Who are you?
Where are you from, where are you currently based, your academic and professional background, and other activities or interests?
I am Elen Alien, an artist born in Ukraine, and currently based in Oslo, Norway. I've become a citizen of the universe, finding myself at home in various corners of the world starting from 2020.
My dreams of becoming a painter have been etched into my existence since birth, despite the absence of creative influences around me. My upbringing in a small town never led me to the doors of a museum, yet it was at the tender age of 7 that I embarked on a journey to an art school. Over the course of 10 years, I delved into the realm of academic drawing, painting, and sculpture, laying the foundational bricks of my artistic voyage. My curious spirit then ventured into architecture due to social notions that art may not hold the promise of financial stability. But my art has always been my way of living; I just have to implement ideas attacking me in real life.
With an academic background in architecture and experience in interior design, I gained a strong focus on aesthetics and project thinking, while my education in contemporary art in Sweden has pushed my creative and conceptual boundaries. I am always trying to learn something new.
Outside of my studio, I find my interest in psychology, fashion, and mysticism.
How would you describe your artistic practice?
Mediums, format, duration, what kind of content or main concepts?
My artistic practice is a way to transform chaos into magic via balance and control. I explore themes of the ever-evolving human condition. I currently read a lot about actor-network theory, philosophy of poststructuralism (rhizome Gilles Deleuze), Natureculture concept.
I primarily create experimental paintings. I use abstract style to depict invisible aspects of our lives (like feelings, emotions, and states) and figurative - to show their physical part. The human figure is a repetitive motif in my practice symbolizing vulnerability, introspection, and interconnectedness.
I used to work with oil and then started to experiment with dry plants more. Recently, I found a way to combine both my favorite mediums and I added some digital tools to my practice. Now, I work in one team with non-human actors - AI and Nature on our phygital project “The Garden of Transcendence” exploring the topic of post-human – an expanding relative “I”.
From canvases filled with natural elements and ethereal digital glitches, my current work is a reflection of the interconnectedness of humanity, nature, and technology.
I consider myself a multidisciplinary artist, and can easily imagine myself doing a sculpture, installation, or performance if needed to my statement. Art is a mirror to reality and in this multivalent way, I find my reality more balanced and true.
What is your methodology or process for creating a new project?
Steps to develop a project, tools you use, ways of working?
It is difficult to describe my methodology because the creation of projects is a natural process for me as digestion. This is my way of processing intangible food (like information).
I normally have several ideas for projects at the same time. When one project is finished and shown to the audience, I usually create several random experimental works before starting my research for the new project. I can say I begin each time by immersing myself in research, drawing inspiration from personal experiences and the world around me.
At the same time, I work sequentially creating approximately one project a year. Each project is devoted to the topic that inspires me more than others by the moment of its start. The medium and visual language is chosen depending on the idea, so each project is very different.
With a palette of oils, dry plants, and digital tools, I create my pieces layer by layer, being in constant contact with my non-human colleagues (nature and AI), each stroke an embodiment of my emotional and intellectual exploration.
Embracing the digital realm, I recently started to employ AI-generated personalities to provoke dialogues about the configuration of connection and interlacing between the human body and the environments in which it is immersed mentally and physically. Through this blending of mediums and ideas, I aim to encapsulate the essence of our ever-evolving world and the complexity of now.
Why are you looking to represent humanity in these complicated and individualistic times?
I believe it's imperative to shed light on our shared human experience, but at the same time, it's my own attempt to overcome fears of technological progress and design my own conscious position in the ever-evolving world of now. Now - is what we cease to be and the seed of what we are becoming, it is what we have now plus a virtual future, and a human is a conceptual person revealing the complexity of now.
It's important to develop a new idea of ourselves nowadays, from the point of view of creativity and building up a new lifestyle and new type of interaction on our planet. There is no separation between subjective life and the environment (both physical and digital), and this evolving human-nonhuman hybridization demands complex media-technological connections between the biological and technological structure of bodily and non-bodily expanding of ourselves. Our subjectiveness is expanding into the environment, social connections, and the human psyche.
By depicting the symbiosis of natural and digital in post-human portraits, I seek to remind us of our inherent interconnectedness and open our eyes to what can no longer be denied.
Watch on YouTube: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=LTJtN1O3Bkk