one thing. And when you name something you unname something else, when you make one thing true, you make one thing true and you make another thing untrue. And so I think. I feel like. It's a way to make all things be true at once and nothing be true at once, like exists in this space of ambiguous discomfort. And I think that that feels the most honest to me in my experience.

Craig: [00:40:41] Yeah, the avoiding the finite is something I've I've had conversations with other artists that the best work, you know, like I mentioned earlier, tied to our identity but also being open ended right there. There is no right or wrong answer. I don't want to tell you explicitly what this is or what's going on, because what you come up with in your head is going to be infinitely more satisfying to you personally than whatever the idea was in my head. Right?

Ilana: [00:41:14] Yeah, exactly.

Craig: [00:41:16] Yeah. "In Jest" is at White Cube through September 11th. You know, Ilena, I can't thank you enough for your time in being willing to. To talk about your process and what's going on in your head. I'll put some images on the site. I definitely suggest, folks, take a look at your work because it's visually stunning. It's like I said, it's move the needle for me more than anything I've seen in a long time. I really am honored to have this conversation with you because I you know, I really love your work.

Ilana: [00:41:48] Thank you so much. And thank you for having me. This is really fun.

Craig: [00:41:51] Awesome.

Speaker1: [00:41:58] That's all the time we have for this week. You've been listening to Art. You can find the show on Apple Podcasts, iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher Radio, Spotify or your favorite podcast app. If you've enjoyed this podcast, be sure to subscribe. And while you're there, please rate the show and leave a quick review. Your feedback is the key to other folks finding us. And if you'd like to see images related to the conversation, read the transcript and find other bonus features. You can go to and click on the podcast tab. If you'd like to reach out to me, you can email me at Thanks for listening.

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