I am excited to post this interview with Pere Ibanez. We came to know Pere through our international competition last year, “Clash of the Artists 2010,” where his work showed an edgy, creative sense of otherworldliness. His recently published book, “EneME,” has been published in 14 countries, and has been very popular on an international level. I love his work, and what he has to say.
1. Can you describe your work in the book, and how it came to fruition?
“EneME” is a collection of photographs that I’ve been working on for a year and half. Many of these photos have already been in competitions, group exhibitions and won awards, like for example the last “Clash of the Artists 2010” where I got 3rd place for three of my pieces. My works are “art photographs,” and I guess that because of my cinematographic background, they look more like movie sequences rather than conventional photography. I do the makeup, set up the lights, and of course, direct the model/actor’s interpretation of the character.
The idea of the book as a whole is human self-destruction. I think it is a common reaction to destroy/kill what we don’t understand, and that’s exactly what happens when we don’t get to know ourselves better. We end up destroying our own lives. So I isolated that dark entity that lives inside us, trying constantly to break us down and tear us apart, and I named it “eneME”.
The book is divided into different forms of emotional suicide: inner demons, love, beauty, addictions, loneliness, lack of confidence and blind faith. I’ve been wanting to do this project for some years now, but I just wasn’t ready to face my own demons. It wasn’t until one day in the summer of 2009, when I had reached a new low, that I woke up and knew I had to do something about it, this project.
2. What has surprised you the most in regards to the book, and how well it has done internationally?
Well, the idea of publishing a book was just to close up this chapter of my life, and, in a way, to build up a bit of my portfolio as an artist. I never expected that people would actually buy it; wasn’t even sure that my friends would, it being quite expensive and all that. I expected even less that it would become published in so many countries (14 right now).
The moment things picked up, becoming number 1 on the Spanish charts and getting some attention from the media, I just couldn’t believe it. Especially since there’s not even a marketing campaign backing it up. I don’t think I’m going to get much further with this book/project, but it has been great. I’m really proud and thankful to everybody who supported it. My only way to thank them will be working harder on the next one.
3. What inspires/influences your work the most? Has that changed in the past couple of years with so much turmoil in the economy, terror threats, natural disasters, etc?
What really inspire me are human stories, what happens to people around me, how they feel about it, and how they react. Global issues do not inspire me so directly, but they do in the sense that they affect ordinary people, and it’s them who I’m talking about. But I do believe that we live in a world where we don’t pay enough attention to individuals, and hopefully that is reflected somewhat through my work.
4. How long have you been working as an artist?
I’ve been involved in art ever since I can remember, but it was during my university years and the ones immediately after, that I was quite involved in filming and writing. I even directed 3 short-movies (2 of them recognized in film festivals such as Sitges 02-03). That was in 2002-2003, and after a couple of artistic heartbreaks, I stopped for some years. But I never stopped writing and taking notes for new ideas. In 2009, I started painting again, and later on working on this photo project.
5. Where are you from? Where have you lived? How have these places influenced you as an artist?
I’m Spanish and lived in Barcelona most of my life. It was in 2007 that I moved to Beijing (China), such an international city, where I had the chance to meet people from all over the world. With time and constant culture shock (I’m done with “Hello Kitty” and all the pink stuff) I have realized that behind the cultural barriers, we all share similar problems, we do have more in common than what we think, and I believe that all of us have an “EneME” inside.
6. Where is your favorite place to work? To relax/recharge?
Right now, I live in the art district of Beijing, a bit away from the center, and that’s where I work better, especially after dark. To relax I like quite the opposite, there’s no place like a sunny beach. I love Phuket (Thailand).
7. What are you working on now? Any new shows/events in the near future? If so, where/when will the show occur? Is it open to public?
I’m planning exhibitions in China (Shanghai, Hong Kong and Beijing). Once the place and time is confirmed, it will be announced on my website and facebook. I’m getting ready for a new photo collection, and the new shootings will begin this coming January. I’m going to take it to the next level. I won’t reveal much about it yet, but I’m really excited and can’t wait to begin.
8. Where can people buy the book on-line?
The book is available in 14 countries, and can be found in major retailers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Abebooks, Alibris, Powells, Buy.Com, Books-A-Million … all listed on my website, www.pereibanez.com
9. What is the best piece of advice you have received regarding life in the art world? Life in general?
That’s a difficult question — I guess one piece of very good advice has been “Don’t take yourself too seriously”. Another good one would be quit smoking, but its unrelated to art and I haven’t come through on it (yet) so let’s forget about it for now…
10. What is the one piece of advice you would give to the emerging artists out there trying to make it?
My advice to other emerging artists would be: Follow your heart (twisted or not).