1.8.2010. interview: ivana armanini ~ deborah hustić

interview: ivana armanini

Playing with alternative comix, seriously…We can only pray that this ain’t gonna be brutal, my friendz… oooh, my bloggin’ companioz… we have here the main Capo of Komikaze collective… I..i…i…i…i…ivana A…a…a…a…a…armanini…

Ivana Armanini graduated painting at Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb, where she is living. Soon she started creating comics and paintings. She also became a teacher and professor of visual arts.  Ivana participated at more then hundred international and domestic group exhibitions.

Her work was published in a lot of magazines, fanzines, periodicals, such as Stripburger, Stripburek and publications for expositions. Along with Dusan Gacic, she created the comic group Wild Eye. Eventually, the group ended its activities and Ivana founded Komikaze collective in 2002.

Since then the collective partakes on many comic and street art events all around the world redefining the concept of comics. Komikaze’s activities can not be divided from activism and social awareness. Their style is completely out of all definitions, mixing up visual arts, mixed media, VJ-ing and performance art.

Ivana is a passionate cyclist and e-publishing geek…

You have graduated painting at the Academy of Fine Arts… How did you start doing comics?

IA: Academy and comics are completely opposite worlds, like Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. I grew up in my home’s library, among novels and books of a Dalmatian, Mediterranean old school bohemian family. Partly I’m romantic (probably because of book overdose) and in reality I have never really grew up (Pippi Longstocking is still my idol).

After the graduation, it was really difficult for me to get out of the glass bell of home library and 8 years of cartoons. Our art schools don’t have much contact with reality, political awareness or contemporary art. Every year they just launch a new generation of executed troupes of Martians.

Even if they were present when entering the institution, those elemental tools for survival and upright walking were gone with the wind after some time with those sensible people. The main characteristic of the school is complete absence of problematic opinion, critical discourse, articulation of your own work, establishing any communication between the real lives and towers in the sand as leftover after passing the entrance exam.

Generally speaking, after you count all that, it was easier to dream up some new world and to start to build it. Comic had this potential because it offered huge and new unexplored world. Unexplored mental and media space to conquest, in my head and in the minds around me. Basic guidelines of different possible comic world have come from the random encounters and passers-by.

Who or what encourages/influences your art?

IA: My work has been influenced by the seed which was imported from the city of Pula, more concrete the idea was initiated via two fanzines – Totalna nula (Total Zero) and Stripburger. Total Zero is A5 format fanzine founded byEmil Jurcan, who now happens to be mostly known for urban action activities and struggle for public spaces in Pula. His group is advocating the citizens’ rights when the city is making urban plans.

Stripburger is fanzine made in multicultural Metelkova Street in Ljubljana (Slovenia). Newer editions are far from the intensity of the previous numbers, which were filled with rebellion graphics. Those were times when editors were Boris Bacic (also from Pula) and later Igor Prassel.

What’s your opinion about the relationship between the text and the drawing? Do you think the text should enhance the image or the other way around? Any other thoughts?

IA: I think comics are a perfect symbiosis of the image and the symbol. At the same time there is this direct connection with the child and the childhood within each of us as a way of living culture. It’s about the time where we aren’t yet separated between symbolists and visuals, a walking right and left hemispheres improved to perfectionism with the aim to skill the mastery of professionalism. For me it’s the ideal period of harmony between human being and nature.

Somehow, I believe in that language, as the one we didn’t spoil with our educational mistakes and awkward life priorities. I think those were periods in our lives when we were more of ourselves and we felt much intensively the world around us. Comic is a perfect method of jumping into some deeper self being, because of inherent spontaneity of the media, the cheapness of the working processes and the fact that we were all born with this language, while the rest we have to overcome through the whole life.

Since you have worked with many writers, did you make sketches while you were reading their stories… Or did the visual  stimulus usually come first then eventually the story arises?

IA: Some people are great with words and it’s wonderful to find them, as well as to recognize myself in their stories. I was lucky enough to met writer Mima Simic, we were introduced by some acquaintance… I didn’t know anything about her work, except of her short novels collection entitled Adventures of Gloria Scott, which I think is the best stuff I have ever read. I knew immediately that I should react to this and start some sort of collaboration with her. Hence, we started our adventure and as a result the book was launched in 2005.

Mima has recently published a book with film reviews, she’s a LGBT activist. At the other side, comic author Emil Jurcan also had a huge impact on me. I can say that he’s responsible for the way I see things. My Mom Mima and Pa Emil (laughs)… It’s interesting that they are both pretty younger then me, where I find real evidence for the thesis that biology is playing games with us on daily basis. We trust to bearded and gray-headed moulds, whilst the vision is taken by the high school kids…

Your comics look like they are inspired by music, too… What kind of music do you like to listen? Do you listen to music while you are creating art?

IA: When I’m going out, I’m mostly listening completely unlistenable music; in addition to that, my playlists is based on such bands. It’s hard to say now which came first, the chicken or the egg? Domestic bands: Senata Fox and Tigrova Mast… Foreign bands: Lighting Ball, No Means No… most of things that are mapped through the filters of noise, punk, hard core with strong and sharp tones.

It’s very important what I listen when I’m at some gig. When I’m at home working on something I’m not so selective. The only what matters to me is that I haven’t heard it before, at least not in some particular combination or order. So, I can freely say that the only band I’m listening is «random» and that’s my favourite.


How would you describe your style of drawing and comics making?

IA: Hunting rhythms and contrasts, heavily structured and mainly black. I imagine myself as a drummer playing on white and black keys, sharpening like a razor blade arrow-headed edges of surface that are biting and scaring little kids; at the same time keeping all spells…

What kind of things give you ideas for your art?

IA: People, people and again people. And then – miscellaneous rage, tam-tam drums, short stories, Facebook statuses, emotive turbulences, animated films, films in general, some coffee, Medica (see bellow description), cycling through the city… briefly = everything what I like and hate, simultaneously and separated at the same time.

To which extent have your surroundings in Croatia and the region influenced your work at all?

IA: Animafest, Radio Student, independent clubs, various activist initiatives – all together mixed up and compressed in colourful self-knowledge pill.

Why did you start Komikaze collective and what’s the whole fuss about?

IA: Komikaze are social sculpture created for sharing, because sharing is sexy.

Komikaze are also a web project… You have recognized the potential of the electronic media as a space for networking, but also a tool for drawing, like the usage of lo-fi software for comic jamming…

IA: I think Google Wave will revolutionize the collaborating processes that were only partially launched with wiki tools. The time of net-jamming is yet to come!

You like to collaborate with artists from the field of performative arts,  or Vjing, contemporary  dance…

IA: Working jointly with choreographer Irma Omerzo and free jazz musicians, the Krajacic brothers was a magical experience of total live synaesthesia. The idea of complementarities between the visual language, sound and movements isn’t anything new. Baudelaire’s poem about the nature as a temple in which senses are interweaving and mixing is one of a kind. On the other hand, Huxley’s experiments of synesthetic effects caused by drugs are collected in his book ‘The Doors of Perception’.

Unfortunately, such varied collaborations aren’t often in practice. Maybe these performances aren’t so interesting for the viewers, as they are for us – performers and artists. I would recommend everyone to try out this experience. Synaesthesia presents the purest form of l’art pour l’art, kind of group artistic onanism – self-sufficient, but yet so filing and hedonistic.

Are you a comics reader? And if so, what are your favorites?

IA: I spent about a year in French Library manically reading comics. Then I was surfing for some time on the Internet in order to dig new tendencies in comics. I can say that I’m a passionate reader of comic meta-language, and in that context I really don’t care in what language any comic is written. I’m not saying that the story is redundant or something. I just want to emphasize that this is only one of many possible keys of comic reading, in addition to the rhythm, visuals, framing, editing, directing and dramaturgy…

Please describe your creative process how, when, materials…

IA: For making my specialty you need to get the following ingredients: pen, pencil-sharpener, eraser, ink, paint-brush, hammer paper, sketches and notebook, Photoshop CS2, scanner, Internet, story-idea-character-anecdotes, quite electricity, full batteries, 20 dkg of un/rest and flat surface. The relations of the components are balanced in different proportions, according to needs…

Are you planning on exploring any other genres in future works?

IA: Apart from comics and social networks, I’m interested in all ways of civil activism, photography, film, web, robotics, bicycles, music, etc.

Is there anything that you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t yet?

IA: I always wanted to play drums in some band. I’m good at organs, but my religion is not allowing me spending too much time in the church. Hopefully, soon I’m gonna crank…

Ivana, thanks a lot!

p.s. Medica is  a sort of domestic rakia in Croatia.
p.s.1.  Rakia (also Rakija) is fruit brandy that is produced by distillation of fermented fruit; it is a popular beverage throughout the Balkans, Italy, and France. (source: wiki)

Related link: Ladies and Gentlemen, fasten your seatbelts, please… Because Komikaze are landing into your backyard!