“I hope to witness my other lives as if I were a stranger to my other possible lives.” Visceral emotions caused by pain: Spanish artist Félix Velvet in conversation with Maria Abramenko.
How did you become an artist and how would you describe your practice?
I don’t like the word “artist” too much. Nor do I consider that it is the author who considers his own work “Art”. I think art is by itself, beyond any label. I deny that term but I accept it if someone comes to me considering that I am an artist, because they judge it that way. And I appreciate it. After all, whoever shares his work does so also out of vanity. You want acceptance. The absolute goal of Art is to be able to be understood. The artist’s buried goal. In my privacy, I could call myself an artist but not because I produce art but because I perceive the world in a different way. Just as the communication tools with other people are also different for me. My pictures, specifically my self-portraits, are nothing more than heartbreaking cries for help. I just claim to be heard. To be seen. If the reaction that causes my emotion, my pain, is rejection or horror, I am satisfied. I have managed to connect with another emotion. I have brought about a feeling. Whether it is approval, admiration, horror or disgust, I have been able to be seen. They have felt me. That cry, that self-portrait has already had a meaning. My pain has not been in vain. I have exorcised it through my images. They are like the pages torn out of my secret diary. If someone reads them, it invades me but comforts me at the same time.
Each photograph, each self-portrait, I try to be as honest as the emotion that caused its proposal. I’m not worried about the technical level, although I take care of it and I take it very seriously. I live for and for this. There is no psychiatric pathology that I have not been diagnosed with. No treatment that hasn’t been prescribed for me. And nothing in the world has been as useful to me as photography. Artistic creation saved my life.
Art is guarantee of health.
You have been collaborating with several musicians, The Soft Moon and VOWWS to name a few, can you tell us about these experiences?
Actually, whom I have collaborated the most in these last years has been with the music sector and it is something that excites me, because music is remarkably important in my life. I have collaborated with wonderful artists that I admire. With The Soft Moon, I collaborated indirectly since it was through VOWWS. These latter contacted me to use one of my pictures for a concert in which they both was working on. I knew Luis Vásquez because his song “Breathe The Fire” was special to me. When I learned about his music I could see immediately that he was a talented artist. The coincidence was that Rizz, from VOWWS, wrote to me asking for permission to use my picture for their concert. I accepted without hesitation because I admired both, Luis and VOWWS and I also admire Rizz’s determination that showed me that she was a very professional and candid person. After this, VOWWS and I collaborated again on a merchandising line and it turned out that I got to know Rizz more closely and we became friends. It’s the best part of working with such brilliant and unique people as VOWWS are. The possibility not only of creating something together, but of generating a friendship beyond distance and conventionalism. There have been other incredible artists that I have worked with and others that I will work with in the future. I have found that I really like to merge my work with others, conceive something new where the creative force of both is enhanced.
I am very curious to know what music inspires you.
Love music! I have the feeling that I will forget about some band, some artist and then, when I read the interview, I will not be able to believe how “this” or the “other” missed me, because I listen to many singers and bands that are different from each other in styles, genres, generations…
Bowie is essential and will always be the basis of my passion for music. As well as The Velvet Underground. Also, Lou Reed. One of my fundamentals is Psychic TV that I would even say that I consider it more a religion or a philosophy than a music band. I have his symbol tattooed on my hand. Genesis P-Orridge is too much for me. It represents the absolute artistic figure. A true genius. Throbbing Gristle is also a religion. A fundamental movement. A revolution. Within this field, I also obviously highlight Cosey Fanni Tutti, Monte Cazazza, Cabaret Voltaire, Coil… Einstürzende Neubauten is basic. I can hardly describe their brilliance. Their talent and the relevance they have for me. I also have his symbol tattooed on my skin. Wonderful bands that defined me like The Cure, Joy Division, Bauhaus; Peter Murphy is an icon! The Smiths, Depeche Mode, Cocteau Twins … they always are listened at some point in each of my days. However, I don’t do very well in current music. I could mention among the best I have listened to recently the latest Deftones album “Ohms”. The Marilyn Manson’s last album, “We are chaos” has managed to move me in a very intense way. I listen to it very often. Of course, I love VOWWS and they inspire me. Their latest single “Stay where you are” is really good as well as the previous one, “Impulse Control”. His 2018 album “Under the world” is pure gold. A masterpiece. I admire them deeply. They are incredible. Statiqbloom represents for me the absolute faith in the future of electronic music. It’s purity, strength and honesty of the post-industrial music that Fade Kainer creates is a new chapter in music that goes beyond everything. I recommend his latest album this year “Beneath The Whelm” and his 2017 album “Blue Moon Blood”. And I still think that I am leaving many artists and bands in the pipeline.
Who would you wish to be in your next life and why?
I wish I could live all my possible lives in this one. “There is another world and it is in this one” as Paul Éluard wrote. And I hope to witness my other lives as if I were a stranger to my other possible lives. The real change, when it happens, is always unconscious so I will never live any other life with absolute awareness but I settle for a brief and sudden second of remembering who I once was from this other life that I live now. I want to live a continuous evolution that can only be interrupted when I die. I am terrified of living another life after dying. One life is enough for me. The day of my death will be the happiest day of my life.
What are your future plans?
I had some plans and decisions taken that were interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. It was disheartening. Although bit by bit some projects and collaborations begin to appear and resume, there are still many restrictions that prevent them from being carried out. When the situation allows it, I will make a tour of several months to the United States where I have planned a series of shootings and collaborations that I am currently managing. I am very excited about this. There are many options and offers that I have received and after the pandemic, I have decided to be more open and willing to collaborate in projects not only in photography and exhibitions but also in movies, music videos and even some editorial offer. And other plans that I prefer not to disclose until they are a reality. I am heading towards this “another world” Paul Éluard mentioned and I can’t wait for everything to return to normal to start living it.