06 Aug Featured: Givan Lötz
FORBIDDEN ON FOAM – True Colours
Although we’re still trying to wrap our heads around precisely how Givan Lötz — visual artist, musician and designer — does it all, we are quite certain that he does it all well. Recently he kindly agreed to answer some of our questions, giving us a bit more insight about who he is and what he does.
Where were you born?
How long have you called Johannesburg home?
You studied information design; does this background influence the work you do now?
Yes, in a broad sense. The skills I’ve learned from my studies have helped me to look at things from a different angle, to question purposes and to ‘package’ or refine raw creative ideas.
How did you pursue a career in music and art, what’s your journey been so far?
I’m not sure if I can call my music endeavors a career. More over, it’s not something I chose to pursue as much as something I can’t go without — it’s intensely part of my daily life. It’s therapeutic. The art practice has been more deliberate. My studies were a move into this direction albeit in a round about way. Art is a puzzle for me — I want to take it apart and put back together again. I want to figure it out. It’s a vehicle for philosophical inquiry. In overly simplistic terms, art is a way for me to showcase thinking; music, a way to showcase feeling.
To what extent, if any, do your surroundings influence your work?
Not in an obvious way, not as a source of inspiration — I’m not trying to distill Johannesburg or express its core identity or anything like that. It’s simply that I seek quiet settings for thinking, reading, working and practicing. I could work anywhere in the world as long as it’s quiet. I guess I am an introvert. My “surroundings” are inside my mind.
I’d like to know a bit about your process – do you have any daily routines?
Every week is different. Some weeks I hardly leave my apartment, feverishly working on writing and recording music. Some weeks I’m driving around to find suppliers in order to solve a visual installation. Some weeks I just read and research. Some weeks I’m lecturing and others I’m called out on contract design work. I prefer not to have a routine, I actively avoid it.
You work across the spheres of art, music and design. How closely related are each of these mediums for you?
I think of these three areas as if they are all part of a continuous spectrum. At one end, music represents my purest, most personal output — I have very little concern for an audience and am completely absorbed in my own expression and catharsis. At the opposite end my design ethos is quite democratic — here I am a service to someone else’s concerns, I solve the problems they present to me. Of course, I still have a certain aesthetic and I choose projects that have good intentions. Somewhere in the middle lies the art output — although, here, again, I am involved with my own concerns, it is presented with an audience in mind, that is to say that there are didactic aims. Sometimes the areas blur into each other, sometimes the ends meet.
It could be quite an obvious statement, but when you experience them together, your art does look the way your music sounds (and vice versa). How do you find the point where the two seem to meet in the middle, and complement each other in this way?
Yes, there are obvious moments. For instance, in a time-based piece where the music and the motion-art, as a forced synesthetic experience, drive and transform each other. The same goes for something like a record cover where the art and music are brought together through a design mechanism, forcing a relationship. All other cases are subtle and somewhat hidden from me. The only thing I can cite as a reason for parallels is that it all originates from my own personal internal logic.
I love the fact that you have artworks from when you were young on your website. I see some parallels in that early work and the work you’re creating now. Do you agree?
Yes, certainly. But again, I can’t really help being who I am and creating according to my personal mix of natural and cultural internal rules.
I think it’s fair to say that the childhood artworks show that art has always been a part of your life in one way or another – but what about music? How long have you been doing that?
Arguably, the music has been a part longer and in a deeper sense. When I was very young I would sit next to my grandmother while she played the organ in church. I didn’t understand the notes on the page but I understood the feelings in the music. I started playing guitar when I was 7 — my grandmother made me practice.
You say that you’re an artist because you’re uncertain. Does the process of making art bring you a degree of certainty, or does it have the alternate effect? (Basically: does it all make sense yet?)
The hope has always been to start every project from a point of uncertainty or unbiased skepticism with an aim to find out and present the world and humanity as it truly is. The truth, however, is that it doesn’t really all make sense yet. The more I search, the more I doubt. I want to be brutally honest about the fact that even though i’ve had didactic goals in the past, I don’t have all the answers and that anyone who tells you they do, are lying. Happily, this allows me to keep searching, to keep working.
How important is art in society? Do you feel a responsibility, or maybe just a desire, to contribute to something bigger than yourself? And do you think this can be done through art?
Yes, I think it’s important. I feel responsible: While I might not know the absolute truth of everything, I don’t want to contribute to anything that is clearly and simply Untrue or that has dubious interests. Furthermore, I don’t want to just make more useless Stuff. I see the mindless making of art as a type of pollution.
What are you working on currently? Any top secret projects you’d like to tell us about?
In May I self-released a series of 4 music albums called SNARL. A redux version, as official release on an independent US label, is to appear before the end of the year. It took nearly 4 years of dedicated writing, practicing, recording, re-recording, producing, mixing and designing to finish it so, naturally the idea was to take a break. It failed, I can’t stop — I’ve spent the last few months experimenting with a new body of sonic work. I will be working on and showcasing some of this new material as part of a residency at WINDOW in September in addition to slightly more irrational visual works.
What’s something most people don’t know about you?
I know your password.
Carrotty on Carnation – True Colours
RITUAL Laser Etched Wood – Cargo Cults
GLARE – Them And Us
Prefigure 6 – Pre-Figuring The Erotic
Figure 10 – Figuring The Erotic
DEPARTURE 2 – Portals
FULL BLOWN – The Special Danger