Q&A with Resident Artist Lala Abaddon
Lala Abaddon’s installation at Red Bull House of Art requires a commitment from the audience. You’re invited into her large scale technicolor installation, but the old rules don’t apply — you have to touch the artwork to make your way inside. Using light filtered through transparent materials and a natural movement to the architecture of her design, it’s a fully immersive experience on all sensory fronts.
“The artwork that has stayed with me the most is the stuff that moves me with its presence,” says the 29-year-old Abaddon. “I don’t always get to do installations. There’s so much focus on sellable work that you have to find a gallery that’s into you just being experimental. Here, I’m doing work that’s all about the experience.”
Abaddon plans to supplement the rest of the exhibition with a take on the local flora and fauna, turning weeds and concrete from Eastern Market into resin sculptures and mini succulent terrariums that continue Abaddon’s overall theme of light and transparency.
“I’ve never done a lot of the things that I’m doing for this exhibition, but that’s how it is,” says Abaddon. “This is the first time I’m going to do sculptures. I’ve never cast anything in my life. It’s all about figuring it out and learning and teaching yourself.”
Your woven work is psychedelic and abstract to say the least, combining photography, painting and weaving so flawlessly that people mistake it for digital manipulation (spoiler alert — it’s not). Now, at Red Bull House of Art, you’re venturing into completely new mediums. What about the residency allows you to do that and does it feel like a risk as an artist to do so?
It’s definitely my opportunity to show people what else I can do. The truth is I didn’t start those weaves until three years ago and that’s all I’ve done for three years obsessively, but I don’t think I’m ever going to move on from weaving. I keep wanting to learn more and I don’t want to be known for one thing. You’ve got to stick to what you think is right and stick to the work that you want to make. Don’t ever compromise.
Every time I get my show that lets me do whatever I want, I’m going to do whatever I want and take advantage of that. This place has been very inspiring because everyone else is doing experimental stuff and it just feels right. Our stories are all kind of intertwined. We had all these similar ideas of melding of a neo-futuristic with nods to other eras of other areas of history. Mine probably isn’t melding anywhere — mine is just straight future (laughs).
You mentioned that light and transparency are critical themes behind your work at the House of Art residency. Can you expand on that?
I’ve always been honest and I’m continuing to be that way. I’m trying to express a lot of things and it’s hard. Being a woman has a lot to do with it. It’s not just in my personal life — it’s in the art world. It’s in my business life. It’s in everything I do. I feel like I have a voice and I just have to use it at this point.
At the same time, it’s a metaphor of myself and putting myself into the work, but mainly it’s aesthetic. I love the concept of light. It changes everything — everything that has always inspired is light filtering through something, shadows, all that kind of stuff. It’s almost more fun approach to art, you know? Of creating this other space where each piece kind of interacts with the person and all of it kind of melds together.
What impact are you hoping to have on the audience at the exhibition?
I’m always going for an experience and I hope the audience has one. When it’s an experience, people want to spend more time in it. People come back just to spend time with it. That’s what I want. Long term, I’d love to be able to have these installations everywhere — in museums, in galleries — and always pushing to do something experiential with my work.
By Ryan Patrick Hooper