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An Interview with Rivkah Gevinson

Updated: Apr 16, 2019

Rivkah Gevinson's work spans across a multitude of fields-- from video, to photography, to collage, but regardless of what medium she works in, her art always awakens a feeling of tranquil nostalgia in me.

In fact, perhaps nostalgia is not even the right word. It's more like a blissful acceptance of life's cyclical nature, as opposed to the often painful experience of desperately longing for a time period that never really existed (how I define nostalgia). I think I am drawn to her work because of this-- most art makes me appreciate either the past or the present, not the harmony of the two, but in the contours of her collages and the relaxed red-orange light of her photos I feel at peace with all the eras in my life that have come to a close, and with the idea that this current one will end too.

Her art captures a moment in time, but it isn't confined to that instant. It feels continuous, as though Rivkah is trusting the viewer with the future of the history they just witnessed. Every time I look at one of her pieces I feel as though it's reacting to my observation, like my life is not just reflected in it, but connected to it through a complex network of colors, shapes, and illuminations that blur the line between the personal and universal.

Where do you get inspiration from?

I get inspired by very basic things like color and light. Anything that gives me a strong feeling. I love consuming art, movies, books, and music that make me want to make things. When I feel stuck, I like to either go for walks or cut things out. It gets the juices flowing.

What films inspire you the most?

Probably Agnes Varda films because they deal directly with being a maker, and it just gets me excited about making things.

What work are you most proud of?

Right now I’m working on a photobook called Leaver, Returner. It has been 5 years in the making and it is the shit, I love it. I made an installation for school once called Aquarium Jars. I loved how every element came together: an old schoolhouse with a boat in it, a screen I made from glass jars, a video of footage of fish I had taken that I was in awe of, music by my friends, and on and on. It just felt like everything had its place, and it felt so magical. If I made it again, I'm sure it would be very different, but it was perfect for the time. 

You've done a lot of stop motion and animation work, and I noticed in your interview with Sleek you said that video was your favorite medium. What draws you to the video medium and why?

That was a few years ago and I don’t feel that way anymore (now I feel that all the different mediums I work in offer something unique), but I do love video. I love that the images disappear before your eyes, and new ones appear in their place, that something is always changing and the ephemerality is inherent in the work. There’s less to get attached to. You walk away not really knowing what just happened, you’re just left with what it made you think of, feel, wonder about, and some sort of desire.

When do you feel most creative?

I’ve learned that there’s no rule for this, not for me at least. Sometimes I feel more inspired than other times, like when I’m in a place where I can really see the sky, but I don’t know if that’s the same as feeling creative. I have a lot of hack theories about creativity.

Why do you feel inspired when you can really see the sky?

It just clears my head and takes me out of my immediate surroundings. I feel open to the things that come my way. 

Do you notice any recurring themes in your work? If so, what?

Yes, always. I’m not sure if I can really put words to them, but I notice there’s a lot of human-in-relation-to-nature, impacting each other and framing each other. Also isolation and wholeness.

What places do you find to be most creatively inspiring?

Again, this is hard to say. I feel very good in Norway, where I spend a lot of time. It is good to be in places where my mind can quiet and where I don’t feel so robotic (New York is very demanding).

Lastly, what's something in your life that you've attached metaphorical value to?

I guess I would say frogs. Frogs are, to me, a symbol of genuine curiosity. To be frog-like is to be excited, curious, and unencumbered by the expectations of the world around you.

Images used in collage via @rivkahah


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